Thursday, April 30, 2009

Outdoor living ideas (link)

Wow! Take a look at the Mission-style arbor and barbecue on this HGTV website; and it has a cast glass concrete countertop. I've never heard of that before. The river rock facing is a bit much though, and I don't think it goes with the Mission style.

Link: Slideshow : Outdoor Living Designs :

And the New Mexico style pergola is impressive. I don't think the vines enhance the pillars; they're not happy. The chili peppers (I think that's what they are) hanging at the end carries out the theme. There are a number of other interesting ideas also. That towering Southwestern fireplace on the double decker patio sure stands out. Potted herbs in an outdoor kitchen is an attractive and useful feature. And check out that countertop with fiber optic lighting; it's lovely at night. The split level glass counter is a good idea too. Anyone have a favorite idea that they'd love to add to their backyard?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home and garden ideas

The June issue of Early American Life has some interesting decorating ideas in their restoration articles. In the Charleston home, I liked the tangerine-rust shade from Italy; it works well with a dark wooden floor. The owners also used a blue-green shade in the living room that they got from an Italian mural. It looks slightly more green than blue, but both colors are rich looking.

In their living room floor length draperies, they've stuffed newspaper at the bottom for a flared look. (I wonder how they clean around it?) There are tapestry draperies in the den that aren't period appropriate (Never let that stop you!), but they match the rug--lovely!

I enjoyed the article on old roses. We've had some over the years, including Old Blush; they require less care--and lots of space. Beautiful illustrations, including Redoute paintings. (I had a Redoute calendar once; I love roses.) There's a well-illustrated article on spinning wheels also, plus articles about silhouettes and sailing ships and a colonial garden with an herb garden plan. (I love herbs and scented geraniums for a more fun garden. We walk through ours ripping off leaves for visitors to sniff.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Solar panels (link)

Here's a link from the HGTVPro message boards on solar energy: Solar Panels and Water Heaters - Forum Powered by Eve For Enterprise

Find info on saving money, storage, and being careful! I've been wanting to use solar panels for a long time. I'm hoping to do it on my next house, though I believe it's easier to retrofit and add solar panels now--or solar shingles.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Landscaping (link)

This HGTV website has links to articles on composting, organic gardening, green lawns (grass, not weeds), fertilizing, pest control, and mulching (organic and inorganic). Be sure to check out the mulching no-nos and the pros and cons of organic and inorganic mulches. [Have you ever tried to weed a stone bed?]

There's also an article on invasive plants. Pampas grass is invasive in California, btw. (Invasive plants are a big problem in California, Florida, and Hawaii.) It's strange to think that parsley, daylilies, and Japanese maples are invasive in some places.

Link: Home Improvement : 7 Steps to an Organic Landscape : Home & Garden Television

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dwell magazine (digital edition link)


Dear Dwell Reader,

In celebration of Earth Day 2009, Dwell presents a selection of earth-friendly stories delivered in a convenient, conservation-minded, digital format. Curated from recent issues of the magazine by our editorial team, this customized digital edition features articles from our most popular sections including “Off the Grid,” “In the Modern World,” “Concepts,” and “Dwell Reports.”

Link: Dwell Earth Day 2009 Express 3 Zinio Digital Magazines

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Home inspections

Home inspections are necessary before buying--or selling--your home. You can learn if you have a problem that needs to be corrected immediately or if there's something you need to keep an eye on. As a matter of fact, we had a home inspection after we built our home--just for our peace of mind--and learned a lot about our roof, etc. Here's a link to the American Society of Home Inspectors: American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI

You can learn about their Code of Ethics and the ASHI Client Bill of Rights; and there are links for Home Buyers/Sellers, Real Estate Professionals, industry news, and more.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stamping and staining concrete (link)

Add color and texture to a concrete floor: Slideshow : Stamped and Stained Concrete Designs :

You can add beauty and make your floor more slip-resistant. And you can use a stamp overlay so that you don't have to remove damaged concrete. You can also use a concrete stencil. We stencilled our back porch floor for a stone look. It's a big porch, btw, and that was quite a job--even using knee pads...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Planning your kitchen (link)

There are some useful ideas on this HGTV website: Kitchen Design: 12 Great Floor Plans : Decorating : Home & Garden Television . There are other links and ideas, including one where the designer uses elegant curtains to separate the dining room from the den. (Some of today's open floor plans are too open.) You can use other visual barriers to separate different living zones. We added colonnades with bookcases in our home to separate the living room from the library and the dining room (far end) from the library. Yet the flow and feel is still open and the light is not blocked. Plus we've got storage and display space.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook

I got my ten author's copies of the new edition of my house book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, recently from PublishAmerica. The color photos are good quality--certainly better than the black and white ones. But they did not update my back cover blurb, so I queried them about that, and it should be updated soon. The ISBN on the new edition is: ISBN: 978-1-60749-562-8

Here's a link to both editions: Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts

And a link to this Barnes & Noble top ten list: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals (where it's #7 at the moment.)
Above is one of the photos from the book showing the building process.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bathroom flooring options (link)

If it's time for you to choose a bathroom floor, go to this HGTV website (see below). It discusses bathroom flooring and includes carpet, hardwood, and natural stone. 'Course you've got to be extra careful with carpet and natural stone. Carpet has to be water-, mildew-, and stain-resistant, and don't let the water seep into the pad! Stone requires a strong subfloor, and it's slippery when wet--especially if polished; and unpolished, it needs to be sealed.

