Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Natural Light Sources Creates Mood And Captures The Moment

Natural light sources are an important element in bringing out the best in the color scheme. If light enters through side windows, a dark ceiling will make the room look gloomy. If the light comes in at an angle it is wise to paint the floor a pale color.

Here are ten household helpful hints for natural light sources:

1 Control the light using blinds and curtains, always adapting it to the needs of every moment.

2 Soften the contrast produced by window and the dark surrounding wall by focusing artificial light onto the latter.

3 Emphasize the beauty of an especially compelling piece of furniture by spotlighting it.

4 In work areas the specific lighting must be from the left for right-handed people and vice versa.

5 The direct light from a hanging lamp must always be below eye-level, otherwise it will blind us.

6 Use subtle general lighting so that the transition from a bright area to a dark one is not painful for the eyes.

7 Make sure that the light in a work area is compensated by the surrounding lighting so that you do not strain your eyes.

8 Use freestanding lamps and floor lamps in spaces where the furniture’s is frequently rearranged, these types of lamps offer adaptable solutions.

9 A highly reflective surface (the whiter the better) helps to multiply the light and to diffuse it all over the space.

10 In small rooms pale-colored walls give acceptable lighting. A darker ceiling breaks the monotony and provides contrast.

Bearing in mind all these factors, you should analyze the daylight in your house throughout the day and then plan the artificial lighting.

About The Author
Roger King has been involved in home interior designs for several years, and has been helping people find and review the best value for interior design solutions. Visit his Web site to learn more about this service.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Process Of Making Curtains Is Easier Than Ever Before

Looking for elegant window treatment ideas? One way of achieving it is by draping or swaging fabric loosely around a rod, and just letting the fabric pond on the floor, or fall at any length along the sides of the window. Depending on the fabric, you may only need to hem the ends for those who do not sew.

Nowadays, dressing a window involves establishing decorative schemes with fabrics and taking advantage of the visual potential of curtain accessories such as edgings, tiebacks, cornices, and valances. Ready-made tiebacks of cord and rope, complete with tassels, can be bought, or you can make your own out of fabric in a variety of shapes.

Begin by examining your practical requirements; take into account the shape and size of your windows, the need for privacy, and the overall decorative style and color scheme of the room. Before you begin to make your curtains, you must decide on the type of hanging system you intend to use. You may wish to add accessories and fixture to your curtain hanging system that allows you to completely personalize your curtains.

Hanging fabric over a window or door creates a strong visual focus in any room. The amount of fabric needed is affected by the width of the opening, type of hanging system style. Translucent fabric makes ideal curtain material when daytime privacy is desired. For the most part, the effect of a curtain will determine the character of a room.

Unlined fabric may be well suited to frequent washing, so curtains made from this material are particularly appropriate for the most extensively used rooms of a home, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Finding a trimming of a curtain weight, size, pattern, and color to suit your particular curtain fabric should not be difficult because of the wide range of trimmings that exists.

About The Author
Roger King has been involved in window treatment ideas for several years, and has been helping people find and review the best value for window treatment solutions. Visit his web site to learn more about this service.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Garage Door Springs - Some Safety Concerns

The springs on your garage door can pose a safety hazard. A door spring that breaks or shatters can send sharp shrapnel flying in any direction of the garage. Anyone inside the garage if that happens is at serious risk of injury.

Modern roll up garage door styles pose little risk in the event of spring breakage or shattering. These kinds of springs are installed over a shaft that helps roll the door up to the open position. The shaft also acts as a retainer so that broken springs are not allowed to go ballistic.

On the other hand, the flip up style of garage doors can be a different situation. Old springs are subject to sending ballistic chinks of steel flying around your garage in the event of a failure.

These old un-safe springs can be identified quite easily, because newer springs have a core rod that is retained inside the coil of the spring. This is a built-in safety feature, because the core rod will retain any chunks of spring in the event of breakage. Look at new springs in your local hardware store. You can easily see the core retaining rod running the length of the spring.

If your old flip up garage door springs do not include any such rod, it's best to replace them. But replacing springs can cost upwards of $100 depending on locality. There is a simple way to make perfectly good old springs as safe as new ones with some 1/8 inch cable.

Close the door to extend the springs to their maximum position, and measure the length. Double it and add two feet. For example, a spring, when extended measures 4.5 feet. Doubled is 9 feet, and add 2 feet for a total of 11 feet. You will need 11 feet of cable for each spring. Add one cable clamp per spring to your shopping list.

Thread the cable up the center of the spring, and back down outside the spring, forming a loop. Then use the cable clamps to clamp the ends together. Simple enough, you've just made a retainer to keep the spring safe should the spring shatter.

If your door uses two springs on each side, add another foot (12 feet) to the length, and run the cable up the center of one spring, and down the center of the other - there, you just cut the cost of this project in half, and your garage is much safer.

