Choosing The Right Roofing Contractor

Choosing a roofing contractor can be a tricky process. With so many revelations of cowboy tradesmen and rogue traders appearing on the TV, it is only natural to be cautious. This guide will help eliminate the cowboys without paying the earth for your roofing works.

1. Knowing what to avoid

You should avoid roofers that cannot be traced on the internet in some form. You should also avoid contractors that do not provide a home/office address that can be verified through some form of advertising (net/ flyer/ signage/ ltd company check). In this age, most reputable roofing contractors will have a web presence, which will enable you to view photographs of previous work. VAT registered businesses are also a good indication of establishment, as traders staying under the 70k threshold are questionable when you consider the turnover and material costs involved in the roofing trade.

Our biggest fears in hiring a contractor are being overcharged, and hiring a poor workforce. You can avoid these issues by following the remaining points below:

2. Stay Local

Needless to say, roofing contractors will be more competitive if they are not faced with lengthly travelling times and high fuel expenses. Staying local illiminates travelling premiums. You may also find that local businesses can provide you with drive by references. This way you can view previous work in person.

3. Short-listing

The next step is to form a shortlist of three contractors that meet the above criteria. Speaking from within the roofing trade, I would search roofers (YOUR AREA) or roofing (YOUR AREA) and base my list on contractors who provide photographic evidence of previous work. Also, look out for years of establishment and whether the contractor has insurance. Bucket and ladder roofers tend to avoid insurance as they have no obligation if they do not have any employees. If your roofing problem is flat roof related, insurance is a must. Once you have shortlisted 3 roofers that you like the look of, you are ready to move to the next step.

4. Basic Research

Many of us will not bother with this step, but it really could help in saving you a lot of money. Roofing is a competitive business and whilst many roofers are honest, the stereotype does sometimes rise to the surface. This meaning that some roofers may encourage you to fund repairs that aren’t necessarily urgent or related to your problem. A common example is encouraging a new roof, when a repair is perfectly adequate. With a little research into your problem area on the net, you can find out some core information that may help in combating persuasive contractors. Obtaining multiple quotes is also a good way of avoiding a rip-off roofer…

5. Obtain 3 quotes

Unless you are confident/happy with the first quote you receive (which is perfectly normal), you should obtain 3 quotes from local contractors. This is especially important in complete re-roofing due to the more costly prices involved. Many would stomach a £50 difference, but if you are talking thousands, it is worth shopping around. We have quoted and won jobs that have been quoted triple the price by other contractors.

6. If its too good to be true, it isn’t true

Avoid estimates that are lower than the next by a vast margin. These contractors will either have a low standard of work, or be using the cheapest possible materials on your home. We have a healthy stream of work in correcting poor work from others. Avoid ultra low estimates.

7. Quotes, Not Estimates

Obtain quotes that detail the total cost, regardless of any mishaps. Some roofers bid low to win the job and make the money back on extras. Be aware of this.

8. Other good signs of quality contractors

– Trade memberships (such as GMC, CORC or NFRC)

– LTD companies with good years of establishment

– NVQ trained or training workforce

– Good web / local presence

– Insurance

– Uniform and sign-written vehicles

– Pride in making previous work photographs public


– Ability to provide drive-by references

– VAT registration

Creating Stained Glass Panels

Used in cathedrals to show glorious scenes of saints, and for animals and plants in other venues stained glass panels are beautiful works of art. Though complex looking, these stained glass windows are actually fairly simple, and with a little effort anyone can recreate the art.

The biggest concern when creating stained glass panels is of course safety. The art you are creating includes exposed glass edges, a hot soldering iron, chemicals, and power tools. If you keep safety in mind and maintain a well-organized workspace your hobby will be perfectly safe. As with most crafts you will need to acquire some tools and materials before you begin. You will need glass cutters to score the glass for breaking. As with most tools the higher quality cutter will cost more to purchase, but can make the difference between success and accidental breakage. Another glass specific tool you will need is a pair of combination breaker-grozer pliers. A glass grinder will be needed for making adjustments to glass edges after breaking. Mastering this tool can help your pieces fit together more precise, increasing your appearance quality. More material and tools will be introduced to you as we begin to construct a stained glass panel.

To get started grab the sheet of glass you will be working on with one hand holding the top edge and the other holding the bottom with the sheet in a vertical position. Never carry a sheet of glass in the horizontal position to avoid cracks and breakage! To place the glass on your workbench while vertical place the center of the sheet against the bench edge. Then roll the glass onto the table and slide completely onto the bench surface.

For your first project choose a novice pattern with a simple design and relatively short lines to score. You will need two copies of your pattern so trace the original pattern onto a sheet of standard paper and heavy pattern paper with a sheet of carbon. Assign numbers to each piece as a way of keeping track of your pieces as you create and build the project. Then use special glass pattern shears to cut your pattern out of the heavy paper.

Select one piece of your pattern and trace the shape onto your glass using a glass-marking pen. Do not forget to mark on the glass the number assigned to that piece of the pattern. Then you need to score the lines you traced onto the glass. Apply firm constant pressure with your glass-cutting tool and make one smooth cut along your line. After you score the line you will need to break the score. Some crafters opt to do this step by hand, while others use breaker-grozer pliers for the job. Either way apply a quick even pressure while doing the break to keep it as clean as possible. Continue to mark, score, and break until all the pieces of your project are created.

Starting in one corner of your project, next compare the glass piece you cut out with that piece in the uncut pattern. Mark any glass that crosses over the pattern lines and then use a grinder to remove the excess glass. Continue to do this to each piece until all pieces are the same as the pattern then place them within the assembly jig for the project.

