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December, 2011 |

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A reader pops the cork question

Q. I’d like to replace my kitchen’s vinyl-tile-on-cement-subfloor with cork, but I get such conflicting information online. I have a very sunny kitchen, so I am mainly wondering if cork is fade-resistant.

A. I have several friends who have cork floors who just love them. And I have written about several homes recently where cork was the floor of choice for serious cooks who stand on their feet all day long. Fading has not been a problem.

Q. I was hoping that you could recommend a pretty and warm light gray that would look nice in a front room that receives a lot of sunlight. I want to do whites and creams, with oak furniture and lots of bright green plants. The floor is carpeted but near hardwoods that are a warm honey, slightly orange color. Any ideas?

A. I like Farrow Ball’s Pavilion Gray, Duron’s Grayish and Pratt Lambert’s Bristol Fog.

Q. I’d like new house numbers, but I’m having trouble finding anything interesting. Matters are further complicated because I need a letter. Do you, or the other readers, have any suggestions?

A. Restoration Hardware has great numbers and Design Within Reach has the Neutra house numbers. There are house numbers and letters designed by Ginger Finley that you can find as well.

Reader: My husband is a volunteer firefighter and says that many houses use numbers that are really hard to read (too small) or badly placed. Make sure that your numbers aren’t overly fancy, and place them so that an emergency vehicle (police, ambulance, fire engine) can read them clearly. This is not a time to pick form over function.

Reader: Almost all cool decorative items you could possibly want can be found on Etsy, including house numbers.

Reader: One time I went nuts trying to find a house at night where the house numbers were placed ABOVE a porch light fixture that cast the light down; the house numbers were placed in the shadow of the porch light. Make sure your outdoor light illuminates the house numbers!

Q. We’d like to paint our toddler’s room blue and yellow (reminiscent of the sky and sun). Any color recommendations? The room has two windows and gets good morning light. I don’t really have a decorating scheme for the room. We have a collection of fun folk art pieces to go on the walls (mostly train-related), plus my dad’s childhood cowboy boots and my grandfather’s lariat. It’s going to be rather an eclectic mix.

A. Your accessories sound fantastic. In my son’s room, we tried to put something from each of his grandparents. It’s more meaningful than running out to a decorating store and buying stuff to line the shelves. Here are some paint suggestions: Morning Sky Blue by Benjamin Moore or Duron’s Blue Horizon and Moonlight by Benjamin Moore or Duron’s Lemon Chiffon.

Q. Our family has a penchant for shades of blue that don’t blend well. How do we use more than one blue without having clashing views from room to room?

A. One trick is to use colors found on the same paint fan deck card, which should have a similar color base. With Duron, Page 73 has great blues ranging from a pale Sky High to a dark Loyal Blue.

Reader: We buy the small paint samples and we have some card stock (11 by 17 inches). We paint the card stock the colors that we are looking at and then hang them on the walls with masking tape and wait a while to see what we think. When we went to replace the furniture in those rooms later, we were able to take the cards with us to the store to match with fabrics and wood tones.

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Humorist: Bang a Pan, It’s New Year’s Eve

Cris Cohen is CaryCitizen’s Resident Humorist. Photo by Paul Galipeau.

When I was a kid, New Year’s Eve meant sleeping over at a friend’s house, staying up very late, and physically assaulting cookware. At midnight, whoever was babysitting would send us out onto the driveway and have us hit pots with wooden spoons. Several new years were rung in to the sounds of some sort of saucepan violence. As a result, it is possible that various cooking sets dreamed of one day having a celebration of their own where they beat small children.

We were never told why we were supposed to celebrate the new year this way. In the movies people blew on kazoos and threw confetti into the air. I never saw a film where people dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns suddenly went medieval on a collection of non-stick stock pots.

It is possible that this tradition was first begun decades earlier by disgruntled housewives, women who snapped when their husbands asked them to make more casserole. “If I have to cook one more (bleep) meal for that (bleep), lazy, (bleep) idiot …”

Or maybe this all started when a band’s drummer had a little too much to drink in between sets and accidentally started hitting items on the buffet table. “Should we tell him that he is playing  soup tureens?”

Admittedly, it is not a tradition I tried to keep up when I moved on to high school and college.

“Hey, dude. Steve’s having a New Year’s Eve party. Wanna go?”

“No thanks. I’m going to stay home and smack away at an omellette pan.”

And now that I am a dad, I have yet to tell my son to hit pots. Instead it will just be one of those childhood memories that I look back on and think, “Maybe that’s why I ended up in therapy.”

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Kitchen party to raise funds for Sistema

A kitchen party fundraiser for Sistema will be held Sunday, Jan. 8 at the Christ the King Golden Age Club, 305 Dominion St, Moncton, from 1:15 p.m.-4 p.m.

Click to Enlarge

Everyone is welcome to play, sing, or listen.

Donations of strings instruments or accessories are also welcome for this fundraiser only.

The N.B. Sistema youth orchestra’s program goes into schools to provide detailed musical instruction to children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to obtain music lessons and helps them experience the joy of creating instrumental music. Prayer Moncton

Prayer Moncton invites the church community to come together to pray.

Prayers will take place at Glad Tidings Church on Mountain Road on Sunday, January 8, beginning at 6 p.m.

Come at the beginning of a new year to pray for God’s blessings in 2012.

Kitchen party

A kitchen party will be held Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Mountain View United Church, 85 MacBeath Ave., Moncton, in the Church Hall, beginning at 7 p.m.

Entertainment will feature members of the congregation along with invited guests.

Parking available in hospital parking lot.

Everyone is welcome.

For further information, please call Paul Hebert 859-9302.

Admission is $5 at the door.

Young at Heart Moncton Faith Victory Church invites the Young at Heart, 50 Plus, to drop in every Friday at 7 p.m. for a chance to meet other people, have fun and play games.

The church is located at 229 Collishaw St., Moncton,

Everyone is welcome. Gospel singers

Nightwatch is now in its 19th year ministering the gospel in song.

For bookings, contact Darrell Hope at 506-388-1268 or e-mail dchope@nb.sympatico,ca.

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50 tips for better living

If 2011 felt like a bone-wearying, thank-goodness-it’s-over slog to the finish, resolve to make things easier on yourself as you flip the page to a new year. We culled 50 tips from colleagues and our favorite magazines and websites to help you get started. From decorating to entertaining, gardening to DIY projects, you’ll find ways to save energy, time and money in 2012 – and who can’t use more of all three?

1. Buy two or three four-way screwdrivers and leave them around the house where you might need them. Beats spending time searching for them.

2. Don’t be afraid to edit your garden. Remove oversized shrubs that block windows, walks or drives and can’t be kept to size by annual pruning.

3. Fond of a paint color but fear it’s too intense? Paint the insides of cabinets or a laundry closet. You’ll enjoy the hue every time you open the door, but it will be your splashy little secret.

4. Here’s a creative way to display art: Visit for a quick and cheap guide to making chalkboard frames with bulldog clips – especially great for a kitchen or kid’s room. (

5. Trendy color palettes can be found on all kinds of things. Don’t worry about decorating with the inspiration object: Just steal its colors. (

6. A portable docking station lets you and friends crank up your playlists anywhere, great for adding variety to parties. (Better Homes Gardens).

7. Use construction adhesive to affix a sheet of precut galvanized steel to the interior of your medicine cabinet. Use magnetic hooks to hold scissors and a mirror, and small plastic cups with magnetic bottoms corral small necessities, such as rubber bands and hair clips. (Martha Stewart Living)

8. Troll antiques and consignment shops. If you make the rounds once a month, you’re more likely to score good stuff. It can also be a great way to save money.

9. Don’t try to grow grass where it simply won’t perform well, such as slopes and under the canopy of large trees. Consider natural areas and ground covers instead.

10. Spruce up your mailbox. If it’s tilting, straighten the post and tamp the earth firmly. Scrub off dirt and mildew, and paint as needed. Add bright new numbers to welcome visitors. A design tip: If your driveway runs near the edge of your yard, put the mailbox in the narrow, outside strip of lawn closest to the lot line. That way, it won’t visually break up the expanse of the main lawn.

