Bedtime Stories: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

Post by Mark T. Locker.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have discovered Terry Pratchett. It’s possible that there are one or two who have “discovered” him before me. Maybe the impeccable narrator of the YA series I’ve been enjoying. Maybe some others who put together the 8 million websites devoted to his vast collection of novels, most of which are set in the magical Discworld realm. I began devouring his stories a few weeks ago only to discover that I even own a couple and I never even knew. Well, I guess I have fantastic taste even when I don’t even know it!

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is the first book in the Discworld series aimed at young adults. It tells the story of a cat named Maurice and a band of rats and a “stupid looking kid” that travel with him from village to village. Mind you, these are not your average rats and cat. The kid? Well, he’s pretty average. But the rats, who lived once in a garbage pile behind a wizards’ castle, ate some discarded magical paraphernalia and gained a sudden self-awareness, complete with speech and understanding. Maurice, too has gained the same knowledge. He doesn’t eat garbage, but he does eat rats, so…I’m sure we can guess how he got his gift. My favorite bit about this book is the rats’ names. They picked them out themselves off labels from discarded food containers. So we have rats named Additives, Peaches, Serves Four, and—my personal favorite—Dangerous Beans.

My six-year-old isn’t quite at a point to take on all the themes and scary bits in this story, but in a couple years he will be and we will venture through this hilarious magical world together as Maurice and his stupid looking piper kid and his trained rats trick locals into believing that they are ridding the towns of rats.

Posted in Bedtime Stories | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Bedtime Stories: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

Movies in Bed: X-Men First Class

Post by Mark T. Locker.

I used to be a huge fan of superhero/comic book movies. They didn’t come out that often and whenever they did, my sister and I would be sure to catch the latest on the big screen. The first two X-Men movies fell under that category. We even saw one of the Hulk movies, but it was the one nobody liked and about five minutes later they began a new one, to start off that whole Iron Man/Thor/Hulk/Captain America/Avengers thing. The X-Men have continued to make movies as well, though X-Men: The Last Stand was so unbearable to me that I didn’t even look up when this movie, clearly designed to refresh the series, was released.

I was wrong to do so. I’m not generally into back story but this movie which brings us back to the beginnings of Magneto and Professor X and the genesis of the X-Men is a story in its own right. And I liked it. Of course, everyone is played by handsome young things so that it will be easy to look at. Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique, so that’s fun. Kevin Bacon plays the bad guy, so that’s fun too. We have a whole new level to Back to Bacon now. The most recent X-Men movie, Days of Future Past or something, just came out so now is a great time to catch up. Available streaming and probably on DVD as well.

Posted in Movies in Bed | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Movies in Bed: X-Men First Class

Bedroom Design: My ideal beach house bedroom


Post by Tracy Kaler.

For the average lifestyle, the all-white room might seem like a frivolous option, but if you’re decorating a coastal bedroom –– in that dream beach house with an ocean view –– white walls and textiles might be the perfect achromatic scheme.

Perhaps it’s a personal choice, which, for me, is unexpected because I adore color. Nonetheless, I fantasize about a white sleep space with crisp bed linens, a fluffy down comforter, and sheer curtains breezing at the windows while waves splash and seagulls croon for breakfast.

Bead board paneling is often found in beach cottages; a plethora of shades of white can easily be married with paneled or wainscoted walls. Vary the whites in furnishings, on surfaces, and on the bed. Avoid any color that’s too ivory, but as you plan your interior, take notice of all the bright whites available and how they harmonize wonderfully together.


If your hardwoods aren’t in stellar condition, consider painting the floors a soft white with a subtle pattern. Adding a shaggy white rug under your feet will give the hard surface a visual softness and much-needed texture. A cushy area rug will feel good on the toes, too.

If lack of color frightens you, add some punch in your pillows, artwork, and accessories, perhaps with slate blues, warm grays, celadon greens, or even a small touch of black. But no matter, try to keep your nighttime sanctuary tranquil and relaxing, because isn’t that exactly what a bedroom in a beach house should be?

