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Star-spangled manor: Orange Avenue home boasts Americana theme


Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Pinky Whelan’s Orange Avenue home features a patriotic theme, evident in her living room decor, her historical collections and displays and her welcoming entrance.

Let’s hear it for the red, white and blue.

And, for Pinky Whelan, too!

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Artful organization can minimize household clutter


Courtesy of Amanda Kuzak
Organization can quell chaos in any room as this craft room project can attest.

Now that school’s out for summer, you’ve got time to tackle those fabulous craft masterpieces lingering on the patio, and more daylight hours to tackle that do-it-yourself project you’ve been shaping on Pinterest.

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Past meets present in Los Altos home


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Stephanie and Chris Dauer’s Los Altos home, above, looks like a quaint cottage but boasts many 21st century amenities on the inside.

The past and the present meld in the Cotswold-style home of Stephanie and Chris Dauer on University Avenue in Los Altos.

It looks as if it were lifted from a Beatrix Potter storybook because of its ivy-covered chimney and whimsical wavy cedar-shingle roof.

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Mixing greywater and native plants


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Western mock orange likes rich soil. This large shrub can take infrequent watering, but it also thrives with moderate watering provided by greywater. It blooms profusely with fragrant white flowers from late spring to early summer.

Don’t you wish you could reuse some of your shower and laundry water to keep your landscape greener? Collectively, this excess water is known as greywater, and the idea is so popular that the Santa Clara Valley Water District offers a rebate for laundry to landscape (L2L) greywater installations.

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Tuscany meets Waikiki: Los Altos Hills couple build their dream house


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Sara Weber and Victor Martina’s Los Altos Hills home features brick from a 100-year-old building in San Jose artistically combined with stucco to evoke a centuries-old feel. The lanai in the backyard adds a touch of Hawaiian hospitality.

The limestone fireplace in the grand entry of the Los Altos Hills home built by Sara Weber and Victor Martina is a hallmark of their endeavor.

Consider the discreet heart with their initials – just like on the trunk of a tree – that is carved into the base by master carver Bernard Renaud. It’s symbolic of the love and care that went into building their Old World-style home.

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Planting is possible despite drought


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Wash the soilless mix off the root ball into the same container in which you have placed the clay soil from the planting hole. Remove at least an inch from the top and sides of the plant.

In this continuing drought, the dry season is not the best time to plant, but you can if you do it the right way. On the recent Going Native Garden Tour, I visited two gardeners in San Jose who have successfully planted dozens of natives in any season.

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Butterflies provide moving smorgasbord


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Weedy areas in the yard may help butterflies. The Red Admiral butterfly uses stinging nettles as a host plant.

According to lepidopterist Liam O’Brien, 95 percent of butterflies are not pollinators. Instead, most pollination is accomplished by bees, wasps, flies and moths. Butterflies are “food for everyone else,” he said, a “moving smorgasbord.”

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