Bedtime Stories: My Hippo Has the Hiccups and other poems

hippoPost by Mark T. Locker.

The iPads for kids at the library are stationed right next to the juvenile non-fiction. Which is to say, I find myself browsing the juvenile non-fiction quite a bit while waiting for my boy to finish up giving a werewolf a haircut, or cutting candy down for a monster, or helping birds with anger issues. I have a particular fondness for children’s poetry. Shel Silverstein is of course the most widely-known children’s poet, quite possibly in the entire universe. But there are a lot of people writing quite entertaining poems for kids. I grabbed a book off the shelf, thumbed quickly through it, and added it to the pile.

I didn’t think much about it since then but noticed that every time there was an eerie silence from my son’s room, I’d find him quietly reading the book of poems. The book is called My Hippo Has the Hiccups by Kenn Nesbitt. The poems are reminiscent of Shel Silverstein, silly poems with catchy rhyming cadences accompanied by little line drawings. They are funny, and often about animals. Apparently he was also named children’s Poet Laureate in 2013. So clearly I’m not the only one who has discovered him.

My teacher ate my homework,
which I thought was rather odd.
He sniffed at it and smiled
with an approving sort of

He took a little nibble
it’s unusual, but true-
then had a somewhat larger bite
and gave a thoughtful chew.

I think he must have liked it,
for he really went to town.
He gobbled it with gusto
and he wolfed the whole thing down.

He licked off all his fingers,
gave a burp and said, “You pass.”
I guess that’s how they grade you
when you’re in a cooking class.

We just returned My Hippo and picked up another volume, called Tighty Whitey Spider. When I explained what tighty whiteys are, naturally my son was intrigued. These are fun poems with a very low ick factor. Recommended for kids of any age.

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Movies in Bed: Star Trek: into darkness

Post by Mark T. Locker.

star teafPost by Mark T. Locker.

This post is in memory of Leonard Nimoy, AKA Spock. You lived long. You prospered.

This movie has been sitting in my queue for a very long time. So, facing a monster pile of laundry to fold, I decided it was high time to watch it. There are certain movies and TV shows that are the best laundry-folding entertainment. Anything with beautiful cinematography has no place amongst my scattered socks and shirts. One of my favorites was Burn Notice, but I burned through all the seasons of that. This most recent installment in the most recent reboot of the classic sci-fi series is pretty good folding fodder. There are lots of high-action scenes filled with explosions and hand-to-hand combat that you can look away from while pairing socks without losing any crucial plot points.

The story is fun as it touches on characters we met in early movies, namely Khan, the ultimate bad boy whose younger self is played by the dreamy Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame. It also features a moment of young Spock conferring with future Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy for the last time. It’s touching to think of now, of course.

All in all, it’s a solid action movie with all the explosions and edge-of-your-seat excitement you could shake a sock at. Available streaming and surely for purchase.

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Bedroom Design: Should You Have a TV in Your Bedroom?

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Do you watch television in your bedroom? Many sleep experts recommend watching TV in another room and leaving your bedroom for snoozing only. But it’s not uncommon to find televisions in many bedrooms today, especially due to the sleeker wall-mounted flat screen models, which are far less intrusive than the clunky designs from days gone by. Still, there’s more than one reason watching television in your bedroom might not be such a hot idea.

• Stimulation from television keeps your mind active, so you might not be able to fall asleep as easily. That stimulation can also awaken you during the night even if you do get to sleep.

• Blue light emitted from TV suppresses melatonin, which is a necessary hormone so you can fall asleep fast and stay asleep through the night, waking up rested. What’s more, it’s recommended to stop watching television about two hours before bedtime.

• Associating other activities with your bed can make sleep seem less attractive and exclusive to your bedroom. You want to feel that the space is your sanctuary and where you go to turn things off, relax, and rest.

• If watching television does indeed contribute to getting less sleep and fewer hours of deep sleep, chances are you’ll be less productive at work, and your job will suffer.

