Home Front: Sizzling Summer Decor, Paint Picks and Much More

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Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Home Staff
Thursday, June 25, 2009; 11:00 AM

Every week, Washington Post Home Section writers Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza help you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. They were online Thursday, June 25 at 11:00 a.m. ET to take your questions and suggestions.

You may also browse an archive of previous Home Front discussions.

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Jura Koncius: Hi Everyone. Terri and I are here to chat about whatever you like. The weather forecast this morning said that today is the second day over 90 degrees here in Washington this year... amazing. Do you all do anything different in your home in the summer to make it look cooler? This morning I took the throws off the foot of our beds in the house - they just seemed inappropriate and we won't be pulling them up on a chilly evening for a while! We also pulled the wool rug off of our den floor - it is terracotta tile underneath. It feels cooler already.

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Nursery Paint Colors, Va.: Thank you for taking my question! What are your thoughts about palest pistachio by Benjamin Moore for a gender neutral nursery? The furniture is white and accessories and bedding are muted yellows, blues and greens.

Terri Sapienza: Hmmm...that color looks awfully pale and gray to me. Is that what you're going for? Sounds like you have a room filled with soft pastels, so why not paint the walls one of the pale colors in the bedding, like a soft yellow or green?

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Charlottesville: I just moved into a new apartment, and need to add another piece to my living room furniture. I currently have a chocolate-brown leather sofa and a medium-green lazy-boy recliner that coordinate pretty well. I would like to get a love seat or second recliner, but the model of recliner and couch I have aren't made any more, so I can't match them. I could match the color of the chair in a different style, though. Any suggestions? Thanks,

Terri Sapienza: Rather than get another chair that matches the colors you already have, maybe you could have the next chair covered in a patterned upholstery that has browns and greens in it. I think it would add something nice to a room with otherwise plain, neutral fabrics.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Ladies,

Have you ever been to the Restoration Warehouse in Edgewood? How are the prices? They're closing in two weeks and I'm considering taking a trip out there. I'm looking for vanity lighting, decorative pillows and anything else that might catch my eye.

Jura Koncius: Terri and I have never been up there. I have been to the Restoration Hardware outlet at Leesburg Premium Outlets. You can get some great buys there, even up to 75 percent off. I've bought bathroom accessories, towels and holiday decorations there and I know people who have found great furniture too. As for the warehouse, we keep hearing mixed reports about whether this is their "final" sale... Can others chime in here?

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Richmond, Va.: I have a slightly different sort of paint color question. I have two pieces of Ikea furniture (coffee table and TV stand) that look like dark wood but are actually just particle board with a brown-black veneer. I have a homemade wooden litter box cover that I would like to paint to match the Ikea pieces. (Staining is not an option at this point because the box is already painted.) I bought the darkest brown color I could find (BM Night Horizon), but it turned out looking like chocolate pudding. Do you think that getting the paint store to add some black paint to the Night Horizon would help at all? Should I start over with a different color (and if so, which one)? Or would I be better off just painting the box black?

Terri Sapienza: I would go to Ikea and ask if they have a small sample piece of the veneer used for your furniture, then take the piece to a paint store and have them do a color match.

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Indoor doormats?: Good morning! I recently moved into an apartment with wood floors (first time I haven't had carpet!) and I'm trying to find a doormat to put just inside the door for people to wipe their shoes on. The door opens to a hallway, not the outdoors, so I don't need something particularly heavy duty, but I'd like something to soak up water and dirt. I'm hesitant to put a mat out in the hallway, but I'm having trouble finding a good mat for inside the apartment itself. All I seem to see are either scratchy doormats that seem intended for outdoors, or small decorative rugs that don't seem able to stand up to wiping feet. Any suggestions on where to look?

Terri Sapienza: How about a colorful and easy to clean indoor/outdoor rug from Dash and Albert? (www.dashandalbert.com. A 2x3 is only $34.)

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Arlington, Va.: Our new bedroom has baseboard heating on the wall with windows that faces you as you walk in. I assume that means I can't put anything in front of the heater -- no bureau or bookcase? I'm struggling to find a way to fit our things into the room, but also don't want the ugly baseboard as the focal point when you walk into the room. Maybe I just need cat-friendly fancy window treatments? I welcome any suggestions.

