Welcome to the rush before the holidays. It seems like we start rushing right now to get ready for Thanksgiving and it doesn’t stop until we get into the New Year. For us at Fusion we are rushing to get as many stories done as possible before we finish our season next week. That’s right, we are close to the end of our season for 2009, but don’t worry we will be returning on March 6th of 2010. It has been fun bringing you the best information in home improvement, design, and cooking, and we look forward to researching new stories for next year. But before we take our break, here are a few more informational stories for you…

Designing with Color

Once again we visited with designer Kimberlee Jaynes of Kimberlee Jaynes Interior Designs (503-407-9525) at her favorite paint store, Kaleidoscope Paints in SE Portland to talk about using color in design. Kimberlee told us that most people start with paint as a first step when it should be the last step in designing a room. Kimberlee told us that she starts with a favorite painting or area rug. This gives her a wider range of colors to choose from when she starts her design. That favorite piece will give her the background for all her choices, from upholstery to throw pillows. She also showed us how artwork and contrasting colors can really pop in a room. Kimberlee also used some different, subtler tones that helped make the transition from outside colors to her inside design, to that palette she also added some reds to make a striking statement. The main thing to think about when designing your room is how it looks to you. If it speaks to you, then you will love it in the end!

Al’s Create Your Own Wreath

With the holidays around the corner the need to decorate our homes is at the top of most of our lists. To help make it easy Al’s Garden Center (503-726-1162) is getting geared up by offering to make your decorating easier. One way they are doing that is by offering their ‘Always in Bloom’ container inserts. These inserts can be bought in a completed form and then you just drop them into your pre-purchased container. The best part about this is when spring comes around you can just buy a completed container with flowers and drop that in your pot in place of the winter decorations. The other way that you can make some easy decorations is with the Al’s Holiday Buffet. This buffet consists of ornaments, candles, ribbons and more. You simply choose a wreath or centerpiece of greens and then add whatever you want to personalize your creation. Starting the 21st of November, the buffet will be open through Christmas or while supplies last.
Now, if you want to build your own wreath or tips on making yours last longer, Al’s has some ideas to help you. They have strippers that can remove extra greenery from the ends of your boughs. They also recommend a product called Wilt Stop which will prevent your decorations from drying out too quickly over the holidays.

Cutting Boards

One of the most used and most over-looked tools in the kitchen is the cutting board. Most of the food you prepare in your kitchen comes in contact with a cutting board and your choice of a board can make your meal prep go easier. Once again, we were joined by Laura at Sur La Table (503-968-8015) who walked us through the differences in boards and why one may be better than others for your needs. One of the most popular is the basic maple cutting board. This one is good because the wood has natural anti-bacterial properties, but it requires a little more maintenance than other types. Maple will need to be treated with a mineral oil to keep the wood fresh and not have it dry out. Do not use a bleach to clean it, just basic soap and water. The next one we looked at was the new hot product, bamboo. This type of cutting board also has natural anti-bacterial properties and it is sustainably grown. It will also need a little mineral oil to keep it looking good. The next one was a favorite of Laura”s, it was made out of a type of particle board and it was dishwasher safe. We moved to some vinyl cutting boards that had pictures of meat, veggies, chicken and fish. These are good for people who may be concerned about cross-contamination while they are cooking. Next we looked at one that was made out of flax and was completely recyclable. When it starts to wear out, you can compost it! Our last cutting board was a plastic composite and it is a favorite of professionals. The can really take a beating and a heavy cleaning and not be damaged. Remember, the use of a cutting board can dull your knives and so you need to keep a knife sharpener close-by and use it at least once every 6 months. To learn more about knives, cutting boards or any other kitchen tools, stop by the closest Sur La Table.

Pomegranate Compote

Did you know that November is pomegranate month? To celebrate this healthy wonder of nature, Chef David decided to prepare a special compote for French toast. First he had to get the seeds, also called the Aril, from the fruit. This variety of pomegranate is called the ‘Wonderful’ variety and it is known for its sweet taste and juiciness. David showed us how you can cut the end off and then immerse the fruit in water to keep it from staining your clothes and to help harvest the seeds. The Pomegranate has one of the highest concentrations of anti-oxidants of any fruit, plus it is loaded with vitamins, iron and potassium. Once they were harvested he rinsed them off and got them ready for the rest of the recipe. The extra arils can be frozen and will keep quite well for months in your freezer. You can also get a pomegranate juice in your local grocery store under the Pom Wonderful label.

Next we move to the stove to prepare a Pomegranate-Apple fruit compote. This is great over French toast or other breakfast foods. First we prepared our pomegranate juice by mixing it with dried cherries and vanilla. This is set aside while we work on the rest of the recipe. In another pan we are going to soften up 2 sliced apples over heat with a little butter. After the apples soften up we add a little maple syrup and the cherry mixture. After a couple of minutes it is ready to serve! You can then spoon it over your French toast and then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and powdered sugar for garnish. For a complete recipe, click here.

Wine Gifts

Wine is huge in the Northwest. We have dozens of great wineries in Oregon and SW Washington. That means we have lots of people that drink wine and love wine themed gifts. We stopped by Terra Casa (503-577-8242) in Damascus and visited with Jodi to check out some of their unique wine gifts. On top of the list, and the bottle, are bottle stoppers. There are lots to choose from including crystal, iron and even ones with cute messages. A good stopper is important if you lose the cork or destroy it when you remove it. The stopper will help preserve the flavor of the wine and prevent air from entering the bottle. One way to prevent cork damage is with a quality cork puller like the Rabbit. Other wine accessories include napkin holders, napkins and even salt and pepper shakers in the shape of wine bottles. They also have wine art and signs for the wall of your kitchen or dining room. To go with the wine are all sorts of cheese knives and plates. They even have hand painted Lolita glassware in lots of different themes. Terra Casa is easy to get to. Just take Sunnyside road off I-205 and head east to Damascus. It just takes a few minutes to get there.

Energy Efficient Fireplaces

With the colder weather here we were thinking about firing up the fireplace and that got us thinking about the new styles of energy efficient fireplaces. We decided to stop by and see the experts at North Plains Fireplace & Rustic Furniture (503-647-5336). Dave and Cindy Lorenz are the owners and they walked us through the different styles and types to choose from. First Dave showed us a normal wood burning fireplace. Actually it was anything but normal this one was produced by Regency Fireplaces and it is the Cadillac of fireplaces and can heat up to 2,000 square feet at 87 percent efficiency. This one even has a cook top for those times when the power goes out. Another option for heating is the pellet stove. These have less mess because it uses a clean pellet that you pour in a hopper. Some questions to ask when you are choosing a stove; what are you trying to heat, do you need a hearth pad, do you want a blower with your wood stove? You can also get a tax credit on certain stoves over $1,300 so you will want to check with a reputable dealer for details. That credit can be applied to your installation and chimney pipe under certain conditions.

We then met up with Cindy to talk about gas fireplaces. Gas stoves are still the cleanest form of heat you can get. There is no wood or pellets to carry through your home. Gas fireplaces can be very efficient. We saw the Mendota product that is in the upper 80s in efficiency. What that means is a gas fireplace can be as cheap as 50 cents an hour to operate. You can also customize your fireplace with your choice of doors, screens and interior liners. If it seems confusing the experts at North Plains will make it easy to understand!



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This page last modified
March 06, 2010.