11. Pay attention to the backs of chairs, Mitchell Gold of North Carolina-based Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, says. “The best ones float in a room like pieces of sculpture.” (

12. Get something new: This spring, promise yourself you will try at least two new kinds of annuals or perennials for your flower beds.

13. To protect smartphones, tablet computers, calculators and other electronics in your home workshop, seal the device in a plastic storage bag. It will keep glue and dust out and allow you to use the touch screen or keys through the plastic. Attach binder clips to the bag, then hang it near your workbench. (

14. Dinnerware comes in all styles and colors, from casual to formal, so you can find a color story for every room in your home. Take a sample plate along when you shop for paint colors, furniture and accessories. (

15. Feeling more energetic? Buy a new canvas tool bag – good ones can be had for less than $20 – and start filling it with basic tools over the coming year. Small projects go quicker and easier when you don’t have to stop repeatedly to go get a hammer, etc. One option: Check flea markets for used tools. You can find lots of good basics for just a few bucks.

16. Sprinkle wet tea leaves on fireplace ashes while scooping them out to help reduce blowing dust. (

17. Look for spots in your home where light fixtures are dated or provide too little light. In the bathroom, for instance, replace that simple four-bulb strip over the mirror with a stylish fixture, and perhaps add sconces beside the mirror. The side lights are much more flattering. The room will be brighter – and you’ll look better.

18. At the paint store, ask about a color’s Light Reflectance Value, or LRV. “The higher the LRV, the more light will bounce around the room. The lower the LRV, the more the color will absorb light, which will make the room seem moody,” designer Kelly Berg says. (BHG).

19. Hoe the tops off tiny weeds in the morning of a hot day (they’ll be dead by dark), then soak the ground. The next morning, hand-pull large weeds; their taproots will slip out of the moist soil. (Sunset magazine)

20. To coordinate colors quickly, add an accent piece such as a painting, pillow or throw that incorporates most of the colors in your room. (

21. Nothing puts a fresh gleam on your home like a newly painted door. If the door is steel, repair with auto body filler and sand smooth. Prime, then paint with high-quality 100-percent acrylic semigloss. If the door is varnished wood, touch up faded stain and finish with marine spar varnish.

22. A long, narrow foyer poses special decorating challenges. Treat it as your personal art exhibit, hanging meaningful pieces on the walls, gallery-style.

23. Stay on schedule: Fertilize your fescue grass at the right time, mid-February, mid-September and late November.

24. Have a door that swings closed by itself? Remove the pin from the top hinge, lay it on a scrap of wood and tap the middle of the pin with a hammer to create a gentle curve. Replace the pin in the hinge. The extra tension should hold the door open. If not, do the same with the middle hinge.

25. If you e-mail a party invitation, send it two weeks in advance so guests have time to plan and RSVP. (

26. Hang a zippered mesh bag in your closet as a delicates-only hamper that you can toss right into the washing machine. (BHG)

27. Organize your pantry: Store serving trays, platters and cutting boards with tension curtain rods. Measure the vertical distance between two cupboard shelves. Position appropriate-sized rods between the shelves, then twist to tighten. Use two rods on both sides of each item, spacing them according to the dimensions of individual pieces. (Martha Stewart Living)

28. Leave perennials such as coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, asters, goldenrods and Joe-Pye weed standing when they’ve finished blooming. As fall arrives, finches, sparrows and cardinals will cling to the stems to harvest ripening seeds, while towhees and juncos will pick up seeds on the ground below. Other birds will glean insects, pupae and eggs from the stems through the winter, and when spring comes, the weathered stalks and stems will be easy to cut down and compost. (Organic Gardening)

29. Give your bedroom a quick and affordable makeover. Have your favorite photo blown up (try your local Kinko’s or online sites such as, then follow the step-by-step how-to at to create a one-of-a-kind headboard. (

30. Party time? Download a free party-planning checklist at It will guide you from one month before the event to an hour before guests arrive. (

31. The tannins in black tea can help shine and color hardwood flooring. After your regular floor-cleaning routine, carefully rub some brewed tea into the floor (use water sparingly) and let it air dry. (

32. Raise the scent. Plant something permanent, such as daphne or viburnum, that will bring great fragrance to the garden.

