Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

Growing a Vertical Garden

Vertical garden

 

 

1

  • Start any gardening project in spring, when air temperatures rise to 60 degrees F. Vertical garden vegetables don’t need warm soil, but do require frost-free nights.

  • 2

    Choose your wall for the garden. Put the vertical garden in a spot that gets full sunshine all day, with good air circulation and protection from any drying winds.

  • 3

  • Use deep, sturdy rain gutters for the vertical garden, to give vegetables room for growth and support. Cut the rain gutters to fit on the wall you choose, and build at least three to four “stories” of gardening space. Drill holes every 10 inches in the bottom of the gutters, to ensure drainage.

  • 4

    Secure the gutters to the wall with eye hooks, screws or nails every 6 inches. Leave 2 to 3 feet of space between each layer of gutters to give the plants room to grow.

  • 5

    Mix organic compost, peat moss and potting soil in equal parts as your planting mix. This mix gives the vegetables plenty of nutrition and drainage. Fill the gutters full of your mixture, then turn starter fertilizer such as 6-24-24 or 8-32-16 into the top 4 inches of soil to provide more nutrition.

  • 6

    Plant small, compact vegetables in a vertical garden to minimize space usage and avoid stressing the structure. Plant lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, herbs, beets, peas, carrots, garlic, onions and radishes. Choose only small tomato, cucumber, bean and pepper cultivars. Also plant flowers in with vegetables to make the garden more attractive.

Cleaning your deck and home exterior

One of the toughest things about deck cleaning is figuring out which weekend to do it. You don’t want it too hot or too cold, so you should have your supplies ready for when the weather cooperates. Spring is a perfect time to clean your deck and get your backyard ready for some outdoor entertaining.

Your supplies should include:

  1. Exciting and inspirational music to keep you motivated
  2. Easy-to-prepare meals for you and your helpers
  3. Cold drinks and a shaded area with chairs for breaks
  4. Old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  5. Plenty of trash bags to contain debris
  6. Deck cleaning supplies

Preparing to Clean the Deck

Your first step to cleaning the deck is, of course, to remove all the big items that are on the deck. Remove patio furniture, the grill, flower pots, shoe trays and anything else that would prevent the deck surface from being completely clear.

Next, it’s time to remove any debris that has collected on the deck. Since your deck hasn’t been cleaned for some time, it’s a good idea to bring out the heavy-duty Shop Sweep® Indoor/Outdoor Shop Vac that not only vacuums up dirt, litter and other debris, but its tough nylon impeller mulches it! And you don’t have to stop with just vacuuming the deck: The Shop Sweep® Indoor/Outdoor Shop Vaccan consume pine needles, lawn clippings, saw dust, wood chips and even litter, so once you have it fired up, you can keep cleaning all around the house.

Deck Washing

Once your deck is prepared and debris-free, the next step in cleaning a deck is to wash it thoroughly. Easily attach a Deck Cleaning Brush to your water hose to quickly clean dirt, grime and bird residue from your deck floor. The Deck Cleaning Brushhas strong bristles on three sides to tackle those tough deck cleaning messes and a soft squeegee on the fourth side to remove water.

After the long winter months, you might have some moss or algae build-up that requires you to use something a little stronger than water to clean your deck. Just apply some environmentally friendly deck cleaner with a sprayer or brush, let it work for 5-10 minutes (read label on package) and then spray it away with your hose.

Now that your deck is clean and there is little left for you to track into your home, you can clean your sliding door track with an ergonomically designed Track Cleaning Brushthat is so tough it can remove dirt, mold and even soap scum from those hard-to-reach places.

Washing a House

Once you’re done cleaning your deck, why not take your cleaning to new heights and wash down the exterior of your home? Attach a 32-oz bottle of Multi-Purpose House Washto your garden hose and watch as the non-toxic wash goes to work removing dirt, bird residue, tree sap, mildew, moss and algae from your siding or wood panels.

If, after using the Multi-Purpose House Wash, you notice calcium, lime and other hard water stains or outright rust on your siding, stone, masonry or other areas, eliminate it with Rust Remover. Biodegradable and non-flammable, Rust Removerdissolves most stains and can protect bare metal for up to 12 months.

Not enough water pressure from your garden hose? Use an Electric Pressure Washer to reach all those stubborn areas of your house from top to bottom. You can usually find a compact electric pressure washer that has wheels so you can roll it along as you work, whether it’s washing away moss from your deck or oil stains from your driveway. The spray is adjustable from fine to intense, so you can use the power washer for a multitude of cleaning jobs without the risk of surface damage. Pressure washers are high powered and you should always use caution when using one.

Washing Windows

Your deck might be clean, but can you see it through your windows? What about from the second floor windows? For those high, hard-to-reach windows, use a Telescoping Washer Setthat has an adjustable aluminum pole that attaches to your hose. A soap dispenser on the pole allows you to easily add a liquid cleaner to your washing routine. The window washer set includes a 7-pattern spray nozzle, window squeegee, round soft brush, 10″ floor brush and even a brush for washing a car.

Don’t forget to clean the screens! You can either take the window screens down, scrub them and hose them off, or you can attach a Window Screen Vacuum Attachment to easily whisk the dirt away while they remain in the window frames.

Build a stone firepit

Step 1: Purchase Stone

Determine the size, shape and location of the fire pit. Take measurements (height, width and depth) to a stone yard and select the material for the project.

Palletized stone is a pallet of pre-sorted premium stone. It is more expensive but will save time because the stones are a more uniform size, shape and quality. Have the stone yard deliver the material to the project site.

Step 2: Prepare the Base

Hammer a piece of rebar directly in the center of the fire pit location. Cut a piece of string to half the length of the fire pit’s diameter. For example, if the completed fire pit is to be 5 feet wide, cut the string to 2-1/2 feet long.

Make a loop on one end of the string and slip it around the rebar. Loop the other end around a can of landscape spray paint. Mark the circumference of the circle. Excavate the area inside the paint to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 3: Mark for Footing

Cut a second piece of string the length of the first piece minus the thickness of the fire pit wall. For example, if the wall is going to be 12 inches wide, cut the string to a length of 1-1/2 feet. Attach the string to the rebar and spray paint and mark a second circle inside the first.

Step 4: Pour Footing

Prepare premixed cement according to manufacturer’s directions. Spread the cement in the area between the outside and inside circles. Leave the center area free of concrete to allow for drainage.

Continue to add cement and level it until it reaches 1-1/2 inches below grade. Tap 2-foot pieces of rebar into the wet cement until completely submerged at various points around the footer. Allow to dry.

Step 5: Lay the First Course of Fire Brick

When the first course of face stones is in place, move on to the first row of fire brick. Trowel a layer of mortar along the inside edge of the face stones and press the first fire brick into place.

Apply mortar to one end of the next brick before butting it against the first and pressing it into the mortar. Check for level. Remove excess mortar as you work. Continue working in this fashion until the first ring of fire brick has been laid.

Step 6: Complete the Fire Pit Wall

Continue building the wall of the fire pit by alternating layers of face stone and fire brick until desired height is reached. Apply a bed of mortar on top of the previous layer of stone or fire brick and then set stones and bricks.

Avoid wall weakness by staggering the joints between previous and subsequent layers of stone and brick. Fill in any gaps between the fire brick and the stone with mortar and stone scraps.

Step 7: Lay Capstones

Apply a generous layer of mortar to the top of the fire pit wall, covering both the face stone and fire brick. Begin setting capstones into the mortar, selecting flat stones that fit neatly together.

Work all the way around the top of the fire pit wall making sure that all stones are as level as possible. Fill joints between capstones with mortar, smoothing when done with a jointer. Once the mortar is almost cured, use a stiff brush to scrape off remaining bits of mortar.

Step 8: Create a Seating Area

Cut a piece of string that extends from the center of the fire pit to the outside edge of the desired seating area. Attach the string to the rebar and spray paint and mark the location on the ground. Excavate the seating area to a depth of 3 inches. Cut landscape fabric to fit and top with crushed stone.

Step 9: Complete the Project

Spray down the fire pit with water to remove any dust or dirt that might have collected on the stone. When dry, spray the interior of fire brick with black stove paint.

Painting Mistakes

    

 

 

Skipping the Tape
Do you have the skills to get straight lines around the woodwork, windowsills and doorframes? Grab the painter’s tape and get the nice, clean edges you want.

Painting Without Primer
Primer gives paint a good surface to adhere to and brings out the true color of the shade you’ve chosen. Going without it can lead to poor results.

Impatience
You took the time to fix every imperfection with patching compound. Wait. Make sure it’s completely dry before you sand and prime. Otherwise, all that patching was a waste of time.

Paint Buildup on Pad Edge
When using edge pads around ceiling edges and corners, make sure to wipe off excess paint frequently to avoid marking the surface.

Brushing When You Should be Rolling
For a large interior area, a roller will do a better job in less time. Select the right nap roller for your sheen of paint and try to avoid pushing the roller into the wall when you paint.

Underestimating How Much Paint Needed
The pros say you need one gallon for every 400 square feet. Plan ahead and you can avoid running back and forth to the store with a paint swatch in your hand.

Assuming Walls are Clean
Paint looks much better when it has a good, clean surface to stick to. Wash your walls before painting and get professional results you can be proud of.

Painting When the Humidity is High
When the air is full of moisture, water-based paint takes longer to dry. If the weather winds up more humid than expected, take the day off and wait for a dry day.

Skipping the Surface Prep
Your new paint won’t stick to glossy, dirty walls that are in bad condition. Take the time to prep, or you’re bound to have problems down the road.

Paintbrush Abuse
When using latex paint, wet your brush bristles with water and shake the brush dry before you dip it in the paint. The brush will hold more paint and deliver better results.

Buying any Paintbrush
When you’re choosing paintbrushes to use with latex-based paint, nylon/polyester blends produce the best results. Turns out polyester is good for something besides sport shirts.

Painting with Furniture in the Room
Getting paint off your furniture is a lot of work. If you can’t move it out of the room, at least make sure it’s completely covered with a drop cloth.

Failure to Protect the Floor
Paint has the amazing ability to go all the places you’d least expect it to. Before you pop the can open, make sure you have a drop cloth over everything and the edges are taped.

Polka-Dot Doorknobs
Unless you like the look of splattered paint, we recommend that you slip plastic bags over your doorknobs and tape the edge to avoid unsightly paint splatter.

Painting the Wall Plates
Want professional-looking results? Take five minutes to remove the wall plates and tape around your light switches and electrical outlets.

Spring Painting DO’s

 

 

Primer comes before paint.
Tempted to skip the primer? Primer not only provides a good surface for the paint, but it also brings out the paint’s true color.

Paint like a pro.
Painting is your chance to show off your skills. Use an edge pad for clean lines around doorframes, ceiling edges and corners so your walls look great — down to every last detail.

Create a sticky situation.
Paint won’t stick to the wall if you haven’t taken the time to prep. The surface must be clean, non-glossy and in good condition.

One gallon at a time.
How much paint will it take to cover your walls? The pros recommend one gallon for every 400 square feet. Covering textured, rough or unprimed surfaces may require more.

Dry days make good painting days.
Moisture in the air keeps water-based paint from drying. Skip the humid afternoon paint project and slow drying walls won’t wreck the rest of your day.

Put your sandwich bags to work.
Slip a small plastic bag over your doorknobs and tape the edge to avoid getting paint in places it wasn’t meant to go. You’re so resourceful.

Out with the old.
If the old paint on your wall is flaking off, it’s a good idea to buy a paint scraper and get it out of the way. Once all the old paint is gone, sand the surface smooth, prime and your new paint will look great.

Clean finish.
If you’re looking for paint in high-traffic areas, semi-gloss is the way to go. Shiny and durable, semi-gloss is a parent’s best friend.

Give the walls a sponge bath.
Washing your walls from top to bottom is always recommended because paint sticks better to a clean surface.

Don’t look back.
Once an area starts to dry, it’s best to leave it alone. Going back over it can leave marks and color streaks in the paint’s surface.

Polka dots look good on fabric—not floors.
Unless you’re trying to paint your floor, we recommend covering it up with a drop cloth. It’s the cheap, easy way to save yourself a whole lot of irritation.

Take away the shine.
Paint doesn’t always adhere to glossy surfaces. We recommend using a light grade sandpaper to take the gloss off the surface so your new paint sticks like it should.

Turn in the brush.
Small rooms can feel gigantic when it comes to painting. A roller will do a better job than a paint brush in less time.

Spare the wall plates.
Before you start, remove all wall plates and tape off light switches and electrical outlets. You’ll get high marks for professional-looking results.

Patience is a virtue.
You’ve completed your mission to fix every imperfection with patching compound. Now, make sure it’s dry. Then sand smooth, prime, and you’ll have a surface good enough for any pro.

Home Canning 101

So, you’ve planted seeds or seedlings and then watered and weeded all summer. Now it’s time to harvest, and while much of your garden’s bounty ends up on your dinner plates, baked into goodies and eaten fresh as your pick it, there is generally an excess of fruits and vegetables. After all, you can only eat cucumbers at every meal for so many days in a row before you start to feel like you are, in fact, a cucumber.

