Monday, June 30, 2008

Home ideas

There's an interesting craft table project in the July/August 2008 issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas for Home and Garden.  There are how-to instructions at  But lose the blue trim.
The rock path with inset concrete stepping stones that you make yourself with little rocks--similar to those in the path--pressed in is interesting; but I prefer a flat surface for walking.  There's a nifty party idea in this issue too--put your silverware & napkins in pots for parties and picnics.  And there's a good kids' room makeover article which uses dry-erase wainscotting.
There are other helpful articles in this issue also, and a piece about students who built an electric-powered car.  One last note--Will someone please groom that parti-color Cocker Spaniel!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Architecture of the imagination

"... an entry chamber floored with the blue stone ...  [then a] carpeted hallway.
The parlor was smallish... its walls covered in what Jethri took to be pale blue silk.  The floor was the same vermillion wood as the front door, and an oval rug figured in pale blue and white lay in the center, around which were situated two upholstered chairs--pale blue--a couch--white--and a low table of white wood.  Against the far wall was a wine table of the same white wood, bottles racked in three rows of six.  The top was a polished slab of the local stone..."
From: Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (a Liaden universe book)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oasis 21 (literary SF convention) report (excerpts)

My Oasis 21 con report is in the June issue of The Southern Fandom Confederation Bulletin.  Here are a few excerpts:
...  Browsing the freebies table--the Hulk posters are huge!--I picked up some fiction samples and flyers, among other things.  Great selection.
Then we tracked down the video room and caught the end of a Deep Space 9 tribbles episode which was fun.  After that were the Japanese live action TV series episodes; ...
Then I dropped off the freebies in our room and went to the con suite for the chili contest ... I liked the Internal Damnation chili best. It was the hottest, but a number of people said--You call this hot?!  And went on to discuss Thai food..
Back at the video room for more of the Japanese TV series, the Ultraman episode was poetical.  Super Star God Gransazers was good.  I was sorry we couldn't see all of the Japanese episodes, but there's so much to do. 
We took a break in our room before the Alien Artifacts panel at 9 pm.  This is one of my favorite panels.  We had to wait until the 40 Years of Star Trek panel finished (it was full); so I browsed the freebies table and picked up bookmarks, etc.; there’s always something new.  I also peeked in one of the gaming rooms (there were two); ...
The Alien Artifacts panelists are scientists.  Michael Conrad was Bubba this time.  (I missed his psychic personna.)  The other scientists/panelists were David Gerrold, Jeff Mitchell (who really is a rocket scientist), John Scalzi, and Craig Caldwell.  Caldwell had a fedora, a crystal skull, magnifying glass, gloves, a sonic screwdriver; and he was always pulling new gadgets out of his bag.  He was fantastic!  The artifacts included kitchen tongs (one panelist said that it was an artificial clapper), a corked beaker (when it was uncorked, a colorless gaseous alien escaped and took over one of the panelists who attacked another panelist),  ...
Saturday, May 24, we started out at the con suite, and then I bought the current con tee shirt ...  After that it was back to the video room where we saw the end of a Land of the Lost episode.  We’d gone there to see an old Dr. Who episode ...  with Jon Pertwee, one of my favorite Dr. Whos.  After that we ...  checked out the dealers room, where I visited a favorite book dealer, The Missing Volume.  (She has the Liaden universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.)  She said she’d bring one of their books that I wanted from home the next day.  She did that for me last year too.
... we went back to the video room for more Dr. Who.  And then on to the aikido demonstration.  ... The men and women fought in their bare feet; the slapping sound on the mats is very loud as they‘re thrown.  They also used staffs.  ...   They were all incredibly graceful.  Check out their website:
After [the masquerade] we viewed Quark in the video room, went to the Seattle bid party, and enjoyed the filking.  They played and sang a number of songs, including the classic about the aliens who keep dumping their pets on a man's farm on Earth.
[Sunday] ...  I go on to the Terry Pratchett panel [after the blogging panel].  (I have most of his books, btw.)  Steve Grant and Patricia Wheeler are the panelists.  Small panel and audience, but we have a good time discussing favorite lines, books, and characters.  There are so many good ones!  Wheeler recommends The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.  Someone said that Steve Hawkings mentions turtles (from the Discworld) in A Brief History of Time.  We discuss if Carrot  would ever be king.  No.  And I learn that a movie’s been made of The Colour of Magic (newer than Hogfather); and Wee Free Men has been cast.  This was a really fun panel.
Next I’m off to the charity auction (which followed the art auction); it had already started.  Mike Conrad is the auctioneer and is very funny, as usual.  {We left before it was over and also missed the closing ceremonies.  I did register for next year's con!]
You can read the whole report at The Other Worlds Cafe: The Other*Worlds*Cafe: The Cafe: Resources: Conventions: Reports
It's also available at:  (Southern Fandom Confederation Bulletin link)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Home decorating ideas

