Bedtime Stories: Hansel and Gretel

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Hansel and Gretel by Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Jen Corace.

I reckon that everyone in the Western world is at least somewhat acquainted with the classic Grimms’ fairy tales. Among their hundreds of stories, Hansel and Gretel is among the best-known, and among the best-known, surely the cruelest. So why should this be a bedtime story? Well, maybe your children will learn some valuable lessons (though it seems to me that the moral of Hansel and Gretel is, at best, vague) or maybe because—you know—happy endings! Personally, I love the story of Hansel and Gretel. I have always been fascinated by the image of being led by milky-white stones illuminated by the blue glow of the moon. I even had a pet gecko named Gretel!

This particular rendition is especially lovely. Written in a simple straightforward manner by acclaimed author Cynthia Rylant and richly illustrated by the NW’s own Jen Corace, this version is scores better than other tellings I have read. Naturally, you should use your best judgment to determine whether reading to your child about witchcraft, cannibalism and kids being abandoned in the woods is the right way to leave your child for dreamtime. And frankly, much as I love Jen Corace’s stylized illustrations, the children’s gray eyes seem a little dead and creepy. But hey, that’s me!

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Movies in Bed: Anaconda!

Post by Josh Zinn.

Someone once explained to me the popularity and allure of Jennifer Lopez, but, like so many things these days—including the rustic art of mayonnaise making, Diamonique®, and AP calculus—their words were lost on me. Honestly, I just couldn’t fathom how this averagely talented woman had become a worldwide media empire, shucking out albums, movies, and television appearances at a rate far eclipsing the brief but prodigious career of Nelson (the band, not Mandela). Sleek, slender, and bedazzled, Jennifer Lopez is a Versace-clad snake coiled around the globe, squeezing talent from the planet and leaving mediocrity in its place.

Like a snake…
Like a sn…
SNAKE!
Anaconda!

Of course, how could I be so silly?! The obvious reason Jennifer Lopez is one of the biggest stars in the world today is thanks to her starring role in a little film (that’s a simple-minded guilty pleasure) about a really, really, REALLY big snake.
Like On Golden Pond without a pond, Katherine Hepburn, or numerous Academy Awards, Anaconda is a film that raises questions which strike at the heart of the human experience, such as: Why does Angelina Jolie’s dad (John Voight) have a psychic connection with a gigantic snake? How can a fair-skinned Eric Stoltz stay surnburn-free in the middle of a tropical rainforest? If a snake swallows Owen Wilson and no one sees it, did it really happen? Huh, what’s Ice Cube doing here? And finally, how is Jennifer Lopez able to juggle the pressures of being a dedicated documentarian delving into the discovery of a lost native tribe—cause, folks, there’s always a lost native tribe—whilst maintaining a scantily-clad figure seemingly designed by Spandex?

Not content merely to stop with these quizzical queries, Anaconda also assaults the senses with an ever-increasing amount of tension as the audience is left in suspense wondering whose inability to act, the Anaconda or Ms. Lopez, will cause the death of their career first. Judging from the snakeskin boots J.Lo wore last season on American Idol, it would seem that question has already been answered.

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Things We Like: Hammocks

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

It is often said that variety is the spice of life, and this is true even when it comes to sleeping. That said, I’ve woken up on the sofa more than I’d care to admit and I would always tell you I prefer the bed. However, there are those nights when I succumb to the call of the siren, or sofa, in search of something different. Fortunately, the sofa isn’t the only alternative out there. For example, you can easily trade those achy zzz’s on the couch for a bohemian nap in a hammock.

I was first introduced to sleeping in a hammock when I was about 13 years old. That summer, the family took a vacation to California for my cousin’s wedding. The place we stayed at was a relatively small townhouse, and even a Spartan would describe it as sparse. Since it didn’t have enough beds to accommodate us all, and since I always draw the short stick, I was relegated to sleeping in a hammock that occupied what I imagine was supposed to be the living room.

At first, I was nervous about sleeping in something I could fall out of so easily. However, my fears quickly drifted away once I climbed in, and I now appreciate the simplistic beauty of sleeping in a hammock. I even purchased a hammock several years ago for precisely this reason. Sadly, however, I have yet to live somewhere with a big enough room to hang it in.

