Bedtime Stories: Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath.

This is one of the silliest books I have read in a while. It was very refreshing. And it’s not just silly in the random insert-something-arbitrary-and-silly-here kind of book; it was actually, literally laugh out loud funny. Just ask my wife! Polly Horvath is enormously talented at writing subtle humor that children and adults alike will laugh at.

Madeleine is a smart girl with some utterly useless, kinda dumb parents. So when they go missing, she knows she must find them, because they are pretty much helpless without her. Her only clues are a letter signed “The Enemy” and a coded card with reference to rabbits and rabbit by-products. Spoiler alert: it’s foxes.

Luckily, Madeleine meets Mr. and Mrs. Bunny just when they had decided to buy fedoras so they could be detectives. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have never detected before. Madeleine worries that she may be putting too much faith in them, not because they are new in the game but because they are bunnies. What Madeleine quickly learns is that the Bunnys are the closest she will come to being cared for and loved. And that marmots are very stupid and very fond of the Olde Spaghetti Factory. (These two points are not related. Probably.) Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are charming and adorable. I would love to be adopted by them.

Poignant, funny, action-packed, this book can be read by even as slow a reader as me in just a couple days. It’s well worth it!

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Movies in Bed: The Hobbit

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Personally, I don’t know what Peter Jackson was thinking remaking The Hobbit. He must have known that two perfect things came into being in the year 1977. The first being yours truly, the second being the animated musical movie The Hobbit. With music by Glenn Yarbrough and some fantastically hideous illustration, there was no way Peter Jackson was going to be able to hold a candle to this interpretation.

We owned the LP version of the movie (I can’t imagine whose great idea it was to have the entire movie sold as an audio with accompanying book but I loved it) and must have listened to it hundreds of times. You all know the story, Bilbo Baggins, Gollum, Gandalf, dwarves. Adventure, trolls, goblins, spiders!

The animated version, with its 1970s soundtrack, terrifying Gollum rendition, and ugly, ugly characters, is not to be missed. It has some classic voices of the era, including Hans Conried, the voice of Captain Hook, as Thorin. Seriously, it’s so bad/good.

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Things We Like: Rhythmic Bedroom Design

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

A few weeks ago we discussed the various ways to achieve balanced design in your bedroom. To briefly recap, balance can be achieved in one of three ways: symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial. Symmetrical balance is usually used in more formal spaces, while asymmetrical balance is often thought of as a more casual type of design. Radial balance can be either formal or informal, though it is most commonly used in dining arrangements where chairs are arranged in a circle around the dining table.

This week, I want to take a moment to discuss another fundamental principle of design, rhythm. Rhythm, also called repetition, is a way of timing your eyes’ movement through a space. While it is most often thought of in terms of music, rhythm is equally applicable to visual design. Rhythm is often the glue that holds the overall look of a room together.

Rhythm can be employed in a number of ways: linear rhythm, repetition, alternation, or progression—each of which will be discussed briefly below.

Linear Rhythm

Linear rhythm relies on the movement of the viewers’ eyes across an individual line. A simple way to think of linear rhythm is to picture a sunset over the horizon; the horizon is the linear line that draws your eyes across the image. In your bedroom, you may hang your pictures at a certain height to create linear rhythm, or have a large headboard with a flat top as a focal point of the room.

Repetition

Repetition involves the use of a particular pattern throughout a room to create a timing of movement across the room. Picture a wall with a lot of small pictures hanging very close to each other. Now picture that same room with fewer, larger pictures spaced further apart. In the room with the smaller pictures, your eyes would likely move swiftly across the room as they take in image, after image, after image, in quick succession. Contrast this with the larger, spaced out images: your eyes would likely move across the room much slower as each image commands more attention.

Alternation

Alteration is a specific type of pattern that relies on a particular sequence of repetition. For example, your décor could alternate between large and small objects, or light and dark colors. Alternation is different than typical patterning, as it is not necessary to recreate the exact element throughout the pattern. For example, you could alternate between gold and blue stripes throughout your room, with each stripe being of a different size.

Progression

Progression is achieved by gradually increasing or decreasing the characteristic of an element throughout the room. For example, you could place a set of vases linearly and arrange them according to size, or color.

When thinking about the rhythm of your bedroom, don’t limit your thoughts to one perspective of the room. Rather, you need to be mindful of the overall feel of the room. The best way to see how to successfully employ rhythm in your bedroom’s design is to see what other people have done. As usual, Houzz is an excellent resource for this, and you can browse rooms that scream rhythm here.

How do you use rhythm in your own design? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Breakfast in Bed: Wheaty Baguettes

Post by Alison Hein.

Short, dreary January days are perfectly suited to bread baking. Homemade bread is easier to make than you may think, especially if you own a food processor. All that’s required is a little flour and yeast, and a little larger commitment of time and patience.

Allocate several hours for the process, and don’t be dismayed if your first attempt is less than perfect – you will get better with practice. And, once you bite into your first fresh-from-the-oven steamy slice of homemade bread, there’s no going back. Three lovely. wheaty baguettes will scent your home with bakery aromas, and fill your heart with great accomplishment.

Try a cozy winter meal that calls for no more than a thick slice of sweet, salty homemade bread beside a piping hot seasonal soup. Better yet, slather a warm hunk of baguette with creamery butter, maybe some strawberry jam too. Pour a cup of dark-roast coffee, and reward yourself with the perfect cure for those short, dreary January days – breakfast in bed!


Ingredients

2 cups tepid water
1 tablespoon (2 packets) dry yeast
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups white flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Oil for rising
Flour for kneading, shaping and dusting loaves

Preparation
Add water to large food processor, or large bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top to cover surface. Set aside until yeast begins to activate, about 10 minutes.

Add oil, honey, salt and wheat flour to food processor or bowl. Gently pulse on food processor dough setting or stir until mixed in. Add white flour, about a cup at a time, until mixed in. If using food processor, gently pulse until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Be careful not to over mix or dough will become tough. If making bread by hand, turn out onto floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon oil to large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn and flip so oiled side faces up. Cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.

Punch down dough. Turn onto floured board and shape into 3 equal-sized baguettes. Sprinkle large baking tray with cornmeal. Place loaves on tray, cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let loaves rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425° about 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. Lightly sprinkle loaves with flour (use a sifter or sieve). Carefully make a few diagonal slashes on each loaf, using a razor blade or very sharp knife (I keep a craft knife on hand for this purpose).

Place loaves in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Makes 3 baguettes.

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Bedroom Design: Best Night Lights for Kids

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Ah, darkness. To the reasonable adult, it is a welcome thing, indicating that sweet sleep might be just around the corner. To a child, it is little more than cover for bone-crunching, blood-sucking monsters, just waiting to pounce on their unsuspecting prey. Thank goodness for night lights! My boy has a couple lights he uses. We have gone through many more during our years-long hunt for the perfect light. Here are a few of the more interesting lights I have seen. Spoiler alert: my favorite is the Ikea “Totoro” light.

This is the Spöka LED night light from Ikea. I love it. My son loves it. It reminds us a bit of Miyazaki’s Totoro. That is what my boy calls it. The best part about it is that is holds a charge which allows your kid to take it to bed if so desired. My kid so desires. It’s even kind of soft! Also, it changes color, from blue to green and everything in between.

I found this turtle light at the Goodwill and it put me back a whole $2.99. I was skeptical whether it would actually project stars on the ceiling but it really does. It’s pretty great. It stays lit for about half an hour and works like a charm.

Spider-Man’s decapitated head on a spring. I thought this would scare the bejeezus out of my son, but he actually likes it. Go figure.

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