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2014 路 3 L APRI



S P R I N G HOME Improvement

Tackle Spring Cleaning With The Environment In Mind


pring is a time of year when many people resolve to give their homes or apartments a thorough cleaning. Spring cleaning helps people revitalize their homes for the warmer months ahead, when windows are once again opened, fresh air comes in and the dark and dreary winter becomes a distant memory. Many families have spring cleaning rituals that allow them to efficiently clean their homes in a single weekend. But it’s just as important for spring cleaners to place as great an emphasis on the environment as they do on efficiency when clean-

ing a home. Eco-friendly spring cleaning practices produce less waste and rely on less chemicals to rejuvenate a home and get it ready for those seasons when huddling inside under the covers takes a backseat to lounging around the house as fresh air washes into the home. The following are a handful of ways to efficiently clean a home while also protecting the environment. ❃ Clear out the clutter. Clutter is an enemy to homeowners and the environment alike. That’s because addressing clutter is often an inefficient process in which homeowners

methodically go through items that have accumulated over the years, individually choosing which items to keep and which items to discard. Clutter can also prove harmful to the environment because rooms filled with clutter tend to collect dust, reducing air quality and leading to more indoor air pollution that can prove harmful to human health. When sifting through clutter in a home, discard those items that have gone ignored for years, as they likely have little or no financial value and it’s safe to assume they serve no practical purpose as well. Once clutter

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has been cleared out, prevent more of it from accumulating by making a conscious effort to discard items once they no longer serve any practical purpose. This includes old newspapers and magazines, as well as any other items that are likely to sit in a pile or on a shelf for months on end. Preventing the buildup of clutter reduces the amount of time you need to spend spring cleaning next year while also improving indoor air quality. ❃ Use cleaners only when windows are open. Many people get a head start on spring cleaning in late winter, when the weather might have started to warm up but has not yet warmed to the point when windows throughout the home can be opened. Though there’s nothing wrong with starting early, avoid using cleaning products on days when you can’t open the windows. Many cleaning products contain ample or even just trace amounts of chemicals that can compromise indoor air quality and may exacerbate existing medical conditions like respiratory ailments. When using cleaning products, try to do so only when the windows are open and fresh air can enter the


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home. ❃ Ensure appliances are working at peak efficiency. Spring cleaning is a great time to inspect appliances to make sure they are operating efficiently. Clean or replace filters on window air conditioning units. Dusty or dirty filters will force the air conditioner to work harder and use more energy to cool a room. In addition, dirty or dusty filters make units less efficient, which means rooms won’t cool as quickly on those scorching summer afternoons. Appliances forced to work harder also cost more money, and those costs can be considerable. When checking appliances, be sure to check the refrigerator as well. Refrigerators are plugged in all day long, and those that are not operating at peak efficiency can cost you a lot of money in the long run. Periodically clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator so it can operate more efficiently, saving energy and money. Vacuum cleaners should also be inspected before each use to make sure reels are not covered in hair, which can make it nearly impossible for the machine to collect dirt and dust from the floors. ❃ Use reusable cloths. Another way to turn spring cleaning into a more ecofriendly affair is to forgo using paper towels in favor of reusable cloths. Reusable wash cloths can be just as effective at wiping down counters as paper towels, which require more and more trees to be cut down and eventually end up in landfills. If you are feeling especially eco-friendly, you can go the extra mile and create your own reusable cleaning cloths out of old clothes or linens, saving you money and making use of items that might otherwise have been headed straight for a landfill. Spring cleaning can rejuvenate a home after a long winter. Emphasizing eco-friendly cleaning techniques can ensure your home’s revival is as beneficial to the environment as it is to the home’s inhabitants. ❃



S P R I N G HOME Improvement

Natural Fertilizers Provide Soil With Plenty Of Nutrients


awn and garden enthusiasts know a handful of items are essential to maintain a healthy landscape. Water, sunshine and the proper nutrients all work in concert to promote a healthy lawn. Although nutritional material is inherent in the soil, many gardeners feel soil must be amended with some sort of fertilizer to give plants a healthy boost. All-natural fertilizers are growing in popularity, and home gardeners have a variety of such products at their disposal. Ambitious homeowners can even create their own all-natural fertilizers from items around the house. Organic fertilizers, or those that are derived from living organisms and not manufacturered through chemicals, can provide sufficient nutrients and minerals to grow healthy plants. Bone meal. In order to store energy and reach maturity, plants need phosphate. This mineral is released over a long period of time from finely ground rock. However, a faster way to supply it to the landscape is through bone meal.

