CapFed Best News: Jong’s Thai Kitchen opens with customers’ needs in mind – News – The Topeka Capital-Journal

Banjong Jongthep has always dreamed of owning her own restaurant. After working at Tuptim Thai and co-owning A-Hann Thai, she has branched out and decided to run her own kitchen.

JongThep, along with co-owners Nimm and Derek Ragsdale, has opened Jong’s Thai Kitchen at 800 S.W. 12th St. Many will recognize the Thai restaurant’s new home as the former location of Cafe Holliday and, for a short time after that, La Casita Cafe.

While small inside, the restaurant offers customers a warm and inviting feel. Large windows at the front of the restaurant are framed by trees and offer a nice view of the park located across the street.

The restaurant, which opened Sept. 21, specializes in Thai dishes that are handcrafted by Jongthep herself.

Jong’s Thai Kitchen is open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

The dishes are packed with flavor and Jongthep will cater to her customers’ needs. If someone comes in and wants an item that isn’t on the menu and she has time, she will cook it.

“A lot of people say, ’Banjong, I don’t know what to eat or what I want.’ I say, ’OK,’ ” Jongthep said. “I want you to come here and get what you want and make you happy.”

Her ultimate goal is to make sure her customers leave happy and serve them unique and fresh food.

The menu items are meals that the three owners like to eat and Jongthep has adapted them.

Melissa’s Chicken is stir-fried chicken breast marinated in a house seasoning with a touch of white rum, bell pepper, mushrooms, onion and basil in a brown sauce.

Ross’ Curry is made with a Thai red curry paste, coconut milk, bell pepper, Thai egg plant, bamboo shoot, peppercorn, krachai and Sriracha.

Linda’s Sweet Chili Noodle, which has been named after Derek Ragsdale’s mother, is pan-fried noodles with egg, mushrooms, onion and bell pepper with a Thai sweet chili sauce and Sriracha.

Derek Ragsdale said that since opening, business has been good.

“The community is really supportive and we’ve got people that kind of follow Jong’s cooking,” Derek Ragsdale said. “Family and friends definitely come in a lot.”

While Jongthep is excited to see her dream become reality, it makes her happier to see others enjoying her food.

Nimm Ragsdale said it also makes them happy when customers return after their first visit.

“I’m happy if you like my food. When the customers clean up their food, that’s when I’m happy,” she said.

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At Home: Dorm decor pairs space savers, personal style – News – The Topeka Capital-Journal

Washburn University freshman and art education major Ella Prengel may have moved away from home and into the dorms this fall, but she took pieces of home with her and incorporated them into her dorm décor.

“When I was deciding how I was going to decorate my dorm room, I definitely thought about how my room was at home, so I have a lot of my art stuff, pictures of my friends and stuff that reminds me of home,” she said.

Prengel lives in a suite, which consists of two sleeping spaces that house two students each, with an adjoining shared bathroom, a configuration that many universities are adopting as they remodel dormitories built in the 1950s and 1960s to meet the needs of modern students.

After being quarantined for the first two weeks of the school year, Prengel said she and her suitemates were eager to get settled into their new space and decorate.

“Decorating was about reflecting my personality — bright colors, butterflies on the ceiling,” she said. “I want my side of my room to be something I can go back to and feel comfortable in.”

Prengel isn’t alone in her desire to create a space that feels like home away from home. Dorm design, furniture and accessories are big business for retailers each August, and new trends emerge every year for the hottest items in dorm living. 2020 is no exception.

Textures in pillows, rugs and bedding are very popular this year. Shag and fur pillows adorn extra-long twin beds, and velvet has made a comeback in the college scene in the form of comforters and curtains.

On the color front, ombre gradients and retro mini-appliances like microwaves and refrigerators in bright colors saw a surge in sales, along with the industrial look popping up in student desks, chairs and lamps made with industrial pipe and pipe fittings.

Succulents, both real and faux, are making appearances in textile designs and artwork but also provide an easy-care option for students who want to bring a little nature indoors.

By far, the biggest dorm design trend of 2020 has been the boho chic movement, which incorporates natural elements, colors, patterns and textures. Macramé is back in a big way, and not just to hold plants. The distinctive texture is being used in comforters and pillows. Wicker, fur, feathers and live edge furniture like desks and end tables are showing up on campuses across the country.

