Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
It is often said that variety is the spice of life, and this is true even when it comes to sleeping. That said, I’ve woken up on the sofa more than I’d care to admit and I would always tell you I prefer the bed. However, there are those nights when I succumb to the call of the siren, or sofa, in search of something different. Fortunately, the sofa isn’t the only alternative out there. For example, you can easily trade those achy zzz’s on the couch for a bohemian nap in a hammock.
I was first introduced to sleeping in a hammock when I was about 13 years old. That summer, the family took a vacation to California for my cousin’s wedding. The place we stayed at was a relatively small townhouse, and even a Spartan would describe it as sparse. Since it didn’t have enough beds to accommodate us all, and since I always draw the short stick, I was relegated to sleeping in a hammock that occupied what I imagine was supposed to be the living room.
At first, I was nervous about sleeping in something I could fall out of so easily. However, my fears quickly drifted away once I climbed in, and I now appreciate the simplistic beauty of sleeping in a hammock. I even purchased a hammock several years ago for precisely this reason. Sadly, however, I have yet to live somewhere with a big enough room to hang it in.
Writing this article got me curious about any possible side effects of sleeping in a hammock. Certainly, it can’t be good for your back. Can it? To my surprise, it appears that the side effects of sleeping in a hammock are all positive. Indeed, one study on WebMD suggests that “rocking to soothe and induce sleep is an adaptive human behavior that has evolved over the years to encourage the natural oscillations that occur in the brain during sleep” and hammocks are very good at inducing these oscillations. In fact, many people report that sleeping in a hammock helps them sleep better. Digging a little further I even found a number of web communities that advocate sleeping in hammocks as a fulltime alternative to beds.
While I’m not ready to burn my mattress in favor of sleeping in a hammock fulltime, I anxiously await the day I can hang a hammock of my own; even if only for an occasional Spanish-style siesta.
Until next time, duerma bien mis amigos (sleep well, my friends).
Post by Laura Cheng.
The tropical New York heat calls for a tropical getaway. And if not by plane, then by transforming your bedroom into an oasis complete with palm leaf décor.
Jumbo, greenery printed bed sheets can easily achieve the look. A quick trip to a store like Crate and Barrel and done! A wooden, four poster canopy bed makes a statement in the center of this bedroom among the mural of framed prints and mirrors. Symmetric nightstands and footstools balance out the rest of the bedroom. The organically woven texture of the footstools lend a fresh, resort style atmosphere. I have always loved the combination of a bright, masculine green and a bold, feminine pink. The bedroom would not look as put together if it were not for the vase of magenta flowers and the pop of color it adds.
It is no doubt that green and pink make great, modern design statements. The color combo shows up again in this room. However, the main show stopper that caught my eye is the golden frond fan. I’m a huge, huge “fan” of Portuguese designer, Prego Sem Estopa, who designed the room below. A fan like this one would serve dual purpose, transforming the bedroom into a breezy, fashionable retreat.
If there is already a fan in your room, but it looks like it was tragically pulled from the basement of your grandmother’s house, then despair no more. No need to buy a whole new fixture. Palm leaf fan blades are sold as attachable accessories to your currently existing fan. In addition to adding tropical flair, the blades pound around more air per square inch, meaning a cooler room in the current summer heat.
Can you count the number of tropical icons in the room below? Palm leaf draperies, coordinating fern throw pillows, bamboo blinds tropical leaves in vases, glass bottle table lamp, branching sculpture floor lamp, seagrass wallpaper, sea horse accent pillow, and a tropical green chaise are all topped off with an amazing sea view. So if you said 9, you are correct! And as your game show host, I present you with door number 3, your bedroom renewed into a tropical oasis. Take any of the style cues from this bedroom into your own to get you through the rest of the balmy and sultry New York summer.
Post by Alison Hein.
If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile, you know that I am a blueberry fanatic. But did you know that July is National Blueberry Month? According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, the North American blueberry harvest runs from April in Florida to late September in British Columbia. The peak of the season is around July 4th. What better way to celebrate Independence Day?
Start your day off with this easy, fruit-filled blueberry cake. Light enough for breakfast, it’s the perfect companion for that first cup of steamy morning coffee. Warm brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla flavors beguile with each blueberry bite. Assemble all your ingredients first, and mixing becomes a cinch. This cake is best served warm, and sour cream added to the batter keeps the texture moist, even after reheating.
Serve your cake with some fresh strawberries, if you like, for an Independence Day red, white and blueberry breakfast in bed.