Bone meal is a mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones that are a waste product from meat-processing plants. Adding bone meal to soil is one of the most effective ways to increase phosphorous levels. Manure. The waste from herbivores (animals that feed on grass), including rabbits, horses and cows, can make super fertilizers. Some gardeners shy away from manure because they believe it to be an odoriferous, dirty product. The best produced manures are allowed to compost for at least nine months and are mixed with hay or straw. They should not produce an offensive odor and will provide plants with a host of nutrients. Never use manures from meat-eating animals, like dogs, cats or humans. Feces can harbor a lot of bacteria, which can be transfered to the garden soil. Fish and seaweed. Improving soil nutrients may be as simple as looking to the ocean or other bodies of water. Fish emulsion, a mixture of ground fish and water, is a good nitrogen source. Nitrogen gives

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Reduce, Recycle Home Improvement Project Waste


he home improvement industry has grown considerably over the last several decades, as homeowners have increasingly taken to tackling projects. These projects often produce substantial amounts of waste, negatively impacting the environment. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 170 million tons of building construction, renovation and demolition-derived wastes were generated in 2003, a year when the housing market was thriving and homeowners were not shying away from costly home improvement projects. With the housing market once again on the rebound, the home improvement industry figures to benefit once again. There are

steps eco-conscious homeowners can take to reduce waste. Save salvageable materials. Some materials simply must be discarded when making improvements, but many more materials can be salvaged. Separate materials like lumber, hardware, fixtures, and even appliances that can be salvaged from those materials that must be discarded. Many communities collect salvageable materials that can be reused by other local homeowners or organizations. Ask contractors about recycling. Contractors working on a home typically know which materials can be recycled in a given area. When discussing prospective projects with contractors, homeowners can


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mention their willingness to recycle materials. Wood is a versatile material that can be turned into reclaimed or composite wood products, such as decking. Old wood being removed from a home may even work as mulch, which homeowners can spread around their yards to add aesthetic appeal and protect plants on hot summer days. Even asphalt and concrete can be recycled into new products, and homeowners should discuss their wishes to recycle as many materials as possible. Choose recycled content building materials. Another way to reduce home improvement project waste is to make use of other homeowners’ discarded materials. Recycled content building materials are

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products that include materials recycled from previous projects. These once-sparse materials are now commonplace, and labels often include the percentages of postconsumer and recovered materials used in each product. Materials such as drywall, insulation, kitchen countertops, glass tiles, carpeting and carpet padding may include recycled content, and the growing popularity of such products has made them easier for homeowners to find. When working with contractors, homeowners should emphasize their desire to use materials made from recycled content. Embrace adaptability when designing a new home. Rarely do homeowners design their homes with renovations in mind. When building a dream home, homeowners do not consider the likelihood that they will one day move out or even outgrow the home. Estimates vary considerably with regard to how long the average ho-

meowner stays in his home, with some suggesting as little as seven years. While data collected from the United States Census Bureau within the last decade suggests that roughly half of all homeowners had lived in their homes for at least 10 years. People building new homes should expect to one day move. Ensuring that new homes are easily adaptable is both financially sound and eco-friendly. When a home is built with adaptability in mind, prospective buyers won’t have to make costly overhauls. In addition, homes built to facilitate future renovations won’t produce the same amount of waste. Many homeowners embrace home improvement projects as opportunities to turn their houses into private sanctuaries. But those who do so with the environment in mind can significantly reduce waste—even save some money—and still end up living in luxury.

