Bedtime Stories: The Magicians

Post by Mark T. Locker.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

I came across this novel when I read a Buzzfeed list a friend had posted which recommended adult novels based on which young adult novels you liked. If you liked Harry Potter, then you might like The Magicians. One might also say that if you liked the Chronicles of Narnia then you might like this. Mind you, this is NOT a book for children. This story is about magic college, not middle school. It’s full of all the drinking, drama, and poor choices that twenty-something-year-olds, magically gifted or otherwise, would make.

The story begins with a seventeen-year-old named Quentin who is bright and studious and who has never quite fit in. Secretly he still dreams of the magical world of Fillory, a series of children’s fantasy novels very much like Narnia. One day, after receiving a mysterious package, he finds himself transported to the campus of Brakebills, which is a school for magicians. He passes the entry exams and becomes a full-fledged student at a school of magic, draped in glamours that keep it hidden in the middle of  upstate New York.  Although there are little bits reminiscent of Harry Potter, this is not Harry Potter. Lev Grossman creates a unique magical world all its own. And although Fillory is like Narnia, you never see Edmund and Lucy behaving the way these magicians do. It’s a very intriguing and absorbing book even if, like me, you read so slowly it takes forever to get through. Well worth it in the end.

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Movies in Bed: Taken

Post by Mark T. Locker.

I don’t often watch action movies. When dialogue comes second to the hand-to-hand combat and shooting, I’m generally not interested. But sometimes, it’s exactly what my brain needs. Especially a movie like Taken. One of those “you just messed with the wrong guy” movies. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired spy for the U.S. Government. Knowing all the bad things that happen, he is reluctant to let his somewhat estranged teenage daughter travel to Europe with no adult companion. Turns out his Spidey Sense was spot-on. Not an hour into her trip, his daughter and her friend are snatched while he is on the phone with her. “Good luck” says the kidnapper when Liam Neeson warns him not to take his daughter or else. He should have heeded the warning!

It’s a pretty formulaic movie. He was married to his work for too long. His daughter loves him but he doesn’t understand that she’s grown up. His ex-wife is fundamentally fed up with his ways. We all know that she’ll be changing her tune when his skills, which have removed him from his family, save his family in the end. I hear there is a Taken 2. Apparently his daughter is extremely takeable!

Totally fun movie to watch on a rainy night. Because those bad guys just messed with the wrong guy.

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Things We Like: Spring Cleaning The Bedroom

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

While it may not feel like it yet, spring is right around the corner. Technically, the first day of spring is marked by the vernal equinox, which falls on March 20 this year. One of my favorite things about spring, besides the fact that the cold weather and occasional ice storms will finally subside, is the opportunity to do some deep cleaning. As one of my friends back in college told me, “It’s not clean until it smells like chemicals.” While I don’t necessarily like the smell of ammonia and bleach, it is the best way to get rid of the musty smells that have accumulated over the winter. To me, the smell of cleaning products is the scent of accomplishment — something that can’t be achieved by lighting a candle.

To get you prepared for spring cleaning this year, I’ve compiled a cleaning list to help make your bedroom sparkle anew. Remember, for efficiency sake, you want to work your way from the top down. Dust will tend to settle as you clean, and you want to get as much of it out as possible.

1. Vacuum the window treatments, and dust the blinds. Some people like to take the window treatments down and wash them, but this can be tricky depending on the fabric they’re made out of.

2. Clean your ceiling fans, light fixtures, and any pictures hanging on the walls. This almost goes without saying, but the tops of your ceiling fans get really gross. You don’t want to be breathing all that dust when it’s time to turn the fans back on.

3. Clean the air vents and as far inside the ducts as you can reach. You can soak your vent covers in hot water while you clean other things in your bedroom. After they dry, apply a thin layer of car wax and reinstall. Waxing your vent covers with car wax to keep dust off. This tip works for gas stovetops, and other places in the house where dust and grime tend to accumulate.

4. Clean all the windows inside and out. Don’t forget the windowsills. You’ll be surprised how much cleaner and brighter your room looks with both sides of the windows clean. If you have screens over your windows, you can wash these outside with a hose. Just be sure to let them dry completely before putting them back up.

