Thursday, December 31, 2009

Outdoor living area (link)

Here's a unique and cozy backyard gathering space, an adobe shelter modeled after an Native American pueblo; I really liked this southwestern style, though I'd want a roof on it, and I'm afraid that the antique tractor doesn't go with the decor. Link: A Unique Outdoor Gathering Place : Landscaping : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 10 Green Building Products for 2009 (link)

The top ten green building products include insulation, a solar power generator, and a heat-pump water heater! Check out more at: News : Trends : BuildingGreen Announces 2009 Top-10 Green Building Products :

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The NaNoWriMo Challenge

My article on my experience writing 50,000 words--and my first novel--in November for National Novel Writing Month is in the January /February 2010 issue of Working Writer.

This publication has useful and fun articles for writers; here's the link to their website:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bark-shingled homes

Bark shingles are making a comeback; they're not only salvaged from logging (otherwise they'd be burned, mulched, or left to rot), they're low maintenance, contain no chemicals, and are a good insulator. Bark shingled homes (this is the whole home, not the roof) date from 1895. The main source of bark was the chestnut tree; some of those homes are still in use today. 'Course after the chestnut blight, that source was lost, and bark houses were no longer built. This material is more expensive up front, but it's maintenance-free.

I came across the article, Nature's Shingles in The Christian Science Monitor (the December 20, 2009 print issue). Link: Bark houses are built with nature’s shingles / The Christian Science Monitor -

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home plans with fireplaces (link)

Here's a webpage with house plans that include fireplaces: House plans, home plans, floor plans, home blueprints, construction plans, home designer, house plan at

I do love sitting in front of a fireplace--especially a real wood fireplace, though a flip-on-with-a-switch gas fireplace at Silver River State Park is also fun. However, fireplaces aren't very practical for backup heating. If we move further north, I want something that will keep the house warm when the power goes out. A wood stove is best for heating and cooking. (I remember staying in a home in Wisconsin where the wood stove was dismantled and put in the shed over summer. And staying in a home in New Hampshire where I slept on the floor next to the wood stove in the kitchen when the furnace broke.)

However, there is the Rumford fireplace, which may be the most efficient fireplace: The Rumford fireplace - energy-efficiency rediscovered / The Christian Science Monitor -

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ideas from a White House Christmas (link)

This HGTV webpage has some photos from the White House decorated for Christmas. It's an interesting idea to dry bouquets from dinners to use for decorating; and those bright red wreaths on the big windows are striking. (The boxwood and the magnolia leaves in the wreaths come from the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden right outside the windows.) Link: Decorating the White House for the Holidays : Holidays and Entertaining : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Home theatre design ideas (link)

There are a number of wonderful home theatre design ideas to look at on this HGTV webpage: Slideshow : Professional Home Theater Designs: Best of '09 :

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it. (I can't afford a home theatre either.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday entertaining ideas (link)

Ideas include substituting gingerbread houses or Christmas village miniatures for a floral centerpiece; for safety use electric candles; embellish a plain wreath with ornaments, toys, etc.; homemade decorations; cover a long table with a bolt of cloth; ... For more ideas: 12 Tips for Holiday Entertaining Success : Holidays and Entertaining : Home & Garden Television

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Maine Shaker Lemon Pie

I don't post recipes usually (this is the first time), but this is a family favorite, and it's Christmas:

Maine Shaker Lemon Pie

3 lemons
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 package piecrust mix
6 eggs
cream or milk

1. Slice lemons PAPER THIN, rind and all; SEED. Combine with sugar in a medium-size bowl; mix gently; cover. Let stand in refrigerator overnight.

2. Prepare piecrust mix following label directions. Roll out half to a 13 inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Beat eggs in a medium-size bowl until frothy. Stir gently into lemon-sugar mixture. Spoon mixture into pastry-lined pie plate.

4. Roll out remaining pastry to an 11 inch round; cut an X in center to allow steam to escape. Fit over filling; turning back corners of the X. Trim edge to 1 inch. Pinch to make a stand-up edge; flute. Brush pastry with cream; sprinkle with sugar.

5. Bake in a very hot oven (450 degrees) for 15 minutes. Lower heat to moderate (350 degrees). Bake 30 minutes longer or until pastry is golden brown.

