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A Book You Can Build On



Feeling ambitious enough to build your home from the ground up? You can start with Bob Syvanen's "Carpentry: Tricks of the Trade for Building & Finishing Your House" ($25, Hartley & Marks Publishers, 1999).

OK, few of us are actually that ambitious, but this 312-page book is an ideal companion for anyone who likes to tackle projects, both big and small, around the house. Syvanen covers it all, from the correct way to move lumber (hoist long planks on your shoulder, not under the arm) to installing stairs that don't squeak.

The author tells which lumber goes best with which job. An example: Douglas fir is tops for framing because it's heavy, hard and resistant to decay. It's also good for foundations, sills and decks.

The book, with dozens of simple illustrations and written in a humorous, conversational style, includes chapters on roofing, insulation, gutters and beams, windows and garage floors.

THE WEB / Virtual Garden a Virtual Snap

Virtual Garden ( is sponsored by Time-Life and reflects that publisher's attention to detail. This Web destination is easy on the eye (not as crowded or busy as some) and comprehensive. It's fact-packed links fall under headings such as "gardening basics," "weekend projects," "landscaping," "botanic gardens," "plant societies" and many others.

A cool feature for families is the gardening-with-kids section. There are several articles from magazines explaining how to get youngsters involved in the backyard.

Another link provides information on the national Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) project, launched by the Garden Writers Assn. of America. The program asks gardeners to give some of their home-grown vegetables to local food banks.

The best varieties (those that can be easily handled and stored) are broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplants, squash and pumpkins. For fruit, look to apples, pears and all citrus.

Visit the site or call (312) 263-2303 for more details.

Butterfly Strokes

Boffo for butterflies? Apparently a fair number of people are, as shown by The Butterfly Web site (, a popular site devoted to the study of these insects and attracting them to gardens.

Besides a list of which plants and flowers they prefer, these pages provide curious tidbits about the subject. A parking ticket in France, for instance, is called a papillon ("butterfly") because when placed under a windshield wiper, they flutter in the wind like the wings of a butterfly.

* To have a book or Web site considered for this column, send information to: Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail at

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