Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I swore a long time ago--when dealing with Mom's renters--that I'd never have rentals! However, here I am with a house to rent so I've been using a rental agent. (I want a professional to do the vetting.) Most of the potential renters didn't work out for one reason or another... They all seemed like nice people though, and we're dog friendly with lots of fences so we had to consider that too. Two Dachsies and a Dobie? Okaaay. A Chihuahua? Hmm. Can she squeeze through the fence? Your dog is how big?! Now it's finally a done deal, and we found someone who's flexible with our needs. We just have to meet him and his dog. We don't even know his name yet--or the owner's.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Vintage bathroom style (link)

•Learn how to capture vintage style in your bathroom.
•Get tips on classic design.

"Vintage bathrooms, specifically those that embody the American style of the early 1900s, have never been more popular. And today’s vintage-style fixtures work as beautifully as they look, so you don’t have to sacrifice high performance."

Link: KOHLER: Trends: Vintage Baths: Bathroom: Articles

Friday, March 27, 2009

Organizing and decluttering (link)

This HGTV website has a number of articles on organizing your kitchen, family room, and bathroom... Simplify and declutter. Make your kitchen more functional. Don't store things in you bathroom cabinet that don't belong in the bathroom. I was hoping for ideas on how to store cleaning products under a pedestal sink so I don't have to carry bottles from the kitchen or pantry. (There are only drawers in that bathroom. Another bathroom has no drawers. This must never happen again!) Link: Decluttering : Organizing : HGTV

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Window treatments (link)

Suggestions on this HGTV webpage include corner and casement windows, also dormers and skylights. Link: Window Treatments Don't Have to Be a Pane : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

I confess that I mostly use tab curtains on pressure rods. I hate rods that fall out of the wall taking part of the wall with them. On the other hand, a windy day can bring down curtains on a pressure rod. And I use insulated curtains 'cause here in Florida, we have to keep the sun out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blocked plumbing vent problem (link)

Here's a possible answer as to why a sink glugs on this HGTV blog: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Glug... Glug... Glug... in the Sink

Another interesting thing about vents is the fact--as I've learned from experience--that tree frogs can go down a vent. It's really surprising when one turns up in your toilet or your shower drain. (Actually, I don't see a connection between a shower drain and a vent, but there it was. We had to take the drain cover off to get it out.) And I've seen snakes going into a vent to get the frogs. Fortunately I've never found one in any of our toilets, but I've read about them there.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Building a Cool House... (update)

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

It covers the building process and what’s involved in building your home; it includes diary excerpts, photos, and advice from planning to punch list and beyond.

It got a rave review from The Midwest Book Review; it was on the Reviewer's Choice list in the February issue of "Small Press Bookwatch": MBR: Small Press Bookwatch, February 2005

Note: A new edition of the book is upcoming with color photos, but I don't know when it will be out.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Landscape suggestions (link)

The landscape suggestions on this HGTV website include hardscape, firepits, plants, trellises, patios, recycled materials, and a big Adirondack chair. I was hoping for garden lights too. There are also suggestions for a landscape that will withstand a category 4 hurricane with minimal damage. That is certainly important here in Florida. I prefer carrying as few things to the sheds--and the house--as possible. If it's a bad hurricane, we lay the concrete bench seats, bird baths, and bases flat on the ground. And when I finally get my firepit, it will be in the ground--or I'd have one already.

Link: Hardscaping and Landscaping Ideas, Designs, & Pictures : HGTV

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Behind the scenes in remodeling

I enjoyed this contractor's perspective on small remodeling jobs. I understand about sub-contractor scheduling... (I cover that in my house book, Building A Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook.)

"And for homeowners, do you want a contractor who is a one-stop shop? Does this matter when you're shopping or does it even pop up on your radar screen?"

Contractor's blog link: Mark Clement: Measure Twice -- I Hate It, But I Do It

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hardwood flooring alternatives (link)

Here are some videos about bamboo and cork flooring and other eco-options: HGTV Pro Products Player : HGTVPro.com

"Bamboo is durable, attractive, and also environmentally-friendly."

Note: Actually, I've read that it depends on the bamboo. You'd better check it out before you buy it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Home ideas and eco-friendly tips

There are some tips for reducing your environmental impact in the April 2009 issue of Country Living. Tips include returning wire coat hangers to the dry cleaners, using artificial petroleum-free logs (they burn longer and emit less carbon monoxide), using bar soap instead of liquid soap (too much packaging), using cloth napkins, using a toaster oven for simple baking, using your dishwasher's air dry cycle, and shopping online.

Entertaining idea from that issue: Use small jars of honey for table place markers at weddings and parties. The labels which you make are seating markers, and the honey--or whatever you want--is a nice party favor. There are lots of other home and wedding ideas in that issue.

