Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sugar Time (time travel tales in audiobook format)

Looking for an exciting new audio adventure?

Want to travel to new places and old times?

Have a yen for sabre tooth tigers and cave bear?

Are you just tired of bodies in your freezer?

Sugar Time, written by Joy V. Smith, is an audio time travel adventure featuring a full cast, music and sound effects.

  • Order Sugar Time directly from Hadrosaur
  • Friday, December 29, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "'If you look to your left,' [Colin] said, 'you should be able to see the house.'

    I caught a brief , tantalizing glimpse of crenellated battlements looming above the trees like a lost set from a Frankenstein movie before the car swung around a curve, bringing us into full view of the house.  Built of a creamy-colored stone, the house was what the papers might call 'a stately pile,' a square central section with the usual classical adornments, with a smaller wing sticking out on either side of the central block.  It was a perfectly normal eighteenth-century gentleman's residence, and exactly what one would expect the Purple Gentian to have lived in.  There were no battlements.

    [The battlements were on an ancient keep nearby.]

    ...'So this is the library.'

    ...never had a room so resembled popular preconception.  The walls were panelled in rich, dark wood....  A whimsical iron staircase curved to the balcony, ...  sheer number of books, row upon row....

    Downstairs, where I stood with Colin, the shelves made way for four tall windows, ..., all hung with rich red draperies checked with blue, in the obverse of the red-flecked blue carpet.  On the west wall, the bookshelves surrendered pride of place to a massive fireplace, topped with a carved hood to make Ivanhoe proud, and large enough to roast a serf.

    In short, the library was a Gothic fantasy.

    My face fell.

    'It's not original.'

    'No, ...,' said Colin.  'The entire house was gutted not long before the turn of the century. ...'"

    From The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig 

    Thursday, December 28, 2006

    Designing Kitchen Storage (link)

    "...efficient and ample storage space has become a key issue in most remodeling projects, especially in the kitchen. Providing enough storage in a remodeled kitchen begins with some careful planning, says Daniel Baumann, owner of Design/Build Technology Inc., in Minnetonka, Minn. He has no special formulas for figuring storage needs but does rely on a three-step process as follows:

    1. Perform accurate as-built drawings of the existing kitchen facility.
    2. Take inventory of items now being stored in the kitchen. ...       3. Do a needs-and-wants analysis of the elements [you] would like included in the new kitchen.

    For more: Design Ideas : Kitchens : Getting an Accurate Read on Kitchen Storage :

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "Darcy laughed and escorted his aunt and relatives up the stairs.  They entered a room painted in the palest of lemon and edged with a creamy white plaster wainscoting artfully shaped in the form of twining ivy vines and roses.  The hearth's mantel was also faced in the same manner, the sides rising to enclose a magnificent mirror, which caught and reflected the airiness of the room and the delicate chandeliers of gold and crystal.  Designed by the late Lady Ann, the Salon had the happy capacity to project warmth in cold seasons and refreshing coolness in summer and thus was one of the favorite gathering places in the house."

    From Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aidan

    Monday, December 25, 2006

    Living with Ed (HGTV)

    "TV and movie actor Ed Begley, perhaps the greenest man in Tinsel Town, rides his electric car to the Academy Awards and powers his home with the sun and his stationary bike. But Living with Ed and his environmentalist passion isn't always a walk in the park for wife, Rachelle. This first-of-its-kind reality green show chronicles life with an earth-friendly fanatic with humor and heart."

    Watch Living with Ed Sundays 10pm e/p. Catch a sneak peek, Monday, Jan. 1, right after the Rose Parade! 

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "Green Moon Mall stands along Green Moon Road, between old-town Pico Mundo and its modern western neighborhoods.  The huge structure, with walls the color of sand, had been designed to suggest humble adobe construction, as though it were a home built by a family of gigantic Native Americans averaging forty feet in height.

    ...this curious attempt at environmentally harmonious but deeply illogical architecture, ...

    In a corner of the vast parking lot, ... stands Tire World.  Here the architecture is more playful.

    The single-story building supports a tower crowned by a giant globe.  This model of Earth, rotating lazily, seems to represent a world of peace and innocence...

