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)