Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fresh Dining Room Layout Ideas

Photo by John Casado

Hi Friends,

Susan Kleinman shares ways to rethink the traditional dining room arrangement. Although this table provides plenty of space for entertaining, clear chairs and a streamlined design take up little space visually. A round table is always a good option as more or less chairs can be added to accommodate guests.

While wooden tables are still the most readily available, tables in more unusual materials are increasingly popular — and can really set the tone for a dramatic dining space. For this dining room, designer April Sheldon set a round Calacatta Oro marble tabletop on a base of bleached, rift-cut white oak. The table is surrounded by clear, modern chairs by Philippe Starck for a look that's fresh and sexy.

Check back for more ideas and enjoy unusual materials that will make your space popular!

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Live well,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easter Table Settings and Centerpieces

Hi Friends,

Spring has sprung which can only mean that Easter is right around the corner. Celebrate the holiday with a beautifully set table.

By H. Camille Smith

Brunch Alfresco

A bright, sunny spring day is the ideal setting for Easter brunch with family and friends. Design by Rate My Space user Tablescapes.

Cheery Centerpiece

Creamy porcelain pairs beautifully with bright yellow glass eggs and a buttery tablecloth. Design by Rate My Space user Tamgypsy.

Spring Luncheon

Bone-white porcelain and crystal are accented by punches of pink to create this happy Easter table. Design by Rate My Space user Tablescapes.

Mmmmmm ... Chocolate!

Rate My Space user Tamgypsy created this oh-so-tempting place setting with a tasty chocolate and spring-green color palette.

Splash of Sunshine

A porcelain pitcher filled with forsythia branches graces a table washed in sunlight. Design by Rate My Space user Tamgypsy.

A Nod to Mod

A subtle color palette of pale grays and blues creates this nontraditional yet chic spring table. Martini glasses filled with chartreuse excelsior and candy eggs add a playful touch. Design by Rate My Space user nejaba.

Daffodil Centerpiece

A mass of daffodils in a footed glass compote creates a cheery centerpiece. Tip: Daffodils are a member of the narcissus family. Once cut, their stems excrete a substance that is harmful to other flowers so it's best to always place daffodils in an arrangement by themselves. Design by Rate My Space user renatepete.

Pretty in Pink

Delicate pink-rimmed dishes are the focal point of this charming, formal place setting. Design by Rate My Space user Moonlightand Magnolias.

Check back for more ideas and enjoy

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Unique Garden Tabletop Water Feature

Courtesy of HGTV

Hi Friends,

Hitting the Low Notes with this unique indoor garden tabletop water feature. It's easy to create whimsical fountains, just print this blog page and off you go to the nearest home improvement center. Now's the time to quench your thirst for the hottest indoor tabletop water feature around.

Check back for more great ideas from your friends at Interior Design!

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Live well,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet Feng Shui

By Kayla Kitts

Hi Friends,

The art of feng shui has been practiced in ancient Chinese cultures for centuries but is now being integrated into Western interior design and architecture. According to feng shui, everything has a positive or negative energy. In order to balance these energies, designs must be carefully thought out to create an overall feeling of harmony in a room. Designer Marie Burgos incorporated natural feng shui elements into this Asian-style master bedroom, including the color scheme, bamboo platform bed, hand-forged drum side tables and traditional Japanese shoji screens.

Check back for more ideas and enjoy the art of feng shui in your space!

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Live well,

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Courtesy of The Holiday Spot

Hi Friends,

Found some history on St. Patrick from The Holiday Spot and thought we would share this information about the patron saint of Ireland with all of you.

History of St Patrick

St Patrick is known as the patron saint of Ireland. True, he was not a born Irish. But he has become an integral part of the Irish heritage, mostly through his service across Ireland of the 5th century.

Patrick was born in the later half of the 4th century AD. There are differing views about the exact year and place of his birth. According to one school of opinion, he was born about 390 A.D., while the other school says it is about 373 AD. Again, his birth place is said to be in either Scotland or Roman England. His real name was probably Maewyn Succat. Though Patricius was his Romanicized name, he was later came to be familiar as Patrick.

Patrick was the son of Calpurnius, a Roman-British army officer. He was growing up as naturally as other kids in Britain. However, one day a band of pirates landed in south Wales and kidnapped this boy along with many others. Then they sold him into slavery in Ireland. He was there for 6 years, mostly imprisoned. This was when changes came to him. He dreamed of having seen God. Legend says, he was then dictated by God to escape with a getaway ship.

