Author Archives: charlesprogers
Bedtime Stories: A Christmas Classic!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.
Did you know there was a doctor before Dr. Who? That’s right. He was named Dr. Seuss. Perhaps you have heard of him. He recently got lots of coverage for his book Green Eggs and Ham being read on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Well before that day, he wrote this Christmas book which I’ll bet everyone but me read long, long ago. It has been turned into both a live-action and an animated movie. It’s got a soundtrack whose songs appear on occasional Christmas mixes and it is firmly embedded in our culture. Verily, anyone who vocalizes a dislike for the season is promptly labeled either a Scrooge or a Grinch.
I, on the other hand, only read it for the first time last week. My kid has seen the animated movie numerous times, regardless of whether is Christmas or Flag Day or Arbor Day. Who can blame him? There are precious few Flag Day movies for kids. Always interested in raising a well-rounded child, I grabbed the book when I saw it on the shelf. Doubtless all copies will have been snatched up by now. (Yup, 21 holds!)
I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m going to assume the book is better. Full of that holiday redemption that people just eat up this time of year, what better moment than the Grinch’s realization that Christmas isn’t just about getting stuff? (Well, in theory, at least) Watch his heart grow three sizes! Watch him join the Whoville inhabitants for roast beast! Fun for all ages.
Bedroom Design: Three Common Design Mistakes To Avoid When Designing Your Dream Bedroom
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
The opportunity to redesign your bedroom (or any other room in your house for that matter) can be as exciting as it is stressful, especially if it’s your first design project. Whether you’re decorating a brand new home, are undertaking a complete remodel or are just making a few simple tweaks to an existing room, there are a couple common design mistakes that you can avoid to ensure your space turns out even better than you imagined it.
Mistake #1: Over-Furnishing
One of the most common design mistakes is to over-furnish your space. Over-furnishing can happen in one of two ways, either by (1) trying to cram too many individual pieces of furniture into a space, or (2) by selecting furnishings that are simply too big.
Furnishing a room is a balancing act: you need enough furniture for the room to serve its purpose, but you also need to leave enough space to create movement in flow. To avoid over-furnishing your bedroom, always err on the side of less. In the bedroom, stick with the basics first: a bed, two nightstands, and maybe a nice armoire. If you find the room still feels empty after you get the basics situated, you can always add more. Think of furnishing your bedroom as more of an adventure than a destination, and enjoy the journey.
Check out my article on balanced bedroom design for a closer look at this important design element.
Mistake #2: Poor Lighting
Bedrooms suffer from poor lighting either by not having enough of it, or having too much. To block out unwanted outside light, be sure to use heavy window treatments that are easy to operate. Once you have the amount of light you let in under control, you can then think about artificial light.
It’s best to have a variety of lights. Variety can mean different color temperatures of light, different intensities of light, and different heights of lighting (floor lamps, table lamps, wall sconces, and overhead lights). I’ve written about the basics of bedroom lighting in the past, and encourage you to revisit that article to learn more about lighting.
Mistake #3: Not Sticking To Your Budget
Your budget is probably the least fun part of designing your bedroom, but it is also the part you have the most control over. Instead of thinking of your budget as an obstacle, think of it as a game. With a little creativity, you won’t have to break the bank to create the bedroom of your dreams. Flea markets, antique stores, and auctions are all great places to find deals on bedroom furnishings and accessories.
One of my favorite resources to find deals on all sorts of things is Live Auctioneers, a website that enables you to participate in live auctions all over the world. While shipping can be expensive for larger items, you can still find great deals (with reasonable shipping) on all sorts of accessories like lamps, artwork, and other accent pieces. If there is something you like that you can’t find elsewhere, try making it yourself. DIY projects can be a great way to get exactly what you want for less, especially if you are a bit crafty.
One thing you don’t want to try to cut corners on, however, is the bed. Since the bed is the whole point of having a bedroom, be sure to get a quality mattress. We spend nearly one-third of our lives in bed, and a comfortable mattress is an investment in your health and well-being. Be sure to check out my previous article for tips on how to create a luxury bed at home.
Breakfast in Bed: Tuscan Kale Scrambled Eggs
Post by Alison Hein.
