Friday, November 30, 2007

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

Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flooring materials discussion (link)

Now for thoughts on... flooring material?

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Traditional foods in American fiction

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

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Landscaping mistakes

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Greening your home

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fun and adventure in books

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roofing materials

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

Friday, November 16, 2007

Natural products for your home

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Home Associations

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

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

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

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

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

Additional tidbit from This Old House:

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The ideal kitchen (link)

Consumer survey reveals the 'Ideal' kitchen

(Source: BuildingOnline's eUpdate via newsletter):

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

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

Other tidbits from the survey:

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

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

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


Monday, November 12, 2007

Shaving in the shower

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

Home, small home

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Some great ideas from Home magazine

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New interview (link)

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

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Time to buy a new house (link)

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

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

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