Because of the space limitations and other challenges that dorm design brings, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the choices available, but the truth is, functionality and versatility should be at the center of design decisions.

Start with an inspiration piece. A bedspread or comforter, artwork, rug or color palette provides a starting point for design inspiration. Use your inspiration piece to build your room, pulling in colors or designs to coordinate.

One large, oversized rug has a bigger impact than smaller throw rugs, tying the design concept together and providing

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In the Garden column: Color your spring with fall bulbs – Lifestyle – The Topeka Capital-Journal

If you have, over the years, looked at gardens where there is a profusion of color with spring-flowering bulbs and wished for the same showstopping display in your garden, then now is the time to think about planting spring-flowering bulbs.

I had been remiss some years and did not plant certain bulbs or as many as I should have, and then came spring, and I had regrets. So, this fall, make time for spring color in your garden and plant fall bulbs in the perennial bed and beneath trees and shrubs. If space is a problem, fall bulbs can be planted in pots, containers and window boxes, and even be forced to bloom indoors.

Not all bulbs are the same. That is, some fall bulbs work as perennials, others are considered annuals. Daffodils and scilla are reliable as perennials. Tulips and hyacinths have become annuals for me. The National Garden Bureau suggests treating them as annuals, and to check bloom times so you can enjoy a long season of flowers. Since tulips and hyacinths often bloom as annuals, the National Garden Bureau suggests experimenting with new color combinations every year.

Some of their tips for planting spring-flowering bulbs:
• The best times for planting are mid-October through mid-November. Early December is the latest for planting. Plant bulbs about three weeks before the soil begins to freeze.
• Well-drained soil and about six to eight hours of sun are the ideal locations for bulbs.
• Your selection of bulbs should include bulbs with different bloom times. Early-, mid- and late-season-blooming bulbs will guarantee a colorful spring show of flowering bulbs.
Carole McCray resides in Cape May, New Jersey and is an award-winning garden writer who has been writing a monthly garden column, The Potting Shed, for regional newspapers for nearly 20 years. Her articles have been published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, Coastal Living Magazine, Cape May Magazine, Growise Garden Guide and Ideals Magazine. She won the Garden Writer’s Association Award for newspaper writing for The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper.

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After canceling two events, Old Prairie Town prepares for its new Garden Glow event – Entertainment – The Topeka Capital-Journal

For the past several months, Ward-Meade Garden at Old Prairie Town has been quiet as guests have meandered through the garden, taking in the green foliage and blooming flowers.

But what has been missing are the twinkling lights and large luminaries that many associate with Tulips at Twilight and the Tulip Festival — two annual events that were canceled this year because of COVID-19.

Park officials also canceled the annual Apple Festival, which draws a large crowd of people each year eager to watch demonstrations and eat apples.

“Apple Festival is the biggest event that we have here, and we see on a good year between 6,000 and 8,000 visitors throughout the park at that time,” Old Prairie Town recreation program supervisor John Bell said. “We hated to cancel the 41st annual Apple Festival. It is a fall tradition in many people’s schedules and it’s something that they come out here year after year with their friends and family.”

As a way to make up for those losses, Ward-Meade officials have created a new event that will allow for guests to once again experience an illuminating garden with less interaction and more social distancing in mind.

Garden Glow, which takes place from 7-10 p.m. Oct. 2-11, will feature luminaries, lighted displays and seasonal plants.

Admission is $5, and guests are strongly encouraged to abide by Shawnee County’s face mask requirement.

Because of restrictions on mass gatherings, Ward-Meade has limited the number of people allowed inside at any given time to 400, Bell said.

“We will have volunteers at the gate counting, and then once we get to that 400 number, it will be a one in, one out restriction,” Bell said. “In the garden area, the paths are a little smaller and things can get congested, so we are going to have a directional path flow so that everybody will hopefully enter one path and exit another path.”

Garden Glow will feature several large displays similar to what visitors see during Tulips at Twilight.

“This year we had new displays we were unable to put out because of COVID, so nobody has seen a lot of those,” Bell said. “So this will be an opportunity to not only see some of the past favorites but we have some new displays as well.”

Some of the new displays will include butterflies, ladybugs and frogs.