This is where food preservation and canning comes in. Canning is a wonderful way to store your fruits and vegetables from the garden or the farmer’s market while they are in season and make the harvest last through winter when local and seasonal foods are scarce.

Canning in both water baths and pressure cooking heats the food, killing any microorganisms that may grow, and also creates a vacuum seal in the jar. The vacuum seal will prevent any air from coming in contact with the preserved food that could encourage cell growth and cause the food to spoil.

1. Start by sterilizing your jars.

Wash your lids and jars in hot soapy water. Then move them to a boiling water bath for ten minutes to sterilize. Remove jars from the water bath, but leave the lids in the hot water until you’re ready to use them to ensure they don’t come in contact with anything before you seal your jars.

2. Fill your jars.

There are a few things to remember when filling your jars. First, be sure not to fill them completely. Produce expands during the boiling process, so leaving adequate space at the top prevents the jar from leaking and making a mess.

After filling your jar with produce, unless canning jams, jellies and preserves, you’ll be pouring liquid to submerge the fruit or vegetables. Pour the boiling water, pickling solution or juice to cover up to the top of your produce.

Make sure there are no air bubbles along the sides of the jar and that the produce is submerged in the liquid. Wipe the rims of the jars down with a clean cloth and cap with the flat sealing lids and rims.

3. Process your jars.

Preheat water in your pot or pressure cooker. For hot produce, water should be preheated to 180º F, and for cold produce, it should be around 140º F. This will help prevent the jars from cracking when they are placed in the pot.

Water should be an inch or two above the top of the canning jar when they are placed in the pot for a water boiling process. Use a pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s directions to determine the amount of water needed in the bottom prior to adding the jars.

Add the jars using your tongs or jar lifter, and place them in the vessel so they are not touching. Place the lid on your pot or pressure canner. With water bath canning, bring the water to a slow boil and then start your timer to process for the length of time dictated by which vegetable you’re canning and the altitude at which you live. For pressure cooking, you’ll want to check for the length and temperature needed for your region as well.

4.  Remove your jars and let them cool.

Place your jars on a flat wood or cloth-covered solid surface to let them cool. Let them sit for a day to completely cool. While cooling, your jars will start to pop, creating the vacuum seal.

After they have cooled, press down on the center of your jars to ensure they have sealed completely. Any lids that spring back have not sealed and can be placed in the refrigerator and eaten first.

5.  Label and store your preserved food.

Label your jars with the contents and the date. You can write directly on the lid with a Sharpie or download and print or purchase specialty labels for your jars.

Once you have them labeled and have wiped off any food pieces or water from the outside of the jar, store your food in a dark, dry place until you’re ready to enjoy.
 

 

Canning Bacon

                

I use wide mouth quart canning jars.

It takes a little over a pound of bacon for each jar.

You’ll need some parchment paper. I found it at the grocery store in the section with foil, plastic wrap, etc.

Prepare the jars and lids as you would for canning anything else — Wash and boil the jars to sterilize. Bring the bands and lids to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep everything in hot water until ready to use.

Pull off about 3 or 4 feet of parchment paper. Depending on the width, I usually cut mine in half lengthwise. You’re going to roll the bacon slices up in the paper and put them in the jar, so you want the paper about as wide as the jar is tall. I found that it doesn’t really matter if the paper is a little too short or too long. To be honest, I think you could just stuff the bacon in the jars without the paper and it would be fine. You just wouldn’t have nice slices when you’re cooking it. But, I’ll tell you about cooking it later. I also found that it works better to cut the bacon to about the same length as the jar is tall so that it fits to about 1″ below the rim. You can hold a stick, string, ruler, slice of bacon, or whatever you want to use as a guide for cutting your bacon. After the first few, you won’t need it. You’ll be able to just eyeball it. It doesn’t have to be exact, but if it’s too long, you’ll end up wasting space stuffing ends in the jar. You’ll get more bacon in each jar if they fit better.

 1. Prepare the jars and lids.

2. Get your parchment paper ready.

3. Trim bacon ends (or do this as you go, if you prefer)

4. Starting at one end of the parchment paper, lay a strip of bacon across it, roll it, add another strip, roll, and keep going. I ended up laying out strip after strip of bacon, with a little space in between, then rolling it up that way. If your paper is too short, just add another in by overlapping a little.

5. When your roll is about the same size as the jar opening, either continue wrapping the rest of the paper around, or cut it off.

For my last jar, I end up adding piece after piece of leftover paper. 6. Now, just stuff your bacon roll in the jar.

That’s it.

When they’re all full, wipe the rims clean, put the lids and bands on the jars and can them.

7. Process in a pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. 

 As I’m rolling the bacon, I save my ends and use them separately for bacon bits or something.

When you’re ready to use the bacon, the entire roll will come out at once, but it is a little messy. I have a metal bowl ready to put the paper in. There will be liquid left in the jar. Over a skillet, I just start unrolling the bacon. Fry it up as usual. This cooks differently than fresh bacon. It does get crisp, but it rarely stays in nice long strips. It sort of crumbles as you cook.  It does stay in larger pieces than just crumbles, though. If you don’t want it crisp, it is more likely to stay in strips. Since it’s already cooked, you just need enough cooking to make sure it’s safe to eat.

Conserving Energy

About 54 percent of the energy used in homes goes into heating and cooling. Obviously, this is where you can make the biggest savings on energy costs.

Fortunately, there are many quick and inexpensive ways to save energy in your home. You don’t have to be a master mechanic or even a skilled do-it-yourselfer.

All it takes is a small amount of time, a few tools that you probably already own-and some products from your hardware or home center retailer.

Inside this document you will find information about:

  • Materials and Installation Techniques
  • Insulation
  • Storm Windows
  • Cold Weather Energy Savers
  • Hot Weather Energy Savers
  • Year-Round Energy Savers
  • Kitchen, Laundry and Bath
  • Other Living Areas

MATERIALS AND INSTALLATION TECHNIQUES

Thermostats

  • To save money on your heating bill, you may want to turn your thermostat back to 60 degrees or 55 degrees at night. A convenient way to be sure you do this each night is to install a clock thermostat. It automatically turns your thermostat down every night, then turns it up in the morning before you get up. You won’t be uncomfortable with the temperature-or with your heating bill.

   
   

Caulking and Weatherstripping

  • Caulking and weatherstripping come in a variety of qualities, costs, and configurations. You should buy the best quality materials available whenever possible. The more quality materials are the most durable and are the best money savers. They perform better and don’t need to be replaced as often. Check below for a brief description of the most commonly available materials.

Caulking Compounds

  • Not very durable but lowest in cost: oil-or resin-based.
  • More durable and more expensive: latex, butyl or polyvinyl.
  • Most durable and most expensive: elastomeric base.

Filler

  • Materials used to fill extra-wide cracks: expanding foam, glass fiber, caulking cotton. Apply caulking compound AFTER using filler.

Installation

  • Apply caulking outside around window and door frames (see first image at top) and wherever else two different materials or parts of the house meet. With a little practice, pushing the caulking gun instead of pulling it can result in a better, more professional looking caulking job.

Weatherstripping

  • Inexpensive, easy to install, not very durable: felt or foam strip.
  • More expensive, easy to install durable: molded vinyl (with or without various backings).
  • Most expensive, very difficult to install, excellent weather seal, durable: interlocking metal channels (see image below).

  • Apply weatherstripping around the perimeter of all exterior doors and on the inside of all window sashes.
  • During the weatherstripping process, check to see if the putty on your windows needs replacing. Cutting down on all drafts will make your house much more comfortable year round.
   

INSULATION

  • Several kinds of insulation are available to homeowners. Kinds that are easily installed by the do-it-yourselfer are batts, blankets, and loose fill. Some batts and blankets now come with a thin plastic wrap to prevent some of the discomfort that comes with handling insulation. Foamed-in-plastic is usually installed by a contractor because special equipment is used. If your house has a flat roof or a mansard roof, or if your attic or basement area is otherwise restricted, installing will be difficult and you may need to hire a contractor.

Batt or Blanket

  • This type of insulation is usually made of glass fiber or rock wool. Batts come in packs of several pieces cut to 4′ or 8′ lengths; blankets come in rolls of varying lengths. Both are sold in widths of 15″ or 23″ to fit conventional framing spaces and in thicknesses of 1″ to 7″. Batts and blankets are available with or without vapor barriers.

Loose Fill

  • Loose fill insulation is made from glass fiber, rock wool, treated cellulose, vermiculite, or perlite, and does not come with a vapor barrier. Loose fill tends to settle in time. Rock wool should meet Federal Specification HH-I-1030A.
  • Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper and has a high insulative value. Cellulose must be properly treated to be fire-resistant. Two specifications that certify that cellulose is fire-resistant are: Federal Specification HH-I-515C and Underwriters Laboratories Classification listing Type II 26 through 50.

Foam

  • You can purchase cellular plastic products as either prefoamed sheets or batts, or they may be foamed in place by contractors using specialized equipment. The insulating efficiency varies for foams made of different materials (polystyrene, polyurethane, urea-formaldehyde, and others). Discuss these types with your retailer to determine which is the best for you.
  • Foams possess other properties that may affect its long-term insulating value, such as moisture retention, shrinkage, spontaneous decomposition, and vermin resistance.
  • Foams also burn, producing smoke and poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. You can reduce these hazards by following the recommended installation procedures for each type of foam. Foam that is properly installed has a higher insulating value.

INSTALLATION

Attics

  • To insulate an attic floor where there is no existing insulation, lay batts or blankets or pour loose fill between the joists. So that moisture from the living areas of your home does not penetrate the insulation and reduce its effectiveness, you must place a vapor barrier between the heated or air-conditioned part of your house and your attic.
  • Batts and blankets are available with a vapor barrier on one side. To install, place the vapor barrier face-down toward the heated or air-conditioned portion of your home. If you are using loose fill, you will have to install your own vapor barrier. Staple or tack a plastic sheet or polyethylene film under the area where you are planning to pour loose fill.
  • If some new insulation already exists and you are adding a layer of new insulation on top of the old, it is important that there be no vapor barrier between the new and the old. If you must use insulation with a vapor barrier, remove the barrier before installation; you can use a knife to remove the barrier. Place the insulation with this side down. Before purchasing the additional insulation you need, measure the thickness that your attic will accommodate. Additional batts or blankets may not fit! If you try to squeeze insulation in, you’ll reduce its effectiveness. Instead, add insulation with a higher R-value per inch.
  • Do not insulate on top of recessed lighting fixtures or heat-producing equipment. Keep the insulation at least 3″ away from the sides of these types of fixtures. Also, do not cover the eave vents with insulation. Be sure that there is sufficient attic ventilation to allow moisture to escape. There are special foam and plastic inserts that fit between the roof rafters to help insure proper ventilation.

Floors

  • To insulate the floor above your basement or crawl space, push batts or blankets between the floor joists from below with the vapor barrier facing up toward the heated or air conditioned part of your home. If there is no vapor barrier, install a plastic sheet against the underside of your floor (see image above).
  • To support the insulation, you can use insulation supports. These wire rods bend when you push them between the floor joists and they lock themselves into place. Another method is to lace wire back and forth under the insulation (see image above). Provide adequate ventilation below the floor in the crawl space to allow moisture to escape.

STORM WINDOWS

  • Storm windows vary widely in design, durability, ease of use and cost. They range from temporary plastic sheets to custom-made permanent installation, but basically there are two kinds: single and combination.

Single Storm Windows

  • Single storm windows can be made of plastic sheet, glass, or rigid plastic. Plastic sheet is fairly inexpensive initially, but it is easily damaged and must be replaced often. Single glass or rigid plastic is more durable and can be used year after year.

Combination Storm Windows

  • These installations consist of storm windows and screens and are intended to be fixed permanently over double-hung windows. Combination windows come in a variety of finishes and qualities. Shop around for good quality.

Installation

  • You can make and install your own single storm windows. For plastic sheets there are molded plastic strips, double sided tapes and wood strips to attach the plastic to the outer edge of the frame. Do-it-yourself aluminum molding kits and rigid plastic sheets and glass are available from your local hardware store or home center, if you want to make your own. Combination storm windows can be installed by a contractor who will do the measuring for you-or you can do the job yourself if you are handy.

COLD WEATHER ENERGY SAVERS

  • Keep drapes and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • An automatic garage door operator encourages you to shut the door quickly, thereby saving fuel-even in unheated garages-by preventing cold from reaching the inside walls.
  • Electric heat tapes on water pipes that run through unheated areas prevent heat loss from cooling or freezing.
  • Use a humidifier. Cooler indoor temperatures are more comfortable with the proper amount of humidity-about 40-50%.
  • Change furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter impedes air flow and makes your furnace work longer and harder. Check the filter at least once a month.
  • Be sure to keep the damper closed on your fireplace when it’s not in use. Consider installing a glass-door fireplace to keep heat from escaping up the chimney.
  • Use portable electric heaters for seldom-used rooms or to warm up part of a large, cold room.

  • Clean air conditioning filters regularly. Replace immediately when worn out. Keep coils or fins of air-conditioning units free of dust, lint, etc.
  • Deflect daytime sun with awnings on windows or draw draperies and pull shades on sunny windows.
  • Use an attic ventilating fan instead of air conditioning. They do a remarkably good job of keeping air circulating. A 1,400-square-foot attic should have at least 5 square feet of ventilation.
  • Install a turbine ventilator on the roof to pull hot air out of the attic.
  • Run air conditioners only on really hot days.
  • Are you using more light in certain situations than is needed? Each watt of lighting requires the expenditure of 1/2 watt of air-conditioning power.
  • Combine circulating fans with room air conditioners for best air distribution throughout the house.

YEAR-ROUND ENERGY SAVERS

  • Turn off furnace pilot lights during the summer, but check with the gas company first.
  • Use fluorescent lights where possible. A 25-watt fluorescent will provide light equal to a 100-watt incandescent.
  • Replace leaky faucets; repair all water-wasting fixtures. A dripping hot water faucet makes a hot water heater keep working.
  • Utilize working shutters, interior or exterior, to control heat gain or loss.
  • Close off unused rooms.

KITCHEN, LAUNDRY, AND BATH

  • Insulate your hot water storage tank and piping. Kits are available.
  • Clean the heat reflector below the hot water heating element. It will reflect heat better.
  • Install a flow-restrictor pipe to the shower head. This easy-to-install device can save a considerable amount of hot water. It’s inexpensive, threads into the pipe and restricts the flow of water by several gallons of water per minute.
  • Don’t overload appliances that use hot water, such as clothes and dishwashers. The same rule applies to clothes dryers; use drying racks or clotheslines when possible.
  • Use warm or cold water (rather than hot) whenever possible.
  • Keep the thermostat on the hot water heater at the lowest setting possible to maintain a comfortable water temperature.
  • Try to use high-energy appliances-washer, dryer, electric ovens-in non-peak periods (early morning or late evening).
  • Try energy-efficient cooking-flat-bottom pans, clean burner reflectors, pressure cooker, preparing several foods in the oven at the same time; use small appliances for small cooking jobs.
  • Check energy efficient ratings (EER) of appliances and buy the most efficient-10 rating is excellent, 8 or 9 is good.

OTHER LIVING AREAS

  • Install a timer to control the length of time outdoor lights are used, even for security lights.
  • Remember to turn off shop lights, soldering irons and all bench heating devices as quickly as possible.
  • Take advantage of color if reroofing. Darker colors that absorb more light should be used in cold climates; light colors that reflect light should be used in moderate and warm climates.
  • Check windows and frames-if loose, install new window channels or complete new windows.
  • Evaluate doors-are they weather-tight? If you don’t have or want storm doors, are entrance doors insulated? Solid doors should have an insulated core; glass panels in doors should be insulated glass.
  • Seal and insulate pipes and ductwork.

Step by step canning instructions

In this economy home canning is making a comeback….we have the step by step directions you will need to try this yourself. All of your canning needs can be found at your local Evergreen Supply store.

Canning is no more difficult than many other types of food preparation, and it allows you to enjoy the delicious flavors of fresh produce all year long. Grow your own, or buy locally; you’ll be able to lower your grocery bills, support sustainable lifestyles, and manage your family’s nutrition all at the same time. It’s a great way to be creative in the kitchen as well! In just a few easy steps, this guide will teach you the simple art of canning.

In this document, you will find information about:

  • Preparing the Jars
  • Preparing the Canner
  • Preparing the Recipe
  • Filling and Capping the Jars
  • Heat Processing
  • Sealing
  • Storing

PREPARING THE JARS

  • Visually examine your glass preserving jars and two-piece caps.
  • Wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot soapy water. Rinse well. Dry bands.
  • Heat the jars and lids in hot water until ready to use (do not boil). Jars need to be hot to prevent breakage when hot food is added. Lids need to be hot to activate the sealing compound. However, boiling lids will cause seal failure.
  • Leave bands at room temperature for easy handling.

PREPARING THE CANNER

Boiling Water Canner (for high-acid foods such as tomatoes, fruit, and pickles)

  • Fill half full with hot water.
  • Keep water at a simmer, covered with lid, until ready to use.

Steam Pressure Canner (for low-acid foods such as vegetables and meats)

  • Fill with 3″ to 4″ of hot water.
  • Keep water at a simmer until ready to use.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for further information.

