Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to Paint a Room- Painting Basics

There are so many DIY projects that involve new paint. Without knowing painting basics, simplest paint job can go sour very quickly. It'll make an impact either way- but you want it to be a positive one! And, rather than taking a picture of your newly updated room for your Pinterest board, 
Painting walls is actually very simple, but takes a lot of work and care to make it look right. Here are five steps to follow to get your walls looking fresh and perfect.

1. Research and Prep- Take a look at the kind of wall you are painting. Different walls require different brushes. Highly textured walls will need a thicker density roller brush. The best course of action is to get an employee to walk you through their selection and help you pick out the best materials for your job. When picking a paint color, take a few samples home to try on your wall. The actual color is going to be much different than the swatch! Also take a few days to examine the colors in every type of light- morning, afternoon, artificial- before making your final choice.

2. Plastic covers- No matter how careful you are when painting, paint gets everywhere. And the worst place for it to get is all over carpet or hardwood floors. Paint splatters look unattractive and messy, and the floors will never look clean. So invest in some disposable plastic sheets to lay on floors, furniture that isn't being moved from the room, and anything else you don't want painted. When the paint drips, it'll fall on the sheets instead of permanent surfaces.

3. Tape- Continue prep work with taping off areas to get a clean line of paint. These usually include on baseboards, around door frames, and the crack between the wall and the ceiling. It's very important to use the right kind of tape. Not all tapes are equal! Without a good tape, the paint will seep underneath, ruining that clean line you need. Another problem is that some tapes won't peel up easily, either forcing you to scrape it up later, or pulling paint up with it. FrogTape is a widely known favorite that leaves a crisp line while coming up easily after paint has dried.

4. Prime- If there is an existing color on the walls, they may need to be primed, especially if they are dark. Some paints are a color with primer in one, but these paints usually require many coats, and can turn out to be more expensive and the same amount of work. You can try testing out a patch on your wall to see how easily your new color covers the old one, or talk to an expert in your local paint department about your best option for your colors. For both primer and color, follow steps 5-8. 

5. Cut- Now you can finally crack open that paint can! The first step to getting full and even coverage on the walls is to cut around edges and corners. Mostly, in places where a roller can't reach. This includes any places with tape- baseboards, door frames, and along ceiling lines or lines between walls (if not painting all walls). Use short strokes to carefully paint around these lines. And always use a dry brush!

6. Roll- Next comes the fun part. This goes fast and gives a lot of gratification quickly. Load a dry roller sponge with plenty of paint- not dripping, but a fully soaked roller. Start with diagonal lines back and forth in one direction, and then quickly roll over those with lines in the opposite direction to get the best coverage (see diagram).

7. Multiple coats- Once the paint has dried completely, it's time to put on another coat. A large majority of colors will need at least two coats. Some will need more. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for best wall coverage. 

8. Examine the room- Before cleaning up for good and peeling the painters tape off, examine the room during all times of the day. Sometimes a room can look great in morning light, but as soon as afternoon sun pours in, it'll look splotchy and uneven. Have your brush and roller ready throughout the day to paint trouble spots and patch the uneven areas. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Which Room Colors Influence Mood?

Color creates and a definite mood, tone and energy in a room, which is why it's so important to pick one that will create the mood that you want. For bedrooms, colors with a calm, relaxing effect are often preferred over ones that create high-energy or excitement. Those are best in a living room or other areas where it can stimulate productivity and conversation. 

So, which colors have which effects? 

Red- Red creates a very high-energy environment. It stimulates the mind and body, a lot of times physically increasing heart rate and body circulation. 
Rooms to paint red: Living room, dining room, kitchen.
Rooms to avoid: Bedrooms

Orange-Similar to red, orange raises excitement and enthusiasm. It rejuvenates and increases energy, appetite, and boosts self-esteem. 
Rooms to paint orange: Exercise room, kitchen.
Rooms to avoid: Bedrooms, living room.

Yellow- Yellow is a very cheerful color, often raising happiness and energy. It's uplifting, warm and cheery. However, it can also be hard on the eyes and over-stimulating, creating anxiety. That's why it's best used as an accent only.
Rooms to paint yellow: Accent in kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room.
Rooms to avoid: Bedrooms

Green- Greens are very calming, relaxing, and easy on the eyes. It's fresh and cheerful, but helps to comfort, unwind, and reduce stress. 
Rooms to paint green: Living room, bedrooms, bathroom.
Rooms to avoid: Kitchen

Blue- Like green, blue has a calming and relaxing effect. It also helps increase focus and creativity. Pastels can be cold and frosty, so use those sparingly. Dark hues can make the room too dark, making the room dreary and depressing. 
Rooms to paint blue: Bedroom, bathroom, office.
Rooms to avoid: Living room, kitchen.

Purple- The color of royalty and luxury. As with blue, the hues make a large difference in the mood it creates. Dark purples and plums create a mood of sophistication, passion, and creativity. Lighter purples, like lavender and lilac, have the same qualities as calming blue. However, they don't have as much risk of being cold or hard.
Rooms to paint purple: Dining room, bedrooms, office, bathroom.
Rooms to avoid: Living room, kitchen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12 Cheap DIY Ideas to Fix Up the House Before the Holidays

Kids in school are counting down the last days before the holiday break, college students are looking forward to the back side of their finals, and it's impossible to avoid Christmas music in every grocery and department store. As of today, there are only two weeks until Christmas.

We know that there are a lot of things on the to-do list, including finishing shopping, mailing cards to friends and family, and baking treats for the neighbors. It's hard enough to get all of those done while also prepping the house for guests.

