Things We Like: Floor Plans Made Easy

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

Whether you’re redecorating your bedroom or are considering more extensive home improvement projects, a floor plan is an essential tool to help get you started. An accurate floor plan can help you arrange furniture (the easy way: on paper), estimate costs by calculating square footage, and better understand what’s possible should you decide to expand or enlarge your room. The only downside of using a floor plan is that you have to make one. That is, until now.

Roomscan is a new app for the iPhone that allows you to draw a floor plan by simply walking around the perimeter of your room and tap your phone against each wall. The app automatically draws the floor plan based on your taps and is accurate with measurements to one-half foot! Once you have the floor plan drawn out, which you can edit the measurements of the walls to correct for any inaccuracies, you can export the image via email. You can also visit their website here to learn more about the app and how it works.

I was skeptical about how well it would work, so I gave it a try for myself and have to say that I am impressed. The one drawback, however, is that the app is pretty sensitive to the speed in which you tap each wall. I noticed that in certain rooms of my apartment, it was difficult to tap across sofas, and over the bed and tables as quickly as the app would like. Then again, running a tape measure across the bed isn’t exactly the easiest thing either.

While I won’t be using this app to measure cuts on my baseboard trim project, I can see it coming in handy for several other projects that don’t require as much precision. Best of all, it’s free!

On a final note, this is my last post here on the Charles Rogers Blog. It’s been a great past couple years writing here, and I hope that everyone reading my articles has enjoyed them or at least learned something new/useful.  Thank you all!

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Breakfast in Bed: Prosciutto Egg Cups

Post by Alison Hein.

Here’s a great idea from my friend and Pilates instructor Michele – crispy baked prosciutto slices wrapped around warm, gooey baked eggs. A little tweaking to this simple preparation produces lots of varieties. You can add a little parmesan cheese, or float some sautéed onions or mushrooms on top. Eggs can be beaten first and mixed with herbs and vegetables, similar to the Baked Breakfast Egg Cups (http://www.charlesprogers.com/blogs/archives/4411) I’ve shared with you in the past. But I like Michele’s version for its ease and simplicity. The salty Italian cured ham minimizes spicing needs so a touch of freshly ground black pepper before baking finishes nicely.

The Prosciutto Egg Cups make a neat and elegant dish for entertaining. Put them on your brunch table, along with an assortment of toast, fresh fruit, hash browns and mimosas, and you’ll have trouble getting rid of you friends and family on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Or, keep them for yourself, served with a plain, crusted bread like Irish Wheaten Bread (https://www.charlesprogers.com/blogs/archives/7766) for an easy, simple (and delicious) breakfast in bed.

Ingredients
Cooking spray
2 pieces prosciutto
2 eggs
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (for as many prosciutto eggs as you plan to make). Arrange a piece of prosciutto in each muffin cup, wrapping around the sides and covering the bottom to form a closed bowl.

Crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl (to make sure yolks are intact), then pour into prosciutto-lined muffin cups. Grind some fresh black peppercorns onto the top of the raw egg. Place in oven and bake for around 15 minutes for a cooked egg white and soft yolk. Cool slightly before removing from tin. Carefully scoop out eggs with a large spoon. Serve with crusty, whole grain bread, if you like.

Makes 2 servings.

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Bedtime Stories: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane.

I’ve been reading a disproportionate number of grown-up books these day. That’s not a bad thing; I’m just so accustomed to picture books and young adult literature! I’d been told of this book a couple years ago, but I’m pretty slow on the draw. I’d say this book is worth a read. Clay Jannon was a silicon valley graphic designer who was among the many victims of the Great Recession. After a lengthy unemployment, he happens across a San Francisco bookstore that is hiring for the night shift. It is immediately apparent that Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is not your typical bookstore. For one thing, most of the selection is a series of mysterious books which Jannon is forbidden to even look at. They take up a huge, 3-story shelf. The customers who request these books are eccentric, often disheveled, and frantic for the next edition. Jannon is required to record every detail of his encounters in the old leather-bound log books. When coaxed by a friend, he takes a look at one of the books and discovers it’s an entire volume written in code. As his curiosity deepens, he begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding this strange bookstore and its mysterious owner.

It’s a very interesting read, though the dialogues about technology versus old knowledge are a little overdone; one would almost think that Google paid a sum to have their products featured so prominently. Also, despite being somewhat ordinary in his skill set, the narrator has only incredible people in his life: the Google programmer; the skilled sculptor who works at ILM; the millionaire digital rendering master. It’s all just a little too convenient. The other half of the story, however, addresses the life of Aldus Manutius, an influential 16th-century printer and publisher, whose legacy surrounds the mysteries of the bookstore. That bit was a lot of fun. Overall it’s an intriguing story about old and new and an inquiry into if and how modern technology and the much-loved print medium might coexist.

Also: the cover glows in the dark! You can’t discover THAT in a digital format!

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Movies in Bed: The Italian Job

Post by Mark T. Locker

Oh, those heist movies. I just love them. The best part about being bed-ridden with sick is the excuse to fire up a bunch of movies in the middle of a Wednesday. As a dad who hardly ever stays up past 10:30, I watch very few movies. So imagine my delight and overwhelmedness when I was well enough to know what was going on, but not enough to move.

I started with a good one. “The Italian Job” is one of those heist movies where the thieves, for some reason, are the good guys. I guess they’re stealing from mobsters or something? Well, they are of course very good at what they do and this, the Italian Job, is to be Donald Sutherland’s one last gig before retiring. Which means, of course, it’s going to go wrong. Betrayed by one of their own, Donald is killed and the others left for dead. Fast forward a few years. The others lived! And they’re quite upset and plan to recover their ill-gotten goods from the badder bad guy.

Full of all the stuff that makes these movies fun: awesome hacker guy, safe cracker, explosives expert, incredible driving skills, and lots of really careful timing and execution, this is a great movie for watching in a fevered stupor. You know what? It would be pretty fun to watch with full capacity of the senses too.

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Things We Like: Subtle Contrast in Color

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

As part of my home improvement project , or un-improvement project depending on how you look at it, I am now painting the walls in my entryway, kitchen, and main living spaces. When I first painted them nearly 8 years ago, I chose a very sterile white. While I spent a considerable amount of time selecting that particular shade of white, it never really did much for me. The good thing about having white walls, however, is that they are very easy to paint over.

This go-round, I wanted to give the walls some of that personality they were lacking in white. After a few trips to the home improvement stores and much deliberation, I settled on Benjamin Moore’s Wickham Gray. An interesting bonus is that Wickham Gray is part of the Historic Color collection, which is inspired by documented colors found in 18th and 19th century architecture. A cool, modern color with some history behind it is a no-brainer for me.

What I like most about this color, and what inspired me for this post, is the subtlety of it. In certain light and at certain angles, you can hardly distinguish it from the white it’s being painted over. However, when you see it next to the Winter White baseboards and trim, it has a nice little pop. At other angles its appearance ranges from a steel gray to an almost velvety light blue. Generally hard to impress, I am floored by the depth and intrigue of this color.

So when you are deciding on new color palettes for your bedroom or other areas of your home, think about ways to create subtle contrast; contrast doesn’t always have to be big and bold. An accent wall, white trim, exposed walls and duct work, or incorporating other design and architectural elements can really help what you might otherwise think to be an uninteresting color stand out. As is the case with this Wickham Gray, in certain light, you may hardly even notice the color at all. But as the light changes, you and your guests will be in constant amazement over how the appearance of your room changes with it. A little time spent planning these subtle contrasts can help bring you enjoyment from your room for years to come.

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