Bedtime Stories: Chaos Walking

Knife_of_Never_letting_Go_coverPost by Mark T. Locker.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

The first installment in the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go is a unique, heartbreaking, brutal and captivating story for teens.

Todd Hewitt is on the run from Prentisstown, the only place he’s ever known. Alone with his talking dog Manchee, he’s been sent out into the swamps with nothing but a book from his mother and a big knife. He’s only a few weeks from becoming a man, the last child to grow into a man in Prentisstown.

This is not a normal place. Everyone who moved here became infected with the Noise. You can hear everyone’s thoughts and everyone can hear yours. You can hear the crocs saying, “Food. Food” as they approach. It’s a sickness that destroyed the women and left the men isolated at the edge of a huge swamp. Or so Todd has always been told. So when the two men who raised him tell him he has to leave, and leave now to save his own life, he has no idea what is going on. And when he learns that the holy man, Aaron, is hunting him, he knows he needs to learn the truth behind Prentisstown. Maybe the only one who can help him is the book from his mother and a mysterious girl he encounters in the swamps. He’s never met a girl before but immediately he notices she has no Noise. Who is she and where did she come from?

Full of twists and turns, lovely and brutal, violent but sweet, The Knife of Never Letting Go is not for the faint of heart but it tells a great story. If you want to read this one in bed, I recommend a few funny comics afterward to ease your dreams.

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Bedroom Design: Great-Looking Garage Bedrooms

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Garages aren’t just for parking cars and storing tools and miscellaneous belongings. With some smart planning and TLC, these attachments can become usable living spaces. Let’s take a look at some great-looking garage bedrooms, courtesy of Houzz.

Who would have thought that a garage could be this chic? Beautifully designed by Jill Neubauer Architects, this Truro Beach kids’ room is colorful and well planned, providing and indoor/outdoor sleep space for six.

Truro Beach House Bunk Room

A Seattle garage keeps things minimal and modern, but gets the job done. Ideal for guests, this bedroom could use some additional soft goods such as an area rug and upholstered chair, but at least the paneled walls and ceiling warm up the otherwise industrial space. Murphy beds leave plenty of floor space, allowing the room to be used for entertaining or other functions.

Cabana with murphy beds down.

This Los Angeles garage was transformed into a shabby chic guest cottage for a college student. Not too shabby of a dorm room, if you ask me. The cost of the renovation was $20,000.

My Houzz: From Belgium With Love

A Shelter Island farmhouse garage gets a makeover with a bed, white curtains and bedding, and a mosquito net, lending a touch a romance to the room.

Farmhouse, Shelter Island

Believe it or not, this bedroom and living space used to be a garage. The conversion successfully created a studio apartment with all the modern conveniences. Could you live here?

Garage Conversion

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Bedtime Stories: The Dark is Rising

DarkRising6Post by Mark T. Locker.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.

On Midwinter’s Day, on his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton, seventh son of a seventh son, will awaken. His true calling will be made known to him, as the last of the Old Ones, those destined to fight the forces of the Dark, to keep the balance intact.

What a fantastical mystical premise for a series! The Dark is Rising is technically the second book in a series of five, but you can really skip the first one, Over Sea and Under Stone and not lose the thread of the story. The real story picks up as Will Stanton approaches his eleventh birthday. Until then, he was just another boy, the youngest of seven children in a happy home in England. But on the morn of his eleventh birthday, he awakes to find himself out of time in a place that is his village and yet not his village. Here he meets Merriman, one of the Old Ones, whose task is to guide Will, the newly awakened and last of the Old Ones, on his quest to collect the six signs, circles quartered with a cross, each of a different element: iron; bronze; wood; fire; water; stone.

Will must learn how to be an Old One, with all the knowledge and power that has been unlocked within him, and still be a young boy. How do you celebrate Christmas when time may stop at any moment, when danger may come in any form? How do you stand up to evil in front of your parents, who think the terrible Rider is a friendly colleague? It’s not easy being a kid. And it’s not easy being an Old One.

This series of books is a wonderful adventure and magical quest as Will and his allies strive to defeat the Dark once and for all. Great for kids, especially disturbingly mature eleven-year-olds.

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Bedroom Design: Sweet Pastel Bedrooms

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Rustic and cottagey, this dreamy, shabby chic bedroom relies mostly on neutral tones, but the pale pink flowers and celadon bring some pastels into the lovely mix.

Dreamy Whites
Photo by Dreamy Whites

A transitional Nantucket bedroom uses muted greens with white to create a sophisticated guest space using a daybed. This cozy room boasts just the right amount of texture.

Nantucket
Photo by Eric Roseff Designs

Pale pink rose is the primary color in this traditional bedroom with modern touches. Whitewashed floors and lots of natural light keep the space feeling bright and airy.

John Lewis Rose Mist Bedroom
Photo by John Lewis

Baby blue keeps this room feeling elegant and classy. A touch of bolder blue in the throw pillows adds punch while the rest of the space stays muted.

Greener Pastures
Photo by Urban Home Magazine

Various shades of pale yellow give this traditional room a monochromatic look. The 19th century Victorian home in Boston has been restored and expanded yet hasn’t lost its character. Brimming with pattern, the room doesn’t appear busy, but rather, soothing and homey.

Selkirk Ledge
Photo by Elizabeth Brosnan Hourihan Interiors

Which pastel color is your favorite?





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Breakfast in Bed – Apple Walnut Cookies

Apple Walnut Cookies 11

Post by Alison Hein.

I like to fill a big bowl with colorful fruit for an inexpensive and cheerful centerpiece. Sometimes I’ll use all lemons, sometimes all limes, sometimes all oranges, and sometimes a mix of fruit. For a recent dinner party, I bought two dozen bright green apples and piled them high in an amber dish. It looked lush and bright adorning my kitchen island.

But after a party, what does one do with so many apples? Unlike cut flowers, it is wrong to simply discard food (it may be wrong to discard cut flowers too, but they mostly cannot be cooked). And, apples seem more well-suited to autumnal flavors. So how could I use them and make them taste more springy?

Apple Walnut Cookies 2

Cookies seemed like an apt solution. With a light batter and raw apples, the cookies tasted fresh and cake-like. I added a handful of walnuts for texture and a sprinkling of apple pie spices for a rich undertone. Be warned – these cookies are better when consumed within one day of baking. So. Bake. Rise. Consume. Ahh… breakfast in bed.

Apple Walnut Cookies 4

Ingredients

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled and chopped apple (about 2 medium apples)
½ cup chopped walnuts

Apple Walnut Cookies 6

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and blend in completely. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt in a separate small bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and blend well. Stir in chopped apple and walnuts.

Apple Walnut Cookies 7

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheet for a couple of minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.

Apple Walnut Cookies 10

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