• Watching television from bed could interfere with your relationship. Couples often use time in bed to catch up with each other and spend some quality time together. If the TV is on, they’re less likely to communicate and fall asleep together.

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Breakfast in Bed – Thai Basil Pesto Scrambled Eggs

Thai Basil Pesto Scrambled Eggs 9
Post by: Alison Hein

If life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. But what do you do if life gives you a whole bunch of Thai basil? Make pesto, of course!

Such was my experience recently when I was trimming my sweet little miracle garden. (See the Rolled Omelet with Fresh Herbs post to learn more.) My little patch of herbs is so prolific that I need to trim it every day to prevent delicate chives, cilantro, parsley and basil from singing their tips on the grow lights. During this process, I inadvertently knocked off my entire Thai Basil plant! Sad but inspired, I set to work on salvage and enterprise.

Thai Basil Pesto Scrambled Eggs 1

Traditional Italian pesto, which originated in the northern Liguria region, consists of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and local sheep milk cheeses. Tangy, fragrant, and lightly richened with nuts, pesto livens up fresh-cooked pasta, slow-simmered beans, or scrambled eggs.

I’ve substituted walnuts for pine nuts in my version, and have omitted the cheeses for better freezing of any excess pesto. I learned a neat trick many years ago – if you have an old-fashioned ice cube tray, fill it with tablespoon-sized portions of pesto, then freeze for individual servings. One tablespoon is just right for a single serving of pasta, or in this case, scrambled eggs. Add any cheeses later, when you are ready to partake of a candlelit Italian dinner, or a tangy, fragrant breakfast in bed.

Thai Basil Pesto Scrambled Eggs 4

Pesto Ingredients

2 cups packed Thai basil (or other basil) leaves, plus additional sprig for garnish
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional 2 teaspoons for cooking eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Clean and dry basil and set aside. Add garlic and walnuts to blender and chop. Add basil, then with blender running on low, pour in olive oil and purée until smooth and thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about ¾ cup pesto.

Thai Basil Pesto Scrambled Eggs 7

Thai Basil Pesto Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs
1 tablespoon Thai basil pesto
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Heat olive oil in small, heavy pan over medium low heat. Break eggs into small bowl and whisk well. Stir in pesto and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Add egg mixture to heated pan and allow to cook slowly and gently. Stir and lift frequently with wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.

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Bedtime Stories: The Curse Workers: White Cat

curse workersPost by Mark T. Locker.

The Curse Workers, Book 1: White Cat by Holly Black.

Here’s an exciting series for teens who like something akin to down-to-earth magic. This series is about a family of curse workers living in New Jersey. Certain people are born with certain abilities. They are known as curse workers, or just workers. With a simple touch of a finger, they can manipulate someone’s emotions, dreams, memories, luck. Some can kill. Some can transform others. The interesting aspect of this is that whenever a worker “works” somebody, the worker is also affected. This is known as blowback. If you erase a memory, you lose a bit of your own. If you manipulate someone’s emotions, your own become unstable for a while. Nevertheless, the organized crime syndicate does not let this stop them. Not knowing who may or may not be a worker has created a world where everyone wears gloves, just in case.

Cassel Sharpe is a teenage boy who comes from a long line of workers. He himself is not a worker, but his grandfather is a death worker, his mother an emotion worker, and his brothers are memory workers. They are all deeply embedded in a crime family. Cassel has spent his life not feeling included because he lacked the skill of the rest. He has also been haunted by the memory of killing his best friend, a girl named Lila, daughter of a major crime boss. But one day, he starts having strange dreams. It would seem a dream worker is communicating with him. But why? He begins to dig and realized that even his own memories cannot be trusted and that everything he thought he knew about himself, and his family, is not what it seems.

This is a unique and intriguing series. It blends the supernatural with the very real angst of being a teenager. Cassel’s life is full of the social stress of high school, compounded with coming from a crime family and being a killer.

Good book for teenagers and adults.

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