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Basement Renovations

Kitchen Remodel Ideas: Renovating a Kitchen Is Definitely More Than Just a Few Ideas

Renovating a home is overwhelming for most people and a lot of people put off doing a kitchen remodel because of all the work it takes. There are too many choices today in the market place. Unless you are lucky to find a good contractor who can design, provide all the products and install in your area, it can be a daunting task. Of course there are the few who love the challenge but the opportune words there are a few.
In 1999 my wife and I bought our home. The homes are very expensive in New York City so we bought a home that needed a lot of work. In 2004 after living in our home for about 5 years both my wife and I had just about enough with our cold, poorly designed old kitchen. By this time our third child was born. It is well known that most people’s priorities change rapidly when your kids are small and you are struggling to raise them. We had put it off long enough
We decided to research some kitchen remodel ideas and plan on getting our kitchen done finally. We got 3 estimates and one of the contractors charged us $500 dollars for his time to design our kitchen and that layout just did not work for us at all. After a dispute with my wife for giving them the money we both decided to design the kitchen ourselves. What I am about to tell you now was a turning point in my life and lead me to where I am today designing many kitchens. There are plenty of companies giving free design estimates so don’t be fooled
The contractor we choose to do our kitchen took over 3 months to complete it and it was one of the most stressful times of my life. So many things I saw that were just not acceptable like not putting in enough insulation, building the interior walls too far from our brick interior and because of this we had to reorder kitchen cabinets. Always make sure to have a time line written in the contract specifying how long the project will take.
The ceilings were un-level. There was garbage thrown out our new custom window scratching it. Our dining room floors were damaged and much more. We were robbed during this project and today I am on a mission to educate consumers on the reasons why it is so important to make sure to get a good reliable contractor who does background checks on their workers as well as checking to see if they have enough insurance.
Now my passion is helping people who have smaller kitchens. It is the central meeting place of the home and it is important it functions well. Designing kitchens and using good kitchen remodel ideas is very satisfying. There are companies that bring the selections to your home and help with cabinet styles, counter tops, back splashes and floors as well as quickly show consumers how their kitchen will look after the construction process is complete.
Don’t give up on your dream. If you do your due diligence and call companies like Service Magic who will give you only reputable contractors you should be fine. Check out Angles List, Consumers affairs and BBB. Of course getting referrals is always a good idea but make sure that the people working in your home are the same crew your friend had. This can make a huge difference.…

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General Article

The Perfect Lawn

The Perfect Lawn

Establishing a beautiful lawn is not easy. I will be the first person to tell you, weed free lawns take time and patients. When you look at the different lawns, you will notice the homeowners that understand, the homeowners that do not, and it might cross your mind that weeds are not shy. Weeds come up and do not go away. There are a couple of tricks to getting weeds to disappear, depending on the type. Dandelions are the biggest of the weed problems. You can see this first hand by driving down the street in early April or May, depending on where you live.

Now how do I get rid of them, the magic question asked? Once the weeds are in eye sight, spraying the weeds works the best. I use a special sprayer attachment called an “Ortho Sprayer”, for the garden hose. You can buy this sprayer at your local hardware store for twelve dollars. Fill this neat little sprayer up with Weed-B-Gon (Scotts product) weed killer. Make sure the dial on the sprayer is set to two or two and half, so it will just kill the Dandelions. Set incorrectly could hurt your grass or not kill the Dandelions at all. If Weed-B-Gon does not work, there is brush killer you can spray down. If your lawn is that badly consumed by weeds, brush killer does a great job at killing weeds.

Before seeding you are going to want to spread down some 10-10-10, 12-12-12, or 15-15-15 fertilizer. Test your soil (Testing kits can be bought at your local garden store) before using, so you can control the amount of phosphorus you are spreading down. Controlling phosphorus is especially important, if you are a lake community home owner. I found this out after talking with a lawn care specialist who stopped by my house, thank you for this advice. Phosphorus promotes algae and weed growth, and kills fish too. In the spring time, put down your straight hundred percent weed killer before the soil temperature reaches fifty degrees. Reason, to catch the soil temperature early, so no seed germination happens. After this step, wait a couple of weeks, test your soil, and put your 10-10-10, 12-12-12, or 15-15-15 straight fertilizer down on your lawn. Periodically test your soil throughout the season, and fertilize again if needed. GrubEx (Scotts product) grub control has worked fine for me for years. Correct time of GrubEx application depends on your area.

