Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Get Cozy and Cover Up with Bedding This Winter
Now that cold weather has arrived, it’s time to bundle up in the bedroom. Choosing the appropriate topper will keep you warm on the chilliest nights. Depending on where you live and your preferred bedroom temperature, consider one of these four bedding options to keep you toasty this winter.
Down comforter with duvet cover
The ultimate in warmth, a down comforter will keep you snug and comfy on the coldest nights. Know that it’s best to use a duvet cover to protect the outside of the comforter. Duvets are available in many fabric types and patterns. You can also have a custom cover made with designer fabric.
Most often constructed of matelassé, a coverlet is light to medium in weight and one of the most practical of bed coverings. Sometimes filled with a light batting, coverlets may not be warm enough in a chilly house, so consider adding another layer: perhaps a down comforter on top or a warm blanket underneath.
Pre-filled bed coverings fall under this category. Practical from the standpoint of layering since bedspreads are available in different weights, this type of bed topper could be a good solution if you like the layered look. Also a good idea if you have a range of temperatures, a bedspread offers many design options too, since you can style your layers differently each season.
Believe it or not, quilts can successfully be used in a traditional room or a modern one. With a woven (usually cotton) top with at least two colors and sometimes several, expect a layer of batting and a woven back. Quilts are not as heavy as a down comforter, but often heavier than a coverlet.
It’s fairly common to use different types of bed coverings on one bed. There are no rules. Try combining a coverlet with a down comforter at the foot of the bed or with a coordinating quilt folded halfway down the bed. Add an extra blanket and coordinating shams or throw pillows, and your bed will be look and feel pleasant for the winter months.
Post by Alison Hein.
Through a perfectly advantageous alignment of the stars (or perhaps the contents of my pantry), and the great generosity of my sweet niece Rebecca, I’ve come up with a New Year’s Day breakfast to start the year off right.
Rebecca presented me with a rustic slate board / serving tray that she knew I would enjoy using and photographing for the blog. Right you are, Rebecca – look how cute it looks with a mélange of makings artfully arranged upon its smooth surface! Playing a little game of mix and match, I ended with a grouping of powerful yet balanced flavors – sweet, salted Black Forest ham; pungent, creamy chèvre;
and foresty, aromatic rosemary.
Use a heart-shaped ring for cooking if you have one. Make this dish for a loved one. Start the new year off with a great and generous breakfast in bed.
I wish you a very Happy New Year in which the stars are perfectly aligned!
Heart-shaped egg rings
Goat Cheese Rosemary Hearts
2 slices of bread suitable for toasting, such as brioche or Texas toast
2 thin slices Black Forest ham
1 tablespoon butter
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) goat cheese
½ to 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
Use the heart-shaped egg ring to cut out two hearts from the bread and ham slices. Set aside while cooking eggs.
Heat a heavy frying pan over low heat. Add butter, continuing to heat until butter is melted. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk until thick and yellow. Add goat cheese, mixing together with a fork. The mixture does not need to be perfectly smooth as cheese will melt during cooking. Stir in chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper.
Place two heart-shaped rings in the frying pan, then carefully pour half of the egg mixture into each ring. Cover, and continue to cook over low heat until eggs are set and lightly crisped on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the eggs in the oven at 350° for about the same amount of time.
While eggs are cooking, toast bread. Place toasted hearts on a warmed plate, then top each with a slice of ham and one egg heart. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
NOTE: You can find heart-shaped egg rings in local kitchen specialty stores, or on many popular websites, such as Amazon.com. You can also make this recipe without the rings, cooking the eggs in two smaller pans and placing on top of regular toast.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Mars has always held a certain fascination for me. Clearly, its proximity to our own planet (Earth) makes it some low-hanging fruit for the imagination. All the fun (if at times make-believe) hints at life: faces; ice caps; weird lights and shadows just add to its allure. Remember when bunch of Martian movies came out? Red Planet and Ghosts of Mars and, several years prior, good ol’ Total Recall.
Well you can add another work to the pile of Red Planet-themed pieces. Red Rising is the first novel by American novelist Pierce Brown. Like every other book being written, it is part of a trilogy. This one tells the story of Darrow, helldiver of Lykos. He is part of a huge colony living beneath the planet Mars toiling to terraform the planet and make it livable for future generations. Violently oppressed but lauded as heroes for the future of humanity, Darrow’s world is blown open when it is revealed to him that Mars has been habitable for ages and the Reds (the class of people laboring beneath the planet) have been lied to and used for the resources they mine. Darrow is enlisted to help lead the fight against the Golds, the elite who rule over them.
