Movies in Bed: The Worst Witch

Post by Josh Zinn.

Back when I was in high school, the school district thought it appropriate to bring in the occasional motivational speaker to come and regale students with metaphorical stories of success that might inspire them to find newfound meaning and purpose to the daily machinations of their public education. Though speeches from firefighters and sweaty, rotund local councilmen were the de rigueur for these assemblages of student body, one day in late October television talk-show host Montel Williams came by to pay us a visit.

A C-list celebrity attempting to coax A’s out of D-list small town, Montel shone like a 25-watt bulb, illuminating students on the dangers of staying in the scholastic dark. If nothing else, his words of wisdom got me out of P.E. and the first fifteen minutes of my dreaded Algebra class. If the purpose of Montel’s visit had been to brighten our day, in my eyes he was an unqualified success.

The girls attending Miss Cackle’s Academy of Witches know too the excitement and allure of having “sinspirational” speakers come before them. After all, while it’s certain that Powders & Potions class can be intoxicating and bubbling over with excitement, there is nothing quite so effervescent as when the Grand Wizard comes to pay the school a visit—especially when the Grand Wizard is played by Tim Curry.

Based upon Jill Murphy’s series of books of the same name, “The Worst Witch” is not just a Halloween special; it is THE Halloween special by which all other Halloween specials should be judged. Existing in that rarified realm where quality of production is superseded by the charm of intent, this tale of a clumsy witch-in-training named Mildred Hubble has little to offer in the way of production value or Tom Stoppard-esque dialogue. Instead, what it does is magically transport the viewer to a time in the mid-80’s when the trials and tribulations of adolescent sorcery were best-conveyed using bad off-off-Broadway songs and the special effects team from the latest A Flock of Seagulls video. Needless to say, Harry Potter she ain’t.

While “The Worst Witch” may be lacking in the whiz-bang of its recent kid-with-a-wand brethren, where else can one find Charlotte Rae, everyone’s favorite housemother (Mrs. Garrett) from “The Facts of Life,” playing dual roles as both a good and bad witch? Or, for that matter, a young Fairuza Balk, before “The Craft” had cast its patent leather spell of Nine Inch Nails gothic fashion upon her? And let us not forget the Grand Wizard himself, Tim Curry, whose Halloween visit sends the entire school the entire school into a tizzy and helps teach a little girl the importance of believing in herself through the use of songs crafted from the finest in rhyming dictionaries. Bewitching.

It’s not for naught that Montel and “The Worst Witch” remain such important pieces of my adolescent experience. Seemingly unrelated, they are curios of a time when the lowered expectations of my youth kept boredom at bay. Twenty years later, however, Montel is no longer on the air while “The Worst Witch” remains a Halloween favorite. Had Montel found his own way to rhyme tambourine with “Begin the Beguine,” perhaps he’d be singing a different song.

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Charles P. Rogers Organic Cotton Sheets – People Love Them!

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

I am fortunate enough to have a set of Charles P Rogers sheets. They are one of my all time favorite sheets, and it’s not just because I write for Charles Rogers.  The sheets wash well, and the colors haven’t faded a bit. I’m actually a bit surprised since there are many weeks we wash them and put them right back on the bed. We like them so much because of their combination of softness and breathability. The bottom line is they are one of the best values in sheets I’ve found yet, and I’d definitely pay more than the current asking price for a set and still feel like I was getting a deal. My only regret is, that I didn’t go for the organic cotton sheets; apparently they’re the cat’s pajamas. Don’t take my word for it though.

Beth Bucynski of GreenUpgrader recently reviewed a set of Charles P Rogers organic cotton sheets. Follow the link to find out what she thought (spoiler alert: she loved them).

So, why organic?

Given the amount of chemicals and toxins we encounter every day, organic sheets should be a no brainer. Most people are worried about spending 10 minutes in a closed room with open paint, yet they’ll spend 8 or more hours every day sleeping between sheets of unknown origin dyed with who knows what. Which do you think is worse for you over time? Choose your sheets wisely.

Sheets start with the cotton, and Charles P Rogers’ organic sheets use cotton that is organically grown using low impact farming and harvesting methods. They are also made at a 300-thread count, which perfectly balances luxury with longevity.

If you’d like to read more about Charles P. Rogers sheets, you can also check out our interview with Sally Painter of LoveToKnow. You’ll get to read a little more about what makes our sheet so great, and why we make them the way we do.

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Breakfast in Bed: Heirloom Tomato Tartelettes

Post by Alison Hein.

