Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Get organized! (link)

Here are some great tips on the HGTV website: Guide to Keeping Organized : Organizing : Home & Garden Television

Tips include choosing containers and spaces and making efficient use of your time. Often starting small is smart. If you feel overwhelmed, you aren't likely to even try...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home ideas

In the June 2008 issue of Southern Living is an interesting idea for partially enclosing a porch; the home owner bought two small French doors at a home improvement store and installed them on the side between a column and the house and then a larger French door at the front and attached it to the corner column; she had to add extra trim to make them fit and more trim for looks and then painted the wood. It looks beautiful.

Another interesting idea is decorating sloped ceilings with murals or decals. I think that glowing stars would be fun too or stencilling. And in an outdoor kitchen, the ceiling was enhanced with strips of bamboo.

Btw, here's an idea for making your garden more interesting at night. Get one or more of those solar-powered lights that change color. I have a sphere in my front garden (I got it for Christmas from Gardener's Supply Co.) that I enjoy looking at from the house or the porch or walking out to the garden. A neighbor noticed it the other night and enjoyed watching the colors change. (Red to green to blue). I've seen a similar idea in another gardening catalog recently.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Log homes

The 2009 Annual Buyer's Guide of Log Home Living is full of useful information and advice on building your log home. For instance, your cost depends on square footage, design, materials, location, and your property's layout. Flat is good. There are articles on financing, choosing a home site, types of logs [I prefer the hand-hewn look to round] and wood, and maintenance. There are illustrations of log profiles, more articles, and stories from people who've built--and, of course, lots of pictures. This issue helps you with the choices you'll need to make.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Architecture of the imagination

"[She] took us in through a door that could accomodate a family of giraffes..We stood in a foyer that would have accomodated the Serengeti Plain, at the foot of a vast curving staircase that probably went to heaven.
... We went past the staircase and down the corridor, which narrowed to maybe thirty feet behind the stairs. There was a pair of huge French doors at the far end, and the light poured in happily. On the wall were well-framed oil paintings of people who were almost certainly rich, and pleased about it.
... [In our suite] we explored. It took a while. It is not inaccurate to say simply that there was a living room, two bedrooms, two baths, and a kitchenette. It is also not inaccurate to say that Niagara is a waterfall. The living room was a sufficient size for basketball. ... The room itself was sand-colored: ceiling, rugs, sofas, upholstered chairs. The wood was mahogany. The accent colors were mahogany and black."

From Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Storage solutions

The January 2009 issue of Country Living has some good ideas for storage. The Grassy Toothbrush Organizer by Umbra is certainly different. You stick your toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. in the "grass." A small secretary desk is good for a laptop. An umbrella stand is good for rolls of wrapping paper. [My rolls are standing on the floor in the linen closet at the moment.] Hall trees are useful wherever you put them.

You can hang kitchen utensils and accessories on hooks in fabric bags, but I'd prefer them in a crock or where I could see them, but if you're short of room... And you can hang sponges, gloves, and plastic bags on clothespins with magnets on cupboard doors. (See page 28 on how to do that.)

There's an article on recipe booklet collecting in this issue too. I've always liked those old booklets--interesting graphics and colors. There're also articles on collecting presidential china, which is expensive, and recycling sweaters into felted totes. [That happened to one of my wool sweaters many years ago, but I didn't know what it was called or what I could do about it.]

And I have to mention the colorful, flowered, folding watering can. If it weren't identified, I never would have guessed what it is. I have no idea what the material is. (See unicahome.com.) There are more articles on silhouettes, food, makeovers, etc.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Have a green Christmas (link)

This list gives you suggestions on how to recycle and save money; and I liked the warning at the end: "...please get the decorations down by January 15. After that, the neighbors start whispering about you behind your back." Link: Dreaming of a Green Christmas - Manage My Home

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Organic products catalog

I got Janice's Natural Comfort Collection catalog in the mail recently. It includes mattresses, pillows, bed linens, towels, organic cleaning products, etc. and organic/natural cotton feminine products that I haven't seen before. Of course, most natural/organic products are expensive, and I don't think I've ever ordered from them, but here's the link if you want to check them out: http://www.janices.com/

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Paving materials

I recently read an interesting article on brick walks in the Winter 2008 issue of Early Homes from Old-House Interiors. It includes photos, patterns, and sources, such as Historical Bricks ( historicalbricks.com), Old Carolina Brick (handmadebrick.com), and Sheldon Slate Products (sheldonslate.com). And the article mentions a hardcover monograph, Brick Pavement and Fence Walls (2000), that covers bond patterns, designs, etc. [I like brick paths and patios, but not roads! Our town has some, and they are rough to drive on!!]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Countertop products (discussion link)

Here's an interesting discussion about granite, concrete, and other countertop products. Apparently some materials do better in different areas: Granite still topping lists? - Topic Powered by eve community (HGTVPro.com)

And here's a look at a study on radon in granite countertops: News : Materials : No Radon Health Risks Uncovered in Granite Countertop Study : HGTVPro.com

Monday, December 8, 2008

Architecture of the Imagination

"Harry looked around her kitchen as though seeing it for the first time. Free of unnecessary adornment, her home reflected her in so many ways. She noticed the pegs by the door, coats hanging, a long bench with a lid underneath, boots within. A sturdy farmer's table sat in the center of the room, and there was random-width heart pine on the floor, worn thin in places of high traffic by close to two hundred years of feet and paws."

From Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday safety (link)

This is a list that covers tree and light safety, among other things. Be careful with candles, of course, and don't use electric lights on a metallic tree!

Link: HouseMaster eNewsletter

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eco-friendly flooring (link)

I came across a flooring company's website recently, and they have a list of things they're doing to help the environment, including different ways to recycle and using sustainable flooring: SK Flooring Inc. Appleton, WI > Eco-Friendly Company

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Toilet styles gallery (link)

Some pretty potties here, but I wouldn't take a chance with fish! Link: Slideshow : Photo Gallery: Toilets : HGTVPro.com

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday decorating ideas

There are some great ideas in the December 2008 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, including a Christmas tree decorated with handmade paper chains you can make with your children; and the small hanging oval family photos shaped with scrapbooking scissors are a cozy touch, along with a Christmas tree sitting in a large urn surrounded by oranges. A fun gift for children is origami birds with inspirational quotes inside. Some kids might enjoy making these.

Dress up your chandeliers with Christmas ornaments. [I don't have any chandeliers, but my house is full of bowls of ornaments. And pomanders are on my Christmas list.] You can use sea salt for "snow," btw. And invite the neighborhood kids over to help decorate ornaments; I bet they'll have fun covering Styrofoam balls with glitter; and neighbors will admire and appreciate you! Or make gingerbread houses.

I loved the candlelight colors (paint) in this issue; they include Golden Glimmer (Glidden), Fiery Flame (Behr), Honeycomb (Benjamin Moore), and Creamy Copper (Ralph Lauren). These are colors that wrap rooms in "warmth and ambience," (from Ideas). Also from the Ideas section is a selection of compotes for display, holding such things as hard ribbon candy and sugared fruit. Other decorative items include cascading wreaths on the front door. [A little busy for my taste.]

And if you have a copy of this issue, check out page 99 for scents of Apple Cinnamon, Cinnamon Gingerbread, and Glistening Snow (Glade ad).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Colorful bathrooms (link)

Today's homes don't need to rely on accessories for color. Check out this Kohler website for colorful bathroom ideas: KOHLER: Trends: Color Fixtures: Bathroom: Articles

I prefer color to boring white and neutrals, but it depends on the room and the effect you want. I like shades of one color in a room with accents--more than one is good. That brightly colored sink in one of the photos is a bit busy for my taste though. And you don't want to overwhelm a small bathroom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dual-flush toilet (link)

"... about 51% of American households are still using older toilets that use more than 1.6 gallons per flush. And, about 35% of all water used in an average home, goes right down the toilet. "

Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Flushing Fight: A Duel Over Dual

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joy's books

Aliens, Animals, and Adventure (SF & fantasy story collection): AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook, Joy V. Smith, Book - Barnes & Noble

Sugar Time: Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Amazon.com: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Joy V. Smith: Books

Christmas is coming! Buy now!! Buy often!!!

Upcoming:
Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer (Shared world anthology)
Magistria: Shards of the Goddess (vol. 2)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Children and the great outdoors

In the Fall 2008 issue of Wildlife Insider (National Wildlife Federation newsletter) is an article on children and their relationship with nature; it mentions the No Child Left Inside Act. The article says that America's families have moved indoors, and time spend outdoors has declined by 50% in the last 20 years. Author Richard Louv calls this "nature deficit disorder." The article considers causes and results. For more information: National Wildlife Federation: NWF & Environmental Education

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Recycling

I've always recycled, especially newspapers, which are good for paper training puppies, lining bird cages, and putting under mulch. (Old carpet is also good, but put it upsidedown. We've picked up a lot of carpet alongside the road, btw, and some of them had interesting contents. Do not use the padding.) Anyway, in today's Parade (Sunday, November 23), I see that someone has turned bottles into drinking glasses, which is a fun idea. Check out more green products at ELSEWARES // Independent Art & Design

Friday, November 21, 2008

Anthology Builder survey

We're getting ready to move out of beta testing. As part of the process, we've created a short survey to evaluate how well the site is working.

Please, take a moment to invite your friends, relatives, and blog readers to stop by the AnthologyBuilder web site and take the survey.

Here's the fun part: For every 10 survey participants who list you as their referrer, I'll give you $5 worth of AB credit. So 10 referrals = one $5 gift certificate, 20 referrals = one $10 gift certificate, and so forth.*

*This offer is good for two weeks or until $100 worth of gift certificates have been handed out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Open shelving discussion (link)

Here's a discussion with photos and links about open shelving from the Houseblogs website: Houseblogs.net - Open Shelving En Vogue?

I prefer closed shelves--neater and cleaner; and if I did have glass doors, they'd be frosted, but I tend to be practical and think about how much safer closed doors are, especially if you live in earthquake or storm prone areas. And I do not like floating shelves anywhere! Well, I did see a floating shelf in a small bathroom (open house) recently that was necessary; it was the only way a shelf would fit.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas decorating ideas

There are some lovely wreath ideas in the Winter 2008-2009 issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas. I especially liked the white wreath (for a flocked effect spray it with 1 or 2 coats of orange-peel ceiling texture paint) and the snowflake made from 6 pieces trimmed from your Christmas tree, The square wreath and the double wreath (small wreath on top and large wreath on bottom connected with a wide red ribbon) were interesting, but not as pretty.

There was also an article on decorating your stemware (video online). For more on these and other decorating and storage ideas, go to Lowe's Creative Ideas

Friday, November 14, 2008

Science fiction stories & anthologies

Anthology Builder is collecting stories and art by a variety of authors and artists. You can look for and collect stories by your favorite writers or browse (check out the excerpts and descriptions); and you can buy anthologies (different themes) in trade paperback. Story list: AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology (Other genres are available.)

I have a collection of some of my published stories (see below) in Aliens, Animals and Adventure. You can order it or other anthologies or collections at the Anthology Builder library: AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology .

The Doorway: Nessa stumbles into the time corridor while helping a friend.

Guard Dog: Sequel to The Doorway. Nessa travels to the time of Earth's first contact.

Pretty Pink Planet: Heroine tracks down planet pirates; saves aliens.

Hot Yellow Planet: Sequel to PPP. Lori and Chiing continue their adventures, meeting up with Chameleons, Ghosters, Splurts, and other aliens and humans.

Flashback: Chessies’ arrival in an ice age. Companion story to Sugar Time stories (audiobook).

Stray Cats: Cats, herps, and humans--sometimes interchangeable.

To the Last Drop: Those aliens should not have touched that coffee urn.

Pilot's Course: Terran humans in the far future settled on other planets. Heroine plots new course.

Moovin' Up: Genetic Engineering.

The Princess Quest: Sword & Sorcery (humor).

When Danger Rules: Reesa came back to rescue the remaining members of the family she loved. Now she had to avoid being killed by her cousin, who wanted the throne, and the new ruler of the planet, who didn't want a throne, and the ones she had come to rescue.

Home Not: When Grief's Aunt Chelsea died, his Uncle Sandro saw his chance, and Grief was at his mercy... Adventure.

The Haunted Garden: Ghosts, Native Americans, and the environment.

Lost in the Long Dark: Boy explores locked hallway in new house; finds danger.

Taking Tawny Home: Sequel to Lost in the Long Dark. Could he take the big cat back?

You Are What You Don't Eat: Why were the Terrans invited to the feast?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prosumer kitchens (link)

What is a Prosumer Kitchen, you ask. (Well, I did.)

"With restaurant-style features and heavy-duty construction, prosumer kitchen gear promises a higher level of culinary performance."

Frankly, I don't see that happening in my kitchen no matter how high-end it is. 'Course everyone knows I don't have any culinary skills. (They say that making popcorn in the microwave doesn't count.)

"While most prosumer kitchen appliances don't require restaurant-level power sources and ventilation, you may need to make a few adaptations." AND "A majority of prosumer appliances are stainless steel. But that doesn't mean you're locked into a contemporary style kitchen."

I am grateful for that 'cause I don't like stainless steel. I love those pewter-look appliances though. Here's the link for learning more : HGTV KitchenDesign Guide to the Professional-Style Kitchen Some chefs talk about their kitchens too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Remodeling survey (link)

Excerpts:

"This [survey's] finding is in line with the www.remodelormove.com U.S. Remodeling Permit Activity Report, which shows an increase in the average cost of a remodel in markets with the most expensive homes and a decrease in regions with average and below average cost homes. "

" http://www.remodelormove.com/'s SMART remodel approach allows homeowners to embark on a remodeling project and achieve results that are not only less expensive, but are of much higher quality than many people typically find at the conclusion of a renovation project. A SMART approach to remodel encompasses six basic steps: ..."

