Monday, June 29, 2009

Publication news

My article, Having Fun with Anthology Builder, is in the July/August 2009 issue of Working Writer.

Links: WORKING WRITER For people who write and

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bathroom makeovers (link)

"The beauty of a bathroom is that it's small," says Gary Foreman, publisher of The Dollar Stretcher. "So if you've never sponge painted before, you can try it for an hour or two ... You can paint over it ..." There are more ideas and links at this HGTV website: Chic, Cheap Bathroom Makeover : Bathrooms : Home & Garden Television There are fancy shower curtains too, including custom-made ones that can cost more than $250.00. Or you can do it yourself (hire a local seasmstress to do the hemming). Indoor-outdoor fabrics are great for a bathroom. And think about resurfacing your vanity with Granitclad, which I've never heard of, but you can check out their website:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kitchen remodeling (link)

"Of all the rooms in your home, remodeling the kitchen recoups the most value at resale. According to Remodeling Magazine's 2008-09 Cost Vs. Value Report, a minor kitchen remodel recoups 79.5 percent, and a major kitchen remodel comes in at 76 percent. ..." [From the Kohler webpage article, Kitchen Changes That Pay Back.]

You're supposed to think about resale value when building or remodeling, and we did in making a number of decisions when building our home, but we included the walk-in pantry for ourselves. Still, just because some people think laminate countertops are low end and granite and stainless steel are essential, doesn't mean that's what you need to do.

For more on remodeling and upgrades, see this Kohler webpage: KOHLER: Money Matters: Remodel Recoup: Kitchen: Articles [I do not think a kitchen needs a wall-mounted flat-screen TV!]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Home appliances

The August issue of Consumer Reports has some helpful articles on buying appliances, with advice on the best brands (low repair rates, etc.) and best places to buy them. (It pays to buy small appliances and big appliances at different stores.) They cover refrigerators, stoves, ovens, and dishwashers (plastic interiors are less expensive than stainless interiors) Btw, one of the stoves in their 1938 electric-range tests had--among other things--a cigarette lighter.

There are also articles on countertops and flooring. (I plan to get quartz, solid surfacing, or laminate--boomerang pattern--for my next house. I will not get any kind that needs sealing! This includes limestone, marble, granite, and concrete. And I will never get tile again. I have granite tile--pretty but not practical.) There are also articles on showerheads and toilets. And remodeling tips, such as Make changes on paper, not in mid-project! (I include that advice in my house book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook. We did both, btw.)

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is available at Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts . The new edition with color photos has this ISBN: 978-1-60749-562-8

and you can read an excerpt at: Free Book Excerpts : Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook by Joy Smith

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Water pressure problem (link)

Here's some useful information if you have noisy pipes. The plumbing question is: "In our home we are having an issue in the kitchen when the dishwasher cycles on and off. It sounds like pipes rattling inside the walls. The strange part is that the noise is in the master bedroom shower. ..." Check out the problem and the solutions at: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Strange Shower Noise (HGTVPro)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bathroom faucets (link)

There are some truly modern designs of bathroom faucets on this HGTVPro webpage. The wave handles are different; and the flat spout with the cylindrical body and lozenge lever is striking. Then there's Art Nouveau, bling, and minimalism. Enjoy the variety: Slideshow : 2009 Kitchen & Bath Show: Bathroom Faucets :

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top home design trends (link)

Well, in case you didn't know, stainless steel and glass tile are in; one kitchen combines them for lots of reflected light. For more, see: Slideshow : NKBA's Top 10 Design Trends for 2009 :

(Frankly, I did not care for that monstrous stone surround around the kitchen stove.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bath and kitchen countertops (link)

This HGTVPro website helps you choose countertops, among other things. I know that I'm not going to get wood or stone kitchen countertops because they need to be sealed. The Buying Countertops link gives you info you need to make an intelligent choice: KITCHEN : Marketplace HGTV Pro - Browse Products Available Just for You

Here's the main link: Cabinets & Countertops: Design Ideas for Your Kitchen & Bath : , where you can check out fantasy islands, cabinet trends, and more.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coastal building (links)

"Construction along the coasts brings many challenges: tough codes, building houses that resist potential hurricanes or earthquakes, and dealing with a delicate environment. Learn how to build smart and strong on the coast."