Jura Koncius: For safety, you absolutely don't want the curtains right in front of the baseboard heater or touching it. And you don't want to put a piece of furniture in front of the baseboard heater because you won't get the heat you want. You can use tiebacks to keep the curtains away from the baseboards. Or you can use a bracket to extend the curtains inches away from the wall so they hang beyond the baseboard. Or you can hang side panels beyond the curtains and put a valance on top of the window. Paint the baseboard the same color as your wall if you can to make it blend in.

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Making a house cooler: I take all the blankets from the couch and easy chairs and put them away. Won't be needing those for a while!

Jura Koncius: Yes!

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San Mateo, Calif.: My master bath has a windowless powder room/dressing area with a big mirror over the sink but no natural light. I'd like to paint the powder room a pretty color, maybe coral pink or Restoration Hardware Silver Sage (it's blah off-white now). But I worry that the wrong color as a backdrop will make me look washed-out as I put on makeup, pick clothes, etc. Should I pick a paint in a color I look good wearing? Or am I overthinking this?

Terri Sapienza: Be careful with Silver Sage. It's a great color, but without natural light it will look more gray than green - probably not the look you want in your bathroom. As for the coral pink, House Beautiful's Colors For Your Home book recommends Benjamin Moore's Florida Pink for a bathroom. For a more pink than coral color, they recommend Peony, also from Benjamin Moore.

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Bowie, Md.: Hi! We are in the midst of repainting the second floor guest bedroom of a Cape Cod. It's a rectangular space (16x10) with slanted ceilings on either side. Can you recommend a clever way to paint the walls and ceiling? We're looking for a modern or traditional look in a warm shade (i.e., nothing gray or blue). Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: Some designers say that if you have a room with awkward slanted ceilings, painting them the same color as the walls will make the space feel more unified and more cozy.

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Chicago, Ill.: I finally get to paint the walls of my apartment, but I can't commit to a color. My living room is large with southern exposure. I have a white couch, an espresso chair, and dark wood end tables. I also have pops of bright green throughout the room through the use of throw pillows and bookshelf accents. I'd love to put color on the walls but am starting to think a neutral might be best. Any suggestions for a Benjamin Moore wall color? Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Espresso and green area nice color combination. You could look for a fabric that combines those colors for a pillow, an ottoman or a chair. If you want to do an accent wall, you might try a pale pale green such as Benjamin Moore's Light Pistachio, Lemon Freeze or Celadon Green. Or if you want to do a neutral wall, Rich Cream is a nice color.

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Washington: Any specific suggestions for a lightweight (summer weight) down comforter?

Jura Koncius: What a good question. I've always found Bloomingdale's own brand of comforters to be good quality and often on sale. I might also check the Martha Stewart collection at Macy's.

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Architect Fees?: Hi!

I got an estimate from a contractor to renovate the first floor of my (small - 1000 sf) row home. It's somewhat intensive - taking down a load-bearing wall, moving plumbing), so he asked me to hire an architect to draw up a blueprint before he gave me an actual price range. Any idea how much (ballpark) a pro would charge for something like this?

Terri Sapienza: I don't, and I think it will vary depending on the architect. My advice is to get estimates from several architects and go from there.

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Still Waiting: So, what was in the Home section today? The link under Print Edition still points to last week's section....

Jura Koncius: Yikes. We need to report this!

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Frederick, Md.: Good Morning I have a large kitchen cabinet that I bought out at Lucketts a few years ago. We are going to cut out the center shelves and use it for our dart board cabinet. I'm trying to figure out what color to paint it. Do I paint it the wall color or Black? I'm planning to use chalkboard paint on the inside of the doors for keeping score of games. The wall color is BM's Golden Retriever. Any tips?? Thanks

Terri Sapienza: I think this is just a matter what you like best - there are no right or wrong answers or paint colors. Just go with what you like.

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Fairfax, Va.: Where is Edgewood? (Restoration Hardware). Is it an outlet or warehouse of items from that store?

Jura Koncius: 1701 Trimble Road

Edgewood, MD 21040

410-671-9687

It is near Baltimore and it is a warehouse sale not an outlet.

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Terri Sapienza: By the way, a chatter from last week asked for an alternative to FLOR for carpet tiles. A nice chatter named Connie sent me the following info after the chat had ended:

"Someone asked in the chat for an alternative to FLOR. We've purchased from this company: http://www.carpet-usa.com/ctile.php You must call their customer service to check on amounts, because they are closeouts. They give helpful hints about how to mix and match tiles, too."

Thanks, Connie!

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Washington, D.C.: Last week someone asked about preserving and/or displaying homemade linens. What about if you have a handmade cross-stitch that you don't want displayed but need to because a mother-in-law gave it to you? The thought of it hanging on my wall kills me; is there anything I can do? I've already thought about a throw pillow, but want to see if you had any other ideas.

Jura Koncius: You could frame it and put it on the wall in the guest room your in laws stay in. Or you could keep the frame on a bedroom dresser. Sometimes those kind of items look nice grouped in an upstairs hallway.

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Pigtown: I've been up to the Restoration Hardware Sale a few times. My understanding is that they were losing their lease at that space at the end of June, and would be moving to another space, but that it wouldn't be open to the public.

Since my house is only 11.5 feet wide, none of their furniture even fits through the front door. However, I've had huge success with their small goods. I bought a dozen or so crystal tree ornaments for 49 cents each (usually about $12) and little pots of their paints for about $1 each. I bought a few of their pewter vases for $4 each to have as emergency presents or hostess gifts.

Jura Koncius: Thanks Pigtown. I agree on the smalls. At the outlet, I once bought like six boxes of handmilled Scottish soaps that originally were $24 a box and they were like $6.99. I used them for years and gave them as hostess gifts.

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Any specific suggestions for a lightweight (summer weight) down comforter?: overstock.com!

Jura Koncius: Of course.

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Syracuse, N.Y.: Has anyone been to the Thos. Moser Furniture Summer Annex Sale in Georgetown? Their pieces are stunning but very expensive. Was wondering if they have great deals there?

Jura Koncius: I think if you know the quality of Thos. Moser, you realize that the prices will never be really, really low, but they are lower than the regular retail. Has anyone been there?

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20004: I really enjoy your work, but I couldn't help thinking that it was a bad call on the Ralph Lauren house today. Who cares? Anybody can do Ralph Lauren -- just point at what you want. RL is a consumer brand. I'd rather see something interesting and original.

Jura Koncius: In the Home section, we include a wide range of homes that reflect the way many different people live in the Washington area. Everyone has different tastes and perhaps this just wasn't your thing.

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Vermont: I was wondering what your opinion would be on a shutter for a powder room. would you suggest a shutter that only covers the bottom half of the window or a full shutter? Also, any recommendations on a particular F & B wallpaper that works well in a half bath. We have a slate floor and a vanity that is painted white dove as well as the trim. Thanks!

Jura Koncius: I think a half shutter would be ideal for a powder room. Plantation shutters have a nice clean crisp look. I love Bumblee, Lotus and St. Antoine by Farrow & Ball.

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Rockville: Yesterday I saw the cutest little alphabet animal cards (about 4"x6"). I have a 15-month-old son and would LOVE to somehow incorporate them into his room or play. But how? Yes, yes, I could frame them, but any other suggestions? Thanks!

Jura Koncius: I don't know how DIY or crafty you are, but you could decoupage them on a small table, chest or lamp. Or you could also make a collage out of them and frame it. Any other ideas?

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Washington, D.C.: I've been debating paint colors for my small bedroom for months. Right now I'm leaning toward Behr's Isle of Capri for an accent wall, and the rest in a much lighter but similar blue such as Frosty Glade. Carpet is a sand-colored berber, and trim and closet doors are already in white semigloss. What do you think about that combo? I'm kind of going for a beach-like feel, so I'm also thinking about bringing in some green and/or orange with linen curtains or duvet cover. What do you think, too radical? I want to have some bold color, but I don't see myself as an "accent pillow" kind of guy, so the challenge is how to achieve this feel and interest without a lot of clutter or overwhelming combinations. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: I see where you are going, but I'm not with you on the paint color choices. I think those colors in a small space will be overwhelming, especially with an accent wall. I'm not a fan of accent walls to begin with, but definitely not in a really small room. If you want a coastal look, how about a soft and light turquoise on the walls with tangerine/orange accents? (It's a great color combo.)Maybe tangerine and white curtain panels or a white coverlet on the bed with a tangerine and white duvet at the bottom and a couple of similar pillow shams. You could also hang woven or bamboo shades on the windows, too, which is also a beachy look.

