Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Candles in living room blamed for apartment fire

Fire investigators say candles in the living room caused the fire that killed an Esquimalt man on Christmas Eve. Brian Fillman, 66, died of smoke inhalation despite the heroic efforts of three men who tried to put out the fire and drag him out of his fifth-floor suite at 1325 Esquimalt Rd. His 88-year-old father, Vern Fillman, said Fillman was burning candles to mark the night before Christmas and in memory of a friend who recently died.

Esquimalt fire investigator Lt. Troy Saladana said he found remnants of candles and glass candle holders around the origin of the fire, near the couch in the living room. Other ignition sources such as electrical malfunction and cigarettes have been ruled out, Saladana said.

He said the fire triggered the apartment suite's smoke alarm and heat detector, but it's not clear why Fillman couldn't make it out. The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating. Vern Fillman and his wife had coffee with their son just four hours before the fire and they talked about celebrating Christmas Day together.

"He told his sister how happy he was that we would all be together. Unfortunately, he didn't make it."Two weeks before he died, Fillman found out he had beaten prostate cancer. The cancer was found in its early stages about nine months ago, and after radiation he was told by doctors the cancer was gone. "So to lose him this way, it's so tragic," his father said. Fillman, who was single with no children, worked as a truck driver across Canada but had to retire after he injured his back.

He coached minor hockey and was passionate about giving to others, Vern Fillman said, adding he's been flooded with calls from people telling him what a kind and generous man his son was. "Throughout his life, he's always been one to help people."Fillman would often get groceries for elderly people who live in the building, many of whom have limited mobility.

Another of the three rescuers who tried to save Fillman has come forward to tell his story. Jeremy Aitken, who lives in a home behind the building, said he heard the fire alarm and saw flames shooting from the fifth-floor window.

"I know there are a lot of elderly people in there and fires can spread quickly," said Aitken, 40. "It was obvious from my backyard that anyone that was in that suite was in peril."

His wife called 911 as he ran to the building.

Aitken climbed the stairs to the fifth floor, where he saw Attila Szabo, the wheelchair user hailed as a hero after he and another fifth-floor resident broke down the door and used an emergency fire hose to douse the flames.

Because the hall was thick with smoke, Szabo told Aitken to follow the hose until he got to the suite. Aitken found a resident named Dave in the hallway, shooting water at the flames. "He was pretty close to being overcome from the smoke at that time," Aitken said. Aitken took over, dousing himself with water and putting his shirt over his face before crawling into the suite to put out the fire.

"I could feel the flames and the heat lashing back at me when I sprayed the fire, I just kept putting water on it," he said. Once the flames were doused, Aitken and Dave located Fillman, who was unresponsive, and dragged him into the hallway to the stairwell where they were met by firefighters who took over the rescue effort.

Vern Fillman said while the three men could not save his son, they likely saved many others. "They saved what could have been a disaster had that fire crept through the complex. They're heroes, there's no doubt in my mind."The fire left dozens of residents of the 52-unit building homeless over Christmas because of water damage.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

New Jersey Outdoor Living Space Company Wins Big in 2010 with Masonry, Landscape, and Swimming Pool Awards

New Jersey Outdoor Living Space Company Wins Big in 2010 with Masonry, Landscape, and Swimming Pool Awards Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping, a design and build firm for homeowners looking for a complete outdoor living space solution, had a big 2010 season, notching 18 awards over the course of the season. The award-winning outdoor living spaces range from swimming pools to outdoor kitchens and grills to complete residential property design & installation. "This was another great year for us," said Chris Cipriano, President of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping. "The projects showcase a wide range of services within every aspect of outdoor living. My staff and I are grateful for the recognition from our peers.

Swimming pools highlight most of Cipriano's outdoor living spaces. The most notable award-winning pools of 2010 have each won multiple awards for design and construction, and they swept the entire swimming pool category at the NJLCA awards on December 13, 2010. First, the Kinnelon swimming pool highlights an outdoor living space with tremendous style and intricate detail. The swimming pool's vanishing edge highlights a magnificent view of the distant skyline. 200 fiber optic star lights line the bottom of the pool, allowing the center of the outdoor living space to appear to reflect a starry sky at night. In addition, a massive Grecian key mosaic design spans the floor of the pool and the waterline. Iridescent glass tiles were each placed by hand to create this design, while matching glass tile also covers the pool's vanishing edge. This swimming pool was also featured on the cover of the June/July issue of Design NJ magazine along with a five page editorial.

The next swimming pool in Mahwah, NJ defined a complete outdoor living space with mature plantings, three large waterfalls, Living Boulders, and a custom Volcanic Fire Pit. Living Boulders rest along the edge of the swimming pool and feature moss, ferns, and lichen already growing on them; the boulders enhance the natural style of the outdoor living space, appearing to have been there for hundreds of years. The Volcanic Fire Pit, featuring red crushed glass and a new burner that burns larger than ever, lies in a small cave adjacent to the rock waterfalls that include 250 tons of boulders. This blend of fire, stone and water holds a unique effect on one side of the swimming pool. The pool itself also showcases fiber optic and LED lights for color and depth in the pool and waterfalls, a running bond pattern of slate and glass tile, and an oversized spa surrounded by the full landscape used to soften the boulder waterfalls.

The last outdoor living space in Saddle River, NJ features a massive 1,500 square foot custom swimming pool, along with four waterfalls, underground waterslide, spa, and spacious grotto. The pool's largest waterfall cascades over the face of the grotto for a deeply natural look. All of the waterfalls combine to move 1,400 gallons of water into the pool per minute; they rush down the stone structure, made up of natural stone and artificial faux stone, which is surrounded by a mass of flourishing plants. Included within the waterfall structure, an underground waterslide emerges at the foot of the waterfalls beside the pool. Along the waterline of the swimming pool and spa, an iridescent glass tile pattern appears with distinct style and has extremely durable qualities that will last up to 50 years. The swimming pool also won at the Northeast Spa and Pool Association award dinner this past November.

Cipriano also specializes in the hardscape aspect of outdoor living spaces. In 2010, the NJ design and build firm earned awards for masonry and hardscapes, constructing patios, driveways, stone veneer walls, outdoor kitchens, and custom grills. One award-winning project this year showcases a classy hardscape with multi-leveled patios, plantings, and a custom grill. The two-tiered patio features natural stone and walls; the upper patio features an inlay that outlines the outdoor dining area. The other award-winning hardscape highlights an outdoor living space in Englewood, NJ. The outdoor living space includes 12,000 square feet of natural stone patios and 5,000 square feet of natural stone veneer. A 7,000 square foot Limestone pool patio surrounds the swimming pool and was set in a running bond pattern, which enhanced the clean lines of the space. A custom asphalt paver driveway and custom-blended natural stone veneer cladding the walls above the pool patio also contributed to the NJLCA award of excellence. These awards were slightly reminiscent of Cipriano's 2007 NJNLA and NJLCA hardscape award-winners that showcased an outdoor kitchen and bar in Saddle River and a complete outdoor living room with a fireplace in Mahwah NJ. The 2007 Saddle River brick and precast limestone outdoor kitchen includes a pergola, fully equipped appliances, honed bluestone countertops, and a random pattern bluestone patio. The Mahwah outdoor living room patio was finished with a 1’ by 1’ sandstone imported from the Far East and fitted with a bluestone border. The room also showcases a traditional outdoor fireplace veneered in a 2” limestone.

The Englewood home also won an award for landscaping and complete residential property design, along with another outdoor living space in Cresskill, NJ. The Englewood outdoor living space, a park-like 4-acre property, had over 200 trees installed, some up to 18" caliper, in addition to its thousands of square feet in patios and veneer. 7" to 8" caliper Kwanzan Cherries line the street of the estate. An 18" caliper Beech tree was installed as the focal point of the front yard. A maple tree, set of the corner of the entry court, was installed at 14" caliper. Boxwoods flank the front entry of the estate. Lastly, an 18' by 18' Katsura sits at the exit of the entry court. This magnificent landscape design, which also features a unique shade garden at the northernmost portion of the property, produced the ultimate outdoor living space.

The Cresskill residential property design showcases a Shangri-La type oasis, filled with natural stone, lush plantings, a natural waterfall, swimming pool, and asphalt paver driveway. The natural waterfall is the focal point of the entire outdoor living space. Natural stone steps and retaining walls enhance the rugged style. A grey Tennessee Crab Orchard patio provides a cool surface around the pool. Asphalt pavers for the driveway accommodated the children's love for rollerblading. A bluestone entry patio greets guests in style. Plantings soften the hardscape with plants ranging from evergreens to tropical annuals. The award-winning oasis created within this outdoor living space is defined by the mass of natural stone and flourishing plants.

