Ask the Engineer – "Gutter Covers Vs Cleaning the Gutters?"

You see ads for gutter protectors every where telling you that you’ll never have to clean gutters again, but before you buy, think twice. In fact don’t think; do research. The cost of gutter protection can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Since most gutter covers are known for poor performance, it might make more sense to contract a gutter cleaning service several times a year for between $75 to $100 or so. And if indeed you can find a reputable insured company that will service you it’s probably the best way to go. Yet, that may be a difficult challenge; and having someone else or you cleaning your gutters may not be the way to go. Why? Answer: There are several reasons:

1. Not all gutter cleaners do a good job. Rosemary paid $75 to have her gutters cleaned and just three days later they overflowed. Did the contractor do a bad job or did enough leaves fall to clog the downspout? Answer: No way to tell.

2. The fellow Joe hired to clean his gutters didn’t have any insurance. Big problem! Unfortunately there was an accident with the ladder and the fellow sued Joe; and Joe went through a nightmare the fellow’s doctors and Joe’s own insurance company.

3. Claire had a company clean her gutters at an advertised price of $75 but ended up paying $350. The company replaced end caps, drop tubes, elbows and charged her an arm and a leg for every additional service.

4. Jim always cleaned his gutters until his ladder slipped and he ended up falling through his living room bay window and ended up in the hospital with a broken pelvis.

Yes, to avoid these issues, it looks like the smart thing to do is install a gutter protector with a promise to solve clogged gutter problems. But buyer be ware. If you choose the wrong product it can also be nightmarish with flooded basements, mildew, mold, soil erosion, and worse yet the be totally dependent on the installing company as you can no longer access your own gutters to clean them.

So let’s do some research. Basically there are six different types of gutter protection devices:

1. Screening devices which are not really recognized as gutter protection devices. Made of wire, metal, or plastic, they work simply with gravity and require routine ladder maintenance.

2. Filters, membranes, and brushes installed in or on existing gutters. Basically they are not any more effective than screens and require routine ladder maintenance.

3. Fin type with rounded front nose and solid flat top. Their advertising graphics lead you to believe that debris is jettisoned off onto the ground when instead in medium-to-high debris areas enough debris sticks to the surface to clog the gutters. Here you have to depend on the installing company for service. See resource box for photos.

4. Flat solid top with rounded front nose and a trough–fin type with trough. Since the basic fin type fails, the next progression was to add a trough. But it doesn’t take a college graduate to see that debris that goes into the trough (basic screening system) will either clog the trough or break down and pass into the gutter and clog it. See resource box for photos.

5. Flipping type gutter or rain dispersal units. These require removing your gutters and installing either a gutter with a hinge that gets flipped or fins (installed horizontal to the fascia board) to disperse the water. They both look viable until you see them work. The rain dispersal unit doesn’t work in slow rain fall and debris lays on top of it blocking it from working. The flip clean gutter requires a rain coat for when the gutter is full of putrid debris. The flip clean gutters are also known to warp rendering them useless.

6. Rounded front nose with vertical louvered water collectors and a flat solid top. Whereas with the fin type of gutter cover that will pass full sized leaves, the louvers discriminate the size of the debris the gutter cover allows into the gutter. This gutter guard is the only rounded nose type that limits the amount of debris or size of debris that can pass into the gutter.

This one system has proved that gutters can stay free flowing in heavy debris conditions for twenty years; and that’s no small feat. The only downside is that in heavy debris conditions debris can accumulate on the louvers and block them off meaning that some kind of maintenance is required.

Whereas most other products require someone to go up a ladder and clean the gutter or the cover, it can easily be done from the ground using a telescopic pole and brush. Because it’s easy to see where cleaning is required, there’s no guessing where to do the brushing. No rain coats are required (as might be with the flip type gutter) to do this simple task as it can actually be done dressed in a suit and tie.

After all, telling someone, who has to clean his gutters several times during the fall, that no maintenance will be required is like asking the him to believe in Santa Claus.

Why You Should Seriously Consider a Ventless Bathroom Fan

A ventless bathroom fan is the answer to your humidity problem if installing a wall or ceiling ducted model is not a practical option. For example, if you have a bathroom in the basement or if you live in a rental home that does not currently have a fan, why should you have to deal with the odor and the mold that is associated with all of that extra moisture from your shower? It is fair to say that no bathroom should be without some type of fan.


With these types of fans, you do not have to worry about cutting any holes or fitting into walls. Ductless systems require no outside vent and can be installed either on the wall or the ceiling. They feature 12v motors that are traditionally removable so that they can be easily cleaned.

You will also find that installation is a breeze with these units as they usually have tension spring mounting. Not to mention, they often weigh less than five pounds.

Why You Need One

While you may be able to live without a bathroom heater fan, you still need some type of unit in there to help with humidity. When you take a shower, you create steam which leaves you with an abundance of moisture left in the air. Where exactly do you think all of that water goes? It actually has no place to go besides to be absorbed by your wood molding, cabinets, cloth shower curtains, rugs, towels, decorative items or any other absorbent material that you have in the room.

Moisture that lingers in a bathroom that has no ventilation promote the growth of mildew and mold and you should know that these are living, growing organisms. Additionally, moisture from your shower creates another serious problem with your wood in the room being that it rots it which will cause a larger home improvement project in the long run when you have to start replacing moldings, etc. Not to mention, the smell of mold as it continues to get moist and grow over time is anything but pleasant.

Whenever possible, your goal is to install an extractor fan that is manufactured by a trusted company such as Greenwood, Silavent or Xpelair that comply with all building regulations. However, if you absolutely cannot add the duct work to your bathroom, a ventless bathroom fan is your next best option.

Bathroom Fans: Fan Size, Extract Rate and Decibel Level

Bathroom Fans come in many shapes and sizes, from round to square, and in 4″, 5″, 6″, 9″ and even 12″ versions. They are generally white or chrome, although other colours are available. Many people just pop down to a local store and pick up the first fan they see, but there are a few things you should consider about bathroom fans before you buy.

What size fan do you need? For most bathrooms, a 4″ (100mm) fan is sufficient, and is indeed the standard. If you are looking to replace an existing bathroom fan, and don’t know what size it is, don’t measure the front! The measurement is taken from the back of the fan, and it is the diameter of the spigot, or pipe, which protrudes from the back of the fan that needs to be measured. If you can’t remove the fan, (you should get a qualified electrician to do it) it is probably a 4″ one. A 6″ extractor fan is not normally required for a bathroom. They are generally more powerful and only required for kitchens.

In my opinion, the 2 most important things you should be looking at are the extract rate of the fan, and the decibel level of the fan. Obviously the best scenario is a very powerful fan with a very low decibel level. These seem to be the 2 factors in a fan which are overlooked the most! A lot of people seem to go just on looks, and think that all fans are basically the same….big mistake! 4″ fans range from an extract rate of 54m3 per hour (the minimum level required by building regulations) up to 118m3 per hour. For a standard bathroom I’d recommend anything from around 75m3 per hour, and if you take lots of baths or showers, creating lots of condensation, then anything above 90m3 per hour should so the job.

But as I say, look out for the decibel level of the fan, as a noisy fan can be particularly annoying, especially when you are having a nice relaxing bath! As a guide, anything below 25dB is considered very quiet. 35 dB would be classified as mid-range, and 45dB or above noisy.

Another thing that could be taken into consideration is the amount of energy that a bathroom fan uses. These days, you can get what are often classified as “low-watt” bathroom fans, with energy usage levers of 5-10 watts. However, even an old fashioned bathroom fan usually uses no more than 30w, and when you consider how short a time they are usually on for, the cost difference in running these fans is only pence per month. I wouldn’t focus on this is a major point to consider in your purchase.

Easy Ways to Fix a Stubborn Roof Leak

Learn the tips used by Professional Roofing Contractors

The telephone rang at 2:00 in the morning. When the telephone rings at this time, it usually means trouble, this time, it was exception. The frantic voice at the other end was claiming that his home ceiling was falling – literally. All the rain that had fallen for the last two days had turned a small roof leak into a water fall. The customer was requesting emergency roof services, at 02:00 AM, to stop in the middle of a rainy morning. He was not happy when I explained that it would not be safe to tackle the roof in the darkness. The lesson in here is “do not wait for rain to fix your roof leak!”


Common Places Leaks Occur in Roofing

This article will give the necessary knowledge to locate a roof leak. It will also tell you the best way to get your roof repaired. Portions of the roof vulnerable to leakage are the joints between the roof and the roof mounted structures, such as the chimney. The joint between the roof and a vertical wall; and the joint between two slopping sections – valleys.

While roof leaks are common in many homes, the basic locations are the skylights, ice dams, wall step flashings, missing shingles, plumbing vent flashing, chimneys, fields of shingles, and furnace or B-vent flashings. As common areas, many homeowners struggle to find the exact location when it comes to roof repairs.

Leaks can occur anywhere on the roof and for any number of reasons. Severe weather which brings rain, snow, wind and hail are hard on the roofs. Some roofs leak because they are plain worn out.


Tips to find the source of the roof leak

People usually notice the roof leak after the water begins to drip through the ceiling. However, the source of the leak is rarely directly above the water stain. These tips will help you locate the sources of a roof leak:

  • In the attic, start above the ceiling leak and follow the water stains on the deck to the potential source. Watch for a ray of sunlight to indicate a nail hole.
  • Have a friend hose down the roof while you watch the leak from the inside of the attic.
  • If you find a hole, mark the location by using a wire hanger through the hole. Make sure your friend is able to locate the wire hanger on the top of the roof.
  • When you look for leak on asphalt shingles, start by looking for worn out shingles with dark patches in them. This indicates loss of surface granules. Look also for curled and damaged shingles.
  • Look also for broken or missing shingles.
  • On a roof with a valley, clean out all debris accumulated in the valley. Search for broken or missing flashing material.

How to identify leak stains and Their Locations

An identifiable stain is the mold or moisture around the vents, chimneys, and skylights. These are the intersections in which water connects. After finding the leaking locations, it’s important to move perishable items such as electronics, furniture, and other home appliances as well as catching the leak in a bucket. We have seen the movies in which buckets are located every other foot in the home; do not let this happen to your roof. Identifying the stains and locations are the first steps to saving your home from damaged goods by simple leaks. Your roofing contractor will explain the necessary requirements to ensure your possessions are safe while checking the condition of the ceiling before repair.


Simple Emergency Repairs to Reduce Leakage

Taking preventive measures will save you money in expensive roofing repairs. Consider checking and fixing simple issues if your roofing contractor notices leakage from your shingles, cracks in your chimney, or degraded flashings. Fix roof leaks right away. It is not recommended that you do the roof repair yourself due to its complexity and the required knowledge of its repairs – besides, it is dangerous. Call a certified and insured roofing contractor who will provide the best insight of taking care of your roof as well as explain the procedures that are used to remove leaks and secure your investment.