Your best bet is to just replace the springs with modern self-retaining ones, but this can be difficult and cost upwards of $100. Adjustments to the door might also be necessary, since the new springs will have different tension characteristics. Your garage door opener might not perform as well without adjustment too. You can always call a professional to replace springs and make adjustments, but that adds even more to the cost.

For only a few dollars and some clamps you can make older springs much safer. It takes only a few minutes, and prevents what could be a very scary incident should your old springs break and fly apart.

About The Author
Scott Hares writes for A free informational resource for anyone considering a new roll up overhead garage door.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Echinacea or Coneflower - the best thing in your bed

There are few things more exciting for gardeners at this time of year than dreaming of new plants. I’ll focus on a few of the better plants in the next few weeks but let’s start with the best example of new breeding.

Our old North American native friend Echinacea or purple coneflower is really letting loose this coming spring. The work of several major plant-breeding houses is coming to the market and while the plants will be expensive, they are wonderful. The double flowering ‘Razzmatazz’ with its double pink flowers are quite hardy as well as gorgeous. It will be complemented by ‘Doppelganger’ a coneflower that puts one blossom right on top of the first, resembling an apartment of flowers rather than a single bloom. Note that this double-decker flower usually comes into its own in the second year. This one has caught the imagination of the nursery trade almost as much as ‘Sparkler’ a variegated leaf coneflower. The variegation in ‘Sparkler’ is flecked throughout the leaf while the variegation in the equally new ‘Prairie Frost’ is a broad band of cream around each leaf.

I’m also looking forward to having ‘Fragrant Angel’ in my garden as its large white blooms are extremely fragrant. Add the ‘Rocky Top Hybrids’ to this list of coneflowers (mauve flowers and compact growth) and you have an entire menu of new Echinacea to find this coming summer. Two dwarf plants ‘Kim’s Mophead’ and ‘Kim’s Knee High’ will find themselves in my clay pots along with the ‘Rocky Top Hybrids’.

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sunrise’ has soft lemon-yellow blooms and is a knock out plant in my garden while its cousin ‘Big Sky Sunset’ has wide, very bright orange petals. These are both plants to watch for and pay the price. Hardy in my zone 4 garden.

Plant all these in full sun in well-drained soils and you’ll enjoy them for years. They’re trouble free and easy to grow plants!

About The Author
Doug Green, award winning garden author with 7 books published, answers gardening questions in his free newsletter at

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pest Control & Termite Control Myths

1. "Electronic pest control systems actually work". This is one of the biggest myths of the industry and lots of people still believe it without any valid scientific evidence. The only ones that work are the ones that emit a spark, barbequing the unfortunate cockroach. How could you place a solitary ultrasonic device in one room of a house, pointing in one direction and expect it to protect your whole home from pests? Even if it did annoy a rat when it crossed through the rays, wouldn't it just hide somewhere else in the house, close to the food and shelter? Why on Earth would it run outside the house?

2. "Make the poison a bit stronger for me so that it will work better." This is just dangerous and a waste of chemical. You can't kill a cockroach twice by doubling the strength or make the residue last longer. All you do is make the residue more dangerous to humans/environment and waste money on something that isn't necessary.

3. "Black widow spiders eat their male companions after mating." Female black widow spiders rarely eat their male companions after mating. But females are the most treacherous of the black widow spiders. Typically black, the body of female black widows is approximately one and one-half inches long, including the legs. The female back widow spider can be identified by the red hourglass shaped marking on the abdomen. Male back widows are one-half the size of the females and lack the red hourglass marking.

4. "Rat poison is "secret stuff" that keeps rats from smelling in your home". The truth? There is no such rodenticide. If you are baiting rodents, you can rest assured that they will die in areas where they normally frequent: their nesting site, their food source, or in between. Most rat and mouse baits are simply anti-coagulants, blood thinners. Any mammal's blood clots naturally. An anti-coagulant (Talon, Bromakil etc.) stops the clotting to an extreme, causing the rodent to die from internal bleeding. This is why you sometimes find a dead rodent that has blood showing in its nostrils or ears.

The first commercial anti-coagulant rodent baits contained Warfarin, which is still in use today by medical professionals to help prevent unwanted blood clots. Rat and mouse baits being used today are mainly third and fourth generation anti-coagulants. These newer materials kill rodents faster, requiring less bait to kill targeted rodent pests. To lessen the chances (or amount) of odour, incorporate glue traps or snap traps into your baiting program. You will then have dead rodents that can be removed before there is an odour.

5. "If you see one cockroach there are always 100 more where it came from." myth. But it is true sometimes. If you see cockroaches in your kitchen every day, or at every night when you turn on the light, you have a real problem.

6. "Cockroaches clean themselves; therefore they are one of the cleanest animals on Earth." Try eating one........only kidding! They inhabit the dirtiest places such as sewers and rubbish bins. They also urinate and defecate on your food. Still think they are clean?

