Author Archives: charlesprogers
Bedtime Stories: Where the Sidewalk Ends
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.
Ah, Shel Silvertstein. Few are so multi-talented and appealing to such a wide range of audiences as he is. Was. Known primarily for his children’s poetry and that depressing book, The Giving Tree, Shel also wrote naughty comics for Playboy, did several music albums, and wrote a hilariously wicked book called Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book. Little-known fact: Johnny Cash’s hit song “A Boy Named Sue” was written by Shel Silverstein.
I used to own Where the Sidewalk Ends; in fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve owned it more than once. But now all I have is A Light in the Attic. That is also a great book of poems but not the original. So when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I had to get it. My son loves his poems. We read from A Light in the Attic often and listen to his audio versions a lot. Some of them are accompanied by music which is fantastic. “Twistable, Turnable Man” is particularly catchy. The best part about getting our hands on a copy of this is that I could finally read the poem that complements the picture at the back of all his books of a naked man with a long, long beard.
We read a couple poems each night before bed. Two poems always becomes three or four or ten. I never argue because I am really enjoying revisiting these poems again. They’re funny, kind, naughty, sweet, thoughtful, and shocking. I’m pretty sure Shel was exactly the same.
Pick up a copy today! If you have it and haven’t read it for a while, you should revisit it. If you have read it recently, good for you!
Movies in Bed: Beauty and the Beast
Post by Mark T Locker.
I realize that I’m coming to the party about twenty years late. I guess as a surly teenage boy Disney cartoons weren’t much on my radar. I think my favorite movie of that year was Howard’s End, one of those old-timey British Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham-Carter period pieces, before Helena got weird. I’m sure I had seen La Belle et la Bête, Jean Cocteau’s post-occupation masterpiece. I’m still a huge fan of that movie.
Well, every Friday is family movie night at our house. After digging through our piles of DVDs looking for Aladdin with no success, we landed on Beauty and the Beast. In classic Disney form, it’s full of fun songs and a startlingly simplified version of the story. Which is not to say it was not enjoyable; it’s just so different from the 1946 French version. There is good reason this movie has become a Disney classic. It’s got all the right ingredients: castles; talking objects; princesses; true love; songs. Friends, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Angela Lansbury, as a teakettle, sing you a ditty.
I’m sure everyone out there has already seen this dozens of times. I’ve only seen it once now. What should we watch tonight?
Bedroom Design: Living Big in a Small Bedroom
Post by Tracy Kaler.
“Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind; large ones weaken it.”—Leonardo da Vinci
Don’t fret if you lack square footage in your bedroom. Small spaces are no less significant than their larger siblings and still manage to be stylish and chic. Compact rooms are often loaded with personality and give you the opportunity to get creative and explore your inner decorator, so take advantage and don’t feel deprived.
Moreover, a bedroom tends to be especially romantic and peaceful, no matter its size. Whether you prefer traditional or eclectic décor, antiques or modern furnishings (think an Eames lounge chair in your singular empty corner), neutral or bold color accents, bear in mind that an uncluttered design will probably suit any small space best.
Here are four tiny yet delightful bedrooms. Rooms like these make it easy to catch a restful sleep, relax with a favorite read, or just sit back and take it all in.
You’ll be in the mood to snuggle in this simple yet elegant, cottage-inspired bedroom. The all-white paneling lends a casual feel, while the poofy duvet makes the bed inviting. Looking at this photo, don’t you want to curl up with a good book?
Chinese red textiles and a Persian rug add a boost of color to an otherwise neutral room. A black chinoiserie screen makes for a lovely backdrop behind the leather headboard while crisp linens give this bed a luxury hotel feel.
This practical twin bedroom with built-in storage is functional and sleek. The convenient swing-arm sconce allows reading in bed, while the Louis Ghost chair from Philippe Starck breathes a touch of whimsy into the room.
Neatly carved out of a pocket-sized room, this space-saving design works beautifully. Patchwork bedding and knotty pine floors give the room a rustic cabin-like feel. The nautical artwork and ceiling fan enhance the miniature sleeping quarters. This nook could be the ideal child’s room or guest quarters.
Breakfast in Bed – Strawberry Scones
Post by Alison Hein.
Wild red strawberries used to grow rampantly throughout our region. The native Leni Lenape crushed these tiny sweet jewels and mixed them with cornmeal to form a sweet cake. Odes were written to them, such as this excerpt from a poem written by Robert Graves:
Strawberries that in gardens grow
Are plump and juicy fine,
But sweeter far as wise men know
Spring from the woodland vine.
No need for bowl or silver spoon,
Sugar or spice or cream,
Has the wild berry plucked in June
Beside the trickling stream
Even though these tiny wild gems have largely disappeared from our area due to commerce and development, plenty of their “plump and juicy fine” garden cousins are still available. Locally grown berries can be found until the end of June, and hothouse grown can be purchased throughout the year. While they are still in season, try some in this easy scone recipe. Puréed berries give the dough a tender texture and lovely rose-hued tinge – a poetic breakfast in bed.
16 ounces fresh strawberries, cleaned and trimmed
3 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (one half stick) cold butter
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Extra flour for shaping scones
Chop half of the cleaned strawberries, and purée the other half in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425°. In large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 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. Stir in pureed strawberries. Add chopped strawberries. Mix in gently. Do not overmix or dough will become tough.
Turn batter out onto floured board. Divide into 8 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 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.
Makes 8 scones.
Bedtime Stories: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have discovered Terry Pratchett. It’s possible that there are one or two who have “discovered” him before me. Maybe the impeccable narrator of the YA series I’ve been enjoying. Maybe some others who put together the 8 million websites devoted to his vast collection of novels, most of which are set in the magical Discworld realm. I began devouring his stories a few weeks ago only to discover that I even own a couple and I never even knew. Well, I guess I have fantastic taste even when I don’t even know it!
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is the first book in the Discworld series aimed at young adults. It tells the story of a cat named Maurice and a band of rats and a “stupid looking kid” that travel with him from village to village. Mind you, these are not your average rats and cat. The kid? Well, he’s pretty average. But the rats, who lived once in a garbage pile behind a wizards’ castle, ate some discarded magical paraphernalia and gained a sudden self-awareness, complete with speech and understanding. Maurice, too has gained the same knowledge. He doesn’t eat garbage, but he does eat rats, so…I’m sure we can guess how he got his gift. My favorite bit about this book is the rats’ names. They picked them out themselves off labels from discarded food containers. So we have rats named Additives, Peaches, Serves Four, and—my personal favorite—Dangerous Beans.
My six-year-old isn’t quite at a point to take on all the themes and scary bits in this story, but in a couple years he will be and we will venture through this hilarious magical world together as Maurice and his stupid looking piper kid and his trained rats trick locals into believing that they are ridding the towns of rats.