Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Foam vs. fiberglass insulation (discussion link)

"The cost of foam is much higher that that of regular fiberglass insulation. I'm wondering if the cost difference is worth it."

Link: Cost of Foam vs. Fiberglass - Topic Powered by eve community  (HGTVPro.com)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paulie

Paulie is a recent short story of mine in the December issue of Art and Prose.  It's an offbeat story with a hint of SF at the beginning, but it's about a man needing to find redemption.

Art and Prose includes lots of art, stories, articles, poetry, interviews, tutorials, and a review of Brian W. Aldiss' Harm by non-fiction writer (among other things), I. E. Lester.  (It's great sharing zine space with you, Ed!)

Link: Art&Prose Magazine

Friday, December 14, 2007

New review of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?

5.0 out of 5 stars A handful of colorful cutouts of the main characters round out this simple story, December 3, 2007
By  Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

Why Won't Anyone Play With Me? is a delightful, flat-spined children's picturebook with a relevant moral for young readers. Kallie, a curious and exuberant kitten, wants to play. But the creatures Kevin Kroaker, Tazi Treefrog, and Topper Turtle don't want to play with her! Why not? "A muffled voice, Topper Turtle's, said, 'You won't let us. We can't play the rough games you play; we're too little.'" Kallie learns to play gentle games such as hopscotch, leapfrog, and tag with her new friends. A handful of colorful cutouts of the main characters round out this simple story for teaching older children about getting along with younger children.

Link to review: MBR: Children's Bookwatch, December 2007  (The review is over half way down the page.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Plumbing cross connections (link)

I'm aware of hot water and cold water faucets being reversed.  (You really have to be careful in the tub.)  But this problem sounds a lot more complicated to fix.  I have read, btw, that you have to be very careful with plumbing and elecrical runs to kitchen islands.

(from Ask Ed: HGTVPro.com) Whenever my island sink faucet sits for a while and I turn on the cold water, hot water will come out of the cold faucet side....

Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Kitchen Island in Hot Water

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quirky Claus

Quirky Claus is an imaginative, fun story for kids and grownups: Sebastian White - Quirky Claus
 
Description: Quirky Claus is the alternative tale of a mischievous Santa who lives deep in the snowy depths of the south pole.
 
Review excerpt: ... the art is colorful and imaginative. I especially loved the gnomes, the annoyed reindeer, the agitated armadillo, and [the] wombat! [and] Claus, the penguins, sharks, fish, and other critters; the color is beautiful; and the last page with the toboggan with its buttons & lever & ejector seat was a wonderful idea!

Subtropical Storm Olga

Olga formed over the Virgin Islands Monday, which was 10 days after the Atlantic hurricane season ended.  This doesn't happen often, but I don't believe it's a first.

Update: Olga remnants sent us some tropical moisture, which we needed.  That and this current cold front should help us.

Update: It looks like Subtropical Storm Pablo didn't develop.

Link: Tropical Storm OLGA    (Thanks, Lloyd)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Critters collage

Abby, who read Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? and made a collage of the critter cutouts in the back of the book, had a friend send me photos of her and the collage.  And her mother gave me permission to use the collage photo.  Thank you all!

 

I wish you could see the cute video where Abby has the frog wave his little foot!  Thank you again, Abby!

You can find the book at: Amazon.com: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Books: Joy V. Smith

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Publication news

My advice to writers is included, along with the advice of a lot of other children's writers, in a brand new ebook,  I Wish Someone Had Told Me That! 
64 Successful Children's Authors Give You The Advice They Wish Someone Had Given Them

Link: I Wish Someone Had Told Me That!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas decorating tips

Be consistent with color and theme.  Two colors means sophistication (well, that's what the newspaper article said); for instance, use traditional green and ivory.  And stars make a beautiful recurring them.
 
Mix fresh and faux greenery, including silver leaves and pinecones.
 
Think sparkle!  This includes mirrors, glass, metal, beads, and candlelight [I think you can cut back on the candles; it's dangerous and is getting so trite]
 
Personalize stockings, ornaments, and napkin holders.
 
Decorate your doorway with a wreath [I love a friend's red wreath on her dark door] and flanking trees or poinsettias.  [I love variegated poinsettias--Jingle Bells, Monet, Strawberries and Cream, ...]
 
Add Christmas touches to things that are hard to move, also pillows, antlers to the dog, etc.  [Well, you can skip the antlers, but I have to confess that even I think they're sort of cute.]

Friday, November 30, 2007

New review of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?

Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me?

Joy V. Smith
PublishAmerica (2007)
ISBN 9781424186341
Reviewed by Noah Phenis (age 8) for Reader Views (11/07)

“Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me?” is a short book written by Joy V. Smith for young kids to enjoy.  The images in this story were done by Andrea Gradidge in a cute and fuzzy manner.  The illustrations go right along with the story and help a child to see what is happening.

This story was written to help teach children a lesson in life.  Joy V. Smith did a pretty good job teaching us that sometimes you need to learn how to play other people’s games, so they can get more enjoyment out of it and maybe they will learn to play your games too.

The story uses six animal characters to play out a day’s event.  Four of these loveable characters are included in the back of the book as cutouts to play along with during the story, providing hands-on learning and getting the listener involved in the lesson.

I would like to see the author write more stories like this in a series to help teach other life lessons to young children.  I would recommend “Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me?” to anyone with small children who are still learning their way in the social world.

I thought this book was cute because I like kittens, frogs, turtles and salamanders which are used instead of people to tell the story.  As a young child myself, I can relate to the difficulty Kallie Kitten has with making new friends and learning how to do so.

5.0 out of 5 stars Cute Book, November 28, 2007
By  Reader Views "www.readerviews.com" (Austin, Texas)

Reviewed by Noah Phenis (age 8) for Reader Views (11/07)

You can find the book at: Amazon.com: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Books: Joy V. Smith

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flooring materials discussion (link)

Now for thoughts on... flooring material?

When I blogged about countertop material, I got such a great list of resources and things to consider that I decided to ask you readers again, on a different topic - floors.

What do you think of sustainable flooring materials? What are the options, the considerations and the costs?

We're going to be adding about 800 square feet of office space above the garage in our new home. I don't want to carpet it, for a variety of reasons."