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Take Care Of Termites Promptly To Avoid Damage

ccording to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage a year. Homeowners may be disconcerted to know that termites are very common. Termites are social insects that live together in colonies. These colonies eat nonstop, dining on wood and other cellulose plant matter. They also eat materials made from plants, like fabric and paper. To eradicate termites, homeowners must first identify the insects and then contact a termite management specialist.

Termites may not always be visible. Subterranean termite homes are usually formed in soil, where the termites build elaborate tunnel systems that channel to above-ground food sources. Drywood and dampwood termites may live within the wood they consume and be undetectable until the wood collapses or rots away. Homeowners often realize they have a problem when they witness swarming termites. At this point, there already may be a mature colony at work. Winged termites are attracted to light and can be seen by windows and doors in spring.

Other signs of termites include accumulation of soil or dirt at the base or foundation of wood structures. There also may be fissures or cracks near wood surfaces. Sometimes “frass” or termite droppings can be seen. They appear as rough, granulated sawdust. Channels of mud leading from the soil up the foundation of a home, are indicative of the presence of termites. Even if termites are no longer present in these tubes, that does not mean they have moved on. Once termites have been identified, it is time to eliminate them. This means getting rid of water and food sources that are close to a home. – Repair leaky faucets and

Fertilize Naturally, Without Chemicals continued from page 3

other water drips in and around the house. – Keep gutters and downspouts clean. – Seal entry points around water and utility lines or pipes. – Divert water away from the foundation. – Keep lumber, firewood or paper away from the foundation of the home. – Clear away stumps and tree debris. – Prevent untreated wood from contacting soil. It is very difficult for homeowners to get rid of termites without professional help. A termite exterminator will conduct

a visual inspection of a home and property and may do extensive testing involving expensive acoustic or infrared equipment to probe the soil beneath the house. An exterminator will suggest various treatments depending on the species of termite. These may include the application of pesticides and making areas around the home less hospitable to termites. Severely damaged wood may need to be removed and replaced. Termites do serious damage that can cost homeowners a fortune. Treating them promptly is essential.


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S P R I N G HOME Improvement

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time and money! Are you sick of getting lost in the big box stores with your DIY home improvement project and walking out frustrated? Come to Superior and let our knowledgeable and trained professionals assist you with getting your job done, in a cost-effective and timely manner. Superior has a vast array of specialty equipment and tools—ranging from hydro-seeders and floor preparation equipment to lifts and mini excavators. We also carry landscape equipment, bobcats, chippers and much more! Superior has box trucks, dump trucks, pick-up trucks and trailers, for making a move, to hauling away branches. Renting equipment can help you save in labor, maintenance, and the cost of purchasing new equipment you may only use once. Don’t let a limited budget interfere with getting the job done! Superior Rental has all of your DIY project equipment

essentials. Whether you plan to put a fence around your yard, plant new grass, or wash that dirty winter residue from your house or deck—visit Superior, your local and reliable equipment source. We stock tillers, power washers, chain saws, nailers and a wide range of easy-to-use equipment. Now is the time to begin that project you keep saying you are going to start, and more importantly, get it finished! Superior Rental is one of many divisions in the Superior Network of Companies. Our family-owned company has been in business since 1967, proudly serving Cheshire and surrounding areas with the finest equipment, supplies and service available. Our three convenient rental/supply locations in Southington, South Windsor, and Norwich offer the largest inventory of rental tools across Connecticut. Our EVENTS by Superior diSee EVENTS, page 8

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S P R I N G HOME Improvement

When And How Often Should A Driveway Be Sealed?


ccording to Dean Backstrom, president of Durable Sealcoat Co. of Wallingford, homeowners are understandably concerned about driveway sealing, but there are some very s t r a i g h t f o rward answers to the issue. Backstrom, whose firm has been repairing driveways for more than 30 years, says driveways must have a quality seal in order to reap two main benefits. First, not only does a satin black coating enhance the beauty of a home and property, it will also save the homeowner money by adding years of life to a driveway investment. Backstrom says sealcoating helps prevent oxidation (grayout), brittleness, raveling, ero-

