Lord & Taylor just opened a new home department in their flagship store in Manhattan (39th and 5th).  I stopped in at their grand opening this week and snapped a few shots.  Furniture and furnishings are by Ralph Lauren.

Blue-and-white dinnerware complement a plaid-patterned tablecloth and chairs. Designer: Philip Gorrivan

A trio of wolves stalk a well-laden table under a canopy of green. Designer: Brad Ford.

Fall colors dominant with leafy branches,tall branchy candle stands and fringed table cloth with window-pane check. Designer: Garrow Kedigian.

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Want to create a terror-ific atmosphere at your Halloween dinner table this fall? Unleash your imagination and stir up little home-brewed ambiance by simply renaming your favorite foods. Need some inspiration? Check out our menu below for a terror-ific Halloween dinner your ghosts and goblins will love!

MAINS
Worms and eyeballs – spaghetti & meatballs
Witch’s fingers & slime sauce – chicken strips & ranch dressing dyed green
Barbequed bat wings – chicken wings
Witches’ brew &   Dracula diggers – chili & tortilla chips

SIDES
Grass & weeds with sliced toadstools & witch’s teeth – salad greens with mushrooms & sunflower seeds
Maggots – rice
Rotting teeth – corn
Lizards’ tongues – sautéed red pepper strips or carrot sticks

DESSERTS
Shrunken heads – baked apples
Ghosts – white chocolate-covered bananas
Pond scum – Jello with gummi worms
Bones – bone-shaped meringue cookies

BEVERAGE
Swamp water –  lemonade concentrate, lemon-lime pop & lime  sherbet

For our favorite Halloween dessert recipes, click on our Halloween issue of roomplanners magazine. Or subscribe to our free magazine.

Need a frightfully good idea for Halloween this year? Try this one!

SHRUNKEN APPLE HEAD DESSERT
(Makes 6 servings)

3 medium baking apples (e.g. Empire, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, Honeycrisp)
Lemon juice
5 tbsp (75 mL) packed brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream
Chopped nuts (optional)

Wash apples. Cut in half lengthwise; remove cores. Brush cut sides of apples with lemon juice. Carve eyes, nose and mouth on peel side of apple halves.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Brush mixture over face sides of apples.

In a greased or sprayed baking dish, place apples, cut side down. Pour any remaining brown sugar/butter mixture over apples.

Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 10 minutes. Spoon sauce in bottom of baking dish over apples. Continue baking until apples are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes longer.

To serve, place one or two scoops of ice cream in 6 dessert bowls. Drizzle sauce over top. Place a warm apple head in each bowl. Sprinkle chopped nuts over ice cream, if desired.

Need another terror-ific Halloween treat this year? This Halloween desert will help set the tone for your fright-night menu. If you wish, let everyone carve their own “shrunken head” dessert or dress their own “ghost”.

BANANA GHOSTS
(Makes 6 ghosts)

3 bananas
6 popsicle sticks
6 oz (200 g) white chocolate or white chocolate candy melts, coarsely chopped, or white chocolate chips
12 chocolate chips

Peel bananas; remove any stringy fibers. Cut bananas in half widthwise. Push a popsicle stick into each half through the cut end. Cover each banana with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.

Place white chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and heat on High (100% power) for 1 minute; stir. Continue heating, 30 seconds at a time, until white chocolate is mostly melted but a few pieces remain. Stir to melt remaining white chocolate.

Spread or spoon white chocolate over frozen banana halves. Press chocolate chips in place for eyes.

Set banana ghosts on a waxed paper-covered plate and place in the freezer until serving time.

Not much beats milk and cookies at the end of a long day. The combination is a favorite for kids (and adults who want to be kids again!)

Try these easy-to make cookies; they’ve got the ingredients to promote a good night’s rest.

Nutri Cookies
(Makes 5 dozen cookies)

½ cup (125 mL) butter or margarine, softened
½ cup (125 mL) peanut butter
1 cup (250 mL) liquid honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
3 cups (750 mL) quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup (250 mL) medium unsweetened coconut
¾ cup (175 mL) natural bran
½ cup (125 mL) sunflower seeds or wheat germ
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) raisins
½ cup (125 mL) chopped nuts

Beat butter and peanut butter in a large bowl until blended. Add honey, eggs and vanilla. Beat slowly until blended. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well.