For this recipe you can bake the lemon-egg-sugar mixture as a custard, without the piecrust, in a glass oven baking dish. And you can spray the baking dish with Pam w/flour to prevent sticking.

(This recipe is from Family Circle)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top Ten Southern comeback neighborhoods

The January 2010 issue of Southern Living has an article on ten neighborhoods that are making a comeback as a great place to live. The neighborhoods include Springfield in Jacksonville, FL; Crescent Hill in Louisville, KY; Historic Fairmont in Fort Worth, Tx; and Viola in Greenville, SC.

Here's a link to the blog by the author: Best Neighborhoods in the South - Community#post173394?iid=magazine-january2010-neighbors

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Small living spaces (link)

This article is from ShelterPop on AOL Home. Jodi Helmer, the writer, lives in a home of about a thousand square feet. There are two people and three dogs in her home. I confess that wouldn't work for me; we do use all our rooms--and the porches. I am not ready to downsize! Link: "The Small House Movement is Gaining Momentum and I Want In" - Shelterpop

Saturday, December 12, 2009

DIY Solar Panel Kits (link)

You can buy Do-It-Yourself solar panel kits at Lowe's now! Well, it sounds like you may need help with the paperwork for permits, rebates, etc. and help in getting those heavy panels on the roof, attaching them to the rafters. and making the electrical connections (you'll need a dedicated circuit breaker). But we're finally getting closer to making this important green improvement to our homes. (I want to do this some day.)

I found the article in the business section of today's paper; here's the link to the paper's webpage: The Ledger Lakeland, FL

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Solar panels (link)

I thought this news item was interesting: Panasonic Shifts Focus Onto Solar Panels. There's background on Panasonic's purchase of Sanyo Electric Co., its own inventions, and the competitve consumer electronics and appliances and HDTV market. Link: Panasonic Shifts Focus Onto Solar Panels The Punchlist (HGTVPro blog)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Interview in latest issue of Abandoned Towers Magazine

I received the latest issue of Abandoned Towers Magazine (3rd Trimester 2009) today, which I've been waiting for because it has an inteview with me by the editor! The magazine also has lots of short stories, poetry and art, plus more non-fiction. The cover story is A Warm Welcome--great cover, btw. I've read some contemporary westerns that just don't get the characters or dialogue right, but this was perfect--and a lot of fun! There's a good balance of SF and fantasy too, along with stories set in the far past (cavemen and a story of honor in the Roman legions) and a scary future, plus a troll tall tale, and more.

Recall (SF) is a good tale of soldiers recalled to duty, and I appreciated the line where the hero (a father trying to protect his family from being called up) says to the soldier delivering the paperwork, "I thought you were an android." "Mostly, sir. They can only rebuild so much when you've been through the grinder."

It has a good variety, and the quality is good. And I can't talk about a favorite story without giving away the ending. The non-fiction includes an article about life in New Zealand by Lyn McConchie. (I've always loved her articles and books about her life and her animals in New Zealand. And she's written fiction set in Andre Norton's universe.) In my inteview, I discuss writing and some of my favorite fiction characters. Btw, this interview predates my NaNoWriMo experience in November, which was interesting for me to read!

Abandoned Towers Magazine is published three times a year. Here's a link for you to check it out for yourself: Abandoned Towers Magazine - fantasy, fiction, westerns, articles, stuff for kids, audio stories, games

Friday, December 4, 2009

Decking the halls (link)

Check out these holiday decorating ideas, including festive fireplaces, spectacular outdoor displays (that glittering entrance is impressive!), and sparkling table settings.

For creative Christmas tree themes, you can focus on a single color or spray the tree with snow, add mirrored ornaments, feathers, etc. [A neighbor's Christmas trees include one with a gnome theme and one with a railroad theme.]

Link: Christmas Decorating Ideas: Deck the Halls, Holiday Inspiration and Tree Decorating Tips : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tile sampling (link)

There are ceramic tiles, slate, recycled-glass mosaic, and more. And Mediterranean, classic, European, spa, and natural styles. Check out these ideas: Slideshow : Tile Trends and Tricks :

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Getting organized for the holidays (link)

Holiday Organization: Tips From Leading Experts to Help You This Season: If your seasonal celebrations could use a little more peace and joy, heed this advice from the pros: Holiday Organization: Top Tips From Leading Experts to Keep You Sane This Season : Organizing : Home & Garden Television