Thursday, May 29, 2014

You're invited to Lennar's kitchen on Saturday

If you need a break between errands and chores on Saturday, stop by the Roosevelt model home in the Berewick at Aberdeen community for cooking demos and food samples.
Stephanie Ashley, chef for the event, will share recipes you can pull together quickly for family meals or entertaining. The event, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is also a chance for reps from Lennar Homes to show that the company’s properties are designed to fit modern family lives.
“Our chef at this event is a Mom herself and knows the challenges of cooking for a busy family,” Veronica Perez of Lennar Homes wrote in an email. “She will be able to share tips on how to make a delicious dishes, like puffed pastries, that your family will love and that will be easy for an on-the-go household.”
Of course, organizers also hope visitors will want to see the model home, at 6130 Berewick Commons Parkway, and the community. Homes at Berewick at Aberdeen, in southwest Mecklenburg County, range from 1,771 to 3,488 square feet, priced from the mid $200,000s.
Since we’re talking about modern life and new homes, here’s a prediction: Personal technology will be touted perhaps as much as the kitchens in model homes of the future. One clue is that Microsoft is working with the creator of popular home-automation standards as it looks to develop new Windows and mobile products. What does that mean? With Microsoft and Insteon as partners, you probably won’t consider The Clapper a go-to solution for turning your lights on and off remotely.

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Clemson expert has new tips for gardeners

Clemson University’s Robert “Bob” Polomski still has more to say about gardening in the Carolinas even after two previous titles on the subject.
His latest update of “Carolinas Month-by-Month Gardening” has a new design, more photography and an update of the information that has helped homeowners across the region better understand how to improve their landscapes. Pest control is where Polomski put much of his focus for this update.
Polomski is considered an expert on gardening in the South. In addition to teaching at Clemson, he is the local Extension office’s horticulture and urban forestry agent. He coordinates a statewide program for training master gardeners.

He also makes appearances on the award-winning TV show “Making It Grow” and hosts a radio show, “Your Day! Radio.” He wrote the Questions & Answers column for Horticulture magazine for 12 years.
The volume offers basic tips to the latest technical information on gardening. Readers get advice on how and when to tend to various jobs in the landscape for success growing annuals and perennials, bulbs, grasses, trees, shrubs and other plants. It’s $19 on

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Charlotte homeowners can get discounts for solar systems

Kathy Sparrow breathes a little bit easier when she sees solar panels go up on a home in Charlotte. That means that people are getting the message.
“To me, solar and wind and clean energy are really important – I think they are our future,” said Sparrow, 66, who lives in Paw Creek, not far from coal ash ponds where waste from coal-fired power plants is causing concern.
Sparrow is featured with other Charlotte women in a video called “Solar Moms – The Ripple Effect,” part of a series called Postcards from Climate Change produced by Greenpeace USA.
Sparrow and the other moms talk about the importance of solar power as an intervention against air and water pollution and climate change. (See the video at
One other goal for the women in the video is to spread the word about Solarize Charlotte, a program by a local coalition called Cleaner is Cheaper. Homeowners can get discounted prices for solar systems through program. The more people who sign up, the more they save. The deadline here is July 31.
And in case you were wondering, the house -- and the Tesla -- shown here belong to race car driver Leilani Munter, who also shot the photo.

Learn more
An event called Solarize Our City is will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. June 3 at the Midwood International Auditorium, 1817 Central Ave. Experts will share information about solar installations and financial incentives, which can include state and federal tax credits. Information is also available at

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms

Thursday, May 8, 2014

'Minimalists' bringing their message to Charlotte

It took about nine hours for Ryan Nicodemus, on the left above, to pack the contents of his home into boxes with the help of longtime friend Joshua Millburn, also shown here.
They stashed maybe 40 cartons in Nicodemus’ 2,000-square-foot home during the packing party. It was an idea to help Nicodemus, then 28, figure out what was important to him. He couldn’t tell anymore.
Three weeks later, about 80 percent of the stuff was still in the boxes. Nicodemus got rid of the excess, sold the house and started over.
“I went to Josh and I said ‘I think people will connect with this story,’” said Nicodemus, who will be in Charlotte with Millburn on Wednesday. “We did what any two male best friends would do – we started a blog.”
Their website,, has more than 2 million followers who visit to read musings on their downsized lives. At 7 p.m. Wednesday at Park Road Books, they will discuss their recently published paperback, “Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists” ($8.99, Asymmetrical Press).
For eight years until 2011, Nicodemus immersed himself in a demanding corporate life in sales and marketing. He flashed lots of cash, weighted himself with debt and lived to tell of his life’s luster.
Now, at 32, home is a tiny apartment in Missoula, Mont. And he brings an uncomplicated message for the 100-city book tour: “Love people and use things,” he said. “The opposite never works.”

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A paper chandelier says special occasion, but not too serious

Family gatherings, graduations, weddings, garden parties and cookouts. Hosting any of these events soon? If so, try not to get lost in the tactical details. Bringing people into our home doesn’t have to be all ... serious. Be playful where you can.
I was reminded of that when I saw a couple of colleagues making paper chandeliers for an office party here at the Observer. Love this idea. The chandeliers don’t actually provide any light, and that’s exactly what makes them so much fun. They’re pure whimsy – a little magic just for the moment.
I’ve been trying to figure out how I might hang one of these outdoors above a big, dressed-up table, maybe with a few lights or other ornaments. What a way to set the mood and create a focal point.
Chuck Cole, the Observer’s creative manager, found a basic template for the chandeliers online and added embellishments. He made them for about $60 each using foam board instead of paper and an X-Acto-style knife. (See how he did it in a slideshow here.) He also talks about making them in this video:

The idea, Cole says, is to make room for the unexpected in your decor. You could use plywood and paint to make a longer-lasting design, Cole says, but that would require more tools – and more skill.
So make your lists and look after the details as you plan each event, but find a way to put your heart into it, too. Your guests are sure to have a good time if you’ll do the same.

Karen’s blog: and @sullivan_obs on Twitter