Ancient Marble Wall Panels in the Hagia Sophia

December 11th, 2014

The Hagia Sophia is a 1500 year old museum Istanbul that had been a basilica and a mosque throughout history. Do any research on the Hagia Sophia and you will see photos of impressive domed ceilings and ancient art. Meanwhile Jason Lees is making sure you don’t overlook the marble panels on the walls closer to eye level. Wall paneling like this not only beautifies an architectural wonder, it inspires interior design for a greater variety of purposes than a dome.
Stone is beautiful.

A Guide to Visiting Pennsylvania Amish Country

December 10th, 2014

Amish FarmIf you’ve ever been curious about life in Amish country, then a trip to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is certainly the way to go. In addition to a slower pace of life, peaceful surroundings and natural beauty, you will have the opportunity to meet Amish people and gain a deeper understanding for how they live. In fact, you can literally expect to see windmills on the horizon and horse drawn buggies.


While the pace of life you’ll experience on your trip most likely will be much slower than what you are used to, that is not to state that there is nothing to do in PA Dutch country. The food is fantastic, thanks to authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. Your shopping experience will be nothing short of fascinating.


Prepare for an Amazing Shopping Experience


two stuffed dollsYou’ll find many unique shops that feature handmade arts and crafts. The kind of arts and crafts represented in these stores features a level of craftsmanship that is usually not seen elsewhere. If you are looking for items that will stand the test of time, then nobody matches the Amish. Amish craftsmanship is unusual in today’s planned obsolescence based marketplace. That helps the handmade gems found in PA Dutch country stand out all the more. You might just want to plan to buy gifts in advance for loved ones for years to come!


PA Dutch Country Highlights-Guided Tours


One of the single best ways to check out what Pennsylvania Dutch country has to offer is through a tour.   Air-conditioned tour buses help to make an introduction to Amish country an easy one. They can take you through the countryside and show you the most interesting sites. Plus, since you’ll have a tour guide, you can expert to learn interesting facts that you might have otherwise missed. All and all, this is an extremely enriching experience.


HomeRotator_PlainFancyMost people who opt for a guided tour of PA Dutch country feel as though the experience was a very worthwhile investment both in time and money. A guided tour also features stops at locations such as craft shops, bakeries, farms and more. If you want to see a slice of true Amish country life that many simply miss, then you’ll love the tour option. A good example of what a PA Dutch country tour is like can be found at


The Amish Farm and House Experience


When it comes to history, it is tough to beat the very first Amish US attraction. The Amish Farm and House opened almost 60 years ago, and it is solely dedicated to preserving Amish history. A 209-year old house serves as the centerpiece of The Amish Farm and House experience.


c411316474cf34642016d455609e4816Set on a 15-acre lot, the tour also visits a 1-room schoolhouse and more. The Amish Farm and House is also home to a gift shop that includes almost 60 different local vendors and resident artisans. Interesting handmade products are everywhere. Learn more by visiting


Other Interesting Ways to Understand Amish Life


Another very interesting activity can be found at the Amish Experience Theater at Plain & Fancy Farm. This unique theater experience tells the story of “Jacob’s Choice” and gives a slice of the Amish experience as told through the eyes of the Fisher family. Multiple projects as well as special effects and three-dimensional sets are used. To see scheduling information, visit


What would a trip to such a history rich area be without stopping by a museum? The Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum is the perfect place to learn a great deal more about the history of the Pennsylvania Dutch people. Click this link learn to get more information on the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum.


Delicious Dining Options of All Kinds Await


All of this sightseeing might have made you a little hungry. Not to worry, there many restaurant options in the area. Throughout Dutch country and Lancaster County, you’ll find exceptional examples of traditional homemade Pennsylvania Dutch style cooking. Local ingredients are used and you’ll definitely taste the difference. You can expect food like homemade noodles, shoofly pie, mashed potatoes, and fried chicken and chicken potpie made from scratch, and much more.


Options such as Wyndridge Farm, Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant and Bird-in-Hand Fire Company are just three of the dozens of restaurant options available. The variety of types of restaurants available in the area often surprises many people.


