Letter perfectWhen was the last time your...


Letter perfect

When was the last time your mailbox made you smile? If your letter repository is one of Brad McDougall's original creations, you'll get a whimsical jolt every time you see it. McDougall, a Baltimore furniture designer and blacksmith, has been selling the one-of-a-kind mailboxes since 1991, when his first effort won a people's choice award at a craft fair in New York state. The mailbox pictured is called "Goldie," a tribute to the "Laugh-In" days of actress Goldie Hawn. McDougall's work is available locally at craft fairs and at Neiman Marcus, 5300 Wisconsin Ave., in Washington. Prices for wall-mounted mailboxes start at $440; the post-mounted boxes generally cost $2,000 to $3,000. "Pick" the right flower and you could win one of 25 prizes in the American Home & Botanical Garden Photo Contest, sponsored by Fox Photo, Better Homes & Gardens magazine, and the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta. Amateur photographers can choose from three categories: home garden, public planting or flower portraits and other. Cash awards include a best-of-show prize of $1,000. To enter, submit a 5-inch by 7-inch or 8-inch by 10-inch unmatted color photograph, accompanied by an entry form from Fox Photo or CPI Photo, or a 3-inch by 5-inch card printed with your name, address and phone number. To request an entry blank or a copy of the rules by mail, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to Fox Photo Garden Tips, c/o 8026 Venetian Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63105, or visit any CPI location. Or check out these sites on the Internet: www.foxphoto.com or www.bhglive.com. The contest deadline is July 31, 1998. Last year's grand-prize winner, whose entry is pictured, was Judy Swift of Gaithersburg. Looking for something new this grilling season? Try the grill-top skillet or wok from Grilla Gear, which can be used to saute or stir-fry vegetables, or to cook such small items as shrimp, on the grill. The utensils are perforated all over, to allow smoke from the grill to penetrate them. They have folding handles and a nonstick coating. Suggested retail price for the skillet (pictured) is $14.99 and for the wok, $17.99. The items are available at selected department stores such as J.C. Penney, and specialty shops such as Bed, Bath & Beyond. * The Baltimore County Historical Trust Inc. is offering a tour of the Lillian Holt Park/Center for the Arts from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today. The tour, which costs $8 for members and $10 for nonmembers, includes the family homestead of Lillian Holt and surrounding log cabins, now used as artists' studios. The Holt homestead is in Overlea on McCormick Avenue off Kenwood Road. For more information, call 410-832-1812.

* The Maryland Rose Society's 53rd annual Rose Show will take place this coming Saturday at the Center Court of the lower level of Owings Mills Mall. Entries will include multiple and single specimens, sprays and arrangements. In the past, entries have numbered as many as 350. The public is welcome to visit the show from 10 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m.

* Sixteen gardens in historic Reservoir Hill in north-central Baltimore will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday as part of the fourth annual "Secret Gardens Revisited" tour sponsored by the Bolton Park Neighbors Association and Historic Mount Royal Terrace. There will also be an exhibit and sale of "alley art," found objects that have been refurbished and renewed. Tickets for the event cost $7 and are available at 719 Reservoir St. the day of the event. For more information, call 410-383-8535.

* The Washington Design Center, 300 D St. S.W., is the site Saturday of "Entertaining With Great Style," a day of lectures and workshops on the art of entertaining, sponsored by House Beautiful magazine. Participants can browse the home-furnishings showrooms of the design center and attend a signing of the book "Entertaining" by Jane Ellis, House Beautiful's food and entertaining editor. Admission is free with a reservation. For reservations or more information, call 212-903-5010.

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