Implementing Temporary Protection:

If you are not afraid of heights and are handy with tools, you can do some temporary roof repairs. A little bit of tar, few roofing nails, and some flashing can get rid of small annoying leaks. Some cases such as the one mentioned below is a simple, easy-to-do repair you can complete to remove stubborn leaks.


Water flowing inside the flat surface of the deck – Simple Roof Repairs: 

Take a small pry bar to remove the shingle in question then layer a thick hint of tar across the area. Nail the shingle back down then cover the entire shingle in tar. If you cannot use the same nail holes, place tar within and on top of the holes to prevent leakage through the deck. Before you are done, place another thin layer of tar on the underside of the shingles just for safe-keeping. You should see a change in the area and the leak should end after the tar is applied properly.


Simple Ways to Limit the Damage

Roofing repairs can be an expensive investment for any homeowner. You can limit the damage to your home by taking action early. If you feel that your home is in need of an assessment from a roofing professional, take the time to consult someone who understands the ordeals. A simple phone call to your local roofing contractors can land you in the right position to pinpoint future problems. Home improvements including replaced shingles, flashings, and decks can complicate the process. If you are not a roofing professional, do not try to attempt complex projects on your own. Be safe. Let a professional take a look, provide an estimate, and get the job done right with quality materials. Consider this investment a long-term agreement for a happy home.

Van Storage Ideas to Start a Mobile Locksmith Business

Starting your own mobile locksmith business is a great opportunity as an entrepreneur, and protecting your inventory and equipment with proper van storage will improve the overall return on your investment as you begin your business.

Outfit your van properly, and you will be more organized, efficient, and committed to your work. It’s frustrating trying to accomplish a task when you have to search around a haphazardly arranged van arrangement to find the right tools or supplies.

You don’t need to buy a brand new van to start your mobile locksmith business; however, it would be a wise investment to spend some time and money on the storage ideas that will help you do your job more efficiently. Some of the higher vans allow you to actually move around inside and sit at a workbench while cutting keys, without the risk of banging your head whenever you need to locate a tool.

Here are three things to consider when selecting van storage systems for your locksmith business.

Plan Van Storage Space for a Workbench

Since you are a mobile locksmith business, plan your storage space with a workbench in mind. Don’t settle for standing outside, at the rear doors of your van. Put yourself inside your mobile office and get yourself out of the weather to do your work in comfort. Take time to measure out your space and find the best location for a workbench and a step stool for comfort. A good mobile workbench allows for six or seven feet of space to spread out and accomplish your tasks.

A full-length workbench can accommodate a key machine as well as file storage and the locking drawers necessary for your keys and other supplies. Maximize the storage space at your workbench by including catalog organizers, hooks, safety equipment and other accessories that will make your job easier.

Van Storage Should Include Locking Drawers

There is nothing more annoying than listening to hundreds of key blanks jangling like loud wind chimes while you are driving down the road. Storing your product in well-cushioned, locking drawers is a wise use of your cargo area. The keys will be protected from “road rash” marks from rubbing against each other or other items.

Locking drawers as part of your storage space will also protect you from flying objects if you need to stop or swerve suddenly. Plus, it looks very professional to have drawers full of your product, categorized and ready to use.

Van Storage is Best Organized with Adequate Shelving

One of the most important storage concepts is to determine your shelving needs. What tools and equipment will you need for your mobile locksmith business? What storage location of these tools will make your work most efficient?

Look at your van as a mobile work cell, and set it up as efficiently as possible. You will accomplish your service calls faster, and will be able to make more service calls throughout the day because your van storage plan has helped you become efficient.

Advantages of Online Art Galleries

People are generally too busy these days to do even routine tasks and just want to rush back home after work to relax. One has to be an art enthusiast to spare time to visit an exhibition. Moreover, if there are two or more exhibitions at the same time, you will rarely be able to attend both, no matter how much you wish you could. Obviously, you would have to give one exhibition a miss and find solace in the joys of the other.

Thankfully, purchasing methods for art have evolved over the centuries. Today, cyberspace is the most popular and the latest platform for art browsing, auctioning, selling, and of course buying. For the modern art buyer, it is very exciting to move around online art galleries.

Art lovers have the opportunity to see many more pieces and to appreciate them at their own leisure rather than visiting a traditional gallery. There is also the advantage of discretion on an auction and sale websites as it is much easier to make a bid and to buy an item. Generally, the rules for selling and purchasing remain the same, but the purchaser should be internet-savvy to understand the system properly. Every online gallery provides useful tips for buying and selling, even if you are new to the process.

A large number of quality artworks is received by the galleries from across the world. Superb works from renowned artists that will increase the range of your collection are easily obtainable. The purchase would take place directly between the buyer and the seller, but galleries also provide assistance to obtain artwork directly from the artists. Their website links and email addresses are noted under their respective works.

Get yourself listed with the gallery so that they can send you updated emails of future events. Previews of an artist’s work can also be forwarded through email so you can have a look at some pieces at your leisure. A full record of earlier exhibitions and paintings is also maintained for your reference. In the event of exhibitions being held simultaneously, you can go online to find out where and how you can attend these exhibitions in person. These online websites allow you to surf at your convenience and, after all, an online art gallery does not have a closing time.

The possibility of dealing with fake art pieces is less likely because you are dealing with artists directly and many of these artists have their own websites where they exhibit their work. Because of the advantages posed by the Internet, auction houses have their online galleries with artworks of renowned artists. Throughout the world, a large number of people visit these galleries every day, giving artists more exposure and making it possible for artists to be contacted by prospective buyers on an international level. Online galleries are also optimized so that search engines can locate the artists and exhibits without difficulty.

