Monthly Archives: August 2013
Post by Mark T. Locker
Okay, first thing I need to make abundantly clear: this is not the 1997 Nicolas Cage/John Travolta movie Face/Off. That little slash makes all the difference here.
No, what I’d like to discuss today is the Syfy Channel’s reality competition series, whose fifth season just launched. No, I am not normally one to go for the reality show format, with confessional cameras and everyone living in a big house together. But I love this show. The premise is this: a bunch of amateur special-effects geeks come to California to show off their makeup and prosthetics and latex caking prowess. Each week they are given a theme, such as alien werewolf or demon king of a particular geographic region. They have three days to go from concept to execution. The final day includes models who will wear these crazy rubber getups. They are then judged, fairly but sometimes harshly, by a panel of judges who take themselves WAY too seriously, especially given they are analyzing alien werewolves (I’m looking at you, Glenn Hetrick!). As you can guess, contestants are eliminated one at a time until a big theatrical finale.
Now here’s what I like about the show: these people are, by and large, really nice. There is no manipulation, no back-stabbing. They’ll even rush over and help each other out when they are struggling! It’s just so sweet. The first four seasons are available here and there online; we actually bought season 4 because it was a bargain. I recommend you watch it tonight and dream of mutant giants.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
A French term that loosely translates as “Chinese-esque,” chinoiserie (pronounced: shen’wäz-re’) describes a European style of art and design dating back to the seventeenth century when early traders first started brining art, fabrics, and silks back from Asia.
Characterized by its use of fanciful imagery of China, asymmetrical balance, whimsical contrast, Chinese porcelain and lacquer like materials, chinoiserie has long been a popular style of interior design — particularly amongst the Chinese, French, and English aristocracy. Notably, Louis XV of France favored chinoiserie design, and decorated entire rooms at the Château de Chantilly in the chinoiserie style. Other prominent people who have incorporated chinoiserie in their homes include: Tory Burch, Ann Getty, Pauline de Rothschild, and Yves Saint Laurent.
If you want a bedroom that is colorful, vibrant and exotic, chinoiserie may be a style to consider. When done right, it exudes a sense of sophistication, worldliness, and high-class that you simply cannot get from any other style. Chinoiserie design also provides ample opportunity for collectors to incorporate antique and vintage pieces into their décor. While authentic chinoiserie pieces can be quite expensive, reproductions offer the same look at a fraction of the cost.
Some common elements of chinoiserie design include:
- Vibrant silk wall coverings patterned with flowers, birds, bamboo, or butterflies.
- Colorful Chinese statues of exotic animals, pagodas, and historical figures;
- Glossy table lamps, vases, and plates painted with scenes of Chinese life;
- Lacquered furniture with classic chinoiserie curves; and
- Decorative throw pillows.
Many of the elements that make chinoiserie so great for some, also makes it unsuitable for others. It is often said that you either love the style or hate it, but I think there is a middle ground that can be achieved. So, don’t discount chinoiserie entirely if the bold colors and whimsical imagery are too energetic for your bedroom; you can still incorporate elements of chinoiserie design without losing too much of the tranquility you’ve come to expect from a bedroom.
For example, instead of covering your entire room with fanciful wall coverings, you could frame smaller pieces of silk wallpaper and use it as paneling to create an accent wall behind your bed. You can also incorporate a couple carefully selected chinoiserie lamps, ceiling fixtures, and small decorative statues and vases. While the most easily recognizable chinoiserie lacquered furnishings are painted with fanciful scenes, a simple curved black or brown glossy piece can be a more subtle way to make your space a little more chinoiserie. You may also opt for more muted color palette using colors like dark teal, and flat gold, instead of vibrant pink, gold, and silver colors.
If you’d like to learn more about chinoiserie design, be sure to check out the Chinoiserie Chic blog. For more inspiration, Houzz also has a channel with striking examples of how people have created fabulous chinoiserie bedrooms.
Post by Alison Hein.
My sister wanted a 1960’s theme for her birthday bash – music, decorations, clothing and yes, food. As we collaborated on the menu, Janet loaned me a couple of old cookbooks for inspiration.
