Maps are useful, informative and interesting. And from a company like Raven Maps & Images, they're also works of art. Perfect for the walls in your living room, den or office, the maps and images from Raven are intricately designed, accurate and quite attractive.
You'll find maps of the U.S., North America and all 50 states, created from materials from the U.S. Geological Survey. State maps are large, colorful and even display towns, lakes, rivers, mountain ranges and major roads. Pictured below at right is the map of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and D.C., measuring 34 x 64. State maps sell for $30-$50.
Other maps include "World Cities at Night," (at right top, $30-$50) which measures 25 x 39, and shows population distribution with white dots, and "One World" (above, $40-$60), which shows the world from three angles, and displays all capitals and major cities. All maps and images are available laminated or plain, and dimensions vary.
For more information, or to order, call 800-237-0798 or visit www.ravenmaps.com.
How to look French
If you think French decorating has a certain je ne sais quoi, you're not alone. According to a recent survey by Home Decor Buyer magazine, 66 percent of Americans would choose French furnishings over any other style.
Among those Americans would assuredly be interior designer Betty Lou Phillips, who's just written her fifth book on French design in America, titled Unmistakably French (Gibbs Smith, 2003, $39.95). Filled with nearly 200 photos, the book takes readers inside some of America's most glamorous French-style mansions, and offers pages of historical and cultural anecdotes and practical advice on creating one's own French-decorated home.
Phillips divulges decorating secrets and facts, such as how the French never place two same-size objects side-by-side and that canopied beds were created to protect occupants from bird droppings. Phillips also offers sources for finding fine French furnishings, antiques and wares here in the U.S.
The book is available at Amazon.com.
Snow-shoveling is exhausting, but a necessary job. Here are a few tips on removing the snow quickly and safely from your driveway, sidewalk and steps, courtesy of Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware's "Helpful Hardware Man":
* As soon as the snow, sleet or freezing rain begins to fall, spread out ice melters.
* Shovel snow before it becomes packed or turns to ice. Remember that slush can quickly turn into ice when the temperature drops and the sun goes down.
* Shovel as cleanly as you can. The more pavement you see, the better the melting and drying from sunlight. And try to shovel more than just a shovel's width on sidewalks.
* Break hardened ice with an ice chisel or heavy-duty scraper. Even just a crack can let air in, helping it to melt faster.
For more shoveling tips, visit www.acehardware.com.
* It's the last week to view contemporary, whimsical paintings by Sherry Healy on display at ARTFX, 45 West St., Annapolis. The piece "Dancers" is pictured. The show runs through Friday. Hours are 1 p.m.-6 p.m. today and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Call 410-990-4540.
Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Lori Sears, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.