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Archives for December 29, 2013

Rome: Stray off the typical tourist path


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Saturday, December 28, 2013 8:05 PM EST

Rome: Stray off the typical tourist path

The Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is near Rome. (Richard Sennott/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

Stand within the Colosseum’s massive bowl, and you can practically hear the roar of the ancient crowd. But to capture the sounds of today’s Rome, it’s best to get away from the flurry of tourists and settle into a quaint trattoria like Da Tonino, where everyone within its rustic walls chatters away in Italian.

No sign outside announces the restaurant; my wife and I dined there courtesy of a local’s tip. And that cloaked quality was precisely its appeal.

Hidden gems — ignored by the guidebooks, well off the tourist path — await in nearly every nook of this wondrous city. Of course visitors should crane their necks at the Vatican, sip espresso at an open-air bar in Piazza Navona and climb the Spanish Steps. But in a place with a history so long and rich that it is dubbed “the Eternal City,” only one approach seems plausible: Peel away the layers, savoring each one, to get a deeper sense of the place.

In our journey to do just that, we hoofed everywhere, from an underappreciated villa with some of the world’s foremost fountains to a neighborhood bakery with marzipan confections — and places beyond. Our feet are still recuperating, but our souls are soaked with indelible memories.

Cul De Sac

Cork dorks should head posthaste to Cul de Sac (Piazza di Pasquino 73; ), to sample scores of wines they can’t get elsewhere (start with a glass of the cesanese, although it’s impossible to order poorly here). But this locals-laden enoteca has way more to offer: a locavore menu with eight kinds of pâté, sundry salumi and cheese and homemade pasta, friendly service (a waiter actually asked an indecisive customer how much she wanted to spend on wine) and a fabulous vibe inside and out.

Tucked into a prototypically quaint but preternaturally quiet piazza a block west of the Piazza Navona, Cul de Sac’s outdoor tables are filled by 7 p.m., which is still happy hour for Romans. The booths inside rest under shelves of bottles reaching to the 12-foot-high ceiling, with the nets in between to keep any errant bottles from conking customers on the head.

-Jewish Ghetto

At a couple of entrances to the Jewish Ghetto, you must pass through turnstiles (no coins needed) that we dubbed “pedestrian roundabouts.” Sadly, the Jews who were forced to live in this flood plain near the Tiber River in the 16th century (after two millenniums of being a free community), had to come in and out through locked gates in massive walls.

The walls came down in the late 19th century, and a stately, imposing synagogue (Lungotevere Dè Cenci) went up on the neighborhood’s edge. The old ghetto now has a few Jewish merchants and restaurants serving Roman Jewish specialties. Don’t miss the fried artichokes at Giggetto (Vie del Portico d’Ottavia 21; ), and walk off your meal on tree-lined riverside Longotevere de Cenci.

Villa d’Este

Villa d’Este’s array of eye-popping frescoes are almost worth the 20-mile trek from Rome to Tivoli by themselves. The grandiose fountains in the “back yard” more than cinch the deal.

Installed by one Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, the son of Lucrezia Borgia, these 25 acres of waterworks (Piazza Trento, Tivoli; ) use ancient Roman hydraulic- engineering principles and range from the simple to the massive, from an endless row of smaller jet streams to a multifaceted “nymphaeum.” These spigots aside, the gardens include lovely landscaping and some gravity-defying trees. Similar landscapes are depicted inside, spread through a suite of art-filled rooms that, were they housed in Rome, would be anything but “hidden.”


Taking a hungry kid to Pasticceria Dagnino (Via V. Emanuele Orlando 75; ) would easily make the shortlist of Worst Ideas Ever. Popping in as an even slightly ravenous adult isn’t such a grand notion, either. The almost unending assortment of mouthwatering sweets at this Sicilian-style bakery includes ice cream and cake, cookies and cannoli.

But what marks it as Sicilian is a boundless batch of that island’s cassata cakes and marzipan crafted into brightly colored, exquisitely detailed fruits. Drool alert! You can skip all that eye candy by sitting and ordering at a table in the tony gallery near the Termini station, but why would you? Bonus points for the best cappuccino by far we had during our two weeks in Italy.

-‘Monumental Cemetery’

Most of us have found ourselves in a museum gawking at some oddity and thinking (or saying) “Is this art? Really?” That’s certainly the rote response at the catacombs in the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Via Vittorio Veneto 27; ), where thousands of bones have been fashioned into light fixtures, hourglasses, arches and even flowers in rooms with names such as “The Crypt of Pelvises.” The Catholic Church’s Capucin sect, which has a history of an often-cultish relationship with the dead, crafted these “works of art” with the remains of 4,000 of their flock. Appreciating, or at least understanding, this attitude is enhanced mightily by a fabulous museum above the crypt, leading to a plaque that advises “What you are now, we used to be. What we are now, you shall be.” OK, then.


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Leaving scene of accident – Casper Star


On Sunday night, Dec. 22, around 10:30 p.m. someone driving a red SUV ended up in our yard, thereby damaging some landscaping and hitting a tree. While there was no damage to the tree, and minor damage to the landscaping in our yard, it is important to know that whoever had the accident, immediately fled the scene after retrieving the vehicle license plate out of our yard so that we could not identify the vehicle or driver.

Ending up in our yard and hitting the tree was definitely an accident. Whether it was caused by driving too fast for conditions, the curve of the street, or icy road conditions, it does not matter. But what does matter is that the individual driving the vehicle, as well as the passenger, felt the need to flee the scene leaving various car parts in our yard. So, if your son or daughter drives a red SUV and it has recently incurred front end damage, please alert the police department. When the accident happened, we were concerned that someone was hurt. However, when the vehicle fled the scene, it became apparent that maybe there was more to hide than just getting into an accident.

We hope that the individuals involved in this accident were not injured in any way, and it is unfortunate that they were not able to report the accident and take responsibility for their actions.

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Clearing Up After the Holidays

Created: 12/26/2013 2:37 PM

By: Networx

Photo: Allie Towers Rice/FlickrThe holidays tend to generate large volumes of waste as you raise the roof with your celebrations. You’ve got wrappings; old tech and other discards replaced by shiny new presents; trees and greenery swags; ugly and unwanted presents (come on, you know you got at least one); extra food; and so much more. It can seem a little overwhelming to stagger out on Boxing Day and attempt to figure out what to do with all this junk, and we’ve got you covered.

*Packages, wrapping, and more.

If you managed to restrain yourself while unwrapping, you may have a tidy array of wrapping paper to reuse next year. Tip: roll it up to minimize creasing so it will be in good shape. You can save all your ribbons, and bows, too. If you were a little more zesty during the unwrapping process, that wrapping paper is compostable, and can also be recycled. (Next year, consider using burlap, cotton, silk, and other organic materials for ribbons, as they can be reused or composted much more easily.)

Got boxes? We wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a good idea to keep the packaging for items you might need to return (but you probably already know that), and if you got any fragile items, you might want to put their original boxes in storage so you can re-use them when you move. Other boxes can be broken down and recycled, or you can check out our epic list of things to do with cardboard boxes.

*Out with the old, in with the new.

Many people get new gadgets for Christmas, which leaves them with laptops, phones, tablets, and more that they no longer want to use. You have a couple of great options for these. One is to wipe and resell them to people interested in used electronics; Craigslist can be a great resource for finding new homes for old tech. You can also donate them to organizations that specifically request them (for example, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence works with a cell phone recycling program). If you know of less fortunate people in the community who might benefit from having personal computers or tablets, like high school students who are struggling to keep up with their peers, they can be good candidates for a gently-worn older item.

You can also submit your old tech directly to recycling firms. Make sure to check their supply line and confirm that they dispose of items ethically. Ask where their e-waste is recycled (if it’s shipped overseas, it may be contributing to pollution and workers could be laboring in unsafe conditions). Thanks to fees charged with the purchase of new technology, you can also drop your technology off for free at any regional e-waste collection center. Take care to wipe your hard drives to remove any and all personal data first!

*What to do with all these greens?

Trees, wreaths, swags, mantel decorations, what do you do when they start withering and shedding everywhere? Many cities have a municipal recycling day set aside for the collection of trees and associated debris. You can also contact a tree recycling center directly, or ask around to see if a local charity is collecting trees for chipping and recycling. We have more ideas for recycling old trees here, and many of them apply to other greenery items as well!

*Unwanted presents

Hoo boy. We feel you on this one. Useful items can potentially go to charity and resale shops, as long as you’re confident the offending gift-giver won’t stumble upon them (and won’t demand to see them later). You can also get creative about potential uses: did you get an ugly sweater made from great yarn? Unravel it, and use the yarn for your own knitting project. Gruesome plate? It might make a great plant saucer (and you can hide a multitide of sins in the depths of your San Francisco landscaping). Hideous clock? You could replace the clock face with something more interesting.

