Last updated: June 21. 2013 10:38PM - 874 Views

'The Flower Recipe Book' is chock full of floral secrets.
'The Flower Recipe Book' is chock full of floral secrets.
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The creative forces behind the San Francisco floral design firm Studio Choo share their secrets in “The Flower Recipe Book.”

In the book, floral designers Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo provide instructions for creating 100 arrangements in a variety of styles. Their “recipes” are arranged alphabetically according to the main flower used in each, but the arrangements cover a range of occasions and seasons. They also represent different levels of complexity, from simple bunches of lavender displayed in cups to artsy arrangements fit for an elegant dinner party.

Harampolis and Rizzo also cover floral-design basics, such as tools and techniques, to help first-time arrangers succeed.

“The Flower Recipe Book” is published by Artisan Books and sells for $24.95 in hardcover or $12.99 for an enhanced e-book.


Marianne Cusato believes finding the right house isn’t about tallying up square footage and gushing over granite countertops. It’s about figuring out how you want to live.

She helps house hunters do that with her new book, “The Just Right Home: Buying, Renting, Moving — or Just Dreaming — Find Your Perfect Match!”

Cusato is a home designer touted for her work on the Katrina Cottages, compact homes originally intended for people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. She’s also passionate about matching housing to needs, not just desires.

Her book helps readers figure out all the nuts-and-bolts issues involved in a home search, from determining whether renting or owning makes better financial sense to sizing up a street. She helps them take some of the emotion out of the process by leading them to think logically about such issues as what they want in a neighborhood, how they’ll use the home and how well a house functions.

She even offers tips for updating the home you’re in to make it easier to stay there.

“The Just Right Home” is published by Workman and sells for $12.95 in paperback.


Devine Color Creamy Wall Coatings, luminous paints that previously were sold only to professionals, are now available to the general public.

The paint was developed by artist Gretchen Schauffler, who wasn’t satisfied with the options on the market. It comes in three sheens: delicate, with a finish similar to silk; powder, a soft, suedelike finish; and luscious, a shiny finish like satin.

The 209 hues are gathered into 19 collections that simplify color selection.

Schauffler also takes an unconventional approach to helping her customers choose colors. She sells color palettes on large cards that have a window in the middle, so you can look at the colors in the context of the setting.

The paint covers most surfaces in one coat and creates a washable finish that stands up to everyday wear, the company says. It has little odor and no volatile organic compounds.

Devine Color paints sell for $22.95 a quart or $59.95 a gallon ($49.95 for ceiling paint) at www.devinecolor.com and Amazon.com.


Moen has introduced a curved shower rod that’s tension-mounted, so there’s no need to drill holes in your walls.

The shower curtain rod bows outward, adding up to 5 ½ inches of space in a shower. It installs in most bathrooms in minutes without the need for special tools.

The stainless steel rod resists corrosion and comes in chrome, brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze finishes. It can adjust from 57 to 60 inches long.

The rod is expected to be available this month at Lowe’s stores. The suggested retail price is $39.98.


Q: Can a rhododendron be cut back hard? I have one that’s gotten straggly.

A: Yes. You can do it all at once or spread the pruning over two or three years. The gradual approach is easier on the plant, but pruning all at once will produce a good-looking plant faster.

Make each cut just above a dormant bud, or preferably a cluster of buds, an article in the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society recommends. Dormant buds are little bumps on the stems that will grow into branches.

If you can’t find the dormant buds, just cut the plant to the desired height, wait for new growth to sprout, then prune off the stubs, the American Rhododendron Society Blog says.

Early spring is a good time to prune, but if you don’t want to lose the flowers, wait till after the shrub has finished blooming.


Q: I have regular grass growing in my numerous ornamental grass plants. Is there any way to remove the unwanted grass from these plants other than pulling it out, which is almost impossible?

A: That’s a tough one, because the herbicides that will kill the invading turf grass will also kill the ornamental grass.

Greg Stack, a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension, says you might be able to paint a broad-spectrum herbicide such as Roundup onto the weedy grass if you can get to it before the ornamental grass shows any major growth in spring, and if the weed grass is taller than the clump of ornamental grass. He suggests using a foam paintbrush to apply the weed killer to the unwanted grass without letting it touch the ornamental grass.

The University of Nebraska Extension says you can also prevent new weed grass plants from growing in your ornamental grass by treating with pre-emergent herbicide in spring. However, that will only keep weed seeds from germinating. It won’t do anything for the existing weeds.

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