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Homework: Manchester house tour; secret to clean dishes

| Friday, July 26, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
This duplex on Columbus Avenue will be featured on the 2013 Manchester House + Garden Tour.
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This duplex on Columbus Avenue will be featured on the 2013 Manchester House + Garden Tour.
'Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World,' by Janit Calvo is a guide to creating tiny gardens, either in containers or in the ground. (MCT)
'Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World,' by Janit Calvo is a guide to creating tiny gardens, either in containers or in the ground. (MCT)

Manchester's historic homes on display in tour

Discover Manchester on the 2013 Manchester House & Garden Tour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 4.

The tour returns with a revamped schedule of stops at historic homes, flourishing gardens and samples of tasty treats from local eateries. Guests will be a given a treasure map to guide them through the tour, and will be eligible for several prizes donated by the North Shore neighborhood.

The tour will feature historically renovated homes like the Wertheimer-Sipe Mansion and a first-time stop, the Judge Joe Williams home at Chateau and Liverpool. Visitors also will witness a restoration of a home abandoned for 40 years.

Ann Gilligan's Sorbet and La Prima Coffee Roasters will offer free samples, and the PGH Taco Truck will be stationed on Page Street. The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society will be set up at the start of the tour, and will have animals ready for adoption.

Tickets can be purchased on the day of the tour until 4 p.m. in front of Pittsburgh Conroy in the 1300 block of Page Street for $15. Green Gears Pedicabs will offer free shuttles along the tour route. Details: 412-726-9787

First-time gardener? Start small, say experts

New gardeners are often counseled to start small.

Janit Calvo helps gardeners start really, really small.

Calvo is the author of “Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World.” It's a guide to creating tiny gardens, either in containers or in the ground.

To Calvo, miniature gardening is a magical experience that evokes the joy of childhood play. It's a cross between gardening and craft, an opportunity to set a scene you create in your imagination.

The book covers all aspects of miniature gardening, from choosing containers, materials and plants to composing the garden and caring for it. Calvo includes how-tos for creating garden features, instructions for creating several miniature gardens and plenty of ideas for accessories.

“Gardening in Miniature” is published by Timber Press and sells for $19.95 in softcover.

Are dishes not as clean as they used to be?

Phosphates, which help control water hardness, were eliminated from dishwater detergents a few years ago over pollution concerns. Since then, some consumers have complained that dishes don't seem as clean.

Lucinda Ottusch, with Whirlpool's Institute of Kitchen Science, says one mistake people make is buying cheap detergent. She says the all-in-one packets by name-brand companies really do help your dishwasher perform best.

She also recommends a rinse aid, which promotes drying by allowing the water to sheet off dishes.

Loading your dishwasher properly can aid cleaning. Find tips at www.instituteofkitchenscience.com/kitchen-101/dishwashers

Moen's shower rod throws tension a curve

Moen has introduced a curved shower-curtain rod that's tension-mounted, so there's no need to drill holes in your walls.

The shower-curtain rod bows outward, adding up to 5½ inches of space in a shower. It installs in most bathrooms in minutes without the need for special tools.

The stainless-steel rod resists corrosion and comes in chrome, brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze finishes. It can adjust from 57 to 60 inches long.

The rod is expected to be available this month at Lowe's stores. The suggested retail price is $39.98.

— Staff and wire reports

Send Homework items to Features in care of Sue Jones, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212; fax 412-320-7966; or email sjones@tribweb.com.

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