For seeding I recommend buying some hundred percent Fescue grass, and use a spreader to spread your grass seed onto your yard. Reason for Fescue, takes the least amount of water, and is very hardy to traffic. This is the grass used on football fields. After spreading, rake the seed to make soil seed contact, this step is very important. After raking, water daily, keep moist until grass is about two inches, and then cut with lawn mower.

Folks walking and driving by will gaze at the beauty of your yard for years to come.…

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General Article

The Popular and Modern Uses of Ceramics

The Popular and Modern Uses of Ceramics

If you have ever experienced drilling ceramic tile or removing ceramic tile, you already know how tough ceramics really are. These tasks are not easy, and will make you realize why ceramics have gained their popularity in the whole world. Not only are they used as kitchen wares like a ceramic tea strainer, a tea pot, or even ceramic dog bowls, they are also very popular as ceramic garden stool and ceramic garden pixies. They can withstand a wide range of temperatures especially hot ones, and for this reason, plates or bowls made of ceramics are microwavable and dish washable making them very easy to clean. As you can see ceramics are not just used or displayed inside the house, since they are able to endure any weather conditions, and can last for a long time, placing ceramic house numbers to identify your home address have become a popular and fashionable thing to do. Most items made of ceramics are beautifully painted by hand, and although some of them may cost a bit much, the durability of these items are absolutely worth every penny.

Ceramics are not just used for home decorations though, believe it or not, this material has contributed in the development of our modern day technology. Take for example the piezoelectric effect, which says that crystal-like materials, such as bones, and of course ceramics can produce electricity and voltage when a mechanical force is applied to them. This effect had given birth to Piezo ceramic element which is now being used by speakers, and most probably even your headphones and microphones. It is also notable that in the world of automotives, more and more vehicles are shifting to the use of ceramic brake pads. These pads offer quite a few advantages as compared to the materials used in the past. Unlike asbestos, using them will not cause health issues, and they are more silent and tougher than steel brake pads. Ceramic ball bearings have also been introduced to reduce the friction on wheels and machines. They are lighter than steel bearings, therefore able to reduce friction a lot more and can help reach the machine’s true speed potential.…

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General Article

Outdoor Cats – Advice For Cat Owners and Proud Gardeners

Outdoor Cats – Advice For Cat Owners and Proud Gardeners

Cats like to roam. They like to be able to explore their territories, have some leisurely sunbathing spells when it’s warm and chase leaves when autumn arrives. Most people enjoy the company of cats going about their business, but some are less than thrilled. Not everyone likes cats, and they like it even less when their neatly kept gardens are affected.

It’s often assumed that cats can easily be turned into indoor pets. It’s certainly safer in certain areas, such as cities with lots of traffic, to keep your feline companion inside the house. Some cats don’t even want to venture outdoors; they’re quite contented snuggling up in front of the fireplace, so long as there are toys and interesting hiding places around for their entertainment.

In dangerous areas (dangerous to cats, at least), the average lifespan of an indoors feline is dramatically higher than the average lifespan of an outdoorsy cat. This stands to reason. Busy roads claim many victims, and there’s the risk of other wild animals, unsuitable food and a myriad of places for a cat to get stuck or hurt.

However, not every cat is contented with a safe, peaceful existence. That is why, especially in quieter areas and in the countryside, many people will allow their felines to explore the outdoors. There are risks, of course, but there are health benefits for the cats as well, like sensory and mental stimulation, and plenty of exercise.

Some cats are adopted as adults, and if they’ve been an outdoors cat all their lives, it’s difficult for them to adjust to such a big change. Some have a restless nature and get depressed when unable to roam.

The decision on whether or not to allow your cat out is down to you and the circumstances around you. You know best about the nature of your feline and the risks present in your immediate area.

If you do have an outdoors cat, I recommend getting them neutered/spayed. A neutered cat tends to stay closer to the home, which is helpful. It will also prevent unexpected kittens, either in your home or someone else’s!

There is the risk that not everyone will be thrilled about your cat’s outdoors adventures. Unfortunately, some people express their discontent in terrible ways, causing harm to felines and subsequent grief to owners.

Cats don’t acknowledge borders. They don’t understand that someone’s meticulously kept flowerbeds have not been placed there for digging and rolling around in. It can be helpful to have a chat with your neighbours and see how they feel about wandering cats.

