Bedroom Design: Oh, America!

Post by Erin Sears.

Well, it’s finally here- Election Day. Regardless of whom you voted for, I think that there’s one thing that we can all agree on- we’ll be glad when the election is over. Until then, this special day has me feeling patriotic and what could be more patriotic than red, white and blue, stars and stripes, and the American flag!

Maybe it’s my Midwestern roots, but I’d don’t mind a little Americana in the home.  It just needs to be very well curated and have visual interest. Stars and stripes, whether on a flag or not, have strong graphic appeal and that’s why they show up so often in home décor and fashion. Here are some great examples of star spangled decorating:

Source: desiretoinspire.net

There’s nothing understated about the bold use of this oversized flag.  What draws me to this room is that it is done so well.  The flag is framed in white and provides the color theme for the rest of the space.  It’s happy and exciting, which is just what a child’s room should be.

Source: http://media-cache-ec4.pinterest.com/upload/188799409348166836_sSJNf3dH.jpg

The literal use of the flag at the top of the bed aside, I’m really drawn to this bedding.  It’s a reversal of the stars and stripes theme. The quilt is a sophisticated use of red and white and it looks great with the striped pillow.  It’s just enough of a nod to the flag without being overpowering.

Source: http://www.shelterpop.com/2010/06/30/bright-idea-decorating-with-flags/

This simple room feels clean and classic. From the presumably vintage quilt on the bed to the light blue striped throw pillow to the boat painting, the room represents understated Americana at its best.  The flag-as-curtain ties the whole room together. It should be noted that there are official rules for using the flag indoors and technically, this room is breaking those rules.  I would assert that decorating is all about breaking rules and that America was founded with independent sensibilities in mind.  If using the flag in this manner isn’t for you, you have the freedom to go a different direction.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/garden/how-to-tell-if-youre-living-an-over-propped-life.html?_r=1&

Books! The New York Times wrote that doing this type of home styling might be over the top.  However, I think that if you’ve got the downtime and creative drive to turn your books into a showpiece, go for it!

I hope that you’ve been inspired by Old Glory this week and I hope that you vote today.  Regarding Hurricane Sandy, please know that all of us on the West Coast are thinking of all of you on the East Coast.  Take care.

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Bedtime Stories: The Internet is a Playground

Post by Mark T. Locker.

the internet is a playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius by David Thorne.

Attention: this bedtime story is approved for adults only! Read it aloud to your spouse or partner, or the pet you believe, to an unhealthy extent, is a suitable replacement for a spouse or partner. However you choose to go about it, by all means go about it. David Thorne’s book, previously published on his website 27b/6 is well worth reading if you are not easily offended and have a good sense of humor.

The bulk of this book is email correspondences the author has engaged in, clearly for his own amusement. Generally the people he engages with have asked him for something or behaved in some manner which has pissed him off and he engages them in often lengthy logorrheic email exchanges. In the end, David either gets away with something by sheer tenacity, or manages to make the other party look like complete jerks which, oftentimes, they are.

From wearing down a poor Blockbuster Video rep until she finds herself forgiving all his fines to letting bigots who write him to tell them how much they hate him show their true colors, his shameless and hilarious correspondences are funny and also (for my part at least) always seem to put people in their place. It’s a fun read when you don’t want to commit to a long story. I love it. If you don’t…contact the author.

p.s. Extra points if you can figure out the origin of the name 27b/6!

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Movies in Bed: My Life as a Dog

Post by Josh Zinn.

The boy has no real home, not anymore. Orbiting around the lives of those for whom he feels his existence is now, in one way or another, a complication, his time is spent comparing what he endures with the lot of those whose circumstances appear to have been far worse than his own. It’s a way to get by in this transient life, when you’re viewed more as an attachment, a burden, a nuisance, a pet, than as someone worth knowing. “At least we’re not them,” we tell ourselves, all the while knowing we probably wouldn’t spend so much time thinking about it unless some of their pain resonated with our own.

Lasse Hallström’s “My Life as a Dog” knows what it’s like to feel forgotten about and left to drift towards some unknown oblivion. Like so many of the stories that flow through his mind, the film’s protagonist, Ingemar, is a boy whose happiness and well-being has become an after-thought. Seemingly unwanted, he lives on the outskirts of life, confined to adjunct spaces, with the rest of the world now existing behind shut doors or in memories of better times with his mother. Like Laika, the first dog in space whose fate is ruminated over throughout the film, Ingemar’s idea of his future appears isolated, grim, and hopeless.

To portray this notion of Ingemar being removed from the rest of the world, Hallström places the boy in a series of confined spaces throughout the film. From a drainage tunnel under train tracks, to the cabinet he hides under when his Mother is taken away, to the small spaceship-shaped “funhouse” he hides away in, Ingemar is put in places where he won’t be in the way. Unaware of the complexities of life taking place around him and confused about the changes happening within his own body, Ingemar is frequently trapped within his thoughts, unable to explain or understand what he is feeling. These pockets of solitude, then, become a representation of the darkness—the naiveté—that he must emerge from if he is to find his place in the world.

