Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bedtime Stories: Guess Again!

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Guess Again! by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Adam Rex.

The very talented and very silly duo Adam Rex and Mac Barnett have struck again. I cannot adequately describe this not-quite-as-expected rhyming guessing game book. Rightly titled Guess Again! each page features a silhouetted figure, and a rhyme which offers clues. In this book, the clues are designed to trick you into thinking the obvious. Here is an example:

He steals carrots from the neighbor’s yard.
His hair is soft, his teeth are hard.
His floppy ears are long and funny.
Can you guess who? That’s right! My

Grandpa Ned.

Each riddle is silly, misleading, and very funny. Even though it is best the first time round, my little one gets such a kick out of the ridiculous scenarios that we have been reading it twice a day at least, even though he totally knows the answers now. I love these guys and if they did a version of Quality improvement and shelf-life extension of fish filets from three aquaculture species (Ottowa, 2002) you can bet that it would be hilarious and enjoyable to all.

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Movies in Bed: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Post by Josh Zinn.

Hello folks!! Now, truth be told, normally I don’t care much for pryin’ eyes having a gander at my personal business. But, seeing as Christmas is the time when you tell the truth (I learned that little morsel by watching “Love Actually”) I’ve decided to make y’all privy to a heated conversation that happened in my home recently while I was trying to do SERIOUS RESEARCH for your next movie review, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”

Dan: Why are you watching “Home Alone 2” the day after Christmas? Isn’t the season over?

Josh: Tisk, tisk Mr. Scrooge. The season is never over if you keep it in your heart.

D: Really?

J: Sure. Plus, we never got around to watching this one.

D: That’s because we didn’t need to. It’s the exact same movie as the first one.

J: But he’s lost… in NEW YORK! Besides, I like this one better. Not only does Kevin have a myriad of wacky adventures in the big city, but he also gives the scary, homeless pigeon woman turtledoves at the end. Isn’t that wonderful? I mean, yeah, he doesn’t invite her in from the cold for a hot meal or anything, but by giving her an ornament that symbolizes their meaningful yet ultimately temporary friendship we all get to understand what the true meaning of Christmas is!

D: That’s a pretty awful message to send. An ornament?

J: Yeah, what’s wrong with that?

D: Well, it seems to me the true meaning of Christmas has something in its fine print about doing more for the homeless woman who saves your life than just giving her a chintzy ornament before you run back to the palatial, gift-filled, pastry-scented room your family is staying in at the Plaza Hotel. Hey Kevin, she doesn’t have a home and she’s alone! Try fixing that problem with your bag of jacks and firecrackers!

J: He doesn’t use jacks in this one.

D: Oh excuse me, I’m so sorry to have mistaken which pain-inducing toys are at play here.

J: Um, yeah… Anyhow, can we talk about the good parts of the movie now?

D: Catherine O’Hara.

J: Yeah, she’s great. It isn’t “Waiting For Guffman,” but…

D: Why aren’t you reviewing that instead?

J: Guffman?

D: Yeah.

J: Cause it’s not Christmas-related. Duh.

D: Was there some sort of unbreakable rule established by your best friend/editor that you had to write about Christmas movies? Need I remind you—AGAIN—that Christmas is over?

J: So, you liked Catherine O’Hara. Cool. Yeah, she’s always great as Kevin’s Mom. What else?

D: That’s it. God, I hate Joe Pesci.

J: That’s it? I mean, I totally understand the Pesci pessimism, but you seriously didn’t like anything else? Not even when Kevin magically transports himself to disparate regions of Manhattan in the time it takes for Darlene Love’s “All Alone on Christmas” to finish? Battery Park to The Cloisters in two minutes? Whodathunk!?

D: I think you’re grasping at things to write about here because A: you need to write a review since it’s due in a couple of hours and B: you may like “Home Alone 2” in some sort of “sentimental trip down nostalgia lane” kind of way, but you recognize deep down that it’s a pretty terrible movie and not worth writing a review about.