You might find yourself spending more time in that space than others in your coastal retreat –– that is, when you’re not catching rays or tiptoeing through the hot summer sand –– even during afternoon hours.

What’s your vision for an ideal beach house bedroom?


Posted in Bedroom Design | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Bedroom Design: My ideal beach house bedroom

Breakfast in Bed – Tea Eggs

Post by Alison Hein.

Tea Eggs, a traditional Chinese specialty, make a fun family project or a delightful surprise for guests. Hard-boiled eggs are rolled and cracked, then steeped in rich, black tea. When peeled, a lovely, thin-lined mosaic pattern is revealed where the dark tea has seeped in.

In this simplified version, only eggs and tea are called for in the recipe. The end result is a hard-cooked egg with a distant, fragrant flavor that lingers lightly on the tongue – curious and interesting, yet mild enough for young palates. More traditional preparations call for adding soy sauce and / or a chef’s choice of spices. Chinese five-spice powder or Szechuan peppercorns add real zip. Or, you can take the eggs in a more dessert-like direction, adding spices such as cinnamon and cloves.

Make sure to peel the prepared eggs very carefully, or you may lose some of the lovely dark marbling. Also, be advised that dark, brewed tea can stain cutting boards and fingers alike, so choose your tools wisely.

This is one of those methods that’s imminently perfect for experimentation, with low risk or overhead. You are sure to delight family and friends with these fun and fragrant eggs – each one an individual piece of art, each one a lovely surprise, each one a delightful breakfast in bed!

Ingredients

4 cups water
2 tea bags (or loose tea) of strong black tea
2 eggs

Preparation

Pour water into a small heavy saucepan and heat almost to a boil. Add tea bags to hot water to steep. Remove from heat.

Place eggs in a small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat and continue to cook eggs for 10 minutes, until hard-boiled. Cool slightly, then crack and roll on a hard surface so that thin lines appear all over the shell. Place cracked eggs into brewed tea, ensuring there is enough liquid to completely immerse eggs.

Allow tea to cool to room temperature, then transfer tea and eggs to a small glass dish and refrigerate. Keep eggs in tea for at least 4 hours, or as long as overnight. When ready, remove eggs and carefully peel off the shells to reveal the cracked tea pattern underneath. Serve cold.

Makes 2 tea eggs.

Posted in Breakfast in Bed | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Breakfast in Bed – Tea Eggs

Bedtime Stories: Ramona the Brave

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary.

We are simply flying through the chapter books these days! I have a pretty substantial collection, but at this rate we will have gone through them all before the summer is over. I pulled this one off the back of the bottom shelf. It’s a worn old ex-library paperback with a cracked spine and yellowed pages. Which is to say: it’s a classic. So appropriate for my son in so many ways. Beloved spunky younger sister Ramona Quimby is staple of children’s literature. She is also a Portland native entering first grade. My son is a Portland native entering first grade at Beverly Cleary School. It seemed like the perfect book to pick up. Becoming a first grader is a really big deal in our house. We are already being reminded of the stuff he used to do back when he was a Kindergartner (last week). Those were the days!

I love reading Beverly Cleary books. Written in the 1950s-60s, the have a lot of that old-timey feel of a life that simply doesn’t exist anymore. Henry Huggins delivering the evening papers before picking up some horse meat from the butcher to feed his dog Ribsy. Stuff like that. Ramona the Brave focuses on Ramona and on her life with her parents and big sister, Beezus. It’s about growing up and about being a kid. It’s about sudden moments of self-awareness and awareness of the world outside of oneself. There’s a number of books from the world of Klickitat Street in Portland. I think after this one we are going to read a Henry Huggins story. It’s a “boy” story so it will be full of scrappiness and clubhouses and getting dirty. But the Ramona and Beezus ones are great. I recommend you read them all this instant.

Posted in Bedtime Stories | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Bedtime Stories: Ramona the Brave