How to Have a Winter Patio Party

Outdoor parties aren’t just for summer anymore. With a little bit of help, you can throw a great winter party in your own back yard.

Even when the cold wind blows and snow falls, it can be a great time for a winter party on your patio. Today, outdoor heating options are endless. For smaller areas you can choose from fire bowls, fire pits or chimeras. For patios that are a bit larger, you could opt for a propane mushroom type heater; or, for even larger areas, there are fireplace heaters. Any one of these would give your patio the atmosphere of another living room, with the brisk freshness of the great outdoors.

Everyone loves to sit around the fireplace, so putting patio chairs, folding chairs and lounge chairs around the fire and warm beverages like hot cider or cocoa in your guests’ hands are a few sure fire ways to entertain your visitors. It can be cozy, comfy, and a way to create a party atmosphere your guests won’t soon forget.

Worried about keeping food hot? Well it is not as hard as you might think. Just put a pot of chili on the fire and let your guests help themselves. You could even warm bowls ahead of time. You can serve hot beverages or soup in thermoses and if you have cold beverages, those can be served in a bucket with snow packed around them. Another great tip in serving a meal is to serve it one course at a time and warming the plates before serving. This will help in keeping each course at the desired temperature. Finger food and food that is easy to eat with gloves is something to keep in mind as well.

If your guests forget an item of warm clothing, or maybe they need extra warmth, you could have extra jackets, gloves, mitten, hats, or scarves in a basket for them to choose an item that they need.

If you plan on having your party in the evening, or maybe everyone is having so much fun that it runs into the night, you may want to have lighting on your patio or outdoor space. Tiki lights or lanterns are a great way to light up the night. Rope lighting or even plain white Christmas lights can also add to the atmosphere and save you money.

Today, there are plenty of products available to help you enjoy your outdoor space year round. Just because the temperatures are colder doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and enjoy the outdoors. An outdoor party in the winter can be a heart-warming event that your friends will remember for a long time.

Bicycle Cranksets – The Anatomy of a Typical Crankset Assembly?

The Crankset is the key bicycle part that converts human physical motion into the rotational power you need to get your bicycle moving. Your success and enjoyment will be a function of its performance. To upgrade or maintain you first need to know what goes into making a great crankset; cranks, spiders, chainring, shell, bottom bracket and spindle each have a roll to play. Here’s a bit of terminology to get you going.

Cranks Arms: These are the essential arms connecting the bicycle pedals to the spindle or axle. The left hand bike crank is typically bolted to the end of the spindle. The right crank arm can be attached in a similar fashion, but quite often today is permanently mounted to the drive-side spindle and spider.

Buy cheap if you are a casual road rider but if your passion in life is jumping curbs and bunny hoping up the steps, the impact on reconnecting with the pavement will exert huge forces on the pedal-crank and crank-spindle interface, so invest in quality arms.

Spider: These are the star shaped arms that radiant out from the right crank to hold the front sprockets or “chainring.”

Chainring: A fancy name for the front sprockets. Different manufacturers, just like cars, design them with various bolt patterns so it is essential to identify what specifically will work with your crankarm-spider-spindle combination and front derailleur.

Bottom Bracket Shell: This is the tube welded to the lowest point of your bicycle frame designed to accept a set of bearings and the main spindle (bottom bracket assembly). It is typically threaded to accept the bottom bracket assembly. English, French and Italian bikes are NOT all the same diameter or threaded with the same tpi (teeth per inch) thus it is important to get the right match. It is not really part of the chainset, but you must know its specifications in order to replace any components.

Bottom Bracket Assembly: This bicycle part comes in numerous combinations and configurations, but essential includes the drive spindle, a set of bearings and cups that thread into the shell to hold all of these parts in place. This assembly allows the pedals to freely rotate and put power to the chain.

Spindle: The last piece of the puzzle is the drive axle. It comes in a number of different configurations depending on the attachment link between crank and spindle. It may or may not come independent of the bearing assembly. In two piece cranksets is attached to the right crank arm. The bottom bracket bearings and cups are sold separately to match spindle diameter and length.

Where buying a complete crankset becomes confusing is that these key 7 pieces (2 cranks, spider, chainrings, spindle, retaining cups and bearings) are not always sold in the same way or have one set of sizes.

It is essential to know what specifications are necessary so repairs and upgrades can add speed and reliability to your riding experience. Read further on website for information and lots of pictures that will add clarity to this article. Find out what you need to know and why and how bicycle parts suppliers and manufacturers continue to tweak their crankset designs for weight, durability and speed gains.

How to Buy Your Next Pair of Glasses Online

The purpose of this article is to simply describe what you need to do to buy your first pair of glasses online. I will not recommend particular retailers, as you can find that info in several of my other articles and also check out the links on the right of this page. Purchasing eyewear online seems daunting at first. If you’re like me, purchasing and fitting prescription glasses always seemed like a complex procedure best left to professionals. The truth is, if you know your prescription and have your existing rx glasses handy, it is really quite simple to purchase glasses online.

The Seven Critical Numbers

First, find your current prescription. I keep mine in the health file in my filing cabinet. If you can’t find your prescription, visit wherever you last had your eyes examined and request a copy. Your optician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist is required by law to release your eyewear prescription to you. You now need to make note of a few critical pieces of information from your prescription (see example above–click to enlarge). Among other information, you should see three columns on your prescription–sphere, cylinder, and axis.

In the example above, these are abbreviated SPH. CYL. and AXIS. These three columns will have two rows, Right and Left. In the prescription above, this is simply abbreviated R and L. Many doctors instead use the latin abbreviations, which are OD and OS. OD means right eye and OS means left eye. Jot down a quick copy of the six numbers or simply keep your prescription handy. These six critical numbers define how your lens will be carved. Any online eyewear retailer will ask for the input of these six numbers.

