Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Lockwood & Co., book 3: The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud.
Happy October, friends, and welcome to the best time of year! I love looking for all the new spooky reads to keep the creepy feelings going all month long. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to look hard for this one. I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the third book in the Lockwood & Co. series for some time now. And it doesn’t disappoint.
London is in a right state. For some time now, and seemingly out of the blue, ghosts, wisps, ghasts, and other creepy spectres from the beyond have been haunting the streets and homes of London. Nobody knows why but it’s created a huge stir and a new, unusual job: child ghost hunters. Although adults can sense the presence of the ghosts, only children can see them. So armed with salt, iron, silver and rapiers, teens and younger work nights battling these spirits.
Although not part of the elite Fitz or Rotwell agency, Antony Lockwood has managed to create a successful freelance ghost-hunting agency with George Cubbins, the socially awkward but brilliant-minded researcher and Lucy Carlysle, whose particular secret ability is communication with the dead spirits. When Chelsea becomes suddenly overrun with ghost activity, Lockwood & Co. are drawn in to help rein in and end the outbreak. But nobody seems to know what is causing it. Although Lucy’s hidden talent has gotten her into deadly trouble in the past, perhaps the can use it wisely and help save London.
Creepy fun for tweens, teens, or adults who like a good shiver, this is one of my favorite series to be released in the last few years. This is the perfect time to pick it up.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Happy Halloween season, folks! Time to get out the fake skeletons, wrap everything in spooky black gauze and bust out the scary movies! But if you have a kid who is sensitive to scary things, you may have to dial down the eek factor by a significant margin. There are a number of kind of scary movies you can choose from and then a lot of not scary but Halloween-themed.
We decided to try out Disney’s Haunted Mansion, starring Eddie Murphy. If they can make a movie based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, why not a movie based on the Haunted House at Disneyland?
The premise is pretty out-of-the-box: Jim Evers (Murphy) is a realtor with his wife and business partner Sara. But he can’t stop working and lets his job get in the way of his personal life, his wife and two kids. SO in an effort to mend things, they take a family vacation with one caveat: they stop and check out this crazy mansion that they’ve been asked to sell.
Oh, one other caveat: the place is crazy haunted and the lord of the manor is a ghost and he wants Sara to join him in the Eternal. Oops! But nobody is really that scary; the maid and the servant are funny and kind to the children. They’re just a bit translucent. You can imagine that a lot of hi jinks take place. And perhaps along the way Jim Evers will learn that there are things that are more important than making the sale. In a word: family.
Despite its total un-scariness, my seven-year-old found it a bit too much to handle. No nightmares, but he demanded we turn it off. I guess we will stick to The Worst Witch for now. But if you child is made of tougher stuff, it’s a fun spooky Halloweeny good time!
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Insomnia affects approximately 60 million Americans each year. What gives? Hectic work schedules, stress, and even diet can have an impact on overall quality of sleep. Before turning to prescription medication, give any or all of these natural beverages a try and put your insomnia to bed once and for all.
It’s no secret that Valerian encourages relaxation and even drowsiness for some, so a cup of this herbal tea before bedtime could send you off into a sound sleep until the alarm sounds in the a.m.
Loaded with potassium, bananas might be all you need to drift off to a peaceful slumber. Try combining a half a cup of low-fat milk or unsweetened soymilk with a small banana. It’s tasty too.
Many people love the flavor and drink it on a regular basis, but coconut water is also jam-packed with potassium and magnesium. The healthy drink contains B vitamins too, which have been known to reduce stress. If you’re not already sipping coconut water, you might want to start.
Almond milk and honey
Almond milk is high in tryptophan and magnesium, both key components for good sleep. Raw honey is known to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can keep you asleep through the night. The two together could be the winning combination your body needs to get a full night’s rest.
Tart cherry juice
Cherries contain melatonin, which could be the reason the tart fruit juice will put you into a sound sleep. An eight-ounce serving twice per day is recommended for optimal benefits.
by: Alison Hein
Last Christmas, my husband, Kevin, gifted me with a trip to beautiful and quaint Newport, Rhode Island, to attend the annual September Food & Wine Festival. I was eagerly anticipating it for the past nine months. We would be visiting the historic mansions – living it up at a cocktail party at the ill-fated Rosecliff, indulging in an elite wine dinner in The Elms’ splendorous gilded age dining room, sipping wine and tasting culinary tidbits on the vast lawn at Marble House. Maybe even meeting Jacques Pépin!
