Monday, February 28, 2011

Toilets 101

Toilets 101, this is your quick course in how a toilet works so you'll be ready if a problem arises.

1. The parts of the toilet: the handle, the chain, the flapper, the float cup and the fill valve.

2. Here's how it works, when you push the handle it pulls on the chain, which raises the flapper and empties the water into the bowl. That water forces the contents of the bowl down into the drainpipe. When the water empties from the tank it drops the float cup to the bottom and triggers the water supply. As the water fills the tank the float cup rises and When it reaches the top it turns the water off.

3. That's all there is to it, now if the toilet is running you know that you need to check the float cup for leaks. And if it won't flush you should check the chain or the flapper.

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Sure rice is a great side dish, but there are lots of other ways you can use it to help in your house.

1. If you've ever had to ice an injury you know that the ice melts and will drip all over the place. Save yourself a mess by filling a plastic freezer bag with uncooked rice and store it in the freezer. The rice will retain the cold and it conforms easily to sore knees and elbows!

2. This same idea works when you need dry heat. Fill a sock with some uncooked rice, tie off the end and microwave it for 30 seconds. Just make sure you test the sock so you know that it isn't too hot!

3. An easy way to clean silk flowers is to pour some rice into a garbage bag. Put the bloom end of the flowers in the bag, seal it off and shake vigorously. The rice will clean away dust without damaging the flowers.

4. A couple of tablespoons of rice will help scrub those hard to clean thermoses. Pour some warm water over the rice, and shake it up. Then just rinse it away!

5. Don't forget the old standby. A few grains of rice in your salt shakers will absorb moisture and prevent clumping!

Mint Tins

Have you noticed the changing trend in breath mints these days? They all come in a cute little tin. Well don't throw away the tin when the mints are gone, I have some uses for them!

1. Put together a little mending kit to keep in your handbag, your glove compartment or your desk. Stock the tin with a small pair of scissors, some thread, a couple of needles and some extra buttons! You'll be ready for a loose hem or a popped button anytime!

2. How about a little first aid kit. A tin is the perfect size to hold a couple of anti-bacterial wipes, some ointment and a few plastic bandages.

3. Or a maybe a diaper bag caddy. Fill it with pins, diaper rash ointment, and a little pair of nail clippers. Keep a tin in your travel bag; they are the perfect fit for cotton swabs, jewelry or hair accessories!

4. If you wear eyeglasses, these tins are the right size for an eyeglass repair kit as well as a cleansing cloth.

5. Use tins to organize your toolbox, they're the perfect fit for small hardware like picture hanging supplies, nails, screws, nuts and bolts.

Paint Tips

Painting problems? No worries here, I have some tips to help you out.

1. After you're finished stirring your paint, don't throw away that stick. Let it dry and then write the color, room, brand, and store and purchase date on the other side of the stick. Keep it in a safe place, this way you'll have all of the information you need about your paint, and if it's ever discontinued you'll have a great sample for a color match.

2. If you're changing the color of your room it is worth the small investment to buy a quart of paint to test the color. Paint a good-sized swatch onto the wall and live with it for a few days before making a decision. You'll get a much better feeling than if you simply hold one of those small swatches up to the wall.

3. When starting a painting job, pull on a pair of latex gloves. They won't get in the way and you'll have less clean up when you're through.

4. Small rollers are great for squeezing into small spaces, but refills are expensive. Instead try a ladies sponge curler. It's the same material but you get a whole package for very little money.

5. When you're finished painting blow into the can before you seal it. The carbon dioxide that you exhale will prevent a skin from forming on the paint. Or store the paint can upside down to prevent that skin! Just remember to have the lid on tight.

Utility Knives

From hanging wallpaper to installing vinyl tile, a good utility knife will cut through lots of projects.

1. There are two types of utility knives retractable and fixed blades. In the retractable, the blade can be moved in and out with the push of a button, and they come apart for blade changes and storage. This knife is a must in every home. You'll use it for everything from cutting wallpaper and drywall to opening packages.

2. The fixed blade knives are a more professional grade. The blade is stronger, more durable and gives you more control when cutting softer materials like vinyl tiles and plastics. However, because the blade is fixed, it's also not as safe.

3. Speaking of safety, with either knife always pull the blade toward you in a slow controlled motion. Keep your free hand away from the knife. If the blade skips you can cut yourself. If you're using a straightedge to make your cuts clamp it down rather than hold it.

4. Never try to cut through a thick material like drywall or foam with one pass. It will put too much pressure on the blade. Instead make several passes, fold the material back on itself and then snap it toward you to break along the cut line.

5. Change the blades often, especially before starting a big project. The blades are inexpensive and a sharp blade will get you through a project quickly and safely.


Looking for some easy ways to use glue for your projects? Here are the answers you need.

1. If you have to glue a joint together and don't want the glue squishing all over, lay the pieces where they need to be and put some tape over the seam. Then, use a utility knife to cut a slit in the tape along the joint. Glue the project. When you clamp it, you can easily wipe the glue off of the tape, and when it has dried, peel the tape off and you'll have a nice clean seam.

2. To get glue out of a corner joint, flatten out the end of a drinking straw. The small tool will fit easily into those joints and the glue is pushed up inside the straw and out of the way.

3. If your glue has dried up in the bottle, add a few drops of white vinegar to the bottle and stir. It will soften it up in no time.

4. If you have ever been in the middle of a project and the glue has taken forever to get to the top of the bottle, here's a tip for you... drill several holes an inch or two apart along the length of a scrap wood block. You can store your glue bottles upside down in the holes so that the glue is always at the tip and ready to go.

Hammer Time

It's hammer time, and I have some easy tips that you can use to nail your projects.

1. If you need to do some serious nailing use a permanent marker or some electrical tape to mark off your hammer handle at three, six, nine and twelve inch increments. This way you can hold the hammer handle against the wall and easily eyeball the next location of your nail.

2. Glue a magnet to the bottom of your hammer, this way you can stick the handle into the can of nails and easily grab a few nails.

3. If you need to remove a nail, criss-cross a couple of rubber bands over the top of the hammer. The rubber bands will protect the surface that you're removing the nail from.

4. If you need more leverage when you're removing a nail, cut a block of wood into a wedge and put it under the head of your hammer before attempting to pull the nail, it will give you more pulling power. Don't feel like cutting wood? Use a rubber doorstop.

5. When you're done with your project clean the head of your hammer with some fine sandpaper to remove wood resins and nail coatings that could cause your hammer to slip the next time you need it.

Hand Sanitizer

A couple of squirts of hand sanitizer can help in the kitchen, the bathroom and on the go!

1. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in the kitchen and bathroom; it removes ink stains from countertops, skin and fabrics!

2. It will easily wipe away grime and kill germs on refrigerator door handles, and it polishes chrome fixtures and mirrors to a streak free shine!

3. Use some hand sanitizer to clean the ink off of rubber stamps before you store them.

4. It will also remove price tag stickers from glass and plastic with ease! Sticky tree sap will come off of your skin with a little bit of the gel on a paper towel.

5. Eyeglasses covered in fingerprints? Squirt a little sanitizer on them and polish those prints away.

6. It's also great during cold and flu season to wipe off cart handles, doorknobs and steering wheels.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stripping Hardware

You painted and skipped the prep work but now you have painted hardware. Well, I can tell you how to fix it.

1. If there are just a few splotches, hold a cloth dipped in warm vinegar over the paint and then use a plastic putty knife to scrape away the drips.

2. If that just isn't going to cut it, carefully remove the hardware from the doors and windows.

3. Lay some foil on your work surface to protect it from chemicals, and pull on a pair of chemical resistant gloves.

4. Work in a well ventilated area. Fill a coffee can about halfway with paint stripper. Then, drop your hardware in the liquid. If you'd like to be able to fish the hardware out just tie a piece of string to the hardware then dip it into the liquid. Be careful not to splash.

5. Let it sit for the amount of time recommended on the package and then carefully pull it out.

6. Scrape away any big drips left on and rinse the hardware well.The good thing about this method is that you can re-use the stripper until your project is completely done.

Off the Wall

For various reasons, sometimes you can't hang your artwork, what do you do? Live without? Absolutely not, I can show you some ideas for displaying artwork and mirrors that are off the wall!

1. Small easels or plate holders are great for displaying artwork, they lift it up and give your pieces an important look while allowing you to place them in areas where you might need a burst of color. I like to put a piece of art under a decorative table to fill an otherwise empty space.

2. Another fun way to display artwork is to lean several pieces against a wall along a mantel or table. Vary the sizes and shapes of the frames for a more dramatic look; this also works with various mirrors to really give some impact! Try this on a bookshelf to fill in an otherwise flat display.

3. Looking for a different way to display photos? Try a mobile. These neat displays hold a bunch of pictures. Hang it from the ceiling so they don't take up table space and it fills an empty spot with some fun snapshots.

Basic Tool Kit

As you empower yourself to become a fixit person, assemble yourself a basic tool kit. Here's the low-down on what you should have. First, buy the best quality tools within your budget. If you buy tools in a kit rather than individually,

1. BASIC TOOLS: You need a curved claw hammer for obvious reasons. A nail set to counter-sink. A staple gun for screens and upholstery; plus phillips and flat-head screwdrivers for all knids of household repairs from furniture to lighting. I would also add a power drill for pilot holes in walls and wood.

2. GRIPPING TOOLS: Slip joint pliers, an adjustable wrench, a set of open end wrenches and a pair of needle nose pliers. A nut driver is also handy to tighten nuts in small spaces.

3. MEASURING TOOLS: A tape measure, combination square and a torpedo level will help you with jobs from handing shelves and artwork to positioning furniture to checking doors and drawers for square.

4. CUTTING TOOLS: To cut through more repairs have a wood saw, wire cutters, utility knives, craft and hobby knives and a hacksaw.

5. BEYOND THE BASICS: You should always remember safety, so have glasses, masks, gloves and ear protection.

Nail Polish Spills

Even though it seems like an unusual topic, I get so many e-mail questions about nail polish spills; I thought it was time to tell you how to remove them.

1. Spills on fabrics can generally be treated with non-oily nail polish remover. There are a couple of things to remember. Test for colorfastness, a good place is on the inside of the hem. Never use it on acetate or acetate blends. The acetone will dissolve the fabric. Once you know it's safe dab the remover into the spot with a cotton swab working from the outside inward. Switch swabs frequently so you don't spread the stain. Once it is removed wash the fabric with warm soapy water.

2. Spills on carpets can be removed with window cleaner, again test a hidden spot first, especially on darker carpets, and be patient, this remedy will take several applications. Spray it onto the carpet and then dab it out with a damp, white cloth. Once the stain is removed mix together a teaspoon of dish soap, a teaspoon of white vinegar and a quart of warm water to clean away any traces of window cleaner.

3. For spills on wood, mix together equal parts of olive oil and white vinegar and use a terrycloth rag or superfine steel wool to buff the stain off of the surface.

Care of Leather and Suede

Love the look of leather and suede, but hate caring for it? I have some tips that will help make it easier.

1. Leather should always be able to breathe when it is in storage, so never hang it in a plastic bag. To protect it from dust while it is hanging, buy some inexpensive king sized pillowcases, cut a hole in the top for a hanger and you've made an easy dust cover.

2. Polish leather shoes with the inside of a banana peel. It sound crazy, but the peel helps to condition the leather, it will look great.

