Monthly Archives: August 2015

  • Arts & Crafts: Fun Back-to-School Projects for Kids and Parents!

    Back-to-school season means a range of emotions for kids and parents. While kids may feel bummed that their summer fun is ending, parents are likely relieved to get their young ones back into the classroom. One thing that both parties can agree on however, is the fun in completing arts and crafts projects together. These projects may even get the kids more excited about starting school! Here are some fun back-to-school projects for kids and parents to work on:

    Felt Bookmarks – Bookmarks will be useful for students during the school year, for parents who love to read, and even as a gift for teachers and fellow students. Materials needed include colorful paper clips, wool felt, embroidery floss, a needle, and a pair of scissors. Kids (and parents) can get very creative with this project by creating different shapes/objects, colors, and sizes for their bookmarks.Back to School Supplies

    Pencil Holders – Colorful school crafts can simulate students and make them feel more excited about completing their work. Allowing kids to create a bright and bold object is great for expanding their creativity and imagination. Creating colorful pencil holders requires some glue dots, a recycled can, and colorful paper. This craft is great for their desk at home, or as a back-to-school present for friends and teachers.

    Dry Erase Clipboard Checklist – Creating a clipboard checklist not only sets expectations for after-school activities during the weekday, but also gives youngsters something to look forward to after completing their homework. While “homework,” “dinner,” and “reading,” can be standard checklist items, allow them to include “20 minutes of fun” so they can use that time to do (almost) anything that makes them happy. To create these clipboards, you’ll need regular acrylic paint, clipboards, white gloss vinyl, and embellishments such as ribbon, buttons, fabric, etc. If the kids enjoy this project, why not allow them to create multiple boards in various colors to give as gifts for their friends?

    Back-to-School Coffee Invitation – This craft is just for adults, and can be a fun way for parents to reconnect with each other and compare summer horror stories once kids head off on their first day of school. Write the details of the event and attach it to a stir stick. Insert the stir stick in a “to-go” cup and personally deliver to friends and neighbors.

  • Weekend Warrior: Get the Fireplace Ready for Cooler Temperatures

    As the summer winds down and cooler temperatures take over, individuals with a fireplace may want to take advantage of the feature in the coming cooler months. Mark your calendars for the start of fall, which is a great time to check that the fireplace is working properly for the cold months ahead. When taking an initial look at the fireplace, call a chimney professional should you encounter any issues that seem out of the norm. Below are features to examine when getting the fireplace ready for cooler temperatures, which any weekend warrior can handle two days:

    Visually assess the exterior – Inspect the chimney from outside and observe if it is leaning, whether any bricks or joints are chipped, and if there are holes or cracks. If the chimney is factory-built metal, look out for stains, corrosion, or loose sections. If the chimney is exposed to the attic, check there as well for any signs that repairs may be needed.Family Sitting in Front of the Fireplace

    Quality of the chimney cap – A high-quality chimney cap can reduce the damage caused by animals and water. It is not uncommon for rain and snow to enter and uncapped chimney, freeze, then thaw, and ultimately cause expansion damage. Small animals can nest in chimneys, creating blockage and potentially allowing fleas, ticks, and other disease-causing pests into the house. A good cap will keep animals at bay while shielding your roof from embers and sparks.

    Flue – The clean-out door from the base of the flue is usually located in the basement or outside the house. Use a small mirror and flashlight and look for soot buildup, cracks, holes, or separations.

    Leaks & stains – Examine the area around the chimney for stains or dampness to the flooring or carpet. Call a professional if there are indications of water around the chimney.

    Interior – Check the brickwork for signs of wear and tear. The damper should open and close easily. Finally, look into the smoke chamber above the damper for the buildup of soot.

    Maintaining the fireplace and taking care of problems will ensure you enjoy a warm and cozy atmosphere when temperatures drop.

  • Handyman Help: Considerations when Choosing Energy-Efficient Windows

    Energy-conscious homeowners looking to upgrade their space and lower costs in the long run are choosing to install energy-efficient windows. While these windows minimize the costs of heating and cooling homes, they can be a big upfront investment. Handymen who are considering energy-efficient windows for clients or their own homes can look at the following four factors when choosing an option that will be most effective for the bottom line, based on the budget: frame, glass, design, and installation.