The swimming pools in Kinnelon and Saddle River incorporated lighting into their outdoor living spaces, earning them NJLCA awards for back yard night lighting, also called nightscapes. The two swimming pools feature color fiber optic and LED lights. In Saddle River, 75 fiber optic star lights, installed directly into the stone, and 16 other fiber optic spot lights illuminate the grotto with a magical glow. Another 16 fiber optic spot lights also highlight portions of the waterfall structure and landscape. Color LED lights place the entire pool on display in a variety of colors for different moods. The Kinnelon outdoor living space creates a safe, dynamic poolscape with its 200 fiber optic star lights and color LED lights producing colorful glows in the pool and spa. Low voltage lighting also accents portions of the outdoor living space such as the antique gazebo, potted plants, and ornamental statues. In the end, this highly-acclaimed nightscape rivals the skyline it overlooks.

About Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools And Landscaping:
Celebrating over 22 years in business, Five time international award winner Cipriano Landscape Design is a recognized industry leader in custom residential landscapes, masonry and swimming pools. After a little more than a decade in business, the company catapulted to the top of the state’s luxury landscaping and pool industries when it was awarded a $2.5 million residential landscape project. Today, along with the Ramsey, NJ office, the Cipriano family owns a 10-acre farm and nursery in Mahwah, NJ, where large caliper specimen trees and other rare plants are grown. With a design office headed by 15 year veteran Certified Landscape Architect William Moore, the Cipriano team has won 48 awards of excellence since 2006 including the Northeast Pool & Spa Association’s 2007 Best in Competition Award. In 2008, the Cipriano team earned the Certified Building Professional (CBP) credential from the APSP, one of only five custom pool builders in Bergen County to have earned the certification.
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Eleven trends for 2011: Go eclectic, lighten up and make it personal

Eleven trends for 2011: Go eclectic, lighten up and make it personalReady for your home to look oh-so 2011? It shouldn’t be too hard because the on-the-horizon trends are all about making it more optimistic, functional and personal. To help us discover what’s new on the home front, we talked to a few internationally recognized tastemakers. New York interior designer Vicente Wolf travels the world, linking the places he explores with the spaces he creates.

“People aren’t redoing rooms every four years anymore,” says Wolf, who wrote and photographed the instructive new book “Lifting the Curtain on Design” (Monacelli Press, $50). “People care about their personal point of view and what comforts them.”Sarah Richardson is a Canadian designer who got her start as a prop stylist and set decorator. Her show, “Sarah’s House” on HGTV, details home renovations room by room. She bounces ideas off sidekick Tommy Smythe, who accompanies her on jaunts to antique stores and salvage shops.

“Going for vintage ups the ante on what you can achieve,” Richardson says. “If you don’t mind the challenge of never knowing what you might find, the quality is typically better, and prices are lower than what you’d get new.”

Roni Jaco of Kansas City travels the globe looking for ethically made handicrafts and textiles for her online store, the Loaded Trunk ( Her itinerary next month: Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. She has left 10 days of wiggle room, so maybe Laos and Cambodia, too.

“Although we’re connected technologically, we’ve become so disconnected from where things for our home come from,” Jaco says. “Just as we’ve become more engaged in where our food comes from, we’re starting again to wonder about the people who make things for our home. We want to know their stories.”

Sizing up salon style
We’re referring to a method of hanging art, not hair salon art. “Salon” is the French term for drawing room.

Instead of restraining yourself to a gallery wall with coordinating frames, there’s something delightful about a confident floor-to-ceiling mishmash. It makes a room feel lived in and — here’s the word again — personal.

• Roni Jaco’s living room walls contain a mélange of pieces from her travels, antique prints and photographs. “When you like things, they just all seem to go together.”

Lightening up the kitchen
A streamlined kitchen will never go out of style. But “Ye Olde Kitchen,” as Vicente Wolf calls Old-World craftsmanship, has had its day.

“A kitchen shouldn’t look like it’s more than 150 years old when your home isn’t,” he says. “There’s fakery to it, and dark cabinets can be depressing. A kitchen is like an operating room: You want it to be clear and bright so you can see all the details.”In addition to good task lighting, Wolf prefers white cabinets or lighter woods.

•Wolf designed this modern yet timeless kitchen.

Toning down hardwoods
Although espresso and dark hardwood floors have been the norm for years, we’re noticing a little lighter look for the surface you walk on. “You’re starting to see two-tone and gray finishes,” Wolf says. “Like driftwood.”•A driftwood-like finish in flooring, Tudor Nostalgic by Bois Chamois Vintage Hardwood Flooring
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Creating a New Living Room for Jewish Boulder

Creating a New Living Room for Jewish BoulderAs you drive past the corner of Arapahoe and Cherryvale, envision the new Boulder Jewish Community Center. The parking lot is full. Families are swimming in the pool, toddlers are on the playground, teens are playing gaga, adults are watching a film and seniors are enjoying a lunch and lecture. In the near future, this new living room for Jewish Boulder, along with dining room, family room, game room and backyard, the Boulder JCC version 2.0, will be a reality.

The Board of Directors of the Boulder JCC is happy to announce that the Cornerstone Campaign has almost $14 million in committed pledges, roughly 70% of the $20 million goal and the largest amount of money raised for a capital project in the history of the Boulder Jewish community. This amount includes 100% participation by the JCC’s Board of Directors, and a number of lead gifts. The total also reflects the donation of land by the Oreg Foundation (formerly the Weaver Family Foundation), funds for capital construction as well as an endowment to ensure the vitality of the JCC now and in the future.

The next week is critical since the 5C Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit will be suspended in 2011. All donations paid before December 31 are eligible for this tax incentive, which means that the after-tax cost of a $5,000 gift is approximately $1,577.

The proposed plans are for approximately 40,000 sq. feet of functional space and extensive outdoor areas. There will be a pool, a full-service day camp, a gym, an expanded early childhood center, classrooms of all kinds, library and gallery space, and a 4,000-square-foot community hall to be used for plays, films, concerts, lectures, and family or community celebrations.

This center of Jewish life will provide services to everyone, from the tiniest newborn to the oldest adults, providing multiple opportunities to connect. We are creating a vibrant community living room and we hope that everyone will join us in building a true representation of the vitality of Jewish life in Boulder County.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Always Christmas in the kitchen

As many Australians prepare to sit down to a traditional Western Christmas lunch, Nicole Precel talks to three families from different cultures about how they celebrate. TAIWAN GLORIA Lai-Harington’s Christmas tree is up and decorated, but there will be a festive dinner instead of lunch for her family. The Keysborough resident, 36, is from Taiwan and said while turkey was popular there, her family would eat traditional Taiwanese fare.

“I don’t cook western food very often, I mostly cook curry, mashed potato or something homemade style,” she said. Mrs Lai-Harington has four children, all born in December. She said in Taiwan, many people had a hot pot or went out for dinner. >> YOUR SAY: How does your family celebrate Christmas? Tell us by posting a comment below There would be decorations everywhere and celebrations with Christians and non-Christians.

“I think in Taiwan if you walk on the street or you go anywhere, you will see many things or many places, they are all celebrating for Christmas.”CAMBODIA “SOURSDEY Noel!”. That’s how you say “Merry Christmas” in Cambodia. The festive season at Springvale’s Cambodian Australian Christian Church is about forgiveness, gratitude, charity and celebration.

Church community member Damien Ear, 44, has been in Australia for 30 years, having left Cambodia as a refugee with his family. “We don’t really restrict ourselves at Christmas time, we accommodate Cambodian traditional food. The main thing is the Christmas spirit, people come together and celebrate together,” Mr Ear said.

December 25 is not recognised as a national public holiday in Cambodia, so Mr Ear said the celebration in Australia was a way to continue their native traditions. While there isn’t always a Christmas-themed meal, church members get together for a Cambodian feast of turkey, red wine, roast lamb, curry, fried rice, fried noodles and barbecued beef skewers. “We invite strangers to come and share,” he said. “You don’t have to know one another to share.”

There are usually traditional dances, including the coconut dance and the traditional blessing dance. Although dances can be performed by anyone, Mr Ear said it was important for younger members to perform. “We want our children to know and retain our traditions,” he said. For Mr Ear, Christmas was important considering the turmoil during the time of the Khmer Rouge.

“After the war we lost everything, but we have to start everything over, Christmas is the time,” he said. “It’s not just a celebration but we remember what we’ve been through and let’s live on and move on with life. We forgive and forget.”SRI LANKA

IN AYOMIE Perera’s Noble Park home, Christmas is a waft of herbs and spices. The 45-year-old has lived in Australia for six months and celebrates a Sri Lankan-style Christmas.

Her family go to midnight mass and share presents on their return. “The mass goes for about one hour, and finishes off at 1am and then by 1.30am we give Christmas presents,” she said. Mrs Perera cooks Sri Lankan Christmas cake, which is slightly different from the Australian version. It is filled with exotic fruits and spices and is usually cut into small pieces, with each portion individually wrapped. Her Christmas lunch consists of fried rice, biryani, potato curry, pork, prawns, fried fish, Christmas cake and wine.

