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Archives for August 2011

Surprise! Five Things You Shouldn’t Recycle


Most of us feel less guilty when we toss something in the bin headed for the recycling plant rather than the landfill. Turns out, though, wishful thinking may do more harm than good. If you include some items that aren’t recyclable, you run the risk of your entire batch being shipped off to the nearest dump.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself about local recycling rules. In the meantime here’s the short list of common items that don’t belong in the recycling bin, no matter what your zip code:

*Pizza boxes. The oil from pizza can contaminate cardboard boxes, making it impossible to process them into clean paper.

*Napkins and paper towels. It’s not the paper goods themselves that present a problem, but the fact that they’re typically used to wipe up food, cleaning products, and other “hazardous waste.”

*Sticky notes. Their size, color, and the adhesive strip make them a better bet for the trash bin.

*Plastic caps. Curbside programs won’t recycle them, but Aveda collects them and turns them into packaging for new products.

*Wet paper. Paper fibers that have been exposed to water are shorter and therefore less valuable to paper mills, making it unprofitable to collect and recycle.

Figuring out which plastics you can recycle is often confusing. It’s generally well known that most curbside programs only take plastics labeled #1 and #2 on the bottom, but many people are shocked to hear that shape sometimes plays a role. For example, many communities don’t accept tubs (mouth wider than base), but will take bottles (base wider than mouth) even if the numbers are the same because these plastics are manufactured differently, says Darby Hoover of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Check in with your local waste or sanitation department to find out what the specific rules are in your area. You can also log onto http://www.earth911.org/ for a wealth of recycling information from helpful articles to its extensive database where you can type in your zip code for a listing of local resources.

Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green’s users.

Household Hints and Tips — Did You Know?

Grocery Shopping: When you go to buy bread in the grocery store, have you ever wondered which is the freshest, so you “squeeze” for freshness or softness? Did you know that bread is delivered fresh to the stores five days a week? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day has a different color twist tie. They are: Monday = Blue, Tuesday = Green, Thursday = Red, Friday = White and Saturday = Yellow. So if today was Thursday, you would want a red twist tie; not white which is Fridays… almost a week old! The colors go alphabetically by color Blue – Green – Red – White – Yellow. Monday through Saturday. Very easy to remember. I thought this was interesting. I looked in the grocery store and the bread wrappers DO have different twist ties, and even the ones with the plastic clips have different colors. You learn something new everyday! Enjoy fresh bread when you buy bread with the right color on the day you are shopping.

Clothing: Blood stains on clothes? Not to worry! Just pour a little peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood. Works every time!

Stains: Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt ink) use rubbing alcohol on a white paper towel.

Window Cleaning: Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks. Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean. Don’t wash windows on a sunny day. They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.

Toilet Cleaning: Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer. Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China.

More Alka Seltzer tips: * Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets. * Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary). * Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run the hot water.

Carpets: Fleas in your carpet? 20 Mule Team Borax- sprinkle and let stand for 24 hours.

Homemade Toothpaste

Skip the harmful chemicals in many commercial toothpastes and make your own. This is a simple, inexpensive, odor-eliminating, tooth-whitening, and very effective formula from Organic Body Care Recipes (Storey, 2007) By Stephanie Tourles.

INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
1 drop peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove, or cinnamon bark essential oil
A few drops tap water

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a toothbrush, your finger, or a small spoon until a smooth, thick paste forms. The paste shouldn’t be too runny; it has to stay on your toothbrush.

Dip your toothbrush into the paste and use as you would regular commercial toothpaste.

Ideas For A Fully Loaded Laundry Room

Excerpt from: 27 Ideas for a Fully Loaded Laundry Room
By: Lisa Selin Davis, This Old House magazine

Wash, Dry, Repeat

Americans spend more time in the laundry room than in the bathroom: an average of eight hours a week, collectively doing some 35 billion loads of laundry a year. And yet, while bath design has evolved into a discipline of its own, and the space into a bonafide retreat with soothing soaker tubs, the laundry is often relegated to a basement, separated from the life of the home.

Increasingly, though, homeowners are creating laundry rooms that are as integrated as a bath or the kitchen. They can even be in a bath or kitchen. Chalk it up to busier lives and a need to multitask, says designer Dana Jones of Long Beach, California. A first-floor laundry room can serve as a command center—a nook near the family room, where parents can keep an eye on the kids while folding, or off the back door, where it can double as a mudroom, home office, or hobby area. On the second floor, stackable, whisper-quiet front-loaders can tuck into a hall closet, just a balled-up-shirt-toss from the bedroom.

Laundry List

Along with a washer and dryer, consider these elements:

Lighting: Task lighting, such as under-cabinet strips, illuminates specific work zones. Ambient sources, like natural light or a ceiling fixture, brighten the room.

Utility Sink: A utility sink multitasks as a hand-washing station, a place to soak soiled sports gear, even an area to pot plants.

Hanging Racks: Hanging racks provide a place to air-dry delicates and hang shirts straight from the dryer. Choose a steel bar, a retractable clothesline, or a fold-up rack.

Varying Countertop Heights: Counters of varying heights suit different jobs. A raised surface atop front-loaders is perfect for folding, while a 36-inch height is the norm at a sink.

Cabinetry: Cabinetry can hide detergent and cleaning supplies, as well as an ironing board, pull-out hampers, and sliding utility rails.

Open Storage: Open storage above a counter keeps folded linens high and dry. Low cubbies can encourage kids to drop off their dirties and retrieve clean laundry themselves.

Water-Resistant Materials: Water-resistant materials, such as concrete counters and stone floor tiles, are durable and easy to clean. A laminate top and ceramic tile are thrifty alternatives.

Stackable Machines: A front-loading design allows a full-size washer and dryer, such as these from Whirlpool, to squeeze into a narrow passage, leaving room to one side and above for open storage shelves.

Tidy Bins: In addition to dirty clothes, a combination of lidded and open-top woven containers hold cleaning supplies, extra toiletries, and towels.



Clever Cover-Ups: Fitted with “flipper” media cabinet hardware, 30-inch-wide cabinet doors open out into the room, then slide back inside the cabinet to reveal a front-loading washer and dryer. Unlike regular hinged doors, these can remain open without eating up floor space or blocking access to an adjacent doorway.

Overhead Storage: Upper cabinets serve as a linen closet and are deep enough to store small laundry baskets.

Retractable Ironing Board: With little space to prop up a traditional ironing board, the homeowners chose a folding version that fits neatly inside a drawer. The board stretches 3 feet out from behind a false drawer front.

Pull-Out Hamper: Concealed inside a drawer below the ironing board is a canvas hamper that holds clothes in need of pressing. A matching bin on the other side of the machines keeps dirties out of sight.

Under-Cabinet Light: A halogen strip tucked behind a soffit brightens a quartz counter used for specific tasks: sewing and folding, and attending to stains. Additional, ambient light comes from the windowed door and ceiling fixtures.

Rethink a Home Office: Rather than dedicating a guest room or a portion of the kitchen to bill paying and web surfing, a spacious laundry area becomes host to a handsome home office.

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Cleaning Small Kitchen Appliances

Auto Glass Cleaning – Tips for Sparkling Clean Windows and Mirrors

The windows of your car take a beating from dirt, bugs, bird droppings and other debris. But with a few simple techniques and a little know-how, you can make even the dirtiest windows sparkle. Here’s a list of helpful glass cleaning tips to get your windows brilliantly clean – and without leaving behind streaks, scratches, residue or lint.

1. The first step is to choose an auto glass cleaner. Make sure your glass cleaner does NOT contain ammonia, alcohol or any ingredient that could produce toxic fumes. Beyond the obvious health concerns of inhaling these fumes, consider the impact your automotive cleaning products have on the environment. There are car care products on the market that are 100% biodegradable, non-toxic and recyclable that have the same great cleaning power as traditional cleaning products.

2. Any product containing ammonia is a definite no-no when it comes to auto detailing. Ammonia and ammonia fumes cause plastic, rubber, vinyl and leather to dry out, and will damage any tint your windows may have. Do your homework and you won’t end up destroying your vehicle’s interior while you’re trying to clean it!

3. The type of towel you choose to clean your windows with can make all the difference. Choose a high-quality, glass cleaning microfiber towel of at least 300 GSM. Microfiber towels can hold up to eight times their weight in water, are lint-free and will not cause scratches. An electrostatic charge causes dirt and debris to be lifted up and away from the surface, rather than dragged across it. Old t-shirts, towels, socks and newspaper are not the best choice when cleaning your car’s glass, and will likely cause scratches, streaks and missed spots.

4. If you are cleaning the entire interior of your car, save your windows and rear-view mirror for last to avoid getting stray spray from other cleaning products on your freshly cleaned glass. You can also avoid stray spray by spraying your window cleaner (and other applicable interior auto detailing products) onto the microfiber towel – not directly on the surface.

5. Another factor to keep in mind is the motion you buff with your microfiber towel. While a circular motion may appear to be actively buffing away any streaks from your windows, a straight back-and-forth and then up-and-down motion will ensure that the entire surface has been cleaned and wiped down thoroughly.

6. Remember when cleaning your windows or mirrors to use one towel (or one side of a towel) to wipe the surface clean, and a second to buff the surface to a residue-free shine. Not only do you need two clean towel surfaces per swipe, but per window. The last thing you want to do is spread the dirt and dead bugs that you wiped off of your windshield onto the next window you clean. Make sure you have enough clean towels to avoid contaminating one window with the last one’s mess.

7. Avoid cleaning your vehicle’s windows in direct sunlight or very hot conditions, if possible. This is especially important if you are using a window cleaner containing harsh chemicals. When the liquid evaporates, the fumes left behind could easily be inhaled, posing a serious health risk. Even with non-toxic window cleaners, evaporation can also mean a spotty residue before your towel even hits the glass.

8. The easiest place to overlook when cleaning your vehicle’s windows is the small edging area at the top of the window. Often, this area is especially dirty from build up in the rubber lip. Be sure you roll each window down several inches to clean this area on both the interior and exterior of the glass.

9. Ever get a build up on the edges of your windshield wipers that causes blurry areas on your windshield? Wipe down your blades with a damp cloth and a bit of white vinegar. The vinegar will remove the debris that’s stuck on the blades and allow them to make full contact with the windshield again. If after a wipe down, your windshield wipers haven’t improved any, you may be due for a new pair. And don’t forget to clean out your wiper cowl once in a while! The wiper cowl is the area at the base of the windshield where your wipers lay when not in use. Keeping this area free of grime will greatly reduce the amount of debris on your wipers.

To learn more about high-performance, eco-friendly car care, visit http://EcoTouch.net.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Amy_E_Adams

The ARCSI Tech Corner: Green Cleaners

Q: I hear multiple terms used to describe ‘green’ cleaning agents. So I have to wonder, is organic better than natural? How about sustainable? I’m confused.

A: You have every right to be confused. Marketers use words that sound warm and fuzzy but often have no real meaning. Let’s take a look at just a few of the terms in use.

GREEN: Ideally, ‘green’ means that a product has less negative impact on the environment or on people’s health or hopefully both, than similar, traditional products in the marketplace. Some products are self-certified, i.e. a manufacturer says this product is greener than their regular line. Others are certified by a third party. The three most recognized third party certifiers are Green Seal, EPA’s Design for the Environment (DFE) and Canada’s EcoLogo. Each has slightly different criteria for certification.

NATURAL: This normally means that the chemicals used to make this product exist in nature in the form used. It can also refer to natural substances that are altered through what are considered natural processes. An example would be apple juice fermented into vinegar. It is very important not to confuse natural with safe. Remember that curare is a natural toxin used by certain indigenous peoples to create poison-tip arrows, giving the hunter using that substance a surer kill. Natural can be quite unsafe.

ORGANIC: The term organic has taken on a connotation of ‘healthful’ from the food industry. However, it has a different meaning in chemistry. Organic chemicals are simply chemicals containing carbon. These chemicals often originated in life forms but may have changed significantly since. Thus vinegar is an organic chemical, or more accurately, a combination of organic chemicals, but so is oil, gasoline, etc. To say our cleaning agents use organic ingredients sourced from nature may sound good, but is not particularly meaningful.

SUSTAINABLE: At its most basic, ‘sustainable’ means that the cleaning agents are from renewable sources such as plants that can be grown, harvested and re-grown. The term ‘sustainable’ is evolving in some cases to reflect more extensive environmental and social issues.

So if you’re confused, join the club. It truly can be a jungle out there. It’s up to you to check out the claims, sort through the verbiage and find the best resources for your operation.

Here’s to your success and prosperity!

Bruce Vance is a 20-year veteran of the industry and holds the IICRC Master Textile Cleaner certification. He also holds industry certifications in Stone and Tile care, Hard Floor care, and Applied Microbial Remediation. He is the current chairperson of a national cleaning industry’s Technical Advisory Committee. The opinions expressed above are those of Mr. Vance and not those of ARCSI.

Professional Home Appraisals

Editor’s Note: Appraiser Mike Brunson explains how serving clients best often means giving them what they need, not always what they want.

Growing Business: Giving Clients What They Need
By Mike Brunson

In this period of economic and social change, clients are looking for professional appraisers to answer questions that until now have not been asked. Price and timing are the hot-button issues. While many appraisers are raging against the downward pressure on fees and the increased pressure for faster turn times, I have instead begun to offer my clients an alternative service. Here’s how.

I have several clients who order valuations for internal asset management. The client typically holds paper on a non-performing loan and needs to determine the best course of action. While bidding a recent land assignment, the client noted that my bids were coming back much higher than they expected. The client wanted to know why this assignment warranted a fee that was so much higher than what they desired/expected to pay.

As we discussed the complexity of the assignment and some potential reductions in scope of work, they said, “We don’t really care how much this thing is worth specifically, we just need to know if it is worth more than $x.” It turned out that the client was in second position behind a sizeable first. They suspected that there was little or no equity in the asset but needed an appraisal in the file. The client was requesting bids for a “full appraisal” because that is what they were accustomed to ordering. However, they had no need for the detailed analysis of a traditional “complete” appraisal that provides a specific value reported in summary format.

Here was an opportunity to serve a good client by giving them what they need instead of what they asked for. At the same time, it provided an opportunity to expand my options with this client regarding the services that I can provide as a professional appraiser. I explained that by definition, an appraisal can be expressed as a “specific amount, as a range of numbers, or as a relationship (e.g., not more than, not less than) to a previous value opinion or numerical benchmark (e.g., assessed value, collateral value).” In this case, the amount of the first trust deed would serve as the benchmark. We also discussed the question they were asking: “Is the property worth more or less than $x?” The client agreed that the majority of a traditional appraisal was extraneous to the question. I also explained that despite the negative connotation of the term “restricted,” in this case, a restricted-use appraisal report is acceptable for the intended use and intended user of this assignment. Honestly, my client was hesitant because, like most clients and many appraisers, they are not familiar with the concept of a limited scope, restricted-use assignment.

I spent some additional time and eventually went in to their office to discuss this and future assignments with a similar intended use. Ultimately the client agreed that a restricted-use appraisal report with a limited scope of work is appropriate for their needs. The next day, I delivered a two-page narrative appraisal (plus a certification page and a few client specific documents) using the amount of the first trust deed as a benchmark for the valuation. After completing my research and analysis, I concluded that the subject market value was less than the defined benchmark. I wrote the narrative report from scratch in less than 30 minutes. Not including the time I spent visiting the client (which I consider marketing) I completed the assignment in about 2.5 hours. The $250 fee for this appraisal is well within the client’s expected range.

Re-printed from www.workingre.com online – serving real estate professionals for over 10 years.

Quick and Easy Decorating Ideas for Home Staging

We all wish we could give our homes an overhaul and completely stage our homes when selling, but most of us either can’t afford it or don’t want to deal with the hassles. Fortunately, there are small changes we can all do that make a big difference. Best of all, these decorating ideas for home staging can be done for very little money.

Hardware

Hardware is like jewelry. Whether it’s on cabinets, furniture or large doors, hardware can have a big impact. Changing an outdated knob to something more decorative can instantly change the look of the room. While you’re at it, install new light switch plates for a similar effect.

Lampshades

People tend to give a lot of thought to the lamps they put in their rooms, but not to the shades. Just because a particular shades comes with a lamp it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best one. To give your room a quick update, change the shape or color of your lampshades.

Paint

Nothing says “easy update” like paint. Paint an entire room, an accent wall, kitchen and bathroom cabinets or a piece of furniture. Paint has the power to instantly transform items. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and easy to do. Using white-painted furniture is a tried and true tactic for freshening a room, but don’t forget its opposite. A coat of satiny black paint can revive tired furnishings and lend a chic, dramatic flair to just about any space. Painting an old piece black immediately updates it.

Reupholster

Reupholstering a sofa or large chair can be costly, but recovering chair seats can be done on a budget. Try recovering your dining room chair seats. A bold pattern or color can make a great focal point. You can also purchase affordable slipcovers for the sofa and loveseat at surefit.com.

New Bedding in the Master Bedroom

If you feel like you’re not a designer and you’re not good at pulling together a room, just go to a great bedding store, buy bedding and from the bedding, pull out a paint color and get matching window treatments. It will instantly look like a high-end hotel suite, and it’s a no brainer.

Window Treatments

Lighten up heavy, dated curtains with simple curtain panels that reach the floor and new, sleek curtain rods. Choose curtain rods no bigger than one inch in diameter. The goal is to showcase the curtains, not the rod. The Allen + Roth Sienna rod ($45 at Lowe’s) has the right dimensions, an antiqued finish and cute brackets. If windows are narrow, extend curtain rods a foot or so on each side to suggest width. If your ceilings are low, hang rods at the ceiling line and consider window treatments with vertical stripes to create the illusion of height. Add texture to the space by adding woven wood blinds. Target carries faux wood blinds for under $30 and you can install them yourself (yes you can!). Big bang for your buck. What do you do when the windows look bare but you can’t stand blocking out that gorgeous light? Beautiful sheers do the trick every time. Sheer genius.

Rearrange Furniture

The easiest and cheapest way to update a room — any room — is to rearrange the furniture. Sometimes it’s all you need to give your space a completely updated look that buyers will love. When it comes to easy decorating ideas for home staging it can’t be beat. It’s easy, fun and completely free.

DIY home staging can be fun and rewarding, especially when you get your house sold faster than your competition, but be sure to consult with a professional home stager if you are not absolutely sure that your home looks ready to sell.

Feng Shui Staging Tips
Make Your Front Door Welcoming

Energy enters your home at the front door, so invite it in! Make your door stand out by painting it a color that contrasts with your home, adding a new welcome mat and flanking the door with yellow flowers. Choose plants with rounded leaves as sharp leaves can appear aggressive to buyers.

Create a “Room of First Impression”

Buyers generally decide whether they will buy a home in the first 15 seconds they spend there, so you want them to see the best room first. Create a clear path to this room with a runner rug or with eye-catching art and accessories.

Don’t Let Energy Go Down the Drain

If the first thing buyers see when they enter your home is a bathroom, keep the bathroom door closed. Toilets and drains take energy from a room, so keep the toilet lid down and cover drains while not in use.

Rearrange Furniture to Improve Chi

A furniture arrangement can make or break the flow of energy in the room. If the back of a sofa faces the room’s entrance, energy bounces right out. Facing a comfortable sofa toward the entrance of the room will improve energy flow and make buyers feel welcome.

Provide Support

Large furniture such as beds and sofas need a solid wall of support behind them, so don’t place these pieces in front of a window.

Invigorate the Senses

Stimulate your home’s energy with sound be adding wind chimes to the front right corner of your house. This is the buyer’s area of the home, so this accessory might call in your home’s future owner.

Ann Alderson is a Professional Home Stager and Home Selling Strategist in the Tampa Bay area. Join her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/stagingsouthtampa and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/annalderson