    Vinyl – Though less expensive, properly installed vinyl windows are a practical choice. However, this option typically has limited color choices and many people do not like the look of it.

    Wood – Offers the best value but requires more upkeep than other frames. High-quality cuts and species of wood can last for years without problems. However, this many not be the best option for extremely humid or rainy climates due to the potential for rot.

    Aluminum – A practical option in rainy and humid climates, though not a top-performing frame in terms of heat transfer and loss.Energy Efficient Windows

    Wood-clad – Offers a low-maintenance exterior but a temperature-transfer-resistant wood interior. Installation involves an additional level of detail to combat water intrusion.


    U-value – measures a window unit’s resistance to heat loss

    SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) – measures how much heat enters a home through the glass.

    *For both factors above, the lower the number, the better the performance of the energy efficiency


    Double-hung windows – The bottom slides up to open the unit. Can be a good choice, but homeowners in extreme climates may consider another option due to intrusion between the sliders.

    Casement windows – Have a crank that swings the window outward to open, and seals themselves tighter in high wind conditions.

    Picture windows – Usually don’t open but come in many different shapes and sizes.


    Ensure the installation is done thoroughly. The most efficient window will not be effective if it is not installed properly. Do not rely on expanding foams or sealants to get the window to fit well as these materials are not waterproof and can still cause problems later on.

  • Arts & Crafts: Creative Ways to Display Jewelry & Accessories

    Shopping for jewelry and accessories is fun, and the more you pile them up in a single jewelry box or drawer, the more you think you don’t have enough! Displaying jewelry in an artistic way can add an appealing touch to your room, while allowing you to actually see all the beautiful pieces you already have. Here are some creative ways to display jewelry and accessories in the bedroom or closet:

    Simple bulletin board display – All you need is an old bulletin board, a yard of linen, spray adhesive, a staple gun, and individual nail heads. This is an easy, yet bold solution for displaying earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, belts, etc. in one space. Once all the jewelry has been placed on the board, you’ll have a colorful focal point!Necklaces Hanging on a Display

    Vase display – For women who don’t have many pieces, try draping accessories over a few colorful vases, which can be purchased at a thrift shop. Bracelets can be stacked in matching bowls, while a ceramic egg plate can hold earrings and rings. The combined look of the vases, bowls, and egg carton will look like an art display once you’re done.

    For the Grater Good – If earrings are your weakness, grab your old metal cheese grater from the kitchen and spray paint it to add a pop of color. Now you’ve got a retro piece to hang all your earrings.

    Rustic Driftwood Hanger – Driftwood projects add a rustic charm to any space, and depending on the season and your location, you may be able to pick it up for free. For the jewelry hanger, you’ll need the driftwood (or a branch), masking tape, paints and brushes, screw-in hooks, a hammer, pliers, and picture hangers. The bigger the piece of driftwood, the more dramatic the final look, and the more jewelry you will be able to hang.

    Tiered Tray – Using pretty old saucers (either from your garage or a thrift shop), shot glasses, and heavy-duty glue, create a tiered tray. Place your accessories on the saucer levels. Because of the fragile nature of this piece, you may opt to use this piece for your best accessories. Or, if space permits, create multiple trays of different styles and colors.

  • Safety and Sanitation: Keep the Kitchen Safe for Kids

    The kitchen is often considered the heart of a home. It provides a place for all members to interact together - whether preparing dishes, sharing meals, or just chatting around the table. While it may be one of the most family-fun rooms in the house, your kitchen also presents many hazards for young children. Here are safety and sanitary tips for the kitchen to be aware of:

    • Install protective guards or cushioning on sharp edges and corners where children could injure their eyes or bump their heads.
    • Keep the floors skid-proof with non-skid rugs.
    • Install safety latches on cupboards and cabinets that contain items that pose a risk to children.
    • Keep ovens, stoves, and burners clean and ensure they work normally on a regular basis.
    • Use back burners when cooking, if possible. Common kitchen accidents include children reaching up to grab a pot handle and spilling boiling liquids on their skin. If using the front burners, turn all pot handles toward the back.Mother and Baby Eating Vegetables in the Kitchen
    • Use stove guards to prevent children from touching hot surfaces.
    • Parents with young children may want to remove refrigerator magnets, as they can be a choking hazard.
    • Do not leave sharp objects inside the dishwasher.
    • Unplug small appliances such as toasters, blenders, coffee makers, etc. when not in use and store them out of the reach of children.
    • Do not keep a cloth on the kitchen table, as toddlers are likely to pull it down and off the table – as well as everything on top of the table.
    • Teach youngsters to wash their hands thoroughly. Keep a stepstool and soap available at the sink.
    • Wash kitchen towels regularly since they are used to wipe spills, dry dishes, dry hands, etc. You may also consider using a designated towel for drying hands.
    • Sponges should also be disposed of or cleaned regularly. Their warm and moist surface makes them perfect for the growth of bacteria. To clean, run through the dishwasher or place in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Weekend Warrior: Update up Your Home with Crown Molding

    Installing crown molding in any home or apartment is a cost-effective way to add value and character to a space. Prepare for installing the molding by purchasing a few extra yards to use for practice cuts. Also prime and paint, or stain and varnish all sides of the molding before installation – this will keep the pieces from bending and save you time in the long run. As with any weekend warrior project, wear appropriate safety gear.

    Tools and materials needed for crown molding installation include: hammer, tape measure, 4-foot level, miter saw, coping saw, a drill, clamps, stud finder, finishing nailer, caulk gun, nails, molding, caulk, and wood putty.

    To get started, plan the installation. Some joints are more visible so these are the ones you’ll want to look the best. Start on the wall opposite the door and install a piece that’s square at both ends, as this will make a good first impression to anyone entering the rom.Crown Molding on Window

    Next, measure the room and mark the stud locations, as you’ll be nailing the molding into the wall studs. Make light pencil marks high on the wall to guide you as you nail. Put the molding against your framing square and note the distance between the face of the molding and the corner. Cut a scrap to the correct dimension and draw layout lines on the ceiling and wall. Align the molding with the layout lines during installation.

    Starting with the wall opposite the door, cut the molding to the correct wall length. Mark the locations of the studs by holding the molding in place and notating the markings on the molding. Drill pilot holes the diameter of the finishing nails to prevent splitting. Nail in place.

    Lay out the cope joint on another piece of molding. Use a piece that is a few inches longer than the finished length and flex it in place. Draw a line where you’ll cut at roughly a 45-degree angle. Set up the miter saw at a 45-degree angle and proceed.

    Check the joint by fitting it against a cutoff and make the necessary adjustments. Sand and file any high spots to create a perfect fit. Nail the molding into the wall and ceiling. Putty the nail holes. Run a bead of caulk in the seam and wipe it smooth with a wet finger if you plan to paint the newly installed molding.

  • Safety and Sanitation: How to Fence Around the Pool for Child Safety

    Installing a fence around the pool adds a layer of protection to prevent children (and pets) from accidentally falling in. Before starting this safety project, check on local codes and guidelines to ensure you are aware of all regulations related to constructing a fence around the pool.

    When it comes to fencing around the pool, aluminum fencing should be considered as it is low-maintenance, easy to install, and affordable. Step one in the process of installing a fence around the pool is to excavate postholes. This requires clearing the pool area of foliage and running a string line low to the ground. Use a fence panel to mark the postholes and excavate them about 8 inches in diameter and two feet deep with a power auger.Fence Around Pool and Life Buoy

    Next, set a string line for the post tops. Allow a gap of up to 4 inches below and 2 inches above each panel, with the latch post extending about 12 inches above the gate. Position the posts in the holes and cast with concrete. To attach the panels, slide the panel brackets over the top and base rails, and raise them into position on temporary blocks. Use a level to check that they are straight. Secure the brackets to the posts.

    If your pool fence needs an angle other than 90-degrees, change the direction of the fencing by cutting the ends of the panel rails using an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel. Use spray paint to touch up the cut ends. To hang the gate, attach the self-closing hinges to the outside of the gate. Space the gate evenly and use a level to make sure it is straight. Finally, secure the latch.

    Installing a fence around the pool will not only add a layer of protection for child safety during the summer, but throughout the year as well. Accidents can happen unexpectedly during any season, and fencing around the pool allows for more peace of mind.

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