Yearly Archives: 2012
Post by Laura Cheng.
The last time I had a TV in my bedroom, I was in middle school. It was 13” and I was the cool kid not only because I had this special privilege, but because I could watch 90210 and Melrose Place on it. Since then, not counting my travels when the TV is designed into the hotel bedroom, I have gone without a TV in the bedroom for the past 20 years. My fear of accidentally watching Keeping up with the Kardashians is too great. Besides that, my attention span is so short and my daily life events so full, even if I had one, I would just view it as noise pollution in my home.
However, there are times when I fully understand the convenience of having a TV in the bedroom. And whenever that thought occurs, I wonder where I would be able to put one without it affecting the tranquility of my bedroom. Taking a TV out of the box and propping it onto the dresser is just too intrusive. The idea of surrounding my TV with large framed photos so that it naturally blends is an appealing option. Since most TVs these days come with an SD slot, an unsightly flat screen could even be converted to a giant photo frame.
I really prefer my furniture to be versatile, but I wouldn’t mind this beautiful customized cabinet. It is a nice integration of rustic woodwork and today’s technology. With custom country paneling, a bedroom remains as serene as my favorite bed and breakfast spot in Napa, even with a TV as the centerpiece. In fact, even an outdated 1990s tube TV would look stunning in this space.
I recently inherited a stunning Restoration Hardware armoire. I considered doing as the French and using it to store a TV in the bedroom, but it just occupied too much space physically and visually. As an alternative, and if my Manolo Blahnik shoe collection will allow, taking advantage of closet space may be a better alternative. Sliding doors allow for easy access to items within and conceal the TV when it is not in use.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Happy October! We begin the countdown to Halloween and to kick it off, here are two books about everyone’s favorite bolt-necked, sewn up, misnamed monster, Frankenstein(’s monster)!
Frankenstein and the Bride had a child, inexplicably. Even more inexplicably, he seems totally normal. So on his first day of school, all the other monsters are unfriendly and dismissive. But little Franke has a couple scary tricks up his sleeve. He can horrify with the best of them, howl like a proper beast, and draw some grotesque creatures. Needless to say, all the monsters suddenly approve of and like him. Although the story is primarily about prejudgement it is not really discussed. In my opinion, this book has nothing to offer. It’s not very clever, it’s not well-written or well-illustrated, it’s not worth picking up and reading. Though it may bore you or your child to sleep.
This one’s a little bit better. Frankenstein is a bit shy but lovable. Dracula, his friend and neighbor, is more outgoing and kind of a jerk. When Frankenstein decides to throw a Halloween party, Dracula decides to throw one too, stealing all the invitations from Frankenstein’s mailbox so no one would go to his. But while Dracula’s big bash is in full swing, he sees sad Frankenstein alone at his party. The bloodsucker, in a rare moment of guilt, takes the party to Frank. A little subtle humor and some funny illustrations save this book from the dud list.
Post by Josh Zinn.
Back when I was in high school, the school district thought it appropriate to bring in the occasional motivational speaker to come and regale students with metaphorical stories of success that might inspire them to find newfound meaning and purpose to the daily machinations of their public education. Though speeches from firefighters and sweaty, rotund local councilmen were the de rigueur for these assemblages of student body, one day in late October television talk-show host Montel Williams came by to pay us a visit.
A C-list celebrity attempting to coax A’s out of D-list small town, Montel shone like a 25-watt bulb, illuminating students on the dangers of staying in the scholastic dark. If nothing else, his words of wisdom got me out of P.E. and the first fifteen minutes of my dreaded Algebra class. If the purpose of Montel’s visit had been to brighten our day, in my eyes he was an unqualified success.
The girls attending Miss Cackle’s Academy of Witches know too the excitement and allure of having “sinspirational” speakers come before them. After all, while it’s certain that Powders & Potions class can be intoxicating and bubbling over with excitement, there is nothing quite so effervescent as when the Grand Wizard comes to pay the school a visit—especially when the Grand Wizard is played by Tim Curry.
Based upon Jill Murphy’s series of books of the same name, “The Worst Witch” is not just a Halloween special; it is THE Halloween special by which all other Halloween specials should be judged. Existing in that rarified realm where quality of production is superseded by the charm of intent, this tale of a clumsy witch-in-training named Mildred Hubble has little to offer in the way of production value or Tom Stoppard-esque dialogue. Instead, what it does is magically transport the viewer to a time in the mid-80’s when the trials and tribulations of adolescent sorcery were best-conveyed using bad off-off-Broadway songs and the special effects team from the latest A Flock of Seagulls video. Needless to say, Harry Potter she ain’t.
While “The Worst Witch” may be lacking in the whiz-bang of its recent kid-with-a-wand brethren, where else can one find Charlotte Rae, everyone’s favorite housemother (Mrs. Garrett) from “The Facts of Life,” playing dual roles as both a good and bad witch? Or, for that matter, a young Fairuza Balk, before “The Craft” had cast its patent leather spell of Nine Inch Nails gothic fashion upon her? And let us not forget the Grand Wizard himself, Tim Curry, whose Halloween visit sends the entire school the entire school into a tizzy and helps teach a little girl the importance of believing in herself through the use of songs crafted from the finest in rhyming dictionaries. Bewitching.
It’s not for naught that Montel and “The Worst Witch” remain such important pieces of my adolescent experience. Seemingly unrelated, they are curios of a time when the lowered expectations of my youth kept boredom at bay. Twenty years later, however, Montel is no longer on the air while “The Worst Witch” remains a Halloween favorite. Had Montel found his own way to rhyme tambourine with “Begin the Beguine,” perhaps he’d be singing a different song.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
I am fortunate enough to have a set of Charles P Rogers sheets. They are one of my all time favorite sheets, and it’s not just because I write for Charles Rogers. The sheets wash well, and the colors haven’t faded a bit. I’m actually a bit surprised since there are many weeks we wash them and put them right back on the bed. We like them so much because of their combination of softness and breathability. The bottom line is they are one of the best values in sheets I’ve found yet, and I’d definitely pay more than the current asking price for a set and still feel like I was getting a deal. My only regret is, that I didn’t go for the organic cotton sheets; apparently they’re the cat’s pajamas. Don’t take my word for it though.
Beth Bucynski of GreenUpgrader recently reviewed a set of Charles P Rogers organic cotton sheets. Follow the link to find out what she thought (spoiler alert: she loved them).
So, why organic?
Given the amount of chemicals and toxins we encounter every day, organic sheets should be a no brainer. Most people are worried about spending 10 minutes in a closed room with open paint, yet they’ll spend 8 or more hours every day sleeping between sheets of unknown origin dyed with who knows what. Which do you think is worse for you over time? Choose your sheets wisely.
Sheets start with the cotton, and Charles P Rogers’ organic sheets use cotton that is organically grown using low impact farming and harvesting methods. They are also made at a 300-thread count, which perfectly balances luxury with longevity.
If you’d like to read more about Charles P. Rogers sheets, you can also check out our interview with Sally Painter of LoveToKnow. You’ll get to read a little more about what makes our sheet so great, and why we make them the way we do.
Post by Alison Hein.
Summer has ended. The sweet, colorful heirloom tomatoes we’ve been enjoying all season are dwindling at local farmer’s markets, slowly being replaced by staunch winter squash and hardy pumpkins. Definitely time to make a few last minute heirloom purchases, and showcase some in these lovely, summer-to-fall baked tartelettes.
Make your own pie crust for a real homemade treat, or substitute store-bought if you don’t have time to fuss. I like to make a very plain filling that adds body, but allows the lush, juicy summer heirloom flavors to shine through. Warm, light ricotta plays nicely with the crisp, autumnal bite of homemade crust. Fresh basil adds color and a snap of freshness after baking. Nice for a cozy, summer-to-fall breakfast in bed.
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1/3 cup butter
2 cups ricotta cheese
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and white pepper, to taste
2 Heirloom tomatoes, varied colors
Fresh basil, for garnish
To make crust, sift together flour and salt. Remove half of the flour mixture and add to a separate small bowl. Add water to flour mixture and stir to make a paste. Cut butter into small cubes and cut into remaining flour mixture, using a pastry cutter or two forks. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth, uniform dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut in half. Gently roll out one piece of dough on a lightly floured board, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll dough to form a circle several inches larger than your pie pan, to accommodate sides and edges of pan. Fold circle of dough in half, gently lift, and place on top of pie pan. Trim, and form edges by making a fluted pattern, or you can press the dough down against the rim of the pie pan with a fork. Again using a fork, pierce bottom of dough in several places, which helps to keep dough flat as it bakes. If you like, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit pan, and weigh down with pie weights or dry beans. Repeat for second tartlette. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Make filling while pie crusts are cooling. In a large bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, eggs, rosemary, salt, and white pepper. Divide filling evenly among pie crusts. Slice heirloom tomatoes about ¼ inch thick. Cut and arrange tomatoes on top of ricotta filling, alternating colors and shapes as necessary. Reduce oven heat to 325° and bake filled tartlettes for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is set. Let cool at least one hour before serving. Garnish with fresh basil. Enjoy slightly warmed or at room temperature.
Makes 2 6-inch tartelettes.