Building Bridges

Bridges are built to create passages that reach from one area to another. These areas could be people, places, or things. The possibilities are endless, unless boundaries or obstacles are in place to limit our reach. The key words in the previous sentence are “boundaries or obstacles are in place”. We are not always in control of the boundaries or obstacles, but we can eliminate them in most cases and expand our reach to areas that we never knew existed or to areas that could benefit greatly from bridges that help them reach necessities in areas that were once unavailable.

Bridges can be created into sturdy structures in less than a day in some cases, but there are situations that bridges are created over time by people with a vision of reaching destinations. There are times that bridges are created by an entire community and other times that bridges are created by more than one community that are building towards each other in an effort to mutually benefit one another. No matter how the bridges are built they still create passages that were once unavailable or they ease the pain and struggle of making journeys without them. More areas are reached, more deadlines are met, more options become available, and more progress is seen.

The importance of building bridges is something that can not be stressed enough, but we must always remember how and why the bridges are created. The idea of the bridge must be thought out, the design of the bridge must be sketched, the areas need to be surveyed to see what type of support is needed for the bridge, the materials must be gathered to build the bridge, and the bridge has to be put together. One person might be able to create a bridge, but creating a bridge is usually done by combining the talents of several different people; and they benefit everyone involved because it creates those opportunities to reach the people, places and things that once seemed unreachable.

Each and every person reading this message is a part of a bridge that was created by the people, places and things that have come into their life. Connections can be made through each person reading this message and the connection that is made to someone who did not receive this message directly might create a bridge that was not available to them at one time in their life.

Sometimes it only takes one connection to serve as that missing piece that is needed to create a bridge between two people that would not have had the opportunity to meet on stable ground. We should all try to be those available pieces to bridges that can serve many people. We should also try to be those available pieces to bridges that give many people the opportunity to reach the people, places and things that were once out of their reach.

Everyone is not always aware of the areas that need bridges, so it is up to the people that utilize these bridges to connect as many sturdy structures as possible to put an end to the limits of our reach. We can not expect others to build our bridges for us if they are not the people who will actually use the bridges. We must begin to build our own bridges that lead to paths and areas that are beneficial to us. Become the vital piece that is necessary today, there are so many of us that are not reaching the right paths because the necessary bridges are not in place.

Wall Assembly Comparison

When one takes a look at the five-in-one construction components provided by insulating concrete form (ICF) construction, and combine that with the major performance benefits of building with ICFs, it becomes evident that ICF construction is a better way to build. Here is the breakdown:

Five-in-One Construction

The 5-in-1 wall assembly provided by insulating concrete forms means you complete five steps – steel reinforced concrete walls, furring attachment, insulation, air barrier and vapor barrier – all at the same time. Any other wall system would require additional material (and labor) added to the wall to achieve what one inherently achieves with the ICF wall. For example, a wood or metal framed building would still need to be insulated, as well as have the air and vapor barriers added to the wall, and a comparable masonry wall would need to be furred out and insulated.

Major Performance Benefits


Typically ICFs have a steady state actual R-Value of R-22. While this does not include the thermal mass and lower infiltration rate effects that add to the overall energy performance, it is still a higher R-Value than the other standard wall assemblies. A wood or metal stud wall will typically be insulated with an R-13 to R-19, and an un-insulated masonry wall will have an approximate R-Value of R-2.

Combine the higher R-Value with the thermal mass and lower air infiltration rates, and a building with exterior ICF walls will significantly lower the heating and cooling costs.


There are a couple of different ways to look at the strength of a wall, such as lateral and axial capacity.

Example: If you take a 10 foot wall, braced at the top and bottom, and apply a uniform 25 psf lateral load to the wall, the axial load capacity of an 11 inch iForm from Reward Wall Systems is 22,000 pounds per foot, and the 13 inch iForm has a capacity of 50,000 pounds per foot. A 2 x 4 wood stud wall with 16 inch spacing has a capacity of 425 pounds per foot. A 2 x 6 wood stud wall with 16 inch spacing has a capacity of 3,220 pounds per foot. A 3 5/8 inch and 6 inch 18 gauge metal stud wall has capacities of 500 and 1,775 pounds per foot respectively.

Looking at just the lateral load capacity, a 10 foot tall 11-inch iForm wall has a 65 psf capacity without any axial load applied. In comparison, a 2 x 4 wall has a lateral capacity of 37.5 psf.

Fire Resistance Ratings

Depending upon which ICF wall assembly is used for the building, it will provide a two to four hour fire resistance rating. In comparison, a wood or metal stud wall typically provides a 30 minute to one hour fire rating (depending upon the wall assembly and gypsum board), whereas a partially grouted masonry wall will provide around a two hour fire rating.

Sound STC Ratings

Sound ratings provided by the base ICF walls also out perform other wall types. A Reward ICF wall with gypsum board on each side will have an STC rating of 44 for the 9 inch iForm and 51 and greater for the 11, 13 and 15 inch iForm. A wood frame cavity wall will have STC values in the low to mid 30s, and a metal stud wall will lie in the mid to upper 40s. One thing to keep in mind is that the difference of sound ratings is exponential when it comes to actual sound transfer.

In directly comparing wall assemblies with the ICF system, it is easy to see that ICF construction not only inherently provides more, but also outperforms. When you add five-in-one construction to the comparative performance benefits, the already impressive ICF wall becomes even more attractive.

Flat Panel TV Mounts

Clean integration is made easy for flat panel   mounting . This mount is an all in one mount which includes shelving for a clean looking system. Having it manufactured as one unit, makes it easier to install and secure your TV, cable boxes or DVD players. A tempered glass shelf is sturdy and will support the TV equipment as well as cable set top boxes. This mount will hold up to a 58 Inch Flat Screen TV up to 120 lbs.


-Complete wire management

-Integrated TV mount up to 58 Inches and the Mount up to 120 lbs TV

-Single or double stud  mounting 

-For VESA Patterns 200×100 mm to 600×400 mm

-There are versatile articulating mounts for a 37- 70-in. Flat-panel TVs. These are usually pre-assembled with heavy-duty dual wishbone arms. It allows the mount to extend the unit over 20 in” from the wall. It allows 15 degree of tilt. This mount is perfect for hanging TVs allowing for a wide range of viewing positions

Tips for Installing a TV Wall Mount

-Once you have purchased the mount that you need for your TV and you have all the hardware available, you are ready to start. A good idea is to have a friend or relative to help with the installation. A couple of hints.

-Find where the studs are in the wall and mark accordingly. Mark the spot and measure between the ceiling and the floor for the center of the wall. Once you are satisfied on the location, you can also mark where the screw holes are going to be.

-If you are using a flat TV wall mount, you may have to purchase the screws for the installation. Make sure they are long screws, they make the mount much more secure.

If you want to hide all the cables and wiring, but don’t have a cable connector in the wall, you can position a bookcase or something similar to hide them. The best way that I have heard is to buy a rounded piece of crown molding. You paint the molding the same color as your wall. You just gather the wires together, put the molding over top, and put a few nails in the top, middle and bottom. If you need to move the TV, it will be easy to take down and will not leave the wall looking damaged.-Always check and be sure everything feels tight and sturdy. It is well worth your time and money to make sure the TV doesn’t fall off the wall.

This is a FYI that, there is a voluntary association that you should be aware of when buy a TV. VESA (which stands for The Video Electronics Standards Association) has set up an industry-wide standards for electronics, which includes TV mounts. The regulation is quite easy to understand, TV and TV mounts marked “VESA  mounting  compliant” will fit together. If you have purchased a Non-compliant TV and a non compliant wall mount, you will have to purchase a separate adapter plate.

Arm & Hammer Whitening Booster

One product on the market that has received rave reviews is from the long-time favorite tooth paste manufacturer, Arm and  Hammer ; introducing whitening booster.

The way Whitening booster works is by first applying regular toothpaste, preferably Arm and  Hammer  toothpaste, to a wet toothbrush. Next, apply the same amount of the whitening booster onto the toothpaste. The final step involves simply brushing the teeth as normal then rinsing with water when complete.

There are some online offers that sell the whitening agent in a convenient package called an Arm &  hammer  whitening booster Kit, which includes everything that’s needed to add brightness to a dull smile. The kit includes two bottles Arm &  hammer  whitening boosters and two Arm and  Hammer  Advanced White Brilliant Sparkle Toothpastes (4.3 oz).

Common Questions:

What distinguishes this from other whitening products on the market? What differentiates this from other whitening agents on the market is that the product not only whitens the facial surface of the teeth, but it also provides 100% whitening coverage behind and between the teeth. Other whitening products that use whitening strips can only be applied to the surface of the teeth, leaving the back side and side teeth still discolored.

Is this safe for tooth enamel? Yes. Even though the whitening agent is 2 times stronger than leading strips, it will not harm the tooth enamel.

How long will it take to see results? Some people have reported visible signs of brighter tooth enamel in as little as one week. It is encouraged that the users brush their teeth three times a day, but no more than three times per day.

DIY – Tile Flooring in the Living Room

Americans generally reserve tile flooring for the kitchen or the bathroom. But if you’ve ever spent time in a Mexican hacienda, you know the deep, exotic pleasure of walking barefoot across beautiful tiles in a space not meant for dripping dishwater or stepping out of the shower.

My husband and I honeymooned in San Miguel de Allende, in a villa with Saltillo tile flooring. When we bought a house last year with some ratty carpeting in the living room, we started wondering, what’s stopping us from recreating that here?

At first we were looking at terra cotta colored ceramic tiles, with the idea of bringing our honeymoon into our home in as exact a replica as possible. Honestly, I think we would have loved that, too. Those were the most romantic days of our lives, after all.

But we live in Portland, Oregon, where the rain falls and the grass grows green, and it seemed a little out of place. We wanted a tile floor that referenced Mexico, but also honored Portland. You know, Be Here Now.

Then we happened upon natural stone tiles, and we fell in love all over again. We chose a random sized mosaic of sliced pebbles in a shade of green called “Taipei” (after the capital of Taiwan) that reminded us for all the world of creek beds on hikes we take in the Oregon mountains.

Here is a little tutorial on DIY tile flooring, based on our experience. We’ve been walking across our pebbled living room for six months now, and I swear I’ve never felt so much peace in a non-vacation home. Married bliss, or just one fine damn floor? A little of both, if we do say so, ourselves.

1. Make sure the floor is clean. Get on your hands and knees and scrub, basically. Dust, oil, wax or grease will prevent the tile adhesive from working properly.

2. Work from the center as you plan your layout. You want any cut tiles at the wall edges. (Ideally you want the cut tiles at each end of the room to be the same size, but with our pebble mosaics, we didn’t have to worry about this.)

