Category Archives: Bedtime Stories

Review- Stephen Fry’s Blue Gold Bedtime Story

Post by Jessica Schoenenberger

When you’re up late at night, wide awake and unable to drift off, the perfect remedy is the dulcet tones of a British comedian. Right? The popular mindfulness app Calm sure seems to think so. They just released a meditative, supposedly sleep inducing bedtime story recorded by none other than Stephen Fry, the ubiquitous entertainer. Touted as an adult bedtime story, the internet says this recording is supposed to put you to sleep in minutes. And because everything you read on the internet is always true, I decided to try it for myself. Here I bring you my review of “Blue Gold,” the 24 minute bedtime story written by Phoebe Smith and narrated by Stephen Fry.

Stephen Fry

The description of “Blue Gold” on the Calm app says “Let master storyteller Stephen Fry take you on a calming journey through the lavender fields and sleepy villages of Provence.” I am now finding out Stephen Fry narrated all seven Harry Potter audio-books and is known for his exceptional use of the English language, so I am realizing I might have been hasty to judge. (And I am horribly out of the loop. He must be one of the most versatile actors in the world)

Fry’s surprisingly beautiful soporific voice eases in, and I am instantly relaxed. He begins by encouraging deep breaths from you, as if you are breathing in the titillating scent of the famous lavender fields in Provence. He then begins to take you on a deep journey through those fields, describing everything tantalizingly slow in perfect detail. And that is where I fell fast asleep. After 5 minutes.

One disclaimer-I had had a long day and was totally exhausted, so my results may be off. For me though, it really did the trick, and peacefully at that. Fry’s mesmerizing voice gets softer and slower as he goes on, lulling you into a french lavender trance. By the end, he is almost inaudible, gently letting you drift off. The story itself could almost just be a textbook entry if not for Fry’s perfect performance. In fact, I have listened to the story twice since that night. Once at work, writing this post, so I could write about it in fuller detail. It was so immersive I had to turn my fan on and get a glass of water to avoid nodding off at my desk. I used it traveling this weekend, as I couldn’t fall asleep in an unfamiliar bed. It did it’s job of calming me down yet again.

All in all, it was a quality piece of work and a neat experience. A very cool collaboration on Calm’s part. I expect to be lulled to sleep by Stephen Fry many times in the future, as odd as that does sound.

To try it for yourself download the Calm app to your phone and go to the sleep section.

Posted in Bedtime Stories, Sleeping Better | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bedroom Design: 5 Well-Designed Basement Bedrooms

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Basements used to be considered less-than-desirable spaces, but more recently, these subterranean rooms are often used for family rooms, play rooms, offices, and even bedrooms. Depending on the structure, basement bedrooms can be attractive, stylish, and comfortable, offering everything that a ground floor or second story bedroom would. Still not sold on sleeping in the basement of your home? Look at these basement bedrooms for inspiration.

This basement bedroom designed by Knudsen Interiors allows light to seep in through clerestory windows, which add a visual element at the same time. With its earthy color scheme and modern touches, this room takes on an Arts and Crafts feel.



Believe it or not, this bedroom is in a basement and the space sports 9-foot ceilings (that height is practically unheard of in basements). A bright orange splashes the bed wall and warms up the space. Cork flooring is appropriate for a room below grade.


I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a beautifully decorated basement. A modern Knoxville bedroom pulls out all the stops with an ample sleeping space and a separate seating area. Exposed beams give the room a rustic feel, yet the furnishings are contemporary.


Bringing light into any bedroom is essential, but it’s especially difficult in basement bedrooms. This light well patio eliminates the basement feel and creates a private outdoor space. It’s a win-win.


What’s not to love about this bachelor basement bedroom? Exposed floor joists introduce pattern and increase ceiling height. Gray walls, pine floors, and minimal furnishings lend an industrial feel.

Posted in Bedtime Stories | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bedtime Stories: Kittens! Kittens Everywhere!

Post by Mark T. Locker.

My kid may be pushing nine years old but that doesn’t stop him from getting any and all picture books related to kittens. Currently on high renewal rate are K is for Kitten and Kitten’s First Full Moon.