Link: News : Trends : New Survey Reveals Homeowner Attitudes, Preferences Regarding Remodeling Projects : HGTVPro.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Prep work for a bathroom makeover (link)

Here's an interesting and useful look at a bathroom makeover from a contractor's point of view: Mark Clement: Measure Twice -- Bathroom Installation Checklist (HGTVPro.com)

And be sure to think about the difference between a kitchen makeover and a bathroom makeover...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Decorating and holiday ideas

There were some lovely photo spreads of color combinations like gold, white, and light blue in Country Living (December 2008). And there's a section at the back of the magazine (one of those reversed upsidedown ones) that focuses on holiday treats and ideas. I like the white packages with red velvet ribbon.

The collectibles section in the magazine showcased a beautiful silver menorah, a necklace made of Lumarith (similar to celluloid), a toy zeppelin, flint glass, ....

You can temporarily plant a footed compote or punch bowl with ferns, cacti, or narcissi--or fill it with citrus. [Hmm. Good use for the punch bowl I rarely use.]

Christmas tree recycling uses include the coastline program; Louisiana is one state that uses "tree fences" to protect coastal wetlands. See: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Holiday entertaining tips (link)

A great tip from this list is: Add an extra coat tree and/or hangers in the hall closet, plus extra doormats for boots for company. And I'll reiterate, use a real fresh scent instead of commercial products. I'm planning to hang an evergreen wreath on the front door (I love that smell). (I have the metal hangers that go over the top of the door so that you don't damage your door.) Heck, bake some cookies or gingerbread!

Link: Ten Tips for Celebration Preparation (Home Made Simple website)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Downsizing (link)

Here's an interesting article from the HGTV website. I confess that 1200 square feet seems small to me, and 250 square feet would mean getting rid of most of my furniture and hanging the dogs from the ceiling. 100 square feet--Yikes!

Link: Design Happens Blog : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ten tips for a cozy home (link)

These ideas are from the Home Made Simple website: Nesting Tips and D├ęcor Ideas—Home Made Simple

Warm and comfy textures and more rugs is a good idea, but I'd forget the candles--cliched and dangerous. I prefer potpourri and pomanders to commercial scents, btw. Updating photo displays improves your home's look for you and your visitors. And I'd include children's books--don't forget pop-up books for young and old (I've got the pop-up space station book on my Christmas list); I have young visitors now and then, and I believe in entertaining and educating them.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kitchen clutter (link)

There are some basic tips here from the Kohler website, including cull and rearrange, but check them out to discover specific ideas for your kitchen. Other ideas include a soap dispenser (I think they mean one that's part of your sink, but I've never liked them 'cause they break and leak!), rinse baskets (so that's what those things are! To me they're part of the clutter), and a remote-control sink strainer! Oh, wow. Modern technology...

Link: KOHLER: Planning Tips: Conquer Kitchen Clutter: Kitchen: Articles

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Publication news

My book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, is #7 on this Barnes & Noble top ten list: Barnes & Noble.com Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

Still upcoming are the Magistria shared world (invitation only) anthologies, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer and Magistria: Shards of the Goddess. (The first one should be available on amazon soon.) My stories, Seedlings and Crystal Quest, in this shared world anthology series are about plant mages and their companions, sentient plants.

My audiobook, Sugar Time, can be found at Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys and the occasional convention. It includes three stories: "Sugar Time," "Flight Test," and "Return to Neander." It's an audio time travel adventure featuring a full cast, music and sound effects.

I have a collection of some of my published stories in Aliens, Animals and Adventure. You can order it (trade paperback) at the Anthology Builder library: AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Insulation discussion (link)

"I have an exposed crawl space ... I have gotten a price for Icyene Foam and for Retrofoam. The Retrofoam is a much better price. Does anyone know the difference between the two? ..."

For discussion: Retrofoam vs Icyene Foam - Topic Powered by eve community (HGTVPro.com)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More decorating ideas

I found some interesting ideas in the November 2008 issue of Country Home. A chair made out of wooden thread spools--the regular small ones--was different. And a bathroom vanity made from a shop counter with drawers looked good and had lots of storage.

Ideas included matching furniture that's too big for a room to the wall color; it makes the piece look smaller, says the decorator. And you can put intense color combinations below eye level; a bright rug will enliven rather than overwhelm. I like that idea. (The rug in the photo has a mosaic look.) Other color suggestions are for accent walls: Stadium Red (Ralph Lauren); Sunrise--this is actually blue! (Benjamin Moore); and Spiced Apple Cider (Benjamin Moore). This last one is too dull and dark for my taste.

In one article, the home owner tried several colors on her living room walls and finally dumped all the colors in a pail and used that color. It was just what she wanted! And in her bathroom, her "temple-like shower" is framed with a pillar look (possibly door molding). A fantastic idea.

A happy holiday idea is putting gourds in a shallow bowl lined with moss, garnished with autumn leaves. (I finally got a couple big pumpkins for the front porch, but I think they need a scattering of gourds to enhance the look. I have a small pumpkin on the foyer table.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Decorating ideas

There are some good decorating ideas in the November 2008 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. They recommend plum as a lovely color for walls; it comes in Warm Raspberry (Sherwin-Williams), Mulled Wine (Valspar), Passion Fruit (True Value Paint), and Gooseberry (Ralph Lauren Paint).

Decorating suggestions include limiting weathered-looking pieces because the effect can be worn out rather than fresh and don't be heavy-handed with a theme such as chickens and Americana. A good idea for display and notes is a cork board on the front of your fridge. And you can have the paint store dilute your paint color so it's not as dark as the chip.

There's an excellent article with photos on ornamental grasses. I love them; we have pampas grass, muhly grass, and a number of others. We use them for foundation plantings and accents along fences, the end of the driveway, and other places. They don't need the pruning that a lot of bushes do--unless you're smart enough to plant dwarf bushes or Indian hawthorn--and pull them away from the foundation! However, muhly grass has to be cut back once a year--in the spring.

Btw, Wal-Mart now has a Better Homes & Garden collection of dinnerware, linens, bedding, rugs, etc.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall gardening chores (link)

Here are some fall gardening tip--for the North and South--from the Home Depot:

North: Spread mulch, wrap tender trees and shrubs in burlap [not plastic!], disconnect water features, ...

South: Plant (see lists), ...

Link: The Home Depot - Garden Club Home

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas decorating ideas

Here's an idea from Country Home (December 2007/January 2008): Instead of red and green, focus on white. A big planter box painted white can hold your Christmas tree. (You can put the tree stand on bricks for added height.) Place a glass container full of white ornaments on a glass cake stand; you can put a small wreath at the base of the container. (And here's an idea I do not recommend! Putting clear glass votive candles on your stairs. At the very least they should be colored glass, but I wouldn't put glass or candles on my stairs.) When focusing on white accessories, use fresh greenery for accents. And from that same issue, enhance ornaments with metallic paint and colored pens, ribbons, and sparkles; you can use other plain ornaments for for place markers by painting and monograming them with sticky decals (check out scrapbooking supplies). And put white candles on a white platter; add silver accents.

