Detroit Garden Works, A Destination Garden Store

Detroit Garden Works, A Destination Garden Store

I found this article on Gardenista and loved the images and style of Deborah Silver. My favorite is the lit hoops that hang on the wall or just hang. They are perfect for the holidays but also for an outdoor wedding or event. Spectacular!, Detroit Garden Works is definitely  a destination garden store and on my list of places I visit when I go home to Michigan.


Lit Hoops, Detroit Garden Works

Lit Hoops from Detroit Garden Works, Sylvan Lake, MI

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The Chicken Point Cabin, Idaho/ Tom Kundig Architect

The cabin at night.

The cabin at night.


The eating area or work space.

The eating area or work space.


The fireplace made from a metal tube material.

The fireplace made from a metal tube material.


Looking out from the bedroom.

Looking out from the bedroom.


The view from the main living space.

The view from the main living space.


The bathroom

The bathroom


Looking from the outside in.

Looking from the outside in.


I love this cabin, it’s location is so beautiful and the use of raw industrial materials marries form and function seamlessly. It works, it’s new, it’s beautiful in its simplicity and fits seamlessly into a rural or coastal location. Beautiful!

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The Ultimate Party Barn

Garden & Gun had a great article on the most beautiful party barn in North Carolina I’ve seen in a long while. Check out the photos by Stacey Vanberkel-Haines and see if you don’t agree?

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The Winter Holiday Checklist

The Winter Holiday Checklist

A suggested schedule for planning a large house party for Christmas or New Year’s. It works for either.


1.Somewhere Between July and September:

Determine the following:

Home or away?

Number of family, guests, how long to stay?

Travel/pick up for family/guests, who will pay?

Outside accommodation if there is not adequate space in the house?

Meals at home, in restaurants? Which?

Timetable of events?

Presents to be bought, for whom, and what?

2. Christmas tree(s), decorations, Santa Claus, disco, dance, other?

3. Printing of invites, special Christmas cards, Thank You cards, menus, local events, special events?

Commissioning of special presents?

Staff  Christmas party, presents and bonus? What, how much?

Special themes, dress, songs, music?

4. Book as needed:

Hotel rooms or space


Theater, concert tickets



Temp agencies for waiters, drivers, household help

Tent in  hot climates if necessary


Disco, Band, Santa Claus actor, etc.


5. Draw Up Checklists for staff use

6. Hold meeting with chef and housekeeper; brief them and give them their checklists, adjust checklists according to their input

7. At the next staff meeting brief the staff on the plans and schedule extra time off later, discuss bonus and party for families as well, discuss reimbursement if they have already made other plans on presentation of receipts if the person is willing to change their plans.

If the staff really cannot be present, cover with temporary agency staff/ contacts you have

8. Determine and arrange any special transportation and accommodation needed for staff, and iron out any further problems or objections, enlisting their superiors or those they look up to, for assistance in resolving.

9. Chef to propose menus for whole period, including staff meals.

10. Employers approval obtained.

Beginning of September

11. Order, food, wine, non alcoholic drinks, spirits, dry goods, specially commissioned works, flowers, printing job, videos, confectionery and  Christmas tree

By October

12. Purchase the following:

Decorations for trees, rooms, outside the house

Wrapping paper, ribbon, gift tags, tape, bows

Games to play

Presents for family, guests, friends staff

By November

13. send off invitations to guests along with hotel and flight info if necessary

14. Check all guest rooms and ensure they have any needed upgrades/re-decoration done

15. Investigate church, community, cultural activities, listing out on a schedule basis with details and addresses. Add proposed schedule of events for Christmas and or New Year’s. Obtain necessary approval from employers, print out and distribute.

16. Bring in maintenance men to service, fridge, freezer, fan and all electrical, gas and fire appliances

17. Have the household cars serviced as needed.

Beginning Of December

18. Send gifts and Christmas cards at the beginning of the month

19. Confirm all orders and bookings and handle any problems

20. Contact all guests who have not yet responded, forming arrival and departure dates, special diets, and pet needs

21. In the event of any guests unable to come, confer with employer and contact secondary guests as needed.


22.Family to decorate the tree if that is their tradition, otherwise staff to do it

23.Presents put under the tree, stuffed into stockings

24. Ensure arrival of : drinks, food, flowers, printed menus, schedule, presents, tickets, dry goods, costumes, confectionery, decorations,  and videos.

Christmas Eve

25. Guests picked up and brought to the house if necessary

26. Those staying at hotel taken directly there to unpack and freshen up. Phone them on arrival to ensure everything all right and to arrange their pick up and transport to the house if necessary.

26. Put on buffet dinner

27. Put out Christmas stockings

28. Set up breakfast, tea and lunchrooms (prep and clean)

Christmas Day

29. Give staff a very good breakfast before nine in the morning

30. Do the usual morning teas, etc. with a Christmas twist

31. Breakfast may be a leisurely affair with a very wide selection. During the meal go over the lunch menu and note any special requests.

32. Adjourn to the living room where presents are distributed by Santa Claus or the employer and unwrapped, someone should note who gave what to whom for later thank yous.

33. Guests then scatter to take a walk, play, Church, and are offered refreshments when they appear at random.

34. Luncheon is served either informally in the dining room or kitchen depending on schedule.

35. Dinner is served in the dining room at the appointed hour, either as a buffet or sit down meal depending on the size of the guest list.

36. When dinner is over clear, clean and set up for the next day.

37. Ensure thank you cards are sent for all gifts from the family.




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The Importance of the List Serv in a Rural Community

The Importance of the List Serv in a Rural Community

The list serv acts a the general store used to do in rural communities, it’s where you go to bitch about something that is bothering you in your community and can be a real eye opener to the local culture. It’s a good bet to check it out before you move in to a new town. For example on 12/29/12 in Anywhere Vermont there was an invitation to the New Year’s Eve Contre Dance and instructions for beginners to come early, a thank you to whomever shoveled the snow off the library’s steps and a “discussion” about the blue goo that the town uses instead of salt on the roads. It got a little snippy but stayed well within bounds. For some towns local issues can be quite vigorous shall we say. It’s a little window into your town’s soul for better or for worse. Below is the general posting guidelines if your town doesn’t have one, which may be helpful in setting it up.

Statement of Purpose

This email list is a discussion forum for topics specific to Anywhere, VT. It is not an “official” list set up by the town government. It is open to anyone who wants to participate.

The goal of this discussion list is create a sense of community and neighborhood for the residents of Anywhere. Announcements of community events open to the public and invitations to events like pick-up baseball games, informal gatherings at the Anywhere Swimming Pool, baking events at the bread oven, and similar event postings are encouraged.

Posting Guidelines

The intent is to keep the discussion on and about Anywhere. The issue doesn’t need to be unique to Anywhere, but it must be specific to Anywhere. Subscribers to the list are assumed to be in agreement about that simple constraint.

If in doubt about whether a topic is appropriate for our list, consider this: If there are state or national online forums, such as email lists, newsgroups, or blogs that address your issue, the topic is most likely better addressed elsewhere. Please keep discussion topics centered on Anywhere.

