Monday, December 30, 2013

Ideas and furnishings for your home

There's an interesting piece on Bennington Potters spatterware and a nice selection of task lamps in the February 2013 issue of Country Living, plus helpful articles on furnishing a small space and finding affordable furnishings. (They don't have to be new! Use your imagination.) Large blueprints add an fun and colorful touch, btw.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

You can enjoy watching the fire in the fireplace while listening to Christmas music on the UP channel.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ideas for small spaces

The January issue of Southern Living has some good suggestions for working with small spaces.  That dark blue wood floor looks good; it's supposed to have a cooling effect during hot Southern summers; the 8 inch band of red paint at the base of the walls takes the place of millwork; and the area rug keeps it from being too blue.  Wall hangings and rugs add color and pattern to a room without taking up space.  If you can open up to an outdoor room, that helps.  Use the right-sized bed.  (A home owner found an antique Empire bed that's bigger than a twin bed, but smaller than a double.  (I imagine that there are custom-built beds.)  And check out the ideas for laundry rooms, libraries, kitchens, and offices also.  And there are more articles on homes, gardening ( I enjoy the Grumpy Gardener's column), and recipes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas gift and decorating ideas

The December issue of HGTV Magazine has holiday decorating, gift, and DIY ideas, and I enjoyed the crafts IQ quiz.  (I wonder why they didn't include blue painter's tape for adhering stencils?)  And two columns I like are the Upside and Downside of decisions and How bad is your choice in making a variety of decisions.  (People actually dry their nails under a UV light?!)  Oh, wait!  There's another column I like: It compares high priced products with a similar product that's cheaper.  Sometimes the imitation looks just as good or better.  There are lots of pictures, suggestions, and advice in this issue.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo report

I finished my 50,000 words--and a little over--for National Novel Writing Month last night.  I had hoped to finish sooner, but I did take some time off for the Doctor Who marathon, and I had to stop periodically to figure out where I--and my characters--were going.  And then there was the ending.  When and where was that going to be?!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday decorating

The holiday decorating ideas in the December/January issue of Country Living include lots of greenery and wrapping paper; I loved the hardback books covered with red plaid wrapping paper that filled a bookcase--so colorful and eye-catching--and lots of work.  There are also Christmas ornament suggestions and decorations with nature motifs.

At our house we fill bowls with Christmas ornaments and hang them from our pegboards, and I'll be getting out the creche soon too.  And I always keep an eye out for little animals to add to it.

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Doorway and Other Stories

Here are fourteen of my favorite stories (available now in paperback!), and since my favorite genre is science fiction, they are mostly SF except for The Princess Quest, a tongue-in-cheek sword and sorcery epic, and Old Rex, a ghost story. They've all been published elsewhere, except for Royal Guardians; this is its first time in print. If you like reading about aliens, time travel, symbiotes, and humans searching for a home, family, their own bodies, etc., I think you'll enjoy this collection of characters and their adventures:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Design and holiday ideas

There are plenty of design ideas and entertainment suggestions--and just look at all those cookie recipes--in the December issue of Southern Living!  However, I'd rethink removing the porch railing 'cause it looks unwelcoming (having people fall off the porch is way more unwelcoming), distressing mirrors to make them look old (why?!), and paving the back yard.  Okaaay, maybe they don't have dogs...

I do like the paint color, Green Smoke (Farrow & Ball), in the study.  And there are Christmas ideas and recipes, of course.  Pass those Peppermint Divinity Bars over here, please!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Christmas gift ideas: Joy's e-books

Merry Christmas!

For those of you who got an ebook reader for Christmas--or couldn't wait,
here are my e-books. Or you can read them on your computer. Your choice.

Detour Trail
My western novel, Detour Trail, is now available from Melange Books, the publisher--and elsewhere online :

Pretty Pink Planet
Lori, an agent of SOESFOL (Search Out and Establish Sentient Forms of Life) visits Prism, a popular tourist destination, to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens, if she can find and talk to them.
(Pretty Pink Planet is a free ebook)

Hot Yellow Planet
In the sequel to Pretty Pink Planet, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures, meeting up with Chameleons, Ghosters, Splurts, and other aliens and humans.

Hidebound is a SF romance (adult content) also available on Amazon Kindle:

 The Doorway and Other Stories
 is available on Kindle:
It includes 14 SF and fantasy adventures AND
It will soon be available as paperback.

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure
How we coped with selling a house--at last, looking for a new house, buying a new house that was a foreclosure and needed lots of work, and then remodeling it since it didn't even have a kitchen sink!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November color of the month: Paprika (link)

It's a great color choice for the fall, and I like the idea of adding a few framed autumn leaves to your wall art.  And that's a fun and busy tablecloth.  Check out other ideas:{4E6771C7-C8B2-491F-8AC7-73EFF9F12E8E}

Friday, November 1, 2013

Make your home colorful and fun

The November issue of HGTV Magazine is full of fun colors and ideas, including two- and three-toned colors of painted furniture.  And when entertaining, you can print a menu from their template.  And you can paint a bottle from the inside...    Their advice columns are  helpful by advising you to hire a pro or try to do it yourself.  And telling you how bad it is when making choices, such as reheating your coffee.  (Don't do it more than once.)  And one of my favorite decorating columns is the one that shows you how much you can save by comparison shopping.  (Don't waste your money on fancy, and the Fiesta steak knife set is prettier anyway.)  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scrap metal sculptures

I went to the big fall plant festival downtown today and had a good time browsing the flowers and trees and garden accessories, plus handmade soap, etc.; the wild animal rescue display is always interesting too.  So, once again I looked at the critters made from scrap metal; there is always such an amazing variety of birds and animals.  The horses, dogs, birds, peacock, etc. are fun.  I was tempted by the big dog with the bone (wrench) in its mouth and the eyes made from gauges, the smaller version, and the Chihuahua (little dog anyway) with blue eyes.