These allusions to space and rebirth also play a more obvious role in the two attempts Ingemar and his friends make to jettison a makeshift “spacecraft” they find in the old barn. Their first attempt, made when Ingemar is still stuck and holding back from embracing his new surroundings, comes to a halt in mid-air, literally leaving its crew hanging. The second attempt, coming at the end of the film—following a climactic breaking down of the fun house door and Ingemar’s subsequent exorcism of grief and guilt—successfully flies but, even more importantly, comes crashing back down to earth and into a puddle of cow manure. Now knowing he is no longer destined to float away into the ether, Ingemar learns that living an engaged life often means dealing with the crap you’re bound to find yourself in from time to time.

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Things We Like: Adjusting Your Computer Screen For Better Sleep

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

If you’re like me, you probably spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a computer screen. It’s an unfortunate consequence of living in a digital world, and our eyes bear the brunt of the pain. Think of your computer screen as a big light bulb that you stare at for hours on end. It’s not that much different than staring at a regular light bulb, except it’s not as bright and we’ve grown used to it — still bad for your eyes.

The effects of working in front of a computer screen are magnified at night. Many people will lower the brightness of their screen to make it easier on their eyes after sundown, but a dimmer screen only solves part of the problem. In addition to adjusting the brightness of your screen, you should also adjust the color. Let me explain.

Natural daylight registers at around 6,500K, while incandescent and fluorescent bulbs produce light somewhere between 2,700 and 3,300K. A main difference between color temperatures is that higher temperatures appear bluer, while lower temperatures appear more yellow or red.

Computer screens are designed to work best with daylight, and produce a bluer light between 5,500 and 10,500K. However, when you’re working under artificial light at night, the color light produced by your computer screen clashes with the ambient light in the room; it irritates our eyes and our brains.

To help equalize the light temperatures, developers have created programs that gradually lower the temperature of your computer’s backlight according to the time of the day. During normal business hours you won’t notice much of a difference, but if you flip your laptop open at night you’ll notice a red hue to your screen. This change takes some time to get used it, but once you try it, you probably won’t want to switch back. I adjusted to it after only a couple of nights, and can’t stand to look at unadjusted screens anymore.

In addition to reducing strain on your eyes, proponents of these programs also argue that adjusting your screen’s temperature at night helps you sleep better. First, your eyes will feel rested (I hate tired eyes). Second, your body is more used to lower temperature light at night, because our biological clocks (circadian rhythms) are quite sensitive to light. When it’s dark outside, your body produces melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. Staring at a bright computer screen disrupts this process, and can actually make you more alert. Try sitting under a full spectrum light at night, you’ll probably never fall asleep.

While the best way to sleep better is to completely avoid the computer at night, we don’t always have this luxury. So, if you find yourself needing to burn some midnight oil, try lowering the temperature of your computer screen. Programs like f.lux are free, and available for Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. There are other programs available that do the same thing, but f.lux seems to be the most popular. It also adjusts your computer screen automatically based on your location, which is a nice touch. After a while, you probably won’t even notice the transition anymore.

Have you tried it? Let us know what you think about the comments below.

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Breakfast in Bed: Smoky Pumpkin, Egg and Bacon Cauldrons

Post by Alison Hein.

Happy Halloween! Why not feed your little hobgoblins a nutritious, fun breakfast before the trick-or-treat candy overload?

In this recipe, harvest pumpkin is seasoned with chipotle, then oven-roasted to a sweet and smoky blend. Roast the pumpkin in the evening, if you like, and wafts of cinnamon and spice will scent your kitchen with autumn aromas. Consider serving some smoky pumpkin with dinner as a seasonal side.

In the morning, fill your little cast iron cauldrons with roasted pumpkin, then top with a bacon, egg and cheese mix that puffs up to a lovely golden brown when baked. Dig in deep, to fill your spoon with a Halloween flavor-packed combo, and a smoky, holiday breakfast in bed suitable for even the fussiest hobgoblin.

Note: I purchased my amazing little cauldrons from Lodge Manufacturing, a family-owned Tennessee company more than 100 years old. These cast iron gems provide great, even cooking, and an irresistible presentation!

Ingredients
1 small pumpkin, about 3 pounds
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper
4 slices bacon
4 eggs
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

To roast pumpkin, preheat oven to 350°. Using large knife, slice pumpkin in half, just to one side of the stem. With a metal spoon, scoop out seeds and pulp, scraping sides of pumpkin until clean and smooth. Slice pumpkin into strips approximately ½ inch thick. Mix olive oil and chipotle pepper. Brush olive oil mixture on pumpkin slices and place on heavy baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once, until pumpkin is lightly browned and cooked through. Remove pumpkin from oven and let cool until it can be handled. Remove skin with paring knife, and chop pumpkin slices into small cubes, approximately ½ inch square and set aside.

Place bacon in heavy skillet, and cook on medium low to medium heat until crisped, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning several times. Drain on paper towels, cool, and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

Crack eggs into medium bowl and whisk until thick and smooth. Stir in mozzarella cheese, chopped bacon, and salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly oil cauldrons (½-pint baking dishes), and place ⅓ cup of chopped, roasted pumpkin into each of two cauldrons. Pour egg mixture evenly into each cauldron, on top of pumpkin. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, until eggs are cooked through and puffed up.

Makes 2 servings.

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