After all the Thanksgiving foofaraw and pumpkin pie overdoses, I craved a somewhat lighter breakfast. Deep in my fridge, behind the neatly-stacked containers of leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and candied yams, I came across a forgotten bag of Tuscan kale. Perfect!
I had homemade dipping oil on hand and remnants of a hearty, rustic bread round. Some finely-chopped shallot sautéed in the seasoned oil and a handful of grated parmesan would give my dish a Tuscan-inspired flavor. Score! The kale turned out delightfully spiced and crispy – the perfect foil for rich, fluffy eggs. Little bits of near-caramelized shallots and peppery heat from the oil perked it all up. I used my rustic bread, shovel-like, to scoop and gobble it all up. Maybe not as light as I would have liked, but green and compelling nonetheless.
If you want to try the Homemade Dipping Oil, mix it up a couple of days in advance to allow the flavors to meld. Then you’ll be ready to fry up some shallots and kale for a (maybe-not-so-light) Tuscan-inspired breakfast in bed.
2 teaspoons seasoned olive oil or Homemade Dipping Oil (recipe below)
1 cup loosely packed fresh Tuscan kale (or other variety)
1 teaspoon milk or cream
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat seasoned olive oil in small, heavy pan over medium heat. Finely chop shallot and sauté in hot oil until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Wash, chop and dry kale. Place kale in pan and cook until cooked through and starting to crisp, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Break eggs into small bowl and whisk well with milk or cream. Add eggs to heated pan and allow to cook slowly and gently, folding over around kale. Stir and lift frequently with wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Toward the end of cooking, fold the parmesan cheese into the eggs, if you like. Season with salt and pepper.
Slide eggs out onto plate. Serve immediately, with a thick slice of rustic bread.
Makes 1 serving.
Homemade Dipping Oil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or mix of dried herbs such as basil, oregano and parsley)
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
Dash or 2 of cayenne
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together and store in airtight glass bottle. Shake before pouring, and add a drop of balsamic vinegar for dipping bread.
Bedtime Stories: Time Travel for Kids
Oh No! Not Again! (or How I Built A Time Machine to save History) (or at Least My History Grade) by Mac Barnett.
How’s THAT for a mouthful of a title? Honestly, the plot is hardly less confusing. I rather enjoyed this book and my son did too, though I suspect he missed what was really happening in the story.
The main character (hardly a heroine) is miffed for having gotten one question wrong on her history test. Rather than just accept it, she uses her genius to build a time machine and change the past to fit her answer. The question was about which country has the earliest known cave paintings. Her wrong answer was “Belgium”. So, with a little trial and error—it is a homemade time machine after all—she finds herself in prehistoric Belgium. Armed with paints and brushes, she proceeds to paint a fantastic cave mural, since the inhabitants of the cave seem disinclined to do it themselves. However, while she is busy drawing robots on the cave wall, the cavemen discover her time machine and proceed to bring all manner of people from all points in history back to the prehistoric era.
Needless to say, history becomes a little more changed than she anticipated. One the bright side, she got that one question right on her test! On the other hand, all the rest of her questions were wrong due to her effect on history. Like I said, the finer plot points are lost on my son, but the book is funny and entertaining nevertheless.
Movies in Bed: Scrooged
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving. We all know what THAT means: Four weeks of in-your-face Christmas fun! The least I can do is make a meager contribution by sharing some of those good old-fashioned holiday movies. Not that any of these will be a new discovery for you. Nevertheless: Happy Holidays! Let the fun begin!
We will start off with the 1988 Bill Murray reinterpretation of the classic Dickens story, “A Christmas Carol”. I’m talking about Scrooged. Bill Murray stars as Frank Cross. As befits the tale, he is successful and a terrible human being. As befits Bill Murray, he does it all in the most hilariously awful way. Stapling tiny antlers onto a little mouse? Ha ha! and No.
We all know how these stories play out: visits from the ghosts, a vision of what lies ahead if he continues to be a total jerk and then, of course, the possibility for redemption. I wonder which he’ll choose? Watch it this season and marvel at the fact that this is the 25th anniversary of the film. Yup. It’s one quarter of a century old.
Classic holiday fun for all!