The December 1997 issue of Country Home suggests gold for dressing up your Christmas party and home. Orange roses; gold ribbon, napkins, and candles; gold-edged plates, also oranges and pears. Again green accents work here.

Christmas collectibles include old ornaments and candy boxes--perfect for Christmas decorating. And the editorial in that issue quotes a sign from a Christmas tree farm--Thank you for chopping at our farm!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tips for first-time homebuyers (link)

Here are some tips from Property Virgins host Sandra Rinomato:

Don't forget to set aside money for closing costs ...

Brand-new condos tend to be smaller, ... , while older units typically have more square footage.

Before you start renovating a condo, live there for a year to make sure you're doing the right thing.

For more tips: At Home : Buying Homes : Essential Tips for First-Time Homebuyers : Home & Garden Television

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So...You Want to Build a House (link)

Here's a link to the reviews of another useful house building book: Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: So... You Want To Build a House

One reader filled out the forms in the book and took them to the bank when he applied for his construction loan. The bank was impressed; and later on it was impressed when he came in only about two thousand dollars over budget. That is impressive.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Children's book reviews

Here are three reviews of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?:

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.)


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 canget 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.

Cute Book, November 28, 2007
By Reader Views "www.readerviews.com" (Austin, Texas)
Reviewed by Noah Phenis (age 8) for Reader Views (11/07)


And here's a review from my hometown paper (it's an excerpt; the rest of the article was background):

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 maincharacters 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.

By Barbara Mahler 10/14/07 Sunday

Barbara Mahler is a correspondent for Gannett Wisconsin newspapers.

Available at: Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts ; amazon, B&N, Target, ...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Home choices: Buy or remodel? (links)

Questions include How much money is available and how much space is needed? For more: Should I Add on or Buy a Bigger Home? : HGTV FrontDoor Real Estate

There is a lot more real estate information on the HGTV's Front Door website: HGTV FrontDoor Real Estate - Powered by HGTV with homes for sale, buying and selling tips and more

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Decorating and seasonal ideas

The November 2008 issue of Country Living has a good article on pressing and framing leaves and flowers. I especially loved the collage of various leaves, which "mimics the forest floor in autumn." And the oak leaf wreath is beautiful.

You can use cork stamps that produce "a delicate texture thanks to cork's resilient and somewhat porous surface." The leaf stamp is pretty.

Country Living had a readers' survey to choose Blue Ribbon winners in a variety of categories. Ethan Allen took Favorite National Furniture Retailer and Favorite Furniture Brand. I see in their profile that they have a rustic look line called Hayloft. I like it.

This issue also looks at heirloom squashes and heirloom turkeys. People are encouraged to buy them so we don't lose these breeds. And there's an ad for a Country Living book--Farmhouse (Hearst Books). Looks like a lovely selection of decorating ideas. This was an especially interesting issue, which included delicious cooking ideas. Thanksgiving is getting closer...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Decorating and lifestyle ideas

The November 2008 issue of Country Living has a good article on pressing and framing leaves and flowers. I especially loved the collage of various leaves, which "mimics the forest floor in autumn." And the oak leaf wreath is beautiful.

You can use cork stamps that produce "a delicate texture thanks to cork's resilient and somewhat porous surface." The leaf stamp is pretty.

Country Living had a readers' survey to choose Blue Ribbon winners in a variety of categories. Ethan Allen took Favorite National Furniture Retailer and Favorite Furniture Brand. I see in their profile that they have a rustic look line called Hayloft. I like it.

This issue also looks at heirloom squashes and heirloom turkeys. People are encouraged to buy them so we don't lose these breeds. And there's an ad for a Country Living book--Farmhouse (Hearst Books). Looks like a lovely selection of decorating ideas. This was an especially interesting issue, which included delicious cooking ideas. Thanksgiving is getting closer...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An interview with Joy V. Smith

Writers Manual welcomes you!Learn how to create a successful writing career!

An Interview With Joy Smith

Tell us a bit about yourself. What would you like us to know about you?

I've been writing stories since I was a kid. My stories and articles have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies; and my SF has been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. Recent books include Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook and a children's book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?

What are you doing now? (Career? Married? Single? Children? Pets?)

I'm a writer, not married; and my latest pet is Xena, the warrior puppy.

What is your favourite food?

Tex-Mex, Chinese, southern, German, ...

What is your favourite colour?

Pink, but I like lots of colors, and I will never paint my house white!

What is your favourite sound?

Frogs calling from the pond.

Who is your favourite person?

Too many favorites, and I would never hurt anyone's feelings by singling one person out.

What is your favourite place?

Home is good, but I love to travel. I'd like to go to England again.

What is your favourite memory?

The farm.

What is your favourite article of clothing?

My Deva freedom pants.

What is your favourite word?

Negative.

What is your favourite writers' quote and why?

You don't have to get writing done right the first time; it's not like brain surgery. (Not an exact quote, and I don't remember the writer.) Because I understand why we need to edit.

What is your most favourite quality about yourself?

Persistence. I'm working on patience.

What is the least favourite quality about yourself?

Impatience.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

England. I've been there and there wasn't time to see it all, or Scotland, Wales, France...

What inspires you to write and why?

I want to share the stories in my head.

What is your favourite book and why?

Too many! Possibly Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett--funny and deep.

What is your favourite genre and why?

Science fiction. The sense of wonder.

List your three favourite authors (any genre) and why?

Terry Pratchett (fantasy)
James H. Schmitz (SF)
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (SF) As with all my favorites, you can reread them--more than once.

What do you think makes a writer successful?

Good characters and an interesting plot and background.

What is it that makes you successful as a writer?

Good imagination and perseverance.

What are your goals as a writer?

To have more people enjoy my stories and maybe have them optioned for films.

What is the best tip you can give to fellow writers?

Edit and persevere.

What do you hope to provide your readers with through your writing?

Entertainment and education. (I love to throw in facts and interesting background.)

List your three favourite online writer-resource sites and why (include URLS).

Absolute Write: www.absolutewrite.com/(Recommended)
Preditors & Editors: anotherealm.com/prededitors/(Resources & annual poll)Ralan.com: http://www.ralan.com/ (up-to-date)

If you have published a book, tell us about your publishing success (title, publishing date and company, where it is available to purcahse).

My most recent book (since Building a Cool House in Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook and Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?) is Aliens, Animals, and Adventure. This was published through Anthology Builder, where you can create an anthology or a story collection, as I did.

How long did it take you to write your book(s)?

Years of creating and polishing...

What would you do differently if you could repeat the same publishing experience?

Hmm. I had to work my way through my stories and books. I don't see what I could have done differently that wouldn't have slowed me down...

What have you learned about the publishing world?

It's always changing...

This is your chance to 'Talk Back' to your readers. What would you like to say to them?

I hope you enjoy my stories. That's why I wrote them.

What's the one thing that you want them to know about your writing?

I worked hard to get them to you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Be prepared (link)

I came across this useful website recently: Are you prepared?

"In a major disaster, it might be several days before vital services are restored.
San Francisco is exposed to a wide variety of hazards, both natural and man-made. Earthquakes, fires, severe storms, power outages, and acts of terrorism are just some of the potential emergencies we may encounter.

Imagine that you have no electricity, no gas, no water and no telephone service. Imagine that all the businesses are closed and you are without any kind of emergency services. What will you do until help arrives?"

This website originates in San Francisco, but it covers a lot of territory. You click on the icons to learn what you need to know. Hmm. There's no icon for hurricanes, but the information you need is there: http://www.72hours.org/

{This is a repeat post, but the information is so useful I wanted to share it with any newcomers.]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Architecture of the Imagination

"Edwin and Lucy's cottage consisted of two rooms downstairs, which had partly been knocked into one, with a modern bathroom tacked on at the back. The stairs, which were hidden behind a latched door, led up to three rooms where one had to inch around the beds , bending one's head so as not to knock it on the eaves. Laura Ashley wallpaper everywhere covered uneven old plaster, and rag rugs provided warmth underfoot. Lucy's books were stacked in columns along one wall in the sitting room, having overflowed the bookcases, and in the kitchen there were wooden bowls, pestles and mortar, dried herbs hanging.

Lucy's home was unselfconscious, not folksy."

From Hot Money by Dick Francis

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Publication news

My book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, is #8 on this Barnes & Noble top ten list: Barnes & Noble.com Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

Here's a free excerpt: Free Book Excerpts : Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook by Joy Smith

There's a free excerpt available too from my children's book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Free Book Excerpts : Why Won’t Anyone Play with Me? by Joy Smith

Still upcoming are the Magistria shared world anthologies, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer and Magistria: Shards of the Goddess. (The first one should be available on amazon soon.) My stories, Seedlings and Crystal Quest, in this shared world anthology series are about plant mages and their companions, sentient plants.

To listen to an audiobook about time travel adventure, check out Sugar Time at Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys

It includes 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'sup 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.

I have a collection of some of my published stories in Aliens, Animals and Adventure. You can order it (trade paperback) at the Anthology Builder library: AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology

Table of contents:

The Doorway: Nessa stumbles into the time corridor while helping a friend.
Guard Dog: Sequel to The Doorway. Nessa travels to the time of Earth's first contact.
Pretty Pink Planet: Heroine tracks down planet pirates; saves aliens.
Hot Yellow Planet: Sequel to PPP. Lori and Chiing continue their adventures, meeting up with Chameleons, Ghosters, Splurts, and other aliens and humans.
Flashback: Chessies’ arrival in an ice age. Companion story to Sugar Time stories (audiobook).
Stray Cats: Cats, herps, and humans--sometimes interchangeable.
To the Last Drop: Those aliens should not have touched that coffee urn.
Pilot's Course: Terran humans in the far future settled on other planets. Heroine plots new course.
Moovin' Up: Genetic Engineering.
The Princess Quest: Sword & Sorcery.
When Danger Rules: Reesa came back to rescue the remaining members of the family she loved. Now she had to avoid being killed by her cousin, who wanted the throne, and the new ruler of the planet, who didn't want a throne, and the ones she had come to rescue.
Home Not: When Grief's Aunt Chelsea died, his Uncle Sandro saw his chance, and Grief was at his mercy... Adventure.
The Haunted Garden: Ghosts, Native Americans, and the environment.
Lost in the Long Dark: Boy explores locked hallway in new house; finds danger.
Taking Tawny Home: Sequel to Lost in the Long Dark. Could he take the big cat back?
You Are What You Don't Eat: Why were the Terrans invited to the feast?

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

We answer these questions:

When I Started, I Wish Someone Had Told Me:
The Best Advice I Ever Got Was:
The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made Was:
The Most Important Thing A Writer Can Do To Achieve Success Is:
I Really Need To Tell You This:

Link: I Wish Someone Had Told Me That!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Green kitchen ideas (link)

Ideas from HGTV.com for a beautiful and earth-friendly kitchen. Be sure to check out the top ten eco-friendly kitchen products (right hand side of the web page): Green Kitchen: Create the green kitchen of your dreams with these tips for an eco-friendly kitchen

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tropical Depression Marco

I blinked and Marco came and went!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Remodeling ideas

I recently read Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House (2006) by Carol Venolia & Kelly Lerner.  It's full of useful and comprehensive ideas for your home.  Chapters cover your home, nature, climate, the sun, air, water, your garden, energy, design, materials, construction, and more, plus there's a questionnaire at the end to help you plan your remodel.
 
One recycling idea used a Mazda hatchback window for an entry roof.  And they used a house plan to make notes of the bad and good points of your home--good view, lack of storage, too much sun, ugly carpet, etc.  There's a chart that compares sun direction with amount of glare, temperature, intensity, etc.; the book also covers the importance of themal mass, shade, etc..
 
There are charts about water usage; and the book covers waste water, landscape watering, using rain water, handling humidity, and more.  There are remodeling hints and real life examples. The book also covers heating and cooling, including furnaces, wood stoves, and swamp coolers.  Material tables include insulation, exterior materials, flooring, countertops, and more.  The book's premise is that "You don't have to build from scratch to live in a house that's good for you and the earth."  This book is a keeper.       

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Curb appeal (link)

Paul Bianchina gives some useful advice about curb appeal in his column:

Clean your driveway.  Have a clear and safe path to your front door.  Trim and clean your landscaping and add shade trees.  For more, see:  Top ways to boost curb appeal | Real Estate and Technology News for Agents, Brokers and Investors | Inman News

Design ideas (link)

HGTV Designers Answer Your Questions:

There are questions about style, color, furniture, organization, textured paint, wallpaper, and more.  Link: Decorating : HGTV Designers Answer Your Questions : Home & Garden Television

And here's an interesting idea for displaying books that I came across in one of my writing e-newletters:

"...you can alphabetize them by author or title, arrange them by genre or size, but how about this: sort your books so the titles on the spine create sentences. Check it out!"  (From Book Marketing Expert)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Small space living

There's an interesting article in the October/November 2008 issue of Ready Made magazine about enjoying your small space and making it beautiful.  Well, actually, it's an interview with Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan.  He chose location over size and points out that a small space is usually cheaper.  Check out his website for decorating ideas: Apartment Therapy 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Subtropical Storm Laura

Laura just popped up along the east coast and is heading north, but will turn east towards Ireland.

Link: Subtropical Storm LAURA

(Thanks, Lloyd!)

Update (9-30-08): Laura is now a Tropical Storm but isn't expected to last long.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Books by Joy V. Smith

Aliens, Animals, and Adventure (SF & fantasy story collection): AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook, Joy V. Smith, Book - Barnes & Noble

Sugar Time: Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Amazon.com: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Joy V. Smith: Books

Upcoming:

Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer (Shared world anthology)

Magistria: Shards of the Goddess (vol. 2)

Hidebound: SF adventure ebook

 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tropical Storm Kyle

TS Kyle formed from that Low off the east coast and is headed north; it may make landfall in North or South Carolina.  It's not anywhere near us.

