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Archives for February 21, 2016

Browsers find fresh ideas, latest products at North Atlanta Home Show

DULUTH — There’s a lot to think about when building a new home, from permits and plumbing to floors and countertops. Researching on the Internet can be a big time-saver, but for Margaret and Warren Teague, visiting a website and looking at photos isn’t enough.

“We like to see and touch,” Warren said.

Which is why the Cumming couple attended the North Atlanta Home Show at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth on Friday. Now that the Teagues are retired, they’re preparing to build a home near Lake Hartwell and came to check out what new products are on the market, according to Warren.

North Atlanta Home Show, which continues through Sunday, features more than 150 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and services for home remodeling, landscaping and outdoor living and interior decorating.

Many of the booths are interactive allowing attendees to get hands-on with the products while speaking face-to-face with vendors, like the Wood Hollow Cabinets display.

Shoppers are able to walk-through the spacious booth and test out kitchen and bathroom cabinets. According to Jay Phipps, who handles Atlanta sales for the Dalton-based, family-owned business, owner Charles Brogdon feels it’s important for customers to be able to touch and feel the products, so he puts a lot of time into designing the display. Every 18 months, they rebuild a whole new display to present customers with the latest products and designs.

Seeking out new and innovative products is what brought Melanie Johnson to the home show. The Marietta resident, who was joined by her sister Susan Armour and longtime friend Paulett Cheek, is in the early process of building a home in Ellijay.

Johnson said the show offers a wide variety of home building products and services to browse through and compare.

“You see everything at one time,” Armour said. “It’s fun to come see the latest (products) and go, ‘Oh gosh, I didn’t know they had that.”

Show Director Michael Schoppenhorst said sometimes attendees bring along their building plans to go over with vendors, who then give suggestions and quotes.

“Before they even start construction, they’re learning things that they can do differently and improve their home and sometimes it saves them money and certainly saves them time, ” he said. “The interaction is great.”

Schoppenhorst advised attendees to allow themselves plenty of time to browse and bring along plans or notes, as well as photos.

“Visuals are good because it helps (vendors) and can speed up the quote process,” Schoppenhorst said.

The North Atlanta Home Show will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21.

General admission tickets are $8 and are available at the show’s on-site ticket box office. Children ages 12 and under and adults ages 65 and older with ID are admitted free. Military personnel and first responders with ID receive a free ticket with the purchase of one general admission ticket.

Infinite Energy Center is located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth next to the Infinite Energy Arena. For more information, visit

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Mannix: Student has an app-etite for success – Sarasota Herald

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

Hello, Xavier Almeyda!

The State College of Florida Collegiate School senior has come up with the concept for a smart phone that has “smash hit” written all over it.

It’s an app called “AisleFindIt,” and it’s designed to make grocery shopping easier.


“I can’t wait because I’m still wandering around stores,” said his mom, Angela.

Like mothers everywhere, she’d go grocery shopping with her three children in tow. Then one day she said something to her science-minded son and it stuck.

“Mom asked me, ‘Can you do something to help me find things?’ It gave me the idea,” said Xavier, who has two older sisters, Chelcie and Emilie. “It’s still in the conceptual stage, but I’ve spent the past five months refining it.”

The 16-year-old will bring his idea to the Bright House Networks’ “Bright Ideas STEM from Today’s Youth” finals March 2 in Orlando. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math). Xavier won the regional competition in Tampa last month.

The event challenges high school students to create inventions that will impact lives and communities.

Xavier’s “AisleFindIt” app would, indeed.

“It’ll cut the time you spend in the grocery store in half,” his mom said. “You can’t always find someone to help you and it’s frustrating. When I’d bring him along he’d find stuff for me. This is more efficient. Just hold it in my hand, give it my list and map out the store.”

Xavier, who will graduate in May and also get his AA, hopes his Orlando showing will help win a contract with a global innovation-and-strategy design firm to bring his idea to market.

“I’m excited about its potential,” he said.

So are some friends.

“They want me to cut them in for a percentage,” Xavier joked.

■ That’s 28 years of marital bliss for Dan and Shirley Schaffer.

■ Oh, no! Patricia McNaughton hit the Big 5-0!

■ Valentine’s Day was sweet for Suncoast Storm 06. The Miss Manatee Softball girls went 6-0 over the weekend, enroute to winning the Sweetheart Classic Tournament in Bartow last Sunday. It was their first 10 Under championship.

