Bedroom Design: How to Winterize Your Bedroom

Post by Tracy Kaler.

The long, warm days of summer have vanished, and winter’s temperatures have begun to take hold. Now that December has arrived, there’s no better time to cozy up at home and prep for the months ahead. Here are five easy tips to ready your bedroom for winter and create a respite from the cold.

Switch to flannel sheets
Crawling into a warm bed can make all the difference in relaxing and drifting off to sleep sooner. If your bedroom is chilly and you don’t overheat when you sleep, flannel sheets could be just what you need. Not a fan of plaid flannels? No worries, now you can find myriad patterns in flannel.

Add a wool throw
A toasty wool throw at the foot of the bed can bring your bed into the winter season, keeping your feet toasty too.

Warm up with accent lighting
Shorter days mean less light than other times of the year. Try adding an extra table lamp or two to brighten an otherwise dark room, making the days feel longer. No additional surface space? Try a floor lamp instead.

Try a wintry scent
Bayberry, cinnamon, and pumpkin are all terrific scents for the winter months. A candle or room spray can introduce the right amount of fragrance to your bedroom.

Reverse the ceiling fan
A quick, simple adjustment can make all the difference in your room’s temperature. In summer, your fan should rotate counter-clockwise to create cool air. In the wintertime, reverse the blades to move clockwise to draw cold air out, and warm a chilly room.

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Breakfast in Bed – Omelet Sandwich

Omelet Sandwich 9

Post by Alison Hein.

My good friend Luis and I have a Saturday morning ritual – we meet at the local yoga class, enjoy an hour of stretching, meditation and relaxation in the company of friends, then go to the local Korean bakery for coffee and a bite to eat.

As soon as we enter the bakery, we are tempted by enticing sweet cream cheese buns, nut loaves and macaroons. Once in a while we succumb to temptation, but more frequently, we both order the same thing – an omelet sandwich. The omelet is flavored simply with just a few raw vegetables. The result is colorful, fresh and flavorful.

Omelet Sandwich 1

Recently, Luis had to race off somewhere after yoga, leaving me alone and longing for my ritual omelet sandwich. So I decided to try it at home. To my surprise and delight, it was easy to replicate. The bakery staff cook the omelet Asian-style in a square pan, so I dug out my panini pan which worked surprisingly well. (This is completely unnecessary but fun!)

At the bakery, I season the omelet sandwich with a dusting of salt and pepper. At home, I decided to spice it up with a little Chipotle Lime Mayonnaise. Either way, the Omelet Sandwich makes a great after-yoga ritual, or a stay-at-home ritual breakfast in bed.

Omelet Sandwich 2

Omelet Sandwich

1 teaspoon olive oil (or cooking spray)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon finely shredded carrots
1 tablespoon finely shredded napa cabbage
1 tablespoon thin-sliced green onion
2 slices white bread
1 tablespoon chipotle lime mayonnaise (recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste

Omelet Sandwich 5

Preparation

Heat olive oil or cooking spray in a small, heavy pan over medium low heat. Break eggs into small bowl and whisk until lightly thickened. Stir in carrots, napa cabbage and green onion. Add egg mixture to heated pan all at once and swirl to even. Tilt pan slightly, and lift edges lightly with a spatula, allowing uncooked portion of eggs to spread to edges. Continue to cook, reducing heat to low if cooking too quickly, until egg mixture is lightly puffed up and nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use spatula to fold omelet in half, and continue to cook until eggs are firm, another 1 to 2 minutes.

Omelet Sandwich 7

Toast the bread to a light golden brown. Add a little mayonnaise to each piece of toast. Place omelet on one slice of toast, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with second slice of toast. Cut sandwich in half and serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.

Chipotle Lime Mayonnaise

Omelet Sandwich 3

¼ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon chipotle pepper
½ teaspoon lime juice

Preparation

Mix all ingredients together and use immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Males ¼ cup.

Omelet Sandwich 11

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Bedroom Design: Bedrooms in Country Houses

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Most city folks dream of owning a country house. Having a place beyond the hustle and bustle of a big city can help create balance and harmony. In fact, a second home might be the key to living in any urban area over the long haul, as well as maintaining a healthier and more productive life. Read on for a look at five incredibly comfy bedrooms in country houses.

This shabby chic-style bedroom keeps clean in white. Simple with an undecorated look, the space feels inviting. Think this room has French overtones? You’re correct. This lovely bedroom is in a home in Versailles, France.