Some examples:

  • Announcement of an event to be held in Anywhere is ok.
  • Discussion of a school district issue that affects Anywhere residents is ok.
  • Discussion of legislation in Montpelier or Washington is ok if it addresses a Anywhere issue.
  • Announcement of a pet lost in Anywhere is ok.
  • Discussion of the national politics in the context of a warned town meeting resolution is ok.
  • Forwarding content of emails or web sites that are not related to Anywhere is not ok.

General Discussion List Rules

No abusive or threatening postings will be allowed. This discussion list operates on the assumption that list postings will be civil and respectful to other list members. Anyone engaging in what the administration of ValleyNet considers to be abusive language or threats directed towards another list member will be warned the first time, and will have posting privileges revoked after that. If the first incident is serious enough, the list member will have their posting privileges revoked immediately.

Because this list is set up for the convenience of the community, occasional business announcements will be tolerated (new business in town, information about a business service offered in conjunction with a public event, or a one-time listing about babysitting). In no case should any business (small or large) use the discussion list for ongoing business promotion, and doing so will result in a warning and the possibility of having posting privileges revoked.

Please note that it is the intent of this discussion list to center on issues and events directly affecting this particular town. While anyone is welcome to subscribe to and read these discussions, we ask that only residents, representatives of town government, and representatives of organizations and businesses located in town post to this list. It is not a venue for general announcements about Upper Valley events from those not connected with the town.

It is inappropriate to post the content of any private correspondence to this list, without the express permission of all correspondents involved.

The administration of ValleyNet, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to warn, suspend, or permanently exclude any list subscriber for any abuse or infringement of these list rules and guidelines, depending upon the severity of the infraction.

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Green Acres Blog Post #4 The Backyard Poutry Keeper

Green Acres Blog Post #4 The Backyard Poutry Keeper



Seemingly all across the rural parts of the US people are engaging in chicken love. Hen houses are cropping up in professional’s gardens as indulging in fresh eggs has become quite the thing. Even better if the chickens are rare or heirloom breeds and the eggs come in delightful shades of blue. The three breeds that lay blue eggs ( which are more costly and rare) are the Araucana, the Ameraucana and the Easter Egger.


I confess this is something I don’t understand. When you are both working, have children and community responsibilities, a pet seems hard enough to handle at times, let alone the addition of chickens to your list of responsibilities who fight, smell, and must be fed and watered.  


I can see the charm of a lovely outbuilding and a bowl of blue eggs but is it worth the  extra work? Especially when the chances of buying free range chicken and local eggs abound.


Nevertheless, here are some great images of the best breeds and chicken coops that I’ve come across. Go ahead, indulge in those Green Acres Fantasies!











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Fall Checklist for House Managers

Fall Checklist for House Managers



Fall Checklist for House Managers

Outside The House

Clean and store patio furniture and umbrellas.

Bring the cushions inside and wash with bleach and water if necessary and appropriate for fabric type.

Clean, drain and cover pool and service as needed.

Empty clay pots and bring inside if temps are below freezing.

Empty and turn over concrete pots so they don’t freeze and crack.

Cover grill and any outdoor furniture that will stay outside.

Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.

Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to re-caulk if needed.

Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping, door thresholds if needed.

Wash exterior windows, Remove screens if necessary and replace with storm windows.

Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.

Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.

Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary. This should be done at least every other year depending on how frequent you use them.

Inside the House:

Schedule professional carpet cleaning early this month!

Warm October afternoons speed carpet drying. Carpet cleaning firms get busy by the end of October, so schedule now for best service.

Check and empty the central vacuum’s collection area.

Clean electronic air cleaner elements monthly for most efficient operation. Wash them in am empty dishwasher.

Clean or replace humidifier elements before the heating season begins. If needed buy a humidifier for bedrooms.

Check dryer hose exhaust tube and vent for debris and lint build up, make sure the vent door closes tightly.

Schedule fall furnace inspections now, Don’t wait for the firstcold night.

Drain sediment from the hot water heater.

Pull refrigerator away from the wall, and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.

Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.

Inspect each appliance. Does it need supplies? Stock up on softener salt now, and avoid staggering over icy sidewalks with heavy bags.

Replace any light bulbs that need to be changed and consider new fluorescent style bulbs with warm light.


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Green Acres Blog Post #3 So What is There To Do Around Here Anyway?

Green Acres Blog Post #3 So What is There To Do Around Here Anyway?

Contra Dances


When I first moved back to New England from Seattle and was looking for something to do, I kept seeing something called a Contra dance advertised. I love to dance and while I still haven’t gotten my courage up to attend, my younger friends tell me it’s a lot of fun and it’s even gaining in popularity for weddings. The callers and musicians are affordable and it’s something everyone can do regardless of experience or age. For a country or coastal wedding with a relaxed feel it’s a great choice.


So what is it? Contra dances were fashionable in the United States until the early to mid-19th century, when they were supplanted in popularity by square dances (such as the quadrille and lancers) and couple dances (such as the waltz and polka). They are based on old English Country folk dances. (Think Four Weddings and A Funeral) A little bit like gym class dancing which we would all like to forget, but I still think the Virginia Reel was loads of fun.


Here’s a clip from one in Vermont. See what you think?


If you’re looking for something to do, check out this site which lists them all over the country. You never know until you try, right?


It may not be Kinfolk Studios in Williamsburg, a place that is referred to as a scenester magnet, but hey we might have ridden our bikes to get to the Contra dance?

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Green Acres Blog Post #2 An Adult Game Night

Green Acres Blog Post #2  An Adult Game Night

Adult Game Nights 

Don’t be shy, it’s not always easy to meet people in these environments. There may not be people at work to ask, so you’ll have to be resourceful. Exercise groups, volunteer work, church, restaurants, an art or music class, neighbors, campaigning, all can offer possibilities and don’t be so picky about ages. It’s time to be expansive. Be resourceful. Don’t think you have to ask couples. Allow people to bring a friend, date or spouse. Does it really matter if you have the same number of men and women. Well, it would be nice but really who cares?



The Plan

A perfect game night party allows both the food and the games to star. Rather than first eating dinner then clearing the table and playing an hour or two of  Texas Hold’em, you and your guests ea and play in tandem. Picking the right recipes and presenting the meal in a way that doesn’t conflict with the momentum of the game are what make this scenario work. For instance, there should be no knife-and-fork eating required; instead, guests nibble a cube of beef from a skewer or sip soup from a small glass with one hand while the other hand holds those cards securely. Fingers never get greasy or dirty, so the dominoes, dice, and other game accouterments stay clean.




Perfect Timing

The evening should have an unhurried pace, lasting a few hours. For many, that’s going to mean saving such a gathering for the weekend, when the workday schedule isn’t nagging.


The prep work for game night entertaining is front-loaded: Creating smaller, bite-size portions of items can take a bit more time to assemble than traditional dinner-party servings. But the effort pays off, since once everything is laid out at the start of the evening, you and your guests can settle in for a couple of hours of uninterrupted fun and games.