33. Living in a small space? Go vertical. Remember: Your home is three dimensional so use every inch of wall space you can. Hang knives and utensils from a kitchen wall; consider cabinets above a desk for additional storage; and a wall-hung vanity mirror will help declutter the bathroom. (

34. Create a miniature greenhouse-style planter box by reusing inexpensive paned glass ceiling fixtures (available at salvage yards or ReUse stores). A simple version can be made by resting the gutted glass fixtures atop a wood slab. For a more custom look, see the tutorial at (StudioChoo via

35. Replace old-fashioned, recessed floodlights with modern LEDs. You’ll save money, and if the recessed cans are in raised, hard-to-reach ceilings, you won’t have to replace them as often. If the lights are on dimmers – and most lighting should be – make sure to choose dimmable LED bulbs.

36. Hire an expert: If your landscape doesn’t suit you, bring in a landscape design pro to evaluate, make suggestions and offer a plan that can be implemented over time.

37. Old egg cartons make ideal storage containers for delicate holiday decor such as heirloom ornaments. Reuse leftover tissue paper to wrap delicate pieces.(

38. Need a desk or other piece of basic wood furniture? Buy an ugly, used one that’s been painted and get it stripped. You can stain the naked piece yourself. You’ll love the look and feel good about your “rescue” mission.

39. Brighten up a faded tablecloth with a do-it-yourself project using textile dye and special salt. Find the directions at (

40. To cut down on clutter in your child’s room, put some toys away and rotate them. We trade “old” toys for “new” ones from a lockable metal storage locker from Ikea ( This cuts down on clutter and keeps our favorite preschooler excited about her toys.

41. Got some old mason jars? shares 10 reuse projects including on-the-wall storage, pies-in-a-jar and herb planters (

42. For advice on everything from growing your own vegetables to fighting an invasion of stink ants, the experts at N.C. Cooperative Extension Services can help. For services and resources in your county, visit

43. Remove the batteries from an old remote control and stuff the empty compartment with emergency cash, a spare key or anything else you need to keep handy but hidden. (Real Simple)

44. Keep plastic wrap in the refrigerator and it won’t cling to itself when handled. (The Creative Home Organizer)

45. To make your windows sparkle, mix one part distilled vinegar to nine parts water in a spray bottle. Spray it sparingly onto the glass and buff dry using a paper towel, or a scrunched-up newspaper. (BBC America’s “How Clean is Your House?”

46. Look for less-than-perfect merchandise. You may be able to snag super deals on slightly damaged items, floor models and seconds (such as towels from a dye lot that was slightly off) so be sure to check stores’ “as is” areas or ask the manager about fire-sale items. Or buy stock items. Order that sofa in a neutral, ready-to-ship fabric and use the money you save to splurge on colorful throw pillows.

47. Use an electric mower. Gasoline-powered lawn mowers can release as many pollutants into the atmosphere in 30 minutes as a car does in 90 minutes. Electric mowers don’t dirty the air and cost only about $10 per year to operate.

48. Put your cut holiday tree to use! Cut the branches and lay them over perennials to protect them from the cold. Shred small branches to make mulch.

49. People who feed pets outdoors should not be shocked by the appearance of opossums, skunks and others waiting for the free buffet. Feed your pets indoors or pick up and remove any uneaten food after 20 minutes of offering it outside.

50. Remove cigarette burns from carpets by sanding them away. If black fibers remain, remove the tips of them with scissors. If there is still a small stain or gap evident, snip a small amount of fibers from an inconspicuous area and glue them into the gap. Only you will know.

Compiled by Carole Tanzer Miller, Roland Wilkerson, Nancy Brachey, Juli Leonard and Allen Norwood

Share a tip, win a book

Got a tried-and-true way to make work around your home and garden easier?

