Bedtime Stories: Arthur’s April Fool

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Arthurs_April_Fool-220x300Arthur’s April Fool by Marc Brown

Now that my boy is such a voracious independent reader, we don’t sit and read as many picture books as we used to. Maybe that’s a shortcoming as a father. I know that some day he will just not want me to read to him again. And that will be that. Be that as it may, I wouldn’t want to have to choose between never reading to him again or reading him books from the “Arthur” series ad infinitum. There is nothing wrong with Arthur per se. He’s a nice bespectacled weasel, or aardvark, or whatever he is. Naturally, lots of low-hanging lessons to be gleaned throughout the series. Perfect for adaptation to the PBS screen for kids.

Anyways, we were away for my birthday weekend staying at the coast with friends. My boy found a box full of picture books. As it was already past bedtime, he naturally chose the longest book he could find for me to read. As is happens, it was Arthur’s April Fool. I’ve never known him to read anything from this series, but that’s fine. He cozied up to me (another thing he’ll never do again, some day) and we read about the trials and tribulations of everyone’s favorite capybara.

I don’t remember the plot much. Some bully picked on Arthur. Arthur pulled some pretty harmless practical joke on him, the ol’ kaleidoscope-gives-you-a-black-eye gag. I’m not sure what the message was for this particular installment. Revenge is a dish best served cold?

If you are looking for some decidedly wholesome and lesson-teaching picture books, these are a good choice. There are about 100 of them and they have a TV show to complement the series. Good for kids that aren’t my son’s age, probably 4.

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Bedroom Design: Covers and Blankets for a Warm Winter

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Get Cozy and Cover Up with Bedding This Winter

Now that cold weather has arrived, it’s time to bundle up in the bedroom. Choosing the appropriate topper will keep you warm on the chilliest nights. Depending on where you live and your preferred bedroom temperature, consider one of these four bedding options to keep you toasty this winter.

Down comforter with duvet cover
The ultimate in warmth, a down comforter will keep you snug and comfy on the coldest nights. Know that it’s best to use a duvet cover to protect the outside of the comforter. Duvets are available in many fabric types and patterns. You can also have a custom cover made with designer fabric.

Coverlet
Most often constructed of matelassé, a coverlet is light to medium in weight and one of the most practical of bed coverings. Sometimes filled with a light batting, coverlets may not be warm enough in a chilly house, so consider adding another layer: perhaps a down comforter on top or a warm blanket underneath.

Bedspread
Pre-filled bed coverings fall under this category. Practical from the standpoint of layering since bedspreads are available in different weights, this type of bed topper could be a good solution if you like the layered look. Also a good idea if you have a range of temperatures, a bedspread offers many design options too, since you can style your layers differently each season.

Quilt
Believe it or not, quilts can successfully be used in a traditional room or a modern one. With a woven (usually cotton) top with at least two colors and sometimes several, expect a layer of batting and a woven back. Quilts are not as heavy as a down comforter, but often heavier than a coverlet.

It’s fairly common to use different types of bed coverings on one bed. There are no rules. Try combining a coverlet with a down comforter at the foot of the bed or with a coordinating quilt folded halfway down the bed. Add an extra blanket and coordinating shams or throw pillows, and your bed will be look and feel pleasant for the winter months.

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Breakfast in Bed – New Year’s Day Hearts

New Years Hearts 8

Post by Alison Hein.

Through a perfectly advantageous alignment of the stars (or perhaps the contents of my pantry), and the great generosity of my sweet niece Rebecca, I’ve come up with a New Year’s Day breakfast to start the year off right.

New Years Hearts 1

Rebecca presented me with a rustic slate board / serving tray that she knew I would enjoy using and photographing for the blog. Right you are, Rebecca – look how cute it looks with a mélange of makings artfully arranged upon its smooth surface! Playing a little game of mix and match, I ended with a grouping of powerful yet balanced flavors – sweet, salted Black Forest ham; pungent, creamy chèvre;
and foresty, aromatic rosemary.

Use a heart-shaped ring for cooking if you have one. Make this dish for a loved one. Start the new year off with a great and generous breakfast in bed.

I wish you a very Happy New Year in which the stars are perfectly aligned!

