Sleeping in the Berth

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I like to explore alternative ways people sleep. Whether that’s on a block of ice in the ICEHOTEL, in a hammock somewhere tropical, or underwater, there’s a number of ways you can get a good (or at least novel) night’s rest outside of the traditional bedroom. This week, we’re headed offshore and I’ll introduce you to the idea of sleeping on a boat.

When you’re on a boat, the bedroom is referred to as the “berth.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word berth dates back to the 1620’s and refers generally to a “convenient sea room.” It’s of uncertain origin, but is thought to have come from a combination of the word bear (the verb) and the suffix –th, which is used to turn verbs into nouns. The use of the word berth has been extended to refer to sleeping quarters in all types of transportation, including: planes, trains, and automobiles.

Space on a boat is limited, and designers are challenged to use every available square inch inside a boat efficiently. Thus, the master bedroom (berth) on “normal-sized” boats are typically located in the fore (front) hull of the vessel. These types of berths are known as a V-berth, due to the shape of the interior. Since the front compartments in boats are irregularly shaped, mattresses in a V-berth must be specially crafted to fill in the triangular gap that would otherwise be present with a rectangular mattress. Larger vessels may feature additional sleeping quarters along the sides and towards the rear of the ship, and generally have more latitude in the design of the rooms. Check out the picture below: berths can be quite luxurious!

It’s up for debate whether the front of the rear (aft) of a ship is more stable for sleeping, but most of the ultra-mega yachts I’ve seen on television all feature the master suite in the front. You’re also likely to find the luxury suites on cruise ships at the front.

While sleeping on a boat isn’t for everyone (some people just aren’t comfortable being on the water, or get sea sick), many seafaring types find that sleeping on a boat is quite relaxing. In calm seas, the gentle rocking of the boat helps lull you to sleep (a similar effect of sleeping in a hammock). Additionally, boating imbues a sense of excitement for the adventures that lay ahead. You can also experience amazing sunsets that below the unobstructed ocean horizon, and views are simply unobtainable from land.

Have you ever slept in a berth? Do you prefer the fore or the aft of the ship? Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

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Breakfast in Bed: Butter

Post by Alison Hein.

There’s an old story about the discovery of butter: a nomad filled his skin bag with goat milk, strapped the bag across his mount, and rode across the desert from dawn to dusk. When setting up camp that evening, he was surprised to see that his forgotten milk had turned into a thick, yellow, tasty substance.

The scientific process of creating butter includes agitating whole cream until the fragile membranes that surround milk fat are broken, allowing fat droplets to form and join. More churning hastens the separation of cream into butter and buttermilk. In other words, if you shake, beat, or whip cream long enough, you will eventually get butter.

Perhaps you think this is time-consuming and unnecessary. All that will change as soon as you taste your first sweet and salty bite of thick, yellow, homemade butter. Have your kids help with the preparation, and watch their eyes widen as white turns to yellow, and cream turns to butter. Slather some on thick, crisped toast, and rediscover the perfect, homemade breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

1 pint heavy cream
1 teaspoon large-grain salt (I used Pink Himalayan)
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Preparation

Pour heavy cream into large, deep bowl to prevent excess splatter. Using an electric mixer, beat cream on high until whipped cream begins to form. Keep beating, until cream begins to flatten and turns slightly yellow. Continue to beat until butter clumps form, and buttermilk separates from solids. Depending on your mixer, this process will take between 7 and 10 minutes.

Pour butter and buttermilk into colander to drain. If you plan to retain buttermilk for cooking or baking, be sure to drain butter into a large clean bowl. After draining, rinse butter well with cold water, then squeeze and knead by hand until all liquid is removed from butter.

 

Place a sheet of waxed paper in a 4-inch by 4-inch square dish. Spread butter on top of waxed paper to form an even layer, and fill the square dish. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Trim to desired shape. Sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme leaves.

Options

  • Salted butter – add salt to cream before whipping.

  • Sweet butter – make Maple Butter or Honey Butter

  • Herbed butter – for a savory butter, add a variety of fresh herbs and spices to soft butter. Form into a log on a sheet of waxed paper. Slice into rounds and use to top toasted bread, roasted potatoes, or grilled steak

Makes approximately 5 to 6 ounces butter.

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Bedroom Design: Delightfully Creepy Design

Post by Erin Sears.

New rule:  I am no longer allowed to watch scary stuff even during daylight hours.  As a kid, I loved all things creepy and Halloween-ish. By flashlight, I excitedly devoured yellowed, dog-eared copies of The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and Helter Skelter that I found under the attic eaves of my family’s remote cabin. Tales from the Crypt was my favorite T.V. show and I couldn’t get enough of horror flicks. I came by these macabre fascinations honestly. If you ask my mother her favorite horror movie she’ll proudly reply, Rosemary’s Baby and she’ll be quick to tell you that she was so enamored with the film when it came out that she decorated her first kitchen to look like Mia Farrow’s kitchen in the movie.  She’s one of a kind, my mom.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed a reticence toward such material. All it takes is a few seconds of a spooky soundtrack and I’m out. I can’t do it. Yesterday however, in honor of the season, I thought I would attempt to return to my roots and I decided to watch the first episode of the latest season of American Horror Story. It was 4pm on a Sunday and I decided that surely no harm could come to me or my psyche at that early hour.  I was wrong. I had disturbing dreams all night. It doesn’t help that my dear mother bears a passing resemblance to Jessica Lange in real life.  Needless to say, I woke up feeling twisty.

I know that some people have a higher tolerance for horror and that their love of dark subject matter may influence their decorating.  Here are some examples of the creepiest bedrooms I could find- may they help you get thoroughly in the mood for Halloween!

Source: http://twoflychicks.blogspot.com/2010/07/almost-free-headboard-tutorial.html

I like the idea of using chalk for a headboard, but the choice of mimicking a traditional brass bed gives me pause.  It ups the spooky factor quite a bit.  Just imagine waking up to a message from beyond written on that wall! No thanks.

Source: atlantishome.com via the Locals

Uh-Uh….nope, no way.  I like objects like pillows to be where they’re supposed to be- on the bed!  For me, the scariest scene from any movie was in Poltergeist when all of the chairs suddenly ended up on top of the kitchen table.  I shudder thinking about this.  I do really love the tape rug in this room though.

Source: http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/close-to-home/comments/terror-at-the-sylvia-beach-hotel/

This last photo comes from closer to home. This is the Edgar Allan Poe room at the wonderful Sylvia Beach Hotel in Nye Beach, Oregon. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is legendary for its literary themed rooms. This room was remade into the J.K. Rowling room two years ago, but my mother and I have fond memories of staying here in 2005. The room was full of character with its blood red linens and Psycho-themed shower curtain.  Many characters also slept in this room as evidenced by journal entries found in the dresser.  I’m not gonna lie, staying here was creepy, but in a good way. Between the raven staring at me from across the room and the pendulum teetering overhead, I was a little nervous.  In the end, we made it through the night unscathed and enjoyed telling others about our unique sleeping quarters at this quaint little hotel by the sea.

www.sylviabeachhotel.com

Happy Halloween!

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Bedtime Stories: Ghosts in the House!

Post by Mark T. Locker

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara.

By golly, but this is one adorable book! Sure, it’s full of ghosts, and there’s a witch, but there is nothing less spooky than this clever little ghost story.

A little girl and her cat move into a new home. However, the house if HAUNTED! Positively teeming with ghosts! Luckily, this little girl is a witch and she LOVES ghosts! With the help of her cat (who, inexplicably, is decked out in a cat costume) they gather up the spooks, run them through the wash, and use them to decorate their new home. Turns out ghosts make lovely curtains and tablecloths, and pretty good bed linens too!

If you have a kid who is easily spooked (mine is, but only about the most arbitrary things; Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Wolfman is too scary, but Harry Potter is just fine) not to worry; the ghosts are super happy to be strung up as curtains. They are positively smiling about it! It’s a really cute book that we bust out every Halloween, and it gets a lot of love during those weeks.

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Movies in Bed: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Post by Josh Zinn.

Though the thrill of Halloween and the festivities and decor the season brings with it still resonate deeply inside me, I must confess to feeling at a loss as to how to properly celebrate this ghoulish holiday as an adult. Truth be told, I find little enchantment in the idea of going to parties where drunken Draculas, kissy-face kitty-kats, and naughty nurses mingle and cavort whilst techno-rave renditions of the Monster Mash thump from cotton cobwebbed speakers. Heck, if I had my druthers Halloween would remain the holiday of my childhood, with trick or treating, haunted houses, and pumpkin carving taking precedent over frat guys dressed as popes pounding Pabsts.

Maybe that’s why today much of my Halloween tradition includes watching as many spooky holiday specials as I can. Because I lose most of my ability to be judgmental when confronted with an animated jack-o-lantern, the majority of these programs have little-to-no artistic merit. Oh sure, there’s probably a way someone could construct a found poem from the dialogue spewed forth in the wittily named “Fat Albert’s Halloween Special,” but I merely prefer to sit back and allow America’s second-favorite rotund representative of the inner city (tip of that hat to you, Biggie) to enlighten me through shoddily animated examples of the proper ways to inspect Halloween candy.

Occasionally, however, certain holiday cartoons are able to excel beyond their “sponsored by Pudding Pop” pedigree. With its lovingly neurotic and sincere tone, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is just such a feature. In fact, other than the previously reviewed “The Worst Witch,” it may rank as my favorite Samhain special.

Here’s what you need to know: no one likes Charlie Brown, yet that doesn’t stop him from wishing everyone would. Here’s what you also need to know: No one else believes in the Great Pumpkin, yet that doesn’t stop Linus Van Pelt from wishing that the grand gourd of the night will pay a visit to his most sincere of pumpkin patches.

While I am aware that, on the surface, this may sound like a story about disillusionment and the realties of dementia and class-based ostracism, what makes this Halloween tale so charming, disarming—as well as a boon for urban pumpkin farming—is its lack of pretension and its utter belief in the emotional and social worth of childhood desires. That may sound like a heavy way to describe a bunch of Peanuts, but what separates “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”’s wheat from the rest of the cartoon chaff is the way in which it honors and acknowledges the fears and foibles that plague the minds of the under-10 set. These characters pursue their dreams not to teach viewers the proper way to look over a mini-Snickers bar, but rather to show them that being different doesn’t stop you from still being worthwhile.

Perhaps, then, it’s Ol’ Chuck and Linus who showed me that, even in my old age, it’s okay to want a Halloween free from the noise of one-too-many Long Island Iced Tea-induced Alice Cooper karaoke contests. Me? I’d rather be sittin’ in a pumpkin patch, waiting to hear something go bump in the night.

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