sion, frost damage and general disintegration due to exposure to sun, rain, freezing, thawing, alkalines, oil, gas and deicers. A sealer can extend the life of a driveway by 100 percent at a cost of 20 percent of the original investment by sealing in the asphalt binder that holds the pavement t o g e t h e r. (The average life of offstreet pavement is about seven to eight years; sealing a new pavement about every three years can extend this to 15 to 20 years). Some homeowners seal as often as every year. However, this will eventually cause sealer build-up and surface cracking that is costly to the homeowner and harmful to the appearance and texture of the driveway. If a driveway is new, it can-

not be sealed until it is properly cured and firm, which can vary from 30 days to a year. There are some simple tests that can be used to determine whether the pavement is cured and firm. Pour some clean water on the driveway; if an oily film appears in the water, the pavement is not sufficiently cured. For firmness, press a screwdriver onto the asphalt surface; if it easily makes a depression, then the

surface is not set firm enough. Driveway cracks should be repaired before any sealcoating is done. Most store-bought crack fillers, although easy to apply, don’t work very well and cracks will usually need to be re-repaired within one year. To avoid this, it is best to have a professional repair any cracks with a hot poured rubberized crack sealant. Typically melted at 400 degrees, this type of

sealant will remain very flexible after being applied and can expand and contract with the pavement for many years. Driveway sealing is an important element in the overall maintenance of a home. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, you may find it a very difficult and messy task. It may be in a homeowner’s best interest to hire a professional. Estimates are usually free.


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S P R I N G HOME Improvement

Choosing Paint? Make A Bold Statement With Color


aint is one of the least expensive and most versatile means to changing the look of a room. But choosing a color scheme can be challenging, which is why so many people stick with neutrals like beige and white. Color theory is a science and there are rules for using color that are taught as early as a child’s first art class. We know there are primary, secondary and complementary colors on the color wheel. Even novice home decorators can do well with color if they use the color wheel as their guideline. Every room need not be painted the same hue, but colors should be complementary so that they flow throught the house Don’t paint one room in primary colors and others in

jewel tones and pastels. Stick with one theme. If you decide to use a bold color, first find color inspiration. Color combinations that appear in nature are more readily accepted by people, so look for an item such as a seashell or flowering plant on which to base your color choices. Or pull colors from a particular design item—an area rug, for instance. Going bold doesn’t mean you have to paint every wall from ceiling to floor in that color. Rather, select one wall to serve as an accent wall. Use that wall as your bold canvas and paint it with your chosen hue. Some people like to experiment with a flashy color in a smaller space. If you’re nervous about beginning in the


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living room, try out bold color in a smaller space, such as a powder room. A more intimate space might seem less overwhelming when painted in a bold color like a deep purple or another jewel tone. Just avoid greens in the bathroom, as they may cast a hue on your face that makes you look unwell. Pinks and peaches will shed a rosy glow. To incorporate complementary colors into the room, use paint color swatches as your guide. Most paint manufactur-


ers put three or four different shades on one sample card. When selecting a complementary shade, be sure to pick from the same tone on the card. That is, if you’re choosing the darkest of color #1 from a card, choose the darkest of color #2. Another idea is to leave walls neutral and use bold color on design accents. Paint the inside of niches, shelves or cabinets with glass doors in bright tones and the outside white to create an eye-catching space without going overboard. Put

a bold color on moulding or use an appliance or fixture in a bright color as your splash of boldness. Remember to have balance. If you will be painting an entire room in a bold color, think about having the other decor items in neutral colors. Sofas and rugs should be neutral colors, or consider toning down a vibrant color with the use of white molding or baseboards. All it takes is a little inspiration to get started on fun, inviting color schemes in the home.

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backward service. We would love to make you another one of our satisfied customers. Our company specializes in all aspects of landscaping and has been in Cheshire since 1987. As longtime Cheshire residents, my crew and I take personal pride in our work. We service numerous residential and commercial clients in the Cheshire and surrounding areas, with each client receiving the personal attention they deserve. We understand that your home and its landscape are one of your biggest investments. We also understand the importance of having your property

look its best at all times. We will always work within your budget and find solutions to any project. Our company works closely with many vendors and has resources for all your landscape needs regardless of the size of the job. We know that it can be very

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difficult to find lawn and landscape service providers who you can trust and count on. We are very serious when we say we are dedicated to earning and keeping your business. In fact, we are so certain we can make you happy, we guarantee our work. If you are ever unhappy with our service, let us know and we will make the necessary changes immediately. We realize that without you it is impossible for us to exist, and therefore, it is our mission to make your life a little easier. Call Nick Constantino Landscape Services today to set up an appointment for a free estimate: (203) 651-9267.

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S P R I N G HOME Improvement

Mailbox Mayhem!


ne of the worst winters on record has left a lot of mailboxes battered and bruised. Replacing a mailbox and post in the middle of winter through snow and frozen ground can be a daunting task, so many are left bungeed, taped and rigged together to await the spring thaw for replacement. Dean Backstrom, owner of

Durable Mailbox of Wallingford, has been installing mailboxes for over 30 years. He notes that a lot of mailboxes could avoid snow plow damage by being properly installed. Mailboxes should be placed where a carrier can safely reach inside without leaving the truck. That means positioning it about 41 to 45 inches off the ground and back about six to eight feet

from the curb. Installing a mailbox too close to the road almost guarantees it will be damaged by a passing snow plow. Complete mailbox guidelines are available at In 1983, when Durable Mailox started replacing mailboxes, there were very limited choices, but today there are numerous styles to choose from, ranging from basic to very fancy and expensive. Backstrom has found that some of the most expensive ones look great but are very poorly designed and just aren’t suited for New England weather. He’s found that most of his customers want a quality mailbox and post at a reasonable price and offers full installations starting at $149. See Durable’s ad below.

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aster eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth to some, but most associate Easter eggs with youngsters scouring the yard in search of treasure. Here are some of the more common myths about Easter eggs: Myth: Easter eggs are safe to eat after your egg hunt is over. Fact: Hard-boiled eggs generally remain safe to eat at room temperature for about two hours. If the temperature is very warm, the eggs should be eaten within one hour. People risk food-borne illnesses if they consume eggs that have been left out for several hours. Myth: It is unsafe to eat all dyed Easter eggs. Fact: Whether dyed eggs are safe or not depends on the type of dye used. Many kits use vegetable-based dyes that are food-safe. These same pigments are used in traditional food coloring. Even if the dye has penetrated the shell, it should still be safe for consumption. Kits for blown-out See COLOR, page 14

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Make A Plan To De-clutter And Organize The Garage


pring cleaning plans are on the minds of many once the weather warms up. Many homeowners feel a sense of renewal in the spring, when the desire to clean house and get organized becomes a priority. Garages are often targets for homeowners hoping to target clutter. Once a space reserved for cars, garages are no longer strictly for vehicles, used instead to store items that simply do not fit inside the home or a backyard shed. Organizing the garage is typically a weekend or several-day project. Here’s how to turn a garage from a cluttered mess into a space suited for storing items of all shapes and sizes. Enlist a helper. Organizing a garage is a significant undertaking that is best tackled with two or more people. Enlist a helper to make the project less intimidating. Decide what is important to keep. Start the organization process by clearing out the garage and taking inventory of what you have. Items that have not been used for several years

can likely be tossed. Make a pile of what will be kept and then put the rest at the curb or donate useful items to charity. Give thought to where you want to store particular items. Tools and items that are used more often should be stored within reach or where they are easily visible, while items that are not used as frequently can be stored higher up, even in the rafters. Think about how you operate in the garage. Recycling bins can be stored closer to the door into the home, while bicycles and skates can be nearer to the garage door for easy access. * Group like items together. Categorize items that will be kept. Garden tools, camping gear, sporting equipment, and automotive supplies should be categorized and stored in their own areas of the garage, determining if certain items can be stored inside the home to free up garage space. Grouping items together will make them easier to locate in the garage. * Move boxed items into clear storage containers. It’s much easier to see what you have

when it is stored in clear containers. Some containers are interlocking or stackable, making it much more convenient to store items vertically and free up more floor space. Invest in vertical storage systems. Moving items from the floor and putting them on shelving or behind cabinets can make the garage more organized. Hooks and bins also can be used. Employ a peg board full of hooks for often-used tools or other items you need at the ready. Leave space for hobby and work areas. Garages are where many improvement projects begin or where hobbies, such as woodworking or crafting, take place. Leave space for

these tasks and hobbies. Give the space a fresh coat of paint. Some garages are dingy and dark. Bright paint on the walls and floor can open up the space and, when combined with more lighting, can make it lighter and brighter. Garage organization is a

common spring cleaning project. But it shouldn’t be reserved for this season alone. Periodic checks of the garage and straightening up can keep a garage clean and organized throughout the entire year and make yearly spring cleaning much more manageable.

Get Your Grill Ready For Cookout Time


he weather is heating up and no matter whether you grill yearround or put the grill away for the winter, it’s always a good idea to clean it thoroughly once or twice a year. You will need: - Sturdy bristle brush - Grill cleaner - Toothpicks - Soap and water - Venturi brush Step 1: Remove all the cooking grids, grates and burners and use a sturdy bristle brush to remove the buildup of grease on the inside of the oven. Using a grill cleaner, scrub the inside and outside of the oven and then rinse with water. Never use oven cleaner on your grill. It is corrosive and can damage the

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other components. Step 2: Inspect the burners, making sure there are no holes rusted through any of the components. If there are, it’s time for a replacement. Clean out any clogged burner ports using

a toothpick, being careful not to damage the ports. Check all igniter contacts to ensure they are not corroded or loose and remove any debris from the electrode. Next, clean out the burner venturi tubes using a venturi brush. It’s very important to keep these tubes clean. Spiders love to make nests in these tubes, creating blockages that can cause serious damage. Step 3: Examine the heat medium. If you have a heat plate, remove any grease build-

up and make sure there are no holes rusted through. If you have briquettes make sure they aren’t crumbling and the pores aren’t clogged with grease. Step 4: Check the cooking grids and make sure no welds are broken and brush off any stuck-on residue. If you have cast iron cooking grids, season them with oil to help keep food from sticking and help prevent rust. Step 5: Inspect the gas hose to make sure there aren’t any cracks or leaks. This can easily be done by preparing a soapy solution and applying it to the connections at the tank and valve. Turn the tank on slowly and watch for bubbles to form, which indicates that there is a leak. Try tightening the connections and re-test. If persistent leaking or blistering is detected, stop using your grill and replace the gas assembly. Finally, check the condition of your control knobs, thermometer, and handles. Replacing small items like this can refresh your grill and make it look new again.

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Nine Steps To Repair Damaged Window Screens


indow screens can let fresh air into a home while preventing insects and outdoor critters from making their way inside. But screens are far less effective at keeping critters out when they’re damaged. Addressing such damage is typically an easy do-it-yourself project, one that begins with gathering the right materials, including: – new screening, either synthetic or aluminum – a rubber spline – a screen rolling tool – a razor knife or pair of sharp scissors – a measuring tape – masking tape – a screwdriver or an awl

Once those materials have been gathered, the process of replacing or repairing damaged screens is rather simple. 1. Measure the area of the window to determine how much replacement screening you will need. Remember to leave extra room in your measurements so you have slack to make the new screen fit taut. The measurement will also help you determine how much spline you will need. 2. Remove the screen from the window frame. Some windows do not have removable screen frames, and you will have to work on the screen in its upright position. 3. Use the screwdriver or awl to pry the edge of the existing

spline that holds the screening material in the frame. Pull out the old spline and remove the damaged screening. 4. Measure the new screening from a replacement roll. Lay the screening down on the frame, ensuring there is overhang on all sides. If necessary, use masking tape to temporarily secure the screening to the frame while freeing up your hands. This also works if you must replace screening vertically and cannot remove the window frame and make repairs on a flat surface. 5. Take a new piece of rubber spline and push it into the edge of the screen frame, securing a corner of the new screening to the frame. Continue to press