Those visiting during Garden Glow will also be able to see the hundreds of annuals and trees in bloom.

“It’s different in fall because everything is blooming,” Bell said. “In April, it’s pretty much just the tulips.”

Given COVID-19 restrictions, Garden Glow will be the only large event that Old Prairie Town hosts this year, Bell said.

“The community has seen so many big events get canceled due to COVID,” Bell said. “We wanted to give the community something because at this point, I think the citizens need something to see and experience. We’ve had so many subtractions regarding activities and events. We wanted to give them

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Plumber: Bathroom sconce lights go high-tech – News – The Topeka Capital-Journal

Q: Dear Ed: In the past I read one of your articles on modern medicine cabinets for the bathroom. I’m thinking of remodeling my bathroom and would like to know if there are any modern features available for bathroom lighting in general.

— Kim, Massachusetts

A: On top of modern options available with new medicine cabinets, bathroom sconce lights have now gone high-tech as well.

Many wall-mounted sconces not only brighten up a bathroom, they can also be used for mood lighting when you install a dimmer switch. Sconces that use dimmable LED lights are becoming very popular.

There are a few more recent options for sconce lights that you might want to check out. These include specially chosen materials for damp environments, the ability to mount the sconce horizontally or vertically to personalize the look you want in your bathroom, and finishes that can even match your showerheads and faucets.

Q: Dear Ed: We’re planning to remove our existing bathtub to install a walk-in shower stall. Since it’s a full remodel, what high-tech plumbing item should we include to be future-ready?

— Fred, Washington state

A: Along with trendy hand showers and showerheads, don’t forget about the shower mixing valve. Many homeowners overlook upgrading this item when planning a shower stall.

One new upgrade for a shower valve is to go high-tech with a digital shower mixing valve. These sleek push button electronic control valves offer easy-to-read LCD displays with multi-zone install options. Water-saving features are also included on many of these valves. A second digital control can be even added outside the shower stall to start and set the water temperature before you step into the stall.

So if you’re looking for a shower that brings you into the future, I suggest you add up the advantages, run the numbers and go with a digital shower mixing valve.

Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known internationally as the author of the book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call,” the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate.

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In-person art returns to Garden City Arts – News – The Topeka Capital-Journal

GARDEN CITY–After a few trial runs, some of the adult, in-person classes resumed at Garden City Arts in August, but information about the classes was not publicly known until mid-September.

Katy Guthrie, executive director of Garden City Arts, said the reopening of classes was not publicly announced earlier because they wanted to make sure they could be done in a safe manner.

“The first class we only had six participants, but that was absolutely fine, because it gave us a good sense of how many we could fit in the space comfortably and safely,” she said. “We had three in-person classes in August and both went very well.”

So far only two adult programs have resumed in-person — Blushing Artiste and Acrylic Pour, Guthrie said. They’re the programs they were confident could be restarted safely.

The classes look different now than they did pre-COVID-19, Guthrie said. Teachers and participants are required to wear masks and everyone is at their own desk 6 feet apart.

Classes sizes have also shrunk, Guthrie said. Prior to COVID-19, they had more seating and up to 20 people per class.

“We’re down to a maximum of eight to 10, so we cut our class sizes in half, and we’re really making sure that everyone feels comfortable,” she said.

Additionally, instructors are encouraged to check with participants before approaching or handling supplies, Guthrie said. They want to make sure no one feels like their space is being invaded and that they feel safe.

In particular to the reopened classes, Blushing Artiste, a paint class, looks different in that refreshments are no longer offered and it is only held once a month.

Guthrie said Arcylic Pour has changed little, as it’s a class that feels like it was made in response to COVID-19.

“Everyone kind of works at their own pace and at their own station and does their own thing after a very quick demo,” she said.

Cleaning has also been stepped up in the classrooms, Guthrie said.

“All brushes are sanitized in between classes, that’s why we don’t have back-to-back classes anymore, to ensure that supplies are not being handled by the same person,” she said. “We’re making sure that everyone has their own supplies. We also thoroughly clean surfaces that are heavy traffic areas, just to ensure everyone’s safety.”

One big change to in-person classes is that pre-enrollment is now required, Guthrie said. Walk-ins are accepted if there is room, but with a limited class size, it’s unlikely.

For more information, visit

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