Monthly Archives: September 2014
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar
A couple months ago, I reported back about a collection of stories I’d read as a child and was revisiting with my son. Each was the story of a child in the 30th-floor classroom at Wayside School, the sideways school. I enjoyed it almost as much as a grown adult as I did as a kid. My son? He LOVED them. So imagine our delight at discovering a whole new volume of stories about the unusual children in Mrs. Jewl’s class on the 30th story. My son? He LIKES them. I think they’re okay but not as funny as the first, not as original the second time around, either. Also? I find myself having to explain that although one of the children brought a hobo in for show-and-tell (it was as tastefully done as it could be, which wasn’t very) we generally don’t call people “hoboes” unless they are riding the rails, carrying a bindle, and eating beans out of a can. A couple of the stories are pretty good, like the one about the new kid Benjamin Nushmutt who everyone thinks is named Mark Miller and he can’t bring himself to correct them. After all, Mark Miller is SO much better at everything than Benjamin Nushmutt is.
Overall, I’d say toss it to your kid and have him or her read it alone. And maybe skip the one about the hobo. Ages 6+
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Hooray for 80’s classic film! Last weekend the city of Portland celebrated its annual Rose City Comic Con. Packed with second-string celebrity guests (and a couple big names) booths of artists and toy vendors, and hundreds of local comic and sci-fi geeks rocking some amazing outfits, Comic Con has become an annual tradition in my family. Only my son dresses up, sometimes as The Doctor, other times as a Jedi. This year one of the special guests was Sean Astin, known mostly for his role as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But this is Oregon, a stone’s throw from Astoria, whose greatest attraction is the famous Goonies house. Before everything was all about Portland, those rare appearances in film gave us great civic pride. And though Kindergarten Cop was also shot in Astoria, the Goonies house has won the hearts of Oregonians for years. So, in celebration of Sean Astin’s visit to the Rose City, Comic Con featured a screening of The Goonies with Sean Astin as the guest of honor.
I’m not going to bore you with the whole plot of the movie. If you haven’t seen it before, you probably ought to. After a day filled with comic and fantasy fun, we thought we’d top off the evening with a private screening at home. It was my son’s first time watching it. And once he realized that Sloth was a nice guy, he really enjoyed it. How could you not? It’s got bad guys, adventurous kids, treasure maps, pirates, gold, a Feldman, and the SPOILER ALERT kids save the day and the Goonies house!
Seriously. I love that movie. I hadn’t seen it in years and it stands the test of time so much better than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Now that fall has officially arrived, your bed might need some sprucing up for the change of season. Perhaps you’re considering an alternate coverlet or shams, a fresh set of sheets, or even a brand new mattress. Well, even if you’re on a budget, you can give your bed a fresh look without breaking the bank. You might try making your bed in a different way, and dressing it up in another fashion. Here are four different ways to dress a bed.
Bedding at the foot
A relaxed fold at the foot of the bed is one way to dress a coverlet or comforter. This one happens to be fairly unstructured, but you could certainly tight it up a bit depending on the thickness of your covering. Doesn’t this bed make you want to climb in for a nap?
A tucked band
Use a contrasting piece of fabric for a tucked band like this white Matelassé. Although neutral, 12 inches or so of white coordinates well with the throw pillows. Use a solid, or if you’re daring, a pattern. A floral, paisley, or abstract would be a great way to introduce color and interest on an otherwise solid, pattern-free bed. The key is to tuck smoothly and tightly. And you can experiment with different materials for the band; perhaps keep one for each season.
Tucked all around
You’ll need crisply pressed sheets for this bed dressing. Fold your flat sheet down over top of the covering, which could be a coverlet or blanket. Tuck all edges in and make a nifty fold in the corners. This clean style works best with an upholstered headboard and bed frame.
Covered in full
Not exactly feeling adventurous in the bed-making department? That’s okay! You can still have a stylish bed and keep it simple. With a fluffy comforter like this, the best way is to pull the covering to the top of the bed and under the pillows. This design is quick and painless for those of you with a tight schedule and little time to make the bed each day. And, the matching sham, pillows, and bright orange throw complete the look. See. It’s not that tough making a bed, after all.
Remember, there are no rules when it comes to making your bed, except to do it each day. And if none of the above suggestions suit, get creative and design one of your own.
What’s your favorite way to dress a bed?
Post by Alison Hein.
Scotland’s recent historic vote for independence has got me thinking a lot about this lovely place, its people and its traditions.
The Scots are an ingenious people. Did you know that marmalade, raincoats, tarmac, pneumatic tires, adhesive stamps, penicillin, the bicycle, and the telephone were all invented by Scottish people? I learned this from one of my well-worn and well-loved linen dishcloths gifted to me by my dear friend Anne after a visit to her native homeland many years ago. Anne brought me a second linen at that time, too – this one emblazoned with traditional Scottish recipes: haggis and clootie; cock-a-leekie soup, scones and bridies; and of course, shortbread.
Also ingenious in their simplicity, Scottish recipes require little in the way of provisions, and offer much in the way of flavor. My dishcloth shortbread recipe calls for only three ingredients – flour, sugar, and butter. I’ve modified this approach over the years, using a light brown sugar for depth and a smooth, subtle splash of vanilla for mellowing. Remember, shortbread is all about the butter, so be sure to use a high quality variety when you try this recipe. You must cut the cookies immediately after removing them from the oven, while the dough is still soft. Then, allow them to cool in the pan for a bit so they won’t crumble.
Scotland’s history is also rich with music and verse, like this lovely little snippet from the song Bonnie Scotland, I Adore Thee:
Bonnie Scotland, land of grandeur,
Where the sparkling streams meander,
Here will I delight to wander,
Bonnie, Bonnie Scotland.
So, make a quick batch of shortbread, brew some thick, dark tea the way the Scots do, hum along, and surrender – to a bonnie, Scottish breakfast in bed.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and mix well. Add flour gradually until a thick, crumbly dough has formed. Knead lightly until dough sticks together in a ball, then press evenly into a 9×9-inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned, but not crisp. Immediately cut dough into 3×1-inch strips and prick tops with a fork or toothpick. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack until firm. Store in waxed paper-lined tin.
Makes 27 cookies.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bunnicula by James Howe.
Well, school is in session, and since we seem incapable of experiencing any down time between holidays, all the mini fridges and Trapper Keepers are being pulled and replaced with shrieking skeleton heads and bags and bags of candy. Friends, it is officially the start of Halloween season! Personally, I couldn’t be more pleased. I love all the masks, monsters, and makeup. Pumpkins, papier–mâché skeletons, and party favors. It’s also time to bring in a new collection of spooky stories to share!
My son is now old enough to move past the cutesy Halloween picture books and tackle some heavier material. A couple of those old picture books will forever have a place in my heart, but I’m super excited to share with him the classic vampire story, Bunnicula. Narrated by the family dog, Harold, this story introduces us to the most unusual family of pets I know of. While Harold is very much a family dog, interested in snacks and naps, his companion, a cat named Chester, is a little different. He’s well-read and a little paranoid. When the family comes home one rainy night with a bunny they discovered in the movie theater, Chester is immediately wary. And as he begins to put the pieces together, wariness turns to suspicion, to fear. For it becomes clear that this is no ordinary rabbit. For one thing, he only wakes up at night. For another, he can slip in and out of his locked cage in mysterious way. And when Chester discovers that vegetables are suddenly turning bone-white, his fears are confirmed. This bunny is a VAMPIRE!
A little bit spooky, and a whole lot of fun, this book is a great family read to offer goose bumps and laughs in equal measure. Ages 6+