Winterizing tips for your lawn and garden

Your outdoor plants have worked hard for you all summer, making your yard a place you’re proud to call home. Properly winterizing your lawn and garden is an important step toward healthy soil, lush grass, and happy plants next year. Remember to take care of your outdoor accessories, including your lawn equipment, gardening tools, and all of your lawn and garden decor. A little time spent this autumn will make your gardening and landscaping efforts easier and more enjoyable next spring! Let’s start with the easy jobs - First remember to store all of your lawn and garden decor including fragile planters, gazing balls, and your deck furniture. Unglazed terra cotta planters left filled with soil outside will often break in the freezing temperatures so it is best to clean them and place them in a storage area where they are protected from the elements.

Autumn is the time to find your birdfeeders and to start stocking your winter feeding pantry. Soon your many feathered friends will be flocking to your feeders for that nutritious morsel. Remember to keep your feeders full through the winter as the birds need reliable food sources through the winter months. Now that you’ve done the easy tasks, let’s move on to the more mundane winterizing chores. Start by simply cleaning up the vegetable garden.

After the first hard frost, remove the year’s annual plants and the dead vegetation. You can add this material to your compost pile, but make sure you’re not adding material from diseased or pest-infested plants. You’ll want to pull perennial weeds before you mulch your garden down for the winter. The best part of fall landscape chores is planting the spring-blooming bulbs. Crocus, tulips, and daffodils are a beautiful addition to the early spring landscape. In the yard there’s the major job of raking leaves. These are great either in the compost pile or as direct mulch on the garden.

Perennial flowers may be smothered by a heavy layer of mulch, however. Also, wait to prune your trees until later in the winter. After the ground freezes you can mulch your perennial flowers and newly planted trees. Certain shrubs will need to be wrapped in burlap to protect them from wind damage, sun scald, and other winter injury. Moving on to the mechanical tasks of winterizing your lawn and garden - While you might try to procrastinate on these jobs until spring, you’ll be well rewarded for the maintenance you perform this fall. Drain the gas from your lawnmower and string trimmer. Actually it’s best to let your mowers and trimmers simply run out of fuel. If you don’t want to ‘waste’ that little bit of fuel, add a gas conditioner before the long winter. Be sure to follow directions.

Also, take the same care with your gardening equipment such as your rotary tiller. Clean all of your landscaping equipment before you store it away for the long, cold winter. Wash with soap and water, clean the air filter, and change the oil. You’ll find that first lawn mowing job in the spring a little bit easier if you take time to sharpen the blades now. You can protect that freshly sharpened blade by applying a little spray oil to the blades. You can also apply light spray oil to other moving parts such as cables and the throttle controls.

Lastly, drain all of the water from the garden hoses and turn off the taps. Be sure to store your insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers in a safe storage area that will not freeze. Make sure these materials are kept away from children and pets!

Get everything done quickly using your basic tools

No one wants to have their house equipment broken. But it might happened your electricity went off or your water system not working etc due of broken installation. You realize it will take a whole day to wait for your electricians or plumbers to come. So, what should you do? Don’t wait until your family cried loud for light or water. You have to make a quick move. You must check the cause of the trouble, so once the electrician or the plumber came they will know the problem quickly. If you can fix it, that’s a bonus. But to do so, you have to own a set of basic tools in your place. Make sure you have the basic tools that mostly used by electricians and plumbers such as wire snippers, needle-nose pliers, screwdrivers, stripping tools, tubing cutters, and pliers. Having basic tools in your house indeed will make your life easier. You can use it to fix not only electricity and water system but also everything broken in your house. The problem is finding a cheap price of tools. You realize collecting tools take some times and also expensive. Where can you find cheap price in a situation where oil price is outrages…oh my... Don’t get upset yet, if you want to stock up your toolbox for a home improvement project you have to be diligent checking the Internet. There are a lot of reputable online tool supply sites which simply lifesavers for busy people like you. There really is no substitute for finding a place that carries every kind of tool you could possibly need. Another way to find cheap tools is through clearance tools sales at major wholesale distributor. Wholesalers typically have the best prices to begin with, so when you catch that rare sale, you can be assured that there is no better price out there. It takes some searching, but it is well worth the effort if your goal is to build a good set. Check careful when buying tools, especially when you buy electricity tools. You must find the tools with insulated rubber handle to avoid high voltage that might shock you. This is one of the most important things to look for when investing in these tools. These insulated rubber handle tools help to ensure that electrical currents are grounded and don’t pass through your body. No matter what you fixing, electricity or water system, you must take the proper precautions to do all those fixing. You don’t want to get hurt right? One of the best ways to ensure your safety in high voltage conditions, for example, is to have the proper training and the proper tools for the job. Don’t mess around with what you doing, you must focus. And other warning when you work with electricity is to turn off the power at the source before you do anything else. Turning off the power reduces the risk of electrocution, electric shock, and fires. Make your house a best place for you. Collect a set of tools in your house! You definitely need it someday.

Back to barrels

(NC)-Reusing rainwater is not a new concept. Families have saved water in ponds, cisterns, buckets and barrels for centuries for use in watering, washing and even drinking. In fact, this practice is still common in many parts of the world. Nevertheless, almost 40% of household H2O in Canada is used to water lawns and gardens. This is extraordinarily inefficient. It's also unnecessary. "Using a rain barrel to catch water flowing from eaves troughs is a simple, cheap and effective way to water our lawns and gardens," Derril Linseman, Product Manager at Home Hardware is quick to point out. In fact, if your town bans watering during the dry season, a rain barrel may be the only way to get your greenery the water it needs. Rainwater is air-temperature, oxygenated and unchlorinated - all of which make it better for plants than municipal tap water. As an added bonus, rain barrels divert rainwater from our sewers onto porous ground. This means that it gets filtered through layers of soil and rock before it ends up in ground water aquifers, lakes or streams.

Without rain barrels, this water goes straight into our sewers, often causing overflows of raw sewage into the natural environment. Setting up a rain barrel is simple. They're available at most Home Hardware and Home Building Centre locations for anywhere from $75 for a basic model to $150 for the deluxe variety. High-end barrels come equipped with screen filters, overflow hoses and taps.

Once you've got your barrel, simply remove the bottom section of your eaves trough's downspout and set the barrel underneath. Then attach plastic tubing or flexible piping to the bottom of the spout to direct water straight into your barrel. It's really that simple. And the benefits are almost immeasurable.

Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

Solar energy can be used and is used for electricity, central heating, hot water, cooking, for producing salt and even for desalination. Solar energy comes from the sun’s rays. Solar energy is known to be very environmentally friendly. However, when the sun rays enter the earth’s atmosphere it is quite dilute. Although solar energy is known to be very environmentally friendly it doesn’t only has advantages but also some disadvantages. Let’s discuss some advantages and disadvantages of solar energy. Let’s start with the main advantage of solar energy. Solar energy is clean. To produce electricity or heat with solar energy you only need the sun rays. There is no need to use fossil fuel in combination with sun rays to produce electricity or heat.

You just need a solar energy collector or solar power panels in order to collect solar energy. Solar energy is cheaper than electric heating. That is another big advantage of solar energy. By just using solar energy you can save a lot of money on heaters.

In return you will get lower electric bills and it also means that you don’t have to maintain heaters. If you live in a remote area where there are no power-lines solar energy can be the solution. There are remote areas where power companies have no means to access your home. Solar energy is a great alternative because it provides you with anything from heating water, electricity, and even cooking.

Another great use of solar energy is for desalination in areas where fresh, drinkable water is scarce. Solar energy evaporates brine and leaves the salt crystals in the bottom of the basin. The water in turn condenses back in another basin where it is now drinkable. Although all of the above is very useful solar energy also has some disadvantages. These disadvantages also need to be discussed to paint a better overall picture. The main disadvantage of solar energy is that it’s dilute. This means you have to have a lot of solar collectors installed around your house. Solar energy may be very cheap but the solar collectors are relatively expensive and require regular maintenance in order to work properly and efficiently.

If you decide to use solar energy you need to calculate the return on investment in order to know if the investment will be worth it. One big disadvantage is that you need the sun rays to make use of solar energy. If you are situated in a part of this beautiful planet where there is not much sun light then this could be a problem. In other areas, the sun rays are almost always covered in clouds making solar energy collectors less efficient. You should first know if the sunshine in your area is abundant for the most part of the year. Of course if you live in desert areas like in Arizona or Mexico the sun produces a lot of sunshine for the most part of the year and is ideal for solar energy collecting. Lastly the sun only shines during the day. Therefore if you need electricity or hot water during the night, like many of us do, it can be a problem. You will need a backup system like the ‘old’ utility grid or you will need to store the electricity for later use. There are battery systems that can store solar energy for later use. Solar energy is very clean and an alternative to conventional heating and electrical systems. Although this is true it is also good to mention the disadvantages of solar energy. If you are considering using solar energy you must read this first to make a balanced decision….

Don t let these common diseases eat your roses

After working hard to grow a beautiful rose, you job is half done. Now you must protect it to maintain that beauty. Roses can be weakened during the winter dormancy and become susceptible to disease when the growing season begins. Even among roses that survived winter unscathed, spring rains, and summer heat and humidity can open the door to a variety of infections. Here is a summary of the most common diseases which pose a threat to your roses. Rust Rust is an orange powder, which appears on the undersides of leaves and will spread to other parts of the plant. Powdery Mildew This is a fungus disease that produces a white powder along the tops and bottoms of the leaves and along the stems. If untreated, the plant’s growth will be stunted, and the leaves will die and drop off. Blackspot The disease appears as circular black spots on the plant's leaves ranging in diameter from 1/16 to 1/2 inch. Left untreated, blackspot will destroy your plant's foliage. Hybrid tea roses are resistant to blackspot. Rose Mosaic Unlike most rose diseases, which are fungal in nature, Rose Mosaic is caused by a virus. Symptoms generally resemble discolored mosaic patterns in yellow and green. There is no cure for this disease. The treatment is to remove the infected plant from the garden. And remove all leaves and clippings that fell from the affected plant. Rose Care Tips If you are unable to stop the spread of fungus-based diseases by cutting back affected areas, see a garden supply professional for commercial fungus treatment products. You can reduce the chances of your roses being affected by fungus if you follow these tips: Always water the soil around the rose plant and never water the plant itself. Clean your rose beds regularly and remove all clippings and fallen leaves. Cut any diseased canes or blooms and dispose of them in your trash can. Practice regular pruning, with special attention to pruning the center of the bushes to allow air circulation. Seal all cuts. Elmer's Glue works fine. It's safe, effective and cheap. Feed your roses regularly. Well-fed roses are better able to resist infection. Choose disease-resistant roses whenever possible, especially if you live in a hot, humid climate. Remember that disease-resistant does not mean disease-free, just that there is less chance of it becoming infected.

How to find the best caterer for your party

The caterer has a very important role in your party. Therefore, you should take extra care in hiring the right caterer for you party day. Just like hiring any other vendor, you have to make your selection based on facts not feelings. The caterer may be an individual or a business. Even if the caterer is an individual, she still has to operate as a business. The caterer cannot legally cook at home and serve the food at your party.

It is illegal for a caterer to use an unlicensed kitchen to prepare food. The caterer you hire should be experienced in catering parties you are planning. Some caterers may be more experienced with smaller events, some with larger events. It is your job to make sure that they are the right fit. During your interview process, you should ask about the kind of events they have catered. Ask about the size of the parties, how many guests they catered for. Ask if they had to deal with any emergencies or unexpected occurences.

To learn about how they deal with emergencies may help you understand their level of professionalism. You should never hire the first caterer you meet or the first caterer recommended by someone else. It may be tempting to hire the first caterer, especially, if you hit it off really well. It is in your best interest to meet with several caterers before you make your final decision. You must check references before you make your decision. If a caterer does not have any references, he just disqualified himself. You don’t want anything to do with a caterer that offers no references. References are important, but they do not provide an absolute protection.

You may be able to visit the caterer’s kitchen, so you can see their operation in action. A visit can help you examine their organization and cleanliness. Caterers get booked well in advance, so hire one early. You should have a caterer lined up no less than 6 months prior to your party. If you can find one a year before your event is even better.

The more time you leave yourself to hire a caterer the more chance you give yourself to hire the right caterer. Once you have made a decision, it is time to put it all in writing. You should insist on a written contract. The contract should include the details, of the menu, the date of the event, what is and is not included.

End your hard water nightmares with a water softener

Are you tired of finding spots on your dishes and glasses after washing them with your dishwasher? Are you tired of having stiff clothes after washing them with your washing machine? Are you tired of being unable to get your surfaces cleaned because of the build up of scales? All this could be the result of "hard water" that you use for the washing of your dishes, washing of your clothes and cleaning of your surfaces. To solve these problems, it is necessary for you to use water softeners to ease the problem of "hard water". In case you haven't heard about the wonders of water softeners, you should know that they are very important in helping you to solve the above problems and other problems caused by "hard water".

As the name implies, water softeners are used to "soften" water. As easy as it sounds, most of the water that is available for use is "hard water". Water hardness simply refers to water that is hard. In more technical terms, it is water that has a high mineral content. Water hardness is normally measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (PPM), or milligrams per liter (MG/L) Any water that measures 3.5 to 7 GPG when tested can be termed "hard water". Minerals that cause water hardness include calcium and magnesium.

Water softeners therefore help to soften the water, thereby preventing the above mentioned problems regarding your dishes, clothes. This process works by replacing ions of the minerals that cause the hardness of the water with softer ions. Water softeners can be expensive, but if you look at the benefits, it is a worthy investment. The price of home water softeners depends, to a great deal, on the type, size and make. With constant use of water softeners you can be sure of better results for your dishes, clothes, surfaces, etc. Why not go for a water softener today?

Decorative and faux painting is fun but don t start until you read this

I think decorative and faux painting techniques look great, are fun to do, and add a personal statement to a room. I’ve been adding my personal look to the walls in my homes ever since my husband and I purchased our first “fixer-upper.” When I first starting using faux and decorative painting techniques on the walls in our home it was a financially motivated action. We didn’t have a lot of extra money. I couldn’t afford new furniture or flooring for a room but I could afford to buy some paint. But just painting the walls a solid color seemed boring to me so I started exploring faux and decorative painting. It didn’t take me long to get hooked. Why do I like faux and decorative painting on walls so much? 1) It’s an inexpensive way to change the look of an entire room. Paint is the most economical way to change the look of a room. 2) A painting technique on the walls minimizes and hides cosmetic flaws such as surface cracks and less than perfect patching jobs. 3) It’s easy to change when you’re sick of it. Repainting a room that has paint on the walls is a whole lot easier and much less time consuming than stripping wallpaper off walls and preparing those walls for paint. 4) It adds your own personal look and style to a space. Color and texture are fun and interesting. An entire home painted the same off-white color is dull and boring to me. A faux painting technique can evoke any mood you want in a room whether it’s a Tuscan look, retro 70’s look, a country look, something elegant, a cheery bright look for a child’s room, or any other look you want. 5) The choices of techniques and paints are nearly endless. Some of the more popular technique choices include: sponging, ragging, dragging, color washing, stenciling, crackling (http:// decorativepaintingzone. com/faux/cracklingfauxpainting), marbling, gilding, wood-graining, spattering, feather-dusting, and stippling. You could also use one of the specialty paint products on the market today such as Venetian plaster to create the look you want or buy a faux painting kit such as a Woolie painting kit to help make your project as fun and easy as possible. While I highly recommend faux or decorative painting, there are a few things I’ve learned since I’ve started faux painting that I’d like to share with you. Some of these items are things to “not do” that I’ve learned the hard way. Others are tips and suggestions that were helpful to me. 1) Go to your local paint store or decorative painting store and look at the samples they have. For example, Home Depot has lots of different booklets and paint chips with faux paint finishes on them for you to look at and even take home to look at in your lighting. That pretty metallic finish on a paint chip in the store make look garish when you get it home and look at it in your home’s natural lighting. 2) Consider taking a class before doing your first project. Some paint stores and home improvement stores, such as Home Depot, offer free faux painting clinics and workshops. You can also find some very good faux painting classes for a reasonable fee by looking in your local paper or doing an Internet search. 3) Practice your technique on a piece of scrap wallboard before doing it on your wall. This is especially important if you are blending colors. A few years ago my son wanted his bedroom painted. He wanted me to use a Woolie (a great faux painting tool available at most paint supply stores) to blend together a burgundy and a caramel color. Each color looked great by itself, but when they got blended together too much a dark fuchsia color emerged. And anything resembling pink was not something my son wanted on his wall! Because I had been faux painting for years I didn’t listen to my own advice about trying the technique on a piece of scrap board first nor did I buy sample sizes of paint to try out. I bought gallons because I wanted to save time. Luckily the store agreed to exchange the paint for me free of charge but we did have to paint over a wall and wait for it to dry before starting over with new colors. 4) Remember that the texture of your walls will dictate, to some extent, what faux painting techniques you can and cannot use. If your walls are smooth you can do just about any technique you want. But textured walls are very common, especially in newer homes. You may see striped walls in a brochure or on a sample wall and decide that’s what you want to do in your home; but if your walls are textured it’s going to be nearly impossible to achieve straight lines for your stripes. Keep in mind that faux finishes on paint chips from a store are done on a smooth surface. They will look a little different (but may still look very nice) if you do that same technique with the same colors on a textured wall. 5) If you’re going to do a faux technique in an entire room don’t start on the wall that people will first look at when they walk into the room. That means don’t start on the wall directly across from the doorway. Unless you’re a professional, it takes a little while for you to get your technique perfected in a room. Put that less than perfect start in the least noticeable part of the room. 6) If you get tired while painting and need a break, don’t stop in the middle of a wall. Stop at a corner. If you stop in the middle of the wall and don’t come back to work on the project again until after the paint is dry, you’re going to have a noticeable line on the wall. It won’t be pretty. 7) Think twice about mixing your own color with paint you have at home unless you are absolutely positive you’re going to have enough paint to do the entire job. If you mix your own color and run out of paint before you finish it will be time-consuming and challenging to match that color. You might be able to match it because many paint stores have specialty machines that can match a paint chip you take in, but if you’ve mixed together two different sheens of paint (for example let’s say you mixed a flat paint and a satin paint together) you’re going to have a hard time reproducing that same sheen. In some cases it may not be noticeable; but in other cases it will. If you’re a beginner, start with an easy paint technique. Sponging is very easy and looks great. Another favorite of mine is the Woolie I mentioned earlier. There are a couple of different types. I like the Woolie roller best. It’s really easy to use and the results are fantastic. It comes with a short video. Watch it before you start painting. If you’re not going to watch the video before you buy your paint, there’s one important thing to remember. Buy paint colors that are at least two places away from each other on a paint strip. For example, if you pick out a paint strip with 5 yellows on it, don’t buy two colors that are right next to each other because they will be so close in color that you won’t see much variation when you put those colors on the wall and start to blend them.

Decor for cat owners protecting your posessions

Interior Decorating for Cat Owners – Part 1: Protecting your possessions The first thing a cat owner should know about home dйcor is to keep it simple. Cats are completely convinced that they are in charge, that the house and its possessions belong to them, and that they have every right to break rip or shred anything they like. Even a well trained cat (a possible oxymoron) will occasionally get overzealous, and with an inadvertent sweep of their tail will knock your favorite decoration from its place to a pile on the floor. This disregard for your possessions, overt or otherwise, requires that you use some strategy when deciding on the placement of various decorative pieces. This is going to amount basically to common sense. Any surface that a cat can reach, they will walk on. Therefore low shelves or dressers should not contain any objects that are fragile. Items should be moved towards the middle of a surface, or back against the wall, to prevent them being knocked onto the floor. Items that have a broad or sturdy base should replace other more top heavy objects. Decorative accents that can shatter, such as ceramics or stone statues, may have to be replaced by steal or wood. One way to display fragile items is to move them up. High shelves that are isolated from cat “stepping stones” will be out of dangers way. The same may be true of tall dressers, although unfortunately some cats will take a tall isolated dresser as a personal challenge, which they simply have to climb. Your dйcor will have to be matched to the personality of your cat. Mirrors can also provide a problem, as some cats tend to attack their own reflection. If your cat has a problem with this, buying velvet or satin cloth and draping it over the mirror can be a decorative way to solve this. Plants can be one of the biggest dйcor problems a cat owner will face. Your pet can chew on leaves, dig in the soil, or urinate in them. Luckily, there are ways both to decorate around these problems as well as to train your cat out of them. For biting and chewing of leaves, a natural spray repellent applied to the plant will cause most cats to avoid it. To stop a cat from rooting in or excreting in your plant you have to realize that the dirt in the pot is reminiscent of the cats litter box. In order to change this, use stones or gravel to fill over the top of the dirt. This will remove the cat’s fascination with the soil, and can be a lovely decorative accent to your plant Cat grass is a special kind of plant you can grow in your home that is specifically formulated to be safe for felines, and to provide them with certain vitamins they may be lacking. Purchasing this can give your cat an acceptable alternative to messing with your plants. When you see your cat eating the cat grass, reward them lavishly. When you see them going near other plants, pick them up and place them in front of the cat grass. If they eat the offered vegetation, then reward them. In this way you can use positive reinforcement to turn one behavior into another Cats will scratch anything which is made of cloth, including couches, drapes, and pillows. Because of this, you may want to start by spraying natural cat repellent on your more attractive pieces. A plastic couch cover may have to be used for a short time while the cat learns to behave itself. Buying your pet a scratching post and praising it for scratching that instead of your couch is a good way to positively reinforce the negative behavior out of the cat. You will have to carefully monitor their progress, and only remove protective coverings from your furniture when you are sure they are safe. While cats are a hazard to most dйcor, planning ahead can minimize these problems. Cats are so difficult to train that it is often easier to simply decorate around them. Using common sense, and paying attention, should allow you to develop a setting that compliments your pet owning experience.

10 ways to get the wrong window replacements

There is no getting around it. Window replacement is a major renovation to your home. Besides adding tremendous aesthetic appeal, particularly in an older home, window replacement has immediate potential to save on electric, gas and oil bills. There is also the advantage of nearly 100% recuperative value of the cost should you decide to sell your home. So become informed of the ins and outs of window shopping, so you don't "break" your budget, and avoid these ten window wrongs. 1. Replacing One Window At a Time Over the Next Ten Years. This renovation should not be done piecemeal. It's better to do all the windows that need replacement at once, and preferably all the windows in the house. Room by room window replacement is cheaper and it can be easier if done slowly, a few at a time, but aesthetically, the house will not convey an organized, tranquil and cohesive design unless all the windows match well. What if materials are discontinued or become temporarily unavailable, or suppose there's not enough money to finish the house? If you can't afford them all now, don't start until the money is there. But don't worry about buying replacements because once finished, they should not need replacement again. 2. Changing That Custom Window Space to Standard Window Space. There is no need to downgrade that special custom window such as an arch, a small French door, or any unusual configuration. Installing plain single glazed panes, because custom windows are too costly, doesn't do justice to the unique features of the house with its different lines, corners, and spaces. Don't refrain from customizing your windows to fit the character of the house simply to save money. One cost effective way to get a custom look without the custom cost is to take several standard stock windows and combine them into a unique design which enhances that special space. The cost of customizing a window versus combining standard stock windows is vast. Although the options are more limited, the customer doesn't lose out on their designer detailing. 3. Not Matching the Features You Need With Available Options. You've been living in this house for ten years so what's needed is obvious, so put some brain power into the problems and write down the features that are most important before visiting the websites or the showroom. The options available are truly endless with as many fashion statements on the market as any Parisian boulevard. Bare it down to the bones first. Those multi-paned, lever-operated, jalousie windows in the living room are not only an eye sore, but a thorn in your side. They don't belong in your stately Victorian on the best street in New Orleans. Make a list of the features you really want and formulate a concept of the perfect dream windows. Do this before perusing over the options so the focus stays on the needs of your home first, before the glitter dazzles you away. 4. The Easiest Thing Is To Buy All Vinyl Windows Inside and Out and Be Done With It. Those TV commercials 25 years ago which showed how easy those replacement vinyl windows were to clean and open, did not show the vinyl after 20 or 30 years in a hard sun. It's true, vinyl replacements have improved, and are very energy efficient provided the vinyl does not deteriorate. However, I do not recommend all vinyl replacements at all and prefer instead a combined vinyl and wood replacement over an aluminum frame. It has the easy maintenance advantage of all vinyl, but does not depend on the heat sensitivity of the vinyl for efficient operation. Some people like wood at any cost. Although it requires a lot of maintenance and regular repainting, nothing breathes and feels like wood in any home renovation. For our money, we recommend an aluminum frame with wood on the interior side, and a vinyl coated aluminum frame outside for the maximum advantages of energy efficiency, aesthetics and maintenance ease. 5. There Are Some Great Deals On Dual Pane Windows. And if you fall for those great deals you'll get a rude awakening. Something like two pieces of glass of questionable quality, with no special coatings or surfactants, glazed together to form one window. Slightly longer than one year later when that sub standard warranty runs out, condensation builds up between the panes and a black spotty toxic mold starts growing all around the sides. "What a pity", says the new glazier shaking his head. "This rot is anything but dry. You should have come to me earlier." If only it really was a good deal. The manufacturer doesn't even return those calls and the contractor has left the state. True dual paned windows are expensive, and the options are numerous. There is a new state of the art version where the two panes are actually blown together into a single unit with a harmless insulating gas sealed between them. This completely eliminates fogging, condensation, and drafts. Other types need proper sealing and should carry a good low u-factor. The U-factor is a durability test which determines how much interior heat escapes from the window. Conversely, a low Solar Heat Gain Co-efficient, or SHGC tells the consumer how much heat from the sun penetrates your windows. If you bargain away your consumer protections, don't be surprised if that big renovation goes sour. 6. Customizing Into Complacency. Even the best windows from the best manufacturers could pose operational difficulties and design flaws. Not that they were the top of the line to begin with, but those ads for vinyl replacement windows showing the easy tilt down cleaning mechanism proved difficult for many people to use. Don't buy any windows that you haven't subjected to rigorous tests of your own. Just because a window is customized, doesn't automatically make it user friendly. There isn't a manufacturer in the business that hasn't made windows with design flaws and especially problematic are those custom features. Work them personally; don't just observe the demonstration. Have the family work them. Ask questions to the salesman. Any sticky wickets? Leave the windows at the store or at least those complicated mechanisms. Operation will only make them stickier. 7. Buying Windows Without NFRC Rating. NFRC or the National Fenestration Rating Council testing has become an industry standard in evaluation of energy efficiency and performance. It's a shame to purchase windows without the rating considering it doesn't cost you anything but the manufacturers depend on it to sift out those less then ideal quality windows. Also manufacturers who are cheaper but disavow their warranties after 1 year usually are those windows which don't perform well against their better quality competitors. In fact, many states now require the NFRC ratings in order to get a permit for window replacement of any kind. Check with the local council about building code requirements for your home. 8. All Window Hardware Is Basically The Same. The hardware installed with your windows determines the ease, safety, and durability of operation. In fact, your windows are only as good as the hardware holding them together. Window hardware can hide cheap metal materials in the locking mechanism or sash. Try to get hardware that complies with California's comprehensive anti theft and forced entry standards. They require that any closed window is a locked window and is able to stay locked under heavy lever type pressure. 9. Who Needs Two Guarantees? You need two guarantees to cover you in any eventuality and here is the inside story. First, there is the manufacturer's warranty. This covers the windows from manufacturing defects, untimely wear, replacement parts or anything to do with the windows themselves. It is an extended warranty that is issued with top quality windows for ten to twenty years and sometimes longer. It should not pro rate the benefits over time due to the age of the windows, and should be fully transferable should you decide to sell your home. Second, there is the guarantee from the contractor who installs the windows. This usually only extends over one year, although a contractor who is sure of their work and has a good reputation might be persuaded to offer more coverage, sometimes up to two years. In any case, this warranty is limited and covers only the work of the contractor regarding installation and not anything to do with manufacturing flaws of the windows themselves. For instance, if the surfactant is mottled on that western exposure picture window in the master bedroom, don't try to redress the problem with the contractor. Call the manufacturer. However, if mold is developing on the inside of one new window sill, get the contractor back over there as soon as possible before that warranty expires. Try not to get involved if there is a dispute over responsibility. Make them work it out. 10. It Will Save A Bundle If My Painter Installs The Windows and I Will Help Fine, if you have the time and the painter has adequate expertise but unfortunately, a lot of mistakes occur when trying to simplify window installation. Because window replacement is a more expensive and enormous undertaking than it seems unless it's only one or two windows we're talking about, or you've done it before, it's best to leave this to a contractor. Installation is the least of the expense of window replacement so it doesn't pay to cut corners here. One important tip, when you hire a contractor to install those new windows, besides doing all the standard evaluations of his work, such as viewing his jobs over the past three months, getting reliable references, not paying up front for the job, etc., if there is a little extra money to spare, consider hiring an engineer to evaluate the installation. It's a relatively inexpensive way to buy a lot of peace of mind. Even if you can't afford one, try asking the contractor during the interview if he minds if you hire an engineer to evaluate safety measures and installation. If he gets offended or refuses, don't use this contractor. The reason speaks for itself. If he says he doesn't mind or heartily welcomes the opportunity, then this contractor trusts his own work, and will no doubt work better knowing that an expert will be there, even if he isn't. If an engineer is hired, bring him once at the beginning, and once before the last few windows are finished to check for compliance before the final checks are written. Armed with these tips, you should get more for your money, and years of pleasure looking out your new "pretty as a picture" replacement window.

Buying a wood stove

There’s little better than the comfort of a wood stove. Wood stoves have been around for centuries and they are proving to be just as popular today as they were a hundred years ago. One reason for this is the advances in technology. Wood stoves of today produce less smoke than wood stoves of old, and they produce less mess as well. Another reason why they continue to be popular today is that they come in such a wide variety of styles that finding one to fit into the dйcor of your home is easier than ever. Before you buy a wood stove, however, there are a few things to keep king mind. The first one is where you plan to put the stove. Remember that they can produce quite a lot of heat, and so you will want to install it where you need it most. Many people opt to put their stoves in a centralized location in the house so that the heat radiates equally to all parts. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can actually cook on your stove.

Of course they did that in the past, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t do that today as well. If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone and use it for both heating and cooking purposes? If you love a lively kitchen, the stove will also be a natural magnet for anyone in the house looking for comfort and warmth. The variety of styles available these days is astonishing. Of course some will want the old-fashioned look, and you will have no problem finding stoves with that type of design. Perhaps you would like to recreate the times you remembered from you own home as a kid, or maybe even your grandparents’ house. But in addition to the old wood stoves that nearly all of us remember and love, wood stoves also come in more modern designs.

Although just as practical as the traditional design, these newer designs are meant to fit right in with more modern dйcor. You will find these sleek and modern pieces can even add a lot of style to your home. The last major aspect to consider when buying a stove is the size. As with designs, there are a number of different choices to choose from.

One thing you will want to be sure of is that you find a stove that will allow ample space around it for walking. The heat that a stove can generate isn’t something that you want to constantly be avoiding. If you have children, you might also want to purchase a guard to go around the stove. No matter what you’re looking for in a stove, these days there’s surely something out on the market that meets your needs perfectly – large or small, old-fashioned or modern, you will be happy to cozy up to your stove on a cold winter night, possibly just like your ancestors did even centuries ago.

Christmas table decorations the number one secret for beautiful table decor

Decorating your table for Christmas can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it. But, there is one primary secret to Christmas table decorations you should always follow. By adhering to this simple secret it will make your table dйcor far more appealing while at the same time making your job easier. By ignoring this concept your table-decorating plan can completely fall apart. So what’s the secret? Well it’s simple.

All you have to do is decide upon a specific color theme and design theme, then stick to it. Let me explain… Do you want a particular color or colors? People, who especially love Christmas, still rely on the old stand-bys. I will admit that red, green, white, gold and silver are still my favorites and probably always will be. Perhaps you’re in the mood for a wintery look. Simple. Just use white, blue, light shades of purple and you’re on your way. Along with candles you can add ornamental snowflakes, little snowmen, or strands of clear beads or snowy white garlands. If you have a color scheme in your home that you would like to play off of, then that can make it even simpler. You can always find candles, ribbons, napkins, beads, etc. online or at the store. Add touches of winter greenery or tiny Christmas trees to solidify the look. A Christmas wreath laid in the center of the table can be the beginning of a perfect centerpiece. It can be decorated with any object you may want to use as a theme. If you have no theme in mind other than something special, then ribbons and bows can always come to the rescue. Inside the wreath, place a large candle or several tapers. The tapers can be the same height or differing heights. The choice is yours. Just make certain that the flames or hot wax do not come in contact with anything that could cause a fire. I was at a dinner party once where that happened. We certainly had a lively Christmas party that night! Hurricane lanterns placed in a row down the center of the table can take the place of a traditional centerpiece. Stemware filled with beads, nuts, berries, glass marbles, or any small festive objects can be used as well. You can use themed pieces to decorate in between. We’ll use Christmas bells as our example of a theme. Bells can be purchased in packages or they can be purchased already strung on wire. If they are on wire, they can be wrapped around the base of the hurricane lanterns, or you can attach them to ribbon and wrap the ribbon around the lanterns. Long strands of ribbon and beads can flow around the decorations. Continue to carry out your theme with your table napkins. Use two napkins of different colors for each place setting. Place one napkin on top of the other. You can roll them separately or roll them together, but the important thing is to tie them together. Tie them with a beautiful wired ribbon with the bell attached to the ribbon. Because wired ribbon can be shaped, it is easy to make the perfect size napkin holder. With your napkins inside your ribbon napkin holder, artfully arrange them and place them in the center of each plate. You now have bells on your napkin holders and bells on your table decorations. You can continue the theme with bells tied to the backs of chairs, hanging from the chandelier or attached to your stemware. The idea is to repeat your color or decoration. By using a theme, your Christmas table will go from ho-hum to spectacular! Happy decorating.

Fire pit essentials

Summer is near and an a fire pit is something that a lot of us can use, an outdoor fire pit can be used on cold nights and make your backyard a little more special for your guests and for yourself as you enjoy your garden and outdoor space with a nice fire pit. There are a lot of different fire fit options today, you definitely do not need to build your own fire pit, you can find a fire pit in many home shops, and there are even some special designers that work on fire pits. On top of the different options you have in selecting the fire pit you would want to have in your backyard, you can use a fire pit on your picnics and outings, a fire pit can be moved form place to place and used as a cooking device almost anywhere, the variety of materials of which fire pit are made today allows you to choose from the traditional to the modern, and with this fire pit variety comes many options for the cleaning and accessories you can get for your fire pit. If you are interested in having a little bit more fun this summer, you may want to consider purchasing a fire pit. An outdoor fire pit is one of the best ways to enjoy a beautiful summer night. From wood fire pit, that you may remember using at you parents or even grandparents house, to the gas fire pit most people use today, it seems that fire pit selection has never been so vast, this is the time to think about integrating a fire pit to your back yard and start enjoying the advantages of this open fire, you are not limited to your back yard, with a fire pit you can travel and take it with you, so that your acquired taste to your fire pit doesn't have to limit you to your own house. But before you get to excited and start lighting stuff on fire, you will want to learn about the details of an outdoor fire pit. Contrary to popular belief, an outdoor fire pit can be bought from a number of different stores. Many people think that you will have to build your own pit, and this immediately discourages them. Nobody wants to deal with the building and cleaning up of a makeshift outdoor fire pit. But luckily there are many models that you can purchase. Most fire pits have mesh siding that allows for spectators to see into the pit, and for heat to escape. This is a huge advantage on cold nights where you may need a little bit of extra heat to stay comfortable. A fire pit makes a great edition to any yard. A fire pit may be all you need in order to significantly improve your yard. Plan a party around your outdoor fire pit this summer, and show everybody how fun one can be. You may be surprised to find out that you will have a very good time, and end up doing it again and again.

How to use decorative concrete in a traditional kitchen

Concrete's use in kitchens and bathrooms may still be considered relatively "modern" design-wise by the standard homeowner. But while concrete can be used to create a modern or minimal look, it's also perfectly adaptable to a more traditional setting — where it was so extensively used in the first place. Concrete can act as a substitute for more traditional materials. Rather than just using concrete to explicitly re-create something from the past, you can also combine it with other elements to suggest a timeless quality. In my work, I always strive to strike a balance between innovation and emotion, between spare contemporary and warm traditional. Adding mosaic tile along the front edge of a concrete surface, inlaying bits of tile along a backsplash, or even embedding a fossil in a countertop all connect us to the past. A California cottage we renovated recently moved from "traditional" to "transitional". A large concrete curved wall/counter boldly separates the living room from the kitchen. Meanwhile, a stainless steel integral sink countertop straddles one wall — yet, by inlaying glass tiles into the backsplash and inserting a traditional plate holder in the cabinetry, enough balance is achieved to avoid a conflict of styles. Let’s take a turn-of-century "Craftsman" style kitchen for a hypothetical example.

The cabinets would most likely be frame-and-panel with flush inlay doorframes. There would be wood wainscoting in the dining area and perhaps tile around a single porcelain sink. The lighting fixtures might have beveled glass or echoes of Tiffany lamps. What concrete application would be appropriate in this situation? I would look into one or more of the following ideas in combination: 1. Choose an earth tone color or natural gray. No bright colors. 2. Keep the front face, or thickness, of the countertop at a minimum of 2-1/2" up to 5". 3. Inset "panels" into the front face of the countertop to reflect the cabinet doors. These panels would be no deeper than 3/8" and would measure approximately 1/3" to the height of the front face, or 4. Recess the appropriately sized or proportioned ceramic tiles with some embossing on them into the face of the countertop or into a cast backsplash. Allow the recess to be at least 1/4" in depth. 5. Mosaic tiles in groups of four separated by 1/8"-1/4" spacing could be placed on the countertop surface as inlaid "trivets" next to the stove burners. (In the mold, they would be placed face down on the bottom of the form.) 6. Line the drain board into the sink with tile or marble. Now I wouldn't want to use all of the above accents — just enough to carry a complementary flavor to the Craftsman look and feel. The concrete itself is earthy enough to carry that load. It's up to you as a homeowner or designer to add the touch that personalizes and enhances the piece. In some cases, for instance, the overwrought "traditional English manor" kitchen, usually full of elaborate detailing, can use a touch of restraint — the concrete counter with a simple ogee edge detail and a complementary white porcelain farm sink might just be perfect. As they say, it's all in the details.

A guide to industrial vacuum cleaners

Industrial vacuum cleaners are designed with two basic functions in mind – the removal of debris of all types from the floor and the removal of debris of all types from the air in the working environment. The first application was tricky, to say the least, but the specific needs were dealt with until systems and units were produced that could handle almost any type of debris from the floor of a manufacturing company. At first, the size of the debris was a question to be dealt with. Then there were wet and dry items that needed to be dealt with simultaneously. Extremely hot or corrosive elements were added to the mix and then radioactive debris had to be taken into account. All of this debris, a bi-product of some sort of manufacturing or large-scale commercial operation, had to be dealt with by vacuum cleaner manufacturers. Often, the special requirements of a company were dealt with on a case-by-case basis at the same time as the new plant was being constructed. Similarly, airborne debris, dust and microscopic particles of whatever was being produced in the shop had to be removed from the air, either to protect the workers or to gather and store the valuable materials to keep from losing them.

Huge vacuum cleaners were mounted on rooftops, and behind the factories themselves, that resembled air-conditioning units more closely than vacuum cleaners. But they performed precisely the opposite function. Where air-conditioners cool and then pump air into the factory to keep temperatures comfortable and controlled, these huge vacuum cleaners are sucking the air out of the factories, either from the ceiling levels or from beneath the floor, filtering out the debris and keeping it accessible during cleaning. Factories that produce fine particulate debris as part of their manufacturing process need to maintain a safe breathing environment for their workers and those companies that are refining a valuable metal need to collect the particulates for later re-use. Both functions are amply served by today’s industrial vacuum cleaners.

Choosing new kitchen cabinets if you are kitchen remodeling

Are you tired of opening up the same kitchen cabinets, every single day? Although many homeowners love their kitchens, including their kitchen cabinets, there are some who are looking for a change. If you are one of those homeowners, the ones who are looking for a change, you may want to think about remodeling your kitchen, particularly your kitchen cabinets. When it comes to kitchen remodeling, there is a common misconception that is mistakenly believed by many. That misconception is exactly what kitchen remodeling is. Many assume that to remodel a kitchen you need to change everything, from the light fixtures all the way down to the floor tiles. While a large number of homeowners do choose to remodel their whole kitchen, there are others who only choose to remodel small portions of it. Whether you are looking to remodel your whole kitchen, all at once, or you if are only looking to remodel a part of it, there is a good chance that you may be in the market for new kitchen cabinets; they are one of the most commonly remodeled parts of a kitchen. Although choosing a new set of kitchen cabinets may seem like a fairly easy task, it is one that you shouldn’t make on an impulse. Since you will be stuck with these new kitchen cabinets, at least until you move or decide to remodel again, you will want to make sure that you get your first choice. There are a number of different ways that you can do this. For the best results, you may want to visit your local home improvement store.

When visiting one of your local home improvement stores, you should find a collection of kitchen cabinets on display; in fact, you may find a fairly large number of them on display. Viewing each of these kitchen cabinets is a great way to decide which cabinets would look great installed in your kitchen. In addition to visiting your local home improvement store, you may also want to examine kitchen cabinets online. Although the shipping for kitchen cabinets is often considered quite high, you may be able to find exactly what you were looking for online. It is advised that you find either an online home improvement retailer or an individual who specializes in making their own kitchen cabinets. In fact, if you are looking for a unique set of kitchen cabinets, a set that you cannot find anywhere else, you may be able to order a custom set of kitchen cabinets. The cost may be more than what you intended on paying, but, as previously mentioned, it is important to get what you want, especially when remodeling your kitchen. When searching for the perfect set of kitchen cabinets, for your next kitchen remodeling project, it is important to keep a number of things in mind. One of those things is what you will be using your kitchen cabinets for. What you are using your kitchen cabinets for may have an impact on what you can and cannot have.

For instance, if you will be using your kitchen cabinets to store your food or your dishes, you will need to make sure that you purchase cabinets that can offer you the most space. While decorative kitchen cabinets are nice, they are sometimes limited on the storage space that they have. In addition to the size of the storage space, it is also important to examine the size of the kitchen cabinet itself. In the United States, most home improvement stores sell kitchen cabinets that are not fully put together, but they are often precut to size. It may be possible to change the measurements, but you may find it to be difficult and costly to do so. Although you may be more concerned about the color or design of a kitchen cabinet set, it is important to remember the basics. Even the most beautiful kitchen cabinet set will not do you any good if it cannot be installed in your kitchen. By keeping the above mentioned points in mind, you should be able to go out and find the kitchen cabinet set that you were looking for. Once you have found the kitchen cabinet set of your dreams, the remodeling can begin.

Whether you choose to install your own kitchen cabinets or you let a professional do it for you, your cabinets could be installed in as little as a day or two.

A guide to portable air compressors

Portable air compressors vary in size and power level. A few different types are available, depending on the tools you will be using. Check the power requirements of your tools and purchase a model that is sufficient to run your strongest tool. Always choose slightly more power than you think you will need to be sure it will be enough for every job. Regardless of the type you purchase, it’s important to follow the proper safety precautions. Always wear safety goggles when operating equipment to protect your eyes. Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and long pants. Proper footwear, such as work boots or strong sneakers is important for protecting your feet. Types of Portable Air Compressors Portable rotary screw compressors are the most commonly used air compressor. These range from 65 to 1600 cubic feet per minute. The pressure ratings vary from 100 to 350 PSI. The one you will need depends on the tools you will use. Contractors often use 185 CFM. These are strong enough to power two tools at a time. These are good for lighter and heavy duty jobs. Truck mounted compressors can be mounted in the bed or under the hood. Under hood models are good for space saving. These use the engine of your truck for power, making them low maintenance. The downside of this is that the truck must be running to power the compressor. Deck mounted compressors are mounted in the bed of the truck. They can be taken out and left at the job site until the job is finished. These have their own engine, so they don’t rely on your vehicle for power. They do need regular maintenance on the engine and will need fuel to power the engine. Some compressors are electrically powered and others run on gasoline. The air is stored in the holding tank on both types. The tools are attached with a hose. The gauges on the compressor indicate the pressure, which is regulated with a valve. Major Brands of Air Compressors Quincy makes an excellent line of air compressor systems. Their rotary screw compressors vary from 10 to 350 horse power. These machines are reliable, durable and quiet. A wide variety is available from smaller tank models to larger, stationery cabinet styles. Husky air compressors are generally made for home use. The 1.75 gallon tank has 135 PSI power and is good for running tools, such as sprayers, nailing guns and also is useful for insulation. They are convenient and easy to transport with a telescope handle. This model has an oil free pump for easy maintenance. The four gallon Husky model has 125 PSI power for running small tools and spraying. This model can also be used to inflate tires and other recreational items. This model is great for the homeowner or small woodworking shop.