The July 2008 issue of Better Homes and Gardens spotlights peony pinks; the colors include Rose Blossom (Valspar) and Ballet -Slipper Pink--two colors I may consider for my bedroom at my next house.  (My current bedroom wall color is pink, though it had to be toned down with white sponge-painting.  Everyone, including me, called it Pepto-Bismol pink.)   
Their kitchen ideas include a drop-in cutout for a pull-out garbage bin.  You can cover the hole with a bamboo cutting board that you insert into the countertop.  It just doesn't seem very sanitary to me.
Outdoor rooms are increasingly popular, and this issue showcases an "Instant Oasis."  I've heard that there are outdoor media rooms now too. 
In case anyone is interested, I came upon a two-page ad spread for baby M&M dolls.  I suspect these are for collectors.  They are cute in their different colored (four) "onesies."
I enjoyed the photo spread of red, white, and blue "Floral Fireworks."  As a matter of fact, I was thinking of such a Fourth of July display for the front of the church recently.  We have a collection of artificial arrangements that we rotate, plus fresh flowers and fruits and veggies for seasonal decorations.  I didn't see anything outstanding in our collection, but I'm taking in my red, white, and blue rag rug to put on the table underneath the arrangement.  Someone suggested a red or white arrangement, but, as I recall, our only red flowers are poinsettias.  Hmm, I think my blue hydrangea is blooming in one of the back gardens.
The magazine's recipe selection includes a tomato and red onion salad that sounds attractive; and there are recipes for Lemon Ice Cream and Cornmeal Sandies and a recipe for a frozen banana smoothie that includes skim milk, yogurt, and peanut butter.  The ice crystals in the frozen banana make the smoothie frothy.  (I love frothy drinks.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Home choices

The August 2008 issue of Consumer Reports has a number of helpful articles on countertop, flooring, cabinet, and appliance choices.  Concrete, limestone, butcher block, and marble are not the best countertop choices, btw.  Quartz, granite, tile, laminate, and solid surfacing are better choices, but be sure to check the cons (Under But).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Architecture of the Imagination

"At dawn in an outlying district of Warsaw, sunlight ... crept up the white walls of a 1930s stucco and glass villa where the zoo director and his wife slept in a bed crafted from white birch, ...  On their left, two tall windows crowned a sill wide enough for sitting, with a small radiator tucked below.  Oriental rugs warmed the parquet floor, where strips of wood slanted together as repeating feathers, and a birch armchair squared one corner of the room."

This description is actually from a non-fiction book, The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman.

Link: The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story: Diane Ackerman: Books

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Green is Earth's favorite color! (link)

"You can't surf the Web, buy a magazine, or flip a channel without being told about the latest "green" thing to hit the market. How did such a simple hue ever become so popular?"