7. "If your neighbour gets their cockroaches sprayed, they will all run into your house." Cockroaches don't crawl up to an invisible barrier and back up and go elsewhere. They run over it and pick up poison then die.

8. "Only dirty houses need pest control or being very clean will stop you having pests" Hygiene is a very important factor in pest control as it reduces the food supply of pests and increase the hiding places. Pests can be introduced to your environment via cardboard boxes from stores or by having them fly in on hot days from the street or other buildings close by (especially food preparation sites).

9. "Termites are white-ants" They are more closely related to cockroaches biologically speaking, although they look a little like "white ants." In Australia sometimes they are commonly called "white-ants," but they are really termites.

10. "If you surround your home with timber, termites will eat this and stay out of your home." Termites will love plenty of food supplies if they are stacked around your home and will breed like crazy. This will result in lots of termites and new colonies foraging around the perimeter of your home. Think that they will be satisfied with staying outside?

Outright Pest Control Lies

1. "Without pesticides the world would be a better place." Love the idea, but up to a third of the world's population would starve to death if pesticides didn't exist. Would like pest control managers to be more informed and better trained than what they are now. ALWAYS ask for accreditation and license details before committing to getting any treatment done at your place.

2. "Twelve monthly termite control treatments are necessary to protect my home against termites." This is a con job and used to be a normal practice years ago, before people woke up to the fact that termiticides (insecticides that kill termites) last for years. Twelve to six monthly inspections are necessary in high risk termite areas, but treatments aren't required yearly.

3. "All pest control firms/treatment/protection are the same." Do your homework before committing to a company or treatment and ask for references from happy customers. Remember: "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten."

About The Author
Article written by Bruce Gow. Bruce holds Certificate 1V in Urban Pest Management and holds Termite Specialist Accreditation amongst many other pest control certifications. He owned and managed Best Pest Control (NSW) Pty Ltd, a successful termite and pest control firm for 24 years, and now acts as an internet consultant for the new owner.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Setting Up A Home Gym

Joining a local gym does have some benefits - you may get inspired from the people there, and there are instructors around to make sure you are using the correct techniques. However, a lot of people do not have access to a local gym. For people who fall into this category and perhaps do not have much time due to work or home commitments (a new member of the family for example) a gym at home is a good solution.

So what are the things that you need to know in order to set up a gym at home? Well, if you have used the gym before to train then you will understand what exercise needs you have and this makes things a lot easier. If you have never used a gym before and are a complete novice it might be worth your while going to a public gym to see what it has to offer. Alternatively you could employ a personal trainer, if budget permits, who can advise you on what you need for your home gym and also check that you are using the equipment properly - as using the wrong technique can be harmful. Otherwise, there are books or videos on offer and you could learn what to do with a friend so as to check your respective techniques are correct.

The next question is where are you going to put this gym? If you have the option you should set it so it can remain permanently set up - all these pack away and folding things might seem like a good idea, but it is just one more obstacle in the way of your training. Besides this, the folding stuff is not always the greatest quality! So if you have a garage or a spare downstairs room (downstairs is a better idea than upstairs if you will be using weights), so much the better. If the weather is favorable in your neck of the woods you might consider a set up in the yard - your very own little muscle beach!

Okay, we've decided on a setting for our gym, now it is time to equip the place. All workouts should include a cardio session, and this may be the hardest thing to accommodate in a home setup. Low cost stationary bikes and treadmills are often not worth the money. A more costly running machine might do the trick if your pockets are deep, but they are also large items. A rower has the advantage of being easily stow-able - just tip it upright. These can be quite good value, but rowing is not everyone's cup of tea. Compact but expensive are the Nordic Ski and the Step. If you cannot decide then why not take a half hour jog at the start of each session instead?

The basis of any home gym is the lifting equipment, not just for muscle jocks, but for everyone. It may be the wrong choice to shell out for a multi gym unit, even though it looks as though it does everything. This is where some experience with a wide variety of gym gear helps you know what to invest in. For many purposes the best choice will be free weights - a selection of interchangeable weights to make up a wide variety of barbell and dumbbell exercises works out to be very good value. Then you should get the best bench you can and make sure it has the attachments that let you work the various muscle groups in your legs. A quality floor surface (a mat will do to begin with) will mean you can comfortably do press ups, sit ups and the vital stretches. Then you have a complete gym set up in the comfort of your own home.

About The Author
Copyright 2006 Sian Quaid. All rights reserved. Sian Quaid's site Home Gyms Home gets you started on home gym topics. For further details please go to her archive of articles:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Outdoor Benches

Outdoor benches are a practical outdoor addition for any home. There are many different varieties to choose from, all with their own unique features. Benches are now so versatile and light-weight, they are perfect for any setting.

