Being a kid is both awesome and awesomely horrific. From an adult perspective, we recognize the wonderful liberation children have from work, bills, stress. But on the flip side, being a kid is rough. For one thing, relatively minor, if not downright harmless things can be terrifying; darkness, spooky stories, chestnuts. So here are two books about confronting childhood fears and overcoming them.
Willoughby and the Moon by Greg Foley.
Young Willoughby relies on the moon to illuminate his bedroom at night. Inexplicably, the moon seems to be getting smaller by the day. Suddenly, the moon disappears completely. When Willoughby opens his closet door, he discovers he is on the moon and in the company of a giant silvery snail looking for his ball. Willoughby is scared of the dark, the snail is scared of everything else. Somehow between the two they learn that none of that stuff is really worth getting worked up over.
The Scariest Thing of All by Deb Gliori.
This little rabbit is scared of everything, from reasonable things like these trolls which, in this book, are totally real, to chestnut pods which are also real but an unreasonable thing to fear. Through a dubious leap of logic, the rabbit realized that he is the scariest thing in the world and all these monsters are afraid of him. I don’t like this book; it’s too cutesy and moronic. My kid makes me read it nearly every day. Maybe you will have the same fortune.
Now that I have returned from that grueling conference on pygmy populations (you may recall I handed over review duties a few weeks ago to my delightful niece, Janie), I thought I would share with you all a bit of a meditation/imagination exercise that guest speaker Deepak Chopra imparted, along with his new book and fragrance, to all the attendees. Mind you, this can be a bit intense and scary, but what it is meant to do is invoke the deepest passions in the subject’s loins, thus allowing them to focus on what truly matters to their heart.
Imagine, if you will, a desert island. No one is there but you and, perhaps, a ferret named Simone. All around this island is a family of man-eating sharks with a hunger for blood, an insatiable appetite, and a love of Anne Murray to boot. There is little food to speak of other than a few coconuts, a banana plant, and a curious lifetime supply of Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli that come with a note of affection from your Great Aunt. Things are dire.
Now, on top of this tropical maelstrom of misery, imagine that there is also a television playing one movie on a continuous loop from now and into eternity. While you are not required by any sort of island law to watch said movie, there is also no way to turn either the picture off or the volume completely down. This movie is going to be a constant part of you life… for the rest of your life!
Now, close your eyes and breathe… Deep. Breathe…. Take in your life force and the life force of any children near you… Phew… Aahhh. Wait… Wait… You are waiting to exhale… Shoop. Shoop… And… Let go.
Now, the question is: what movie would you choose to be your single and only lifetime companion?
I pondered this question for a whole bunch of seconds, dear readers, and the answer I came to was both curious and comforting, verily whisking me away to the halcyon days of my childhood.
Yes, “Overboard.” That delightful fish-out-of-water folly starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell as mismatched lovers whose differences are no match for the truth that lies within!
Though I hadn’t thought of—much less watched—this movie in quite some time, when I asked the spirits what film would best represent and empower my 89th chakra, the answer was so clear. Of course a film about a rich woman who’s mean and nasty to a backwoods carpenter, falls off a boat, gets amnesia, is eventually adopted by said scorned carpenter and his four out of control boys, actually falls in love with her new family because, hey, it’s better than being married to the vampire dad from “The Lost Boys,” and then subsequently gives the carpenter the extra boost of inspiration he needs to realize his dream of owning a wonders-of-the-world themed mini-golf course would be the film my instincts would draw me towards!!
“Overboard” works as a film for all time because the spiritual lessons of “Overboard” are timeless. You may believe that what matters in this world are fancy yachts and caviar cravings, but let me tell you something, bub: our soul’s true treasures may only be found when—and only when—lies are told to snotty society sirens, filthy children speak like Pee-Wee Herman, and fiberglass sphinxes spit out golf balls; everything else is immaterial.
As you may have gathered by now, dear readers, my heart was awakened—Awakened!—by the time and money I spent listening to Mr. Chopra. No longer do I seek to simply deliver unto you the finest in film reviews. Now, I want to change your life by providing enlightenment alongside entertainment. Fun! I mean, ommmm… Tee hee!
I have given you the gift of “Overboard.” Now, why don’t you make yourself a soothing cup of chamomile tea, slather some pecan butter onto that delicious spelt bread you baked, slip into your favorite pair of organic pajamas, and tell me: what movie speaks to you?
Last week we distinguished modern and contemporary design. While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they convey two distinct meanings: modern design refers to a specific era of design (1920-1970) and many of the more popular pieces from this time are dubbed “20th Century Classics,” while contemporary design refers to a blend of design that embodies a more transient style characterized by what’s popular today. The two can often look similar, but rest assured they are quite different. The devil’s in the details.
Today, I want to discuss my favorite design style: eclectic design. I’ve been told before that you have to be rich to be eclectic; otherwise you’re just weird, though I like to think that’s not the case. Eclectic design is really hard to pin down, but you’ll know it when you see it.
Eclectic design is really a combination of all design styles that just works. Indeed, eclectic is defined as: “deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. To achieve an eclectic design, people often use traditional furniture pieces and accent them with bold colors and a variety of decorative pieces. I find that a warehouse style loft condo is the best canvas to turn eclectic, since the exposed ceilings and ductwork offers a strong contrast to just about anything you put in the space.