So here 12 quick, easy, and cheap things to do in order to get the house clean and ready for your guests before you see their headlights pull up in the driveway. 

1.  Follow a Deep Clean Schedule- Getting all of the cleaning done can be a daunting task, but is very manageable if it's taken one step at a time. Here is our 30 minutes a day deep clean schedule.

2.  Clean the Carpets- Through, you can find a place to rent a machine and also find a coupon. Or, if you plan on continuing to clean your carpets, invest in a carpet cleaning machine which usually runs between $100 and $150. Cleaning them yourself can take a couple of hours (and will need time to dry, especially during winter- be sure to turn up that heater!), but is well worth the time once it's finished.

3.  Add Area Rugs- In places that have large stains, or just need a pop of color and style, add some area rugs. Good places are under the dining room table, in front of the couch, the entry way, by beds, or down a hallway. 

4.  Add an Accent Wall- One gallon of paint is around $20, but depending on the size of the wall, you may be able to buy a couple of pints. Pick a fun, new color, and use an afternoon to paint an accent wall. It will give the room a completely new and fresh look.

5.  Update Lighting Fixtures- Updating lighting fixtures allows you to add personal style quickly. Also, some lighting fixtures don't always light up the space as well as they could. New fixtures make a big impact and gives you the opportunity to brighten up any space. Check out our sister site for lighting fixtures at

6.  Replace front doorknob- Another easily updated piece in your house that makes a huge impact is the doorknob on the front door. For a total makeover, also think about painting the front door!

7.  New Switch Plates- Most switch plates are very affordable at any home improvement store. Change out your old ones to update any room quickly. Or, if you're very creative, refurbish your old ones with paint or other decorations.

8.  Patch Grout in Bathroom and Recaulk- Grout chips and cracks away after a while, so luckily it's easy to fix. Get some grout that matches your color and patch up the holes. Make sure the existing grout isn't wet before patching on top of it. Another necessary chore is to recaulk around the tub. This will protect the grout and glue, and make it easier to clean.

9.  New Shower Curtain, Bath Mat, and Towels- A cheap way to make a huge statement. Completely update the whole look of your bathroom with new accessories. There are endless possibilities with colors, patterns, and textures.

10.  Declutter with New Storage- Adding some big plastic bins in the garage or organizers in bedroom and linen closets allows for better organization. Having things organized well makes it a lot easier to clean up and keep things in their place.

11.  Add Molding- Install some crown molding or a chair rail molding for a fresh and classy look. Paint it, nail it it, patch the holes, and paint the patches.

12.  Window Treatments- Curtains and valences make a huge statement in the room, and often sets the mood. Change it up with new curtain rods as well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keeping the Kitchen Sanitary

It's almost time to get that turkey into the oven and onto everyone's plates! That, along with the mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, salads, and pies. One of the most important things to keep in mind while cooking up a storm is making sure to keep the kitchen sanitary. No one wants to miss out on Black Friday shopping because of food poisoning!
  • Store raw foods correctly in the fridge. Store raw meats on the bottom shelves, packaged foods in the middle, and raw vegetables on the top shelves. Occasionally, raw meats can leak and drip bloody juices. Don't let them drip onto your vegetables or other food!
  • Wash hands! The most basic food safety guideline is to wash hands. Hands should be washed:
    • When first beginning cooking
    • After using the restroom
    • After touching face, hair, clothes, or anything other than food and cooking utensils
    • When switching from raw to cooked food
    • After touching raw meat
    • After touching buttons on the oven, microwave, or stove
    • Every hour, on the hour
  • Don't cross contaminate. Keep raw meats from touching other food. Use separate cutting boards for vegetables, poultry, beef, seafood, and diary. Use separate knives for each of these, as well, or wash the knife in hot, soapy water in between. Don't touch cooked foods after touching raw meats without washing hands.
  • Sneeze into crook of arm. This is simple manners, but sometimes hard to remember. While cooking in the kitchen, don't sneeze onto the food. Nobody wants someone else's germs!
  • Cook the turkey to 165 degree internal temperature. Turkey is poultry, and can carry many very harmful bacteria, like salmonella. recommends that, in order to make sure the turkey is thoroughly cooked and bacteria not harmful, make sure the internal cooking temperature reaches 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer and insert into the thickest part of the thigh, being very careful not to let the probe sit against a bone. 
  • Cook ham to 140-145 degrees internal temperature. also recommends that fresh ham cooked from a raw state be heated to 145 degrees with a rest time of three minutes before cutting into it, and a pre-cooked ham be reheated to at least 140 degrees.
  • Use bleach to clean areas that touched raw meats. Many cleaners contain bleach and antibacterial properties. Clean counter tops, knives, cutting boards, and utensils that were used to handle raw meats. 
  • Also bleach areas that may have been touched with contaminated hands. Wipe down knobs, buttons, and door handles that may be contaminated with raw meats. Microwave buttons, oven and stove knobs and buttons, oven doors, fridge door, sink faucet, and the sink.
  • Use a very diluted bleach spray on clean hand-washed dishes. Sometimes, hot water used when hand-washing dishes isn't hot enough to kill all bugs completely. Use about a teaspoon of bleach per 20 oz. of water in a spray bottle, and lightly mist the clean dishes to kill anything left on them. Leave the spray on and air dry. 
  • Launder all kitchen towels and washcloths. After heavy use, washing these in a hot washer will kill everything that might be hiding.
  • Microwave the sponge. Stick all dirty sponges in the microwave while wet (but not dripping) and microwave for two minutes. This is the most effective way to kill bacteria living in the little sponge crevices. 
  • Store leftovers correctly. Use shallow, small Tupperware and dishes to store hot leftovers so they cool quickly and evenly. If a large pan of food is put in the fridge, it may never cool down in the middle, making the food unsafe for later consumption. If things are very hot, use a ice water bath to cool it. Fill sink with ice water, and set the dish down into the water (without letting it get wet!). Stir the food around so it can touch the sides of the dish and cool quickly.
  • Throw away food that sat out for more than three hours. The general rule of thumb is three hours. If the food didn't make it to the fridge in time, toss it in the trash. 
Enjoy your meals and remember to keep safe this holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Top Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Happy Thanksgiving from Home Products Inc.! We took a poll here at the office and asked for everyone's favorite Thanksgiving dishes. And here are our favorite recipes! Try one out and test it with your family this year.
Also, don't forget to check out our Thanksgiving Pinterest board!

