Category: Features

Houseplants’ spotlight time is winter

Winter weather adversely affects growing conditions for houseplants. Proper care during the winter months can help insure the health of houseplants. Most houseplants grow well with daytime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees F and night temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees F. Temperatures below 50 degrees F or rapid temperature fluctuations may damage some plants. Keep houseplants away from cold drafts, radiators, and hot air vents. Also make sure houseplant foliage doesn’t touch cold windows. Many houseplants prefer a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent. Unfortunately, the relative humidity found in many homes during the winter months may be only 10 to 20 percent — a level too low for many houseplants. Humidifiers are an excellent way to increase the relative humidity in a single room or throughout the entire home. Simple cultural procedures can also increase the relative humidity around houseplants. Group plants together. The water evaporating from the potting soil, plus water lost through the foliage’s transpiration will increase the relative humidity in the immediate vicinity of the houseplants. Another method is to place the houseplants on trays or saucers filled with pebbles or gravel and water. The bottoms of the pots should be above the water level. Misting houseplants is not an effective method to raise relative humidity. Misting would have to be done several times daily to appreciably raise the humidity level and...

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Refurbished sleighs, restored bells help ring in the season

It’s been more than a century since the heyday of elegant sleighs dashing through the snow, their bell bedecked equines jingling all the way. Yet in pictures and music and memories, they remain everlasting seasonal icons. Some of these bygone treasures, such as Albany and Portland Cutters, Hudson Vis-à-vis, and brass bells enhanced with distinctive maker’s marks, though long neglected, are being rediscovered in barns, attics and sheds. Not dissuaded by rusted bolts, rotten wood, peeling paint, grunge, and grime, a coterie of dedicated self-educated artisans has taken up the challenge of returning these diamonds in the rough to their former glory. Seventy-five sleighs and counting As a boy growing up in Southeast Missouri, there wasn’t usually much in the way of snow, 77-year-old Jack Bollinger, owner of Kringle Sleigh Company in Imperial, Mo., recalled. But one winter, when the white stuff came down in droves, his minister created an indelible impression by arriving at church that Sunday in a sleigh. A successful management professional 28 years ago, Bollinger sustained a brain stroke, leaving him wheelchair-bound with time and energy to spare. Somehow, the memory of that childhood event resurfaced, inspiring him to try his hand at restoring a sleigh like the one he remembered. The learning curve was high, but the satisfaction was great, and Bollinger searched auctions and online for more specimens to revive, eventually growing the...

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Martinez has colors to dye for

If you went to Ocean City’s Delmarva Wool & Fiber Expo last February, then you probably noticed independent yarn and fiber dyer Melody Martinez and her colorful Haute Bohème Fibers booth. The expo marked the debut of Martinez’s new logo, a graphic rendition of her daughter’s profile with long flowing tresses that also graphically portray the large assortment of “fiber art for fiber artists” that Martinez dyes and sells. This year’s expo also marked the debut of Martinez’s new Palettes colorways — “specially mixed colors that all coordinate with one another.” Martinez created the Palettes line specifically in response to a common customer concern over coordinating multi-color yarns with one another, a question she often received back when she began selling her hand-dyed yarns at the Annapolis Farmers’ Market. At the time, Martinez, a longtime crocheter, was writing her own patterns and selling finished versions of those patterns at a market booth. When she couldn’t find the yarn and colors she wanted to execute her designs, Martinez began dyeing her own. Eventually, thanks to the early support of enthusiastic customers from her three years at the Annapolis Farmers’ Market and other well-known independent dyers such as Kim Russo of Kim Dyes Yarn in Virginia, Martinez began expanding her presence at local yarn shops — or, rather, “LYSs” in yarn enthusiasts’ lexicon. Martinez credits Russo with pushing her into the...

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Konopelski: As seen on TV

As a former performer on the Broadway stage, it’s not that far-fetched for local chef Steve Konopelski to take a dramatic approach to his baking projects. Whether it’s in front of the camera for a Food Network special or in his Denton bed and breakfast, Turnbridge Point, his confectionary creations continually keep people on the edge of their seats. Konopelski opened Turnbridge Point with husband Ron Griffith in 2015, after renovating one of Denton’s majestic Victorian-era homes built in 1868 on the Choptank River. Its five guest rooms are named after former owners of the house and its expanded commercial kitchen houses Konopelski’s baking business and periodical cooking classes he offers. When he’s not entertaining guests there, he’s doing it on television, starring in two recent baking competitions on The Food Network. In 2015 he was a finalist on The Holiday Baking Championship. For the the final challenge, he made his traditional vanilla cake with the theme carol singing, featuring fresh fruit, fondant and lyrics along the side, making some of the lyrics bigger than the others. “I love carol singing and I know when you go, there is always someone singing the loudest and others singing quieter,” he told The Star Democrat in 2015. “I think it represents someone unique.” This year, he was back on screen for the Haunted Gingerbread Showdown — and this time he won...

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Pinecone creations naturally Christmas

Christmas can be overwhelming with choices — picking perfect presents, finding a tree that doesn’t scrape the ceiling but makes the room look full, and most importantly, deciding which cookies to make. (It’s easier to decide which cookies to eat. All of them!) One of the choices I had been wondering on was what Christmas decorations I wanted to make with my little ones, as silly as it sounds. My kids love to see their parents’ scribbly childhood writing on the back of a pom pom wreath or see the rough cutting on a candy cane mouse made in our childhood and have been looking forward to making their own decorations to go down in Milby Christmas tradition history. But what do we do? The answer was soon poured all over our kitchen floor. My son, Landon, is quite the gatherer — rocks, acorns, and on a recent trip to Pop Pop’s deer stand, he came back with an armload of pinecones. Since they were sure to be a fixture in our house anyway, we decided they would be the perfect base for some simple and fun decorations. After allowing them to dry out in front of our woodstove, we got crafty! I pulled out all kinds of scraps and goodies to let their imaginations work — paints, beads, pom poms, strings of ribbons and some glue. I got...

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