A Buggy Ride is a Must Do While Visiting PA Dutch Country


Amish Horse and CarriageAfter a day of seeing the sights and a great meal or two, you might want to take a long and relaxing buggy ride. Many would argue that a trip to PA Dutch country just wouldn’t be the same without at least one actual buggy ride! Kids in particular will really enjoy this old fashioned experience. A horse and buggy ride is a wonderful way to see the stunning countryside of Lancaster County.


A Trip Like No Other


The quickest way to learn about any culture or place is, of course, to visit and spend time where they live. A few days spent in PA Dutch country will teach you more than reading dozens of books on the subject. The area is set up to help visitors truly make the most out of all that Dutch country has to offer.


Whether you opt for guided tours or strike out on your own, you are in for a very unusual experience. The Amish people take pride in the quality of their craftsmanship and that same dedication to quality shines through in every aspect of customer service in the region. The friendly and genuinely open people of the area are what help to truly make a trip to the Pennsylvania Dutch country exciting, interesting and, of course, very memorable.

Design Is Fun When You Get to Punch Holes in the Walls

December 10th, 2014


How do you maintain a gorgeous 1950s interior while building an open and collaborative working space? Tearing down whole walls to create a true open concept will ruin your ’50s vibe. To solve this problem, Madrid firm ch+qs opened up a 1950s apartment by cutting indoor windows in the walls. The HUB Flat is now both an open and vintage working space.
See how it works at Flodeau

Environmentally Considering a Motoped Survival Bike

December 10th, 2014

By Tobin Dimmitt
Lloyd Alter wants a Motoped Survival Bike. He wants it even though, apparently, it is not TreeHugger correct enough. The bike is big for a moped and uses gasoline. But it runs at 160 MPG. Surely that’s not too bad, right?
Personally, I think it isn’t. Sometimes when you want to reach people with an environmental message, it is more effective to meet them halfway. People who want to really travel won’t appreciate an all-or-nothing message, but they might appreciate this kind of efficiency. And there’s more.
It’s the most beautiful moped ever created.

Trying On White Paints

December 10th, 2014

Who would have thought there were so many ways to paint a house white? In the world of paint, “white” is really a spectrum of colors close to pure white. Lesli DeVito is on it. In the following post she discusses nine whites with examples of rooms and exteriors that use them.
She does tons of these color blogs.

The “Routine” Walk as an Art Form

December 9th, 2014

By Tobin Dimmitt
The animated GIF has entered the realm of fine art, and Julien Douvier is responsible. In collections on a variety of themes, Douvier combines photography and film to create photos with both still and moving elements. In the collection “Routine,” several instances of the same person pass before vintage urban architecture in Strasbourg, France, expressing the apparent repetition of time.
View “Routine” in Douvier’s gallery

The Jellyfish Barge Floating Greenhouse

December 9th, 2014


The Jellyfish Barge is a floating hydroponic greenhouse similar to floating schools. The greenhouse plants always have a water source. Studiomobile built the greenhouse to address population growth. If your waterfront neighborhood is running out of community garden space, consider adding a floating garden. Here is a video of part of the barge’s building process.
More on Gessato

Holiday Decor DIYs Can Be Easy

December 9th, 2014

These StoneGable holiday decor projects may be easy, but they produce quality results. Yvonne’s five DIYs include a no-sew applique on a cushion and a fluffy neutral colored tree. You can make them out of cheap materials, too. These crafts can decorate your holiday home in less time this season.
Have fun.

Kendal Murray’s Miniature Memories on Handheld Objects

December 8th, 2014

Kendal Murray is an Australian artist who turns small items into the foundations for miniature scenes. Often he leaves part of the item bare to emphasize its role in the sculpture. For example, he uses an open makeup compact to build a scene on one side while leaving the mirror blank. Murray’s scenes include nature motifs and people enjoying the landscape together. He hopes to remind viewers of their cherished memories.
See pictures of Murray’s sculptures on Fubiz

Refinishing Your Wood Floors: What You Need to Know

December 5th, 2014

staircase in the lobby 3d

If you have wood floors and you are considering refinishing them, there is a good deal that you will want to consider. First of all, it’s important to realize that most wood floor finishes on the market today are petroleum based and loaded with potentially dangerous chemicals. Especially when they are first applied, they can leave even those even those without chemical sensitivities shocked by the smell.


Yes, this noxious odor does go away eventually. But still the chemical nature of the smell should set off an alarm for anyone looking to avoid chemicals and the potential dangers that they represent.