Link:  Andrew & Stacy: The Green Team -- Now for thoughts on... flooring material?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Traditional foods in American fiction

I recently came across an interesting booklet, Food in Fiction in the American Tradition from The Song of Hiawatha to The Yearling (Borden: 1953).  It's an enlightening look at American food in our past.  Corn (maize), btw, was cultivated by the Indians before written history--and possibly before rice, wheat, and other grasses were cultivated--and is the only grain that doesn't reseed itself.  Hominy, pone, suppawn, samp, and succotash are corn dishes still called by their Inidan names.
 
The chapter on Song of Hiawatha (Indian tribal life before the coming of the white man), where I gleaned, so to speak, the above information, has recipes for Indian bread [which I enjoy at Seminole booths at fairs] and Hasty Pudding (not an accurate name because corn meal should be cooked slowly). 
 
The chapter on Courtship of Miles Standish (Plymouth Colony 1621) has Meat Succotash and Corn Meal Griddle Cakes.  Legend of Sleepy Hollow  (Westchester County, New York about 1800) has Drop Doughnuts and Honey Cupcakes.  Moby Dick (1840s) has Cod Chowder.  House of Seven Gables (Eastern Massachusetts 1850) has Johnnycake.  [I grew up with Johnnycake, btw.]
 
Tom Sawyer (Middle West about 1850) has Peach Cobbler and Fig Layer Cake.  (Dried  fruits were available when fresh fruits weren't.)  Little Women (New England in the 1860s) has Blancmange.  Late George Apley (New England 1866-1933) has a Thanksgiving menu, Pumpkin Pie, and Creamed Onions.  The Yearling (Florida in the 1930s) has Sweet Potato Pone and Round White Bread.  All the chapters include background on the story, the time, and the food. 

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Landscaping mistakes

I was glad to see some of these common mistakes listed in the December 2007 issue of The Urban Horticulturer (U of Florida Extension/Polk County newsletter):

Over planting/planting too closely in beds.  Find out how big those plants are going to get!  Forget instant gratification. 

Planting too close to the house: I've seen a lot of trees too close to the house.  They can take out the foundation (where do you think those roots are going to go?!) and rot the siding (moisture and mold buildup.)  There should be at least 12 inches between the plant and the house.  Find out how wide they get.  (I never thought I'd have to trim bushes by the house, but a landscaper refused to listen to me.  I rarely use landscapers, btw, but I splurged.  We had to remove most of those bushes; they were too close to each other also.)

Lawns cluttered with trees and bushes: Make large muched beds; it cuts down on mowing and makes the plants happier; and I don't have to dig a hole in the lawn to plant something new.  I've gradually enlarged smaller beds to include nearby trees, bushes, and flowers.  This was done over the years and required loads and loads of mulch; I now get free mulch from the electric company.  And group like plants or plants by color.  We have white beds and pink beds, etc.

They didn't mention myrtle murder though.  This is pollarding (lopping off the tops of crape myrtles).  Some crape myrtles were planted too close to something and had to be pruned; but too many people have been brainwashed into thinking that that is how crape myrtles are supposed to look!

 

 

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Greening your home

The September 2007 issue of Traditional Home has an interesting article, Green Space.  Ways to make your home green (eco-friendly) include bamboo floors; shades made of reeds, grasses, and bamboo; quartz countertops; cabinets from Poggenpohl with a melamine finish (the company doesn't use protected woods or wood from the rain forest); and recycled cabinets, countertops; and furniture. 

Cork is also a renewable resource.  They strip the bark off, and it grows again.  That is an amazing thing.  And check out stores that sell recycled building materials; Habitat for Humanity has a store in our town, and we've donated a refrigerator and floor tiles to them.

Don't forget coir.  The Winter 2007-2008 issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas has a nifty idea for a doormat made of natural coir fibers.  You can stencil (use masking tape to hold the stencil in place) your house numbers or your name in the center of the mat and add a border, if you want, by taping the areas that you don't want painted.  Use a spray paint.  They used American Accents, Espresso (#118117);  The color goes well with the mat's color. 

There's a sculptural stool carved from a block of monkeypod wood (sustainable) in the Signals catalog.  Each block is unique.  Link:  Signals - Gifts That Inform, Enlighten & Entertain  (Supporting Public Television since 1986.)

Sustainable countertop material: Andrew & Stacy: The Green Team -- Sustainable Countertop Material

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fun and adventure in books

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? (children's picture book): Amazon.com: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Books: Joy V. Smith
 
Description: Why doesn’t anyone want to play with Kallie Kitten? Why do they jump into the pond or hide? Will anyone ever talk to her? Will this frisky little kitten learn to play their games?
 
Quirky Claus (imaginative, fun story for kids and grownups): Sebastian White - Quirky Claus
 
Description: Quirky Claus is the alternative tale of a mischievous Santa who lives deep in the snowy depths of the south pole.
 
Sugar Time (audiobook of time travel tales): Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys
 
Description: Three complete stories: "Sugar Time," "Flight Test," and "Return to Neander."  Maxwell Sweet, along with two professors, have been conducting secret experiments in an old Victorian mansion outside Galveston, Texas. However, the two professors have vanished and Maxwell Sweet has fallen ill. Now, it's up to Sweet's tough-as-nails niece to find out what happened to the project -- a working time/ machine ...  Sugar Time is an audio time travel adventure featuring a full cast, music and sound effects.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roofing materials

 
I came across a useful article in the paper (real estate section) the other day about roofing materials:
 
Composition/asphalt shingles are the cheapest and most popular material (85-90% of the market).  Prices usually depend on lifespans and warranties.  Not much maintenance, if any.
 
For more money, there are wood shakes or shingles; but there's a lot more maintenance involved; and there's the fire danger.  And a roofer told me some years back about the critters that live in them, including roaches and scorpions, making them not much fun to work with (when reroofing or doing repairs).
 
Next up in cost and durability is metal.  Prices vary depending on the metal (usually aluminum) and the roof style.
 
Top of the line materials include clay and slate; and they're heavier; and you have to decide about them ahead of time (when building--unless you can retrofit).  Clay tiles are fire resistant and last about 50 years.  Slate may outlive the house.
 
I'm sticking with shingles, though we thought about metal because of the style of our house, but shingles were more affordable; but oh, that gravel!  Clean out your gutters!!.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Natural products for your home

'Tis the season for Christmas catalogs, and two recent ones that I received are for natural products: Gaiam Living/Harmony and Janice's Natural Comfort Collection.  (I also got Vermont Country Store, which is always full of goodies, and many more.) 

Gaiam's has been around for a long time, and they have organic cotton clothes, towels, and bedding, including flannel sheets, also cleaning products, among other things: Gaiam: Green Living, Yoga, Fitness, & Organic Products

Janice's has organic bedding and towels; old-fashioned white flour sacks; re-usable cotton (muslin) coffee filters; cotton sheeting, batting, fabric, and thread; wooden combs and toothbrushes; goat's milk products; clothes; and more:  Organic Bedding | Allergy Relief, Non-Toxic, Personal Care Household Products | Janice's:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Home Associations

There was an interesting article on problems with the rules of home associations in the May 2005 issue of This Old House also.  There are restrictions on lightposts, landscaping, siding, and driveway surfaces.  Hmm.  Just what does "attractive" mean?  One of the extreme cases was having to build an airplane hangar--at a cost of about $150.000--before selling a house.  Here are a few samples of actual association rules:

Lawns must not be allowed to turn brown. [Oh, oh. Mine turns brown after the first frost.]

Hedges must always be trimmed.  [Plant hedges that don't need to be trimmed!  If you can.]

Freestanding basketball hoops are banned.  [Well...  But where are the kids going to play and practice?!]

The article does point out the need for some rules--though I think restricting paint colors to gray, green, or bown is extreme; get away from my dog with that ruler!--but I do see the need for some basic rules.  (I see them driving around, but I also sympathize with workers who need to take their vehicles home.)  So, read your documents!

Additional tidbit from This Old House:

Phillips screws were apparently invented in 1937 when General Motors used them to build Cadillacs.  They went in quickly, and the screwdriver had a better grip, ensuring a tight fit so rough roads couldn't shake them loose.  Other carmakers followed their example.  (I wonder who Phillips was?)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The ideal kitchen (link)

Consumer survey reveals the 'Ideal' kitchen

(Source: BuildingOnline's eUpdate via HGTVPro.com newsletter):

"While the kitchen certainly remains the hub of the American home, it continues to evolve from being a strictly functional place in the home for preparing meals. Almost a third of American consumers now see their kitchen as a place where a variety of activities take place. Increasingly, people socialize, take medicines, manage their household, and care for pets in their kitchen.

- Busy lifestyles prevent the vast majority of people from preparing all of their meals at home every day. Only a third of Americans fix breakfast at home every day. Yet nearly three quarters frequently prepare dinner at home (5+ times a week)."

Other tidbits from the survey:

"The number one appliance upgrade desired in an 'ideal' kitchen is a cooktop that features a built-in grill, wok, griddle or rotisserie attachment. Also strongly desired are commercial-grade appliances, a larger dishwasher to accommodate a wide variety of dishes, and a double oven.

Men may see appliance purchases as status symbols while women tend to see them with a more functional perspective."

The survey also covers remodeling.  (Fewer would do all the work themselves.)  Link: News : Trends : Survey of 10,000 Consumers Reveals the 'Ideal' Kitchen : HGTVPro.com

 

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shaving in the shower

There's a nifty idea in another article in that issue of This Old House about a sink in the shower.  A man was inspired while staying at a luxury hotel in India, and he came home and had an architect renovate his master suite.  The new shower is 6 feet by 4 feet 8 inches and includes a limestone vanity (matching the shower) with a small sink, glass shelf, and fogless mirror, plus the showerhead, rainhead, and hand spray.  It's beautiful!  Limestone has to be sealed, btw.  Be sure to read the fine print.

Home, small home

Home, Small Home is the title of an article in the May 2005 issue of This Old House; it discusses tiny homes made by The Cottage Company and Tumbleweed Tiny Houses.  Btw, homes averaged about 1,500 square feet in 1970 and were up to 2,330 in 2005.  And when Greeks built their first houses around 6000 B.C.; they were so small, the people ate and sometimes slept outside.  Designer Jay Shafer (Tumbleweed Tiny Houses) says, "I only spend twenty minutes a week on housework."  Now, there's an incentive!  Here's the link for his website: Tumbleweed Houses  They are really small, but cute, though I don't think I could get my dogs, books, computer, etc. to fit in one. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Some great ideas from Home magazine

I saw in the November/December issue of Home that Dutch doors are making a comeback.  Jeld-Wen is making them, but they're not half and half like the originals.  The division is higher.
 
The upgraded kitchen in a New York apartment has a unique look.  The architect, Philip Mahla, decided to have white appliances and stainless steel cabinets.  The upper cabinets have honeycomb glass inserts; and there's a white marble countertop; the table/work island has a stainless steel base and a white marble top.  It's a fantastic reversal of that stainless steel appliance look.
 
I like the look of the enclosed blinds or cellular shades that you install over your door glass.  There are no cords or dusting, and it's easy to control light and privacy.  I saw them in a Home Depot/ODL Enclosed Treatments ad.  I'd love to have them.
 
And the holiday centerpieces included party favors (miniature wrapped Christmas gifts) displayed on two stacked glass cake stands.  Elsewhere, colorful ribbon candy in glass containers make nice accents.  And you can tie place cards to the stems of pears sitting in small containers or bowls. 
 
There's also an article on dealing with a Great Room.  They framed a wall treatment to define the dining area.  I did like the fireplace trimmed with polished aluminum; tiles of river rock in resin flank it.  It's another unique look.
 
And I saw a URL for a Kohler building and remodeling flipbook (slideshow) in a Kohler ad.  It's a gallery of kitchen and bath ideas; here's the link: PointClickHome Slideshow - Kohler Slideshow 2

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New interview (link)

Here's a link to an interview where I discuss Why Won't Anyone Play With Me?, Sammy's Beautiful Tail, writing for children, and publishing: Best Book Tour - Why Won't Anyone Play With Me?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Time to buy a new house (link)

I came across another interesting blog: Andrew & Stacy: The Green Team -- Oh. No. It's time to buy a new house.

"Sometime toward the end of next year, we'll be packing up the whole fam damily and moving. ..."

I'm looking forward to comparing adventures in this challenging process, and I've already posted to their blog.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Greening your home (link)

I recently came across DIY's Going Green Blog, which has interesting and helpful information on various topics, including lighting:

"Let there be light, but let it be green

... I wrote the other day that there are many possible aspects to greening your home, big steps and small. So figured I’d follow up and list some small ones in an area of particular interest of mine: lighting. Here’s my top five:

1. Stop lighting your home with toasters. ‘Cause that’s what incandescent bulbs basically are. You know how the wires inside a toaster turn red when it’s on? Well, those red wires are pretty much the same things as the filaments inside a “regular” bulb. They make more heat than light.