Links: Tropical Storm KYLE  ; Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook 

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update: Kyle is headed north for New England and will miss the Carolinas, and it looks as if it'll become a category 1 hurricane on the way.

Update (9-28-08): Kyle is a category 1 and is headed towards Maine.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Color & decorating ideas (link)

Here are decorating hints and links from HGTV.  Their website mentions the 60-30-10 rule: The dominant color should be 60%; the secondary color 30%; and the accent color 10%.  I would not go to extremes trying to follow this rule!

Link: Color Tool: Room Color Ideas and Tips for Your Home : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Plumbing lines (link)

I came across this basic plumbing line info on one of the HGTVPro.com blogs:

" ... Can a sink be hooked up to a higher drain line? Or will I have to stay with a smaller sink? ..."

A: ... This is not an uncommon problem, since most plumbing fixtures are installed to factory rough-in measurements.

Let me explain. When a new house is being built, the plumber runs the water and drain line while the walls are open. At that point, the plumber should have a fixture list with all the specifications as to where the pipes need to stick out of the wall. This is called the "rough-in" work.

Once the walls and or cabinets are closed in, then the plumbing fixtures are installed and hooked up to those water and drain line stubs. This is called the "finish" work.  ..."

Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Deep Trouble for Kitchen Sink

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

House ideas

There's a fun idea about colors in the October 2008 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  Use spicy colors such as saffron, ginger, cinnamon, paprika, and a muted chili pepper. 

You can color coordinate your home by using at least three colors that work together; combine them in different ways--walls, furniture, etc.  And you can match the color of framed prints to the color of the headboard of a bed. 

Apparently a room isn't done without pillows.  (Some people have a pillow addiction; 'course some people have a candle addiction.)  But if you want to cut back, recycle.  In a Living Green article, one family has a number of ideas, including putting a recycling bin next to every wastebasket in the house.  There's an excellent article on shopping "naked," btw.  You should check that out.  (Leave your credit cards at home.)  Other helpful ideas are included in the article.

Instead of removing a popcorn ceiling, you can put bead board over it.  And you can make curtains using napkins, grommets and rivets.  (The grommets and rivets come in kits.)  

Now that it's fall, you can use gourds and pumpkins for decorating, including displaying flowers in gourds.  You just hollow out the neck--not very much apparently, after cutting off the stem--and add a little water.

For cute and clever pumpkin ideas, see the October issue of Country Home.  There's an interesting article on trade blankets in that issue too.  It gives historical background; and it says that Pendleton is the only company making the blankets now.  In 2009, Pendleton's 100th anniversary, they'll bring back vintage patterns.  The old blankets are collectible and expensive!

House hunting tip when looking at old houses, it's better to buy a home that hasn't been updated than one that's been badly remodeled.  Entertaining ideas from that issue include punch with floating ghosts.  They look so cool!   

I have to mention the cute Iams ad in Country Home: "Playing fetch with me involves two zip codes."  [I must point out that the dog is a Border Collie.]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Book signing

I'll be doing a book signing of Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook and reading and signing my children's picture book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? this Saturday in Tampa.  Be sure to stop by and check out my cool kitties and get a free bookmark at my table at Deep Carnivale:
 
When
10am to 5pm
          Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008
Where
The Cuban Club and along 14th Street, between Palm Avenue and 9th Avenue
          Ybor City, Tampa Florida  (map)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Backyard Wildlife Habitat

I live on a registered Backyard Wildlife Habitat.  (I'm registered with the National Wildlife Federation, The Florida Wildlife Habitat Program [University of Florida], and the county.)  We have sandhill cranes, herons, and lots of other birds and critters; there are less deer, wild turkeys, and other animals as development continues to surround us.  Anyway, recently a wildlife rehabilitator chose our property to release five little squirrels she's been raising.  They love the cathedral oak behind the house where we released them and have been scampering all over.  I'm hoping we'll be chosen for the release of some flying squirrels.

With all the spreading concrete and developments, maybe you can make your property a refuge for birds, animals, and butterflies.  Cutting down on poisons in your yard would be helpful too.  Check out the NWF's guidelines for what you can do to help.  Here's a link to my NWF listing: Online Scrapbook - Garden for Wildlife - National Wildlife Federation


Tags: , ,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kitchen countertops (link)

Here are the ten most popular kitchen countertops (Great Scott!  They've included laminate!!) and other helpful articles, photos, and videos from HGTV.  Link: Kitchen Countertops: Comprehensive Countertop Guide to Choosing Kitchen Countertops

"Solid surfaces are in; tile is out.  Marble, maple, and concrete rule."  Hmm.  I thought marble wasn't very practical, but I guess that has nothing to do with trends...  You have to be careful with concrete.  I'm probably going to go for quartz, solid surface, or laminate, depending on my budget.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Foyer (link)

Here are some interesting ideas for creating or enhancing your entry way, including an attractive welcome mat or area rug, a low bookcase for a divider, a gallery wall, movable art, and a storage bench.

Link: A New Beginning | Get Inspired at The Home Depot

In our foyer we have a table and a small blackboard over it on which we write welcoming messages for guests.  And all our entrances have a different tile pattern.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Ike is still a category 2, but is strengthening and is headed towards Galveston Bay.  (It's a strong category 2, almost a 3.) The Weather Channel has lots of footage, including weather persons being buffeted by the wind and drenched by the rain.

Update: Ike made landfall as a category 2 on Galveston Island in early morning (3:10 am) and is a cat 1 now.  It has passed Houston and is headed for the midwest.  I see that thousands of people didn't evacuate from Galveston.  I'd thought that it was supposed to be covered with water...  Damage reports are beginning to come in.

Update: Ike is now a tropical storm and is heading NNE.  From the AOL welcome window:

Texas Launches
Massive Rescue

140,000 Ignored Hurricane Warnings

Update (9-16-08): The remnants of Ike are headed for Iceland.

 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Publication news: The Puppy Lovers Journal

I came across this journal recently.  It's filled with 104 different and delightful pictures of playful puppies on lined journal pages you can use to write about your puppy or whatever.  There's a Kitten Lovers Journal also.  The puppies and kittens on the covers are so sweet!  Link: Puppy Lover's Journal

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricanes (book review)

From ForeWord This Week (9-10-08) [e-newsletter]:

"Hurricanes by Jack Williams and Stephen Leatherman (978-0-7603-2992-4) explores Earths fiercest storms with fifty color photos and descriptions of hurricane behavior. ...


The book looks at U.S Air Force Reserve pilots who fly into hurricanes to provide wind data to forecasters.   ...

Williams and Leatherman explain that a hurricanes winds could affect more than 200 miles of coastline, and that the names of the storms come from a National Hurricane Center-approved list of mens and womens names in French, English, and Spanish that is created each year. The photographs are especially fascinating, including one taken from the eye of Katrina before she hit, ..."

by Whitney Hallberg, Managing Editor

Foreword link: http://www.forewordmagazine.com/ftw/ftwarchives.aspx?id=20080910.htm#1


Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Home-Run plumbing (link)

I hadn't heard of this type of plumbing before now, but it sounds like a great idea. 

"Home-run plumbing systems are gaining popularity in new construction for lots of great reasons, but plumbing changes in an existing house are sometimes very challenging. However, it can be a significant improvement in performance in some cases if some small changes can be made.

... Home-run plumbing relates to the design of the piping network supplying hot and cold potable water to the various fixtures and end points around the house.  ..."

For the rest of the article: Eric Helton: Building Science -- Home-Run Plumbing  (HGTVPro.com)

Online stories by Joy V. Smith

Here are links to some of my online stories:

Taking Tawny Home: Viatouch - Learning & Leisure - Story Station "Taking Tawny Home" (Story Station)

You Are What You Don't Eat: EOTU Ezine

To the Last Drop: Table of Contents (pseudo Science Fiction)

The Trees of Home  (I love the art by Holly Eddy.): The Trees of Home  (Sorcerous Signals)


 

Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Ike is now a category 3 and moving due west towards Cuba.  It'll probably be a category 1 when it gets into the Gulf on Tuesday.

Update (9-8-08): Ike made landfall on Cuba and is travelling south.  It may curve back over the western tip of Cuba.  The evacuation of the Florida Keys has been cancelled. 

Update: Ike is a cat 2 and is leaving Cuba moving west.  The Keys and southern Florida are getting rain bands.

Update: Ike is a cat 1 and may make landfall in Texas.

The ghost of Josephine may re-develop--or not; otherwise the tropics are clear except for Ike.

Update (9-9-08): Ike is moving WNW over Cuba; it's still not clear where it'll make landfall, but it'll probably be a category 3 by then.

Update: Ike has moved off Cuba, and rain bands are moving up Florida (rotating from east to west); we even got a little shower late this afternoon.  After it makes landfall (Texas is preparing for evacuations), it'll head north. 

Update: Ike is intensifying, and here in central Florida we might get some rain tomorrow (Wednesday), which we need.  Cirrus clouds are blowing off the top of Ike in the opposite direction...

Update (9-10-08): Ike is still a cat 1, but is strengthening and will possibly make it to a cat 3.  It may make landfall between Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas.  Here we've been getting heavier rain from rain bands since last night.

Update: Ike is a cat 2 and should make it to 3 and possibly 4; and after it makes landfall it'll turn north.  Most computer models are in agreement--pretty close anyway.  Sometimes the spaghetti strands wander off in all directions.  Here in Florida only the west coast should be getting rain tomorrow.

Update (9-11-08): Ike is still a cat 2; it's expected to become a cat 3 just before landfall, which will be near Galveston and Houston.  One of its rain bands missed us earlier.  That'll probably be the last big one here.  They're ready to evacuate in Texas and Lousiana.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Home inspections (link)

There's useful information on house inspections in Paul Bianchina's column.  He says:

"I have always been an advocate of people looking after themselves, especially with a purchase as huge as a home. I am all in favor of disclosure laws, since only the seller knows where the leaks or other problems are (or were), but buyers also need to take the time to inspect and understand the house for themselves. There's a lot more to home than whether or not it has granite countertops!"  For more, go to his column:

Link: Don't let home inspector out of your sight | Real Estate and Technology News for Agents, Brokers and Investors | Inman News


Tags:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Storm updates

Hanna is going north and may make landfall Friday night in North Carolina.  We're getting clouds from the tops being blown off Hanna, but no rain is expected here since we're on the west side (the dry side).  We'll probably be dry for a few more days.

Ike is still a category 4 hurricane and may be headed for Florida, but wind shear is eating its eye wall.  It's moving west still, but should turn north later. 

Gustav remnants are headed east.

Update: Hanna is moving NW at 18 mph; it's farther west than expected and may become a hurricane; south Florida is getting rain.  Here in central Florida we're getting sprinkles.  Hanna may make landfall in South or North Carolina.  Georgia is getting rain.  Hanna is accelerating.

Ike is still moving west and has weakened a bit; it's a category 3 now.  Ike link: Hurricane IKE   (Thanks, Lloyd)  Some people think it's predicted path is similar to Donna's.  It's moving WNW now.

Tropical Storm Josephine has weakened and will probably curve up into the Atlantic.

Update (9-6-08): Josephine is now a tropical depression.

Ike is moving WSW and the track curves like a u before Ike starts toward the Gulf...; it may become a cat 4 again.

Hanna should make landfall tonight; it isn't dawdling so there should be less flooding.

Update: Hanna is still a tropical storm and is approaching NYC.

Ike is a category 2, but is expected to strengthen after Hanna moves farther away.  My cousin in Arizona is expecting rain from Ike later on.

Update: Ike is now a category 4 but is expected to weaken as it goes over Cuba. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Septic tank maintenance (link)

How often should you have your septic tank pumped out?  It depends on the size, the people in the house, and whether you have a garbage disposal.  (There's a chart with this article from the HouseMaster newsletter.)  There are variables, of course. 

Link: HouseMaster eNewsletter

We had our septic tank pumped out again recently.  Those new filters can be a problem, btw...  Our septic system (tanks and drain field) is so big that we call the whole area The Mesa.  When they were working on it last, they asked if we'd be using a garbage disposal 'cause if we were, they'd have to make it even bigger.

Hurricane news, resources, and links

Storm preparation tips, rebuilding along the Gulf Coast, videos, etc. from HGTVPro.com: Hurricanes : Main : HGTVPro.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tropical Storms Ike & Josephine

Both TS Ike and TS Josephine are moving west.  Josephine may turn northwest later.  Ike and Josephine are lined up behind Hanna right now. 

Update (9-3-08): Ike is now a hurricane and is still heading west.

Update: Ike is now a category 4 and may be headed for Florida next week.  Josephine is expected to weaken.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hurricane Hanna

Hanna is now a hurricane (category 1); we have Tropical Storm Ike (moving west); and Josephine may be upcoming.  And, of course, Gustav has made landfall.  Lots of footage on The Weather Channel.  Gustav is moving northwest beyond Baton Rouge, ... 

Hanna is moving north and west and may make landfall on the southeast Atlantic coast (Carolinas, Georgia, & northeast Florida).  One computer model path is farther west than the others. 

Link: Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update: The computer models are more consistent now for Hanna.  Both Hanna and Ike are headed for the Bahamas.

Here's a link for the 2008 storm names: 2008 Hurricane Names - Official Hurricane Names List

Because of Gustav and Hanna, our rain chances here are low.

Update (9-3-08): Hanna is predicted to be farther east now and heading for New England.

Update: Hanna will probably miss Florida and Georgia.  It may make landfall near Myrtle Beach, SC.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Home ideas

There was a helpful step-by-step article on building a firepit in the September/October 2008 issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas.  I'd like one of those, though I'm not sure how you clean it out.
 
