Movies in Bed: Princess Mononoke

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Princess Mononoke came out in 1999. I remember seeing that it was playing at the cinema in Redon, France where I was living at the time but I paid it no mind. I was not a fan of anime. For many years I have regretted that decision. When I finally saw it, it was a badly reproduced and spottily subtitled version on a computer screen. Nevertheless, I was captivated. I will never forget the feeling I had as I watched it. I had no idea that a cartoon, for all intents and purposes, could be beautiful. And made with such an eye toward details. Every time I watch this, I eagerly await the scene where the wind blows across the tall grasses.

Of all the films by Hayao Miyazaki, this is hands-down my favorite. Spirited Away is a close second but it’s nothing compared to the beautiful, funny, sad epic that is Princess Mononoke. Although many of his films are totally fine for kids, I haven’t shown this one to my son yet. There is a lot of violence and a lot of really intense activity. I can’t wait till he is old enough because it’s so awesome. And he will absolutely love San, the fierce human child adopted by the great wolf gods of the great and ancient forest. Decked out in furs and war paint, riding a giant white wolf, she is not one to be trifled with.

The happy news is that in honor of Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, the local theater aired all his movies in the original 35mm and I got to make up for the regrettable decision I made fifteen years ago. It was totally worth the wait.

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Bedroom Design: A Guide for Choosing Bedside Lamps

Post by Tracy Kaler.



Shopping for bedside lamps? Selecting lighting for your bedroom may seem like an easy task, but there’s a lot to think about, particularly if you often read in bed. Aesthetically, lamps should compliment the décor; choose a ceramic mid-century light for a retro bedroom, and pick a faceted crystal base for a more traditional feel. But regardless of style you’ll want your lamps to do their job, so here are a few tips to shed some light when shopping for bedside lamps.

Choose the right height
Most designers will agree that a bedside lamp’s height is most important for optimal use. As a rule, the bottom of the shade should just about align with your chin while sitting in bed. This, of course, is partially based on the correct height of your bedside table, which is ideal if it is even with your mattress.

Keep the shade light
Dark shades provide little light, and in a bedroom, will only darken your space. (Control natural light with window treatments as needed.) Stick with a white, ivory or other soft, neutral shade –– fabric and paper usually work best to provide the right amount of brightness, as well as a classic look.

Bulbs matter
To control the amount of light, a two-bulb lamp will work well. Your lamp can have one bulb for reading and one for overall ambient light. If a lamp has a single socket, try a three-way bulb so the amount of light will vary from dim to bright.

Think about the switch
When shopping for lamps, look at the control or switch. Will this be easy for you to turn on and off from bed? You might opt for a lamp with a switch on the cord, which may require less reaching as you drift off to sleep.


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Breakfast in Bed – Scrambled Eggs, Italian Style

Post by Alison Hein.

Soft, fresh ricotta cheese is a wonderful, light additive to many dishes – traditional Italian fare such as pastas and pizzas, delicious desserts like cheesecakes and cannoli, or simply smeared across a slice of toasted semolina. It also works surprisingly well with simple scrambled eggs.

The origins of ricotta are, like most food history, a tad sketchy, but are believed to lie in the Sicilian region ofItaly. There is a lovely illustration (claimed to be the first) of ricotta-making in the medieval health guide Tacuinum Sanitatis. Ricotta was considered to be very healthful and to aid the digestive system.

Surprisingly, ricotta is not actually a cheese. The word derives from the Latin “recocta” (recooked), because it is produced from the whey (byproduct) of cheese-making. Originally made from sheeps’ milk only, today ricotta is also made using cows’ milk. If you cannot find fresh ricotta in your local Italian specialty shop, I urge you to try making your own as we’ve done on this blog in the past  (http://www.charlesprogers.com/blogs/archives/6283). The mild flavor and texture of freshly made ricotta will enhance and enrich the flavors of your home-cooked meals.

To put an Italian spin on this recipe, I started with a ripe, red Roma tomato, sautéed in a touch of olive oil. Then, I added some dried oregano and parsley to the eggs before cooking, added the fresh ricotta near the end, and topped it all off with a handsome sprig of fresh, green basil.

Enjoy these fluffy eggs on their own, or serve them with spicy Italian sausage and a big hunk of toasted semolina for the full experience of an amazing breakfast in bed, Italian style.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small Roma tomato
2 eggs
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in small, heavy pan over medium low heat. Chop tomato into small pieces and add to pan. Cook until tomato is warm and softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Break eggs into small bowl and whisk well with oregano and parsley. Add egg mixture to heated pan and allow to cook slowly and gently. Stir and lift frequently with wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Toward the end of cooking, add ricotta cheese and fold into the eggs, just to melt slightly and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.

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Bedtime Stories: Extra Yarn

Post by Mark T. Locker

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are two of my favorite children’s book creators out there. I’ve reviewed books by each of them more than once. Mac Barnett’s Guess Who? Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem and Chloe and the Lion are all wonderful, hilarious books. Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back was, in my mind, an instant classic.

This collaborative book with Mac Barnett providing the story (Chloe and the Lion showed us definitively that this man cannot draw) and Jon Klassen doing the illustrations is a bit of a departure from their usual style. Nevertheless, it’s still a wonderful book. My son is crazy about it. It reads like a story out of a book of fairy tales, maybe Russian fairy tales.

Annabelle lives in a cold, drab town. When she discovers a box of brightly-colored yarn, she decides to knit herself a sweater. With the extra yarn, she knits one for her dog. With the extra yarn, she knits one for her neighbor and so on. It soon becomes clear that she will never run out of yarn so after outfitting the whole village and their animals, she knits house cozies and all manner of other knitted delights. However, a greedy archduke has heard about this magical box of yarn and wants it for himself. What will he do to get it from this girl?

A simple, silly, and beautifully illustrated story from two of the greatest of the new generation of children’s book creators.

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Movies in Bed: Classic Workplace Comedy!

Post by Mark T. Locker.

If you work in any kind of office environment, chances are good that references to the movie Office Space will crop up on more than one occasion. Whether someone is struggling with a printer or you are, like me, being oddly possessive of your stapler, there are endless opportunities to reference this movie. And for years, I have been at a disadvantage. Somehow this movie simply never crossed my path. And since for years I did not work in an office environment, I never felt I’d missed out on much. But now that I work in an office-like world (nothing like the business in Office Space, thank goodness!) I’m finding the references more than I can gloss over at this point.

Something HAD to be done.

I picked up a copy from my local public library.

Office Space was written and directed by Mike Judge, known also for the low-brow 90s cartoon Beavis and Butthead. That show never appealed to me in the slightest which may have added to my reticence to see this one. It’s about a guy named Peter who loathes his office job. When he is convinced to go to a hypnotherapist to address his issues, he is placed in a trance and told to put all his worries and cares aside. Unfortunately the hypnotherapist keels over and never draws Peter back out. So he sleeps through work, shows up with an i-don’t-care attitude, and—voilà!—everything starts turning out great for him!

It’s a pretty funny movie, with lots of notable characters, especially the verging on psychopathy stapler guy. If you are in the minority of people who hasn’t seen this and works in an office space, you should probably go see Office Space.

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