Movies in Bed: The Martian

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Post by Mark T. Locker.

If you don’t live under a rock, chances are you have heard of The Martian. Unlike the other occupied Mars movies of the past (Red Planet, Total Recall, Ghosts of Mars) this one is not some pie in the sky super future movie where all the terraforming and whatnot has already occurred. This story, based on Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, is set in a very plausible near-future and is filled to the brim with science. Much of the buzz around this movie is how scientifically accurate it is and how NASA even helped offer insight to make it as realistic as possible.

Luckily, it has more than scientific accuracy on its side. Though dubiously placed in the “Comedy” category for the Golden Globes, the movie does have some chuckleable moments. But mostly it’s a science drama. When a massive, crazy scary Martian storm blows in unexpectedly, a manned mission is aborted. Astronaut and botanist Mark Watley is struck by flying debris and presumably killed. All the sensors say he is dead. They have no choice but to leave him. But he is alive, if not totally well. Fully aware of his circumstances, he begins working on doing all he can to survive and work out how to get himself rescued.

A surprisingly amusing and interesting movie, The Martian was recently released on video so it’s a great way to wrap up a long week. But schedule your movie in bed early because at a whopping 2 hours and 30 minutes, you’ll be up late!

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Bedroom Design: ‘Tis the Season for Winter-White Bedrooms

Post by Tracy Kaler.

We’re in the middle of a winter frenzy, at least in much of the US, so why not bring the theme into our bedrooms?

Decorating with shades of white and cream can give you the opportunity to refresh your space with the seasons. Depending on textures and accents, white can be wintry during December, January, and February, but it can be summery in June, July, and August.

Unless you have a fear of white, consider borrowing some of these design concepts to create your very own winter-white bedroom.

This gorgeous bedroom with shades of cream and beige remains mostly neutral but adds a punch of magenta in the throw pillows, drapery lining, and area rug. Notice the ivory sheers under the drapes, as well as the textured throw tossed haphazardly on the bed. What a stunning space and it boasts a balcony too.

White and taupe balance each other well, and black adds the right amount of accent in this Scandinavian-style bedroom in Denver. A collection of poufs and the suspended chair add an element of whimsy to the otherwise sophisticated design.

Silk wallpaper, velvet wall panels, and sumptuous bedding give this bedroom a luxurious feel. This space is decorated from head to toe in winter white (minus the black legs on furniture), and it’s absolutely fabulous.

A Philadelphia bedroom goes modern using off-white matelassé, shag, and casual cotton. Light-colored wood keeps the room feeling casual yet chic.

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Breakfast in Bed – Oatmeal Cakes

Oatmeal Cakes 9Post by Alison Hein.

Just last week, I had a long, fascinating conversation with my friend Tim who works for Charles P. Rogers – all about oatmeal!

“You need to do more with savory oatmeal dishes,” Tim said.

“Hmmm,” I stalled. “But I don’t really care for savory oatmeal.”

“That’s okay, but I want to get my kids to eat more oatmeal. It’s good for your health – you know, blood pressure, cholesterol – all that good stuff.”

“Well,” I said. “You’ve got to use the slow cook oats. Steel cut oats are very good. How about with a little cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg? And, have you tried cooking your oatmeal overnight in a crock pot?”

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“Oh,” Tim replied. “I like the sound of nutmeg. I’ll try it. You can cook oatmeal in a crock pot?”

“Yup. Start the night before, and in the morning, your oatmeal will be thick and creamy, with all the rough edges cooked out. I like to cook oatmeal with apples, maybe a touch of cider. But if you really like savory flavors, how about toss in a little cheese? Or a fried or poached egg on top?”

“This is a lot of oatmeal information,” Tim responded.

Oops. Sorry Tim! You know how excited I get about breakfast foods. How about something we can both enjoy? Savory oatmeal cakes, baked with just enough honey to keep them flaky and moist. You can top yours with a slice of cheese, Canadian bacon, or smoked salmon, and I’ll smear mine, hot from the oven, with fresh creamery butter and sweet raspberry jam.

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Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (one half stick) cold butter
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon honey

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

In large bowl, mix together oats, flour, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and cut into dry ingredients until mixed in and crumbly. Add milk and honey to dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed in.

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Turn batter out onto lightly floured board. With floured hands, divide into two equal pieces and shape into large balls. Press each ball into a flat round and cut into quarters. Place scones on baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until tops begin to lightly brown. Serve warm, with your choice of sweet or savory toppings.

Makes 8 oatmeal cakes.

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Bedtime Stories: The Spiderwick Chronicles

spiderwickPost by Mark T. Locker.

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi.

I have been trying for ages to get my seven-year-old to embrace chapter books. Finding something that has short chapters, pleasantly distracting pictures and an exciting—but not too exciting—plot has been a challenge. For a while I had suspected that the children’s fantasy series The Spiderwick Chronicles would appeal to his love of magical creatures as well as his short attention span. When I finally remembered to put a hold on one of the books, I felt hopeful. We read the first couple chapters of The Field Guide together, hoping if I could get him interested in the first of the five novels that the rest would follow on its own. And it worked! Although he complained a couple times during his required reading time, those complaints became fewer and fewer. He is now on the third book and he read well beyond the 20 minutes and didn’t once ask how much time had elapse.

This was a huge victory, but I’ll never let him know. A quick summary of the first book:

Due to their mother’s financial problems, nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon and their thirteen-year-old-sister Mallory are forced to move into an old abandoned family estate in Maine called Spiderwick Estate. When he climbs in the old dumbwaiter, Jared discovers a secret library on the second floor with a poem loaded with clues which eventually lead him to a field guide to fantastical creatures. They discover that a whole world of faerie folk, brownies, sprites, goblins, exist and in their hands is the secret to finding and understanding them.

Great bedtime read for kids. Exciting without getting scary, clever and interesting, and written by two fantastic children’s/young adult authors.

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Bedroom Design: Bedrooms with a Tropical Feel

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Arctic air has invaded New York City. Even though summer is months away, I’m desperately trying to steer my thoughts towards warmer weather. Since so many New Yorkers book beach vacations in January and February, there’s no time like the present to dream of a trip to the tropics.

Even if you aren’t in a position to jet away for a week of sun and sand, you can escape the cold mentally through a look at these stylish bedrooms with a tropical island theme.

This Caribbean twin bedroom by Gary McBournie boasts a happy feel with its orange and yellow color scheme. A natural-fiber rug and the mosquito nets complete this charming escape.

Colors of the sea decorate this large coastal bedroom in Tampa, Florida. Shades of blue and green keep the space feeling calm yet chic.

Inspired by the Bahamas, this room exudes cheeriness but with a Caribbean feel. Can’t you just see yourself sipping a Pina Colada while relaxing on that bed?

I don’t miss bold colors in this bedroom because the white scheme and dark wood are attractive, giving the space a West Indies feel. An accent pillow and a few books introduce a touch of color to the otherwise neutral space.

Have you ever been to Barbados? This luxurious room in the Coral Reef Club looks like the ultimate spot to spend an extended weekend. Subtle Caribbean influences in the material choices and furniture make the suite feel welcoming and stylish. When do I leave?

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