For more info on these options and others, go to: Selecting the Right Bathroom Flooring : Bathrooms : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slow hot water (link)

"... a classic hot water flow issue, ...

Shower valves are usually fed with 1/2" pipes, and with the addition of a shower head, you may get a flow of about 2.5 gallons per minute. ... "

See more about why at this HGTV blog: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Hot Tub, Cold Shower

I've always run the hot water into the tub first, btw, knowing that it had to get all the way from the hot water heater. I would never wait under the shower head for it to get hot!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Home decorating and other ideas

There are some good ideas in the May issue of Country Living. I liked the one about using cloches to display small accessories and little plants. The pitcher plant in the large cloche with the terra cotta base is my favorite.

Have you thought of using a rake for holding ties or goblets or letters? (The handles have been removed.)

There's an interesting photo spread on the best-selling China plates in America. Blue Canton has been a best seller since 1983.

I'm not so crazy about the feed sacks (look on ebay) used to cover pillows, chair seats, etc.

There are two different interesting pieces also. One is on the National Trust's photo-sharing campaign--This Place Matters. Participants post photos of local buildings and sites that mean something to them.

The second piece focuses on the Humane Society's Longmeadow Rescue Ranch (Union, Missouri) for farm-animal care and rehabilitation. You can adopt from there and help them and the animals.

Of course there are also recipes. I see someone has dog-eared the jam-glazed chicken recipe. Hmm. And I ripped out the cucumber soup recipe, and someone has already made it. (I rarely cook.) Not bad, but I like strawberry soup better. (I got that recipe from the Veranda restaurant near Disney World years ago.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Outfoor living ideas (link)

Create or enhance your patio, deck, gazebo, fire pit, etc. with these ideas from this HGTV webpage: Dreamy Decks and Patios : Landscaping : Home & Garden Television

I love that huge fireplace, but I really want a firepit. I'd have one already, but it has to be inground 'cause I don't want to carry it into the shed every time a hurricane approaches.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is now a good time to remodel? (link)

"... For the past several years we have been saving up to remodel our bathroom, and the highlight of the job will be installing a big, beautiful whirlpool tub. Now that we actually have the money to do the project, we are hesitant to start the job because of the slow economy. Is this a good time to remodel the bathroom, or should we wait?"

See this HGTVpro blog for an answer: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Recession Remodeling: Money Down the Drain?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tackling closet clutter (link)

There are some helpful articles on this HGTV website: Decorating : Closet Organization Tips & Ideas : Home & Garden Television , including a check list and tips for maximizing your space, such as double-hanging sections, hanging things on the back of the door, and using every inch of wall space (shoe & tie racks, etc.). [I use Shaker peg boards in my closets, also my bathrooms.] They've added a pantry article too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Home decorating ideas

I found some good decorating ideas in the April/May issue of Ready Made magazine. An especially interesting photo spread focused on ideas from the laboratory. The salt and pepper shakers, respectively Na CL and Pe+(Pe) r, are a clever idea. There are also glass beakers used as vases, etc. and a large beaker lamp; you wave your hand over the top to turn it on, off, or down. And you can build a molecular model (organic art).

I'm not sure how to describe the big photos of the backs of people's--and dog's--heads in front of interesting wallpaper, but the effect of all those photos lined up is certainly striking. There are a number of other imaginative and useful ideas also.

I did not care for the idea of the stacked books on floating shelves; it's not practical--it'd be a real nuisance pulling a book from the bottom of the pile, and it's not good for the books! And the glass bottles in a chandelier makes me nervous.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aliens, Animals, and Adventure

Anthology Builder gave me the opportunity to put together some of my old stories (reprints), including stories separated from their sequels, in a collection. Aliens, Animals, and Adventure is available here: AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology

If you want to learn more about the opportunities available at Anthology Builder, here's a recent article on the WOW (Women on Writing) blog: WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Friday Speak Out: Having Fun with Anthology Builder, Guest Post by Joy V. Smith

Friday, April 3, 2009

Architecture of the imagination

"Lancre Castle was built on an outcrop of rock by an architect who had heard about Gormenghast but hadn't got the budget. He'd done his best, though, with a tiny confection of cut-price turrets, bargain basements, buttresses, crenellations, gargoyles, towers, courtyards, keeps and dungeons; in fact, just about everything a castle needs except maybe reasonable foundations and the kind of mortar that doesn't wash away in a light shower.

The castle leaned vertiginously over the racing white water of the Lancre river, which boomed darkly a thousand feet below. Every now and then a few bits fell in.

Small as it was, though, the castle contained a thousand places to hide a crown."

From Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Thursday, April 2, 2009

2009's Top 10 Design Trends (link)

This HGTV photo gallery of the top 10 trends includes stainless steel countertops, glass tile countertops and backsplashes, black & white kitchens, and chrome. It's back!

Link: Slideshow : 2009's Top 10 Design Trends Photo Gallery :

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Phantom flushing (link)

Here's an interesting toilet problem and its solution on an HGTV blog: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- A Ghost in the Toilet

Reminds of the times workmen forgot things like the squirrel cage in the furnace (I didn't even know it had a squirrel cage) and putting the insulation back behind the fridge. The fan caught the loose insulation and went flap, flap, flap and died. I learned long ago that after getting something fixed, you cannot relax...