And the article about storage and a playroom for six children (including quintuplets) had great ideas,  which included open-door lockers--one for each child, with their pictures on top--and a hopscotch mat (secure the mat/pad with double-sided carpet tape) and a chest decorated with ABC and 1 2 3.  Elsewhere in the magazine was an idea for playing hopscotch outside with numbered stepping-stones. 
 
A cool kitchen idea was using a bathroom grab bar as a towel rack; it was at the end of a cupboard run.  The terra cotta pots with carved-pumpkin look faces were fun.
 
And I saw a Mediterranean-inspired bedroom (upcoming issue); the bed has a fountain at the bottom, which I've never seen before.  (I can picture the dogs lapping away there.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

Gustav is now a category 3 hurricane and is headed towards the western tip of Cuba.  Sustained winds are 125 mph.  Florida is getting rain bands, but all we've gotten locally is sprinkles.  New Orleans is getting ready to evacuate.

Link: Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update: We're getting rain now, with lightning and thunder.

Update: Gustav is now a category 4.  It hasn't cleared Cuba yet, but it should go into the Gulf tonight.

Update: Gustav should become a cat 5 tonight and make landfall Monday. 

Update: Or maybe it won't become a category 5, but it's still a strong storm, and New Orleans is being evacuated.  Rain bands are rotating over Cuba and Florida.  And now Florida is in Hanna's cone of uncertainty.

Update (8-31-08): Gustav is a category 3 and rain bands are over southern Louisiana now.  Hanna will probably miss us.  It's going north, though the computer models vary a bit.

Hanna link: Tropical Storm HANNA

Update: Gustav has made landfall near Cocodrie, LA, and I came across a post that was asking for evacuation space for livestock in northern Louisiana, northern Texas, southern Oklahoma, and southern Arkansas.

Update: Gustav is now a tropical storm.

Update (9-3-08): The remnants of Gustav are raining over Arkansas and other states, while Texas and Oklahoma need the rain.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tropical Storm Hanna

Invest L 95 (as I recall), which means Investigating a Low, is now TS Hanna.  The computer models show some strange loops...  Hanna may become a category 1-3 and may head west towards FL 

Link: Interactive Storm Tracker | WFTS-TV | First in HD

Update: Now they're saying it may become a category 4 or 5.  I believe it'll become a hurricane within a day or so.

And Gustav has moved further west though some models show it moving further west--or east.  And some other waves are coming off Africa; there was a possible storm off Campeche, but it's fallen apart.  One weatherman said that we could have five storms by the end of next week.

Link: Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update: Hanna should become a category 1 hurricane; its path is predicted to turn to the southwest now.

Btw, this week's rain dance has been cancelled.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kitchen design mistakes (link)

6 common kitchen-planning myths include bigger is better and I can add that later...

Link: KOHLER: Planning Tips: 6 Kitchen Planning Myths: Kitchen: Articles  (From Kohler e-newsletter)

Publication news

My book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, is #8 on this Barnes & Noble top ten list: Barnes & Noble.com Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals   Here's a free excerpt: Free Book Excerpts : Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook by Joy Smith

There's a free excerpt available too from my children's book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Free Book Excerpts : Why Won’t Anyone Play with Me? by Joy Smith

Still upcoming are the Magistria anthologies, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer and Magistria: Shards of the Goddess.  My stories, Seedlings and Crystal Quest, in this shared world anthology series are about plant mages.

Here's the blurb for Hidebound, my ebook due out from Mundania Press (possibly next year): Not long after Anfissa and Ferenc meet, they’re trapped on a planet where even the grass is deadly.

For another book about deadly plants, read Alan Dean Foster's Mid-Flinx.

To listen to an audiobook about time travel adventure, check out Sugar Time at Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tropical Storm Gustav

Tropical Storm Gustav has formed from one of the waves we've been watching as Fay wandered off and is moving towards the Caribbean; it's early yet; the spaghetti models are pointing in several directions, and the cone of uncertainty is big.  It's about a week away from us.

Link: Tropical Storm GUSTAV

(Thanks for the link, Lloyd)

Update: Gustav is now a category 1 hurricane; it is weakening over Haiti, but it may make it up to a category 3; it should be way west of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.

Update (8-27-08): It's still over Haiti and the cone of uncertainty is brushing Florida's west coast.

Update (8-28-08): Gustav will probably only become a category 2, and the cone of uncertainty has moved west away from Florida.

Update: Gustav has moved farther away from Florida and is predicted to be a category 3 after all.  Intensification should begin tomorrow about midday, and it should hit the north coast of the Gulf Monday night or Tuesday.

Home ideas

I came across an article for a functional and fun office in the September 2008 Better Homes & Gardens.  You can use color-coordinated desk accessories, boxes, and clear plastic envelopes.  The website mentioned in the article (source of office supplies) is Welcome to See Jane Work   (My desk is full of old metal horizontal and vertical file holders, btw.)
 
A shared children's bathroom has drawers with each child's initials on the front of the child's drawer.  There's also a photo spread of pies in this issue that make me wish I had a cook.  (I've been known to make microwave popcorn and the occasional beef pinwheel.) 
 
A rug-upholstered headboard is a nifty idea I came across in an old issue of Country Living (May 2006).  There are some beautiful rugs out there!  In a little piece about adding luxury to your daily life they suggested that instead of an e-mail, you mail a hand-written thank you note to a friend.  (I think investing in beautiful stationery would also be nice--and unselfish.)  But more candles in a fireplace?!  I think not.
 
If you need more storage, you can keep linens in an armoire or linen press.  Put it in a hallway, landing, or maybe one of those bonus rooms.  And here's a great idea if you have an old trunk with a tray.  Use kitchen and sock drawer organizers or possibly an ice cube tray; that works for jewelry too, especially small earrings.  (I saw that on a home show recently.) 
 
A piece on kitchen storage also included an armoire--equipped with shelves, hooks, and dividers--for pots & pans, small appliances, cookbooks, etc.  Another article (Out and About quoting three shop owners) said that "People never tire of a pale palette, ..."  Fortunately that was followed by lots of pictures of colorful rooms and furniture.   
 
A truly useful article was Pethouse 101 on pet-proofing and pet-friendly design.  It recommended wood and tile flooring.  (We rip out carpeting in houses we move into.)  They add that broadloom carpeting and rugs should be avoided.  (You betcha.  All our rugs are washable.)  But sisal, seagrass, and jute can be hosed clean outdoors.  Huh?!  And, of course, avoid textured materials that cat and dog claws can catch in.  I'd avoid spreads and throws with fringe also; I've had to unhook dog tags.  The article also recommends indoor-outdoor materials and FLOR carpet tiles, which I've always thought was a great idea (being able to replace a square), but I, personally, would still avoid anything that couldn't be washed easily in place.  (With animals, if it's not one end, it's the other.)
 
In the November 2006 Country Living, there's a little piece on pantries.  It says that "Unfortunately, from the 1950s on, 'modern' kitchen design often did away with this great storage feature."  Frankly, I never understood that, and in our new house, we have a large walk-in pantry.  I remember crawling around on the floor peering into kitchen cupboards at the old house trying to find assorted canned goods.