2. “Don’t go into the light.” Or at least not as much of it. Where you can’t switch to compact fluorescent bulbs, use dimmers. Dimming an incandescent bulb saves electricity (and money) and also extends the life of the bulb. ...

3. If a light’s on and no one’s around to see it..."

Link: http://blogs.diynetwork.com/diy/greenhomeblog/

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gift book ideas for Christmas

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? (children's picture book): Amazon.com: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Books: Joy V. Smith
Quirky Claus (imaginative, fun story for kids and grownups): Sebastian White - Quirky Claus
Sugar Time (audiobook of time travel tales):Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys
WomanScapes (SF/fantasy stories by women about women): Amazon.com: WomanScapes: Books
Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook (non-fiction): Barnes & Noble.com - Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook, by Joy V. Smith, Paperback
 
Plus a free download of a humorous fantasy novella Rock 'n' Roll Universe: Welcome to aburt's iFiction project

Tropical Storm Noel

TD#16 is now TS Noel, and while the spaghetti strands vary, it's expected to turn east over Cuba because of a cold front/trough.  Here's a link: Tropical Storm NOEL

(Thanks, Lloyd, for the link!)

Update (10-29): More models are turning it east, and Cuba should keep it from strengthening.

Update (10-29): Now it's turning west more, though it's still expected to turn east later.  It may affect Miami and the Bahamas, but it's not expected to become a hurricane.

Update (10-31): Noel is not moving at the moment (0 mph), but it's expected to turn northeast pretty soon and is still not predicted to become a hurricane.

Update (11-1): It's still raining over the Bahamas, but it looks like it's beginning its turn.  The east coast of Florida is getting some rain and lots of beach erosion.  At least one building is falling into the ocean...

Update (11-1): We've gotten some showers and wind from Noel, and now it's heading away--possibly to New England/Cape Cod and the Canadian Maratimes; it may be a category 1 hurricane by the time it gets there.

Update (11-2): Noel became a hurricane (category 1), speeded up, and is scheduled to become a noreaster.


Tags:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Countertop materials

There's an interesting article on kitchen countertop materials in today's real estate section.  [It's in the local paper, but reprinted from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel; it's by Charlyne Varkonyi.]

Granite is the first choice (its cost is competitive with quartz and Corian); quartz is second.  Granite is cheaper in Florida than in the Northeast and Midwest, btw.  At the very high end, some people want copper, concrete, or glass

Soapstone is for trophy kitchens and people who don't use them much.  Quartz is best for easy maintenance.  [I'll take it!]  Granite and wood are pretty, but need more maintenance, and there are bacterial concerns.  (Sanitize wood with vinegar and water.)  Track down the article for the fine print.

         

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kohler bathroom and kitchen products (link)

"KOHLER and WIRED present the Form Meets Function Challenge that encourages you to vote on the best of breed KOHLER product that perfectly captures the idea of form (the shape of an object) and function (the usage of the object)."

There are some modern-looking products here, including the Yin Yang Wading Pool sink and the sok overflowing bath.  Frankly, I had a hard time choosing which to vote for because my mind is so practical.  How are you going to clean that?!  And what good is that low divider in the kitchen sink?  (I need to see and try it.)  I also need to see the Chermont vanity up close.  Well, I guess I'll go for the DTV Custom Showering Experience, whatever that is.

Here's the link: WIRED Insider: KOHLER SWEEPSTKES

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Building with care on the coast (links)

Here's a HGTVPro.com website that covers a lot of territory: Coastal Construction: Building and Design on the Coast : HGTVPro.com

Topics include:

  • Building on the West Coast: Facing Earthquakes, Fires and Mudslides
  • Building on the Coast Means Tough Codes
  • Coastal Construction: Better Building, Codes, Materials
  • Storm Sellers: Hurricane-Resistant Building Attracts Buyers
  • Coastal Construction That Can Stand Up to Hurricanes
  • Concrete Homes for Building on the Coast
  • The Evolution of Modular Construction
  • The concrete homes webpage lists the advantages of concrete homes, which include strength, energy efficiency, durability, and fire resistance.  Since we're planning to build our next home using modular construction, I checked out that webpage too: "...modular construction [is] probably the fastest growing segment of a sluggish housing market, ...  [It] used to be concentrated in the Northeast, where one out of every ten new homes is modular. But modular is strong and growing in the Rockies, the Midwest and the Mid Atlantic, and Flaherty's now seeing huge interest in the West Coast, Florida, and Gulf Coast markets."

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Heating and cooling hints

    There's an article about heating and cooling in the October issue of Log Home Living also.  Be sure not to get an air conditioner that's too big for your home (temperature flucuations); and find out how noisy the unit is going to be.  Nowadays there are two-stage and two-pipe furnaces and two-stage AC units (a more recent development) for energy efficiency.  There's also zone heating; and radiant floor systems are becoming more common.  And there's a geothermal option.  Log homes can be more energy efficient, btw.  (We have a heat pump, and I'm still not exactly sure how that works.)

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Decorating mistakes

    I saw a special tonight on HGTV about the top 25 top decorating mistakes.  They include too many pillows on beds and sofas [I will never have all those pillows on my bed; I don't have the time to waste going to bed or making the bed], fake flowers & plants [Well, I'm keeping that vase on the dining room table], clutter, floating area rugs [they need to be anchored], lack of window treatments, and lack of color.  [My house has never lacked color.]

    There are two repeat showings scheduled:

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    House books

    My book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, is now #5 on this Barnes & Noble list:
     
    And I recently came across another book that looks helpful in the October issue of Log Home Living.  It's House on a Budget: Making Smart Choices to Build the Home You Want by Duo Dickinson.  The review--presumably quoting the author--says that "spec housing is ... miles and miles of sameness.  Rather than accept cookie-cutter mediocrity or [go for] one of TV's ... dream homes (read financially unattainable), ... there's a third approach:.."  Link: Amazon.com: House on a Budget: Making Smart Choices to Build the Home You Want (American Institute Architects): Books: Duo Di...