The players are Christina “Dewey” Bowser, Alex Call, Allison “Ally” Cole, Kayla Douglas, Julissa Garabito, Kaley Gionfriddo, Sierra Lipton, Haley McKitterick, Jada Phillips, Gracie Shaw and Isabella “Bella” Thompson. The coaches are Gregg Gionfriddo, Gary Phillips, Bruce Call and Chad Baker.

■ That wily ol’ stork is making its initial approach in April for Lindsay and Steven Hussey.

Barbara Hanson is 80 years young.

■ The Palmetto Dazzlers, Manatee School for the Arts Heat and Braden River Black Pearls perform a free show 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Palmetto High gym, 1200 17th St. W., Palmetto. It’s their last tuneup before the National Dance Alliance championships in Orlando. By the way, they’ll join Manatee County’s scholastic dance teams at the annual “Yes, We Can Dance!” March 5th at SCF’s Neel Performing Arts Center.

Jason Evans, EMS district chief for training and public safety, is the Manatee County Employee of the Month.

■ Peace Lutheran fifth-grader Joel Peters did a good looking project for the school’s art fair. He made a baseball lamp, drilling through four baseballs to build the lamp post and fashioned a home plate out of wood for the lamp base.

■ Speaking of baseball, Old Main Street in downtown B’town will be jumping Friday when the Pirates Pep Rally kicks off 6:30 p.m.

■ This is what friends are for, especially if they’re fellow retired City of Bradenton firefighters. With retired deputy chief Jack Kaufman physically unable to spruce up the landscaping around his property, Donnie Bonwer, Eddie Gulash, Wayne Lang, Gary Lawson, Wilburn Newsome, Joe Rodgers and Larry Storm teamed up recently and did it for him. Councilman Gene Gallo, who hired them as young men when he was B’town’s fire chief, is proud.

■ Uh, oh! Dave Grantham is about to hit the Big 6-0! The milestone lands on the birthday boy Tuesday.

■ A host of celebrity bartenders will be pouring them straight and strong to benefit the Food Bank of Manatee, 6-9 p.m. Thursday at Polo Grill, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch. Those bartenders include Dan Callaghan, Brian Carter, Bob Harrigan, Jay Horne, Violeta Huesman, Darren InversoMichael Ludwig and Cindy Sloan. For more details, call Olivia Lamer at 941-749-0100.

Tammy Eason Hager is 39. Again.

Danny Wuerffel, the University of Florida’s 1996 Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback of the Gators 1996 national champions, is the keynote speaker Friday at the Bradenton Christian School Fundraising Gala. The event is 7 p.m. at BCS. For tickets visit; or contact Jennifer Calhoun at or 941-792-5454, ext. 125.

■ The indefatigable Ronnie Grubbs is 83 years young.

■ SCF’s Brain Bowl Phoenix Team is heading to the National Community College Championship Tournament Friday and Saturday in Atlanta. They qualified at the National Academic Quiz Tournaments Sectional last month.

The squad includes Michael Freedman, Austin Goode, Haley Miller and David Espinal. SCF Dragon Team’s Quentin Ferring, Antonio Herrera and Damien Bobrek also participated in the tournament. SCF students Paul Foerster, Michael Moore, Ariel Watsky and SCF alumnus Paul Cajka were readers and scorekeepers. SCF alum Naim Chowdhury participated as a reader and brought New College students Yonathan Stone, Leo Lo, Ari Plymale and Conor Welch to assist. Assistant math professor Christina Dwyer and Moore are the coaches.

■ Speaking of bright students, St. Joseph Catholic School eighth-grader Summer Self and sixth-grader Coral Bell won the local, district and regional spelling bees sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Both finished third at state.

Ed Hunzeker is in his 10th year as Manatee County administrator and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce is saluting the anniversary with a luncheon Friday at the Bradenton Country Club, 4646 Ninth Ave. W., Bradenton. For reservations and details, call Lisa Reeder at 941-748-3411 or visit

■ Triviameister Jim Brown’s winners last week at S.O.B. Burgers, 5866 14th St. W., Bradenton, was “Oh, Really?” Among its members are Barb Kinsey, Sherri Mannix, Chris Manring and Lynn Pierce. Game time is 7 p.m. every Wednesday.

— Vin’s People runs Sundays. Email Vin Mannix at Or call 941-962-5944. Twitter: @vinmannix

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Thousands of people turnout for Home and Garden Show in Eau Claire

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Mid-century landscapes reflect modern lifestyles, much like era’s architecture

The idea of a central pool in the middle of a condo complex is probably pretty expected these days.
As is a playground with separate areas for the older and younger children.

However, these were new concepts when launched by California landscape architects in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“The central swimming pools were something unique and something different,” said JC Miller, a landscape architect and professor at University of California, Berkeley.

“You don’t find a precedent for this landscape before the mid-century period,” Miller added, in a Modernism Week lecture Friday morning titled “Modern Gardens: Designing the Postwar California Landscape.”

Miller pointed to the Sandpiper condo community built in Palm Desert in the early 1960s and designed by William Krisel, where community swimming pools were turned into central features.

Landscapes also followed the trend of indoor and outdoor living where planting areas were designed for not only outside the home, but interior spaces as well, Miller said.

And of course, one of the not-so-favorable characteristics of the 1950s modern era, was the attitude that there was no limit to resources and consumption was practically celebrated.

“Water and energy were unlimited in the mid-century period,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a consideration.

“Having automatic irrigation was just thought to be wonderful, and acres of turf was the order of the day,” he added.

Even though much of this turf is disappearing as Californians transition to a more water-wise way of living, lawns are still fairly green and velvety at some of the more posh addresses.

The Firestone estate in Rancho Mirage opened up its grounds for a Modernism Week garden tour Friday, offering guests a glimpse of wide stretches of velvety lawns, citrus trees and other flora. Though it should be noted the Lustbader family, which is the current owner, has introduced more desert landscaping.

In the Thunderbird Heights neighborhood, at the Paul Boschetto residence, the entire front lawn was recently removed and replaced with a textually rich desert landscape.

Some of the most whimsical landscapes on the Rancho Mirage garden tour was the tightly clustered Blue Skies Village senior community, a mobile home community that opened in 1955 featured Bing Crosby as an investor.

“Originally, these were Airstream trailers for all of his friends,” said Troy Bankord, an environmental designer with the firm Troy Bankord Design, referring to Crosby.

“There were a lot of set designers and things from Hollywood that would come out,” he added, speaking to garden tour guests wandering into the Catherine and Gibbs Smith courtyard at 83 Barbara  Stanwyck Road in Blue Skies. “So then, if you drive around the neighborhood you’ll see a number of trailers that have been covered with like Pharaoh’s tomb. They would all try to outdo themselves building these facades around these mobile homes.”

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How California residents are changing the water landscape

For Carrie Wassenaar, a modest single-story house for sale a half a mile from the Burbank-Bob Hope Airport had the landscaping she was looking for in a home: tidy green lawns front and back, and trees, including an iconic orange tree. The greenery virtually sealed the deal for the Wisconsin native before she ever stepped through the front door.

Today, the animation producer’s front yard is a part of the California water revolution.

Instead of a lawn, it now sports a thick layer of mulch dotted with newly planted, drought-tolerant shrubs and tall grasses, watered by a buried drip-irrigation system. A large, shallow depression in the yard acts as a micro reservoir where water can pool and seep into the sandy soil below, eventually to reach a vast aquifer beneath the San Fernando Valley. That water comes from a computer-controlled, above-ground cistern, which stores rainfall her roof sheds during a storm.  

Ms. Wassenaar’s yard is part of new thinking on water, both here in California and beyond. Just as solar panels are allowing some homeowners to become their own power plant, limiting the energy they draw from the grid, new technologies and practices are allowing homeowners in water-thirsty regions to be a part of a broader water-supply solution.

It points to how conservation, when pushed by necessity, can become something more powerful.

“You want to feel like you’re at least trying to help with the solution instead of just contributing to the problem,” says Wassenaar.

That is a shift in thinking that needs to take place – not merely in response to the state’s current drought, but also in anticipation of the regional effects global warming is projected to impose, say water managers and others.

Thirty years ago, conservation was easy because people were using so much water, noted Jeffery Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, during a panel discussion in Los Angeles last year. The advice was simple: Flush toilets less often and put a brick in the toilet tank.         

But conservation has gotten harder as residents and businesses have gotten better at it. When the district called for a 10 percent reduction in water use during a 2009 drought, people delivered, “but it took a lot of work,” he said.

Last April, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a 25 percent cut in urban water use compared with 2013. “We’re finding that each increment is harder,” Mr. Kightlinger said, adding, “the next frontier is outdoor use,” which accounts for about half of the region’s water use.

That’s where Wassenaar’s new front yard comes in.

Catching the rain

It is part of the StormCatcher Project, which aims to convert rainwater from a storm-drain-bound nuisance into an ally in Los Angeles’s quest to sustain local groundwater sources, improve flood control, and cut pollution reaching the Pacific Ocean during intense storms.

Data from the six homes participating so far will help water utilities estimate the capture potential for a large-scale program, says Andy Lipkis, executive director of TreePeople, an environmental group that is overseeing the StormCatcher project.

In all cases, homeowners use the water for irrigating their yards, reducing their draw on potable water the Department of Water and Power supplies.

Inspiration for the project came from Australia, Mr. Lipkis explains. During a visit in 1982, he recalls, he was struck by how intimately citizens were involved in water management, even in city suburbs.

“I saw what people were doing with rainwater harvesting” and began thinking about what that could mean for Los Angeles, he says.

The idea is spreading as cities, businesses, and citizens see rainwater harvesting as a way to save money, do right by the environment, or some combination. The end result is a kind of decentralization of water management.

Cistern use, combined with rain gardens, has grown significantly over the past 15 to 20 years, notes Heather Kincade, executive director of American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, a nonprofit advocacy group in Tempe, Ariz.

The first, and so far only, market study of the small-but-growing industry was published in December 2011, based on survey of nearly 100 companies conducted during the second half of 2010. At that time, companies reported an average growth rate of 14 percent a year between 2005 and 2009. Some 41 percent of their business involved residential installations. The study projected that growth would continue at the 14 percent a year pace through 2016.

Growth since the study’s publication probably has come in at about 7 percent a year, says Doug Pushard, one of the study’s authors and founder of, a consulting and design service for rainwater harvesting, based in Santa Fe, N.M.

“Unfortunately, we had that little thing called the Great Recession right when we were finishing the report,” he says, an economic tailspin that would have slowed the growth. Still, “the industry is growing up under the radar,” says Mr. Pushard, who teamed up with Jason Kerrigan, who heads a sustainable-water systems company in Brisbane, Australia, to produce the analysis.

Since then, activity has picked up again, driven largely by the commercial market, he says. And while he can’t put hard numbers to the increase, “I talk to a new vendor about every three months.”

The motivations are the rising cost of water as drought prone areas adopt pricing structures to encourage conservation, tougher environmental regulations on the amount and quality of storm-water run-off, and declining costs of components involved.

A different vision in Seattle

In that way, the tiny industry’s development is mirroring the rise in the use of rooftop solar panels to generate electricity.

Not surprisingly, the largest markets for rainwater harvesting, the study found, were in Texas, followed by California and New Mexico. But New Mexico was in a virtual dead heat with Georgia, followed by Arizona and Washington State.

In 2010, Seattle began a pilot project offering financial incentives to encourage homeowners to install cisterns and rain gardens in the city’s Ballard section. There, the program aimed to reduce polluted run-off reaching Puget Sound or creeks that are spawning-grounds for salmon. Since then, the city’s RainWise program has expanded to cover more of the region.

The city estimates that the program is reducing polluted run-off by about 100 million gallons a year. The goal is to increase that to 700 million gallons a year by 2025.

In Los Angeles, StormCatcher has similar hopes. If widely installed, these systems have the potential to reduce flooding by holding water in the cisterns during peak periods of rainfall, then gradually releasing it as the rainfall dies down, notes Daniel Beger, senior manager of policy at TreePeople. Capture and gradual release reduces the prospect that pollutant-laden run-off will overwhelm wastewater treatment plants and flow directly into the ocean.

The project is slated to last a year, though the participating agencies could extend it.

Even before the results come in, Los Angeles has been eying distributed storm-water capture as a viable solution to help meet its long-range water needs. Last March, it issued its master plan for exploiting storm water.

“The master plan shows that in order for the city to meet its water-supply objectives, distributed storm-water capture needs to play a role,” Mr. Berger says.

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Portland Spring Home & Garden Show Feb. 25-28: Display gardens, orchids, workshops

It’s hard not to be inspired to try something fresh and new after wandering past a dozen display gardens created by landscape designers vying in the Portland Spring Home Garden Show‘ Excellence in Landscaping Competition.

The 12 gardens will showcase the latest trends in outdoor living, plant material, water features, lighting effects and rock and wood work during the run of the 69-year-old Portland Home Garden Show, Feb. 25-28 at the Portland Expo Center.

There will also be seminars presented by gardening gurus, workshops by Home Depot experts and booths selling garden supplies, accessories, outdoor furniture and art.

The Portland Orchid Society will display rare, unique orchids and nurseries will sell ornamental and fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, perennials, bulbs, grasses, ferns and water plants. Gardeners who lost plants due to this winter’s rain and cold can find climate-appropriate substitutes.

For those who want to stock up their bookshelves, the Northwest Independent Writers Association has scheduled dozens of local authors to be at the show.

For the Excellence in Landscaping Competition, Drake’s 7 Dees’ design team decided on a Japanese-inspired garden with a traditional magnolia tree and clumping bamboo fronting a modern-style tiny greenhouse/teahouse with barn doors.

The team’s Contemporary Wabi-Sabi Garden is a balance between a comfortable, contemporary aesthetic and the ancient philosophy of appreciating the beauty in the naturally imperfect as seen here by a steel rectangular fire pit that has been allowed to rust.

The past is also represented by a deep lily pond while the present is seen in the vertical garden, modern trough planters and seat boulders resting in decomposed granite.

Cornerstone Hardscapes and Creative Garden Spaces partnered to display a garden called Room with a View, which has an elaborate kitchen under a covered patio and a large sail cloth shading another outdoor living space.

Naturescapes Watergardens‘ display, named Enchanted Evening, has a dry-laid bluestone patio, basalt boulder seating, natural Chinese fountain and a stone fireplace with a 7-foot chimney.

Clustered around the competition gardens is IdeaBox‘s energy-efficient house, which is three different sized prefab modulars — 27 feet, 14 feet and 12 feet long — joined together.

Other competition participants are the American Rhododendron Society, Association of Northwest Landscape Designers, Bamboo Man, Gregg Ellis Landscape Design, JP Stone Contractors, Northwest Outdoor Living Landscapes, Olivine Land, Oregon Outdoor Landscaping, OSU Department of Horticulture, Roosevelts Terrariums and The Wall.

— Homes Gardens of the Northwest staff

Tips to better enjoy home and garden shows

  • Bring snacks to keep your strength up.
  • A backpack or large bag can hold brochures and small items.
  • Comfortable shoes will allow you to see more displays.
  • Tote a camera or smart phone to record ideas you’d like to copy or follow up on.
  • Don’t forget a notepad and pen.

The Portland Home Garden Show at the Expo, 2060 N. Marine Drive, Portland

Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28.

Admission: $10 (kids age 12 and under free; $2 off discount coupon

For more information: 503-246-8291,

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Gladiolus, spring-flowering trees, lichens and onions: This week’s gardening tips

Plant gladiolus corms through the end of March. Plant groups of corms every two weeks during the planting season to extend the display of flowers.

Notice the blooms on early spring-flowering trees, such as red maple, Japanese magnolia, Taiwan flowering cherry, star magnolia and others. This is a great time to plant a small flowering trees should you decide you just have to have one.

Lichens are harmless plant-like organisms that form a gray-green crusty or hairy growth on the bark of woody plants, such as trees and shrubs, wooden fences and rocks. Don’t be alarmed. They do not hurt the plants.

Onions, shallots, garlic and leeks are susceptible to an insect called thrips, which causes small white marks on the foliage known as “stippling.” Heavy infestations can damage foliage to the point that the harvest is reduced. Control thrips with a spinosad insecticide.


Love to read about gorgeous gardens? Sign up for’s weekly home and garden newsletter, and you’ll get Dan Gill’s latest tips as well as stories about gorgeous local landscapes. It’s easy and free. Just click here. And while you’re at it, head over to the’s New Orleans Homes and Gardens page on Facebook.

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Extension Connection: Master Gardeners Provide Gardening Tips at Various Events

Posted Feb. 20, 2016 at 9:53 AM

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Garden Tip: Give frost-damaged plants time to recover

Give frost-damaged plants time to recover

Succulents turned to mush? Salvias brown to the ground? Citrus with die-back of branch tips?

The heavy frost that occurred last month may have caused frost damage in your garden. Don’t be too quick to pull out plants that may look pretty bad right now. They may still be alive. Some perennials will put out new shoots at the base when the warmer weather and longer days of springtime arrive. Wait and watch.

The chance of freezing temperatures is not over. According to Marin County weather records, in February the chance of frost is 40 percent, but drops off to 10 percent by mid-March. Right now, you should continue to protect your sensitive plants.

— Katie Martin, UC Marin Master Gardener

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