There’s invariably a bit of mingle-in-the-kitchen time as guests begin to arrive, while the first drinks are being served and you’re putting the last platters of treats together. Ask some of the earlier arrivals to help assemble the crostini, add garnishes to the soup, or pitch in with any other final bits of preparation.


Let Guests Serve Themselves

At a dinner party, the host may need to pop up and down, plating the next course, refilling guests’ glasses, and clearing dishes. But when game night is on the agenda, all the preparations are done in advance, with cocktail refills chilling in the fridge and guests serving themselves. Present the meal on a buffet table, sideboard, or nearby kitchen counter at the start of the evening, letting guests help themselves to a few bites of this and that at their leisure. This way, everyone at the table is equally engaged in the game, and guests are not halting play to wait while you’re preoccupied with other things. You should relax and unwind just as much as your guests do!


If the dessert you’re serving is fine at room temperature, you can set it out with other items at the start, or hold it aside and move the platter to the buffet an hour or so into the evening. Prep frozen treats ahead of time and have them ready to serve (unmolded, cut, portioned, etc.) in the freezer. Pull the items out when guests seem ready for a bit of something sweet, then pop anything remaining after 15 minutes back into the freezer—you can always offer another round of dessert later in the evening.


Presentation Pointers

Keeping the menu game-friendly means simply scaling down the serving proportions. Instead of presenting grilled beef kebabs on a long, 12-inch skewer, use smaller, 4- to 6-inch skewers. Rather than serving soup in traditional bowls, use espresso cups or small cordial or shot glasses. You can serve salads in ramekins or on Asian soup spoons for a compact presentation. If a spoon or fork is needed, use small cocktail forks or demitasse spoons.

Beyond the classic frilly toothpick, there are a range of fun options today, including picks sporting many types of colorful or whimsical embellishments. Web sites such as offer an outstanding selection of picks and skewers. Kitchen and housewares shops have an array of small dishes and glassware ideal for game nights. And as you scan garage sales and eBay, keep an eye out for interesting serving pieces that might come in handy.

Set out medium-size plates for guests. A six- to eight-inch plate will hold several items from the buffet but won’t take up much space on the game table. With the plates set to one side of each guest, there’s still plenty of room directly in front of people for their Monopoly winnings or dominoes, plus space to deal cards and toss dice without dinner being in the way.




The “Hot” Camera, Clean Adult Party Game

Summary and Supplies: This is one of the best adult party game ideas for having fun while recording memories– the whole thing will be caught on camera. All you need to play this camera version of “hot potato” is a regular camera (digital works best) with a flash and self timer.

The Game

  • Guests stand or sit in a circle. The first player sets the timer on the camera, then points the camera at him or herself for a moment (the camera should be kept at arm’s length). He or she then passes it to the person on the left, who repeats the process until the timer goes off and the camera takes a photograph.
  • The loser (the person holding the camera when it goes off) must either do a punishment or forefit (think of some funny punishments beforehand, such as “tell a stupid joke,” “take a shot,” “wear this stupid hat,” etc.). Then the game begins again.
  • Don’t use your best camera for this party game– in the rush to get rid of the thing it’ll get dropped!


Evil Pictionary

Summary and Supplies: Evil Pictionary is one of the most hilarious adult dinner party game ideas you can try– and one of the simplest. There’s no need to buy the expensive game board– all you need to play this adult party game is some pens/pencils, pads of paper (or a whiteboard and marker), and a wicked imagination.

The Game

  • To start, sort your guests into teams of two to three people. Each team should be given paper and pencil. 
  • Designate one person each game as the “Evil Overlord.” This person will come up with the words or phrases that will be used in play. He or she will show that word to one player on each team, who will have to draw it for his or her teammates. As with regular pictionary, no symbols or characters can be used.
  • The first team to guess the word or phrase wins a point. Team members will need to take turns doing the drawing. Decide on a number of rounds in a game beforehand, and tally the rounds to find a winner.
  • The Evil Overlord should try to make the words and phrases as hard as possible– though it should be possible to communicate them through drawing. Try movie titles, abstract concepts, etc. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins that game. This is a lot of fun, so you’ll probably want to play several, changing the Evil Overlord each time.
  • This is called Evil Pictionary for a reason– it’s one of the more devilish adult party game ideas. Cheating is allowed, and teams are allowed to scope out the (sometimes better) drawings of other teams to figure out the answer. Have fun with it!


Note: You can also play this game without an Evil Overlord. To do this, the game is played only one team at a time instead of all teams together. The opposing team gets to make up the word or phrase that must be communicated, then laugh diabolically as the player tries to draw it. This allows everybody to play, and encourages almost vicious competition to come up with the best (hardest) words or phrases. If playing this way, you might want to set limits on the kinds of words beforehand to keep teams from making play impossible– it happens!




Mix Up Your Menu

When planning the menu for a game night, aim for variety. Balance heavier, more substantial dishes with lighter ones, and serve foods with different flavors, temperatures, and textures. Keep presentation in mind, opting for an assortment of shapes and sizes, such as skewers, little bowls, soup in small glasses, a salad served in porcelain spoons. This creates visual interest in addition to the natural flavor appeal of diverse selections.


Skip Knives and Forks

Some of your best bets for game night foods are things that can be eaten just with fingers: mini quiches and tartlets; crostini; cut-up sandwiches; filled pastries like samosas or spanakopita bites; deviled eggs; salmon or lobster salad served on a slice of cucumber; or curried chicken in an endive leaf. Dispensing with knives and forks also leaves you with less to clean up once the party’s over.


Room Temperature Is Right

Avoid items that will only be good piping hot (like most fried foods) or that require last-minute attention (such as soufflés). Ideally, most of the items on the menu will be at their best just a bit warm or at room temperature, but dishes that need to be kept warm or hot can be set on a counter-top warming tray or griddle, while chilled foods can be arranged on trays or platters and refrigerated until ready to serve.


Adapt Your Favorites

While it’s fun to make new dishes, don’t underestimate the recipes already in your repertoire. Many of your favorites may be good candidates for a game night menu if you simply reconsider how to serve them. Any soup that’s puréed or just a bit chunky (such as a lentil soup) can be served in espresso cups or small glasses. Sandwiches of all kinds—from egg salad to a Reuben—can be made mini-sized on cocktail bread or on a thinly sliced baguette. Half-cup ramekins are wonderfully versatile for everything from individual portions of macaroni and cheese to small ice cream sundaes. Once you get in the game night groove, you’ll see how easy it is to customize recipes for the occasion.


Go Shopping

When getting together for game night is just what the doctor ordered but you don’t have much time for cooking or assembling, explore the many great, quick options for fuss-free game-friendly fare. Check the deli counter for salads that can be served in small dishes or on porcelain spoons, such as coleslaw or Asian chicken salad. Wrap cubes of pepper jack cheese in strips of deli turkey and pierce them with a pick. If there’s thick-cut meatloaf on offer, you can slice it into squares at home and heat it in the oven, serving the squares on picks with store-bought tomato sauce alongside for dipping. Other ideas include prepared vegetables with blue cheese dressing as a dip, mixed nuts, marinated olives, and cookies from your favorite local bakery. The food doesn’t have to be elaborate to make a great game night spread.



It’s an evening of fun, so the drink selections should echo that. The thing to keep in mind is ease and game-playing compatibility. As with the foods you serve, the drinks should be low-maintenance items that don’t require much attention once the games begin.



When it comes to serving cocktails in a game-friendly fashion, bring on the pitchers! Nothing breaks up the momentum of a game quite like the host jumping up to shake Manhattans for a couple of thirsty guests. Instead, with a pitcher (or two) made at the beginning of the evening, it takes just a moment to refill glasses and get back to the fun. If you have a nice carafe-style pitcher, you can perch it in an ice bucket alongside the food. Or just keep the pitcher in the fridge so it’s nice and cool whenever a guest is ready for more.


Wine & Beer

Guests will be eating a variety of different dishes at the same time, so opt for versatile wines that work with a range of recipes. Consider unoaked (or only lightly oaked) Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, or Syrah. Have white and red available throughout the evening, letting folks decide which they’d like to sip as the evening progresses.

The approach should be the same with beer, opting for one or two types that will partner well with various dishes, such as pale or nut-brown ale. If you know your guests are big beer fans, choose three or four brews and store the bottles in a tub of ice so they can sample a few different ones over the course of the evening.


Remember Nonalcoholic Drinks

For kids or friends who don’t drink, be sure to offer a few interesting nonalcoholic options. Maybe it’s a pitcher of pomegranate juice mixed with sparkling water and garnished with lime slices. Or a punch of mango and pineapple juices with ice cubes of orange juice stirred in to keep things cold. Even if it’s just iced tea and soda, use fun, festive glassware.



Stemless Glasses

Imagine the dinner/game table with tall wine glasses or pints of beer at each place. All it takes is one guest’s animated flourish while dealing cards, or an overzealous roll of the dice, and over goes a glass, dampening the evening in more ways than one. Stemless glassware comes to the rescue, providing ideal game-friendly vessels for whatever you’re sipping. An increasing range of stemless wine and cocktail glasses are available, so you can still serve in style but with far less likelihood of spills. Small, pretty tumblers or juice glasses are another great option.



As for the menu, well there are plenty of options for menus, recipes and the like at Epicurious, Celebrate Magazine and other online sites. The important thing is to just do it and not stay home alone wishing you had more fun or feeling a little stuck you’re not out at the latest new restaurant or club. Yes, it’s a little more work but spending time with people also allows friendships to grow.


Planning Ideas are from Cynthia Nims is the former food editor of Seattle Magazine and a regular contributor to Cooking Light. She has authored or coauthored numerous cookbooks, including Rover’s, Memorable Recipes, and the recently published Gourmet Game Night

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Green Acres Blog Post #1

Green Acres Blog Post #1

Somewhere in New England

So this blog is for all of us who have found ourselves migrating from the city to the country, often in New England college towns or college and resort towns nationally, sometimes in retirement or in the midst of a life change of some sort. Maybe we love skiing so much we are willing to give up first run movies and our choice of great restaurants? Maybe it’s a dream job that happens to be in a hard to reach location? Whatever it is, this blog is for you. You don’t have to give up stylish clothes, a fun and  beautiful living environment just because you aren’t living on a coast, in a city or otherwise where all the cool people, restaurants and stores are.


First things first. It’s fall. Winter is coming. Usually that means the tourists have gone home, the second home owners will be closing the lake house and the skiers haven’t arrived yet. School may be in session and it’s unlikely you can get away for anything other than a week-end until Thanksgiving. What to do?


Stay tuned and look for future blog posts on game nights, setting up a film or book club, bringing back card games and other dinner party and party ideas for getting together with friends when there is no place to go for those over 21 and under 65. In addition, I ‘ll have clothing suggestions that are not just Merrills, jeans and fleece, there is another way people! And of course, I will provide ideas for decorating your rural and coastal home. You can be sure they won’t include ducks, home sweet home signs and shells. There’s more to decorating than the junk you find in the big box stores and gift shops. A cool rural and coastal look does not have to be trite.


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Leather Library Chairs

Finding the perfect library chair is not always easy, and by library I mean family room, master bedroom, home theater and game room. Anywhere really, where a comfortable and stylish chair that can withstand heavy use will be located.  Some chairs are too low, some the seat back slants too much forcing your head into an uncomfortable position for reading and others are too boring.  The chairs below have all been tested and are both comfortable and stylish and are deeply comfortable. They come in distressed leather that actually looks and feels old, in beautiful colors and even some patterns. You can get nail heads, luxury cushions with a solid foam core and down and feather inserts. They will last a life time.  With the addition of an ottoman these reading chairs work perfectly in a variety of settings.









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Nature Inspired Home Furnishings

Always in style, always appealing, lighting, case goods, mirrors, and accent pillows  inspired by the natural world can work in a coastal room or one located in a rural setting. The finish allows it to work with either contemporary or traditional looks. Some great examples can be found from Arteriors, Lacefield Designs, and Carver’s Guild.







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Birch and Maple Veneer Add Interest to Rustic Contemporary Furnishings

Mayland Court has done a wonderful job in creating pieces that add definite interest to your living space. Natural Birch or Maple Bark Veneer adds interest to wood furniture and gives it a nice rustic yet contemporary look. You have options for finishes and there are 3 different veneers to chose from. What great pieces for a rural or mountain area or even an urban loft!







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Winter Curb Appeal for Your House

In the north it’s important to consider what your front garden will look like in the winter. I believe that just as you always need to keep your resume up to date you always need to keep the front of your house looking it’s best. Too often I see the use of only flowering plants that have to be cut back in the winter leaving no structure or color. Here are some suggestions to help make the front on your home inviting all winter long.

Evergreen topiaries can look great in the right container or in the ground all winter. Boxwood, Blue Point Juniper and Yew are a few varieties you can find. Spirals, Cones and Balls look best either in the ground or in containers. In the spring and summer they can be under planted with annuals and in the winter they can be strung with lights or bows.









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Putting the Garden to Bed for Fall

Here are four basic steps you can take to put your garden to bed for the winter.


  • Pull out all your annuals. Any plant that isn’t going to come back next year needs to be pulled out by the roots and disposed of. Once they’ve stopped producing flowers or vegetables altogether, get them out of there. If you have a compost pile they can go in there otherwise it’s off to the dump.
  •  Cut back perennials. Many herbs, flowers and some vegetables will grow again. Cut them to  about 2 inches above soil once they’ve completely gone to seed or are no longer producing usable leaves. You can wait until frost to cut the flowers back but if they start to yellow and look unsightly come them right away.
  •  Compost all disease free materials. If you mix your leaves and grass clippings together it makes better compost you need both wet and dry materials.
  • Turn your soil. It helps eliminate pest problems in a vegetable garden. Not necessary for perennial beds unless you have had pest trouble.

If you take the time to do this now, your house will look much better all fall. Pet peeves of mine are houses filled with dead leaves caught in their perennials. It doesn’t look good. Now is a good time to plant perennials and some evergreens, it’s not too late. I’m a big believer in 25% of your garden beds being evergreen. You need winter color and structure too and boxwood,  and other evergreens are able to do that. Clean and tidy help make the winter garden look lovely.

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How to Purchase Bedding

How to Purchase Bedding

With all the talk about high thread count it’s easy to get confused when you go to the store or shop online for good quality sheets. So here is the quick and dirty on what is real and what is not.  Hint: It’s not the thread count.



Percale and Sateen are the two most common fabrics used in sheeting.  Percale is a fine, plain-woven cloth of closely set, combed and carded long-staple cotton. Percale produces very high-grade and fine-quality linen.  Sateen is a fabric made from yarns such as cotton or other staple length fibers. The fabric has a soft, smooth hand and a subtle luster. deMedici Linens from Eastern Accents are made in one of the 3 remaining Italian mills that make sheeting. Because the fabric is long staple cotton it has a soft hand and the durability necessary for a product that should last decades if cared for properly. The percale sheets are 200 thread count and feel like most sheets with a 600 thread count or higher from department and big box stores. The sateen sheets have a 300 or 600 thread count depending on the product selected. In addition, they sell silk and linen sheeting. The only other company I have had good success with over the years is the Supima cotton sheets from Land’s End. They may not have the huge variety of colors and patterns but they are a good value. Supima is the brand name for American grown long staple cotton.



Other Considerations:

1. Color: I prefer a white or ivory bed but sometimes for boys and young men you need a darker color. How often have you purchased a set of sheets only to find you stained the pillow case with make up and went back to the store and they were sold out of your color? It’s so frustrating. I prefer a brand of sheets that keeps the color palette consistent over a longer period of time. I don’t want to replace an entire set because they changed colors on a whim. de Medici sheets keep their color palette fairly consistent over the years. They don’t change from season to season. Beware the trendy when it comes to sheets, unless you are either extraordinarily perfect or you have lots and lots of sheets.


2. Sizes. Twin, Double or Queen and King are  commonly available, but the queen size flat sheet and duvet cover is often not large enough and the king is too large. Super Queen is a great compromise and available from de Medici. They also sell all their sheets in California King, you don’t have to settle for white if you have a California King bed or break the bank to get something different.


3. The duvet cover that doesn’t stay put. With rings and clips the de Medici sheeting allows you to clip the duvet to the duvet cover ensuring it doesn’t bunch up.


4. Choice. I prefer a white or ivory bed. If I want color, I like the three lines of embroidery that you get from Hotel style bedding. After a quick look online I found many stores carry that style bedding but usually only in 5 colors. Those colors change with fashion. What do you do if you have a print dust ruffle or curtains that aren’t in the current color palette? de Medici solves that by offering 25 colors of embroidery all the time. You don’t have to settle.


You also don’t have to worry about cleaning. All the  cotton products can be machine washed and tumble dried. Yes, you will have to iron the pillow cases to get a crisp look but you will also have sheets that last for decades like the ones you grew up with. Special care needs to be taken with the silk and linen sheets, but that is to be expected.


In the end there are lots of choices for sheeting, I have purchased sheets from Target, Penney’s, Macy’s, Ralph Lauren, Land’s End, Sferra, etc. I have thrown away $60 and $850 sets of sheets because they didn’t fit the bed correctly, pilled, and the pillow cases got stained and could not be replaced or the designer stopped making that pattern and nothing else was available. In the end, as a designer, I know the bedroom is all about the bed. It’s where you spend your time.  It needs to be the focus. Investing in good quality bedding ensures a better night’s sleep and keeps the focus where it needs to be. Color, pattern, and interest can come from artwork, curtains, dust ruffles, blankets,  accent pillows, lamp shades and  upholstered furniture.


Hotel style bedding with stripes available in multiple color choices

Cotton Sateen bedding with velvet stripe available in multiple colors

Hemstitch bedding available in white or ivory

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Halloween Decorations for 2012

I love the look of Department 56’s paper mache candy holders. They are based on designs from the 20’s and I find them scarily charming. In fact, I’ve actually had compliments on them from various trick or treaters. Here are some photos of the collection as well as some great new pieces from a site I found called, They have quite  few folk artists who make some wonderfully creepy Halloween Decorations.

The Vintage room of Halloween Decorations at

Johanna Parker candy bowl, available at

Department 56 vintage black cat paper mache candy holder
A great paper mache Halloween candy holder

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Table top Decor for Fall Meals

Vagabond House is a great company that offers a wide array of products for the dining table. From salad bowls to ice buckets and everything in between. It’s hard to find items that reflect a northern or rural sensibility and by using nature as their guide they manage to do that very well.  As in interior design a well set table mixes and matches various elements to form a unique tableau. If you wouldn’t buy a “suite” of furniture for your dining room because it would be boring you also shouldn’t buy  totally matching dishes, glassware and silverware. It’s all in how you put it together and these pieces are distinctive enough they can stand alone and simple enough they can  easily blend with other items.










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Antler Decor

As fall approaches you naturally turn to colder weather items for home decor and in the north that means hunting season and antlers. A pair of antlers over a console table in an entry or a white resin stag head on boldly striped wallpaper can evoke all kinds of associations that feed our need for tradition and a modern sensibility. Check out these examples of a modern take on antlers.





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Imiso Ceramics from South Africa

I love the ceramics from Imiso. They manage to be both colorful and sophisticated  at the same time and in the best possible way, which is not something easily accomplished. Their  product range includes both bold and colorful pieces as well as white pieces with geometric in smaller shots of colors.










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Setting Up Your Dorm Room or First Apartment

Setting Up Your Dorm Room or First Apartment

Anthropology Bedding


You can always expect there to be taste differences among housemates, so it might be best to keep common spaces neutral. “A monochromatic or limited color scheme can go a long way towards visually calming a small, crowded space.”, according to Janice Simonson, an IKEA design spokesperson. Usually kids choose a group of friends to live with to share costs. Once the space has been secured, a group discussion about what the common spaces will look like is really helpful, advises Sabrina Soto, Target’s home style expert. She advises to come prepared with a list of things that matter to you, but “be willing to compromise,”.

Paint is a good way to bring color and life to a room, if the landlord permits. If not, look for wall decals and posters. Instead of tacking up art with pushpins or tape, use inexpensive frames for a more grown-up look.

Double check  existing window measurements before heading for the curtain aisle. Take your measurements with you, it matters if it’s an inside mount or an outside mount. Since this is a product that stays with the space you should first ask the landlord to pay for these. Roller shades are a very inexpensive way to get privacy at a reasonable cost. Comfortex Persona has great designs in all colors, you could even use your school or Greek logo.


First, see what you can scrounge from families and friends or get secondhand. Find out if your space’s current renters — often graduating students — are willing to leave large items. Check Craig’s list, talk to friends who are older and moving away and check thrift stores. Fill in the holes with inexpensive pieces that can take some hard living.

Even if the furniture is wildly different a coat of paint in the same color can unify the pieces and make them easy to live with, new hardware can make a world of difference too.

In this case quirky can be good, grandma’s tea cup collection, your brother’s bean bag and mom’s old curtain hardware might come in handy.


A good mattress is worth it as you can’t underestimate a good night’s sleep. “Invest in pieces like a sofa bed with slipcover that can convert to an extra bed and features storage underneath,” she says.

Side tables like IKEA’s Lack series can be grouped, and also used as seating. Shelving units do double duty as space dividers and clutter busters. Inexpensive mirrors can work as art, space expanders and convenient primping stations and are easily found in budget big box stgores, thrift stores, etc. A can of spray paint can work wonders.  

If your sleeping space is now larger, consider getting a full-size bed.

Invest in some cute bedding if you can afford it. The duvet cover and pillow shams are the most important. If printed pieces are out of your budget, consider color blocking with inexpensive sheets in solid colors that work together. You can really define your personality with your bedding.

For an all-guy house, consider the Bold Gray and White Stripe Bedding from West Elm. With the addition of a bright color for the solid sheets you can easily create a great look and it gets you out of the plaid rut.

Bath accessories with punch will make 8 a.m. classes easier to face. Kids’ departments have whimsical items such as woodland-creature soap dispensers and girly textiles. Urban Outfitters has city map and batik-printed shower curtains that would suit a unisex bath.

Entryways need decor, too; get a console with a lamp for late night homecomings , a bench to pull off your shoes and boots and to drop keys and mail, consider a mirror with a shelf and hooks if space is really tight. Add some art and a washable rug.

“Floating shelves are one of my favorite shared-home solutions,” Soto notes. “Without sacrificing floor area, they give you extra space and let you get creative.” A shelf room divider is great when you need to separate your living space from your sleeping space.

Don’t over buy. Buy what you need to get started and then ask your parents to bring more when they come for parent’s week-end or when you go home for Thanksgiving. And leave any treasures in a box or at home with your parents.


A full-size kitchen will be new for most college renters. It can either be a super-size, cereal-soda-and-ramen depot or a place where fun, healthy meals come from. Buy items that are durable, microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Ikea has tableware that is not boxed in sets of 8 if you are not going to have people for meals then consider buying just two of everything.

Walmart offers a good selection of stoneware dinner sets for under $30; Target has inexpensive, practical, white dinnerware and the Room Essentials’ colorful utensils collection.

Is someone a budding chef or baker? Off-price stores such as Homegoods have several high quality brands for more serious cooks.

This is also an opportunity for your parents to get rid of those duplicate items they really don’t need and you won’t have to buy.


Finding art work is time consuming and expensive. If you don’t want to pin posters to your wall then Ikea has a lot of frames at really low costs. Try to find art work in ready made sizes and you will save a bundle. For a gallery look, stick to one color for frames either black or white and you won’t be sorry.

If you can’t paint or draw consider making collages of your favorite items for an original look. Black and white paper silhouette of objects that are interesting to you are also fairly easy to do with the use of a light box and can be fun. Framed pieces of wallpaper, pressed items and photographs you take will also work to personalize your space.

European post cards advertising music, comedy and theater shows are also fun and a great reminder of your study abroad year. They are usually free and easily picked up on your travels.


It’s so easy to keep things together even if you are really stretched. Black storage boxes at Ikea can hold socks, underwear and purses even if you can’t afford a dresser. Plastic storage containers keep the shelf in thebathroom closet allotted to you organized so you can find your stuff. Ikea, The Container Store, K Mart and Walmart all have some great items that allow you to find what you need when you need it.

West Elm Bedding


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Hanover Destination Pillow

Hanover Destination Pillow

A  great accent pillow for students, alumni, visitors or clients.  A wonderful gift for travelers, souvenir for a study abroad trip or to remind you of home. Hanover pillow exclusive to Kathleen Doyle Interior Designs. Cities available include; Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Milan, Prague, Tokyo, Toronto, and Dublin.  Please call for pricing and availability.


Pillow features:

  • Knife edge finishing
  • Fully lined
  • Self-backed
  • Made in the USA
  • Burlap is a coarse woven natural fabric, and as with all products made from natural materials, the imperfections and inconsistencies are normal and a distinct characteristic of burlap.
  • Dyed burlap is not colorfast like regular fabrics and may eventually fade and return to its original natural color, especially if exposed to the sun.
  • Due to the handcrafted nature of this item, slight imperfections and inconsistencies may occur in block printed products.
  • $85.00 plus shipping

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What do you do with a pouf? Do you need extra seating, like a casual atmosphere, or want an ottoman for a special chair? A pouf can be and do all that plus add color and pattern to a dull spot in your room. It can hide under a console table, fill a corner or reside next to the fireplace. There is a pouf for every style and budget and because they aren’t a big investment can be easily changed out.Flokati poufBlue and natural burlap pouf

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A Bucolic Shepard’s Hut in France

I admit to having a fixation on the Shirley Temple version of Heidi, an 1880’s children’s novel by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.   My sister and I would re enact the scene where Klara walks with precision. Imagine then, my joy at coming across a lovely French Shepard’s hut in France’s Cantal’s  Central Massif  which is available for rent. The web site is Isn’t this lovely?  It was purchased in 2004 and restored by Austrian Frederick Pfeffer.  Can’t you see some of these ideas at play in any rural or mountainous area of the US, say New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana, or Washington State?



Dining area

Bench Detail

A granite mud room bench?



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Can You Really Clean Your House in 20 Minutes Per Day?

So I was reading an article on Apartment Therapy and apparently there is a system created by Tom Baugis of Creative Commons about cleaning your place in 20 minutes per day. Since the guys are gone now and I really don’t have an excuse to hire a cleaner I thought I would post it here and try it. Check back in 30 days to see if I’m successful or if procrastination rules.

1) Dealing With What Comes Through The Door Set up a small area by the front door to act as a “landing strip” for incoming items into your home. If you’re a long time reader this is nothing new to you. If this is the first time you’ve heard this phrase outside of reference to personal grooming habits, then make sure to check out Maxwell’s latest Home Cure video on the topic.

2) Do Your Dishes After Every Meal This will help you stay on top of your kitchen instead of having it turn into a monster! No one really wants to do them (after all, you probably cooked dinner to boot). But waiting for another meal or until you have enough to fill the dishwasher just makes things feel overwhelming and easier to put off. The same goes for take out trash as well. If you need to take the trash out, place it by the front door to go out in the morning or dispose of it that night so it’s over and done with.

3) Laundry If you have a washer and dryer at home, do a little bit each day. Spread things out so you don’t feel bogged down by 200 towels and stinky socks. If you take things to a laundromat, sort clothes as you go so things are easier to load up into machines when you get there. Fold them before you come home so you aren’t dumping baskets out on your sofa or bed and they can go straight into drawers and closets.

4) Whistle While You Work: Those who are happiest when cleaning are few and far between. Singing, humming, whistling or turning up the stereo are all great options to keep the beat in your feet and have fun while working. Here’s a few past posts on killer cleaning soundtracks.

5) Set a Timer: Most items on the list below should take no more than 20 minutes total. It’s easy to rationalize 20 minutes, but it’s also easy to get distracted by phone calls, emails, children and other projects that call your name as you tackle each chore. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes (which ever works best for you) and that way when it sounds you know exactly how much time you have left. If you find yourself off task it’s easy to get back on track.


1. Surface clean living room and kitchen (pick up stray items, dust, sweep, vacuum)

2. Clean bathrooms (toilets, showers, floors, walls, mirrors)

3. Surface clean bedrooms (put away toys, clothes, dust)

4. Surface clean “extra” rooms (basement, office, play room)

5. Surface clean living room and kitchen

6. Clean bathrooms

7. Clean all interior windows (white vinegar and newspaper works great and is cheap!)

8. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house (don’t forget stairs)

9. Surface clean bedrooms

10. Deep clean living room (mirrors, baseboards, dust artwork)

11. Clean bathrooms

12. Clean out closets (hang up clothes, mittens, jackets, hats)

13. Surface clean “extra” rooms

14. Deep clean bedrooms (organize drawers, check under bed, tidy closet, dust artwork, fans, lights, mop)

15. Surface clean living room and kitchen

16. Deep clean bathrooms (clean inside drawers, inside of trash cans, tops of mirrors, tile, mop)

17. Clean all door knobs, phones, entertainment equipment (remote controls), switch plates, banisters and other things that are repeatedly touched.

18. Clean out the refrigerator, take stock of food, organize pantry

19. Clean entryway, sweep porch (if you have one), clean out car (because they’re often our home away from home)

20. Surface clean living room and kitchen

21. Surface clean bathrooms

22. Surface clean bedrooms

23. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house

24. Clean linen closet, straighten towels, sheets or regular closet if not applicable

25. Surface clean living room and kitchen

26. Deep clean kitchen (scrub appliances, wash trash cans, base boards, wipe down and straighten cabinets)

27. Surface clean bathrooms

28. Surfaces clean bedrooms

29. Clean one item you’ve been meaning to get to and haven’t (deep clean your stove, wipe down all light fixtures, tackle a particularly unruly area)

30. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house

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Why Designers Love Unfinished Furniture

1. Cost and Materials; solid maple or hardwood means longevity and the maple or other woods allow you to finish it in many different colors and styles with a change of doors, legs, and hardware. Oak looks great in semi-transparent colored finishes.


2. It’s a blank canvas; you can use distressing, painting, crackling, staining or any number of methods to alter the look and feel of a piece.


3. Helps the budget along; often it’s incredibly affordable and not all of it is made overseas. I use a number of vendors some of whom produce in the US, they often custom size and some even finish in 20 or so stains and colors. It’s only limited by a designers creativity.







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Precedent Urban Classics New Vendor



Precedent Urban Classics is a great new vendor that has well designed upholstered pieces including leather at a moderate price point and which are very well constructed. Email or call for pricing. Pieces are available to see and sit on.

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Kathleen Doyle Interior Designs Halo Styles Club Chair

The Library in Winter

Is cozy what your’re looking for in winter? A great chair, a warm throw, a good library lamp and a beautiful rug.

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Golden Light- Lamps With A Great Sheen

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A Winter House

Vogue did a lovely spread on Aerin Lauder’s Colorado home in one of their recent issues. What I think makes this so spectacular are the views, the black framed windows, the gorgeous wood beamed ceiling and the use of so many wonderful textures. Though the design elements are neutral they all work together to create a wonderful atmosphere.

Now imagine what this room would look like without the architecture and the various textures? It just wouldn’t work. How do you get that same feeling but in a space that isn’t close to being that beautiful architecturally. The American Leather showroom at the fall furniture market in Highpoint used  a variation on this theme but  with more color that makes up for less than a spectacular space and  makes it an easier fit in most homes.  Also great,  isn’t it?


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Lloyd Loom has a great new collection called Elements, a clean lined group that is at home anywhere.


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Why Wallpaper Works

In the past, wallpaper was something you put on every wall in your room, the closet interior might have had a matching pattern and even the ceiling was wallpapered. Oftentimes it felt claustrophobic and as trends changed it became quickly out of date, It was difficult to remove and left you feeling stuck.

The new wallpapers coming out of traditional manufacturers as well as innovative small shops are much more graphic, fun and can be used in the same way you might use a mural or other art work. The patterns can be framed, put on one accent wall only, or even used on all four walls. But the patterns are so graphic and creative that it doesn’t feel as though you will quickly get tired of the pattern.

Remember, to make a room exceptional, you need art work, window treatments, great architecture or an incredible view out of lovely windows. If you don’t have those things, wallpaper can take care of your vertical space in a very cost effective and personal way.

Makelike Studio Zig Zag


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What To Do If Your CFL Lightbulb Breaks

Mercury is an element found in common household items including CFL’s or compact fluorescent lamps and tubes, the type of  light bulb many of us have switched to. They are also found in thermostats, thermometers and batteries.  It’s an extremely toxic element that can damage the brain, kidney and lungs and impair normal development of the brain and nervous system in young children in large doses.  You might have read or seen things on the internet that scare you into thinking one broken light bulb will ruin your health or scar you for life. Just use reasonable caution when dealing with a broken light bulb and you’ll be fine.  Here are the steps to take if a product containing mercury breaks:


  • Leave the room right away
  • Ventilate the room for 10-15 minutes
  • Turn off central heating for several hours
  • Collect broken glass and visible powder but don’t touch it directly. Wear gloves or use duct tape to pick up pieces

Use a sealed container or two plastic bags to contain materials before discarding

  • Make sure you discard the material properly, don’t just throw it in the garbage.

*Information sourced from the EPA, Robert Jaffin



Tips for Buying an Oriental Carpet

The more you know about oriental rugs, the more you’ll appreciate the artistry and workmanship that goes into every carpet. You’ll also be better equipped to get the most value for your money.

Know How Rugs Are Made

Oriental rugs are woven on a loom, with strands of wool or cotton called warps stretched from beam to beam (top to bottom). The weaver makes horizontal rows called wefts, weaving in and out between the warps. Tying the warps together with a piece of wool then creates the pile. Knot by knot, row by row, the weaver works, taking about six months to produce a 6 x 9 carpet.

You’ll notice that each rug has a “direction” due to its being woven on a vertical loom and the ends of each knot being pulled down while cutting the yarn. If you are standing at the top end, the rug will look markedly lighter than looking at it from the “bottom” end.

After weaving the bottom rows of kilim (flat weave), the weaver cuts the warps from the loom, making the fringe.

Structure of an oriental rug with names of components

Learn the Lingo

Before you begin your search, it helps to know some terms identifying the parts of a rug so you can describe what you seek. The main background of the carpet is called the field.

When you go shopping, have an idea of your preferred field and borders colors, or bring fabric samples or pillows with you.

Rugs with a diamond-shaped or round motif in the middle have what is called a central medallion. If your furniture will be placed asymmetrically on the rug, this is not a good choice. They are best with nothing over them.

Fall in Love

After you’ve seen many rugs, your favorite types will become apparent. See as many of them as you can and get to know their price range.

For the most part, new rugs are sold by the square foot; antique rugs are sold by the piece. Less expensive rugs are also sold by the piece and often times work well in your room. There is no need to blow the budget on a rug. There are thousands of choices to evaluate. Rugs of the same type will vary in price due to their differences in color balance and quality of design, but prices for the same type of rug should not vary more than 20%. If it’s not obvious why one rug is more expensive than another, ask!


Healthy Wool Feels Good

Cool moist climates with good grazing help sheep to produce superior, long staple, lustrous wool. So it follows that New Zealand and Tibetan carpet wools are some of the best in the world. Ask where the wool came from, and feel it. It should be soft and smooth (not dry and brittle). But beware! If a new rug is too soft and shiny, suspect inferior wool that was chemically treated as is sometimes found in in- expensive Chinese carpets).

Knot density (for strength) and fineness (for clear design definition) are important indicators of quality for which some countries use different terms. To test knot density, push your fingers down to the base of the pile; if the knots feel tightly packed, as in Bidjars, the rug will be extremely durable. To determine fineness, compare the backs of different carpets. Each “bump” is a knot. Small knots allow for well-defined curves and fine lines in the pattern, but you’ll also pay a premium for them.

Pakistani rugs are referred to in knot count per square inch horizontally by vertically. (16/18 quality is a fine quality, 12/12 a lower quality). New Chinese rugs are measured in lines (warps) per 10 cm. of wefts. Indian rugs are measured in terms of warps per inch by wefts per 10 cm.: 5/40, 9/54, 12/60, 14/70. Most others are described in terms of knots per square inch.

You’ll find Persian rugs from Tabrizes at 400 knots (very fine) to Herizes at 50 knots (coarse) and Tibetans from 60 to 120 knots per square inch. Keep in mind that in bold geometric designs knot count is less important than in detailed florals.


Antiques are Investments

A substantial number of the Persian rugs currently in this country are antiques (over 70 years old). As time passes, they become more rare and valuable due to the graceful aging process and to the fact that antiques were almost always one-of-a-type. Therefore, antiques can be considered “investments”.

But before you buy, know what you’re getting. Many new rugs today are made to look like antiques, and it can be difficult to tell the difference. Be certain you can trust your dealer.

Check for signs of repairs such as patches, usually more visible on the back of the rug. Repairs that have been expertly done are barely visible and do not affect the value nearly as much as those which are obviously a “defect”. Missing borders and any other needed restoration should be reflected in the price.


Caring for Leather Furniture

If you are looking for tips on how to clean leather furniture, you will be heartened to know that in most cases leather is quite easy to clean.

Leather furniture is expensive, but can easily last a lifetime with just a little everyday care. It is best to follow instruction from your manufacturer, because different types of leather furniture may require different methods of cleaning.

If your leather furniture did not come with instructions, remember to always try the gentlest methods first:

  • Always test in an inconspicuous spot.
  • Consult a professional if the stain is hard to remove.
  • Use a wiping motion and don’t scrub.
  • NEVER use harsh chemicals, alcohol, strong detergents or abrasive cleaners to clean leather. All of these may cause irreparable damage to your leather sofa.

Everyday Cleaning and Care

  • Wipe down leather furniture with a clean, soft, white cloth every week or so. Do this more frequently in a dusty environment. A white cloth ensures that you don’t deposit dyes on your leather couch by mistake, and it is also easy to see if you have removed all the dirt.
  • Vacuum your leather furniture frequently and plump the cushions.
  • Use a damp, soft cloth to remove dirt build up if you have not been cleaning it regularly. Makes sure your cleaning cloth is damp, not soaking wet.


Grease Stains

  • Use a dry, soft cloth. Press down to blot up as much grease from the leather surface as you can.
  • Use talcum powder or cornstarch and sprinkle on the leather surface. Allow to sit for a while and then brush away using a brush with soft bristles. You may have to repeat this process a couple of times. Do not rub. This technique also works on fabric.


Water Stains

  • Blot with a soft cloth immediately as soon as the spill occurs.
  • If the water has dried, use a soft damp cloth and starting from the stain wipe outwards towards the edges of the cushion in all directions. Again, no scrubbing, only wipe gently. Use less and less moisture as you go outward.
  • Ink stains on leather may need to be cleaned by a professional depending on the kind of ink, and the severity of the stain. Fresh stains are easier to remove.
  • Small marks, as from ball point pens, may disappear on their own over a period of time. You can try cleaning small stains using a gentle soap solution.
  • Big blobs of ink will need to be treated professionally. Do not use alcohol to clean your leather furniture, as you could potentially damage the color.



Upholstered Furniture Care

Just a little special attention will add years of beauty and comfort

to your purchase of upholstered furniture.

  • All seat cushions should be reversed regularly and the right, left and center sofa cushions should be rotated to achieve consistent wear.
  • All back cushions and toss pillows should be fluffed frequently to maintain a luxurious appearance and comfortable feel.
  • Frequent vacuuming is also recommended to prolong the life of the fabric. Avoid direct sunlight which might cause fading.

These procedures will enhance the appearance and add years of service and enjoyment to your upholstered furniture.

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How Space Affects Well Being?

How Space Affects Well Being?

Architects and interior designers agree that space has a very real impact on how we feel. Neuroscientists and psychologists are not far behind with new research that discusses the way aesthetics affect our decisions, emotional responses and the way we feel about ourselves. New fields such as embodied cognition, which looks specifically at the role the environment plays in developing cognitive capacity, and neuroaesthetics, which examines the biological role of aesthetic experiences, have found homes in research institutes around the world. We now know that the way light enters a room, the colors we choose for our floors and walls, and even the shape and texture of our furniture and home accessories all work together to influence how we feel and how we perform, both consciously and subconsciously.

Alain de Botton offers a comparison most of us can relate to in The Architecture of Happiness. De Botton contrasts the Westminster Cathedral in London to a McDonalds right up the street. He observes that walking into the McDonalds you immediately feel “anxious” and hurried–the harsh lighting; the colors; the hard, plastic furniture–compared to walking into the cathedral where you immediately feel solemn and reverent. In the cathedral you whisper, there is no jostling of friends. You walk slowly. Even for secularists these feelings are unavoidable. However, de Botton reminds us that both spaces contain the same core architectural elements: doors, windows, ceilings, and furniture on which to sit.

Color theorists add to the discussion by observing that color has such an impact on how we feel we actually make qualitative decisions about products based on the color of their packaging. Study participants respond unequivocally that the exact same pastries taste worse when served in a blue, orange or green box instead of a pink box. Office workers arriving to find their work walls painted red immediately began working more productively but by the end of day five in the same office began arguing with each other and reported being more tired after work, climbing into bed immediately.

People have a myriad of emotional responses to aesthetics and space — but we share enough commonalities for a basic matrix to be created. The question I am considering today is this: If we know we respond emotionally to space then how do we justify creating space that will stifle creative thinking — the cornerstone of today’s new economy.

Offering his own definition to the centuries-old question of “what is beauty” — French writer Stendhal observes that: “Beauty is the promise of happiness.” Indisputably there are as many styles of beauty as visions of happiness. Necessity creates certain limits but not at the expense of common sense. If we know that space influences how we feel then why don’t we make more effort to create “beauty” in places where feeling inspired is key to community, key to social and personal growth and key to learning.

Adapted from Dylan Kendall Aesthetics and Happiness: How Space Affects Well Being

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