    Mosaics

    In the October issue of Log Home Living is a round-up of mosaic products, including mosaic tiles from Anne Sacks' Stone Mosaics collection with 18 patterns--or design your own--and a bathroom sink by artist David Solano.  His Limitless Gray Sink is made of Peruvian marble tiles, and it's beautiful!  Presumably the grout will stand up to everyday use.  Visit their websites at Kohler Interiors, Baker and McGuire furniture, Ann Sacks tile and NOVICA - Home Decor, Jewelry & Gifts by Talented Artisans Worldwide

     

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    New book review!

    Here's the latest review of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?  It's in my hometown paper:

    Former resident chooses a kitten to share moral of story
     
    One of Marshfield's own has published a children's book recently.
     
    "Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?" is the most recent offering from the creative mind of Joy Smith.  Smith grew up in the area and attended the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh prior to entering the working world.
     
    Her writing career began as a child when she made books to entertain herself and others.  Following her education, she was employed by the Christian Science Monitor for 10 years.  She and her sisters then opened a kennel, which was followed by an antique shop.
     
    Throughout these years, Smith was writing and publishing articles and stories.  In addition to her latest book, Smith has published "Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook," and an audio book, "Sugar Time."
     
    Her current book was published in July by Publish America.  It is a soft-cover, 15-page picture book for the 3-to 6-year-old reader.  The delightful, delicate illustrations have been provided by Andrea Gradidge. 
     
    The story focuses on a valuable lesson that all children need to learn.  The main character, pouncer Kallie Kitten, plays too rough with her wild friends.  Gradually none of them wants to spend time with her anymore.  The character selection is clever and age appropriate.  Smith makes the attendent life lesson clear at the conclusion of the story.
     
    The author has cleverly included cutouts of the main characters as a supplement to the book.  This is a nice touch and provides a fun physical activity for the young reader that compliments the story.
     
    "Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?" is available from amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and the publisher.  The cost for this book is $19.95. 
     
    By Barbara Mahler  10/14/07 Sunday
     
    Barbara Mahler is a correspondent for Gannett Wisconsin newspapers.   
     

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    PATH Concept Home (link)

    "Concept Home Charleston will serve as a model of sustainability, disaster-resistance, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Like the inaugural PATH Concept Home recently completed in Omaha, Neb., the project will incorporate the most advanced products and systems from leading manufacturers to demonstrate how design and technology innovations can create a sustainable, efficient and durable home that's also cost-effective to build and high in quality."

    Link: News : Trends : HUD Names Charleston Builder for Second PATH Concept Home : HGTVPro.com

    House building (discussion link)

    Here's an interesting discussion on choosing whether to build--or buy--a McMansion or a smaller home built with quality and practicality.  What's behind your walls?!  Link: Marjie O'Connor: The Buzz on Building -- Why McMansions? Why not affordability?  (From HGTVPro.com e-newsletter)

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "Why temples? thought Moist, as he looked up at the facade of the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork.  Why do they always build banks to look like temples, ...? 

    ... As temples of money went, this one wasn't bad.  The architect at least knew how to design a decent column, and also knew when to stop.  He had set his face like flint against any prospect of cherubs, although above the columns was a high-minded frieze showing something allegorical involving maidens and urns.  ...
     
    ...  And behind it was the Royal Mint, which never showed any signs of life at all. 
     
    It would be hard to imagine an uglier building that hadn't won a major architectural award.  The Mint was a gaunt brick-and-stone block, its windows high, small, many, and barred, its doors protected by portcullises, its whole construction saying to the world: Don't Even Think About It."
     
    From Making Money by Terry Pratchett  (sequel to Going Postal)  

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Carbon footprints (link)

    Carbon footprints/footprinting is the new buzzword, and I came across a blog post about it on the EDR (Environmental Data Resources) website.  It sounds like it'll become more important in the future.  I read something about it in the paper recently, but didn't pay much attention.  Buying and selling credits, huh.  That sounds like what developers do now when building on wetlands.  Here's the link to the blog, which includes other interesting industry posts: Property Talk - Rob Barber

    [I got a free environmental report from EDR a while ago as a product test for BzzAgent.  It was very interesting and would be helpful when buying and selling property.]

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Home inspections (link)

    Here are a couple FAQs from the ASHI website:

    What does a home inspection include?
    The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.

    Why do I need a home inspection?
    Buying a home could be the largest single investment you will ever make. To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you’ll want to learn as much as you can ...

    For more questions and anwers: Welcome Homebuyers and Sellers | ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors

    We had a home inspection after our house was built--just to be sure that everything was fine.  And it's a good idea for resale.

     

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Staging suggestions for your home (link)

    I came across some excellent staging suggestions on the Designed to Sell website; they include curb appeal, cleaning and clearing clutter, reducing odors, doing minor repairs, and arranging furniture to make rooms to look more spacious.  There's more at their website: Designed to Sell : Shows : Home & Garden Television

    So, cull now!  It's a good chance to get rid of things you don't really like.  Get a cinnamon broom (love that smell); they should be available for the holiday decorating; I got mine recently at Publix (grocery store).  And make pomanders.  They smell fantastic too.  Do major repairs also; they're important for resale value.  And maybe you should get rid of some furniture.  (We did recently when installing new flooring; see my blog posts on that project for more details.)  Now that makes a home look better.  And then we bought a few new pieces...

    Tuesday, October 9, 2007

    Remodeling (link)

    I think this is from a blog:

    "My favorite remodeling projects are kitchens and bathrooms. I'm not alone there; those are by far the most frequently remodeled rooms. ...

    I'm now planning yet another kitchen remodel. We got a good deal on our present house three years ago because very little remodeling had been done since it was built (by a production builder) in the mid-'90s. I'm going to bring it up to the level of most other homes in the neighborhood, ..."

    Sounds like a good plan.  She goes on to say that she's a little nervous about putting so much money into her home.  I know how she feels!  Nowadays you really have to think about resale value.  Some upgrades are less expensive than others, and I agree with her about adding storage if you need it.

    Link: Marjie O'Connor: The Buzz on Building -- Remodeling for a Dream Home  (From HGTVPro e-newsletter)

     

    Building codes (link)

    I came across some interesting info about building codes in Dade county, FL:

    "I first heard of the Dade County Blues last year while chatting with a couple distributors from Florida. These gents explained to me that the Miami-Dade County Building Code Compliance Office requires that every product to be used in new home construction be put through a rigorous screening process before it can be approved for use on the house."  [Because of hurricanes]  Andrew & Stacy go on to wonder if this could happen elsewhere in regard to green building.  