Be sure to see what the other colors might be thinking: Andrew & Stacy: The Green Team -- Primary (color) season  (

And Habitat for Humanity is going green too: Andrew & Stacy: The Green Team -- Go, Go Habitat for Humanity!  (

Friday, June 20, 2008

Publication news (non-fiction)

I Wish Someone Had Told Me That! : I'm one of the children's books authors who answer these questions in the book:

  • 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:
  • And here's an excerpt from my house book: Free Book Excerpts : Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook by Joy Smith 

    It's on this Barnes & Noble top ten list: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    Here's my article on world building in Working Writer: WORKING WRITER For people who write


    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Kitchen pantries (link)

    "Designers and homeowners agree that ample, easily accessible storage is one of the most important aspects of a great kitchen, ..."  (From Paul Bianchina column)

    Link: Get kitchen pantry organized | Inman News

    He has some useful pantry ideas (both for walk-in pantries and pantry cabinets), including keeping your shopping list on the pantry door.  Well, our walk-in pantry doesn't have a door because we decided not to waste space on a door nor time on opening and closing it, but we can put it inside or nearby.  Hmm.  Maybe I can add it to the fridge notes.  He talks about using different types of shelves, baskets, etc.  And keeping like with like.  (Doesn't everyone?!)  We have enough room on our pantry floor for coolers, boxes and bottles of drinks, etc. and a garbage can that holds our big bags of dog food, plus the recycling bin.  Except for the garbage can, all of the above are under the shelves.  I'd suggest that you don't add shelves too close to the floor.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Floor choices (link)

    Here's "help with expert advice for selecting, installing and maintaining the whole spectrum of flooring choices: hardwood, tile, carpet, vinyl, laminate and today’s hottest trend, green flooring."

    Link:  Flooring Ideas: Hardwood, Tile, Laminate, Carpet and Green Flooring : Home & Garden Television

    Crawl spaces (link)

    Keep an eye on your crawl space!  (From

    My crawlspace has become very wet due to sweating cold water pipes. The floor of my crawlspace is covered in plastic, and the dripping pipes are making big puddles on the ground. Please help before mold starts to grow!

    Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Sweating in the Crawlspace

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Insulation (link)

    (from Ask Ed) "I have a condo and the inside walls seem to have no insulation between units. How can I add soundproofing?....."

    Link: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Sounding Off on a Condo Issue  (

    I want to add that soundproofing is so important!  If you're building or remodeling, thinking about using a noise baffling insulation; a friend advised us to, but when the time came, and we had to think about cost, we didn't do it.  And there is one bedroom/bathroom wall that we would have put that insulation in, no matter what it cost!!

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Air conditioning filters (link)

    (from Measure Twice) How little things that don't cost much in time or money, like checking an A/C filter, can deliver on customer satisfaction....

    Link: Mark Clement: Measure Twice -- Crud & Customer Service  (

    Take a look at that AC filter!  Be sure to check yours when you have work done on your house.


    Monday, June 9, 2008

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "Sideney followed him reluctantly up the stairs.
    The tower--if that's what it was, he thought; he was used to the odd architecture at Unseen University and this made UU look normal--was a hollow tube.  No fewer than four spiral staircases climbed the inside, crisscrossing on landings and occasionally passing through one another in defiance of generally accepted physics.  ...  What threw the eye was the absence of shadows.  You didn't notice shadows, how they delineated things, how they gave texture to the world, until they weren't there.  The white marble, if that's what it was, seemed to glow from the inside.  ..."
    Hogfather by Terry Pratchett


    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    Publication news

    My interview with Nancy Fulda, creator and editor of Anthology Builder is in the June issue of Expressions: Expressions 96

    Monday, June 2, 2008

    Organic catalog

    I got a Janice's Natural Comfort Catalog the other day.  It's filled with natural and organic products, including linens, fabrics, a natural rubber mattress, clothes, personal care and household cleaning products.

    Link: Organic & Natural Bedding, Organic Mattresses, Organic Pillows

    I confess that I prefer natural products, but I love colors.