There are ways to discourage cats from gardens. Cayenne pepper and mustard seeds are said to deter cats, but they can also deter other small mammals. Lemon-thyme, geranium and lavender are said to be unpopular with cats. Used tea leaves can be placed onto the garden soil to deter felines.

Most cats don’t like water, and a sprinkle from a water bottle won’t harm them but will very likely chase them away!

And odd but apparently effective solution is the use of lion or tiger droppings (available from some zoos). Dissolve a lump into a watering can and spray it around the garden.

Placing a length of hosepipe amongst your plants can help, because cats might confuse it for a snake and stay clear!

There are sprays for sale, but please make certain to check the ingredients, because some are harmful to cats and other wildlife. And whilst some people recommend the use of mothballs, they are toxic, so I certainly would not recommend them.

It really is best to communicate with your neighbours (and possibly share these tips). Many neighbours will welcome cats, but it’s advisable to make certain. Besides, if they welcome your feline, they’re more likely to keep an eye out for them which decreases the risks of the outdoors.…

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General Article

Tips on Choosing and Planting a Garden Tree

Tips on Choosing and Planting a Garden Tree

Garden Trees – How To Plant Them

Trees can make or break a garden design. Too many of them, or unsuitable kinds, can rob the garden of light and the soil of food and moisture, making it impossible to grow anything else very well. A few well placed trees that are well chosen can give a garden distinction and provide a welcome summer shaded area. Large trees, such as oak, poplar, beech, willow, cedar, pine and fir, should only be chosen for larger gardens. You can, however, find some of these in a form that will be acceptable in a smaller garden. One such example would be the Tulip Tree.

Conifers, of which cypress, cedar, juniper, fir, and pine are familiar examples. Conifers will have narrow leaves, and sometimes even needle-like leaves. The majority of this type, but not all, are evergreen. There are not many other types of evergreen trees. For this reason, they do play a special part in the over all look of the garden. Many of these are conical in habit, and contrast greatly to the more rounded shapes of broad-leaved trees. Though naturally green leaved, some conifers produce varieties with leaves of different colors, usually a blue gray or golden color. Once trees are planted, they are likely to remain for a great many years.

Getting Ready to Plant

It is very important for the hole to be wide enough and deep enough to give roots the space they need to grow to maturity with ease. I always recommend filling the hole first with water, and then allowing the water to soak back into the soil before planting. Do not put the roots down into a pool of water because you do not know how long it will take for the water to soak back into the ground. By doing this you will know that the roots will make contact with moist soil. Once the hole is prepared and you place the tree where you want it, check the to make sure the depth is correct. A good check would be to see if the soil mark on the trunk is at least one inch below the soil level. Once this is done, firm the soil down around the roots using your foot or the end of your shovel. If your tree is small, you will need to put a few stakes around the perimeter of the tree and tie the main stem securely to the stakes. This will help your tree grow straight, as well as preventing overturning or lending due to strong winds.

Trees should have a cultivated circle of at least 4 feet in diameter around them for the first few years. A good feeding is recommended for young trees each spring. When applying fertilizer, be sure to read the directions for the particular product you are using as many will vary. Over fertilizing and over watering are some of the main causes of disappointment when growing trees, and is the case with most plants.…

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General Article

Deer Repellent Fence – The Best First Line of Defense

Deer Repellent Fence – The Best First Line of Defense

Damage to home gardens, shrubs and plants caused by deer is becoming a more frequent occurrence among many homeowners in both rural and urban areas. Although they can be fascinating to watch, deer can cause extensive damage by feeding on plants and rubbing antlers against trees. Damage from feeding is most common in the spring on new plant growth.

Using deer-resistant plant varieties is a good first step in preventing damage, but it is absolutely not foolproof. Although there are many plant varieties deer prefer more than others, no plant is “deer-proof”. Even if you’ve planted deer-resistant varieties, you will need to protect them. Deer fencing is considered by many to be the most effective first line of defense.

A sturdy deer fence, a minimum of 7 to 8 foot high, constructed with thick-gauge metal mesh, and electrified if possible, is very effective in keeping even a hungry, motivated deer away from your garden or landscape. However, depending on the size of the area to be protected, it may not be practical or cost-effective.

An important note: a rigid fence with sturdy metal mesh is most effective. Flexible deer “netting” is less expensive, but also less effective at keeping deer out of an area when used as a perimeter fence. Hungry deer will usually test it and can easily knock it down or push through it to get to a meal on the other side. Netting CAN be effective at protecting small trees from antler “rub” damage when its wrapped around the trunk of the tree. Sections of corrugated drainage pipe, split and wrapped around the tree trunk is also a very effective deterrent.