5. Take everything off the furniture tops in your bedroom and dust all the objects and surfaces. You may also want to take more drastic measures and remove all the furniture from your bedroom so you can clean behind and underneath. This may also be a good opportunity to rearrange your bedroom for a new look.

6. Wash all your bedding, including the bed skirt. For comforters, check the washing instructions. If it’s starting to get warm where you live, wrap up the comforter and store for the fall.

7. Vacuum the top of your mattress, and between the mattress and the box springs or bed frame. You can then freshen up your mattress with baking soda and lavender. Also, don’t forget to flip or turn the mattress, depending on the type you have.

8. Give the floors a good cleaning. If you have a rug in your bedroom, vacuum it first, then roll it up and vacuum the floor underneath. Dust finds its way everywhere in your home, including under the rug. If you leave the bed in place, don’t forget to vacuum under it. While you probably won’t find any monsters under there, you will find a lot of dust bunnies, which can be just as scary.

9. Put everything back in its place.

10. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. This is also the perfect opportunity to take a nap. You deserve it!

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Breakfast in Bed – Rosie’s Omelet Spinach

Post by Alison Hein.

In the household of my dear friends Rosie and Jeff, it is Jeff who is the chief cook. Don’t get me wrong – Rosie’s no slouch in the kitchen, as evidenced by this delicious “mistake.” Our telephone conversation:

Me: What’s new?

Rosie: Not much. Jeff let me in the kitchen this morning so I made breakfast for us.

Me: Nice. What’d you make?

Rosie: Well, I made a spinach omelet, but I made a big mistake.

Me: What kind of mistake?

Rosie: I added too much spinach for the amount of eggs.

Me: So? What’s wrong with that? I like my omelets to have a lot of spinach in them.

Rosie: Yeah, but this one had so much it should have been called Omelet Spinach.

And, just like that, here it is – halfway between fluffy omelet and thick frittata, all the way from mistake to masterpiece – Rosie’s Omelet Spinach! Rosie confessed to adding some finely chopped, near-caramelized sweet onion at the start, then bringing it to a piquant finish with a bit of creamy, sheep’s milk manchego. Be generous with the seasoning and make sure to drain the spinach well before cooking so the eggs are not soggy.

Make no mistake – this recipe is a real keeper. So keep it around when you’re searching for a breakfast in bed that even Jeff would approve.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
Seasoning blend (such as Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning) to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon milk or cream
¼ cup grated manchego cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Pour olive oil in heavy frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped spinach and continue to sauté until all liquid has evaporated and spinach is beginning to lightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Melt butter in a separate small, heavy pan over medium heat. Break eggs into small bowl, add milk or cream, and whisk until mixed. Stir in spinach onion mixture. Add egg/spinach mixture to heated pan all at once and swirl to even. Tilt pan slightly, and lift edges lightly with a spatula, allowing uncooked portion of eggs to spread to edges. Continue to cook, reducing heat to low if cooking to quickly, until egg/spinach mixture is lightly puffed up and nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle manchego cheese evenly on top. Use spatula to fold omelet in half, and continue to cook until eggs are firm and cheese is melted, another 1 to 2 minutes. Or, if you like, finish the omelet in the oven frittata style.

Turn the omelet out onto a plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.

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Movies in Bed: Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Well, we have had a sick kid in the house. I suppose for the child, the best part about having strep throat is that you get to lie around on the couch all day, slurping popsicles and watching movies. Although I miss the old days of wandering the video store, hoping a copy of that new release will drop through the slot while you browse, in these situations I am exceedingly grateful for instant streaming movies. And so we can pick something on the fly and keep an unhappy little boy distracted from his woes for the next 98 minutes. I’m not sure why he chose the middle movie in the trilogy. I can’t be sure he ever even saw the first one. And the penguins are BARELY featured in this one! And we all know the penguins are hands-down the best thing about these Madagascar movies.

The plot is pretty whatever. The lion Alex finds himself, against all odds, reunited with his parents. Not surprisingly, there’s a bad lion trying to create a rift and steal the pride. The hippo finds love and realizes he only likes her for her body. The lemur does some stuff. The zebra acts silly. An old lady beats the holy heck out of the bad lion. The end.

Pretty harmless, less annoying than some of the other stuff out there and happily low on toilet humor. See it. You’ll be okay and your kids might thank you.

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