Glow together: Mtn. View family's holiday light display grows into tradition


Photos by Megan V. Winslow
The Horton family’s Mountain View Avenue house lights up this month with fanciful figures ranging from “Star Wars” characters to “Sesame Street” favorites and a rotund pink pig.

The Horton family’s holiday decorating scheme grew in bits and pieces over the years, as a few snowmen snowballed into a menagerie of holiday beasts upon their lawn.

The Mountain View residents moved into their Mountain View Avenue home in 2007 and have expanded their lighting schemes annually, this year adding a walkway arch spangled with 3,000 lights.

Safety measures help homeowners prepare for disasters

The recent fires in Northern California and hurricanes and floods in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico are a wake-up call reminding homeowners that it will take time for help to arrive in the wake of a major disaster.

Electricity, water, gas and telephones may not work after a fire, flood or natural disaster like an earthquake. The police and fire departments are likely to be tied up, so individuals and families should be prepared to rely on themselves for at least one week.

Curious cats: Exposing the hidden dangers of houseplants


Winston loves biting the leaves of the money plant (Pachira aquatica), which is in the mallow family and is cat-safe. “He bites and bites and bites, but never eats,” according to his owner.

People often wonder if they can have both cats and houseplants.

Much depends on your cat’s personality (and yours). Is your cat curious about every new thing that comes into the house? Are your cats diggers or climbers? Do they embrace the challenge of reaching a plant on a high shelf or behind a barrier? And can you restrict yourself to cat-safe plants, tolerate some plant damage and try different strategies to keep both cats and plants healthy?

Professional organizer offers storage dos and don'ts


Photos Courtesy of Amanda Kuzak
A filled-to-the-brim storage unit, above, requires attention from professional organizer Amanda Kuzak and her crew. Among the first steps? A visit to a shredding service, below, to offload 127 boxes of outdated paperwork. Shredding the contents and disposing of the boxes enabled the owner to downsize his storage needs, saving him money in the process.

The Kuzak’s Closet organizing team recently tackled a large storage project in Menlo Park. The action shots I shared on social media caused a sensation – likely, a nervous sensation – as many readers recognized their own storage experiences.

Below I share the dos and don’ts of storage based on my years of experience as a professional organizer.

Play it cool: Backyard structures spark kids' imaginations


Photo courtesy of Barbara Butler
This Butler creation, the “Playhouse in a Tree,” includes a rope ladder and a fireman’s pole.

Go outside and play!

This parental admonition is easier said than done, what with iPads, iPhones, computer games and the like. And, of course, there’s the frenetic lifestyle that’s commonplace in Silicon Valley.

Light-catchers and beetle banks


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Blue fescues are bunchgrasses, forming small, undulating mounds either as single plants or as a groundcover. The striking blue to blue-green color can combine in interesting ways with other foliage colors or with flowers.

Native grasses and sedges are some of the most versatile landscape plants. They can:

• Enhance seasonal interest.


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