An Upstate New York bedroom leans toward a more traditional design, but still offers modern conveniences. A perfect weekend escape, this space boasts a rustic ambiance, yet no hair is out of place.

A modern log-cabin home outside Minneapolis provides warmth and comfort. The chandelier helps set the mood in this well-thought-out sanctuary with an en suite bath.

This Burlington, Vermont lake house uses a clever platform with custom storage for the twin beds. An ideal kids’ room or guest quarters, the space’s furnishings and bed coverings are modest and utilitarian, yet appealing.

A sleeping nook doesn’t have much space, but this one sure looks cozy. Located in a Worcestershire, UK home, the tiny room proves that bigger isn’t always better. The monochromatic scheme of beiges and white works well while texture adds interest to the room.

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Breakfast in Bed – Aunt Frannie’s Irish Coffee

Aunt Frannie's Irish Coffee 7

Post by Alison Hein.

Do you have someone special in your family who, through masterful cooking, can elevate a simple recipe to the height of perfection? Or someone who, through artful mixing, can swirl a few splashes in a glass to create a bountiful ocean of flavor?

In my husband’s family, it’s Aunt Frannie. With just a handful of ingredients, she will mix you up one mean Irish Coffee. One sip of her concoction, and you will never want another mixed by anyone else.

Aunt Frannie's Irish Coffee 2

Her secret? You must use brown sugar, and you must enthusiastically muddle it with a hefty pour of fine Irish whiskey before adding coffee. Aunt Frannie likes to use Jameson whiskey (ironically established by a Scot in 1780) for its smooth, woody depth. You must also use strong, hot fresh-brewed coffee. Aunt Frannie recommends switching to decaf if you plan on having more than one – trust me, they go down just a little too easy.

The story goes that the original Irish Coffee was created in the 1940s by Joe Sheridan, a chef who worked in the Shannon port. A group of traveling Americans was looking for something warming after arriving in Ireland on a cold winter night. When one of the passengers inquired if Chef Sheridan was serving them Brazilian coffee, he replied, tongue-in-cheek like a perfect Irishman, “No, it’s Irish Coffee.”

Aunt Frannie's Irish Coffee 4

Even with this recipe it’s not possible to precisely recreate Aunt Frannie’s amazing Irish Coffee. (I think she secretly pours a lot of love and tradition in there!) It is possible, however, to begin your own family tradition and create an amazing Irish breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon light brown sugar
¼ cup Irish whiskey
¾ cup hot, fresh-brewed coffee
Whipped cream, for garnish

Aunt Frannie's Irish Coffee 5

Preparation

Add sugar to a small heat-proof glass, such as an Irish coffee mug. Pour in Irish whiskey and muddle until sugar and whiskey are well-mixed. Pour in coffee and stir. Top with whipped cream and serve immediately.

Makes one Irish Coffee.

Aunt Frannie's Irish Coffee 9

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Bedtime Stories: Unnatural Creatures

unnaturalPost by Mark T. Locker.

Unnatural Creatures: short stories selected by Neil Gaiman.

One of the great aspects of short stories is that you can often dive into the story and come out the other end within a reasonable amount of time. But sometimes I feel like even a great short story author can be pretty hit or miss and I often don’t like reading collections by a single author for this very reason. What I do like is collected stories, especially those carefully curated by a respected figure in the field. And you don’t get much more respected in the field than Neil Gaiman. Known for a million novels for adults, young adults, and picture books for kids, not to mention the Sandman graphic novels, Gaiman is a beloved figure in the literary scene. So a collection of short stories by him must be pretty good.

Unnatural Creatures is a collection of stories about creatures, both magical and otherworldly. The authors are as varied as the subject matter they cover: from 19th-century authors E. Nesbit and Frank Stockton to contemporary cartoonist Gahan Wilson to Neil Gaiman himself, this collection will have something to please just about everyone. The first story, by Gahan Wilson, is a creepy and strange tale of a mysterious blot that appears and disappears at random, always growing and causing distress. What is it? Where did it come from? Frank Stockton’s tale, “The Griffin and the Minor Canon” is a sweet tale about fear and misunderstanding. It’s also about a griffin. I love this story. With sixteen stories to choose from, this collection of unusual and imaginary creatures is a wonderful  way to end the day, transported to a magical world in the safety and comfort of your blankets.

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