For the foil wrapping step you need to ensure your hands and the glass are clean to ensure the tapes sticks correctly. Apply the foil wrap tape onto the glass edge with exactly the length of overhang on each side and work your way around the glass edge completely. Overlap the tape on the end about ¼” then crimp the foil over the glass edges. Complete this step by burnishing the foil smooth and then place the glass piece back into the jig.

The final step of your stained glass panel project will be to solder all joints together. Slowly move the hot soldering iron over all the seams coating the foil in solder. Once the initial side is complete roll the project over and solder the seams from the other side. Once you have all the seams covered in solder you should clean your project with a soft rag and glass cleaner. After cleaning the stained glass panel is ready to be proudly displayed for all to enjoy. When others comment on the beauty of the panel you can smile and say you did it all yourself!

Creating stained glass panels is a very fun and rewarding hobby, which can also become a little extra income if you are so inclined. There is so much to learn with stained glass, please take the time to seek out more learning resources than just a small article. To learn techniques and skills to improve your skill look into local classes and workshops. Also speak with artisans in your area, most are more than willing to pass on pointers to a fellow glass worker.

Socket Sets for Small Engine Repair

When you first bought your home you probably invested in a standard six sided socket wrench set. The most common nut around the house is the six sided (hex) nut that you find everywhere in your house. Products you bought and have had to assemble have also had the hex nut so you’ve gotten a lot out of your socket set. After you’ve been in your home for a few years you have most likely bought appliances with small engines. You may have a lawn mower, gas weed trimmer, tiller, small gas chain saw, maybe a snow blower. IF you’re like most people you’d like to save some money by doing some maintenance and minor repairs on those small engines yourself. You’ve check owner’s manual on the internet and gotten direction on how to change filters or adjust carburetors and throttles. It really is something you can handle. You’ll need to follow directions and take notes on how to reassemble the small engine but a lot of this you really can do yourself.

Now you’ve decide to start tackling that small engine repair. The socket set you’ve got will be very useful along with stander flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers. But you’ll find you need to get into to some hard to reach areas, and also you start seeing nuts and screws that you’re not familiar with at all. What do you do now? Simple, go to your local hardware store and tell them what you’ve run into. Sketches are good to take along with you when you go, and with your description of the screw head or funky nut you’ve found the hardware people will be able to help you with just about anything you’ve encountered. They’ll take you over to screw drivers, wrenches, and the socket wrench sets to help you find what you need. But you don’t need to buy entire sets of hand drivers and screw drivers. There are a number of screw bit, and sockets that you can use with the ratchet wrench in the socket set you already own.

These accessories to a socket set are a great way to go and more economical in the long run. You can get low profile flat head and Phillips screw driver bits, along with bits for screws you’re not familiar with. Same thing with any different kind of nuts you run into, you’ll find sockets that will fit your socket set’s ratchet. You may also need extenders of varying length to get into those hard to reach areas. You’ll be surprised at how they put that engine together and may need deep well sockets not standard in most socket sets to get at some nuts or screws. Don’t forget to buy spark plug sockets for your socket set. They usually come in sets of three, to change car and small engine spark plugs and should be all you need for any spark plug you run into.

You may want to buy the entire socket set or bit set they recommend so you have an array of sizes. But one or two sizes may be all you need, and you can just add them to the socket set you already have. Small engines are usually pretty simple so most people can work on them themselves instead of taking them to a professional, and having fixed it your self is a great feeling. Remember to wear eye protection and have a clean work bench, this will also make it a safer way to work.

Summer Is Here! Your Pool Opening Options

The annual pool opening is a signal that spring is here, and summer–and regular pool use–will be here before you know it. For this reason, while the idea of opening the pool may emit groans and a bit of anxiety over the winter, once the weather changes for the warmer, it isn’t such a bad task, and that is especially true if you have a lot of help!

If you live in a neighborhood where pools are common, opening your pool may be much easier for you! If you are a first-year pool opener, you can request the assistance of an experienced pool owner in exchange for pizza and drinks. Or perhaps a few of you can get together and make a weekend out of opening neighborhood pools.

If doing the pool opening yourself is not an option but, due to economic hardships you wish to save money where you can, then perhaps as a neighborhood, you can call around to different pool companies to find a discount. Some companies may charge a little less if they need to do multiple pool openings on the same block in a weekend. To save even more money, do some of the pool maintenance yourself prior to the company’s arrival. Pull back the cover and put it in storage, install the pool ladders and equipment, and then leave the complicated stuff up to the company.

A little creativity and pooling of resources can save the neighborhood time and money, and who knows–perhaps you will make new friends, too.

Biscuit Joinery and Pocket-Hole Technology For Woodworking Enthusiasts

As craftsmen strive to create a perfect joint the question of wood joinery hangs over the heads of many professionals. To achieve these sought after smooth, strong, and durable joints there are many methods to choose from. Techniques like biscuit, or plate joinery, and pocket-hole joinery offer individual and effective ways to create a powerful and strong joint. Each method provides a different and efficient way to enhance the strength of your joints.

Biscuit or plate joinery involves the insertion of a biscuit into an oval, or crescent shaped slot that is cut into opposite edges of two pieces of wood. Biscuits are pre-cut, oval-shaped pieces of compressed wood that range in size from 1/2in to 2-1/4in in length. There are also biscuits available in plastic, aluminum, and steel for special applications, generally however, wood biscuits are the most prominently used. Biscuits (dabbed with glue) are inserted into specially cut slots in the wood that are shaped identically to the biscuit, the two pieces of wood are clamped together to set, and thus form a strong, durable joint. The biscuits also tend to soak up the glue applied to them before insertion which causes them to swell and make the joint tighter, and stronger. Porter Cable, DEWALT, and Makita each offer high quality plate joiners with unique, and individual features to help meet your needs, and build your joints better.

Porter Cable offers a Deluxe Plate Joiner Kit with a powerful 7.5 amps and 10,000 rpm. This joiner has many features that simplify the joining process, including: a precise micro height-adjustment knob to keep biscuits exactly centered, and a 1in O.D. (outer diameter) dust port that works with standard bags or can simply hook up to a vacuum. The 557 has a fence tilt of 0 to135 degrees with a positive adjustable stop at 90 degrees; additionally, the bale handle is attached to the fence (rather than the motor) for increased stability and control while cutting. The joiner also has a lock-on trigger for continual use and a supremely accurate (at any angle) height scale to precisely measure positions. Porter Cable’s plate joiner has seven-position rotating depth stop to accommodate a variety of biscuit sizes and depths, and a spindle lock mechanism for simple blade changes. For standard and face-frame biscuits, Porter Cable’s Deluxe Plate Joiner Kit includes both 2in and 4in diameter blades. The kit also includes a centering plate, dust bag, a chip deflector, Allen wrench, and a carrying case for portability and convenience.

DEWALT offers a similar Heavy-Duty Plate Joiner with 6.5 amps and no load speed of 10,000 rpm; tough enough to work through even the hardest wood. The DW682K offers a dual rack and pinion system that ensures the blade and fence are always parallel for the most accurate joints – every time. The one piece fence is also adjustable with a 0-90 degree tilt, and, at zero degrees, a flush cut can be made without removing the fence. Additionally, the fence has a locating notch at 45 degrees that allows indexing off the outside surface of a mitered joint: in other words, the fence has a positive lock at 45 degrees to keep your joints always accurate. With a no marring, heavy-duty aluminum shoe, the joiner can be clamped down for stationary work – and has retractable, anti-slip pins to help hold your work in place, and preset depth stops for all common biscuit sizes. DEWALT’s joiner kit comes with a carbide blade, dust bag, a vacuum adapter, Torx key, wrench, and a heavy-duty kit box for security. The DW682K comes with DEWALT’s one year free service contract, and a three year limited warranty.

Makita also provides an excellent option in biscuit joinery. Their 3901 plate joiner runs on 5.6 amps, and with a no load speed of 10,000 rpm. Although with slightly less amps, the tool is strong enough to make the tight, and lasting joints craftsmen expect from biscuit joinery. Makita’s joiner has a one-touch 6 depth setting that allows for immediate depth change when working, and accommodates most common biscuit sizes. Makita’s 3901 also features a shaft lock for fast, simple blade changes, and easy to operate cam locks for added security. With a cast aluminum pivot fence with positive stops at 0, 45, and 90 degrees the joiner is always accurate and precise, and is designed to quickly and simply make strong and durable plate joints. The tool has a maximum cut depth of 25/32in, a large top grip handle, no mar rubber strip insert, and is double insulated for additional security/safety on the job. Makita’s 3901 plate joiner includes a carbide tipped blade (4in in diameter), an angle guide, dust bag, lock nut wrench, set plate, inner flange, lock nut, and a plastic tool case for convenience and portability. The tool is just over a foot long and weighs 6.2 lbs.

Pocket-hole technology involves drilling an angled hole into one workpiece and joining it to another with a self-tapping screw. This process eliminates tedious drilling applications, and provides a fast, strong joint in which the screw acts as a permanent internal clamp pulling and holding two workpieces together. Kreg offers a Jig Master System specifically designed for pocket-hole joinery. The K3MS is effectively two tools in one having interchangeable drill guide blocks that can shift between bench-top and portable bases. The tool has an easy access, spring-loaded, front-side clamp that eliminates reaching around big panels to get to your toggle clamps; it keeps everything within arms reach so you can maintain speed and greater ease on the job.

Kreg offers a three-hole drill guide with a hardened steel core that helps you perfectly place pocket holes even in a variety of widths and thicknesses. This steel core also protects bits by keeping them completely covered, and supports work pieces throughout the entire drilling process. This technology reduces bit deflection and tear-out, and provides a clean, smooth, and plug-able pocket-hole. Kreg’s jig also has a material support stop that can be set at any distance from the jig enabling you to repeat the same pocket-hole numerous times. This stop can also swing or flip out of the way to act also as a height support for large panels. Additionally, Kreg utilizes an optimized drilling angle specifically configured to enhance driving efficiency and reduce the pocket-hole’s overall size to less than 1-1/2in. A wood-chip relief system -which consists of one wood-chip relief hole per every drill guide hole – keeps messy debris out of your drill bits and decreases drill torque output, thus increasing the life of your drill bits. This system allows the user to make smooth pocket-holes in only one plunge. Kreg jigs are built with an unique composite material that is flexible, resilient and also strong and durable; each jig is also built in-part with heavy-duty glass-reinforced nylon that maintains its strength and longevity.

Each of these joinery options is unique and provides professional results and professional strength to your joints. Both biscuit joinery, and pocket-hole joinery offer simple and strong solutions to achieving the perfect woodworking joint.

Big Toys for Big Boys

Imagine a little guy, playing the floor, “Vroom, vroom, my cars go vroom!” Imagine looking around the little guy’s room, and you see a race car bed, race tracks on the wall, and bins filled with little metal cars. We will never know where this love of cars originates, but it is truly his first love!

