Post by Mark T. Locker.
In 1995, the first volume of the greatest trilogy ever written was released. This is of course my opinion and there are those out there who would wholly disagree with this. But the first time I read The Golden Compass it blew my mind. And although it’s really meant for middle-age readers I had a feeling my 8-year-old would dig it. And we have been reading it nightly and he can’t get enough.
The Golden Compass is full of mysterious forces, witches, armored bears, adventure and monsters. Lyra Belacqua has grown up in Jordan College in Oxford in a world much like ours, but very different. In Lyra’s world, every person has a daemon, an animal companion, bound to them in spirit. It’s very much an physical manifestation of the soul. Lyra’s daemon is named Pantalaimon and like all daemons of children, it can change shape into any animal they can imagine.
She has always been a bright, if fierce and precocious young girl, with few cares in the world. But her world is changing. The Gobblers have come to Oxford. All over England, there have been stories of children going missing. And now her best friend Roger has gone missing and Lyra finds herself plunged into an adventure she never dreamed of. She’s headed to the North, to find her friend, and to learn about the mysterious alethiometer given to her in secret by the head of Jordan College. A strange kind of compass that tells the truth and Lyra can read it like nobody else. And it’s all connected to the Gobblers, to herself, to the North and to a mysterious element known only as Dust.
There are layers to this story that make it enjoyable for readers of many ages. Although Pullman’s feelings on religion are not always shared by all, I found this series impossible to put down.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
New Orleans is a town with its own style and energy –– one that dances to its own pace and claims the French Quarter as its most vibrant neighborhood. Since NOLA is brimming with architectural gems, it’s no surprise that the interiors would be well designed both functionally and aesthetically. These five stylish New Orleans bedrooms are but a few examples of how the city shines from the inside out.
This Victorian bedroom goes bright with colors, and mixes traditional furniture with modern art. Details like rich hardwood floors, high baseboards, and picture mold stand out while celebrating the home’s history.
A tall headboard and color-block draperies allow this spacious guest room in the Chateau Bourbon Hotel to take on a contemporary feel. Yellow adds life to the black, gray, and white color scheme. All paint colors in this space are by Benjamin Moore.
Located in the Garden District, this condo bedroom by Susan Currie Design honors traditional interiors with architectural elements like built-in bookshelves, a window seat, and crown molding. Every detail is in place, but this uncluttered design is both practical and attractive.
This transitional bedroom by Jennifer DiCerbo Interiors remains neutral throughout. The bold sunburst mirror above the bed draws the eye, adding interest to the space.
In the Warehouse District of New Orleans, this apartment bedroom has been completely renovated. The vintage French Quarter doors were pulled inside to complete the look.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Not all bedrooms are created equal, but remember, size and style have little in common. Sometimes, even the most compact spaces can feel chic and be brimming with personality. If you’ve been dreaming of a larger space but don’t have the square footage to work with, celebrate what you’ve got and make the most of your small bedroom.
This shabby chic bedroom might break the rules a bit (the bed is placed in front of the window), but everything about the room is sweet and seems comfortable. The full bed just fits, and the space is accessorized well considering the size (it doesn’t feel cluttered).
A bare bones London bedroom keeps to minimal furnishings, but has all that an occasional guest room needs. The credenza at the foot of the bed works for storage and adds a horizontal surface.
This adorable cottage bedroom sports a neutral color scheme. I want to crawl inside, read a chapter or two, fall sound asleep, and wake up to a croissant and cappuccino. That’s a great room.
Furnishings go modern in this farmhouse bedroom, but the original brick wall remains a backdrop for the beds. A graphic area rug gives the room an industrial edge.
A Scandinavian bedroom keeps things modern and practical with built-in bed storage and a white color palette.
Small space, big style rings true in this New York bedroom that resembles a walk-in closet more than a room. Notice the carefully merchandised shelves and antique chandelier.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bedtime Stories: The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
For most, the story of the Nutcracker is a beloved holiday tradition. Dress up fancy and go to the performing arts center or school to watch the popular ballet, whose music from Tchaikovsky is pretty much synonymous with the holidays. For many, hearing the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy will evoke images of Christmasy scenes.
But did you know that it was first a short story by 19th
century author E.T.A. Hoffmann? Written in 1816, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” is the littleknown origin of the Nutcracker ballet. Hoffmann was a fan of the traditional German fairy tales, and their influence is obvious in the story.
On Christmas Eve, Marie and her brother are playing with their new nutcracker toy which becomes accidentally broken. She attempts to fix it and stays up late keeping it company. Suddenly, an army of mice appear. All the wooden toys then come to life and battle the mice. The next day Marie tells her godfather, Drosselmeyer, about the event and he tells her the story of the nutcracker and how he came to be. There are lots of unusual fairy tale goings-on, such as the need to have a princess eat a nut which must be cracked and handed to her by a man who had never been shaved nor worn boots since birth, and who must, without opening his eyes hand her the kernel and take seven steps backwards without stumbling.
In the Hoffmann story, none of this is a dream. The little girl sees it all with her own eyes and even though most adults don’t believe her, it’s a true story. My favorite version of this story is illustrated by Maurice Sendak, known best for his book Where the Wild Things Are. Richly illustrated, the story is both beautiful to look at and to read.