    Link: Andrew & Stacy: The Green Team -- Got them Dade County Blues...  (From HGTVPro e-newsletter)

    Saturday, October 6, 2007

    Another book recommendation

    I came across a book, The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight by Martha Ackmann, in my alumni (U of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) magazine (Fall 2007 issue).  These women trained in the early days of the Space Race and even outperformed some of their male counterparts, but in 1961, they received telegrams cancelling the next phase of testing.  AND these women were criticized for not having the piloting experience to go into space; however, they weren't allowed to fly military jets so they couldn't log military jet time!  Here's a link with more background: Mercury 13 - First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs)  And for even more background: The Space Review: The Mercury 13: setting the story straight

    NASA is more sympathetic
    http://www.nasa.gov/missions/highlights/f_mercury13.html
    and
    http://history.nasa.gov/flats.html

    UW-O gave them honorary doctorates in May, and the story has been picked up by the media.  Btw, I recently came across an article on Sunita Williams, who got into the space program by first piloting helicopters.  Here's a link for more on that: Her job is out of this world | csmonitor.com

    Friday, October 5, 2007

    Christmas gift ideas for children

    I'd like to recommend my children's book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Amazon.com: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Books: Joy V. Smith

    Review excerpt:

    Joy V. Smith has written a delightful new children’s book, Why Won’t Anyone Play with Me?. This book is a short and sweet story that teaches, like most good childrens’ books, an underlying lesson.

    This story, with its animal characters, is especially appealing to younger children. Parents would like this story as it deals with a young one who is having difficulty understanding the need to play gently with smaller creatures.

    The above review was contributed by: Kristin Pace:  Kristin is an avid reader and has written book reviews for various publications.  Link: Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me? .: BookPleasures.com

    AND Quirky Claus by Sebastian White: Amazon.co.uk: Quirky Claus: Books: Sebastian White

    I really enjoyed this book (Well done, Sebastian!), and I have a review posted on the amazon webpage.

    Thursday, October 4, 2007

    Plumbing fixture color choice advice (link)

    (from Ask Ed) What do you think is the best plumbing-fixture color for new homes? I don't want to go with the same old white fixtures....

    See Ed's advice: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Fixture colors: Plain vanilla or almond joy?  (From HGTVPro e-newsletter)

    Wednesday, October 3, 2007

    Quality home building discussion (link)

    "... I spoke to a friend of mine about it. Let's call him Yoda, because both he's short and a master builder. I suggested that "builders don't build what people don't buy."

    He replied: "Or do people buy what's there because there's little choice?"

    And those are my questions for you.  ..."

    Link: Mark Clement: Measure Twice -- Who Buys Quality?  (From HGTVPro e-newsletter)

    Monday, October 1, 2007

    Prefab houses

    There's an interesting article on prefabricated (modular) housing in the Fall/Winter 2007 issue of New Home (Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publication).  These homes are quick and easy to build, though the photos and illustrations with the article were boxy.  The editorial says that "Because they are built to the same housing codes applied to any new development, [they] are strong, and their systems reliable.  Most are energy-efficient and made with sustainable materials." 
     
    The magazine also showcases a new book, Prefabulous: The House of Your Dreams Delivered Fresh from the Factory, and interviews the author, Sheri Koones.  She points out that with factory construction, there's less waste.  They can use drywall pieces, etc. on another job.  Excellent point.  I've seen the wastage on site built homes. 
     
    Closing Thought, at the end of the magazine, shows the original prefab homes--Sears kit homes (1908-1940) and Lustrons (1949-1950), which I'd never heard of, though hundreds of them are still in use.  They were made from steel with a porcelain-enamel finish.

    Saturday, September 29, 2007

    Tropical Storm Melissa

    Melissa is in the Atlantic and isn't expected to be a threat to land.  Karen continues to weaken, but still may re-strenghten.  (Its remnants anyway.)

    Update: 10-1-07: Melissa is pretty much gone, but Karen still may re-strengthen.  


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    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Hurricane Lorenzo

    Hurricane Lorenzo (category 1) should make landfall in Mexico by morning.  Tropical Storm Karen is weakening (wind shear), but should strengthen in a few days and possibly head for the east coast.

    Update: 9-28-07: Lorenzo is now a tropical depression, and Karen has weakened further and may be fizzling out.  And there's another tropical wave coming off Africa--TD#14, which is also being affected by wind shear.  Btw, a weatherman said that the time for storm development from waves coming from Africa is pretty much over; now most storms will develope in the Carribean.

    Ideas for garden rooms

    I recently came across a book, Garden Rooms: Create and Decorate Outdoor Garden Spaces (Time-Life; 1999), by Catriona Tudor Erler.  It has some great ideas and lovely photos.  I especially loved the big pots and sundial on columns. (The sundial is actually on the capitol of a column.  I have a sundial on an old birdbath base; and I use old birdbath bases laid on their sides for interest in the beds.) 

    Garden rooms or patios can have floors made of brick, gravel, concrete, stone, tile, etc.  (I have a brick patio and a stone patio laid on concrete.  Sometimes I wish I'd left the concrete plain; it would be more level, but we'd collected a lot of beautiful stones.)  There's also wood decking, which I avoid because of maintenance.  You can use composite materials instead, but I've learned that they can melt if you drop something from the grill on them.  You can make garden paths from those materials too, also mulch, though that will have to be replenished, and it's uneven.  

    Water features are lovely and soothing--except for the maintenance and predators eating your fish.  The book has a number of ponds, including big pots, and, of course, fountains.  I loved the horizontal millstone covered with moss.  That's one I hadn't seen before.  There's also an vertical millstone that's setting inside something or else they've sawed off its bottom, which would be a shame.  The horizontal millstone is much prettier as a fountain. 

    The book includes garden structures (I love Thomas Jefferson's pavilion on the edge of a terrace) and lighting.  There are types of lights and lighting of plants: uplighting, moonlighting (downlighting), shadowing (light in front), and silhouetting (light behind a plant).  You need simple, open plants or trees for this to be effective.  

    The author also looks at birdbaths (I have one that's a recreation of a dinosaur footprint, btw; I got it at Historic Bok Sanctuary) and topiary.  I love the example of the fox hunt scene from Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland.

    I really enjoyed this book; it has references and an index at the end, which is alway helpful.  (I wouldn't have had to look through the whole book again to find that sundial if I'd known that!)  

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Clearing out kitchen clutter

    I picked up some good tips for cleaning and organizing your kitchen at a Kohler website (from their e-newsletter); their ideas include getting rid of non-essential gadgets; moving dishes, utensils, etc. to the most efficient location; installing hooks and racks; putting take out menus in a folder (I really needed that one.); and thinking about a refrigerator that's easy to organize.  For more, visit: KOHLER: Planning Tips: Conquer Kitchen Clutter: Kitchen: Articles

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Tropical Storm Karen

    TS Karen is in the Atlantic heading north and will probably not be a threat to us.  Tropical Depression #13, which just formed, is in the Gulf and heading southwest.  It will probably become Tropical Storm Lorenzo.  See previous post for earlier bulletins on these.  You'll notice that it's hard to predict these storms.  (September is one of our busiest months.) 

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Subtropical Storm Jerry

    Well, the system in the Gulf did not become Jerry, which is in the Atlantic, but it may become Karen.  And there are two tropical waves coming off Africa.  One will probably move away from us, and one is headed for the Carribean.

    Update: 9-24-07: Jerry became a tropical storm (I must have blinked), and now it's a tropical depression.  The two tropical waves may become tropical depressions in a few days (the one closest to Africa is the strongest); and there's something in the Gulf that may become a tropical depression.

    Bulletins:

    “?”  A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED JUST NORTH OF THE NORTHERN COAST OF THE NORTHERN YUCATAN PENINSULA IS PRODUCING A LARGE AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS EXTENDING FROM THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA INTO THE SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO. THIS SYSTEM HAS NOT BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED THIS MORNING. HOWEVER THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE AREA...AND AN AIR FORCE RESERVE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT IS ON STANDBY TO INVESTIGATE THIS SYSTEM LATER TODAY...IF NECESSARY.

     

    “K”  A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH A WESTWARD-MOVING TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED ABOUT 350 MILES EAST OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS. THIS SYSTEM CONTINUES TO SHOW EVIDENCE OF ORGANIZATION... AND IT COULD DEVELOP INTO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO AS IT APPROACHES THE WINDWARD ISLANDS.

     

    “L”  AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED ABOUT 675 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. THIS SYSTEM IS GRADUALLY BECOMING BETTER ORGANIZED...AND CONDITIONS APPEAR FAVORABLE FOR IT TO BECOME A TROPICAL DEPRESSION DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH. ELSEWHERE...

    (Thanks, Lloyd, for the bulletins!)

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Tropical Depression#10

    TD#10 never got a name, and now it's made landfall.  Here's a link to possible future paths: http://www.sfwmd.gov/org/omd/ops/weather/plots/storm_93.gif

    I believe it made landfall in the Florida panhandle.  I got over a half inch of rain from one of its rotating rain bands when it was going over Florida.  Now I've got rain coming from what might be the next storm system; and that could become Jerry.

    (Thanks, Lloyd, for the link and other info!)

     

    Publication news

    The two Magistria shared world anthologies--Realm of the Sorcerer (new edition) and Shards of the Goddess--have been delayed, but should be out by the end of the year.  Follow the adventures of my plant mages!
     
    Here's an excerpt from a review of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?:
     
    "This story, with its animal characters, is especially appealing to younger children. Parents would like this story as it deals with a young one who is having difficulty understanding the need to play gently with smaller creatures. Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me? would be a great story for children with smaller siblings, especially for those who, like many, have a tendency to play too rough."

    Link: Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me? .: BookPleasures.com

    Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is #5 on this Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Noble.com: Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    My audiobook, Sugar Time, is featured on the Hadrosaur Productions website: Hadrosaur Productions

    Btw, I see that there are copies of The Ghost in the Gazebo (anthology) on the Barnes & Noble website.

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Kitchen islands

    Kitchens are getting bigger, and now more thant 50% of homes in the U.S. have kitchen islands, according to a survey from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (article in the October issue of Home).  Large kitchens may even have multiple islands--fixed or movable.  You can coordinate the bases with your cabinets and have the islands match or have completely different tops, such as butcher block, granite, engineered stone, etc.  You can vary the heights too; and they're great for workspace and storage, including wine chillers and cold and warming drawers.  Btw, no island should be more than 4 feet wide, and there should be at least 42 inches between the island and anything else. 

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Be careful when making plans

    Before you embark on a house or landscaping project, think about it!  Do your research.  In the October 2007 issue of Home, the editorial tells about someone who had a flagstone patio installed (the pavers were cemented in), but it was on top of the septic tank opening.  Oh, oh!  That reminds me of when we put in the patio behind our mother's house.  I planned to have it set well away from the house except for the path to the back door, but when I checked on it later, the forms went right up to the house!  Yikes!  I knew the concrete truck was on its way, and I really, really didn't want to tell the crew to redo it, but I had the future to think of, so I girded up my loins and asked them to change it.  And they did--in time too.  You really can't assume that the workmen know what is in your mind.
     
    And I saw a bathroom countertop in the letter column.  That beautiful Riverstone material (made from Carrara marble pebbles embedded in a polyester resin matrix) has to be sealed with a marble sealant that penetrates the subsurface.  Then you must keep it free of acidic and staining substances; wipe up any water immediately; clean it only with a pH-neutral product; and occasionally buff it with marble wax.  (See the editor's answer for the fine print.)  [I almost always choose a low-maintenance product.]
     
    Kitchen cabinets & countertops link from HGTVPro.com: Cabinets & Countertops : HGTVPro.com

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Ideas for a "green" landscape

    Here are a few tips from Maria Rodale's Organic Gardening-- excerpted from a Country Living (January 1999 issue) sidebar:

    Think long term.  It shouldn't be 10 to 20 years, as is common in the US, but a hundred to a thousand years, as in Europe.

    Think low maintenance.  Edge, mulch, and avoid constant pruning.  [And stop pollarding trees that don't need to be pruned into popsicles!]

    Think natural.  What's the impact on the environment?

    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Hot chocolate

    There's a fascinating article on the history of chocolate in the Christmas issue of Early American Life.  It started in the New World (the Mayans and Aztecs drank it cold with chile peppers), but made its way to America via Spain and Europe; and chocolate was an important part of soldiers' rations in the Revolutionary War.  There's also an article on chocolate pots (you can usually tell the difference between coffee pots and chocolate pots by the hole in the lid of the latter) and chocolate recipes.  Check out this website: American Heritage Chocolate

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Tropical Storm Ingrid

    Tropical Storm Ingrid has been slowed down by wind shear, and it may become a tropical depression again.