Cornbread Stuffing. 
One staff member loves her grandmother's cornbread stuffing with walnuts. Here is a similar recipe to try from Recipe Goldmine:

Walnut-Cranberry Corn Bread Stuffing

Makes 5 cups.


  • 4 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 small carrot, minced 
  • 1 small rib celery, minced 
  • 1 small onion, minced 
  • 2 1/4 cups (approximately) lightly crumbled corn bread 
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley 
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage leaves, crumbled 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper 
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries 
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts 
  • 1 1/2 cups hot turkey broth or water 
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter; add carrot, celery and onion; sauté until softened (about 10 minutes).
In a large bowl, toss corn bread with cooked carrot, celery and onion; add parsley, sage, salt and pepper. Add cranberries, walnuts and stock; mix well.
Place dressing in a 2-quart casserole; cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake until center of stuffing registers 165 degrees F (about 30 minutes).

Check out more of their recipes at

Green Bean Casserole
Another staff loves the classic French's green bean casserole. Simple and always a hit

French's Green Bean Casserole


  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 packages (9 oz. each) frozen cut green beans, thawed
  • 1 1/3 cups French's French Fried Onions, divided

Combine soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2-quart baking dish; stir until blended. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup onions.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 minutes or until onions are golden.

Orange Glazed Yams
Sweet potatoes add a fall flair to the meal. This staff makes orange glazed yams year-round to get a taste of fall anytime!
Also, just use the glaze for pancake topping, or as Turkey, mashed potato, and stuffing topping.
Allie's Orange Glazed Yams


  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 can (29 oz.) yams/sweet potatoes

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium sized bowl. In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, bring the orange juice to a boil. Pour the juice into the sugar/corn starch  mixture and stir until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved into the juice. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

Stirring constantly, continue to heat the mixture for about 5 minutes, until the glaze is thick and transparent. Add the butter and let melt.

Drain the yams, and heat them in the microwave until warm. Gently stir them into the glaze and keep on stove on lowest heat to keep warm.


Most of our staff can't imagine the Thanksgiving table without the Jell-O! With so many varieties, it's hard to pick just one recipe to share.

Pick three-four boxes of the Jell-O flavor you want and follow the directions, but add only half the amount of water that it calls for so that the Jell-O is very firm and will suspend the fruit.
Once the Jell-O mixture is made, stir in your choice of fruit and pour into a serving dish.
Let it set in the fridge, and serve cold. Don't forget the whipped cream!

Our favorite combinations:
  • Raspberry Jell-O with crushed pineapple, crushed cranberries, and chopped apples and walnuts
  • Orange Jell-O with fresh strawberries and banana
  • Strawberry Jell-O with pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges
  • Lemon/Lime Jell-O with strawberries and cherries
  • Any flavor Jell-O with fruit cocktail
Have fun and experiment to find your favorite combination!

Orange Tea Rolls
This recipe has been shared between most of the staff here, and has been a favorite in our families for over 40 years! It's a tried and true staple in all of our Thanksgiving meals.
Grandma Julie's Orange Tea Rolls


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Orange zest
  • 4-5 cups flour


Scald the milk in a pan on the stove- hot, but not boiling. This is important to kill enzymes so the dough will rise properly. Add in sugar, margarine or butter, and salt. Let the mixture melt together and cool down enough so it's warm to the touch, enough for yeast to activate. 

Pour melted mixture into mixture bowl with the yeast and warm water. Let it sit until yeast bubbles and froths.

Add beaten eggs and orange juice. Grind in a bit of orange zest to decorate dough. 

Add in 4 to 5 cups of flour, until the dough is elastic and smooth but not sticky. Either use a dough hook to knead dough for about 3 minutes, or knead 30 times by hand on a flour-covered surface. Put dough back in the bowl, and cover with cloth and let rise 30-45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Use a cupcake pan and grease each tin. Roll golf ball sized balls of dough. Place three dough balls side by side together in each cupcake tin. Let rise again until doubled. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Take out of oven and drizzle with orange glaze.

Orange Glaze:


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon orange juice
  • Orange zest

Beat together all ingredients with hand mixer or stand up mixer with beater attachment. Glaze should be a thicker runny consistency. Add more orange juice or powdered sugar until it's at the preferred consistency

Drizzle over hot rolls  and enjoy!

The Turkey/Goose
The true star of the show! With so many ways to cook a turkey, our staff couldn't agree on one! One staff even said his family always deep fries a Thanksgiving goose. But here are our favorites:

  1. Roasted. Place turkey in an oven roaster bag with salt and pepper and cook for recommended time. Remove bag for last 15 minutes to get a crisp skin. 
  2. Brined. Soak turkey overnight in a brine solution and roast in oven. Here are a suggestion of many different brines to try: Food Network Turkey Brine Recipes
  3. Fried. Beware: deep frying a turkey requires a lot of monitoring and close attention. After salting the turkey, follow instructions on the deep fryer and cook away! 

One staff here isn't a fan of turkey- at all. Thanksgiving at his house revolves around ham as the main dish. Most hams now are pre-cooked, and just need to be covered in glaze and warmed in the oven.

Pumpkin Pie
The show isn't over till the fat lady sings, and this time the fat lady is the pumpkin pie. No Thanksgiving table is complete without the pie to finish off the event.

Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust
Follow the link for detailed instructions with pictures.


  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Once the crust is finished, fill the unbaked crust with the pumpkin filling:

Pumpkin Pie Filling


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in small bowl. 

Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar/spice mixture. Gradually add evaporated milk.

Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean. Cool 2 hours.

For the Thanksgiving-goers who aren't a fan of pumpkin, or who just want a second dessert! And this cheesecake is just the thing to please a crowd, especially because of how simple it is to make.

Marge's Speedy Cheesecake

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup, 2 Tablespoons sugar; divided
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla; divided
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
Pre-made graham cracker crust


Soften cream cheese on counter for an hour, or warm in microwave for 15 seconds. Beat with a mixer until soft and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until mixed evenly. Add in eggs one at a time and beat until creamy.

Pour cream cheese mixture into graham cracker crust. Bake at 325 degrees until almost set, between 25-30 minutes.

Combine sour cream, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Spoon over the top of the hot pie carefully. Put back in the oven at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, until the top layer is firm.

Cool and then chill in refrigerator for several hours before serving.

And lastly, before sitting down to your meal, don't forget the cranberry sauce! 

From all of us at Home Products, Inc.,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Must-Do Home Winter-Proofing!

With just two weeks before Turkey Day, it's time to get those necessary and procrastinated winter chores done before frigid temperatures make that impossible. Accomplishing the things on this list is even more important for those in very cold and snowy areas. With unpredictable and harsh weather, it's very important to make sure that your house and car will be a safe and functional shelter all season long.

To make it easier, print this checklist to help get it done!

Word doc

Image file with border:


  • Trim trees and branches- especially those hanging over roofs. High winds and heavy snow could easily break off branches, causing them to crash through the roof or windows. 
  • Add sealant and weatherproofing to cracks on house and foundation. Finding cracks and sealing them now will prevent heated air from escaping, raising the heating bill. Also, save some misery of having to trudge through chilly temperatures by finding them now rather than later.
  • Repair driveway and walkways. Existing cracks and chips can easily worsen through the winter months. As water drips down into the cracks and freezes, the water's volume will expand, causing the cement to expand, and crack more. Additionally, de-icers and salt can make this cycle worse, since it causes ice to melt more quickly, allowing it to seep into cracks more. So it's especially important to repair damaged cement if you plan to use an ice melt this season.
  •  Tend the garden by raking away debris and pruning bushes and trees. Rather than letting leaves and twigs rot and freeze to the ground all winter long, clean them up now to keep the yard looking clean, and to have easier access to underground pipes in case of emergency.


  • Renew window caulking. Keep in heat and keep out moisture! It's that simple. 
  • Service the heater and replace worn out ducting. Test the heater to make sure it works before it's needed. Consider calling a service person to check that it's functioning correctly. Also, go in the crawl space to check out ducts to each room to see if there are any holes that would allow air to escape below the house and replace the ducts with holes.
  • Check bathroom fans and ducts. Without a good fan with undamaged ducts, steam will rise into the attic and not make it outside of the house. Once the moisture hits the cold air, the water will condense and collect in the attic, leaking into the ceiling, or freezing in joints. A lot of costly damage can be prevented with a good bathroom fan and functioning ducts
  • Check pipes for leaks or cracks. Nothing could be worse than a leaky pipe that bursts when it freezes, causing the house to lose water until it's repaired. Don't risk the mess of repairing frozen pipes, and repair any leaks or cracks in them now.
  • Service hot water heater. Instead of having it dysfunction in the middle of a hot shower, have the hot water heater checked over now to make sure it's in top performance mode. 
  • Learn how to shut off water. In case of an emergency like a burst or frozen pipe, the water line will need to be shut off. There is always an emergency switch that will allow the homeowner to do this. Find the switch in your house and know where it is in case of emergency.
  • Check attic fan. Attic fans are a great resource to circulate air through the attic to dry out any moisture that may condensate and collect. It also helps prevent all of the warm air from rising and melting snow on the roof, making it run down and freeze above the eaves, making a little ice dam. This dam will prevent other water from running down and off of the roof, and will collect all winter long. Some fans are on a thermometer that will need to be adjusted to run in winter months, and not just run when temperatures are higher.
  • Add extra insulation to the attic. As time goes on, insulation can break down and lose efficiency. Replace insulation in bare areas in order to keep as much heat in the house as possible instead of losing it straight out of the ceiling. 
  • Update food storage. Natural disasters and other emergencies are unpredictable, sometimes making it impossible to prepare for them. Have at least a week's worth of food per person saved, along with matches, candles, batteries, lanterns, toiletries, water, and water purification. Cooking stoves that use propane are also a smart thing to carry, allowing food to be cooked and water to be boiled. Don't forget the blankets! For existing food storage, check expiration dates and replace any outdated or spoiled food.
  • Reverse fan blade direction. In the summer, fans should rotate counter-clockwise, pushing air down and cooling the room. In the winter, set fan blades to the reverse direction to rotate clockwise. This creates an updraft, and will pull cooler air up, forcing warmer air back down. To switch the direction, check for a little switch on the fan up by the pull chains and the blades.

