Friday, September 30, 2011

Hurricane Ophelia

TS Ophelia has come back and is already up to a category 3 hurricane and is expected to still stay out to sea as it moves NNW.

Update (10-3): Ophelia is a cat 1 now and is moving past Newfoundland.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More decorating suggestions (link)

Check out this slide show of simple ideas to perk up your home:
Embrace Every Space Home Made Simple

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More home decorating ideas

In the June 2011 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, a home owner used grasscloth attached with adhesive transfer tape to the interior back of a bookcase. That gives color and texture and perks up the bookshelves. We only painted--a sort of pale terra cotta--the back of our living room built-in bookshelves. They had been all white. They look so much better now!

I saw an Olympic pink paint color in the issue that I really like: Bunny's Nose.

For a fantastic centerpiece or accent, plant succulents in a really big shell.

Another good idea from that issue is adding two levels of Shaker-type pegboards. Our house is full of pegboards; they're useful and can add a colorful accent, but I never thought of putting them at a lower level for children.

Oh, in a recent mail advertisement for Martha Stewart Living, they used a flower stamp (or you could use a stencil) and ran it as a garland over the headboard, the wall, and a lampshade on the bedside table. That is a fun idea!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Corraling kitchen clutter (link)

This Kohler webpage gives you hints on clearing out kitchen clutter and working more efficiently in your kitchen, along with kitchen sink ideas and accesories. Did you know that there's a sink strainer with a remote control?! I do like the idea of a separate sink for letting your pans soak, but I don't know if the big frying pan will fit...

Link: KOHLER: Planning Tips: Conquer Kitchen Clutter: Kitchen: Articles

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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tropical Storm Phillipe

TS Phillipe is moving WNW and is east of TS Ophelia, which is still chugging away in the ocean. Phillipe is espected to become a minimal hurricane and stay away from land also.

Update (9-28): TS Phillipe is moving WNW.

Update (10-3): TS Phillipe is still chugging away in the ocean.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall colors and decorating and fun

There's an interesting article with lots of photos focusing on a lovely home using the dog trot style in the October issue of Southern Living. I love that style; it's the one I used when building a house a few years back. The central hallway and lots of wimdows are perfect for the southern climate.

The issue also has colorful ideas for fall decorating. And don't miss the picture of a German chocolate cake. That is one of the most delicious-looking cakes I've ever seen. The butternut squash bread looks good, and there are a variety of soups. There are travel articles too, focusing on different ways to enjoy fall color, along with gardening and other articles.

Note: You can see the house plan for my dog trot house in my book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook. This old style house plan can keep your home cooler when it's hot, and we certainly appreciated it when we lost power for almost a week after Hurricane Jean in 2004. While our neighbors were living and sleeping on their screened porches, we could sleep in our house just by leaving the windows open. The new edition has color photos; the ISBN number on that edition is 978-1-60749-562-8:. You'll have to track it down at: Online Bookstore

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kitchen design ideas, trends, and colors (link)

Here is a variety of kitchen design ideas: Colorful Kitchen Designs : Rooms : Home & Garden Television

Check out the tips for tiny kitchens and the romantic design trend. As for the blue kitchen, I like the tile backsplash, but not the blue wall color. The blue lights are a lovely touch. I hope they're practical.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kitchen islands (link)

Check out the kitchen island ideas on this HGTV webpage: Kitchen Islands : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels AND find out if your kitchen has enough space for an island by looking at the kitchen island checklist.

Tropical Storm Ophelia

TS Ophelia is heading west, but is expected to weaken. Too early to tell where it's headed, but the spaghetti models last night seemed fairly well split between west and east of Florida.

Update (9-22): It looks as if Ophelia is going to turn north like previous storms.

Note: A weatherman said recently that out of 15 named storms, we've only had 3 hurricanes this year.

Update (9-28): It looks like Ophelia still may become a hurricane (cat 1).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My house e-book is a September spotlighted book!

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure is one of the September spotlighted books on the Steel Diamonds Publishing homepage:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hidebound review

Here's my first review of Hidebound from Amazon:

Fissa's desire for independence, leaving the safety of her home planet to travel space on her cousin's ship, the St. Catherine, may be her first and final adventure. The ship is attacked, and she crash-lands in a shuttle on a planet covered with carnivorous vegetation. Now her life is in the hands of Ferenc, an alien humanoid with strange physical powers. Will he abandon her, force himself upon her, or continue to save her as they journey over deadly terrain? Under the constant threat of death and with a growing attraction for the enigmatic humanoid, Fissa must grow up fast and make some life-altering choices. Joy V. Smith has deftly combined science fiction adventure with romance, realistically exploring an emotional and physical relationship between human and humanoid.