“Actually, I haven’t been in Australia for Christmas this time,” she said. “My parents are in Sri Lanka, I miss them a lot.”Mrs Perera said people also lit Christmas fireworks and rockets in Sri Lanka, but this was not a tradition they had brought to Australia.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 ways to make your living room more green

Obviously, the greenest choice in a remodel project would be not to remodel at all. You would not need to buy materials, nor would you contribute any waste products. But that would defeat the whole idea of making your space better. The real green remodeling question is: How to do this with the least amount of impact to the planet?

1. New Windows: Not every remodel involves adding space or moving walls around. Swapping out some old drafty windows with some new efficient ones is a good place to start. If your home has proper solar exposure, new windows could also provide some passive solar heating, or depending on your climate, some windows can also keep your house cooler. If new windows are not in your budget, update your window shades to control the heating and cooling effects of windows.

2. New Flooring: Replacing synthetic carpeting with a sustainable material, like beetle-kill hardwood, is one way to reduce allergens and provide a green flooring alternative. If the wood is finished with a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) finish, you are also not contributing excess chemicals to the atmosphere.

3. Recycled Framing: If your living room remodel includes adding some new space or converting and old space, chances are high there will be some framing involved. The traditional method has been wood framing. Today, with higher lumber costs, many opt for framing with steel studs. Steel studs have been used in commercial settings for many years but are now gaining popularity in residential applications. Not only are they lighter and easier to handle, they can be made from recycled steel, and when they end their life in your home, they can be recycled again.

4. Healthier Air: Improve your air quality with the use of low or Zero VOC paints. People that have sensitivities to various chemicals find these new “green” paints a literal “breath of fresh air.” Active ventilation controls can also improve air quality, and systems equipped with heat exchangers can provide fresh air without temperature losses.

5. Deconstruction Instead of Demolition: With landfill space becoming smaller and smaller and the cost to dump materials increasing, it only makes sense to use deconstruction techniques. Many cities have implemented mandatory policies for this type of recycling. It may take a bit more time, but you will save on your trash expenses, and limit your input to crowded landfills.

6. Better Insulation: Older homes often do not meet the current standards for insulation. Additional insulation or better insulation will save heating and cooling cost for many years to come. Some of these new insulation materials are recycled products, as well. I have used cotton batt insulation that once had a life as blue jeans. Working with this product was pleasant, no gloves were required for handling and there was no itch.

7. Fix the Leaks: Sealing up leaks can often have as much, if not more impact to your heating and cooling costs, as adding insulation. Caulking and seal around existing living-room windows.

8. Bring in the Sun: Skylights can add light to a living room without consuming electricity. These can take the form of standard skylights, or the newer tubular styles that can span attics or even a second floor.

9. Modern Lighting: Electric lighting has changed dramatically in the last few years, CFL’s (Compact Florescent Lights) are common now and LED’s are gaining popularity. Not only do these new lights save energy, they may last 10 to 1000 times as long. This longevity keeps old spent lights from entering the landfill.

10. Pioneer Spirit: Many of our grandparents heated their living spaces with simple wood stoves. It may seem odd to have high-tech LED lights alongside a wood stove, but many new wood stoves have excellent efficiency ratings. Wood has been, and will continue to be, a renewable resource. If the grid goes down, a simple log or two may keep you and your family warm for the evening.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Living Room Furniture Company Announces Christmas Deals and Discounts

Living Room Furniture Company Announces Christmas Deals and DiscountsIn every home, it is always important to select the right kind of furniture. Globally furniture shopping seems to be better than ever. Though a consumer can find the perfect living room, bedroom, or dining room furniture without having to leave the comfort of their home, pricing and quality becomes an issue some times. The service also helps customers to find hot deals by keywords; where the search results shows the exact furniture they want at discounted prices. It also offers a huge variety of living room furniture without having to go from store to store by displaying multiple brands in same place. Consumers can see the new Christmas offers and the deal prices at the company.

‘Living room furniture now’ is the perfect place to find the furniture deals a consumer wants for any room with the best quality. It helps people to keep up with the latest trends in living room furniture by shopping from their own home. The service is capable of displaying furniture products from almost all popular manufacturers. Online shopping is simple and fast without all the hassles of salesmen in stores within a few moments without having to break consumer budget. The most common problem associated with living room furniture is backaches and other similar discomforts. There have been studies that traditional furniture is the main cause why people experience pain. This can be avoided by choosing quality products. A reduction sale via Internet has been added benefit of not having to go to outlets or wholesalers at the website. Online catalogues are also displayed which is supplied by popular living room furniture firms and also a vast variety of the selection furnishings pieces are solely one click away.

About Living Room Furniture Now

‘Living Room Furniture Now’ is an online furniture based company started to offer good quality furniture to people across the globe with great discounts and better quality. A consumer can select offers and products from different companies when utilizing the service because several companies to choose from like furniture wholesalers, liquidators, and retail outlets. Clearance deals and big savings in furniture can be found at the website. Living room furniture stands to deliver modern living room furniture and ideas. It provides people with access to high quality living room furniture at discounted prices. Consumers willing to buy quality living room furniture don’t have to pay more elsewhere as the team offers excellent service to satisfy the customers with their exact requirements. The team behind the company strives hard to prove themselves as the best online living room furniture site serving requirements of their valued customers.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Casulo shoves full bedroom in four-foot box

Casulo shoves full bedroom in four-foot boxMoving can be a lot of hard work. You’ve got all that furniture and, well, it doesn’t all fit together like a good game of Tetris. Overcoming this common life dilemma is Casulo by Marcel Krings and Sebastian Muhlhauser. They’ve managed to fit an entire bedroom in a four-foot box.

Dubbed Casulo, which is the Portuguese word for cocoon, this contraption is a tightly designed box that contains a complete set of bedroom furniture. The two guys from the Koln International School of Design created the prototype Casulo in 2007 and, when packed up, it measures just 47.2 x 35.4 x 31.5 inches. Inside that box are a bed, mattress, tall shelves, two stools, height-adjustable chair, a desk with a separate cabinet, and an armoire to hang clothes.

Don’t believe me? There is a video that demonstrates exactly how this thing works and it’s pretty amazing. If you thought IKEA was clever with its packing, you’ve got to see this… the kicker is that the furniture can then be easily disassembled and shoved back into that four-foot box. Moving day couldn’t be easier. The whole shi-bang weighs about 350 pounds.

Another bold claim made by Krings and Muhlhauser? It will “never show signs of wear and tear.” Furniture that lasts forever, packs up easily, and completely populates your bedroom. Pretty crazy if you ask me, but great for someone constantly on the move.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

A perfect springboard for UAE

A perfect springboard for UAEThe UAE national swimming team is hoping to distinguish itself with competitive fervour at the 10th Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) that get under way at the state-of-the-art Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Sports Complex on Wednesday.

"For sure we are not expected to win any gold medals or even make it to the finals of any of the events here. But we will be giving it our best shot once we are in the swimming pool," promised skipper Obaid Al Jasmi, who is leading a group of eight other swimmers in the Speedo-sponsored UAE squad.

"Our association has told us that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and that we should make the best of it to rub shoulders against some of the best swimmers in the world and be as competitive as we can so that we can break a few records for the UAE and the Gulf region," Al Jasmi said. The UAE squad, under the watchful eye of American coach Jay Benner, returned only on Saturday from a two-week training camp in Kuwait. "The idea is to keep on improving and this is what we have targeted each time we have stepped into the pool," Al Jasmi said.

"We need to be realistic while competing in a championship of this nature as there are going to be so many Olympians and World Championships medal winners eager to win. In comparison, we will be there for the experience," the UAE skipper noted.

The 10th Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) will get under way on Wednesday at the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Sports Complex. The event concludes on December 19.

Besides Al Jasmi, the other members of the squad include Ahmad Khalfan, Ali Subait, Mubarak Salem, Mohammad Al Gafri, Mohammad Jasem and Al Jasmi's three younger brothers — Saeed, Bakhit and Faisal.

"The training has gone well in Kuwait," commented Benner.

Long-term goals

"We are in our final preparation and starting to rest and fine-tune for the championships. The goal for this competition is to be as competitive as possible and we are looking for lifetime best performances along with setting as many UAE National records as possible," he said. "The long-term goal of swimming in the UAE is take the sport to the point where the UAE nationals can be competitive at international competitions in the future," Benner added.

