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Kitchen Remodel

Check Out Available Government Grants For Essential Home Repairs

Did you know homeowners with low incomes who need repairs to their homes might be eligible Rural Home Repair grants and/loans from USDA Rural Development? Any rural areas and communities that have a population of 20,000 or less are eligible. Types of repairs that can be done range from improving the safety or sanitary conditions of a home to correcting any safety or health hazards as well. However, grants are used for the removal and repair of safety or health hazards only.

The Purpose Of Loans And Grants

Grants are available only when the repairs or improvements will take away any safety or health hazards that have been previously identified. However, if the goal is modernizing or improving a home in addition to health/safety hazards being removed, then loan funds may be available. Also, the repairs made to a home with grant or loan funds do not have to meet the development standards of the agency, nor do all known hazards have to be removed as long there’s no further major safety/health concerns when the scheduled repairs have been done.

The work covered by authorized grants and loans includes, but isn’t totally comprised of, the following:

Sanitary Disposal Systems: repair or installation, including fixtures or plumbing, that are in line with the requirements of the area health department.

Needed Insulation

It is required, before filing the USDA Rural Development application, that the applicant is the owner and has been living in the home. A permanent foundation defined as either:

A foundation that is a complete below grade, or

The home sits on piers, blocks, or a similar foundation that has anchored tie-downs and skirting.

Maximum Amount of Grant or Loan

Rural Development rural home repair loans have a maximum limit of $20,000, either initial or subsequent, to any person.

Limitations On The Use Of Grant/Loan Funds

Grant funds or a home repair loan from Rural Development cannot be used for:

Help for the construction of a new home.

Limitations On How Grant Funds Are Used

Additionally, the grant funds from Rural Development rural home repair cannot be used for any changes made for convenience or cosmetic purposes unless those changes have a direct connection to the hazards that are being removed. The definition of convenience and cosmetic changes might include, but will not be limited to:

Any Painting

Requirements For Eligibility

Applicants for Rural Development rural home repair are expected to meet these requirements:

Must be a United States citizen.

Application is for only a Rural Development rural home repair grant.

Must be a minimum age of 62 years.

You can get additional information at any of the USDA Rural Development Offices, located in all the states, for Rural Home Repair Grant and Loan Programs.…

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General Article

An English Country Garden

An English Country Garden

Just say ‘ An English Country Garden.’ To most people, the words conjure thoughts of a colorful, scented, peaceful place, but in days of old nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact the English Country Garden was born, half from necessity and the other half by accident.

In feudal England a peasants life was harsh, they were almost slaves and the greater part of what they could grow went to their feudal lord and 10% of all they grew went as a ‘tithe’, for the upkeep of the church and the priesthood. The rest, such as it was, they could keep for themselves.

In 1348 – 1350 The Black Death ravaged England and the surviving peasants demanded higher wages, fewer working hours and even their freedom. As there was a serious shortage of workers the lords of the manor often gave in. Thirty years later a ‘poll’ or head tax was levied resulting in the Peasants Revolt. A slightly better lifestyle followed, and the lords of the manor often gave their serfs a two roomed ‘tied’ cottage with a patch of ground around it.

This small piece of land had to keep the family in as much food as possible, they would have a chicken coop for eggs and the occasional chicken, a goat for milk, and perhaps a pig to slaughter and salt as well as the ‘cess pit’ for waste.

The lady or ‘good wife’ as she was called would plant herbs for medicinal purposes such as chesty coughs, headaches, children’s complaints and of course to cook with. What was left of the ‘garden’ was taken up with vegetables such as onions, peas, beans, as well as greens and small fruit trees. There was no room for flowers. But hollyhocks, delphiniums, red-hot pokers, lupins, love- in- a- mist and many other self seeders all found a place for themselves, no planning or designing, just Mother Nature at her best.

Later, when the peasant farmers realized that adding flowers and herbs to their vegetable plot would help to attract bees to pollinate their crops, the traditional English Country Garden evolved with its deep borders and vibrant mix of scented flowers and herbs, meandering pathways and a rustic bench tucked away in a quiet corner. A bird bath to encourage songbirds, a sundial, even a small water feature would add to the gardens peaceful ambiance, but please, no ruined temples, or Chinese Pagodas, think dry stone walls, chaotic, colorful flowers and thatched roofs for the authentic English country look.

Some plants for the Perfect English Country Garden.