J: Hey now…

D: Am I right?

J: Well, sort of, but…

D: But what?

J: But the only things I’ve watched this week are marathons of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Django Unchained” and I don’t think either one of those are what the bed blog wants. “Home Alone 2” is pretty much the only family-friendly thing I could think of when I realized what day it was and that I needed to write my review really, really quick.

D: Desperate times call for desperate measures?

J: Yeah. But I really do like this one better than the first. It has Tim Curry in it!

D: God, you sound sad. Mark would be ashamed.

J: This coming from the person who wanted to watch “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” starring Vanessa Williams as Ebony Scrooge?

D: Well, at least Ebony learns by the end of her magical journey that the generosity of Christmas means more than just handing a homeless woman a stupid turtledove ornament then ditching her for hot chocolate and croissants.

J: Bah Humbug.

D: God bless us, everyone!

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Things We Like: Balanced Bedroom Design

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

One of the most fundamental concepts of interior design is balance. Balance can be achieved in one of three ways: symmetrically, asymmetrically, or radially. Regardless of which type of balance you aim to create, the primary goal of balancing a room is to equally distribute the visual weight of the objects within the space. Size and shape aren’t the only factors that influence the weight of an object; shape, color, pattern, brightness, and texture also play important roles in achieving balance.

Symmetrical balance is typically used when designing formal spaces, where each side of the room is equally split and weighted with your chosen décor. To achieve symmetry, designers often use identical furnishings on both sides of the room, though not always. A bedroom with matching nightstands and table lamps on both sides of the bed is a common example of symmetrical balance. While symmetrical balance is usually easier to achieve, especially if you’re purchasing new furniture for a square or rectangular room, it can be difficult to create a room that is both symmetrically balanced and visually interesting at the same time.

Asymmetrical balance, which is often considered less formal than symmetrical balance, can be a little more involved to execute properly. Instead of the room being split into mirror images, asymmetrical balance uses different furnishings and décor that roughly equate in terms of their visual weights. For example, you may have a living room designed with a large sofa on the right and two smaller chairs across from it. In this example, the two smaller chairs are used to balance out the larger sofa. While individual tastes vary, I find that asymmetrical balance is the most visually interesting, albeit a bit harder to do right.

One of the hardest parts about creating an asymmetrically balanced bedroom (that looks great) is to make the design appear effortless. Asymmetrical design can require a lot more thought, but you don’t want the room to convey that extra work to its viewers. An example of asymmetrically balance in the bedroom would be where you use a side table on one side of the bed and a mirror on the other. The trick is to make it look right, and appear symmetrical at first glance. Asymmetry can also save you money, especially if you’re buying used furniture or antiques that might be difficult to buy in matching sets.

Radial balance is the third type of balance, and is achieved by arranging furnishings around a central focal point. A common example is a circular dining room table surrounded by chairs. Unless you have a custom-shaped mattress, radial balance isn’t commonly used in bedroom design, except maybe when arranging wall-hanging items or in bedrooms with a lot of space and a seating area. You may also aim to balance your bedroom radially, with how you arrange your larger bedroom furnishings, e.g., you wouldn’t want to put your dresser, chest of drawers, and bookcase all in the same corner of the room – you’d spread them out around the bed.

The best way to understand balance is to look at examples of what other people have done. Houzz has several excellent channels that feature designs utilizing these three types of balance. The following links are provided to show you examples of how other designers utilize symmetrical balance, asymmetrical balance, and radial balance in their space.

What do you think: Do you prefer perfect symmetry or an asymmetrical bedroom? Let us know in the comments below.

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Breakfast in Bed: New Year’s Day Hot Toddy

Post by Alison Hein

On New Year’s Day, people around the world will be celebrating – with food! Health, prosperity, love and luck are signified by festive, global dishes. In Japan, they will ring in the new year with “toshikoshi soba”, lengthy buckwheat noodles associated with longevity. Germans will be dining on hearty pork and sauerkraut, meant for abundance and luck. And here in our own southern United States, “Hoppin’ John”, a dish made with round black-eyed peas and salt pork, is believed to bring good fortune and a circuitous close to the year.