In the home, a perfect bench choice is one with storage. Many manufacturers are now making benches with clever storage spaces that have no effect on the look of the bench. These kinds of benches go great in a garden area, for storage of tools, pots, and other gardening material. They also go great on a covered patio or deck where you can store games, magazines, and other outdoor toys. Another great idea is in the kitchen or family room. It’s a great place to put things like blankets or cookbooks. These types of benches can be very decorative and make a wonderful accent.

Another option for large outdoor settings are heavy duty outdoor benches. These types of benches are made with heavy molded frames and recycled plastic lumber so they are sure to last a long time. Heavy-duty benches are great for playgrounds, parks, and pool areas. The lumber comes in a variety of colors and can withstand the elements.

Large wooden benches are always a classic addition to any outdoor setting. They are beautifully crafted and come in a variety of decorative styles. One disadvantage of wooden benches is that they can be quite heavy. It is also important that wooden benches are weather treated or they can become rotten. With recycled plastic lumber, there is no rotting or need for treatment.

Whatever bench you choose, you are sure to find one that will accent your living space the way you want it. Whether looking for class, comfort, or convenience, you can find it all.

About The Author
Angela Oliver writes for Patio Stuff at A full service provider of indoor and outdoor patio furniture. For great deals on outdoor benches,visit the site here

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bathroom mirrors the perfect ensemble

White, bright and fabulous bathrooms are all the buzz in the latest bathroom design craze. Bathrooms splashed with boldly colored painted walls and patterned ceramic floor tiles adorned with pristine white pottery bathroom suites create the perfect drama. To finalize the look as the French would say “la piece de resistance”, the bathroom mirror. Bathroom mirrors are one of the primary elements of any bathroom design ensemble simply because they can completely change the look of the bathroom in the sense of how both natural and artificial light are reflected.

Exploring the endless options available in bathroom mirrors, establishing the look one is striving to achieve whether traditional or contemporary, bathroom mirrors have transitioned through the modern ages. Victorian style bathrooms were often built with heavy layers of dark wood types from boxed in baths, wood framed mirror to wainscoting. Today’s traditional styles of bathroom furnishings are sporting similar design concepts, but with a much softer look. Bathroom mirrors are lightly capped with various wood textures and tones and wood bath panels are added to step up the design elements as an extension of tradition. Arched mirrors alone or with the addition of wall sconces for extra lighting can also create a Victorian feel to your bathroom setting.

Selecting the right bathroom mirror

Selecting the appropriate wall mirror is also determined not only by the size of your bathroom, but also on the size of the bathroom vanity, bathroom mirrors should never extend beyond the vanity as it will create an unbalanced look. The ideal wall mirror for bathrooms with double basins, are rectangular wall-to-wall mirrors to disseminate adequate lighting exposing bathroom accessories as well as the other bathroom furniture, increasing the presence of the bathroom.

Solid white bathroom suites are a way of adequately diffusing light for an airy feeling, when the light is reflected off of white bathroom furnishing the illusion of space is instantly created. All white pottery bathroom suites give your bathroom a cohesive look, but more importantly set the stage for the induction of color, warm hues of reds, blues or greens are now showing up in the latest bathroom designs, accented with gallantly solid colored ceramic tiles or tiles with a motif inlay to tie the look of the bathroom together for an inviting sanctuary.

Contemporary bathroom mirrors

Wanting to give your bathroom a contemporary personality, frameless bathroom mirrors with inset lighting deliver all the potential for an ultra modern ambiance. Achieving a modern look with circular or square mirrors is the perfect solution for intricate modern designs. Hanging his/ her matching wall mirrors with an overhanging light feature increases the amount of light in the bathroom again not to exceed the length of either the floor mounted or wall mounted basin furniture, helps to create a sophisticated modern expression especially for more complex bathroom remodeling projects. For even more dramatic results, discovering different uses for wall mirrors can present a unique look, mirrors with built in lighting are also being installed inside shower enclosures and in and around the bathing area creating a shaving area for the males in your home while furthering the functionality of bathroom mirror in supporting additional lighting needs. With today’s bathroom suppliers carry a number of bathroom mirror designs, styles and sizes, scheduling a theme around mirrors and lighting are easily worked in with other bathroom design components.

Written by Shelley Murphy on behalf of an online retailer of bathroom furniture, steam showers, shower enclosures, whirlpool spa baths and bath related products serving the United Kingdom.

About The Author
Shelley Murphy of brings with her over 10 years of Search Engine Optimization and e-marketing strategies to web based businesses. Holding two BA’s in English and Journalism Communications her writing skills have been a great asset for both onsite writing and monthly newsletters publications.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Gift That Keeps on Skiing

As the holidays approach, you’re probably wondering what gifts to buy for your favorite skiers. Fortunately, the Internet has eliminated the need for long lines at department stores. Spend your time on the slopes, and purchase your gifts online! If you’re not sure of what to buy, look into an REI Gift Card. You can either get them as E-cards, which are emailed to the recipient or as paper cards which will be mailed in three or four business days. REI also has a gift registry.

If your skier wants something very specific, such as a jacket, a helmet, ski boots, or a pair of ski pants, encourage them to register. That way, you will be sure to pick the right size. REI also has gift boxes and cards are available.

If you are looking for a specific, personalized gift, you’ll need to carefully consider your skiers’ tastes and preferences. What colors do they usually wear? What items do they need? What things do they already have, but can be frequently lost?

Gloves, neck gators and ski locks fall into to the last category. Some skiers spend nearly as much money replacing these items as they do on lift tickets! Fill a Christmas stocking with small items such as ski socks, goggle wipes, hand warmers, and a neck gator. For an extra surprise, throw in a gift certificate for a lift ticket or a lesson with their favorite instructor. Or else, why not give a gift that will simplify their travel to the mountains?

If your skier is someone whose work keeps them married to their computer, consider a computer backpack from REI. These bags put an end to complaints about carrying gear and computers simultaneously. Hide a set of thermal underwear inside the bag as a surprise! You can make their travel even easier by buying them a SporTube Ski Case that can be wheeled through airports or parking lots. Make walking through icy parking lots safer by throwing in a pair of Yaktrax Walkers.

Backpacks and ski bags also make great gifts for kids, since you don’t have to worry about them outgrowing them. Winter pajamas are also a great option, because you can buy them baggy enough to last a few years. For kids between the ages of 4-8, keep them excited about the snow by getting them a pair of Redfeather Snow Shoes.

Paragon sports can keep the kids in shape for ski season with the Profile Body Ball.

Since no adult skier should be without a stability ball, Paragon also has the Valeo Body Ball, complete with wall chart.

About The Author
Lisa Mercer
If you liked this article, you may want to read more from Lisa. Get her expertise on buying ski jackets, boots, goggles, gloves and more plus her monthly newsletter with great tips and info for skiers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Surround Yourself In Silk Comforters

In times gone by, silk was used for comforters in China- but could only be afforded if you were of the wealthy, noble class.

But those days are gone, and now almost anyone can own a gorgeous silk comforter!

What were silk comforters so coveted in by the Chinese?

Most comforters were filled with cotton fiber, but the longer fiber of silk were combed, aligned and stitched into thin layers of fabric which were then stacked and sealed inside silk shells to form comforters that were warm but allowed moisture to pass through easily.

In fact, silk summer comforters were simply thinner versions with less layers of filling. The comforters were placed inside a washable envelop, much like the duvet of today. Even today, in Chinese culture the comforter of 100% silk is considered a status symbol. It remains much the same even now.

Silk is a natural fiber taken from the cocoons of silk worms. A cocoon can produce up to 1,300 yards of continuous fiber. Talk about working hard!

Synthetic fiber can be produced as continuous filaments as well, but silk is the only natural fiber that has the luster, feel and look unique to the fiber produced by the silk worm. The fiber is strong, as durable as equally sized steel wire, repels mildew and dirt naturally and absorbs perspiration. Sometimes you just can't improve on mother nature! Your comforter, if taken care of, could become an heirloom because they're so durable and soft at the same time.

Another great advantage of choosing comforters that are silk, is that the filling will not seep through the outer shell as often happens with other fillings. Silk fabric provides a dense weave and the smooth silk filling result in a product that simply won't leave fibers in the air from the filling of the bedding.

This naturally makes silk comforters great for those who have allergies.

Prices for comforters made of 100% silk are not significantly different than those comforters that are filled with high quality down.

These comforters are investments, whether you select down, silk or microfiber.

Of course, silk must be dry cleaned. To extend the time between cleanings and to protect your investment in such luxury, many people choose to encase their comforters of pure silk in a duvet that matches their bedding and can be changed frequently as their moods change.

Let's look at some of the most popular ones:

Dreamsack makes comforters that are 100% silk both inside and out. These are the lightest, warmest, softest and most luxurious comforters available. The silk is held in place by baffling so that you will feel as if you are wrapped in a cloud. Spun silk floss is used for the filling and the cover is pure Habotai silk. Because people are turning toward more healthy, natural living, there is no natural fiber that has the same luxurious shimmer and hand of 100% pure silk. Cream, white, tan and gold are the available colors.

Ming Dynasty Mulberry Comforters are 100% silk both inside and out and are filled with mulberry silk fiber. Mulberry silk fiber is extra long, grade "A" silk that comes only from silk worms that are feed nothing but mulberry leaves. There are no cut silk or short fibers used to extend the silk fiber filling as with many discount comforters of silk. These comforters are considered to be three-season weight and the filling is held in place with the use of sewn in baffles which prevents the silk from moving and bunching. This comforter is available in white or honey and use of a duvet is strongly recommended.