Al Jasmi admitted that the Dubai championships will be a springboard for further successes in the sport for the UAE. "We need to make our own finds. We need to identify our promising swimmers and train them. And, in turn, our swimmers need to keep an eye on the future and learn as much as possible from these top swimmers," Al Jasmi said. "The road is long. It may take another eight to ten years. But if we start right now we can be hopeful of a top world swimmer at the end of it," he added.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Home church: Fellowship in the living room

Home church: Fellowship in the living roomIn the age of megachurches, a growing number of Christians are looking for a more intimate way to connect with God and each other. Enter the home church movement.ambridge, Minnesota, has two formal home church groups. This one, known as the Blue Fish Group, meets in the living room of member Bob Roby on Saturday, December 4, 2010. A typical home church "service" consists of music, prayer, theological discussions and a shared meal.

On this Saturday evening, Bob Roby was the host for his group's weekly home church gathering. He says he'd "choose a handful of Christians in my living room over hundreds of Christians in a big church. It's much more intimate." Plus, "it costs a lot of money to keep something like a megachurch going. Financially, home church makes a lot more sense.

Part of each home church meeting is set aside for research. Each week, the members choose a specific Bible passage to explore. They then break into small groups and try to find out everything they can about that passage -- from its social context to its linguistic nuances. Some consult historical dictionaries. Others rely on religious reference books. After about an hour, the groups reconvene and share what they've learned.

Lonnie Gay researches a Bible passage in the rec room during a home church meeting. He'll return to the living room to share what he learns with the rest of the group. "The house church network," says Gay, "is way cool. It's laid back. It's more comfortable. At a big church, you're a number. Here you're a person. And you can contribute."There are two separate home church groups in Cambridge, Minnesota. Once a month, the two come together at the Corner Cup coffee shop for music, prayer and fellowship. These evenings also serve as open houses for area residents who are interested in learning about the home church movement.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Bejeweled 3' Sets A New Standard For Launch Events

'Bejeweled 3' Sets A New Standard For Launch EventsIf you've ever been to a video game launch event, you know what to expect. Folding chairs, take out food and many more guys than girls. Of course, there wasn't likely to be a large line waiting in front of GameStop for tomorrow's release of "Bejeweled 3." No, that franchise's fan-base is a bit different, so PopCap decided to class things up. They launched the latest sequel to their biggest franchise in the living room of a British mom. Seriously.

In attendance for the "Bejeweled 3" worldwide launch event was a Women's Institute secretary, a grandmother, a librarian, a banker and a trendy dad. Not what you normally think of when you think "gamer," but these are the sorts of people that have made "Bejeweled" the insane success that it is, so why not celebrate them? And give them tea? The release of "Bejeweled 3" marks a return to form for the franchise, which has gone experimental in recent years. The last two Bejeweled games, "Blitz" and "Twist," took the basic tenets of the franchise and turned them on their head, adding social networking and new gameplay mechanics, respectively.

"Bejeweled 3" sticks closer to the original's roots, but also expands things with a number of pretty extravagant game modes. You're still matching up similarly-shaped gems, but you'll also have to battle rushing columns of ice, dig through gold-filled mines and swat away butterflies throughout the game's 8 main modes. The game will be available tomorrow through PopCap's official site.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Living Room: Microsoft in talks for new TV service

Living Room: Microsoft in talks for new TV serviceThe software giant's possible push into the television business comes as Google Inc, Apple Inc and Netflix have jostled for a seat at the table of television's future -- a main topic of discussion at the Reuters Global Media Summit to be held this week.

The maker of the Windows operating system has proposed a range of possibilities in these early talks including creating a "virtual cable operator" delivered over the Internet for which users pay a monthly fee. Other options include using the Xbox to authenticate existing cable subscribers to watch shows with enhanced interactivity similar to how pay TV operators have sought to do over the Web, said these people.

Microsoft is also exploring the possibility of creating content silos and selling more individual channels directly such as an HBO or Showtime. It already has Walt Disney Co's ESPN on the XBox Live online service for example.

These people said a service may not arrive for another 12 months, but early discussions have been productive.

Microsoft said it does not comment on rumour or speculation. The people involved in the talks asked not to identified as the discussions were confidential.

News of Microsoft's plans come as the pay-television industry has sought to allay investor concerns that consumers are fleeing expensive subscription packages for cheaper online services operated by companies such as Netflix Inc and Hulu, which both charge $7.99 per month (5 pounds) for streamed shows and movies. The phenomenon is called "cord-cutting."

The worry is that so-called over-the-top services could undermine the lucrative cable TV industry, whose dual-revenue stream model -- cable networks such as ESPN are paid carriage fees by pay TV operators and also earn revenue from advertisers -- has made pay-TV one of the most resilient sectors during the economic recession.

But programmers would welcome new types of competition to the cable and satellite companies, senior media executives said. "We think the more competition the better, we will price and package it in such a way that we still make the dual revenue stream," said one of the people who spoke to Reuters. "We could probably charge more for interactive advertising."

Microsoft has long held ambitions to be a major player in the TV business and has previously invested in interactive television initiatives including Web TV and MSN TV set-top box software. Its latest plans include offering interactivity to engage viewers through social media, interactive advertising and motion control technology, say people who have seen early demonstrations.

Microsoft has bet on new "gesture" technology that lets users of its Xbox, who buy a camera accessory called the Kinect, control on-screen functions using voice to launch channels and waving arms to fast-forward or rewind videos on ESPN.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Longwood Gardens green wave wall longest of all

Longwood Gardens green wave wall longest of allThe famed Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., recently unveiled the largest living green wall in North America. Until its dedication in October, the plants on the side of PNC's headquarters at One PNC Plaza, Downtown, held that distinction. What makes Longwood's even more unusual is its curved shape and location -- It's an integral part of the interior of Longwood's East Conservatory Plaza, which has been under construction for the past year.

Designed by famed British landscape architect Kim Wilkie, the 14-foot-high wall covers 4,072 square feet and contains 47,000 plants representing 25 species. It is watered by almost 4,000 feet of irrigation drip lines strategically placed throughout.

Stainless-steel panels hold the plants with coconut coir fiber planting media that was developed by GSky, a leading manufacturer of green wall systems. The system was developed to allow the 3,590 panels to move if necessary.

The undulating wall combines with the plantings to give the impression of a gentle green wave. Among the common plants used are spider plants, mosses, ivies and holly, rabbit's foot, asparagus and maidenhair ferns.

Built into the earth, the green wall is part of a glass-roofed corridor that runs between two rows of lavatories. The walls are naturally lit by domes with etched glass and motion detectors that add supplemental light when needed. Motion-activated faucets help conserve water.

The East Conservatory Plaza also can lay claim to the first terraced lawn in the United States. A special mower hovers over the turf, cutting the flat and curved portions at the same height. The plaza is surrounded by new woodland plantings, including hundreds of new trees and shrubs and a magnificent 200-year-old English yew, planted by Pierre du Pont, that stands guard at the entrance to the conservatory.

Longwood Gardens is the premier U.S. botanical garden, encompassing 1,077 acres that includes meadows, vegetable and flower display gardens, water features, conservatories and woodland areas. The original Longwood property was purchased by a family named Peirce, who bought the land from William Penn and established a working farm.

In 1906, Pierre du Pont purchased the property to save the trees from the sawmill. Mr. DuPont loved fountains and designed many of the ones found on the property. He was inspired by his trips to Italy. Longwood Gardens is also a research facility and has programs for horticultural interns, those seeking master's degrees and professional gardeners. It attracts more than 1 million visitors a year from around the world.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

American Signature, Inc And Lebron James Debut Homecourt Youth Furniture Collection On Black Friday

American Signature, Inc And Lebron James Debut Homecourt Youth Furniture Collection On Black FridayThe HomeCourt by LeBron James collection will be available exclusively at all American Signature Furniture and Value City Furniture stores starting Friday, Nov. 26. All stores will be open Black Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“The HomeCourt by LeBron James is an exciting addition to our Dream Big youth collection,” said Jonathan Schottenstein, chief operation officer of American Signature. “We are proud of the unique elements included in the collection and we are anxious to offer it to our shoppers starting on the biggest shopping day of the year.

The cornerstone of the HomeCourt collection is a loft bunk bed that allows for a desktop, study area underneath the bed. The loft bed includes arena style steps with storage drawers in the stairs leading to the top bunk.

“I am proud to be partnering with American Signature and sharing my family’s lifestyle with fans and consumers everywhere,” James said. “This is an exciting opportunity, and I look forward to the official launch on Black Friday.”

Additional elements in HomeCourt by LeBron James include a coordinating nightstand and a metal-based bed with an arched headboard that simulates a basketball hoop and net. The collection also includes a five-drawer chest and dresser with mirror selection complementary to the all-wood and metal bed units, as well as a desk and bookcase. In addition, unique items such as a warm-up style bench, a storage locker and a TV chesser round out the collection.

“We are a family owned business working with another family to produce quality youth furniture for sports-enthused families,” stated Schottenstein. “The collection is for the sports fan at heart, with details in textures and lines that mimic the court, ball and stadium feel.”
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reduce Heating Bills with Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating is growing in popularity because it has many advantages over the traditional form of heating, such as: low installation cost and no maintenance costs. The heat is spread evenly over the whole room instead of being centred around a radiator or a fireplace, and because radiant heat is used, it reduces the airborne circulation of dust and house mites, which is ideal for asthma sufferers.

