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Archive for April, 2008

Earth Day 2008 – Make a Difference One Switch at a Time

Posted by Kyle Design on April 22, 2008

Save the Earth Light Switch PlateTuesday, April 22 is Earth Day 2008, and it is a great reminder to make a difference, however small it may seem, and do what you can to help save the earth, whether through energy savings, recycling, education, etc.

Switch Off Unused Lights: Make the effort to turn off lights when you leave the room and shut down computers when not in use. Tired of yelling at the kids to turn off the lights? How about light switch plates that subliminally remind them to Save the Earth. (Someday they will thank us.) Energy Saving Insulating Gaskets for Light Switch Plates and Outlet CoversOr install motion-sensor lights that will automatically turn off those lights for you (or for those family members who never remember). Or insulate any light switches or outlets on home outside walls with foam insulation gaskets that help reduce airflow thereby reducing your heating and cooling bills. Motion Sensor Light with Timer Automatically Turns Off When Not in Use

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: Compact fluorescent light bulbs last for years, provide better quality of light and yet use only about 70% the energy of incandescent bulbs. For an average household, switching to CFLs can add up to nearly $200 in savings every year. It couldn’t be easier to make a positive difference!

Global Warming Business Card HolderSwitch Your Attitude: It is no longer somebody else’s problem. It is important to understand the urgency of the situation in which we all find ourselves. Educate yourself and find out more about global warming and the rapid changes that are affecting our planet and the creatures on it. See Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, join, attend lectures such as the Livermore National Laboratory’s Science on Saturdays talk on Greenhouse Gas Reduction and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). It is urgent that we all start making a difference and know what we are facing.

Reusable Recycling Symbol Hip FlasksSwitch to Reusable Containers: Both paper bags and plastic bags have a great impact on the environment, so the best solution is to switch to reusable shopping bags such as those cool, recycled bags I use from Trader Joe’s. Or carry your drinks in a reusable stainless steel hip flask that can last for years instead of a throw-away plastic water bottle.

Whether through learning, remembering, insulating, recycling, switching or just generally being more aware there are many approaches to helping the environment.

A little here, a little there – it all adds up, and we really all can make a difference.

If you’d like to see other Kyle Design energy-saving solutions and environmental awareness products such as the Motion-Sensor Light Switches, the Light Switch Plate Insulation Gaskets, the Global Warming Business Card Holder, Reusable Recycling Symbol Hip Flask or the Save the Earth Light Switch Plates, please click the links here or the photos above.

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California Independent Film Festival – 10th Annual Event

Posted by Kyle Design on April 17, 2008

Film Projector Holiday Ornament in GoldThe California Independent Film Festival is going on April 16th – 20th in Livermore, CA, where my business is based. Now in its 10th year, the festival features indie films from around the world and presents awards in the categories of picture, short, mini short, documentary, student film, animation, actress, actor, director, score, editing, cinematography, screenplay and music video.

Poker Credit Card WalletA whole series of events are scheduled through the weekend, including a Celebrity Poker Tournament, the Iron Filmmaker Contest (make a 3-minute film in 24 hours based on the given topic), and the Golden Slate Awards Presentation featuring an interview by John Madden with actress Penny Marshall.

Digital Camera Christmas Ornament and Film Awards MedalIn conjunction with the film festival the Livermore Valley Charter School encouraged student entries from 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Twenty-four groups submitted short films (my daughter among them) in the competition and last night, we watched the the awards ceremony where the winners were presented with trophies. Awards were presented for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, plus one honorable mention. We were, in fact, quite impressed. Winning entries included a pseudo-exposé, an animated short, a black-and-white film noir, and a tense chase film with a surprising ending. All the kids’ film entries will be shown on the big screen on Friday morning at the Vine Theater in downtown Livermore. The Livermore wine country makes a great destination if you want to make a day or weekend of the events as it has a large number of popular wineries including Wente Vineyards, Concannon Vineyards and Stoney Ridge Winery.

Award Winner Drinking FlaskIf you’d like to check out more of my cinematic gifts, please visit Film and Movie Gift Ideas, and for wine country themed decor check out my Wine and Grapes Gifts and Home Furnishings.

Looking for trophy alternatives for an awards ceremony? My Christmas ornaments are the perfect size for awards medals, requiring only a longer ribbon (which we may be able to supply), and they can be engraved with the event name, date and prize category. Our beaded lanyards are also be a beautiful alternative for a work necessity.Wine Bottle and Glasses ID Name Badge Lanyard Necklaces

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How to Start a Reading Book Group – What’s Worked For Us

Posted by Kyle Design on April 15, 2008

Book Group Pillbox in Silver with Teal AluminumI started the Moms’ Reading Group over seven years ago with my friend Robbie. She and I were discussing books in my living room one day and we decided we should start our own book group. We had young children and were really feeling the need to make time to read and also to have a designated day where we’d be able to get out without the kids. We mentioned the idea to friends whom we knew enjoyed reading and got a small group together. Here’s what’s worked for us:

Getting Started: Robbie contacted local book stores, and Barnes and Noble generously welcomed us to meet in one of the sitting areas in their store each month, and they even make us a big pot of coffee. Beaded Coffee Cup EarringsIn addition, they list our reading group in their monthly newsletter, and new members have found us this way over the years. We chose contemporary fiction as our main focus, however we will sometimes read a non-fiction book if one peaks our interest. We have about 10 core members, but usually end up with about 6 – 8 members who can make it each time.