3. Lay all the whole tiles first. When you are ready to do all the cut tile, go and hire a professional tile cutter. Seriously. I won’t name names, but a certain someone I’ve vowed to love through sickness and health, etc. thought he could cut the tiles himself with his circular saw, and basically, long story short, we had to order another batch of tiles. Live and learn!

4. Grouting pebble mosaics is time-consuming, I won’t lie. It’s also a little tricky. This tip is important: SEAL THE PEBBLE TILE BEFORE YOU GROUT. Because the pebbles have a natural finish, they absorb the grout. Insert frowny face here. But if you seal the tiles (once the adhesive dries), voila, no absorption. Insert happy face.

5. Cover the entire tile with grout. Gulp. Wait 20 minutes. Wipe with a damp sponge till it’s pretty again. Hey perfectionist, don’t wipe so hard that the grout between the pebbles disappears!

6. Allow the grouted tile flooring to dry for 24 hours. For the first few of those hours, go out for a drink, you two. You deserve it.

7. Seal it.

8. Hi, honey, I’m home? You can leave your hat on, but please, leave your shoes by the door.

Organic Methods To Stop Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails have a tremendous capacity to frustrate gardeners. Overnight they can destroy young seedlings and disfigure your favourite plants. There are numerous ways to stop slugs and snails. The most common is the ubiquitous slug pellet; however, many gardeners are reluctant to use a poison which can harm wildlife and the environment. If you wish to avoid chemicals there are still many effective methods to control slugs, these are some of the most popular.

Beer Traps.

If you save an old plastic container and then sink it into the soil it can provide an excellent beer trap. Slugs are not fussy so feel free to use the cheapest beer. Also make sure it is easy for the slugs to slide into the container by keeping the edges close to the soil level. In the morning, you will find the beer trap full of drunk slugs. When it is full simply dig a whole and pour the contents in; then replace with fresh beer. I have used this method to great effect and it is completely environmentally friendly.

Egg Shells Around precious plants

Slugs require a smooth surface to move. If they come across a barrier of grit and gravel they will not be able to pass. Therefore, you can protect your favourite plants and vegetables. This is a cheap way to protect the odd plant. However, it can be quite time consuming, unless you only have a small number of plants. Also if the barrier is not extensive, some slugs may be able to pass by.

Copper Strips.

Similar to eggs shells and grit copper strips can be placed around plant pots to prevent slugs climbing into them. The metal strips can be bought from local garden centres and once in place offer a permanent deterrent to slugs climbing in.

Encourage Frogs

One of the best organic ways to decrease your slug population is through encouraging their natural predators. One of the best slug eaters is the humble frog. If you create a natural pond to encourage frogs and toads, you will find a natural ally in the fight against slugs. On a good night, frogs can get through 10-20 slugs so they can be very powerful.

Encourage Birds

Some birds, especially the Blackbird love to eat frogs. Encouraging birds into your garden with a bird table may help provide another predator for eating slugs. Unfortunately in the UK, the decline of the Song Thrush has been attributed to the use of slug pellets (the birds get poisoned on the slugs who have eaten pellets) This is another good reason for not using slug pellets.

Go Hunting

If you go out in wet conditions, especially around dawn or dusk you may be able to find and kill a lot of slugs yourself. With a   trowel  you can easily slice them in half. To make your job leave a lettuce leaf around and check under stones.

If pursue these methods you will find the slug population drastically declines; it can also be quite good fun to encourage natural methods of dealing with slugs, rather than resorting to chemicals.

View More tips on gardening at

How to Choose an Oil Free Compressor

Air  compressors  are widely available in oil-less and lubricated models and choosing the correct unit for your application can be a difficult decision.

The key differences are that conventional lubricated units require oil to operate and need to be monitored just like a car engine. However, these units are generally more durable than their oil-free cousins and perform best in continuous, heavy use environments.

Oil-less air  compressors , on the other hand, are ideal for lower volume applications, are low maintenance and can work at steep angles where lubricated units struggle.

Oil free  compressors  are ideal for certain situations. For example, when the air is used in a medical or clean room environment, it is vital that the air that comes from the  compressor  is free of oil. There are a few options that you have when choosing a suitable unit for your application.

Some are designed specifically for these needs and are generally much quieter than their non-oil free counterparts. Usually these are used indoors where noise levels are an important consideration.

The decisions you will make when purchasing or hiring an oil free  compressor  are basically the same as you would make for an oiled  compressor . You need to determine how much airflow, air pressure and noise level that you need for the unit you choose. However, there are some key differences that you should take into consideration.

The first thing that is different about these two types of  compressors  is the working temperature. Typically, oil free units run hotter than those lubricated with oil. Consider the amount of work that you will require from you unit. This is an important consideration when you are choosing to buy one. If you must run your air  compressor  for long periods of time, make certain that it can handle the workload.

Air filters can eliminate the lubricating oil from reaching the air that is operating your tools. If you are working with paint it is important that the air that is operating your spray tool be free of oil or you will end up with oil in the paint. A filter can often resolve this problem.

It is important that you select the right filter for your unit or you will be spending a great deal of time dealing with a clogged  compressor  and poor performance from your tools. Some of the considerations needed for choosing a filter are the quality of the air, the size of the  compressor  and your airflow needs. Choose the wrong filter for your requirements and you will simply end up wasting a great deal of time unclogging your equipment.

Cost is obviously a consideration when choosing oil free  compressors . In the past they were usually more expensive than those that were lubricated with oil, but in recent times the costs are becoming much more comparable. Make sure you are getting the  compressor  that offers you the most airflow, air pressure and filtering for your money.