The commercial sector has increased its use of underfloor heating, and since the late 1990’s there has been a 25% yearly increase in demand for this heating system. High-profile buildings throughout the UK have had underfloor heating installed, such as: the Scottish Parliament building, Greenwich Museum, the British Museum, the Imperial Museum and Canary Wharf.

In most cases, underfloor heating can be the primary source of heating in a home that is adequately insulated. It is also advisable to add floor insulation when the underfloor heating is installed, to prevent heat loss into the sub-floor, otherwise more energy will be used to heat the room.

There are generally two different types of underfloor heating: warm water (wet) systems, or electric (dry) systems. Today’s homes mainly use the electric system, as the electric cables are located directly under the floor and heat the floor quickly, thus making them more efficient and cheaper to run than the wet system. The electric cables are usually installed onto an insulation board and covered directly with the floor covering of your choice. The temperature control for each room is made easy by a programmable digital thermostat.

Underfloor heating can be used in every room in your home, including the conservatory and the bathroom. Installing underfloor heating in the conservatory allows you to enjoy your conservatory all year round, and in the bathroom, after you’ve bathed, you can step out of your bath onto a lovely warm floor. You’ll have family and friends queuing up to bathe so they experience your flooring!

Once underfloor heating is installed it can enhance the appearance of a room, because there aren’t any unsightly radiators taking up wall space. It allows you freedom of choice for furniture location, as you don’t have any radiators to avoid. In public places, it can improve health and safety because there aren’t any hot pipes or sharp surfaces to cause a health hazard.

Underfloor heating can be used with wooden and concrete flooring and with different types of floor covering, such as: stone, tile, wood, laminate and vinyl. For small to medium sized rooms, the underfloor heating can be fitted on a DIY basis. The underfloor cable heating mats come with full installation instructions but it is strongly advised a qualified electrician attaches the cable heating system to the household electrical mains. If the thought of doing DIY makes your hair stand on end, or you have a large area that needs underfloor heating, the system can be installed by a company that specialises in this system. The internet has made it easy to gather information about underfloor heating, and to find a company who are experts in their field.

Underfloor heating is not a new phenomenon. Wealthy Romans first used underfloor heating in their homes; but their system did not survive the passage of time. In Korea, around 37 B.C – A.D 668 the Koreans created an underfloor heating system, called an ondol (meaning ‘warm stone’) and this system is still used in some modern Korean homes.

Underfloor heating is the way forward to improve your home and business.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Women's bedroom blues

A study of young families has found working mums were two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from interrupted sleep than working dads. Mums were not only much more likely to get up at night to care for others, their sleep interruptions last longer - an average of 44 minutes for women compared to about 30 minutes for men.

"Interrupted sleep is a burden borne disproportionately by women," said sociologist Sarah Burgard, a researcher at the University of Michigan. "Career advancement opportunities could well be foregone if women reduce their paid work time or see their workplace performance affected because of exhaustion.

The study took in time-diary information from about 20,000 couples from 2003 to 2007, drawn from US census data. Meanwhile, Australian women are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives, according to a recent study by Australia's Deakin University.

"It is clear from our research that there are many women out there needing help to maintain satisfying sex lives," said clinical psychologist Dr Denisa Goldhammer. "In our study, 46.6 per cent of the women reported some level of sexual difficulty ... the most common problem reported was a lack of sexual interest." The university has developed a website where women, aged over 18 and in committed relationships, can obtain anonymous help to improve their sex lives.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Boston arts museum unveils new Americas wing

Boston arts museum unveils new Americas wingFor years, the Thomas Sully painting of George Washington on the banks of the Delaware River hung in a modern art section in the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. The masterpiece, depicting Washington's 1776 crossing during the American Revolution, often got dirty, did not sit in its original frame and typically received curious glances from visitors wondering what the piece was doing there.

On Friday, the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts gave a sneak peak of the 1819 painting's new home during a preview for museum members and the media of a new wing of art from the Americas.

Museum officials say the new "Art of the Americas Wing" previewed Friday will house more than 5,000 pieces, ranging from pre-Colombian gold to abstract expressionist paintings. It also will allow the MFA to more than double its collection of American work on exhibit, officials said.

That allowed for Sully's "The Passage of the Delaware" to be housed in a new section dedicated for art around the theme of the American Revolution, said conservator Rhona MacBeth.

"Before, this painting was viewed but not really seen since it wasn't in context," MacBeth said. "But now it is in a place that has better lighting and grabs your attention as it was intended to do."

In addition, it will be the first time in more than 100 years that the painting and its original frame have been reunited, MacBeth said.

A fundraising campaign raised $504 million for new construction and renovations, including $345 million for the 21,000-square-foot Americas wing. Construction began on the wing five years ago.

The Art of the Americas Wing will have 53 galleries with nine period rooms and four "Behind the Scenes" galleries.

Most of the museum's artwork from pre-Colombian America sat in storage and rarely was seen, Dorie Reents-Budet, curator of the MFA's Art of the Ancient Americas, said before the wing opened. For example, the museum's collection of Mayan burial urns from Guatemala rested quietly in crates after the museum received them as a gift in the 1970s, she said.

"They just sat there for years because we had no space for them," Reents-Budet said. "But now we can enjoy them. It's one of the best collections of pre-Colombian burial urns in the country."

Until recently, the museum only was able to showcase around 80 pieces of pre-Colombian art at one time, Reents-Budet said. With the new wing, the museum now has two galleries, which include Mayan cocoa cups, Peruvian statues and clothing from Native Americans of the Great Plains. She said American Indian textiles will rotate out of exhibits every six to nine months.

Elsewhere, the new Americas wing will include modern paintings from Georgia O'Keeffe and photographs by Ansel Adams. It also will house works from Latin American artists, such as Chilean hyperrealist painter Claudio Bravo. The museum will hold exclusive events all next week around the opening of the new wing, which is scheduled to open to the public Nov. 20.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Give Your Kitchen A Classy New Look. Paint Your Garbage Can!

Give Your Kitchen A Classy New Look. Paint Your Garbage Can!Give your garbage can a designer look with this easy and beautiful faux finish technique.

We all have them. Most of us hide them under the kitchen sink. Mine is too tall for hiding and is out in the open for all to see. We tried purchasing those lovely brushed metal garbage cans but with the extensive use this family put it through, it fell apart in no time despite the high ticket price.

We replaced it with a sturdy (and much less expensive) plastic model but I just hated the "cheap" look. So I did something about it and you can too!

To me, there is little that is as unsightly as a white "plastic" garbage can in a kitchen you have labored so intensely to look beautiful. It sticks out screaming "Look at me"! And everyone does.

Every dirty finger print, every drip, every splash shows like a neon sign. Keeping it clean and presentable is a daily chore.

There aren't many options when choosing kitchen garbage cans. Manufacturers, for some reason, stay away from offering us models that are created with "decor" in mind. They aren’t offered in beautiful native bamboo or ornamental shell. They don’t come in Grecian Gray Stone or with a lovely marble finish. They think only of function and not what we have to look at each day.

I resolved the problem by painting ours.

Starting out as a tall, flip lid style, white plastic garbage can, I first cleaned it, gave it a quick sanding, then wiped it with pure white vinegar (to give it some tooth).

I then gave it two coats of "BIN" primer (found at your local hardware of home store). This primer is my favorite since it sticks beautifully to every surface I've ever used it on including slick ceramic tile.

I coated it with a single coat of light brown, water based paint as my base color.

Creating a darker shade of the same color, I mixed dark brown paint with my base color and sponged it on once the base coat had completely dried.

Using the dark brown paint alone, I sponged on a random pattern over the surface to create depth. When sponging one color over the top of another, be sure to blend. This creates a softer, more appealing design. To blend, simply continue to blot until the two colors nearly become one.

To give further detail to the front of the can, I stenciled an ornate design in gold with acrylic paint. I then applied two coats of polyurethane to protect the finish and the result was fabulous! Not only did my husband comment on its beauty, but the first comment from my neighbor was: "Hey! Where did you get the cool garbage can?"

This technique works with any color choice so have a blast choosing the color you want yours to be.

Now we have a unique and attractive garbage receptacle that does not detract from the decorating I have done in the room, but rather enhances it with beauty and design.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hardwood Floors vs. Carpets

Hardwood Floors vs. CarpetsAre you thinking of replacing the flooring in your home? Carpets and hardwood floors are popular choices, but which is best for you? This article takes a look at the upsides and downsides of both.
One of the major home improvements people make is to change or upgrade their floors. Let's face it: a good looking floor can add a lot of value to a home. On the other hand, an old, stained, grubby outdated floor can do a lot to bring down a home's value.

