Things We Like: Murphy Beds

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

William Lawrence Murphy is the man credited with the first Murphy bed design. After all, it is called a Murphy bed. As the story goes, he developed the fold away bed as a way to skirt social standards in the early 1900s. Back then, women were forbidden from entering a man’s bedroom. With a Murphy bed, however, the same space that would otherwise be used as a bedroom was easily transformed into something more socially appropriate, like a sitting parlor. The rest is history.

Today, Murphy beds are epitome of multitasking, something valued highly in today’s ever-changing world. Don’t have enough space to dedicate to a bedroom, but often host out of town guests? A Murphy bed is a great way to maintain the functionality of your home office or living space, while giving you the flexibility to comfortably accommodate the occasional sleepover guests. Murphy beds help you make the most out of your living space without sacrificing comfort or style.

I’ve always had a negative feeling associated with Murphy beds, like: “Why can’t you just get a regular bed?” However, Murphy bed design has come a long way, and there is a plethora of options to chose from. Today’s innovative Murphy bed designs are able to accommodate almost any style home décor or floor plan. Did you know they make horizontal Murphy beds? What about Murphy beds for pets? Yes, they make those too.

A lot of neat details I see in some of the higher end looking rooms that feature a Murphy bed is attention to detail as to where everything goes both when the Murphy bed is stowed up, and when it’s folded down. Instead of having to push furniture out of the way when you fold out your Murphy bed, the more cleverly designed living spaces have an almost hidden built in space waiting to accept whatever piece of furniture needs to be moved. Everything has a place.

As always, the best way to see just how cool some of these Murphy bed rooms are you should check out the Murphy Bed gallery on Houzz. Some of them are really quite impressive.

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Breakfast in Bed: Scallion Pancakes

Post by Alison Hein.

Sometimes I feel like Mother Hubbard. It’s not that my cupboards are bare, exactly. Just that I find myself with an odd assortment of ingredients. Take the other day, for example. I was looking for the makings of a nice breakfast. We had no bread, milk, or bacon, and were down to one egg. The best looking thing I could find in my fridge was a handful of bright green scallions, left over from my last post, Succotash Hash.

That got me thinking about the delicious roasted scallions I enjoyed recently at my favorite Japanese restaurant,Yamagata. Yama-san, the proprietor, kindly shared the recipe with me: “Broil the scallions. Put them in 1-1-1 sauce, and leave them in the refrigerator overnight.” What, you might ask, is 1-1-1 sauce? It’s equal parts of what some might call the Japanese trinity – sake, soy sauce, and the sweet rice vinegar, mirin.

Now, I’m thinking about scallions, thinking about 1-1-1 sauce, and thinking about my one egg. As it happens, I always have a store of organic red miso in my freezer, so now I’m thinking about how to make Asian-style scallion pancakes.

Perhaps not traditional, but scrumptious nonetheless. The scallions lose their sharp edge in a quick sauté, and the 1-1-1 sauce adds a sweet mellow note to a breakfast in bed that even Mother Hubbard would enjoy.

Scallion Pancakes
6 scallions
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
1 egg
1 tablespoon miso
1 – 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Preparation
Wash and trim scallions. Cut into 2-inch lengths and set aside.

Mix together flour and salt in large bowl. Whisk in water, egg and miso mixing until batter is thick and smooth. Let batter rest a few minutes before cooking.

For each pancake, heat about 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a heavy 6-inch pan over medium heat. Add one quarter of the scallions, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until softened but not cooked through. Add one quarter of batter to the 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.

Serve warm with 1-1-1 Sauce.

Makes 4 pancakes.

1-1-1 Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sake

Mix soy sauce, mirin and sake together. Serve at room temperature.

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Bedtime Stories: Hedgie’s Surprise

Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett.

What you need to know about this story is that there is a tomten in it. The main antagonist, the one causing all the trouble, is a tomten. There are not a lot of children’s books out there that require me to look up one of the first words in the story! Perhaps this just speaks to my poor Scandinavian folklore education. Apparently (according to Wikipedia) a tomten, or tomte, is a “humanoid mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore.” In this story, the tomten is a very small, troublesome little scamp who resembles an elf. And a rotten, selfish little elf-thing at that. Every day he barges into Henny’s coop and steals her eggs. She begrudgingly tolerates this until she realizes that if she could keep the eggs she could have baby chicks! But despite her best efforts, she cannot keep that tomten away.