Healthy Floor Finishing Products are a Must


Should you be obsessed with avoiding chemicals when refinishing your wood floors? If you are environmentally conscious, have kids or just want healthy products in general, then a healthier and safer floor-finishing product should most definitely be in your future.


Watch Out of High VOC Levels


Many wood flooring refinishing products are very high in VOCs or volatile organic compounds. VOCs will stay in your home for a considerable period of time after they’ve been applied. Just because you no longer smell a wood floor-refinishing product that does not mean that it is no longer releasing VOCs.


Smell isn’t the only issue where VOCs are concerned. Chemicals ranging from benzene and formaldehyde and arsenic are all present in the many wood floor-refinishing options. These products can continue to “off gas” for extended period of times and, more alarmingly, could eventually cause organ damage and nervous system damage issues. In some cases, these off gassing issues can last not months, but years! In the short term, you might very well find you are frequently getting headaches being around your floors.


New Flooring Isn’t Necessarily the Answer

Yellow wood parquete construction

We should pause to note that installing new wood floors isn’t necessarily an answer either. The reason is that there are many different types of options for new floors, ranging from manufactured wood products to flooring that needs to be sealed with chemicals.


Installing new wood floors also means that you will still have to finish your floors in some fashion. In short, it is quite easy to find yourself in a situation where potentially hazardous flooring chemicals make their way into your home.


The best option for any homeowner is to protect his or her health by opting for a safe and environmentally friendly wood floor refinishing option. Let’s take a look at some of the best options available.


Stay Away from Chemicals and Your Body Will Thank You


When it comes to refinishing wood floors, the bad news is that chemical-laden options containing harmful ingredients, such as formaldehyde, are everywhere. They are also cheap to use. Adding to the complexity of the situation is that most contractors and hardwood flooring refinishers want to work with these products as they are fast, easy to work with and contractors and refinishers have experience using them. That is great for construction industry professionals, but that doesn’t mean that they are right for you and your family.


Talk to Your Contractor in Advance


If you want to have a healthy floor finish, you might very well have to work for it. This means asking your contractors (or floor refinishers) if they are willing to work with products that they may not be familiar with before you even hire them. This step could save you a tremendous amount of time and headaches when you are looking to refinish your wood floors with a healthy product instead of chemical laden product that could cause organ damage at worst and a decrease in air quality at best.


The Natural Oil Option


With all of this in mind, how should you refinish your hardwood floors? The first step is to opt for a refinishing product that can be trusted, which is easier said than done.   All kinds of products position themselves in the marketplace as being low VOC and environmentally friendly. Some of the best options include natural oil products such as linseed and tung oil, but there are others as well.


Linseed Oil

flax seeds, linseed

Linseed oil is gaining in popularity, as it is very hard when it dries and is considered to be very safe. Linseed oil is also known as flaxseed oil. Flax and flaxseed oil are consumed as a food and are, in fact, not just considered safe, but are also considered quite healthy due to their high level of omega-3s.


Linseed oil gives wood a great appearance, but won’t necessarily protect against scratching. However, on the plus side, it is very safe. Like most natural oils, it may take a little more effort to apply linseed oil, but the end product is worth the time.


Tung Oil


Tung oil is also called China wood oil. Tung oil dries relatively quickly after its exposure to air and has been used in China for centuries. Today, tung oil is used in many floor products to provide a deep rich look and feel.


Green Products May Still Have Harmful Compounds


Regardless of what kind of floor finish you ultimately opt for, it is vital that you carefully read the full ingredient list. Many “green” products may not be that green at all and may even contain chemicals. Likewise, it is important that you test the odor of a product before applying it to your floors, for if the odor is too strong, that could indicate a problem.


Well Ventilated Spaces are a Must


Once you’ve applied any product, it is a prudent move to be in a well-ventilated space. Having a beautiful floor is, of course, a wonderful thing, but it should never take precedence over the health of you and your family. There are many hazardous flooring options on the market, but luckily there are an increasing number of healthier options now available.


Your contractor or flooring professional may try to steer you towards a chemical based product that is easy to apply, but it is important that you hold your ground and demand a floor finish that is safe. The end goal is to be able to enjoy hardwood floors that look good and make you feel good as well.