Organizing your home what a challenge

Organizing a whole house can be a major challenge. It is harder than organizing a workspace, or office because of the larger space, and the many rooms. Because of the larger space it could take some time for you to organize it, and proper planning is needed so you can get it right the first time. There are some resources you can use before starting. You should ask the help of a friend or a professional to get some insight to help with your planning.

Another thing is to look at interior design magazines and to get ideas of the internet and see how those houses were organized. The main reason for organizing your house is so that it remains clutter free, and presentable to friends and family who visit. The first thing you should do is make sure you know the areas of your house, do a visual inspection of the area. This will get you familiar with the area and give you an idea on how to organize each room so that it flows with the next.

Next is to ask your friends and family members to help you. With more people helping work can be done faster, and more efficiently. You should inform the people of the date they are going to help on a week or so in advance so that they can't make excuses and back out. Next step is getting rid of clutter like old clothes and toys. You should ask the owner of the items before throwing them away, because they might want to keep it. Sometimes not everyone agrees on how a room should be decorated and organized. Everyone should get together and discuss the plans so that everyone is in agreement before the work is started. Arguments can lead to changing the plan, and therefore slowing work down. Therefore make sure that everyone is in agreement and stick to the plan to get the work done faster. A good way to enhance the looks of a house is new furniture. You can buy furniture from local stores or from the internet. Make sure that you know exactly what you need and what sizes to get that would make the room flow nicely. It would be a shame to buy furniture that is too small or too big for the space. Organizing a house can be fun and a good bonding experience. When you work through challenges together and get the job done you can feel a sense of accomplishment. Having a clean and organized house is good for everyone who lives in it, and any guest that comes over to visit.

Finding the right window cleaning service

Washing your own windows can be an unwelcome chore. It can also be dangerous if you have windows that are tall or higher than the ground floor. Using long ladders to access them can be pose a risk to your health. Washing windows is also a time-consuming and tedious task. Without the proper equipment, it can take much longer and not be as high quality as if you went with a window cleaning service. Window cleaning services specialize in safely and effectively cleaning windows. They will have the necessary tools and supplies to complete a quality job. Before hiring one, there are several things to consider. Many home cleaning companies also offer window washing as an added service.

There are also those that specialize strictly in window washing. Either one is acceptable as long as they have the necessary experience. An experienced window washer will ask a variety of questions or take a visual inspection before quoting on the project. Determining cost factors include the type of windows, quantity, size and amount of dirt. Some types of windows will require specialized cleaning and especially dirty windows may require power washing, which can increase the expense. Choose a window washer who is fully insured and bonded. There is potential for damage if windows are not cleaned properly, so ensure you are covered. Make sure you get an estimate in writing. This should include a detailed description of the work to be done, the cost for the project and time frame for completion.

Also be sure they have proper equipment to protect surrounding areas for damage and that they are responsible for thoroughly cleaning up after the job is complete. Ask friends or family for recommendations. Obtain several quotes before deciding on a company. Make sure the company will provide a free estimate.

This is standard but it is wise to verify before incurring any unnecessary costs. Ask for references and follow up on them to ensure they have happy customers. A service that has been in business for a long time is a better option than a newly formed one because they will have a proven track record. Window washing can be a time consuming, difficult chore. Many people opt to hire a window cleaning service as opposed to doing it themselves.

With a good company, you will get a job that shows quality work completed in a timely manner. They will be able to accomplish the job safely and assure you that any damages will be taken care of.

Clutter busters simple strategies for cleaning up your act

With of the biggest challenges couples and families face is CLUTTER, both dealing with it and avoiding it. But, according to experts, there's really no need to stress over "mess", especially if you learn how to clean up your act, BEFORE it gets out of control 1. Front and Center: Deal with items such as loose change, keys, mail, etc. right at the front door. Consider a console or nearby shelf on the wall on which to place things neatly and out of the way. And, don't forget to sort mail immediately tossing anything you'd consider junk (though that doesn't include bills). 2. Go Barefoot On The Parquet: Okay, one of my biggest pet peeves is taking shoes off at the front door. After all, if you're visiting someone or attending a house party, shoes are part of the ESSENTIAL accessories that make and complete the outfit. Taking them off just makes the ensemble look, well, "silly". Still, I'll have to admit that for the "casual" get - together or on a daily basis, keeping the floors clean may not be such a great feat, if friends and family leave their shoes at the door and walk around in bare or stockingeed feet. 3. Book Ban: Get rid of old books and magazines that are piling up on the table, nightstand, or on the office or living room floor. Consider donating books to hospitals, hospices, nursing homes or to your local library. You can donate magazines to your local salon, doctor's or dentist's office. Organize books and magazines you intend to keep on shelves or in a smart magazine file. 4. Counter Countertop Clutter: Make it a "ritual" to clear off tabletops and countertops when you are finished using them or before you retire for the evening. And, don't let things pile up. Also make sure to have a safe storage spot for remotes and think about getting a universal one to program most of your entertainment systems, limiting the confusion and the clutter. 5. Fun And Games: No doubt children want and need toys, but they certainly don't need to have them "everywhere". Make sure you clean up after really small children or help youngsters clean up after themselves. Have a designated play area in your home and a storage crate to hold the essentials... and think about color-coding each crate for each child. 6. Take A Load Off Doing The Laundry: Make sure everyone knows to put their clothes in a hamper (not on the floor) when they are dirty or when they take them off. And, make sure you separate whites, darks, and colors beforehand. Finally, consider doing a load of laundry in small increments, before each basket is full, to avoid laundry overload. 7. Learn To Bottle Things Up: Open bags can take up lots of space and simply look messy. Consider instead storing chips, nuts, etc. in pretty glass (or plastic) containers that can be moved from room to room, offer airtight storage, can easily be stored or displayed. 8. Stop Playing Hide And Seek With Your Hardware: Instead of rummaging through boxes, drawers, etc. for the necessary, nut, bolts and screwdrivers, consider investing in a pegboard. You can buy a sheet at your local hardware store and hang it on an "inconspicuous" wall, then purchase the accompanying accessories designed to help you organize.

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