Carpets and hardwoods are among the most popular choices for homeowners. But which is better?

Wall-to-wall carpeting often gets picked because it's a lot less costly to install than brand new hardwood floors. However, you may have hardwoods underneath your existing carpet and not even know it. Tearing up old carpeting and refinishing existing wood floors is usually less expensive than buying and installing all new carpeting.

Also, hardwood floors last a lot longer than carpets. It's true that you may need to refinish them from time to time, but carpets start to look ragged and beg for replacement after a mere five years or so. After ten years, you'll look at that oft-stained, outdated carpet and wonder if it's a health hazard. A hardwood floor never goes out of style.

So, what do carpets have going for them? Anything?

Well, they're soft and warm, so if you like to lie on the floor or tussle with the kids or your pets, they may suit you. Hardwood floors, while not as cold and hard as laminates, aren't as forgiving to elbows and knees that clunk the floor during a wrestling match. (Of course, an area rug over part of your wood floor can solve this problem easily.)

The biggest downside of carpeting is that they aren't very friendly for allergy sufferers or anyone who is concerned about indoor pollution, which can include things such as pollen, dust, pet dander, mold, and mildew. Carpets can be breeding grounds for all of these. Even if you vacuum and wash your carpets on a regular basis, it is impossible to really get them clean, because dust and grime sift through the backing of the carpet and get between it and the pad beneath. Dampness from a carpet shampooing can actually encourage more things to grow down there.

Hardwood floors, on the other hand, don't hide dust, dirt, mildew, etc. The finish that's applied to the floorboards protects them from penetration. That is why hardwood floors are a superior choice, not only for aesthetic reasons but because they simply allow for a healthier living environment than carpets do.

If you are worried about wood being too hard for children's bedrooms or playrooms, you could also consider cork. It's much more resilient and giving than wood but it, too, wards off dust, mildew, pet dander, and the like. The downside to cork is that they won't last the lifetime plus that hardwoods do when they are well cared for. However, cork floors easily lasts as long as, or longer than, carpeting.

Hopefully, you've got a good idea of what carpeting and hardwood floors offer now. In almost every situation, I would recommend hardwoods to any homebuyer who can afford them. If you think they're too expensive, just keep in mind that they are an investment that will pay off when you go to sell your home. Even if you aren't planning on selling your home any time soon, hardwoods will outlast carpets by a long shot, thus saving you the expense of worrying about your floors again for a long time.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Decorate your Living Room

Decorate your Living RoomLiving room, is where you welcome your honoured guests. A place for social gathering. This room is the introductory room of the house. Thus, it should be very well decorated. The decoration should be such that your guest feel comfortable and relaxed to settle down for a conversation. Previously, the living room decoration was restricted to seating arrangements but with the course of time, a lot of innovations have come into practice. Lets look at some ideas to dress your living room -

1.Seating Arrangement – The seating arrangement should be for at least six people. The kind of furniture depends on the space available. If it is a cosy corner of your house, then it is best to avoid sofa's and instead include rod iron chairs or low wooden chairs. The center table should not be very big and is best if it is made of glass. Instead of painting a wall bright, attach a big designer mirror. This will make the room look big.

But if you are blessed with a spacious living room, then your furniture can include one decorative big wooden sofa, with two smaller ones beside it and if needed two more sleek chairs. You can paint one wall in bright colour, contrasting the colours of the other walls, to make the room feel cosy. Throw some pillows or cushions of varied shades to add dash of colours to the room and make it look cheerful.

2.Lights – Lights play a very important part in the décor of the place. For a small room, it is best to stick to ceiling lights. These lights provide uniform lighting, thus leaving no dark corners. The brightness of the light should be uniform.

For a bigger room, a medium size chandelier, should be hanged at the center with other four ceiling lights. At bigger rooms the chances of dark corners are more. The light of the chandelier should not be too bright. Layer lighting is best for bigger rooms.

3.Decorate The Walls – Generally, the walls should be painted in light colours. According to the new trend of interior decoration, the bright coloured wall can be used to make a family collage and the center wall can be dressed with wall art. This makes your interior decoration look unique and beautiful. The wall art should be minimal and it is best to use contrasting pastel colours, to maintain the relaxed approach of the room.

4.Windows – Windows are a must. It is best to have big windows with glass panes. For a small room, light material single coloured curtains should be. A small room should be kept as simple as possible. The colours should match the colour of the walls.

For a bigger room, the decorative heavy curtains can be put on the both sides, whereas the center can be clad with light white curtains. This will add emphasis to the beautiful windows. There should also be a seating arrangement near the window, to add on to the beauty.

5.Flooring And Carpets – Flooring is best if it is dark in colour, like wooden flooring. This highlights the different colours used in decorating the room and maintains the informal mood. Carpets should be restricted to the seating area, until it is winters. If the colours of the room is bold, then carpet should be light in colour. If your walls are light in colour, then your carpet should break the monotony with bright colour. It is best to have patterned carpets.

So, go ahead and dress you living room in the best possible way to make a visit to your house memorable for a lifetime.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Tiny Penthouse Studio Dressed in Comic Book Colors

A Tiny Penthouse Studio Dressed in Comic Book Colors
ENID WOODWARD’S toenails are painted blue, a color you don’t often see on a mature woman. The walls of her tiny Manhattan penthouse are even more unusual — a strong sky blue, with blocks of red.We are not talking pale colors here. This is color as an explosion of energy, color that could hurl you into the air if, by some magic power, color were given force: a comic-book blast of Superman blue and red.

It’s a bold choice, particularly since you cannot move from Ms. Woodward’s blue-and-red living room to, say, a bedroom painted a tranquil and self-effacing eggshell white. The living room is the bedroom is the dining room.

The apartment is one open space — and at 600 square feet, a very small space. And while many who live in small studios hide their beds in pull-down contraptions, Ms. Woodward does not. Her bamboo-backed four-poster stands large and proud, “a temple within a temple,” as she and her design team at D’Aquino Monaco call it.

“A friend of mine came in and said, ‘This is your bedroom, right?’ ” Ms. Woodward said. “She knew better, but she just couldn’t get her mind around it.”

She gestured with her hand at points about the room — the bed, the TV, the built-in desk. “I said, ‘No, this is my bedroom, this is my media room, this is my workroom.’ The nice thing about a house tour is you can do it standing in one place.”

Ms. Woodward is 57 years old. Her voice carries a touch of her native west Texas, though she has been in New York for more than 30 years. She was a founder of a dance company, Woodward Casarsa, and worked with it for the five years it existed in the early 1980s; she later worked as the on-tour physical therapist with the Alvin Ailey dance company for 10 years. She now has her own physical therapy office in Manhattan.

She is involved in spiritual studies, primarily Buddhism in a down-to-earth way: the advantage of cooking for people who are on a retreat in silence is that they can’t complain about the food, she said. She also said that when she and her husband of some 20-odd years divorced a few years ago, they used a mediator because they were determined that their marriage would have a “graceful end.”

Ms. Woodward and her former husband, a financier and real estate broker, lived in the same prewar, Upper West Side apartment house where she now lives, in a large two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a dining room. About 10 years ago, they bought the little apartment directly above them for $275,000. They planned to break through and turn the two into a duplex one day. When the marriage ended, Ms. Woodward, who loved the building and the neighborhood, got the little apartment.

It had a cramped, dark bedroom and a tiny, walled-off kitchen. But it also had a very large asset: a wraparound terrace that was nearly the same size as the living space. Access was through a narrow living room door, though, and the terrace was only visible from two small windows in the living room, a small mullioned window in the bedroom, and another small window in the walled-off kitchen.

Still, for Ms. Woodward, who had gotten into gardening when she lived for a time in Los Angeles, that terrace was a big draw. And she was not concerned about a small living space. What was important to her was that her home be a refuge, she said, where she could decompress and restore herself.

To create that refuge, she worked with Carl D’Aquino and Francine Monaco of D’Aquino Monaco, an architecture and design firm. She gave them a few pictures she had pulled out of magazines: a cottage in England where everything was gray except for intense blue shutters; a bath house in Istanbul; Moroccan tiles.

She realized later that the team had also taken note of what she was wearing: a poncho a friend had knitted for her in burnt orange, a color that was echoed in the Burmese pots and bowls she had about the house. They had also listened carefully when she told them about her frequent spiritual retreats.

“She’s a very spiritual person,” Mr. D’Aquino said. “She loved color, which we love to work with; she also loves to garden and to cook.”

Ms. Monaco added: “I don’t remember the three images clearly other than they added up to one word — creating a sanctuary. She also had a great connection with Buddhism, and within a lot of the imagery of the Hindu gods they often use this really rich, intense blue as a background.”
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

What you should do and desist from

Bedroom decorating ideas
Different rooms
A house has different rooms and each room has a different purpose. Below are tips for different rooms.

