Bedtime Stories: Celebrating National Poetry Month

Post by Mark T. Locker.

April is here! Spring is in the air and it’s time once again to celebrate National Poetry Month! It’s the one time each year that bookstores dust off their poetry collection and put their Tennyson and Dylan Thomas books out for display. I have a love/hate relationship with poetry. Bad poetry, in my opinion, is the most painful thing to read. But good poetry! O! Tis the sweetest nectar ever drunk! I read a lot of poetry to my son, from Shel Silverstein to Kenn Nesbitt & Jack Prelutsky. Jack Prelutsky is a bit tricky at times; he uses some pretty sophisticated language, which I think takes from my son’s appreciation of the poems.

I love poetry that rhymes. Children’s poems, grown-up poems, you name it. If it rhymes I am way more likely to enjoy it. From Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s eerily weird “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to Dylan Thomas’s beautiful “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” I love the cheerful lilt of the poems, especially when juxtaposed with a solemn subject (Poe, for example).

Here are a few of my favorite collections of poems, some for grown-ups, some for kids, some for everybody.

Dylan ThomasWhere_the_Sidewalk_EndsReasons for Movingprelutsky

 

 

roethkegluckhippo

 

 

 

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Bedroom Design: Using Floral Patterns in a Bedroom

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Who doesn’t love flowers? In decorating, floral patterns might seem too juvenile or girlie for the average person, but just as flowers run the gamut, so too, can the textiles they adorn. Use flowers on duvet covers, pillow shams, walls, and upholstery, or just about any surface you can think of.

Brighten your day with these five pretty bedrooms decorated in one way or another with florals.

This darling room with bunk beds keeps it neutral yet manages to introduce a small amount of pattern with a subtle floral. Clever space planning creates a cozy sleep space for two. The sconces add enough light to snuggle up with a good book or your favorite magazine in bed.

This attic doesn’t represent the typical florals in a bedroom. A wallpapered accent wall in a bold print adds a focal point in the otherwise pattern-less space. Try and imagine the room without the flowered wall.

Furnished with a daybed covered in flowered pillows, this pleasant room should feel like flower overkill, but rather, the pattern is just the right amount in all the right places. The floating footstool and bright artwork above the daybed help tie the different elements together.

Tranquil and sophisticated, this space is obviously an adult’s bedroom. Floral wall covering adds color and pattern, and ties into the accent pillows.

I adore the floral quilt with splashes of fuschia. This bright accent livens up an almost white bedroom. Perhaps a coordinating bolster would complete the look? I think so.

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Breakfast in Bed – Creamy Spinach Crêpes

Creamy Spinach Crepes 10

Post by Alison Hein.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for a sweet breakfast, but more often than not, I like to start the day with a savory meal. Crêpes are so wonderfully versatile that they adapt either way. You can make flavorful creamed spinach as a dinner side, then heat in the morning for an elegant meal. And get in the habit of freezing crêpes, which thaw in an instant and heat up nicely with a quick finish under the broiler – impressive and tasty for overnight or brunch guests; flavorful and elegant for a savory breakfast in bed.

Creamy Spinach Crepes 1

Buckwheat Crêpes

1¼ cups buckwheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus additional for frying
¾ cup milk
1¼ cups water

Creamy Spinach Crepes 2

Preparation

Add buckwheat flour and salt to a large bowl. Add eggs, vegetable oil, milk and water and whisk until smooth batter forms. Add additional water for a thinner batter, if you like.

Heat a 10-inch-diameter nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Brush pan with oil. Add ¼ cup of batter to pan, tilting to coat bottom. Cook crêpe until golden on bottom, 30 to 45 seconds, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning.

Using a spatula or butter knife, flip crêpe and continue to cook until dark gold, about 1 minute longer. Keep warm, while continuing the process with the remainder of batter.

Makes 12 – 16 crêpes.

Creamy Spinach Crepes 3

Creamy Spinach and Crêpe Assembly

16 ounces frozen chopped spinach
4 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon grated Swiss cheese per crêpe
Mint sprigs, for garnish

Creamy Spinach Crepes 8

Preparation

Cook spinach in boiling water until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

To make white sauce, melt butter in small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped shallot and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour until smooth, thick paste forms. Whisk in milk and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir cooked spinach into white sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Creamy Spinach Crepes 9

Place about ¼ cup on each crêpe, then delicately roll into a long cylinder and place on oven proof dish. Continue process for as many crêpes as you plan to assemble, then top each one with about 1 tablespoon of grated cheese. Place under broiler about 4 inches from heat, and cook until cheese starts to brown, about 30 seconds. Garnish with mint and serve immediately.

Makes about 4 cups of creamed spinach.

Creamy Spinach Crepes 12

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Bedtime Stories: Travel Tale for Adults

in a sunburned countryPost by Mark T. Locker.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is one of those authors who can (and usually does) write about just about anything and make it remarkably interesting. He can make you chuckle at the most unlikely subjects or give a murmur of wonder at what always seemed so boring. Upon finishing a chapter in this book all about hallways, I felt terrible for how I’d been treating them all my life! He has written about language, travel, history, science, and a memoir. It seems there isn’t a subject that doesn’t interest him nor one he’s not afraid to tackle.

In a Sunburned Country is one of his travel books, which are my favorite of his multitude of genres. In this one, he travels to Australia to explore geography, culture, and history, always keeping an eye out for things that make him (and probably you) chuckle. Full of interesting and quirky facts (did you know Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in 1967 after a spontaneous swim?) historical tidbits, and thought-provoking insights all rolled into one book make for an intriguing read. What I like about Bryson’s travel writings is that in any cultural confusions or misunderstandings, he is more than happy to turn the pen against himself and illustrate his own shortcomings in the situation. If he makes amusing observations about Australia, the ones about himself are twice as ruthless. So you never feel like he is being mean or culturally insensitive. In fact, he makes it clear just how much he loves this country.

He makes me love Australia too, and though I’ve never been, this book makes me want to book a flight right away. Nobody writes with the same wry insight, silly humor, and serious introspection so deftly as this.

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Movies in Bed: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

night-at-the-museum-3Post by Mark T. Locker.

I know we have all been waiting for so long, and the third installment in the Night at the Museum series has FINALLY been released for home viewing! One of those special evenings after too much activity in the day and everyone is worn out, what better way to wind the evening down than with a movie, all cuddled together on the couch? Or on the bed, which is even better because you can just drift right off.

Which you might do when you watch this movie unless you’re a kid. It’s a perfectly fine movie but has become something of a tired instrument by this point. I like the first one; I thought it was genuinely unique and funny and interesting. The premise, if you’ve missed the series, is Larry Daley is the new night watchman at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. What he doesn’t know is that everything in the museum comes to life at night. His posse includes Theodore Roosevelt, played by Robin Williams (rest in peace) along with Sacagawea, a tiny Wild West cowboy and his buddy a tiny Roman centurion. Plus a cheeky monkey and Genghis Khan. In this movie, the magic tablet that brings them to life is failing and they must bring it to the British Museum to speak with the Egyptian Pharaoh who made it to discover the secret of the tablet.

My son thought it was a great bit of fun. It wasn’t awful but as is the case with so many movies like this, the original remains the best. But if you’re looking for something harmless and funny, full of pratfalls and silly characters, you could do worse. Word of warning: there is a little bit of sad stuff that happens and there was a moment that my boy was in tears. But it all ends up okay in the end. Spoiler alert.

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