Happily, Henny’s friend Hedgie the hedgehog (I know, these names are not up to Jan Brett’s usual standards) helps devise a cunning plan by hiding the eggs and replacing them with various other edibles, until at last Hedgie hides and gives that tomten a prickly surprise! This is not the book Jan Brett is best known for; it’s a perfectly good read and the images, as always, are lovely. Great for kids 4-6.

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Movies in Bed: Orange is the New Black


Post by Mark T. Locker

Orange is the New Black

As many of you know, Netflix has been pushing a lot of original programming, from the new season of Arrested Development to House of Cards. They’ve been doing quite a good job of drumming up lots of excitement and interest in these endeavors.  Most recently, lots of folks have been chatting about Orange is the New Black. The series is based on an autobiographical account about a young woman named Piper who unexpectedly finds herself sentenced to 15 months in prison for transporting a suitcase of drug money years ago.

Piper’s whole life has changed since she made that decision. She has a startup homemade soap company, does things like go on juice cleanses, and has become engaged. Needless to say, the transition to prison is startling to her. I’ve never been incarcerated but I get the feeling that the way prison life is depicted in this series is more accurate than most depictions. It’s a funny and dramatic show. It is decidedly not for kids but if you enjoy edgy real-life drama/comedy, definitely give it a try.

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Things We Like: Sleeping Comfortably On A Hot Night

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

With summer winding down, many of us are looking forward to everything that fall brings. One of the things about fall that I most look forward to is the cooler weather. Here in California, the weather is quite pleasant year round; however, September usually brings a couple weeks of almost unbearable heat (relatively speaking). And while the September heat is perfect for getting in a few finals days at the beach, living without air conditioning it can be most unpleasant for sleeping. If only we had a sleeping porch to take in the cool night air. Sigh.

For those of you who are likewise trying to beat the heat without the help of AC, I’ve put together a list of helpful tips and tricks to stay cool while you sleep. Even if you do have air conditioning, you can use these tricks to save a bit on your electricity bill without sacrificing too much in the way of comfort.

1.     Use Fans and Ice To Circulate Cool Air

Fans have been our saving grace the past couple weeks. Ceiling fans, air filters, and box fans are all great to keep the air moving inside the house, but you may need to take more drastic measures to pull cool air into your home — especially at night. We’ve been leaving box fans on by the screen door (locked of course) and windows at night to get the most out of the cooler nights. It’s not perfect, but it helps.

On really hot days we even put a shallow tray of ice cubes in front of the fans to chill the air even more. While it’s no substitute for air conditioning, every bit of cool air helps. Did you see the Great Gatsby? The ole’ ice-in-front-of-the-fan-trick seems to be a long time favorite for staying cool. Be careful though, dogs like ice. And if you share your home with a four-legged friend, you may later discover a puddle of melted ice somewhere in your living room. Don’t be mad though, they’re just trying to stay cool too!

2.     Pull the sheets back

Even the most breathable cotton sheets can trap hot air and make you uncomfortable in bed. If this is the case, try peeling the sheets back from your torso so they just cover your lower half. Alternatively, you can sleep with one leg (or your whole body) on top of the sheets. Again, not ideal but it helps.

3.     Take A Cold Shower Before Bed

If your body is feeling stubborn and won’t cool down, a cold shower will feel great. And instead of drying off quickly with a towel, try air-drying for a bit. As the cool water evaporates, it will take a little extra heat off your skin with it.

4.     Put Some Cold Towels On The Back Your Neck

A lot of blood flows through your neck, and placing a cold towel on the back of your neck can help you feel cooler quickly. This trick takes a bit of planning, as you’ll need to put a couple damp rags in the freezer for at least a couple hours before you need them. Your body also exchanges a great deal of heat through the hands and feet, and cold socks can likewise be used to help you cool down.

Thankfully, cooler weather is just around the corner. Until then, the above tricks should help out.

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