Mr Mark Nsubuga, an administrator with Patron Designers and Dry Flowers, says the master bedroom should have silent colours to create a cozy, romantic and restful environment for the couple. “Have neutral colours like quiet cream, white that is 25 per cent which is a non- bright colour,” he says. Also, ensure that the lights are dim, usually pink, green or any other non-bright light works perfect for a bedroom to create a cosy mood. The children’s bedroom should be spacious with bright colours and wall hangings that have animations.

The equipment and paint used in the kitchen should be non-flammable because there is fire in this area. It should also have stainless steel equipment. “Do not use equipment which can easily rust, use brass and copper chrome materials which do not rust,” Mr Nsubuga explains. Bathroom: The bathroom should have rough tiles, not smooth tiles like most people do. This is because smooth tiles are slippery and since bathrooms are usually wet, one can easily fall, especially children. Put candles in the shower room on wall candle holders. This creates a romantic and beautiful atmosphere.

What to avoid

Overcrowding the room kills its beauty and makes it appear dark. Congestion of the room is usually brought about by too many accessories and size of the furniture in contrast to the room size.

Poor finishing of the floor and the walls may also ruin the decorative aspect of the house. Mr Mukalazi says this usually comes as a result of doing work in a rush, inexperienced builders and use of poor quality building materials.

Use of too many colours exaggerates the room. Ms Nsubuga insists that one should choose at least two rhyming colours or even three as long as they match well to bring out the beauty in the house.

Do not use floor tiles in the bedroom. Ceramic, granite and marble tiles never work for the bedroom because they are too cold and too smooth unless you put a carpet.

Desist from putting flowers in the bedroom. Flowers and too much decoration in a master bedroom ruin the beauty. Do not use dull colours in the kitchen and children’s bedrooms. Colours like black store dirt in the corners and this promotes improper hygiene.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Cisco Umi brings HD telepresence to the living room
Cisco Systems unveiled Cisco Umi, its consumer-focused telepresence offering that lets people connect to each other using videoconferencing on their HD television in their living rooms. Umi's VoIP element is also strong, with the ability to place and receive video calls from friends and family from other programs equipped with VoIP video calling, specifically Google video chat. In addition, Umi has certain user controls that will allow owners to block unwanted callers, and lock the Umi system so that others can't use it in your absence. There's also a privacy shutter that clicks off the camera and goes into audio-only mode for those moments that aren't fit to be viewed. If 1080p isn't available, Umi will adapt the bandwidth to drop down to 720p or even 480p quality.

As analysts predicted, the hardware alone will cost $599, with a $24.99 monthly service fee. Cisco will make Umi available on November 14 at Best Buy, with preorders beginning today. The hardware components will also be available at Magnolia Home theater. In addition, Cisco and Verizon will bring Umi to Verizon Fios fiber-optic network customers early in 2011. Meanwhile. peripherals maker Logitech has its own HD video-calling product coming out today at the company's announcement of Logitech Revue with Google TV.
"We believe consumers want the best and most seamless experience which means HD video calling not only from TV to TV, but also TV to PC or Mac (or vice versa)," Erik Kintz, VP and general manager of Logitech's video business, said in a statement. "We also believe consumers will want a free service and one that is integrated into a broader entertainment experience, which is why Logitech is excited to introduce an integrated HD video calling offering with Google TV.

Cisco will market its Umi system with a mall tour to give prospective customers a chance to try the product hands-on. The $600 price point could be a hard sell for casual users accustomed to free VoIP services like Skype. In addition, Cisco will likely air commercials featuring Canadian actress Ellen Page, in a reprisal of her role in a series of ads to promote Cisco's telepresence for business. In reaction to Cisco's Umi, Skype invoked Moore's Law, the essence of which is that technology gets faster, smaller, and cheaper over time.

"Buy a $599 device and it can be subject to obsoletism at the hands of mass-market options that sell for 1/2, then 1/4, and eventually 1/10 the price. And, when unbeatable lower cost, high performance options are readily available, spending at the top-end can be like throwing money away, especially if you are buying a video calling system and there is no one else to call," Skype's Jonathan Christensen said in a blog post. is a telecommunications system that requires a mix of Cisco hardware and hardware you'll already need to own. The Umi service includes a Cisco-issued high-definition camera with an embedded microphone, a set-top box, and a remote, but you'll need your own HD TV (1080p) and Internet connection to use it. There is no external microphone, but you can recalibrate the audio quality. Cisco's algorithms cancel external noice and bring the voices in the foreground.

Video calls and video messages are at the center of the Umi service, but the remote will also let customers manage their contact list, profiles, and settings. In addition, Umi will also record videos capable of being uploaded to Facebook and YouTube, or attached in an e-mail message.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Girls Bedroom Ideas

If you're planning to redecorate your daughter's bedroom and aren't sure of what to do then you need to read this article. We're going to look at three creative girls bedroom ideas.

How to decorate the bedroom is going to depend partly on your daughter's age and what she likes. Not every girl is the same, so you should definitely get her input and let her help decide what to do. It can still be a surprise if that's your plan, just ask questions when the opportunity arises to see what she wants.

Let's look at three popular themes for girls...

Princess Bedroom

What little girl hasn't dreamed of being a princess? Its an almost universal theme for girls, especially from about 4 to 8 years old. Whether it's the Disney Princesses or something a little more traditional, there are a ton of products available for a princess themed room.

You can easily find wallpaper, borders, decals, lamps and other accessories to help decorate the room. You can buy lace curtains that hang from the ceiling to enclose the bed like you see in many princess movies. And there is plenty of bedding with princess designs to outfit the bed.

Pop Star Bedroom

When girls reach 8 or 9 years old, they often outgrow the princess theme and start thinking more along the lines of the hottest pop star. Right now that would be Hannah Montana, but they tend to change every 3 or 4 years, if not sooner.

This can be a fun theme as well, but keep in mind that girls' taste in music can be a little fickle. They might be a huge fan today, but a year from now that pop star might be replaced by someone new.

The best way to handle this type of theme is to finish the room in colors and accessories that would suit any singer, and use posters and other decorations that are easily changed to create the specific theme. That way you can just change those things when the time comes for a new pop star.

Movie or TV Show Bedroom

Most girls have their favorite movies and TV shows, and they often want to outfit their room with one of them. This is another theme where things can change pretty quickly, so it's a good idea for the paint, borders, wallpaper, etc. to be more generic and then use posters, decals and other easily changed accessories to make the theme.

Whatever theme you choose, keep in mind that girls' taste is going to change every few years. Unless you want to completely redecorate each time that happens, try to use paint colors and other more permanant accessories that will work for any theme.
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Friday, October 1, 2010

Decorating Kids Bedrooms

Decorating Kids Bedroom
With paint and a few home decorating materials and accessories, older kids can unleash their creativity and put a personal stamp on their living space. Here are some tips from designer Genevieve Gorder, host of HGTV’s Dear Genevieve, on how to add style to the bedrooms of preteens and teenagers.

Color. “Let your child decide what color her room should be,” Gorder says. “Paint is a very forgiving medium, has a huge impact and allows you to change color later on. If your tween or teen opts for black, hot pink or neon green, suggest balancing the intensity of these colors with lighter tones on moldings, baseboards or bed coverings.

Display space. Create a wall-size bulletin board by covering one wall with inexpensive Homasote, a lightweight, fiber-based wallboard, and painting it to match the other walls. The wallboard will protect the wall underneath, Gorder says, “so photos, posters and other mementos can be displayed and rotated easily.”

Furniture. “Be sure your child has plenty of study space,” Gorder says. “Tweens and teens need adult-size furniture so they can spread out. Even a small dining table will work.”

Wall art. Painting a mural is a fun way for kids to transform a room. Natalie Miggins, 10, of Chatham, N.J. (pop. 8,460), is painting a beach mural in her walk-in closet. “During the winter, I can go into my closet and remember the summer,” Natalie says. “A closet is a brilliant place to practice boldness,” Gorder adds, “and a mural is a great place to start and restart.”

Lighting. “Vary the lighting intensity with an inexpensive dimmer for overhead lights, a lamp with bright light for the desk, and a floor lamp,” Gorder suggests. An adult may need to plan bedroom lighting, but kids can help select the fixtures.
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sixties split-level

Gardening Tips
Mid-century comes with all kinds of updates: 608 Elmwood Drive, Buffalo Grove, $273,900 Built in 1965, this tri-level property has a remodeled kitchen featuring new cabinets, granite countertops, marble flooring and stainless steel appliances. Highlights of the living room include hardwood flooring, a ceiling fan and large windows facing the front yard.

The dining room, which is connected to the living room, has a chandelier and large sliding doors that lead to the back deck. The upstairs bathroom has a whirlpool tub. The property also has a two-car garage.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ideas for a perfect house (Pics)

Click on Pictures to Enlarge

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A look at the living room of the future?