Fido’s Food Requires Proper Storage Too


ou may routinely check the expiration dates on food you buy and store it properly once you get it home. If you’re a pet owner, though, can you say the same for the food you buy for your dog or cat? Correct storage of pet food is important to keep it fresh and to ensure the well-being of your pet. Here’s how: – Start by choosing a highquality pet food for your dog or cat, from companies that ensure their products meet high manufacturing standards and use recipes crafted with the highest-quality ingredients. – Store kibble in a cool, dry location. Avoid areas like basements or open containers where condensation or temperature changes can encourage mold growth. Canned food should be covered and can be kept in the refrigerator for three to five days. It also can be frozen, but move it into ice cube trays or another freezable container first. – Avoid storing pet food in reusable plastic containers, unless the food is left in the bag. Plastic containers may not be airtight and the material itself can absorb fat and oils, increasing the risk of food becoming rancid. – Cover and refrigerate or discard any uneaten canned

food immediately. – Store pet food away from young children and from pets themselves. Don’t allow pets near an open or

empty bag of food, which can be a safety concern. – Check “best used before” dates on pet food, which are sometimes found on the back of the bag or on the bottom of the can.

the spline around the perimeter of the screen frame firmly into the groove with the screen rolling tool, which looks like a small pizza cutter. This effectively secures the screen into the frame. 6. Continue around the edge of the frame, pulling the new screening taut as you go. This helps to keep it free of wrinkles. 7. Once you have inserted the spline all the way around, cut it off from the spline spool and push in the edge. 8. Use a razor knife or sharp scissor to cut off the excess screening, being careful not to dislodge it from behind the spline when cutting. 9. Replace the screen in the window. In the case of small tears in

a screen, a complete replacement may not be necessary. Home improvement stores sell screen patch kits. Some work by cutting out a piece of patch that is attached to an adhesive backing and sticking it over the hole. Other patches are small, woven wires that can be threaded through the hole in the screen. A really small hole can be mended with a drop of cleardrying glue. The same method of screen replacement can be used to replace screens on screenedin porches, aluminum doors or sliding patio doors. Just be sure to purchase replacement screening that will fit the dimensions.







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S P R I N G HOME Improvement

Try These Alternatives To Hard-Boiled Easter Eggs


eligious customs abound on Easter, but a number of secular traditions have emerged as well. Perhaps the most popular is the coloring of Easter eggs. Easter egg dyeing kits emerge in early spring. Consumers have a variety of alternatives to these kits at their disposal. For those folks who desire more environmentally friendly Easter treats, here are some creative and greener ideas for coloring eggs this year. ❃ Wooden eggs. Visit a craft store and purchase wooden eggs that can be painted and decorated however you desire.

The wooden eggs will be durable and can be stored away for use each and every year. Because they are made of wood, a naturally recyclable material, they are easy on the environment. ❃ Consider natural dyes. Use different food items to create all-natural dyes for the eggs. Tea, fruit and vegetable juices—even packaged drink mixes—can be used to tint Easter eggs in various colors. Because you’re controlling the materials you use, you can ensure they are safe to use. ❃ Experiment with papier mache. This ancient paper

crafting technique uses recycled paper and a paste to create a hardened mold. Turn excess scraps of paper into delightful eggs put on display for the holiday. ❃ Purchase corn starch eggs. Corn starch is used in everything from packing materials to children’s craft products. Corn starch can be molded into solid forms or foam-type consistencies. Egg kits are sold with this green material. When Easter is over, the corn starch eggs can be put out for composting. Foam-type eggs may be dissolved with water. ❃ Make edible eggs. Tra-

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A Matter of Style

ditional Easter eggs can be wasteful if the eggs are boiled and used entirely for display. Rather, make eggs that will be enjoyed and are not at risk of spoiling too soon after being on display. Gelatin-dessert eggs is one way to use the eggs after Easter, and creative people can try crafting eggs out of meringue as well. ❃ Dough eggs. Have the children get out their favorite modeling dough and craft multi-colored eggs as a fun, rainy-day project. Those who want the eggs to last can purchase actual clay

from the craft store or whip up their own medium at home. After drying, the eggs should be ready to paint. ❃ Drained eggs:. Rinse uncooked eggs clean and shake them carefully to “scramble” the contents. With a pin, poke a small holes on each end. Blow through one end to push out the contents through the other hole and into a bowl for use in an omelet or other egg dish. Rinse carefully and blow the moisture out. Let the empty eggshells dry thoroughly before decorating.