Summer has ended. The sweet, colorful heirloom tomatoes we’ve been enjoying all season are dwindling at local farmer’s markets, slowly being replaced by staunch winter squash and hardy pumpkins. Definitely time to make a few last minute heirloom purchases, and showcase some in these lovely, summer-to-fall baked tartelettes.

Make your own pie crust for a real homemade treat, or substitute store-bought if you don’t have time to fuss. I like to make a very plain filling that adds body, but allows the lush, juicy summer heirloom flavors to shine through. Warm, light ricotta plays nicely with the crisp, autumnal bite of homemade crust. Fresh basil adds color and a snap of freshness after baking. Nice for a cozy, summer-to-fall breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

Pie Crust
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1/3 cup butter

Pie Filling
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and white pepper, to taste
2 Heirloom tomatoes, varied colors
Fresh basil, for garnish

Preparation

To make crust, sift together flour and salt. Remove half of the flour mixture and add to a separate small bowl. Add water to flour mixture and stir to make a paste. Cut butter into small cubes and cut into remaining flour mixture, using a pastry cutter or two forks. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth, uniform dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut in half. Gently roll out one piece of dough on a lightly floured board, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll dough to form a circle several inches larger than your pie pan, to accommodate sides and edges of pan. Fold circle of dough in half, gently lift, and place on top of pie pan. Trim, and form edges by making a fluted pattern, or you can press the dough down against the rim of the pie pan with a fork. Again using a fork, pierce bottom of dough in several places, which helps to keep dough flat as it bakes. If you like, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit pan, and weigh down with pie weights or dry beans. Repeat for second tartlette. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Make filling while pie crusts are cooling. In a large bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, eggs, rosemary, salt, and white pepper. Divide filling evenly among pie crusts. Slice heirloom tomatoes about ¼ inch thick. Cut and arrange tomatoes on top of ricotta filling, alternating colors and shapes as necessary. Reduce oven heat to 325° and bake filled tartlettes for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is set. Let cool at least one hour before serving. Garnish with fresh basil. Enjoy slightly warmed or at room temperature.

Makes 2 6-inch tartelettes.

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Bedroom Design: Breakfast in Bed

Post by Erin Sears.

Fall is officially upon us.  As the leaves change and the air grows crisp, I am sleeping more.  The long days of summer have passed me by and I want to curl up and be cozy.  When I read the Charles P. Rogers Bed Blog, I am frequently left drooling by Alison Hein’s delectable Breakfast in Bed blog posts.  They make me believe that I can actually cook and have inspired me to go for it!  However, if I’m going to actually eat in bed I need a way to do it that is stylish, affordable, and won’t ruin my sheets.  This brings me to breakfast trays.  It turns out that there is a breakfast tray available for every décor.  Here are some of my favorites along with my personal fantasies to accompany them:

The I-want-to-pretend-that-I-live-in-a-cottage-by-the-sea tray.

Source:  www.alsohome.com

The I-live-in-the-French-countryside tray.  Handsome Frenchman not included.

  Source:  www.thekitchn.com

The My-life-at-the-spa-Southern-California-I-can-hardly-be-bothered-to-take-off-my-terry-cloth-robe tray.


Source:  www.dwr.com/product/fiona-teak-tray.do?sortby=ourPicks

The I’m-having-a-bed-party-and-you’re-invited-heirloom tray.


Source:  http://www.cupcakesforparty.com/2010/03/no-cook-breakfast-in-bed-for-two.html

The I-will-buy-this-immediately-as-soon-as-I-learn-Italian tray. Ti amo!


Source:  http://www.mrless-mrsmore.com/project/products/vassoio_battista.html

I hope that you find the breakfast tray of your dreams too.  Enjoy fall, enjoy food, and let the nesting begin!

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Bedtime Stories: You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You

Post by Mark T. Locker.

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You/Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman.

We grabbed this off the shelf at the library because it was about zombies, ghouls, and monsters. Turns out it’s a pretty good book, too! So as the title suggests, it is designed to be read by two people. Or two zombies, werewolves, whatever. So be prepared to have a helper if your kid can’t read, or be prepared to put your mad acting skills to the test. I read it with my wife. It was fun and a bit challenging.

Now, they call the stories “scary” but I think “not scary” would be a more apt term. They are, however, actually pretty funny. Two zombies trying to figure out how to look beautiful. An ogre and a giant discussing how delicious cake-filled babies taste. There are a bunch of books in this series, but if it doesn’t have zombies in pretty makeup, I’m personally not interested. I’m sure they are lovely, I’m just partial to monsters.

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