Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don Draper's New "Mad Men" Pad

After a hiatus, Episode 1, Season 5, of "Mad Men." began last Sunday night after. The LA Times has an article on Don Draper's new digs.
It's June 1966, and though Draper (played by Jon Hamm) might be a newlywed, he's traded in his dreary digs from last season for an Upper East Side spread complete with serious bachelor pad trappings.
The article gives us a peek at how set designers achieved the look and feel of the mid-60s in Manhattan. Love the show!

NY Times Designs For the Digital Age

I covet the iPad, iPhone and iMac. I want to be all Apple. I have just read the NY Times' article Designs for the Digital Age via my friend Marsha and I see how how these three Apple devices are changing the designs of furniture. Here are three examples:

In recent years a number of furniture designers have been struggling to adapt to new forms of technology and the proliferation of devices like the iPad, e-readers and ever-thinner flat-screen TVs. Pictured, Jonas Damon’s Alarm Dock for Areaware turns an iPhone into a nightstand alarm clock.

The Dyvel Table by Silva/Bradshaw does away with drawers altogether; for many people, computers have all but eliminated the need for paper file storage.

The Scene XXL Chair from M2L has an optional tablet table and an upholstered high back for privacy when typing or making phone calls.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kid Safety Comes Before Skiing

 Part 6

Before leaving for a long weekend skiing Whistler in Canada, John needed to check in with his clients.  He needed to make sure that all the security concerns were being met in the new residences and condos where he’s hired as a consultant. One of his jobs as a LEED consultant is to make sure his buildings are healthy and safe for occupants. He makes sure that there are handrails in bathrooms, that windows have screens that can’t be moved by babies, that paints are used that emit low or no VOCs.  One of his recent jobs has been to make sure the kid safety and pet gates are installed and installed properly.

There have been some big changes in safety gates and one of his clients, Kidco Gate Shop., has redesigned their baby gates without squares or diamond mesh that can be climbed by precious little ones.  Kidco was one of the first to make metal safety gates for doorways and stairways.   Now, they offer self-closing gates.  Imagine, you're a young mother carrying one child with another in tow, trying to protect your children’s safety while wrestling with the old wooden gates at the top of the stairs. 

John has his reasons for liking his job.  When he was four, he fell against the stove that warmed his house. It burned his right arm below the elbow so badly that the scar was still visible in college. Today’s homes would likely use a hearth gate to avoid childhood accidents.

“John, will you be able to relax while we’re skiing?”
“Yes, Rachel. My clients are all happy.  Let’s hit the slopes!”

Monday, March 26, 2012

Is It Time For A New Mattress?

FURNITURE TODAY” reports that the International Sleep Products Assn. (ISPA) will propose a federal mattress recycling law to address the growing problem of mattress disposal in landfills. Green Living Tips tells us that “…between 20 and 40 million mattresses are disposed of in the USA alone each year, most ending up in landfill.” The big problem is that the things don’t compress like regular garbage. One answer the problem is recycling, however the ISPA shows only 25 recycling centers exist in the U.S.. There are two in Oregon, one in Eugene and one in Tualatin. Arizona’s recycling center says that 3,000,000 cubic feet of landfill could be saved, if they recycled only 10% of the total mattresses replaced in Arizona every year. 

Right now, when you buy a new mattress, your old mattress is hauled away.  One major mattress retailer said that 15% of used mattresses can be donated but the other 85% are recycled. Green Living adds, “The average queen size mattress weighs about 60 pounds. It contains about six pounds of Polyurethane foam, which can be sent for reuse, chemical recycling, or can be incinerated for energy recovery. The used foam can be turned into carpet underlay or insulation. The wooden frames can be chipped and used as fuel, and the cotton can be used in industrial machinery oil filters and other textile applications. The springs, made from steel, have a high market value as scrap but are difficult to compress.”

The ISPA is considering “…a fee for mattress recovery collected on a mattress sold at retail and remitted to the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC).” The new non-profit, volunteer-led group that would represent the needs of manufacturers, retailers, and consumers with the government charged with setting up a mattress-recycling program.

The other problem of old mattresses is their danger to health.  One retailer told me that a used mattress can weigh up to ten times more than when it was new, because of dust mites, bacteria and bed bugs.

What can you do when it’s time to replace the old mattress?  Ask about the retailer’s recycling policy. Not all retailers recycle.  You can also make better-informed choices. “Look for mattresses made from materials such as Forest Stewardship Council certified wood frames, natural latex cores, wool, bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. If you have your heart set on a spring mattress, try to locate one that uses recycled steel for the springs. The use of components such as wool also removes the need for chemical fire retardants to be used.”  In addition natural fibers wick moisture into the air rather than provide a breeding ground for dust mites.  Some even say that there’s an energy in healthy wool that operates positively on your body.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rack Up Some Spice

Part 5

“John,” said Rachel, “before we leave for our ski vacation, we need to find a satisfactory place to hide our gold and silver coins.”  

 John and Rachel had for years been buying Gold and Silver coins monthly and been rewarded by 11 straight years of rising prices.  Gold since 2001 had increased from $250 to $1,650 and Silver, since 2008, from below nine dollars to over $30. They had also stored food and water in their pantry for emergencies.  They believed that in an earthquake or major storm like a Katrina, that they would be without government support for a few days or possibly a few weeks.  John and Rachel’s goal was to be self-reliant.

“Rachel, I have a great idea.  Let’s hide our coins in a common object that any crook would pass up.  Let’s hide our coins in our spice jars in the spice rack.” John knew that the jars were clear glass yet the spices made them opaque. The kitchen spice racks or the wall spice rack in the pantry could hold all their coins and no one would be the wiser. 

“If we pepper the glass jars with our coins, we would still be able to use the spices in our daily cooking.”
“That’s sage advice John. We leave in a week, so we better curry. I think it’s thyme we get started.”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

There's a free symposium on interior design's history and future on March 24th at University of Kentucky School of Interior Design that I would like to attend, but can't. Speakers include Prataap Patrose on socially responsible design, Robin Guenther on hospital design and Cindy Coleman on workplace design.
Experts from a variety of disciplines will discuss how interior design has evolved as a result of increasingly complex modern buildings. The design of structures is now a multidisciplinary process in which architects, interior designers, landscape architects, engineers and other consultants work together to achieve successful solutions to meet a client's needs. As a part of this team, interior designers provide professional expertise in the most effective use of spaces and in how to create interior environments that provide for the well-being of their occupants.
The core of the work in the modern practice of interior design focuses on schools, offices, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, airport terminals and retail stores. In all of these building types, the core objective of professional interior designers is to create environments that support and sustain human beings psychologically, physically and emotionally.
Forty years ago, it was not unusual for an architectural firm to handle limited interior design services, or the architects would contract with outside interior design consultants. As building construction expanded in the 1980s and '90s, these architectural firms began to add interior design professionals to their staffs. The number of interior design firms specializing in commercial work also began to grow rapidly.
There also has been expansion in the number of multidisciplinary design firms that began to offer interior design as a unique and distinctive service apart from architectural and engineering work. The interior design expertise offered by these firms brings a sustained emphasis on the physical, psychological and emotional needs of the client while emphasizing how these priorities can support the client's goals and objectives.
I will try to get a transcript of the symposium after the event.

Friday, March 23, 2012

An Invitation To Ski Whistler

Part 4
The note John Domingo and Rachel found inside the strawberry cheesecake box said, “Join us for a Ski holiday in Whistler! We can fly in to Vancouver, stay the night and in just a two-hour drive north, can be in the number one mountain resort in North America."

The note was from Mike and Beverly Milligan.  Mike was an old Army Reserve buddy of John’s.  Rachel was bouncing on her toes when she pictured the skiing they could do at the site of the 2010 Olympics.  How could they pass up skiing one-mile vertical? Rachel remembered the time her parents took her to ski in Canada.  There were two mountains; Blackcomb rising over 5,280 feet and Whistler close behind at 5,020 feet. When they were ready to dine out after a day of sampling the 318 ski runs, there were over 90 restaurants that could suit every taste.

“Oh John, let’s go after spring break.  I’ll work with Rachel finding the right ski accommodation in Whistler. Do you remember the name of the place that can get us discounted whistler lift passes?"

John pictured himself in his blue bibs and red ski parka dashing fast down the mountain, knees pumping in the deep powder. He knew skiing downhill fast was like driving a Porsche at high speed with no doors.

A demand from Rachel jolted John from his reverie, "Don't forget to pack the cheesecake!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Special Gift and Invitation

Part 3

Rachel was admiring the deck work that John Domingo had taken on. It was amazing how much damage two years of sun and rain could do to a deck. John first sprayed deck cleaner on the wooden deck and let it sit for half an hour.  It worked a little like the paint remover John had used on the chest of drawers they’d inherited from Grandma.  The chest was painted and the remover made the paint bubble-up so he could putty knife it off.  Here the deck cleaner loosened the dirt and mildew so that the power washer could strip the grime away. John was working hard and sweat was dripping down his shirt. Just then the doorbell rang.  Rachel cried, “I’ll get it!”

It was UPS and it was a package for John and Rachel. John took a break from his power washing and came in.  He opened the package and discovered it was from Mike Milligan in Seattle. Each year about this time, they took turns sending something exotic to the other. They had been good friends ever since serving in the Army Reserves together.  Each year Mike and his wife invited John and Rachel or John and Rachel invited Mike and Beverly to a weekend together and the invitation was always included with a dessert to share.  This time the invitation was to a long ski weekend and inside the box was a Mail Order Cheesecake.

John loved strawberries and the cheesecake inside the box was a gourmet, 9-inch strawberry cheesecake. The picture sent John’s mind to some selfish places Rachel reminded him it was to be shared with the other couple.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writing and Reading and Watching TV

The article written by Geraldo Russo

Writing is a fulfilling hobby for me. I began keeping a journal when I was fourteen, not so much one of feelings but more of a social calendar detailing what I was experiencing as a teen. My emotions showed up in my writings as a young adult, a teen mother and wife with a lot of stress, fear, and frustrations. I began reading too. Reading and writing are two outlets that help you grow as a person and boost your intelligence and general knowledge about the world. Having little money for social outings, my husband and I also watched a lot of television, which began my addiction to television series and soap operas. Now I am constantly adding channels through to satisfy my desire to absorb, not just the fantasy shows but the educational ones as well. I have grown to love the travel and cooking channels and my children love the kids programming and science and learning channels. Television has received a bad reputation over the years, but as with anything else, moderation is the key!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

John's Honey-Do List

Part 2

When John Domingo walked in the kitchen door, Rachel greeted him with a hug and a kiss.  “John, she said, “do you think next week during spring vacation, we can work on the deck?” 

The deck needed to be cleaned and re-stained every couple of years, and Rachel was particularly looking forward to this years cleaning.  A couple of years ago they had hired some Russians, it turned out, to do the job and she hasn’t been happy since.  When it came to selecting the color, John and the Russians agreed on a stain and did so without consulting Rachel.  John thought the color Redwood was the color of the previous stain, but instead it was really red, rather than a goldy-brown that Rachel preferred.  Now, whenever she is peeved at John, she digs down in the sack that wives carry around and reminds him of the Redwood stain he chose, she hates.

John saw right away she wanted to replace the cedar flower boxes the neighbors gave them when they moved in over 15-years ago.  In addition, Rachel wanted to replace the windowbox under the kitchen window with two window boxes.  One she wanted for pretty little flowers that would go with their newly painted house and the other would be great for her herb garden that would be more accessible than the flower beds in the front yard. After surfing online for windowbox planters, he found that they are made from wood, vinyl, metal and fiberglass.  He wondered which she would prefer?  Do you think he should ask her or make the decision himself?

A Morning Walk With Ralph

Part 1

John Domingo walked his golden retriever to Grant Park for Ralph’s morning run.  It was muddy.  The rain fell heavily last night and the wind tipped over the potted bamboo on his patio. Ralph marked the fallen fir boughs that littered the walkways and newly mowed lawn. Ralph ran with nose almost touching the ground to the Picnic Tables and looked for stray scraps of food left by picnikers yesterday.  Once, someone had barbequed some ribs, then rather than throwing the leftovers in the garbage, had thrown them into the bushes. It was a special day for Ralph filled with orders to “Leave it!” which he ignored. Sometimes, Ralph changes his name without politely telling John and he spends the morning yelling “Ralph Come!” with little response.

John’s feet still hurt him from the 15K Shamrock run on Sunday and he paused to rest on one of the Park Benches that had been donated and placed in key locations, that allowed him to sit and monitor his dog’s play with the other dogs in the off-leash area. What he wouldn’t give for the comfort of those Adirondack chairs that were placed on the deck at the rented cabin in Tygh Valley, where he and his friends had surfed the white river on that hot day in July. Surfed is what they had called the maneuver of dropping into the river just below the falls and letting the flow carry them breathlessly through the rocks.

On the way back home from the park, John practiced ordering Ralph to "heel!" and wondered what his wife Rachel had written on her to-do list for today.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Smog-Eating Roof Tiles

We are all about new products that are good for the environment and don't contribute to the waste or landfill problem. Here's a product that is new to me: Smog-Eating Roof Tiles. Here's what I like best:
Over one year, a 2,000 square foot BoralPure™ Smog Eating Tile roof can oxidize the same amount of Nitrogen Oxide as a car produces from being driven up to 10,800 miles.
Think of that! For every home in the city of Portland, for example, that switches to this kind of tile roof as your old roof wears out, you are taking the equivalent of one car's pollution off the road each year. Think of the health effects of cleaner air.

Popular Mechanics covered the new tile and says it is approximately $650 more than a standard 2500-sq.-ft. tile roof. Boral is the producer of Smog-Eating Roof Tiles. I didn't know this but tile roofs aregreen, weather resistant, hail resistant, fire resistant and energy efficient and they come with a limited lifetime warranty that is transferable. How does it work?
The photocatalyst in BoralPure Smog Eating Tile naturally oxidizes harmful airborne pollutants, helping clean the air. This revolutionary roof tile includes a micro-mortar surface with the key ingredient Titanium Dioxide, a photocatalyst, which is activated by the UV content in daylight. The active surface interacts with harmful nitrogen oxides in the air and helps convert them into calcium nitrates. When it rains, the calcium nitrates are washed off the roof.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Beverly and I want a new mailbox and new house numbers for the porch. We’ve been to the big box stores looking at their numbers, but we weren’t thrilled with the selection. We wanted something with a little more style. Today, we came across MailBoxPoint. Lo and behold, they had what we were looking for, contemporary house numbers. And you can compare prices to similar products elsewhere.

When I looked at the wall hanging mailboxes to replace our current mailbox, I couldn’t believe the choices: 537 items starting at $52.90. This is also the place to go for multi-unit mailboxes, slots and mail drops, signage, and décor like doorbells and weather vanes.

Finally, what about service? The website says the manufacturer of each product is readily available, along with weights, dimensions, and all other statistics related to the product. There is “zoom in” feature on the website which allows you to examine details and features that are important to you. Finally, MailBoxPoint has a Customer Service Team that is available via Live Chat, a “Contact Us” e-mail, or you can just call them..

Rattan Is Not Just For Indoors

Monday is the first day of spring and our thoughts turn to living outside as soon as the sun warms us. Spring is also the time when we go out on our deck and assess the winter rain and snow damage. For many of us after we refinish the deck and replant the planters with colorful flowers, we realize that the outdoor furniture is looking a little shabby. Rather than take that high-gas price road trip, we decide to shop for new deck furniture. The home décor magazines stimulate us with pictures of rattan garden furniture in light and dark shades.

A little research reveals that rattan and wicker are used, interchangeably. People may say they have  rattan furniture or a wicker chair. They shouldn’t be confused. Rattan is a relative of the tropical palm tree that grows along the ground. The vines can be as long as 500 feet long. There is no material on Earth called wicker. Wicker is the result of weaving rattan or some other fiber to form furniture.

Rattan is considered to be one of the strongest woods available, since its grain grows vertically instead of forming the concentric rings of most other hardwoods. Rattan vines may also be peeled mechanically to form thin slats for weaving. The straight rattan is usually steamed and then bent into the desired shape through the use of specialized shapers. Once the rattan has dried, it will retain its shape forever.

Rattan is ideal for outdoor use, because it is lightweight and easy to clean. Just wipe it down with a cloth dipped in warm-soapy water. However, synthetic rattan should be considered, if the furniture will be out in the rain. Rain will ruin natural rattan.

One of the new innovations is the rattan cube set. The Cube Four set is a modern four-seater dining set that packs away in to a neat cube form. The Seville Sofa set pictured here includes a rattan sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Economy by Sandra Beasley

After posting Start With A Pillow, I came across this poem from Poem-A-Day.  It seemed appropriate. 

by Sandra Beasley

After you've surrendered to pillows
and I, that second whiskey,
on the way to bed I trace my fingers
over a thermostat we dare not turn up.
You have stolen what we call the green thing
too thick to be a blanket, too soft to be a rug—
turned away, mid-dream. Yet your legs
still reach for my legs, folding them quick
to your accumulated heat.
                              These days
only a word can earn overtime.
Economy: once a net, now a handful of holes.
Economy: what a man moves with
when, even in sleep, he is trying to save
all there is left to save.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Start With A Pillow

I sold Thom McAn shoes through high school and in college sold shoes at Nordstrom's. After the sale I tried to sell a pair of sneakers with the dress shoes, or a purse with pumps or polish. With men I tried for shoe laces and polish. 

What fascinates me about the selling process is the point where you try to add bedding  to the mattress sale. Is the customer upgrading from full mattress to Queen or Queen to King sized mattress, then they need mattress covers and sheets and pillows and blankets. Then where do you bring up the health issues of bed bugs and dust mites and how to protect the sleep environment from these pests, and also the air in the room. If you wait until the end to discuss add-ons the customer is going to start screaming, "Get me out of here!"

In the latest issue of "Furniture World" there's a fascinating article titled Sleep Essentials about the sleep industry and bedding.
We know from a recent study that 60 percent of consumers within two to three weeks of buying a new mattress end up purchasing new pillows, a mattress protector, sheets and other top of bed items. It’s just natural for them to want to start with a cleaner, healthier environment.
 “We’ve found that about 28 percent of customers, when they buy a new mattress, also end buying a whole bunch of new stuff that day...Once they’ve purchased the mattress, this group is going to buy a pillow and a new set of sheets somewhere. That’s just what they do anyway. They would never dream of putting old stuff on their new bed.”

The author Russell Bienenstock says retailers have had great success starting with the pillow. Give the customers a choice of pillows at the start. In fact the pillow they choose gives a good indication of what kind of bed they will choose. Provide freshly laundered pillow covers for the pillows, then let the customers carry the pillow around as they try different beds.

Some retailers throw in pillows for free.  The study says watch how your customer holds the pillow.  If the customer holds it by the top, then not much value is placed on the pillow. However, if the customer cuddles the pillow or carries it like a baby, then you have a pillow sale.

Now it feels like you are a professional, selling a healthy sleep system rather than just a mattress. I know the successful Bedroom furniture retailers sell that way.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

News From Bridget Otto

Todd Jantz of JD Madison fame and more recently Madison Millinger announced he is closing the Pearl District store.

He says business for their high-end rugs and furnishings has been just slowing down too much over the last few years and he no longer has the resources or energy to keep things going.

"I'm calling Portland the new Detroit," he said.

With 15 years behind him in the business, he said he is just exhausted and worn out.
Everything in the store is 70 percent off for the remaining three weeks the doors will be open.
We are sorry to see them close. Many designers are reporting better business and when you go through this, your primary thought is, "Can I hold on until it turns?" You either run out of cash or just get tired of the battle. Portland will miss Madison Millinger

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My friend Suzanne Gallagher sent this to Bev and in keeping with my recent posts, I thought it important enough to quote in its entirety. We have come to a time when we all need to make a stand for Liberty.

This is the story of OUR Grandmothers and their Mother who lived only 90 years ago. Never actually read it this way before, but it got my attention when I read it this way. Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' (Lucy Burns) They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women. Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food- all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

(Mrs. Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a sixty-day sentence.)

 Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

(Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown , New York )

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

(Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate)

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote?

All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.' HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

(Conferring over ratification [of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution] at [National Woman's Party] headquarters,Jackson Pl[ace] [ Washington , D.C. ]. L-R Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

(Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, 'Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.')

History is being made.