I finally decided on the smaller version of the dog with the bone in its mouth, which was a good thing 'cause it's heavy!  Its body is a really big coil recycled from something; its head is a hammer head; its feet and ears are from golf clubs, and its tail is a straight thin pipe sticking straight up.  The length of the coil is 13".  The height to the top of the head is 15".  The wrench (bone) in its mouth is 9" from one side to the other.  The height of the tail from its rear is 9".  The eyes are backed by metal circles, and the bluish eyes are plastic maybe.  When I took it in the house and put it on the living room floor, Blizzard sniffed its butt...

Friday, October 18, 2013

AC repair update

Our AC company sent a repairman with the new condenser coil yesterday.  It took him a few hours because he had to remove everything and then put everything back, but now it's cool on this side of the house, where my office is, so you know I'm a lot more comfortable working. He had to add eight pounds of freon, btw.  I didn't know that it took that much or that you measured it in pounds!  He also said that he wasn't sure if the manufacturer would honor the warranty because of the cicumstances...  (That is an expensive piece of equipment!  And it was an expensive repair--labor and materials.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Christmas gift list

Check out these gift suggestions (fiction and non-fiction):
Something Furry Underfoot by Amy L. Peterson:

When Amy Married a biologist named Mark, she knew that a few pets were in her future, but she had no idea the number and variety of pets Mark had in mind:


From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds by Amy L. Peterson:


From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds is a fun read, and it includes tips for stepmothers:.


To Ignite a Fire on Enceladus by Vincent Miskell combined with Jack London's To Build a Fire:


Miskell updates Jack London's classic story.  I enjoyed reading them both together, and I love Miskell's dog...


Godspeed Inc: A Naomi Kinder Adventure (Naomi Kinder SF Adventures) by Vincent Miskell:

This first Naomi Kinder science fiction adventure spans the wide orbits of Pluto and Uranus and takes Naomi to the airless, icy moon of Umbriel.  Naomi’s got some special abilities, but she’s no hero. Now the fate of the civilized solar system depends on her.  [Free]:
Rescuing the Future: A Naomi Kinder Novel (Naomi Kinder SF Adventures) by Vincent Miskell:
Another fun Naomi Kinder adventure:


Punctuation by G. Miki Hayden:


An essential primer and Reference book:


A Murder in Harlem by G. Miki Hayden:


The complete collection of 11 mystery/crime stories featuring Miriam, her husband, Kofi, and her co-wife, Nana, by Edgar-winning short story author Hayden. Five of the stories were first published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine:


Detour Trail  by Joy V. smith:


Review excerpt: The main character in this book is Lorrie, a strong, courageous woman that goes off the Oregon Trail and blazes her own life in the West. She's the embodiment of what a woman of that time period had to be like: able to make decisions, able to pull and use a weapon, and with the people skills needed to survive and thrive:   
Hidebound (SF) by Joy V. Smith:
After Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly:  and

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Home decorating and entertaining

The November issue of Country Living includes panel screens, collectibles, Thanksgiving entertaining ideas (including paint sample colors placecards and labeled table runners), and home decorating suggestions--old and new can work well together (I'm glad they kept the original black and white checkerboard linoleum in the foyer).  And using a linen tablecloth as a coverlet is a cool idea.  Plus some of the best recipes I've seen in a while.  The Citrus-Cranberry Sauce (add grapefruit juice), Potato Gratin (rub the cooking dish with garlic first), and a Carmelized-Onion Galette (I think that's a tart) look and sound especially good.  The Spicy Pickled Green Beans (with dill) sounds good too.  'Course I love dill.  I must not forget the Sweet-Potato Spoon Bread with Caramel-Pecan Topping!  

Friday, October 11, 2013

AC coil sabotage!

It's still hot here in Florida (we're used to that in September, but it's almost the middle of October!), but then we noticed a few days ago that it was hot inside as well.  I really noticed it sitting at the computer in the office so we called our AC company, and a repairman came out, took that unit apart (we have two so the other end of the house is cool) and then wandered around in the attic for a while.  Finally he came in the house and led us out to the unit and showed us the problem.  Our little Corgi male has been lifting his leg on the unit, and the acid in the urine destroyed the coil and so the freon escaped.  So now we're waiting for a new coil, which should take 7-10 days, and then we'll pay big bucks to have it replaced.  The repairman advised us to fence it off so that doesn't happen again.  Yep, we went straight to the hardware store and bought several sections of little plastic fencing and surrounded the unit and its slab.  It's not your pretty little picket fence, but it's in a corner hidden by a lot of plants, which is why we never noticed what he was up to...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flash fiction stories podcast (link)

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘short stories’ episode number 32 went live today and contained four flash fiction pieces that have appeared on my blog as Flash Fiction Fridays.
This episode contained: Blackbird by Jade Kennedy, The Letter by Jane Risdon, Why Me by Angela Watt, and Triumph by Joy V Smith.

Li nk:

See the link above to read the stories… or hear my dulcet tones on the podcast…

The podcast is already available via Google’s Feedburner and will be in the next few hours on iTunes, then Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Meet Amy L. Peterson, author and step-mom (link)

I enjoyed this interview with Amy L. Peterson, author of From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds and Something Furry Underfoot.  I enjoyed--and reviewed--both books, plus her children's books about some of the pets that appear in Something Furry Underfoot.  Now here's Amy:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tropical Storm Karen

TS Karen is heading NNW and may make landfall between Mobile and Pensacola before turning east.  It probably won't become a hurricane.  We may get some rain Sunday. 

I didn't give much space to TS Jerry, who is long gone, I think.

It's been quiet this season (for us), and I saw on the weather report a few days ago that we were 28% lower storm wise...  Or only 28% of what we usually get in the way of named storms--or hurricanes.  Something like that.