Stained Glass and Metal House Night LightLocation: Having the group away from home removes the burden of any one person having to prepare to receive guests. It also allows all members to speak freely without fear of being overheard or interrupted. This works best for our group at this stage of our lives, but certainly is only one way to structure a group. I know most groups meet in a different member’s home each time, Wine Bottle and Glasses Switch Plates in Nickel Silver and Blackand for those who love to entertain and have the time and energy to do it, I’m sure that works great. Some groups make food, chocolate or wine part of the experience, although we only bring treats for our anniversary each year.

Our members are just happy when we can make it to group, whether we’ve finished the book or not. We are a group of busy, active moms, with some who work and others who don’t, and some months it is just tough to do it all.

Another benefit to holding it in a book store is that we are able to quickly find reference material of we want to check facts or find out background information to flesh out our understanding of a subject.

Frequency: Our book group meets once a month at the local Barnes & Noble. We meet at 7:30 p.m., late enough to have gotten home from work or classes and made it through dinner. We have on occasion moved the date when it fell on a holiday weekend or when several members would all be gone, but for the most part stick to the second Monday of each month.

Engraved Custom Bookmarks in Gorgeous Colors and DesignsStructure: Robbie was willing to take on the task of leading the discussion, but when she can’t make it, it falls to me. My contribution, as an artist, is to give each new member one of my handcrafted bookmarks as a welcoming gift. We usually compile a list of questions to get us taking. Sometimes our books have questions in the back, other times we’ll get questions from, others are just ones that occur to us.

We start off discussing the book for about and hour or so. After that, we choose a new book. Holding our book group in a bookstore makes it easier when it comes time to pick our next selection. We all fan out to peruse the bookshelves and tables for books we’ve heard about or to find something new that peaks our interest. Our approach is to have each member pitch a book and then all vote on which one we’re interested in reading. The book with the most votes becomes the next month’s selection, but if it is a split vote, we might make them the next two month’s choices. Usually around 9:30 we conclude the discussion and have time to chat, share pictures or play games.

Robbie sends out a reminder email before each meeting as well as a follow-up one letting everyone know what was chosen for next time.

Include the Kids: Once a year we select a book that we will read to our kids, then bring our kids to our book group to discuss it. We all really want to instill our own love of reading to our children. They are always so excited to come meet the other members and their kids, plus they enjoy seeing exactly what Mom does each month. The discussions have been really fun, and it is especially interesting to hear what all the kids thought and see each family’s reaction to a book.

Our group has been going strong for seven years now and I feel this structure has worked really well for us. I hope some of these ideas will work for you as well. Happy Reading!

If you’re a member of a book group and would like some gift ideas for your fellow members, please visit Cool Reading Book Group Gift Ideas or click any of the photos above to learn more.

Posted in Bookmarks, Books, Hobbies, Parenting, Unique Gifts | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Celebrate National Library Week – Check Out A Good Book

Posted by Kyle Design on April 14, 2008

Librarian Christmas OrnamentApril 13 – 19 is the 50th Anniversary of National Library Week 2008. This event, sponsored by the American Library Association, encourages everyone to visit and support their libraries and librarians. Many libraries are sponsoring special events this week, so be sure to check out their schedules.

Library Week was started in 1958 because research at the time was showing that Americans were spending less on books than they were on radios, TVs and musical instruments. Ha! And that was 50 years ago! One can only imagine how skewed that ratio is now.

Library Book Beaded Neck LanyardI’ll be celebrating by going to my book group tonight where we’ll be discussing Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, and attending the Livermore Library’s Newcott-Caldebery Book Writing and Illustrating Awards Ceremony for young authors and illustrators on Thursday, an event sponsored by the Friends of the Livermore Library to encourage young writers. Both of my daughters submitted books again this year.

Elephant BookmarkGood Book: My oldest daughter checked out Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen from the library. I loved this book and felt she was old enough to handle the more mature themes in the book. While my daughter read most of it to herself, I enjoyed rereading sections out loud to her. It is a funny, unusual love story with a distinctive writing style and an unpredictable ending.

If you’d like to encourage reading or honor a favorite librarian with a holiday ornament, beaded ID badge lanyard or bookmark, please visit my Unique Gifts for Librarians or my collection of Unusual Custom Bookmarks.