Some people believe a smaller fence, 4 to 6 foot high, can still be effective in turning away deer, especially if there are other sources of food nearby that are unprotected. (like your neighbors yard full of delicious plants!) This may be true and certainly any fence is better than no fence at all. A deer, however, can jump over these smaller fences effortlessly. If a smaller fence is the only thing standing between a deer and your prized vegetable garden, you will probably want to strongly consider additional repellents. These might include mechanical repellents (motion-activated sound and sprinkler devices), homemade methods (hair, soap, egg mixtures) and commercial (spray and pellet) repellents.

Final Recommendations

1. When planting, use deer-resistant varieties that are less appealing to deer as a preventative measure.

2. Slow them down with a fence. An 7-8 foot high fence may not be practical but a smaller one is better than nothing.

3. To insure maximum protection, you should also use mechanical, homemade and commercial spray and pellet deterrents.

4. A combination of a fence and one of these other deterrents will provide better protection. A fence and two others, better protection… and the multiple methods should be alternated week to week to avoid deer getting used to, and eventually over-looking, any of the regularly-used repellents.…

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General Article

Ethiopia – The Land of Wild Forest Coffees That Taste Like Wine

Ethiopia – The Land of Wild Forest Coffees That Taste Like Wine

Where does the name Ethiopia come from? It is derived from the Greek form, “aithiopia,” which is made up of two words: “aitho” (I burn) and “ops” (face.). It means the land of scorched faces, a reference to the country’s many ethnic groups and mixed populations living together.

The Greeks called all peoples south of Egypt, “Ethiopians.” The area “south of Egypt” was the area now known as Nubia. Modern usage of the word transferred this name further south and came to include land and peoples known in the late 19th and 20th century as Abyssinia. This name is actually of uncertain origin and many people consider it to be an Arabic word meaning “mixed.” An additional interpretation that is very appropriate for the coffee tradition that Ethiopia represents is the description of Ethiopia as a land of “spices, perfumes and fragrances.”

Ethiopia has ideal coffee growing conditions in the East, South and Western areas of the country. Coffee grows naturally and benefits from the altitude, ample rainfall, temperature and fertile soils. Ethiopia produces wonderful Arabica coffees. Ethiopian coffee farming has changed little over the centuries.

The coffee falls in one of the following categories: Forest or Wild Coffee; Semi-Forest Coffee, and Garden Coffee.

Most of the Forest Coffee is still collected from naturally seeded wild trees. For the production of Semi-Forest and Garden Coffee, Ethiopians follow naturally developed sustainable practices.

About 90% to 95% of all Ethiopian coffee can be classified as having one of the previously mentioned origins.

Ethiopians can boast about one amazing coffee fact: Ethiopian coffee, by nature alone, is the world’s most organically pure and authentic origin coffee.

Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest producer of the crop. In 2009, the coffee harvest in Ethiopia was at least 25% higher than in 2008, according to the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. The primary reason for the increase was the result of the introduction of a new quality-certification system, improved support to farmers from government agents and greater use of the exchange by traders. Improved quality means higher consumption because buyers are willing to pay more for better coffee. This is good news and if the trend continues, Ethiopian coffee will continue to increase its market share.

Ethiopian coffee is known for its berry like acidity, rich aroma and full-bodied flavor.

Without a doubt, Ethiopia produces some of the most unique coffee beans in the world today: they express floral and citrus notes with particular intensity.

The tasting notes are “citrusy” with hints of flowers and honey.

The floral character explores the sweet acidic notes of berries and citrus.

Ethiopia’s highly aromatic coffee is sprinkled with toasty notes of nuts and nuances of creamy milk chocolates.

Ethiopian coffee has a smooth finish, almost like fine wine.

A cooking tip with coffee: Ready to grill some chicken or other fowl for a meal? As an accent, try this woodsy, full-bodied sauce:

1 cup blackberries

5 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon mustard and

1 tablespoon ground coffee.

Puree the blackberries, sugar, mustard and coffee, then add about 1/3 cup or less chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste.

Pour through a sieve into a pan or small container. Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour on top of the grilled chicken when serving…..delicious!

And, of course, as grand finale, prepare a cup of specialty Ethiopian Longberry Harrar coffee!…