*Extra food

Extra food in packages can totally go to the food bank (which also appreciates donations of things like personal care items including sanitary napkins, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and so forth). Leftovers can be frozen for future consumption (tip: consider freezing in small batches so you can thaw a few servings at a time) or stored in the fridge for up to a week. Consider reusing your leftovers in creative ways: turn that Christmas turkey into turkey tacos, for example, so you’re not eating endless servings of increasingly dry and boring turkey.

*Extra family

You’re on your own with this one!

Katie Marks writes for

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Businesses reflect on 2013, look forward to 2014

As 2013 comes to a close, local businesses reflect on the year and look forward to what’s to come in 2014. We checked in with some of our favorite classics, some notable “new kids” and a few to keep an eye out for in the new year.


O’Brien’s Steakhouse

113 Main St., Annapolis

The keys to success at O’Brien’s, “Annapolis’ original steakhouse,” are great service and consistently good food in a welcoming atmosphere.

The building at 113 Main St. has been a tavern since it opened as The Rose Crown in 1774. While the name has changed over the years, most recently when owner Jerry Hardesty acquired the restaurant in 1993, the property has always served as a social hub for locals and tourists alike.

O’Brien’s is a landmark institution in downtown Annapolis. The décor pays homage to the sports heroes of the Naval Academy and the history of Annapolis. Sunday evenings feature robust games of trivia. Free games of Texas Hold ‘Em beckon on Monday nights.

Jerry recently invested in an extensive renovation of O’Brien’s décor and menu. In 2014, he looks forward to showcasing OB Prime, a traditional steakhouse replete with fireplace above the tavern, while bringing renewed excitement to diners with O’Brien’s great steaks, extensive raw bar and Sunday brunch.

Homestead Gardens

743 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville

Homestead Gardens started as a dream and a roadside stand opened by Don Riddle in 1973. The company has grown to encompass greenhouses, nurseries and retail space across the region.

Homestead Gardens has won national retail and landscaping awards. The company is well known for their motto: “Because Life Should Be Beautiful.”

They offer the area’s most extensive array of landscape plants as well as several thousand square feet of retail space for home décor items — everything from patio sets to place settings and pillows.

In 2011, the company opened a second location in Severna Park on Route 2.

In 2014, Homestead will premiere Homestead Farm and Pet, a new division that will showcase premium pet foods for both farm animals and household pets, as well as toys, accessories and grooming supplies. The barnyard will re-open in late spring with backyard chickens, geese, turkey, miniature donkeys and the now-famous Homestead llamas.

Homestead offers winter workshops during January and February that are often free. Visit their website to learn more.

Giolitti Delicatessen

2068 Somerville Road, Annapolis

Giolitti Delicatessen is a unique sort of place. Opened in 1992, when Annapolis had few outlets for specialty foods, Giolitti’s has always been a classy deli with a twist.

While customers can purchase a variety of artisan cold cuts, many imported, the deli also offers eat-in lunch, a retail shop with hard-to-find Mediterranean specialties and an entire wall of wine.

Over time, the business had grown to include an expanded menu, freezer cases full of lasagnas, sauces and desserts, and more tables for lunch service.

Mary Giolitti attributes the success of her restaurant to consistent quality. “People count on us,” she says. “And we don’t let them down. We do everything we can to make people feel welcome and excited about coming back.”

Although there were rumors of Mary closing shop after 20 years, they are not true. She’s here to stay.

In 2014, she looks forward to introducing new Italian specialties and other Milanese treats to catering services.

Echoes Accents

224 Chinquapin Round Road, Annapolis

Barbara Rasin Price and Leah Deane opened Echoes Accents, an upscale consignment store off Chinquapin Round Road, in 1987. The sisters’ original mission hasn’t changed: They want to help customers find affordable home furnishings that are stylish and beautiful.

“We’re so lucky here in Annapolis. Just as people are downsizing in retirement, other families are building new or larger homes. They come to us for unique decorating solutions,” Barbara says.

Echoes Accents has enjoyed more than 30 years of success not only because they curate a diverse selection of excellent quality décor, but especially because they offer an inviting, no-pressure atmosphere. Customers can snack on cookies or enjoy coffee while they browse.

“We really try to help our customers consider the possibilities of our products,” Barbara says.