For each cookie, scoop a heaping tablespoon (about 20 mL) batter onto a cookie sheet. Flatten slightly.

Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes on cookie sheet before removing cookies to a cooling rack.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Timeless Recipes for All Occasions by Jean Pare, Company’s Coming Publishing Limited, 2006

For more information about food and sleep, tips on how to sleep better and a look at our favorite new sleep products, click on the magazine (left).

To subscribe to our free online magazine, please subscribe here. Or visit www.roomplanners.com.

Serta and the counting sheep are trademarks of Serta Inc.

Warm milk and cookies sound like a soothing bedtime snack.  But does what we eat or drink really help us drift off to sleep?

 Many sleep experts and nutritionists believe what you eat can effect how well you sleep. They advise choosing your supper meal and evening snack with care.  The following diet-related tips will have you snoozing soon after your head hits the pillow.

 * Eat dinner/supper earlier rather than later in the evening to give your stomach time to digest the food.

*  Make the last meal of the day a light one. If portions are too large, your digestive system will have to work over time. Eating a large meal may initially make you feel drowsy, but you likely won’t enjoy a restful sleep.

 * Choose foods that won’t cause discomfort while you sleep. Heavy, rich and fatty foods can be hard to    digest. Spicy, highly seasoned or acidic foods can cause heartburn and stomach discomfort.

 * Limit your alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol might make you feel sleepy, but you may not be able to achieve a really deep sleep.

 * Don’t consume too many liquids during the evening;  you’ll be waking frequently to make trips to the bathroom throughout the night.

 * Avoid caffeine. It’s a stimulant, and increases the activity of various body systems including the      nervous system. It can take 8 to 10 hours to eliminate the effects of caffeine from your body.

 * Eat a small snack an hour or two before you go to bed. Going to bed hungry will just keep you awake or even wake you up.

 Try the Nutri Cookie recipe in our special sleep issue (click on the image, left). Served with hot or cold milk, it really will help you sleep! And don’t let Number 7 (or any of his Serta® counting sheep friends) convince you otherwise.

When planning what to eat close to bedtime, opt for foods that contain tryptophan, especially for nighttime snacking. An important amino acid, tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin and melatonin in our brain, two chemicals that help us sleep.

Tryptophan-rich foods include:
* dairy products
* seafood
* meat & poultry
* eggs
* beans
* whole grains & rice
* lentils
* nuts and seeds

Combining carbohydrate-rich foods with a small amount of protein food that contains tryptophan helps make tryptophan available to our brains.

Tryptophan and carbohydrate combinations includes:
* oatmeal cookies & milk
* whole grain cereal & milk
* half a peanut butter or tuna sandwich
* crackers & cheese
* bagel chips & a hard-cooked egg
* yogurt & granola

For more information on the connection between food and sleep, tips on how to develop better sleep habits and a look at our favorite new sleep products, check out our Annual Sleep issue (click on the image, left). 

If you’d like to subscribe to our free online magazine, please subscribe here or visit www.roomplanners.com.

Want to compare your kitchen design to professionally-designed ones? See how your kitchen scores…

1.  Out of 10 points, deduct 1 point for every foot your work triangle is above 22 feet (your work triangle is the number of feet you walk from your fridge to your stove to your sink and back to your fridge). Deduct 1 point for every foot your work triangle is less than 10 feet.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

2.  Out of 10 points, deduct 2 points each if you have less than 12″ of counter space the left side of the sink, the right side of the sink, the left side of the stove and the right side of the stove. Deduct 2 points if you have less than 15″ of counter space on the handle-side of your fridge.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

3.  Out of 10 points, deduct 5 points if one side of your sink is within 8″ of a wall. Deduct another 5 points if your stove is within 8″ of a wall.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

4.  Out of 10 points, deduct 6 points if your dishwasher is located more 1 step away the sink. Deduct another 2 points each if your dishes, glasses or cutlery are stored more than 5 feet away from the dishwasher.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

5.  Out of 10 points, deduct 3 points for every inch your sink is shallower than 9″.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

6.  Out of 10 points, deduct 1 point for every item stored on your counter that isn’t used at least 3 times a week. Deduct 1 point for every small electrical appliance that’s stored between your hip and eye-level (behind cupboards or out in the open) that’s not used regularly.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

7.  Out of 10 points, deduct 1 point for every 10% of your counter that’s not free. (Example, if nothing is stored on your counters, score 10 points. If 50% of your countertop is regularly filled with objects, score 5 points. If 60% is covered and only 40% free, score 4 points, etc.)
TOTAL SCORE: _____

8.  Out of 10 points, deduct 2 points for every item stored within your work triangle that doesn’t relate to food preparation. (Examples: mail, magazines, office supplies, bills, electronics, TVs).
TOTAL SCORE: _____

9.  Out of 10 points, deduct 2 points for every drawer, cupboard, rack or utensil canister that’s over-capacity, making items difficult to retrieve or return, or any cupboard that requires you to move some items to get to other items.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

10.  Out of 10 points, Deduct another 2 points for every cabinet (or shelf) where you store food, dishes or non-kitchen items together. Deduct 2 points if you’ve never taken time to plan and organize your fridge.
TOTAL SCORE: _____

 Add extra points for:

  • a knife rack that mounts on the wall (+2 points)
  • a hanging pot rack (+3 points)
  • a spice rack that mounts on the wall (+2 points)
  • at least 4 kitchen drawers (+5 points)
  • full-extension drawers (+5 points)
  • each drawer with drawer dividers (+ 2 points)
  • an under-sink organization system of any kind (+3 points)
  • each lazy susan (+3 points)
  • a food pantry cabinet (+5 points)
  • clip-on lights, under-cabinet lights or other task lighting (+4 points)

Deduct points for:

  • less than 11″ of knee space depth under a counter or table (-5 points)
  • corner sink (-7 points)
  • no windows or view outdoors or to another room (-5 points)
  • less than 6 linear feet of counter space (-10 points)

How did you score?
85 – 100 points. Congratulations! Unless your kitchen is really too small, you’re in good shape.

70 – 85 points. A few small changes will increase your kitchen design’s efficiency and comfort.

50-70 points. You probably already know your kitchen design isn’t quite right, but may not be sure what to do. Check out our kitchen planning tips for some ideas.

50 points or less. You’ve got two choices… renovate or eat out more! Or check out our kitchen planning tips to see which organizational changes you could make without renovating.

Click here for kitchen planning ideas. Or take another quiz to rate the design of other rooms in your home.

Want to receive our free monthly online magazine filled with practical interior design ideas and recipes? Subscribe here!

This sturdy side dish puts a new spin on an old favorite.. a great side dish with your favorite entree!

 Grilled Potato Salad
(Makes 4 servings)

2 lb (1 kg) mini red or white new potatoes
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
Freshly grated pepper, to taste
8 slices bacon, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (75 mL) Ranch or Caesar salad dressing
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes (with skins) in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well.

Cut potatoes in half  and place in a bowl. Add olive oil and pepper; toss gently to coat. Place potatoes in a grill basket; grill over medium-high heat until lightly grill-marked, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. (Grilling step may be omitted: cook potatoes in first step until fork-tender).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Place on a paper towel to drain.

Place grilled potatoes in a bowl. Add bacon, green onions and dressing. Toss gently to coat. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For other summer side dish ideas, check out our Summer 2010 RoomPlanners magazine. Along with more sturdy, simple and smart recipes, find out more about Craftsman-style homes, furniture and interiors.

Want to receive our free monthly online magazine? Subscribe here.

It doesn’t get simpler than this quick, easy and very tasty dessert. Best of all? No one will know how little time you spent making it!  

Ice Cream Pie
(Makes 6 servings)

4 cups (1 L) vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
¾ cup (175 mL) frozen juice concentrate, thawed
     slightly (see Tip)
1 prepared 9” (23 cm) crumb crust (e.g. graham wafer, vanilla wafer  or Oreo)
Garnish: fruit, fruit sauce, toasted nuts and/or coconut

Combine ice cream and juice concentrate mixing just   until blended. Spoon into crust. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

At serving time, cut into wedges using a knife dipped in hot water and wiped with a paper towel. You may need to let pie stand at room temperature for a few minutes before serving. Garnish as desired.

TIP!

  • Vary garnish as desired. Try strawberry-kiwi juice concentrate with sliced kiwis; raspberry juice concentrate with raspberry coulis; pink lemonade with sliced strawberries; orange juice concentrate with mandarin orange slices and grated chocolate; and pineapple juice concentrate with toasted coconut.