Pests Moving In? Evict Unwanted Winter Tenants

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Are you hearing a quartet of scampering and scratching during these long winter nights? Are you noticing droppings in your basement or cupboards or holes in boxes of cereal or pasta? If so, you might have a winter pest problem.
Winter pests aren’t just unpleasant. They pose severe risks to your health and property. Mice, for example, can chew through walls, electrical wires and baseboards, not to mention produce 12 babies every three weeks. Rodent droppings can trigger allergies and spread disease — causing headaches, fever, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Although most common, mice and rats aren’t the only pest threat this winter. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) estimates that a whopping 21 million rodents retreat indoors each winter. In addition to rodents, squirrels, carpenter ants, spiders, and cockroaches prefer to spend cold winter months indoors with us.
The pest experts at the NPMA suggest the following preventive tips for avoiding pest infestations during cold weather.
* Inspect firewood before bringing it inside, as several ant and cockroach species prefer to nest in firewood. Firewood piles should also be positioned on a raised platform away from the house. Arranging piles into neat stacks of wood makes pest infestations more noticeable.
* Clean kitchens thoroughly. Some homeowners wipe down countertops after every meal, but only vacuum the floor once every few weeks. Crumbs and leftover messes will attract ants, mice and rats — especially if left on the floor for days on end. Don’t leave dirty dishes spilling over the sink either. Standing water attracts ants and cockroaches, too.
* Don’t store birdseed or dog food in bags. Some pest professionals advise against feeding birds altogether because it will inevitably attract rodent activity. However, if you do have a bird house, make sure it’s at least 20 feet away from your home. Also, be sure to store your birdseed or pet food in sealed storage containers, not bags. This is especially important if you’re keeping the dry food inside your home.
For more preventive tips, or to find a pest professional near you, visit www.pestworld.org.

Prepare Toolboxes for Home Projects With Adhesives, Multimeter, Camera

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<p>(<a   href=NewsUSA) – In today’s economy, homeowners feel reluctant to take out new mortgages -; instead of finding a new dream house, they want to make their existing home everything they want. And as more homeowners attempt maintenance and upgrades, they also discover the sense of accomplishment only a DIY job can provide.

But those attempting a DIY home project would do well to look through their toolbox first -; you need the right tools to create professional-looking results.

Here are some tools you might not have thought to stock, but that can make DIY projects easier:

* Caulking gun and adhesives. While everyone knows to keep a hammer and nails on hand, they may not realize that adhesives are sometimes a good alternative or compliment to fasteners.”Adhesives can be used in applications where mechanical fasteners are not practical, such as in the installation of tub surround or a tile backsplash,” says Mike Goldstein, senior brand manager with Liquid Nails Brand Adhesives (www.liquidnails.com). He adds that adhesives are also more forgiving than mechanical fasteners, such as nails and screws, in the installation process.

“Once something is screwed, nailed or stapled in place, it is very difficult to re-adjust its position,” says Goldstein. “With an adhesive, there is some amount of open time, approximately 10 minutes, allowing you to reposition the substrate immediately following installation.”

Adhesives are useful for projects around the house. For example, they can be used to fasten a piece of loose laminate on a countertop or even repair smaller items, such as a piece of furniture, heirlooms or metal parts. For more information about adhesives, visit liquidnails.com.

* Multimeter. You’re not planning on doing electronics work, so you don’t need to measure voltage, right? Well, you might be surprised by how many projects will put you in contact with electrical systems. For minimal investment, a multimeter can keep you from finding out the hard way that an outlet is live.

* Digital camera. You don’t actually have to keep it in your toolbox, but a digital camera can be invaluable whenever you have to take something apart. Before disassembling an IKEA bedroom set or a light fixture, snap a picture so you’ll know what it’s supposed to look like when you’re finished. That way, you have an image to consult while you put the object back together.

Balancing Housework And Your Baby

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Babies need constant attention — they require constant feedings and diaper changes, and they require them at all hours. Tending to a baby is a full-time job, so it’s no big surprise when dishes start piling up and you’re running out of clean baby bibs.

Still, a clutter-free home can make your life feel just a little less hectic. Here are some tips for new parents hoping to keep their homes clean and organized while caring for their baby:

– Declutter. Less clutter in your home will help you keep your sanity. Get your partner or a friend to help you sort through, store or get rid of things you no longer need. Having fewer objects in the house means fewer items to be dusted, wiped, polished, picked up and rearranged.

– Invest in a sling. With your baby in a sling or other carrier, your hands will be free to fold laundry, dust and vacuum. As the baby gets older and you are able to do more activities outside of the house, the sling will also help you carry your baby through stores and other areas.

– Let products make your life easier. Some products help simplify routine household tasks. For example, Pak-It (www.pakit.com) water-soluble liquid packets deliver concentrated glass cleaner, disinfectant, and multi-purpose cleaning products, such as those for floors, kitchens, bathrooms and laundry. Pak-It products come prepackaged in biodegradable packets -; users simply put the packet in water. A busy mom, for example, can toss Pak-It Laundry Detergent directly into the laundry machine while still holding her baby.

– Take advantage of naps. It’s certainly okay to sneak in a few chores while your baby sleeps. But if you’re exhausted, listen to your body and use the time to catch a few winks yourself.

– Don’t stress out too much. Twenty years from now, what will you regret more — letting laundry pile up or neglecting to spend enough time with your baby? Your health and the baby’s needs come first. Besides, if you think your home’s messy with a new baby, just imagine how it’s going to look with a teenager!

Simple Tips to Organize Your Home

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – At the start of the new year, many resolve to become more organized. But the next day, they look around their homes and see the piles of paper on the coffee table, the coats, toys and shoes scattered around the house, and the remains of their holiday decorations. Organizing the house, it seems, can wait a few weeks.

But there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed by a task that is, after all, intended to make lives easier. Here are some tips for those looking to make their homes run more smoothly:

– Take it one room at a time. Clear a space in the room you want to organize. Place all unorganized items, like magazines, books, DVDs and remote controls, in one space, so you can categorize the items before storing them in their appropriate bins and cabinets.

– Throw things out, and be ruthless. Don’t waste your time and space on items you don’t need. Toss out or recycle old magazines and papers. Donate outgrown or unwanted clothes and toys, as well as other household items, like the fondue set you never use.

– Find unused space. Your home probably has more storage space than you think. For example, decorative under-bed storage boxes, like those from The Company Store, allow you to use every inch of available space.

– Teach the kids to clean up after themselves. Make organizing a game by making “special” spaces. For example, children might remember to hang up their coats and scarves if they have their own, fun coat hooks. Company Kids makes coat hooks shaped like flowers, ponies, pirates, trains and safari animals.

– Teach children to take pride in their belongings by giving them their own storage areas. Try clearing a space in your entertainment unit for your children’s movies and video games. For toys, use colorful bins, like the Kendall Storage Collection, to separate hard toys from plush and put away arts and crafts supplies.

– Designate spaces for different activities. For example, all board games, entertainment units and DVDs should be in the same area. This will help keep items from being scattered throughout the house.

– Create a master calendar for the family. Put it on the refrigerator or beside the computer desk. Time management is an important skill, and kids should learn it early.

– Make cleaning and organizing a family affair. After all, your family helps make the clutter, so they should help organize it, too.

For more information, visit www.thecompanystore.com and www.companykids.com.

How to Host an “Open House” Party

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Look at your holiday calendar, and you’ll likely see a tight schedule of mixers, parties, cookie exchanges and other holiday events. And it’s the same way for your friends and family members, making it difficult to get everyone together for the holiday party you want to host.

The solution? Instead of throwing a party with set hours, which will run into conflict with prior obligations, consider holding a holiday open house — a party that runs all day, allowing guests to arrive at their leisure.

A holiday open house also puts less stress on the hosts. With a little decorating, holiday libations and some simple snacks, you can easily plan an all-day get-together that allows you to mix and mingle, rather than watch the oven or shake cocktails.

Not sure where to start?

Pottery Barn offers the following tips to help you plan a successful holiday open house:

– Create a festive mood. Get your guests into the holiday spirit before they even enter your home by lining your walkway with Arches lanterns and pillar candles and hanging a wreath on your door. You can also decorate trees and shrubs with lights.

Use candles to infuse your home with warmth and light. Wrap garlands around banisters, and drape them over doorways.

– Set up a buffet. Use your dining table to present an array of delectables that do well at room temperature. A cheese board, for example, along with Marcona almonds, dried figs and sliced baguette, looks elegant without requiring anything more than the occasional refill.

– Create a bar. Pottery Barn portable Modine Bar lets you set up drinks anywhere in your home. Keep ice on hand for cold drinks and an electric kettle for hot ones. Select two or three drinks, and print out the recipes on cards, so guests can mix their own cocktails.

– Provide entertainment. No matter what time guests arrive, make them feel like they’ve experienced the best of the party by focusing the merriment on a few activities. For example, invite guests to bring a toy to donate to a local organization, and put all of the toys on one table, so guests can see the pile grow. Set up a craft table for children, giving them supplies to make paper snowflakes, simple tree decorations and homemade wrapping paper. And before the fun is over, hand out party favors, like ornaments, that your guests can take home.

For more entertaining ideas, visit www.potterybarn.com/stylehouse.

Turn Your Home into a Cabin Retreat

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Vacation. Every year, millions of Americans take planes, trains and automobiles to escape to their favorite destinations, whether it’s for relaxation, adventure or something in between. But if a dream vacation is not in your budget, consider other options.

Each year, DIY Network gives one lucky winner their very own state-of-the-art vacation retreat that is designed by the viewers. Online, viewers vote on the many different phases of each home project, then watch as construction is documented in TV’s only interactive home-building series, Blog Cabin. Locations for the three cabins thus far include mountain-side retreats and lakefront getaways that encompass everything about a vacation destination.

If you are not lucky enough to win the Blog Cabin, there are several ways to incorporate some of the cabin’s design elements into your home to experience the relaxation or adventure and create a destination of your own while investing in your home:

* Take it outside. More than ever, homeowners are expanding their living space to the outdoors. Whether you add a fire pit or an entire outdoor kitchen to the backyard, the space will inspire gatherings and a break from the norm.

* Upgrade your landscaping. Replicate your favorite vacation spot by trying to mimic its vegetation. If you like the tropics, plant lots of lush, brightly colored plants. Add a tiki bar to the design, and you’ll never want to leave home again.

* Create a sanctuary for the man of the house. Build him a man cave, a man-only zone in the house where only he has decorative input. Transform the basement, the garage or even the attic into a place where he can play without interruption from his wife or kids. The women of the house will benefit from the man cave by enjoying the rest of the house without interference from the guys.

* Get the kids outside by building them a tree fort or play house. Get them involved in the design, and have it reflect their interests and hobbies. Once it’s built, let the kids direct you in how they would like it to be furnished.

For more information on DIY Network’s Blog Cabin or ideas on creating a home retreat, visit www.diynetwork.com.

Invigorate Your Domain With a New Exterior

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – If you’re thinking of making improvements to your home, this may be the perfect time to give the exterior of your home a makeover. The added value and the general warm feeling of coming home to a beautiful house everyday are not usually on the forefront of most people’s minds. However, the time of year is upon us to start thinking about our home repairs and to begin updating our home’s facade. But where do we start?

Ultimately, there are plenty of options if you’d like to change the appearance of your home.

Nothing breathes new life into a house like a new roof. While not an inexpensive upgrade, putting a new roof on a house can make a big difference as it makes up 50 percent of the exterior of a home. Asphalt shingles from CertainTeed are a good choice because they’re durable and can enhance the style and curb appeal of a home.

Trim is another option. This can bring out many of the details near windows or deck systems. Good trim products are typically made from cellular PVC with the look and feel of lumber. Restoration Millwork from CertainTeed comes in a natural-white color that’s easy to paint and ready to install.

If privacy or a place to relax outdoors with your family is something you’re looking for, try accenting your outdoor living space with maintenance-free fencing, decking and railings, like Bufftech or EverNew vinyl products from CertainTeed. These vinyl products are weatherproof and require no painting, staining or sanding and will allow you to put efforts elsewhere.

Siding is an area where options are great. CertainTeed’s Cedar Impressions polymer shakes give a home a rich, deep cedar shake look that never needs painting, is virtually maintenance-free, and carries a lifetime, limited warranty. If you are looking to change the exterior color of a home, consider CertainTeed’s ColorMax FiberCement siding, which offer 16 colors to choose from.

Landscaping is another way to update the look of your home. Landscapes are moving away from structured shapes, so if you have a lot of shaped trees that look like triangles or spheres, let them grow out, and prune them more naturally. Plants and shrubs bunched together, in a bouquet style of planting pattern, are also becoming more fashionable -; no more of the marching band type of perennial setups.

If you have any questions about purchasing interior or exterior products or to see what your home would look like with a new exterior, visit ColorView, an online interactive exterior style and color selector at www.certainteed.com.