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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Breakfast in Bed – Holiday Gift Ideas

Post by Alison Hein.

Are you scrambling for last minute gift items during this hectic holiday season? Well, here are some food ideas that might help fill the bill. From Christmas to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah to Solstice celebrations, you may have everything you need already right in your own kitchen:

Breakfast in Bed - Cookies

Cookies – Obvious, I know. But have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love cookies? Arrange them on a lovely gift plate, fill up a feathery basket, or simply wrap up small bundles of them in plastic wrap and tie them with pretty bows. You may want to try a traditional Austrian sugar-dusted Christmas cookie like Vannilekipferl. Or maybe the petite, sesame Benne Wafers, irresistible tucked into a tiny napkin-lined basket. Green Tea Macadamia Cookies make a delightful surprise wrapped in clear plastic and tied with a raffia bow.

Breakfast in Bed -Benne Wafers

Muffins – How sweet to buy a nice muffin tin (look for a decorative one), then bake some muffins for a friend. Wrap the whole mix with plastic wrap, tuck the recipe in the side, and tie it up tight with a big, red bow. Chai Tea Muffins are a nice choice for their light texture and fragrant spices. Old-fashioned Maple Corn Muffins are delicious. Whip up a batch of Maple Honey Butter as a sweet accompaniment.

Scones – Tuck these sweet baked goods in a cozy napkin, along with a jar of your favorite jam or jelly. Blueberry Scones and Brown Sugar Scones have simple, satisfying flavors that go well with sweet fruit spreads.

Breakfast in Bed - Flowerpot Bread

Savory Breads – Wheaty Baguettes are tasty and pleasing. Gift them in a bread basket lined with a festive kitchen towel. Or simply wrap them in brown paper and tie them with kitchen twine for a clean, just-bought look. For your gluten-free friends, you may want to try Buckwheat Blini. Add a little note with serving suggestions for these tiny traditional Russian pancakes. For real fun, bake some Flowerpot Bread. The seasoned terra cotta pot makes an unusual and much talked-about gift.

Sweet Breads – Buy some baby loaf pans in bright colors (I’ve seen them for about $1 at local craft stores). Figure on a typical sweet bread recipe filling three to four of these little babies. As you know, I love mini-everything, and so will your gift recipients. Classic Walnut Bread and Banana Bread are two of my favorites.

Breakfast in Bed - Granola

Granola Granola never fails. Be sure to package it in a sparkling glass jar for optimal effect.

Breakfast in Bed - Butter

Butter – You friends and family may find Butter to be a bit of an odd gift – until they taste it, that is. For more concentrated flavor, make and refrigerate the butter a week or two in advance.

Best of All – Give your loved ones the gift of luxury, of indulgence, of love – Breakfast in Bed!

Breakfast in Bed Coupon

(Print out the attached coupon, or create your own if you like, to tuck into a card or stocking.)

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Bedroom Design: 5 Converted Attic Spaces

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Attics might not be the first choice when it comes to carving out an extra bedroom, but believe it or not, attic spaces are some of the coziest and coveted sleeping quarters you’ll find. Low and sloped ceilings, dormer windows, eaves, and bays are just a few of the quirky yet charming architectural elements often seen in attics.

Have an attic that’s used for nothing but boxes of photographs and keepsakes? Put your creative thinking cap on because the design possibilities are endless in an attic. Here are five converted bedrooms that are bound to inspire.

This cottage-style bedroom keeps things simple with a platform bed, painted bedside table, and a slipper chair. The whitewash walls and pine floors make the room all the more casual.

A homeowner turned this attic into two kids’ bedrooms on her own. A bold polka dot pattern in two different colors works well in each of the sky-lit spaces. Even an adult would be content to sleep in this bright, happy attic.

The staircase that leads to this attic bedroom is clean and modern. Plaid carpet and a whimsical pendant lamp add color to an otherwise neutral room. What a lovely spot for houseguests.

A sleeping cove is the perfect fit in this ladylike bedroom. Botanical wall covering, a powder blue and white quilt, and sweet, delicate pillows lend a youthful feel to the room. Since there’s no spot for a nightstand, the recessed wall nooks are practical substitutes.

A bedroom in the eaves like this is all I would need. Wall sconces and an original bay window offer ample light. This uncluttered attic space invites and calms.

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Breakfast in Bed: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 10

Post by Alison Hein.

Remember those Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I was talking about recently? A friendly stranger told me about the most divine lemon ricotta pancakes she had enjoyed at the Stoneacre Pantry in Newport, Rhode Island, and I used that info as inspiration to make Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups . This past week, I decided to give the pancakes a shot. At issue? I hadn’t exactly seen or tasted these illustrious flapjacks. No matter. I just made something up. 🙂

There is something about the combination of tart and tangy citrus with fresh, creamy ricotta that is almost impossible to get wrong (that was my hope at any rate). I decided to make my batter a little sweeter than usual, to offset the sharp lemon flavor. And, because the ricotta tends to make the batter a little thinner than regular pancakes, so that it spreads, crêpe-like, in the pan, I cooked them a bit longer at a slightly lower flame height. Since these were special hotcakes, I made a simple syrup, substituting lemon juice for water. Just a touch goes a long way due to the intense, concentrated citrus flavor of the syrup. (Use any extra to sweeten and lemonize hot or iced tea in one fell swoop!)

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 6

The result? Aerated, fluffy hotcakes infused with a little zing for a zesty breakfast in bed. Someday I’ll have to go to Stoneacre Pantry for a tasting and to see if I’ve come anywhere close to the original. 😉

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 

1 lemon
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons (one half stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus additional for cooking

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 1

Preparation

Zest and juice the lemon. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Gradually whisk in milk, then the eggs one at a time, then the lemon juice and zest, mixing well after each addition. Gently stir in ricotta cheese. Slowly add melted butter to batter. The batter should be thick, smooth and creamy.

Place a pan or griddle on the stove over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake and reduce heat to medium low. Ladle batter into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancake, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until golden brown, another minute or two. Adjust heat and add butter as needed while cooking. Serve hot with lemon syrup.

Makes 8 to 10 4-inch pancakes.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 7

Lemon Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice

Preparation

Pour sugar into a small heavy saucepan. Add lemon juice and mix well. Place over medium-high to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until syrup is thickened. Set aside to cool.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 12

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Bedtime Stories: Snarked!

Post by Mark T. Locker.

snarkedSnarked! Volume One: Forks and Hope by Roger Langridge.

This week I am delving into the world of graphic novels. Or maybe it’s a comic book. Honestly, it’s difficult to tell the difference. Either way, graphic novels are a great way to get reluctant readers into reading. My kid has been one of those. Those pages of text, only occasionally rewarded with a black-and-white drawing, can be intimidating, especially after years of big colorful pages with words at the bottom. We picked up “Snarked!” at the used book store for a quarter. It was a quarter well-spent! Set in a world that is firmly set around the imagination of Lewis Carroll, it features characters from Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and “The Hunting of the Snark”. In the story, a young headstrong princess named Scarlett is trying to find her missing father, the Red King. Assisted by the unlikely helpers, the Walrus and the Carpenter, she is pretty sure he has been dumped on Snark Island so that a puppet government can be installed.

Although the Walrus talks in an excessively florid prose that may be confusing to younger kids, the story is otherwise totally approachable for kids. It’s exciting without being scary or violent. There are several volumes available, so I look forward to reading the rest of the series with my son.

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