Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anniethology Holiday Gift Guide for Homies

One of my greatest pleasures is to recommend something I that I love, and have the “recommendee” love it too.
Allow me to recommend to you this gift guide for the “Homie” (Home and Garden enthusiast) on your life. I have created two lists: A list of things that I love and a list of things I would like to love.
Things I Love
· The Dyson has been my vacuum of choice for seven years. Many family members, friends, and readers have purchased the Dyson on my recommendation, without regret, despite the $400-$500 price tag. That may seem like a lot, but if you take into consideration the years of highly effective, nearly maintenance-free operation, it’s well-worth its cost.

Recently, though, my Dyson has suffered a setback and will need a trip to the Dyson doctor. I have yet to coerce a confession from the Payne children-perhaps a brighter light bulb in the interrogation lamp is needed- but all I know for sure is that someone in vacuumed up something wet and sticky, which is not recommended for optimal suction and contrary rules of regular operation. I am hoping for good news from the Dyson doc; I’ll let you know the prognosis.

· Would you like to take some of the drudgery out of cooking and cleaning for your favorite homie? How about making her look and feel adorable as she cleans the toilets or chops the veggies?

I recommend an apron and coordinating rubber gloves from “Diva Aprons.” Feminine styles, fun fabrics, and the fact that they are reversible, set them apart from other aprons. Use one side of the apron for cleaning and then flip it around for when you do the cooking.

Michele S., creator and head seamstress extraordinaire of “Diva Aprons” has combined with purveyor of handbags, belts, and jewelry, Amanda B. of “The Western Diva” to form a unique boutique store-within-a-store called, “The Two Divas.” Their boutique located inside of Real Deals on Hwy. 6 & 50, has its grand opening today. Talk about a one-stop holiday shopping for the domestic diva in your life.

· Being a woman who hates to have a lot of miscellany on her countertops, I recommend, the Caldrea Kitchen Caddy from Target. This simple, yet sophisticated cleaning caddy priced at $20, comes with hand soap, counter cleaner, and dish soap. It’s available in several scents, but I recommend the citron ginger. With its simple styling and kitchen friendly fragrance, you won’t mind it gracing your countertops.

Things I Would Like to Love
These next two items come highly recommended from a friend and fellow “homie.” If I am a good girl, perhaps next year they will make it onto the list of things I already love. (Note to Secret Agent Man: This is the part where you should make the most of your photographic memory.)
· The Shark Easy and Light Steam Mop enables you to clean quickly and simply and sanitize your hard floor surfaces. It’s available at Bed Bath and Beyond for $69.99. More expensive models are also available for the over-achieving gift giver.
· The Rowenta Pro Compact Steamer, also available at Bed Bath and Beyond and costs $50, takes wrinkles out of clothes and curtains with this lightweight, easy-to-use steamer. It heats up in just two minutes. No more excuses sending the kiddos out the door in wrinkled t-shirts and jeans. Just fire up the steamer and blast the wrinkles into oblivion. Not recommended for use while the kids are wearing the clothes, by the way.
Whether you chose one of the products I love for your “homie” for Christmas or one of the products I would like to love, one thing I know for sure is that no one has ever regretted taking my advice.
For more information about “The Two Divas” check out their websites: and

If you have Home tips, topics, or projects you would like to share with Annie Payne, please contact her at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The More the Merrier: What to do with multiple Christmas trees.

As seen in the Home of Garden section of The Daily Sentinel, Saturday, December 4, 2010. Sorry, no pictures, from the actual article; the newspaper owns them.

A year ago I wrote a column entitled, "What does your Christmas tree say about you?" Said column brought me instant fame and glory; in Manitoba. It also acquainted me with Darrell Jones. He sent me an e-mail to inquire if he had multiple Christmas trees, what did that say about him? Multiple personalities?
When you think of someone who puts up more than one tree each year, perhaps you think are cuckoo for Christmas or a tree hoarder, and those types of people are out there, but Mr. Jones is not one of them. After visiting his home this week, I would consider him a prime example of how to do multiple trees in a classy, understated way, if decorating multiple trees in your house could be called, “understated.”
The decision process to put up more than one tree is not that different from whether or not to have pet. Can you afford it? Do you have room for it? Who will take care of it?
Speaking of pets, Jones’ dog, Jagger, doesn’t seem to mind the extra company during the holidays, when I asked Jones about it, he said that his faithful Golden Retriever never bothers his collection of trees.
Jones has nine, in fact; four trees in the house and five trees outside. He started this tradition several years ago, when he was working as a building manager and was decorating trees for the building lobby and tenants. The habit just sort of stuck. Friends, co-workers, and now columnists, appreciate his efforts as he hosts several holiday parties during the Christmas season to show-off his collection.
Jones starts out with a theme. This year, his trees are white, each with a different color of ornaments and lights. The largest, and most impressive, tree stands in the center of the front room. It has gold ornaments with white lights. One of the most eye-catching is a sunburst ornament he picked up in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The tree in the corner of the kitchen has red ornaments, including chili peppers, and red lights. The tree in his dining room, the smallest of the four, has green and blue ornaments with green lights, and finally the tree in the boudoir, which strays from the theme because it’s green, casts an inviting glow with gold lights and white ornaments.
When I asked if there’s a possibility of more trees in the future and where he would draw the line, he answered,
“I don’t think there is a line, as long as it doesn’t look cluttered. He added,
“If there is a line, I just don’t know where it is.”
Jones has a no-furniture-moving policy when it comes to setting up the trees or deciding where they will go. This keeps the collection under control.
Here are some of Jones’ tips for setting up multiple trees and creating your own winter wonderland:

Start off with a small cluster of trees where you would usually set up your single tree. Perhaps that would be a little less intimidating than trying to decide which empty corner to fill in your house.
To keep the trees from looking overloaded he suggests making sure each ornament has room to hang properly as opposed to sitting on the branch below.
He takes a stand-back-and-look approach, when hanging the ornaments. Hang a few, then stand back and look, and make adjustments as needed.
Jones also suggests making sure the lights are hung uniformly with equal distance between each row of strands. When asked if there was anything he absolutely would not put on his trees, the answer was “blinking lights.” He thinks they look cheap.
The final bit of advice Jones gave is to not let Christmas decorations linger longer than they should. He carefully stores is trees and ornaments on January 2nd. No fail.
So what do Darrell Jones’s trees say about him? They say, as long as it’s done in a tasteful way, “The more the merrier.”