Kitten’s First Full Moon is arguably the better of the two. It was written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, a prolific author/illustrator many of whose books feature mice in teeny tiny outfits. Henkes nabbed a Caldecott Medal for Kitten’s First Full Moon thanks to its simple but eye-catching images. The book follows around a tiny cute white kitty who is experiencing its first full moon and thinks the big white orb is a bowl of celestial milk. So kitty embarks on a quixotic mission to lap from the great white bowl of milk. But all kitty gets is a mouthful of bugs, or a tumble down the stairs, or a bunch of wet fur. Poor Kitty!

K is for Kitten by Niki Clark Leopold and Susan Jeffers is an A-Z book about a kitten adopted and taken to its new home by a little girl. With such captivating verse as
B is for Brave
All the way home
She purred in my arms
Soft fur and bone

it’s remarkable it took two people to create this book. The illustrations are done by Susan Jeffers, a prolific and talented illustrator and I think that’s what my son is drawn to. Admittedly, the kitty on the cover is pretty adorable.

So if you know a child who like cute little kitties, both of these books are bound to satisfy their cuteness quota.

Posted in Bedtime Stories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bedtime Stories: We Are the Ants

Post by Mark T. Locker.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson.

If you were abducted by a race of aliens and offered the choice to press a big red button and save the world from annihilation, would you press the button and save mankind? For many, the answer would be a simple yes. But if you are Henry Denton, the answer isn’t all that simple. Henry has been getting abducted by the Sluggers for years. He calls them sluggers because he doesn’t know what they call themselves; they don’t talk to him but they sure look sluglike. But ever since he made the mistake of telling his big brother about the Sluggers, his life has been a wreck. Quickly, his brother proceeded to tell everyone and Henry became branded Space Boy.

Henry’s life has been hard. With an absent dad, a bully for a brother, things were bad. But when the love of his life took his own life, Henry was spiraling hard. His grandmother, who he loved more than anyone, is fading due to Alzheimer’s. When the guys in his high school began ruthlessly attacking him, things got worse. So when the Sluggers kept taking him and kept presenting him with the choice to save the world, he had no intention of saving all the monsters who have made his life so terrible. But then something begins to change. It seems there are people out there who refuse to let Henry destroy himself, much less the world. Suddenly things aren’t as cut and dried as he’d thought.

We Are the Ants is a difficult book to read. It’s brutal and heartbreaking in only the way real life can be. It’s also a sweet, funny, and at times hopeful story. When you get to see the Earth from miles above, and you see the vastness of the universe, you can’t help but gain a new perspective. This is not a book for children, to be sure. But teens and adults will laugh and cry reading this story of growing up, of love and loss and trust.

Posted in Bedtime Stories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bedtime Stories: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

Post by Mark T. Locker.

In 1995, the first volume of the greatest trilogy ever written was released. This is of course my opinion and there are those out there who would wholly disagree with this. But the first time I read The Golden Compass it blew my mind. And although it’s really meant for middle-age readers I had a feeling my 8-year-old would dig it. And we have been reading it nightly and he can’t get enough.

The Golden Compass is full of mysterious forces, witches, armored bears, adventure and monsters. Lyra Belacqua has grown up in Jordan College in Oxford in a world much like ours, but very different. In Lyra’s world, every person has a daemon, an animal companion, bound to them in spirit. It’s very much an physical manifestation of the soul. Lyra’s daemon is named Pantalaimon and like all daemons of children, it can change shape into any animal they can imagine.

She has always been a bright, if fierce and precocious young girl, with few cares in the world. But her world is changing. The Gobblers have come to Oxford. All over England, there have been stories of children going missing. And now her best friend Roger has gone missing and Lyra finds herself plunged into an adventure she never dreamed of. She’s headed to the North, to find her friend, and to learn about the mysterious alethiometer given to her in secret by the head of Jordan College. A strange kind of compass that tells the truth and Lyra can read it like nobody else. And it’s all connected to the Gobblers, to herself, to the North and to a mysterious element known only as Dust.

There are layers to this story that make it enjoyable for readers of many ages. Although Pullman’s feelings on religion are not always shared by all, I found this series impossible to put down.

Posted in Bedtime Stories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment