How to Insulate a Garage Door

If you are moving into a home that has a garage or if you are looking to upgrade your door, insulation is a fantastic step in the right direction. If you spend a lot of time in your garage or if your garage is attached to your home, then you understand the need to have this space insulated year round. You are likely looking for help in insulating your door instead of going out and buying a new one. Luckily, there are many different ways in which you can insulate your garage door and the R Values ​​of some of these techniques are quite high.

The route that most people take when it comes to insulating their garage door is to buy a kit. Many of the top kits out there are for metal, steel, and aluminum doors of various heights. Although there are several ways to insulate your garage door, the use of Styrofoam is most often used. Most of the top kits are made from Styrofoam and install in under an hour. The kits offer an R Value of 4.5, which is good, but not fantastic. If you do not want to use a kit, you can insulate your door yourself using raw materials bought from your local hardware store.

You can purchase polyurethane foam sheets from your local hardware store for a reasonable price, cut them into pieces, and affix them to the inside of your garage door. It is up to you how many sheets you want to use, but the more insulation you add, the better off you will be when it comes to those cold winter nights. If you want to go the extra mile, you can purchase a few feet of weather stripping to add to the sides and underneath of your door to stop drafts and to complete the insulation formula. Your R Value will depend on which type of foam you use, how much you use, and the amount of weather stripping you use. You can expect, however, to have an R Value over 5 if done properly.

If you are on a tight budget and you can not afford the foam, simply using the weather stripping to stop drafts from coming in on the sides and underneath will help. It probably will not register much of an R Value, but if it is all you can do this season, you are better off taking this one step than not doing anything at all.

If you happen to have some wall insulation lying around, you could use that, but it tends to be unsightly and it can be dangerous to small children and pets. You will still need to add weather stripping in this instance, as well.

As you can see, there are several options available to the average homeowner if you are looking to insulate your garage door. Do not need to believe the sales person at your local hardware store if he or she tells you that you have to buy a brand new door. There are insulation options available to you and many of them install in no time flat.

What Can Far Infrared Water Filtration Systems Do For You?

With the ability to clean the water and enhance its structure, far infrared water filtration (FIR) has some consumers wondering if this may be the blessing in disguise they’ve been waiting for. With our body being made up of over 70% water, simply removing contaminants isn’t good enough anymore, considering the level of today’s knowledge and technology. Far infrared water filters claim to provide consumers with the opportunity to deliver clean water that is refreshing crisp and energized to boot.

Far infrared rays are the invisible portion of the sunlight spectrum that has been found to promote growth and health to living cells in plants, animals, and humans. By using a far infrared water filtration system, some have estimated an enrichment of treated water that somehow strengthens various organs within our bodies.

It is vital that all drinking water filters detect and decontaminate any sort of impurities that may be found in our water. However, above and beyond this standard requirement, some also crave the ability to enhance the water’s structure and properties. By doing so, far infrared water filtration may allow us to drink energized water while getting superior hydration; all in the name of improving overall health.

So how does it work you may ask? Far infrared rays are reported to have the ability to penetrate the human body in order to activate cells. With continuous movement, the rays are alleged to reactivate cells to help strengthen the micro-circulatory system. The micro-circulatory system is often the cause of various ailments. By strengthening this system, some may reduce or even reverse ailments that have plagued their bodies for years.

There are several effects far infrared rays can have on our body, all of which can have a strong positive effect when used as a far infrared water filter. Theoretically, the water filter will soften hard water, eliminate offensive odors, and destroy any potentially harmful contaminants. FIR could also be shown to prevent bacterial growth, be used to purify the air, or prevent mould from occurring. As far as our health goes, FIR may also regulate the blood flow, increase resistance against various diseases and balance the acidity levels in our bodies.

While empirical evidence to back up this technology is sketchy at best, many people swear by far infrared water filters. Not only do these types of filters claim to be able to eliminate harmful contaminants and bacteria, but they also claim to enhance your health and even slow down the again process. Another claimed benefit is that through the warming and eliminating of fats and chemicals in your body, this technology is able to reduce or even eliminate certain types of circulatory problems. With these kinds of benefits being touted, it is no wonder that consumers are taking advantage of the far infrared water filtration system. The real question is; will FIR filtration systems work for you?

Caveat Emptor…

Fibromyalgia Foods To Eat and To Avoid

So little is known about the disease, much less the proper foods to consume and what foods to avoid. Fibromyalgia is not generally considered as an "auto immune" disease but seems to be a condition of centralized pain reception sensitivity. Nerve endings are sensitive but over time the receptor sites in the brain become hyper sensitive and general painful areas of the body becomes normal. In some situations anti-inflammatories help certain patients however if the anti-inflammatory agent is food, not drugs, the output looks to be better. Foods are vastly complicated chemical carriers and additional chemicals are ingested and may work together, or complementary to each other to enhance patient outcomes.

Here are some of the best suggestions for combating Fibromyalgia with food, supplements, vitamins and herbs.

Foods to be avoided and why:

1. Alchohol – sometimes some forms of alcohol may trigger symptom flares, however as with all things dosages of what is important. The old adage of 1 – 2, 4 oz. glasses of red wine may be beneficial daily.

2. Caffeine -excess use may stress liver and adrenal glands

3. Sugar – try to eliminate in practice all forms for sweetness substitute the herb plant stevia

4. Processed foods – a general rule about most processed foods is excessive amounts of sugars and salts

5. Allergy triggering foods – many fibromyalgia patients suffer digestive disorders causing pain, diarrhea and headaches which may be triggered by:

A. MSG (monosodium glutamate), caffeine, food coloring, chocolate, shrimp, dairy products, gluten, yeast, soy, corn and other food additives such as aspartame. Many processed foods are loaded with the additives.

Foods to consume and why:

1. Turkey – contains tryptophan, amino acid that fights chronic fatigue and depression which is common problems of many fibro patients.

2. Nuts, cold water fish, seeds as they are high in tryptophan

3. Tart cherries and red raspberries because they are high in anthocyanins which is an anti-inflammatory. Also tart cherries and raspberries may help induce sleep which is often a complication of fibromyalgia.

4. Sardines and organ meats – these natural products are high in Co-Q-10. CoQ10 is a muscle relaxant and stiff muscles is often a symptom.

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – use to replace butter or oils for cooking. EVOO has oleocanthal which is also an anti-inflammatory.

6. Mediterranean diet – a general rule is this diet is fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and has very little dairy though some patients benefit from consuming Greek style yogurt.

7. Herbs For Pain – many fresh herbs can be substituted for foods to avoid such as sugar, butter, fats. Also some herbs help with Fibromyalgia pain.

Why Protein Drinks and Meal Replacement Shakes Are Great For Weight Loss Plans

p> Most weight loss plans use protein drinks and meal replacement shakes. For many, it may take some getting used to having your meal in a glass. But is a small price to pay for the results your weight loss plan will reap! Meal replacement shakes pack a huge amount of nutrition into one drink. They are calorie controlled and can be one of the best diet tricks to help you lose weight. Meal replacement shakes offer a lot of flexibility and can be made to go!

Add Your Own Boost To Your Protein Shakes

Protein shakes come in a variety of flavors. Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, banana and peach are just a few of the yummy flavors. Armed with a blender, ice, water and a few of your favorite fruits you can create a delicious and nutritious meal. Adding a cup of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, banana or mango increase the antioxidant power and fiber content of your drink. If you would like some added protein add soy, almond or rice milk to your mix. This will give a different taste to the "ordinary" smoothie. If you really want to boost your health add herbal extracts such as marshmallow root, echinacea, bacopa or wild cherry bark. To step up the antioxidant power and taste of your shake add acai juice, pomegranate juice, mango or papyua juice. Just be careful, the juices while a great immune system builder can also add quite a few extra calories- read your labels !!! Good quality meal replacement drinks will be a good source of vital nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D and zinc.

What is the best quality meal replacement / protein shake?

Walk into a health food store and you will find at least 5 different protein powders which are to be used as meal replacement shakes! What makes a product the best weight loss and wellness builder? First, protein powders will be either whey or soy based. There is a huge debate regarding the pros and cons of each. I recommend a soy based product for several reasons. Soy has many health building qualities, especially for women. In most cases, soy is better tolerated by the digestive system. Also, high quality soy products are dairy free. The amount of desirable protein per serving is 12-17g. There is no need to use a product with 30-40g of protein per serving- from a weight loss perspective. One of the largest diet friendly attributes of a meal replacement shake is it needs to fall on the low side of the glycemic index. This quality will help curb cravings and leave you feeling full and satisfied after the meal. I strongly recommend staying away from products with artificial colorings and sweeteners. A product with added preservatives is a clear indication of the poor quality of the product. In most cases, it indicates the product is highly processed and more than probably not as "health conscious" as your diet plan needs to be.

One of the largest reasons meal replacement shakes are used in weight loss plans is the calories in shakes is generally low. You can receive a lot of nutrition and taste in just a few calories. With the low calorie count of the actual protein powder you have a great deal of flexibility on fruits which can be added to jazz it up! Remember, healthy weight loss requires reducing calorie intake, increasing nutritional value of foods, increasing fitness and keeping your daily commitment to better yourself and those around you. Remember, protein shakes are just one smart part of the best diet but they can be used to accelerate weight loss by reducing the number of calories consumed (thus using the shakes as 1 or 2 meals plus a snack).

You have made a commitment to improve your health, regain your confidence and lose weight- keep up the hard work. Welcome the setbacks as opportunities to find new solutions !!! Yours in health!

Mortise and Tenon Joints

Mortise and tenon is one of the oldest and simplest joints around, but it is also one of the strongest. When tested against other joints by Wood Magazine, the mortise and tenon joint took two to three times more force to break than any other joint that they tested. It also took the award for harsh joint to pull apart. Over 4,700 pounds of force were used to pull this joint apart, and it still did not budge before the wood broke.

The mortise is the female "receiving" end of the joint. A hole is cut partway or all the way through a piece of wood. The tenon is formed on the other piece of wood. The tenon is the male end. It is a tab cut into a piece of wood that fits perfectly into the mortise. This joint joins two pieces of wood at ninety degrees, like a key in a lock.

An open mortise is the same as a bridle joint. A tenon is cut into the end of a board, and a mortise into the other, just like a regular mortise and tenon joint. However, the tenon is cut to be the full length of the end of the board. So, it is more like the tongue of a tongue and groove joint, only cut on two sides. The mortise is more of a slot than a hole. You can use a router or a circular saw to cut the slot and tenon of the open mortise joint.

A stub mortise is a mortise that does not go all the way through the board. It is a hole of a specific depth and the tenon is cut to fit into the hole. A through mortise is one that has a mortise that completely goes through the board.

One of the oldest types of mortise and tenon joints is the dovetail joint. This joint is known for its tensile strength and is often used in furniture that will be put through a lot of pushing and pulling. You will most likely see a dovetail joint if you open your dresser drawer and take a look where the front connects with the sides. For this joint, pins are cut in the end of one board. Then tails, or slots, are cut in the end of the other board. The pins and tails are usually cut into a trapezoid shape and glued. No other hardware is needed once the details are glued into place.

There are many types of joints that you can use depending on what you are building. Mortise and tenon joints are great for projects that will need to end a lot of wear and tear. You can also use dowels for joining boards together. A dowel rod creates a strong joint and can sometimes be easier than some mortise and tenon joints. Consult a woodworking professional or follow professional advice when choosing the best kind of joints for your woodworking projects.

10 Things to Do Before You Reach 40 in Ramsbottom

As time marches on in life and you pass your mid 30s, you start to wonder, what have I missed out on in life? So I have set myself the task of writing this article to both challenge myself mentally and, hopefully, basically I will manage to complete all 10 before I am 40. The clock is ticking ….

· Complete the Anthony Nolan Trust – Peel Tower 700ft Zip Slide for charity ! The 150 year old Tower is a stunning historic monument on Holcombe Hill; the tower has an elevation of 1,100ft, with views over Manchester, Cheshire & North Wales that are absolutely breathtaking. Enjoy the view from the top before flying through the air. No experience needed. All to raise funds for the UK bone marrow register.

· Follow the Irwell Sculpture Trail- this is the UK's largest public art scheme. The walking trail is around 30 miles long and features over 20 specifically commissioned works of art. The trail starts at Salford Quays and finishes in the Pennines above Bacup.

· Nuttall Park , Delightful Riverside Park with facilities including football pitches, tennis & a bowling green. Plenty of special events on during the year.

· Rhythm & Blues Festival – The festival will be top British and international blues musicians to play at various venues both indoor and outdoor come along and support this prestigious event.

· East Lancashire Railway (ELR) Take a trip on the famous steam railway, this runs every Saturday and Sunday through Spring, Summer and Autumn ..

· Complete Mad Good Friday – Rammy Mile – On Good Friday I do not know if anyone has ever experienced the Rammy mile. Its where around a couple of thousand people congregate and start the Rammy mile pub crawl from the Hare & hounds Pub working downhill through the village ending at the Railway Pub. I whole heartedly recommend it if you can do it! It is a great experience to have fun with a few friends

· Peel Tower climb the 148 steps – The Peel Tower stands 128 feet high on the very top Holcombe Hill on a clear day it is said you can see Blackpool Tower. It was originally established in 1852 as a memorial to former Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel and dominates the surrounding country. A real landmark to be seen from afar.

· Farmers Market – The farmers market is a monthly event held on the second Sunday of the month at the Market place (next to the Tilted Vase) and inside the Civic Hall. They offer a wide variety of local produce including fresh fish, seafood, meat, poultry, vegetables, fruit, pies, jams, bread and sweets. The market also offers lots of locally made home-made crafts and paintings.

· Ramsbottom United FC – Watch the mighty Rams play at home in the Vodkat League see the notice board in the Village for details of the next match.

· Enter the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships – The bizarre contest celebrates the ancient rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire and joins people from far away as Australia to compete.

Contestants gathered at the Royal Oak pub to throw black puddings at a stack of Yorkshire puddings piled on a plinth 20ft off the ground. The rules: You can throw three competition standard 6oz puddings – underarm only. Whoever falls the most Yorkshire puddings is the winner.

All these and lots more events can be found with

Bachmann Christmas Train Sets – Toys, Or Proper Railway Models?

It would come as a very big "Bah! Humbug!" indeed if the world's largest maker of model trains and model railroad equipment were to overlook the Christmas market. In the USA especially, the seasonally decorated electric train going round and round the base of the Christmas tree is something approaching the iconic status of the tree itself. A slight exaggeration maybe, but important enough for all the major players in the model railroad business to recognize the importance of the occasion – and the market – with suitably kitted out merchandise. Here, we're going to take a look at two of Bachmann's Christmas train sets and see what they offer the serious railroader or what paths into the hobby proper open up with the purchase of a Christmas tree train set.

Something for everyone.

First amongstst Bachmann's 2010 Christmas offers is the Thomas Holiday Special – a Christmas train set in popular HO gauge, maintaining of the now very familiar British outline 0-6-0 Class E2 tank engine in vaguely London and North East Railway powder blue construction, along with a candy-cane striped tank car, an open wagon with a Christmas tree inside and a 6 wheeler coach, in suitably Christmassy green. There is a 56 "by 38" oval of Bachmann's EZ snap-fit ​​track, and a power pack and speed / direction controller complete the contents of the box. Thomas comes in wintery, but seasonal garb – with a snowplow on the front and a Santa hat on his smokestack. Oh yes, and the eyes on the front of the boiler, which do so much to humanize the locos in this series, move. This has a recommended retail price of $ 145.00, although street prices may well be less. As an actual model, it measures up pretty well too. Proportions of the locomotive and wagons are very nice and crisply detailed and the EZ track is indeed, easily assembled and ready for operation in just minutes. More importantly, it's a great introduction to accepted standards of realism in HO gauge model railroading.

… and the big stuff!

Moving on up and into territory traditionally held by Lionel, Bachman Christmas train sets can also be had in G scale, or 1: 20.3. For the newcomers to model-trainspeak, this means that the model is one-twenty and point three the size of the real thing it is depicting. In plain language, these are quite satisfyingly big models. My personal favorite is the White Christmas Express, a late 19th Century wood-fired 4-6-0 ten-wheeler with the big balloon smokestack, tender and two vintage clerestory coaches. In this scale, the basic provided oval of track requires an 8ft 2 "by 4ft 3" space (compare this with the roughly 4ft by 3 ft space needed for the HO set) for setting up, but assembly and operation is no more challenging than in HO gauge.

The set contains, as you would expect, the track, plus a power pack and speed / direction controller and all the instructions for set up, if needed, on a DVD. The loco has operating headlights, realistic steam train sounds and the coaches have opening doors and interior lighting. But best of all, it looks so right! Bachmann have been very restrained in their decoration of the items in this set, so that if, heaven forbid, the days of steaming round the Christmas tree were to end, the locomotive and coaches could easily find new identities with new paintjobs in a highly detailed garden layout. At a retail price of $ 440.00, it is not the cheapest option, but as with everything in this life, you get what you pay for.

Bachmann Christmas train sets are a great introduction to the hobby and to the range of product made by this model train giant. I have just briefly touched on a couple of my favorites, but the N gauge enthusiast has not been forgotten, nor has the On30 narrow gauger. Start dreaming now, because Christmas will be here before you know it.

Arc Flash Hazard and Workplace Safety

What is Arc Flash?

An Arc Flash is an explosive release of energy caused by an electrical short circuit between 2 energised conductors or an energised conductor and earth. The sudden discharge of electrical energy causes a brilliant explosion of light and sound. The temperatures inside a flash accident can reach 19,000 ° C (sun's surface temperature is 6000 ° C) causing conductors especially copper to vaporize (Copper expands by a factor 67,000 when it vapourises). The explosion causes shrapnel and vaporized conductors to escape the blast site at 1600km / hr. This amount of energy is sufficient to cause severe injury to anyone within the blast radius. The injuries can range from burns, blindness, hearing loss, impact injury, psychological trauma and even death. Critically, most flash accidents occurred when the electrical system is being worked on and "live" and then Arc Flash presents a serious risk to the employees.

The incident energy in a flash incident does not necessarily depend on the system voltage because the lower the voltage, the more current there can be in the system and the higher current levels create the high amounts of energy that is dissipated in an arc flash incident in an electrical system.

Arc Flash Standards and the Law

Arc Flash is a workplace electrical hazard and therefore there are laws and standards governing the measurement and mitigation of the risks associated with arc flash incidents as the safety of the people in the workplace is paramount. Such accidents can cause damage to the electrical networks on the site by overloading parts of the electrical grid on site. This can also cause the electric network to shut down and cause expensive downtime. A proper workplace safety audit that includes Arc Flash incident energy calculations and risk assessment can suggest electrical equipment settings to reduce the probability of a serious arc flash related incident from occurring in the workplace.


In the US, there is a standard for measuring the energy released in a flash incident. It is the IEEE1584-2002 standard that was published in 2002 and details how to calculate the amount of energy that is released in an arc flash incident.

The calculation involves an assessment of the maximum bolted short circuit current available at a given location, the possible maximum duration of the arc, the distance from the arc source, the line voltage (if above 600V) and the conductor spacing. The possible duration of the arc is determined by the settings of the protection devices upstream of the network point including all sources.

From these data the incident energy is calculated in Joules per square centimetre, J / cm2 (or cal / cm2). Four hazard / risk category classifications are defined and for each category the NFPA requires an appropriate level of PPE for each level in the table.

The NFPA standard (NFPA 70E) is centred around setting a process of achieving workplace safety in an eletcrical environment. NFPA 70E requires the employee to implement and document an electrical workplace safety program that direct activity appropriate for the electrical hazards, voltage, energy level, and circuit conditions. A key recommendation is that as far as possible electrical conductors and circuit parts should be de-energized and have lockout / tagout devices applied.

Arc Flash Shock Protection Boundaries

The standard outlines the procedures, labeling and training required to achieve workplace safety. It also sets out the requirements for work on electrical equipment where it can not be de-energised or locked out. NFPA 70E sets out a number of boundaries from the live electrical conductors, arc flash boundary and shock protection. An Arc Flash boundary is defined as the point where the energy of the electrical arc is 5J / cm2 as it is the amount of energy needed to inflict 2nd degree burns on a human being. The NFPA 70E standard also details the look of any signage that is to be used to warn employees of electrical hazards.

Europe and Ireland

In Europe, Ireland and the UK, Arc Flash is deal with different. In the absence of a local standard or method of energy calculation in the European jurisdiction, Arc Flash is dealing with as a workplace hazard and as such the onus is on the employer to ensure workplace safety. The IEEE standard is used for energy calculations as it is the best method of doing so. The NFPA 70E standard stipulates 4 levels of incident flash energy but in Europe, an equivalent 2-level system is used. Due to the multi-lingual working environment in Europe, all signage must conform to the European standard and any non-standard signage is not considered adequate.

In Ireland, it is a requirement under Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 (SI no. 10 of 2005) that 'every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees '. This clearly extends to working on electrical systems.

SI299 of 2007 part 3 (Electricity) states that 'it is preferable that work on or near electrical equipment should be carried out when that equipment is dead, but work on or near live conductors may be permitted in exceptional circumstances.'

Also stated in this standard, work on live equipment should not be undertaken unless:

  1. It is unreasonable in the circumstances for it to be dead
  2. It is reasonable in the circumstances for such person to be at work on or near it while it is live
  3. Sufficient precautions are taken to prevent danger, including, where necessary, the provision of protective equipment

According to the Act, electrical hazards associated with electrical systems and equipment include:

  • Electric shock
  • Burns sustained at the point of accidental electrical contact, or due to arcing from high voltage conductors
  • Fires caused by overheating or ignition of explosive atmospheres
  • Secondary injuries as a result of muscle spasms during electric shock or, for example, falling from a ladder after a mild shock.

Therefore, it is the employers responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees, have risk assessments carried out (associated with Arc Flash hazard), have clear labeling in place to warn employees and to have proper CE marked P personal pet protection E quipment available on site.

Currently in Ireland, the awareness of the Arc Flash hazard is very low and Premium Power is committed to ensuring that Arc Flash is at the forefront of discussion on workplace safety in Ireland especially in the context of the industrial manufacturing and data center environments.

Twitter Hash Tag #ArcFlash

Can Tonsil Stones Indicate Or Be Caused by Sinus Problems Infections and Drainage

Perhaps you have heard this before, tonsil stones are caused by sinus problems infections and drainage or maybe you have noticed this on your own. If you are wondering how there can be a link between the two let us look at the reasons for this.

Tonsilloliths are simply formed by the presence of dead white blood cells, overactive salivary glands, oral bacteria, mucous secretions, including postnasal drip and residue from food. Although the absence of any one of these will still create tonsil stones it is almost always the case that all these will be present.

When a sinus infection takes place the most common symptoms are postnasal drip, drainage, and mucous. Allergies, the flu and a common cold also cause these symptoms that can lead to the creation of tonsilloliths. When the drainage and mucous gathers in the tonsil crypts or crevices they solidify and become the stinky tonsil balls we all know.

However, it should be noted that the presence of a tonsil balls does not mean that there is a sinus problem. In fact the infection may have passed and a few days or a couple of weeks later the tonsil balls will appear. It is often the case that people confuse which came first.

However, the presence of tonsil stones is unmistakable. The yellow or white appearance and the strong sulfur like taste in the mouth and smell is something that is annoying. Fortunately there are remedies for this problem that are easy to use.

How to Budget For Your New Timber Frame Home

One of the first things people think about before building a new timber frame home is “how much can I afford?” Many things affect the budget including site work, the design of your new home, the wood species you choose for the timber frame, choice of windows, and what materials you choose to finish your house.

There are a few big budget items that people do not typically think about when planning for their new timber frame home. One of the biggest factors people do not think about is their site. It can be very costly to prepare the site for your new home, however, it all depends on the complexity of the site. Does your property have a lot of boulders and trees to be removed? Or is your site already cleared?

The design of your new home can also impact your budget. The more complex the timber frame structure is, the more expensive it will be. For example, a Hammer Beam Truss timber frame system frame is more expensive principal purlin frame.

Also the more windows, gables, dormers and corners in your new homes design will have an impact on the overall cost. For example, a colonial style home with no dormers will cost less than a custom two story home with multiple dormers and extensions. Another thing to consider when budgeting for your new home is deciding on whether or not you want a finished basement. Using the finished basement as living space can lower your cost per square foot.

A typical timber frame package includes the exterior shell of the home (timber frame, Structural Insulated Panels, windows, doors, siding, roofing, and trim), and is only one part of the house, the exterior shell. The following are some other factors you will have to consider:

• What kind of heating system do I want?

• What kind of siding will we have?

• Will there be a fireplace?

• What kind of flooring will be used and where?

• What type of kitchen cabinets and appliances do I want?

• Am I going to build a garage right away?

How do you go about establishing costs that fit into your budget? First, interview local custom builders. Begin by consulting acquaintances who have built custom homes or check with your local chapter of the National Home Builders Association. Your builder will help you establish costs for all areas of the house.

Next, prioritize the rooms according to your main focus. For instance, most timber frame homes highlight the Great Room. And, if you’re an aspiring Chef or plan to do a lot of entertaining, the kitchen will also be a big focus. Look at those areas first and choose a timber frame system that enhances those areas but stays within your allowance for those rooms. Next work with your builder to establish a budget to work within. Then you can determine how the rest of the house can be finished to stay within your budget.

If your budget is tight, consider a hybrid system, combining timber framing with conventional stick frame construction for other areas of the house. Your builder can also recommend appliances, flooring, and finish materials to help you stay within budget.

Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) – A Replacement For Traditional Dimensional Lumber

If you like the look of solid wood beams, then you should consider using laminated veneer lumber (LVL). This engineered wood product provides the heft and look of wooden beam construction, but with less problems and more weight bearing capacity than beams the same size of traditional dynamic lumber.

When you think of a laminated veneer lumber beam, think of a sheet of plywood, but with the dimensions of a wooden beam. The process of manufacturing these beams is very similar to constructing sheets of plywood. Wood planks are ripped into thin sections, then glued together and pressed to form a solid bond between the sheets. Because there are a minimal number of knots, or other imperfections commonly found in wood, in an LVL beam; the overall strength of the beam is better and the possibility of a structural defect is eliminated. Even if there is a knot in one strip, the structural integrity of the other strips diminish the weakness resulting from the one knot. The layers of wood that make up an LVL beam, as in a sheet of plywood, provide greater strength and a lesser likelihood to warp or twist. From a construction standpoint, a laminated veneer lumber beam is superior to standard dimensional lumber

Using LVL beams is more importantly eco friendly than building with standard dimensional lumber. Smaller trees, grown with sustainable forestry techniques are used to manufacture a large LVL beam, which would require a large old growth tree to be filled in order to mill a standard beam of the same size. With a standard demographic beam of a given length, you need a tree large enough to mill the entire beam out of the tree. In a LVL beam, the planks can milled from shooter and thinner pieces of lumber. The lamination process allows a beam of almost any dimension or length to be manufactured. The glues used to manufacture Laminated Veneer Lumber are toxin free and do not give off any VOC fumes.

Laminated Veneer Lumber can be used anywhere that requires a large weight bearing capacity over a reasonable span.

One potential drawback to the use of laminated veneer lumber is that the product is designed for dry, interior applications; and not suitable for outdoor usage. But, with that in mind, there are still a wide variety of applications where a LVL beam is the best option for your construction needs

Marine Electronics – Chart Apps For Your iPhone and iPad

A lot of marine enthusiasts are exploring capability on their iPhone these days for charting, GPS and marine weather apps. iPhone apps are usually low priced and often quite effective, especially for casual boats who do not have the budget for fancy marine electronics. One of the things people love most about iPhone marine apps is the ability to use charts for planning purposes even when you are not on the boat or out on the water. Many iPhone marine charting apps also run on iPod Touch and the newest in the Apple line of electronic wizardry, the iPad. Check before you purchase. Many apps are very low cost, so even if you have high end electronics on board, a few inexpensive iPhone charts can provide a great backup in case something goes wrong with your primary marine equipment for some inexplicable reason.

Here is the run down on a few of the more popular iPhone apps that might interest boats and fishermen:

Marine Charts for iPod, iPhone and iPad: iNavX ™

This app includes NOAA RNC raster marine charts for the United States. The app allows you to lease GPS to plot your position and gives you access to thousands of charts for Canada, US Coastal waters, Alaska, Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands. It allows you to set waypoints and plot routes using the GPS tracker, and interfaces with Google Earth, GPX import / export, and GRIB weather forecast amongst others. It can also act as a repeater to support NMEA data over TCP / IP. That means you can use it to connect with other devices that use NMEA standard including Mac compatible applications such as MacENC ™.

iNavX retails for $ 49.99 at the Apple store. There are also versions available for 3G and 3GS.

Navionics Marine Charting Software

Navionics won awards for their innovative marine and lake charts iPhone app in 2009. The 2010 version is a little more pricey (up from $ 9.99 to $ 24.99) but lets you do even more. As well as keeping you on track with the GPS and Charting applications you can check tides and currents, sun and moon phases and interface directly to Facebook to post pics of your travels for friends and family to view instantly. You can also send tracks and routes to Google Earth. You can even use the app offline (where there is no wi-fi coverage) to plan routes and create a travelogue. You buy Navionics Marine charts for specific regions so you can buy Marine: US West, Marine: US East, etc.

Using apps for your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or 3G wireless phone is a convenient and inexpensive way to try out various software and see if you like it enough to invest in a boat-mounted marine chart system. It is also a useful backup to your primary electronics and may free you up from the need to lug a laptop on board with you.

Contemporary Porches That Welcome

Many new homes these days are designed with the contemporary style. A contemporary styled porch is usually created using simple clean lines with a bit of sophistication thrown in the mix. Painted with neutral colors and textures, they often display splashes of color by using pillows and other decorative accents. The modern porches that are designed today can be decorated to portray any look and feel you want to attract your visitors and draw them into your haven.

Contemporary porches should be a reflection of your home. You could choose to add a single wicker chair, a small plant and some small planters to create a homey feeling for a smaller home. Or you can enclose a porch to create a more elaborate sun room complete with couches, a small table and chair or other outdoor furniture suitable for entertaining, to accent a larger homes appearance. There are many options available to you with a contemporary porch design.

If you are working with a smaller porch layout, there are still many things that can be done to create an inviting environment for both visitors and your family. You could either make or buy a wreath to add some color to your door. Replacing a small boring light fixture with a modern Hanging Lantern will add some character and change the ambience of your enclosure. Adding a comfortable swing with colorful pillows, a seabreeze exterior rug, and a potted plant could work to complete the picture.

If you have the space and live in a climate that allows for a lot of time spent outdoors, you may want to add a comfy outdoor couch, a coffee table or small dining set, a large outdoor rug or even paint the porch floor with a high gloss shine or specialized paint to make your flooring appear to be made of marble. Remember to add plants or a small tree to add greenery to your porch and give the air a fresh scent. For extras, you can add candles of different sizes and shapes, vases, a basket for holding magazines, and sometimes some beautiful wind chimes.

If you are not sure what decorating ideas are suitable for contemporary porches, drive around the neighborhood and take note of what other people are doing with their porches. Browse through some Home and Garden magazines for ideas, or do a search online. You can find many front porch pictures online to spark your imagination.

Soil Tips For a Vineyard

If you have an interest in growing grapes one thing you need to consider is the soil type in which you will be planting your vines.

Perhaps the best thing you can do if you are serious about growing grapes is to call on the services of a professional to test the soil. When the test is done you should then be able to discuss with the expert what types of grapes would be suitable to plant on your land.

Here are some points to consider:

  • All good vineyard soils should have some minerals that are vital to the health of the vines, these include calcium which is useful to help neutralize the soil pH levels.
  • The presence of iron is essential as well, as it plays a key role in photsynthesis.
  • Magnesium is another to tick off your list as it is an import component of chlorophyll
  • To help with the grape vine's total health, nitrogen, which is assimilated in the form of nitrates, must be present; as well as, phosphates which are good for root development and potassium which improves the vine's metabolism.

The USDA Soil Conservation Service is a great source if you are looking for additional information about soil. Soil Drainage is another key component when growing grapes. The land on which you plant your grapes should have good internal soil drainage. Ideally you want an area contracting of thin topsoil and subsoil that soaks up some water, but also has good drainage. You would also be looking for at least 30 inches of unobstructed soil depth.

If you have soil that allows rain water to accumulate this could result in root rot. The water displaces oxygen and this is not good for the roots. To know if you have good internal drain look for bright uniformly-yellowish-brown or brown subsoil. If you see subsoil with mottled or dark gray color this can be a sign of poor drain. If the general topography is favorable you could look to use tile drains to assist with drainage.

Soil texture is formed by the mixture of sand, silt and clay. How they mix together determines the texture in your particular location. Sandy soil is going to look grainy and is important for drainage. Clay like soil is more sticky and is important for nutrient retention.

You need to know your soil texture so that you can best plan your irrigation and fertilization processes. If you manage what you have, vineyards with soil texture ranging from sandy loams to heavy clay and silty-clay looms can all produce good grape vines. Your site selection should not be too steep as this lends itself to soil erosion.

Pellet Stoves Save Money and Help the Environment

In today's struggling economy, saving money is incredibly important to everyone. One place to save money is on the cost of heating your home. Those old boilers and furnaces are not saving you any money, that is for sure. Just buying fuel for them costs an arm and a leg. Heating by pellet stoves is one way that many people save money every year on their heating bill. Sure, there is an initial cost when the pellet burning stove is installed, but after that you save money every winter.

A 40 pound bag of wood pellets will run you between $ 5.00 and $ 7.00 a bag. That is enough to heat most average size homes for one day. This brings the monthly heating cost to roughly $ 150.00 per month. That is very good for an area that has bad winters. It would be even cheaper to heat your home by a pellet wood stove if you were in a climate that does not get quite so cold in the winter. Just imagine how much money heating by a pellet burning stove can save you. With regular usage, pellet stoves save homeowners an average of $ 500.00 to $ 1,000.00 per winter in heating costs.

If the money savings does not interest you, then maybe helping our planet will. When pellet stoves are used instead of oil burning furnaces and boilers, you are helping the planet. Wood pellets are renewable, unlike oil. A pellet burning stove is a clean energy that does not harm our environment. So, you can save money and help preserve America's main fuel source. Why heat with oil if you do not have to? Save the oil for things that must use it and heat with wood pellets instead.

Between the cost savings and helping the earth, pellet stoves really are the way to go now to heat your home. Any size home can be heated by pellet stove. There are many options for these stoves, including Riteway, Fuel King, St Croix and Enviro. All of these stoves will help you save money and protect the planet. You can stop using oil and wasting the resource and the money by heat with a pellet wood burning stove.