What could top all this? Our stay at the elegant, romantic Cliffside Inn! Innkeepers Nancy and Bill Bagwill have lovingly restored their stately Victorian manor house (built in 1876) that sits in the heart of the historic district just steps from the famous Newport Cliff Walk. Each room is filled with elegance and personality. Just like us, you may want to keep going back, staying in Beatrice’s Room with its cozy window seat, then the Garden Suite with private garden and giant soaking tub, etc., etc….
In nice weather, guests gather in the morning on the huge wraparound porch, where Bill and Nancy serve heavenly French-pressed coffee, fresh baked goods, and a variety of sophisticated and tasty daily breakfasts. Bill kindly let me talk my way into the kitchen one morning, where I photographed, and he orchestrated his very special Eggs Florentine recipe. Read on to learn some of Bill’s tricks so you can prepare this wonderful breakfast in bed at home. Or, better yet, go visit this one-of-a-kind bed and breakfast and ask Bill to make them for you. 😉
1 Portuguese Bolo muffin (or substitute English muffin)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons caramelized onions
1 tablespoon Never Fail Hollandaise Sauce (recipe below)
1 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
Pinch of dried culinary lavender
Pinch of salt
2 thin slices tomato
To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Try Bill’s surefire method – break eggs one at a time into a fine mesh strainer, gently roll the egg in the strainer to remove the excess loose egg whites. (This allows the eggs to cook without feathering and eliminates the need to trim). Carefully pour the eggs, one at a time, into the simmering water. Cook for about three minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. (Bill transfers the eggs to a tepid water bath to keep warm while preparing the dish.)
Cut Portuguese muffin in half and brush lightly with mayonnaise. Place cut-side down on a grill surface and cook a few minutes until nicely toasted.
Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium heat. Place fresh spinach in pan, in two separate portions. Place 1 tablespoon of caramelized onions on top of each spinach portion. Cook, for a minute or two, until spinach is wilted and onions are warmed through.
Place panko in a small dish, and stir in a pinch of lavender and a pinch of salt. Lightly dredge one side of tomatoes with panko mixture. Place under broiler for less than one minute, until panko is lightly browned.
To plate each serving, place one half of toasted Portuguese muffin on plate. Cover muffin with one spinach / onion portion. Place two eggs on top of spinach / onion mixture and drizzle with Hollandaise sauce. Garnish with one tomato slice.
Serve hot with crispy Applewood bacon.
Makes 2 servings.
Never Fail Hollandaise Sauce
4 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ cup (1 stick) butter, bubbling hot
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it is bubbling hot. While butter is heating, combine egg yolks and lemon juice in a food processor with a couple of quick pulses. With food processor on, slowly stream in the hot butter until Hollandaise emulsifies. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and pulse the Hollandaise one more time to combine.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
If I can’t be in Paris, I can dream about it, can’t I? If you have any romantic notions and you’re any kind of dreamer, you’ve probably caught yourself wishing for a trip to Paris at some point or another. Have you never been before? I was in the ‘City of Light’ for a brief weekend more than 20 years ago, and I’ve planned to return but haven’t yet.
Wishes can come true, and if that statement is a fact, I’ll be in Paris very soon! Until then, I enjoy perusing Parisian-inspired interiors like these five beautiful bedrooms.
This French farmhouse bedroom uses chartreuse green in a bold way. Notice the old tile and the floor-to-ceiling casement window. What a stunning space!
Although this shabby chic bedroom is located in the US, it certainly oozes Parisian charm. From the ornate moldings to the chandelier and French bed, I feel as if I’ve been transported to Paris when I look at this photo.
More modern than the typical Paris home, this all-white minimalist attic bedroom still has a very French feel.
Miles away from Paris, this Vancouver bedroom borrows a few elements from the French style.
Paris or the US? Believe it or not, this fabulous country retreat by Frank de Biasi Interiors is in Upstate New York. The wall covering was custom colored and imported from France while the canopy bed, tall ceilings, and clever mix of pattern add a dash of Parisian charm.