In addition to these six numbers, there is one more critical number, the Pupillary Distance, or PD. This is a measure, in millimeters, of the space between your eyes. In the example prescription above, you’ll see the Pupillary Distance of the patient is 62. Jot down this number also, it is the seventh of your seven critical numbers.

A Final Measurement

A somewhat less critical number is your temple length. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see a temple length and bridge size in your prescription. If not, don’t sweat it, you can figure it out yourself. The temple length describes the length of the two bars that connect the glasses to your ears. It is measured from where the 90-degree curve from your lens structure to the side bars (temples) begins to the very end of the temple, including the curve. It is not measured from the flex point of the temples, because the “stub” between the flex point and lens structure is not a standard size.

Now, take out some measuring tape (preferably the type of tape used for fitting clothes and sewing, as it is very flexible) and measure an existing pair of glasses that fit comfortably. An average temple length for men is 135mm or 145mm. For women, 130mm to 140mm is standard. If your tape only has inches, measure to the nearest eighth or sixteenth and multiply that number by 25.4 to get the measurement in millimeters. Temple lengths are generally available in 5mm increments, such as 130, 135, 140, 145, etc. At most online eyeglasses stores, temple length is shown within a frame description and is not customizable. Therefore, you need to find a frame with an appropriate temple size. This sometimes varies if you are at a site specializing in designer glasses, where you have the option to input your own temple size.

Honestly, temple size is not a huge deal. I have one pair of glasses with 135mm temples and another with 140mm temples. Both pairs fit comfortably. If for some reason you can’t come up with a temple measurement, don’t let that stop you from making an eyewear purchase online. Instead, simply choose 140mm temples if you are a man and 135mm temples if you are a woman. Chances are, this length will fit comfortably.

What’s your Style?

Armed with your seven critical numbers and an idea on your temple length, start browsing the myriad of online retailers. Pick out some favorite frames and open the individual pages in separate tabs or windows of your web browser. Similar to trying on glasses at a standard retailer, you need to figure out if the frames you like are appropriate for your face. You might visit my post on the topic of face shape. If you have a nice oval face, you’re in luck, most any pair will look on you. If you have strong, angular features, a rounded or rimless pair will look god on you. If you have a very round face, choose a rectangular or hexagonal pair of glasses. If you just want a basic pair of professional glasses, go with titanium rimless.

Using your trusty measuring tape, you can compare other measurements of your existing glasses with what you are looking at online. The bridge measurement describes the distance between lenses, the height describes the distance from the lowest point on the front of the frame to the highest point, and the lens describes the distance between the end of the bridge and the beginning of the temple. Some retailers also offer free virtual try-on. This service, which I describe in will allow you to upload a picture and place a variety of frame types on your face.

Place your Order

So you’ve found the perfect pair of frames. Begin the checkout process. You should see boxes where you can enter your prescription information (the seven critical numbers). This will sometimes be in a table format similar to your prescription, or it may be a simple list. You’ll also have the option to choose from a variety of coatings and add-ons. If you will be wearing your glasses day-in and day-out, I recommend choosing the anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings. These really do make a difference and ease night driving (anti-reflective) and the longevity of being able to see clearly through your lens (anti-scratch). You can add on the UV coating if you wish, though it isn’t critical. Photochromatic tinting (aka “transition lens”) is also an option. Personally, I prefer buying a separate pair of prescription sunglasses, but that is up to you.

If you only wear glasses occasionally (maybe as a supplement to contact lenses), or are just purchasing a pair of Rx sunglasses that won’t be worn every waking hour, you might choose to save money by skipping on the extras. If you are buying a pair for your accident-prone child, skimping on the extras might not be such a bad idea either. Avoid coatings and other add-ons will also allow you to get a great pair of prescription glasses for well under $40. After you’ve placed your order, you’ll typically wait about 2-to-3 weeks for your glasses to be custom carved and delivered. The finished product will typically include a hard case and a soft cloth for lens cleaning.

In this I show a video of the exact product received from a popular online eyewear retailer.

Side Note One: “Help, I don’t have a prescription!”

If it has been a long time since your eyes have been examined, or if you just can’t get a hold of your prescription, it’s time to go visit an optometrist. While your neighborhood optometrist may charge $100 or more for a simple examination, discount stores like Wal-Mart, or optometrists in working-class neighborhoods will often offer an eye exam for $40 or less. Grab your yellow pages and start making phone calls. Chances are, you’ll get the best price if you find an optometrist who has many customers without vision insurance.

Side Note Two: “How can it be so cheap?”

The price difference between online eyewear and glasses bought from a traditional retailer, or even Wal-Mart or Costco, is startling. An identical pair of titanium frames might cost $60 online and $220 at Wal-Mart. How can this be? What about the quality? I will categorically state that the quality of glasses received from the majority of online retailers is equal to or exceeds the quality found at your neighborhood eyewear shop or optometrist. The price differential comes from a number of factors, including the relative obscurity of online eyewear purchases, the fact that highly paid optometrists do not spend one-on-one time with the eyewear purchaser, and the fact that insurance companies are typically not involved with online eyewear purchases, thereby discouraging inflated prices.

Give it a try. I guarantee you’ll be satisfied with your online eyewear purchase if you follow the steps outlined in this article.

Mongoose XR-75 Mountain Bikes

The Mongoose XR-75 is an affordable light-weight, durable mountain bike for adults and children. The bikes are either 24″ or 26″ frames. The bikes are made for boys, girls, women and men. They are all made the same way and you can expect to find similar features. You can find Mongoose bikes at your local discount department store or can find online at an affordable price.

