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

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

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


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: - 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)


"This [survey's] finding is in line with the 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. "

"'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 :

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 (

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.