Things We Like: Smart Lighting

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

If you recall, a while back I wrote about the basics of bedroom lighting. In that article, I went over some of the ways you can use lighting to change the look and feel of your bedroom. Basically, changes in the brightness, color, and height of your lighting all influence the way we experience a room.

In my quest to help you make the most out of your bedroom lighting (and lighting in other rooms) I’m going to share a new type of light bulb that recently came across. Meet the Philips Hue, which is more of a light system than it is a light bulb. Let me explain.

The Philips Hue is an LED light bulb and lighting control system that gives you the ability to adjust almost every aspect of your lighting (save physically moving the fixture). The bulbs screw into your existing light fixtures and connect to your home’s Wi-Fi through a bridge. The system allows you to control your lights remotely from your iPhone; and I’m not just talking simple on/off control. These bulbs also allow you to change the color of your light.

In addition to controlling the on/off function and color of your lights, Philips Hue also lets you adjust the brightness of your lighting, so you’ll no longer need to install a hard-wired dimmer switch. The system also has a number of pre-set selections (called light recipes) that adjust the color and brightness of your lighting for task specific purposes, such as: reading, relaxing, or working (concentrating). Philips even claims these light recipes are scientifically proven to improve your ability to focus and relax.

In the bedroom, the Philips Hue really shines. The bulbs can set on a timer that gradually brightens and adjusts the color of the light to simulate the sun coming up to help you wake up more peacefully. No more squinting (and dreading) when the lights suddenly come on!

Since the bulbs LED they consume about 80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and last about 15 years. While they are a bit more expensive than regular bulbs (even energy efficient bulbs), it’s hard to put a price on the cool factor. The starter kit includes a wireless bridge that handles up to 50 bulbs and three bulbs. It sells for $199. Additional bulbs can be purchased for $59 each. A bit pricey, but much cheaper than other color changing LED systems I’ve shopped for before.

For more information, check out the official Philips Hue Website. The only question left is: How will you incorporate these new lighting possibilities into your bedroom? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Breakfast in Bed: Baked Apples

Post by Alison Hein.

Please forgive me for starting this post with a national service message. The entire Northeast was recently ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Many people who live in the area are still suffering from the aftermath, in need of shelter, clothing, and food. Please help by donating whatever you can at www.redcross.org. Every little bit helps!

Now, here’s an easy autumn breakfast recipe highlighting seasonal apples – just right for all those extras you got at the you-pick. Baked with granola for crunch, and topped with flavored yogurt for protein, these little fruit make a warm, comforting, nutritious breakfast. Use tart apples, like Granny Smith or McIntosh, for pie-like flavors. If you like, add some apple pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace or cardamom) for a deeper aromatic undertone.

Changing the type of granola you use can greatly alter the flavor profile of your baked apples. Experiment with different nuts, coconut, or dried fruit varieties. Or, refer to a prior Breakfast in Bed post for Lusciously Light Granola.

If you like, swap out the apple juice for brandy, and the yogurt for whipped cream, for an old-time, boozy dessert. Or, simply stick with the program for a warm, comforting breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

2 small, tart apples (about 4 ounces each)
¼ cup to ½ cup granola
¼ cup apple juice
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
4 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
Mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°. Core apples, leaving skin intact, and place in small baking dish. Fill cored center of apples with granola. Pour honey in bottom of baking dish and drizzle with honey. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until apples are cooked through and soft, and granola is lightly toasted.

Spoon yogurt over apples, garnish with mint, and serve while still warm.

Makes 2 servings.

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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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