This HGTVPro website has useful info on raised floors, framing, storm-resistant windows, modular construction, building codes, coastal erosion, and more:
Coastal Construction: Building and Design on the Coast :

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Architecture of the imagination

"Gordy laid his hand against the palmplate in the captain's bright red door. There was a chime, followed by a subdued 'Come.'

The door slid open

Priscilla crossed the threshold on the boy's heels, then stopped and frankly stared.

Once again she was overwhelmed by spaciousness. Shelf after shelf of booktapes, bound books, and music-tapes lined one wall. On another hung a tapestry worked in dark crimson, dull gold, jade, and azure, a twining geometic design at once restful and surprising. Below that was a unit bar; to one side of it was another shelf of tapes interspersed with bric-a-brac. Straight ahead, in the center of the room, two chairs faced a wooden desk supporting a computer screen and two untidy piles of hard copy. To the left of the desk was a closed door bearing a diagonal red stripe. A deep, hedonistic chair was placed at an angle to the corner; several books and a sketch pad were piled helter-skelter on the carpet nearby, while more books littered the nearer low table. The second of the set supported a chessboard. Seated on the edge of the sofa and bend over the board was a white-haired man in a dark blue shirt."

From Conflict of Honors by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Energy options (link)

There are some useful energy ideas on this HGTVPro website. I finally learned more about a swamp cooler, btw. My cousin in Phoenix has one, and I never really got a handle on it, but here's a photo and a description. I never wanted radiant heat in my floor 'cause I worry about how to fix it; but I do want to have a wood stove for heating backup in my next house. And I certainly didn't expect to come across a kerosene space heater, but they're safer now. You still have to be careful!

Link: Slideshow : Energy Options, Pt. 2: Home Solutions :

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Theme anthologies

I love a good theme anthology, and my favorites include the Chicks in Chainmail and the Man-Kzin Wars series and the Catfantastic volumes, also War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches and Don't Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear.

I have stories in a few anthologies, btw: The Ghost in the Gazebo, Kings of the Night II, Womanscapes, and Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer. (Magistria: Shards of the Goddess is upcoming.) Magistria is a shared world anthology: Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer: Robert J Santa, Lawrence Barker, G W Thomas: Books

I have a review of Man-Kzin Wars XII on the Christian Science Monitor website (Readers' Picks): Man-Kzin Wars XII and interviews with two of the Man-Kzin Wars authors, Hal Colebatch and Matthew Joseph Harrington, in the May issue of Expressions: Expressions 107

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Standby generators (link)

Because we lose power periodically from storms and hurricanes, I've been thinking about getting a generator for a long time. I was thinking about a portable one, but I see that a permanent standby generator with a transfer switch would be really great. I also learned from this HGTV blog that it's definitely a job for a pro and requires natural gas or propane--and several weeks to install. You can't get one when the need happens. I think that a portable generator uses gasoline? Hmm. I have to study on this some more. Anyway, there's useful info here: Ed Del Grande: Ask Ed -- Generating Interest

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Crape myrtles in bloom

Our crape myrtles are beginning to bloom, and petals are beginning to drift down like snowflakes; and in the Townhouse (Japanese variety with white blossoms), the air is filled with the sound of humming (some sort of honeybee, I believe). We have multiple beds of different colors--front and back and down both sides of the property, and none of them are pollarded (had their tops chopped off) because they've got plenty of room. There's no crape murder here! (Some people think that's the way they're supposed to look.)

Our varieties include hybrids such as Basham's Party Pink, Tonto, Biloxi, Tuscorora, Raspberry Sundae, Dynamite, Natchez, Burgandy Cotton, Osage, and Pink Velour; we also have Japanese, Chinese, and American crape myrtles.

Links: Crapemyrtle : Extension : Clemson University : South Carolina


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Decorating ideas

I got the July issue of Country Living today, and one of their decorating themes was postal, including a pillow that had a reproduction French postcard--the address side with pretty script. And then there's a variety of lemonade or beverage-of-your-choice dispensers--very pretty, but I'll stick with my pitchers.

The mirror framed by pink plastic spoons was certainly different. There were also articles on house building and remodelling and summer entertaining. You can send postcards with beach scenes for invitations. And if you love potato chips, you'll enjoy their state-by-state round-up of the best potato chips. I bet the chips fried in avocado oil are different. There are recipes also (including hamburger variations), among other things.