When a deal is finalized, artworks are usually delivered directly to buyers through different forms of delivery services. Due to the reputability of selected art websites, art lovers deal with them regularly. As a safety measure, proof that it is the artist’s original work is also provided on completion of sale.

Which Wood is Best For Outdoor Furniture – Teak Or Cedar?

If you are looking to landscape your backyard, reinvigorate your tired porch or patio, or even create a warm and welcoming living area out of that new deck, you may need some new furniture.  After all what good is having a great place to entertain if your guests don’t feel comfortable while they’re there?  When you need a few chairs to fill some space on the porch, or that plush, comfortable, deep seating sofa for the veranda, chances are that Teak or Cedar will be your best choice for this outdoor living furniture.  Which to choose will depend on a variety of factors however most importantly you will need to consider the look you are hoping to achieve, maintenance required, and the price you can expect to pay in order find the best fit. So read below and you’ll be lounging by your new poolside bar in a new sun lounger in no time at all!

The Look

One of the most important features of any new furniture is the appearance that it gives off.  Is your outdoor patio living space better suited for a rustic appeal or luxurious contemporary style?  Perhaps neither.  Maybe just a simple, yet warm, elegance speaks to you more.  But whether you’re looking to create a fun, relaxing environment with a pool side bar and some sun loungers or a simple conversational seating area you will have many choices with both Teak and Cedar.

Cedar usually has a very natural look, accenting your living area with soft red, light brown, and gray tones.  Lightweight and porous, cedar can easily accept a stain, sealer, or even paint, but most commonly is left in a raw finely sanded finish to preserve its natural look, feel, and smell.  Cedar is aromatic by nature which not only adds to the ambiance of a relaxing evening, but also helps preserve and protect the wood from insects and weather.

Teak is almost the polar opposite of cedar in terms of just about everything.  Teak is by nature a hardwood and as such, is more dense and heavy than cedar.  Grown exclusively in subtropical and tropical regions, and most commonly in the dense jungle of Indonesia and other Asian countries, teak is almost always imported and therefore is also more rare.  As a result of the exoticism associated with teak furniture it has achieved a perception of rarity and wealth and thus portrays a look of luxury and prestige.   Teak outdoor furniture is commonly purchased in one of two ways.  It can either be oiled, to achieve a darker “stained” look, or it can be left in its natural unfinished state where it will gracefully age and turn a soft patina gray color.  This color, unique to teak furniture, contributes to its exotic appeal.


Another very important factor to consider when deciding to purchase outdoor patio furniture is the level of maintenance that you wish to employ in living with your new furniture.  Luckily the maintenance factor, or lack of, is one of the main reasons that both teak wood and cedar wood are top choices of furniture manufacturers and consumers. 

Cedar, by nature is a very resilient wood whose properties help to resist weather of all climates but specifically heavily climates with heavy precipitation.  Snow, sleet, and rain are no concern for the long lasting properties of cedar, which will maintain its brilliance for many years.  This is one of the reasons why leaving cedar furniture in a sanded unfinished state is by far the most popular finish.  Like with many other woods though, some wish to finish their cedar furniture to achieve an altogether different look.  Several refinishing options are listed below in order of popularity.

  1. Stain – many prefer the finished look of a nice stain on their outdoor furniture.  The benefits of using a stain include being able to change the color of the furniture to virtually any color for which stain is available.  Stains are now offered in many shades through the dark to light color spectrum.  The stain may also provide a slight protection from the elements although with cedar it’s not really necessary and so mainly should just be used to alter the color.  The disadvantages of stain are that in order to maintain the original stained look, the stain needs to be reapplied every 2-3 years as the stain itself is not as resilient against the suns UV rays and weather elements as the wood is.
  2. Sealer – some prefer to “lock in” the natural look of their cedar furniture and so choose to use a high end sealer.  Sealers are made by many companies and are available at any hardware or big box store.  The sealer will prevent the cedar patio furniture from fading and will slow down the aging process.  Keep in mind though that this aging is often a desired affect of the cedar.  The downside to sealing the cedar furniture is consistent with the drawback to using a stain.  In order to maintain its effectiveness, it must be reapplied every 2-3 years which can be tedious and cumbersome.
  3. Paint – like any wood surface, cedar can be painted with a fine outdoor wood paint.  This is not as common as staining or sealing the furniture because paint will crack and chip, and also drastically alters the appearance of the furniture from its natural state.  Once the paint cracks and chips the entire painted surface must be completely sanded and repainted, sealed, or stained.

Teak is also a very weather resistant and ultra resilient wood due in part to its propensity to secrete a natural teak oil which helps to self condition it and protect against the harsh demands of a wet and/or humid climate.  Many shipbuilders choose teak as a main wood for the decks of their ships for this very reason.  Many sunken ships have been raised from the depths of the ocean only to show the teak beautifully preserved and in tact.  It’s this property that makes teak more commonly found in its natural unfinished state as there is no functional reason to apply any external finish to the surface.  Some customers however choose to apply additional amounts of this teak oil to achieve a darker more stained look.  While this will preserve the “new” look of the furniture it must be reapplied every 2-3 years to maintain this appearance and so can become burdensome.  Also by leaving the teak in its natural state, the often desired patina gray look is naturally achieved where it cannot be, if a teak oil or other finish is applied to the surface of the furniture.