Whether it’s a tip about decorating, gardening, home maintenance or entertaining, we’d like to hear it.

Email your tip to for

Please put “Home Tips” in the subject line and include your name, mailing address and phone number so we can contact you if we have questions.

We’ll share the best tips in the paper and send a book to the readers who sent them to us.

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Walkout living in fine style

Aspen Woods Estates is a move-up and estate area on Calgary’s westside that offers an abundance of nature on the doorstep.

Homes by Us has added to the area’s ambience with an impressive 2,635-square-foot, two-storey walkout home that offers living in fine style.

From the foyer, the home opens onto a sculptural staircase that takes prominence as a focal point.

To the left is a hallway leading to the powder room and well appointed mudroom.

A formal office featuring an sextagonal feature wall with cut glass adds a pop of esthetic interest and visually moves the eye toward the open living space in the back of the home.

Mirroring the architectural elements in the office wall, a floor-to-ceiling curved limestone fireplace creates depth, texture and warmth in the living room.

A waffled ceiling in the open dining space continues the textural feel.

Large windows and glassed french doors leading to an oversized second-level terrace allow natural light to stream in making the space bright and cheerful.

The open kitchen features a large island, stainless steel appliances and a butler’s pantry with built-ins galore.

Upstairs, the bonus room greets you at the top of the stairs and leads to two well-sized bedrooms. An upstairs laundry room features lots of storage and a sink.

The master bedroom takes up the entire front half of the upstairs and features his and hers walk-in closets – a must for those couples who love their wardrobes – and a luxurious ensuite with separate shower, soaker tub and dual sinks.

The lower walkout level is partially completed.

Although Homes by Us is a custom builder, it offers several floor plans, including a bungalow style.

Buyers can choose from three colour palettes, mix and match them, or create their own.

Homes by Us is in the process of building a new show-home a few streets over in Aspen Woods Estates, which should be ready for viewing in the spring of 2012.

It currently has four spec homes for sale in the area. Such houses are built in advance for people who don’t want to order a home and then wait for it to be constructed.


BUILDER: Homes by Us; The Pinehurst III, a 2,635-square-foot, two-storey walkout home.

DEVELOPER: Springbank Land Co.

AREA: Aspen Woods Estates. PRICE: $943,000. including lot and GST.

DIRECTIONS: The showhome is located at 98 Aspen Summit Drive S.W. Take 17th Ave. west to Aspen Summit Drive. Turn right and follow to the end of the street. The showhome is on the east side of the street.

HOURS: The showhome will be closed on New Year’s Day. Otherwise, it is open Mondays through Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and weekends and holidays from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.


Calgary-based custom home builder, Homes by Us, has been constructing homes for more than 20 years. It is the winner of the 2011 New Home Buyer’s Choice Award. Known for its interesting designs and high quality features, standard features include BuiltGreen technology, window coverings, soft close cabinets and drawers and KitchenAid appliances. Homes by Us is currently building in Aspen Woods Estates in Calgary’s westside and Watermark in Bearspaw. Watch for a new showhome opening in Aspen Woods Estates in the spring of 2012. Visit


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Tips on Designing a Great Family Room From The Experts at Calico Corners …

Kennett Square, PA (PRWEB) December 30, 2011

After the kitchen, the most popular room in most homes has to be the family room or great room. It has to function as a media room, a game room, a music room, a reading room—and often a homework area too. Because this room is so lived in, there are lots of family rooms that could use a serious makeover. But where to start?

“Start with design that reflects the interests of the family members, of course! Use photos, children’s artwork, mementos, maps, antiques and art collections to tell your family’s story in this room,” says Jan Jessup, director of communications for Calico Corners – Calico Home. “Think about having frames made that can open to switch out kids’ artwork or to showcase the latest photos from a family trip. Those personal items may suggest colors or textures to incorporate.” Then consider how to make the room work on a practical level. Here are ten tips on how to create a family room that is both functional and great looking:

1. Really comfortable seating is essential.

Sofas, sectionals and chairs for a family room should be chosen for reading and viewing comfort. Do you like to nap on the sofa? Be sure it’s wide and deep enough–and that the arm is low enough to nestle your head. Do you like to read to children? Make sure they can fit around you. Do you prefer to sit cross-legged on the sofa? It should be deep enough to accommodate your folded legs. Chairs and sofas with an outside depth of 38 – 39 inches or more are ideal for both sitting and reclining.