By the way, July 10th is National Pick Blueberries Day, so you’ve got one week to plan. Check out the North American Blueberry Council’s website for nationwide u-pick information, as well as blueberry festival dates: http://www.nabcblues.org/upick.htm
¼ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sour cream
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside. Mix white sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Mix the milk, cider vinegar, and vanilla together in another small bowl. Add alternately with flour mixture to the egg batter, until well mixed. Fold in sour cream and blueberries.
Spread batter evenly in baking dish, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly across top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm. Add a dollop of whipped cream, if you like.
Post by Josh Zinn.
I used to think Molly Ringwald could do no wrong. A ginger-haired vixen whose teenage life John Hughes made privy for the world to see, she seemed to possess an essence of purity and strength amidst a silver screen sea of split-ended, gawkified Ally Sheedy’s and Martha Plimpton’s. The bulk of my youthful devotion to Ms. Ringwald stemmed from the fact that she was the star of Pretty in Pink, a film that explores with delicate nuance the all-important and timeless dilemma of how poor people are able to go to their senior prom. A veritable rose-colored expose on the back-stabbing world of secondary education, Pretty in Pink filled my impressionable and destitute self with fantasies of a life that paid no heed to ritzy clothing labels like Gotcha, Generra, or Esprit, but rather found solace and redemption in the thrift store aisles of the Salvation Army. Like a teenage Norma Rae, Ringwald’s character Andie stands up to her school and the expressionless, there’s-no-way-he’s-a-teenager rival James Spader by saying, “No more!” to the khaki and boat shoe Gestapo. She’s her own woman and she’ll wear a used Mennonite floral print dress to Biology if she wants, thank you very much!
Unfortunately, amidst all this couture rebellion the film also contains a romance with the stunningly washed-out Andrew McCarthy, whose character Blaine may be the most mystifyingly dull seventeen-year-old boy ever to be intended as swoon-worthy. Pay no attention to his vapid stares, trembling voice, and muted color palette and, instead, feast upon the rich social messages Ms. Ringwald is daring the world to acknowledge. True, perhaps Andie has an attraction to pasty, indecisive men who consider being cultured to mean a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a platter full of quiche bites, but when it’s time for THE BIGGEST NIGHT OF HER HIGH SCHOOL LIFE, the antique, coffee-stained lace gloves are off and she’s ready to fight.
Although Pretty in Pink may lack the depth of other films dealing with the conflicts of class and pastel prom wear, it nonetheless validates itself thanks to an amazingly terrific soundtrack (seriously) and Ringwald’s frumpy-forward performance. Prom nights may come and go, but discount fashion is forever.
by Alison Hein.
My sister, Janet, has a red mulberry tree in her garden. Mulberries are prolific in the Northeast, where they are better known for their messy habit of dropping sticky, ripe berries wantonly to the ground than for their inherently sweet and tangy, somewhat wild, juicy berry flavor.
Mulberries are not commercially cultivated in this country (you will soon learn why), and make a rare early-summer treat. Peak growing season is fleeting, and harvesting is messy. Berries fall to the ground the moment they ripen, becoming instant prey for birds, deer, and other creatures. Picking ripe berries from the tree results in a slow, frustrating harvest, and stubborn, crimson-stained hands. Tenacious little stems cling stalwartly to the tree, making you fight for every berry. Instead, try laying down a tarp or drop cloth, give the tree a good shake, then scoop up the ripe berries.
Now, what to do with them? Pies, tarts, pancakes and muffins are all good options. Mulberries look and taste somewhat like blackberries, but with a sultry, wild edge. Jellies and jams, or mulberry-infused vodka, will taste like a fleeting, exotic indulgence. Whatever you decide, make sure you harvest enough mulberries to create a wild, early-summer breakfast in bed.
2¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ cup (one half stick) cold butter
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ cup toasted walnuts*
1 ½ cups mulberries (or blackberries), carefully rinsed and placed on paper towel to dry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Extra flour for shaping scones
Preheat oven to 425°. In large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ginger. Cut butter into small pieces and cut into dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine milk, vinegar and one egg. Mix well, then add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed in. Add toasted walnuts and mulberries. Mix in gently.
Turn batter out onto floured board. Divide into 16 equal pieces and shape into balls. Press each ball gently into a flat round. Cut a cross in the top of each scone, but do not cut all the way through.
Place scones on lightly greased cookie sheet. Lightly beat remaining egg, and brush on top of scones. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place in oven and bake for about 14 to 16 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.
∗ To toast walnuts, preheat oven to 350º. Arrange walnuts on baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool, then chop.
Makes 16 mini-scones.