Friday, October 30, 2009

Shopping smarts quiz

In this fun quiz, you choose between the smart buy and the splurge: HGTV Quiz: Dining Room Design: Test Your Shopping Smarts

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cosmetic cabinet idea (link)

Here's an interesting new product from Kohler--a concealed lockbox for your cosmetic cabinet. I don't see how it's concealed since that looks like a key in a lock in the photo, but here's a link so you can check it out:
KOHLER: K-2659: Lockbox for KOHLER 20" W -CLC/-CLW Mirrored Cabinets: Mirrors & Mirrored Cabinets: Bathroom Furniture & Mirro..

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Architecture of the Imagination

"She continued being really thrilled right up until, as she approached the tasteful emerald and purple sphere that was Hotel Whiskey, she saw her enemy sneaking up on her from the far side of one of the planet's pretty lavender moons. She knew it had to be the enemy ship because it was this really ugly, mean-looking black thing with a nose cone flanked by what looked like twin spikes, or fangs, but which were really space-to-dirt missiles. ... The rest of the Hasslebad ship rose like a hood behind the slitted dual view ports on either side of the nose cone."

From Don't Go Out in Holy Underwear by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough in Don't Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear

Friday, October 23, 2009

Home remodeling mistakes to avoid (link)

Look at that overloaded electrical outlet! Don't ever do that!! (I have to confess that a contractor doing some work in our house once pointed out a multiple plug-in outlet that he said wasn't safe. We switched it out for a surge protector multiple outlet that we had on hand.) Another practical tip is Don't skip the primer. (We've used Kilz a lot.) Other tips include Don't skimp on grout sealer. (I had to buy grout paint, btw, and wander through the house when the rugs and furniture are up for scrubbing so I can see where it's needed.) Link: Home Improvement Dos and Don'ts : Home Improvement : Home & Garden Television

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saving the planet

There are many reasons for taking care of our planet; first and foremost is the fact that it's the only one we have! However, I came across this recently: Let's save the earth,'s the only planet with chocolate!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Green building and remodeling (links)

This HGTVPro webpage has links to information about "Green Rewards From Uncle Sam: Credits, Rebates, and Loans for Engergy-Efficient Building and Remodeling": Green Incentives: Tax Rebates, Tax Credits, & Loans For Energy Efficient Building Practices :

There's a state by state listing and a look at the other benefits of "efficient and healthy homes," including reducing mold growth. That's a definite plus here in Florida.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Home decorating ideas, furnishings, and entertaining

There's a lovely selection of products and decorating ideas for your home in the November issue of Country Living. They look at six of America's best-selling dining room chairs (I'd keep looking), Heath Ceramics, luxury soaps, items covered with ticking fabric (I could use that box-spring cover), lace-patterned tableware, collectable aprons, and adjustable, utilitarian stools, among other things.

And check out the home decorating ideas; what you can do with plaid; and recipes, including onion custard and recipes using cranberry sauce. There's also a real estate sampler of octagonal houses (some good buys) and imaginative products created by women entrepeneurs, plus tips for travelling by plane. The Norman Rockwell book, After the Prom, would be fun; it includes some of his paintings and the photos he staged for them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flooring (links)

This HGTV webpage gives helpful hints on flooring choices, including concrete, bamboo, linoleum (which I'm happy to see has made a comeback), rubber, hardwood, carpet, and brick. They're using wood more in kitchens, but "Wood floors can be finished with oil and wax to give a weathered, antique look, but this finish is less durable in a kitchen setting and will require regular waxing. A better choice for kitchens is wood flooring that is factory-pretreated with a tough sealer like polyurethane. ..." Links: Fresh Flooring Options for Kitchens : Kitchens : Home & Garden Television and Home Improvement : Fabulous Floors : Home & Garden Television

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Green building (links)

This HGTVPro webpage gives green and greener choices; bamboo is greener than a slab as a finished floor, for instance. Categories include HVAC, structural, insulation, solar, and plumbing. Link: The Different Shades of Green Building: Energy-Efficiency and Sustainability for Home Builders :

And here's a link for the new solar shingles from Dow: News : Materials : Dow Unveils New Powerhouse Solar Shingles :

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

House cleaning tips (link)

This guide to keeping your house cleaning under control includes a schedule--daily, weekly, monthly, etc. The floor cleaning advice covers wood, vinyl, tile, and carpet. Yes, I'm afraid you have to clean them weekly. "The bad news is, the Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that you invest in a professional, deep carpet cleaning every 12 to 18 months to keep carpeted rooms in top condition." Link: Your Guide to Keeping House Cleaning Under Control : Organizing : Home & Garden Television

Monday, October 12, 2009

Living on a wildlife habitat

Yesterday afternoon five squirrels--Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Bethany, and Rocky--arrived in two big cages with their foster parents. It usually takes a little while to coax them out; the last one was very reluctant.. A couple, with their little girl, brought Rocky. This was their first time here, and they were impressed with the cathedral oak and the squirrels scampering all over those big branches. There's one little squirrel still scheduled to come; she's nine weeks old and gets to move into the big cage now. The cages have an assortment of branches to climb on, along with pieces of cloth to snuggle in and a hollow hideaway--and, of course, water bottles and food bowls. The foster parents left us squirrel food (corn, etc.) to put in our squirrel feeder. We take out lots of peanuts too, and occasionally pecans--which we used to help coax them out. We buy our squirrel food from Walmart, btw, and raw peanuts from Publix.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Go green with solar power!