Kumi Kookoon comforters are made from 100% silk. The filling is 100% mulberry silk and contained in box stitched baffles to ensure proper placement so the filling can not shift. These lightweight comforters are meant for year round use. Sizes from baby to king are available. A feature of the Kumi Kookoon products are the loops on each comforter that match with the tie duvets produced by Kumi Kookoon that ensure you comforter doesn't shift inside the duvet.

You can also find comforters filled with 100% silk that are encased in cotton covers.

These cost a bit less, and don't have the distinctive luxury feel of silk shells. If you personally find silk too slippery for your personal tastes, these comforters might be great for you.

No matter which style of comforter you choose, you'll definitely find the best selections and prices online. Not many typical retailers could afford to carry such luxury bedding in house, but you'll be thrilled at the silk comforters you'll find online!

About The Author
Patricia Bowlin makes it easy to create a bedroom with flair! Find countless Free tips, ideas and information here on choosing all of your bedding by visiting now

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Five Key Factors That Affect Your Pot Plants In Winter

Winter has an effect not only pot plants outdoors, but also indoors. Find out what are the key factors that affect your plants in winter and what you can do to help them stay healthy at this time of the year.

1. LIGHT is the very first element to consider. In winter, when the light is not so strong, you can place your plants closer to the windows, and rotate them regularly so all the leaves receive enough light.

Choose the most appropriate location taking into account the following window orientations:

-North: it doesn't receive direct sunlight, but it is a good source of light for your plants. Most convenient in summer.

-South: it receives the most sunlight. Very convenient in winter.

-East: it allows early sunlight, which is very important for an excellent growing of your plants.

-West: it receives much sunlight, but its convenience depends on the amount of light the plant can receive.

2. TEMPERATURE is another key factor to consider because in winter we increase the temperature of the room via heaters, fireplaces and other heating devices. Plants suffer many times because of this, and we do not realize.

When the temperature of the room increases, the water of your plants evaporates quickly, and so it may be necessary to increase the amount of water they receive. As always, the exact amount of water will depend on the type of plant you have.

A solution to this is to place containers with water close to the plants. The leaves will absorb the water by transpiration, in a natural way.

And a quick reminder: although plants show beautifully when displayed on mantelpieces, remember to remove them before starting a fire, as the excess of heat could kill them.

3. WATERING your plants in winter is important for the reason told above. To water your plants properly, do so with abundant water fewer times, rather than with less water and very often.

The reason for this is because the water needs to reach all the roots of the plant, including the deepest ones. When you use abundant water, the plant does not need more water for a while, so you can space the watering.

If not watered properly, the plant may die, even though the surface of the soil may appear wet.

4. VENTILATION is a key factor since some indoor plants need air moving around them occasionally, so their stems and leaves can gain in strength.

Although they do not need a continuous flow of air, the truth is that they get exactly what they need under "friendly" weather conditions, that is early autumn, spring or summer, when we naturally open doors and windows and allow breeze to flow.

But in winter we keep windows closed for longer periods of time, therefore preventing air flows. Again you should ensure that your specific plant is receptive to air flows (not all indoor plants are).

5. Some plants may undergo a period of HIBERNATION during winter. Hibernation is just a natural mechanism of the plants to protect themselves of adverse weather conditions.

During this "sleeping period" the plant may stop growing or even appear weak and loose their leaves. Consequently, the owner believes (wrongly) that the plant is dying or dead and ends up throwing it away.

The thing is, while plants hibernate, they don't need so much water nor fertilizer. If you doubt whether your plant is hibernating or actually dead, just leave it where it is and water it occasionally, and you might just see it alive again in spring.

About The Author
Cristina Diaz Garcia is the Author and Founder of the "Beautiful Gardens Email Club". Visit her page for an useful Pot Gardening free report at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Garden Leaf Blowers - More Power to Your Elbow

Garden leaf blowers are powered generally either by gas or electric. Our article below will guide you to make the best choice of leaf blower for your portability needs, and garden size.

Gas Leaf Blowers

These are more powerful (and noisier) than electric ones, and with a reach beyond the limits of an extension cord. Two-cycle engines require a mix of gas and oil. Gas powered leaf blowers are excellent where mobility and greater work output is required, but are unfortunately heavier than the electric models.

Hand held leaf blowers - Useful only for small to medium yards where you need the power of a gas engine.. They can get heavy however after using for a while. Convenience and portability have their own price if you have backache! The bigger models can also vibrate a bit at top speed, so check the weight and balance.

Look for air speeds higher than 150 mph and noise levels less than 70 decibels. (Make sure to check your local ordinances: as some areas limit noise to less than 65 decibels.)

Backpack leaf blowers - these are best for driveways and bigger yards. Be sure to look out for an antivibration system and noise-squelching muffler to make carrying the engine bearable for long periods of time. The blower fits in a harness worn on the operator's back.

