SAM TOFT art is something we feature at Charter House. I must admit when we first saw her art, we thought it was unattractive and repetitive with the same funny man with the wide brimmed hat and scarf in every piece. The salesperson talked us into giving some of her works a try because (she said) they are a best seller. Even as we unwrapped Sam’s art, we thought “Seriously?” Once the art was on the wall, we saw what all the fuss was about, it was instant appreciation. As it turns out, her art is a best seller and we ordered replacements of the pieces that have sold plus new introductions which we eagerly snapped up. The framed prints are small (about 18-24″) but that is the huge appeal of them. Choose one piece for a small wall, three pieces for over a bed or sofa or make a complete story board with nine pieces on a larger wall. Sam uses vibrant primary colors which seem to blend in almost anywhere. The Sam Toft order will be arriving at Charter House sometime in September. 

MEET THE ARTIST:

Born in June 1964, Sam’s earliest ambition was to work in a post office. Instead she has been a fire extinguisher salesman, a silver service waitress, a death grants advisor, a Wedgwood Rooms worker, a catering manager, a civil servant, a student, an au pair and an unemployed person. She has lived in Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Le Vaudreuil Ville Nouvelle, Essex, Surrey, Liverpool, Balham, Tooting, Ealing and Middlesex but has settled for the now in Brighton& Hove.

She graduated from Kingston Polytechnic with a BA in Applied Social Science (having transferred from a business sandwich degree with French). She had not a clue what to do but knew through and through that she would never be a Poet. A career in the civil service was not well tolerated and catering management wasn’t really where the heart was. A change in direction was needed. Sharpish. She moved up to Liverpool and did a BTEC in General Art and Design at City of Liverpool Community College where an inspirational teacher by the name of Hering gave her the confidence to give it a go with her pictures.

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JOKE OF THE DAY: As I drop my darling child off at college, it is with a heavy heart and a tear in my eye, that I say: “Party at my house this weekend.”

HAPPY AUGUST 31 BIRTHDAY TO: Richard Gere 64, Chris Tucker 42, Van Morrison 68, Frank Robinson 78, James Coburn (1928-2002), Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Buddy Hackett (1924-2003), Deborah Gibson 43, Marsha Clark 60, and Zack Ward 43.

Whirlpool introduced a new premium finish that they call “White Ice.” With clean lines, silver accents and streamlined controls, the new collection’s refrigerator, range, dishwasher, and microwave are a departure from the flash and glitz of stainless steel and its many lookalikes. In fact, the combination of a white finish, stainless handles and mirrored glass appear to have a lot in common with Apple’s popular design language.

 

whirlpool-whiteice.jpg
White Ice gives your kitchen a clean slate.

The streamlined new look combines with simplified features that Whirlpool says will make the appliances easier to use. “In addition to the intuitive technology, the line takes a fresh look at appliance design and features flawless exteriors that add beauty to any home,” said Pat Schiavone, Whirlpool’s VP of Global Consumer Design.

Because the whole suite of appliances have such a unique style that’s exclusive to one manufacturer, it’s a safe bet that Whirlpool is hoping customers will upgrade their entire kitchen instead of taking a piecemeal approach.

Whirlpool seems to be aiming their new finish at customers who have grown weary of stainless and its numerous imitators. Indeed, the manufacturer says the new finish is “signifying a shift in the culture of home appliances.” Because it’s essentially an update of the classic white exterior, White Ice may appeal to consumers who are bored by stainless but also don’t want their kitchens to look dated. For Whirlpool, it’s an attempt to appeal to homeowners in a bottomed-out housing market, where renovating is less about increasing resale value and more about appealing to an individual’s own tastes.

Before the recession, investors looking to flip a house for profit wanted to install upscale finishes that could cheaply and easily update the look of a home. So from the HGTV-era onward, the most popular kitchens have combined granite countertops along with stainless steel appliances. Go to any home improvement store and you’ll be sure to see rows upon rows of fridges and dishwashers with stainless steel and stainless-style exteriors.

It wasn’t always that way, and all it takes is a look at classic sitcoms to see how far kitchens have come. If I Love Lucy were in color, the Ricardo’s kitchen likely would’ve had pastel finishes alongside white and stainless. Along with shows like Maude andSoap, the ’70s and early ’80s brought in earth tones, like avocado, harvest gold and almond. Later on, white and bisque became popular — even on the upscale appliances that Geoffrey tended to in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

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JOKE OF THE DAY: Never laugh at your wife’s choices…you are one of them.

HAPPY AUGUST 30 BIRTHDAY TO: Cameron Diaz 41, Timothy Bottoms 51, Frank ‘Tug’ McGraw (1944-2004), Ted Williams (1918-2002),  Warren Buffett 83, Peggy Lipton 66, Jean Claude Killy 70, Lisa Ling 40, Michael Chiklis 50, Ben Lewis Jones “Cooter” 70, Gabriel Aubrey 38, Michael Michele 47, Joan Blondell (1906-1979),  and John Phillips (1935-2001).

 

 Natural Mold And Mildew Removal Household mold and mildew can have damaging consequences on our health. It has been proven to promote asthma, allergies and colds while also increasing the occurrence of mood swings and depression.If you have mold and mildew in your home then forget using the store bought items that are packed full of chemicals, and instead try these four natural fixes – including:
A Tea Tree Oil Spray
Vinegar
Hydrogen Peroxide Spray

Start with the Basics: Here are a few things you must do to start treating the mold problem:1. Dry out dampness. Moisture is the number one cause of mold. Drying out damp areas of the home will help to prevent the rate of incidence. One can also sprinkle cornstarch over the moldy area, as this will help to absorb the extra moisture.2. Fix the leak. Fixing those leaky pipes, or that leak in the roof, will help to eliminate the water source and prevent the conditions for which mold loves to grow.3. Establish good air circulation. The best way to do this is to use fans throughout the home.4. Let the sun shine in. Let the natural light of the sun into your home as much as possible. However, in areas such as the basement, consider using a UV light if things get really bad. They’ve been known to kill nearly 100% of the mold present.To remove mold and mildew try these three homemade cleaning recipes: Tea Tree Oil: This is the best working natural mold and mildew remover spray. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a long way. It can be used on anything that needs mold and mildew removal.Note that the smell of tea tree oil is very strong but will disappear in a day or so, and is non-toxic.

Combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water.
Mix in a spray bottle, shake and spray onto any problem areas.
Do not rinse.

Vinegar: Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82% of mold. Pour some white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray the moldy area and let sit. The smell of vinegar will disappear in a few hours.

 Hydrogen Peroxide Spray: Mix 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts water. Spray directly on to mold and allow it to dry. Note: Be sure only to make as large a batch as you will need for one application at a time.

These green homemade non-toxic recipes should take care of all your mold and mildew removal. Pass it on to your family and friends. It may be useful.

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DISTURBING THOUGHT OF THE DAY: When I see lovers’ names carved into a tree I don’t think it is cute, I think it’s strange how many people take knives on dates.

HAPPY AUGUST 29 BIRTHDAY TO:Lea Michele 27, William Levy 33, Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), Isabel Sanford (1917-2004), Michael Jac kson (1958-2009), Elliot Gould 75, Rebecca DeMornay 54, Richard Attenborough 90, Temple Grandin 66 (advocated for better conditions for livestock), and Robin Leach 72.

1. Stand holding the sheet by the two adjacent corners of one of the shorter edges. With the sheet inside out, place one hand in each of these two corners.

2. Bring your right hand to your left, and fold the corner in your right hand over the one in your left, enveloping it. Next, reach down and pick up the corner that is hanging in front; bring it up, and fold it over the two corners in your left hand; the corner that’s showing will be inside out.

3. Bring the last corner up, and fold it over the others; with its right side showing, it should envelop the other three corners.

4. Lay the folded sheet on a flat surface and straighten it into the shape shown.

5. Fold the two edges in so all the elastic is hidden.

6. Fold the sheet into a rectangle.

7. Continue folding until the rectangle is the size you want it to be.

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SAYING OF THE DAY: No family is perfect; we argue, we fight, we even stop talking at times, but in the end, family is family. The love will always be there.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 1996 Princess Diana and Charles, Prince of Whales, finalize their divorce after 4 years of separation.

HAPPY AUGUST 28 BIRTHDAY TO: Jack Black 44, Shania Twain 48, Kyle Massey 22, Armie Hammer 27, David Soul 70, Jason Priestly 44, Daniel Stern 56,  Leann Rimes 34, Billy Boyd 45, Scott Hamilton 55, Roxie Roker (1929-1995), Luiz Guzman 57, Paul Martin 75, Eugene Byrd 38, Lou Piniella 70, Ron Guidry 63, Ben Gazzara (1930-2012) and Alana (money-can’t-buy-class Honey Boo Boo) Thomson 8,

Since all the home decorating shows on television declared silk plants one of the biggest decorating mistakes of all time, silks have fallen into disfavor. The silk plant business is still alive and flourishing but in a different way. That is information for another blog.

You have seen them everywhere– bags of those ugly old silk flowers and garlands. Re-purpose them for theme parties, high niches where they look good from a distance or give them to the kids to make a cardboard parade float.

  • I have spray painted things like faded silk geraniums red and tucked them into my flower boxes with my real flowers and people can’t tell they aren’t real.
  • Try different colors. For example, if you like the shabby chic look then spray paint all of the silk flowers white and tuck them in different places.
  • Silver or gold will look great with many different styles of decorating.
  • Spray paint your old silk flowers black and use them to decorate for Halloween. The more worn the better.
  • Don’t forget you can paint those ugly old vases, too. They work especially well for things like Halloween decorations.

You can buy special silk flower paint, but I just use regular spray paint. Don’t stress about it if they don’t turn out or if the paint starts to peel after a bit, they were going to get tossed anyway.

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FAMOUS QUOTE SAID ON AUGUST 27: If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been the Beatles – John Lennon

SAYING OF THE DAY: That moment you think you are losing weight and then you remember you haven’t washed your jeans in a week.

HAPPY AUGUST 27 BIRTHDAY TO: Cesar Milan 44, Blake Jenner 21, Aaron Paul 34, Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973), and Chandra Wilson 44.

What is a Lightstick and How Does it Operate?
Lightsticks or glowsticks are used by trick-or-treaters, divers, campers, and for decoration and fun! A lightstick is a plastic tube with a glass vial inside of it. In order to activate a lightstick, you bend the plastic stick, which breaks the glass vial. This allows the chemicals that were inside the glass to mix with the chemicals in the plastic tube. Once these substances contact each other, a reaction starts taking place. The reaction releases light, causing the stick to glow!

A Chemical Reaction Releases Energy
One form of energy is light. Some chemical reactions release energy; the chemical reaction in a lightstick releases energy in the form of light. The light produced by this chemical reaction is called chemiluminescence.

Although the light-producing reaction is not caused by heat and may not produce heat, the rate at which it occurs is affected by temperature. If you place a lightstick in a cold environment (like a freezer), then the chemical reaction will slow down. Less light will be released while the lightstick is cold, but the stick will last much longer. On the other hand, if you immerse a lightstick in hot water, the chemical reaction will speed up. The stick will glow much more brightly, but will wear out faster too.

What’s Involved?
There are three components of a lightstick. There need to be two chemicals that interact to release energy and also a fluorescent dye to accept this energy and convert it into light. Although there is more than one recipe for a lightstick, a common commercial lightstick uses a solution of hydrogen peroxide that is kept separate from a solution of a phenyl oxalate ester together with a fluorescent dye. The color of the fluorescent dye is what determines the resulting color of the lightstick when the chemical solutions are mixed. The basic premise of the reaction is that the reaction between the two chemicals releases enough energy to excite the electrons in the fluorescent dye. This causes the electrons to jump to a higher energy level and then fall back down and release light.

Specifically, the chemical reaction works like this: The hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the phenyl oxalate ester, to form phenol and an unstable peroxyacid ester. The unstable peroxyacid ester decomposes, resulting in phenol and a cyclic peroxy compound. The cyclic peroxy compound decomposes to carbon dioxide. This decomposition reaction releases the energy that excites the dye.

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JOKE FOR THE END OF THE DAY: Bra off, jammies on, hair up. I call it relaxing…others call it, going to Wal-Mart.

HAPPY AUGUST 26 BIRTHDAY TO: Chris Pine 33, McCaulay Culkin 33, James Harden 24, Mother Theresa (1910-1997), Melissa McCarthy 43, Evan Ross 25, David Price 28, and Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011).

Building your dream home is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do, but all that excitement comes with a lot of responsibility. Hiring the best general contractor for you and your project is an extremely important decision. That choice will determine the quality of craftsmanship and will minimize emotional stress and unexpected costs. Bringing in the right contractor early in the design process is one of the most important ingredients in staying on budget and on schedule during construction.Here are five simple steps to help you hire the right contractor for your project.

by Kenny Grono

1. Get referrals. Talk with people you know and trust. Your architect is an obvious source, but talk with family, friends, neighbors, lawyers, real estate agents and others who have built projects similar to yours.Browse professional listings to find general contractors in your area. Check out their reviews and browse photos in their portfolios to see how their work lines up with the scope of your project. You can even message them to get a conversation going.

Are there recently completed or under-construction projects in your area? Ask the owners about their contractor and the working relationship they have with him or her.

2. Verify licenses. Make sure your contractor candidates are licensed and in good standing with your state license board. Ask to see the contractor’s pocket license, picture I.D. and certificate of insurance.

Proper licensing demonstrates a company’s best practices management, but hiring a licensed contractor will also protect you. For example, worker’s compensation insurance is a contractor’s responsibility, not a property owner’s, but that’s not the case if a contractor is not licensed or does not carry proper insurance.

In California anyone who contracts to perform work on a project valued at $500 or more, including labor and materials, must hold a current, valid license from the Contractors State License Board.

3. View recent work. After looking at a contractor’s portfolio, request to visit a few projects similar in size and style to yours. Try to check out one that was recently completed, one that’s under construction and one completed five to 10 years ago. Ask yourself:

  • Does the work carry a warranty, and are problems corrected?
  • How does the construction site look?
  • Did the older finished project stand the test of time?

4. Check references. Ask for a list of references. In private, discuss with previous clients their experiences working with the contractor. Ask:

  • Was it a pleasant working relationship?
  • Did they and the contractor communicate well?
  • Was the contractor fair and honest?
  • Was the project completed on schedule and within budget?
  • Were there extra costs or surprises?
  • How were problems handled?
  • How was the quality of craftsmanship and follow-up?

5. Understand the contract. Decide on the contractor you wish to hire and while your plans are in the permit-review process, discuss the different kinds of contracts available and ask for one to review.

  • Ask for updates to the construction bid if plans change for any reason.
  • Do not sign the contract until your permits have been approved and all costs have been finalized.
  • Be aware that there are always unknowns in the construction process that create change orders and additional costs. This is normal. Expect it. Allow 5 to 8 percent of your total budget for these extras. With good planning, design and management, they can be minimized.

There are far more reputable, honest and hardworking contractors than there are the slapdash, fly-by-night operations we read of in the news. With proper planning and research, you will find the perfect contractor for your project. Invest the time and remember that spending a few extra dollars in the beginning could save you thousands of dollars in the end.

 

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THIS DAY IN ENTERTAINMENT: 1975 Bruce Springsteen releases the album “Born To Run” making the singer a worldwide hit.

THIS DAY IN GEOGRAPHY: 1944 following the brutal battle of D-Day, the liberation of Paris takes place.

HAPPY AUGUST 25 BIRTHDAY TO: Alexander Skarsgaard 37, Tom Skeritt 80, David Canary 75, Sean Connery 83, Billy Ray Cyrus 52, Tim Burton 55, Blake Lively 26, Rachel Ray 45, Gene Simmons 64, Elvis Costello 59, Rachel Bilson 32, Regis Philbin 82, Blair Underwood 49, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), Claudia Schiffer 43, Johnathon Togo 36, Monty Hall 82, and Rollie Fingers 67.

 

DIY silhouette dog paintingThis post comes from guest blogger Danielle Benson

When my husband and I were furnishing our new home, one of the most challenging items for us was finding large, customized, modern artwork to fill our walls. I needed to think of affordable ways to translate my warm but contemporary style into our new home. For this up-cycled wall art I was inspired by the antique design of children’s silhouettes from the 1920’s. Since I don’t have children, my beloved dogs, Mika and Brody, play the role of children in my life.

  original canvas for DIY art

Step 1

First, find a canvas for your new art piece. Any canvas of your desired size will do the trick. I found mine on clearance for $35 at a home décor store. Don’t be afraid to look for art at garage sales and thrift stores, too.

 print pictures of pets or children

Step 2

Take a profile photo of your desired subject (children, pets, home, etc.). Upload the photos and enlarge; I used Microsoft Publisher and changed the page set-up to be the size of my canvas. Then I enlarged the photos and printed the document on standard copy paper.

 tape cutouts to canvas

Step 3

Like putting together a puzzle, place together and cut off the excess edges of your image and tape securely onto your canvas with double stick tape. The better you tape your copy paper, the crisper and more defined your object will be.

 paint over canvas and cutouts

Step 4

Paint your canvas with spray paint or a roller brush. Let your canvas fully dry.

 remove cutouts to reveal the silhouette

Step 5

Remove the copy paper from your canvas to reveal the silhouettes of your pasted images.

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SAYING OF THE DAY: I don’t like four letter words; dust, iron, cook, mend, bake, diet…

JOKE OF THE DAY: It is better to have loved and lost than to live with the psycho the rest of your life.

HAPPY AUGUST 24 BIRTHDAY TO: Rupert Grint 25, Chad Michael Murray 32, Cal Ripkin Jr. 53, Alex O’Loughlin 37, Steve Guttenberg 55, Marlee Matlin 48, Anze Kopitar 26, Carmine Giovinazzo 40, Jared Harris 52, and, Mike Shanahan 61.

23 Aug 2013
August 23, 2013

Looking For A New Way To Tie A Scarf?

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Ladies…anyone who has ever worn a scarf has tied it in one of the six ways pictured. This new way makes the scarf look braided. Make a single loop around your neck making sure the loose ends and the loop are all the same length. Twist the loop right over left and hold it there. Take the left loose end and place it over the loop and poke it through to the back side. Next, take the right loose end and bring it under the right hand of the loop, pull it through to the front of the scarf and adjust tightness.

At Charter House Interiors, we have gorgeous scarves from Shine Mark, Pottery Lane and Artizan. The fall selection will be arriving shortly.

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HAPPY AUGUST 23 BIRTHDAY TO: Scott Caan 37, Kobe Bryant 35, Gene Kelly (1912-1996), River Phoenix (1970-1993), Keith Moon (1946-1978), Barbara Eden 82, Rick Springfield 64, Shelley Long 64, Ray Park 39, and Vera Miles 84.

Roasted Garlic Mushrooms
16 even-sized open cup mushrooms, stalks cut level
3 tbsp corn or vegetable oil
75g unsalted butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, chopped very finely
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
50g fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Lightly fry the mushrooms, cap-side down, in hot oil for 20 seconds.

Arrange the mushrooms in a shallow roasting tin with the stalks facing upwards.

Mix together the butter, garlic, thyme, lemon juice and seasoning. Spoon a little garlic butter on to each mushroom, then lightly press the breadcrumbs on top. Either refrigerate for later use, or cook immediately in the oven for 10 minutes.

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THIS DAY IN ENTERTAINMENT: 1968 Cynthia Powell (Julian Lennon’s mother) filed for divorce from John Lennon.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS: 2007 Rangers scored 30 runs against Orioles, the most in MLB history.

HAPPY AUGUST 22 BIRTHDAY TO: Kristin Wiig 40, Giada de Laurentis 43, Valerie Harper 74, Richard Armitage 42, Cindy Williams 66, Ty Burrell 46, Claude DeBussy (1862-1918), Norman Schwartzkopf (1934-2012), Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), John Lee Hooker (1917-2001), Mark Willians 54, Carl Yastrzemski 74, Paul Molitar 57, and Collin Raye 53.