Bedtime Stories: Charlotte’s Web

Charlottes-WebPost by Mark T. Locker.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Sometimes it’s good to go back and revisit some of the classics from the annals of children’s literature. Everyone knows Charlotte’s Web. I grew up with the animated movie with the pig who excels at both whining and singing. Then they made the live-action version with Dakota Fanning, which I never saw and don’t plan to see. But recently my son and I went back to the original book, published over 60 years ago. Not every children’s book has the kind of staying power that Charlotte’s Web has. Heck, I even considered Charlotte as a name if I had a daughter. Even E.B. White’s other novels are notably less known, though Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan are well-loved, neither has captured the hearts of children quite like Charlotte’s Web. Interesting side note: the “White” in Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is E.B. White. Thanks, Wikipedia!

As you know, this book tells the story of a girl named Fern who saves a runt pig from the chopping block. She names him Wilbur and keeps him as a pet until he is sold to the Zuckermans. As Wilbur begins adjusting to life in the barnyard he makes a number of friends but none as remarkable as Charlotte, a clever little spider who lives in his barn. Her incredible ornate webs, celebrating the singularity of the pig, help to spare him once more from slaughter. As he grows older he befriends the sheep and geese and even, to an extent the greedy little rat Templeton (who happens to be my favorite character).

Filled with hope, magic, and of course sadness, they just don’t make children’s books like this anymore. There are thousands of children’s books out there and more being released all the time but it’s great to go back and rediscover the gems of generations past. This one should definitely be on your bedtime stories list.

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Movies in Bed: Galaxy Quest

Galaxy-Quest

Post by Mark T. Locker.

As you know, we have already lost a few great artists this year. One of those was Alan Rickman and although he may always be best known for his captivating portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, he won my heart earlier and it wasn’t for his role in Love, Actually and it wasn’t for playing the villian in Die Hard. Rather, it was for his role as the disillusioned actor whose stint as an alien on a Star Trek-like show had marked him for life.

Galaxy Quest is a surprisingly clever and funny movie about a cheesy science fiction program like Star Trek whose passionate fan base elevated it to cult status. Eighteen years since the final episode, the cast stays together for the comic con circuit though they don’t really like each other any more. Then one day Jason Nesmith, who played the captain, (Tim Allen) is approached by a group of aliens in humanoid disguise who plead for the help of his crew. Turns out, they had watched every episode of Galaxy Quest, believing it to be historical documentation, not fiction. Whether it’s for ego or the chance to make a real difference, Nesmith convinces the crew to join him to fight the vicious enemy of their new alien friends.

With a cast including Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shaloub, and of course Alan Rickman, what I thought would be a really dumb movie is actually quite funny and charming. There’s even a tip of the hat to the die-hard fans whose intimate knowledge of the entire series helps to save lives.

Although it has a little violence, it’s a generally family-friendly movie though the Star Trek references will like be lost on younger audiences. A fun science fiction comedy to watch in bed in honor of the great Alan Rickman.

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Bedroom Design: Creating a Farmhouse Bedroom

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Lots of wood. White walls and floors. Quilts. Shaker-style furniture. These are the makings of a farmhouse bedroom. Love the look but live in an apartment? No worries. Whether you prefer a traditional or modern interior, you don’t have to live in an actual farmhouse to create this style.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can decorate your own bedroom and achieve the farmhouse look.

Create the architecture
A San Francisco guest bedroom goes traditional farmhouse with board and batten walls, pitched ceilings, and simple cottage-style furnishings. Red and white gingham and structured window shades complete the country feel.

Keep it neutral.
A South African farmhouse stays neutral with beige walls, white bedding, and natural-fiber carpeting. The classic Burberry-patterned throw tossed on the bed adds a splash of color.

Be classic and simple.
This sweet bedroom boasts the right amount of everything –– color, pattern, texture, and detail. Painted a soft shade of white, the space is on the smaller side, but has a big personality. Bright orange paint covers the French doors, allowing light to flow into the room.