3. Shine up and protect patent leather shoes with a little petroleum jelly.

4. If you get a grease stain on some leather, sprinkle the spot with some cornstarch and let it sit overnight. Brush it away in the morning and the cornstarch should have absorbed the grease.

5. Suede is even trickier to care for because it has a raised nap that can get matted and shiny. Occasionally rub suede with an emery board; it will loosen dirt and revive the nap.

6. Rub dried mud off of suede shoes with a white ink eraser, or try another piece of suede.

7. To treat spots, dab sparingly with a little full strength white vinegar.

Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Exhaust fans in your kitchen are designed to pull excess heat, smoke and odors out of the room. But in order for it to do it's job it's gotta be kept clean, which can be a grimy job but I have some quick tips to help you out!

1. Vinegar is going to be your best friend on this job so put some in a spray bottle and spritz up under the hood. The vinegar will cut right through that greasy buildup. Just be careful to avoid the light and fan elements.

2. Speaking of light, make sure the bulb is completely cool. Unscrew and clean that regularly too. Dust and buildup could be a fire hazard. And make sure it's completely dry before returning it to the socket.

3. Pay attention to your filters as well. Aluminum mesh filters can be pulled out and popped right in your dishwasher when it needs to be clean. Just run it through a cycle. If you have exposed fan blades, don't forget to clean those too.

4. A range of ideas to clean your exhaust fat.

Granite Counter Care

Whether you're thinking of installing granite countertops, or you already have them I have some tips on how to care for this stone.

1. Granite is a worry-free countertop surface; no need to lose sleep over people ruining the counters, for the most part granite is resistant to scratches, staining, or cracking. Even hot pots and pans set directly on the stone won't damage it!

2. If you've bought a house with existing granite counter tops you will want to do a water test to find out if the sealant is up to date. Simply pour a few drops of water on the counter, if it beads up the sealer is fine, if it soaks in pretty quickly you will want to seal the counters before you start using them, and then again once a year or so to keep them looking their best.

3. For day-to-day cleaning you can simply use a soft cloth and some sudsy water. Never use an abrasive cleaner on stone; over time they can etch the surface. Retailers also carry specialized stone counter care kits. These have a sealer and cleaner in one so you protect you counter on a day-to-day basis.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Day After Valentine's Day!

Chocolate covered strawberries, champagne and roses, signs of Valentines Day but all with challenges. From how to keep the flowers lasting long to how to keep the stains from setting in.

1. If you got flower's you want them to last, but flowers only come with one pack of preservative. How can you replicate it? Well preservatives have three main components sugar for food, citric acid for controlling the ph and an antibacterial ingredient to kill germs. To make your own, a capful of hydrogen peroxide or bleach will take care of the antibacterial. And for the sugar and citric acid it's a two-fer, a tablespoon of powdered lemonade mix has them both!

2. How about chocolate covered strawberries? If you have chocolate on your clothes, scrape away as much as you can with a dull knife, then working from the back of the fabric rub white shaving cream into the spot with a soft bristled toothbrush. This method should push the stain back out of the fabric. As for the strawberries, lay the item over a sieve in the sink. Then pour boiling water over the stain, through the sieve. It will loosen and remove the stain in short order. This also works well on red wine stains.

3. Champagne stains can be treated with club soda. It contains both sodium and carbonation these elements work together to keep the spill from becoming a stain. As with any stain removal tip, make sure you test the item in an inconspicuous spot to make sure that the solution won't damage the fabric!

Drapery Dilemmas!

Draperies and curtains can add style and drama to your home, but there are some questions and obstacles that can come up.

1. When you're deciding how to hang your draperies, look at your windows, if you want your windows to appear taller, hang your drapery rod at least four inches above the top of your window frame. If you'd like it to appear wider, hang the hardware outside of the window casings rather than mounting it on it.

2. Tiebacks can be frustrating to get even because the casings make it difficult to measure across the window. For an easy fix, raise your window blinds or shades to the height that you want the tieback and use the bottom of the blind as your level line to measure placement.