Writing this article got me curious about any possible side effects of sleeping in a hammock. Certainly, it can’t be good for your back. Can it? To my surprise, it appears that the side effects of sleeping in a hammock are all positive. Indeed, one study on WebMD suggests that “rocking to soothe and induce sleep is an adaptive human behavior that has evolved over the years to encourage the natural oscillations that occur in the brain during sleep” and hammocks are very good at inducing these oscillations. In fact, many people report that sleeping in a hammock helps them sleep better. Digging a little further I even found a number of web communities that advocate sleeping in hammocks as a fulltime alternative to beds.

While I’m not ready to burn my mattress in favor of sleeping in a hammock fulltime, I anxiously await the day I can hang a hammock of my own; even if only for an occasional Spanish-style siesta.

Until next time, duerma bien mis amigos (sleep well, my friends).

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Bedroom Design: Where the Green Fern Grows

Post by Laura Cheng.

The tropical New York heat calls for a tropical getaway. And if not by plane, then by transforming your bedroom into an oasis complete with palm leaf décor.

Jumbo, greenery printed bed sheets can easily achieve the look. A quick trip to a store like Crate and Barrel and done! A wooden, four poster canopy bed makes a statement in the center of this bedroom among the mural of framed prints and mirrors. Symmetric nightstands and footstools balance out the rest of the bedroom. The organically woven texture of the footstools lend a fresh, resort style atmosphere. I have always loved the combination of a bright, masculine green and a bold, feminine pink. The bedroom would not look as put together if it were not for the vase of magenta flowers and the pop of color it adds.

Source: http://www.thelennoxx.com/category/browse-by-room/bedroom-interior/

It is no doubt that green and pink make great, modern design statements. The color combo shows up again in this room. However, the main show stopper that caught my eye is the golden frond fan. I’m a huge, huge “fan” of Portuguese designer, Prego Sem Estopa, who designed the room below. A fan like this one would serve dual purpose, transforming the bedroom into a breezy, fashionable retreat.

If there is already a fan in your room, but it looks like it was tragically pulled from the basement of your grandmother’s house, then despair no more. No need to buy a whole new fixture. Palm leaf fan blades are sold as attachable accessories to your currently existing fan. In addition to adding tropical flair, the blades pound around more air per square inch, meaning a cooler room in the current summer heat.

Source: http://www.thelennoxx.com/tag/lattice/

Can you count the number of tropical icons in the room below? Palm leaf draperies, coordinating fern throw pillows, bamboo blinds tropical leaves in vases, glass bottle table lamp, branching sculpture floor lamp, seagrass wallpaper, sea horse accent pillow, and a tropical green chaise are all topped off with an amazing sea view. So if you said 9, you are correct! And as your game show host, I present you with door number 3, your bedroom renewed into a tropical oasis. Take any of the style cues from this bedroom into your own to get you through the rest of the balmy and sultry New York summer.

Source: http://thelennoxx.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/preppyint-2-l.jpg

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Breakfast in Bed: Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Post by Alison Hein.

If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile, you know that I am a blueberry fanatic. But did you know that July is National Blueberry Month? According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, the North American blueberry harvest runs from April in Florida to late September in British Columbia. The peak of the season is around July 4th. What better way to celebrate Independence Day?

Start your day off with this easy, fruit-filled blueberry cake. Light enough for breakfast, it’s the perfect companion for that first cup of steamy morning coffee. Warm brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla flavors beguile with each blueberry bite. Assemble all your ingredients first, and mixing becomes a cinch. This cake is best served warm, and sour cream added to the batter keeps the texture moist, even after reheating.

Serve your cake with some fresh strawberries, if you like, for an Independence Day red, white and blueberry breakfast in bed.


By the way, July 10th is National Pick Blueberries Day, so you’ve got one week to plan. Check out the North American Blueberry Council’s website for nationwide u-pick information, as well as blueberry festival dates: http://www.nabcblues.org/upick.htm

Ingredients

Topping
¼ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Cake
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sour cream
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries


Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside. Mix white sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Mix the milk, cider vinegar, and vanilla together in another small bowl. Add alternately with flour mixture to the egg batter, until well mixed. Fold in sour cream and blueberries.

Spread batter evenly in baking dish, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly across top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm. Add a dollop of whipped cream, if you like.

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