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The recent New York Times story about how aides in the White House confer in the dark because they don’t know how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room got us talking. No, not about politics. Rather, about how many of us are baffled by some of the light switches in our own homes. Confessed one on Facebook: “I have lived in the same house for 31 years and …

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Western New York Hosta Society will meet Sunday in the East Aurora Senior Center, King Street at Oakwood Avenue, East Aurora. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.; program begins at 2 p.m. Kathy Guest Shadrack will present “Shady Characters: Common and Not So Common Plants for the Sun-Challenged Garden.” Free admission, door prizes and refreshments. Beginners and visitors welcome. Visi…

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Countryside Garden Club of Elma will hold a business meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the home of club member Priscilla Cashmore. Lunch to follow. Robert Poczik will present “All About Frederick Law Olmsted." Amana Garden Club will meet at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Ebenezer United Church of Christ, 616 Main St., West Seneca. Members are asked to bring a lunch, beverage and fu…

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I expected to be unimpressed when the keynote talk at the huge Tropical Plants Industry Expo (TPIE) was "Where Plants and Lifestyle Trends Connect." OK, I thought, we know this already: The younger set - the millennials — need to be brought into gardening. They are our future. They want everything to be instant, easy and healthy. Then the keynote speaker, Jane Lockhart,…

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Have a touch of cabin fever? Given up on your New Year's resolution to organize all of your closets? You need to get out of the house. As we count down the days until spring, now is a good time to make note of some home and garden events. Let's start with this weekend. The Sneak Peek of the 19th Decorators' Show House is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sund…

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Lisa and Kent Keating are lifelong skiers who have enjoyed their vacation home in Ellicottville for 20 years. Here is a peek inside: Layout: The three-story home features a recreation room, two guest bedrooms and guest bath on lower level. The main level houses a combined living and dining area; kitchen; full bath, and daughter Chloe's room. The 24-by-38-foot master bed…

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Talk of buying a vacation getaway in Ellicottville kicked into gear 20 years ago when Lisa and Kent Keating were expecting their daughter, Chloe. "We love to ski. I got bored in January, sitting home pregnant and not skiing. So one weekend I said to my husband, 'Let's just go to Holiday Valley; we'll stay in the hotel.' I was very pregnant but it didn't matter to me. I sai…

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Western New York Iris Society invites all gardeners to meet at 2 p.m. Sunday at 103 Towers Boulevard, Cheektowaga, to hear Iris Society Judge Marilee Farry present “Mapping Your Garden.” A business meeting will finalize plans for the June Iris Show and other event dates and programs for 2017. Call 668-1789. Williamsville Garden Club will meet at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at t…

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The more I travel the more I’m struck by the commonality within the gardening industry and its people. Our hardiness zones, plant species, soils, seasonal challenges, and the timing of our tasks vary widely but horticultural principles are consistent – as are the passions of gardeners and the commitment of horticulture professionals. I am writing from Florida, where my …

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My mother would have laughed hearing that houseplants are among the interior design trends for 2017. She always had big ferns hanging everywhere, ivy trailing down shelves and a jubilant jade that just kept growing and growing. If there was a spot she wanted some greenery but growing conditions were not ideal, she would unapologetically plop an artificial one there. A cert…

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The other day, while lifting up the comforter in search of a dropped earring, I started thinking about all the things people stash under their beds. Out-of-season clothing, table leaves, ironing boards, toys, foldable exercise equipment, rolls of wrapping paper, monsters ... It’s tempting – Out of sight, out of mind! – and retailers make it even more so. That’s becau…

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You'll find it on handbags and key chains. Lampshades and steering wheel covers. Bathrobes and blanket throws. In this cozy-seeking season, faux fur makes itself right at home. Whether made to imitate the fur of a real animal - or blatantly fake as in puffs of fluffy hot pink or turquoise -  you'll find faux fur in expected places such as hood trims on parkas but, oh, s…

Current wisdom is that everything has changed in the world of books: how frequently people read online rather than in print, how people get their information, and what books sell. Some of these changes affect gardeners and naturalists too, but I see differences in this particular community’s relationship to books. Some books will remain on our shelves and have roles in our…

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I love our white-and-black ceramic floor – except when I’m washing off the muddy paw prints for the third time in a day. Sure, mats and carpet runners help when we first bring in the dog from a walk and wipe off his paws. He patiently lifts up two of them for the wipe-down but then seems to say, “I’m outta here.” Perhaps he thinks he has two feet – not four paws. Perhap…