Friday, February 26, 2010

Tiffany blue

Here's a lovely color I found on an HGTV webpage; it's called Tiffany blue, and it looks rather like turquoise, but with more blue in it. Check it out: Design Happens » Archive » What’s Hot: Tiffany Blue

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Updating your kitchen

Here's an interesting article with ideas for updating your kitchen, along with suggested budgets. There's a sit-down sink in a table that is a work space and a breakfast table, and there's a kitchen based on an Italian style. Though we're still using ideas from Europe--the skinny compartment for French bread and built-in meat slicers doesn't work so well here though--we're catching up, says one kitchen designer, and Europeans are using some of our ideas... Link: Design Ideas : Kitchens : Updating Older Kitchens Increases Sales Prices :

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Energy efficient windows

Here are some useful links from HGTVPro to help you choose the most efficient window for your home. You can learn how window materials affect energy efficiency and what the best window is for a mixed climate (extreme temperatures, which we've had here in Florida this year!) and what a smart window is. (They come with solar and heat sensor systems.) There are also acoustic windows; and you can minimize heating and cooling costs with the three G's: glazing, gas, and glass. And to weather-proof you windows, you can use window flashing instead of caulk. Learn more at: Energy Efficient Windows: Tips for Choosing and Installing the Best New and Replacement Home Windows :

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Remodeling tips

Here are some of the remodeling tips from a woman whose kitchen remodeling was in the March issue of Southern Living: Eating out is expensive; instead set up a mini-kitchen (hers was in a corner of the living room) with a dorm fridge, toaster, microwave, and coffeemaker. Don't splurge on hardware. (I splurged on hardware for our new house; it was fun, but I could have saved a lot of money.) Make an inventory of your kitchen's contents--tedious, but worth it. And check out the cool gadgets that are available now. Fun!

There were articles on Charleston, travel, gardening, food, and more. The essay at the end of the magazine focuses on gardening--Passing the Trowel; and I loved the last line: "and a garden gate that's always open to [those] who can't figure out how the wisteria ate their SUV."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring cleaning

I read an eye-opening article on spring cleaning in the colonial days in the April 2010 issue of Early American Life. No wonder it was such a big project! Months of living in a tightly enclosed space with soot from the fireplace building up on all surfaces made for an urge to get everything outside in spring and scrub it down! And accumulated ashes were turned into lye for soap. Straw had been spread on the floors (I thought this was a medieval practice) until they ran out--and had to be swept out; wood was stored in the house during heavy snowfalls; and sometimes livestock was brought in if temperatures dropped so low that the animals were in danger of freezing. This was an article that made me truly grateful.

There were interesting articles on homes, re-creations of camp life at Fort Ticonderoga (re-enactments of the French and Indian War (June) and the Revolutionary War (September), and the sparkling re-creation of a Jacobean woman's waistcoat from the 17th century. (It was a lot of work by a lot of people.) And there was a lively discussion about whether a condominium--even if an accurate re-creation of an early American home--belonged in Early American Life...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Black and white in decorating (link)

Black and white doesn't have to mean cold; it can be timeless. Check out the ideas and links here: Design Happens » Archive » What’s Hot: Black-and-White Accents

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Short stories by Joy V. Smith

Here's a link to my most recent online story: MOOVING OUT • by Joy V. Smith Every Day Fiction - The once a day flash fiction magazine.

Sugar Time is an audiobook of time travel tales with sound effects & music. Check it out at:

Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer: This shared world anthology of mages and magic includes a story by Joy V. Smith, Seedlings, in which plant mages fight alongside their sentient plant companions. [This anthology is a reprint; it's out from a new publisher, Ricasso Press.] You can buy it on amazon:

Aliens, Animals, and Adventure is a collection of short stories (reprints) by Joy V. Smith. It is available from Anthology Builder:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Easy-care houseplants (link)

I don't have any houseplants 'cause I'm too busy taking care of five acres of trees and plants! But for those of you who appreciate them, here's a list of 11 plants that are easy to care of. (The webpage mentions brown thumbs, but that's too harsh.) Link: Forgiving Houseplants : Landscaping : Home & Garden Television

The list includes the jade plant, snake plant, and aloe. (I think those are all succulents.) Hmm. It doesn't include hen and chickens, which I've always wanted--outside. It does include the umbrella tree (Hawaiin schefflera) and the iron plant or aspidistra. This has been a popular house plant for decades and is often mentioned in early English fiction books (30s/40s). The Saint would make up poems about it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Home and garden ideas

There are some interesting ideas for your home and garden in the latest Plow and Hearth catalog. Among other things, I like the four-tiered horizontal slate (graduated pieces) fountain, which can be used indoors or out. The miniature houses--and castle--are lovely; and I like the little house-planters too. I also like the recycled copper firepit. And I love the Conestoga cupboards which were inspired by the old Hoosier cabinets.

For more lovely and fun ideas, check out their website: Plow & Hearth - Products for Home and Garden

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Architecture of the Imagination

"As an architectural pile, the Imperial Residence made Vorkosigan House look small. Sprawling wings rose two to four stories high, accented with sporadic towers. Additions of different ages crisscrossed each other to create both vast and intimate courts, some justly proportioned, some rather accidental-looking. The east facade was of the most uniform style, heavy with stone carving. The north side was more cut-up, interlocking with elaborate formal gardens. ...

The groundcar pulled up to a two-story porch ... Illyan led them ... up wide stone stairs to an extensive second-floor suite. ... On the other side of this stone labyrinth ..."

From Barrayar/Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen, 1999)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine ideas (link)

This webpage has a variety of Valentine's Day ideas, including cards, crafts, roses, and chocolates: Valentine's Day: Handmade Valentine Cards, Romantic Bedroom Ideas

The Tunnel of Love Star Card, the cupcake card, and origami cards sound intriguing. Show someone you care enough to create something for them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Living room design (link)

This HGTV webpage gives you advice on redecorating your living room by using what you have on hand--except for maybe the paint and slipcovers. You can use slipcovers to make furniture match; and brighten up your bookcases by arranging books by colors. Yes, it's a striking idea, but I prefer to keep my books together by genre and author. Repurpose furniture. Dye boring cushion covers. Check out these ideas and more at: Living Room Design: Make the Most of What You Have : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Remodeling tips (link)

Here are some kitchen and bathroom remodeling tips, including: Study the space. Why are you remodeling? Write down your daily routine. What needs to be changed? Collect magazine pages and samples, etc. And what is your budget?! For more details, go to Design Ideas : Kitchens : Understanding the Remodeling Process :

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kitchen and bath designs (link)

There are a number of kitchen and bath design links on this HGTV page, and you can vote for the kitchen and bath design of your choice: NKBA 2010 Consumers' Choice Awards :

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

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Decorating and home ideas

There's an interesting article in the April issue of Old-House Interiors on how you can use concrete in your house--vessel and wave sinks, countertops--including on a floating vanity, an outdoor spa, floors, and driveways (colored and sealed). There are also articles on flooring choices, including underlayment, and some lovely homes and cottages.

The Winter issue of Early Homes (Colonial to Classical) includes articles on restored homes and a new Old Bow home (beautiful); and there's an article on early paints and color choices. (We've used milk paint on furniture for years.) I love the room in Cottage Rose milk paint! But the article doesn't say where he got it. I think I'm going to have to rip the page out of the magazine.

The March issue of Country Living includes an article on a home built to look like an old red barn, along with articles on restored homes (including turning an old post office into a home), baking in an iron skillet (we're going to get one), horseback riding as a respite from the fast track, collecting suitcases and trunks, candle snuffers, making a closet into an office, and ruffles! (You should see that pillow collection!) Btw, the pet column said that tomato juice doesn't work on removing skunk odors, but we've used it for years! (I still remember using it on Bast, our black and white Manx; we had to take it out of the fridge...; yes, it removed the odor.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Decorating Dos & Don'ts (link)

This webpage has a number of links for decorating ideas and mistakes, also a design quiz. (I disagreed with some of the answers; as usual there weren't enough choices. And even though I like pink, I don't want hot pink--even as an accent. I came across Cottage Rose in a magazine the other day. Now that was a lovely pink.) Some of the design don'ts are a matter of opinion! Link: Decorating Dos and Don'ts : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kitchen faucet trends (link)

We can choose from a variety of sinks, faucets, and even the number of sinks we want in our kitchens today, also colors and combinations, and "While deck-mount faucets remain popular because of the added functionality of an integrated or separate spray option, wall-mount kitchen faucets are also gaining appeal. ... because it offers easy cleaning of the sink surface ... and it lends a clean, uncluttered aesthetic to the room.

"Industry experts have also witnessed a trend to integrate secondary sinks and faucets in the kitchen." For more information on the choices and trends, check out: Design Ideas : Kitchens : Kitchen Faucet Trends :

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Decorating with pink

Pink is one of my favorite colors, but you do have to be careful with it. (I had to have my bedroom sponge-painted with white to tone it down.) I do like this idea:

"Add glamour to a room featuring a deep pink like peony, with sparkling metallic accents. Soften the look with a slightly lighter, but still rich shade of pink mixed in." I love glitter too, but painting your furniture pink is going to far! For other ideas incorporating different shades of pink, go to: Decorating with a pink color palette-Home Made Simple

Monday, February 1, 2010

More bathroom decorating ideas (link)

Frankly, I don't care for the glittering bracelets draped over glass bottles--not pretty and not practical. (I do like the bracelets; I love things that glitter.) Trays to corral your bottles, etc. is a lovely idea. (I use hammered aluminum trays in various ways.) If you have room, you can add furniture and accessories. As for the single hooks for towels (also rings), I've never thought they were practical. How can the towel dry?! (While I have Shaker pegboards all through my house, including the bathrooms, a towel is hung over two pegs--when they're dry.) For more ideas, go to: Bathroom Design: Make the Most of What You Have : Bathrooms : Home & Garden Television