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Bethesda, Md.: Good Morning Jura and Terri, We have a fireplace (black slate surround and hearth) in the center of a wall in our family room. The wall is 12' in height and the fireplace is flanked by a 6' sliding glass door on one side and a 6' window on the other side which ends about 2 1/2' above the floor. Do you have any suggestions for window treatments which would not look unbalanced?

Terri Sapienza: I think you just need to put the exact same treatment on both sides to looked balance. How about a simple rod and floor length panels?

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Architecture Fees: A good architect can make 1,000 square feet look beyond fabulous. It is worth it to pay the fees even if you sit on the plans for 2 years. A good plan is indispensable.

Terri Sapienza: Very true - a good plan is essential for success. Thanks.

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Oh no!: Hi, ladies,

I just pulled up the rug in my living room and saw that my wood floors have been seriously bleached out by the sun. There is a very visible "tan line," and the wood under the carpet is much darker than floor by the windows.

My floors are Timbercreek and the reps there couldn't recommend any good solutions. What should I do? Do you or any chatters have recommendations?

Thanks!

Jura Koncius: Oh oh! I hate it when that happens.

Unless you have your floors sanded and refinished, I'm not sure you can do anything but keep the rug where you put it! In the future to protect your floors from the damaging rays of the sun, consider covering your windows with lined curtains or putting UV resistant film on your windows and doors. It's also a good idea to move rugs around a bit from time to time.

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Rockville: I'd like to visit the Georgetown Flea Market Saturday but wonder about parking. Is that even an option (driving)? If parking is okay, where? Thanks!

Terri Sapienza: There are metered spaces on the streets, but only a handful. There is plenty of other parking to be found, but you might have to drive around Georgetown, Burleith and Glover Park a bit to find a spot.

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Pottery Barn Rug: I've got my heart set on an area rug from Pottery Barn. The problem is that I can't justify paying full price in this economy. Does anyone know where I can get coupons for Pottery Barn or if they have a rug sale coming up? I've tried eBay to no avail. THANKS!

Terri Sapienza: If you're local, have you tried the Leesburg outlet? You could also call PB and ask if they have any upcoming rug sales. Anyone else have any ideas?

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Arlington: Ladies, Thanks so much for doing these great chats! I just closed on my first place and am eager to make it my own. To whit: the previous owners placed decals (blue fish, no less!) on the floor of the tub. Any suggestions about how to remove them? A bathroom overhaul is not in the near future, so I have to live with what I have for the time being.

Jura Koncius: Those decals are a real pain to get rid of because of course they are stuck there for decor as well as safety. Some people have luck soaking a fabric cloth in vinegar and laying it over the decal for a few minutes. Then they use a putty knife to scrape off the decal. Some people put petroleum jelly on the decal for an hour or so and then scrape away.

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Pennsylvania: I have a stairwell with a long, narrow wall facing it. (You know, the wall you look at when standing at the top of the stairs.) We'd like to put something decorative there, but I can't come up with anything. I'm tempted to put a really interesting piece of fabric up there, but am concerned about it collecting dust. It's a pretty awkward space to get to, and anything we do has to be relatively inexpensive. Any thoughts?

Terri Sapienza: I've seen designers deal with long, narrow and dark hallways by hanging different sized mirrors up the length of the wall. They don't have to be expensive. You could buy inexpensive frames and have mirrors put in them. The mirrors will not only reflect the small amount of light that's available, but they will also help the hallway feel a little wider.

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A good architect can make 1,000 square feet look beyond fabulous: More importantly, the reason the contractor wanted an architect to draw the plans in this case was to insure the structural stability is maintained when that load bearing wall is removed!

Terri Sapienza: Yep, good point. thanks.

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Alexandria, Va.: Terri: Last week you answered my question about leather couches and short-haired white dogs...thank you! I have another question for you: we need a new vacuum, desperately. Do you know of brands that work well with pet hair?