Picture courtesy

  • Check tires. Double check air pressure to ensure tires are at optimum performance, and at a lower risk of bursting. If tread is worn down, replace with new tires to prevent skidding and slippage on ice. For those in icy areas, switch out regular tires for snow tires that will drive better in the snow and eliminate the need for chains.
  • Check fluids. Remember to change the oil every 3,000-5,000 miles! Also, continue to check oil levels between oil changes, and top off low levels. To do this, open the car hood and find the stick labeled "Oil." Pull out the stick, wipe off the oil with a paper towel, and stick it back in. Pull it out once more. If the oil is at or above the notch on the stick, the level is fine. If below, pour more oil in so the level reaches the notch. Also check the antifreeze level, and top off windshield wiper fluid. 
  • Update first aid kit. Who knows when an emergency may occur. Keep a first aid kit in the trunk with basic needs, like bandaids, triple antibiotic ointment, painkillers, gloves, gauze, rubber bands, and pins. 
  • Update 72-hour kits. Another important emergency essential is a 72-hour kit in the trunk, complete with a change of clothes, shoes, socks, food, water, batteries, flashlights, blankets, and matches. Don't get stranded anywhere in the winter without these! And throw in an extra blanket or two. It never hurts to be extra prepared in a winter emergency.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Top 12 Deceivingly Filthy Household Objects

It's common knowledge that some things just need to be cleaned frequently. No one who has ever used a toilet can deny that it needs a good spritz of bleach fairly often!

But what about common household things that aren't so obvious? Here are a list of 12 deceivingly germy items that almost everyone has around the house that may not get the attention they need.

Door Handles-  As hands touch surfaces, they pick up contagions and spread them to other surfaces. Since doorknobs are touched frequently, they are often a carrier of more germs than one would ever think.
Clean it! Use an antibacterial disinfecting spray on them every evening, or use a spray of diluted vinegar.

Bathtubs-  While using soaps while bathing may clean the body, it doesn't have the same effect for the shower and tub itself. Soap scum, germs, bacteria, and viruses easily hide here because it's a place that is hard to remember to clean.
Clean it! After every shower, spray the tub with diluted vinegar (but keep it off of grout!). Once a week, use a liquid or spray bathroom cleaner. Try to stay away from abrasive cleaners like Comet that could scratch the fiberglass sub surface.

Kitchen sink-  After washing dishes, there are tons of little food particles and other germy things sitting around in the sink and pipes, especially in garbage disposals.
Clean it! After washing dishes, wipe out and clean the empty sink with the soapy sponge. Clean it just like you would any other dish. Once it's been washed and rinsed, run the garbage disposal with hot water and cleaner or vinegar for a couple of seconds. To get out icky smells, push in a lemon or orange rind to grind up and eliminate odors.

Sponges-  These are a germ fest! They are often left out while wet, which is a great place for germs to grow. They also have tons of little hiding spots for the germs to live. And since they often come in contact with food particles, it allows for a lot of growth very quickly.
Clean it! The easiest way to get rid of these is to put a wet sponge in the microwave and microwave it on high for two minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes before pulling it out so it won't burn!

Oven knobs and microwave buttons-  Similar to door handles, these see a lot of use and come in contact with a lot of germs from hands. However, an added danger to the buttons in the kitchen is that they have the potential to see a lot of germs from raw foods like chicken and beef, since cooks may use these buttons while their hands are contaminated from raw meats.
Clean it! As part of a routine, wipe down these buttons and knobs with a disinfectant or vinegar every evening after cleaning up from dinner.

Pillows-  They incur a lot of use- at least every night for an extended period of time. Even pillow cases can't protect pillows completely. It's a perfect place for little things to grow and live since pillows are not cleaned often.
Clean it! Run pillows in a cycle in the washing machine twice a year. Consider adding a cup of bleach to the load to give it extra germ-killing power. Let pillows air dry and fluff them in the dryer when they are almost completely dry.

Toothbrushes-  Daily use in the mouth, one of the dirtiest places in the body, can attract a lot of germs. And since toothbrushes are left out to air dry, it creates a perfect environment for growth.
Clean it! Soak the toothbrush in vinegar for ten minutes once every other week and rinse, and replace toothbrushes once a month.

Bathmat-  Another object that is left damp fairly often is the bathmat. And going barefoot in the bathroom can introduce a lot of bacteria and viruses on the mat.
Clean it! Launder the bathmat once a week in the washing machine. Add some color safe bleach every once in a while to get it really cleaned. Let it sit out to air dry if there is rubber to protect the bottom and prevent it from cracking.

Cellphone-  Just like door handles, cell phones come in contact with hands quite often. And let's not even think about the people who use their phone in the bathroom! Not only do phones see a lot of hands, they also get pressed up to the face, where germs have easy entry into the body. A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control journal found that 43% of phones tested carried infective organisms on them. (Am J Infect Control. 2010 Jun;38(5):404-5.) Yikes!
Clean it! Spray a bit of disinfecting spray on a soft cloth and wipe down the once one every day or every other day.

Bags and purses-  Think about all the places bags get set down. Shopping carts, bathroom floors, gym lockers, kitchen counters, tables, and pretty much everywhere. They pick up a lot of things from public places that are then sneakily brought into the home.
Clean it! Wipe bottoms of bags down with disinfectant, and don't forget about bag handles!