Finally, he did escape and went to Britain. And then to France. There he joined a monastery and studied under St. Germain, the bishop of Auxerre. He spent around 12 years in training. And when he became a bishop he dreamed that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God. The Confessio, Patrick's spiritual autobiography, is the most important document regarding this. It tells of a dream after his return to Britain, in which one Victoricus delivered him a letter headed "The Voice of the Irish."

So he set out for Ireland with the Pope's blessings. There he converted the Gaelic Irish, who were then mostly Pagans, to Christianity. He was confident in the Lord, he journeyed far and wide, baptizing and confirming with untiring zeal. And, in a diplomatic fashion he brought gifts to a kinglet here and a lawgiver there,but accepted none from any.

Indeed, Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. Through active preaching, he made important converts even among the royal families. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times,but escaped each time. For 20 years he had traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion. He developed a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and held church councils.

Patrick's doctrine is considered orthodox and has been interpreted as anti-Pelagian. Although he is not particularly noted as a man of learning, a few of his writings remain extant: his Confession, a reply to his detractors, and several letters. The Lorica ("Breastplate"), a famous hymn attributed to Patrick, may date to a later period. By the end of the 7th century Patrick had become a legendary figure, and the legends have continued to grow since then. There are many legends associated with St Patrick. It is said that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; which refers to the combination of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hence its strong association with his day and name Legend also has that, Saint Patrick had put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland. And he drove all the snakes into the sea where they drowned.

True, these are mostly legends. But, after some 1500 years, these legends have been inseparably combined with the facts. And together they have helped us know much about the Saint and the spirit behind celebration of the day. Patrick's mission in Ireland lasted for over 20 years. He died on March 17, AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since. The day's spirit is to celebrate the universal baptization of Ireland. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday. Or, rather, 'be an Irish Day '. And the Irish has borne it as part of their national tradition in everywhere they populated and prospered. The Catholic feast day for this most loved of Irish saints has become a holiday in celebration of the Irish and Irish culture. The leprechaun, a Celtic fairy, has become entrenched as a chief symbol for this holiday, as is the shamrock, an ancient symbol for the triple goddess Brigit. It is fitting that this holiday should fall at the time of the year when the return of spring begins to seem at hand.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from your friends at Interior Design!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Art Prints

Courtesy ofvKim Stoegbauer
Photography by Vicki Lynn Photography

Hi Friends,

Infuse your home with the luck of the Irish through inspirational yet simple decorating ideas for St. Patrick's Day. Printable art is only one budget-friendly way to incorporate the St. Patrick's Day spirit into your home. Simply print off templates and place in a favorite frame.

Check back for more great ideas from your friends at Interior Design!

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Live well,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tackle Early Spring Gardening Chores

Courtesy of HGTV

Hi Friends,

Eager to get outside? Check out these early spring gardening chores that you can start now.

Do you ever get that urge to go out and do something in the garden, even though it may be too early in the year to do much? "I get a little too eager every now and then, thinking that it's okay to plant something when it isn't, or wanting to mow the lawn even though it doesn't need it," says master gardener Paul James.

That's not to say there aren't things that can be done in the off-season, especially during the few weeks before the official gardening season begins. Paul has come up with a list of things to do that can be done now.

Repairing a Dry Stacked-Stone Wall

"I love the natural look of stones that are stacked dry, meaning that they're not actually mortared in place" Paul says. However, they do have a tendency to shift during the winter months. As a result, the border becomes a bit unsightly, not to mention dangerous, especially if kids occasionally walk on the stones.

Late winter to early spring is an ideal time to reposition stones. Sometimes minor adjustments are all that's needed; simply moving the larger stones with smaller ones can stabilize the border. It doesn't take all that much time or effort, and the payoff is worth it in terms of enhanced aesthetics and safety.

Fixing Uneven Steppingstones

Even stepping stones in the lawn can become unstable due to excessive rains or heaving, caused by alternating periods of freezing and thawing. So they too should be stabilized and leveled to make them safe to walk on. To fix, this requires that you actually lift the stones and add soil or gravel beneath them. Use a level to verify that they are even with the ground.