What draws me the most to eclectic design is that it allows you to completely personalize your living space. Rather than being stuck to a particular theme or style, you’re free to do just about whatever makes you happy. That said, you do need to have an overall plan in mind for your space even if it doesn’t come together all at once. Basic design principles like rhythm and balance are very important when designing with an eclectic palette since you won’t be able to rely as much on uniformity in your furnishings like you would if you stuck to a more conventional style of design. For example, the visual weight of traditional furniture may be harder to balance with modern accent pieces; whereas, if you used all traditional or all modern furnishings they would more easily balance right out of the box.
The best way to perfect an eclectic design in your bedroom, or throughout your home, is to experiment with various furnishings, colors, and decorations to find out what works best in your space. As always, a low risk way to get a feel for eclectic design is to comb over photos of how others have done it, successfully, before. Houzz has a great gallery for eclectic bedrooms, which you can view here.
What style of design speaks to you the most? Let us know in the comments below.
For the first time in my life, I have ended up on the right side of a flight cancellation. My husband, Kevin, and I usually get stranded in a busy airport, or never even leave home. Now, because of winter storm Nemo, we are trapped in paradise – the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Martin. We love this amazing place, and can never soak up enough sunshine before returning home. A four-day delay feels like the snow day to end all snow days!
We were fortunate with our accommodations as well. The aptly named Casa del Sol was available, and our gracious hostess kindly extended our stay. Veronique provides little surprises for us before our arrival in St. Martin. This visit was no different, with some rich Arabica beans tucked next to the espresso maker, an overflowing bowl of lush, tropical fruit, and an icy chilled bottle of champagne in the fridge.
What better way to spend my exta time than experimenting with new recipes? (Last time we were in St. Martin I made Piña Colada French Toast . Poking around the charming Provençal kitchen, I was delighted to find a copy of the colorful, island recipe-packed Creole Recipes and Cocktails from the Caribbean.
Flipping through the little cookbook, Exotic Fruit Crumble popped out. The name was perfect, and we also had mangoes and bananas in our fruit bowl. I skipped the coconut (Kevin doesn’t like it) and added some vanilla rum (hey, we’re in the Caribbean). A few other little changes, converting everything from grams to US measures, and my little tropical crumble was ready for baking. After the dish baked for 40 minutes in a hot oven, Kevin and I were enjoying an exotic, Caribbean delight.
If you’ve never tried cooked mangoes, you’re in for a delightful discovery – flavors sweeten and meld with baking, become reminiscent of peach pie, yet still remain startlingly light and bright. So, if you can’t be trapped in paradise, pick up some luscious mangoes and ripe bananas, and make yourself an exotic breakfast in bed for two. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Exotic Fruit Crumble
1 tablespoon vanilla rum (or substitute vanilla)
½ cup flour
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Whipped cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°. Hold mango lengthwise, and with a sharp knife, slice through just to one side of the pit. Turn mango, and carefully slice through on the other side of the pit. Chop off the sides remaining around the pit. Score each sliced piece lenghtwise into several long, thin slices, but do not cut through the skin. Score again crosswise to create small cubes. Repeat with other mango section. Scoop scored pieces out with a spoon and place in small oven-proof dish. Skin and slice banana. Add to dish containing mango pieces. Pour vanilla rum over fruit and stir to mix. Set aside.
In a separate small bowl, mix together flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon until crumbly. Spread evenly over fruit mixture. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until topping is lightly browned and fruit is cooked through.
Serve hot with a dollop of whipped cream, if you like.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe adapted from Creole Recipes and Cocktails from the Caribbean, Volume 2
In looking for ways to take my own bedroom design advice and begin again, I started assessing the contents of my bedroom. What do I love? What feels not-so-much? After taking a visual tour of the space, my eye kept getting stuck on my bedside lamps. The base of each lamp is fabulous (I am not humble about my own good taste), but one of the lampshades felt particularly ho-hum.
Here’s the story and what I did about it:
The first lampshade: Ordinary. Hard to clean and rapidly yellowing (gross). Similar to the one pictured below.
Here’s the thing: Many lamps that you buy in mid-range home furnishing stores or from catalog outlets are great design choices, but they usually come with plain lampshades so that they can be easily integrated into the scheme of any room. But you don’t live in just ANY room, do you? Certainly not! You LIVE in YOUR rooms. Time to switch things up! (pun intended)
While I was back in the Midwest for the holidays, I took a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, also known as Target, with my dear mother. Target has a new line of home goods called Threshold and I was instantly enamored with the look and quality of many of the products. In the lighting section, I stumbled across this beauty:
The second lampshade: Ombre glory. Sea and sand magic.
Knowing it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase I put my ownership ambitions on hold and hoped that the lampshade could also be found at my local store. When I arrived it was in stock and for a cool 23 bucks it became MINE. And you know what? This little change has made all the difference. It easily took my bedroom design up a notch.
Here are some other gorgeous options for lampshades that really light me up:
Emily Wagner Handpainted Lampshade $99
Threshold Blue Ikat Print Lampshade $22.99
Threshold Mix and Match Trellis Shade $14.99
The Myriad Horizons Lampshade $98-$118
When in doubt, try a new lampshade! Really. Setting my sights on subtle bedroom design upgrades has proven to be transformative and oh-so-very pleasing. What can you switch up?