    Like Saturn, this planet sports a ring, not of ice crystals and rocks and dust but of rubber.  Encircling the globe is a tire that both rotates and oscillates."

    From Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    10 best real estate books of 2006 (link)

    1. "Trump-Style Negotiation," by George Ross (John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ), $24.95, 259 pages. This unique book offers insights into Donald J. Trump's big-thinking negotiation style, which leaves the contract details to his trusted adviser, George Ross. Only serious real estate buyers, sellers, real estate agents and investors will study this extremely well-written book that reveals negotiation tactics not found elsewhere, illustrated with many actual examples from Trump acquisitions.

    For more books on the list, visit Bob Bruss' website: Bob Bruss Real Estate Center  (He has five honorable mention books also.)

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Green remodeling (link)

    "The increased cost of heating and cooling America's homes has gotten a lot of press lately, and consumer publications have had plenty of articles about DIY projects to help reduce those costs in individual houses. After all, homes in most climates require space heating, air conditioning or both, and the majority of the fuels we use to heat and cool our homes come from limited resources. The concept of green building is top of mind for many new-home builders, but green remodeling seems to be less common."

    For more: News : Trends : The High-Performance Remodeled House :

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    House art you may never see

    In an article on the restoration of the Daniel Angell Tavern in the February issue of Early American Life, the writer mentions the discovery of signatures--probably of the building's original carpenters--and two portraits, drawn in wet plaster, of Native Americans--presumably also done by workmen--on sheathing under plaster upstairs. 

    This reminded me of the artwork and messages done by the workmen at our house on the drywall, which was interesting and fun.  (I'm sorry I didn't photograph it.  There are photos with the tavern restoration article.)

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    13 symbols of Christmas

    In Provence, the gros souper on Christmas Eve usually ends with 13 desserts, a tradition traced back to the 18th century or earlier, which is said to represent Christ and the 12 apostles.  Desserts include figs, raisins, almonds, and walnuts which represent the robe colors of the Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, and Augustinian orders.  The white and dark nougats may represent good and evil.  There are also dates, seasonal fruits, and specialty items that vary from town to town.  The desserts, usually accompanied by vin cuit (a sweet wine), are served at the same time and everyone tastes a little of each.

    From Saveur: Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine (December 2006 issue) 

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Yakitate!! Japan

    Yakitate!!  Japan is a Japanese comic book (food manga), which is now available in English in the US.  Vol. 2 will be released here this month.  (This is from the November issue of Saveur, so the English-language edition should be available now.)  Kazuma Azuma, the hero, wants to be a baker, and the comic includes recipes, along with the action of traditional comics.  There's a sample strip in Saveur, and they're written to be read right to left, top to bottom.  Looks like fun.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Remodeling your bathroom (link)

    "Bathroom remodelers come across them all the time — clients with champagne dreams and jug-wine budgets. Design magazines have given them lots of renovation ideas, but they're shocked when they see just how much all those features add to their project's bottom line."  For more info on how to spend your money wisely: Design Ideas : Bathrooms : Big Ideas for Small Bath Budgets : 

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    Tiny kitchen

    In the November 2006 issue of Saveur: Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine, is an article on a couple coping with a really small kitchen: Small Wonder ("This diminutive kitchen has everything a cook could want.") 

    Actually, I don't think so, but they live in an apartment in Manhattan, which they remodelled.  They use frosted glass cabinets to add depth; and Plexiglass covers part of a remaining wall to suggest greater space.  They have only the basic small appliances, including a blender and a half size food processor.  Cutting boards on the stove give them more counter room, and they prepare ingredients on a large table in the living room.  They have a narrow fridge, so they buy fresh produce daily, and they buy ingredients that come in small packages.  They cook in shifts in the 24" Verona oven, and for large parties, they serve hors d'ouevres and simple snacks, though they cook full dinners for small groups.

    It sounds as if they do more entertaining in their little space than I do in my big kitchen (which I'm grateful for)!


    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Building a Cool House... is hot!

    Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is now #5 on this Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    It was Reviewer's Choice in the February 2005 Small Press Bookwatch (Midwest Book Review): MBR: Small Press Bookwatch, February 2005

    Here's the review:

    In Building A Cool House For Hot Times Without Scorching The Pocketbook, author Joy Smith draws upon her on-site personal experience with the building process involved in constructing her own home. This slender, 61-page book reveals what she learned about the thousands of decisions that must be made in order to build within a budget as illustrated by diary excepts, photos, and more. A chronological compendium of events and practical advice from planning, to "punch list", Building A Cool House For Hot Times Without Scorching The Pocketbook will prove an invaluable read for anyone contemplating building (or remodeling) their own home.


    Building a better nail (link)

    Dr. Nail vs. the Monster

    By Tom Clynes

    In 1995 a Clemson University graduate student named Ed Sutt took off for a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Caribbean. ...  Hurricane Marilyn had just torn through St. Thomas, and Sutt was part of a team examining how and why 80 percent of the island’s homes and businesses had collapsed in the storm’s 95mph winds. 

    ...  As Sutt moved through the wreckage of roofless and toppled-over houses, he was struck by the sense that much of the destruction could have been avoided. “In house after house,” he says, “I noticed that it wasn’t the wood that had failed—it was the nails that held the wood together.”

    Link: PopSci's Best of What's New 2006

    Saturday, December 9, 2006

    Black is the new holiday color

    Yep, we're talking about Christmas.  "Black is so holiday," says a designer in No Bah Humbug Here (by Helena Oliviero/Cox News Service), an article in today's real estate section.  "From Atlanta's Phipps Plaza to Target, ... [it] is making a splashy debut this season."  You can buy an artificial white tree and spray paint it black; and you can put gold, silver, or clear ornaments on it.  And there are black ribbons, black and silver ornaments, and even penguin shaped ornaments.  The black Christmas tree's trendy roots go back to last year in England...  Remember that this is a fad; next year it might be purple.

    Friday, December 8, 2006

    Tile style

    Another interesting article (a product guide) in the January issue of Log Home Living is Tile Revolution; it has a chart with illustrations and descriptions, including pros and cons of tile choices.  There are more options available now, such as Edge Precision Tiles, which has a pre-attached backerboard.  There's a roll-out underlayment mat and the tiles interlock so you don't need spacers.  The grout comes in a spray can that has a nozzle sized to match the gap between the tiles.  There are better looking and easier choices now.  And as the article says, ("...Vinyl is no longer a dirty word.)"   

    Wednesday, December 6, 2006

    Remodeling for resale

    Washington/December 1, 2006/PRNewswire/ — The resale value of many remodeling projects has not kept pace with the costs of those projects, according to realtors and remodelers who recently participated in Remodeling magazine's 2006 "Cost vs. Value Report."

    Results of the report, summarized in the December 2006 issue of REALTOR Magazine, show that prices for most remodeling projects continue to increase, though their resale value has decreased. This trend reflects a return to a more balanced real estate market in many areas of the country.

    For more: News : Trends : Resale Value of Remodeling Projects Dips in Shifting Markets :

    From HGTVPro e-newsletter

    Tuesday, December 5, 2006

    Concrete decorative techniques

    Not-So-Gray-Matter is the title of an article in the January 2007 Log Home Living magazine.  Techniques such as stamping and staining have made concrete more popular as flooring, countertops (now available as precast pieces), fireplace surrounds, and, of course, patios, driveways, etc.  Jim Peterson of Concrete "estimates that using stamped concrete over ... brick and stone can save you a good half to two-thirds of the cost."  And acid-etch staining and concrete engraving can perk up your old concrete walk.

    Monday, December 4, 2006

    Beyond stainless steel

    Appliance colors are shifting from silver and sterile to a warmer look.  Jenn-Air has a variety of products, including refrigerators, wall ovens, cooktops, range hoods, and dishwashers, available in the new oiled-bronze finish.  For more info, visit

    (I still like the new silver look--not stainless steel.)


    Friday, December 1, 2006


    There's a new free booklet from AARP: Home Modification: Your Key to Comfort, Safety, and Independent Living.