Unless you have past experience of using an oil free  compressor  it is highly recommended that you seek professional advise which can usually be found at the point of purchase.

How to Create a Spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel 2007

Please Note: In order to follow along with this tutorial please have your Microsoft Excel 2007 software open.

What are spreadsheets?

When writing an article, you organize the information by breaking it up into paragraphs and sentences. You group similar ideas into sections and arrange them in a logical sequence. This structuring of information makes it easy to locate and understand the text. But what will you do if you are asked to organize information that is represented with numbers? For example, how will you structure your monthly budget or analyze survey results?

Numerical data when entered into tables (rows and columns), becomes easier to locate and understand for quick viewing.

For example, remember how baseball or cricket scores are displayed on your TV screen during a match? There are rows and columns. The rows display the names of the players and the columns display information such as the number of balls each batsman played the number of runs he made, and the run rate.

Benefits of Working with Computerized Spreadsheets (or Worksheets)

Meet John Nicholas who teaches at St. Xavier’s and is the class teacher for the seventh grade. Every year, he spends hours manually entering the marks for different subjects for each student into the result sheet, finding the highest and the lowest totals for the class, and then calculating the class average. But this year, things promise to be different. John plans to use computerized spreadsheet for his task.

A spreadsheet is essentially a grid containing several rows and columns, in which text or numerical data is entered.

The word spreadsheet comes from the account keeping ledgers that use a double spread or both the sheets of an open register to enter financial data.

Spreadsheets are typically used to create budgets, analyze survey results perform various types of financial analysis, create financial reports and charts, organize lists, sales forecasting, and tracking expenses. These are also used for tabulating data for result sheets for your exams, attendance registers in offices, and keeping scores during games etc.

Can you think of other instances where spreadsheets can be used?

Traditionally, people used huge sheets of paper as spreadsheets which are not only cumbersome and complicated but time consuming. Any information that changes must be erased and rewritten. With computerised spreadsheets, however, you can create formulas that automatically update when you change your data.

Computerised spreadsheets are created using a special computer software program, such as MS-Excel and Lotus 1-2-3.

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that lets you create and work with computerised spreadsheets. It is a powerful tool to organize, manipulate and present data, fast and simple to use, even when you are calculating complicated formulae. The program has Word-like features to help you format text and add borders to cells. Excel also allows you to create attractive-looking graphs and charts to supplement the figures in your spreadsheets.

What is a Workbook?

An Excel file is also called a workbook. It is the file in which you work and store your data.

To create a new blank workbook in Excel 2007,

Click Quick Access toolbar > New.

To save a workbook in Excel 2007,

1. Click Quick Access toolbar > Save button. 2. Type Class9_results and save the file to the desired location.

Now, let’s explore our spreadsheet to understand more about its features.


Notice that in the lower left corner of your spreadsheet, next to a bunch of arrow buttons, are tabs called Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3. These tabs represent the worksheets where you will enter your data.

The rows and columns grid that you see on the screen is the worksheet represented by Sheet1.

1. Click on the Sheet2 tab. 2. A blank spreadsheet opens. 3. Click on Sheet 3. 4. Another blank spreadsheet opens.

You can compare these worksheets to the pages in a notebook. Like a notebook has many pages, a workbook can contain many worksheets. A worksheet is also called a spreadsheet.

This feature enables you to create separate spreadsheets for all related topics in one common Excel file. For example, the Class9_results.xls file can hold separate worksheets for the First Terminal Examination Results, Second Terminal Examination Results etc.

Note: By default, an excel file or workbook has three worksheets. However, as you work along, you can add as many worksheets as you want to the workbook. You can also delete existing worksheets form a workbook.

Let’s rename the first worksheet as First Terminal Examination Results.

To rename a worksheet,

1. Double click on the tab. 2. The name Sheet1 is selected. 3. Enter the new name First Term Exam Results to overwrite the previous name Sheet1.

Here are some more ways you can manipulate a worksheet.

To Copy a worksheet in Excel 2007

1. Right click on the worksheets. 2. A dialog box opens. 3. In the Before Sheet section, click on the sheet before which you want to put the new sheet. 4. Click ok.

To Insert a worksheet

In Excel 2007 click the insert sheet button which is located next to the worksheets (at bottom beside sheet1, sheet2 etc.)

To Move a Worksheet

Click on the sheet tab and drag it to the desired location.

To Delete a Worksheet

To delete a sheet in Excel 2007, use the right click menu > and delete button.

To Open and Close a Workbook in Excel 2007

1. Click Office button > open.


1. Click Quick access toolbar > Open. 2. Select the workbook to be opened and click open. 3. The workbook opens.


Now look at your spreadsheet. Do you notice how it is neatly divided into a grid of horizontal rows and vertical columns?

FACT: A spreadsheet contains 256 columns and 65,536 rows.

The point of intersection of a column and a row is called a cell. It is the basic unit of a worksheet. This is where you enter, calculate, manipulate and analyse data such as numbers and text. Each cell can contain text, values, or a mathematical formula.

Cell Label

A cell has a unique address, or “cell reference”, which is composed of the coordinates of the intersection of a column and a row.

Each column is identified by an alphabet on the top of the worksheet – A, B, C. Each row is identified by a number on the left side of the grid – 1, 2, and 3. These letters and numbers of the columns and rows are called labels.

You can easily locate a cell by its label. For example, a cell located at the intersection of the fourth column i.e. Column D, and third row i.e. Row 3 will have the address D3.

