Here's a prescription for your cabin fever: architect Dale Mulfinger's new book, "Back to the Cabin."
Mulfinger, who has designed cabins across North America, takes readers on a tour of 37 getaways, both old and new. Among them is the cabin in northern Minnesota that he and his wife share with another couple.
These are not grand vacation homes, but rather simple getaways that fit Mulfinger's rule that a cabin be modest, include shared social spaces and have an open, relaxed atmosphere. They're places where the occupants can recreate, dream, create, commune or just exist without the pressures of everyday life.
There's a cabin made from an old barn, a cabin with an observation tower, a factory-built modular cabin and a cabin made from shipping containers. There are cabins on lakes, in the mountains and even one in a suburban backyard.
All will have you longing to walk in the woods or curl up by a crackling fire.
"Back to the Cabin" is published by the Taunton Press and sells for $34.95 in hardcover.
WHAT'S NEW: BATTERY-POWERED SNOWBLOWER HITS MARKET
A cordless electric snowblower is now on the market.
The Snow Joe iON is powered by a rechargeable, 40-volt lithium-ion battery that's Energy Star certified. It can run for 25 to 40 minutes on a 21/2-3-hour charge.
The manufacturer says the single-stage snowblower can clear an 18-inch-wide path of snow up to 8 inches deep, making it appropriate for areas that don't usually get heavy snowfalls. It has an LED headlight and a chute that rotates up to 180 degrees automatically with the push of a switch.
The machine can be ordered for $399.99 from Amazon.com, Wayfair.com, Power Equipment Direct (www.powerequipmentdirect.com) and the Snow Joe website (www.snowjoe.com), with delivery expected in November. It is also expected to be available soon from Brookstone, Hammacher Schlemmer, HomeDepot.com and Sharper Image.
ASK MARY BETH: TAX CREDITS FOR HOME IMPROVEMENTS
Q: I was thinking of making a couple of home improvements this fall. Is the government still offering home energy improvement tax credits? If they're available, where's the easiest place to find information on what items qualify? I don't want to get lost in the IRS website.
A: Yes, federal tax credits are still available for energy-saving improvements made to homes by the end of 2013. Probably the most understandable information can be found on the government's Energy Star website at http://www.energystar.gov/taxcredits. The Alliance to Save Energy also has helpful information at http://www.ase.org/taxcredit.
I don't know of any site that lists all the specific products that qualify for the credits. However, the Energy Star site does give all the parameters for each qualifying improvement, and your dealer should be able to tell you whether a specific product qualifies. In addition, some manufacturers list their qualifying products on their websites.
The credits are available for these qualifying products: insulation; roofs; heating and cooling equipment; water heaters; exterior windows, including skylights and storm windows; exterior doors, including storm doors; and heating stoves that burn biomass fuels, such as wood pellets or corn.
Credits are also available through 2016 on geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines and solar energy systems, but those aren't common home improvements.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.
(c)2013 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at http://www.ohio.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): HOMESTYLECopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun