Monthly Archives: September 2015
Post by Mark T. Locker.
“The Golden Pot” by E.T.A. Hoffmann.
Nothing makes me happier than the arrival of fall. I love the change of the leaves, the milder temperatures, darkening evenings and the slow creep of Halloween onto the scene. Many years ago, I spent the most influential autumn of my life studying 19th-century German literature, art, philosophy, and music. I spent the days sipping chai amongst the swirling autumn leaves, listening to Robert Schumann and Brahms, reading the tales of the brothers Grimm as well as the modern fairy tales of the 19th century; notably, Ludwig Tieck and E.T.A. Hoffmann.
Although the name Hoffmann may seem unfamiliar to you, gentle reader, his best-known book is known to us all. A little story he wrote called “The Nutcracker” has become the seminal Holiday ballet. I must admit, I haven’t actually read that story. Maybe this year I finally will. But his novella “The Golden Pot” is hands-down one of my favorite stories of all time. It’s weird, it’s eerie, and wonderfully magical.
The story revolves around a young scholar named Anselmus who is trying his best to be an upright, well-mannered gentleman of Dresden but his flights of fancy and awkward manner get in his way. But when a colleague recommends him to an eccentric old man seeking someone to transcribe a document, his live changes forever. The strange man, the Archivarius Lindhorst, is looking for a man just like Anselmus: his head-in-the-clouds approach to life and his daydreaming are key tools in performing the tasks Archivarius Lindhorst demands. With his guidance, Anselmus finds all his suspicions to be proven true. As Hoffmann tells us, this fairy region of wonder and horror is right before our eyes, if we are willing to look. In this fairy region Anselmus finds love and danger. It’s a beautifully odd story, a depiction of the battle between rationalism and Romantacism. He’s team Romanticism all the way. So am I. A great read for a blustery autumn evening.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
The traditional style includes myriad looks. From French Country to Chippendale, to Neoclassic and an eclectic mix of periods, traditional bedrooms can be soothing and comfortable, or fancy and posh. Wing chairs, silk draperies, canopy beds, and dust ruffles all come to mind when we think about the traditional interior. But in today’s design world, the term ‘traditional’ can mean so much more.
Since decorating styles within the traditional genre run the gamut, today we’ll take a look at some lovely yet very different traditional sleep spaces, each well designed with its own unique character.
Clean and simple, this casual guest room leans toward the traditional but boasts an up-to-date look. The linear elements in the walls, windows, and bedding are essential in the design theme.
This Charleston Bedroom is brimming with bold color, yet has a relaxed feel. The designer successfully mixed pattern, but I have a feeling that she intentionally chose solid walls and bedding.
One can’t help but feel romantic in this chic Atlanta master bedroom with its serene color scheme, generous space, and perfect scale. Its classic layout, tall windows, and dark hardwoods add to the ambiance.
Charming and sweet, this shabby-chic farmhouse bedroom invites and calms. This space would make a wonderful guest room.
A San Francisco-area retreat, this bedroom remains neutral for the most part but adds interest with birds-eye maple bedside lamps and tone-on-tone patterns. Fresh flowers breathe life and add a pop of color to the space.
Post by Alison Hein.
Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for; or: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought.
Many agreeable and favorite food products came to be (allegedly) by fortunate accident:
Potato Chips: George Crum, a chef at the Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs, was making a plate of fried potatoes for a customer. The customer sent the plate back to the kitchen several times, asking that they be cut thinner and fried longer.
Ice Cream Cones: A vendor selling ice cream at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair ran out of serving dishes. Ernest Hamwi was a fellow vendor selling waffle-like pastries called zalabis. He rolled some zalabis up so the ice cream could be put inside.
Serendipity Cake: While I was attempting to make a traditional crumb cake, my sweet topping fell down inside the cake, creating unexpected, serendipitous bites of buttery brown sugar hidden deep within.
Serendipity Cake may not become a household favorite like these chips, cookies, and cones. But with a good cup of strong coffee, I’m quite certain it will make a very agreeable breakfast in bed.
1 cup flour
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into small cubes
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°.
To make crumb topping, add flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt to a small bowl. Mix together, allowing topping to form into large clumps. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until thick and creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Alternately add sour cream and dry ingredients to cake batter, mixing thoroughly each time until batter is thick and creamy. Spread batter out into greased 9×9-inch pan. Top with crumb topping. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting and serving.
Makes 1 9×9-inch cake.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein.
My son has very little interest in picture books anymore. It’s all chapter books and graphic novels and comics. And since I no longer work in a children’s library, my exposure to new picture books has been very limited. I picked up this book off the new books shelf. I like the night and I liked the cover art so I picked this up on a whim. It’s a lovely book to read at night to a child, either to appreciate the purpley blacks of night or to take some of the fear out of darkness. Or to read at five in the morning as the day comes to life.
The premise of this book I could immediately relate to. A needy cat decides it’s a good idea to awaken his master for inexplicable reasons. This is every single day of my life. As the child wanders around the darkened house, everything looks mysterious and different. All the color is gone, replaced with inky shadows. Slowly, the sun creeps over the horizon as the boy and the cat watch colors slowly bleed back into the world.
A simple book from the Caldecott Award-winning artist/author of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, kids and adults will enjoy the painted pages and the quick-reading story of the world coming to life every morning.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I’ll be honest with you: the only reason this movie came into my house at all was because my son REALLY, REALLY wanted to see it. I don’t really know why but he seems to enjoy musicals. It was sitting on the shelf at the library and he saw it so we got it. I had very low expectations of this movie. For one thing, I’m tired of reboots. For another thing, it’s a reboot of Annie. But I have to say, this movie was not terrible. I give a lot of credit for that to Quvenzhané Wallis, the remarkable 12-year-girl who took on the role of Annie. Known for her roles in more serious movies such as Beasts of the Southern Wild and 12 Years as a Slave, I can only imagine it was a nice change of pace to do a feel-good musical starring Jamie Foxx. She takes on the role of the warm-hearted, selfless girl with aplomb and she’s pretty easy to love as a protagonist.
The story is adapted to a more modern environment, moving Annie and her friends from an orphanage to a foster home and unfortunately replacing Carol Burnett with Cameron Diaz. She’s fine but she’s no Carol Burnett. And the millionaire Daddy Warbucks is updated to cell phone mogul/mayoral hopeful Will Stacks. Like so many kids’ movies these days, the main grown-up is learning that work isn’t everything and sometimes the thing that makes you happiest is right in front of your face.The least plausible part of this movie is the story of Stack’s political advisor, the bad guy who will stop at nothing to get his boss elected, even if it means destroying Annie’s life in the process. It’s your out-of-the box villain whose greed is comically inflated.
Nevertheless, my kid had a great time watching this and I was drawn in despite my initial reluctance. Great family movie to watch on a weekend night.