You can whip up a completely handmade wreath in only an hour with some fresh evergreens and a bit of wire. Choose a wire that is stiff enough to hold a bit of weight, but flexible enough to work with, usually an 18 or 20 gauge will do. Loop the wire tightly around the bases of the evergreen branches, making sure each branch is as close as possible to the one next to it. When you’ve added enough branches to make the wreath the size you want, bend the wire into a circle and twist together at the top.
There comes a time in many homeowners’ lives when they realize a reno is in their future. For Cristina Poscablo-Stein and James Stein, the momentum started during their daughter’s first birthday party in their Atlanta, GA, home. “I’d set up a spread in the dining room, but everyone congregated in our kitchen—the last place I wanted people to see,” says Cristina. The area was closed off and, like the rest of the house, not as efficiently laid out as it could be. As they considered what to do, she says, “the list of things we wanted to make us love our house kept growing!” Pictured here: Cristina and James with Max, 21 months, and Fiona, 6.
Give your yard a touch of the tropics with exotic passion flower vine. ‘Empress Eugenie’ opens exquisite blooms that release a beautiful fragrance. Blossoms have subtle colors, so it’s best to place this vine where you can view the flowers up close and personal. Vines can reach 20 to 30 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide in warmer regions. Grow it in a container in cold-winter regions, and overwinter in a cool spot where roots won’t freeze. Water sparingly through winter, just enough to keep roots alive. New growth should emerge in spring. Hardy in Zones 7-10. Why we love it: Passionflower is a host plant to several butterflies, including zebra longwings, gulf fritillary and monarchs.
Shrubs and trees planted too close to your house can trap moisture, damage siding when the wind blows, and fill gutters with debris. “I want to be able to walk behind shrubs — they need to be at least three feet from the house and from air conditioning units because they block airflow,” says Steve Gladstone, owner of Stonehollow Fine Home Inspection in Stamford, Conn. “With trees, you don’t want them rubbing against the house at all. If the sun can’t dry your house, you’ll have to repaint more often because mold and pollen will build up.” Prune regularly to keep your house envelope clear.
Climbing vines like ivy, although beautiful, can splinter and rot wood siding and even weaken the mortar between bricks. Prune any existing ivy so that it stays away from windows, gutters and trim. If your heart is set on adding a climbing vine, choose a twining vine that wraps around a trellis or other nearby structure rather than a vine that climbs by tendrils or rootlets that cling to the surface of your house.
"Our playground" is how Hapeville's Porsche Experience Center coach Chris Ivester describes the incredible 1.6 mile closed track experience at Porsche's North American headquarters in the shadow of Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. "We love our noisy neighbors because nobody complains" says Ivester of the low-flying planes coming in for a landing on Hartsfield's flight path which tend to drown out even the sound of turbo engines and peeling tires. One of only two such tracks in the United States (the other one is in Los Angeles and there are tracks in Germany, France and Great Britain), this thrill-ride for grown-ups allows drivers 21 and over to test out a variety of driving experiences and obstacles on a safe, enclosed track where a coach is always in the passenger seat to offer guidance and driving tips. The majority of Porsche Experience Center drives come to have an incredible day driving, but some new Porsche owners also visit for practical tips and training on how to enjoy their new baby. "This is a bucket list" items says Ivester, with birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions celebrated with the gift of an extreme driving experience. Each closed track is different in topography so Porsche lovers come from all over the country and world to try out Atlanta's unique circuit. The experience is custom, from the car selected to the course chosen. Some of the possible 6 driving modules include the Launch Pad, where G-forces kick in as you test a car's pick-up power by flooring the gas for the kind of drag-racing thrill not recommended on normal roads. The Kick Plate is where you can experience the skidding-out thrills of black ice where a combination of polished epoxy and water jets (oh, and sudden pop-up fences to make things even more challenging) gives the sensation of losing control so you can practice regaining it. The one-mile Handling Circuit mimics the feel of driving a twisting country road, only you are solo on this one, able to test our tight turns and experience the fun of owning the road. For car freaks and even novices, this is a one-of-a-kind experience.