Monthly Archives: August 2013
A couple weeks ago, I read an article about the most expensive home in America, which is currently listed at $190 million. The Copper Beech Farm is a 15,000 square foot, 12-bedroom estate that was originally built in 1897, and is situated on 50 acres of manicured grounds in Greenwich Connecticut. While the home itself is gorgeous, as can be expected of any property of that value, one of its features stuck out for me: a sleeping porch off the master suite. Intrigued, I did a bit of research on whether a sleeping porch is a real thing.
What is a sleeping porch?
Touted by some as the “ultimate luxury,” sleeping porches first gained popularity at the turn of the 20th century; however, they have been used extensively throughout the world since Roman times. Nothing more than a screened in porch, similar to a modern day sunroom, people used sleeping porches to enjoy the comfort of the cool night air during warm summer months when sleeping inside wasn’t ideal. In addition to being more comfortable than sleeping indoors, people also believed that the fresh air helped with respiratory illnesses and other ailments. This idea was particularly popular as Americans began moving away from industrialized cities to the countryside.
Modern Sleeping Porches
Even though most (but not all) homes today have central air conditioning, and some people harbor a a general distrust towards their neighbors, sleeping porches are making a comeback in recent years. Many people are looking for ways to reconnect with nature, or otherwise find it enjoyable to sleep outdoors in the crisp night air. And even if you have central air, a sleeping porch is an eco-friendly way to escape the summer night heat while keeping your electric bill down. Add a rustic porch bed with metal frame with a mosquito net and quilted bedding an you’ve got a charming bedroom retreat for your and your guests.
If you aren’t keen on the idea of foregoing all the modern modern comforts you’ve grown accustomed to by sleeping outside, a lot of homeowners are converting what was once a sleeping porch into a cozy and functional sunroom. You could even add a day bed, which is perfect for an afternoon siesta.
Post by Alison Hein.
I’ve got orange on my mind – the color, that is. Warm, vibrant, fiery orange. The color of sunsets and pumpkins and autumn leaves. The color of accents in my sister’s revamped living room.
We wanted to surprise Janet with a birthday gift, and got some help from our good friend Luis of Luis Acevedo Interior Designs (http://luisacevedointeriors.com/). Luis created a hip “shades of gray” theme, with jaunty splashes of orange to spice it up. So he sent me shopping. For pillows. Candles. Dishes. Anything I could find that was just the right shade of orange.
All that shopping turned my thoughts to food – a vivid, orange birthday breakfast dish. Sweet mandarin oranges turned into a sprightly sauce, spooned lavishly over delicate cream-filled crêpes.
Happy Birthday, Janet! Hope you’re loving your new orange-accented room and your vivid, orange breakfast in bed!
Mandarin Orange Sauce
1 12-ounce can Mandarin oranges in light sauce
1 cup sugar
Place Mandarin oranges and sugar in a small, heavy pot. Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook at a bubbling simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the oranges break apart and the sauce thickens. Keep warm until ready to serve.
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Set aside.
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Powdered sugar for garnish
1 11-counce can mandarin oranges in light sauce, drained
Mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
In large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Whisk egg into milk, then whisk milk mixture into flour mixture until batter is thick and smooth. Let batter rest a few minutes before cooking.
Heat about 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy 6-inch pan over medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add ¼ cupful of batter to pan, swirling to cover bottom. Cook pancake 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned, flipping once. Keep warm while cooking remaining pancakes, monitoring heat and adding oil as necessary.
To assemble, place crêpes on serving plates. Spread each crêpe with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream cheese filling. Roll up, top with Mandarin orange sauce. Garnish with a few mandarin slices and mint. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 to 7 crêpes.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, and Lois Ehlert.
A lot of people have read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. If you look it up, you will find an endless stream of YouTube videos dedicated to reenacting this story using computer graphics, stop-motion animation, you name it. It’s got a fun and catchy rhythm and rhyme scheme and it’s handy if you are learning the alphabet and upper- and lower-=case letters. Basically the story is this: a bunch of lower-case letters climb a coconut tree, fall down, and their parents, the upper-case letters, come to their aid. It serves its purpose. But who would have guessed that such a basic and generally plotless book could have a SEQUEL?
