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Favorite item of the week

If you need a good chuckle, here's something from the "believe-it-or-not" category: a new CD with the sounds of a real woodburning fireplace.

It's true.

Recorded for homeowners with gas fireplaces that produce either the hum of a blower motor or little noise at all, "Firesounds" is the hot idea of Andy and Jen Wallman of Wisconsin, who collaborated with Rob Haggar, of Haggar Audio Productions, to produce the 72-minute digitally recorded CD.

As the story goes, while Haggar was perfecting the disc's pops, crackles and hisses in his Madison, Wis., studio, an employee working on another project turned and asked, "Rob, is it kind of warm in here?"

Firesounds can be ordered on-line for $15.99. For more information, visit the Web site,
Design tip

Here's a tip from Home and Garden Television: To protect just-planted bulbs from being dug up by the family dog and other four-legged visitors, lay a piece of chicken wire over the bulb or bulbs and then cover with dirt or mulch.
Wipe your feet

Now is the time to take a good look outside your front and back doors to see if you need to install, replace or upgrade your welcome mats for the rainy and snowy months ahead.

While rectangular doormats with festive motifs work fine at some homes, high-traffic entrances may require more drastic measures to keep dirt outdoors.

Neatness expert Don Aslett, who has written many books on housekeeping, suggests placing heavy-duty runner mats, backed in rubber or vinyl, inside and outside every entrance.

His advice: Make sure each mat covers at least four footsteps.
Tour Allentown

If you've ever wanted to peek inside some of Allentown's landmark homes, Sunday is the day to do it.

"Secrets of Allentown," an annual tour of historic homes, will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The starting point is the Butler Mansion, 672 Delaware Ave., where visitors can buy tickets ($15 the day of the event; $12 presale at Eminent Design and Neo) and pick up tour books beginning at 10 a.m.

Twelve privately and commercially owned properties will be open, and tours are self-guided.

The event, which benefits the Allentown Association, includes the Taste of Allentown, featuring samples from participating restaurants, and a free wine-tasting from noon to 5 p.m. at the Cyclorama Building, 369 Franklin St.

A tour bus will be operating, and free parking is available at the Cyclorama Building as well as on streets throughout Allentown.

For more information, call the Allentown Association at 882-5332.
From the home front

"Dust is a protective coating for fine furniture."
Mario Buatta, interior designer
By News Style Reporter Susan Martin, compiled from wire services and other sources.

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