We have noticed that people tend to watch the cooking and grilling segments that we have been doing on the show and not the home improvement segments... are you trying to tell us something? I know it is hot out and that makes it hard to think about those home projects, but we will try to give you some simple and easy projects while the days are nice. We are also going to give you plenty of recipes for you to try during these warm days, so enjoy!

Cat Plants
If you have an indoor cat they still will crave greens. You can take the cat out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the cat... they love plants. They are drawn to the textures of a plant and will even nibble on one if they can. We went to Al's Garden Center (503-726-1162) to see what ideas they had for bringing plants indoors for those home-bound cats. If you have plants, you need to make sure that they are safe for cats (and your other pets). Take a piece of your plants to a local garden center to make sure that they are safe. There are two plants that we found at Al's that are perfectly safe for your cats and they are Cat Nip and Cat Mint. Both of these are typically outdoor plants, but you can bring them in for a period of time to let your cat enjoy them. You just have to take them out every couple of weeks to let them rejuvenate. You can also plant some things for your pets. Cat Grass and Wheat Grass are great to plant for your indoor cat. If you plant these in a pot near a window they should be ok. When planting you will want to use a low, wide container so the cat can't knock it over. We recommend using an organic potting soil like Black Gold Natural and Organic to make sure the soil is safe for your pet as well. If you have plants that you don't want you cats playing in you can move them to a higher shelf or add mulch that won't feel good on their paws if they try to dig. There are also toys that you can get for your pet including catnip toys. Make sure that they contain organic and safe products, like organic catnip. The best toys we found are from Kats 'n Us (877-440-4511). They are a local company that ships high quality pet supplies anywhere in the country. If you have any questions about keeping your indoor cats happy you can check with you veterinarian and for any plant questions see the experts at Al's Garden Centers.

Kid-Friendly Furniture
If you have kids and/or pets you may think you have to wait until they are gone before you can enjoy comfortable, fancy furniture. Monique from Bassett Furniture (503-469-8333) joined us to tell us that it is not always true. Furniture is being designed to meet the needs of the active family. But sometime you are limited by the type of fabric you can choose. There are fabrics on the market that will let your kids enjoy the furniture as much as you do. Monique started by showing us some different fabrics. She started with a solid fabric, which she recommended that you stay away from. Solid fabrics will show every little stain. She recommended a textured fabric like a chenille which will help hide those boo-boos. Another popular fabric is micro-fiber. This is a wonderful woven fabric that can be easily cleaned with soap and water. Another covering that you can use is leather. Leather can be a little more expensive, but can age better than a lot of other fabric choices and is more durable for dogs and cats. Look for treated leather, which will help resist stains even more. One more reminder... If you have pets you want to keep their nails and claws trimmed. This will help preserve and extend the life of your furniture.

Next we moved to the new cabinets that are on the market. These new cabinets are designed with all the new electronics in mind. People no longer need the huge cabinets for their electronics. With the newer, larger flat screens you can just use a credenza and place your TV on top. Bassett also has 'game ready cabinets. They have an HDMI plug in panel that is located in the front of the cabinet. Now you don't have to move the TV out to get to the connections on the back, everything is right in front! For more tips on picking 'kid friendly' furniture you can stop by Bassett!

Hot Accents - Scents and Books
Finding the right accents for your décor can make all the difference in the design of your home. There are lots of cool new items that are on the market and we stopped by Terra Casa (503-577-8242) to learn about a couple more items. You remember last week we talked to Kathii about globes and decorative tiles. This week we talked to Linda about 2 other accessories for the home. The first one was the decorative scent diffusers. These are ceramic containers that you can fill with scented oil and burn to release the fragrance around your home. There were so many different styles to choose from and they were easy to use. Just fill them with you favorite scented oil and light the stone on the top. After a couple of minutes you can blow out the flame and the stone will continue to release the scent. Put on the decorative cover and enjoy.

The other items we saw were the decorative books. These are not your ordinary books; these are hollow books that you can use to store things in as well. Linda recommends that you use them anywhere in your décor. You can use them as a spacer between other items, as a pedestal for display or even as a place to hide the remotes for the TV. There are so many cool things around the store you just have to stop by and see for yourself!

Steak and Romaine Salad
This week we return to the Oswego Grill (503-352-4750) to visit with Chef Genardo Zurita and get another one of his great recipes that you can try at home. Chef Genardo whipped up a Romaine salad with grilled steak. The Oswego Grill uses a hard-wood fired grill in their kitchen which burns mesquite and cherry wood and adds a touch of flavor to just about everything. First he started with a steak which is only seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled for 3 minutes on each side. He also took a head of romaine lettuce and cut it in half. He coated the romaine with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and grilled that at the same time. The lettuce is grilled for 2 minutes on each side.

Once everything is grilled you can start to assemble the salad. Cut the steak into small pieces and also cut off the base of the romaine head (the part that holds the leaves together). Place the entire head on a plate and cover it with a bacon dressing. Cover it with crumbled cotija or parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon and top it with your steak. Garnish it with a couple of slices of bread and you are done. It you have the grill fired up at home, click here to get the recipe, or stop by the Oswego Grill and have Chef Genardo make one for you.

Tsugawa Raspberry Tea
It is fresh fruit season! Did you know that you can add fruit to lots of your favorite recipes to give them a little boost of flavor? To show us how it is done Chef David stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland to use some of their fresh raspberries in a new way. Tsugawa's is not only a great nursery to get plants and other garden supplies; they are also a great place to get some fresh fruit. The Tsugawa family has been growing fresh strawberries, raspberries and marionberries for over 50 years and they have been selling them through their nursery for nearly 30 years. David, joined by the newest generation of Tsugawa's, Jorden, showed us how to make a great raspberry tea. First take a quart of boiling water and add 6 tea bags. Let the bags steep for 3-5 minutes then add your fresh berries. After another 5 minutes you can crush the berries to release the flavor and then strain them out. This will create a concentrated tea. You will add more water so it isn't too strong. Now just pour over ice and enjoy! To try this recipe, click here for details.

Kitchen Sink Accessories
If you only have hot and cold water on your sink you need to get with it. Dave Charvet from George Morlan Plumbing (503-224-7000) invited us over to show us some of the new gadgets that you can have with your sink to make your life in the kitchen easier. The first appliance was the Insta-hot water heater. This is a mini-hot water heater that fits under your sink and delivers a stream of 190 degree water when you need it. It is great for instant oatmeal, soups and coffees. We then saw the latest in garbage disposers. Insinkerator was the pioneer in building these and their latest model is now 60 percent quieter than their older models so you can even have a conversation while it is running. You can even install this in an afternoon with a special air switch that makes it simple to operate with a touch of a finger. And don't forget soap dispensers. They are perfect for liquid soaps or hand cream and now they can be easily refilled without climbing under the sink to do it. Stop by George Morlan today to check these products out.



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August 13, 2010.