TV remote-  Another object that sees a lot of action from hands and fingers, many microorganisms collect on the buttons and cracks of the remote.
Clean it! While going around and cleaning door handles, take a quick swipe across the TV remote to disinfect and clean it.

Water bottles-  Since it usually only holds water, it's hard to remember that it needs to be washed frequently. Something that goes repeatedly in the mouth, like a toothbrush, has exposure to germs quite often.
Clean it! Run water bottles through a cycle in the dishwasher with every load. Or, soak the lid in vinegar for 30 minutes and rinse in hot water every two to three days, while washing the body of the bottle in hot soapy water.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Start Nesting for Winter

It doesn't need to be spring to do a little spring cleaning! Before hunkering down out of the cold, tidy up and organize to start relaxing for the winter. Here are a few tips to getting everything in order and begin winter nesting.

Low on closet space? Go through and sort clothing. Chances are, sandals, shorts, and tank tops won't be needed at Christmastime. Get some plastic bins or moving boxes to pack all of your summertime clothing away. Once that warm weather wardrobe is out of your closet, the available space should double. Organize the remaining items with closet organizers, like shelves, a shoe rack, or a closet doubler.
Closet organizers perfect for saving room. Find these at

While going through clothing, and anything else in the house, for that matter, this makes it much easier to decide what to do with it all. Make three piles, KEEP, DONATE, and TRASH. Having a goal in mind while sorting will make it easier to get started and help speed up the process.

If you're still having a hard time deciding which pile a pair of shoes should go into, follow this one simple rule. Think back over the last year. Did you wear the shoes at least once in the last twelve months? If not, donate them! There's another way to keep this rule all year long with clothing on hangers. At the beginning of the year, hang up everything with the hangers facing all one direction. When you wear and item and put it back in the closet, flip the hanger around the other way! At the end of the year, you can easily see which items have been used and worn, and which ones weren't touched.

Make your way into the kitchen, because it's time to clean out all of that food that has been collecting in the back of the cupboard. Go through and check dates, and throw away any cans that are dented or bulging. These are signs of contamination and spoiled food. This is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, a very serious illness. Plus, anyone who has experienced food poisoning knows it's not even worth getting a day off of work! Visit the FDA website for more information about spoiled canned food, how to identify it, and more.
Throw out cans the bulge like this

Also consider putting organizers into drawers in the kitchen and bathroom. There isn't any reason why that classic junk drawer can't also be clean and organized. Having organizers in drawers creates a specific place or home for items, making it easier to put them away in the correct spot after using them.

Is the kids' play room a disaster? Peter Walsh on gave some great tips to keep the kids' rooms clean and organized. First, he says to ask the kids to pick five toys that are their favorite, and five that they don't play with much to donate to the less fortunate. Another tip he gave was to go through the toys and toss or donate any toys that aren't played with as much. It's likely the kids won't even notice they're gone. And lastly, his advice was to get some bins so sort toys into, and then label. Some examples are bins for Barbies, action figures, farm animals, Lincoln Logs, etc. This not only gives a home to each toy, but also makes it easy for the kids to clean up after themselves, and teaches them good organization skills early on.

Don't forget about the car! Summer brings a lot of dirt and sand, which usually ends up in the car, along with tons of road trip items and trash that were left behind. Take care of all of this in one go. Find a car wash with a vacuum and trash bin. Toss the garbage and vacuum the carpets all at the same time. This also forces you to decide which items to take into the house or leave in the car. Try to leave an extra blanket, some emergency food kits, and a first aid kit in the car, especially in areas that get a lot of snow. You never know when you might get stuck in your car.

And lastly, what to do with all of those bins mentioned above. Store them in the garage or shed. Large plastic bins are easy to store and stack. Put them along walls or up in the rafters. This is the perfect place for seasonal items, like your out of season clothing, holiday decorations, or kid and baby items to save for later.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Central Vacuum Systems FAQ

It is a vacuum system that is installed and runs through the entire house, allowing the user to plug in a hose into a wall inlet where they want to vacuum. Debris is then sucked away to a power unit installed elsewhere in the home.

How is it installed?

A permanent power unit is placed somewhere out of the way, like a garage or basement. Then, tubing from this unit is installed and runs through the walls, crawl space, and/or attic of the house. Inlets are installed to those tubes in the walls wherever the homeowner would like to vacuum. 
Nutone VX1000 Vacuum System Power Unit

How do I use the central vacuum system?

Easy! Plug in the lightweight hose and brush to the inlet, flip the switch on your handle, and use like a normal vacuum. Dust, hair, and debris is carried away to the power unit, along with the suctioned air. There is no need to turn on the power unit when wanting to use it.
Plug the hose into a wall inlet. This is what is installed in the wall.

Are there any health benefits?

Yes! Central vacuum systems help reduce the amount of allergens in the house, improving air quality and reducing allergy symptoms. The University of California at Davis School of Medicine conducted a study, comparing the effects of a portable vacuum vs. a central vacuum system, and found the central system to be superior in all areas. The central system found the following:
  • improved nasal symptoms
  • improved eye symptoms
  • improved non-nasal symptoms
  • improved activity
  • improved emotions
  • improved sleep 
These improvements were reported in all participants who had documented these problems before using a central system (J Invest Allergol Clin Immunol 2001; Vol. 11(4): 290–294).

What are the other benefits of a central system vs. a portable vacuum?

First, the hoses and accessories for a central vacuum are much lighter and easier to move around than a portable vacuum. This is especially important for homeowners with multiple story houses. 
Also, portable vacuums will suction and recycle air back into the room, often releasing dust particles straight back to the house. Central vacuum systems carry the dusty air out into the power unit to filter the air so it's not released back into the home.
Additionally, a central system has higher suction power. This is because of the permanent power unit, which is able to have higher power and suction due to it not needing to be portable or light weight. It is also able to suck up chunks of trash, hair, and other things too large for a portable vacuum to suck up.
Lastly, it is much quieter. Since the suction is controlled in a separate part of the house, there is hardly any noise, excluding the sucking sound from the hose.

Are there any other uses with a central vacuum?

Yes! There are also dustpans that can be installed low by the floors of any room. When sweeping, turn on the dustpan, and sweep the debris straight into the hole, where it will be sucked away to the power unit with the vacuumed debris. There is no more need to bend over to sweep the dirt and dust into a pan, or to throw away the dirt into the trash, where it would continue to sit in the house.
AirVac VPANA Vacuum System Dustpan. Installed next to the floor. Push the lever on front to turn on suction.
What is the upkeep with one of these systems?

Air filters will need to be replaced every so often if the system requires filters. The bag or container holding dust and dirt will need to be emptied once about every three months. Hoses and brushes may need to be replaced, depending on careful the user is while storing and using them. They are generally very durable and can withstand a lot of use. It is overall a good, long-term investment.

What about if I have to move? I will have to leave my central system in the house when I go, since it's permanently installed.

A central vacuum increases home resale value, so after installing and enjoying the other benefits and uses, it continues to pay itself back if the need to move to a new home arises.

For any other questions, concerns, or to discuss installing a system in your home, call us anytime. (866) 368-8663.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

10 Quick and Affordable Home Improvement Tips

It's so easy to look around the house and notice things just look a little drab, and yet so hard to start working to fix it! The usual culprits to this are usually time and money. So we've compiled a list of simple, quick, and affordable home improvement projects that make it easy to get started! It may seem too easy, but all of these can make a huge impact in a room and make any house feel more like a home.

1.  Replace lighting fixtures. Is your house stuck with shiny gold fixtures installed over 20 years ago? These make the house look dated and old. Replace these with a new style that shows off your taste and gives a new chic look to your room. Challenge: Add a chandelier in the kitchen over the eating bar to glam up the dining experience.
2.  Change ceiling fans. Fans are not only functional in both summer and winter, but they give the potential to improve a room. Similar to lighting fixtures, they have a lot of style they can add to a room. Consider replacing a simple lighting fixture with a ceiling fan with a light to cut down on air conditioning costs. Challenge: Reverse the blade direction in the winter to draw up cold air, pushing warmer air down into the living area to keep it warmer.
3.  Paint kitchen cabinets. Replacing cabinets in the kitchen can be a long and costly experience, especially if the kitchen requires custom fits. Instead of tearing out the old ones, consider giving them a second life with a coat of paint. This DIY takes a bit of elbow grease, but it well worth the reward. It's very important to sand first to make sure the paint will stick, and remove cabinet doors to avoid painting the hinges. Shop for a semigloss or gloss paint that will make them easier to clean. And most importantly, clean them first! Make sure all dust, grease, fingerprints, and oil are cleaned away so the paint will go on smoothly and evenly. Challenge: Find a neutral gray color that is very "in" and will be easy to decorate around in the long run.
4.  Replace furniture and cabinet hardware. Changing out drawer pulls and cabinet door handles takes a screwdriver and 5 minutes, but gives a lasting impact that speaks your design language. There is such a wide variety to hardware, from modern metals, classic ceramic, to fabulous baroque and dazzling crystal. Challenge: Search antique stores to find vintage and unique hardware.
5.  Get a new doorbell button and chime. A new doorbell adds character and introduces the feel of the house to visitors in the first few seconds they arrive. The possibilities of doorbell buttons are endless! Find one to add curb appeal and cheer up guests. Challenge: Find a chime in a cheery, familiar tune.
6.  Hang new artwork. Make a room unique by hanging art that speaks to you and tells your story. Challenge: Take a photograph your favorite place, make a large print, and hang it! Be your own artist.
7.  Install an Iron-A-Way. Save space in your laundry room or kitchen by installing the Iron-A-Way. It's a cabinet that holds an ironing board and other iron needs. Open the cabinet and fold the ironing board down to use it, and then fold it back up to the wall when you're finished. Instead of having the ironing board sitting around, leaning against the wall and taking up space, this one easily hides behind a cabinet that comes in different colors. Challenge: Iron your wrinkly clothes! 
8.  Update window curtains and shades. Stuck with those aluminum, industrial looking window shades? Replace them with shades that are just as effective, but give your home a fresh, homey look. Also, continue to treat the windows with some new curtains. Look for ones that are both decorative and functional. Challenge: Find fabric you love and make curtains yourself!
9.  Add an area rug. Sometimes carpets get unsavory stains and hardwood floors get scratches and dents. It's not always possible to replace floors, so a good solution is to add an area rug. Add a pop of color or style while also functioning to cover up the blemishes on the floor. Challenge: Find a bold rug to be the center of attention in the room.
10.  Use a couch cover. Furniture is expensive. That's why it's so easy to get stuck with that old couch purchased 20 years ago. It can quickly become outdated, which then ages the whole atmosphere of the room. Investing in a chic couch cover can liven up the room and transform it instantly. Challenge: Find one in a print to set the tone of the room.

