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Favorite item of the week

There seem to be more and more ways to have it made in the shade this summer, from simple 10-foot picnic shelters to three-room party tents.

Widely available -- although possibly picked over -- prices range from less than $60 for a Coleman 13-foot canopy that shelters the family while eating outside to $300 for a product such as Sears' new Hillary Grand Safari Party Tent, which measures 21 by 18 feet and has a center height of 7 feet 6 inches. Handy for outdoor entertaining, it doubles as a family tent as well, with enough space to sleep 10 to 12 in its three rooms.

In-between are screened gazebos, extra-large canopies with drop-down sides and more.
Design tip

Want to to try something new on your walls?

"Subtle glazing on a wall can add interest, but it's not as noticeable as regular faux finishes. Almost anyone can do it, and as long as you don't put it on too heavy, it can create a unique look," said Bev Cuviello, who runs a local interior design business.

An example: A light dabbing of glaze with rag and stencil is what MaryEllen Adragna Bossert did in the arched hallway and cove area that Cuviello decorated at Decorators' Show House 2003, which closed last Sunday.
It's a wash

A washer that talks, and a dryer that listens. Now that sounds intriguing. GE has introduced its Profile Harmony Clothes Care System, the first washer that communicates electronically to the dryer by presetting dry cycles.

"Once the wash options are selected, there's no need to program the dryer. The washer delivers load information to the dryer so that once the dryer gets the message, it automatically determines which settings will deliver the best results," according to a company release.

Coming in June, the GE Profile Harmony washer-and-dryer pair has a suggested retail of $1,998 to $2,198.
Chill out

Here's an idea for keeping drinks cold in hot weather: Freeze durable plastic bottles filled with juice or soda.

"They're great for picnics, because they keep other foods chilled and will eventually melt to quench your thirst," write the editors at Home magazine.

Their suggestion: Buy bottles labeled PET; they're strong and will withstand dozens of freeze-thaw cycles.

To prevent the bottle from bursting when it freezes, "just leave some air at the top of the bottle, and don't twist the cap on too tightly," they add.
From the home front

"One's bad taste in furniture is somehow more forgivable than one's bad taste in lovers."
Author Cathy Lang Ho, in Dwell magazine

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