Movies in Bed: Toddlers & Tiaras

Post by Josh Zinn.

Maybe it reveals too much about my personal life or the priorities of my parents, but ever since I was a wee tot I’ve had a deep fascination with the world of beauty pageants. Now, truth be told, I’ve never held much interest in the good deeds this year’s “Miss Southern Soy Belt” hopeful professes she can achieve by winning a crown (though she really does do a sensational job spreading awareness about the embarrassing pain of lactose intolerance, bless her heart), but being an audience to the numerous hardships this brave voyageur of beauty and intelligence (she has a bachelors in Communication!) must endure to claim her throne of dairy-free domination is a guilty delight on par with, well… It’s at least as good as the new, “BOLD and ZESTY!” flavor of Wheat Thins I sampled at Target the other night and that, let me tell you dear readers, ain’t chicken scratch.

The young competitors featured on TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras, however, don’t have a much of an interest in saving the world from the side effects of cheese—that is, unless salvation takes them to Build-A-Bear afterwards. No, in the minds of these pint-sized pageant participants, the ultimate goal in life appears to be proving their jazzercise mettle in a vicious arena that’s conveniently located in the conference room of a moderately priced, Midwestern hotel. There, amidst an array of stackable chairs, rotund women in stirrup tights, and the desiccated remains of Pixie Sticks, these tiny purveyors of sunshine wage war with one another through song, dance, and Ritalin-induced fits of hysteria and ennui. As desperate mothers wipe the Cheetos crumbs from their bosom and waddle up to the stage to guide their child through yet another Lita Ford-inspired routine, the world waits with baited breath as to who will be crowned the Ultimate Grand Supreme of such “star-spudded” events as the Nicholas County Potato Festival Pretty Baby Pageant. Needless to say, only one small fry can come out on top.

Toddlers & Tiaras isn’t good for you. It isn’t good for your family, for your neighbors, or even for that annoying woman in the supermarket who feels obliged to comment on the tastiness of the frozen dinner you’ve just put in your cart. In fact, for many, watching its endless parade of prepubescent, prettified Pollyanna’s is akin to welcoming the apocalypse to the dinner table. That said, there’s something eerily calming, refreshing, and downright entertaining in knowing your life will never be as terrible or tacky as the families you see on the television screen every week. If it’s true that everybody loves a clown (author’s note: No, it’s not) then Toddlers & Tiaras is a three-ring circus of painted faces and problematic parenting that’s guaranteed to make your misery seem just a little bit brighter!

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Things We Like: Counting–er–Chasing Sheep!

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

A while back I wrote about one of the Things We Like: Puppies in Bed. At that time, my girlfriend and I had just brought home a 10-week-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. His name is Saké a.k.a. Mr. Bombs, and we’re pretty much obsessed. Today, our sweet little puppy has grown up into a big mutt. We still love him though, even if he is a bit of a bed hog.

About a week ago we had our first puppyversary, which happens to be a day before my birthday, and marks the day Saké became part of our little family. To celebrate, we figured we needed to do something extra fun: a nice bottle of Saké (the rice wine) for us, and a herding lesson for Saké (the dog).

We had been planning to bring Saké to test his herding instinct for some time. It all fell into place when we won free herding lesson in a raffle at the Southern California Pembroke Welsh Corgi Association’s annual Corgi Fun Day. Did I mention we were a bit obsessed? Anyways, fate had it in Saké’s cards to chase after sheep, and we weren’t about to stand in the way.

We got to the ranch a little before noon last weekend, which was a bit of a drive inland for us, and about 20 degrees warmer. As soon as we parked inside the gates, Saké knew something fun was about to happen. There were a half dozen or so other dogs running around, and the energy was high. Surprisingly, the first half of the day was spent training us how to behave in the ring with the dog and the sheep together. Once we got that out of the way, it was time to see what Saké had. We knew he liked to chase dogs at the beach, but sheep? That was something we didn’t know. The trainer told us it would be a hard road to train Saké properly. Corgis were bred to drive the sheep forward, and herding competitions require the dog to fetch the Sheep around to you. Thankfully, our retirement fund isn’t banking on Saké winning a herding championship.

At first, he didn’t know what to do with the Sheep, but after a little encouragement he chased after them like you wouldn’t believe. After about five minutes of crazed Sheep chasing, Mr. Bombs decided he had enough. A quick rest, however, and he was back for round two – this time with more confidence. He was starting to get the hang of it. Alas, he had no more energy and it was time to call it a day.

On the way home, we agreed that we had never seen Saké so exhausted before. He slept the entire way back. Actually, he was pretty sleepy for at least another 24 hours. The adventure and the heat had taken its toll on us too, and I think we were all ready for some well-deserved rest when we got home. Busy days indeed make for restful nights, and this was certainly an occasion.


 

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Breakfast in Bed: Chelsea Morning / Orange Butterscotch Toast

Post by Alison Hein.

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses..

