Things We Like: Sleeping Underground

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

As you can probably tell, I get a bit of wanderlust during the summer. After all, we are ingrained from childhood to expect three fun-filled months of vacation every year. In our adult years, we can’t let little details like work, bills, and other responsibilities get in the way. Am I Right? In any case, it never hurts to daydream a little bit.

My daydreams recently led me to a novel place heralded as “world’s deepest hotel room.” Located in the depths of Sweden’s Sala Silver mine, the aptly named “Mine Suite” (not to be confused with the Hotel Mine Suite in Istanbul) offers a truly unique sleeping experience.

Mining first began in the Sala Silver Mine in the 1400s and continued until 1908. Operations resumed briefly in the mid 1900s, and the mine is open now only as a museum/tourist attraction with sleeping accommodations to boot. The mine is said to be one of the best preserved of its kind in the world. Enough about history though, let’s get back to the underground room…

The Mine Suite is about 500 feet underground (155 meters) and will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of 3890 Krona/night ($575 USD). It’s depth and location makes it one of my ideal sleeping environments: cold (be sure to bundle up, temperatures have been known to get down to a brisk 35°F), damp, dark, and downright awesome. Reading through travelers’ reviews, you’ll find that some of the drawbacks are that the bathroom is located outside of the suite itself, and showers are only available on the surface. Better plan accordingly.

If the Mine Suite is as much of a budget breaker for you as it is me, there are also more affordable rooms available on the surface, starting at 460 Krona/night ($68 USD). I’m sure either accommodation provides an exciting experience.

As a guest at the Sala Silver mine, you’ll also gain access to guided tours through the labyrinths of underground tunnels dug over the years. Guest reviews unanimously agree.

So what are you waiting for? The summer’s about half way over, and it’s fine time you started planning your next adventure. And if your travels take you to Sweden don’t miss the chance to see this man made wonder.

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Breakfast in Bed: Strawberry Smoothies

Post by Alison Hein.

When the summer temperatures skyrocket and remain relentlessly above 90 degrees, when the air is so thick with water it’s hard to breathe, when the air conditioner gulps and strains to keep up the good fight against Mother Nature – those are the rare times when I don’t want any breakfast. My solution? An icy, frothy tall drink lush with fresh fruit and thick as a milkshake, tasting of summer and chilling like winter – a Strawberry Smoothie.

While fresh fruit/milk drink combos have been around for a long time, food historians generally believe the smoothie is a 20th century concoction, first appearing in West Coast health food stores during the 1920s, then later becoming popularized in the mid-1960s. Regardless of their history, they are delicious, nutritious, thirst-quenching and easy.

You will need a blender. After that, all you need is some fresh fruit, a handful of ice, and a little imagination. I like to put some low-fat vanilla yogurt in my smoothies – not just for thickness, but for a bit of protein. Experiment with different kinds of fruit, add a drop of honey or some protein powder. You can even use frozen fruit, and omit the ice entirely. Whatever you come up with, I’m sure it will be a recipe for a smooth, chill breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh strawberries, plus 2 strawberries for garnish
1 cup ice
½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt


Preparation

Rinse strawberries and gently pat dry. Hull strawberries, except for the two garnish strawberries, using a small paring knife. Carefully cut around the green stem of each berry in a conical shape. Discard leaves and white inner part of berries. Make a small slit in the bottom of the two berries to be used for garnish, and slide one over the rim of each glass.

Place ice in blender. Add hulled berries and yogurt. Purée until thick and smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into glasses, add a couple of straws, and enjoy immediately.

Makes 2 smoothies.

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Bedtime Stories: Berlioz the Bear

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett.

I know I have only recently told you faithful readers about a book by Jan Brett. But the truth is I picked out a small pile of her books from the library because I enjoy reading her works and my son enjoys them too. There is always so much happening on a given page that often he is still taking it all in by the time I have finished reading all the text.

Berlioz the Bear is no exception. I don’t know if this a folk tale in its own right or a take on some common folk tale themes, but I wouldn’t put it past Jan Brett to create fresh new folk literature out of thin air.

In this story, we have a group of bear musicians on the way to perform in town when the wagon wheel gets stuck in a hole and the recalcitrant little donkey will not budge. One by one the proud and confident neighboring animals try to pull the wagon, and its stubborn donkey, along the road. But when even the mighty ox cannot budge them, what tiny guy will save the day? The mysterious buzzing in Berlioz the Bear’s bass may provide a clue…

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Movies in Bed: The Avengers


Post by Felix and Mark Locker.

Happy holiday weekend! In honor of big explosions and things overtly American, my son has brought you the following review for an explosion-riddled explosionfest, starring Captain America! Ladies and gentlemen, a brief and meandering recap of the Avengers, now showing on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

The Avengers are Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Captain America. (He totally forgot Captain America.)

The propellor got broken and Iron Man fixed it. I guess so!

Thor and Hulk got in a fight. And Thor took Loki. Loki is a bad guy. He puts people under his control.

Black Widow was with Hulk when Hulk was just a human.

My favorite Avenger is Iron Man because he has an iron suit. But my really favorite is Captain America because he can throw a shield and it comes back to his hand. The same thing with Thor, but with a hammer. (It’s remarkable that Captain America is his “favorite” (he totally isn’t) when he couldn’t even remember him earlier!)

That’s pretty much the movie in a nutshell! I like it because it’s written by Joss Whedon, who could make a phonebook sound funny and ironic.

Go watch it!

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Things We Like: Floor-To-Ceiling Tiled Bedrooms

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

A couple weeks ago my girlfriend was telling me about Italy’s Amalfi Coast, and how we should visit. Okay, I thought, you’re Italian and these sorts of daydream conversations are commonplace with us. As such, my ADD quickly took hold (Did a bird just fly by?), and I soon forgot all about it. However, this weekend, Facebook made me aware that my favorite neighbor from undergrad had just eloped on the Amalfi Coast; the universe was telling me it was time I learned more.

Once I had the location figured out (the Amalfi Coast is a lot more southern that I had thought), I went straight to the real estate pages to see how the locals live. To say the least, the results were impressive.

At the top of the list is a private island just off the coast. With 7 bedrooms and 10 baths, this magnificent €250 million estate offers lots in the way of of design inspiration; even if I’ll never be able to afford such opulence. My favorite room is one of the bedrooms. It’s covered floor-to-ceiling in intricate Italian tile, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. Words cannot begin describe it, so I’ll let the picture do the talking.

Now, I can understand that some people may not appreciate this look; it can look a bit like a steam room. Nonetheless, it makes a statement. You can see the full listing at worldrealestate.it for more photos of this modern marvel. All of the rooms are truly amazing.

With fresh inspiration, I did some searching to find if other people had created a similar look in their homes. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find an example of a similar bedroom. The closest looks I could find use brick in a style that’s more Mexican than Italian, and there are also some interesting bedrooms with rather ornate wood ceilings. Below are some of the highlights from my search. Hopefully it gives you a new perspective on interior design, and how the ceiling can dramatically change the look and feel of a room. Enjoy.

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