After updating and making these affordable DIY improvements, a brand new, chic style can finally come through! No more wishing for improvements that you wish you had. Now, make it happen!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Home Spot Heating

With the dip in temperature sweeping through last week, it was a good reminder that soon it will be time to pull out the down blankets, wool hats, and fuzzy sheepskin slippers. Some may have even teased the idea of turning on that dusty house heater to escape back into summer for just a little longer.

This season, look into a more efficient and better way to heat your home. Spot heating using wall heaters has many benefits, and can improve the long winter months.
Pictured: Broan 170, 174, 178 comfort wall heater

  • Have empty rooms in the house? Instead of heating the whole house at once, use wall heaters to heat only the rooms that are being used. 
  • Instead of waiting for the whole house to be heated, wall heaters will heat the space more quickly. Finally, the bathroom will be warm before you have to get out of the shower in the morning!
  • Everyone has their own idea of a comfortable, ambient temperature. Wall heaters allow each person to set the temperature to their own preference while they are in the room. 
  • Since wall heaters don't use any external venting, all of the heat and energy the heater creates will go to your home instead of up the chimney.
The many sizes available make it easy to select a heater that is perfect for each individual room.

Baseboard heaters sit low to the floor and are perfect for bedrooms and bathrooms. A wall-mounted thermostat installed above it make it easy for anyone to control the temperature. The BROAN model 112 is perfect for small areas where high heat output is desired, like a bathroom. 

A variety of wall mounted heaters and thermostats are available, each catering to different room sizes and functions. High capacity heaters are ideal for entry ways, lobbies, or large rooms requiring a high wattage heating. For areas like this, consider the BROAN 9810WH wall heater.

Smaller rooms only need lower wattage heaters, or ones that can be converted to half-wattage, in order to heat the room perfectly. Another good use for these heaters are large rooms with multiple heaters. Use one to heat only a portion of the room at a time, or turn them all on for a cozy, evenly heated atmosphere. Our most popular fan wall heater is the Cadet CSC101TW.

Shop for the perfect wall heaters for your home, and check out our selection of wall, kickspace, and baseboard heaters

~~Home Products, Inc.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bathroom Heater Guide

Spotlight Item:

Winter is coming...

As the leaves begin to change and the mercury starts dropping lower and lower on your thermometer it may be a good time to look into a bathroom heater. Bathroom heaters are a cost effective way to add heat to your bathroom on those cold mornings and evenings and can really increase the utility of that space.

Why this one...

 We have been selling Broan heaters for over twenty years and have found it to be a great brand that has consistently offered quality products. The Broan 154 Bathroom heater is one of the most economical quality bathroom heaters we offer. Priced at just $60.75 you are definitely going to get your money's worth with this heater.  This 1250 watt heater uses a wire element which means you will get instant heat right when you need it. 

Broan 154 Specifications....

Grille FinishSatin Aluminum
Heater IncludedYes
Heater TypeCeiling Heater
Housing Depth2.75
Housing Height11
Housing Width11
Includes ThermostatNo
Installation TypeRecessed, Surface Mounted
Overheat ProtectionYes

Quick Tips/Features...

  • Bathroom heaters need a dedicated 20 amp circuit
  • Bathroom heaters come with a reset-able thermo fuse for safety
  • Bathroom heaters are safer than space heaters because they are mounted to the ceiling
  • Bathroom heater use less energy than other types of heaters

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Whole House Fans 101

Whole-House Fans.
Whole-house fans are installed in a central hallway inside the house and pull fresh outdoor air through open windows. They are often used to augment air conditioning or instead of air conditioning in mild summertime climates.

Benefits of Whole-House Fans:

  • Efficient cost-effective cooling
  • Can cut summer air conditioning costs and create a more comfortable living environment
  • Exhange air much more rapidly than air conditioning units, allowing faster cooling of the interior
  • Draw cooler air indoors, especially when used at night and early morning hours
  • Extract heat from objects within a house, such as appliances, furniture and walls

Design Considerations

  • For maximum effectiveness, a whole-house fan must be sized correctly for the structure it is required to ventilate.
  • The formula to follow for determining capacity is: square feet of living area x 3 = CFM (cubic feet of air moved per minute) required.
  • Because whole-house fans exhaust hot air into an attic, a properly sized attic ventilation system is required to exhaust heated air from the attic to outdoors.
  • To determine the net free area of attic ventilation required, use the following formula: CFM rating of fan divided by 750 = square feet of net free exhaust area.
  • Failure to provide this venting will reduce the fan's airflow capacity. In addition, it will lead to noisy operation and ultimately failure of the fan motor.

                                                                                  Belt-Drive Whole-House Fans

Whole-house fans are installed in a central hallway inside the house and pull fresh outdoor air through open windows. They are often used to augment air conditioning or instead of air conditioning in mild summertime climates.

  • Fan motor is attached to blade with a pulley for quieter operation than direct-drive models
  • Made with a rubber-mounted, self-aligning, precision ball bearing drive assembly to reduce friction
  • Feature two-speed operation, with a convenient wall-mounted switch
  • An enamel steel housing with a powder-coated finish makes them extremely durable
  • Sizes: 30" and 36"
  • Shipped in an assembled wood frame to simplify installation

Direct-Drive Whole-House Fans

Whole-house fans are installed in a central hallway inside the house and pull fresh outdoor air through open windows. They are often used to augment air conditioning or instead of air conditioning in mild summertime climates.

  • Feature two-speed operation, with a convenient pull-chain switch
  • A heavy steel housing with a powder-coated finish makes them extremely durable
  • Can be mounted without cutting an attic joist
  • Sizes: 24" and 30"
  • Shipped in an assembled wood frame to simplify installation