Weight Plates – Choosing Plates for Your Home Gym

Usually made of cast iron, steel, or any other heavy-duty metal, weight plates are considered as the best addition for a full range intensity exercise with barbells. With different weights available that can amount to even more than 100 pounds, they can enhance your free weight training so your muscles can become stronger and more flexible in performing other exercises.

Pick your plate

Whether it's Olympic or standard, there are weight plates designed to fit your strength and endurance training needs. The Olympic weight plate is used for professional weightlifting competitions. These plates have holes at the center that is 2 inches in diameter so they can fit into 7-foot barbells.

If you have free weights in your home or personal gyms, then the standard plates are for you. These are made of plastic-coated or bare cast iron and the holes on their center are an inch in diameter to fit 6-foot barbells.

Buying your plates

Consider the following criteria when buying weight plates: grip and protective coating.

A lot of plates come with rubber or plastic coatings to protect the edges and preventing it from damaging the floor. Plastic plates tend to be less durable and can come off in chunks, making the weights inaccurate. Over time, the plastic can also loosen and shift over, so it is highly recommended to choose rubber-encased plates instead because they are more reliable and durable.

Choose a weight plate that you can grip firmly. Choose plates with hollow sides that serve as handles, or those that are ribbed to keep the plate from slipping. Rubber-encased plates are recommended for those with sweaty or clammy hands.

The Benefits of Outdoor Wood Stoves

Outdoor wood stoves use renewable energy, are less expensive than many other heating systems, and are safer than indoor wood stoves.

Outdoor wood stoves create heat by pumping water heated by the wood fire into the house through underground pipes. Once the hot water is inside the home, it is used in conjunction with the house's internal heating system to heat the home. Outdoor wood stoves are compatible with most home heating systems, including forced air furnaces, radiant floor heating systems, radiant baseboard systems, and others. An indoor thermostat can control the temperature of the heat.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that people use wood burning as a heat source whenever possible. Unlike fuels such as gasoline and coal, wood is a renewable resource. Wood fires are better for the environment because they do not produce excessive amounts of carbon dioxide like other fuels do. Large, unnatural amounts of carbon dioxide are believed to be responsible for the so-called greenhouse effect that is thought to cause global warming. Wood burns cleaner and is less expensive than other fuels as well.

Outdoor wood stoves save money in the long run. People who live in rustic areas can find and chop their own wood, meaning that they never have to pay for heating fuel. This can save hundreds of dollars a year over heating systems that rely on coal, gas, or electricity.

Having the stove outdoors eliminates the threat of an indoor fire. There is a chance that an indoor stove could cause a fire if someone operates it incorrectly. Outdoor wood stoves are entirely self-contained and separated from the elements, so that they can not cause any fires.

Outdoor wood stoves are a good option for people who want to efficiently heat their homes inexpensively. Residents of rural areas should look into using an outdoor wood stove to heat their homes.

Electric Range Cookers

Being one of the most important and elementary kitchen appliances of modern times, the Range cooker is arguably an important part of one's culinary accessories. There are various types of electric range cookers in the market today, some with single oven, some with double oven and some having a combination of an oven and a grill. Basically, range cookers are divided into two broad categories- electric and fuel range cookers. While the fuel based range cookers work on LPG and similar forms of fossil fuels, the electric cookers work on electricity and therefore, are relatively cheaper and cleaner to use and maintain. All through this write up, we try to compare electric and gas range cookers and we also try to lay down some pointers, which would help you in deciding which cooker you should go for.

Available with a coiled element, electric range cookers are broadly divided into two categories- 20 "and 36". Normally, an electric range cooker would require a minimum of 30 Amp of electricity. It is always beneficial to use an electric range cooker which uses more than one element for cooking.

While gas range cookers are more responsive towards changes in temperatures, they are slightly slower when it comes to heating up of the ovens. Gas cookers do therefore, take more time to cook the food as compared to electric cookers, but the quality of food cooked on a gas cooker compensates for the time lag arising due to the slow heating up of the ovens. Gas cookers are better for places having lower temperatures and they get instant heat through the gas hobs which are used in them in order to disburse heat evenly onto the cooking utensil.

Electric cookers are more expensive than gas cookers, but they require lower running costs. Also, they are more appropriate for those people who need the food to be cooked quickly. Some of the top-of-the-end electric range cooker brands include Baumatic, Prestige and Smeg.

Metal Roofing Four Way Interlocking Permanent Steel Roof System

It wasn’t long ago that seeing a metal roof in residential areas was the exception rather than the rule. Today it is not uncommon to see multiple metal roofs on the same street. When a person knows what they are looking for it becomes apparent that the great majority of these roofs are installed using inferior materials and methods. All metal roofs are not created equally but all of them come at a premium price. Some metal roofs can be as much as 25% less than a premium roof but they will include such detriments as exposed fasteners which change colour, rust and potentially leak; low quality paint that fades and discolours; wood strapping with a risk of rotting with water contact, and they cannot be walked on. Wood strapped roofs are inferior in wind resistance because of the way they are fastened directly to the top strap which is fastened to the lower strap which is fastened to the roof. Some of these roofs require maintenance. Some companies charge a yearly maintenance fee defeating the premise of why people buy metal roofs.

What makes a premium metal roof one might ask. All of the best roofs available are four way interlocking systems where one panel locks to the next on all four sides. These roofing systems do not use wood strapping, they do not have exposed fasteners and most can be walked on.

A number of companies that claim to be a four way locking system are simply not truthful, they don’t mention that their valleys are not locked and simply sit on top hiding the miters and allowing water to creep underneath. Snow guards are necessary on metal roofs and most companies purchase them from a supplier, often they are plastic which discolour, weaken and break as well as destroying the aesthetic of your house.

When deciding on a metal roof it is always desirable to deal directly with a manufacturer who installs and takes responsibility for labour and materials. This is extremely important because most roofs come with a fifty year warranty. When dealing with a distributor rather than manufacturer direct the labour portion of the warranty is from the distributor and the material from the manufacturer. If the manufacturer is in another country and the distributor disappears you essentially have a roof without warranty.

Few people realize the curb appeal value of their roof. Often the roof is the biggest feature facing the street. Putting the wrong roof on can literally destroy your homes curb appeal. On the other hand a beautiful roof makes an impressive difference and sets your house apart from other cookie cutter houses in the area.

Vintage Hardwood Flooring by Anderson

Family owned and operated since 1946 with four generations of ownership, Anderson Hardwood prides itself on quality and consistency, and is considered an innovator in the hardwood flooring industry.

Claiming to be the first to sell hand scraped hardwood, Anderson’s Hickory Forge Collection offers 5-inch planks with 3/8ths inch thickness, made from hickory. This rustic collection of engineered hardwoods is available in Iron, Chaps, Golden Ore, Hammer Glow, Ringing Anvil, and Rushing Bellows colors.

Ringing Anvil boasts a breath-taking dark-chocolate hue, whereas Hammer Glow has a reddish golden color. All the floors in the Hickory Forge collection are perfect if you’re looking for a floor with a country-western feel.

If you’re looking for simple elegance, but still crave a rustic floor, look into the Virginia Vintage collection from Anderson. All woods in this collection are made with 5-inch planks, and are hand scraped. They are made using Anderson’s special five-ply engineered board and sealed with Duratina, the brand’s special aluminum oxide matte finish that comes with a 20-year guarantee.

The Virgina Vintage collection offers 25 different varieties, including Spicy Cider Hickory, Olde Paint Johns Island, Whisey Pine, Burlap Maple, and Sasparilla Brazilian Cherry. Virginia Vintage is available in 5 inch planks, and 3, 5, and 7 random widths.

A third option for a vintage, antique floor would be Anderson’s highly-coveted Coastal Art Collection, made from hickory and oak. The collection is available in 5-inch and 6 ¼-inch planks with the woods hand scraped by artisans.

If you’re a fan of lighter woods, Lighthouse is an excellent choice, made from white oak with ½ inch thickness. It comes in 6 1/2 inch planks.

If you’d like something in 5-inch planks, try Coastal Art’s Pickel Barrel. You’ll be thrilled with the striking color variations of this light red oak, especially when placed in a room with a large window and lots of sunlight.

In fact, you’ll be thrilled with just about any hardwood from Anderson Flooring. It’s a company that has stood, and continues to stand the test of time, just like its floors. To learn more, contact an Anderson Flooring specialist.

Plan, Coordinate and Compete

There was an article in the business press recently about a large retail company known for it's moderately priced apparel going up-market with a large commitment in floor space and advertising budget to a well known fashion designer's line of woman's clothing and home products. The publication of the article coincided (imagine that!) With the kick-off of a coordinated multimillion-dollar, multi-media, multi-month advertising and marketing campaign using newspaper, magazine, billboard (including Times Square in New York City), radio, TV, and in-store displays and signage.

The article discussed the risks involved for the designer who might lose some of her high-end customer base when they see the brand in a "popular price" or (gasp!) "Discount" store. There are also risks for the retailer whose customers might be intimidated by the high-fashion image of a famous designer and the higher price points of the merchandise.

Not mentioned in the article, but the key element for me, was the obvious amount of thought and planning that went in this effort. Not only on the merchandise side with all the product decisions, sourcing, logistical and timing issues, but in the branding, the advertising and marketing themes and coordination, budgeting, media purchasing, even sending out the press releases that made the article I read possible . I contrasted that effort to the marketing planning of most small and mid-size businesses where the risks are just as important yet rarely given much planning, much thought, and very little coordination with other elements of a business. Most of the time, smaller businesses determine their marketing and advertising as an afterthought or a whim rather then one of the crucial elements of a businesses success.

The smaller businesses that do expend the energy and present a coordinated, well thought out multimedia advertising, marketing, and sales campaign will profit greatly from an elevated concentration of effort. Remember that they are competing against the resources and professionalism of a disciplined marketing machine and, if they are going to compete effectively, they must be up to the task which requires proactive thought and an eye towards informing prospects and customers in a coordinated, provocative, attractive manner.

Stair Railings Are Vinyl and PVC

Two materials which work great for front porch stair railings are vinyl and PVC. These materials are wonderful because they do not splinter, they are smooth to the touch, and they are slip-resistance for maximum safety. These materials are also extremely durable, hold up well to weather exposure, and they will not burn your hands during the summer because they do not hold heat like some materials. PVC is resistant to UV light, which will help prevent fading or other color changes due to sun exposure. Both vinyl and PVC come in many different colors and vinyl even comes in wood grain design if you want the look of wood, but the durability and ease of use of vinyl.

Wood front porch stair railings are another option that you may want to consider. Wood is a traditional material for homes that give character like nothing else. There are so many different varieties and species of wood that you can use to make your front porch stair railings. Cedar wood is a wonderful choice, because it offers you decay resistance, as well as being insect resistant. Cedar will also handle moisture much better than other wood species. You will find that there are other wood options that you may want to consider as well, including composite woods. Composite wood front porch stair railings will be durable, water resistant, and will need little maintenance. They are also decay, insect, and UV light resistance, which will help them to stay beautiful for many years. Composite wood does not splinter, either.

Iron front porch stair railings are another material to consider. Iron is widely used as a railing material due to its durability and strength. Iron offers you a beautiful way to help enhance your home. Iron is a wonderful material because it can be made in almost any design that you can think of-from animals to shapes to even letters. It is very durable and will probably outlast your home. You will love the classic look that iron can add to your front porch.

By choosing the right materials for you and your home, you will find that your front porch stair railings can be functional and enhance your home.

Why Should Codes On Deck Railings Be Complied With?

Every state has its own list of codes for construction of deck railings and other building related matters. These codes are meant to provide safety by adhering to certain set norms and mandates. Various states are now taking initiatives to make building codes easily known and accessible. Homeowners may not prefer some of these codes but they can work around them keeping the legal limitations in mind.

All legal codes and rules are established to ensure discipline and security in society. This stands true for codes set for deck railings since these railings are made mandatory to provide safety to home owners, visitors and home buyers. The most common deck railing codes specify the conditions which require the necessary installation of deck railings. These common codes give clear specification such as railing height, space to be maintained between balusters etc.

The State of Virginia, Loudoun County has clear and specific building codes which have to be adhered to by all citizens. The state has made these freely accessible to citizens by publishing them as 'Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Codes' on the internet. All questions on regulations governing deck requirements are answered online. Even building structural requirements, mechanical specifications, plumbing queries and fire safety mandates are specified on this website. Citizens can closely follow the updated building codes and accordingly submit their plans and building permits to the Department of Building and Development who check them for compliance.

Different states have different ideas on which the railing related codes are based.

Its important that before initiating construction, all information on the updated building codes as also zone specific rules and health department mandates are checked and adhered to. There also exist specific codes for deck which mention that deck building permit needs to be applied for an obtained before beginning construction of the deck. This States building code mentions rules such as decks can be constructed for residential use only, decks can not have more than one level and decks have to be compulsorily attached to the house. Moreover it also specifies a maximum measure of 2 feet for Joist overhangs and that having screened porches, roofs, hot tubs and tents is restricted.

Building codes are laid down by the states building department and constitute a legal offence if broken or disregarded. Therefore even if certain codes are not acceptable to home owners, there is no choice but to follow them although working around the code and finding an alternative which stays within the legal boundaries is a wise idea. One such code not quite preferred by home owners is the one which specifies a high level deck railing which can not even be folded or altered in any way. High railings obviously cause a visual obstruction and this code is therefore disliked by home owners. But the code has to be complied with and non-compliance only leads to legal consequences and punishment in the form of fines. As mentioned before, home owners can find alternate options which work within the barriers of these codes.

For instance, if a homeowner does not want the high railing to obstruct his view, he can opt for a railing system made of cables. This type of railing system has top rails and the cables are not a hindrance since they fade in the background when seen from a little distance. However it should be kept in mind that deck railing codes are established to ensure safety and though not preferred sometimes they should be adhered to the maximum.

Three Essential Stair Parts That You Should Consider

Most will not need telling that stair parts can give a staircase a certain je ne sais quoi. The stairs play an imperative role in defining the aesthetics of a home and thus, the building. They can make or break the look of a house. It is therefore important that you put careful consideration into stair parts. After all, you want your home to look nice.

Here are three essential stair parts that all owners should flirt with acquiring. Put some careful thought into these and you can make your home and allow your home to flourish.

1. Spindles

Perhaps the most familiar of all stair parts is the spindle. This is the part of the stair in between the base rail and the handrail. They are the vertical posts that hold up the handrail. Spindles are a specific type of baluster.

Spindles play a prominent role in the view of the stairs. Along with the carpeting, they are normally the first thing people notice and comment upon when they see a staircase in a home.

2. Handrail

As stair parts go, it should go without saying that the handrail is extremely important. Users of stairs place their hands upon the handrail as they go up and down the stairs. It therefore stands to reason that it should be smooth to the touch, as well as pleasing on the eye.

Aim for a style of handrail that is in-sync with the style of your spindles. It will look very odd if your handrail is in a different style to that of your spindles.

3. Newel Cap

Many will be aware of what a newel cap is, without knowing its actual technical name. A newel cap is the decorative top (or cap) of a post on the stairs. This will, more than likely, be at the top and at the bottom of the stairs. Newel caps come in various different styles. It is important you experiment with different types of newel caps so that you can find the one that suits your stairs best.

Overall, the common theme of this article appears to be that when it comes to stair parts, you should never make a rushed decision. Take your time over your purchase and get the right stair parts for your home.

A bit of careful thought and consideration will help you make your home become the standout in the neighbourhood.

A Christmas Tree Garland – Fun, Fast and Festive

A Christmas tree garland is a favorite “go to” holiday decoration all around the world because it’s so versatile. Use them to encircle the Christmas tree, festoon the doorway, frame a window, entwine the banister, twist around the stair railings or tumble into a clear glass container for a unique dining table center piece.

Making your own Christmas tree garland is a great way to get your children involved with the holiday preparations.

Here are a few tips for making your own Christmas tree garland:

  1. Remember the paper chains that were so popular in grade school? They’re still fun to make. Just remember:
  • Long strips – when turned into a chain link – will elongate. Cut the strips shorter for a rounder, tighter link.
  • To tape, to glue or to staple? Staplers make short work of a paper chain – if the kids are old enough to use one correctly. Tape in a heavy office-type dispenser is safe and economical. Paste or glue requires patience. The spring type clothes pins can help to hold the link while it’s drying.
  • Paper chains don’t store particularly well. Even in a big plastic tote, their own weight tends to flatten them out.
  • Cranberries or popcorn – although temporary – can make a lovely traditional Christmas tree garland. When the holidays are over, you can place your Christmas tree garland outside as a little treat for the birds and squirrels. Just remember, if you use dental floss as a stringer, remove it once the cranberries or popcorn is gone to protect the neighborhood critters. It might be better to just use heavy duty cotton thread.

    If you’re opting on cranberries for your Christmas tree garland, use the fresh or plain frozen berries. Cranberries are easy to find in the produce department of most grocery stores from mid-November on.

  • If you want to make a popcorn garland, make sure the popcorn is unbuttered and unsalted. Now is the perfect time to bust out the old air popper that’s been sitting on a shelf since you discovered microwave popcorn. After popping, let the popcorn sit out for a few days and get a little stale. Once it’s stale you can pierce it with a needle without the popcorn breaking.
  • When it’s time to trim your Christmas tree, here are some helpful tips:

  • Make or purchase ten feet of Christmas tree garland per one foot of tree. Purchase plenty of garland because you can always snip off the excess providing it’s not strung beads.
  • Once the tree is secured in the stand, install the lights first, and then follow with your Christmas tree garland, ornaments and finally the tinsel.
  • At one time fashion dictated that the Christmas tree garland be wrapped around the tree in regimented horizontal lines. Now days the trend is to gracefully drape the Christmas tree garland so it looks like icing oozing down the side of a cake.
  • Depending on the material, a Christmas tree garland can be quite heavy. As the Christmas tree ages, the branches tend to droop a little and the garland may slide off the tips of the branches. It’s easier to just plan ahead and tie the Christmas tree garland to the branches with ribbon or with a little piece of wire. I save all my bread ties for this purpose.
  • My all time favorite Christmas tree garland is made of little fabric yoyos. They last forever, they store well, you can make them just as fancy or plain as you want, and they are light weight. They are unbreakable and the heat from being stored in an attic won’t bother them.

    Western Painting – Tonalism – The Art of Subdued Expressions

    Tonalism – The Concept

    Tonalism, a Western Painting style, was witnessed among American artists during 1880-1915. Emphasizing completely on the effects of shadow and light over details and colors, this art form usually includes Landscape Paintings in low-toned shades. While early Tonalist works have been found to be dark and moody, with an extremely soft focus and understated hues, the style has evolved with time to make use of warmer colors.

    The Styles

    Early Tonalist painters have been known to follow either one of the following two commonest trends:

    o Soft Style – The French Barbizon School and the works of popular Tonalist George Inness (1825-94) represent it. A few remarkable landscapes of the genre often include precise details, such as the bright vast skies, painted dexterously to capture a variety of shades.

    o Aesthetic Style – The second approach to Tonalism is best expressed in the works of Aesthetic Tonalist James McNeil Whistler (1834-1903). Whistler studied Japanese Art, owing to which he usually focused on following an uncomplicated approach when it came to painting. His compositions were strikingly simple, where he freely used dark colors in an attempt to enhance the dramatic effect, and often stuck to a limited palette.

    The Details

    Although, this remarkable genre of painting originated in America, it was largely influenced by the landscapes belonging to the Hudson River School and the French paintings from both, Luminism and the Barbizon School. Numerous foreign artists, trained in Paris and Munich, not only paved the path for the modification of the prevailing Hudson River Art School, but also introduced alterations in the enormously detailed panoramic images of the American scenes. All these influences resulted into the increasing taste for a more poetic, expressive, and intimate style of Landscape Painting. Tonalism accorded a plenty of scope to communicate emotions and expressions through simple brushstrokes. The Tonalists from America tended to make use of a relatively neutral palette of calm shades, such as blue, green, violet, and mauve, along with the delicate hues of grays. These colors were modulated with utmost care, in order to create dominant and bold tones. The artists generally chose to paint the scenes of dusk or dawn, milky moonbeam, and misty atmosphere.

    The Artists

    Most of the first generation Tonalists were born in or after 1845. Apart from the two veterans mentioned above, Edward Mitchell Bannister (African American – 1828-1901), Jean Charles Cazin (French – 1840-1901), Henry Farrer (English born American – 1844-1903), Max Meldrum (Scottish – 1875-1955), and American painters, such as Bruce Crane (1857-1937), Leon Dabo (1865-1960), Thomas Dewing (1851-1938), Charles Warren Eaton (1857-1937), Percy Gray (1869-1952), Xavier Martínez (1869-1943), Arthur F. Mathews (1860-1945), Granville Redmond (1871-1935), Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916), Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917), Edward Steichen (1879-1973), Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925), & John Twachtman (1853-1902), were some other great Tonalists.

    By 1915, European Modernism and Impressionism completely overshadowed the popularity of Tonalism however. Soon, an interesting ‘toned’ era ended.

    Frontal Hair Transplants – The Art of Getting the Perfect Hairline

    So you do not want to look like Homer Simpson, and you miss the old days when you have hair falling in front of your face, unlike now that your hairline has receded. And you really, really would rather not have a hairpiece or a toupee, since everybody can spot those, or if not, sooner or later they will know you are wearing one and that is just embarrassing. The good thing is that now you have an alternative – one that looks and feels just like the real thing, the way it used to be.

    Frontal hair transplants have been a problem for most because it looked unnatural to suddenly have hair sprouting at the faint line demarcating your forehead and scalp. But since the arrival of micrografts, it has been possible to mimic and restore natural hair patterns. It is because micrografts are smaller transplant units that have only one to four hair follicles, recreating that natural hair growth. These micrografts are made with your own hair, and are designed to be plant on your scalp to grow on their own. The effect is that they will overpower the parts that no longer grow hair so that you can have natural hair once again.

    Be wary of getting frontal hair transplants, and be sure to get a surgeon who is not only a specialist but also has an eye for detail and aesthetic sense since recreating the hairline is a delicate matter. Your hairline is a part of your face, and as such lends character to your expressions. You do not want a hairline that looks unnatural that people are unable to look at you, would you?

    Rhode Island Zoning, Planning And Land Use Law FAQS – Building Permits, Additions, In Law, Variance

    1) Do I need a building permit in Rhode Island to construct a small addition to my house or a deck around my above ground swimming pool?

    Yes. Almost all construction at your home requires a building permit. Even the placement of a shed in your backyard necessitates a building permit.

    2) My house is in a residential zone. Are there any problems that I need to consider in planning an addition or an accessory structure?

    Yes. All towns and cities in Rhode Island regulate construction through setback requirements and percent of coverage requirements. You need to determine if your proposed addition will violate any of these dimensional requirements. If it does, you will need to seek a dimensional variance from the Zoning Board of the town or city in which your land is located.

    3) I have a single-family house located in a single-family zoning district in Rhode Island. My mother-in-law wants to move in with me. Can I add a second kitchen to my house so that she will have the ability to be independent?

    Most cities and towns consider that the addition of a second kitchen creates a two-family house which is not permitted in a single-family district. Some cities and towns allow in-law apartments but have very specific rules as to their size and location. It is important that you and your attorney examine the zoning ordinances of your city or town as to whether or not you can create an in-law apartment.

    4) If I want to build a two-family in a single-family zone or build an office in a residential zone, what do I do?

    Each city and town has a procedure for obtaining a use variance from the zoning Board of Review. An application has to be filed with the Zoning Officer for this variance. Frequently the planning staff will advise the Zoning Board as to whether the proposed construction conforms to the Comprehensive Plan of the city or town and as to whether in their opinion it will create a nuisance in the neighborhood. Use variances can be difficult to obtain and often it is wise to have expert testimony from a realtor or land use planner at the hearing.

    5) I have extra land that I am not using on the side of my house. Can I sell this land to a builder?

    Almost all cities and towns require that you obtain a subdivision of your land to divide it into two parcels. One will be for your existing house and the other will be for a buildable lot. In order to obtain a subdivision, you must apply to the Planning Board of your city or town. To do this, you will need to have a survey done of your property. It is wise to have an attorney to represent you as there are a number of issues that surface in any attempted lot split.

    When In Italy – Twenty Essential Things To Do

    Sitting round the dinner table one night , after a few bottles of Chianti with some old friends, most of whom had spent time as European tour guides and backpackers, I asked them to name the best thing to see or do while staying in Italy. There was a lot of loud discussion as some tried to praise the less obvious things over the more mainstream, but there were also plenty of unanimous agreement for others.

    In no particular order may I present to you the top 20 things to do in Italy as decided by my mates.

    1. Nun Watching in Piazza San Pietro

    There is something serene about watching a line of Nuns on tour, especially on specific Saint’s days, taking photos of the façade of St Peter’s or trailing behind each other inside the huge basilica. They are only out numbered by the pigeons, which parents ,who hate their children, encourage to sit on their offspring’s head in hopes they will pick them up and fly away, perhaps dropping them somewhere over the Forum.

    2. Eating Gelati 3 times a day

    This is mandatory for anyone travelling during the months of June, July and August. How the Italians get it so creamy, tasty and dribbly is beyond me but you never feel full. It’s the best thing after a long hot day queuing up for hours to see all those magnificent artworks. It is made with totally natural ingredients and everybody claims to have the best gelato shop in Italy, which is believable, but some even go further, experimenting in odd flavours like tomato and believe it or not basil.

    3. Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa

    You’ve all seen it. The obligatory photo of someone and their mates holding up the Leaning tower, either with one finger or both hands. Probably the next best thing to climbing it, which is all anyone goes to Pisa to do. And holding it up is about the cheapest thing there.

    4. Dodging Cars in Rome

    After sky diving in Switzerland and a taxi ride in the Czech republic this probably the most adrenaline packed activity you can do in Europe. To cross the road you must keep walking, make sure you keep eye contact with any oncoming driver like a bullfighter and keep moving. The cars and bikes will come very close, never actually touching you, so long as you keep going.

    5. Parking on a Kerb

    Everyone else does it.

    6. Singing a Duet with a Gondolier

    He may not be the next Pavarotti but your gondolier should have a pretty good voice. They know all the old favourites and it makes the experience all the more authentic. They usually ask for a bit extra for the service on top of the hire fee. The most favoured time is around dusk as the lights are coming on making the reflections in the water add to the atmosphere.

    7. Hanging out with the Pope on Wednesday

    Tourists, Nuns, Priests, locals and pigeons flock to Piazza San Pietro for the weekly address from his holiness Pope Benedict XVI at around 10am. Afterwards you can check out the inside of the Basilica and the crypt where St Peter’s remains are kept.

    8. Checking out David’s A–e

    You could line up and pay to see the original inside the Accademia, where it was shifted at the end of the 1800’s to protect it from vandals and the elements. Or you could examine his copy up close in Piazza Signoria for free, or you could climb the hill above the Ponte Vecchio to see the bronze version standing in Piazza Michelangelo. Or you could see all 3 and make a comparison.

    9. Drinking wine and watching the sunset in Cinque Terre

    There is something quite unique about sitting on the rocks next to where the fishing boats pull up, lanterns bobbing along the wires around the cove in the sea breeze, listening to a guy practising his baritone opera through an open window, watching the sun sinking over the horizon sipping on a locally made red after eating home made pasta and pesto sauce. Perfect.

    10. Eating Pizza in Napoli

    Home of the Margherita pizza. A famous local pizza maker Rafaelle Espositi heard the Queen of Naples was interested in trying a pizza so he made a patriotic one using basil, tomato and mozzarella for the colours of the Italian flag. She liked it so much she gave her name to it. To be enjoyed while observing the kamikaze scooters and cars going hell for leather down the narrow streets.

    11. Cliff Diving in Sorrento

    Not for the faint hearted. Locals, generally boys, scramble up the steep cliffs to leap off dropping tens of metres into the big blue beneath. If that is way too over the top you could always take a mask and snorkel and wait around underneath.

    12. Calling your mum from the top of the Venice Campanile

    Believe it or not there is a public pay phone at the top of the campanile so you can make that all important call to your mum, or maybe order a pizza for dinner.

    13. Wine Tasting in Chianti

    There is a theory that the word Chianti comes from the old Etruscan word for water ‘Clante’, which is an obvious connection to make if you drink a lot of Chianti. The stringent production standards set by the Consortium means the quality of all types of the wine is consistent and it’s hard to find a bad one.

    14. Tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain

    But don’t go swimming unless you want to pay a huge fine. One coin means you return to Rome, two coins means you return and get kissed and three coins means you return and get married. All the money gets swept up regularly and given to charity. The authorities also don’t take kindly to anyone stealing from the fountain. Put the coin(s) in your right hand and throw over your left shoulder. It’s something fun to do with the change from your third gelato.

    15. Visiting the Sistine Chapel

    If you survive the 3km walk through the rather opulent Papal Rooms of the Vatican Museum you will be rewarded with the sensational view of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Created in situ by Michelangelo, he often painted freehand straight onto the wet plaster, through belligerent Papal outbursts, financial difficulties, staffing problems, slipping foundations, wars and finally completed after 4 years in 1512. Take mini field glasses and some sort of key to each fresco. The noise of everyone whispering is only drowned out by the guard bellowing ‘silencio’ every so often.

    And don’t sit on the steps.

    16. Walking the planks in a flooded Venice

    One of the more original experiences when visiting this watery city. Winter rains flood the lagoon and when the tide is in the level can rise to your knees. Practical locals have come up with the solution in the form of raised platforms so you can walk the planks around Piazza San Marco without getting your toes wet. Or you could invest in some stylish rubber booties.

    17. Getting Grappa-ed ( drink too much Grappa)

    Every country has it’s fire water. In Russia and Poland it’s vodka, in Mexico it’s Tequila, in Czech it’s the Absinthe and in Italy it’s Grappa. Distilled from the leftovers from pressing the grapes for wine, all the pips, skins and stalks, it is usually drunk at the end of a meal after the espresso. The first shot takes care of any sensation in your throat and the second and third take care of the rest of the nervous system.

    18. Buying a Ferrari hat

    After football, the Pope and their own mother comes the nation’s almost religious following of that little red car from Maranello. Most Italian drivers appear to fancy themselves as the next Schumacher along the autostrada, including the truck drivers, but you have to admit the car is cool.

    19. Riding a scooter in Tuscany

    Winding country roads between rolling green hills, vine rows neatly slicing down the hillsides, wild flowers in the fields and those tall cypress trees lining the driveway to a mediaeval villa. All that fresh air and the chance to take life at the local pace while unpacking a tasty picnic in some farmer’s field.

    20. Finishing a Bistecca alla Fiorentina ( T bone Steak)

    The resurrection of the Florentines favourite steak made national headlines. The local celebrity butcher from Panzano, Dario Cecchini had held a public funeral and memorial service when the EU banned the sale of beef on the bone products after the mad cow scare a few years back. Now it’s back and everyone is celebrating. Just make sure you’re really hungry for this one as it is huge.

    The general consensus was that these were all the things that should be done during a trip to Italy, along with all the usual art and history things of course, in order that you get the most out of the trip.

    Reinforce a Stained Glass Window – Instructions For the Stained Glass Craftsperson

    How to reinforce a stained glass window is something that anyone working with stained glass needs to learn. To prevent bowing and sagging over the years, windows that exceed 4 square feet in total dimension need to have as much stability as possible. When a window is less than 4 square feet, the need to stabilize will depend on the design and where the window is going to be installed.

    The constant opening and closing of a door will make a stained glass window bow if it isn’t properly stabilized. Therefore, any window, no matter what size, that is going in a door, including cupboards, needs to be reinforced. The same goes for a window that is installed as an exterior window and is exposed to the outside elements, especially wind, or near a door that is opened and closed frequently.

    To determine the square footage of a pattern or window, multiply the width times the height, in inches, then divide by 144. To convert metric to square feet, multiply width by height in centimeters, then divide by 930.25.

    When I say “depends on the design”, I’m talking about straight lines that make hinge joints. A hinge joint is a straight or fairly straight line that allows the window to fold in half. You will often find those straight lines in geometric designs, but they can appear in any design. If the lines doesn’t go all the way across the window, it might go far enough that it could not only fold, but break any glass that gets in it’s way. The folding can occur at any time the window isn’t laying flat on the work surface. It’s not fun seeing your just finished window fold in half, pulling the glass out of the lead or foil and perhaps breaking some glass in the process.

    So what can you use to reinforce stained glass windows? It’s called copper restrip and it works with both copper foil and lead. Copper restrip is made by several manufacturers. Cascade Metals and Venture are the 2 that I’m aware of. I have always used Cascade Metal’s restrip, only because it is what is available where I buy my supplies. I have been using it for 20%2B years.

    Restrip will bend and follow curves easily as you are using it, but it does not bend on edge. In other words, hold a piece in your hands with the edge facing up and try to bend it by moving both hands inwards (almost the same motion you use when you’re breaking out glass by hand). It won’t budge. If you hold it with the flat surface facing up, you can bend it with ease.

    When using restrip to for reinforcement, it is important to remember that it must run from one edge of the window to the other. That is the only way it will do any good. It can go either horizontal or vertical, or both if it’s needed. When it goes both ways, one of the pieces of restrip will need to be cut where it intersects with the other. Then it will restart on the other side of the intersection. In other words, the 2 pieces

    will form a cross (%2B) where they meet. Once the panel is soldered, the horizontal and vertical pieces will be joined together from the solder that runs through the lead joint or copper foil seam. There is nothing special you’ll have to do to make that happen. It’s a natural occurrence that happens when you solder.

    Restrip can be used in both copper foil and lead work. With foil, the strip sits on edge between the foiled glass pieces. The glass will need to be cut a little bit smaller to accommodate for the thickness of the restrip. Restrip is about as thick as copper foil with the backing in place. If you will be using a lead or zinc border, follow the directions below for lead.

    With lead, the restrip sits on edge, in the channel of the lead. Make sure it goes all the way from one outside edge to the other outside edge of the panel, with perhaps 1/8 inch sticking out beyond each edge. Bend the part that sticks out, up or down, so it lays flat against the outside edge of the glass. That will help the restrip adhere to the inside of the border lead once it’s soldered. The principles are the same for using restrip regardless of whether you’re working with copper foil or lead.

    Copper restrip to reinforce stained glass windows can be purchased at most stained glass suppliers.