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Indian Joe Trail at Sunol Regional Park, CA – Great Fun for Kids

Posted by Kyle Design on April 14, 2008

Native American Indian Feather Bookmark in Silver and Apple GreenWe went hiking on the Indian Joe Creek Trail at Sunol Regional Park today and had a blast. This is the same park that has rock formations that are known locally as Little Yosemite, but we chose a different route this time.

Orienteering Control Marker in Orange and WhiteWe were sharing the trails with an Orienteering event where runners with a map and compass are timed as they navigate a course. You can recognize them by the white and orange control markers.

We hiked up this somewhat steep, fairly shady 1.4 mile trail that has these huge rocks at the top with caves or large crevasses underneath. Giant Rocks on the Indian Joe Trail at Sunol Regional Park, CAThere is a large flat rock, cool and shady and about 5 feet off the ground, that makes a perfect spot for a picnic for a small group (or a group of small people – we had 4 kids and 1 adult crammed onto it at one point). The caves themselves are best navigated by kids – some spots only the 5- and 9-year-olds could crawl through – but the whole area was refreshingly cool and a welcome relief from the heat.

The rocks have enough ridges or grips to make it fairly easy to climb over and around them, even for the 5-year-old. They make for very satisfying rock scrambling. And yes, those are my girls waving from the top of that very tall rock.

Running Light Switch Plates with FeetNow I have to admit, I thought that it wouldn’t take us that long to get to the top being that it was “only” 1.4 miles, but I was quite mistaken. I had neglected to take into account the slope, the 92 degree weather, or my 5-year-old niece whom I carried up a fair amount of the way. [I teased my niece that the deal was I would carry her up, but she would have to carry me down. I enjoyed watching her face while she tried to puzzle out whether I was serious or if it was still going to be a fair deal. 😉 ] Fortunately, it only took 30 minutes for us to run back down.

Blue Belly Lizard Money ClipsThe kids had fun catching and releasing blue belly lizards. (They are actually Western Fence Lizards, or as I knew them as a kid, Swifts. ) My youngest daughter had just learned how to a make a snare for catching lizards and had caught one yesterday, however no luck using one today. All the kids had fun trying to corner these quick and very motivated reptiles…. Cow Business Card Case in Silver with Black AluminumScore today: About 20 Lizards spotted, one caught (and it bit!) against 4 kids. We saw one snake, too, and a lot of grumpy cows.

If you’d like to see more of my Native American Indian Gifts or Running and Walking Gifts, please click the highlighted links (or the photos) for switch plates, bookmarks, money clips, ID badge holders, business card cases and more. Visit Animal Gifts for other cool ideas with Cows or Lizards.

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Antique Reproduction Push Button Switch Plates, Switches, Dimmers

Posted by Kyle Design on April 11, 2008

Shop Push Button Switches & Cover Plates

Another emerging trend for us is the renewed interest in push button switch plates and switches that were popular in the early 20th century in American Craftsman bungalows, Arts and Crafts style homes and Victorian era houses. They recently popped up in the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and there are whole magazines devoted to those interested in remodeling, restoring and maintaining these beautiful turn-of-the-century homes, including American Bungalow, Victorian Home, etc., and we have good news for those of you who appreciate old-fashioned style touches.

After much searching, we are excited to have found a current manufacturer of these old-fashioned push button devices. We now happily can offer the pushbutton devices in single pole push-button light switches, 3 way push button light switches and 600W pushbutton light dimmer switches (to name a few) with great prices. These antique reproduction switches are designed to work with both existing wiring in homes undergoing restoration as well as with new electrical wiring in modern homes.

My sister lives in a 1920 built Craftsman Bungalow that she has been renovating for the last 10 years. Her home still has some of the existing push button plates and switches. She chose to keep these switches when she had the electric wiring redone because she wanted to maintain the original look and feel of the electrical devices of the period.

But being true to the period doesn’t mean you have to give up newer innovations. One modern convenience is the push button style light dimmer switch. The top knob on these dimmers turns the device on and off, while the bottom button can be rotated to dim the lights.

In addition, we have expanded our selection of push button switchplates to include more finishes and sizes. We carry the one gang single pushbutton switch plates in 14 metal finishes including black, white, ivory, satin stainless steel, polished chrome, polished brass, polished copper, brushed brass, antique brass, brushed bronze, oil rubbed bronze, dark oiled bronze, satin aluminum and brushed aluminum. In addition, we carry two gang double push-button switch plates, triple pushbutton cover plates and even a four gang push-button wall plate in white. All priced to be affordable so your renovation project doesn’t go over budget.

Decorative Push Button Light Switch Covers

Be sure to check out our decorative push button switch plates as well. These decorator switch covers are available in a range of patterns -from antique to modern designs.

Posted in Decorating Ideas, Home Decor, Style, Switch Plates, switchplates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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