Walk behind leaf blowers - these are better for large yards or big areas. I would look for a four cycle engine to give you more power and less emissions, and also a three wheeler if possible to make for easier steering. Walk behind leaf blowers cover the most acreage in the least time. These gas powered machines are normally the tool of choice for commercial users, but for regular homeowners, they can make short work of a home lawn.They will however be more expensive too! Vacuum units also use a hose for picking up debris and leaves.

Electric Leaf Blowers

These are less powerful than gas, but have the advantage of being lighter, with less vibration and quieter (you still need some protection for your hearing) — and there are no exhaust fumes! as electricity drives the fan. The attached cord however, limits your mobility so this may not be the best choice for a lawn with lots of trees!. Look too, for a cord retention system to prevent the cord from being accidentally unplugged when being used. Also when selecting an extension cord to use with your electric leaf blower, remember that if the gauge used is too small or inadequate, the motor will not perform particularly well. Match the power rating of the tool to a compatible cord, and always buy a cord that is rated for outdoor use. Be Safe!

Handheld leaf blowers - these are best for smaller gardens, patios and walkways. Be on the lookout for one with a flexible blower tube to allow you to reach into corners!

Combo leaf blower/vacuum - a great idea for small to medium gardens where you've not much room to pile your leaves. I would look out for one with a variable speed and mulcher built-in to the blower to help cut the leaf volume.

Rechargeable/battery-operated leaf blowers - are a good alternative for small areas. Work well on solid surfaces like driveways and garages, but are limited because of their short run time and because they move less air than the larger corded models.

About The Author
Leonard Mutch is a keen gardener and author. You can read more of his tips and articles at and subscribe to his gardening tips newsletter at

Monday, November 06, 2006

How to Get Free Garbage Bags

The scenario:

A newlywed couple moves into their new home. After a couple of months, they realize that they have many more garbage bags than they need. However, they have not bought any garbage bags since they got married. Where did all of the garbage bags come from?

Your mission:

See how fast you can arrive at the correct solution by using the following clues:

1) The garbage bags were not a wedding gift

2) The couple did not bring any garbage bags with them when they moved

3) The bags were not in the couple's new home when they arrived

4) The fact that the two people are newlyweds is irrelevant

5) The type of home that the couple moved into is irrelevant

6) The bags were made of plastic

7) People gave the bags to the couple, but

8) The bags were not any type of gift

9) The bags are not "traditional" garbage bags

10) The bags came in many colors.

The solution:

Have you figured out the solution yet? The garbage bags are actually plastic bags from grocery and other types of stores! The couple only has small garbage cans in their home, and the plastic bags fit perfectly inside of them. Plus, the handles make them very extremely easy to tie shut when they become full. The trash cans need to be emptied more often than larger cans would, but that small inconvenience is worth the savings. Yearly garbage bag expenses: $0.00!

In addition to the monetary reasons, reusing grocery bags is a simple way to recycle and eliminate the waste created by throwing away the plastic bags inside of another garbage bag. Once you have a good supply of plastic bags, consider taking an empty canvas bag or backpack with you to the grocery store. Check the bag with a store employee when you enter so that no one thinks that you are shoplifting. Then, when you are done shopping, skip getting a new bag and load your purchases into your own reusable bag instead.

A few other super-easy ways to save money and recycle:

Save scrap paper. Save any papers that have nothing on the back or large blank spaces. Advertising flyers, old work papers and school papers all work well. You can cut the pages into smaller pieces if they would be more convenient for you. Put the paper in a stack or a box with a pen nearby, and you'll never have to scramble when you need to jot down something. Spots near the base of your house phone or beside the computer are both great locations.

Save sturdy boxes from food, electronics, mailers, etc. Cover them with the Sunday comics or some previously-used wrapping paper. Label each box with a marker and use as stackable storage for recipes, comic books or just about anything else.

Save large, empty plastic soda and juice bottles. Fill them with water, and store in your freezer. Having less open space in your freezer will help it run more efficiently. And when you need more room in the freezer, simply take out one of the bottles of ice!

Save torn and worn out clothing. Tear or cut them into pieces and use as rags for cleaning and dusting.

About The Author
Steve Hall is a writer for the GrandMatrix website. Visit and grab hundreds of free game downloads, including classics, puzzles and strategy to the latest action, driving and RPG games at

Friday, November 03, 2006

How To Choose A Pot Rack For Your Kitchen

Do you want to free up some kitchen cabinet space and have your pots and pans hanging from a pot rack within easy reach? And do you want to have your cookbooks, cooking oils, and your basil and thyme herbs displayed neatly on a wall mounted pot rack as well?

Then the stylishly decorative and practical hanging or wall mounted pot rack might just be the storage space solution and energy saving kitchen device for you.