3. If you have a lot of outside noise at your home, heavy draperies can really go a long way to blocking out the noise and they can help to insulate the windows from excess heat or cold.

4. Hanging blinds or sheers behind your drapery panels will serve double duty. First, it gives you privacy and light control, but it also protects the panels from the direct sunlight, which can weaken the fabric

5. If your panels aren't hanging quite right try slipping old keys, coins or even metal washers into the hem to help them hang straight.

6. Finally, if you need to use drapery hooks and they keep snagging the fabric, carefully run them through your hair before trying to slide them on to the fabric. The static in your hair helps the hooks slip easily into place!


Drafts can sneak in all over your house, but one of the most common places is around the doors. You can improve your heating and cooling costs by simply adding door sweeps!

1. Pick up a door sweep at your local hardware store.

2. Measure the door, then cut the sweep down to size with some tin snips if necessary.

3. Hold the sweep against the door and test it's position. A good sweep should cover any gap but not scrape the floor. An easy way to test this is to attach the sweep to the door with some fun tack.

4. Once you have the sweep in position use a sharp pencil to mark the holes where the screws will go.

5. Remove the sweep pre-drill the holes for the screws, use the brush attachment on your vacuum to clear away any dust and dirt.

6. Put the sweep back into position and put the screws into place.

Unusual Uses for Cola!!

If you have some cola in your refrigerator, pull out a can because it can help with all sorts of household tasks.

1. If you have cooked on crud, pour some cola into the pan, and bring it to a boil. The carbonation and heat will work together to loosen that mess! This same procedure will remove lime scale from the inside of your teapot. Just pour it in and bring to a boil.

2. Cola is also a great de-greaser; pour over a load of greasy work clothes, on a greasy stain in your garage or even a nasty spill in the kitchen. It will break up the grease so it is easy to clean away.

3. Sluggish drain? Pour some cola down there. It will bubble and fizz away greasy build-up keeping your drains flowing smoothly.

4. If you need to remove a rusty bolt, cola to the rescue, it will loosen the corrosion in no time! It will also clean rust off of all sorts of other metal surfaces. Pour a little on a scrubbing pad and go to work, the rust will disappear.

5. Pour a can of cola down your toilet. Wait an hour and scrub away those stubborn stains.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

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Wallpaper Stains

If your wallpaper is a magnet for stains, I have some ideas that should get your wallpaper looking like new again!

1. An eraser sponge is a great tool for spots and smudges on wallpaper, it's gentle enough not to cause any damage and since you use it almost completely dry you don't have to worry about over-wetting the paper.

2. No eraser sponge, a waded up piece of plain white or plain wheat bread will work the same way.

3. If someone hung a picture with tape on your wallpaper, don't just try just ripping it down. Cover the tape with a piece of paper and then iron over the paper with a warm iron on a dry setting, this will activate the sticky side and make it easy to gently peel off. Once it's off use a cloth dipped in a little rubbing alcohol to remove any adhesive residue. This also works great if your little one put stickers on their wallpaper!

4. Your iron can also help get rid of greasy stains on wallpaper. Layer a couple of paper towels over the spot and then run a warm, dry iron over the towels. The oil residue will transfer to the towels!

Smudges and stains gone!

Paint a Room

If the thought of painting overwhelms you, remember, painting a room can be quick and easy, if you know the way to do it.

1. Move your furniture out or to the middle of the room so you have plenty of space to work. You should also tape off or cover anything you don't want to get paint on.

2. Work one wall at a time. This way if you have to stop you don't have to worry about lap marks from dried paint.

3. Do your cutting in first. Brush a small strip of paint anywhere that is hard to reach with your roller, like corners, windows and doors.

4. Line your paint pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up.

5. Soak your roller with paint and pull it over the ridges in the pan.

6. Work from the top right to bottom left of a wall. An extension handle will make the job much easier. Roll the wall with up and down zig zag motions. Work slowly so that the paint doesn't splatter.