2. Select furniture that’s the right scale for the room.

If your great room is oversize, or has a cathedral ceiling, you probably need large-scale upholstered furniture that can stand up to the size of the room. Traditional sofas or settees 72 to 78-inches wide will look diminutive in a big room. Look for large-scale sofas at least 88-92 inches wide with depth and height of about 38-39 inches for furniture with presence in a spacious room.

Many sofas have an inside width of 68-69 inches (as this is a common frame size), but could have an overall width of 78 – 89 inches due to large-scale padded arms. Compare outside dimensions to inside width. “You may not be getting more actual seating space with a longer length sofa,” advises Jessup. Shop with a measuring tape–make notes about the size and scale of the pieces that you find most comfortable. Sofas with an inside width (between the arms) of 72 to 75-inches will be long enough for 6-footers to nap stretched-out. Think about how you’ll really use your furniture, not just the aesthetics of the piece. Function must complement form.

“Older adults have an easier time getting up from chairs that are a little more upright and not too deep (such as wing chairs) or chairs with good arm leverage (such as English arm chairs),” adds Jessup.

3. Consider sectional seating for design flexibility.

Sectional sofas with a variety of components are a good way to create more spacious seating that can be tailored to the size and shape of the room. “If you want to pack more people into a tight space, your best choice is a sectional sofa,” notes designer Suzanne Kasler in her book, Inspired Interiors. “The L-shape creates a very strong line and utilizes every square inch, even the corner.”

When upholstering a sectional, avoid large prints and plaids or the finished effect may be overpowering. An interesting texture, small menswear plaid, chevron, herringbone or basketweave pattern will be subtle and more interesting than a plain solid fabric–and will also hide wear and wrinkles. Remember that sectional components in an L-shaped unit will change direction at the corner–and so will the fabric they wear. Be sure you like the effect before making a final fabric selection.

4. Vary the scale and visual weight of the furniture in the room.

For example, have large chairs, medium-size chairs and smaller slipper chairs. Incorporate ottomans and benches. Have firmer chair seats and cushier chair seats. Have a great reading chair or chaise. Be able to reconfigure the furniture and pull in extra seating for big family gatherings and parties. Furniture with a little variety creates a more interesting room than a matching suite that all appears to have come from the same source.

5. Consider skirted arm chairs with a swivel mechanism so that they can turn easily for conversation or movie watching. Most fully upholstered skirted chairs can be ordered with a swivel, swivel-glider or swivel-rocker mechanism.

6. Ottomans are critical to reading and viewing comfort.

Ottomans should pull up easily to chairs or sectional components to support your legs. Will they be large enough for a long-legged spouse? Or will two people want to share one ottoman? Shop accordingly. If an ottoman will serve as both footrest and coffee table, consider a large 36″ to 48″ rectangular or square ottoman to serve all needs.

Large upholstered cocktail ottomans with no sharp corners or hard edges are more kind to toddlers and small children on the run and can also serve as a coffee table. A pretty tray placed on the ottoman can contain books, magazines, accessories and remotes.

7. Find a fabric you love to pull out colors for pillows, window treatments, skirted tables and accessories.

If you have little ones, consider a more colorful combo for a family room as brighter colors really speak to kids, advises Jessup. “Start with the fabric, because there a million shades of paint, and you can always find that later.”

8. Lots of pillows are great for lounging, movie watching or support while reading.

Have pillows made in a variety of sizes and shapes–lumbar pillows to cradle your back while reading, smaller pillows to tuck under an elbow, larger pillows for napping–and even floor pillows for kids who love to lounge on the carpet. “Square pillows at least 18″ to 22″ are good sizes for a sofa,” says Jessup. “They’re large enough to show off a fabric and make a design statement. Little bitty pillows just get in the way.”

The Calico stores offer both feather/down and fiberfill pillow forms covered in a neutral solid fabric in a huge variety of sizes and shapes–even pillow balls and cubes. The Calico custom workrooms can transform any fabric into a pleasing pillow.

9. Use window treatments to control glare on a television screen.

Light falling from a window onto a television screen creates sun glare–perhaps not a problem at night, but surely an issue for Saturday morning cartoons or a weekend football game. Window treatments that can be drawn, or shutters or shades that can be closed, will help to control glare–and add privacy.

10. Select carefree fabrics. Then relax, enjoy and live with your family in the family room.

The Calico stores have a very large selection of high performance fabrics, including many Sunbrella jacquard and woven upholstery-weight fabrics. These are designed for furniture use and are easy to live with–spills can be cleaned up with a sponge and a little dish soap.

“No one will guess that these are stain-resistant, fade-resistant Sunbrella fabrics,” notes Jessup, “as they look like denim, duck, matelassé, damasks, heavy cottons or intricate jacquard designs.”

Calico Corners also recommends faux suedes for family room furniture, such as Sensuede or Flannelsuede that can be readily cleaned with soap and water. “They add a great texture to the mix of fabrics in a room—and come in dozens of rich colors,” says Jessup. Sensuede is also more resilient than Ultrasuede for upholstery use, she adds.

Tips on furniture arrangement for a family room:

  • If the furniture floats in the room, consider the back and side profiles.

Freestanding furniture should be attractive from all sides. Look for special shaping in backs, crowned cushions, dropped side rails and skirt treatments that create visual interest. If you don’t love the view of the back of your sofa as you walk into the room, add a console table there to display books, photos, a lamp and interesting accessories.

  • Position the sofa to face the television. As designer Lyn Peterson notes in her book, Real Life Decorating, “The television is the hearth of the twenty-first century…it’s the information center where we find out what’s happening in the world.” And the television is increasingly becoming our movie screen and computer screen as well. Place the sofa in line with television screens for more comfortable viewing.
  • Where to place the television is a matter of personal preference, but consider these suggestions: A television placed high on the wall may have everyone craning their necks to see the picture. A television placed over a fireplace may compete with a fire–and also be too high for easy viewing. To integrate the television screen with room decor, hang artwork on either side of the screen; it will also balance the black void of the screen when the TV is off.

About Calico Corners

Calico Corners – Calico Home stores provide expert decorating advice and free in-home design consultation in more than 90 stores across the country. Consumers will find thousands of designer fabrics for the home at value prices; custom window treatments, blinds and shades; custom upholstered furniture, slipcovers, bedding and more. Thousands of fabrics are available online. For more information or to find the nearest store, visit or call (800) 213-6366.

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Jewell Cardwell: Our brothers and sisters keepers

Major, major kudos to the Freemasons of Summit County for extraordinary generosity over the Christmas holiday.

Case in point: The 90-plus huge food baskets and grocery-store certificates that were distributed to area families in need as part of the charitable work of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Ohio.

Mark Ohlinger, who helped coordinate the massive work, shared the following:

“The Masonic Assistance Program is a year-round charitable outreach by Summit County Blue Lodges and the Scottish and York Rite Bodies and is designed to assist those in need. As part of this effort, a special holiday food delivery program provides groceries to families who might otherwise have very little food with which to celebrate the holidays.”

The families were nominated by area churches, the Salvation Army, social services, members of the Masonic fraternity and yours truly. “These holiday groceries were purchased and assembled by area Masons and then delivered to families in Summit, Portage, Medina, Cuyahoga, Stark, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties,” Ohlinger said. “The delivery area covered Litchfield to the west, Strongsville to the north, Kent to the east and south to Canton.”

The Christmas food basket giveaway — which began 21 years ago and has expanded to a “larger year-round initiative” — is consistent with the tenets of the Freemasons: brotherly love, relief and truth.

“While many individuals assisted in this effort in 2011, Save A Lot No. 634 deserves special recognition for its help and assistance in purchasing and loading the food,” Ohlinger noted.

