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Show house shows how

Show houses are fun even if you do nothing more than tour the rooms and oh and ah over the interior design. But the 1993 Decorating Showcase at Locust Hill in Laurel has something extra. Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications, which is sponsoring the show house along with the Friends of Olney Theatre, will present a series of decorating seminars. They'll be run by Eileen Deymier, regional editor of the Meredith Magazine Group.

The seminars include "Putting Personality in Your Place" (September 18, 11 a.m.); "Remodeling with Color" (September 24, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.); "Slipcovers" (October 5, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and "Interpreting Styles through Decorative Painting" (October 14, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.). For more information call Ms. Deymier at (410) 556-6329.

The 24-room country mansion is the former home of C. Y. Stephens, the founder of Olney Theatre. Show house hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, September 18 through October 17. The house is located at 9801 Gorman Road, Laurel. For tickets and information, call (302) 570-1110.

Jill Ann Williams, whose training is in medical technology, never gave much thought to gardening until she decided to improve on the traditional candied violet -- those bright purple egg-white-and-sugar-flowers that bear little resemblance to the blossom they once were. "Why can't we do better than this?" she said to herself, and proceeded to develop a method for turning edible flowers into delectable decorations for cakes and other desserts. She ended up volunteering at Cylburn Arboretum to learn more about the flowers that she wanted to candy.

The result is a kit that tells you all you need to know about the process -- from what flowers are safe to eat and which ones will hold their color and shape to how to store them once they're candied. All the necessary ingredients are included, such as a drying agent, brushes and candying gel. (A tube of candying gel, says Ms. Williams, is enough for "175 Johnny jump-ups.")

The kit costs $18.90, which includes postage and handling. To order, write to Sudden Elegance, 3724 Cedar Drive, Dept FG, Baltimore, MD 21207.

Blair Jett started collecting baseball cards as a kid; but he gave it up, he says, because "the companies started producing millions of them and took all the fun of it." That's why his extensive collection of sports memorabilia at Cottage Antiques in Ellicott City doesn't include any trading cards -- "The interest is dying out," he says.

But everything else for the enthusiast is there: programs, yearbooks, photos, game-used equipment, pennants. Cottage Antiques is a traditional antiques store otherwise, but when Mr. Jett went into business with his mother, Joan Malpas, he decided to buy and sell sports collectibles. The collection is strongest in baseball and football, particularly local teams, but it includes a range of sports, from the 1890s Orioles all the way up to this year's All Star game.

Cottage Antiques, located at 8181 Main St. in Ellicott City, is open Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The phone number is (410) 465-1412.

Dream kitchens are big kitchens -- places that become the center of family life. There's lots of space for storage, work areas and table and chairs, or so it seems. But most of us don't consider that a large kitchen can also be a disaster if it's not laid out properly.

This month's Home magazine uses an Annapolis couple's renovation to illustrate how an old-fashioned kitchen can be redone to suit modern needs. Kitchen designer Peggy Wanamaker and her architect husband Christopher Raphael tore down the walls between the tiny kitchen and formal dining room of their 1920 Dutch Colonial. They worked together to create a functional and inviting work space for two cooks, plenty of storage space and an area to entertain as many as 15 guests at one time. The story gives plenty of hints that will help anyone planning to remodel a large kitchen.

The September Home is currently available at newsstands.

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