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Try this at home

Here are a few details about the fabric-on-a-frame wall art I talk about in my column today. I know, I know, I should have taken a picture of it, but I'm trying to wrap up things before I go on vacation.

I found the canvas-like fabric last winter at FWS on Elmwood Avenue. It has a black background with pink, lime green and other brightly colored circles all over it. This hangs where my 10-year-old daughter kicks back with her friends. I also made some matching floor pillows.

I bought the wooden pieces for the frame at Hyatt's - the Clarence location. Two 36-inch pieces and two 48-inch pieces cost about $20.

And, for anyone interested in making one, here is a good resource for you: How About Orange ( Search for "fabric panel wall art." Have fun!

Summer retro reading

14905262 This summer, my 10-year-old daughter has in her bedroom two of my favorite books from when I was about her age.

Last night she began reading the "Secret Language," by Ursula Nordstrom. In this book, a young Victoria North heads off to boarding school and gets off to a tearful, shaky start -- until she meets a wisecracker named Martha. It was first published in 1960! I read it several years after that and was thrilled to find a reissued copy in the children's fiction department at our local library this week. As a kid, I remember being so intrigued by the concept of boarding schools and housemothers (strict and otherwise).
My absolute favorite novel, and one I read a half dozen times beginning about age 11 or so, was "Up a Road Slowly" by Irene Hunt. This book, a Newbery Medal-winner, follows a girl named Julie from 7 to 17 - beginning when she goes to live with her Aunt Cordelia after her mother's death.

I loved this book. It convinced me that I wanted to become a writer when I grew up. Imagine that!

As a mother, I so enjoy being able to share these books with my own daughter - even if she does not end up loving them as much as I did.

Next, maybe I can get my hands on some books from the Trixie Belden mystery series .... 

Fooled by fashion

Summer sales are in full swing, so last weekend I decided to devote an hour - no more - to finding a fabulous bargain or two.
Within minutes I hit the jackpot. The skirt was long and a black-and-brownish animal print of some type - two things I love. It was marked WAY down. I tore into a fitting room, tried it on, loved it but noticed two things: 1) it was down to my ankle bones (odd, because I'm almost 5-feet-7 so length is rarely an issue), and 2) the waistband was wider than usual.

I bought it anyway.

Later on, at home, I tried it on again. Something was fishy. Then I realized - this wasn't a skirt. It was a dress. The wide waistband was actually a smocked top one was supposed to pull up into a strapless dress with empire silhouette.
And the dress now swirled just below the calves.
I didn't want a dress. I wanted a skirt. I took it back. So much for shopping on the fly.

Start walkin'

X00053_9[1] Garden walk season is seriously under way!

There are a half dozen or so this weekend alone - in Lockport, Niagara Falls, Akron and elsewhere.

There's more next weekend and then, of course, Garden Walk Buffalo is coming up July 25 and 26.
In the meantime, this weekend's tours are listed in today's Garden Notes column. Have fun, and share any fascinating ideas you see along the way.


Bathblaster[1]If you think these are freezer pops, you are wrong. They are scented soaps -- Soapylove soapsicles, to be exact.
I saw them in Romantic Homes magazine, and while many adults will get a kick out of them, kids especially will love lathering up.

Which raises the question: Won't kids want to eat them?

It makes sense not to let kids lick the soaps, but if they do, here is what their creator writes on the Web site, "Sometimes kids want to taste the soaps because they look like freezer pops. If they do, the soaps are totally harmless if swallowed. My recommendation is to explain to the child that it isn't food and they usually get it."

 The Soapsicles shown here are Bath Blasters, and the layers smell like cherry, lime and berry. Other designs include Pink Grapefruit, Orange You Cute, Peachy Keen and more.

Visit the Web site for more information on designs, ingredients, etc.

Turn up the music

12485601H4333073[1]Looking for some music to play at your Fourth of July gathering? Here is a list I found from McClatchy Newspapers of songs suggested on

1. "Freedom" by George Michael.

2. "I'm Free" by the Soup Dragons.

3. "Pink Houses" by John Mellencamp (pictured here).

4. "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood.

5. "American Girl" by Tom Petty.

6. "America" by Neil Diamond.

7. "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin.

8. "Rocking' in the Free World" by Neil Young.

9. "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie.

10. "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Jimi Hendrix.

Frugal and funny

12483261H18278[1] Pass this one along: "Hedges are prettier to look at than hedge funds."

This is just one of the insights from the new book: "40% Off is the New Black: Reasons Why Less is More," by Lisa Birnbach (of the "Official Preppy Handbook" fame), Ann Hodgman and Patricia Marx (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $9.99).

A few others from the book:

  * Your pets wouldn't like you more if you were rich. (I mention this one in my upcoming Sunday Current column.)

* Double coupons are sort of thrilling.

* If you keep the lights turned off, dust won't show as much.

* C'mon, it will be fun getting your car up to 300,000 miles!

* If you call a hotel and ask for a better rate, they might just give you one.

* "Less" is easier to clean up than "more."