Candle with Care

If you love candles as much as I do, you probably have them all over your house, but keeping those decorative candles looking great can be tricky. Here are some ideas.

1. If you have a candle holder with a spike, you've probably cracked a candle or two. An easy way to prevent that is to heat up a pointed nail. Hold it with some pliers over a flame for a minute or so. Then use the hot nail to push a pilot hole into the bottom of the candle. This way when you put the candle on the spike it is less likely to crack!

2. If you drop a candle and it breaks, try submerging it in hot water just long enough to soften up the wax. Push the pieces back together and use your finger to smooth out the seam. This will also help you straighten out candles that have become warped in the sun or the heat.

3. If your decorative candles are dusty, try wiping them off with a cloth dipped in some rubbing alcohol. It takes off dust and dirt so your candles look like new.

Alternative Uses for WD-40

Lubricating spray oil can be used for squeaks and keeping parts moving, but did you know that it can be used for stains, scribbles and sticky situations?

1. Crayon on wall and chalkboards can be hard to clean. Well, spritz a little lubricating oil on the scribbles and wipe them with a soft cloth!

2. Super sticky price tag labels can be taken off with some oil. Just spray it over the sticker, let it sit for a little bit and then use a paper towel to gently remove the sticker!

3. Speaking of A sticky situation, gum can make a big mess when it is stuck to your shoe. Well, no problem for the spray oil. Apply it directly to the gum, wait five minutes and then wipe the gum and all of the sticky residue away with a paper towel. This also works great on silly putty, tar and tree sap!.

4. Speaking of A sticky situation, gum can make a big mess when it is stuck to your shoe. Well, no problem for the spray oil. Apply it directly to the gum, wait five minutes and then wipe the gum and all of the sticky residue away with a paper towel. This also works great on silly putty, tar and tree sap!

5. Finally, if you get a ring stuck on your finger a quick spritz of some lubricating oil will help that ring slide right off, just remember to wash both your hand and the ring when you're done!

Shower Doors

Shower doors can save you the fussing around that can come with shower curtains and hooks, but they can be difficult to keep clean. Here are some easy tips to help with yours.

1. Soap scum and mineral deposits will come off of those doors easily with some laundry pre-wash spray. Just spray it on, wait a minute and wipe it off.

2. Baby oil can also help break through that hardened scum. Just put some on a wash cloth and scrub the door clean.

3. You can prevent that build-up from occurring in the first place by buffing the door with some lemon oil on a soft cloth.

4. To clean your shower door track, pour some vinegar onto the track to fill the space. Then scrub it with a bottle brush. Lay some towels outside the tub and pour some hot water into the track to flush out the vinegar.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

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Over 200 easy and practical do-it-yourself home repairs and household hints that anyone can tackle! From caulking your tub to removing carpet stains with shaving cream this book will tell you how. Makes a great gift for you and a friend!On special for only $6.99!!

Getting Kids to Help at Home

If you're wondering why you can't get your kids to pick up, you need to think like them and put yourself at their level and it'll be a lot easier.

1. If you're kids are always leaving their coats and bags on the floor when they come in, look where you want them to hang them. Many closet rods and hooks are too high for kids to reach, put some lower hooks within their reach, so they can do it themselves. The same goes for their bedrooms and their bathroom. If you want things hung up, hang hooks at their level!

2. Kids rooms get messy, but when you say, clean up your room it can seem daunting. The solution: break it into smaller jobs for them. Ask them to pick up trucks, then stuffed animals then something else until the room is done.

3. Want kids to help with the garden or help with the sweeping, get tools their size. A small rake or broom will allow your kids to work along side without trying to maneuver bigger tools.

4. Think your kids are too small to help with chores, think again, even those as young as three can help around the house. They can collect laundry, fold small towels and washcloths, set the table, and help unload groceries.