Update (10-5-13): Karen is now a tropical depression and is expected to make landfall in southern Lousiana and still expected to turn northeast after that.

Update (10-6-13): The remnants of Karen are heading east.  We might get some rain tomorrow.

Note: The first winter storm was named Atlas. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October: The month of the bazaar

Yes, it's time for fall bazaars and Halloween. I pulled out my Halloween decorations this morning; I don't go all out and put a cemetary on the front lawn--though I passed one last night that looks cool--or put up all kinds of scary stuff. I have two ghost candles and cardboard black cats and pumpkins and a huge Hocus Pocus book (it's hollow and makes funny noises when you open it, though it looks like it needs a new battery), plus colorful (fake) leaves covering the hunt board. One of my favorite restaurants is more impressive! It has spiders (flat and 3D) and bats (flying and hanging), ghosts, skeletons, etc. all over the windows, the walls, and the interior doors (full size on the doors)!  So have fun--and don't scare the kiddies!  And for entertaining, a hollowed-out pumpkin is great for serving a pumpkin dish or candy (line it first for the candy). 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Toilets, The history of

The October issue of Old House Journal has an interesting article on the history of toilets, and no, Thomas Crapper did not invent the first flush toilet. "It was actually in the 1590s that Sir John Harington [did] ... [He] proved that a toilet withut a sewer is just a gigantic chamber pot, ..." There's also a timeline of toilet progress from 1596 to 1932; and from 1900-1932, there were 350 toilet patents. And I appreciated the bathroom design possibilities shown, along with the illustrated toilet designs and available products. I especially liked the jadeite porcelain and chrome toilet roll holder.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Home design

There are some lovely home ideas in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of New Old House. A Savvy Home (Architect's Principles article) tells the story of a family that was all set to build a home of more than 5,000 square feet, but in September 2008 it had to be postponed... Four years later, his clients called him; they were ready to go ahead, but they had decided to make it smaller (3,000 square feet). They didn't need the home they'd imagined, and they'd be downsizing eventually so this would be more practical. The architect, Russell Versaci, goes on to say that those pretentious McMansions will become dated and even white elephants in the future. Instead of trendy, go for classic.

Btw, locally--possibly Tampa--a wealthy man just bulldozed his big million dollar home so he could build a bigger one. He didn't even recycle the expensive building materials--or the curtains--the waste! (I got to see it happen on the news.)

Note: I recently called Restore (the Habitat for Humanity store) to pick up the leftovers from our modest remodeling projects.

Have you seen those huge cut out openings--no trim work--between rooms on the home shows? Apparently another recent trend; they look like someone cut them out with a butcher knife. There's a home in this issue where they framed the opening with classical pilasters. Beautiful! I also liked the colonnades with leaded glass doors (it looks like) in another home.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Snackies board (link)

I'm not known for my cooking 'cause I don't, so I decided to add a snacks board to my Pinterest collection, and I'm having fun with that.  You'll notice that I included healthy snacks from Kashi--and I didn't include those fancy popcorn snacks...  (They come in all flavors and colors.)


Note: I got the Kashi hummus crisps free because I'm a BzzAgent, and I get to try all kinds of fun stuff.  Yes, snacks are among my favorite food products to taste test, and I--and my family--enjoyed Kashi's Sea Salt and Olive Oil hummus crisps, which are flavorful and very crispy, but I'm looking forward even more to the Carmelized Onion flavor.  And yes, I plan to track down potato chips to add to my snackies board.

Home decorating and Halloween ideas

The October issue of Southern Living has The Fall Fun Guide (recipes, party ideas, etc.), which includes dining on the porch--or in the barn--and a fall menu. The breads article includes hot breakfast fritters. I also enjoyed the article about the home owners who redecorated a house full of neutral colors into a more interesting and colorful home. (However, I've never liked those boring white subway tiles.)

Birds and Blooms (October/November issue) suggests painting pumpkins with acrylic glitter paint. I like the look! Or paint small pumpkins in colors that match your house.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Joy V. Smith's ebooks update

Detour Trail is now available on Kindle:

My story (SF and fantasy) collection, The Doorway and Other Stories, is also available on Kindle:

Hidebound (SF) is available on:

After Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly.

Pretty Pink Planet (SF) is available free on

Lori, an agent of SOESFOL, visits Prism to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens.

Hot Yellow Planet is available on:

In this Pretty Pink Planet sequel, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures.

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure (non-fiction) is available on: and

How one woman bought and remodeled a foreclosure; it didn’t even have a kitchen sink!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back door project finished

The back door was installed yesterday, but was fine-tuned today with trim, hinges, and hardware secured. Since it was a remodeling, there were issues to be addressed because the door frame wasn't exactly straight and the hinges had to be moved, plus a new one installed. (I do feel more secure with three hinges.) It took three days, and yesterday the doorway was covered with plastic and taped and weighted down to keep the heat out. (We're still in the low 90s here.) The contractor had to walk back and forth around back and through the garage to get to the door (painting, drilling, etc.). And we had to take the dogs out through the garage and walk them out front (easier than going up the ramp and through the gate).

The new door is beautiful, and we noticed a difference in the noise level.  It's much quieter, and we have tempered safety glass, which is 3-5 times stronger than annealed glass.  It's also Low-E (a high performance glass coating that blocks heat flow) and Energy Star compliant.  And instead of a vertical picture window in the door, we have grilles and blinds between the glass.  The old door frame was black; the new door is all white except for the clear glass; it looks better, and the dining room looks bigger.  Interesting effect.   I hope to get pictures.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hurricane Humberto

Humberto, the first hurricane of the season, is expected to stay in the Atlantic.

Update (9-12-13): Humberto is still a category 1 and is heading west but should turn north--maybe...

Update (9-15-13): No longer a hurricane or anything...

Update (9-26-13): Yes, I missed posting about Humberto's peregrinations--and Ingrid!  I don't think there's been a Jerry yet... (I've been busy!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Home and Halloween ideas

There's a fun cover on the Ocotober issue of Country Living; that cake would make a great centerpiece with its spider webbing--and spiders--all over the cake! The webbing is made from gooey, melted marshmallows; the spiders are made with black fondant, though possibly black licorice or Twizzlers might work as well. For a fall decorating idea, you can decoupage pressed leaves on white gourds.  Check out this issue for more home and Halloween decorating ideas.

Collectibles include old school microscopes, which I think kids could have fun with too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dining room light replacement

At last the dining room overhead light--and its annoying dimmer--has been replaced with a ceiling fan, light, and new switch. We no longer have to turn on the light and then push the dimmer switch up--over and over. And the light is brighter, though we learned that one of the three bulbs was burned out. You can't tell inside that kind of shade.

While the electrician worked on the ceiling light--stopping to ask us which side of the blades we wanted to be facing down; we opted for the lighter wood since we didn't get the white blades we had planned on. (Don't ask.) And then when he called us in to check it out--uh, I think the shade is a trifle crooked--I looked at the the two pulls (which we have changed at least twice since then as we have mutliple fancy pull chains on hand) and realized that we hadn't asked him to use the second switch next to the light switch, which we had always wondered about. Why would they add a switch for a ceiling fan when they didn't have a ceiling fan?!
So, he started over. He had to take the whole fixture down! He sighed a lot, btw, but was very polite, and at last he called me into the dining room and asked me if there was an outlet behind the book cases lining the wall that the switches were on. Probably, I said, 'cause they're everywhere. You've never seen so many light switches, outlets, and jacks--and those other things... as are in this house. Well, he said calmly, this switch is probably for the outlet. Great Scott! You are probably right. The living room is wired that way--two switches for two outlets for floor lamps because they didn't have overhead lighting in the living room. (We rectified that, btw, by adding a ceiling light and fan and a foyer light.) But the dining room had an overhead light--pathetic though it was. Who'd have thought it?!

So we paid the man and he headed for home--still acclerating last we saw of him. And the bill was very reasonable. Thank you, sir! Now we sometimes put the dining room light on just to admire it and the light switch. The room is so much brighter, The perimeter of the room used to be in shadow.  We are delighted to have the third of the four remodeling projects that we'd put off, done this year.  Next is hanging the door, which is in the garage drying until sometime this coming week.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Grab bars

We added three grab bars during our remodel when we first moved in, but we've just added four more--two in each bathroom. The first two big grab bars (first remodel) were installed in the shower in the small bathroom--the longest on the long window wall and the shortest on the short wall (the end wall opposite the shower head). These are both horizontal.

The long grab bar in the bathtub/shower in the hall bathroom is angled (my preference); I had that done in my bathtub/shower at the old house that we built. That gives you a better choice for grabbing.

The new grab bars were added at the advice of a nurse for a family member--except for the one in the tub/shower which had been thought about for some time; it's just inside the corner to use getting in and out. Now there are two short vertical grab bars in front of the toilet in the small bathroom. They're under the towel bar and above the toilet paper holder. They fit nicely and aren't too obtrusive.

A longer grab bar--also vertical--is next to (actually in front of) the toilet in the hall (bigger) bathroom--in case that bathroom is needed in the future... The long grab bar is 18" and brushed stainless steel. The three short grab bars are each 9" and satin nickel--much more elegant than the long ones, which actually look pretty good too. They work together, and we're grateful to have that project done now.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bathroom remodeling project

The new bathroom vanity has been installed, and my feet have finally adjusted to the fact that there's less room on the floor than there was with the pedestal sink. The pedestal sink was a good sink (Kohler), but it had been badly damaged by a previous owner, and the cracks covered a good portion of the basin, though it wasn't leaking. However, the cracks and crazing seemed to be spreading, and mold and mildew loved those cracks. (More bleach!) So, we're enjoying the new addition and there's plenty of space for the toothbrush holder, soap dish, etc. We splurged on a new faucet too. The plumber showed us the old plumbing; it would probably have been good for two or three or more years yet, but the rust was spreading. We're happy to be done with that project and not have to deal with that plumbing problem in the future.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tropical Storm Gabrielle

TS Gabrielle is heading NW towards Puerto Rico, but should--according to most of the spaghetti models--turn NE and out into the ocean. 

A weatherman said that if we make it to September 12 without a hurricane, that will be the longest stretch without one since satellite coverage began in 1966.

Update (9-5-13): Gabrielle is now a tropical depression and not expected to strengthen.

Update (9-11-13): Gabrielle did strengthen and became a tropical storm again, but now it's back to being a depression.  (I don't pay a lot of attention to the weather unless I'm expecting rain.)

Update (9-12-13): She's a tropical storm again!

Update (9-15-13): The remnants are heading for Canada.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My guest post: Shared World Anthologies

I'm pleased to have the opportunity to be a guest blogger on Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog, and my subject is Shared World Anthologies. Find out more about these worlds, including some of my favorites:,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fantasy by Joy V. Smith

Check out my new Fantasy and Fun board on Pinterest:

And my flash fiction story: Triumph:

And Crystal Quest: Mystic Signals - Issue 17

Plus, there are a few fantasy stories in The Doorway and Other Stories on Kindle:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Remodeling: Not finished yet

We had about three projects left after we finished our remodeling--almost two and a half years ago now. We wanted to replace a bathroom pedestal sink that was cracked, the back door which is mostly a big pane of glass, and change out the dining room light with a ceiling fan/light combination. The dining room needs a brighter light, and we’ll get rid of that dimmer switch, which tends to sink down so that after we put on the light, we have to push the dimmer switch up!
So, we recently bought a vanity for the bathroom. We were going to get a smaller sink, but the new one is only slightly smaller; it’s angled on the front corners. We liked its looks better than the smaller vanity we also looked at. It should be installed next week, and we’ll see how it fits--and if we can get it around the corner of the utility room from the garage where it’s sitting now…
We also ordered a door; it has the blinds and a grid that is inside the glass. We’ll be able to finally have more privacy--though our backyard is very private--and yet the dogs can still look out the back door--and smear it up… The ceiling fan will wait a little longer, though we’ve been browsing for one for a long time.
We're still planting, of course, and we have more fruit trees and herbs than we had out in the country! The fig tree is covered with figs, and we've been harvesting them for a long time. The lime tree, which was here when we came, is covered with limes again. Since we moved here, we’ve given bags full of limes away. We're waiting for the mulberry and olive trees to start fruiting.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Architecture of the imagination

From The Heroine's Journey by G. Miki Hayden:

"Guin went out through the kitchen door, into the castle yard ... [Then she] ran inside and up the high stone steps to the battlements.  ... The tower was round, so no blind spots would a allow the enemy to creep up close without warning.  ..., on the other side of the keep, stone masons were hard at work on a second tower.  ...  Guin [glanced] down to the moat.  Tradespeople busily crossed to and fro on the drawbridge.  Just a typical day in the castle."

Amazon link:


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tropical Storm Erin

TS Erin is coming off Africa and heading WNW.  It's expected to run into some dry air which will slow it down.  In any case, it's not expected to reach us for a couple weeks.

Update (8-17): Erin is now a tropical depression and is still out in the ocean; it's not expected to do much.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More home and decorating suggestions

The September issue of HGTV Magazine includes plumber's tips and their How Bad Is It? section, wherein you learn a lot! How to keep your appliances lasting longer was also helpful. And their price comparisons are interesting. You can spend big bucks--or you can shop around. Oh, and I enjoyed their patterns quiz. I knew toile and, uh, ...

There are decorating suggestions and accessories selections and a month of mini makeovers. Some of those aren't worth the money you'd have to spend, and I don't like leaning mirrors against the wall--let alone overlapping them! There were also garden tips and kitchen gadget advice--with recipes. And more, of course. This is my second issue (it's a big magazine, btw), and I'm enjoying my subscription.

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Home--and world building--in science fiction (link)

I discuss world building (planets and cultures) in my guest post, Straight On Until A New Planet, on Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog today:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Makeover issue

The September issue of Country Living is the makeover issue, with some interesting home makeovers in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Breezy Point, NY (after Hurricane Sandy!).  Lots of ideas that you might use in your home.  And I always enjoy seeing the same room and basic furniture changed with different paint and accessories.  However, I'm sorry to see that people are still distressing floors!  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lorrie finds a home in Detour Trail (review excerpt)

Excerpt from RebeccasReads review:

"I do not wish to give away too much of the books ending, the place where it lands. I do feel I ought to tell you though that "Detour Trail" describes a world that it would be my pleasure to reside in. The place where Lorrie comes to be, the atmosphere of it, the specialness, is a kind that any warm heart might long for. There are people there it would be my pleasure to cross the road to say hello to. ..."   Review link:  


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Home decorating and entertaining ideas

The August issue of Southern Living is their Special Decorating Issue, and it includes interior and exterior makeovers, with ideas such as adding a second entrance to improve a boring front exterior, colorful baseboards, and displaying your collectibles to tell a story. And you can make your sofa a focal point with bold uphostery and a pom pom fringe. (That'll be sure to attract your pet's attention too...)

Two ideas that I do not like are cutting down a dining room table to make it into a coffee table. (They're stilll doing that?!) And open shelving in the kitchen. Hmm. So, they don't have pets, children, or do any cooking?

The recipe collection includes picnic dishes, a Key Lime Icebox Cake (no baking), and white barbecue sauce. (Mayonnaise is the base.) That cake looks yummy, btw. Its layers are topped with whipped cream and a lime slice with leaves garnish. Enjoy!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Home is where the heart is--along with some good books

Tip of the Month from Build Book Buzz: is the Pinterest of Books

I don't usually get excited about new social platforms for books because there are so many of them and learning how to really make the most of each can become a part-time job... but then I found Riffle Books.

What a cool site! It is the most visually attractive social network for books that I've seen so far. Graphics focus on collections of book covers - and what book lover isn't drawn to a screen full of book covers? Think of it as Pinterest for books.

You build your Riffle profile by answering questions about books - "What were your favorite books growing up?" and "Which books kept you awake at night?" are two of the 20. Create book lists that you share on Facebook or volunteer to become a book category "expert."

Check out Riffle at

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tropical Storm Dorian

TS Dorian is heading WNW--possibly towards Florida, but it's too early to tell.

Update (7-26): Dorian is heading west and expected to weaken.  The spaghetti models are pretty well grouped together, except for one heading north.  (They often don't agree that much.)

Update (7-27): Dorian is now a tropical wave.

Update (7-28): The remnants of Dorian are heading WNW (towards Florida), and it may re-strengthen.

Update (8-3): The remnants of Dorian are heading NE up the east coast.  It was briefly a tropical depression today.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fun books about family and pets

I enjoyed Amy Peterson's childrens' photo books about pets, which include tips for their care. And her books,  From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds (with tips about being a stepmother) and Something Furry Underfoot (more pet tips) are fun too!
Learn more about Amy Peterson and her lively family and fun books at Author Spotlight:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sharing lessons learned

Recently I came across these notes I made after building our old house:

Lessons Learned
When we built our home in 1998, we knew we wanted a floor that would stand up under the wear and tear of people and animals, so we went for vinyl tile. (It seemed a good idea at the time; it was cheaper than wood, which is what we had before, along with no wax congoleum.) We never thought about waxing; we'd never done it. We ended up with a floor that was slippery when wet, and even when it wasn't wet, a running dog could slide down the Great Hall from the front door to the back door. I learned that there is a non-slip wax, but when I checked into having the house done, it wasn't the expense, but the fact that the company wanted us to move all the furniture outside ourselves that stopped us. We have some huge pieces! Also, for some reason this floor has become marked up from the furniture--marks that are almost impossible to remove! We're really sorry about our floor decision.

When we were building our house, we learned all we could and often visited a friend who was also building a house. One of the things he told us was that we should get noise insulation. Good idea, we thought, but when the time came to make choices and the total budget seemed to be going up like a rocket, we decided to stick with regular insulation. That is not a problem except in a bedroom that's next to someone else's bathroom. (The other two bathrooms are fine.) I'd give a lot to be able to go back and put better insulation between those two walls. Yes, I've thought about ripping a wall out, but the bathroom wall has a big mirror over the sink and a tiled shower on that wall, and the bedroom wall was sponge painted.
There are a number of things we never thought about when building our home, and one of them was niches in the shower. Where do you put your shampoo, sponge, etc.?! We have thought of getting one of those racks you hang over the showerhead or a pressure pole with shelves, but it's one more thing to clean and get in the way. And why didn't we get a bathroom sink with a built in soap holder? I've lost count of the soap holders we've bought for all the bathrooms, but we've spent a lot of money trying to find one that lasts.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Westward--and homeward--bound

Here's a selection of books on Amazon about exploring and settling the frontier:

Detour Trail by Joy V. Smith

Daily Life in a Covered Wagon by Paul A. Erickson
If You Traveled West In A Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine
A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840
by Barbara Greenwood
Pioneer Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes
by David C. King
History Pockets: Moving West, Grades 4-6+ by Martha Cheney
How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark
by Rosalyn Schanzer
Westward Expansion (True Books) by Teresa Domnauer
Westward Expansion: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books)
by Allison Lassieur

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tropical Storm Chantal

TS Chantal is moving WNW, and the official track takes it up Florida's east coast, but the spaghetti models cover the state.

Update (7-11): Chantal has been downgraded to a tropical wave.

Update (7-12): The remnants have separated, and there's now a little wave in the gulf that may give us more rain.

Update (7-13): Actually that's a low--or something--in the Gulf, and the Chantal remnant is east of Florida.  In any case, we should get some rain.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Smashwords freebies and discount spectacular!

Take advantage of the Smashwords freebies and discount spectacular during July
(Offer good thru July 31, 2013)

Hidebound (SF):
After Anfissa meets Ferenc, they flee to a planet where even the grass is deadly.
Use the code SW100 at checkout
to get this book for FREE during our
site-wide promotion!

Hot Yellow Planet (SF):
In this Pretty Pink Planet sequel, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures.
Use the code SW100 at checkout
to get this book for FREE

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

And Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure is half price:
(Non-fiction) How one woman bought and remodeled a foreclosure; it didn’t even have a kitchen sink!
Use the code SSW50 at checkout
for 50% off

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mooving Out (flash fiction podcast)

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast – short stories episode no.28

30 Jun

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘short stories’ episode number 28 went live today and contained four flash fiction pieces that have appeared on my blog as Flash Fiction Fridays. This episode contained:
The Secret of Willow Cottage and the Reluctant Bride (889 words) by short story author Jane Risdon and

747-word Mooving Out by Joy V Smith.

399-word The Sea and His Guitar by YA, science-fiction, paranormal author and poet Kenna McKinnon

983-word The Spores by novelist and short story author JD Mader.

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).

Access the links on her blog:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Home, garden, and entertaining

The July 2013 issue of Southern Living includes a home makeover and a garden gate photo essay, including a gate that's actually an integral part of the privacy fence (not actually a gate), plus it's the food issue, with recipes for okra dishes, Candied Jalapenos, Butterscotch Banana Pudding Pie, some no-cook dishes, salads, desserts, and lots more. And I enjoyed the essay on house-hunting in the South.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Detour Trail and the A to Z blog challenge, part 4

U is for unarmed
Lorrie is rarely unarmed. Just because you don’t see a weapon doesn’t mean there’s not one lurking in the brush…
V is for venture
Venture: 1) “A risky or dangerous undertaking…” Oh, yes. Just think about all those who ventured away from their safe, snuggly-built homes where they were surrounded by friends and family, general stores, ….

Note: “[Aphetic for ... adventure..."]. I had to look up aphetic: “loss of a short unaccented vowel at the beginning of a word, a form of apheresis,” which is: “the dropping of a letter, syllable, or phoneme at the beginning of a word…”   So, now I have to look up phoneme: “a set of phonetically similar but slightly different sounds …” It’s more complicated than that!  Talk about a detour!
W is for wolf
Naturally–because of Gray Cloud’s importance in Detour Trail. Btw, I have wolf photos, among others, to furnish background for the west and Detour Trail, on my Western Style board on Pinterest:
X marks the spot
It works for me! ‘Course Lorrie didn’t have an X to head for in Detour Trail; she had to–oops. That letter’s upoming, and it’ll be the last one. It’s been fun discovering themes and words. Thanks to all who made this a fun trip.
Y is for yoke
Yoke has multiple meanings, including being part of a dress, but since I’m focusing on western terms and Detour Trail, I’m thinking about oxen and yokes. Lorrie started out with four oxen–to pull the big covered wagon–and her horses, including a team for the small wagon.
Z is for zig AND zag
Zig and zag is what Lorrie did in Detour Trail as she made her way back and forth along the trails…

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Detour Trail and the A to Z blog challenge, part 3

N is for newspaper
I used the newspaper, Territory Tales, as part of the plot in Detour Trail now and then.
O is for oxen
In Detour Trail, Lorrie has four oxen–Jemmy, Dolly, Clay, and Spotty–who are pulling the big covered wagon, but how will she feed them, the horses, and the other livestock when they’re not completely prepared for their first winter?
P is for pie safe
I thought about choosing printing press or photography, which are part of Detour Trail, but I decided on pie safe, which isn’t even mentioned. (I wish I’d thought of it!) Pie safes are sort of like pantries; they have wooden frames, but the sides are made of punched tin in a variety of designs or screening to let air in and keep critters out.
Q is for quest
It fits the theme although Lorrie never thought about being on a quest; she just knew what she wanted to do. And quaff, quagga, and quantum didn’t fit. I thought about qualm and quandary, but they didn’t fit Lorrie.
R is for reporter
The reporter who tracked Lorrie down in Detour Trail helped make Lorrie a legend when she wrote a book about her and helped Lorrie think more deeply about her family, the settlement, and history.
S is for siblings
There are pairs and groups of siblings in Detour Trail, and I have Lorrie introduce the word to one of them. I’ve always liked siblings; and it’s more interesting than brothers and sisters.
T is for Team
There are horse and oxen teams in Detour Trail, and there is teamwork–both along the trail and when the settlers begin to build their new community: Sugar Valley.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Detour Trail and the A to Z blog challenge, part 2

G is for general store
Lorrie helps keep the general store in Sugar Valley supplied, which gives her a good excuse to get back on the trail… And there’s a picture of a general store on my Western Style board on Pinterest:
H is for hay
Hay: It sounds like such a common thing, but when you need it for your livestock, you realize how important it is. Buying hay and selling her oxen (fewer mouths to feed) on trips back and forth as she forages for fodder gets Lorrie buried in a blizzard…
I is for Ink
Here Ink is both the nickname of the editor of Territory Tales and the ink he uses on his printing press. And speaking of fodder, Lorrie has given him stories for his newspaper… Lorrie visits Ink now and then in Detour Trail.
J is for Jake
Jake is a mule–and a main character in Detour Trail, and I’m collecting mule pictures on my Western Style board on Pinterest. You might enjoy my Cool Critters board too. Pinterest link:
K is for kettle
A big cast iron kettle or pot is a necessity on the trail when you’re cooking over a campfire or hanging in the fireplace when you’ve finally got your cabin built. (It’s not true that Lorrie doesn’t know what a kettle is for.)
L is for larder
The larder or pantry is where the household’s food supplies are kept; and I see that originally it meant a storehouse for bacon. (OFr
M is for mule
Mules, horses, and oxen were essential on the trail, but Lorrie didn’t need more livestock when she met Jake, but he turned out to be very useful on the trail. Oh, and around the house sometimes…

Btw, a mule is the offspring of a donky and a horse, especially the offspring of a jackass and a mare. They are usually sterile. Check out my Western Style board on Pinterest for pictures of mules:
Note: A hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Detour Trail and the A to Z blog challenge

Back in April I took part in the A to Z blog challenge on my writing blog, and I used Detour Trail and the west as my theme.  Now I'm going to share my posts here, and I hope you enjoy them:

First day of A to Z!

It’s April 1 and the first day of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge; naturally the first letter is A.  My theme for this challenge is my western novel, Detour Trail, so I’m choosing words related to the west and Detour Trail and its characters. This may not always be easy…

And A is for Ambush. Lorrie, my heroine, runs into more than one ambush on the trail; it’s a good thing her companions are there to help…

B is for Blizzard
Lorrie was warned about blizzards, but she had to make one more trip–and then another. Yep, she was caught in one on the trail… And Blizzard is also the name of a character in Detour Trail.
C is for cabins
When Lorrie and her small group of settlers finally find a place to settle, building cabins is a priority, but first they have to decide who gets the first home(s) because they also have to plant, so some will have to wait… Detour Trail is full of such decisions.
D is for desperado
There’s a desperado studying on revenge… When will he attack? Will she be prepared for this ambush? Possibly not…
E is for expedition
I had to look up up expedition to be sure it applies to Lorrie’s wagon train trek, and it does: “…starting out on a journey, … for some definite purpose…” Yep, that’s Lorrie on the Detour Trail all right.
F is for firkin
A firkin is “a small, wooden tub for butter, lard, etc.,” says the dictionary. Today they’re collectibles–in the primitive category. In Lorrie’s time, they were useful, along with crocks and pie safes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tropical Storm Barry

OK, I'm a little late with TS Barry 'cause it's already just a low after going to Mexico, but I was dealing with stuff at the old homestead...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ideas, quizzes, and more in HGTV Magazine

The July/August issue of HGTV Magazine has lots of ideas and suggestions, but my two favorite pieces were the paint quiz, which included questions such as: How far should you dip your brush into the paint and Is plastic or canvas better for drop cloths? And what should you do with your paint brush if you're not finished with your painting project at the end of the day? I was surprised that they didn't inlcude wrapping it in aluminum foil and putting it in the freezer--a hint I came across long ago and have used for years.

The other fun idea was the quiz on whether a house was new or old. You lifted a flap to find the answer for each house. I confess that I was sometimes surprised.  (Those houses were probably remodeled. So there.).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fun pets for the home

Here are four fun, rhyming ebooks by Amy L. Peterson about some of the pets she and her family have enjoyed over the years. These cute little critters include dogs, a cat, ferrets, and a duckling.  There's  Dusty, the Angel PupPurrkins, the CatGoodnight, Big Wuzzy; and Bumpkin Gets Big.  Lots of good background and advice about the different pets, and the photos and rhymes make them fun to read.
Smashwords link:

Note: They're also available on Amazon; and she's written a book about her family and pets: Something Furry Underfoot.

Monday, June 10, 2013

HGTV Magazine

I just got my first issue of HGTV Magazine (June 2013); it's big and full of colorful home and craft ideas. And Vern Yip has a piece on measurements, including coffee table, backsplash, and towel bar heights; distances between recessed lights, your TV and sofa, your bed and nightstand; etc.

There are tips for prepping your home for vacation. And the How bad is it column answers questions about dousing charcoal with lighter fluid and other things you may have wondered about... And they tested various wipes and report on them.

I love looking at beautiful paint colors, such as Popcorn (a buttery shade) from Pratt & Lambert, Greyhound (blue, green and gray) from Benjamin Moore, and Cook's Blue (rich) from Farrow & Ball.
Btw, "when you're working with a color that's not a strong color: Pair it with white to make it stand out." There are lots more decorating tips, plus an article on how to identify and deal with yard pests.

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

Friday, June 7, 2013

Home and entertaining ideas

Lowe's Creative Ideas for Home and Garden (Summer 2013 issue) has some colorful (red, white, and blue) and block party ideas, including banners, a pet parade, and games. These ideas would be perfect for a reunion too. Want to avoid a watery ice bucket? Put a colander in the bottom. And I love the basketweave weave pattern for a deck. Hey, those decks are often pretty boring. And check out Doors 101.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Kitchen sink disposals

Today at the end of the day--about 5 pm--we had to call a plumber 'cause I had said--Let's use the disposal. We need to use it now and then. (We were making supper.)  So we clogged up the pipes and the kitchen sink wouldn't drain. (Last time we did that, we learned that you never put bananas in your disposal.) When we moved in here and remodeled--since our kitchen sink here was plumbed for a disposal (we'd never had one; we used a compost bin), I said, Let's put one in for resale value. My sister didn't want to 'cause we didn't need it and things like that are potential problems, so she's been wanting to get rid of it for ages (hmm; two years now), and tonight I was ready to let it go! However, the plumber would be charging us overtime. Drat. But I didn't want a sink full of green water and debris (cucumber peelings and pea pods) floating around all weekend--and probably getting stinky. So after the plumber cleaned out the crud, we asked him how much it would cost to get rid of it next week when it would be cheaper, but he said that if he did it tonight, it would be cheaper because he wouldn't have to charge us for another trip.  Yes!  So we had him take it out. Now we've got more room under the sink, and the second sink looks better 'cause it doesn't have the black rubber flaps and drain stopper; it's shinier.  It is so nice to have a future project dealt with sooner and cheaper.  (Next is a new bathroom sink and/or cabinet.  Still haven't decided.)

Note: We do have a tumbler compost bin here out back,but it's more of a nuisance than our big, old compost bin that we'd just move now and then.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Home and garden ideas

There are some lovely garden photos and ideas in the June issue of Southern Living.  The lawn steps are impressive, but how do you keep them looking so lush? And I guess you'd mow them with a weed whacker...   A house addition was connected to the house with a breezeway--rather like a dogtrot, an early style I've always liked. (We built a home modeled on that idea; you really appreciate it when you lose your electricity for days after a hurricane.)
The closing essay focuses on stillness and quiet--and how rare that is today. It reminded me of visiting our home site in the country years ago and hearing only the wind sighing through the pines. And I want to close with a quote from Lucy Smith earlier in this issue: "The worse decisions I have made have been fear-based..."  [Mine too.]

Monday, May 27, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday (link)

My flash fiction story, Carnies, is up on Flash Fiction Friday now:

Is genetic engineering a good idea?  It's alive!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ideas for your home

The June issue of Country Living has home, vacation, wedding, and outdoor room ideas; a selection of mail-order chicken coops; photos of collectibles; and a variety of peach recipes. The Real Estate Sampler focuses on homes with sleeping porches; and I came across bathroom sinks by Porcher, which I'd never heard of. (I'm looking for a new bathroom sink; I have yet to decide between a pedestal sink or one with a cabinet. I need counter space, but I don't have much room...)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Organizing your garage (link)

This is a useful article on the managemylife (Sears) website.  It satrts out with a test and follows up with only five steps.  #2 is easy--and something I wouldn't have thought of:  Chalk around your car.  #3 is not so easy, but essential: Empty your garage.  There are hints for each step.  Start now here:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Paint sheen choices (link)

What's the difference between flat, eggshell, semigloss, satin, and high gloss?  Find out here:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Who would you invite to dinner?

When Dustin Smiley was deployed overseas for a year, his wife and their three boys weren't looking forward to seeing his empty place at dinner, and they came up with the idea of inviting someone to join them for dinner every Monday. A fascinating variety of guests--over 200--came for casual meals--nothing fancy--paper towels for napkins, bagged salads, lasagna, etc.
Check out the article by Sarah Smiley in the Sunday, May 12, issue of Parade and find out how they got started 'cause it can be intimidating to invite people whom you don't even know. I enjoyed this article because that's the kind of unprentious meals we have at our house, and it's something any of us can do. And she's written a book, Dinner with the Smileys, which gives more background. I think it'll motivate people to do something similar and reach out to people who would appreciate it more than we can imagine.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Learn more about Detour Trail on Pinterest

I continue to add wolves, horses, and western lore to my Western Style board on Pinterest:  Check out ‘Stagecoach’ Mary Fields and other photos giving you a glimpse of  life on the frontier. 

And I recently added photos to my Cool Critters and Exploring Gardens boards.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Links and teasers for Detour Trail

Westward bound on the Oregon Trail, Lorrie Emerson is left behind and alone after her uncle is killed. Ignoring the wagon master's advice to go home, she rounds up others needing help; they join a later wagon train and are soon slogging through dust and mud and steep mountain passes, but it's not long before she's again forging her own trail and searching for a new home and supplies as winter reaches out its icy hands.... Settling the frontier isn't easy!

Here's my romantic blurb:

You can find Detour Trail at the publisher:

And Amazon:

It's supposed to be available online elsewhere one of these days...

You can read teasers and background on my writing blog 'cause that's my theme for the A to Z blog challenge this year:

And here's my interview with The Western Online:

If you'd like to see pictures of horses, mules, and western characters, check out my Western Style board on Pinterest: