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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