While price is often a concern for consumers, sometimes it is not such a factor for consumers of wood patio furniture.  As with everything else, price is a measure of perceived value.  The more valuable a product is perceived to be in the mind of the consumer, the more it will cost.  This reason alone is why both teak and cedar patio furniture are generally more expensive than other common outdoor furniture materials such as plastic, wicker, or rattan furniture.  Teak and cedar themselves have a price difference too though which can be quite significant depending on the individual furniture item.  Here’s why.

Cedar – because of its lightweight, proximity, ease to harvest and availability, cedar is the cheaper choice of the two wood furniture types.  While it will last a long time and is very durable, typically teak will last longer.

Teak – for all of the reasons opposite cedar, teak is the more valuable wood.  Simply not having the availability of cedar or other woods helps to create this elite, rare, sort of feeling that teak carries with it, which raises the price.  The purchase of teak furniture is often perceived as a sign of affluence or wealth because teak has a widely known reputation for commanding a higher price.  More expensive to harvest, more expensive to ship, and its long lasting appeal coupled with its novelty together contribute to its higher cost to produce which in turn creates a higher price for the consumer.

In summary, “better” or “best” can only be determined by the customer.  However taking appearance, maintenance, and price into consideration, teak and cedar can easily be compared and contrasted for similarities and differences.  Cedar, the more light weight, commonly used wood makes great patio furniture because of its ability to resist insects, rot, and weather elements (specifically rain, sleet, and snow) and also because it is relatively inexpensive to produce.  Teak, the hardwood of the two, is more exotic, rare, and will last longer.  Therefore, it commands a higher price, but also delivers a greater perceived value in terms of prestige, longevity, and maintenance free ownership experience.

Perfect Baby Shower Idea List For Necessity Type Baby Gifts

Perfect Baby shower idea lists for necessity type baby gifts. By necessity type baby gifts, I mean items which every expecting mother needs. These items are usually reasonably priced, and easy to find. These are necessities parents can never have enough of. But then again, they may have many of these other items already.

So you might want to ask the mother to be if she has the item/s you are going to bring. Or just ask for a list of items she needs. I am sure she will be happy to provide you with such a list. Also remember the guests will probably need a list such as this. It would be a nice gesture to include this list in the shower invitations. This will give them what they need for a baby shower idea gift item.

To help you decide about a shower idea, you are provided a list of items below. These would all be considered necessity gifts. Glance through the list for a baby shower idea or two. You should be able to find something that would translate into a suitable gift.

Perfect Baby Shower Idea List For Basic Necessity Gifts:

  • booties
  • baby bottles
  • caps
  • clothes
  • hangers
  • hats
  • mittens
  • nail clippers
  • baby outfits
  • baby powder
  • baby powder (cornstarch)
  • quilt
  • shampoo
  • scissors
  • sleepers
  • soap
  • socks
  • thermometer
  • towels
  • toys
  • undershirts
  • bibs
  • bottle cozy
  • cloth diaper
  • Crib blankets
  • crib bumpers
  • crib sheets
  • crib toys
  • decorative switchplate cover
  • diapers
  • diaper bag
  • diaper pail
  • diaper pail disinfectant
  • diaper pail liners
  • diaper pins
  • diaper rash cream
  • disposable diapers
  • doorknob covers
  • drawer locks
  • fancy diaper pins
  • feeding spoon/bent spoon
  • first aid kit
  • hair jewelry
  • hooded towel
  • humidifier
  • infant and baby care book
  • infant seat
  • insulated bottle carrier
  • lap pad
  • medicine dropper
  • medicine spoon
  • nasal aspirator
  • outlet plugs
  • plastic pants
  • rattles
  • receiving blankets
  • scooper bowl
  • shock-guards
  • stroller bag
  • tights
  • tipper cup
  • toothbrush
  • tweezers
  • vaporizer

Empty Your Stress-Bucket! Stress-Reduction and Relaxation Techniques

Stress is no stranger in our lives. We all suffer from stress from one degree to another. Unfortunately, negative stress can be devastating to our physical, emotional and mental well-being.

In discussing stress one day with a psychologist, she used a very accurate analogy. She likened stress to water in a bucket. Everyone has a "stress bucket". Some are very deep, some quite shallow. All of the stressful events and occurrences throughout your day, no matter how important or insignificant, are like drops of water slowly filling the bucket. The key to effective stress management is to empty your bucket frequently throughout the day, so that your bucket never overflows. You need to find ways to "empty your bucket"; (relax and de-stress) on a regular basis.

So, what are some of the ways you can incorporate relaxation and de-stressing into your daily routine?

Some may think that watching TV is relaxing. In reality, the constant noise and rapid image movement of television is actually over-stimulating the brain even more. Playing video games or surfing the Internet are equally stimulating activities. Much more effective alternatives are:

1. Ready … Set … Go!

Exercise is one of the best stress-busters there is. A brisk 30 minute walk will do wonders in clearing your mind as well as the physical benefit of releasing endorphins and detoxifying your body of the residual chemicals that stress creates in your body. Walking, jogging, aerobics, swimming and cycling are all great ways to burn off excess energy and reduce stress, effectively emptying your stress-bucket.

2. Ummmm …

Meditation is a very effective relaxation technique. It is not necessary to learn any complicated techniques to benefit from meditation. Simply finding a quiet place with a soothing atmosphere, making yourself comfortable, closing your eyes and freeing your mind of all thought is enough to start out with.

3. Breathe!

Breathing exercises are one of the easiest relaxation methods. You need no special equipment, and you can do it anywhere – in the office, stuck in traffic, walking down the street – anywhere you happen to be. By simply breathing slowly and deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth, making sure that the air is going deep down into your lungs (your abdomen should extend when inhaling, not your chest) you will begin to feel the relaxation effects quite quickly. There are other breathing techniques that you can use as well, but the long, slow, deep breathing method is a good place to start.

5 Most Popular Types of Industrial Equipment

There are many forms of industrial equipment used in the workplace. Industrial equipment is usually large and made of materials such as steel and titanium for optimal strength. These machines are often needed to lift and move materials which may possibly weigh thousands of pounds.

A piece of industrial equipment which is not in working order should never be used for any reason. All equipment is inspected at the beginning of everyday to ensure they are in the best condition for workers.

By now, there are a million pieces of industrial equipment racing through your head but the question is, which ones are the most popular and most crucial to the industrial field? Below you will find five types of industrial equipment which are known to be the masters of all machines in the industrial workplace:

1. Bulldozers – Bulldozers are massive machines which are used mostly in the construction and mining industries. Bulldozers have the ability to lift and move vast amounts of dirt and other debris from one place to another. Bulldozers can operate in many conditions including snow, hail and rain. These pieces of equipment are generally used to dig up the ground and provide room for building houses or other types of buildings.

2. Cranes – Cranes are generally used to transport hard, heavy items from one place to another. The arm of the crane is used to swing the object from one place to another and the arm can be adjusted according to how far the materials need to go. Unlike bulldozers, cranes have the ability to transport objects over uneven levels of ground.

3. Excavators – Excavators are engineering vehicles which consist of backhoes and cabs. They are mainly used in the digging of trenches, foundations and holes. They can also be used to destroy objects which are no longer needed for any reason and in which case need to be compressed and condensed.

4. Fork Lifts – Forklifts are warehouse vehicles which are used to lift, hoist and transport extremely heavy items from one place to another. Forklifts are known to be indispensable pieces of equipment in many industrial workplaces.

5. Compressors – Most of the pieces of equipment listed above are used for construction purposes, however compressors are generally used in more of a factory-type setting. Compressors are used to provide high pressures of air or other forms of gases. These devices can be regulated in order to maintain the desired amount of pressure in the tank.

There are many other forms of industrial equipment. Each piece of equipment is designed to perform a specific task which contributes to the overall success in this field of work. Without these forms of equipment many industrial areas would not exist.

Types Of Pendant Settings

A pendant is any stone, beads or charm that hangs from a necklace. They come in all styles, sizes and shapes. Gemstones are set-placed in a kind of metal frame holding the stone securely. These metal frames are called pendant settings. These can be in platinum, sterling silver, gold and other alloys. Gold is the most common choice because of its durability and attractiveness. Gold is a very precious metal that can show the beauty of any gemstone. If you want your gemstone to be set-placed in a gold setting, you can either ask a jeweler to do it, or you do it yourself; it is relatively easy.

All pieces of jewelry that have gemstones have settings. It is important that you know how to choose the proper setting for your stone, especially if you have a fine jewelry design. Besides the setting’s function of holding your stone securely in place, the pendant setting is also a factor in showing the cut, color/s and clarity of your gemstone.

There are 2 most common types of pendant settings, and there are also variations of these types. The most commonly used types of settings are:

1. Prong Setting – is also called “claw” setting, where the side of the gemstone is reached around by about 4 or 6 talons of gold, sterling silver or other precious metals. The metal then arches over the crown or top of the stone. This position of the metal holds the stone snugly in place. The prongs are mostly rounded, although they may have decorative shapes. The prong is the easiest and the least expensive pendant settings.

2. Bezel Setting – is crafted with precision to hold a stone securely in its place. It is among the oldest methods used in setting gemstones and up to this time remains popular in protecting both the bottom (pavilion) and the middle (girdle) of a stone from scratches and chips. Bezels of the previous days generally embrace the entire circumference of your gemstone. Contemporary bezels have a variation called the “half bezel”, which encircles the stone only partly. These are used for delicate stones like opal.

The Flush Setting is also called “gypsy” setting, and it is a variant of the bezel setting. In this type, into a base, a window is cut and the stone placed into it, secured underneath. This style shows the top of the gemstone reaching over the base, flirting with the light.

There is also the Channel Setting, where 2 bands of precious metal hold multiple stones in place. This style gives the appearance of stones floating in the setting, because the metal cannot be seen in between stones. An example of this setting is the tennis bracelet. A variant of the channel setting is the Bar Settings, which appears as if stones float and are separated by 2 metal bars.

Another setting is the Tension Setting, which pressure is applied to hold a stone between a metal mounting’s 2 open ends. The popular metal in creating tension settings for fine stones is platinum.

Macau Attractions – Seven Romantic Spots in China’s Gambling Capital

Although it is famous for its vivid nightlife, Macau is not usually seen as a “romantic” destination, but thanks to its numerous heritage buildings, old cobblestone alleys and picturesque coved beaches, the territory enjoys its fair share of romantic spots.

This article will guide you through seven places in Macau where you can whisper sweet nothings to your significant other…

  1. Perched on the 61st floor, Macau Tower’s Outdoor Observation Deck is probably the best spot in town to spend the twilight hour. The views from here are simply breathtaking, particularly at dusk, when the flamboyant neon signs of Macau’s casinos start to light up, one after another.
  2. Housed in an old colonial building, right next to Senado Square, La Bonne Heure is a lovely bistro-style restaurant, serving fabulous French cuisine in an elegant surroundings… Curved brick arches and dim lights help to create the cozy atmosphere or which the restaurant is known, while the bar features a more vivid ambience.
  3. Nestled within a family-run boutique hotel, right on Coloane Island’s most picturesque beach, Pousada de Coloane is a small and cozy restaurant, serving homey Portuguese fare in a pleasant and somewhat rustic atmosphere… Be sure to top off your romantic dinner with an arm-in-arm stroll on the beach.
  4. Although it is not exceptionally swanky or glamorous, Ristorante La Gondola makes a perfect choice for a romantic candlelit dinner. Perched along picturesque Cheok Van Beach, on Coloane Island, it has a large terrace, overlooking the ocean, where you can dine alfresco while enjoying the sea breeze. The food here is unpretentious, but solid good, with a decent choice of wood- fired pizzas and homemade ravioli and lovely sangria to complement.
  5. The old Coloane Village is one of those places where time has stood still… A labyrinth of narrow alleyways, lined with tiny Chinese temples, catholic churches and old courtyard houses, where people continue to keep their sleepy lifestyle, just like their forefathers did more than a century ago… Espaco Lisboa, one of Macau’s most romantic restaurants is nestled in one of these old two-story houses and serves homey Portuguese food and fantastic wines in a cozy atmosphere… Make sure you book the balcony well in advance.
  6. Pousada de Sao Tiago is one of Macau’s nicest boutique hotels. Built within the fortifications of an old Portuguese fort, facing the inner harbor, this small hotel is both romantic and characterful. There are three spots here that are worth knowing about: The first is La Paloma Restaurant, which serves fine Spanish cuisine in a swish and intimate interior, the second is Cascata Bar, where you can have your afternoon tea, or sundowner cocktails in an elegant and cozy set up and the third is The Terrace, which to me is the best place in the hotel.
  7. Il Teatro is one of Macau’s most sought after Italian restaurants and definitely one of the most romantic. Located at the swanky Wynn Macau, the restaurant overlooks the famous “Fountain Show”, which is one of its most significant advantages, and serves classic Italian specialties, from decadent pizzas and handmade pastas, to authentic dishes from Southern Italy. As expected, window seats are at a premium here and need to be booked well in advance.

How to Build a Cobblestone House

He huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down – certainly not if the house was built with cobblestones. Building cobblestone houses was a folk art that flourished in upstate New York from 1825 until the Civil War in 1860. Many of the 700+ cobblestone homes that were built survive today, a testament to their fine craftsmanship.

To build your cobblestone house you’ll need 5 main components: cobblestones, soft lime mortar, wood for windows and doors, cut stone blocks for quoins, lintels and sills, and lots of cheap labor. Lets take them one at a time – assuming the cheap labor is you, your family, friends, relatives and anyone else you can convince to do manual labor for $1.00 to $1.50 per day.

The first step is to gather the cobblestones. This may take several years. Cobblestones are small fist-sized stones deposited by the glaciers that swept from the north millennia ago. Rough-shaped ones can be gathered from the farm fields or rounded, lake-washed ones can be gathered along the shore of Lake Ontario. You’ll need over 14,000 cobblestones, so get cracking. As the manly work of stone gathering progresses, the women and children can be kept busy sorting the stones by size and color. You’ll want to use the finest, smoothest, similar-sized stones on the front of your house, and save the rougher, odd-sized ones for the back, sides and interior of the walls.

While this is progressing, you better start preparing the soft lime mortar. Don’t skimp and use Portland cement. It dries too fast and will pop the cobbles out as it dries. Soft lime mortar is made of lime, sand and water. Find limestone (calcium carbonate) or dolomite (magnesium carbonate) and break it into pieces. Burn it within heaps of logs for 2 to 3 days to create quicklime. Add water to the quicklime to create a hydrated lime sludge.

Mix in 5 to 9 bushels of sand to 1 bushel of lime sludge. Age the mortar in a ground pit covered by sand or cow manure for up to a year.

Fell a bunch of trees. They’ll need to be hand-hewn to build the doors and windows – each custom fitted to a specific opening. Also, find a quarry where you can get limestone or sandstone blocks for the corners of your building (quoins) and as structural support over the doors and windows (lintels) and under the windows (sils).

Now the fun begins. Start by laying the stones in walls 18 to 20-inches-thick. Build the wall with rubble stone, faced by cobbles. Use elongated or triangular shaped stones to tie the cobbles to the rubble wall. Use the soft lime mortar as your glue, getting fancy with straight ridges between the horizontal and vertical rows of cobbles. Build about 3 rows (or courses) per day so the mortar has time to slowly begin setting. It will take 35 years for the mortar to fully harden. Lay in the cut-stone blocks at the corners to create quoins. To finish the inside, apply horsehair plaster to the stone.

Once the walls are above reach, you’ll have to build scaffolding by burying poles in the ground 6 to 8 feet from the wall and tying cross members from the wall to the poles with hickory witches. Then lay planks on the cross members to provide a building platform. As the walls rise, you’ll have to repeatedly raise the height of the scaffolding. Attach a crane and tackles to the highest pole to winch up buckets of cobblestones and mortar.

Hand build your windows and doors to fit each opening and hand-hew trusses for your roof. Winter is a good time to do much of your carpentry work. Depending on how many workers you have and their skill level, you may finish in a year. More likely, the building process will take about 3 years.

When you’re done, you’ll have a fine home that will stand for centuries. Go see for yourself. A new guidebook called “Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings” (Footprint Press,, 1-800-431-1579) offers 17 self-guided car or bicycle tours for viewing the diversity of cobblestone buildings clustered within a 65-mile radius of Rochester, NY, and no where else in the world.

“Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings”

By Rich & Sue Freeman

17 self-guided car or bicycle tours for learning the history and observing the diversity of unique cobblestone buildings in Western New York State.

208 pages, 20 maps, 85 photos, indexed, paperback, 10 X 7 inches

Price: $19.95, ISBN# 1930480199

Footprint Press, Inc.,


Photos available – email or call 585-421-9383.

Top 5 Dishwasher Failures

Dishwashers have become a necessary household item. If your dishwasher is working fine then you won’t have to worry about the stack of dirty dishes lying in your sink and can go about your other household chores. However, dishwashers can become a real pain for you if they keep on failing after every few uses. You might not know this but dishwasher failures are a pretty common sight. Fortunately, the reason for the failures is more often than not a small issue which can be fixed without having to call the repairman every time. Let’s have a look at the top 5 dishwasher failures and how you can fix them yourself.

Water at the Bottom of the Dishwasher

One of the most common dishwasher failures is having water at the bottom of the dishwasher. It is encountered most often after you have used the dishwasher a few times. The cause for this dishwasher failure is the clogging of the drain. This is the reason why the water remains at the bottom of the dishwasher and can’t be drained off. Chicken bones, foils and other items are usually responsible for clogging the drain. If you have the habit of putting your dishes inside the dishwasher without clearing off these items then you will encounter this issue quite often. The best way to fix this issue is to unclog the drain by emptying the dishwasher and cleaning its filter.

Dishes Remain Dirty

You place all your dirty dishes in the dishwasher and turn it on and go about doing other chores. On your return you find that the dishes are still dirty. This will obviously make you feel infuriated and you will think that the dishwasher is malfunctioning big time. The simple problem in such a scenario could be a clogged hose, nozzle or sprinkler. In order to clean the nozzle or hose, you should plug out the power supply of the dishwasher and empty the water from it. Clean all the holes according to the instruction manual and then re-wash your dishes. If everything appears to be clear and the problem continues, then the issue could be with the water heater. Dishes could remain dirty if water is not hot enough to melt the fat.

Glasses Remained Stained

When you put your dirty dishes and glasses in the dishwasher, you expect them to be gleaming when washed. This is mostly the case; however, if you find that your glasses are not shining as usual it does not necessarily mean that your dishwasher is functioning improperly. It simply can be a problem of the water being used to wash the dishes. In order to check the issue, place your glasses in vinegar for about five minutes. If the glasses become crystal clear and shine as usual it implies that the issue is because of hard water. You can simply put more dish washing detergent to ensure clearer glasses in future. In case, this is not the issue, the problem can also arise if the water used for washing the glasses is extremely hot. Another reason can be the use of excessive detergent while washing dishes.

Door Leakage

Door leakage is one of the most infuriating dishwasher failures that can cause you a lot of headaches. If your dishwasher is leaking from the door, you should first check whether a dish is stopping your door from locking completely or not. If the dishes are completely fine, it may mean that the door does not completely fit. In order to solve the issue, you can use a tool to slightly screw or unscrew the bolt until it completely fits into its place. Another problem which can cause your dishwasher to leak from the door could be the rubber which is around your door. If nothing helps, you can change the rubber to solve the issue.

Noisy Dishwasher

Another one of the most common failures of dishwashers that are frequently encountered by people is that they start making a lot of noise during operation. A noisy dishwasher can be extremely hard to bear for users especially those who like peace and quiet. Usually the main culprits for making noise are the fan or blades of the dishwasher’s motor. If they are damaged, they can produce a lot of noise while the dishwasher motor is running. The best way to take care of this issue is to inspect the blades and fan regularly and change them immediately if you find them damaged.

Bolt-On Doors – Safety ATV Accessories for Your Dream Ride

ATV accessories are used for a variety reasons. With the boom in their demand, manufacturers have started a large number of options for ATV enthusiasts to add power, functionality as well as sturdiness to their dream rides. These accessories range from high tech motion sensors to state of art Global Positioning Systems, better known as GPS. However, when we talk about ATV accessories, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that safety accessories are the most critical upgrades you must consider for your ATV as the power held under the hood of ATVs clubbed with the conditions these monster vehicles have to cope with often leads to mishaps.

In order to ensure you are safe from a possible mishap, one of the highly recommended ATV accessories is bolt-on doors. These are side doors especially made to be mounted on ATVs. Owing to the rise in their demand, these doors are now available in a number of designs and construction options to fit different types of ATVs perfectly. Hence, before you may buy a pair for your ATV, it is extremely important that you assess the exact type of doors that will fit the model of ATV you have, unless you wish to go through the hassles of getting the buy changed or returned.

Furthermore, in order to lure customers a large number of cheap imports have also entered the market. However, despite their remarkably low prices, buying them is not advisable. This is because the poor quality of material such doors are made from makes them absolutely useless. Neither they provide the required sturdiness to your ATV nor do they serve any considerable lifespan. Hence, when you are out to buy bolt-on doors, it is recommended that you always go for reputed names in the business such as RZR doors, Ranger doors, and the likes.

Being market leaders; no matter whether you are considering to buy RZR doors or Ranger doors, you are sure to find a suitable match for your ATV at the local store you go to for your ATV needs. However, with the globalization of internet reforming the way we used to buy things, it is recommended that you buy the required ATV accessories from a web based small business. This is because by buying the required doors online, not only will you be able to save a great deal of time, you may very well save a considerable amount of money as well.