New Years Hearts 3

Equipment

Heart-shaped egg rings

Goat Cheese Rosemary Hearts

2 slices of bread suitable for toasting, such as brioche or Texas toast
2 thin slices Black Forest ham
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) goat cheese
½ to 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Use the heart-shaped egg ring to cut out two hearts from the bread and ham slices. Set aside while cooking eggs.

Heat a heavy frying pan over low heat. Add butter, continuing to heat until butter is melted. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk until thick and yellow. Add goat cheese, mixing together with a fork. The mixture does not need to be perfectly smooth as cheese will melt during cooking. Stir in chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

New Years Hearts 4

Place two heart-shaped rings in the frying pan, then carefully pour half of the egg mixture into each ring. Cover, and continue to cook over low heat until eggs are set and lightly crisped on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the eggs in the oven at 350° for about the same amount of time.

While eggs are cooking, toast bread. Place toasted hearts on a warmed plate, then top each with a slice of ham and one egg heart. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

NOTE: You can find heart-shaped egg rings in local kitchen specialty stores, or on many popular websites, such as Amazon.com. You can also make this recipe without the rings, cooking the eggs in two smaller pans and placing on top of regular toast.

New Years Hearts 9

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Bedtime Stories: Grown-Up Martian Dystopia

Post by Mark T. Locker.

15839976Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Mars has always held a certain fascination for me. Clearly, its proximity to our own planet (Earth) makes it some low-hanging fruit for the imagination. All the fun (if at times make-believe) hints at life: faces; ice caps; weird lights and shadows just add to its allure. Remember when bunch of Martian movies came out? Red Planet and Ghosts of Mars and, several years prior, good ol’ Total Recall.

Well you can add another work to the pile of Red Planet-themed pieces. Red Rising is the first novel by American novelist Pierce Brown. Like every other book being written, it is part of a trilogy. This one tells the story of Darrow, helldiver of Lykos. He is part of a huge colony living beneath the planet Mars toiling to terraform the planet and make it livable for future generations. Violently oppressed but lauded as heroes for the future of humanity, Darrow’s world is blown open when it is revealed to him that Mars has been habitable for ages and the Reds (the class of people laboring beneath the planet) have been lied to and used for the resources they mine. Darrow is enlisted to help lead the fight against the Golds, the elite who rule over them.

The second volume comes out next week so now is a good time to pick up the first book if you are into exciting, dystopian sci-fi. So far it’s interesting and I hope that the series doesn’t turn out to be predictable. I’ll soon find out!

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See the Light: 8 Tips to Brighten a Dark Bedroom

Post by Tracy Kaler.

See the Light: 8 Tips to Brighten a Dark Bedroom

You’re short on light because of that single small window in your bedroom. Get clever with your design and you can give the illusion of a lighter, brighter room. Here are 10 tips to illuminate even the darkest sleeping quarters.

1. Paint.
Paint the room yellow or another light shade on the warm spectrum. Lighter walls will influence the overall aesthetic and feel of a dark room.

2. Add a skylight.
If your bedroom is on the top floor and you have access to the roof, cutting in a skylight is a fantastic way to allow light in.

3. Install lighter flooring.
Tear up dark carpeting and replace with light-stained hardwood floors and an ivory, beige, or other light neutral area rug.

4. Hang a mirror.
Mirrors reflect light, so consider leaning a large mirror against a wall, or hanging several on the walls. Bonus: you’ll be able to check your appearance every time you enter and exit your bedroom.

5. Remove light-blocking window treatments and install sheers.
Use sheers to allow the maximum amount of light inside. If you need more privacy, hang shades underneath and keep them raised until nighttime.

6. Use metallics.
Gold and silver reflect light, so select metallic accoutrements that can aid in lightening your space while adding bling at the same time.

7. Think white.
White is light, so don’t be afraid to use it –– on your trim, walls, ceilings, bedding, or wherever you like. An all-white bedroom can be stunning and sophisticated, as well as relaxing and calm.

8. Place accent lamps.
Lamps are probably the most economical and practical solution to brightening a space. Try plug-in sconces, table lamps, and floor lamps. If possible, consider a multi-light overhead fixture like a chandelier, which will create overall light.

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