Thursday, April 24, 2014

Would you take $50 for that old fridge?

Would you take $50 for that creaky old fridge in the garage?
I know, that second machine comes in handy when you want to stock up for Memorial Day cookouts or thaw a Thanksgiving turkey.
OK, I’ve also used it to hide the last piece of Greek Custard in Phyllo Dough that I make maybe once a year. (If you’re doing the dishes you have that right, don’t you?)
Either way, Duke Energy will pony up a little cash if you unplug your energy guzzler. Those older models cost up to $150 a year more to operate.
With an estimated 170 million refrigerators and refrigerator/freezers in use in the U.S., the big concern is over climate change.
Duke started recycling refrigerators and freezers in the Carolinas in 2012 and since has dismantled more than 8,700 of them. Most of those were made before 1996, the year the EPA started the Energy Star rating system for home appliances.
So maybe it’s time to replace your older machine. Duke will send someone to pick it up, as long as it’s in working condition and between 10 and 30 cubic feet in size. (Call 855-398-6200 or visit
Before you buy a new one, visit to compare certified models; they use about 20 percent less energy.
I guess it was for the best when my old clunker died on its own. I’m still figuring out how to stock up for big events without it, but there’s definitely more than one way to stash a pastry.

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_obs.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gardeners, mark your calendars

Charlotte's spring gardening season is in full swing. That means you'll find plenty of opportunities to pick up new plants, tour gardens and gather with other growers for programs and social events.
Here's what’s ahead:
The largest of the annual plant sales at UNC Charlotte's Botanical Gardens returns from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (also same hours Friday), 9090 Craver Road. Special items include native plants, exotic botanicals, tropicals, succulents and carnivorous plants. Cash and checks only. Details: or 704-687-0721.
April 26:
The Charlotte Iris Society will present its annual horticulture show, noon to 5 p.m. at Blacklion, 10605 Park Road. From 9 to 10 a.m., the public is invited to enter named cultivars for judging and unknown irises for display and possible identification. Visitors to this free event may vote for the People's Choice Award.
May 3 and 4:
Friends of Fourth Ward will host the second annual "Secret Gardens of Fourth Ward" tour, noon-4 p.m. both days. See private gardens at historic homes and enjoy other activities, including free food and drink samples, and appetizers at nearby restaurants. The picture shown here is a teaser for those secret gardens. Horse-drawn carriages will provide free shuttle service between 7th Street Public Market and Fourth Ward. Tickets are $20, good for both days, and may be purchased online at or at retail locations listed on the website.

Karen's blog:;
on Twitter @sullivan_obs

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Color, imagination are top tools for celebrity interior designer Jeff Andrews

There's a good chance your weekends at home will be busy for the next month or so.
As many as 7 in 10 people are probably starting or making plans for spring home improvement projects, according to a recent National Home Design and Color survey by Sherwin-Williams.
Time with a paint roller is at the top of the to-do list for the most of the 1,400-plus folks who took the survey, or about 42 percent. Others were making plans for landscaping (39 percent) or redecorating (30 percent).
It's not surprising that painting is at the top of the list. It’s considered one of the most cost-effective ways to freshen up a room or make it look dramatic.

Great design depends on color, according to celebrity designer Jeff Andrews, who designed the rooms shown here. Other essential ingredients are imagination and inspiration, said Andrews, whose clients have included pop-culture figures such as radio and TV host Ryan Seacrest, the Kardashian reality show family and actor Michael C. Hall.
The bedroom is where most people (24 percent) wanted to focus their efforts. The living room or family room was a close second (22 percent), with bathrooms ranked third (21 percent).
Warm neutrals with accents in red, yellow or brown are one of the most popular combinations. But cool neutrals with touches of blue or green also rate strongly with consumers.
So choose colors that inspire you, focus on comfort and use imagination to finish the job.

Karen’s blog:; Twitter @sullivan_obs

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Charlotte designer Traci Zeller's pillow collection is headed to High Point

Charlotte interior designer Traci Zeller sometimes is unable to find the right decorative touches for a client's home.

That was the inspiration for a new line of pillows. She believes the collection will get a boost when they are added to the CR Laine showroom at the spring furniture market in High Point, which runs through April 10.

Zeller said presenting a new product there is an opportunity that designers dream of getting. Organizers say the twice-yearly event is the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world, drawing more than 75,000 people each time.

"This is a way that I can share my viewpoint and my aesthetic with more people," she said.

The look that the Cotswold resident came up with is a twist on traditional style, she said.

The collection includes softly colored linens with velvet appliques. Those elements work well with her design style, which focuses on practicality as well as beauty.

"It's a luxe-looking pillow, but you're not going to have a heart attack if your 7-year-old boys put their heads on it,' she said.

The price is about $150 each on Other distribution points are in the works, including sales by the manufacturer, Design Accents.

She hopes others will see her collection as the right finishing touch for a room.
"It's also exciting to express your point of view on the product and then in the house."

Karen's blog:; Twitter, @Sullivan_obs