Possible origins of pot racks

The idea of hanging cookery pots in the kitchen may have originated from the 17th century practice of using an arrangement of links and hooks or trammels to suspend, raise or lower cooking pots in a fireplace to control cooking temperatures.

Up to the 15th century, most wealthy European homes had spacious kitchens with several adjacent anterooms, including whole rooms just for storing pots and pans and other utensils. However, it would not be surprising if poorer families with less spacious kitchens used pot racks, either in the form of tripods standing on the kitchen dirt floor or hooks hanging from the ceiling or wall, to store their pots and pans and other utensils.

How to choose a pot rack for your kitchen

1. The first question to ask is "Where do I want to put my pot rack?". If you are going to put it on top of a kitchen island, for example, then you will probably need a pot rack hanging from the ceiling. If you are going to put it against the kitchen wall, then you may need to have the wall-mounted shelf type variety with a grid.

2. If you are going for a hanging pot rack you have to know how tall your ceiling is. Most pot racks are designed to fit 8 or 9-foot ceilings for easy access to cooks of average height. However, households with shorter cooks or taller ceilings need not despair. Most pot rack stores, whether online or down the road, carry a wide range of chains or extension hooks to solve the situation.

3. The next question is: "Do you want to match your pot rack to your kitchen's decor?" For example, if you are going to hang your pot rack in a modern kitchen above a built-in kitchen island with stainless steel countertops, cooktops, ovens and dishwashers, then a stainless steel pot rack might be best for you.

However, if you are you are going to hang your pot rack in country cottage style kitchen next to oak timber cabinets and coffee black kitchen appliances, then a black hammered steel pot rack might be a good match.

4. And equally important is "How do you want the pot rack to look?" If you want a more modern look, then the clean lines of glistening stainless steel may be your best bet. If you are going for the antique look, then the decorative swirls of brassy copper may do the job.

5. What type of material do you want your pot rack to be made of? Do you want the country elegance of oak or natural cherry? The practicality and durability of painted or powder coated hammered steel? Or the sleekness and strength of stainless steel?

6. What size and shape do you want your pot rack to be - rectangular, round, oval or square? This may be dictated by the number of pots, pans and other cooking utensils that you want to fit in as well as the kitchen space that you have available.

7. Do you need additional light? If the pot rack is above a cooking and food preparation area, then you may need pot racks that come with downlights to illluminate as well as add ambience to your working space.

8. And last but not least, how much do you want to spend for your pot rack? A quick comparative shopping on the internet will reveal that sales abound and that:

- For a budget of $50 you can get a lovely powder-coated wall-mounted pot rack in bookshelf style to put your pots and pans as well as your favorite plant and recipe book side by side.

- A budget of $150 can get you a hanging stainless steel oval kitchen pot rack with grid.

- For $359.97 you can get a modern styled Oneida lighted pot rack with center grid and two downlights.

- And if you have $2000 to spare you can get a pot rack used by professional chefs in high tech stainless steel and with two rack levels that provide more storage and hanging space.

But if you are someone who does not own a lot of pots, loves the hunt and a good bargain and have $4.95, you can go to Ebay and get a pre-loved black wrought iron pot rack that attaches to the wall and holds 5 pots. That's a start.

About The Author
Flor Buenaventura is a writer with an interest in kitchen furnishings. To see a fantastic collection of resources related to cooking and the kitchen, please visit her and websites.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Water Filters – Learn About The Various Options

Quality water filtration is one of the best investments that one can make for one’s health. Good water tastes better and also protects you from infections and diseases that could spread through unfiltered water. The market for water filters is vast and one has a huge range to choose from depending upon how much one wants to spend and if one wants protection from some specific element in water.

Water Filtration- The Options That You Have

As mentioned above, one has an enormous choice as far as water filters are concerned. The choice ranges from hand made terracotta filters to filtrations add-on’s on your refrigerators. Well recently, Kenmore refrigerators are offering Pur water filters in some of their models. It makes water filtration more convenient. Then the market has something called ‘replacement filters’. These are interchangeable and are a replacement for your previous water filters. For example a replacement water filter for Pur will fit exactly the same as the PUR water filter model and will also purify the water the same way.

You could also opt for water filters for specific problems. For example, if the percentage of arsenic in your water is more, then you should preferably get a water filter which will be removing or reducing arsenic. Also available are a wide variety of specialty cartridge systems that are designed to handle virtually any water quality problem. There are cartridge systems specially for filtering oil and so on.

Various technologies have also come to be used in water filters like reverse osmosis or UV technology. A UV Water filter will do the function of pathogen killing by using the power ultraviolet and deliver to customers, healthy and great tasting water. If you are looking to save, then you could opt for handmade terracotta filters which are cheaper and offer dual functions of cooling and filtering water. The choice is yours and you can select the filter which best suits your pocket and needs.

About The Author
Jason Adams for