For the kids, the Mongoose XR-75 24″ comes in the color of orange or electric green for boys and pink for girls. It is a great bike for kids because they like to ride all over the place whether riding on smooth ground, on bumpy ground or over dirt paths. This bike can handle just about any terrain. The dual-suspension frame makes the bike durable and powerful. It is lightweight making it easier to maneuver and control it. There are 21-speeds to shift through with a rear derailleur. The bike is equipped with linear pull brakes and has alloy, lightweight rims.

For the adults, the Mongoose XR-75 26″ is available for men and women. It is a dual-suspension mountain bike providing ultimate shifting efficiency. For dependable stopping power, the bike is equipped with linear pull brakes. The seat can be easily adjusted with the quick release post. The bike is fully loaded and equipped with a 21-speed SRAM MRX/Shimano.

The Mongoose XR-75 bikes are built to be durable and comfortable. The dual-suspension, aluminum frame will maximize comfort while keeping its performance. When ordering the bikes through the mail, it will require assembly. If purchased at a store, it should already be assembled and may require slight adjustments.

The Mongoose XR-75 is an affordable, attractive looking mountain bike. You can purchase either a 24″ or 26″ for around $110 – $130. If you don’t find what you are looking for at the store, you can order it online to either be shipped to your home or shipped to your local store.

Most of the Mongoose XR-75 reviews were positive. Those who ordered the bikes online to be delivered to the store for pick-up said they were completely satisfied and found the store had already put together their bike upon their arrival for pick-up. Others raved about the bike’s performance and how it exceeded their expectations including being comfortable while riding.

The bike’s consumer ratings are excellent. The bike met the consumer’s expectations and were satisfied with the great value for those consumers who purchased a Mongoose. People felt the performance of the bike was great for the value. The consumer ratings ranged from 3-5 stars. Most reviews stated the bike rides well and is comfortable.

Whether you are a beginner rider or an experienced rider, the Mongoose provides many great features that people look for in bikes being at an affordable cost. They are built to be durable, comfortable and made to last. If you are not picky and do not care about the lack of color choices, then it is a bike to consider.

Fooling the Eye Design Tricks – Solutions for Difficult Windows

At your wits end about how to handle those oddly placed windows? Does that new breath taking view come with a wall of windows and no privacy? Many of these awkward architectural design dilemma’s can leave you stumped and exasperated, but fear not, there are perfectly good designer solutions for about any window, regardless of its location, size or style.

A window treatment that is cleverly designed can easily disguise any awkwardness of any window and shift the focus of the problem to an eye-catching window treatment. In deciding how to come up with a satisfying solution, we’ll need to assess the problem. Is it the shape and the size of the window causing the problem? Some windows are too tall and narrow and some windows are too short and wide. Occasionally, mismatched windows end up alongside each other or on adjacent walls. Perhaps the window is just in a difficult location? Is it too close to the corner or does it the window abuts the ceiling? Does it have an unusual shape or design that doesn’t facilitate a typical window treatment? There are a whole host of problematic possibilities, but once we identify what they are, we can come up with a clever solution.

The next important consideration is to determine your window needs? Is there too much light in the room? Not Enough? What is the windows function in the room? Is it privacy that you desire? Do you have an undesirable view you want to obscure or do you just want to enhance or modify some architectural feature of the room? Once you know your needs, we can address each issue with imagination and skill.

Poor proportioned windows can throw off an entire room’s entire design. Fortunately, window treatments are great at camouflaging flaws.

Visual Tricks

Tall and Narrow: As desirable as they are, some are just too high and appear too narrow, adding an unwanted element to your room’s design. For windows that are too tall use a longer, fuller top treatment such as a cornice or a valance that have points or lines that pull the eye downward, in essence, visually lowering the length of the opening. If your window is too narrow, extend the curtain past the window frame covering some of the wall. Use a low tie back on curtains to add width visually. If using blinds, mount them on the outside for a wider affect.

Short and Wide: To visually make a window appear narrower use fabric the same color as the wall, hang side floor length panels within the frame and use fabric with lines to break up the horizontal line of the window. Mounting blinds and shades inside the frame of the window will emphasize the actual size of the window which will make the window also seem smaller. Another trick is to mount the curtain rod high on the wall, and hang floor length panels on both sides of the window, allowing the eye to be drawn upward, offsetting the short window. To visually reduce the horizontal lines, use Roman shades or cascading shades that adjust at different levels.

Mismatched Windows: These are windows that are different in size, that are in the same room and that lack any architectural focal points. If the size difference is too great, installing a valance above all of the windows at the same height will visually make the windows appear more alike in height. Mount shades or blinds directly under the header. If the shapes are mismatched you can choose a different treatment for each window shape but use the same exact fabric. Link them also by using the same hardware.

Difficult Location- These are those windows that are in a hard-to-get spot. If the window is too close to the corner, chose a treatment that doesn’t have a stack back. Use blinds with a swag or a curtain that is tied back to one side, this will offer a functional yet decorative approach. Another great idea for windows where two windows meet in the corner is to treat them as though the windows were adjacent to each other on the same wall. Place panels on the outside of each window and then one panel right down the middle in the corner. Try pulling outside panels back with tie backs for added interest.

Windows Close to the Ceiling: Mount hardware onto ceiling and cover with a cornice. Keep the style simple and fabric light weight because hardware won’t be able to handle heavy treatments. This will block the top of the window and visually lower the window height.

Sky Lights: To reduce any glare or the amount of heat that is sometimes created by a sky light, a cellular shade with side tracks will be your best option. They are held in place and flush against the window by the side tracks. They also offer insulation and can be moved by hand or remote if too high to reach.

Large Windows: With large windows such as, cathedral and Palladian windows, you can leave them untreated or framed with a swag. Other possibilities are to run curtains on a traversing rod or curtain rod across the lower half and leave the transom unadorned. Try using vertical blinds and topping them with a swag or valance. For the transom, use a cellular shade or a shirred curtain that is anchored at the top and bottom of the window by rods.

When dealing with bay or bow windows you need to decide how or if you want them grouped together or treat them individually. For individual treatments try matching shades, shutters or blinds which create a clean, modern look. Adding tie backs will give them a softer style along with mounting curtain panels down spaces between windows.

Glazed Doors: (French doors, sliders or door windows combinations) the primary function of these treatments is to allow a passageway through the openings. If there is little space on either side of the openings, don’t use a heavy fabric. A gathered curtain with a lot of fullness that is too bulky can block access. Use a medium or light weight fabric that will stack back tightly. On French doors or doors that open inward or out wards pose different problems and need to have a treatment that are secured above and below the glass on the doors such as blinds, shades or shirred curtains on a pair of rods. Sliders are best treated with vertical blinds or curtains on a traverse rod and topped with an optional cornice or valance. Door window combinations are to be treated as one large unit using same guidelines as sliders.

With these easy to follow guidelines for difficult windows you are now prepared to tackle any troubling architectural dilemma with a number of ways to treat them.

Taking the Time to Tamp: How to Start Buildings Off On a Sound Footing

When it comes to structural building projects, I don’t have many pet peeves. Most conventional wood-frame structures feature tried and true building practices that will stand up well to most environmental stresses short of severe quakes and tsunamis. Good materials well braced and supported are generally sufficient, even when used by less experienced builders. If there is an area of neglect, it is that many builders, professional and amateur alike, often forget that a substrate – the ground – is also a building material.

So this is my pet peeve in a nutshell: why go to the trouble of installing rigid, durable materials like concrete and wood when these rest on a material that if neglected or untreated are incapable of supporting their own weight, let alone a building above them. It’s equivalent to piling bricks on a sponge.

Compacting the Ground

The solution to this problem is easily remedied in a word: compaction. That first of structural materials – the substrate – common to every building project from skyscraper to woodshed can be turned to a sound building material by compressing (also called “tamping”) it until it is so tightly packed that it will properly support almost any building load. In typical highrise construction, piles are used. You may have heard these being pounded into the earth, often from a great distance away. These piles are aiming for bedrock, the outer surface of the earth’s mantle. Due to settling and other compressive forces, bedrock is an ideal substrate for building.

Most buildings, however, do not rest on bedrock. Although this would be ideal, it is far too expensive to drive piles deep into the earth, and in the case of most buildings, unnecessary. This is because properly compacted substrates will easily bear the building loads above them.

Some substrates require no compaction at all. Some clays, for example, have been so tightly compressed over time that if dry, are said to have greater compression strength that concrete. The same can be said about some stone. We’ve often built directly on both of these materials, pinning building footings to the substrate by embedding steel pins that tie substrate to concrete footing. In some cases a clay substrate can be so dense that a sledgehammer will do no more than lightly dent its surface when struck. A similar test for compressive strength can be used for stone substrates. A hammer striking most sandstone and some granites will turn these materials to dust, but as for supporting buildings, few stone substrates will be exposed to the pound-per-inch striking force of a steel hammer.

Most buildings sites don’t offer such substrates as these. Instead, what a little digging reveals is a composite of sand and gravel ranging from fines to boulders, these just beneath a layer of organic material usually called topsoil. As topsoil usually contains a high percentage of compostable materials, it does not usually make a good building base and should be excavated until a so called “undisturbed” base is reached.

This brings me directly to my pet peeve. In 20 plus years of building, I have watched as numerous builders simply scrape of the topsoil, then place their footing forms directly on an undisturbed base. I long ago gave up saying anything about it; the glassy stares alone demonstrate the futility of mentioning that they are simply, and returning to the analogy, placing a brick on a sponge. Let’s stop here for a moment to consider what will happen to a building so placed. Will it fall over? Not likely. As mentioned, conventional building practice is far too sound to allow this. Instead, what will happen is that the concrete footings will settle, usually irregularly, meaning the overall building may drop inches in one area and a fraction of that elsewhere. Builders (and even some inspectors) often over optimistically assume that at least the building will settle consistently, but the result will be those cracks or fissures visible in all improperly foundated concrete work from house foundations to sidewalks and driveways. Further, the building may have a disjointed, uneven look under extreme circumstances. This is not a doomsday scenario, of course, but again, why go to the trouble of using durable materials when these are so quickly and unnecessarily compromised?

Tamping Equipment

So now that we appreciate the importance of tamping, how is it done? The easiest method is a power compactor. These come in various sizes and models, and usually rely on vibrating substrate materials until they can settle no further. Weight is a factor here also, and compacters tend to be heavy. The beauty of this method is that it exposes the substrate to far more pounds-per-inch force that the building ever will. In the event a trench foundation is being used, a compactor often called a “jumping jack” can be dropped into a trench or pad hole and let to work its magic. Compactors will usually cause your hands to itch, and may even cause blistering, so use padded gloves when using them. When tamping a small area, I’ll attach handles to a six by six beam of wood and pound the earth with this low-tech device. It, too, subjects a substrate to powerful pounds-per-inches forces, but also subjects the body to a good deal of perhaps unwanted exercise.

How much compaction is required? I will usually use a length of 2″ x 4″ (5 cm x 10 cm) (or even a hammer depending on the substrate composite), pounding this against the substrate to test it. Like striking dense clay or stone with a hammer, there should not be much ‘give” in a properly tamped base. There are other ways to test for degree of compaction, but this simple method works well for most purposes.

Another important note on compaction is something a great many experienced builders do not know. Regardless of the type of compaction devise used, no compacters adequately compress more than a few inches of substrate at a time. This means that if you are adding fill to create a building base, it must be done successively. For example, if you’ve removed loose soil to the “undisturbed” level, then need to bring that level up (because you’re backfilling an excavation, perhaps), add a few inches of backfill, compact this, and repeat the process until the desired elevation of compacted substrate is reached. I once watched an excavator backfill a newly-formed swimming pool, adding approximately twelve feet (4 metres) of backfill to create a grade surrounding the finished pool, and all in one go. The crew then tamped this unstable mixture at grade, and placed a standard thickness concrete slab on it. Bearing in mind your know-how on prepping substrates for subsequent materials, you know the answer to the question of how well that newly-placed concrete slab held up.

Boggy Soils

Sometimes there is no point in compacting a substrate at all. This scenario is encountered worldwide, usually in lowland areas where buildings are located on boggy soils. In such circumstances piles could be driven to bedrock, but because of the cost and other considerations, this is not usually done with smaller buildings. Theoretically, such efforts to compact here will continue until the tampers and their equipment reach bedrock far below days or weeks later. Typically, building in these cases anticipates a high degree of settling, and gives a building a correspondingly shorter lifespan. Sometimes under this less than desirable situation, a wood-frame foundation is constructed to ensure living areas are elevated above the grade and the building essentially floats on the bog. Occasionally, builders will “float” a concrete slab or some other similar building support, then build on this. Without exception though, gravity eventually has its way.

Recently on such a substrate, we constructed supports by driving many steel rods through the bog to bedrock six feet (2 metres) below. These steel rods were hand driven, and wrapped in concrete at and above grade, essentially becoming a piling. No settling has occurred, and the solution has worked well, although the complexity of this approach will certainly increase the further down a load-bearing base is found to soon become impractical. Any deeper, and we would have needed to resort to conventional pile driving as “floating” a base was not an option.

Except for those circumstances when a solid base is impractical such as on a bog, building is always better on the solid base that sound compaction practice creates. Buildings look better, work better, and last longer when builders take the time to tamp.

Living Room Design Ideas

The living room is not the only place where you and your family will get spend time together relaxing and enjoying each others company, but it is also the place where your guests will sit and probably dine. For this it is important that when designing your living room you come with the best ideas possible. You don’t have to be an artist or interior designer by profession to do it, all you need is the right choice of colors, furniture and your room will look spacious and lively.

Dining room sets form one of the most important accessories of any living room. And because of this, they have to match just about everything in the dining room. Sofas, fabrics and the wall should also blend in color so as give your living room an extraordinary look. When selecting color, you need bright colors that will compliment each other and at the same time make your room appears more spacious. Colors such as lemon, white, lemon shades and even peach when combined will give your living room extra space together with a sense of comfort. Dark colors on the other hand may not be the best for your room. Not only will they make the room appear smaller, but may make it appear intense and intimate.

Brightness –

When coming with design ideas for your living room, you just have to consider the brightness. A living room should be bright and have all the happy and bright colors visible. A bright room will not only attract members of the family, but it will also provide a memorable experience for whoever pays you a visit. A bright room will set the tone and mood for anything taking place, and you can also spice that up by adding some bright colored flowers, curtains and furniture that will suit it. In your design ideas, try as much to do away with dark and dull colors.

Reflection –

Almost everyone loves a spacious room, and if your room is small then you just have to do something about it. You can make your room appear bigger by placing mirrors in strategic positions. Doing this will increase the width and the breadth of your living room from the reflection.

Floor –

The floor should be something you should consider when coming up with ideas for your living room. Certainly you wouldn’t want a floor where it is almost impossible to walk, but would rather have one where you and other people can move around without having to bump into pieces of furniture. The color and material you use on the floor is also equally important. A common trick to the floor is by using ceramic and mosaic. You can also put fine polished wood so as to give your living a fine bright look.

Lighting is also something to bear in mind when designing your room. The lighting can be from fluorescent bulbs or you can have enough windows to allow more light.

His Most Famous Painting (Bride of the Wind) – Oskar Kokoschka

‘Expressionist’ Austrian painter, poet, and playwright of Czech origin, Oskar Kokoschka was known for his highly dramatized portrayals. One of his most incredible and extraordinary creation is “The Tempest (Bride of the Wind), an oil on canvas painting, measuring 5’11” x 7’3″, created in 1914. Oskar Kokoschka made “The Tempest” using the muted color tones of pastel green and pink, with a prominent use of dark blue and grey, composing the background too. Kokoschka’s use of dull color scheme adds to the mystical aspect of the illustration. He painted “The Tempest” in the mourning of his failed intense and passionate love affair with his muse Alma Mahler (a Viennese socialite who was a widow of composer Gustav Mahler). The bizarre painting was a tribute to her.

“The Tempest (Bride of the Wind)” depicts Alma and Oskar himself lying naked until the waist, entwined on a shell like vessel, floating on turbulent waves. It seems as if they have been in a shipwreck and are in the middle of the ocean. Their individual expressions and body language are immensely contrastive and speak volumes of their characters. Alma is lying sideways blissfully asleep. Her pretty face appears serene, oblivious to the dangers surrounding them. On the other hand, lying next to her is Oskar, devoid of sleep. He seems to be staring into thin air, as if consumed with worry. He looks weak and his body appears bruised at some places. The wildness of the waves is accentuated with the vigorous brushwork of thick impasto color. The swirly background ‘Symbolizes’ the stormy and passionate relationship that they shared. Kokoschka creates a silhouette of shapes, skillfully layering the colors and blends. In some places, the waves seem to form the traces of ghostly figures, which probably imply the traumas haunting Oskar. “The Tempest” is an exemplary of Oskar’s intensely ‘Expressionist’ style of work.

Austrian poet George Traki had a chance to see the painting before it was finished. Fascinated with the illustration he created a poem immediately, called ‘The Night.’ Some of its words were ‘Over the blackish cliffs, Plunges death drunken, the incandescent Bride of the wind.’ Inspired by the verse Oskar named his painting “The Tempest (Bride of the Wind).” In “The Tempest,” he presents a visual treat through his exceptional talent and masterful vision. This amazing and unusual piece of art has been an inspiration for many novels and movies. The painting currently rests at the Kunstmuseum in Basel.

Eight Little Things Not to Forget When Building a New Home

Building your own home can be exciting yet nerve racking experience. Paying attention to detail throughout the construction process will help streamline the process and increase your ultimate satisfaction with the home. Here are eight little things not to forget when building your new home.

Ample High Performance Lighting – Be sure to install ample high output energy efficient lighting in high use areas. This rule absolutely applies to kitchens and bathrooms. If installing recessed lighting, be sure to several lights through out the kitchen or bathroom to avoid shadows. Chandeliers, track lighting, fluorescent lights or under cabinet light will all work fine. Just be sure to install plenty of them in high use areas.

Insulate Your Garage – Most builders only install insulation within interior walls of the home that face the outside of the house. Generally, builders do not insulate the exterior walls of your garage. Forget this tip and your garage will be hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. Have your builder insulate the exterior facing walls of your garage before the drywall is installed. Better yet, do it yourself to save some money.

Electrical Outlets Under Eaves – If you like to install lights during the holiday season on your roof line, be sure to install electrical outlets under the eaves to simplify installing the lights. Also be sure to install a switch to turn the lights on or off from inside your home near the front entrance. When you are up on that ladder on a blustery winter day, you will be thankful you can just plug the lights in with minimal extension cords and flip the lights on or off with a switch from inside your home. Speaking of holiday lights, install an outlet near the mantel of your fireplace too.

Double Coaxial Connections in Wall Jacks – Given the popularity of high definition televisions and digital video recorders, be sure to run two coaxial cables into each wall jack where you may want a TIVO or DVR unit. This will allow you to record one show and watch another simultaneously. Forget and you will need to drop that second coaxial line later which can be very tricky after drywall is installed.

Gas Line In Utility Room – Even if you plan to use an electric clothes dryer, it may be prudent to install a gas line into your utility room to allow for a gas clothes dryer in the future. Although gas prices are on the rise, if you have a large family and do many loads of laundry each week it may be cheaper in the long run to use gas. If you do not add a gas line in the utility room, an electric clothes dryer will be your only option.

Seal Your Garage Floor – Consider sealing your garage floor before moving into the home. Concrete sealer is available in do-it-yourself kits that will protects your garage floor from deterioration caused by road salts and prevent stains due to oil and other fluids. It also adds to the aesthetics of the garage and may make your home more marketable when you sell in the future. You might also consider a drain in the floor of your garage.

Ample Height for Shower Heads – This may seem like a no brainer. However, if you forget to raise your shower head to a comfortable height during construction, you will have to squat or bend over while you should be relaxing under a nice warm shower.

Automatic Pool Water Filler – When installing a pool or spa, remember to hook the pool fill line into your sprinkling system so you can automate adding water to your pool. This is especially convenient in the south where water evaporation rates are high in the summer. This will allow you to set one zone of your sprinkling system to add water to your pool. You then simply tell it to run 10 or 15 minutes once a week.

The character of your home will often shine through in the details. Paying attention to the details, such as those noted above, will help increase your satisfaction with your new home and should help simplify your lifestyle.

How to Build a Kids Playhouse Foundation From Scratch

When building a kids playhouse, a solid foundation is critical to the safety, sturdiness and appeal of your playhouse.  To ensure that the foundation is property prepared, the following step-by-step method is provided so that the resulting playhouse will give your child years of playing enjoyment.

Select a level well drained area for the location of the playhouse.  Stake out the perimeter (footprint) of the playhouse using mason’s line or some other string and cut in the grass or dirt using a garden spade.  Remove all grass and vegetation from the area that will be covered by the playhouse foundation.  Construct a form for the concrete foundation using either 1 x 4 or 2 x 4 pieces of lumber.  The form will be held in place using stakes every two to three feet will define the perimeter as well as the thickness of the concrete slab.  The form needs to be level at the top edges so the boards you use for this should not be warped or twisted.   In addition to the wood form you will need steel reinforced mesh, crushed stone aggregate or sharp-sided gravel, sand and cement.  Additionally, you will need to rent or borrow a vibrating plate soil compactor.

Once you have dug out the area for the foundation fill the area with about 3 inch deep layer of grade 5 crushed stone and pack it down using the compactor.  Cover the layer of crushed, compacted aggregate with 3-4 inches of sand and tamp it down with the compactor.  The layer of sand is critical for the curing of the concrete to maximize the strength of the slab.  The sand layer will also help prevent the cracking of the concrete while the concrete expands or contracts during changing cold or hot weather conditions.

Place the wooden form on the prepared area and using wooden stakes on the outside of the form, secure the form in place so that it will not shift or move when adding the cement.  Again, the form must be level so take the time to make adjustments to assure that the form is level at this point.

Lay the steel reinforced mesh over the form and cut the mesh to fit inside the form.  At the time of pouring the cement, you will pull the mesh upwards to the middle of the cement.  Smooth the excess concrete off the top of the form so it is even and level.  Allow the concrete to cure and remove the form and securing stakes.

You now have a solid foundation that is level, sturdy and safe for building that dream kids playhouse for your child.

The 6 R’s For Direct Marketing Success in Almost Any Business

There is a small rule of 6 R’s that you can use every time you are trying to sell a product or service to a certain market. If you break ANY of these rules, you are almost guaranteed NOT to sell your product. Read on to find out how you can apply them to your business.

