Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Doorway and Other Stories (SFand fantasy adventures)

There's more info on these fun and fantastic stories on AskDavid's website, where it's featured:

And don't forget that its free January 1 & 2, 2013 here:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mooving Out (flash fiction fun)

My flash fiction story, Mooving Out, is up on Flurries of Words:

Note: This is sort of connected to Moovin' Up.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hidebound (publication news)

Hidebound, my SF adventure romance (with adult content), is featured here:

Btw, Hidebound was serialized in The Fifth Di-- (after being a co-winner in their contest); and later it ran in Once Upon A World (after being a co-winner in their contest).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Instead of fads, let's try timeless (link)

Here are some kitchen design ideas supposed to be timeless. Well, I'd certainly appreciate soft-close doors, which we don't have. More windows and smaller kitchens are also part of the future. Hmm. Good luck with that combination. Cabinets can go to the ceiling, of course, though I have to drag in a chair from the dining room to reach those we have now. Uh, if you extend the backsplash to the ceiling, you also have less room for cabinets. I already knew that quartz and man-made surfaces are more practical; and I still haven't bought the granite sealer. Sigh. And I finally make it to maple, and exotic woods are in. Lots of choices, folks, including specialized lighting. Look here to check them out :

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jesus of Nazareth

Merry Christmas

I came across Who was Jesus?, a documentary about Jesus' life and times, on the Military Channel Christmas eve.  An interesting book I've read that takes a look at Jesus's early years is Jesus of Nazareth, Boy and Man: A Novel of the Lost Years by G. Miki Hayden:

It's also available elsewhere.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Dawn, and the Sunset, and ..." (publication news)

"Dawn, and the Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth" by Michael F. Flynn was nominated for a Hugo and selected by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer for their Best of the Year anthology (#12). I was one of those who contributed to his story. Find out how I and others on Flynn's AOL SF forum (back in the day) got this opportunity:

For more background:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Updating your homes and furniture

There are many helpful suggestions for sprucing up your rooms and furnishings in the January issue of Southern Living. And paint colors include Peacock Feathers (Benjamin Moore) and Mardi Gras (also BM); then there's Elephant Tusk (sort of cream by BM)
Convex mirrors were used in the past to reflect candlelight. Though not as necessary today (unless you're in one of those homes that lack overhead lighting), they're beautiful and interesting. Update some furniture with paint and hardware--or reupholster it. The sagging settee definitely needed help, but the wing chair lost its shape. EEK!

There are fun travel destinations, and another essay on enjoying a quiet New Year's eve with family and friends away from noisy crowds. And the closing essay has a line I love re what's on TV today: "Now I flip through banality till my thumb is sore."

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Solid surface countertops (link)

Solid surface products are a good choice, although I'm going for quartz next time. (Grumble, grumble.) Now I've got to remember to get granite sealer next time I go to the hardware store. And I'd go for a lighter color too, though I saw some beautiful dark colors and fantastic patterns of granite on Hometime recently.
Check out these solid surface choices (Basil by Corian is lovely):

And there are other kitchen countertop suggestions on the webpage.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Storage alternatives (link)

Here are some spacious storage units, though I'd rather have a walk-in closet. Though they call them wardrobes, only one unit looked like a real wardrobe. The recessed lights in one unit was a nice touch, plus the velvet curtains...  And there are a variety of other ideas on this webpage:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Washing machine problem

When we remodeled, we decided to go with the contractor's choices (GE) in the hope they'd be cheaper, and we ended up with an infusor washing machine, which I didn't want because I'd read the reviews on it. Now we have a washer that smells musty. I know, I know--at least it isn't a front loader. Next time we go back to Sears and Kenmore, which we've been happy with for years. And Sears has a refrigerator that comes in the 18.2 size. We now have a 17.9 size (too small). We started out with a 21 something, which was way too big for our galley kitchen, so we returned it and paid a restocking fee. Ouch! When someone complains, I say--At least our electric bill shouldn't be as high as it would have been with the big one.

Anyway, I called the GE repairman to ask him about the smell, and he suggested doing a load with water and bleach. Well, I should have gone with the rinse cycle as he suggested, but I decided I wanted to run it longer, and so the machine drained all the water I had added bucket by bucket since these new machines--to save water--won't let you decide on a level. I was mildly irritated. (Hah, hah, hah, hah, eeeekk!!!) I will try again another time...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bedroom design dont's

Check out these warnings for what to avoid in your bedroom sanctuary: Don't go for bold there. Try a more subtle shade of your favorite color for a more soothing atmosphere and be careful about the scale of the furnishings you choose.  Don't buy furniture that overwhelms the space, and leaving room for navigating the room is always smart. More Do Nots here:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Whortleberry Press (links)

I'm pleased to announce that my SF/fantasy collection ebook, The Doorway and Other Stories, has been listed on Whortleberry Press' ebooks friends webpage:

Looking for Christmas gifts?  Check out their books, which include Strange Christmas (how apropos), Strange Halloween, and Strange Mysteries:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Entertaining for the holidays

The December issue of Southern Living is full of ideas and recipes. The shallow bowl of red roses surrounded by those hard red and white mints is festive. And yu can fill glass containers with a variety of peppermints. Make an outdoor Christmas tree out of a tomato cage strung with lights. The white cake recipes include fillings, frostings, and garnishes, such as meringues and almond bark. And then there's the Marbled Pumpkin Praline Cake. The appetizers include bacon recipes and grits... How about Pepper Jack Grits Poppers?! This is a yummy issue with gift ideas and travel destinations too. Christmas at Williamsburg would be fun...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kitchen remodeling help (link)

This HGTV webpage has links to kitchen remodeling worksheets, kitchen designs, and more.  The Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire is thorough!  There may be questions you've never ever thought about before.  Link:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Purple: The color of drama (link)

Purple isn't my favorite color for a wall, but, of course, there are a variety of shades.  Check out the suggestions on this HGTV webpage and explore the drama and mystery of this "combination of calm blue and exciting red."  Btw, I am definitely not fond of this color on the exterior!  Link:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Home for the holidays--or not

I came across a really cool idea in the December/January issue of Country Living. Rent a home for the New Year's holiday on a beach in a northern state, such as New York in this case. for your family or multiple families. It's cheaper than in summer. Enjoy relaxing and playing games inside or having fun outside in the snow. The children enjoyed the choices too, and the adults weren't on the clock, so-to-speak.
There are other entertaining and decorating ideas in this issue, and the edible treats include gourmet marshmallows; and the mini brown-sugar cheesecakes certainly look tempting. Hang sleigh bells on your door knobs and have the wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree match the colors of the tree decorations. Now that's a challenge. Put the kids to work doing that!
There are deer figurines (from Michaels) on a mantel in one home; we just picked up a nice one at Junk Prince. We bring our deer figurines out on center stage at Christmas.
And if you're into soap making, wrapping the oval bars in coffee filters before packaging them is a lovely idea. My sister makes soaps for Christmas gifts now and then, and she likes that idea.
The Real Estate Sampler focuses on houses with turrets. These are the real deal--more than 100 years old.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Painting help (link)

Here is a collection of painting tips on the HGTV website; they tell you about sheens, selecting the correct color combo--including classic combos that defy trendiness, and they address some basic FAQs:

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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Helpful home hints

Here are some helpful tips from Lehman's 1213 calendar:
Bake cupcakes in ice cream cones.
Whip up your store-bought frosting to make it go further.

But I'm not sure if storing your sheets in the matching pillow case (to keep them from being separated) will work.  I've never tried that, though I've read about it before.  Stuffing them in a pillowcase would not be easy, and I wouldn't want to put pressure on the pillowcase material.  Let me know if anyone tries it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas craft ideas

The Holiday 2012 issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas for Home and Garden magazine has some creative ideas for this holiday season. You can hang red snowflakes on your white kitchen cabinets (or use other color combinations), make pet ornaments for your Christmas tree (see below), and make a fire for your fireplace out of cardboard (see below).

Pet ornaments:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pantry ideas (link)

Pantry storage and display space is a good idea if you have the room. My big pantry at our old house had plenty of room with space on the floor for coolers and heavy items like bottled water, bleach, etc.; underneath the bottles I had cardboard liners in case of leaks. I had enough room on shelves that I didn't have to mess with pull-out shelves, and I never needed cubes or cubbies, but if you have children putting groceries away, containment might be a good idea. In another house I had a standalone country cupboard in the dining room (next to the kitchen) that we used for a pantry. Check out other ideas you can use at:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bathroom flooring choices (link)

Check out this HGTV webpage to learn about bathroom flooring types and styles--and trends if you can afford to waste money (unless you're remodeling or building):

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Basement makeover (link)

Here are some ideas for creating an office in an easy-to-maintain and dog-friendly environment:

'Course with a puppy, sometimes doors on the bottom of bookcases are a good idea.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Doorway and Other Stories

I just have to brag about my short story collection being chosen by Freebooksy as one of the three science fiction books they picked:

I'm a featured author at Freebooksy

Monday, October 29, 2012

Home decorating and design

The Fall/Winter 2012 issue of Early Homes has interesting articles on fireplace mantel designs--with illustrations--and picket fences--with photos, and suggestions for displaying your collectibles, along with more ideas on decorating and design, as shown in a variety of lovely homes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Sandy is now a hurricane (category 1) and is heading towards the Bahamas.  After that it may head up the east coast...

Update (10-25): Sandy is now a cat 2 and is still heading north.  We may get some rain and wind gusts as it passes by.  South Florida is getting rain bands.

Update (10-26): Sandy is now a category 1 and heading north--and then to the northeast.  Here we got a lot of wind--and downed branches--but hardly any rain.

Update (10-28): Sandy is making its turn now towards the east coast and is expected to make landfall between NYC and Washington, D.C., bringing wind, rain, and power outages.  I read recently that if you get a generator, don't forget the fuel for it.

Update (10-29): Hurricane Sandy is making landfall in New Jersey, though it covers a lot of territory, and along with the wind, rain, and storm surges, there are power outages in New York and up to Boston.  And lots more happening elsewhere... 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Doorway and Other Stories (free SF/fantasy ebook)

The Doorway and Other Stories will be free again on Kindle Saturday, October 27, and Sunday, October 28. And don't forget the free Kindle apps:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tropical Storm Sandy

TS Sandy is moving NNE.  Here's the latest info and spaghetti models, which are always interesting:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Entertaining at Thanksgiving

The November issue of Southern Living is overflowing with holiday recipes.  93!  They include turkey, green beans,  collards and apples, and desserts.  The Brown Sugar Bourbon Bundt on the cover looks fantastic, but I'd love the lemony Robert E. Lee Bundt!  There are many more delicious dishes, of course, and butter combinations.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Oh, don't miss the 50 Reasons We're Thankful To Be Southern.

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Home decorating and entertaining ideas

I've always liked the idea of using metal lockers of all types for storage, and there are other useful ideas in the November issue of Country Living, but my favorite idea in this issue is painting each drawer in a tall chest of drawers a different shade; in this case the shades went from White Wisp to Char Brown (six drawers). There are also interesting articles on alpacas, foxy accessories, and presidential collectibles, plus seasonal recipes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tropical Storm Rafael

And here comes TS Rafael; it's heading north into the Atlantic.   The spaghetti models keep it mostly headed north, except for a couple strands a little more to the west.

Update (10-14): TS Rafael is heading NNW and should become a hurricane tomorrow.

Update (10-21): Rafael did become a hurricane and is gone now, I think.  Hey, I'll catch up with the one that has a 60% chance of development.

The Doorway and Other Stories (free ebook)

I've added three more stories to my SF/fantasy reprint collection, The Doorway and Other Stories, for a total of 14 fun stories. The new stories are The Trees of Home (fantasy), Well Met by Water (SF, not fantasy, mermaids), and Carnies (genetic engineering).
The Doorway and Other Stories will be available free on Kindle Sunday, October 14. And don't forget the free Kindle apps:

If anyone sees a problem, I hope you'll let me know. (That's why I'm doing it for only one day this time.)

Laminate floor care (link)

Before deciding whether to get a laminate floor, read Laurie March's House Counselor post:

Bamboo flooring (link)

Bamboo flooring comes in different types and colors.  For more help in making your choice, check out this HGTV webpage:

Tropical Storm Patty

TS Patty wasn't expected to last long.  I'll have to check.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kitchen cabinet choices (link)

According to the NKBA, traditional is the most popular kitchen cabinet style, followed by Shaker and contemporary, while cherry is the most popular wood, followed by maple.  For more choices, go to this HGTV webpage:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tropical Storm Oscar

Tropical Storm Oscar is way out in the Atlantic heading NNE:

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Note: Nadine is finally gone.

Update (10-5): Oscar has already fizzled out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kitchen cabinet decisions (link)

Here's some good advice from Laurie March's House Counselor blog.  I totally agree with her--Find out what your kitchen cabinets are made of.  Good quality is worth keeping.  Possibly they just need some cosmetic changes.  Think about it before deciding to go with the latest trend:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hurricane Nadine

Nadine is a hurricane again; it's been wandering  around the Atlantic for more than two weeks since it became a tropical storm on September 11.  It's moving NW.  Keep an eye on it at:

The record for the longest-lasting named storm is 27 days for Ginger.

Btw, tonight's full moon is the harvest moon or fruit moon.

Update (10-1): Last night it was heading NW, as I recall, but now it's moving SE, I think.  Those circles make it hard to keep track, but last I heard, it was the fourth longest-lasting named storm.

Update (10-2): Now it's moving east and is headed for the Azores for the second time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall fun

The October issue of Southern Living is full of fall decorating ideas, including pumpkins and plants; there are some interesting heirloom pumpkin varieties, including Rouge Vif D'etampes.  (Rouge Vif is bright red in French.) There are also articles on restoring a log cabin and a dance hall, plus tempting recipes, such as Mississippi Mud S'Mores-Fudge Pie and Mississippi Mud Cupcakes. And I love the gardens and fall colors; the octagonal fountain with grasses, lilies, and colorful floating glass balls is eye-catching.  They remind me of my solar spheres.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Home decorating and entertaining ideas

In the October issue of Country Living is a nice selection of pumpkin decorating ideas. I like the one with the house number on it; you put it out by the curb for parties. And there's a scary idea for Halloween drink labels... And, of course, home decorating ideas, plus pear recipes. Did you know that pear skins get tough when heated? Peel them first. The Real Estate Sampler focuses on homes with secret passages and hidden rooms. That makes for an interesting and fun home too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tropical Storm Nadine

We have another storm in the Atlantic. It should curve away like most of the others, though Leslie did hit Newfoundland. Keep an eye on Nadine here:

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update (9-14): Nadine is heading north and is still expected to become a category 1 hurricane; it is also expected to curve east.

Update (9-20): Nadine is still wandering around in the Atlantic; at one time the spaghetti models looked like a demented cat playing with a ball of yarn.  It did make it to a hurricane (cat 1), and is a tropical storm again and is now heading east.  Will this storm give Spain some much-needed rain?

Update (9-24):  Nadine is still wandering around in the Atlantic: I'm afraid it didn't make it to Spain, which could use the rain.  I believe it's heading east and will turn again...  Check its path out here:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vinyl flooring (link)

Vinyl has a beautiful selection of colors and patterns nowadays; it's soft, and it's warmer than tile too, and it comes in sheets, tiles, and planks. For more reasons to take another look at vinyl, check it out here:

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

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tips for new home buyers (links)

Check out these helpful suggestions for budgets, home improvements, and more--along with questions and answers. These web pages cover a lot of things you need to know:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Engineered stone for countertops (link)

Engineered stone is what I want for my next countertop! And here's why: "Those who love engineered stone say it's like natural stone only better: It has greater consistency, it's harder than granite, it comes in bright, modern colors, and it never needs to be sealed." Find out more:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tropical Storm Michael

TS Michael is in the Atlantic now--between Leslie and Africa. And it looks like the remnants of Isaac may return to the Gulf and form a low.

Update (8-5): TS Michael is still off to the east and is much smaller than Leslie.

A piece of the remnants of Isaac has made a loop and returned to the Gulf; it may or may not merge with the cold front, and if it developes further, it could become Nadine.

Update (8-6): Michael is a hurricane (cat 2) and is headed NE.

Recessed lighting

In the Plow & Hearth catalog, which I got today, there's a page of light fixtures that you can replace your recessed lights with. That caught my eye because I've never changed one, and my new house has them in the office. You "Just unscrew your old light blub, screw in the adapter, slide on the cover plate [however you do that] and flip the switch. They have a lovely selection of fixtures to choose from; I especially liked the stained glass/art deco look. They also have decorative rings to dress up your recessed lights if you want to keep them.

Catalog link:

Friday, August 31, 2012

Kitchen cabinet ideas (link)

You may find these contrasting colors and combinations a good idea for perking up your kitchen with paint. I like the black cabinets (open shelving) in an otherwise white kitchen more than I thought I would, and the gray with beige (more of a cream, I think) is nice too.

For more ideas, look here:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tropical Storm Leslie

TS Leslie popped up in the Atlantic last night, but should stay there and curve away, as might Michael who could appear next week off the coast of Africa.



Leslie may become a category 2 hurricane.

Update (8-5): Leslie is a hurricane and may become a cat 2. It's heading north and probably staying away from the east coast.

Update (8-6): Leslie missed Bermuda and may be headed for Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tropical Storm Kirk

TS Kirk is way out in the Atlantic and should stay there--probably curving away to the east.

Update (8-30): Kirk is now a hurricane and is moving NNW; it may make it up to a category 2.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac

TS Isaac is moving WNW and should become a category 1 hurricane (possibly Monday) when it gets further into the Gulf, and it may become a cat 2 before it makes landfall on the northern Gulf coast. I've been watching its projected path move east and west before finally moving steadily away from Florida's west coast and Tampa--to the relief of everyone who's been working hard to prepare for the RNC. We got a few little rain bands during the day, but now we're getting bigger bands. We shouldn't be getting strong sustained winds, so we decided not to move everything into the garage.

Update (8-27): Isaac is heading NW--probably towards New Orleans. It may become a cat 1 hurricane tomorrow morning--and then maybe a cat 2 because the Gulf water is so warm. We got only a few scattered showers here today; the heavy bands of rain stayed on the east coast.

Update (8-28): Isaac is now a hurricane (cat 1) and is making landfall; a number of Louisana parishes are being evacuated and evacuations have also been ordered in Mississippi.

Isaac has been wobbling a bit and has made two landfalls and is covering a lot of territory.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Home and garden ideas

There are some lovely home and patio makeovers in the September issue of Southern Living, but there's also an interesting article on Thomas Jefferson's vegetable gardens at Monticello and heirloom seeds--with sources.

There are also recipes for tailgate parties, but I loved all those caramel apple dishes. Spaghetti squash and meatballs, maybe not so much.

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

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kitchen design (link)

This kitchen has some lovely ideas, including the quartz countertop (my choice) and a backsplash that slides back and forth to hide small appliances, plus plenty of space and a cupola and a butler's pantry and....


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tropical Storm Joyce

TS Joyce is moving along behind Isaac, but should head into the Atlantic.

NOAA link:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Remodelled ranch (link)

I enjoyed these photos of a ranch remodel on, especially the monolith (I don't know what else to call it) in the kitchen. Ours (in the living room) is impressive and caught my eye when I first walked into the house when we were looking for a new home. I didn't know then that it was apparently an architectural detail in some ranch homes. (Btw, I never planned to buy a ranch, but it met our needs; we also made a few changes in our remodeling project.)

Check out that oven too! Link:

Note: I wrote a book, Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure, about our ranch remodel; you can read about it here:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac

TS Isaac is heading west, but it's expected to turn to the WNW and eventually become a category 1 hurricane. It's been dropped from the prediction of becoming a category 3, and the computer models vary. 'Course it's especially a worry because of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, but it's early yet. Check out the tropics here:

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update (8-23): TS Isaac has moved into the Carribbean and is still heading west. The spaghetti models are more in agreement now, and it may skirt the west coast of Florida when it moves into the gulf... The RNC is prepared to evacuate.

Update: Isaac is heading WNW, and the models mostly have it paralleling the west coast; it may become a category 1 in the Gulf.

Update (8-24): Isaac is heading NW now, and after moving to the west--according to the computer models--it's now moving east and closer to the west coast. We (the Tampa Bay area) should be impacted Monday.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Early American Life

The October issue of Early American Life has a couple interesting articles on what's it like to really live in Colonial Williamsburg now. And there's an article on Native American food--with recipes--that includes dishes such as roasted fish, spring purslane, sunflower seed cakes, samp porridge, and parched corn. Of course, the "Three Sisters": maize (corn), beans, and squash, were the basics.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tropical Storm Helene

TS Helene popped up in the southwestern Gulf and is heading toward Mexico. Check it out here:

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update: Now it's a tropical depression.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tropical Storm Gordon

TS Gordon has reformed and may become a hurricane today, but it's headed east in the Atlantic--toward the Azores and Portugal, though one lone spaghetti model shows it heading toward England. The tropical wave coming off Africa may become Helene. Check them out:

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update (8-18): Gordon is now a category 2 hurricane and still heading for the Azores....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Big ideas for small spaces

The September issue of Country Living includes articles on home makeover ideas--this issue focuses on small spaces--and book collecting, indoor gardening (you can even use plants as a privacy screen), plus products--beautiful--done in watercolors, including a bench and bed linens. Recipes include a mashed potato souffle, a turtle-candy tart, and green tomato dishes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The fall color palette (link)

It looks like a wider selection than usual for the latest color trend. With colors that include peacock blue, emerald (what a beautiful color!), Bordeaux, cedar (very subtle), and even black and white, no one should feel that they have to paint using a color they don't really like--such as eggplant--just because it's in! Look for a color you'll love here:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gardening and landscaping ideas

The August/September issue of Birds and Blooms has helpful and fun ideas for your garden and landscape, including how to attract butterflies and birds. And you can paint a garden scene on an old satellite dish and tuck it in amongst the flowers, and recycle, stack, and paint leftover cinder blocks; then fill them with soil and small plants. There's a page of garden products for kids, and I especially liked the backyard fort kit that you cover with vines.

There are money-saving ideas and, of course, loads of beautiful photos of flowers, birds, butterflies, and children. I always learn something from the advice columns, and I love owls so I enjoyed that selection of photos too.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mixing bedding patterns and fabrics (link)

Here are some fun and different decorating ideas for your bedroom, including staying with the same intensity of colors and the same family of white shades, though frankly I find that white bedroom boring. Btw, I use a colorful patterned flat sheet as a bedspread in summer. Here's the HGTV link:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Practical ideas for your basement (link)

It looks like tile and/or carpet are your best bets for a basement floor because of flooding/moisture issues. Check out the reasons on this HGTV webpage and pick up hints about paint colors and furnishings for a basement:

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Design Stars All Stars

Now that Design Stars is over for this season, HGTV has created another show: Design Stars All Stars. They've brought back contestants from earlier seasons. Meet them all here:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tropical Storm Florence

TS Florence is behind TS Ernesto and is moving WNW. Ahead of both of them is a tropical wave that should give us some rain starting today.

Update (8-5): TS Florence is heading west and weakening.

Update (8-6): Not much left of Florence way out in the Atlantic.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tropical Storm Ernesto

TS Ernesto is moving west toward the Carribbean and the Gulf; it may become a cat 1 hurricane Monday. This all, of course, is subject to change.

Update (8-5): TS Ernesto is still heading west, but it may not make it to a hurricane, and it looks like its projected path is further south now--and most of the computer models agree.

Update (8-6): TS Ernesto is heading WNW and may become a category 1 before making landfall in Mexico Tuesday.

Update (8-8): Ernesto made landfall as a hurricane and is now over water again and should become a hurricane before making landfall in Mexico again. It's still moving west.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bathroom design decisions

The September Consumer Reports has articles and ratings on bathroom countertops, flooring, sinks, and toilets. (Btw, if you missed seeing the recall in the paper, they have a sidebar on the exploding pressure-assisted flushing sytems. I never wanted one because if you lose power, you can't flush. Hmm. Unless I'm thinking of the pump for carrying the waste to the septic tank. And stainless steel is moving into the bathroom.

Other articles focus on home insurance, blenders, and streaming to your TV. (This issue's a keeper for when I get around to doing some upgrades.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Joy's writing news

There are only a few days left to get my remodeling e-book, Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure, at half-price:

And here are my other e-books:

My latest e-book (story collection), The Doorway and Other Stories, is available only on Kindle: , but there are free Kindle apps on the wepage.

Hidebound: (SF) After Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly.

Pretty Pink Planet (free e-book): (SF) Lori, an agent of SOESFOL, visits Prism to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens.

Hot Yellow Planet: (SF) In tis Pretty Pink Planet sequel, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures.

I also have an audiobook: Sugar Time; it is three connected time travel tales:

And I’m still waiting to hear from two different editors about my two SF novels.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Home design ideas

The August issue of Southern Living is worth picking up for the 101 house ideas from the their 2012 Idea House. My favorite ideas include the dogtrot-like central hall, an old wooden horizontal filing cabinet used as a coffee table, hand-sanded wood floors, and grouping a collection together tightly to give the impression of "one element" (but, please, not little skulls!),

And they had ideas I didn't much like. I don't like subway tiles unless they're not white, and a random pattern is better. Btw, two interesting shades of white are Pearly White and Spinach White (pale green) by Sherwin-Williams. And I would never lean a mirror over a sink! Or put a modern vessel sink into a distressed table. Something I wouldn't do, but is a cool idea, is painting a room in a large-scale gingham pattern.

There is also an article on crape myrtles, which include some of my favorites; unfortunately they're at our last place; the crape myrtles here are old varieties. Other articles focus on a moss lawn, Preserving Summer (canning), chickens, watermelon recipes, Tex-mex recipes, and fig recipes.

Travel articles visit Charlotte (Deomcratic convention) and Tampa (Republican convention); North Carolina Highlands; and Mobile, Alabama; a Miami restaurant; and Winter Park, Florida.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kitchen countertops (link)

When considering countertop materials, think about function, style--and price! And maybe you can mix surfaces. Check out the options on this HGTV webpage:

Btw, next time I'm going for quartz.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Design Star winner

Danielle is the new Design Star, and her HGTV series, Shop This Room (as I recall), begins Saturday, August 4. 

(I still think Mikel was just as talented and would have made a great host.  He was fun and relaxed.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making the most of a small apartment (link)

"Caitlin needed a functional space plan for an apartment that was one large, open room. 'Technically, the apartment is referred to as a junior one-bedroom since the sleeping area has French doors that close it off from the dining room,' explains Caitlin. 'But almost everyone who's been over thinks it's a studio apartment.'"

Check out the before and after plans and her ideas.  She thought outside the box:

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shrubs for shade (link)

Here's a collection of shrubs to choose from for your shady area; they include azaleas, camellias, and nandinas.  Cherry laurel is included, but I think that's a weed tree--down here anyway.  Check them out:

Note: This is on the Preen website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Design Star

Design Star is down to three contestants.  (I was surprised that Mikel got sent home; he wasn't the only one to make mistakes, and he does great presentations.)  This coming Tuesday they'll be working inside yurts; that should be fun.  David Bromstad is a wonderful host and mentor, btw.  And here's a link to find out more background:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Small kitchen suggestions (link)

There's no room for homework or other projects in a small kitchen; you have to focus on function.  But you can open up your cabinets for a roomier feel or use glass doors, and choose fun and beautiful details for your counters, flooring, appliances, etc.  For more ideas, go to:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Loving the color yellow (link)

Check out the shades of yellow and how you can use them on this HGTV webpage.  You can use yellow on interior rooms to make them look lighter.  That is a great suggestion.   And "A pale yellow can make a compact room feel larger."  We have a small, interior bedroom (no windows) that's painted a creamy white, so it's not dark.  I wonder if a light or bright yellow would be even better?  Our kitchen is a creamy yellow, btw.  Not too dark and not too boring.  Find more ideas here:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Joy's writing news

My e-book, Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure, is half price this month at Smashwords:

My review of Time Machine Troopers (sequel to H. G. Wells' The Time Machine) is up at The New Book Review:

And my short story collection, The Doorway and Other Stories, will be available free as a Kindle download on July 7. Don't forget that you can get a free Kindle app on the website:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Choosing paint colors (links)

Here is a variety of suggestions for working with paint.  (I can still see the big splashes of colors on our kitchen walls when we were trying to make up our minds about which one to use.)  Check out these helpful hints:

Note: The color we chose for our kitchen was Compatible Cream (a Sherwin Williams color).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

4th of July party ideas

Lots of red, white, and blue dishes, glasses, etc., but red and blue bottles of soda in an ice bucket is way cool!  Check out more suggestions at:

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

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Home and entertaining ideas

The July/August issue of Country Living includes nautical accessories, a Nantucket cottage renovation, the revival of a small town in Tennessee, and some delicious looking Indian recipes. The Real Estate Sampler features homes with two-story porches. And there are even some radish recipes; that's something you don't come across very often. (I love radishes so I ripped that page out.)  The collecting column mentions Chatterbox Scrapbooks, which reminded me of the Chatterbox bound volumes I grew up with. (They were my father's, but I've added some to our collection. All right, I confess that some of them were bought to replace the old books...)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby

Debby is now official (at 5 pm), although the track isn't, but we should be getting more rain--maybe. We got an inch and a half yesterday, but now it may be heading west.  Check it out at:
(Thanks, Lloyd)

Update (6-24): We had almost two and a half inches last time I checked our rain gauge, and it's rained a lot since then.  The west coast got 9 to 11" inches.  There's street and causeway flooding, and the Sunshine Skyway is closed because of high winds.  There are power outages and tornadoes here and there...

The spaghetti models are still all over the map, but Debby seems to be pointed north even though it's not moving at the moment.  This means we'll be getting more rain, which we needed.  We've been in a drought, and the Florida aquifer could use the rain, as could our waterways, some of which are impassable.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Homes and gardens, good food, and fun

The July issue of Southern Living has an inviting selection of places to visit in the South, articles on homes being moved and restored, coneflowers (we have a selection of coneflowers, including Hot Papaya and Marmalade), a restored dog trot house (we patterned a house we built on the dog trot style), tomato recipes, and some inviting backyard retreats. And among other things, there's a sidebar on Texas-tough plants.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kitchen appliance suggestions (link)

There are helpful comparisons of brands in the Consumer Reports Buying Guide for 2012, but here's some more advice if you're looking for kitchen appliances:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tropical Storm Chris

TS Chris is heading east away from the US, though it looks like it may curve back farther north...

Debby may form in the Gulf.

Update (6-21): Chris became a hurricane, but reverted to a tropical storm before I could get to the computer.  Debby may form in the next 48 hours.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beautiful bedclothes for your home (link)

I received a Cuddlledown catalog today; it's full of beautiful, interesting, and cute bedclothes, but what really caught my eye was a sheet set, along with a duvet cover, pillow cases and shams, etc. that looks like a Monet painting and another set that is an antique map, and it looks like the edges are full of old ships and sea monsters.   Link:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Libraries for your books and for display (link)

Here are some impressive libraries that may give you some ideas. I loved the antique map on the ceiling of one, but I'm afraid the gray and gold color scheme of another would require me to put book covers on my books; and for those who think libraries are boring, you can add a wine cellar and bar... There's a lot of elegance, opulence, and drama. I wonder if any of these libraries have tattered paperbacks and disintegrating hardcovers? OK, I confess that I don't have a library. I have bookcases scattered from one end of the house to the other--starting with the office, through the dining room and living room and into a bedroom. And there are stacks of books here and there that we're reading. But do browse for ideas you can use:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More landscaping (soil and sod)

June 12, 2012

8:55: Quiet here. We're waiting for a load of sod. We were up early waiting, but they haven't come yet; it was iffy. We ordered one pallet of sod and a yard of dirt that'll have to be spread first.

9:55: No sod yet, but we just got a load of dirt; the pickup is up on the hill now. I think most or all of that went up on the hill. I think they'll have to bring more for the back yard, which will require a wheelbarrow since there's no way a truck can get into the back yard.

10:48: No sod yet. It wasn't cut yesterday; it's being cut now and will be delivered between noon and dark.  The sod might not be laid until tomorrow, I suspect. The first load of dirt has been spread on the hill, and the contractors will bring another load of dirt later for the hill and the backyard.  (There were big depressions on the hill--the worst was filled last year, but there were still big dips. Apparently a big oak came down up there.)  

6:20: The sod was delivered; the sod guy was supposed to call a half hour beforehand (so the contractor would be here to pay him.), but he didn't; he called when he arrived here apparently. Anyway, our guys spent the day working in the area and had a snack (no time for supper) before returning here. They worked till about 8:20 'cause they wanted to finish the job. So that's done finally. (We wanted it done before the rainy season.) Now we'll hope for rain every day for 30 days, or else we have to water the sod each day.

The hill and the backyard are the last big outside projects at our new house. Some day I may try to draw our landscape; it's a number of mini-ecosystems.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Doorway and Other Stories (free ebook)

Today is the last day to get my story collection as a free download from Amazon Kindle, but you can get a free Kindle app here too:
The Doorway: Nessa stumbles into the time corridor and faces danger.
Guard Dog: Sequel to The Doorway. Nessa meets an old friend who needs her help.
Stray Cats: Cats, humans, and a mad scientist.
Pilot's Course: What happened to change this girl's life?
The Princess Quest : The princess needs a barbarian to help her on her quest.
When Danger Rules: Reesa came back to rescue the remaining members of her family. Now she had to avoid being killed by her cousin, who wanted the throne, and the new ruler of the planet, who didn't want a throne, and the ones she had come to rescue...
Home Not: When Grief's Aunt Chelsea died, his Uncle Sandro saw his chance, and Grief was at his mercy... Adventure.
What Price a Friendly Freep: Aliens and humans and space pirates.
Too Tight: Petals has a close call...
Royal Guardians: Kara and her companions, including a temple cat, land in Florida after escaping from another dimension.
Old Rex: They killed Rex, but he came back when she called him.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Midcentury modern (link)

The midcentury modern style seems sterile and uncomfortable to me, but for those of you who like it, check out these ideas:

Btw, my family had shag carpet when I was a kid, and when a dog throws up on it, that is almost impossible to clean!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Travel, entertaining, and Southern cooking

The June issue of Southern Living has some great articles on travel destinations, including Louisiana--and be sure to read the My Hometown piece on Oxford, MS; landscaping (love the roses and coleus); and Southern cooking (check out the recommended barbeque places). The recipes focus on peaches--Yummy!--but I love that Praline Key Lime pie (combining two of my favorites). And I loved the garage makeover and the home and gardens in Kentucky. Beautiful and mouth-watering issue.

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pretty Pink Planet on Freebie Friday

Pretty Pink Planet has been picked by Indies Unlimited for their Freebie Friday list:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Joy's writing news update

My latest e-book, The Doorway and Other Stories, will be available as a free download on Kindle June 8 & 9:

I’m happy to have some of my old stories in one place. Except for The Princess Quest, which is a humorous fantasy, and Old Rex, a ghost story, the rest of the stories are all science fiction adventures of different types, involving aliens, time travel, symbiotes, and humans searching for a home and/or family. All the stories have been published elsewhere–sometimes more than once–over the years, except for Royal Guardians. And you don't need a Kindle! There's a free app on the webpage.

In the meantime, Pretty Pink Planet is always free: (SF)
Lori, an agent of SOESFOL, visits Prism to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens.

And my other e-books include: Hidebound: (SF)
After Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly.

Hot Yellow Planet: (SF)
In this Pretty Pink Planet sequel, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures.

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure: (Non-fiction)
How one woman bought and remodeled a foreclosure; it didn’t even have a kitchen sink!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fun choices (link)

Have you ever seen that TV home show that helps you find look-alike (more or less) furniture cheaper than the those fancy and expensive designer pieces?  (I'm always tickled when I like the cheaper pieces more.)  Here's a webpage that lets you make such choices: Splurge or Steal: Sabrina Soto's Picks for Bargain Housewares : Decorating : 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!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This is one hot kitchen! (link)

This colorful, sleek Italian kitchen really has the WOW factor--along with an impressive price tag, which doesn't even include the appliances.  Stand by to admire this import:


Monday, May 21, 2012

Architecture in fiction

"...the Jade House, whose upcurved eaves could just be seen through the tall pines.
It was two years since Susanne had stayed in the Jade House.  It was a miniature palace which derived its name from the green stones of its facade and the green tiles of its roof.  Over the doorway was a single piece of polished jade into which had been carved the Chinese characters for 'The Flight of the Heron.'  Upon its bronze doors was pictured the long-legged water bird on the wing."

From Underground Retreat (Reynal & Hitchcock, 1946) by Maribelle Cormack and Pavel Bytovetzski

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Decorating and entertaining ideas

There are lots of decorating ideas in the June issue of Country Living, including an apparent trend in octopus accessories. Decorative bird cages, metal chairs, and carnival collectibles--including those old weighted bottles--are also fun, and I loved the Valspar green paint color: Martian.
There are also a variety of room design, party, and craft ideas--and a story about a rescued Beagle named Eureka... The Real Estate Sampler focuses on Eastlake stick-style homes, while a landscaper uses a mixture of foliage plants. And there are some intriguing recipes. Looking forward to summer!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Glass sinks (link)

I don't care for vessel sinks (they sit on top of the counter)--so impractical--but here are some lovely sinks from Kohler:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Curb appeal (link)

This HGTV webpage has some great landscaping ideas, though, frankly, I'm not that fond of picket fences.  I love curved paths and rock hardscape though.  Brick--maybe not so much, but that could be because we're about to have our front brick pathway (curved around our big flower bed to the driveway) regrouted...  I also love colorful foliage and flowers; and a home lit up at night is so welcoming!  Link: Curb Appeal Tips : Outdoor Projects : HGTV Remodels

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Design Star (new season)

Design Star, which includes remodeling and design challenges, returns Tuesday (new night), May 29.  It looks like they're trying to make it more dramatic--or something; and they've added one of the Kardasians (sp)...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Innovative hammock: The Wave

This hammock makes its own shade. "Standing on a single point from which it rises and curls into an elegant and sun-shaded oval, the Wave is constructed of stainless steel and fabric. Its unique shape and balance point make it resilient to wind and rough-housing, and the semi-transparent fabric is enough to block 86 percent of the sun’s rays."  Check it out at:


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I love the  beautiful display of flowers and plants in the grocery store--a lot more than usual because of Mother's Day.  They were everywhere when I went shopping Friday.  I was tempted to bring some home, but decided to buy more groceries instead...  However, my sister shopped Saturday and brought me a potted tulip!  She said she picked the one whose buds were closest to opening, and now I can't wait to see them.  I'm not even sure of the color(s) yet.  I hope all you mothers out there are enjoying your day--and flowers!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Architecture in fiction

"Around a turn was Rojack's house. It was one of those places that an architect had been given a free hand with, and too much money. He had decided that he could make a totally postmodern statement without violating the traditional forms implicit in the setting. The place looked like it had been designed by Georges Braque while drunk. It was slabs and angles and cubes and slants in fieldstone and brick and glass and timber, and it flaunted itself against the pastured landscape in self-satisfied excess. ... Beyond the horses [in the pasture] ... was a barn, newly built, that mimicked the old barns of New England the way fashion mimics clothing."

From Stardust by Robert Parker

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting rid of all that clutter isn't easy (link)

Here's a fascinating blog post about getting rid of years of accumulated clutter. It required grit and determination. I think getting rid of stuff right away helped, along with the shredder and storage system. I think it's inspiring!  Link:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kitchen cabinets (link)

Here are some lovely and interesting ideas for kitchen cabinets, though I prefer light cabinets to those really dark ones; and I like a granite--or whatever material you prefer--countertop that complements the cabinet color: Kitchen Cabinet Styles and Trends : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

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

Monday, May 7, 2012

The A to Z Challenge (reflections)

I enjoyed the Challenge.  Coming up with the words for each letter was fun and educational.  I also appreciated the days off each Sunday after the first one; I labeled them Intermission and used them to catch up with posts that I needed to put on my blog.  And using Yes! for my Y day I thought worked well with my interview with Amy Peterson (author of From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds) since I was scheduled to host her on her blog book tour that day (April 28).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Detour Trail (a novel of the frontier)

I just signed a contract with Melange Books for Detour Trail, my frontier novel.  (Purr, purr)  Now I have to finish the paperwork--getting together the info for the cover art, bio and blurb info, etc.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Doorway and Other Stories (Kindle freebie)

The Doorway and Other Stories is available as a free download on Kindle May 6 and 7.   And remember that if you don't have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle app...

Story teasers:
The Doorway

Nessa stumbles into the time corridor while helping a friend.
Guard Dog
Sequel to The Doorway. Nessa travels to the time of Earth’s first contact.
Stray Cats
Cats, herps, and humans–sometimes interchangeable.
Pilot’s Course
Terran humans in the far future settled on other planets. Heroine plots new course… (Won 2nd place in the Florida Freelance Writers Association’s Florida State Writing Competition–Andre Norton Fantasy/SF Short Story division 1995.)
The Princess Quest
Sword & Sorcery: The princess and the barbarian…
When Danger Rules
Reesa came back to rescue the remaining members of the family she loved. Now she had to avoid being killed by her cousin, who wanted the throne, and the new ruler of the planet, who didn’t want a throne, and the ones she had come to rescue…
(Excerpt in Writer’s Digest Nov. 2000 and Excerpt in Writing Clinic (special issue) 2003)
Home Not
When Grief’s Aunt Chelsea died, his Uncle Sandro saw his chance, and Grief was at his mercy… Adventure.
What Price a Friendly Freep
Aliens and humans and spaceships.
Too Tight
Close call…
Royal Guardians
Heroine and companions land in Florida after escaping from another dimension.
Old Rex
D.A.’s daughter’s dead dog (ghost story).

Monday, April 30, 2012

Zipping along, we finally arrive at Z!

Zounds!  This archaic word is a mild oath derived from God's wounds.  No origin is given, but it sounds English.  Astound your friends and pacify your mother.  (My mother never realized that Bloody was a bad word in English.)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Joy's writing news update

[Intermission] My short story, Refugees in the Caves, is now a podcast:
The podcast is available via iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).
iTunes (item 1), Google’s Feedburner (final item), Podbean, Podcasters or Podcast Alley.
It's also still available at Flash Fiction Fridays:
My review of Punctuation by G. Miki Hayden is in the May/June issue of Working Writer.
My latest e-book (story collection), The Doorway and Other Stories, is now available on Kindle:
My other e-books include: Hidebound:
(SF)  After Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly.
Pretty Pink Planet (free e-book):
(SF)  Lori, an agent of SOESFOL, visits Prism to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens.
Hot Yellow Planet:
In this Pretty Pink Planet sequel, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures.
Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure:
How one woman bought and remodeled a foreclosure; it didn’t even have a kitchen sink!
And I'm waiting to hear back on my three novels: Strike Three (SF), Taboo Tech (SF), and Detour Trail (western).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yes! It's time to meet Amy Peterson!!

My guest today is Amy Peterson, author of From Zero To Four Kids in Thirty Seconds.

JVS: Amy, thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds. It was not only interesting and fun, but your tips were great! I thought that the combination made for not only an enjoyable read, but would help a new stepparent feel a little more confident at least. Have you gotten much feedback about that?

Thank you, Joy, for the comments—I’m so glad you enjoyed my book! I’ve heard from several stepmoms who said they could relate to the tips in my book, and I also heard from two women who said they wouldn’t run away if they found out the guy they were interested in had kids. That was all great to hear. One comment about my book that touched me was when Nikki of Purple Penguin Reviews wrote: “It helped me relate to my own stepmother in ways that I had never considered before. I fell in love with this book and I highly recommend it to anyone, whether you are a stepmom or not.” I was happy to hear that my book might be of help for stepkids, too.

JVS: I'm not surprised; you covered a lot of territory. I know that you're working on a sequel. What will it be about?

My “squeak-quel” is about a whole assortment of critters my husband, Mark, “always wanted.” This one starts with Mark claiming that his son, Conrad always wanted an aquarium, which I question based on the surprised look on Conrad’s face when we give him an aquarium and because he asks what he should put in it. Several frogs come and go, followed by two messy iguanas and finally Mark admits he’s the one that really wants critters. It turns out Mark’s list of “wants” is rather long. All in all, my home becomes habitat for frogs, iguanas, hedgehogs, ferrets, mice, gerbils, hamsters, dogs, a stray cat, fish, a rescued rabbit and a domestic duck. I also share fun encounters with the wildlife that I attract to our backyard.

JVS:Will the book have fun chapters like From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds did?

Yes. For example, one chapter is called “Goin’ Hog Wild,” and in that chapter, I introduce Sonic, the female hedgehog Mark fell in love with at the pet store. After Sonic is settled into our home, Mark decides Sonic needs a boyfriend and arranges for my dear sister to bring a male hedgehog from St. Louis to our home in Michigan. Louie, the male hedgehog, escapes from his cage several times and literally scales a wall to be with Sonic. The result: several unplanned litters of baby hedgehogs.

JVS: So it'll be about you, Mark, the children, and the critters?

Yes. My book will also show how each pet had a way of taking over the house and how I managed to spoil each one. For example, the chapter “Ferreting Out Another Want” is all about ferrets. We end up with four ferrets, and because they are mischievous, we have to cover up our potted house plants, rubber band our kitchen cupboards shut, and duct tape the underside of our Lazy-Boy chair. In this chapter readers will learn that our ferrets all liked raisins and Pop-Tarts; one liked bananas; another liked bagels bits with lots of butter.

JVS: Will it be as entertaining and full of helpful hints as much as From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds?

Indeed, my next book will be entertaining and humorous, with the little problem that a few of the animals die over the 17-year history covered. This book will also be filled with helpful tips throughout. For example:

· Fleas and ticks on a rescue rabbit hop more than a rabbit does.
· A domestic duck can be quite content in a house with two dogs and a cat.
· Fish find little humor when their tank leaks all over the floor.
· Hamsters get the most attention when kept on a kitchen counter.

I will also have photos of each of the critters on my web site. And finally, I have four photo books that I hope to convert into e-books, including:
· Purrkins, the Cat
· Bumpkin (about the domestic duck)
· Good-night, Big Wuzzy (about a ferret)
· Dusty, the Angel Pups

JVS: I know there'll be an eager audience for this, and I'm looking forward to it because I can relate. While I've had mostly cats and dogs, I also had a rabbit, parakeets and other birds in our household, as well as White's tree frogs--which aren't as common, but certainly not as much fun as Sonic!

I’m hoping there will be plenty for even veteran animal owners. For example, even as a veteran cat owner, you may find humor in the story of our $100 hairball.

Thank you again, Joy!

For a chance to win one of five (5) copies of the paperback version of Amy's book, go to her site:    and comment that you're following her blog, liked her on Facebook and can't wait to read either her book about being a stepmom OR her next one, about animals, and you'll be entered to win!

Friday, April 27, 2012


Believe it or not, xeriscape isn't in my old desk dictionary!  Oh, wow.  It's from 1988.  (Webster's New World Dictionary)  Basically it means not wasting water...  So when you landscape, you generally use native plants that don't require extra water.  Also don't mix cacti with weeping willows; otherwise one will be too wet or the other too dry.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I found a really cool W: Winter

I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but now live in Florida; the meaning of winter varies according to location, but I have fond memories of snow and the snow ice cream that Mom made (Dad did the shoveling); here cold weather just makes the alligators torpid.  This last winter here was warmer, btw, and I rarely wore a sweatshirt.  It depends on whether or not the cold fronts make it here.  I love cold fronts--and the needed rain they sometimes bring.  Btw, we did have snow down here a few decades ago. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lots of fun words in V

Vellum (oh, oh. see parchment)
Victoria--four-wheeled carriage dating from the time of the reticule
Venus' flytrap (I wrote a short story about carnivorous plants once: Carnies).
I pick vintage because I like vintage books, furniture, etc. My vintage books include the bound volumes of Chatterbox, which are very rare. My father let us read them early on, and so we colored in them (not bad, btw) and some of the books are truly tattered, but we replaced them over the years, except for one. Drat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unicorn is a rare U!

I don't write much fantasy, but I used unicorns in one story, The Trees of Home, and the artwork with that story is lovely.  Unfortunately, it's not archived, but I hope to have it available soon...

Monday, April 23, 2012

My choice for T is Toadhouses

I've collected toad houses for years--from nurseries (sometimes on our vacations), garden centers, and catalogs.  We haven't seen any toads here in town, but the anoles use them.  And remember!  Toad houses don't need floors; they have to sit on the ground so they can dig their way into the dirt to hibernate.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Home decorating ideas

[Intermission]  The May 2012 issue of Country Living has a variety of decor ideas and accessories; I liked the risers counting up from the number one--with brass house numbers (painted)--on an elegant wood stairway. And the pull-down map (possibly from a school) was impressive. Other ideas included using drop cloths from a hardware store for upholstering sofas and chairs. An interesting and different color combination was Salmon Peach (Benjamin Moore) with their Strawberry Shortcake glaze over it. Certainly not to everyone's taste. Speaking of which, the food section included a few pasta dishes.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sprinkler system

This sprinks--uh, springs--to mind 'cause we were just working with our sprinkler system--again.  Ever since we moved to our new house with its sprinkler system (our first ever), we've had different people working on the whole system (six zones) for various reasons at various times, and we just got zone 6 working again.  We all thought--and hoped--that it was a loose wire, and it was.  The guy was checking it out, and the wire fell into his hand.  A clue!  Zone 6 is on our big hill, and that area really needs water.  (We've been in a drought.)  Now we stand around and admire the rotating water as it waters the lawn, the trees--the sidewalk...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Reach into your Reticule

A reticule is a woman's small handbag; it originally was made of network and probably had a drawstring. (From French and Latin). You'll come across references to reticules in historical novels and elsewhere.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whoa there!! No, it's time for Q: Quadruped

A Quadruped is an animal, especially a mammal, with four feet. And it's useful to remember that quad is Latin for four. Pes means foot. And for some reason I'm thinking of horse.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Poking around for P

Let's see. There's parchment--EEK! I didn't know that--or parenthesis--one of my favorite punctuation marks--or perfume--no, usually too strong... Wait! Here's Pet. That gives me a chance to mention some of our dogs: Blue Belle, an ACD and Lacer, a Cocker Spaniel; cats: Pewter and Azure; and birds: Fife, a canary.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let's pause for an O

This refreshing pause is at an Oasis; it's not only welcoming in the desert--unless it's a mirage--but it can be a relaxing respite in your day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The start of a New week and the letter is N!

I choose Negative; it's one of my favorite words. (I blame Mr. Spock.) I confess that it confuses people who are expecting a simple No, but when I say Negative, I mean it!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds (upcoming author interview)


I have the privilege of hosting Amy Peterson's book blog tour here on April 28! I enjoyed reading Amy's book, From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds, and talking with her. Now I'm looking forward to reading the sequel (title to be announced).

See below for an excerpt from my review and her book tour schedule.

Review excerpt:

"I came across this book online; it sounded intriguing--and fun, so I got it. I enjoyed it from Amy and Mark's first meeting in the workplace when he rejects her proposal (for a study grant), their tentative attempts at getting to know each other and date--despite her understandable reluctance to get involved with a man with four children. ..." I gave the book 5 stars, btw.

Tour schedule:

9th April -



19th April -


24th April -

26th April - - GIVEAWAY (1 NECKLACE)

27th April - - GIVEAWAY (1 NECKLACE)


Saturday, April 14, 2012

A pretty M is like a melody

Melody comes from melodie (Middle English). Synonyms are air and tune.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Let's hear it for lovely lavender!

Lavender is one of my favorite plants and scents. The color's nice too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kaput is today's K word

Just because I like the sound of it. It's an adjective and comes from the German word, kaputt (lost, ruined, broken). It apparently also has a French background (capot-- as used in piquet--from capster--capsize.) It's a fun slang word.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Here's a J--and it's smiling!

J is for Jack -o'-lantern. They're not only fun, apparently they were used as lanterns. Now they're used as paper decorations too--with, of course, a black cat popping out. ( I love decorating for Halloween.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I love inventions! They make our lives easier. Okaaay, sometimes they make our lives more confusing, but I still love my computer. What's really fun is watching old movies where computer banks fill up the room. Then I'm really, really grateful. And of course, though I'm never on the cutting edge, by the time I get around to getting a new invention, they are a lot cheaper. Now I want an Internet-connected TV.

(Thanks, Sandee)

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for hero--and heroine

As a writer, I think about heroes and heroines a lot, and I thought about posting some of my favorites, but I'm fond of all of them. So here's a sampling:
Heroes: Ferenc (Hidebound), Grief (Home Not), Bolt (Detour Trail),and Cheng O'Flaherty (Rocky Falls Park).
Heroines: Anfissa (Hidebound), Lori (Pretty Pink Planet and sequel), Reesa (When Danger Rules), Nessa (The Doorway and sequel), Sugar (Sugar Time), and Juul (Seedlings).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ten Tips to upgrade your home (link)

[Intermission] Here are ten ways to improve your home's value, including a front yard makeover, adding attic insulation [something we need to do, btw], and adding more lighting inside your home--or adding dimmer switches. [It's interesting reading the discussions about these projects; not all experts agree, and I certainly don't agree that adding skylights is a good idea.] Check out other ideas here: 10 Investments to Boost Your Home's Value : Home Improvement : DIY Network

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

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Looking for a G? Try Google!

I was thinking of using Giggle or Guffaw (Giggle's big--and loud--brother), but then Google popped up. It is one of my favorite words, after all. I google all the time 'cause I'm looking up people, movies, websites, ... .