Activity: In your spreadsheet, locate the cells B2, E9, L13.

Active cell

Active cell is the cell currently selected for either data entry or editing. You can identify it by the heavy black border, with a small square in the lower corner that surrounds it. John begins his work by selecting cell A1. To make cell A1 your active cell,

1. Click inside the cell A1. 2. A black border will appear around it, distinguishing it from other cells.

Entering Information (Text and numbers) into cells

Having learnt about the Worksheets and Workbooks John wants to now use Text to display non-numerical information like names of students and numbers to display the marks obtained in the second terminal examination.

To enter text / numbers in a cell, Select a cell and start typing.


• To move to the cell below the active cell, press Enter. • To move to the cell adjacent to the active cell, press Tab.

Activity: Type the following information in your spreadsheet.

• Ensure that the first cell A1 is selected.

• Now type: Second Terminal Examination Results

• As you go along you will notice that a blinking cursor appears in front of every character that you type. Also, notice that your text appears in the formula bar, too.

• After you have finished typing, press Enter.

• The current cell becomes deselected, and the outlined border now moves to the cell below it, A2.

Another thing that you notice is that the last portion of the text in cell A1 appears to flow over the column A into the adjacent cells in columns B, C and D. In fact, if you look closely, the common borders between the cells seem to have disappeared. Don’t worry. Your text is safely in cell A1.

• Now type the following in the corresponding cells:

Cell A1 – “Second Terminal Examination Results ”

Cell A2 – “Roll No”

Cell B2 – “Name”

Cell C2 – “English (100)”

Note: `

• The text / numbers appear in the formula bar, too.

• Although the last portion of the text in a cell A1 appears to flow over column A into the adjacent cells in columns B, C and D, don’t worry. The borders between the cells have not disappeared. Your text is safe in cell A1.

Adjusting Columns

If you find that text in cell C2 is overflowing into cell D2,

1. Move the mouse pointer over to the C column label.

2. Carefully place the mouse over the common border between columns C and D. The pointer changes to a two headed arrow.

3. Press the left mouse button and slowly drag to the right.

4. Column C gradually widens.

5. Release the mouse button.

6. Column C becomes wide enough to enclose the entire text in it, and all columns in front of it shift to the right.

7. Type the text shown against each of the remaining cells. Do not forget to press Tab after typing each text item.

8. After you have entered text in the various cells, adjust their column width to show all the typed content.

Consider these issues when creating a worksheet:

• Which items are data, numbers that you will type

• What do you want to calculate from the data

• Which number are constants and used in a variety of calculations

• What arrangement in the columns and rows will make it easiest for you and your intended audience to work with the spreadsheet?

The suggested order for entering data in a spreadsheet is:

• Type the text information to create a structure.

• Type the data.

• Create formulas, using cell references to do calculations on the data.

• Format the text, numbers to make it easier to read.

Flat Iron Mat

Spare your furniture from scorch marks and the fiery plates of your flat iron by using a  mat  to protect your home and your trusty hair tool from damage. A flat iron  mat  may not seem too necessary, but once you learn about their multiple uses you’ll find yourself wondering why you hadn’t purchased one sooner.

Flat iron  mats  are incredibly useful whether protecting your furniture or keeping your hair iron in top condition. There’s an endless array of hair iron  mats  for you to choose from but there are three main types that you’ll need to know about before deciding on which one suits you best.

The first is the basic heat  mat  which closely resembles a mouse  mat  since they’re also flat and floppy. Although they’re very plain, these basic heat  mats  accomplish what they’re designed for and you can find many funky styles that could make them a bit more interesting. But if you’re a no-nonsense kind of gal then this simple but functional  mat  is for you.

Next is the multi-use  mat  which aside from acting as a regular heat  mat  also serves as a protective casing for your hair iron. Many women don’t have the time to wait around for their hair iron to cool down before storing it, so this multi-use  mat  is ideal for safe storing that will keep the hot hair iron off your furniture and away from other family members who could unknowingly burn themselves with the fiery plates.

Last comes the carrying heat  mat  which is perfect for travellers and people always on the move. Carrying  mats  are much like multi-use  mats  but with extra features such as pockets for the cord or other styling accessories. These carrying  mats  can be used as a regular heat  mat  so that you can safely rest your flat iron while you straighten or style your hair, and once you’ve finished all you have to do is roll the  mat  around the hot iron for safe storing and be on your way.

But the usefulness of these fantastic heat  mats  doesn’t stop there. Aside from protecting the surfaces in your home and acting as a safe storage for your hair iron, they can also be used to clean the plates of your iron to keep your favourite hair tool free from gunk. So to save your home from scorch marks and to protect your flat iron from greasy build-ups and scratches, use a heat  mat  for your own comfort and convenience.

How to Control Dust Mites in Your Carpet Using X-Mite Anti-Allergen Carpet Cleaning Treatment

The carpets on our floors are a perfect environment for collecting dust mites and other common household allergens. Dust, pollen, dirt, crumbs, and other debris fall onto the floor and are caught in the fibers of the carpet. Since dust mites feed on shed human skin (a major component of household dust) carpeting provides a banquet table set for a feast for dust mites. As people walk on the carpet, they stir up the settled bits of allergen, causing them to become air-borne. Once air-borne, they are easily inhaled and trigger an allergic reaction.

