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!

Posted in Things We Like | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Things We Like: Spring Cleaning The Bedroom

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.

Posted in Breakfast in Bed | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Breakfast in Bed – Rosie’s Omelet Spinach

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.

Posted in Movies in Bed | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Movies in Bed: Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa

Things We Like: Placebo Sleep

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

A lot of the articles I’ve posted here on the Charles P Rogers blog deal with ways to help you sleep better. A comfortable bed, proper diet, enough exercise, and a solid routine are all cornerstones to a good night’s sleep. However, I recently came across a study that found simply believing you’ve slept well improves cognitive performance, even if you actually didn’t sleep well at all — a classic example of mind over matter.

The study, “Placebo Sleep Affects Cognitive Functioning,” was conducted by researchers from Colorado College, and is published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. In a nutshell, the researchers hooked up their participants to a bunch of fancy equipment and told them that it would measure the amount of REM sleep they got. Note: The equipment did not actually measure anything. The researchers then reported back to the participants with made up numbers about how much REM sleep they got the evening before. Participants were randomly told they got 16.2 percent or 28.7 percent REM sleep, regardless of what may have actually been recorded.

After being told their results, the participants were asked to take a series of tests to measure their cognitive performance. As the title of this post suggests, the participants who were told they had a higher level of REM sleep the night before performed better on the tests than their peers. Some other controls were put in place to help get rid of bias and the subjects’ self-reported sleep quality, and the results held.

So what does this mean for the rest of us? Basically, it confirms the adage that if you change your mind, your body will follow. If you’re in the mindset that you’re getting good sleep, then your brain will perform like you actually got good sleep irrespective of your actual sleep quality. The opposite also holds true: if you’re always thinking about what a bad night’s sleep you got, then your mind will perform like you did, even if you slept wonderfully the night before.

So while a comfortable bed, in an ideal sleeping environment may help you actually sleep better, you need to believe that you are sleeping better too. For me, I’m going to make a conscious effort to tell myself what a good night’s sleep I got and hope that my mind adjusts accordingly. This may be especially important with a lengthy test coming up next week, one where I’ll need every cognitive advantage I can find.

As an update to last week’s article on barn doors in the bedroom, I’ve included some pictures of what my barn door looks like. There is still a lot of work to be done with the bathroom remodel, but it’s good to see some progress! While I was a little skeptical about how would look in my room, and how functional it would be, I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It fits over my existing doorframe like a glove, and the substantial heft of the reclaimed barn wood blocks affords a lot more privacy than I had expected. An unexpected bonus is that I was able to use old hardware that was reclaimed from an old barn nearby. The door has a lot of character and, in my mind, is truly irreplaceable. It is definitely something I plan to keep and use wherever I live.

Posted in Things We Like | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Things We Like: Placebo Sleep

Breakfast in Bed: Chai Tea Muffins

Post by Alison Hein.

The spiced tea blend we know as “chai” is actually called “masala chai” in the part of the world where it originated. “Chai” is simply the word for tea in Hindi. It’s the “masala” part that captivates us – an aromatic spice blend that calls for all kinds of exotic flavors. Tangy ginger and mysterious cardamom often dominate these blends. Everyone has their own secret recipe, though, and the list of possible additives is long: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel, liquorice root, nutmeg, peppercorn, and even rose petals. Strong black tea leaves are boiled with the spice blend, then mixed with warmed or steamed milk to create masala chai.

In our usual manner of American abbreviation, it is now possible to purchase a packaged liquid of chai tea latte concentrate. This mixture is simply mixed with an equal amount of milk, warm or cold, to conveniently create an instant chai tea latte. And, with some experimentation, I’ve found that it makes a sweet and spiced scented muffin base. You can try this with your favorite recipes – simply substitute half of the milk called for with chai tea latte concentrate (a recipe calling for 1 cup of milk is now converted to ½ cup milk and ½ cup chai tea latte concentrate).

I plan to continue experimenting in the future – think chai tea pancakes, waffles or scones. But in the meantime, give these muffins a try. The aromas emitted while baking are mysterious and mouthwatering. Not too sweet, and warm from the oven, they are curiously lovely with a cup of strong black tea… curiously lovely for an exotic breakfast in bed.

Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chai tea latte concentrate
½ cup milk
2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in chai tea latte concentrate and milk.

In separate bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Combine dry ingredients with chai mixture. Spoon into lined muffin tin and bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on rack before removing muffins from tin.

Makes 10 to 12 muffins.

Posted in Breakfast in Bed | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Breakfast in Bed: Chai Tea Muffins