Old fashioned roses, Cornflowers, Hydrangeas, Forget-me-nots, Red Hot Pokers

Hollyhocks, Syringa, Tulips, Pansies, Geraniums

Lupins, Iris, Poppies, Lilacs, Lavender

Climbers

Wisteria, Honeysuckle, Sweet Peas, Clematis, Ivy, Hops

Herbs

Chives, Feverfew, Chamomile, Basil, Artemisia

Lemon Balm, Yarrow, Thyme, Rosemary,Lemon Grass

Dill, Mint, Sage, Garlic, Tarragon…

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General Article

Herbs and Their Uses – How to Go About Harvesting Herbs From Your Garden

Herbs and Their Uses – How to Go About Harvesting Herbs From Your Garden

After caring for your herbs from the infancy to adult stages it is now time put these aromatic plants to good use. Most herbs have more than one uses but before they are ready for usage it is imperative that you know the rules for harvesting first. Harvesting herbs from your garden requires a little preparatory effort before they can be used in the home. Time is crucial in harvesting the plant; to ensure that the herb’s intense flavor remains intact.

Fresh herbs are defenseless to the heat and wind during the day, and their essential oils are easily detached by these elements.

On extremely damp days however, very little oils are formed so the most suitable time to crop would be in the morning when the winds are not strong and there is usually no rain. After picking the herbs inspect it carefully and eliminate all damaged leaves. The perfect time to bring in the herb would be after the dew has dried on the leaves. When harvesting it is important that you cut off the right amount of flora, for the plant to grow back well only about one third of the plant should be removed so that there is enough foliage left.

Almost everyone wants to use the herb fresh out of their garden but the next step will be to make sure that the herbs are cleaned properly. To clean get a bowl filled with cold water, place about a tablespoon or two of salt into the water in swirl herbs gently in the water. Salt because of its acidity will kill any hidden bugs. This method works for thinner leaved herbs like thyme and rosemary. The stronger stem plants can be placed directly into the sink. This process should be done repeatedly about two to three times. Remove the herbs from the water place in a towel and pat dry. Store as desired.…

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General Article

Raised Beds: The Square Foot Gardening Technique

Raised Beds: The Square Foot Gardening Technique

The popularity of raised bed gardening is growing among home gardeners. Whether your interest is growing flowers, herbs or vegetables, raised beds offer many improvements over traditional gardens. In fact, raised bed gardening is essential in urban areas and globally in areas where arable land is hard to find.

“Raised” simply means the soil in the bed is higher than the surrounding ground. “Bed” means a small working area. Ideally, the bed should be narrow enough that it can be tended without stepping into the bed and compacting the soil within it. Raised beds can be placed on existing ground, paved driveways or patios, decks, or even elevated on legs to create a table (think: wheelchair accessible). A traditional row crop garden can even be replaced with raised beds to improve production.

The beds should be no wider than the easy reach of the gardener. Typically the beds are no more than four feet wide. Beds for young gardeners are often only three, or even two feet wide. Window boxes and deck railing boxes are special forms of raised beds that can be as little as six inches wide.

When placed on the ground, the beds may be framed or unframed. Most urban and suburban gardeners use framed beds, while those in rural or undeveloped areas generally do not frame their raised beds. When the beds are not framed, tillers or power cultivators can be used. However, properly maintained beds, whether framed or not, will not need power cultivation.

Better production is probably the most important reason to garden in these beds. According to the Ohio State University Extension, raised bed gardens yield an average of 1.24 pounds of vegetables per square foot, more than double the 0.6 pound average of the traditional home garden. One of the reasons for the increased production is that in square foot beds, vegetables are planted at higher densities. Plant spacing is minimized. The plants are close enough to shade weeds but are not overcrowded.

Raised beds offer many advantages over traditional row gardening.

Higher yields

Improved soil conditions

Ease of working

Better pest control

Water conservation

In square foot beds, the soil conditions can be more easily regulated. The soil mix can be controlled, but of even greater garden crops can be tended without compacting the soil. Soil compaction can reduce crop yields by as much as fifty percent, the OSU Extension reports. Water use is more efficient as the water can easily be directed to the plant roots where it is needed. Water is not wasted on the aisles between rows as in the traditional garden. Soil pH can be easily maintained and monitored.

Construction of raised beds is straightforward. Almost everyone has an idea about the materials and techniques to use when constructing the beds. But Mel Bartholomew, an engineer and efficiency expert, has raised the bar on raised beds! In 1981, after six years of research and experimentation, Bartholomew published The Square Foot Garden Manual. The techniques he proposed in the book virtually revolutionized raised bed gardening. In 2005, Bartholomew published a completely revised and updated All New Square Foot Gardening.