I paged through many recipes when the idea struck. A Jello mold! Sadly, ingredients such as raw egg, cream cheese, canned fruit and other oddities didn’t feel right. So I followed one of my favorite bits of cooking wisdom – when in doubt, add booze. I knew I was on track when I peeled the foil from the proseco bottle and spied the tiny smiley face printed on the cork.
Lots of fresh fruit added a colorful, decorative touch, and the frosted grapes shimmered and sparkled in a perfect party-like manner. Janet couldn’t find her old jello mold, so I used one of my grandma’s old cake pans. Any pan will do, but be patient and let the jello set to just the right consistency for the fruit to “float”. 2 ½ hours was right for the size of my mold.
Jammin’ and jiggly, our shimmery jello was an evening birthday party smash! And the next morning, who’s to say it wasn’t a real groovy breakfast in bed?
Jammin’ Jello Mold
2 cups water
1 6-ounce package of raspberry Jell-o
2 cups proseco, chilled (or use ginger ale as a non-alcoholic substitute)
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries
6 ounces raspberries
1 small head Boston lettuce
Frosted Grapes (see below)
2 cups mixed berries (or other fruit) for garnish
Pour water into a heavy, medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour in contents of Jell-o package and stir for 2 minutes, until completely clear and smooth. Stir in proseco. Pour mixture into mold and refrigerate until partially set, about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Texture should be firm enough that fruit will remain “floating” when immersed in the jello. Slice lemon into very thin rounds. Press lemon slices down and arrange in a pleasing pattern to cover the bottom of the mold. Add the blueberries and raspberries, pressing down to “float” throughout the mold. Return the mold to the refrigerator, and chill for at least another 2 hours, or better, overnight.
When ready to serve, run a small, sharp knife blade around the rim of the jello to loosen. Then very briefly put the mold in warm water. Place a platter on top of the mold and carefully flip. Arrange lettuce leaves around mold, then garnish with Frosted Grapes and mixed berries. Serve immediately.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Frosted Grapes (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Salad Recipes)
1 bunch green grapes
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
½ cup to 1 cup sugar
Wash and trim grapes. Dip grapes into egg whites and shake off any excess amount. Dip and roll in sugar to cover fruit. Let dry on rack at least 2 hours before serving.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Boy Wonders by Calef Brown.
The newest addition to our bookshelf is this collection of very silly poem things by author and illustrator Calef Brown. “Boy Wonders” is a series of queries on a number of subjects. I’m sure most of us don’t have answers to most or possibly any of his questions, but they are sure to elicit chuckles and perhaps a stream of inane questions in response. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve always liked Calef Brown’s poetry a lot more than his imagery. I find a lot of his pictures to be kind of creepy. It’s mostly the way he draws noses. That’s not the only thing, but that’s the most prominent thing that creeps me out. Fortunately, this is a pretty un-creepy collection.
Among the musings contained therein are such vital questions as: “Are phones annoyed when no one calls? Do ants, when anxious, climb the walls? Is water scared of waterfalls?”
You get the idea. my son’s favorite is about Jason and the Argonauts:
I’m proud to say my son has actually improved on this by changing it to: If I were an Argonaut, would I say “Argh”? Or not?
Boy Wonders is a silly fun book for anyone who loves a ridiculous pun or play on words. So long as you aren’t scared of weird-looking noses.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Greek mythology. It’s always so much fun to read. About the only time I did my homework in middle school was when I was assigned Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I was supposed to read all the bits about the Odyssey, but I went ahead and read the whole thing. It has been much to my delight that my son loves the myths of olde as well. Argus, the watcher with a bunch of eyes? Not creepy to him in the least! He is fascinated by Medusa. How could you not be? I really hope he decides to name his first dog Cerberus.
I don’t think he is ready yet for The Clash of the Titans, though I really can’t wait until he is. As a really mediocre compromise, I pulled up Disney’s Hercules on Netflix. My wife had beaten me to the classic
He wasn’t crazy about it. Frankly, I think the conflict was a bit stressful for him though after the fact he would assert that it was really boring. At least they got Danny DeVito to play Philoctetes, the short fat faun. Other than that, it’s not that memorable. I don’t think 1997 was a great year for Disney productions.
BUT, if your child is a fan of mythology, or you want him to become one, this is a nice and easy stepping-stone into the world of folklore and mythology.