Enter Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3. No points for guessing what the follow-up book is about. When my son saw there was another book in the Chicka Chicka genre, he was super excited and I had little recourse but to order a copy to my local library branch. Branch! That’s funny, because both books are about climbing trees. This one is about numbers climbing an apple tree (why not?).
If I had to pick one of these two books to read every day for the rest of my life, it would be the original. Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 is very repetitive. It requires one to read a lot of numbers out loud. I think it goes up to thirty or something and then back down again.
That said, little kids can’t get enough of the musical rhythm, bright colors and animated numbers and letters. I’m just glad nobody’s requiring me to read them every day for the rest of my life. Once a week is plenty.
Post by Mark Locker.
We recently accidentally subscribed to another streaming movie and TV site. Although it was unintentional, and planned to cancel it, I have discovered a wealth of TV shows that my other subscription doesn’t offer. I am now quite happy to have it, as it rounds out my fake cable quite nicely. One of the shows I now have access to is Good Eats by the Food Network darling Alton Brown. I have enjoyed the quirky cooking show since its early days. (Yes, I “knew him when”.)
My little one enjoys some of the same shows that I do. He likes America’s Test Kitchen only slightly less than I do, which makes me very proud. As Good Eats is a little sillier, weirder, and more childish than ATK, I harbored hopes that he might like it too. And he really does. I don’t know if he’s being manipulative because he knows I’ll say yes, but he actually requests watching it instead of cartoons sometimes!
If you haven’t watched it, Alton Brown likes to add weird dramatic flairs to this unconventional cooking show. People dressed as fish. Fun oven cams. Surprise visits from such culinary heroes as the inventor of the graham cracker. It’s silly and it’s fun. Unless you don’t care for silly. We have several seasons of Good Eats to get through, but I doubt we’ll have too much trouble unless my son continues to force us to watch the Halloween one over and over and over.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
French country is an increasingly popular design theme. It is warm, inviting, comfortable and romantic, all of which makes it especially well suited for the bedroom. If you’re looking to recreate the feeling of being somewhere in the south of France, perhaps on a wine tasting tour, keep reading to learn some of the basics for how to make your bedroom feel a little more French country.
The first place to start is with the color palette, and French county is all about the whites (there are a lot to chose from). Your perfect shade of white will serve as the backdrop for the rest of the room, but you should also incorporate some pale pastels for a splash of color. Lavender, gold, terracotta, deep reds, and baby blues all work wonderfully in a French country space.
French country décor is light, open, and airy. After all, you’re imagining looking out over a beautiful rolling landscape, and your windows need to help convey that feeling. To help create the look, hang your window treatments from the ceiling to help draw the eye upwards, make your windows appear longer than there are, and to make your space feel bigger. Don’t be afraid to go with window treatments that are longer than your ceilings are high; letting them pool on the floor can add a romantic vibe to your space.
As far as fabric choices, you can go with anything from sheers or lace curtains, to heavier fabrics like linen to add a more weight to your space.
Nothing says French country like a crystal chandelier. A carefully selected chandelier serves as the focal point of the room, while adding a bit of sophistication to the space. In addition to a chandelier, low wattage wall sconces and table lamps also help add supplemental lighting to your space. For an added bonus, you can put your lights on dimmer switches for more control.
There are a lot of different ways you can go when furnishing a French country bedroom. Eclectic would be one way to describe it. Slip cover sofas, with a cozy throw blanket that matches the color of your window treatments is a great way to tie together a room. For other furnishings, think shabby chic. You can find some great old pieces of solid wood furniture at garage sales and flea markets that you can add a splash of color to.
No French country bedroom would be complete without the bed. Heavy, painted wood bed frames usually work best in French country, though there are a number of styles that are good too. Dress your bed in luxurious sheets, and accessorize it with plush throw pillows to complete the look.
When designing your own French country bedroom, remember that design is more about the overall feeling and effect than the individual aspects. Good design is the sum of the parts.