[Note: Adult content]

It's also available in other formats at:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hurricane Maria

TS Maria is finally a hurricane and is heading NE. Here's the NOAA map if you want to look at its projected path: Hurricane MARIA

Update (9-16): The remnants of Maria have passed Newfoundland and are heading for Greenland, Iceland, and England. This is the first time in weeks that there is no named storm.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Design Star finale

Tonight the two finalists on Design Star, Meg and Karl, were assigned the challenge of decorating the living rooms in two different brownstones in Harlem in NYC. Unlike most of these shows, I'll spare you the artificial suspense. Meg won. The colors and furnishings in her living room were lovely, and she replaced the curtains on a wall that pretended they were hiding a window. Instead she hung a mirror. When she first said she was going to do that, I thought, Oh, no. Not mirrors! But she found a mirror with lines that resembled a window. Perfect! Karl put architectural details in his room and great storage, but he decorated an old armoire with graffiti. Well, it looked better than I thought it would. Pretty nice, actually, but I wouldn't want it in my living room.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tropical Storm Nate

TS Nate is expected to become a hurricane. It's heading west, but its projected track has dropped south so that it's heading toward Mexico.

Update: Nate is expected to become a category 1 before it makes landfall in Mexico.

Update (9-10): Nate is still expected to become a cat 1 just before landfall. It may curve up into Texas.

Update(9-11): Nate made landfall and went straight into Mexico. Now it's gone.

TS Katia may hit Britain in a few days as an extra-tropical storm.

TS Maria is heading west; it'll probably turn east later.

Update (9-11): TS Maria is still expected to become a cat 1 hurricane and curve out to sea.

Update (9-14): TS Maria is finally heading north and is still expected to become a hurricane.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Toad houses

I've been collecting toad houses for a long time. I find them in stores, nurseries, on vacation, and in catalogs. They add interest to your flower beds and give toads a place to den up in. Over the years I've seen one toad house with a floor in a store, and I recently saw one with a floor in The Gardener's Supply Company catalog. If you're serious about giving toads habitat, don't give them a house with a floor! They need to dig into the dirt to protect themselves from cold, heat, and predators. I've used broken pots for toad houses too. (See above on the right.) The one on the left is one I bought, and there are even cuter houses available. Also different colors and shapes, and I had one that was a combination bird bath (on top) and toad house (first floor).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tropical Storm Maria

Maria is heading west, but it's too early to tell if it's heading towards Florida.

Katia is now a cat 1 and should be turning away from the east coast soon.

Nate could be forming in the Gulf. Check out the spaghetti models! Looks like the kittens have been in the yarn again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three ways to save on lighting

Most of us know about #1: Use LEDs and CFLs. #2 is Use dimmers. And #3 is Use Occupancy sensors. For more details, go to: 3 Energy Savers: Lighting

I never used dimmers until we moved to this house, and sometimes they're a nuisance because they often dim by themselves--especially the dining room. We need good lighting in the dining room because we do different chores on the dining room table, and some day I will replace that light. As for occupancy sensors, someone told me that she occasionally worked in an office with sensors, and every so often, the whole room would go dark, and she'd have to get up and move around. Now that's a nuisance when you're busy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Design Star: Tiny House Challenge

Tonight's Design Star challenge was to create a home in one of the new tiny houses, which is basically a big box. Karl's house was the best in design and decorating, and he included a loft bed. Meg made a mistake with the floating shelves and accessories, though she used the bathroom and closet walls at the front door to create a foyer. However, floating shelves just aren't practical. Storage is so important. Mark made a mistake wasting wall space on an artistic design, which just didn't look that good. It might have worked in a man's bedroom in a big house.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurricane Katia and TS Lee

Katia is a category 1 and is heading NW. It's expected to make it to a 3 and may skirt the east coast.

Update: (9-5): Katia is now a cat 3 and still heading NW, but should be turning out to sea.

Update: Now Katia is a category 4 and still heading NW, but it should make a sharp turn away from land.

Update (9-6): Katia is now a 2 and should be making its turn one of these days.

TS Lee is heading north and then should turn east; it's expected to give Florida rain. North Florida is already getting it--and I hear from a cousin there that they need it--while we got a little shower further south.

Update (9-5): The remnants of Lee are heading east. We haven't gotten much rain; the west coast of Florida is getting more. It's supposed to be windier here the next couple days.

Update: Wind and rain from Lee's remnants are moving closer to Florida out of the Gulf now. The surf and riptides are rough. Don't ignore those red flags on the beach!

Update(9-6): It's actually a combination of Lee's remnants and a cold front that has given us some rain. I didn't notice any wind.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee

TS Lee is heading north towards Louisiana and then should turn east towards Alabama and Georgia--probably.

Meanwhile Katia is still a category 1 hurricane and probably won't make it to a cat 3 after all, and it's heading west, but it's too early to tell where it'll make landfall.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Design Star

I enjoy watching Design Star on HGTV because it's interesting seeing how people meet their challenges, and I'm always keeping an eye out for ideas I can use. Recently one designer was asked by a kid to design a room with bunkbeds and storage lockers. Fantastic idea, I thought, 'cause I'd love that, but the designer ignored the request. She gave the boy a high bed with a clever hidey space under it and instead of lockers, he got two small boxes attached to the wall. No storage space!

I have friends who have a really cool bunk bed set, btw. The bottom bed is a double; there's a small stairway instead of a ladder at one end and plenty of storage space at the other end of the bed. The set has drawers and doors. If the designer had found something similar (plus the lockers), she would have aced that challenge.

I think she thought that the kid really wanted a cool hideaway; however, kids also have friends over to spend the night, and they can make their own hideaways with blankets...

Check out the Design Star webpage: HGTV Design Star : Home & Garden Television