PREPARING THE RECIPE

  • Always start with a current, tested FreshPreserving™ recipe.
  • Prepare recipe as stated – do not make changes. Adding or changing ingredients can affect pH and heat penetration. However, you can safely add dry spices or flavored oils.

FILLING THE JARS

  • Ladle the hot food into hot jars, leaving the appropriate headspace as specified below. Headspace is the space between the top of the food product and the top of the jar.
  • 1″ for low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, seafood, and poultry).
  • 1/2″ for high-acid foods (fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and salsa).
  • 1/4″ for fruit juices and soft spreads (jams, jellies, marmalades, etc.).
  • Incorrect Headspace: Too much headspace will result in less vacuum. Too little headspace may result in food being forced under the lid.

  • Fill jars one at a time to maintain correct Initial Temperature. Initial Temperature (IT) is the temperature of the food when it is ladled into a jar and immediately capped. IT is a factor for heat penetration and is critical for product sterility. Filling and capping jars in an assembly-line fashion causes the product to drop below the required fill/cap temperature. Insufficient IT could lead to an unsafe product.
  • Remove air bubbles. Run a nonmetallic spatula between food and jar. Press back gently on food to expel air bubbles. Repeat 2 to 3 times around jar. Air bubbles around food pieces may not be readily visible. Failure to remove air bubbles will increase headspace and cause insufficient vacuum.

CAPPING THE JARS

  • Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Center hot lid on jar, allowing sealing compound to come in contact with the jar rim.
  • Apply band and adjust until fit is “fingertip tight.” Bands only function to hold the lid in place. If band torque is too tight, the lid will not vent properly. If band torque is too loose, the lid will not be held tight enough to the jar to make a proper seal.

HEAT PROCESSING

  • Place filled, sealed jars on rack.
  • Place rack into canner.
  • Process for method and time indicated on current, tested FreshPreserving™ recipe, adjusting for altitude. Correct time and temperature are important to ensure a safely preserved food product.

Boiling Water Canner Method

  • Lower rack of filled, sealed jars into water.
  • Be sure jars and caps are covered by 1″ to 2″ of water.
  • Bring water to a gentle, steady boil.
  • Process for the time indicated in recipe.
  • Upon completion of processing, turn off heat and remove lid.
  • Let jars stand for 5 minutes.

Steam Pressure Canner Method

  • Lock lid into place.
  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Once a steady stream of steam is escaping from the vent pipe, vent for 10 minutes.
  • Place weight on vent.
  • Bring pressure to 10 lbs (at or below 1,000 feet altitude).
  • Process for time indicated in recipe.
  • Upon completion of processing, turn off heat.
  • Let pressure return to 0 naturally, then wait 2 minutes.
  • Open vent and remove canner lid.
  • Let jars rest for 10 minutes.

SEALING

  • Remove jars from canner and set upright on dry towel to cool. Do not retighten bands – it may interfere with the seal.
  • Let jars cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Check seal. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.Remove bands and try to lift lids off with fingertips. If the lid cannot be lifted off, it has a good seal.

STORING

  • Clean jars and lids.
  • Remove bands for storage.
  • Label each jar.
  • Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.


Content provided by Ball Canning

Plumbing Tips for your home….

These plumbing tips will help you keep your pipes and home plumbing faucets and fixtures in good working order.

Turn Valves On and Off
Turn main water supply and fixture valves on and off periodically to make sure they don’t get stuck. You want to be sure you’re never in the position of not being able to turn your water supply off during an emergency or home plumbing repair.

Repair Leaking Faucets
Leaking faucets are not only a nuisance, they can also cause gallons of water to be wasted over time. Leaking faucets with washer fittings can be fixed by replacing the washer. Faucets without washers may require that you consult an installation manual or a specialist at a home plumbing store.

Inspect Your Septic Tank Periodically
This plumbing tip requires that you check your septic tank every three to five years to determine the level of scum and solids on the surface of the tank. The tank should be cleaned if the level of scum exceeds one half of the depth of the water in the tank.

Inspect Pipes Annually
You should examine your distribution and drainage pipes for signs of leaks each year. You may find clues that your pipes are leaking along the length of the pipe or around fittings or fixtures. Signs of leaks may include rust, corrosion, and mineral deposits.

You’ll also want to check the insulation of your hot water pipes periodically and replace any open or damaged areas of insulation. Another plumbing tip includes replacing aerators on faucets several times each year.

These plumbing tips will put you on your way to maintaining your home’s plumbing for years to come.

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