Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Build a Storm Shelter

From The Family Handyman Magazine

A storm shelter is a super-strong safe room designed to withstand dangerous high winds, tornadoes and flying debris. You'll remain safe even if your house falls apart. We show you a type that you can build yourself.

Read the entire article.



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Frugal Fall Gardening Tips

Spring Fever is for spendthrifts.

For cheapskates, Fall's the time to garden.


Sure, everybody's green thumb seems to blossom with the first warmish day of spring, just about the same day the green blades of the daffodils pop up in the flowerbed. But by autumn, most fair weather gardeners have long ago hung up their hoes for the season.

In most parts of the country, Fall is the best time of year for all kinds of garden activities, including planting and transplanting plants. It's also the time of year when you can save a bushel of cash on gardening equipment and nursery stock, and save even more by properly tucking in your garden and equipment for its long winter's nap.

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5 Unique Ways to Store Your Books

From Care2.com

We might be able to download a digital book with the click of a mouse, but at the end of the day there is something very reassuring about a home filled with books; they serve as a roadmap of sorts showing where we have been in our lives, both literally and figuratively.

That said, having enough room to store books can sometimes be a challenge; here are five creative solutions for corralling books in unexpected spots.  The library in the staircase is really cool!  Read the entire article.



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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Best Deals of the Year Nature's Sunshine

Our son is a distributor of Nature's Sunshine Products and we would like to bless him by diverting our sales to his website for this promotion. If you use Nature's Sunshine's 600+ great quality herbs and supplements, or want to give them a try, this is a great time to do it. Choose free membership at checkout to buy at direct cost prices and don't forget to enter the code shown below for the additional 5% off and $1 shipping.   There is no auto-shipping, auto-billing or required orders.  No gimmicks!  Members shop at 30-45% off retail prices every day.  With your membership you earn points for free product on future orders if you choose to order again.   Here's the deal ... and thank you for being a blessing to our son. Randal and Donna
Nature's Sunshine Products
Spread the word so that family and friends can take advantage of this very limited time offer.  Two Days Only:  Today and Tomorrow (9/24/13 - 9/25/13).  Products already on sale are not eligible for this order.
Simply visit this website and place at least $100 of products in your cart. Then type the offer code TRANSFORM in the box during checkout. 
Shop Now
PLEASE NOTE: LIMITS ON LIQUIDS!
Bottle SizeMaximum quantity per order
32 fl. oz.12
16 fl. oz.24
Thai-Go and Noni Juice3 two-packs
*Some exclusions will apply. Offer valid September 24-25. A minimum order of $100 is required. Offer limited to one redemption per account. Applicable QV is discounted 5%. The 5% discount only applies to regularly priced products and may not be combined with any other special offer, certificate or discount. Offer not valid on Sunshine Rewards orders. **UPS Ground or Parcel Post for lower 48 states; US Priority Mail for Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Hawaii.

Great Deal For Nature's Sunshine Products

Our son is a distributor of Nature's Sunshine Products and we would like to bless him by diverting our sales to his website for this promotion. If you use Nature's Sunshine's 600+ great quality herbs and supplements, or want to give them a try, this is a great time to do it.  

Choose free membership at checkout to buy at direct cost prices and don't forget to enter the code shown below for the additional 5% off and $1 shipping.  

There is no auto-shipping, auto-billing or required orders.  No gimmicks!  Members shop at 30-45% off retail prices every day.  