Recognize these lyrics? Well, my sister would. Besides being my culinary partner in crime, Janet also frequently serves as my memory. She correctly reminds me of what “really” happened when we were kids, clues me in on people’s names, and quizzes me on long-forgotten song lyrics.

Janet has recently been sending me puzzling emails such as: “ladyfinger dipped in moonlight” Just listening to the Dead. Do you think they were referring to the cookie? Or: Picture yourself in a boat on a river, With tangerine trees and marmalade skies…..

Well, let me be fair. I may have started this chain of events when asking Janet for new ideas for my breakfast recipe posts. “What about food songs?”, she inquired. Great idea, Jan!

First up, Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning. Toast, oranges, butterscotch… What could be better for an unforgettable, lyrical breakfast in bed?

P.S. Janet and I have started a list of suitable breakfast food lyrics, so please let me know if you have any we can add!

Ingredients
1 Valencia orange (use about 2 tablespoons juice)
8 tablespoons (one stick) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
Bread, for toasting


Preparation

Cut orange in half. Juice one half of the orange (should yield 2+ tablespoons). Slice the other half of the orange into thin slices. Set orange juice and orange slices aside.

In small, heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar. Continue to cook over medium to medium low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is significantly thickened, about 5 minutes. If using a candy thermometer, cook until the mixture reaches the soft crack stage (270° – 290°). Remove pan from heat and stir in orange juice. Pour mixture into small dish or ramekin, and refrigerate until firm enough to spread (1 to 2 hours). Serve with toast and orange slices.

Makes ⅔ cup of orange butterscotch spread

Orange Butterscotch French Toast

If you’d like to get a bit fancier with this recipe, try making French Toast (see Sonya’s French Toast for inspiration. Then, after you’ve added the orange juice to your butterscotch mixture, stir in ½ cup to 1 cup of cream. Pour over warm French Toast and serve immediately.

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Bedroom Design: Afraid of the Dark

Post by Laura Cheng.

Every fashionista has a little black dress (LBD) in her (or if you’re so inclined, his) closet. They know that black is a fashion staple.  From a casual weekend outfit to a black tie affair, if this simple color can transcend time and trends, imagine what it can do for your bedroom walls.

May I be so bold to state that most people, including myself, are reluctant, if not terrified of painting their walls a dark color? While white and its variants remain the most popular bedroom colors, black and its relatives can be just as versatile.

Once of the most important things to do when going dark is to use premium paint colors. Pricey paint such as Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball are well worth the investment.  You will be rewarded with an elegant, rich pigment. Another key point is to stay away from high gloss unless you have really, really flat walls. “Matt” (Matte) is your bedroom walls’ best friend.

The walls in this master bedroom are painted Pratt & Lambert’s Wolf, “a warm gray with a hint of chocolate. White bedding, curtains, carpet, and slipcovers keep the room from feeling too cavelike. A 19th-century French armchair is covered in Rogers & Goffigon’s Olivia stripe in Argent and off-white.”  Sara Scaglione is the mastermind designer behind this stylish dark hued bedroom retreat.

Source: http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/relaxed-design#slide-11

A dark bedroom short on natural light can trick the eye with the use of artificial light and bright white decor. The dark gray bedroom walls of this modern bedroom are enhanced by the prevailing white arms of the canopy bed and pillowcases. The nightstands set a colorful, jewel tone in the room. Using white and other bright dominate colors to play off the dark walls will help highlight the opposing colors and bring an esthetic sparkle to the bedroom.

Source: http://www.housetohome.co.uk/bedroom/picture/black-bedroom-with-accents

Some people advise against painting a small space in dark colors, but I think this is where black can really have its moment. A dark bedroom can actually accentuate the cozy space. Not all the walls of a bedroom need to be painted the same color. Using the deeper color on an accent wall and surrounding it with lighter colors is actually one of my favorite techniques. The use of multiple but complimentary colors is an easy way to bring another eye-catching dimension to the bedroom walls.

Source: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/small-bedroom-inspiration-123841

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Bedtime Stories: A Little Magic for Grown-Ups

Post by Mark T. Locker.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Ever since J.K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter, adults have been regularly usurping children’s and young adult literature for their own enjoyment, especially the bottomless pit of fantasy and sci-fi fiction series. Well, once in a while a book comes along for adults which will satisfy the puerile thirst for magic and escape from the realm of the ordinary, and you get to do so under the guise of proper grown-up literature and look all fancy on the bus. (The spine label even reads “Fiction” not “Horror” or “Romance”!)

The most recent of these that I have come across is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus. It is, as you may guess, about a nocturnal circus, but it is also about so much more. It’s about rival magicians raising children to compete against each other in the showdown to end all showdowns. It’s about really cool clocks. And contortionists and twins with strange powers.

Set in the late nineteenth century, it is reminiscent of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is about Victorian gentlemanly English magicians. But it is also very much its own novel. It revolves around the worlds of a strange circus, and those within it and those outside it. It’s lovely to read, and gives you great stuff for dreams.

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