The store has an excellent reputation for taking care of customers’ goods.

“The best part of this business is our collaboration — our partnership — with our customers. We are happy to take good care of people’s items and to find new, wonderful homes for them.”

In 2014, Barbara and Leah are looking forward to more and better of the same. The shop has won local awards for Best Furniture Store and Best Consignment Store. They are constantly receiving referrals, and the sisters are excited about meeting new friends and clients.

“It’s a joyous life,” says Barbara, “and we are looking forward to more of it.”



12 Annapolis St., Annapolis

Wendy Rabyn describes Wrabyn as the brainchild of a stay-at-home mom with a deep need to create. Wendy co-owned Sitting Pretty on Maryland Avenue for several years before taking time off to start a family.

Her new concept should appeal to any woman who wants to look good, feel good and invest in pieces that have timeless appeal. Wendy’s goal is to work with unique American designers to find items that can transition from work to dinner, weekends and events.

“Annapolis is a wonderful small town. I source clothing that is beautifully made and that you won’t see on every gal in town. You won’t find it at Nordstrom.”

Wendy is working especially hard to source clothing from designers like Nanette LePore and Catherine Malandrino, whose designs are made in the United States rather than overseas.

“It’s hard to find designer goods that are not sold in China,” she says. “But about 40 percent of our offering is apparel made in the U.S., and we are very proud of that.”

In 2014, Wendy is looking forward to more individualized client styling. She’s launching in-home, private consultations to not only help women make the most of their current wardrobe, but also to help them expand their choices with pieces that are flexible and have longevity.

“Our clothes are an investment in beauty, and we are excited about helping people feel good about themselves and their appearance.”


181 Main St., Annapolis

Cariloha debuted on Main Street in downtown Annapolis in April. The Utah-based franchise, locally owned by a family from Potomac, is well-known amongst sailors, runners and now happy sleepers for clothing, towels and bedding made from bamboo.

Bamboo production requires less water than cotton, and because the plant naturally repels insects, pesticides aren’t necessary. Since bamboo is so grass-like and prolific, it’s a very renewable resource.

The best selling items at Cariloha are bamboo sheets. While ultra-soft and luxurious, the fabric is also innately hypo-allergenic, antimicrobial and self-regulating. Fibers in the bamboo naturally respond to heat, opening and closing to raise or lower temperature, making a comfortable night’s rest attainable year-round.

Cariloha is a new concept for Annapolis. Business was slow until a few locals bought products or received gifts and began to spread the word. In 2014, Cariloha looks forward to adding new items to the assortment, including more colors of sheets and new sportswear.

Cupcake Blvd

1117 Route 3 N #104, Gambrills

Cupcake Blvd has grown progressively since Angelette Aviles opened her Crofton shop in 2012. She started the business from her home, expanding first into a food truck and quickly thereafter into a storefront.

“The shop has far exceeded all of my projections and expectations,” says Angelette. “Growing progressively has really allowed us to respond to our customers while making sure our plans were sound.”

The store offers several flavors of handmade cupcakes and truffle cake pops — cakes enrobed in chocolate then garnished with even more deliciousness.

In 2014, Cupcake Blvd is excited about expanding their product line and classes. The truffle cake pops have become so popular that Angelette plans to debut several new flavors each season. She’s also had a remarkable number of requests for specialty cakes and is looking forward to combining her staff’s talent and creativity for more birthday, wedding and special occasion confections.

This spring she hopes to add more ovens to the kitchen, which will enable her to sell other fun treats. She has pie-cakes in mind — a pie baked inside a cake.

Pure Barre

2484 Solomons Island Road, Annapolis

Susan Singleton and Anne Fava opened Pure Barre at the Annapolis Harbour Center just one month ago. Already, they are astonished at the warm welcome they have received from local fans of barre.

“Right now is just such a busy time for everybody, so we are astounded by the number of women who come in, some at 6 in the morning, to take care of themselves,” Susan says.

Pure Barre, a national franchise that coaches a trademarked style of barre, is a fusion of Pilates, ballet and yoga. Susan notes that barre is a no-impact yet athletic approach to all three forms of exercise.

Every major muscle is worked in each class through small isometric movements that work the muscle to fatigue, strengthening then lengthening to create long, lean tone. Susan says students who attend classes three or more times a week should see a difference in tone within just a few weeks.

The Pure Barre studio can accommodate up to 25 people, so while walk-ins are welcome, reservations are preferred. Reservations can be made online or over the phone.

In 2014, Pure Barre is looking forward to partnering with local athletic groups. They’ve hosted the Annapolis Triathlon Club and are working with Lululemon to offer free classes to customers.

“We offer 55 minutes to focus solely on yourself. You will leave feeling lighter and brighter and ready to face anything that comes your way,” says Susan. “We look forward to offering that healthy feeling to even more clients.”


Dry 85

193B Main St., Annapolis

Dry 85, an industrial take on the Prohibition-era speakeasy, is set open on Main Street in downtown Annapolis in January.

The Bolter family, also owners of Red Red Wine Bar, says Dry 85 will be a place to go for bourbon, beer and gourmet comfort food. The bar will feature more than 100 whiskeys with special emphasis on bourbon. There will be 12 craft beers on tap, along with a smattering of domestic bottles.

The menu will offer gourmet burgers, slow-roasted ribs, oyster po’ boy sliders and decadent truffle fries paired with Veuve Clicquot. Very exciting will be the Bacon Brunch, a showcase of all things bacon, perfect for a lazy Sunday morning followed by a walk through downtown.


Jennifer Road, Annapolis

A sister company to Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods offers heavily discounted décor items sourced from department stores and locations around the world.

There are 471 HomeGoods stores throughout the United States, and the Annapolis location will be opening next to Marshalls in Annapolis Plaza off Jennifer Road. The new store will encompass more than 25,000 square feet, will employ about 60 full- and part-time employees, and will feature more than 30,000 items.

HomeGoods buyers travel the world to find interesting and special items you may not find anywhere else. Think of decorative bird cages sourced in India, statues from Africa, furniture from North Carolina and cookware from Italy or France. All items are first-quality — none are used or refurbished.

The new store is slated to open in March. Managers look forward to providing Annapolis with a new forum for decorative items and furniture.

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Man kills wife and daughter of ex-boss over firing: cops

A man furious over being fired fatally bludgeoned the wife and daughter of his former boss, say Indiana authorities.

Christian Rene Haley, 20, of Indianapolis, was arrested Thursday for the shocking deaths of Marylyn Erb and Kelley Erb — the wife and daughter of contractor Todd Erb, Westfield police said.


The suspect faces two counts of murder, felony murder, and one count of robbery, burglary and theft. Haley killed the women in their home on Dec. 20 — then stole their credit cards, which he and another man used for purchases around town, according to TV station FOX59.

The station also reported that cops said Haley was fired from landscaping company Sundown Gardens for poor attendance in June and initially plotted to rob the house to exact revenge.

Authorities allege he killed the wife and daughter of his former boss Todd Erb.

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office

Authorities allege he killed the wife and daughter of his former boss Todd Erb.


According to a friend of Haley, who allegedly was seen using the victim’s family credit cards in a store on Christmas Eve, the ex-employee bashed the two women’s heads “with some cement or something,” a police affidavit stated.

The alleged accomplice said Haley was motivated to “shoot the place up” because he was fired from the company.


The man told police Haley admitted killing the victims but that Haley was laughing, so he didn’t know if “he was for real,” the affidavit said according to TV Station WTHR 13,

Kelley Erb and her mother were hit in the head with cement, police said.


Kelley Erb and her mother were hit in the head with cement, police said.

Haley allegedly stole white pearl earrings, an iPhone 5, a gold-colored chain and two Chase cards from the home, reports the Indianapolis Star.

Police released video of the purchase and an anonymous tipster identified the two suspects – leading to Haley’s arrest, the department stated in a release.

Westfield police referred questions to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, which did not return a call seeking comment Saturday.

Todd Erb, who discovered his dead family members when he came home from work that day, could not be reached for comment at his home or business Saturday. Follow on Twitter @joelzlandau

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Rebate for water-saving landscapes in Burbank to double

The incentive for Burbank residents to replace the turf in their yards with drought-tolerant plants just got a little sweeter.

The Burbank City Council signed off on plans last week to double the rebate for water-saving landscapes — raising it from $1 per square foot to $2. And that applies now not only to front yards, but also side and backyards, city officials said.

Since most single-family households use 50% of their water on landscape irrigation, customers who participate could save between 15% and 25% on their monthly water bills with the right plant materials, said Burbank Water and Power spokesman Joe Flores.

“A native landscape garden can be really beautiful and lush, and there’s all kinds of different styles of native land gardens,” Flores said. “Some people have a perception that it can be a cactus garden, but that’s just one particular style.”

When Burbank resident Juan Jimenez replaced the turf on his frontyard with drought-tolerant plants and installed new sprinklers about four years ago, he said he realized a $40 savings on his water bill each month.

The Metropolitan Water District will subsidize half of the cost of the rebate and provide the manpower to work with Burbank customers, while Burbank Water and Power will foot the bill for the other half of the rebate.

Anticipating more interest among residents, the utility plans to commit $75,000 to the rebate program.

That means residents can pocket hundreds of dollars by relandscaping their gardens, depending on the size of their lawns.

Since the rebate program began a year ago, 30 households have transformed their gardens, and 15 more are in the process of making the change.

The rebate increase was approved by the council in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman David Gordon being the sole dissenter.

The utility also offers “how-to” landscaping workshops to cover turf removal, with the next one taking place from 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 11.

For more information, visit or call (818) 238-3730.

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


2013 Newsmaker: Burbank couple fought civil rights battle that changed the nation

Burbank man pleads not guilty in swastika vandalism case

Early morning high-speed chase ends in freeway crash

Article source:,0,770968.story

10 tips for winterizing your garden, lawn tools

<!–Saxotech Paragraph Count: 9

Now that is officially winter, it’s time to put away the lawn mower and other lawn and garden tools if you haven’t already done so.

How you treat those tools now will make a difference when it’s time to bring them out of storage and put them to good use.

With that in mind, All Seasons Nursery Landscaping and Home Garden Showplace in Lafayette offered tips on how winterize your tools during one of its seminars.

Don Weintritt provided these 10 tips:

1 Pull the cap off the spark plug on any gas-powered equipment you plan on servicing. This will prevent any accidental firing of the engine and avoid injury.

2 Clean all grass and debris from the mower deck before storing. Remove and sharpen the blades. Use the rough side of a metal file to remove nicks and dents in the blade edge, and then use the finer side to smooth. A mower blade does not need to be knife-edge sharp.

3 Drain engine oil into a sealable container and replace with new oil. Dispose of old oil at an approved facility, such as most auto parts stores. Remove and clean the air filter with water or compressed air. An oily filter can be cleaned with gasoline or rubbing alcohol. Allow the filter to dry completely before returning it to the engine.

4 Burn all the remaining gasoline out of the engine or add a fuel stabilizer. Store your mower in a dry place, such as a shed or garage. If shelter is not available, raise the mower off the ground with a pallet or bricks, and cover well with a tarp. Do not put a tarp beneath the mower, as this will catch water and can cause parts to rust in storage.

5 Wipe all hand tools such as shovels and pruners with gasoline or rubbing alcohol. This will remove heavy residues like tree sap and prevent any spread of fungus and plant diseases your tools may have encountered. Clean all hand tools with a steel wool pad (the kind WITHOUT the soap) or wire brush and an all-purpose spray lubricant. Work the action on moving parts such as pruner blades. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth.

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mikyoung kim inserts crown sky garden into chicago hospital


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Grand designs on Ecohome garden

A green project is calling on garden designers to volunteer their time to help come up with some blooming lovely ideas for Harborough’s Ecohome.

The Sustainable Harborough group in partnership with Seven Locks Housing is asking for garden designers from the district for their expertise.

The Ecohome is a semi-detached house with extra insulation, state-of-the-art heating controls, solar panels, low-energy appliances and water-saving devices.

Its mission is to show people how they can reduce household emissions and reduce energy and water bills.

Now Sustainable Harborough wants to show how gardens can be used to grow food and encourage wildlife.

Spokesman Gavin Fletcher said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for a local garden designer to join us to design a garden which can be used for family life, encouraging wildlife and food growing as well as having parts which can be replicated by other residents hoping to achieve something similar.”

The garden is to be created in the new year with a team of volunteers and will be on display during special open days.

The Echome has been home since October to the Woolley family, who write an online blog about life in the home. Ayla Woolley (10) said: “The garden is my favourite part of my new home. I love wildlife and flowers and can’t wait to grow some fruit and veggies, although it isn’t wildlife friendly yet unless you like worms!”

Sustainable Harborough is keen to promote local businesses and any designer working on the project will be recognised for their contribution on its website.

Anyone interested in designing the Ecohome garden or becoming a volunteer gardener should contact Sustainable Harborough on 01858 466207 or email

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