Correcting Tunnels Made by Garden Pests

Unstable stones aren't the only hazards that can lead to a sprained ankle. There are also tunnels and mounds of dirt created by moles and gophers. They too should be leveled with a metal rake and tamped firmly. The exposed soil can later be reseeded with grass seed or left as-is if your turfgrass is the type that tends to spread.

Spring Cleaning for Birdhouses

Inspect birdhouses to make sure they're firmly mounted. Clean their feeders, filling them with fresh seed once they dry. Give birdbaths a good scrubbing and refill with water. Last but not least, create a pile of ready-for-the-taking nesting materials to make life a little easier for our feathered friends.

Spring-Flowering Bulbs

It's not unusual for the foliage of early spring-blooming bulbs to turn brown, especially at the tips, when temperatures drop suddenly. Although the foliage may not look all that great, the bulbs themselves will be just fine and will flower pretty much on schedule.

Now is a good time to do a quick sketch of where your bulbs are. This will help when the foliage fades later in the year and you begin planting annuals and perennials in the same bed. You'll have a map of where the bulbs are and avoid destroying them as you dig.

Touching Up Mulch

This is the ideal time of year to inspect your mulch, particularly its depth. Chances are organic mulches, especially those made from shredded or chipped wood, have decomposed somewhat or have been washed away by heavy rains.

With a metal rake, fluff your mulch a bit and try to level it out over your garden beds. Along the way, use a ruler to determine the average depth of the mulch. Ideally, you want at least a 2-inch layer, and 3 to 4 inches is OK, especially for southern gardeners.

Winter Pruning Trick

If you haven't already completed pruning your deciduous trees and shrubs, there's still time. Paul has a trick that will help you select which branches to prune away and which to keep.

First, stare at the tree or shrub in question with an eye toward its desired shape. Stare at it from several different perspectives from a distance at various angles, from just a few feet away, and even looking up into its canopy.

Now, rather than doing any pruning, tie some colored ribbon or twine around each limb or branch you think you want to prune. Over the course of several days, each time you walk by the tree or shrub, at different angles and various distances, try to imagine what it will ultimately look like if you were to remove the selected limbs.

Feel free to change your mind. If you're not sure about one of the limbs you've selected, remove the ribbon or move it to another limb. Then re-evaluate your selection. Within a few days, you'll get a better feel for where you should make your pruning cuts and greatly increase your chances of success when you finally make those cuts for real.

Other Tasks to Complete

Clean gutters to prevent water from drowning plants below.
Cut back ornamental grasses to about 6 inches tall.
Cut back perennials almost to ground level.
Remove dead wood and suckers from trees and shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous.
Plant dormant trees and shrubs.
Move dormant plants.
Dig and divide emerging perennials.
Scrub clay pots.
Clean tools.
Remove leaves from the bottom of ponds or other water features.

Check back for more ideas and don't hesitate to Tackle Early Spring Gardening Chores now!

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Live well,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3 Gardening Chores to Prepare for Spring

Courtesy of HGTV

Hi Friends,

Prepare for spring by diving into late-winter chores in the garden with these 3 Gardening Chores to Prepare for Spring.

Water-Garden Maintenance

Remove leaf litter from a pond, especially if you have fish. Decomposing leaves can have an adverse effect on water quality. Turn off the pump to make it easier to collect the leaves. While removing the leaves, you can also scoop out algae that may have formed. When you're finished removing the leaves, turn the pump back on.

If weeds have sprouted in the path that surrounds the water feature, remove them by hoeing or pulling. Never use herbicides near a pond, especially if it contains fish, because nearly all herbicides are toxic to fish. They may also destroy aquatic plants in and around the pond.

Wait to remove or transplant overgrown or misplaced plants in or around the pond until the temperatures are warmer. Late winter is not an ideal time to transplant herbaceous plants, and the water may be too cold or even frozen to work in.

Ornamental Grasses

Late winter is the ideal time to cut back ornamental grasses. Although it can be fairly easy to cut back grasses with a pair of pruners, loppers or shears, you can also secure the top growth with a bungee cord or piece of twine and cut grasses back with electric or gas powered hedge trimmers. This method can be particularly useful on cutting back large sized grasses.

Vine Pruning

Late winter is a good time to prune runaway vines because you can visibly see where the vines are growing and remove them from nearby plants. If you wait until spring has sprung and the leaves are already on the trees and shrubs, you may miss an overgrown vine that could potentially be choking nearby plants.

Check back for more ideas to prepare for spring!

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Live well,