Here are the 6 R’s of marketing almost any product:

1. Right person- You have to have the right sales person. People don’t buy from Slick Willy down the street, they buy from friends. They buy from people they trust. If you have not established a trusting relationship with your prospect, then good bye sale.

2. Right time- You have to be at the right time in the prospect’s life for them to want your product. If you catch them when they do not have the problem that you are solving with your product, then you don’t get the sale.

3. Right place- Your message has to be visible by the prospect. If the person cannot see your web site, store, office, billboard, etc. they won’t buy from you.

4. Right message- You have to be sending the right message to your prospect about the product you are selling. If you promise to cure a pain that they do not have, they will not relate your product to something they want.

5. Right audience- You have to sell to a hungry crowd of people that want what you have. If you have picked the wrong audience, say you are selling snow shovels to people in the desert, then you have thrown your marketing dollars out the window.

6. Right product (this is one that the so-called marketing “gurus” often forget)- You product has to be something that your prospect wants already. The product has to cure a pain that they are having. You will have a much harder time creating a product for an audience that either doesn’t want it, or doesn’t know they want it.

Those are the 6 Rs. Apply them to all of your marketing projects and you will have a much higher closing rate.

The Importance Of Use Of Hydraulic Jacks On Vehicles

A device that is used to lift objects is identified as a jack. These devices are used to lift heavy objects and are used for all types of purposes. They can be used in garages to facilitate raising the level of the vehicle so that the mechanic can get underneath and repair it. They come in various sizes and are capable of lifting different weights depending on the size of the device. They can lift anything from a small car to a big truck. It is understood that due to their weight these objects cannot be raised up just with manual effort. Hydraulic jacks are tools that are specifically designed for this purpose; they are a portable device that is very easy to use.

Hydraulic jacks work very efficiently and are available in different types. Everybody nowadays keeps a jack in the boot of their vehicle in case of an emergency. You never know when you might have an accident or any unfortunate incident that may interrupt your journey? If you are equipped with the required tools then you don’t have to worry even if there is no garage nearby.

Most of us have had to change a tyre at some stage or maybe you have needed to get underneath the car to see if there is a problem with it. The most important thing to remember is that you must ensure that you are using hydraulic jacks properly; you can refer to the user manual that is given to you with the vehicle when you purchased it.

Some damages to your car may pertain to the underneath parts of the car. So, it is obvious that you cannot repair it until and unless, it is visible. This is the time that hydraulic jacks justify their role in society. These tools are simply placed underneath the car and using the lever on it, the car is raised to a certain height. This will enable you to see whether there is any issue with the base of the car, and whether you can repair it.

It is a fact that not everybody may be aware of its functioning but it is necessary to learn how to utilise your hydraulic jack. It will be advised that the users gain all the information regarding these tools so that they don’t have to panic in the case of an emergency. They will be able to fix the issues with the car and continue on their journey. The toolbox of the vehicle must essentially have one of these hydraulic jacks. You will always be ready with the solution if you possess these tools.

Job Interview Questions and Answers – How To Answer "Walk Me Through Your Resume"

Job interview questions usually open up with an introductory question that requires you to give a brief overview of your resume. Now, you are probably thinking that they already have the resume in front of them and they have already reviewed it so there’s no need to go over this in detail right? Wrong.

How you answer this job interview question is crucial. Not only is it an opening question, but it gives you the advantage to take control of the interview and lead the way forward.

You have to keep in mind that the Hiring Managers have probably reviewed hundreds of resumes for this job and interviewed several applicants for the job.

Therefore, you can’t be passive in the interview and treat this question as if you assume they already know what you have to offer. The way you appear on paper is one thing, the way you present yourself in person is another.

Use these 3 tips to develop your answer strategically.

First, start off by analyzing the job description in detail. You should know exactly what they are looking for and be ready to demonstrate how you meet all their requirements. The job interview only provides a limited time to show you have the skills for the job and you are the right fit. Once you understand what they need, you can tailor your answer to focus your attention on their top concerns.

Second, you always want to organize your answer so the Hiring Managers can follow along easily. I personally prefer it when a candidate starts from their first job and works their way up to present day. If you choose to take this route, keep in mind that your earliest job may not be as relevant so don’t spend too much time describing these in detail. Prepare a one-line description stating your experience and a key accomplishment in each job.

Finally, you should have a simple outline you can use to quickly position yourself. Call it an elevator pitch if you want. This is your 2-3 minute summary of who you are and what you can do. Focus on what they have said their key requirements of the job are. For example, “I have my BA degree and a total of 6 years working in retail banking. My first job was…, then I moved on to…, and my most recent job as a…”

Job interview questions like this give you a chance to summarize your experience quickly but also draw their attention to your key attributes that they may have missed when reviewing your resume.

How to Adjust an OEM Clutch Cable on 2003-2004 Mustang Cobra

It seems that most Terminator owners encounter shifting difficulties due to inadequate clutch disengagement, either sooner or later. Many solve this with aftermarket quadrant/adjuster setups, but there is another way. It doesn’t take long, and it costs nothing, but it does require some skill and mechanical experience.

1. Remove the driver’s seat. I know it sounds like overkill but trust me you will be a LOT happier if you do this first. Lying upside down over the front of a Terminator seat is one of the most unpleasant positions I’ve ever found myself in and forget about it if you’re over 200lbs! It’s actually pretty easy anyway and I was impressed to see that Dave had taken it out in about 5 minutes.