Color With Food-Safe Dyes continued from page 11

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eggs may use dyes that are not food-safe. Anyone allergic to certain food dyes might want to avoid eating dyed eggs. Myth: An Easter egg roll is an American tradition. Fact: In Germany, England and other countries, children traditionally rolled eggs down hillsides at Easter. When European immigrants arrived in North America, they brought these Easter egg traditions with them. One of the more popular Easter egg rolls of modern day takes place on the White House lawn, where children push an egg through the grass with a long-handled spoon. Some say this tradition was established by Dolly Madison in 1814. Myth: A raw egg will stand on end during the spring equinox. Fact: It is believed that because the sun is equidistant from the south and north poles on the spring equinox, special gravitational forces apply on this day. These forces should make it possible to balance an egg on its end only on this day. However, eggs can be balanced at other times of the year.

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S P R I N G HOME Improvement

Update Your Décor With PJ & Company Home Styling


ecorating can be intimidating and seemingly costly to many, which means homeowners continue to look for ways to add style and refresh their home décor without spending a fortune. If you take it roomby-room, and assess the way your family lives and your own personal style, you can update that outdated room with simple, cost-effective changes. Patti Stern, owner of PJ & Company Home Styling, LLC, a Connecticut home decorating and staging firm, recommends prioritizing your decorating needs and looking to nature for inspiration. “I tell my clients to start with the room they use most, whether it’s the kitchen, family room, or office, so that they don’t get overwhelmed by cost and the task at hand,” says Stern. She offers the following advice when tackling home decorating projects: Create a budget. The most important thing is to know exactly how much you have to spend before you begin any decorating project. If you can’t afford new cabinetry— often the most expensive item in a new kitchen—consider painting them if they’re in good condition. “A recent kitchen makeover for one of my clients was incredibly cost-effective,” says Stern. “The homeowner didn’t want to spend a fortune remodeling her outdated, late-1980s kitchen because it was still in good shape and she had two children getting ready for college. Repurposing what she had was easy and included painting versus adding new cabinetry, dressing up the kitchen island with furniture legs and beadboard trim for a more modern, sophisticated look, and investing in granite to give the kitchen added style and functionality.” Repurpose. The buzzword in the home décor industry is “repurposing”—giving existing home furnishings a new look with fabric or paint. Take stock of what you have, what’s in good condition, and what you love. If you’re con-

sidering updating your master bedroom, for example, and love your bedroom chair, reupholster it with new fabric (often cheaper than buying new). Tie the overall color theme to the rest of the room with wall paint and bedding. Update a brass chandelier with silver spray paint or colorful lamp shades for a complete redesign without spending a lot. Look to nature for inspiration. Whatever the season, look to nature to inspire your home decorating. Inexpensive accessories, such as botanical prints, topiaries, and fresh flowers, can dress up any fireplace mantle. Showcase what you love. Build a room around a favorite painting, rug, or mirror— a great way to start thinking about the look and style you want to create in the room. Then pick a paint color from artwork or the rug for the walls and accessories. “For another client, we created a built-in bookcase with a window seat that showcased the antique collection she had amassed since she was a little girl. She was even able to finally display her grandparent’s marriage certificate from the late 1800s,” adds Stern. “I then built the entire décor of her living room around this

showpiece.” Creating a warm and welcoming look can be done without spending a fortune. It just takes a little thought and creativity and taking stock of what you have and love that can be repurposed and refreshed for a whole new look and style. For more information on PJ & Company Home Styling, LLC, contact Patti Stern at (203) 640-3762 or Visit her Web site at www.pjhomestyling. com and “like” her on Facebook.

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2014 Spring Home Improvement  

The Cheshire Herald Spring Home Improvement and Interior Decorating Special Section 2014.