The second volume comes out next week so now is a good time to pick up the first book if you are into exciting, dystopian sci-fi. So far it’s interesting and I hope that the series doesn’t turn out to be predictable. I’ll soon find out!
Post by Tracy Kaler.
See the Light: 8 Tips to Brighten a Dark Bedroom
You’re short on light because of that single small window in your bedroom. Get clever with your design and you can give the illusion of a lighter, brighter room. Here are 10 tips to illuminate even the darkest sleeping quarters.
Paint the room yellow or another light shade on the warm spectrum. Lighter walls will influence the overall aesthetic and feel of a dark room.
2. Add a skylight.
If your bedroom is on the top floor and you have access to the roof, cutting in a skylight is a fantastic way to allow light in.
3. Install lighter flooring.
Tear up dark carpeting and replace with light-stained hardwood floors and an ivory, beige, or other light neutral area rug.
4. Hang a mirror.
Mirrors reflect light, so consider leaning a large mirror against a wall, or hanging several on the walls. Bonus: you’ll be able to check your appearance every time you enter and exit your bedroom.
5. Remove light-blocking window treatments and install sheers.
Use sheers to allow the maximum amount of light inside. If you need more privacy, hang shades underneath and keep them raised until nighttime.
6. Use metallics.
Gold and silver reflect light, so select metallic accoutrements that can aid in lightening your space while adding bling at the same time.
7. Think white.
White is light, so don’t be afraid to use it –– on your trim, walls, ceilings, bedding, or wherever you like. An all-white bedroom can be stunning and sophisticated, as well as relaxing and calm.
8. Place accent lamps.
Lamps are probably the most economical and practical solution to brightening a space. Try plug-in sconces, table lamps, and floor lamps. If possible, consider a multi-light overhead fixture like a chandelier, which will create overall light.
Post by Alison Hein.
Are you scrambling for last minute gift items during this hectic holiday season? Well, here are some food ideas that might help fill the bill. From Christmas to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah to Solstice celebrations, you may have everything you need already right in your own kitchen:
Cookies – Obvious, I know. But have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love cookies? Arrange them on a lovely gift plate, fill up a feathery basket, or simply wrap up small bundles of them in plastic wrap and tie them with pretty bows. You may want to try a traditional Austrian sugar-dusted Christmas cookie like Vannilekipferl. Or maybe the petite, sesame Benne Wafers, irresistible tucked into a tiny napkin-lined basket. Green Tea Macadamia Cookies make a delightful surprise wrapped in clear plastic and tied with a raffia bow.
Muffins – How sweet to buy a nice muffin tin (look for a decorative one), then bake some muffins for a friend. Wrap the whole mix with plastic wrap, tuck the recipe in the side, and tie it up tight with a big, red bow. Chai Tea Muffins are a nice choice for their light texture and fragrant spices. Old-fashioned Maple Corn Muffins are delicious. Whip up a batch of Maple Honey Butter as a sweet accompaniment.
Scones – Tuck these sweet baked goods in a cozy napkin, along with a jar of your favorite jam or jelly. Blueberry Scones and Brown Sugar Scones have simple, satisfying flavors that go well with sweet fruit spreads.
Savory Breads – Wheaty Baguettes are tasty and pleasing. Gift them in a bread basket lined with a festive kitchen towel. Or simply wrap them in brown paper and tie them with kitchen twine for a clean, just-bought look. For your gluten-free friends, you may want to try Buckwheat Blini. Add a little note with serving suggestions for these tiny traditional Russian pancakes. For real fun, bake some Flowerpot Bread. The seasoned terra cotta pot makes an unusual and much talked-about gift.
Sweet Breads – Buy some baby loaf pans in bright colors (I’ve seen them for about $1 at local craft stores). Figure on a typical sweet bread recipe filling three to four of these little babies. As you know, I love mini-everything, and so will your gift recipients. Classic Walnut Bread and Banana Bread are two of my favorites.
Granola – Granola never fails. Be sure to package it in a sparkling glass jar for optimal effect.
Butter – You friends and family may find Butter to be a bit of an odd gift – until they taste it, that is. For more concentrated flavor, make and refrigerate the butter a week or two in advance.
Best of All – Give your loved ones the gift of luxury, of indulgence, of love – Breakfast in Bed!
(Print out the attached coupon, or create your own if you like, to tuck into a card or stocking.)
Happy Holidays, everyone!