Perhaps you’re planning a get-together with friends and family on the first day of the year, or maybe just a quiet day of reflection. Even a day of recuperation from the night before…

You may consider a hot toddy – made hot and sweet, then splashed with alcohol and wintry spices – a good old-fashioned cold remedy or insomnia cure. I recently learned it was also a favored libation at New Year’s Day open houses, or “collations”, which were popular in colonial New York. Get this – people hosting open houses took out newspaper ads to let their friends and neighbors know of the upcoming festivities. Guests were greeted with punch, hot toddies, cakes and other snacks. This practice remained popular for many years, until bands of young men started racing from home to home, grabbing food and drink before hieing off to the next party. It makes me laugh to think of trying this in present-day New York. ☺

Hot Toddies are simple to make, but be careful, just a hint of brandy and spice makes them alarmingly addictive. Vary your toddies by using whiskey, rum or bourbon. Make them with water or tea, fiddle with the spices, or float a thin slice of lemon on top. Then serve them at your own “collation”, or simply keep them to yourself and quietly celebrate the first breakfast in bed of the year.

Happy New Year!

Ingredients
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon honey
6 ounces milk
¼ teaspoon mace
1 cinnamon stick
Nutmeg, for garnish (optional)

Preparation
Add brandy and honey to a small heat-proof glass, such as an Irish coffee mug. Pour milk into small, heavy pot and heat over medium to medium-low heat until warmed. Stir mace into milk. Pour warm milk into glass containing brandy and honey. Stir. Add cinnamon stick, sprinkle with nutmeg if you like, and serve immediately.

Makes one Hot Toddy.

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Bedroom Design: A Sunny Bedroom

Post by Laura Cheng.

The season calls for shorter days, so any light and warmth I can absorb from sun, I covet. On typical weekdays, I am trapped on the 40th floor of an office skyscraper, smack in the middle of the floor away from any windows. I rarely get the chance to see the sun. Lunches are generally a quick shovelling of leftovers to sustain me until I am ready to leave the office. And by that time, the sun’s counterpart, the moon is there to shadow my commute. Woe is me. The only time I get to enjoy the sun is in my bedroom on the weekends. I have 3 generous windows in my bedroom for the sun to shine in. But by time I have finished all the weekend chores and errands, and retreated back into my bedroom, the windows are no more than black reflections. So, even if my dreary life does does not always allow me to pause and enjoy Mother Nature’s source of joyful heat, it doesn’t mean I can’t utilize other methods to brighten my bedroom atomsphere, day or night.

In addition to the perfectly vibrant shades in this bedroom, symmetry just triggers happy endorphins. Matching ottomans and table lamps helps make the room appear orderly. Together with the vertically striped headboard, the furnishings add a dose of sunny colors that will bring forth an even warmer, saturated hue as night falls. When looking to brighten a bedroom, it’s hard to go wrong with crisp, white sheets that will cast a pure illuminating sheen.

Source: http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/beautiful-designer-bedrooms#slide-20

Any reservations that I may have had about painting an entire bedroom’s walls a bright bold color, have vanished after seeing this bedroom’s use of yellow. I don’t consider yellow a soft, calming color. However, this zen like bedroom keeps clutter to a minimum and sunny opulance at a maximum. White linens are again key to intensifying the faux sunlit walls.

Source:http://www.professionalinteriordesign.com/interior-design-styles/bedroom-designs-photos-37/

If my bedroom lacked windows, I would have even more reason to try to convert my bedroom to a sunroom. This bedroom appears to be a typical Manhattan closet sized studio with just enough room to squeeze in a bed. However, accents of the sun found in the geometric linens and book covers help to make it a golden retreat. And with the help of the canary colored overhanging lamp, the shimmering taupe wallpaper will help the bedroom shine on long after the sun has set.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/foohqwah/3836281499/

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