Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu.
There are lots of children’s books about dynamic friend duos, from Arnold Lobel’s classic Frog and Toad books to the more recent Elephant & Piggy series by Mo Willems. This new picture book by Tao Nyeu contains four vignettes about the friendship of Squid and Octopus. Like most children’s friendships, there is fun, conflict, and joyful resolution.
Squid and Octopus live under the sea (naturally) but enjoy many of the terrestrial comforts, such as cameras, pencils, books, and even a goldfish bowl! In one story they disagree over whether they should wear mittens or socks when it’s cold; another story reveals worry over what good or bad is waiting in a fortune cookie. The illustrations are, remarkably, silkscreens so I can only imagine how much work went into each of the lively and funny illustrations.
We just got this the other day as a birthday present and it is a big hit in our house. I would be surprised and disappointed if we didn’t see more books featuring this hilarious pair in the future.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about Things We Like: Sleeping With The Fishes. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s definitely worth your time. I must warn you though: reading the article will give you vacation envy. The upside is that it may be the motivation you need to get your vacation saving back on track. I know we opened up a vacation savings fund shortly after, and I can’t wait to fill it up and spend it! Until then, I may have to settle for some underwater inspired bedroom décor.
First of all, an underwater bedroom meets all of my bedroom requirements: it’s dark, cold, and relatively quiet. I’m sold. It also keeps electronics out of the bedroom, and offers an amazing view. What could be better? Unfortunately, building an underwater bedroom is about as out of reach for most of us as staying a week in an underwater hotel is. So the challenge becomes: How can you recreate an underwater experience at home?
For underwater inspiration, I’ve compiled a couple tips below:
- For a more formal underwater effect, paint the walls a dark blue. Accent with white furniture to bring some light back into the room and look for silver and sea life inspired accent pieces.
- For a shallow, tropical feel paint the walls with a faux cloud finish to give the effect of sunlight reflecting off the water.
- For a fun underwater effect, hire an artist to paint an underwater mural on your walls. You can include sea life and other elements into the mural to give your room an authentic underwater feel.
- Don’t neglect the importance of good lighting. Look for fixtures that project the light upwards to give the effect of shallower water overhead.
- Incorporate underwater inspired art and decorations throughout your bedroom. Sculptures and paintings of crabs, starfish, and other sea creatures will help complete the look.
- Play an audio track of underwater sounds before going to sleep. Dolphin and whale sounds can be as relaxing as waves crashing onto the shore; choose what you like the best.
Remember, the underwater bedroom doesn’t have to be for you; share the dream. If you prefer a more formal bedroom for yourself, an underwater themed bedroom may be perfect for your guestroom or children’s room. You may find yourself sneaking away for an underwater nap more often than you think.
Post by Alison Hein.
Every autumn, I scour the streets of New York, searching for a cart rigged with an open fire, with the deep, earthy aroma of roasting chestnuts wafting toward me. Finding one, I pay, and receive a tiny brown paper bag stuffed with six steamy caramel-colored nuts. First the peeling, then the payoff – that very first bite of warm, buttery chestnut, sweetened by the chill in the November air.
It recently dawned on me that I don’t need to limit myself to this once-a-year cold weather ritual. Chestnuts have been popular in parts of Europe for centuries. In Italy, you can enjoy chestnut pasta, polenta and gnocchi, or even luscious chestnut fritters, served hot with ricotta cheese.
Chestnut flour (or nut meal) is becoming easier to find on U.S. grocery shelves, and provides a wonderful gluten-free option for those with wheat allergies. Pre-roasted nuts in jars are also useful in cooking, as is chestnut puree. If you cannot find these products locally, look online. U.S. growers are also on the rise and many sell their chestnut products direct to consumers.
These pancakes resonate with authentic, roasty chestnut flavor, and are sweetened with a thin, simple syrup made with honey and chopped, roasted chestnuts. Chestnut meal has a different consistency from wheat flour, so use a gentle hand until you become accustomed to the grainier texture.
No need to wait for fall for a sweet, earthy, chestnutty breakfast in bed.
1 cup chestnut flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
¼ cup sour cream
Additional butter for cooking
Combine chestnut flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl, stir together milk, egg yolk and vanilla. Pour melted butter into liquid mixture and stir well. Using a wooden spoon or hand mixer, gradually add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Stir in sour cream. Beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter.
Place pan or griddle on burner over medium to medium low heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake. Ladle batter by ¼ cupfuls into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancakes. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until rich brown, one to two minutes, adding more butter and adjusting heat as necessary. Keep warm while making the remainder of pancakes. Serve hot with real maple syrup or sweet chestnut sauce.
Makes 8 to 9 4-inch diameter pancakes.
Sweet Chestnut Sauce
½ cup honey
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cup finely chopped roasted chestnuts (fresh or jarred)
Pour honey, water and vanilla and chopped chestnuts into a small heavy saucepan. Mix well. Place over medium-high to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened, but still on the thin side. Set aside and allow to cool.
Makes about 1 cup of syrup.
Post by Laura Cheng.
When it comes to my wardrobe, I stay away from polka dots just as I stay away from horizontal stripes. Those patterns are just unattractive on me. But when it comes to the bedroom, I can’t get enough of these prints. Whether it is a headboard, bedspread or on the walls, polka dot can be a fun and chic addition to a space.
It appears spots and dots are also on Diane von Furstenberg’s mind. She has brought back an archived collection of DVF prints that her iconic wrap dress was once created with and transitioned it to duvet covers and sheets available through Bloomingdales. Instead of a closet of designer clothes, it’s a closet dedicated to luxury bed clothes. How many homes can claim to have such a room?! The colorful carousel of sheets is enough to bring about domestic bliss. All the prints would make me so happy, but in particular, the orange polka dot print featured in the ad fills me with euphoria. The dots are spaced equally and randomly to stylishly brighten any bedroom.
Dots are a great way to add a little drama to the bedroom. And nothing exemplifies drama like Gossip Girl. Varying sizes and forms of dots accent the walls of Serena van der Woodsen’s bedroom on the Gossip Girl set. When it came to decorating Serena’s bedroom, Loren Weeks wanted the space to reflect the teen’s personality. “Her room shows a confident, eclectic mix of funky new and classic vintage items,” says Weeks, who decorated with bold patterns and metallic accents. “I wanted it to express her character: effortlessly beautiful and self-assured.” Golden polka dots prove they are well suited for the task as they add interest to a large blank wall.
I love ikat as a design print even more than I love polka dots. Marry the two and a classic upholstered bed is transformed. This is Dwell Studio’s Camden bed in Ikat Dotscape. Is it a pattern of starry ikats or are they repeating circles? Therein lays its beauty. It’s both!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Today is the big day my boy turns four so in honor of the self-proclaimed “boss of the day” I will review a couple of his (but not necessarily my) favorite bedtime stories.
So the story is fine and somewhat predictable: the donkey Hee-Haw and his mouse friend Chester love magic but the other farm animals don’t believe a simple donkey and mouse could possibly be magicians. Guess who gets shown up in the end? Yup, that cynical pig, the condescending rabbit and the grumpy goose. I simply do not like the name Hee-Haw and it hurts me to read that name aloud over and over. And I am required to read it over and over. And over.
I actually like this one. Jan Brett is a great illustrator. There is always a little side story going on in the margins of her illustrations. This one tells the story of a girl who encounters a bunch of pesky trolls who are trying to steal her dog. Capitalizing on their stupidity and greed, she convinces them to take all her belongings but saving her dog. The little picture story in the margin shows the underground world of the trolls and the daily routine of one sleepy hedgehog. It’s one cute little ‘hog.