Terri Sapienza: Hi, Alexandria. I don't have one, but I hear that the Dyson brands are fantastic. I keep thinking about splurging on one, but "new vacuum" is never on the top of my wish list. One of my brothers and my sister has a Dyson (they both have dogs) and they love it.

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College Park, Md.: I have yet another paint question for you. I want to repaint my kitchen a bright, sort of lime or granny smith apple green. The problem is my almond countertops and appliances seem to make these colors a little off. No budget for new countertops or appliances right now. Any suggestions? The cabinets are medium oak.

Jura Koncius: Fresh Cut Grass by Benjamin Moore is a lovely color. Also Citron or Pear by Behr.

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RE: silver sage: To the poster considering Silver Sage--I took the divas' advice and cut the paint 1:1 with a gallon of pure white paint. LOVE IT. Much less gray, more green with the blue coming out during daylight, and when my "daylight" CFL bulbs are on. I painted a windowless powder room with the 50% paint, too, and love that, as well. I am a convert...both to the color, and to "lightening" up the paint with percentages of white. I had the paint store (BM) color match at 50% and did not like the results when done that way, for some reason.

Jura Koncius: Thanks. This is all great info.

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alphabet animal cards : glue them to magnetic rectangles (like you get from pizza shop, etc) so he can play with them on the refrigerator.

Jura Koncius: True.

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Martinsburg, W.V.: I am looking for a 5 to 7 inch script B in black metal. Any ideas on where to find one?

Jura Koncius: Check out www.myknobs.com or Restoration Hardware. Any other ideas?

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Falls Church, VA: I'm going to need a creamy white paint (preferably by Behr) to use as the final coat on fake-paneling in our basement.

My hope is there is a creamy white color that would work well with light periwinkle (accent wall; eggshell) and with a creamy white matelasse bedspread (ha - I originally typed Demitasse).The trim will be Ultra Pure White semi gloss.

Any ideas? What sheen paint do you recommend for this awful paneling?

Jura Koncius: I love Pot of Cream by Behr. I would do a flat finish.

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for the lady with cute animal cards: you could photocopy them onto fabric and make them into a quilt

Jura Koncius: Yes.

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Washington, D.C.: When I paint a room I usually remove all of the face plates but the previous owner did not, So when I am able to wrangle the painted over faceplates off the wall, there is a bit of wall damage underneath. Is there a place to get faceplates that are a bit larger than normal to cover the wall imperfections so we can avoid the timeless process of spackling and sanding?

Jura Koncius: That is so common and it is yucky when you take the plates off and it damages the edges of the paint job. Again, www.myknobs.com has a large selection of switchplate covers. Also www.switchhits.com.

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tub decals: I think I might use an old credit or gift card for scraping rather than a putty knife, which might gouge the surface of the tub.

Jura Koncius: Good thought.

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hate to sound like a broken record, but...: Sometimes overstock.com has Pottery Barn rugs. If you know your product and keep your eyes on overstock, you'll see amazing stuff. I once read a review saying one rug was a PB rug. And I saw a rug for $400 that was currently in Target for $800.

Jura Koncius: Amazing.

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Washington, D.C.: I need a paint color suggestion for my kitchen. I have white cabinets with black granite countertops. It's an open floor plan with only two kitchen walls that will be painted. Kitchen opens to my dining room and living room which are painted BM's historic color Philadelphia Cream. I'd like something darker or brighter for the kitchen. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Jura Koncius: If you like the Historic Colors by BM, what about Covington Blue or Mountain Laurel?

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To PB Rug: Why don't you take a photo of the rug you like there to a "real" rug shop? They may be able to find you something comparable for a cheaper price, or perhaps they could find you something with the same look but of the hand-knotted variety which would be worth the expense and would have a resale value? My recent rug excursion proved to me that for the price of a PB tufted rug, I could have a "real" rug.

Jura Koncius: The real story.

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RE: animal alphabet: I'd put up a couple of those shelves made to hold artwork and line them up across. That would be cute, and if you ever get tired of them, you could put up something else.

Jura Koncius: True.

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RE: alphabet cards: One more idea! Punch holes in them and string up on some cute ribbon, like a banner.

Jura Koncius: Thanks for that.

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Jura Koncius: Thanks everyone. See you all next week.

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