“In addition to food donations, the 102,000 Masons in Ohio provide approximately $15 million in charitable giving annually. This year they gave $94,000 in college scholarships, contributed $200,000 to Special Olympics Ohio Summer Games and funded $70,000 in free training for hundreds of Ohio schoolteachers to recognize students at non-academic risk. They also provided $12 million in elderly care and helped many needy Ohio families and individuals through the Charitable Foundation.”

Recycling kitchenware

Recycle Pots and Pans is a local nonprofit that can use our help without putting a burden on any of us.

Its mission, according to Abbe Turner, is to redistribute commonly used kitchen items to families in need.

“We’re like the aggregate,” said Turner, who also is the proprietor of Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent. “We pull it all together. We collect (the cookware and dishes), sanitize and box them up.”

Turner, in applauding the efforts of local food banks, suggests there is a great need for items to prepare the food once it is received.

Turner also pointed out the importance of the dinner hour when families have the opportunity to have meals together. “It’s an important part of family glue,” she noted, adding that studies show that children who eat together as a family do better in school and are less likely to get into trouble.

Since its inception six months ago, Recycle Pots and Pans has helped rebuild kitchens for 18 families. A recent beneficiary of its goodwill was a family that lost its home in a fire.

Recycle Pots and Pans also works with Kent’s Safer Futures, the Domestic Violence Center in Greater Cleveland, the Community Action Council in Ravenna and various other groups.

According to Turner and Ann Reid, another volunteer with the project, the group’s greatest need right now is shelving and a van to transport the goods.

For information about how you can donate your used pots and pans, dinnerware, drinking glasses and the like, visit Recycle Pots and Pans on Facebook or call Lucky Penny Creamery at 330-678-9355.

Helping the homeless

Kudos to Akron’s East Community Learning Center students and faculty who did their part in helping area homeless families have a better Christmas.

The seventh- and eighth-graders collected and wrapped nearly 100 gifts for newborns through age 17 in need. They were guided in their effort by social studies teacher Michelle Jones. Language arts teacher Beth Protich and her students also put together treat bags, filled with candy, for the children. Other teachers providing a strong assist were Michelle Hillier, Charlene Panovich and Brian Ritter.

“Many of the presents were dropped off at one of the 10 homeless shelters in Akron and some were dropped off to local families who are ‘doubled up,’ a term used to describe multiple families living under one roof,” said Rachel Breece-Stith, child and family development specialist with Akron Public Schools’ Project RISE (Realizing Individual Strength through Education).

The mission of Project RISE, said program manager Debra Manteghi, is to help families and children experiencing homelessness.

Drumming up support

St. Luke’s Anglican Church will be drumming in 2012 thanks to the generosity of local professional drummer Sonny Reese, whose offer to donate his five-piece practice drum set appeared in Thursday’s column.

“St. Luke’s Anglican Church could really use the drum set being offered, as the Episcopal Church has recently taken away our building and its contents,” wrote Janet Worrall, director of music at St. Luke’s. “We had to leave our drum set behind, so would greatly appreciate the donation of drums for our music ministry.”

Offering lawn tools

The Horak family has accumulated lots of shovels, rakes, brooms and the like and wants to donate them. “We hate to throw them away and were wondering if you have any knowledge of an organization or individuals who have need of them,” the family wrote.

“The shovels and rakes could be used by community gardens, as they have lots of use left in them. We also have lots of brooms and some snow shovels. The brooms are both indoor and outside types.”

Please email me of your interest.

Seeking centenarians

Heads up, dear readers: The X Prize Foundation and Medco are looking for 100 centenarians (age 100 or older) “whose DNA will serve as a basis for the Archon Genomics X Prize presented by Medco. The goal of this competition is to accelerate the field of personalized medicine by awarding $10 million to the team of scientists who most rapidly, inexpensively and accurately sequence these genomes. Doing so will improve our understanding of health and longevity.”

Anyone 100 or older who is free of any serious disease, can be nominated Please submit to

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or emailed at

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