Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Tracy Kaler.
A multipurpose room might seem like a design decision from days of yore, but more and more people –– particularly in urban areas –– are living in less square footage. That comes as no surprise since doubling up on functionality is practical for both space and budget.
A space that can be easily re-adapted is the guest room, particularly one that is used only several times per year (such as when your old college roommate comes to visit).
Here are four ways to make alternate use of your guest room after your guests have checked out.
1. The Guest Room/Nursery
If needed, use your guest room as a nursery and when Aunt Brenda comes for a visit, move the baby into your room for the weekend. This inviting dual-purpose space is lovely enough for a newborn, or your most discriminating in-law.
2. The Guest Room/Office
One of the most practical solutions for a multipurpose room is a guest room and office in one. This modern take on a traditional layout –– with a temporary wall separating the spaces –– works beautifully and enables one person to catch some sleep while another is hard at work. The room also functions well as a home office. This design is perfect for a city apartment guest room.
3. The Craft Room/Guest Room
Clever built-ins and a sewing machine turn an extra sleep space into a project area. The uncluttered approach leaves guests plenty of room to sprawl. Pleasant and practical for work, play, or rest, this versatile guest room receives a good amount of natural light through the double window and skylight.
4. The Guest Room/Children’s Room
These clever built-in bunk beds are ideal for kids or teens. This cabin could very well be a second home, in which case you could move the children into your room (perhaps on folding cots) when you have overnight company. This space is also convenient for a family of four if you have a couple with children come for a stay.
Post by Alison Hein.
You like potatoes, and I like po-tah-toes….
Thus sang Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the ubiquitous 1937 film Shall We Dance; music and lyrics to the song Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off by none other than the amazing George and Ira Gershwin. I know this one from a very early age – my grandmother liked to belt it out while puttering around in her tiny kitchen. Aha! People can be different but still be in love.
You say Hash Browns and I say Home Fries…
What’s the difference? Basic tenet states that hash browns are grated and cooked in their raw state, while home fries are pre-boiled, chopped and then fried. Either type can be dressed up with onions, peppers, garlic, meats or spices.
In my simple version, I bake a few hearty Russets in the evening, and enjoy a salty, buttery baked potato with a big glob of sour cream for dinner. Then, in the morning, I slice and fry one of the extras, skin and all, and enjoy a side of salty, crispy-skinned home fries, rich with smoky paprika, with my favorite breakfast eggs.
Moral of the story? Potato or po-tah-toe, hash browns or home fries – a breakfast in bed to make you fall in love.
Note: Watch Fred and Ginger sing (and tap dance on roller skates!) and you’re sure to fall in love too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ3fjQa5Hls
1 Sea Salt Baked Potato (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop potato (leaving skin on) into bite-sized pieces or thin slices. Heat olive oil over medium heat in heavy frying pan. Add potatoes. Sprinkle generously with paprika, and stir to coat potato pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
Continue to cook potatoes over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally, until golden brown or crisped to your liking. Serve hot alongside your favorite breakfast eggs.
Makes 2 servings.
Sea Salt Baked Potatoes
2 large baking potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon large grain sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°.
Scrub potatoes well to remove all dirt from skins. Allow the potatoes to dry, then pierce each one 5 or 6 times with a fork. Mix olive oil and sea salt together and slather over potatoes to cover completely.
Place potatoes in a baking dish and bake, turning occasionally, until outer skin is golden brown and the center of the potato is tender when tested with a fork, about one hour. Serve hot with butter and sour cream on the side.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
Boy, has Mac Barnett been on a roll lately! In fact, this is the second book of his I have reviewed in as many weeks. Based on a popular and neither confirmed nor unconfirmed legend, this book, as you may have guessed, is about President William Howard Taft who famously, or perhaps didn’t, got stuck in his bathtub.
Most of the story is about his attempts to extricate him from this awkward situation. Call in the Secretary of War! What will he advise? (Dynamite!) How about the Secretary of the Interior? (The answer is inside yourself.) It’s a fairly simple and straightforward story. I can hardly blame Mac Barnett for wanting to write about it. It’s an interesting story and sadly for Taft, about the only thing anyone remembers about him. That’s the other thing I like about President Taft is Stuck in the Bath: they address that by first introducing Taft with some of the important contributions he made as president and later by his advisers assuring him: don’t worry. No one will remember this incident in 100 years. Which is of course precisely what most people remember about him now. Poor Taft. Did you know he was the only president to also serve as Supreme Court Chief Justice? Well now you do.
If you are sensitive to illustrations of naked people with strategically placed bubbles this book may not be for you. But as for my kid, he got a kick out of it.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Princess Mononoke came out in 1999. I remember seeing that it was playing at the cinema in Redon, France where I was living at the time but I paid it no mind. I was not a fan of anime. For many years I have regretted that decision. When I finally saw it, it was a badly reproduced and spottily subtitled version on a computer screen. Nevertheless, I was captivated. I will never forget the feeling I had as I watched it. I had no idea that a cartoon, for all intents and purposes, could be beautiful. And made with such an eye toward details. Every time I watch this, I eagerly await the scene where the wind blows across the tall grasses.
Of all the films by Hayao Miyazaki, this is hands-down my favorite. Spirited Away is a close second but it’s nothing compared to the beautiful, funny, sad epic that is Princess Mononoke. Although many of his films are totally fine for kids, I haven’t shown this one to my son yet. There is a lot of violence and a lot of really intense activity. I can’t wait till he is old enough because it’s so awesome. And he will absolutely love San, the fierce human child adopted by the great wolf gods of the great and ancient forest. Decked out in furs and war paint, riding a giant white wolf, she is not one to be trifled with.
The happy news is that in honor of Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, the local theater aired all his movies in the original 35mm and I got to make up for the regrettable decision I made fifteen years ago. It was totally worth the wait.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Shopping for bedside lamps? Selecting lighting for your bedroom may seem like an easy task, but there’s a lot to think about, particularly if you often read in bed. Aesthetically, lamps should compliment the décor; choose a ceramic mid-century light for a retro bedroom, and pick a faceted crystal base for a more traditional feel. But regardless of style you’ll want your lamps to do their job, so here are a few tips to shed some light when shopping for bedside lamps.
Choose the right height
Most designers will agree that a bedside lamp’s height is most important for optimal use. As a rule, the bottom of the shade should just about align with your chin while sitting in bed. This, of course, is partially based on the correct height of your bedside table, which is ideal if it is even with your mattress.
Keep the shade light
Dark shades provide little light, and in a bedroom, will only darken your space. (Control natural light with window treatments as needed.) Stick with a white, ivory or other soft, neutral shade –– fabric and paper usually work best to provide the right amount of brightness, as well as a classic look.
To control the amount of light, a two-bulb lamp will work well. Your lamp can have one bulb for reading and one for overall ambient light. If a lamp has a single socket, try a three-way bulb so the amount of light will vary from dim to bright.
Think about the switch
When shopping for lamps, look at the control or switch. Will this be easy for you to turn on and off from bed? You might opt for a lamp with a switch on the cord, which may require less reaching as you drift off to sleep.