27 December 2018

Changing Your Home When Aging

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As we get older our needs change. Our homes should change with us. Although many aging people want to hang on to the things that are near and dear to their heart, it is best to keep it simple. It is good to hang on to a few choice things, yet pare down to keep life light and simple. Aching bodies and lower energy can make life a little more difficult when we are older. It is best to keep life as simple as possible when older so we can deal with each challenge aging may throw at us. Simplifying your home and making it easier to get around as we get older is a must.

Clearing the Way

Open space to easily get around is important when getting older. This stops people from running into things. This also helps to have a clear mind and feel safe when getting around your home. If you or your spouse needs a walker to get around, having wide space and wood floors helps. You can do two things if you have a two-story home. You could remodel and just make a one story livable space and use the second story for storage. You can also install stair lifts to help you get up the stairs.

Accessible Kitchen

The kitchen is also another area where you can make your life simpler when aging. You can redesign the kitchen to adjust for maybe height differences. If you can have a sink where you do not have to bend your back, but is custom made for your size, this helps. This will help with any back problems over time. Also, having a wire dish rack at eye level can help with doing dishes. It may be harder for an elderly person to keep bending over to a dishwasher. By having a dish rack, you can place the dish neatly on the rack and have them air dry. By having the rack at eye level, you can transfer the dishes right to the cabinet. Working with a kitchen designer to make your kitchen easier to function in is great when aging.

Storing and Condensing

The hardest part of getting older is having to reduce the size of what you have. There are usually a lot of memories associated with stuff in your house that you can not part with. It is important to let go of some things and keep the most important things. You can have one room full of storage bins and that is it. You can utilize some of your memorabilia into the decorating of your house. Once you do that, and have one neatly organized room full of storage bins with lids, that is about all you should have. Anything more can become so burdensome to you. You want a clean slate throughout old age to be able to think freely and well. Aging itself is hard enough, make your home easy to live in.

The Bathroom

Balance becomes an issue as we age. The bathroom, and getting in and out of bathtubs and even showers, can be a potential hazard. It is important to have nonstick on the floor of all bathrooms and showers. Remodeling a bathroom so it can be a walk-in shower with enough room for a chair is ideal. This way, there is no harm in a person getting up and down from a bath. Also, a grab bar is essential to make sure you can hold on to something getting up and down from the chair. Many older people won't take as many showers as they should in fear of hurting themselves. This should be easily taken care of with a walk-in shower with the proper chair.

Getting older is inevitable, but you can stay in your home a lot longer than you think with a few changes. If you can foresee into the future a bit and adjust your house while you have more vigor and energy, that would be good. The easier you make your house to live in as you age, the longer you can stay in it.

18 December 2018

How to Keep Your Kitchen Humming Over Christmas


While we all tend to think that the lounge area is where it’s at over Christmas, that’s not usually right. The festive season is a time when family and guests alike tend to hover around the kitchen because that’s where all the food preparation is going on.

When people are in and out of the kitchen area preparing tasty bites for everyone to enjoy or refilling drinks once again, people tend to gravitate there too. That’s even more the case when there’s a table to sit down, talk and eat at. With that said, you want to make sure everything is organised before the chaos descends.

Here are a few tips to keep the kitchen humming along well this Christmas.

Check All Kitchen Appliances are Working

Having a failing oven, a grill that won’t get hot enough, or a hob that’s playing up is less than ideal at Christmas time when you don’t have good alternatives. Similarly, if your household relies on a decent coffee machine producing delicious mugs of hot coffee to wake everyone up on cold winter mornings, then that coffee machine better not fail on you now.

Check all the kitchen appliances that you’ll use over the holidays. Ensure they are functioning properly with zero problems. If the cooker or oven is playing up, get someone in to perform some maintenance on them to diagnose what the problem is. Hopefully, if the appointment is made early enough, they can still order in a part if one needs to be replaced and they don’t have it in stock presently.

Also, look at the kitchen, countertops, flooring and other areas. If you’re realising that your kitchen is struggling along on its last legs or parts of it need replacing, such as the floor, then consider visiting the Fishpools website for ideas on how to remodel the kitchen. Not only can you find great decoration and kitchen designs, but you can also find more ideas on fishpools.co.uk for Christmas preparations too.

Get Some Cooking Books to Impress with Christmas Food

Whether you’re an undying fan of Jamie Oliver, are partial to the sharp tongue of Gordon Ramsey or prefer Nigella Lawson for a bit of posh, it’s sensible to have some Christmas themed cookbooks to hand.

Get some inspiration for what to prepare this holiday season to surprise friends and family at every turn. Some of the best Christmas books include Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, The Great British Bake Off for some cakes and other delicious treats straight from the oven, and Nigella’s Christmas from Nigella Lawson which is still selling well after being released 3-4 years ago.

Try out a few different recipes to get the hang of them before serving them up to family or guests who are visiting. Put your best foot forward to impress everyone with your culinary skills.

Put Out Your Best Plates and Cutlery for the Holidays

If you’re like most British families, you tend to only put out your best plates, bowls, and cutlery for special occasions and keep them hidden away at other times. It’s an old-fashioned tradition that some families still enjoy following because it keeps their best cutlery and china preserved. When it’s an important day, they like to make it extra special by upping the mark on the presentation by using their best.

If that’s your family, don’t leave it until Christmas Day to bring out your finest because it gets too little use that way. Enjoy using it through the month of December; you own it, why not enjoy it?!
Plan Out Meals to Ensure There’s Enough Fresh and Frozen Food

For times when you’re not going to be preparing new dishes or spending extensive time in the kitchen, it’s sensible to plan out the meals each week leading up to Christmas and beyond.
Doing so makes food shopping trips much less hectic because with a meal plan you know exactly what proteins and vegetables are required for the next seven days. The same goes for if you shop online for food now and get it delivered.

Be Ready in Case There’s a Power Cut

Make some plans in case there’s a short power cut at home. It can happen at the most inopportune moment. Consider whether some candles and candle holders would be a good move or present too much of a fire hazard with kids or pets running around. Know where the fuse box is and how to reset electric fuses. Use a smartphone for a temporary light source.

Check whether you have any usable blankets to keep warm in case the electricity cuts out for a couple of hours in the evening when it’s getting chilly. The loss of indoor heating will certainly be noticeable at that time.

Don’t forget to decorate the kitchen area, but do so carefully. Avoid any decorations hanging over or near the cooking area because Christmas decorations are flammable. Strategically hang the decorations in a safe manner to keep the seasonal feel but without creating safety concerns.

Kitchen Worktop Materials Guide


Planning a new kitchen, or refurbishing an old one, always leads to the question, “Which material should I use for my new kitchen worktop?” Nowadays, there are a lot of materials to choose from but which one will fit your; style, budget and your actual kitchen needs? This guide aims to give you a comprehensive choice of the most popular surfaces, with their pros and cons.

Granite

One of the most popular surface choices is granite. This tough, resilient natural stone comes in a variety of patterns and colours. Its natural surface is durable but not indestructible, it can chip or break if not treated properly and needs to be sealed to prevent porosity, which can see bacteria seep in. Also, Granite is a heavy material which, as a kitchen worktop, can put a lot of pressure on supporting cabinetry. Granite’s main rival are quartz kitchen worktops.

Quartz

Quartz worktops are some of the most popular in the UK to date. Coming in stunning shades and a wide colour palette, quartz worktops are extremely hygienic and do not have to be sealed. Every quartz worktop is man-made, which makes it more flexible than its granite counterpart and that means it is less likely to crack or chip. Furthermore, quartz kitchen worktops are stain-resistant, making them easy to clean and low maintenance. Seams in quartz worktops are easier to hide with darker shades but they need to be cared for, any long-term exposure to UV rays can cause discolouration over a long period of time.

Hardwood

There are few materials that can compete with the tactile and visual beauty of hardwood. These kitchen surfaces come in a variety of tones and if cared for properly, improve with age. Hardwood is cheaper than its stone counterparts, including quartz worktops, but shares its property of being anti-bacterial and very hygienic. However, for all its beauty, it’s a high maintenance material, needing to be free from long-term exposure to liquids. Wood is also easy to scratch and stain, and can be damaged from intense heat. Hardwood can be hard work.

Laminate

This material is the most cost effective of any worktop surface on offer today. Like hardwood and quartz worktops, laminate is antibacterial and very hygienic, and is easy to maintain and clean. Laminate is surprisingly hard-wearing, is very hard to scratch or damage with exposure to hot pots and pans. Laminate is a chameleonic material, able to fit into any kitchen style, and can be fashioned into looking like an expensive material. However, sometimes ‘cheap is expensive’, as laminate can peel over time and if it does burn, melt or scratch, it looks very unsightly and is hard to replace.

A Material Choice

If looked at objectively, a quartz worktop is a strong candidate in almost every measurable way. Quartz worktops are a little bit more expensive than their contemporaries but; can fit almost every kitchen, come in a variety of textures, tones and colours; are easy to maintain; are amongst the most hygienic of materials and is hard to damage, stain or even chip. An all-round perfect pick.

17 December 2018

Why You Should Consider Replacing Your Flooring Before Listing Your Home for Sale


When it comes time to figure out how to sell a house, many sellers choose upgrades based on what they’d like to see in their home. But if everything goes well with the selling process, you won’t be staying. So why fix up a home you won’t be living in long term? That’s a big mistake.

It’s critical to get yourself into the mindset of the buyer rather than the homeowner.

Award-winning Northeast Florida real estate broker-associate, Cara Ameer writes: “In undertaking for sale preparation, strike a delicate balance between what to fix and what to leave alone, but in the end, make the right improvements that will result in a faster sale for top dollar.”

Ameer outlines seven major issues sellers should fix before listing, with the best being a flooring makeover.

“If you can only afford to make the investment in one significant part of your home, consider updating the flooring,” Ameer writes.

We agree.

Below, we’ll explain why upgrading your flooring before listing your home on the market will help you get a higher sale price.

Flooring matters

New flooring can completely change the look of a home. Some buyers can’t see past cosmetic issues, and others are ready to gut a home and start over. Regardless of what type of buyer purchases your home, they’ll appreciate a new canvass to work from.

And new flooring doesn’t go unnoticed. It runs throughout the entire home, which means that no matter which room buyers are in, they’ll be able to appreciate the recently installed walkways. 

When considering which type of flooring to go with, hardwood flooring has been the long-standing favorite of buyers.

The National Wood Flooring Association reports that 99 percent of real estate agents agree that homes with hardwood are easier to sell, and 90 percent say they sell for more money.

And 54 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for homes with hardwood flooring, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Consistency is key. Agents often see buyers walk away from homes that have a hodgepodge of flooring.

If you can’t afford to put hardwood flooring throughout the home, Elizabeth Weintraub, former writer for The Balance, escrow officer and real estate broker, recommends that sellers nix carpeting in entertainment areas like the living room, dining room and family room because today’s buyers prefer alternate flooring in the places they spend the most time.

Collin County, Texas based real estate agent Ryan Cave, who ranks in the top 3 percent of agents (with over $35 million in sold homes), agrees. 

“Hardwoods are especially popular with buyers when they’re hand-scraped finished, old or have an engineered look,” Cave said. So when looking at finishes, think rustic.

To further enhance the resale value of your home, keep in mind these tips on flooring:

  • Hard surfaces such as hardwood are better than carpeting
  • Keep it consistent throughout the home
  • Don’t let multiple flooring types meet in high-traffic areas of the home. 

Making the tough choices

Of course any choices you make to enhance your home’s resale value will depend on your market. Real estate agents have their fingers on the pulse of what works in each market, so it’s best to consult with your agent before making any major investments in upgrading a home.

And before you start the work, it’s best to have a timeline in mind.

For example, the best time to sell your house in Santa Rosa, California, would be in August because sellers sold for 6.69 percent more than the yearly average, according to HomeLight data from 2014-2017. The most optimal month to list the home would be in June as a home takes about three months to sell.

And because the hardwood flooring installation process varies depending on finishes and materials (and that’s after you go through the process of choosing the right flooring for your home), you’ll want to get an installation time estimate and allow room for mishaps.

A good real estate agent can help you determine what will look best, what buyers are looking for and how long it will take, so it’s best to find an agent first and keep him or her in the loop to advise you throughout the process.

11 December 2018

The Importance of Maintaining Electrical Safety at Home

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Electricity is vital in every aspect of life, especially in your home. It's hard to imagine living in a home without electricity; it keeps our food from spoiling, keeps us warm in the winter, provides light, and makes us cool in the summer. One thing to always remember, it's important to make sure all of your outlets are installed properly, and you have no loose wires because there is nothing more important than maintaining electrical safety. Scheduling an appointment for a professional electrician to perform a safety inspection will give you and your family some peace of mind, especially if you live in an older home. Companies, like Mr. Electric, have a team of licensed, experienced electricians who can perform safety inspections, and make your home a safer place.

Many people neglect scheduling annual electrical inspections, which is something that every home should have because it maintains your family's safety. Often times outdated wiring and primitive outlets can lead to fires, which is why it's important to have a well maintained electrical distribution system. Electrical fires contribute to nearly 51,000 fires annually, resulting in 1.4 billion dollars in property damage. A typical inspection consists of the electrician using a tool to test all the outlets, to make sure your outlets aren't overloaded, and to check for any loose wiring.

Here Are A Few Electrical Safety Tips

Never Overload

An electrical overload can be a really dangerous situation. It's important to figure out which outlets are on which circuits and avoid overloading them. Overloads commonly happen if you have too many items plugged into one outlet or extension cord. This is a problem many older homes typically face. Refrigerators, air conditioners, and space heaters all draw a great deal of power, and if all these devices are using the same circuit, it could exceed the capacity of the electrical wiring. This could cause the main electrical panel to shut off to prevent blowing a fuse.

Childproofing

If you're a parent, your child's safety is everything, which is why it's important to childproof your home by installing outlet protectors. In 2008, NEC (National Electrical Code) made tamperproof receptacles a requirement in all homes and businesses.

Avoid Having an Outlet Too Close to the Tub

When installing an outlet in your bathroom, you should try installing it as far away from the tub and shower as you possibly can. Maintaining your outlet's distance from the tub can potentially prevent a really deadly situation from occurring. In fact, it is required that all receptacles installed in bathrooms be at least 1 meter away from any bathtub or shower stall.

Updating Wiring

Outdated electrical wiring is an issue many homeowners typically have, which is why a vast majority of electrical fires are contributed to old or outdated wiring. If your home is 30 years or older, or built before 1985, the wiring is more than likely outdated, and you should schedule an appointment with a licensed electrician to have it inspected immediately. If your lights tend to flicker when you plug more than one appliance into an outlet, this typically means the wiring isn't supplying power properly and may need to be looked at.

Replace Outdated Electrical Outlets

Replacing outlets are just as important as replacing old wiring. Aging outlets are a big problem. Over time, wiring tends to settle, and can eventually even make contact with other wires. This can cause sparking and fires because eventually all wiring and outlets will degrade.

Protect your Computer

Nowadays, technology and information are two of the most important tools you can have in life, which is why if you're a computer owner, protecting your information is vital. If your circuit breaker or a fuse blows, the sudden loss of power can cause you to lose valuable information on your computer and potentially lose any unsaved documents you've been working on. You can avoid this by installing a separate circuit breaker to supply power to your computer and other electrical devices in your office.

Update Circuit Breaker

Your circuit breaker is the heart of your entire electrical system, and you want it to be capable of supplying electricity to your home efficiently, without tripping a breaker or blowing a fuse. Often times, if your circuit breaker continues to overload, it may have to be replaced or updated to prevent any future fires and to keep your home running efficiently.

03 December 2018

Get Biz and get cleaner laundry than you ever thought possible



A couple of months ago, I received what amounted to a care package from CR Brands due no doubt to my involvement with Mean Green and Roto-Rooter. In that package, among other goodies, were a box of Biz Powder and a bag of Biz Liquid Boosters.


I’d heard of Biz but I never really gave it a whole lot of thought. I’m a Tide user after all and my thinking was always that if Tide can’t getting my laundry clean then nothing can. As a good Proctor and Gamble customer I’d learned to trust and never question the wisdom of my laundry overlords. Quite honestly, I want my laundry to be clean and I don’t want to give it a whole lot more thought than that.


But the freebies piqued my interest and so the next time I did a load of whites I threw a Biz Liquid Booster pod into the machine as a test. As soon as I did it I moved onto other things and promptly forgot I’d added Biz to my laundry.


As I was folding that load of whites a couple of hours later I couldn’t help but notice my whites were indeed whiter. I’m a big fan of Clorox for whites and I thought the Clorox and Tide combo was the ne plus ultra of laundering whites but I was mistaken. Clorox, Tide and Biz make socks and towels radioactively white. It’s insane how white my kitchen towels in particular were.

I cook a lot and I mean a lot as you may have surmised and I am particularly brutal on my kitchen towels. I use the flour sack towels and I usually replace them every six months or so because eventually, they get so stained that nothing will get them clean.

But I’m telling you, those Biz Liquid Booster pods tore through really difficult stains like cocoa and dried milk.

So I kept using them and each time I used them on both colors and whites, my laundry came out looking better and better.

As I tore through my bag of pods I started using the box of powder I’d received and frankly the result was the same. I sound like a shill but I had cleaner laundry than I ever thought I could have. The samples I received have turned me into a lifetime customer and my laundry doesn’t feel like it’s been done properly without it. Biz Powder, Biz Liquid and Biz Liquid Boosters really work as promised and I say that as a typically skeptical shopper and consumer.

Biz is a product that’s been around a while, since 1968 in fact. It was invented by a Proctor and Gamble chemist and consists of a proprietary blend of enzymes, peroxide and detergent and those things work in concert with the laundry detergent you already have. The enzymes power through protein based stains, the peroxides make dye-type stains disappear and the detergents scrub through mud and dirt. It’s a winning combination that actually works.

You can buy Biz powder in most grocery stores and big boxes and it’s easy to use, even with front loading, HE machines like mine. The instructions are written clearly on the box so be sure to follow them if you have a front loader. Follow this link for  $1 off coupon that ought to help your buying decision. Many of the stores that carry the powder also carry the liquid and it works the same way as the powder does.

The Biz Liquid Booster pods are a bit harder to find but start requesting them from your grocery store. If enough people make enough noise about it, they’ll start carrying the pods as well.

Just remember that Biz is a laundry additive, not a detergent in its own right. It helps your laundry detergent do its job better. Biz powder and liquid have uses other than the laundry too. Biz powder dissolved in hot water made short work of my kitchen floors and cabinet doors when I put it through the test a couple of weeks ago. The package label has instructions for more of those other uses if you’re so inclined.


My involvement with CR Brands this year has been an eye opener for a host of reasons and the products I’ve tried out with their help really do work and in the case of Biz, those samples have turned me from a tester into a customer. So go get Biz-y and excuse my bad pun.

26 November 2018

Great Ideas for Designing a Smaller Bathroom

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Making tight small spaces look good can be a real challenge especially if you have little to no knowledge of design. But thanks to the internet, decorating your personal space can be less of a headache. These clever hacks will help you get your bath in order and on a budget!

When you’re dealing with a limited square footage, it’s normal to make function your first priority. However, it’s also easy to compromise aesthetics when you’re worried about where to put what. It gets even more challenging when you have plenty of design options but have no idea which best to adapt.

This guide helps you get the anxiety out of the way so you can take charge and make your space work for you.

Use Light Colors

Using soft, lighter shades helps disperse and reflect light producing the effect of a bigger, more open space. If you want to have a brighter bath interior, this hack is a quick fix. It’s especially useful if your bathroom has a lot of mounted and built-in features.

White is a common choice, but you can experiment with monochromes or muted tones of your favorite shades.

Use the Same Materials for Your Floors and Walls

Often, the secret to efficient bath design is to trick the eye. Aside from using lighter tones as your bathroom theme, opting for a unified wall and floor design makes it harder to differentiate where one ends and the other begins, making your space look larger than it is.

Marble works best for the purpose although tiles are a good choice as well.

Use Open Shelves

Instead of using closed-up cabinets to store your bath items, you can instead opt for open shelves. Closed cabinets add bulk to the space and usually leave no room for aesthetic play.

By using tiered, open shelves, on the other hand, you can display not only your lovely bathroom items but also some design pieces that can add character to your overall setup. Not to mention, open shelves can be placed anywhere from the back of your bathroom door to that little space between your toilet and the bathroom wall.

You may also try using ladder shelves. This is a great open-shelf idea that plays with how the mind perceives depth by using tapered lines that only accumulate bulk near the floor.

Use Mirrors

Mirrors are fantastic reflectors, and incorporating them into your design can help make the space appear roomier and open. If you’re going to use a flat mirror, go for a large one, and install it behind your sink.

Opt for the mirror to drop down the floor instead of cutting at the chest or waist. You can also strategically put a vanity opposite a window to maximize the amount of natural light that is dispersed throughout the room.

Use Space-Saving Bathroom Fixtures

This is good advice if you’re starting from scratch or doing a full remodel. With limited surface space and functionality in mind, purchase ergonomically designed bathroom fixtures that are not only functionally efficient but also space-saving.

For example, instead of buying a standard toilet model, you can opt for a macerating toilet, which is not only compact in design but also easy to install and fit into small spaces. You may also fix a towel shelf that straddles the height and length of the toilet tank. You can use this to store small bathroom items. Additionally, if you have a small space available above the tank, you can consider squeezing in a medicine cabinet.

Light Up Your Ceiling

Extend the reach of light to your ceiling to create the illusion of a larger space. You can put up sconces beside your vanities or line a LED strip around the area of the wall just immediately below the ceiling. If you prefer to use traditional bulbs, make sure you choose one with maximum luminescence so it adequately covers the whole area.

Use Plants

Plants have a way of charming up any space, no matter how small. They also work well with windowless rooms and can help tune out the claustrophobic appeal. If you want to instantly freshen up a small bathroom, integrate a small touch of green, and see your space transform.

Make it your statement piece by using a gorgeous metallic vase to add edge and character. Instead of using leafy indoor species, you may also opt for creative terrarium setups.

Although the bathroom environment can be harsh for plants, especially with its constantly changing temperature and humidity level, there are plants that can thrive its rough conditions, regardless of whether or not you have a green thumb.

Here’s a great list from Natural Living Ideas.

Final Word

Making a small bathroom look stylish and expensive is not impossible, even when you’re on a budget. Feel free to follow these tips, but don’t be afraid to experiment with your own style. The sky is the limit.

Save time and money with Dryel


A couple of months ago, my friends at CR Brands sent me a sample kit of Dryel, the at-home dry cleaner. While I was happy to receive a sample, I have to admit I was a bit of a skeptic.

About a month after I put the kit away in the laundry room, Frank and I had tickets to the Pennsylvania Ballet’s season opener in Philly and since it was kind of a big deal I had to wear a suit. I don’t have to get dressed like that very often but when I do I want to look as sharp as anyone does given the circumstances.

When I pulled out my suit I realized that there was an oil spot in the lapel I hadn’t noticed before. The suit I wanted to wear was light gray and the oil stain was as obvious as the nose on my face. I was a bit miffed but I remembered that I had a Dryel kit waiting in the wings and now was the chance to use it.


I sprayed the stain with the included stain spray and then put my entire suit into a Dryel bag along with a Dryel cleaning cloth. I put that whole shebang into the dryer and crossed my fingers. 20 minutes later I took my damp-ish suit out of the Dryel dryer bag and hung it up as instructed. In less than ten minutes, my suit was ready to wear and honestly, the oil stain on the lapel was gone completely. It was like magic. It saved me about 12 bucks, at least two day’s time and a whole lot of heartache.

Putting a wool suit in the dryer was a bit of a leap of faith but man it worked perfectly.

Dryel is a terrific product and while even they’ll admit it doesn’t replace dry cleaning completely, it’s a great way to freshen and spot clean clothes between dry cleanings. Dry cleaning anything is an expensive pain in the butt but Dryel does take away some of the sting.

Dryel works in the dryer. A Dryel kit comes with a fabric laundry bag and four cleaning cloths. The cleaning cloths are activated by the heat of the dryer and the bag concentrates the steam produced. That steam dissolves oils and odors and an included spot cleaning pen makes short work of more obvious problems like my oil stain.

Dryel’s available in the laundry aisle in most grocery stores as well as at Target and Walmart. I found it the other day at the two grocery stores I frequent, Wegmans and Giant. It retails for less than ten bucks and included in that kit are four cleaning cloths and it’s safe to consider those four cloths as four trips to the dry cleaners. Dryel kits pay for themselves after one use and that’s pretty cool.

One use turned this skeptic into a believer so give them a shot, you won’t regret it.

20 November 2018

How To Get The Right Lighting In Your Home


When it comes to interior design, it is important that you consider the lighting and how it might affect the look of the room. Getting the lighting right is not always easy but there are some things that you can do. Here, we are going to give you some tips on how you can get the right lighting in your home. Keep reading if you’d like to find out more.

Consider The Size

If you are planning on adding an interesting overhead lighting piece, then you should make sure that you get the scale right. Huge overhead lighting can work really well but you should make sure that you place other lights in the same room in the right place in relation to it. Consider going for some geometric shapes that will make your room look amazing.

Use Table Lighting

One of the mistakes that a lot of people make when lighting their home is to only use overhead lighting. Table lighting is very important, and it can really help to improve the atmosphere that the room has overall. This is why you should consider investing in some table lamps from Pagazzi.com which could look amazing in your living room, bedroom or hallway. Table lamps can totally change the entire look of the room so don’t underestimate them when planning your design.

Mix And Match 

Another great tip for those who want to get their lighting right in their home is to mix and match the colours. Think about choosing a few different lamps that you can place in the same room for a great effect. Don’t overdo it with the mix and match but make sure to make a statement with your colour choices. You will love the effect that this has on your rooms.

Choose Statement Lamps

When it comes to choosing the lamps that you are going to have in your home, think about investing in some statement pieces. These can be one of the main features in your living room or bedroom and it will impress all of your guests. Make your lamps eye catching especially if you aren’t opting for a statement ceiling light as you will need something to draw attention to.

Try Out Different Ceiling Light Styles

Our final tip for those who want to get the lighting right in their home is to try out some different ceiling light styles. You’ll find that you can get many different types of styles and it is important that you try out a few of them. Think about adding some strip lighting to one room and a chandelier to another. Try out different styles and you will be able to find one that you love. Each room has a different purpose, so it makes sense that it has a different style. While you are trying out different styles also consider different types of bulbs as these can have a massive effect on how the room appears overall.

Final Verdict

If you want to get your lighting right in your home, then you should make sure to think about the tips that we have given you in this article. Consider adding a mixture of table lamps, floor lamps and overhead lighting to each room to make it work for every occasion. You should also think about mixing and matching on your colours and designs when it comes to table lamps and make sure to try out different light bulb shades. Follow these tips and you should be able to have an amazing looking home.

15 November 2018

Holiday drain prep with Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover


It's holiday time and this marks the end of my one year brand ambassadorship with Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover.

It's hard to believe that it's been a year already and in that year I've completely changed my brand loyalties when it comes to drain cleaners. Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover just works better than its competitors and I've found that by not waiting around for a clog to form, I can pre-empt their formation all together by integrating Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover into my usual schedule of home maintenance and cleaning.


Now that the holidays are upon us, preventive maintenance is even more important.

Holiday season means a regular stream of visitors and all those visitors mean an added strain on my plumbing system. All of the additional cooking I'll be doing for the next six weeks or so will just ad to an easily overburdened plumbing system in this old house.

If I can keep my drains free flowing it'll prevent the embarrassment to me and my guests of plumbing clogs in the middle of a gathering.

Before people start coming over and before you kick your kitchen into overdrive, take a couple of moments to run some Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover through your sink and bath drains.

Roto-Rooter has more cleaning ingredients than its competitors and of equal importance, those ingredients are suspended in a thicker and more viscous solution. That means that Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover stays together as an intact mass for a longer period of time once it's sent down the drain. It holds together longer and that gives the product more time to work at dissolving the solids that are conspiring to clog your drains.

Hair from sink and shower drains doesn't stand a chance and greasy deposits from your kitchen drain won't be able to haunt you later.

As tough on clogs as Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover is, it's also safe for your drain pipes so there's no need for concern about causing any harm to your plumbing.

So ring in the holidays with clear drains!

You can buy Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover at Home Depot, Lowe's Wal-Mart and many more stores. Give it a try and you'll see what I mean.

Holiday clean with Mean Green


This is my final post of my yearlong stint as a brand ambassador for Mean Green Cleaner and Degreaser and in that year, Mean Green's gone from a product I had scant knowledge about to a product that's now the center point of my household cleaning routine.


Now that the holidays are upon us Mean Green will play a significant role in getting my house ready for company and keeping looking tip top for the duration of the season.

Holiday season means open season on drop by visits from friends and loved ones and I feel particular pressure to keep this place cleaner than usual. Not to sound too much like my mother, but I really want this place to shine when people come over.

Mean Green does a great job on my granite counters and appliances and a half cup of it in a bucket of hot water makes my travertine and wood floors cleaner than any other product I've ever found. I've found recently that it's also a great laundry pre-treatment.

I cook almost constantly and I'm forever making messes in my kitchen. It's not just the surfaces in my kitchen, as often as not I make a mess of the clothes I'm wearing. Stuff like olive oil splashed on a cotton shirt can be a real bear to get out of a cotton shirt or a pair of jeans. I've started spraying greasy spots with Mean Green right before I wash the spotted articles and it does a great job of keeping my clothes grease stain free.

After Thanksgiving, it'll be a real boon to laundering tablecloths and napkins. I'm not dreading gravy dribbles as much as I have in years past. It'll also make short work of my cooktop and wall ovens. I will be feeding multitudes and I don't particularly want my kitchen to look like it. Mean Green will come to the rescue and I don't doubt that for a second.

I cannot recommend Mean Green Cleaner and Degreaser strongly enough. Their other cleaning products are well worth giving a try as well. Of particular note is Mean Green's Kitchen All Surface Cleaner; it not only works exceptionally well it smells fantastic too.

You can buy Mean Green All Purpose Cleaner, Mean Green Cleaner and Degreaser, Auto and Garage and more at Target, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Dollar General and Family Dollar stores. Give it a shot, you will not be disappointed.

08 November 2018

How To Be Proactive When It Comes To Maintaining Your Roof


Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home and it is crucial to keep it maintained. If you don't take care of your roof, it is going to start to leak and that is going to lead to a host of expensive problems. While you should have your roof inspected once a year so you can find out about any major problems, you should also inspect your roof regularly on your own. There are things you can do that are going to extend the life of your roof and save you thousands of dollars in the process. Read on to learn the top tips that are going to ensure that your roof is going to look its best.

Keep Tree Branches Away From Your Home
Tree branches can be a big problem since they can rub on your roof and damage your shingles. Tree branches can also provide a pathway for rodents and squirrels to get access to your roof where they can chew into the leaves and make a nest. Tree limbs can also drain water onto your roof and the shade from the branch can prevent the shingles from drying properly.

Keep The Flashing In Good Order
Most roof leaks happen around the chimneys and porch because the flashing has failed. Once the flashing has failed the roof is going to leak and you are going to end up with expensive damage. The damage can cause leaks inside of your home and it can also cause wall leaks which can be expensive to repair. If you notice that your flashing is damaged you are going to want to call a roofing company right away so you can get it repaired.

Inspect Your Skylight Seals
Having a skylight is a great addition to any home and the skylights allow a lot of light to enter your home which is very attractive. Skylights can also allow water to leak into your home since the skylight seals have a tendency to leak over time. It is important to check for leaks on a regular basis and you also want to look for evidence of leaking in the wall which will show up as bulging or discoloration.

Keep The Gutters Clean
Your gutter system is a major part of your roof and if you have old and leaking gutters, it can have a negative effect on your entire roofing system. The water can breed mosquitoes and it can also cause the eaves and fascia to start rotting which invites rodents and other pests into your home. If your gutters are not in great shape you might want to consider getting an estimate to replace them. A good gutter system is also going to prevent water from running into your foundation which can lead to settling and damage over time. Inspect your gutters once a year and if you notice any problems you are going to want to get your gutters repaired right away.

Keep Heavy Snow Off The Roof 
If you live in an area of the country where it snows on a regular basis you are going to want to avoid letting heavy snow pile up on the roof. Heavy snow can put excessive stress on the rafters which can lead to a catastrophic roof failure and lots of problems. You can invest in a special snow rake for your roof that can help you knock off all of the snow before it gets too bad. Make sure that you are very careful when you use the snow rake because a large amount of snow could end up falling on your head and you could be seriously injured or even killed.

Monitor Your Roof For Lifted Shingles
If you have experienced a bad windstorm, you are going to want to check your roof for lifted shingles. The force of the wind can cause your shingles to start to lift up and this can allow water into the roof. If you have a ladder and some roofing cement, you can glue the shingles back into place yourself. If you don't have access to this equipment you can hire a roofing company to repair your roof for you.

Replace Broken And Curled Shingles
Your roof is subject to heavy stress by the environment and all this stress is going to take a toll on your roof over time. When you notice that some of the shingles are missing or starting to curl up, you are going to want to make sure that you get the problem shingles replaced. A good roofing contractor can repair all of the problematic shingles for you so your roof is like new again. If you don't replace the damaged shingles, your roof is going to leak at some point which is going to cost you money. 

Keep Your Roof Clear Of Algae
If you live in a humid area, algae can easily start to grow on your roof and this can cause damage to your roof. The algae can eat away at the shingles which is going to cause expensive roof damage. Eventually you will have to replace the shingles. When you see that algae is growing on the roof you can spray it with a mix of bleach and water which will kill the fungus.

Once you have killed the algae and fungus install zinc strips at the edge of your roof which will act as a natural fungicide and ensure that the problem doesn't come back. You can do this yourself or have a roofing service do this for you. The roofing service is going to make all the needed repairs to your roof so you don't have to worry about any more problems.

Maintaining your roof is going to be easy when you follow these tips from Armor Services and you are going to have an easier time taking care of your roofing needs. Keeping your roof in good shape is crucial and will help you avoid making expensive roofing repairs that can cost you money.

02 November 2018

A Guide to Renting Out Your Holiday Property Abroad

In recent years, it has become exponentially more accessible to make a buck or two off renting out your living space. As more and more people have considered hosting or visiting a home, numerous more platforms have surfaced to aid each party in this endeavor.

But what about when the property you wish to rent out is overseas? Do you still have the same abilities you would in your home country? Well, some additional details come into play, but we’re here to break it down for you.

Find Out Who Can Help You

Due to the increase in demand for this type of exchange, there are plenty of companies and individuals alike who will assist you in all property rental ordeals. They are educated, reliable, and people who know the process well.

For instance, if you have considered leasing any kind of home in Thailand, a property agent for Hua Hin will have the necessary resources to better assist you in going about renting it out. These resources include but are not limited to offering multilingual capabilities, knowledge of the local market, and more. They are well aware of the ins and outs of their field as they specialize in its features. Thus, they can take full control of your leasing expedition without any worry at all.

Asking for help is a good idea no matter what the circumstances are. However, it’s even more important when you are consulting with people who have knowledge of local markets for foreign real estate.


Check Legalities

Renting out your property, especially overseas, can be especially tricky when dealing with the law. Every country has its own legal system, and therefore, its own means of home owning and leasing structures.

Semantics such as insurance, liabilities, taxes (specifically for the nation in which the property resides), and more – these are key details to look into prior to putting your house or apartment up for lease. Always make sure you are doing the needed research depending upon the country of your abode. Failure to do so could end disastrously.

After all, you are no longer responsible just for your own dealings in your home country. Now your actions are overseas as well. This is one of the most imperative aspects, as it can land you in big trouble if you do not comply.

Clean Out Your Holiday Property If You Are Not There

Most likely you won’t know the individuals renting your space, and you will be miles away should anything go south. That’s why you want to make sure you clean out your home of any and all valuables well before anyone else arrives. Foreign real estate agents may be helpful in assisting you to lease the property, but once your renters are in, their actions are largely out of your hands.

Just as you would not leave expensive jewelry out in your hotel room or food in the fridge when you leave home for a while, be sure to avoid making similar trivial mistakes in your holiday property. If your belongings are stolen or used without your permission, it is a deed hard to undo. And if the food you left in the fridge rots only to be discovered by your new tenants, it is a discomfort that does not kick things off on the most positive terms.

Additionally, prepare to make some purchases for the home even when you’re away. Just like any good landlord, if something breaks or needs maintenance, it is up to you to handle it.

In Summation

There are numerous opportunities when it comes to renting out your holiday home. You can become prosperous while staying law-abiding and safe. Many nations account for property rental from abroad, and you should feel secure in your ability to lease your house so long as you follow the simple steps above.

Renting your home overseas can be a big responsibility, as you are preparing an entire space that is both your own and yet for the livelihood of another. However, it can be hugely beneficial financially and even result in making connections that transcend borders.

19 October 2018

Five useful tips to use in the kitchen

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The kitchen is an area that we spend a big part of our lives, as it is the place where we prepare our daily meals. We, therefore, need all the help we can get, and that is exactly what Kitchen Guyd is here for, to provide all the tips and advice on all things kitchen related.  In addition to that, below are a few tips that can help you on the same.

1.    Use different boards for different ingredients

If you are cutting up some fruit for dessert or for a salad, then it is best to ensure that you use a specific board for that and use a different board for the other ingredients. For instance, you may have one specific board for items such as fruit and vegetables, another one for meat and another for bread and pastries. This helps to ensure that odours and tastes of various ingredients do not get mixed up and create weird tastes. For instance, garlic and onions have very strong flavours which get caught up in almost anything. It is thus best to have a variety of chopping boards.

2.    Know how to store foods in the fridge

Fridges are a great lifesaver as they enable us to store various leftovers and hence save on cooking time, for instance, after a long day. There is, however, a mechanism that should be adhered to when storing foods in the fridge. For instance, the bottom shelves are best for your meat and poultry, all of which should be kept in clean, sealed containers. Below that go your fruit and vegetables which should be sealed in clean bags for freshness. Avoid storing items such as tomatoes which easily go bad, or onions which create an odour in your entire fridge.

3.    Using olive oils properly

There are various types of olive oils, but they can all be generally categorized into the typical pure olive oils and extra virgin olive oils. The difference in the majority of these olive oils is the process used in developing them. For example, the extra virgin olive oil is unrefined and is made without any chemical processes as compared to the pure olive oil which is not refined. The extra virgin olive oil is thus much more expensive and contains a lot of flavours. While cooking, therefore, it is best to use the pure olive oil and save the extra virgin oil for dressing as it does change its flavour under a lot of heat.

4.    Save heat when boiling water

We are always in a rush while cooking to bring water quickly to the boil. One easy and fast way to do this is by covering the water after placing it on the stove. This reduces the time needed to bring it to a boil drastically and also enhances hygiene. The same works for when cooking a dish such as pasta or rice. It will reduce the cooking time and thus will save on heat.

5.    Have a meals menu

You can make a breakfast or a dinner menu which can help you avoid the stress of deciding what to cook every day. Such a list will help you avoid situations where you don’t have all the necessary ingredients required for a particular meal. It can also be really fun to make such a list with your kids.

10 October 2018

Six Preventive Maintenance Jobs in the Home That You Should be Doing


As a homeowner, you know better than anyone that things can go wrong when you least expect it. Whether through wear and tear, environmental factors, or even weather damage, home repairs are unfortunately just part of home ownership. With that said, there are a number of preventative maintenance steps and jobs that you can be taking on a regular basis that will help to cut down on the amount of issues you may experience. Not only that, but it can help you to identify possible problem areas before the issue gets too big and out of hand.

Here we’ll take a look at six preventive steps you should be taking in order to keep your home in tip top shape.

Schedule a Regular Furnace Tune-Up

Your furnace is easily one of the most important appliances in your entire home. Without the furnace, your house can become very cold, very fast during the winter months making it uncomfortable and putting the pipes at risk of freezing. Unfortunately, most people don’t tend to give their furnace much thought until there is an issue with it. At that point you are likely looking at a repair job, which can cost a fair amount of money, and possibly some downtime where you are without a furnace.

This is exactly why it’s so important to schedule regular furnace tune-ups. This is a preventative maintenance step that will help to keep your furnace chugging along smoothly. It can also identify areas of concern before they become huge problems.

The experts at Action Furnace in Calgary AB suggest scheduling an appointment during the spring or summer months, before you are using your furnace. The last thing you want to do is fire it up for the winter only to discover it's not working properly, or at all.

You should also ask about the furnace filter as part of the tune-up, as it should at the very least be inspected if not changed out completely.

Stay on Top of Leaks

One thing that can cause significant damage to the interior and exterior of your home is water. Water damage tends to cause more issues than anything else as it can lead to rot, mildew, insect issues, and mold. The sooner you spot the issue, the faster you can get it fixed and then prevent any of those more serious issues from occurring.

So, what can you do to prevent this damage? Well the best thing to do is be wary of your home. Make sure you take regular walks around the interior and exterior specifically looking for areas of water damage. Some specific areas that you should be looking at include under pipes inside your cabinets, dripping from the toilet, a toilet that seems a bit wobbly, any dark stains on ceilings, etc.

Keep Gutters Clean and Clear

It's also important that you ensure gutters are kept clean and clear. This is especially important during the fall and spring. Build-up of leaves and debris in the gutters means the water can't follow its intended run-off path, which means it will find other areas to drip and drain into. This can end up causing water damage. Also, during the summer, the dried-up leaves can act as a fire hazard.

Test Your Smoke Alarms

This is another task that not everyone remembers but the fact is that your smoke alarm can protect your home and your family. Ideally you want to be testing your smoke alarms once a month making sure that they work. You will also want to replace the batteries in each smoke alarm twice a year just to be on the safe side. The spring and fall can be the perfect time to do this.

Check Seals on Windows and Doors

The seal on your windows and doors is what ensures that air doesn’t escape through your home and enter into it. If the seal breaks down or is damaged, you’ll need to use a lot more energy in order to keep your home cool or warm, as so much air will be escaping. Checking doors and windows a couple of times of year will help to identify if any areas need attention.

Keep the Garden Trimmed and Well Maintained When Bordering the Foundation

You will also want to be sure that you keep all your bushes and shrubs clipped and well maintained if they are bordering the foundation of your home. If there are any cracks or holes in the foundation, plants can start to grow into these areas and create a real problem. It’s wise to give things a good trimming in the spring and fall.

Simple Tasks that Can Prevent Big Issues from Occurring

By following this checklist of preventive maintenance steps around the home, you’ll be preventing some rather large and usually costly issues from happening.

03 October 2018

How To Make Your Kitchen More Glamorous


Many people want to make their home look glamorous but struggle when it comes to designing their kitchen, even woodworking artists who design their own simple furniture, need some help. Finding the right mix of practical and glamorous can be difficult but the good news is that it is possible to achieve this. You can add things like some vinyl plank flooring that will work well in your kitchen or even swap out your worktops for a newer sparkly version. In this article, we are going to give you some tips on how you can make your kitchen more glamorous. Make sure to keep reading if you’d like to find out more about turning your kitchen into the best room in your home.

Install Chandeliers

One of the best ways that you can add some glamour to your kitchen is to add some chandeliers. You will love seeing these hang above your head as they light up your room. You don’t need to have crystal chandeliers if you can’t afford it, there are plenty of other glamorous options for those with a limited budget. If you have an island in your kitchen then you should think about installing these above it as this will make it stand out even more.

Add A Sparkly Worktop

If you are trying to recreate a glamorous kitchen then you need to think about where you are going to add some sparkle. One of the best ways to add some sparkle is to get yourself one of the Black Glam sparkle laminate kitchen worktops. These worktops are easy to clean, and they will add total glamour to your kitchen. It is probably a good idea to change all of your worktops to this sparkly surface but if you want to make your island stand out then you could just make this the sparkling centerpiece. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of sparkle as this is only going to make your kitchen more glamorous.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Everyone wants to have a nice wooden floor in their kitchen for that perfect glamorous look, but it is pretty impractical to get one of these installed. This is why you should think about getting some vinyl plank flooring which will work very well and won’t be affected by the conditions that your kitchen will create. You’ll love how glamorous your kitchen looks with your brand new vinyl plank flooring.

Golden Faucets And Handles

Our next tip for those who want to make their kitchen more glamorous is to get some golden faucets installed. Think about how glam your kitchen sink would be with a nice faucet that leans over your sink and oozes class. On top of this, you should also think about changing up your handles on the cupboards and drawers and making them match the golden faucet. The more gold the better as this is the sign that something is in fact glamorous.

Open Shelving

Our final tip for transforming your kitchen into something glamorous is to add some open shelving. This is great for those who already have some nice dishes that they would like to show off to their guests. All you need to do is to install some shelving around your kitchen and place your favourite dishes on them. Make sure that you don’t fill your whole kitchen up with these shelves as you might find that having totally open shelving might make the place look a little too cluttered. You are trying to add glamour, so you need to choose the pieces that are going to stand out on your open shelves.

Final Verdict

If you want to add a bit more glamour to your kitchen then you are going to need to follow some of the tips that we have given you in this article. You should think about the different parts of your kitchen that you would like to make stand out and you can work from there when it comes to adding new features. If you have a kitchen island, then you should try to make this the focal point of the room. Think about highlighting the island using a beautiful chandelier or even changing the worktop to a sparkly one to make it stand out from the rest.

Adding glamour to your kitchen doesn’t have to stop there as you can always change the flooring to make it more aesthetically pleasing without getting rid of the practical elements that a kitchen floor requires. We think that open shelving can work really well if you do it right so make sure not to overload your kitchen with all of your things if you want to keep that glamour. Make sure that you take all of our advice on board in order to make your kitchen as glamorous as possible.


25 September 2018

Drain Clogs 101


I live in an older home and for the most part, when things are working around here I don’t pay too much attention to them. However, one of the charms of living in an older home is that the line between working quietly in the background and catastrophic failure can be a painfully thin one.

This house has been added onto at least three times in the last 50 years and with each addition, the already stretched-thin plumbing system has been stretched even thinner. When someone’s undertaking a major renovation, it’s easy to try to save money on the parts no one can see. Parts like drain lines.

While I understand the motive, I hate that I have to live with the results of someone else’s long ago decisions.

We have to have our drains cleaned professionally about once every two years. It’s expensive and disruptive while it’s happening of course but the lead up to needing it is no fun either. Our drains slow down months ahead of that point and I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks over the years that help extend the time between professional cleanings.

The first thing I’ve learned is to keep things out of the drains in the first place. Buy a decent strainer and get into the habit of using it.


Keeping things out of the drain in the first place has increased the interval of our required draining cleanings from once every nine months or so to once every year and a half. But then again, I live in an older home and we have some issues related to the drain lines themselves.

Since the last time we had our drains done I’ve been using Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover on a monthly basis and it really has keep them running and draining the way they’re supposed to.



Our house has iron waste lines, they’re the actual root of our problem and for most of you, they’re something you won’t ever have to deal with. Iron waste lines aren’t used in homes anymore for a very good reason --they degrade and rust from the inside out over time. We haven’t replaced them yet because the two lines that drain this whole house meet under a slab in our den and continue under that slab through the laundry room and garage and then they run under the driveway until they meet the city sewer line in the street.

Replacing our iron drain lines will entail jackhammering them out and in that process, we’ll have to replace the floors in the bottom third of our house and we’ll have to replace a pretty long driveway. It’s not my idea of a good time and I shudder when I think about it. In the meantime, I’m keeping those lines as clean as I can and Roto-Rooter is helping me do that.