2. Lie flat on your back and look up directly between the steering shaft and the gas pedal, you’ll see an off-white plastic thing that looks like part of a gear with a hook on it, let’s call it the “add-tension” adjuster. With your other hand depress the clutch pedal back and forth and observe the motion of the adjuster. If you look carefully you’ll see that it’s teeth are interlocked into another smaller off-white plastic piece closer to the firewall. When you release the clutch pedal notice that the smaller piece (“release-tension” adjuster) rests on the edge of a flat grey piece of metal. Essentially what we will be doing is defeating the ability of these 2 parts to make contact, turning our auto adjuster into a manual one. If we don’t disable this first, any tension that is put into the cable will just be taken out by the release-tension adjuster the next time the clutch pedal is pulled up or released quickly during a spirited shift.

3. We’ll need to remove the hook from the add-tension adjuster so we can access that metal plate more easily. Using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel, cut the hook off almost flush with the bottom, so it looks like the pic below. You could cut it with a pair of dikes but you’re definitely risking collateral damage to the adjuster. The hook is only there to keep a spring from unwinding when the assembly is removed from the car, it has no purpose during normal vehicle operation.

4. Now the fun part: Get a friend to hold the clutch pedal all the way to the floor and keep it there. You could cut a piece of wood or find something to wedge against the pedal and something else if you’re in a pinch but the pedal must remain pressed as far as it can go. You can try holding the pedal with one hand while working with the other (while trying to hold the light as well) but again, not recommended if you want to remain sane. When the pedal is fully depressed it will expose the top of the metal plate of which you will want to cut the upper part off flush.

If you don’t have a Dremel you can bend the top of the plate out (away from firewall) and down 180* but this is not easy to do because that plate is pretty thick and there is limited room to manipulate tools. Plus you have be sure the bent piece is clear of the adjuster when it moves. It’s much easier to cut it, just don’t push the cutting wheel in too deep because there is a switch right behind the plate.

5. When you’re done observe that the release-tension adjuster no longer comes into contact with the plate when the pedal released. If not, you will need to cut or bend some more until the plate is clear of both parts of the adjuster. Also be sure the push button switch attached behind the plate is still properly aligned and actuating along with the clutch.

6. The easy part, the clutch cable adjustment: With the clutch released simply place the butt of a hammer or something with a rubberized handle on the bottom of the add-tension adjuster.

Slowly and carefully apply pressure until you hear a click. If it took a lot of pressure then maybe that will be enough. Stop here and test the clutch pedal engagement height. If the first click required only light to moderate pressure then you will probably want to pop the adjuster up at least one more click. Each corresponding click tightens the cable further and will take more effort than the one before but most people should see definite improvements with just 2 clicks of added tension. I would be concerned about adding more than 3 clicks of tension. This could overtighten the cable or indicate that you may have a stretched/damaged cable or other issue. If you feel there is too much tension use a big flat head screwdriver and push the release-tension adjuster up right at where you cut the metal plate and it will pop loose, releasing cable tension. Be careful when releasing tension because some have had the cable end come off at the clutch fork.

WARNING: Overtightening the cable could result in damage to the cable, pressure plate, TOB, adjuster or excessively high pedal engagement along with a slipping clutch. IMO a properly adjusted clutch should be close to fully engaged about halfway through it’s range of motion off the floor. You may also notice a pop or clank sound when you push the clutch all the way to the floor after an adjustment. This is normal because your TOB is now moving further than it has in a long time or even ever before. Over time the noises should get quieter or completely stop. I think it’s a good idea to lubricate the TOB/retaining sleeve occasionally as this will quiet down and extend the life of these parts, just be sure not to get lubricant on the clutch.

5 Ideas for Fun Things To Do That Involve Air Conditioning

With the summer sun rising higher in the sky every day, the temperatures outside are rising so much that you may often feel penned inside with your kids. If you are looking for some fun and engaging ways to keep your clan entertained without getting too hot this summer, here are five great ideas to try!

1. Have an Indoor Treasure Hunt

One way to keep kids entertained without even leaving the house is to have a home made treasure hunt. Make a set of clues for each player, or have each player make a set of clues of their own and then swap. Consider using rhyming clues for small children to make it more fun. Each clue should lead to another clue, and so forth, until the player arrives at the treasure. You can use envelopes to hide your clues, and offer a small price such as a toy or a sweet to the person who solves the riddles and wins the treasure first!

2. Create a Family Recipe Book

Another fun family project that is guaranteed to eat up a lot of time is to get the kids involved in creating a family recipe book. Not only will this be an entertaining way to spend your afternoons during the summer, but will also teach your kids an important skill they will definitely use when they move off to college or the work force. Not only that, by the end of the summer your kids will have a healthy list of recipes they can use to make dinners for the whole family! No more slaving away over a hot stove for mom and dad.

3. Indoor Camping

When it is too hot to go camping outside (or the state park is just too darn far away) consider setting up indoors for a picnic and camp out. Give kids a variety of materials, bedsheets, rope, cardboard boxes, pieces of foam, or even an actual tent, and watch their creative instincts go wild as they build amazing forts of their own. They will get a thrill out of reading spooky campfire stories with a flashlight in their tents. Bonus points for setting up a picnic blanket with crackers, cheese, and apple slices!

4. Head to the Library

The Library is a great place to take the kids when it gets too hot outside for playing outside. Many libraries offer reading programs for kids during the summer that can be extremely helpful in instilling a lifelong love of reading in your children. They will get to earn points and often win prizes the more books they read. Additionally, many libraries offer story time for younger children. Beyond entertaining kids for a few hours letting them roam and read in the library, they often come home with hours of entertainment!

5. See a Medieval Exhibit

For yet another educational opportunity that will keep you cool is to take the family to a medieval entertainment exhibit. Your kids will learn a ton about what life was like back in the middle ages as they see trained actors in period costume, dressed as noblemen and ladies of the court, or in shining metal armor as knights. They will love getting to eat an authentic medieval meal with their hands while watching a real jousting exhibit right before their very eyes.