A thorough review of the new book can be found at . This book is required reading for the urban gardener or for anyone who wants to get more production from their garden space while reducing the amount of work required to maintain their garden.…

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Basement Remodeling

Spring Cleaning Safety Might Not Seem Important – But It Is!

Spring cleaning safety is something that should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when conducting a large scale clean of their home. What many people don’t realize is that a huge number of accidents occur in the home while cleaning, which therefore means that a few basic precautions should be taken by those conducting this task. These rules generally only comprise of basic common sense methods though – all of which could help to reduce the risk of an accident occurring.
The most essential piece of information to have when cleaning is what the different hazards are of the various cleaning products that are being used. Many of these comprise of hazardous substances that can not only be harmful when swallowed, but also irritate the skin when they come in contact with each other. Wearing gloves is the simplest way to combat this, as it will make it impossible for the liquid to get on to the hands, with long gloves being best so as to protect the lower arms as well.
Children in the household must be considered as well when using hazardous cleaning products. They won’t be aware of the danger that these can pose, so therefore must be kept out of their reach at all times. Should they get their hands on these, they could end up in hospital or even worse.
When cleaning high areas spring cleaning safety should be adhered to vehemently, due to the fact that falls can cause serious injuries. Most people stand on something from the house in order to reach the highest part of the room and although this isn’t ideal, there are a few steps that people can take to ensure that they don’t fall. These include ensuring that the surface is level, making sure that it is well supported and also not over-reaching when trying to clean something.
Many people use ladders to reach the harder to reach areas, and these also have a number of hazards. The first consideration should be whether the ladder is properly locked in to place, as if it is not it could collapse and therefore cause the user to fall and injure themselves. It should also be placed on a level surface and the user should not exceed the maximum weight capacity for it.
Spring cleaning safety also comes in to play when carrying heavy objects around the home, including the vacuum cleaner and possibly boxes of trash that has been cleared away. One should always remember to allow their knees to take the weight when lifting, otherwise the back could become damaged. An injured back can mean a long period of pain and should be avoided at all costs.
When carrying items, one should also ensure that they only carry what they can manage and that they make multiple trips if the load is too big. Carrying a load that is too heavy will increase the likelihood of falls and therefore of injury.
It is clear to see that there are a number of spring cleaning safety tips that should always be followed. If they are then the homeowner can be sure that they won’t injure themselves – either in a minor way or seriously – throughout the whole process.…

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Remodel Kitchen

Simple Ideas for Updating Your Bathroom

Remodeling your entire bathroom can be an extensive and costly task. Thankfully, there are many small updates that can be made that will make just as large an impact on the look and function of your room. These small updates require little time, little knowledge of home improvement and won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Replace your fixtures. The two main fixtures that should be replaced are the faucets and shower heads The faucet is used by essentially everyone who enters the bathroom, so having one that is up-to-date, functional and attractive is a must. Many times, people use the default shower head that came with their home- these are usually older and may be rusted. Updating to a new shower head is inexpensive and easy. They make a variety of water-efficient ones that are great for those who want to “go green”.
Replace any old hardware. It is amazing the difference new cabinet knobs and towel racks will have on the space.
Make everything matches. In many bathrooms, things are mismatched and there isn’t an overall aesthetic going on. Many times, people don’t see the decor of bathrooms to be as important as a living room or kitchen. However, by choosing towels, bath mats and shower curtains that all go together, your bathroom will become more inviting. Replace old hardware and knobs so that they all match. For example, make everything stainless steel or brushed nickel so it is cohesive. Adding a few paintings or simple decor items will also help make your bathroom a more inviting space.
Switch up the lighting. The bathroom is a room where good lighting is a must. You need proper lighting to see while showering and bathing, as well as when applying make-up, cleaning your face or brushing your teeth in the sink. Choose high-quality and ample lighting fixtures to replace old ones.Always replace burned-out bulbs with new ones so the lighting is as bright as possible. For more ambient lighting, install a dimmer switch if needed. Nice quality light will make you feel and look better.
Update your cabinets. Putting in new cabinets altogether can be time-consuming and pricey, so by updating them just a little, you can see benefits. Your options include painting your cabinets a new color, refinishing them, applying a light glaze or gloss, simply giving them a good clean or replacing the cabinet doors. Adding new hardware also can spruce up the look of your bathroom. Replacing the sink top is another option that will give you bang for the buck.…