The March/April issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas has a number of house and garden hints. (I'm glad to see that the Formica Laminate boomerang pattern is making a comeback.) Paint colors I like include Homestead Resort Antique Lace (Valspar)--not the usual boring off-white. Eddie Bauer has some interesting colors, btw.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Organizing your closet (link)

This gallery of closet ideas from HGTV includes islands, bins & baskets, benches, and lots of color, even pictures. Then they tossed in some pantry ideas. Hmm. Drawers. And a lamp. Talk about thinking outside the box. You can color coordinate and/or label those boxes, btw.

Link: Uber-Organized Closets : Organizing : Home & Garden Television

Friday, March 13, 2009

Publication news from Ricasso Press

Black Dragons, White Dragons; Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer; and Magic & Mechanica are now available from Ricasso Press, amazon.com, and elsewhere. See my review of Black Dragons, White Dragons at my media blog: Joy's Live Journal

My story, Seedlings, is in the Magistria shared world anthology; it's about plant mages (Juul and her students) and sentient plants (the great tree, Skyseeker, and plants that the plant mages have cultivated). The sequel, Crystal Quest, is about rogue plants; it's upcoming in Magistria: Shards of the Goddess.

Ricasso Press link: http://www.ricassopress.com/

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bathroom remodels (link)

Lots of color and imagination in these bathroom remodels from HGTV. I thought the tree one was a bit over the top. It looks like a monster lurking in your bathroom. Link: Slideshow : 2009 NKBA Bathroom Design Finalists : HGTVPro.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fancy faucet photos (link)

There are some lovely and interesting faucets on this HGTV website; and the wall-mounted faucet that pours into a vessel on a table of wooden slats is certainly different, but it doesn't seem practical. Link: Slideshow : Remodeling Photo Gallery: Faucets : HGTVPro.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Architecture of the Imagination

"These lands were a minor holding of Grand Lord Narr-Souwa's and the building was fairly new, in a modern style. Mosaic of red-and-black thunderbolt pattern decorated walls that sheered up to steep roofs of copper kept blindingly polished, whose beam ends gaped in the form of carnivores. Tradition had made the lower windows mere gun slits, but those on upper floors were arrogantly broad. Saw-toothed spires at the four cardinal points flew ancestral banners.

... A pair of armed Heroes met him, gave greeting, and escorted him down a granite corridor to an elevator, and thence to a flamewood door that recognized them and slid aside. ...

The chamber was austere, panelled with various metals, its floor turf-like and sound-absorbent. ... Furnishings were scant, mostly a minimum of communications equipment. ..."

From Pele by Poul Anderson in Man-Kzin Wars IX

Saturday, March 7, 2009

House cleaning tips (link)

There are a number of cleaning links on this HGTV webpage: Cleaning Tips: Spring & Fall Cleaning Advice : HGTV

The bathroom tips, especially the one about hot water, are helpful; and the homemade cleaning supplies article is great. Yep, it includes vinegar, baking soda, and toothpaste. (I learned about baking soda from a friend a long time ago.) There are also links/articles for cleaning your car, refrigerator, and more. Don't miss the article on organizing and cleaning your home; there's some useful info on organizing your kids' rooms! (Be sure to get them involved.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Countertop choices (link)

Granite is popular, of course, and other natural stone products--though they're softer and require more care. Some people like wood, which also requires more care. (I don't want to sand my countertop!) I always go for the most practical. (I did not choose the granite tile for our kitchen makeover, and I will never get it again!)

For more choices, such as concrete, solid surface, and laminate, check out this HGTV link: Choosing the Right Kitchen Countertops : Kitchens : Home & Garden Television

You can mix and match and choose from a wide variety of colors, but remember while dark colors may hide stains, it also makes it hard to see crumbs, spills, bread loaf ties, etc. (Gnashing of teeth.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Publication news

A new edition of my house book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, is upcoming. This edition will have color photos! And it gives me the opportunity to update the info on my back cover. (I'm replacing the mention of my story in ChildrenzBooks--out of print, so to speak--with my children's picture book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?) I'm waiting to hear from the production department now. Yoohoo!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Feng shui in fiction

Fatal Feng Shui

This mystery by Leslie Caine sounds intriguing. The heroine is an interior designer, and "[she and her partner] are trying to do a job for a woman who believes in feng shui and whose neighbor is using it to force her to sell him her home."

I'm too practical for feng shui, but I am curious as to how someone could use it to force someone to sell her home. Is she that gullible? How is he doing it?

I read the review in Uncle Hugo's SF Bookstore/Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstore newsletter #85 (March-May 2009) Link: www.UncleHugo.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Solar cookers

There was an interesting article in the Sunday, March 1 issue of Parade on solar cookers. As the article says, "Take two pieces of cardboard, add some tinfoil and sunlight..." Solar cookers are helping women in Africa because not only does it save fuel, women refugees don't have to leave their camps to look for firewood. They're safer in camp, and they can make money by assembling the cookers in workshops.

I've also read about solar cookers in articles about camping and living off the grid. This would be a good craft to teach kids at summer camp and at home. And for those who'd like to help the refugees of Darfur and elsewhere, go to: