Sunday, December 12, 2010

Caulking Tips

We live life -- and things gradually age and get old. Many people neglect the relatively easy job of caulking around sinks, showers and bathtubs because they are afraid they won't get the neat, professional look that handymen and contractors get. Here are some tips so you can get professional, sharp edges -- and refresh your home.

What you'll need:
  • Knife
  • Caulk (silicone for wet areas in the bathroom and kitchen, latex for dry areas). GE SiliconeII and PolySeamSeal Tub & Tile Adhesive caulk are recommended for wet areas.
  • Caulk Gun
  • Painters or Masking Tape
  • Alcohol (or soapy water) - if using silicone caulk
  • Rags or paper towels.
Now, let's get down to business:
  1. Use the knife to help you clean the areas to be caulked. Then, vacuum the area. Any debris will prevent the silicone from sticking. Note that if the gap is more then 1/2", you might want to "build up the area" to give the caulk more support.
  2. Use the painters or masking tape to tape around both sides of the joint. About 1/4" is good and gives a neater look. Smaller is better; you can even just get the caulk in the crack! Make sure the tape is straight and down firmly -- it's there to catch the excess caulk.
  3. Caulk slowly and steadily. Try to get a good, consistent, bead in the joint -- but don't worry if you don't get it perfect now: we'll press the caulk in later. Caulk one section (say two to eight feet) at a time so you have time to do the next few steps before the caulk starts to dry.
  4. Wet your finger with water (alcohol or soapy water for silicone caulk) and run your finger (or rounded tool) along the joint and press the caulk into the joint. Use the rag or paper towels to clean the excess off of your fingers and then re-wet your finger with water or alcohol.
  5. Immediately pull the tape up in the area you have caulked. You don't want the silicone to dry before you do this step. Watch the angle you pull the caulk up -- to avoid smudging.
And, that's it: you should have a neat, professional-looking appearance. Good luck.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Humidity for Musical Instruments (and Humans!)

Winter is here -- and the air is getting dryer -- particularly when the heat is on. This is especially true in the northern areas of the country.  Below is some info on humidity levels; please run your humidifiers to protect your musical instruments, your skin -- and prevent static shocks!

  • Piano:  one of our friends, a piano tuner -- says that 42% humidity is ideal for a piano.
  • Instruments such as fine violins like humidity in that range as well.  
  • Less than 30% humidity is dangerous for valuable wooden instruments. 
  • 35% is on the low side; 40% or more is safe.  
You can run humidifiers and use hygrometers to monitor the humidity in your home.  Increasing the humidity in your home during the dry winter months will make your musical instruments happier -- as well as your skin!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Refrigerator and Freezer Temperature

Do you know what temperature your freezer and refrigerator are? Your freezer should be set to zero degrees F. Yes: that's way colder than the freezing temperature (32 degrees F) of water -- but certain yeasts and bacteria can start growing at 15 degrees F. Freezer temperatures shouldn't reach more than 5 degrees F. Note that if your freezer can't keep ice cream hard, then it is above the recommended level. Keep the freezer at 5 degrees or colder, preferably 0 degrees F.

The temperature in your refrigerator should be between 34 degrees F and 40 degrees F. You don't want things to freeze, but you also want to keep your food from spoiling as much as possible. Bacteria can really start growing fast at 40 degrees or higher. Get a thermometer and move it around to different parts of your freezer and refrigerator. It's actually sort of fun and interesting -- and most importantly, will keep your food happier.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ice Cream Flavors and Recommended Book

Our freezer has had up to eight different flavors in it. We've had everything from fairly standard flavors like chocolate, cookies and cream, strawberry and blueberry to exotic flavors like bacon and spam! Here are some of our favorites:
  • Corn Ice Cream
  • Bacon and Spam
  • Peanut Butter
Please tell us some of your favorites -- especially exotic flavors.