Most advice for setting up an allergen proof room includes the removal of all carpeting and rugs. The reason for this advice is that it is impossible to clean carpet. You can certainly pay companies to clean your carpets, you can rent a carpet cleaning machine and do it yourself, you can buy one of hundreds of carpet cleaning products, but none of these really cleans the carpet. It is true that any of these methods of carpet cleaning; will remove some of the soil and make the carpets look cleaner. But the carpet will not be clean and the allergens will not be removed or neutralized. You can think of it this way, suppose you took a heavy sweater or shirt (with lots of thick fibers) and threw it down on the floor and walked on it for 6 months. It would get pretty dirty, right? Then suppose you splashed the dirty shirt/sweater with some warm soapy water and then vacuumed the water out with a wet vacuum extraction system. Do you think that sweater would be clean? Of course not, and neither are your carpets after using any of the numerous methods of carpet cleaning. This is why people with allergies or asthma are told to get rid of carpet.

But what if you live in a situation that prohibits the removal of the carpet? If you live in a rental or are not in a financial position to replace the carpet with hard flooring then you need an alternative. That alternative is to focus on the allergens in the carpet and target their destruction.

Allergy is caused by a defect in the human immune system whereby harmless bits of benign proteins are mis-identified and the immune system is called into action when it is not necessary. Stopping the allergic reaction depends on stopping the exposure to the allergy causing protein. In the case of dust mites and carpets, the dust mites and their feces contain a protein (Der f1 in the US and Der p1 in Europe) that collects in the carpets. Since we have already established that you can’t clean the carpet to remove this protein another approach must be taken.

Luckily, proteins can be denatured (or deactivated) by the use of extreme heat, acids, or alkalis. Once the protein has been denatured, it will not cause the allergic reaction. The protein remains, but its structure has changed. This is exactly what happens when you cook an egg white. The white starts out as a liquid made up of about 40 different proteins, when you apply heat the amino acids that make up the proteins change structures and make new bonds. To our eyes, the eggs looks cooked but what has really happened is that the protein has been denatured.

It is not practical to apply such extreme temperatures directly to carpet. The temperature required to denature the proteins would destroy the carpet. So that leaves acids and alkalis in our tool box.

X-Mite Anti-Allergen Carpet Cleaning Treatment Powder made by Alkaline Laboratories harnesses the power of the acids in tannins to denature the allergy causing proteins. Tannic acid is found in woods like oak, mahogany, and redwood. It is also found in tea. Alkaline Labs uses a patented process to convert this into a 3% tanacetane formulation which is highly effective in denaturing proteins from animals, molds, pollens and dust mites. They combine this denaturing agent with a water-based solution of surfactants that also absorbs some soil. The result with X-Mite anti-allergen powder is that the proteins are denatured and thereby made harmless and some soil is removed making the carpets appear cleaner.

To use X-Mite anti-allergen carpet cleaning treatment powder, you sprinkle the moist powder on the carpet. Because it is not a fine, dry powder it comes out in clumps which need to be swept into the carpet with a broom. This also causes the active agents to be worked further into the fibers, allowing for more effective denaturing action. After about 3 hours, the carpets are vacuumed to remove the powder and absorbed soil. It is not necessary to move furniture and treat under furniture.

The manufacturer recommends that you always test their product on a small hidden area of the carpet before you use it. The concern is that any prior chemicals or cleaners that you have used might interact with the tanacetane and cause a reaction that might stain or discolor the carpet.

I am fortunate that I have been able to remove all the carpeting from my home. It certainly has made a difference in the control of my allergies. However, until I was able to remove the carpets, X-Mite anti-allergen dust mite carpet powder was an important part of my allergy control regimen in my home.

Contemporary Area Rugs – A Room Transformer

Everyone loves showing off their house. Some of us enjoy the old fashion look of an elegant well kept house; others are looking for the more contemporary and ultra modern style that is on the cusp of fashion. Contemporary area rugs can go a long way into achieving the modern look you are after. The problem is there are so many choices and options that deciding on the right one can be a chore. This article will help you decide exactly the type of area rug you need in your home.

What pattern will you use? Will you use a solid color rug? What color does the pattern need to be in? There are many questions that can be very frustrating when deciding on your rug. The best place to start is with the furniture. If you already have furniture, then look to it in helping you decide on your area rug. Solid colored furniture will lead to more freedom in your selection, because you can match a color in the pattern to the furniture, or choose a solid colored rug with a complimentary color to fit in. Patterned furniture can cause a tougher rug choice, but consider that you can always go the eclectic way and use a bunch of mismatched pieces to create a fresh and new look that just fits.

Before selecting your modern area rug, you should consider a few things. Foot traffic is a big one, if lots of people will be walking over the rug then choosing one that is durable and high quality is more important than that delicate masterpiece that will get ruined. The shape is important, because an odd or unique shape can turn your rug into the focal point of your entire room. If you have not purchased furniture yet, then you could start with the rug and use that to decide the furniture instead of the other way around.

The available options are sometimes overwhelming. First is the shape. Area rugs are available in shapes like oval, square, rectangle, or do you order a custom shape that fits a perfect set of dimensions in your home? The fabrics as well can be frustrating. Do you use a synthetic fabric such as acrylic, olefin, faux silk, nylon or something that is natural like flax, cotton, wool, jute or even sea grass? The construction is another important factor. Area rugs can be hand-knotted, flat woven, braided, hand hooked, hand tufted, or machine made.

As you can see there are a lot of tough choices that go into selecting your contemporary area rug. You want it to be stylish and compliment your home perfectly. Make sure you consider all the options, the size, the make, and the construction. Ensure your rug will fit in with the furniture or go the eclectic way and make something stunning. A little research will help you make your home beautiful and memorable for all your friends to see.

Fence Cleaning and Maintenance

Fence maintenance can be frustrating if you are not sure how to clean a fence. Regardless if you’re looking for tips on how to clean a vinyl fence, wood fence, chain link fence or steel & aluminum fences; This article should teach you everything you need to know for proper fence maintenance. Each section will explain the materials needed for cleaning your fence, how to clean your fence, level of difficulty (based on a 1-5 scale with 1 being easy and 5 being hard) and the recommended time frames for cleaning… Let’s get started.


Materials Needed:

* Water hose

* bucket of soapy water or spray bottle of vinyl cleaning solution.

* Soft cloth rags

* Soft scrub brush (for tougher stains or dirt)

Level of Difficulty:

* 2 – Vinyl fencing is relatively easy to clean but can require a little “elbow grease” or extra scrub for some tougher stains and dirty spots.

Recommended Time Frame for Cleaning a Vinyl Fence:

* For maximum results; you should clean your vinyl fence at least once every 3 – 6 months.


A few reasons why you would need to clean your vinyl fence would be: dirt and/or grass from the ground accumulating on the fence due to cutting the grass, leaves or other debris after a storm and rarely; you will notice a type of chalk build up develop on parts of the vinyl fence. These reasons are not major and are easily cleaned as explained below.

The majority of vinyl fences can be cleaned very easily by just spraying the fence down with a water hose; however, if there are some tough stains that a water hose does not take care of, just follow the method below and your fence will look brand new every time you clean it!

To prepare for cleaning a vinyl fence, you will want to decide if you are going to use a bucket of soapy water or a vinyl cleaning solution (can be purchased at your local hardware store) or a combination of both. If you are using a bucket of soapy water, you will want to fill the bucket with water to your desired amount and mix an environmentally safe cleaning solution in the bucket. (TIP: If it is environmentally safe,… It is vinyl fence safe)

After you have your bucket of soapy water, all you must do now is get your soft cloth rag wet via the water in the bucket and wipe down the areas of the fence that need wiped down. If you are using a spray bottle of vinyl cleaning solution, just spray the areas of the fence that need cleaned and wipe with a dry soft cloth rag. When you are finished cleaning an area of the fence, rinse it off with a water hose and allow it to air dry.


Materials Needed:

* Water Hose or Power Washer (for deep cleaning and removing old paint)

* Wood Stain, NOT PAINT (desired color)

* Bleach or wood cleaning solution

* Plastic Sheets (to protect grass under fence) OPTIONAL

Level of Difficulty:

* 4 or 5 – Cleaning a wood fence can be a little easier than our mentioned level of difficulty depending on the type and amount of cleaning that will be taking place.

Recommended Time Frame for Cleaning a Wood Fence:

* For maximum results we recommend that you clean/re-stain your wood fence once every 3-5 years.


IF you have a cedar fence, you may notice that it will begin to turn a grayish color or the paint/stain will begin to lose its brightness and regardless of what kind of wood fence you have, you may notice a mold begin to develop on the fence. This section of the article will explain how to take care of these problems and get your wood fence looking new again!

If you decided to use plastic sheeting to protect your grass, you will want to lay that on the ground underneath the fence prior to starting any cleaning. (Using plastic sheeting will protect your grass from any harmful chemicals that may be in the cleaning solutions).

A mixture of “1 part bleach and 2 parts water” is very common when cleaning wood fences; however, you may also purchase wood cleaning solution from your local hardware store. What you will want to do first is apply the cleaning solution to the fence and allow it to soak in until you notice that the fence is becoming brighter and/or clean. You will then want to spray the fence off with a water hose (use a power washer for removing old paint or tough stains – make sure power washer is on the widest spray setting and held about 12 inches away from fence).

After the fence has been cleaned and sprayed off you will want to allow it to air dry. If it still needs cleaning in certain spots after it dries, repeat the above mentioned process. Once the fence is clean and dry you are ready to apply a strain. (If you do not wish to stain a certain color, you can use a wood sealant to ensure that the fence will look new for a long time). NOTE: DO NOT USE PAINT ON YOUR WOOD FENCE, INSTEAD USE A STAIN.

Properly apply the strain and allow the stain to dry. Your wood fence should now look beautiful and brand new. If you apply this process at least every 3 – 5 years, your wood fence will look beautiful and brand new for a long time!


Materials Needed:

* Water hose

* Soft scrub brush

* Bucket of soapy water OPTIONAL

Level of Difficulty:

* 1 – Cleaning metal fences such as chain link, steel and aluminum is very easy and does not require much time/effort to complete.

Recommended Time Frame for Cleaning a Metal Fences:

* For maximum results, we recommend that you clean your metal fences once a year or as needed.


If you want to give your children a chore to do around the house, now is the time. Cleaning a chain link, steel or aluminum fence is very easy and can be performed by almost anyone. Most of the time you can clean your metal fence by simply spraying it off with a water hose; however, if you come across some tough stains or areas that need a little scrubbing, the following advice should do the trick.

First you will want to prepare a bucket of soapy water. To do this, simply fill a bucket with warm water and mix with any cleaning solution that will not increase chances of rust development. You will then want to take your soft bristle scrub brush and dip it in the soapy water. After the brush is wet, simply scrub the areas of the fence that need cleaning and rinse by spraying off with a water hose… Its that easy.

Types of Accommodations – What Does This Mean to You?

When booking accommodation, the term “hotel” is the most common generalized term. The type of accommodation you want to choose would depend mainly on the purpose of travel & your budget.

A hotel’s primary mission is to offer a comfortable room to sleep and usually to offer other services such as meals or recreation. Most hotels offer private sleeping rooms with bathrooms, front desk services, luggage services, food & beverage services and guest services. They may also offer commercial services to business travelers, including a business center, electronic devices and multi-line phones. Depending on class of hotel, they may have one to five or more F&B outlets.

The following hotel descriptions will give you an idea of few of their features & benefits.

Airport Properties

Situated close to airports, these hotels cater to the business traveler or leisure traveler with long “lay-over” in an airport en-route to another destination. These hotels are also being used to hold meetings, conventions, seminars especially when participants are flying from different locations.

Ex: KIA lodge, Near Kilimanjaro Airport.

All-suites hotels

These are like small apartments with a bedroom, living room with limited kitchen facilities. Some all-suites hotel may include microwaves, coffee makers and small refrigerators. Living room will include pull out sofa and desk. These hotels fall into the luxury and mid-range category and cater to the corporate travelers whose stay is a week or more.

Boutique Hotels

Smaller hotels that offer unique personalized services.

Conference centres

Generally conference centres are upscale (first-class) properties catering to corporate clients meetings. Usually pricing is inclusive of food, beverage and conference services. The meeting rooms have been designed to accommodate special needs of 10-15 attendees.

Convention Centres

Part of, or adjacent to, large hotels, these centres have extensive meeting facilities and large exhibition halls. They cater to large meetings and trade shows and generally are mid-range to upper-range.

Extended stays

This type of hotel is quickly becoming popular on the market. They are designed for corporate travellers who are on a long-term assignment and desire more home-like accommodation. In some situations, the traveler’s families will also be staying with them. These facilities may also be located in resort areas and cater to senior travelers who require more than a standard hotel room for a month or more. This type of traveler may need full service but is unwilling to pay the All-suite costs.

Limited Service

Some hotels provide basic sleeping rooms and minimal food service outlets such as breakfast buffet and coffee and non-alcoholic drink vending machines. Services such as laundry, business centres, exercise facilities etc are not provided.


These services are generally smaller and cater to people traveling by car (Motor hotel = motel). They may or may not have a F&B outlet but often will have a café that accommodates breakfast, lunch and dinner. The front desk covers check-in, check-out guest services and luggage assistance. Motels are generally located outside of urban centres in suburban or rural areas and are usually lower in price than a hotel.


These are hotels that cater to vacation travelers as well as businesses holding conferences and meetings. Services are all-inclusive so that the guest does not have to leave the premises for any need. They will have F&B outlets, sports facilities, health club, and entertainment, baby-sitting and parking.

Most resorts are luxurious to lavish. Specialties may include seasonal recreation such as skiing and golfing or catering to couples, honeymooners, singles or families.


These are resorts offering health, physical fitness, nutritional advice or just plain pampering. There are tennis courts, swimming pools, hiking trails, beauty salons and specially prepared meals.

The next time when you plan to book accommodation, make sure you specify the exact type of accommodation you are looking for. Your agent would be glad to find you the right pick.

Disney World Accommodations: On-Site Vs Off-Site

There are preferences and there are needs specific to individuals and families that determine whether a particular choice is better over the other. I think the same is true to the Disney World Lodging options as well. For some guests the decision of staying at an on-site property is more convenient, others think the off-site lodging alternatives make much better vacation deals. Either of the choice has its own advantages and disadvantages. So it’s recommended to plan out accordingly and choose the one that meets your specific vacation needs.

I’m a great fan of WDW (Walt Disney World) Resort, and it would be really special for me if I can enjoy the place in accordance with my specific vacation needs. I know that planning is essential, and along with tickets and transportation, accommodation plays an important role in deciding the fate of a Disney World Vacation. In deed it’s our choice of stay (On-Site or Off-Site, at a Disney owned property or at a hotel or villa outside the Resort) that determines the kind of vacation experience we are going to have.

Often the word convenient is associated with all the decisions taken in favor of on-site lodgings at Walt Disney World today. In fact guests staying at an on-site hotel have the advantage of extra perks, such as the Magical Express that takes care of your Airport to Disney World resort or hotel transportations, the Extra Magic Hours (that offers exclusive park hours for resort staying guests only), including Free Transportation facilities between the Parks and WDW hotels. Moreover, being a part of the Resort itself, the on-site (Disney owned and operated) lodging options seem to score an edge over their off-site counterparts when it comes to proximity, themes and the favorite dining plans as well.

On the other hand, the off-site accommodations – be it a luxurious hotel, villa or a vacation home for that matter can be very handy in many special ways. First they are mostly cheaper than a Disney owned hotel room or suite and as such help you save more on your vacation. Also staying at an off-site property is seen as a great opportunity, specially if it is not only the WDW that you are looking for. Unlike the on-site lodgings, the hotels and vacation homes outside the Resort offer much better access to other Orlando attractions as well. In fact the prospects of including Universal Studios or the SeaWorld Parks in the vacation will only doubles-up the excitement.

Whether it’s on-site or off-site, choosing the right vacation-stay is important. Families with special interest need to analyze certain factors prior to finalizing their choice of hotel. Specific vacation essentials such as the size of your budget, the total number of members and kids included in your family, hotel amenities you are looking for and more are to be considered when deciding the hotel or lodging facility.