Tag Archives: Charles P. Rogers

Bedtime Stories: President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

Post by Mark T. Locker.

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.

Boy, has Mac Barnett been on a roll lately! In fact, this is the second book of his I have reviewed in as many weeks. Based on a popular and neither confirmed nor unconfirmed legend, this book, as you may have guessed, is about President William Howard Taft who famously, or perhaps didn’t, got stuck in his bathtub.

Most of the story is about his attempts to extricate him from this awkward situation. Call in the Secretary of War! What will he advise? (Dynamite!) How about the Secretary of the Interior? (The answer is inside yourself.) It’s a fairly simple and straightforward story. I can hardly blame Mac Barnett for wanting to write about it. It’s an interesting story and sadly for Taft, about the only thing anyone remembers about him. That’s the other thing I like about President Taft is Stuck in the Bath: they address that by first introducing Taft with some of the important contributions he made as president and later by his advisers assuring him: don’t worry. No one will remember this incident in 100 years. Which is of course precisely what most people remember about him now. Poor Taft. Did you know he was the only president to also serve as Supreme Court Chief Justice? Well now you do.

If you are sensitive to illustrations of naked people with strategically placed bubbles this book may not be for you. But as for my kid, he got a kick out of it.

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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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