Here is one of our favorite books.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Water Filters -- good for vacation travels

Pur & Brita water filter info

I like the Pur filter for slightly better filtering action when we travel.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ice Cream Makers with Compressors

Summer is coming up fast -- and we've been whipping up all kinds of ice cream at home. We did a lot of research on ice cream makers -- and here are some notes.  We like the ice cream makers that have their own compressor.  They will really freeze the ice cream.  However, they are more expensive machines due to the compressor.

This Lello is one of the high-end models for the home.  The Lello 4080 has its own compressor, so it makes ice cream fast (less than 30 minutes) and does not take up room in your freezer with a freezer bowl.

The Lello's are high-quality machines.  This stainless steel machine looks beautiful -- but is expensive.  It has a metal stirrer -- which makes the whole machine seem sturdier.

The Lello 4070 is a great option as well.  The Lello name -- with a compressor.  The stirrer is plastic -- but the machine works as well as the Lello 4080 with the sturdy metal stirrer.

DeLonghi has come out with an ice cream maker with a compressor as well.  This look like good options if you do not need the Lello name.

We'll review a few ice cream machines that do not have their own compressor -- so they run more in the $40-$100 range.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Travel Agent Discount Code

If you would like to use our affiliate travel agent code, please contact us for our affiliate travel agent discount code -- and use the travel agent affiliate code (IATA) when you book travel.  

This savings can result in about 5%-7% of hotel stays, cruises, etc.  Travel is expensive, so this savings can be significant.

We'll send you the code and instructions on how to receive the affiliate travel agent commission savings.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lawn Care: Aeration & Compost

After days of rain, the sun is out today! There's always a silver lining...

It's best to aerate the lawn after rain, so I will be aerating the lawn later today. Remember to aerate using a device that pulls cores out of the lawn, and doesn't just poke holes.

Aerating is a great thing for your lawn. It removes thatch, loosens compacted soil, and allows nitrients to get to the roots of your lwan more easily. Some tips on aerating:
  • A device that removes cores of soil and thatch is MUCH better than the devices that just poke holes in the lawn. You can buy a device that you step on to aerate your lawn or rent a heavier-duty machine.
  • Aerate before the active-growing time of your lawn; and not when weeds are actively growing (can stir up weed infestation).
  • Don't aerate during periods of heat and drought. Opening up the lawn during times of stress like that can hurt your lawn.
While I'm at it, once I aerate the lawn, I lay down some compost/manure/good topsoil.
  • I use a broom or light rake to level the compost.
  • This is also a good time to level out your lawn. If there are any dips or lower areas, you can lay a little more in those areas. (Speaking of lower areas, if you DO have minor dips in your lawn, you can lay thin layers every month or so to build that area up).
  • Finally, I water everthing to wash things down -- and avoid smothering the grass.
This should give the lawn a good jumpstart to the growing season. Here's to a beautiful, thick, lush, green lawn that you can be proud of.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lawn Care: Spring is Coming (Lime!)

JUST a heads up: I am laying some lime down right now...

Spring is coming -- and it's almost time to get your lawn into shape. When you are out running errands, make sure you get your fertilizer, lime, and compost/manure. More on compost/manure and aeration soon.
  • Most people know it's good to lay down fertilizer. It's best to feed your lawn at least 3-4 times a year. However, if you only do 2, make sure you do your fall feeding (helps promote strong roots for the winter and starts the spring off stronger) and early spring feeding. I like to spread out feedings and do 1 or 2 feedings during the growing season -- as well as a winterization (just before the lawn goes dormant).
  • Thus, for Fertilizing, I aim for April (after first short mowing), June, August, and Oct.
  • Lime: The ph of soil in the Eastern Part of the US is relatively low due to rain and humidity. Rainfall leaches calcium and magnesium from the soil, creating an "acid" condition or low ph (below the 6.2 to 6.5 ph desired by healthy lawns). The low ph prevents the grass from absorbing nutrients and giving us the nice green color we like.
  • First, test the soil to make sure you need lime. The best time to lay lime down is the fall, so it has time to settle in. Some like to lime in the early spring to get ready for the growing season. When you lime, try to space it between (or before!) fertilizing your lawn.
  • I like to lime either in the fall (after the last feeding) or spring (before the first feeding).