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Grab a bottled water and some walking shoes. Garden tour season has heated up. The following are scheduled for July 14 and/or July 15 (with one kicking off with an evening tour July 13). • The City of Tonawanda Garden Walk is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 14. A Friday Night Lights tour will take place from 9 to 11 p.m. July 13. Look for maps online and at city ha…

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For our latest Reader Challenge, we asked for photos of fabulous outdoor pillows on porches, patios and other outside settings. We received some beauties but not as many submissions as in previous challenges. We can only imagine the excuses. “I was too full to do anything after the Taste of Buffalo.” “My iPhone told me its storage is full.” “The dog ate my throw pill…

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A porch doesn’t have to be a sprawling veranda to be a relaxing place to sit and enjoy a quiet evening. But a small porch that is a bit of an eyesore benefits greatly from a makeover. Such was the case at the Village of Williamsville home of Stephen M. and Rebecca Parisi, who have lived in the house since 2007. Gone is the rusted wrought-iron railing and old, green f…

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We recently experienced extremely hot and humid weather, and summer had only just begun. We can expect more days like that – often called “dog days” – so let’s get ready for them. The hottest weather is rough on people and dogs, but it also kills or damages plants. Our flower baskets, vegetable beds, or home landscapes are investments, and precious to us. And we can tak…

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Last month we asked readers to send us photos of their prettiest place settings. (You can see the place setting voted No. 1 below.) Our latest Reader Challenge? Photos of your splendid outdoor pillows. These accessories for outdoor living spaces come in every color under the sun – with patterns and themes to accent any setting. Whether you email us a photo of a single s…

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Kathryn and Andrew Engel have lived in their Victorian home with large front porch since 2011. The Engels, both of whom work for local banks, share their home with two children and one dog. Here is how Kathryn Engel described their home in an email for our popular Home of the Week online feature: "Happy 118th birthday! This Victorian home is situated in the Lumber Ci…

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Name: Erin Kent, 48. Who she is: Interior designer, owner of Erin Kent Interiors, which she launched in 2011. Previously worked at Bassett home furnishings and Schuele Paint Co. Board member of the Interior Design Association of Western New York. Involved in past Buffalo Home Shows and Decorators’ Show Houses. Residents of North Tonawanda, she and her husband, Scott, ha…

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Liz Seefeldt's blue-and-white place setting was the No. 1 choice after readers recently voted in our latest Reader Challenge – to create a stunning spring/summer place setting. Out of four finalists, her place setting received 54.8 percent of the votes. After the voting closed, we called and asked her to share some details. Here is what she said: “Blue-and-white is a…

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The newest addition to Paul and Peggy Koppmann’s covered deck behind their Grand Island home is a pair of cushioned swivel chairs. “We can just swivel around and look at the garden,” said Peggy Koppmann who, like her husband, is a master gardener. The deck is a lovely place to be on summer days and evenings, too, thanks to string lights on a dimmer and solar lights. …

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Peter BonSey and Jan Hamilton have been in their Snyder ranch for about 20 years. You won’t see clutter here, but you will find some smart, space-saving ideas. Ideas also can be found in their garden, which is on the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 8 (details below). Here are a few things they have done inside their home: “Our home is quite diffe…

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Name: Brian J. Straka, 25. What he does: Director of Portfolio Recruitment & Selection, 43North, which runs an annual startup competition to attract new companies to the Buffalo Niagara region. The Western New York native graduated from Kenmore West High School in 2010 and Canisius College in 2014 with degrees in management, marketing and entrepreneurship. He has be…

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Buffalo is one exuberant gardening city, widely known for Garden Walk Buffalo, America’s largest garden tour, and increasingly for all the other community garden walks and open gardens. But even gardeners who decorate their porches and yards just for themselves and summer gatherings have advantages in Western New York. Our garden centers and nurseries offer fabulous flo…

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For our second reader challenge, we asked for photos of stunning spring/summer place settings. We were expecting to see single place settings, but some readers set the whole table. Either way, we appreciate all who participated. Now it's time to vote. This week we are giving you four choices. We ask for your email address to avoid multiple submissions ... not that our read…

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When Bev and Tony Tylenda decided they wanted to add a backyard structure for storage, they knew they didn’t want a standard shed. So they decided to build an English-style cottage behind their Clarence home. That was four years ago. Today the 396-square-foot cottage, officially known as an accessory building, has a front porch and is surrounded by perennial beds and a …