I love my solar-powered ever-changing "Northern Lights" color sphere in the flower bed off the patio. I can see it through the French doors, and when I take the dogs out at night, I often watch it up close when you can see the crackle effect.

There are more types of solar-powered lights and spotlights in the Gardener's Supply Company catalog (see link below). Solar powered lights are brighter and longer lasting nowadays. There are string lights, stars, a lily, a hummingbird, and dragonflies (seven shifting colors). Plus garden supplies. Link: Gardeners Supply Company Garden Supplies and Gardening Tips for Home Gardeners

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kitchen storage (link)

This HGTV webpage shows you ways to increase your kitchen storage. Ideas include using windowsills, baskets, plate shelves, a built-in bookcase for cookbooks, and a cabinet or wine storage at the end of an island. And you can use an architectural element instead of a door! To see these ideas illustrated, go to: Kitchen Storage With Style : Kitchens : Home & Garden Television

We use a plate shelf to display some of our Fiestaware; it goes where a cabinet would have blocked a window. Our cookbooks are stored in the pantry and really need to be displayed better...

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Decorating ideas for your entryway (link)

Ideas include furniture to anchor your entry, mirrors, lighting, useful decorative items for holding keys, etc., and, of course, seasonal decorations: Ideas for Decorating Your Entryway—Home Made Simple

My Halloween decorations are out--lots of cute black kitties in pumpkins, etc., and two ghost candles. Upcoming is a pumpkin or two and gourds. (I love colorful little gourds.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Utilizing your hallway space (link)

I don't have a hallway in my home now, but there was a big hallway in our last house with a built-in bookcase and a linen closet; we added a low bookcase, where the phone sat, and a tall bookcase. Lots of storage there! Your hallway may not be as big, but there are some useful tips on this Home Made Simple webpage, including moving the message board out of the kitchen into the hallway. You can even use chalkboard paint in the hallway to create a message board; frame it and add a ledge to hold markers, etc. You can add shelving, hooks, and cubbies to your hallway too. Show off your trophies, books, movies, and music. For more ideas: Ideas for Maximizing Hallway Organization—Home Made Simple

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Recommended books

It's time to think about Christmas gifts. Here are a few I'm recommending--yes, including some of my books:

Man-Kzin Wars XII: I've been reading the Man-Kzin Wars series for a long time. The series was created by Larry Niven, but different authors have joined in. Man-Kzin Wars XII (Baen, 2009) contains six stories. My favorites are Aquila Advenio and String; Kzinti and humans team up and are lots of fun! (The Kzin started attacking, enslaving, and eating humans a long time ago.)

Fledgling (Baen, 2009), by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, is the latest Liaden universe book. (I love these stories and characters!) Check it out here:

The Solar Sea (LBF Books, 2008) by David Lee Summers, an astronomer, is available from amazon; I enjoyed the background on our solar system as the heroes explored it in this mystery/adventure. Check it out at: The Solar Sea (9781897370834): David Lee Summers: Books

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? is my children's picture book. You can find it at: Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Books: Joy V. Smith

The new edition of my house book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, has color photos, but finding that edition isn't easy. Here's a link with both editions on the publisher's website; the one on the left should be the new edition, but it's not in the description: Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts

Aliens, Animals, and Adventure includes some of my stories (reprints). Browse the stories here: AnthologyBuilder: create your ideal anthology

And my audiobook of time travel tales, Sugar Time, is available from Hadrosaur Productions: Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Home furnishing and decorating ideas

The October 2009 issue of Old-House Interiors is full of great articles and products for your home. I liked the vintage kitchen sink reproduced for the bathroom. I wouldn't want it there, but I'd love it for my kitchen. (We had one in our American Foursquare when I was a kid.)

There are also products for your kiva fireplace (southwestern look); and Keystone is a catalytic stove from Woodstock Soapstone. (I'd like that for back-up heating.) And there's an article on flat-screen TVs and how to hide them; there's even a TV in the fireplace. (Mostly they're over the fireplace, a look I've never liked, though you can hide it behind a painting.) Btw, there's a warning in the article about securing the TV. "They may be thin, but they are heavy, weighing up to 175 pounds, and have a very low center of gravity..." There have been a number of accidents where the TV fell or was knocked over by children.

There's a good article on countertop products, including laminates, composite materials, granite and soapstone (both need to be sealed), concrete (known for developing hairline cracks), and others. Notes: Granite needs a penetrating sealer and soapstone needs mineral oil. When a fabricator cuts out the material for your sink, ask for the leftover piece. (You can use leftover soapstone for a cutting board.)

More interesting articles on homes, ...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Powder room (link)

This Kohler webpage focuses on the powder room. Since it's often for guests, provide an empty countertop or shelf where women can set their purses. When decorating, you should keep the style consistent with your home's style--contemporary or period, or you can make a dramatic statement. "If you're not into bold hues, earth tones and light-colored natural materials can also help keep the space feeling open and fresh." For more suggestions: KOHLER: Planning Tips: Powder Room Tips: Bathroom: Articles

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it.