Here's the deal ... and thank you for being a blessing to our son.  
Randal and Donna
 
Nature's Sunshine Products
Spread the word so that family and friends can take advantage of this very limited time offer.  Two Days Only:  Today and Tomorrow (9/24/13 - 9/25/13). Products already on sale are not eligible for this order.
Simply visit this website and place at least $100 of products in your cart. Then type the offer code TRANSFORM in the box during checkout. 
Shop Now
PLEASE NOTE: LIMITS ON LIQUIDS!
Bottle SizeMaximum quantity per order
32 fl. oz.12
16 fl. oz.24
Thai-Go and Noni Juice3 two-packs
*Some exclusions will apply. Offer valid September 24-25. A minimum order of $100 is required. Offer limited to one redemption per account. Applicable QV is discounted 5%. The 5% discount only applies to regularly priced products and may not be combined with any other special offer, certificate or discount. Offer not valid on Sunshine Rewards orders. **UPS Ground or Parcel Post for lower 48 states; US Priority Mail for Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Hawaii.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fructose and Liver Disease in 10% of Teenagers



Scientific research shows high fructose corn syrup and table sugar are causing serious liver disease in 10% of our teenagers.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and table sugar (sucrose) are both made of glucose and fructose. HFCS contains glucose and fructose as single sugars and sucrose contains them connected together (as a double sugar or disaccharide).

HFCS and ethanol are handled the same in the liver and lead to liver inflammation and eventually cirrhosis. One can of beer has an equally harmful effect on the liver as one can of soda with HFCS.

Watch this video to understand why you need to avoid HFCS.  Your liver has so many functions in the body relating to many organs and the immune system.
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Air Leak Testing & Sealing

Finding air leaks in your home and sealing them saves money.  Here's an article with 10 places to look for air leaks.

#1 is Check Your Dryer Vent

If cold air comes in through your dryer vent, check outside where the vent goes through the wall. The vent should have a flap (or flaps) at the end to stop air infiltration. Make sure there’s a flap and that it’s not stuck open.

If the flap works well, check the caulking. If it’s cracking and peeling away, it’s probably allowing cold air to leak in. Cut away the old caulking, make sure the vent is flush against the siding, and apply new latex caulk.

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10 Clever Uses For Toilet Paper Tubes

There’s a tube at the center of every roll of toilet paper. And there are many, many rolls of toilet paper. Every bathroom, every home, every business, every plumber, millions and millions of rolls. And you recycle ‘em, sure, but what if you could keep them out of the bin all together?

That little piece of cardboard can serve a multitude of functions, and I don’t just mean children’s craft projects. Here's a couple of the ideas:

• You can keep your wrapping paper from unrolling and getting crumpled, simply by cutting a TP tube down one side and then slipping it over the paper roll, like a sheath.

• Sections of TP tubes are the perfect size for napkin rings! Just cover them in scraps of pretty fabric, contact paper, wrapping paper, glitter, or anything else you can imagine. They look adorable and no one’s the wiser.

Read the entire article.



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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Child Ear Infections & Vitamin D Research



From Natural Products Foundation Health Notes
by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

Taking extra vitamin D during the winter months might help prevent ear infections in children who are prone to them, reports a study in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Most cases of otitis media originate from a viral infection, such as the common cold. Doctors may prescribe prophylactic antibiotics for children with frequent ear infections, but this isn’t always effective and can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Studies have shown that vitamin D has profound effects on the immune system, and low levels are tied to an increased risk of respiratory infections.

The study looked at 116 children between one and five years old who had a history of recurrent acute otitis media (more than three infections in the last six months or more than four infections in the last year) to see what effect taking vitamin D during the winter had on their risk of developing future ear infections. The children were given either 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or placebo for four months.  Blood levels of vitamin D were similar (in the “insufficient” range) in both groups at the beginning of the study.

Significantly fewer children in the vitamin D group experienced uncomplicated ear infections compared with those in the placebo group.  (Read the entire article.)

Besides vitamin D, some other promising strategies for preventing childhood ear infections are on the horizon.

One of these is a nonabsorbable sugar called xylitol. The substance is widely used in chewing gum and added to toothpaste as a sweetener that has the added benefit of cavity prevention. Recent studies have shown that xylitol, taken as syrup or chewed as gum, can significantly reduce the number of ear infections in susceptible children, also decreasing the need for antibiotics to treat infections.

(Pediatr Infect Dis J 2013;DOI: 10.1097/INF.0b013e31829be0b0)

Wholesale Prices on All Products Every Day
Quality Source of Vitamin D
Xylitol Toothpaste
Xylitol Gum & Mints

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Tabletop Machine Converts Plastic to Oil



Plastics are recycled back into oil in large plants, but a Japanese inventor has built a machine that can sit on a table and be transported by car or plane to accomplish the same task.

It's called the Blest Machine and was invented by Akinori Ito, after he began to see the places he played as a child disappearing. He wanted to make the process of plastic recycling more accessible, so less landfill would be required and less garbage piles in urban areas.

Ito is taking the machine to developing countries, where it can be used as a way to lessen the landfill problems and provide a useful fuel with the product produced. But the real value is in the machine's size -- small enough to sit in a family home, meaning that micro-production of oil becomes a real possibility.

Watch the 5-minute video.

If you're wondering about the price as I was ... the only price I see by Googling is $9500.  That means it would take a while to recoup the initial investment, but maybe the price will decrease over time.
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5 DIY Uses For Old Doors

From Care2.com

An old door is do-it-yourself gold. I never, ever advocate for holding onto stuff “just in case you might use it one day,” except in the case of old doors.

An old door can substitute for large wooden board in almost any project that calls for one. Old doors have personality. One old door might have interesting woodwork; another might have a glass window panel. They can be refinished to match newer wood, or you can utilize an existing rustic, chippy finish.

With an old door and some basic tools, you’re on your way to building a stylish and useful piece of furniture or storage solution.

Read the entire article.


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

8 Foods We Eat In U.S. That Are Banned In Other Countries


This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “food poisoning.”

#5 - Azodicarbonamide
Bleaches flour, plastic, and induces asthma as an added bonus.

Found in:
Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods. 

Why it’s dangerous:
Used to bleach both flour and FOAMED PLASTIC (yoga mats and the soles of sneakers), azodicarbonamide has been known to induce asthma.

Where it’s banned:
Australia, the U.K., and most European countries.

Read the entire article.


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Easier Method of CPR - No Breathing Needed


The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center Resuscitation Research Group is world-renowned for decades of research that led to new CPR guidelines that advocate chest-compression-only CPR, a method that doubles a person’s chance of survival from sudden cardiac arrest.

Arizona’s cardiocerebral resuscitation protocols changed the near-half-century-old approach to resuscitation and encompasses participants at all levels.  There is no need for mouth-to-mouth breathing or confusing steps.  There's only one action and anybody can do this.  View Video.


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10 Signs You Have a Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding Disorder is now recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder.

Does any of this sound familiar?

1. The “stuff” in your house is more than clutter. According to psychologist Gail Steketee of Boston University, “A lot of people have a catchall drawer or closet or even an entire room for extra stuff. It’s when you let it take over two, three, or more rooms that you run into problems.”

2. You are unable to throw away possessions. You experience severe anxiety when faced with throwing away possessions, even if friends and family consider them to be garbage.

3. Your possessions have taken over your living space. Maybe you have only a path through your living area available for walking through. Maybe your couch, table, or bed are covered in stuff, and there is just nowhere to put all of it. Perhaps you no longer can reach your bed, so you’re stuck sleeping on the couch.

Read the entire article.


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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Questions: Share Your Tips and Ideas


We have several questions on the Frugal Life Forum that could use your help.  These are Frugal Lifers, like yourself, that want to save money if they can.  Just click on the topic and it will take you to the forum to comment/reply.

Automobiles

1. End of car lease questions

Miscellaneous

1. Used Potholders


Personal Care

1.  Deodorant Stone Roll On
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How to Protect Your Elderly Parents From Being Scammed

From a young age, your parents taught you to be aware of stranger-danger. If you have elderly parents, you may have noticed the irony. Now you're telling your parents to be wary of people out to do them harm.