The common ground that ties all car connoisseurs together is the lifetime love and fascination of automobiles. Cars are can be so appealing to children because of their shiny paint, silver chrome wheels, glossy black tires, and the rumble of the engines. Many little boys grow up loving cars. They collect Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars, and play with them from dawn to dusk to see how far they can launch from a racetrack or how fast they can bank a curve. As the little boys grow to be teenagers, the love of the car continues. A car means freedom and a rite of passage in a teenage boy’s world. The teenager finally has status among his friends. Not to mention, having a car is a great way to impress a prospective girlfriend. This newfound independence with his car can make a huge impact on young impressionable guys. As the adolescent boy grows into a young man, his taste for high speeds, top performance, and the amazing beauty of heavy metal machines continues to mature. Then before you know it, he is consumed with the hottest, latest, fastest trends in the automotive market. Big boys always need to improve their toys. After all, for most men, they need a distraction from daily life, and something they can invest in.

Local car dealers provide access to the best and most popular auto parts that the consumers are searching for. One of the hottest trends in headlights are HID lights that provide superior vision enhancement for night time driving experiences. HID lights are basically two beams of light that cross into one extremely powerful beam of light. This light can extend illumination much further than the average headlight. This stronger illumination can make a safer and higher performing driving experience. Reputable car audio dealers in your area will have these popular HIDs, as well as other market trending products.

So much time is spent every day in our cars. It is no wonder why we have an emotional connection with our cars. Our cars can be our escape with awesome audio, and fast speed. Cars can become an extension of your personality and with the right accessories you can make sure you’re car reflect how unique you are!

How to Design a Lighting Plan

You are doing a remodel and know that you want to add some lighting to the room, but your stumped. Where do I start is the most common question I get asked. There are some basic guidelines and factors that can help you determine where to start and how to proceed.

First let’s take the room and it’s needs. Different rooms require different lighting solutions. Rooms like bedrooms, living rooms, dens and basements can be properly illuminated with a simple general lighting plan. In rooms up to about 12′ x 12′, one ceiling light that can hold bulbs that combined equal about 120 watts is sufficient. For a better and more evenly disbursed light, 4 recessed lights about 40″ off each corner works wonderfully.

A living room or den may be a rectangle as opposed to a square. A room that is 15′ x 12′ would be more evenly lit with 6 recessed cans. In these rooms lighting can be supplemented with wall sconces and or table or floor lamps.

Kitchens and bathrooms require much more thought. In these rooms, where tasks are performed, it is important that the lighting level be high enough to perform these tasks safely and comfortably. In a good kitchen lighting plan all the work areas will be well lit. Placing the cans so that the centers line up directly above the outside edge of the cabinets is the best solution. This provides ample light and avoids shadows while working at the counters. Spacing in a kitchen is also very important. Keeping the recessed lights about 4 feet apart and no more than 5 feet, will assure you have even spread of light.

If you run into a wall and need to ask questions about lighting try a Lighting Forum. There are some basic lighting principles that can help you along in this process. One is understanding that light in most fixtures has some type of pattern. For example a recessed light using a reflector type bulb distributes a pattern in the shape of a cone. When this pattern reaches the floor it is in the form of a circle. By slightly overlapping this circle of light it is possible to have a very even distribution of light throughout the room.

Since most of the members of a household walk upright and the ones who don’t, probably won’t lodge any complaints about lighting, a general rule in lighting a room is to design the plan on a work plane. This is an imaginary plane at about 30″ off the floor. This helps to provide a nice even lighting for most tasks in any room. This is where understanding the pattern of light your fixture has is important. Most manufacturers have specs to show what these patterns are. For reflective bulbs you can get this info from the bulb manufacturer.

(c) Copyright 2005 Paul Forte. All rights reserved.

Have a Great House With Decorative Throw Pillows

You have to tally decorative throw pillows in your terrific room. You can set one or 2 on your sofa or an accent chair. Every terrific room must have decorative throw pillows to make your couch and your room to look more live.

These decorative throw pillows are truly general at present. Among American homes, it will feel unfamiliar if a couch does not have some decorative pillows. When you buy your couch, they time and again already followed with fitting pillows. But you also can purchase another pillows based on your style. There are hundred yet thousands pillows trade out there. With decorative pillows you can light up your room by bring some several colors into your couch. Other than just to lighten up your room, they also be able to be used to give your friends experience more comfortable for sitting down or sleeping in their couch or chair. Many people think that these varieties of pillows are all just little squares. Commonly Decorative throw pillows are used to equal color of a room or place in your house. Based on functional point of view, these pillows truly comfort and support the neck, back and your head.

Silk, microfiber, leather, linen and cotton are used to give these pillows. Latterly, pillows with a cosmetic personality have become common as an artistic medium. Many interior decorators are getting progressively loving with the high-end house fabrics or furnishings market and this has resulted in a range of increasingly particular modes.

These pillows commonly have a removable cover so we know how to without problems wash and wash them. There are some sizes and forms in the market that suit the unique needs of people. The most popular is Square-sized pillows, but round, rectangular, and cylindrical-sized pillows (or known as bolsters) also have popularity as well.

There is such type of decorative throw pillows. You can pick out to purchase any types you want.

o Stripes

o Corduroy

o Country

o Animal skin

o Western style

You can find unique throw pillows to pleasure your kids.

Decorative pillows can be a cheap way to decor your house. Pillows can be very expensive counting on the material and type. Decorative Accent Pillows can add a whole innovative look to your decor. Whether you set them in a bedroom, a terrific room or on your favorite chair, you can never have too many pillows.

Have fun shop for these pillows and form sure that you gravitate towards the throw pillows that form you feel well.

Bamboo Flooring – Flooring With a Special Flair

Bamboo flooring is somewhat different than typical wood flooring. It is sometimes classified as exotic wood flooring, but it is becoming more and more popular, and more and more commonplace. Technically, bamboo is manufactured flooring. It is almost, but not quite the same as engineered flooring. A bamboo tree is not harvested, and then cut up into bamboo planks. You cannot get a long, flat plank from a bamboo tree. Instead, the bamboo is pulled off in strips, which are either solidly glued together, fused together under high pressure, or some combination of both, after which it is formed into planks.

Being a Sustainable Resource adds to Its Appeal

Bamboo is a fast-growing tree. The trees used to produce this natural flooring typically take between 3 and 7 years from planting until they are ready to harvest. When a tree is cut down the root is left behind, and a new tree will begin to grow almost immediately.

Light and Modern – Perhaps Too Modern for Some

Depending on the direction of the grain, a bamboo floor can have a very clean, somewhat modern look, especially if it is left unstained, or it can have an appearance featuring a bit more character. This type of flooring is well suited for use with lighter, modern furnishings. Bamboo flooring is available in a variety of colors and patterns. It is not as rich and warm looking as some other hardwoods however. It is not difficult to install, and except for specially prepared types, bamboo flooring compares favorably with other hardwood flooring in terms of cost.

Tough, Durable, Stable, and Easy to Clean

Bamboo is a very hard wood, it is not quite as hard as hickory, but it is slightly harder than oak and ash. A bamboo floor is easier to clean than some types of wood flooring although it somewhat depends upon the finish of the surface. Bamboo is more moisture resistant than many other types of hardwood, and more stain resistant as well. It can be expected to hold up anywhere from 20 to 50 years, although it is no match for oak flooring in terms of longevity. If you install an oak floor, it will probably outlast you; your bamboo floor may or may not.

The Two Most Popular Major Brands

The two most popular brands in the United States are Plybo and Cali. Many consumers consider Plybo to be the leading provider of high-quality bamboo flooring. The special soy-based adhesive Plybo uses tends to drive up the price of its products somewhat, but you definitely get what you pay for.

Cali is known for the variety of different patterns it produces. Cali also manufacturers bamboo decking, constructed from reclaimed bamboo fibers and recycled plastics. Cali’s real claim to fame however lies in one of its special products: Cali Fossilized bamboo. This particular flooring material is manufactured by kiln-heating bamboo strips, treating them with adhesive material, and putting them under tremendous pressure. The result is flooring material that is roughly 50% harder than the hardest of natural woods used in flooring, Brazilian Walnut Ipe.

Should You Purchase Bamboo Flooring?

Yes, if you like the looks of it. Definitely yes if you have contemporary furnishings and are looking for flooring that has a sense of spaciousness about it.

All About Pumps!

Everything You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know About Pumps: Platforms, Wedges, and Black Pumps

In every woman’s closet are two essential items: the infamous little black dress and, of course, a pair of versatile black pumps. Pumps are those classy shoes that can be worn on any occasion, from a typical day at the office to the family Christmas party, and have been popular for women in their modern form since the 1940’s.

Women’s pumps can best be defined as shoes without buckles or laces that most often cover both the toe and the heel and normally incorporate a stiletto heel which can range in size. Pumps are commonly known as uncomfortable shoes which pinch your toes and make your calves ache. But with pain comes gain, and pumps also lengthen and shape up your legs, backside, and torso!

The Birth and Growth of the Pump

Actually, pumps were invented in the 1400’s and called “pompes.” They were flat shoes worn originally by men, but eventually, female servants began to wear them. “Pompes” were known as shoes of the lower-class, because, without buckles and laces, the plain shoes were considered cheap.

Today, pumps for women are considered simple, classy, and versatile shoes. Pumps are appropriate office-wear and command the respect of co-workers, giving women height and an authoritarian, self-confident aura. Pumps also double as trendy heels that can decorate and add personality to our simpler outfits.

Keeping it Classy with Name-Brand Pumps

The most popular name brands offer luxurious pumps in both classic and more modern styles. Shoes by these designers could never be mistaken for shoes of the lower class like the original “pompes!” Take, for example, Kate Spade’s “Licorice” black pumps. With a four inch heel, these classic beauties are made of cool black suede and offer a softly pointed toe. These women’s pumps offer a timeless look that make any woman, even the most frazzled, look chic and put together.

Cutting-Edge Comfort

Though pumps offer class, they are not known for comfort. In order to relieve some of the pressure placed upon the foot by the high and often pointy-toed pump, try Christian Louboutin’s “L’evidence” wedge pumps. Wedge pumps are a more modern version of the classic women’s pump that increases the ease of balancing and walking. Made of patent leather and with a heel just shy of two inches, the “L’evidence” wedge pump in green maintains the classic elegance of the original 1940’s pump in shape and with a pointed toe, but adds a modern twist with the relieving wedge.

New Sleek and Sophisticated Styles

If you’re looking for a simple mixture of old and new, check out Maria Sharapova by Cole Haan’s Air Renfrow OT Sling. The shape and style of this shoe is reminiscent of the classic black pump, complete with the glossy black patent leather. But this platform pump is modern within itself because it offers a peep-toe as well as a slingback, two qualities not seen often in the pump style. With over four inches of heel and one inch of a raised front platform, this unique black pump offers sophistication and elegance with a touch of modernization.

The Pump: Withstanding the Test of Time

The pump has been through a lot in its six hundred years of life. Starting out as a shoe for men, the pump then became a trend for female servants and the impoverished, before transforming into the elegant and classic shoe that we females know it to be today. As time passes, the style of pumps can change, for example, with the introduction of wedge pumps, platform pumps, and slingback pumps with peep-toes. But it is obvious that the versatile black pump, much like the little black dress, will be a staple in women’s closets for years to come.

Applying Lean Office 5S for Filing Systems

When it comes to being disorganized, is it any surprise that paper continues to be one of the biggest problems that plague people at home and at the office? Before organizing (and hopefully filing) those piles of paper sitting on your desk, you’ve got to get your existing filing cabinets ready. Even if your current filing system isn’t bursting at the seams, it’ll still a good idea to sort through and remove any unnecessary papers in order to make room for future storage needs.

5S is a systematic approach to keeping an area neat and organized. Originally designed by Toyota, it is now adapted by industries world-wide in both manufacturing and offices settings.

Applying the Lean Office 5S technique to this project breaks down into these 5 manageable steps:

Sort– Slow and steady is your mantra when doing this step. Start at the front of your drawer and begin to sort through, one file at a time. This might seem too time-consuming for you so use a timer and limit your session to just 15-20 minutes a day. Slow and Steady progress will prevent any type of burn-out, especially if you’re facing a lot of files. Use a brightly colored piece of paper as a marker in your file drawer so you know where to pick up the next day.

Straighten– If your filing cabinet has hanging file folders, chances are you have plastic tabs identifying the file name. Reposition these tabs so they are directly behind one another vs. having them in any type of staggered positioning. Referred to as Straight-line Filing, this actually allows you to find a folder more quickly.

Sweep-Take time to “clean-up” as you go. If you’ve got files with broken tabs, replace them now. If some of your manila file folders are tattered or just plain worn out, replace with a new supply that is crisp-looking. (If you use Manila file folders inside hanging files, use Interior Manila file folders as they are designed to completely nest inside a hanging file without sticking up. This makes for a very neat-looking file drawer.)

Standardize– Be consistent in how you label your individual files and file drawers. If you’ve got a label maker it will be much easier to create that “standardized” look. Also, file only what is absolutely necessary. If you have the document electronically, do you still need to make a copy for your filing cabinet?

Sustain– Keeping your filing cabinet neat, orderly and easy-accessible is the name of the game moving forward. If your filing system is quite extensive, create a File Index in Excel which will allow easy updates. Print this Index and hang it on a clipboard on the side of your filing cabinet so you (and others) can easily reference it when filing items. Keep a supply of 8-10 empty hanging files and Manila file folders in the front of your filing cabinet. This way you’ll have what you need at your fingertips the next time you need to create a new file.

Choosing the Right Work Bench Or Table For Your Job Task

No worker wants to do any tedious or labor-intensive job on an unstable or insufficient work surface. The wrong work surface could slow down productivity and even cause harm to the worker.

Professionals who work in laboratories, work shops and other industrial or manufacturing environments know important it is to a work surface that is comfortable, safe, and designed specifically for the task at hand.

The right workstation is an invaluable asset.

They are constructed of durable materials ranging from steel, aluminum, wood, and industrial grade plastic. Any work bench worth having will offer some storage, shelves or the ability to expand to create a versatile and efficient work area.

Having the Right Tool for the Job

Having materials close at hand is always an important thing to look for in a workbench. When the work flow is kept organized and close, it allows the worker to be more productive, while preventing muscle pain and fatigue.

Quality work benches have features like bins, shelves, cabinets, drawers, and other accessories to allow easy access to parts or tools. Some also have the added benefit of having adjustable legs, this allows workers or jobs of different heights to elevate or lower to a comfortable work position, and this can help muscle and back strain. These are ideal for jobs that require sitting or standing for extended periods of time

Workbenches come in a variety of sizes and should be selected based on the type of work they are being used for.

In a Laboratory, Kitchen, or Food Prep Area

Stainless Steel Work benches and work tables are a perfect choice

For applications in laboratories or food service areas, easy-to-clean Stainless Steel work benches provide added durability and cleanliness. The stainless steel tops with heavy gauge channel supports provide unbeatable stability. Some stainless steel benches also feature a back splash for spill or splash containment. The adjustable lower shelves provide plenty of space for storage and the adjustable legs accommodate the heights of multiple users.

On the Assembly Line or Packing Area

If you are in a work environment that handles large packing or heavy-duty assembly operations, extra Long work benches and work tables are ideal. Extra long benches can help reduce congestion on work surfaces for jobs that are performed in teams. Height adjustable legs provide a comfortable work position based on the task or user. For an even bigger work surface you can combine work tables. Some assembly and packing workbenches have built in accessories to make production easier such as shelving, bin rails, paper spool holders, lighting, and power strips. They are quipped with all the amenities needed to boost your packing efficiency.

Mobile Workstation and Mobile Security Cabinets.

Easily transport your work bench where you need it. Mobile work stations make ideal portable work surfaces for maximum flexibility of work area (repairs, maintenance or assembly). A good option is a mobile repair cart; these carts are a mobile workstation with drawers and heavy-duty casters. Mobile work benches are designed for various applications in any location. Mobile tool carts are also another great option; durable utility carts with racks for tool / small parts bins

Many of the work benches are ideal in the warehouse

Heavy-duty, steel frame work benches are perfect for warehouses, shipping areas, or any place where a heavy-duty workstation is needed!

If height or bending is an issue then you may want to consider a bench top tilters or efficiency master tilt table. Tilt Tables have the ability to tilt pallets, crates, boxes or baskets 45 degrees to facilitate easy container loading or unloading. Tables have all welded steel construction for years of durability. Unique design minimizes pinch points to meet OSHA requirements. Many lift tables are used as work surfaces, in addition to lifting a load

Making Your Workbench “Yours”.

Customization or fabrication of your work bench is a great way to ensure that important materials are always close at hand. Deciding on a specific work bench material can help guarantee that tasks with specific provisions, such as those involving chemicals, food, electronic equipment, or apparel are done on a suitable work surface. Some are more customizable then others.

Can’t Surpass Configurable Packaging Workstations for Versatility We’ve found that with several different Work bench configurations to choose from, some companies can customize a workbench to meet the needs of just about any work environment.

• These benches accommodate Plastic tops with a high-pressure laminate that is great for daily, multi-purpose use.

• They can also be used with ESD bench tops for protection against static electricity when working with sensitive computer items.

• For unbeatable chemical resistance in work environments such as laboratories, choose the Phenolic resin top.

• The durable Stainless Steel tops have a 1-1/2″ thick particle board core with phenolic backer wrapped with 16-gauge, type 304 stainless steel for strength.

• Add a Stackable Drawer or Cabinet for additional storage space.

• Add an Upright Kit for shelf space and easy accessory attachment. Or add the Light Kit for greater visibility in poorly lit environments.

It all adds up to a more efficient workbench.

There are thousands of types of benches to choose from in different variations and materials, so that can lead to a hard decision when it comes to making a good purchase. It is best to consult a professional; such as Ted Thorsen Material Handling they have 60 years experience in material handling and guide you so you make the right purchase decision. A work station can be very worthwhile investment if you get the right one for the job at hand.

Enjoy Your Home Landscape

Landscape Architecture philosophy is to create a design that naturally integrates your landscape, house and lifestyle to create a restful, serene outdoor living area for your family to enjoy for many years to come. your designers studies your site characteristics, such as size and shape of the lot, exposure (to sun, shade, wind, rain and snow), soils, slope, neighborhood, style of house, utility access and existing plants. Garden designs can range from formal to naturalistic, and from simple to complex. Landscape design drawings are designed uniquely suited to both the individual site and the expressed desires of the client. Outdoor designs are concerned with small and large site projects. Landscape plantings, however, are at their worst when new and should improve with age.


Design principles include unit, balance, transition, focalization, proportion, rhythm, repetition and simplicity. Design approach is also an important factor influencing maintenance requirements. Design the details for your landscape design that can include arbors, edgings, fences, gates, sheds, gazebos, playgrounds, pools, grills and more. Use a lot of free curves in your design which give the illusion of even more space. Do-it-yourselves must first learn the basic designing elements that underline the discipline of landscape design. One initial purpose of landscape design is to blend man’s construction (house or building) into the natural surroundings. The landscape designer should consider the color changes throughout the year when developing a landscape plan.


Garden-making concerns the relationship of the human being to his natural surroundings and an awareness of the interplay between objects occupying outdoor space.


Conduct a Site Analysis to complete a survey of the customer’s property is essential. The plot plan will assist you in organizing the information from the site analysis. During the site analysis, views should be observed from inside the house to outside and from outside to inside the house. Costly and undesirable maintenance practices and the need for site modifications can be minimized of avoided by including maintenance considerations and the use of IPM throughout the planning and design phase of a landscape development project. A thorough site analysis can save you time and money. In most cases, designing for low-maintenance and utilization of IPM is quite straight forward, the same principles generally apply from site to site, and their application will not significantly increase the design and construction expenses of a project (particularly when life-cycle costs and benefits are considered). Landscape design drawings are produced to be uniquely suited to both the personal site and the expressed desires of the client. You’ll enjoy the fun of being involved in the landscape design process, and you will benefit from a design based on your unique site and personal preferences. Plantings in the public area should focus attention to the entrance.

The public area is the portion of the residential landscape the public sees and uses. The current trend toward smaller residential lots encourages the development of some of the front yard for family living. Symmetrical balance has been overdone in residential landscape design. Asymmetrical balance is often more desirable for residential landscapes as balance is created without monotony.

Do-it-yourselves must first learn the basic designing elements that underline the discipline of landscape design. Professional landscape architecture helps to prevent the usual problems of old retaining walls, dying plants, bug and pest infestation, fading rotting wood, sagging tilting fences, and pathways and driveways that sink. Practically speaking, landscape architecture and landscape design are almost one in the same, if done properly according to the science, knowledge and skill that should be utilized. Wherever you are, we can serve you with professional landscape design services.

Advantages of Installing Window Blinds

There is nothing wrong or rather, it is simply logical if you are a homeowner planning to spruce up your residence. You may have varied reasons but definitely it is meant to instill a more soothing atmosphere or add to its resale value. One way to accomplish this is by installing the appropriate window treatments such as window blinds. Putting up these awnings will surely enhance the appearance of your home. While there are other traditional alternatives such as curtains or drapes, blinds are considered more viable for several reasons.

Blinds can regulate the light that enters the house. The laths can be spaced in such a way that no brightness or just a little radiance can get in. These shades are also available in different patterns, colors and styles. Thus, you can create the desired look in your bedroom, living area, kitchen or dining room. Consider the Venetian, roller, roman, cordless, and mini blinds based on your design preferences. Multiple varieties of materials will enable you to choose one that conforms to your style and budget. Authentic wooden blinds are more expensive than faux wood. There are also aluminum, bamboo and plastic which are relatively affordable.

You can relish absolute privacy that you may not get from ordinary curtains. The top-down model is an example of blinds that allows homeowners control of privacy. Moreover, blinds are easier to maintain. All you need is to wipe these canopies with a dry or wet cloth occasionally to remove dust or dirt. On the contrary, washing and drying curtains can be difficult, time-consuming and more expensive. When it comes to health and wellbeing concerns, opting for window blinds can lessen the possibility of acquiring eye irritation and headaches. The character of your room or house becomes ideal for surfing and reading books as well as watching television.

You may choose to cover the windows with blinds thereby keeping the warmth inside during winter and minimizing heating costs. Blinds are also utilized by many as home adornment which is receiving a lot of positive comments lately. While blinds are functional, these window treatments also complement the aesthetic aspect of any home.

It is important to find the appropriate blinds for your domicile. You can purchase blinds from online vendors, home centers, furniture outlets, and household accessories’ shops. Just be sure to get the warranty terms clear in care there are defects or problems with the items you purchased.

Piranha – Deadly and Delicious

They had it even before we knew what was happening. My rod bowed in prayer to something below the tea-colored water’s surface. The six-pound test line danced like a cat on a hot   pavement . All hell had broken loose. Beads of sweat rolled down Doris’ back. Her clothes were now a second skin, clinging to her every move. We panted for breath. We had fish on. The silvery oval-shaped body and red belly of a Piranha broke the surface. I reached for it. “Don’t let a finger get near their mouths or you’ll lose it”, our native guide barked.

Minutes earlier, I shuddered from a breeze escaping from somewhere up ahead despite 85 degree-plus heat. The double-digit humidity didn’t help either. A maddening buzz filled my ears, but thanks my coating of Vick’s Vapor Rub, the blood-suckers wouldn’t feast on me. My eyes burned. My nose dripped. A coffee-table-sized leaf or hanging branch slapped into me every few steps. Curses burst from my lips even with my best efforts to become as one with the rainforest, as the indian had.

Our fishing rods extended from 18″ to five and a half feet. I’d hoped the light mono would suffice, although I’d squirreled away spools of twelve and twenty pound test as an afterthought. If we tagged into a 50-plus pound Tambaqui even that wouldn’t be enough. Vines as thick as my wrist dipped into light coffee-colored waters making little ripples as it slid past roots and fallen branches. Tangled growth matted the gentle slope of the bank into tea-with-milk colored wetness. I’d flicked a thumbnail-sized chunk of bloody chicken liver on a barb-less hook with a split shot into a dinner plate-sized swirl just beside a snarl of mangrove roots jutting upwards through the surface.

Minutes later, his tanned skin gleaming with moisture, our guide demonstrated the efficiency of the scissor-like teeth. A green leaf held near the gaping mouth instantly sported a neat, crescent-shaped bite. Three heavy blows to the head prepared the killer for cleaning. After cleaning, the Embera made a series of diagonal cuts along each side of the fish. Into these he carefully rubbed a mixture of salt, garlic, and ground roots from a small gourd he carried. A simple shaved branch frame held the fish over a smoky fire of glowing coals. The firm toasted flesh tasted smooth and a bit earthy, like a seasoned and mellowed catfish. With a wink and a sly nod towards Doris he said. “Make these heads into soup and you will need many wives”. She glanced at me with a puzzled look. I smiled.

The Perfect Killing Machine

The Amazon is filled with danger. Soldier ants march by the millions devouring all life in their path. Submerged up to the eyes, Crocodiles lie in wait for the unwary – whatever or whoever that may be. Undulating its 20-foot length beneath the surface, the Anaconda, one of the world’s largest snakes, uses heat-seeking guidance to find its next meal. The barbed stinger in the tail of platter-sized stingrays can inflict a wound that takes months to heal. But none of these carry the fearsome mystique of the voracious Piranha. Ranging through South America from Brazil to the lowlands of Peru, they also inhabit waters in Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. In the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers of Brazil and the Orinoco River in Venezuela, no creature is safe from the Piranha’s razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws. The serrated teeth fit together like scissors, enabling Piranha to cut the flesh from their prey. Like a shark, a Piranha’s teeth are replaceable, when one breaks off a new one grows in its place.

The Yagua Indians of Peru often use the sharp edges between the teeth of a Piranha jawbone to sharpen the point of their blowgun darts. A fish that is dying or swimming erratically will be quickly attacked by a large school. Piranha will also attack without warning to defend their eggs and territory. A wounded animal that strays into the water will be stripped to the bone so quickly it seems almost to “dance” on the surface as it’s ravaged from beneath. A bird that falls into the water will be gone, feathers and all, in three minutes or less. A trapped fish struggling in a net will be chewed clean to the head in a matter of seconds. Attacks on large animals and humans are often dramatically portrayed, but are rare. In some regions Piranha are known as “donkey castrators”.

“They will rend and devour alive any wounded man or beast.” U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt said, adding, “Piranha are the most ferocious fish in the world.” Piranha, also called Caribe or Piraya only furthered their fearsome mystique when Roosevelt encountered them during his exploits in 1914. There are about 35 known species of Piranha but only five species represent a danger to man. Species range from the Red-Belly Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) with its characteristic red belly to the largest of the carnivorous species, the Black Piranha with its demon-red eyes and a 17 and a half inch long dark body weighing up to ten pounds. It could remove a man’s hand in two or three bites.

Most species dine on fruit or seeds that fall into the water from overhanging trees. The fish are not always aggressive. Women wash clothes in knee-deep water where men spearfish while children bathe or swim in these same Piranha-infested waters without harm. Further adding to the Piranha’s mystique, Indian men with half a dozen wives and up to a score of children attribute their potency to Piranha-head soup, although no scientific justification for the soup’s potency yet exists.

Fishing for Piranha

Piranhas are usually part of indigenous peoples diet in the areas where the fish are found. All you need to go Piranha fishing are lines with a metal leader next to the hook so the fish doesn’t bite through the line, a supply of red, raw meat (worms or cut-up fish will do too) and a bit of luck. Piranha swim in large schools and are attracted by movement and blood. In May of 1999, hundreds of anglers armed with rods, reels, and raw steak flocked to the Brazilian town of Aracatuba near Sao Paolo for a one-Sunday piranha fishing tournament. The townspeople had declared open season on the flesh-eating fish, which had decimated other species in the local river. The prize for the tournament was an outboard motor. But “most fishermen were content to go home with plenty of the reputedly aphrodisiac piranha”, claimed then town spokesman Nelson Custidio.

Piranha, earning their notorious reputation by reportedly killing 1,200 head of cattle every year in Brazil, is some of the best eating in South America. Whatever name you call them and no matter where you try them, when cooked in a variety of ways, their firm light flesh with its smooth, slightly nutty flavor, is a taste you’re sure to enjoy.