Because our drain lines are corroding on the inside and they’re too far gone to reline, ours have to be replaced eventually. You see, corroded iron pipes develop a pitted rusted interior that catches just about anything that flows over them. I actually have video of our pipes in action and they look like the aorta of someone with a cholesterol problem.

Photo credit: Blogspot.com

Acids further corrode iron so anything I put in there has to run on the opposite end of the Ph scale --I need a good alkali and Roto-Rooter is that and more. Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover has 25% more active ingredients than its competitors and it’s thick enough to stay together until it does its job.

As Roto-Rooter Gel Clog remover works its way through my iron lines it dissolves what it comes across; be it food particles, congealed oils, hair and all of the rest of the things that get hung up in drain lines.

It’s working for me and it’s saving me from the need for yet another $700 professional clean. It’s extending the life of my pipes too. I know that I’ll still need professional cleanings and I know we have to bit the bullet and replace those iron pipes eventually. But for now I can buy some time and that’s due in a large part to some extra vigilance about sink drain hygiene and my periodic use of Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover. Give it a shot!

The power of Mean Green


Mean Green has been a part of my life for nine months already and I have to say that in all honesty, it’s become one of my go to products for cleaning up around the house. It gets used all over the place but the place where it gets used more than anywhere else is my kitchen.

I’ve been baking and cooking instructor for three years now and as culinary instruction has taken over a larger portion of my professional life, so has the amount of time I spend in our kitchen.


It seems that I’m forever testing out new recipes, developing new courses of study and prepping for classes. For example, I have a class of 20 students this week and I’m teaching them the fine art of laminating pastry dough for croissants. What this means is that I’ve spent the last two days cranking out 20 batches of croissant dough my students will later use to roll out and shape croissants. It’s a lot of fun and the expression on my students’ faces when they pull off something as deceptively complicated as a croissant makes my exploits as an instructor worth it.

In the meantime, my kitchen at home just cranked out 20 batches of dough and looks like a bomb went off in it. Baking for a household generates a mess as it is but baking for multitudes while at the same time keeping Frank and me fed leaves me with a kitchen that has to be cleaned up and cleaned up properly.

Enter Mean Green. Nothing I’ve ever used gets my granite counters so clean so quickly. My stainless cooktop stays looking new(ish) and I’ve ever started using it on my floors. I add about a quarter cup to hot mop water and my travertine floors look like something you’d find in the home of someone who doesn’t cook at all.

A year ago we replaced our dying double wall ovens with a new model from Fisher Paykel Professional and honestly, it’s the best oven I’ve ever worked with. One of the features that drew me to it in the first place is its full extension oven racks. They're great and they make using my ovens a lot easier. However, they have one design flaw and they have it in common with all oven racks. They can’t be left in the oven during the self cleaning cycle. Due to their bearings they can’t be immersed in water either.


This leaves me with a great appliance but dirty oven racks and that makes me crazy.

Again, enter Mean Green. I sit my racks in the sink, spray them with Mean Green, let them sit for five minutes and then wipe them down with a paper towel. They look brand new.

This is not some half baked endorsement of a product in exchange for a sample. Although Mean Green did send me samples I have to say that the stuff works to keep my kitchen ship shape. And given the amount of mileage I put on my kitchen that’s really saying something.

21 September 2018

5 Ways to Make Your Rooms Lighter and More Spacious


When designing a new kitchen, or indeed a house as a whole, it's essential that it's functional, of course, but also that it's spacious, stylish, and welcoming. It may be, however, that you're looking to remodel, renovate or redesign existing rooms; if so, making them appear lighter and larger can be easier than you think, and it can cost you much less than you imagine too. Here are five simple tips to help you change your rooms for the better, giving you modern kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms without losing any of their functionality.

1. Adopt a Minimalist Style

We live in an age of rapid technological advancement and innovation, and we all love a new gadget, but this and the increasingly consumer-oriented nature of society can easily lead to cluttered rooms if left unchecked. Minimalist design is the perfect antidote to this, and it's not only the height of fashion, but it will also give you rooms that have lots more space to walk around in. Minimalist design and décor can be used in every room of your house, and at its heart is the importance of space and clean lines. White and silver are the perfect minimalist colours, and these also create the impression of lighter rooms that are still warm.

2. Replace Curtains with Stylish Blinds

Curtains are very effective at blocking out light but they're not so great at letting light flood into a room, and if not carefully chosen, they can also give a room an old-fashioned feel. That's one reason that more and more people are choosing blinds for their window coverings, allowing them to regulate the amount of light entering a room with ease and precision. Elegant blinds come in many styles, designs and colours, meaning that you can easily coordinate them with your soft furnishings and walls, and expert soft furnishing companies such as freshideas.co.uk can help you find blinds that perfectly meet your requirements. They have a wide variety of blinds from the traditional roller and vertical options to motorised and child safe products. 

3. Add Up-lighting

Lighting is one of the most important aspects to consider in kitchen and interior design, as the correct lighting can show your rooms off at their very best, while understated lighting can create a less than thrilling experience. This is especially important if you like to entertain guests, and one easy way to make your home more welcoming is to install carefully positioned up-lights. Commercial and retail properties have long known the importance of up-lighting, but it can make an invaluable addition to a domestic property as well. They help to create extra light in the areas that need it most, so that they can be used to negate naturally darker areas of a room, or as feature lighting to pick out pictures or other items of décor.

4. Use the Illusion of Mirrors

There often comes a time when we feel we need just a little more space in our rooms, but moving house can be costly and expensive, and is one of the most stressful things we can do in our lives. There's another solution, however, that is much more practical and much less stressful, and that's to install beautiful mirrors in your rooms. High-quality mirrors are not only an exciting design feature in their own right, but they also create an illusion of more space in your room, which can, in turn, make them feel a more relaxing environment to live in. There are mirrors in many styles, shapes and sizes, so take the time to find a mirror or mirrors that are perfect for your home; long and wide mirrors can be particularly effective with regards to making rooms look and feel more spacious.

5. Favour Brighter Colours

Scientists have shown what artists have long known, that colours can have a massive impact on how we feel. That's why it's so important to get colours that make us feel happy and contented when we're in our own home, and the way to do this is to favour brighter colours such as yellows and light blues. We can all react differently to individual colours, however, so study colour charts and think about the effect they're having on you and your mood. Brighter colours can also make a room seem much lighter, and that can be particularly helpful when the dark, gloomy months of winter make their appearance.

These five tips can all be acted upon without having to break the bank, and yet they can have a significant transformational effect on the way your rooms look, and just as importantly on how they feel. When you remove clutter, install beautiful blinds with matching soft furnishings, adopt brighter colour schemes and add up-lighting and mirrors, you'll have rooms that seem bigger, bolder and brighter. It's a quick and easy way to turn your house into a home, and whether you're entertaining guests or just relaxing with those you love, you're sure to feel the benefits.

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