A look at the living room of the future?Assuming that consumers someday will be really rich, a recent tech conference in Atlanta, Georgia, presented an interesting vision of what our living rooms might look like in the future. TV screens will be measured in yards, music will be ear-bustingly loud (but will still sound good) and chairs will shake to the tune of both.

Oh, and there will be fewer cords to trip on. The downside: All this will cost you thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of dollars on the current market. Here's a look at a few of the interesting -- and, given the state of the global economy, perhaps out-of-touch -- living room technologies presented at the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association's annual Expo.

What do you think of this luxurious vision of the future? Let us know in the comments section or send us a note on the cnntech Twitter account.t's 12 feet wide, 6½ feet tall and, at 1,350 pounds, weighs as much as a standard dairy cow.

In January, Panasonic will debut the world's largest plasma TV, which is 152 inches when measured diagonally.

The price? A whopping $500,000. Yes, as in half a million dollars for a television (not a house, say, or a small island or something).

Eric Adams, a company sales engineer, said Panasonic has found some clients who are interested in the enormous TV. But delivery isn't easy. The TV is too wide to fit in elevators, even most commercial elevators. So, in at least one case, the company will have to cut a hole in the side of a building and lift the television into the 13th floor.

"We laugh and tell everybody it ships with a chainsaw," Adams said.

Chairs that shake with the music

If 3-D displays are designed to make images jump out at your face, then tilting, shaking and vibrating chairs seem poised to toss viewers right back into those pictures. A company called D-BOX Technologies is promoting machinery that can be added to chairs or planted beneath couches to make them wiggle and shimmy during movies.

David Amato, a sales engineer at D-BOX, said the company's efforts to add a fourth dimension -- motion -- to home entertainment are not intended to make watching a film feel "like a theme park ride."

The chair motions, which are often subtle, add an artfulness to the experience, he said. The goal is to put the viewer in the film. It also sounds like a high-tech updating of Sensurround, a gimmicky theater audio system in the 1970s that was supposed to make moviegoers feel rumblings during disaster epics such as "Earthquake."

The systems are expensive, though, running from $7,500 for a chair upgrade to $8,000 for a couch. Neither of those prices includes the actual furniture. And you can only feel the vibrations of movies that D-BOX has hand-coded.

Workers spend about 20 hours per movie going through frame by frame and choosing the right vibrations and sensations that will enhance each scene, he said. So far, they have added this "motion coding" to at least 1,000 films, he said.

Wireless data transfers

Let's say you do go all-in with this over-the-top vision of the future living room. The last thing you want to do after hanging a $500,000 TV on the wall is trip over its cord and send your life's biggest investment toppling onto your worn carpet.

Luckily, several companies at the CEDIA Expo showed off technologies to reduce the number of cords in your living room.

A host of companies are already selling home servers with Ethernet connections, so you can store all your data in one place, accessing it wirelessly from your TV, laptop or, if configured correctly, anywhere in the world.

Another technology, called Intel Wireless Display, also lets people stream video content from their laptop directly onto the TV -- no cords required. Speakers that know your room

Finally, the sound.

In the not-so-far-off future, speakers will get better at knowing what our rooms look and sound like and they'll be able to boost performance to fit those conditions.

Steve Colburn, product developer at Triad Speakers, said the best speakers in the world would sound great if they were installed in a giant meadow; but put them in a boxed-in living room and they're likely to sound pretty terrible. The noises just bounce around, talking over each other and creating a mess.

The solution? Speakers hooked up with microphones, so they can listen as well as project. When the speakers aren't deaf to the clatter they're creating, they can adjust to create sound that's fit for a specific room and nowhere else.

Again, however, the high-end version of this will cost you. A demo at the CEDIA Expo featured Triad speakers that cost $17,000. This technology is on the market now and is improving all the time -- but it isn't yet the norm, Colburn said.

The speakers delivered a sound that was slap-you-in-the-face loud. Surprisingly, though, it wasn't harsh on the eardrums.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

City considers installing nation's first 'natural' swimming pool

Sandusky once built America's first wave-action pool. It may now build the country's first "natural" swimming pool to replace it. About 10 city and county officials listened to a presentation this week from BioNova, a New Jersey company that builds natural swimming pools in Europe. The eco-friendly pools are cleaned by plants and low-energy filtration systems instead of using chemicals like chlorine.

With the Marina District gone, the city has recently begun looking at best uses for the former Surf's Up wave-action pool property. A natural pool is one option officials are considering. BioNova has built natural public pools in major European cities such as Munich, Germany, and Stockholm, Sweden, which accommodate thousands of people each day.

In the long run natural pools are cheaper than traditional chlorine pools, said James Robyn, the company's owner. City officials said they'd like to compare the prices of other options, though they sounded both optimistic and cautious after the meeting.
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Inexpensive decorating ideas for a living room

decorating ideas for a living room
The living room is very often the central room in a home, traditionally where guests are entertained, holidays are celebrated, and a great deal of “living” takes place. You want your living room to look fresh, warm, comfortable and inviting for your family and your friends. If your living room needs some sprucing up or a few decorative touches, there are many things you can do to enhance your living room, give it a new look, and also stay within your budget.

Ten inexpensive ideas for decorating your living room:

1) Rearrange your furniture

Do this first before you start any major decorating. Furniture rearranging is an easy and totally cost-free decorating maneuver, giving the room an instant new look. Once this is done, then look around and see what else you want to do.

2) Add a fresh coat of paint

Nothing creates a pleasant change more than a fresh coat of paint, especially if you change the color somewhat. Also, if you do the painting yourself, painting is one of the less expensive ways to enhance your décor.

3) Add some wallpaper

Wallpaper adds charm and beauty to any room. Wallpapering can be more expensive than painting but if you do the work yourself and buy your supplies at discount, wallpapering doesn’t have to be a budget-breaking project. If you like painted walls but would like some wallpaper also, paper one wall or run a border around the top. Save your leftover paper for patching and also for making accessories later on.

4) Replace your window treatments

Once the room has been painted or papered, hang some new curtains or drapery. Attractive window treatments can be one of the main focal points in a room. Place a few colored bottles or other glass objects in the windows for a lovely effect as the sun shines through.

5) Toss in a few area rugs

If your carpeting or flooring has seen better days but your budget can’t afford replacements, lay some reasonably priced area rugs over the worn spots. The fresh new rugs will perk up your room instantly and with little cost. Also keep an eye out for carpet remnants on sale that you could install yourself.

6) Spruce up your couch

The living room couch is typically another one of the main focal points in the living room. If yours is a bit lackluster, add a new slipcover and some attractive throw pillows. Do the same for other upholstered chairs that may need some sprucing up.

7) Create an accent wall

You can devote an entire wall or a portion of a wall to bookshelves, wall art, paintings, photographs, murals, plants, or any other purpose you would like to emphasize and draw attention to.

8) Accessorize

Add a few accents and accessories here and there to complete your decorating efforts. Some brightly colored throw pillows, a new lamp or two, a refinished coffee or accent table, a nicely framed mirror, all will enhance the charm of your living room. If you did decide to hang some wallpaper, use some of the leftovers and cover a lamp shade or line the inside of a bookcase, continuing the wallpaper theme in the room.

9) Introduce your personality

Bring your own style and personality into your decorating. Look through home decorating magazines, browze through antique shops, furniture stores and demolition warehouses that specialize in furnishings salvaged from old homes and buildings. You may stumble upon something absolutely fabulous that strikes your fancy and gets your creative juices flowing.

10) Think outside the box

Don’t limit your decorating efforts to a fresh coat of paint or some new throw pillows for your tired old couch. Be willing to try something new, daring and different.

For example:

If you always wanted a fireplace mantle to decorate but don’t have a fireplace, you can often find some wonderful old mantles at auctions, at the demolition companies, and also on the internet. Pick your wall, attach the mantle securely, then start your decorating! Add some tall candles, a few of your favorite artifacts, a couple of your treasured family photographs. For the holiday season, drape your mantle with fresh scented pine boughs, add a few pine cones and cranberries, and you have transformed your living room into a holiday wonderland.

How to stay within your budget?

1) Do most or all of the decorating yourself rather than hiring pricey professionals. Do your own painting and papering, make your own curtains or slipcovers, whip up your own creative accessories.

2) Never pay full price for anything. If you are clever and persistent, you can pick up most everything you need for well under full price. Wait for holiday, end-of-season and close-out sales at your local stores.

3) Routinely check out your local consignment and thrift shops, used furniture stores, flea markets, tag sales and auctions. You can practically furnish your entire home with goodies from these places and at very reasonable prices.

4) Whenever possible, make your own and grow your own. Plant some flowers to use for decorating. Grow your own herbs to dry and display in decorative baskets. Cut your own greens for the mantle. Sew and craft your own accessories. The more you can do yourself, the more money you will save and the more decorating you can do!
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