Go minimalist.
A crocheted coverlet, crisp bed linens, and painted floors give this New York farmhouse bedroom a modern aesthetic. Minimal furnishings contribute to the clean, uncluttered design.

Try rustic.
This Dallas bedroom’s vintage accessories and antiques create an equestrian-themed farmhouse bedroom. Cozy and chic, the room is renovated, but feels like it dates back to the 1800s when the home was constructed.

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Breakfast in Bed: Melon Pear Smoothies

Melon Pear Smoothies 8

Post by Alison Hein.

Yay! It’s March! I was out in my garden this morning and spied tiny little green nubs wrestling to push themselves up through the earth. I even caught sight of a wayward robin! Soon the temperatures will climb and the earth and trees will be dressed in greenery. Time to start the switch from hearty pancakes and healthy oatmeal over to fresh fruit and frothy smoothies!

Melon Pear Smoothies 1

Cantaloupe may not be the first melon you’d think of when firing up the blender, but it’s dense consistency and sweet, mellow undertones make this a fruit made to be puréed. A little pear juice makes a nice contrast with the melon and adds a fresh note.

Melon Pear Smoothies 2

Variations are endless. Use apple instead of pear juice, or skip the juice altogether for a thicker smoothie. For all the juice-conscious out there, go ahead and replace the juice with fresh spinach, kale or wheat grass instead.

Well you get the idea. Smoothies couldn’t be simpler or more perfect, and for once, I don’t have much more to say on the topic. I’m not even recommending breakfast in bed. Just go froth yourself up some fruit, then take your lush and frosty smoothie outside. Take a deep breath in. Spring is in the air!

Melon Pear Smoothies 5

Ingredients
2 cups fresh cantaloupe (or other melon), peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 cup ice
½ cup pear juice
½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt
Lime slices, for garnish (optional)

Preparation
Wash the outside of the cantaloupe. Slice in half and scoop out seeds from center. Slice and skin melon, then chop into 1-inch cubes.

Place ice in blender. Add chopped melon, yogurt and pear juice. Purée until thick and smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into glasses. Garnish with sliced lime.

Makes 2 smoothies.

Melon Pear Smoothies 7

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Bedtime Stories: The Amulet of Samarkand

samarkandPost by Mark T. Locker.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book One: The Amulet of Samarakand by Jonathan Stroud.

So this is a book I have been kind of wanting to read for a very long time. I’m a big fan of the author; I’ve reviewed his Lockwood & Co. books here in the past. This series of books, told partly from the perspective of a snarky demon by the name of Bartimaeus, has been sitting on my shelf for a dozen years. The only thing stopping me from diving into it? The footnotes. There were SO many footnotes! It was hard for me to constantly tear my attention from the story to read the bits of supplementary information offered after the asterisk. What finally did it for me was getting the book in audio format. The narrator adds the footnotes in such a seamless way that you can hardly tell he’s reading from the bottom of the page. It works. And it’s a great story.

As a young child, Nathaniel in sold to the passably accomplished wizard Arthur Underwood, brought up to be his protégé. Treated poorly by his new master and humiliated by his colleagues from the Ministry, Nathaniel takes solace in learning. Despite his Master’s belief, Nathaniel is a brilliant wizard and by the age of twelve has a great deal of advanced knowledge under his belt. All of which he channels into seeking vengeance against Simon Lovelace, a nasty but powerful wizard who humiliated Nathaniel in front of several wizards. So Nathaniel summons a djinni, a moderately powerful demon named Bartimaeus, and charges him to steal a valuable amulet from Lovelace.

Told from the point-of-view of the demon, who has a wonderfully wicked sense of humor, the story sets up a world of magic and monsters in modern-day London. Once you get past the footnotes, the story is fun, unique, and captivating. Great to read aloud to older kids or to read in bed on your own.

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