The national statistics on crimes affecting the elderly are sparse and outdated but instructive nonetheless. For instance, according to the National Institute of Justice website, a national 2007 study of more than 7,000 community residing elders estimated that 1 in 10 senior citizens reported experiencing at least one form of elder mistreatment in the past year. And the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging reported $40 billion in losses in telemarketing fraud—and that was back in 2000. Crime against senior citizens is so pervasive that over the years, elder crime units have cropped up throughout the country in police bureaus, aimed solely at protecting senior citizens.

It can be a challenge to even have a discussion with your parents about their susceptibility to crime and identity theft. Have the conversation too early, when your parents feel perfectly safe and relatively invulnerable, and they may justifiably be insulted that they're thought of as elderly and vulnerable. Bring up the topic in an artful way, and they may wonder if ... Read the entire article.


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Your Employer May Share Your Salary

The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans’ personal information ever created, containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults.

Some of the information in the little-known database, created through an Equifax-owned company called The Work Number, is sold to debt collectors, financial service companies and other entities.

"It's the biggest privacy breach in our time, and it’s legal and no one knows it’s going on," said Robert Mather, who runs a small employment background company named Pre-Employ.com. "It's like a secret CIA."

Despite all the information Americans now share on social media and websites, and all the data we know companies collect on us, one piece of information is still sacred to most people: their salaries. After all, who would post their salary as a status update on Facebook or in a tweet?

But salary information is also for sale by ... Read the entire article.

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Best Shopping Deals for September

Summer is over, and that’s not a bad thing if you’re looking for hot shopping deals. June, July and August are actually among the worst months of the year to find great sales.

In September, though, retailers work harder to get shoppers into stores, with the hope that they’ll also return later in the year to do some of their Christmas shopping. September is also a month when shoppers – for a variety of reasons – are in a better position to negotiate and save money on big and small purchases alike.

We’ll start with a big one, and move on to less pricey purchases you should consider making this month:

New cars. Most 2013 model year cars have been delivered to car lots by September, and this is the month when car dealers start working hard to make room for them by getting rid of the older models. The good thing for new car buyers is the “old ones” are 2012 models. They might be considered a year old by car dealership standards, but they should be brand new, with fewer than 100 miles on their odometers. Many of the 2012 models can be had for at least 10 percent less in September – and the discounts grow more substantial as the year wears on. On the other hand, if you wait too long, the lots could be well picked over and selection is likely to be limited.

Cars (again). Don’t want to buy? Lease prices tend to be lower in ... Read the entire article.


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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Avoidable Job Search Mistakes

The phrase "shoot yourself in the foot" didn't create itself. In fact, job seekers probably coined it.

Every day, thousands of people look for a job -- and almost every single one of them makes at lease one mistake (or 10) in the process. The worst part is, many if not all of these blunders are completely avoidable.

"It never ceases to amaze me when people make mistakes, then slap themselves on the forehead and say, 'I can't believe I did that.' I feel the need to pop them on the head," says JaLynn Hudnall, of Ravenwood Forest Consulting.

Here are 20 dumb job search mistakes that experts say you can avoid with a little thought:

1. Not using a professional e-mail address.

"It is wonderful that you are proud of your heritage and cultural roots. However, please don't use 'juicygapeach' as your e-mail address," Hudnall says. "There are enough free e-mail hosts out there that you can set up a plain first.last account that is professional and non-descript."

2. Jumping into the fire without your fireproof undies.
"[Don't start] your search without a plan or much thought as to where you want to go and how you plan to get there," says Julie Bauke, author of "Stop Peeing On Your Shoes- Avoiding the 7 Mistakes that Screw up your Job Search." Also, make sure you can answer these three key questions: Why are you in the job market? Tell me about yourself. What are you looking to do next?

3. Not checking yourself in the mirror before walking into an interview.
"I once interviewed someone who had a giant piece of lettuce hanging off his mustache," says Mario Schulzke, founder of CareerSparx.com. "I should have said something to him, but it was just too awkward and instead I spent 30 minutes staring at the guy's ... Read the entire article.


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7 Ways Stores Get You to Make an Impulse Purchase

Retailers rely on a host of tactics to get you to purchase stuff you don't want, don't need and never intended to buy.
And their ploys often work: 9 out of 10 shoppers make impulse purchases, buying items that weren't on their shopping lists, according to a recent survey by The Checkout, an ongoing shopper behavior study conducted by retail branding firm The Integer Group.

Impulse buys are a ... Read the entire article.


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Social Security - The Windfall Elimination Provision

It seems like many of you have questions about Social Security. Lately, I've been getting several questions from people with government pensions who didn't have Social Security taxes withheld. I asked Tiya Lim, who wrote the section on Social Security in our book The Only Guide You'll Ever Need for the Right Financial Plan, to weigh in on the topic. Here's what she had to say:

There are two provisions that could reduce or eliminate your Social Security benefits if you're also eligible to receive a government pension:

The windfall elimination provision (WEP)
The government pension offset provision (GPO)

Today, we'll talk about the WEP. If you receive a pension from a federal, state or local government based on work where you didn't pay Social Security taxes, part of your Social Security benefit may be reduced (but not eliminated) by the WEP. If any family members are eligible for benefits based on your work record, their benefits may also be reduced.

Why the Reduction? The Social Security system is progressive, meaning lower-paid workers get a higher percentage of their pre-retirement earnings than high-wage earners. According to the Social Security Administration, lower-paid workers could get a Social Security benefit equal to about 55 percent of their pre-retirement earnings, while highly paid workers may receive about 25 percent.

Without the WEP in place, people who primarily worked in a job not covered by Social Security would have their benefits calculated as if they were long-term, low-wage workers. Thus, they would not only receive their pension, but also receive Social Security benefits that represented a higher percentage of their earnings.

How Much Is the Reduction? Your benefits are calculated based on your highest 35 years of earnings, adjusted for wage inflation and weighted according to a formula from the SSA. The WEP uses a modified formula to calculate a reduced benefit amount.

The maximum reduction possible is based on ... Read the entire article.


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Travel Discounts You Can Score on International Trips

My wife and I recently returned from two glorious months of traveling through Eastern Europe. That's the kind of extended international travel adventure we like to treat ourselves to at least every year or two since we became semiretired. But it's also something that sometimes gets me accused of being a cheap-fake, as opposed to a cheapskate.

However the reality is that this trip ended up costing us only about $100 per day, total — for the two of us combined — including all transportation, lodging, food, incidentals and sightseeing.

When you consider that when we're at home we have living expenses as well (including a couple of hundred dollars a month just to keep gas in the car), a trip of that length doesn't cost us a whole lot more than we'd spend if we stayed home in Maryland. In fact, sometimes when we've traveled for protracted periods like this we've managed to rent out our house while we're away and actually turn a profit on our trip!

Of course when we travel the world we don't stay in five-star resorts or fly first-class. But we do typically enjoy a level of ... Read the entire article.


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10 Things College Students Should Know About Credit Cards

College students are like chum in the water for the sharks than run credit card companies. Many students get suckered in when creditors begin flooding them with offers in the mail or even set up booths on campus pitching the virtues of credit cards, and though it's often a necessary evil to hold and use a card, many students aren't given the right information about how to use credit properly. If you're a student learning to navigate the waters of credit or a graduate looking to get your spending in shape, these guidelines will get you where you need to go.
  1. You Need Them Less Than You Think You Do: Legions of sob stories have been born by fresh college graduates getting in over their heads with credit card debt. But the plain truth is you need a credit card a whole lot less than creditors want you to believe you do. Sure, you'll need to open a line of credit to help boost your credit score, and life-threatening emergencies can call for one, but really, that's about it. In the words of Louis C.K., people used to run out of money and, rather than charge purchases, say, "Well, I can't do any more things now." The moment you start to realize that life's better when you spend less than you earn, you'll be free. 
  2. Interest Rates Are Murder: College students are among the most susceptible to the lure of easy credit thanks to the magical phrase "low introductory APR." The key is to remember two things: "low" is a relative term, and "introductory" means that you'll soon find your smaller rates swapped out for big ones. If a card offers zero percent APR for six months or a year, it's just the company's way of getting you hooked on easy spending before hitting you with rates that could be as high as 20 percent. Think about that: you'll be paying interest worth one-fifth of your balance, and that's not even the principal. Always, always, always know what the real APR will be.
  3. Always Make More Than the Minimum Payment: One of the provisions of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (or, cutely, the Credit CARD Act) is that creditors are required to disclose how long it will take you to eliminate your debt if you only make the minimum monthly payment. The minimum payment will keep you out of trouble but not do much of anything to knock out the principal amount you owe. If you owe several thousand dollars, it could take decades to get clear if you only pay the least amount possible. Statements now also display how much you will need to pay each month to eliminate the debt in three years. It's best to pay as much as ... Read the entire article.


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Questions: Share Your Tips and Ideas

We have several questions on the Frugal Life Forum that could use your help.  These are Frugal Lifers, like yourself, that want to save money if they can.  Just click on the topic and it will take you to the forum to comment/reply.

Cleaning

1.  How do you remove tape residue from a vinyl door?

Clutter

1.  How to keep computer desk and office clutter free

 Critters

1.  By placing old tennis balls on your patio or porch, will they keep birds away?

Miscellaneous

1.  Do you know of any coffee cans that do not have the plastic lining?

2.  I just bought and received a Chiapas Folkloriko costume, The skirt is made of stiff colorful embroidered netting. Is there a way to soften the netting without damaging the embroidery?

Utilities

1.  Is there a way to make vents in the floors without duct work to heat my main floor?
 
2.  Is it ok to leave water running while soaping the body during a shower?
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Thursday, August 8, 2013

How Stress Shatters Your Memory

Let's try a quick experiment. Read the following list of random words:
water, first, people, although, sound, little, place, after, different, another

Now grab a pen and paper, look away from your screen, and write out as many of the words as you can remember. If you want, you can re-read the list to make sure it's fresh in your memory.

I got five out of ten (water, although, different, people, and place). What's your score? Some studies have claimed that the average is about seven, while others have said four is more typical - and still others have pointed out that it all depends on variables like word length, familiarity, and similarity between words. And of course, if you're startled by a fire engine screeching by the window, the number's likely to take a sharp drop.

Tests like this one - along with similar games involving individual letters, numbers, sounds and so on - help scientists measure the capacity of what they call... Read the entire article.

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Trading Grass for Cash: When it comes to water, Augustine is no saint

With Austin five years and counting into a drought, it can be galling to watch water being sprayed on dying lawns. Now Austin Water has launched a new campaign to get homeowners and businesses to kill off their water-guzzling Saint Augustine grass – not a war on lawns, but rather an offensive against particular kinds of grass.

Through Oct. 14, the utility is offering a cash incentive: $10 for every 100 square feet of lawn that a homeowner allows to die off and, after the drought ends, replant with other varieties of grass – like buffalo or Bermuda – that need little or no watering. By turning off the sprinklers, customers will reduce their load on the water system. And by waiting until the drought ends to replant, the new turf will have a better chance of rooting properly. AW Conservation Division Manager Drema Gross said, "For those customers that are still struggling and trying to keep lawns alive on our restricted schedule in this incredible heat, we want them to stop watering."

This is not full-blown xeriscaping, where traditional gardens that depend on extra irrigation are replaced with drought-resistant native plants and bushes. Austin Water is already piloting a program for that: For the last year, the utility's conservation program has offered landscape conversion incentives, where homeowners can receive a ... Read the entire article.


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Which Way Should the Ceiling Fan Rotate?

Question: Which Way Should the Ceiling Fan Rotate?
What is the correct ceiling fan rotation during summer and winter? Is your ceiling fan on the proper seasonal rotation? It could save you energy dollars if it rotates in the proper direction depending whether it is winter or summer.

Answer: 
Ceiling fans provide great air circulation and you can optimize these benefits by ensuring the ceiling fan rotation of the blades is correct for circulating warm air during winter or creating a breeze effect by moving or circulating the air better, during a hot summer.  Read the entire article.

Note:
Don't just read the initial instructions.  Not all ceiling fans are made alike.  Read through to the bottom so you can actually determine whether your ceiling fan is "standard" or operates differently than the initial answer.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Painting Tips

Here's an article with 14 tips to make your next painting project easier.  Videos and step-by-step instruction really makes it easier.  Such as the first one ...

How to Paint Faster
Master painter, Jay Gorton, shares tips and techniques from 30 years of residential painting work, covering everything from roller selection to taping to caulking and filling.

Jay got his first painting lessons when he worked for his father-in-law painting houses in the Minneapolis area. Since then he’s perfected his trade and grown a business from a one-man operation to a team of more than 30 painters at times.

Most of his work is in high-end new construction where he specializes in glass-smooth enamel finishes, faux-finished walls, and antiqued and distressed woodwork. It’s from his background in this high-quality production painting that Jay gathered the tips he’s showing us here.  Read the entire article.


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Does Expensive Paint Pay Off?

Imagine the perfect latex paint. It sticks to anything, covers in one coat, levels smoothly, is strong yet flexible and lasts for decades. It never fades or chalks. It discourages mildew growth and is formulated so you can apply it in cold weather. And it doesn't drip.

Unfortunately, that perfect paint has yet to be developed. Never will be, either.

The ingredients in a batch of paint just have too many limitations and trade-offs. But while there may be no such thing as perfect paint, there are definitely high- and low-quality paints. Look at the differences, particularly as they apply to exterior latex paints.  Is it worth buying the good stuff?  Read the entire article ...


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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Electronic Addiction: How It's Affecting Our Health


There is an already pervasive and rapidly expanding force of disease that no doubt affects you on a daily basis. It is a potentially harmful force that many people, quite frankly, cannot resist and may actively seek exposure to like an unknowing addict.

I am talking about electronic media which includes the news media, television, social media, email, and the internet in general. Many will, of course, immediately argue that electronic media is not all harmful and point to its many efficiently informative and individually empowering aspects.

While this is most certainly true, discussions regarding the benefits of electronic media are highly prevalent. Most individuals need little persuasion to agree that this tantalizing technology is generally positive or even some type of utopian catalyst.

In contrast, I believe the harmful power of this technology is severely overlooked or denied, leading to a dangerously positive and careless attitude toward its use. The negative impacts of electronic media are extremely broad (just as broad as its positive impacts), including significant environmental, social, political, and economic effects. To keep this essay brief, however, I'll focus mainly on individual health effects.  Read the article.

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Cardboard Gardening

by Stacy Tornio

I’m a bargain hunter. A penny-pincher. A cheapskate. Nothing makes me happier than finding thrifty and resourceful ways to save money on the things I need or want.

I’m also a gardener. And, as anyone who has ever tended a patch of tomatoes can attest, it’s alarmingly easy to spend a lot of money on a garden. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered a super cheap, super simple way to have a better garden. Cardboard!

A couple of years ago, I heard that cardboard made a good foundation for new garden beds, so that fall I grabbed a few recycled boxes, flattened them in the backyard and waited. In spring, when it came time to plant, the cardboard had broken down and I had a lovely new garden bed of rich soil, ready for planting.

Something that’s free, easy and makes for a better garden? I was hooked ...

But what if cardboard is more than just mulch or a weed barrier? What if it’s the key to a whole new approach to gardening.  A few brainstorming sessions later with the Birds & Blooms staff and experts, and we had a laundry list of ideas for our new approach ... Read the entire article.


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"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

"Do what is good with your own hands, so that you might earn something to give to the needy." Ephesians 4:28