    Update: 9-15-07: Ingrid is now a tropical depression.

    Update: 9-16-07: Ingrid may become a tropical storm again Thursday or Friday.


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    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Tropical Storm Humberto

    Humberto also seems to have skipped the TD step, and Tropical Depression 8 will become Ingrid.  Humberto is heading towards an area between Galveston and the Louisiana border and may loop back into the Gulf.  It might make landfall as a category 1 hurricane.  Ingrid is moving west more slowly than Dean and Felix did.

    Update: 9-13-07:  Humberto made landfall on the Texas and Louisiana coasts as a category 1 hurricane.  It went from a tropical depression (without a number?) to a hurricane in 16 hours, which is a record.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Contemporary colors

    I got the September/October issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas magazine recently, and it says that "the latest hues are drawn from bungalow style, hearkening back to the influence of ...Frank Lloyd Wright.  This palette is flexible...warm red brown, deep butternut yellow, dark olive, and chocolate brown... [or you can update them to] light taupe, soft teal blue, deep brown, and gold."  The paint colors include Deep Earth, Brown Moss, Butternut Tree, Aqua Dance, and Harvest Sun (Valspar).

    Friday, September 7, 2007

    Subtropical Storm Gabrielle

    I'm not sure, but Gabrielle might have skipped the Tropical Depression #7 step.  Coastal watches & warnings are up along the southeast coast.  Here's a link to the National Hurricane Center webpage: Subtropical Storm GABRIELLE

    And here's an earlier report:

    SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE THAT THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED BETWEEN
    BERMUDA AND THE SOUTHEAST U.S. COAST HAS BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED OVERNIGHT.
    UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE BECOMING MORE FAVORABLE FOR ADDITIONAL
    DEVELOPMENT...AND A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM LATER TODAY. AN AIR FORCE
    RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO INVESTIGATE THIS SYSTEM
    THIS AFTERNOON. THE LOW IS FORECAST TO MOVE GENERALLY WESTWARD OR
    NORTHWESTWARD DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS...AND INTERESTS ALONG THE EAST
    COAST OF THE UNITED STATES SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS
    SYSTEM

    (Thanks to Lloyd for the bulletin and the link!)

    Update 9-10-07: Gabrielle is now a tropical depression and didn't give the inland Carolinas the rain they'd hoped for.  It's heading ENE now.

     


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    Book signing in Tampa Saturday

    I'll be at Authors in the Park Saturday, September 8, at Centennial Park in Ybor City at the Ybor City Saturday Market.  I'll be signing my books and stories (in anthologies), which include:

    Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? (my new children's book about a frisky kitten)

    Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook (my non-fiction book about building your house)

    Old Rex in The Ghost in the Gazebo.   (This anthology's theme is ghosts.  Rex is a ghost dog--with teeth.)

    Seedlings in Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer.  My story is about good plant mages fighting evil mages with the help of sentient plants.  (This is the first edition.  There'll be a new edition soon from another publisher.)

    The Princess Quest in Kings of the Night II.  My story is a humorous look at a quest in an anthology of sword and sorcery stories.  (This book is out of print.)

     

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007

    Quick home makeovers (link)

    "Whether you've only got one hour, one day or one weekend, get expert advice to make over your home ..."

    From Oprah's e-newsletter: One Hour, One Day, One Weekend Makeovers

    Saturday, September 1, 2007

    Hurricane Felix

    Felix is a category 1 and is apparently heading WNW toward the Yucatan.  It will possibly be a category 3 by then.  And there's a tropical wave to the east that we have to keep an eye on.

    Update: Felix is a catergory 5 now and heading for Central America.

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Energy saving tips

    The October 2007 issue of Consumer Reports has an article on saving money in energy costs.  Among the usual--Add insulation, reset your thermostat and hot water heater, and change your lights--is a new one to me.  When you keep your house cooler, you can use a portable heater in just one room for supplemental heating.  However an open floor plan can make sealing off one room almost impossible.  (Be sure to read the article on space heaters for more information on temperature control--get a heater with a thermostat--and safety.)
     
    Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) will save you money, BUT they contain mercury.  You have to recycle them, AND you must be careful not to break them.  The magazine has a sidebar on what to do if you break one.  First, open the windows and leave the room for at least 15 minutes.  Then clean it up carefully.  (The sidebar has instructions.  Hopefully they're online somewhere.)
     
    Consumer Reports also has interesting articles on credit cards, sweeteners, vaccuums (it's really hard changing the bag on one vaccuum!), cars, and the new cordless phones.  I have to get one of those!  There's a good piece on cleaning stainless steel refrigerators (watch out for mustard!) and a warning about a popular product for men.

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    Selling your house tips (links)

    Using technology to get your house noticed (from Tech Talk): When shopping for a home in a new city, one of the hardest things for me is remembering the houses I've been in....  Link: http://blogs.hgtvpro.com/hgtvpro/bob_gatton/archive/2007/08/using_technolog.html?nl=v130c

    Landscaping upgrades: (from Dig This) We've heard it a million times, but upgrading the home's front landscaping does make a difference....  Link: http://blogs.hgtvpro.com/hgtvpro/mike_pettit/2007/08/use_landscaping_upgrades_to_se.html?nl=v130c

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    More green-building tips

    The Fall 2007 issue of Custom Wood Homes has an article on 10 Tips for Building Green, including research--check out U.S. Green Building council website: www.usgbc.org , design, buying locally, and smart lighting.  Btw, I saw in today's paper that California plans to ban incandescent lights...

    There's also an article, Organic Architecture, in that issue.  Organic architecture started in Chile about a decade ago; it should involve not only the shape of the home, but organic materials. the site, and energy-saving elements.

    I came across a Golden Eagle (log home builder) ad in that issue too, which focused on a construction project blog: Dirt to Done, which I had to check out.  Here's the website: Log Homes Network  Look for the Dirt to Done link; and there's a free workbook offer on the website.

     

     

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    Selecting a site (link)

    Blog Cabin: Checklist for Selecting a Property

    In this first installment of DIY's Blog Cabin host Amy Devers reviews the background of how decisions were made, ...

    Look at the website for the list: HOME BUILDING : Log Cabins : Blog Cabin: Checklist for Selecting a Property : DIY Network