7 Tips for Hosting a Summer Pool Party

Pool Party

It is the peak of the warm months, and the sun is sweltering. All you can think about is nostalgic warm days at the pool as a child. Revisit these memories by hosting an exciting summer pool party, but with a little more adult flair. However, before you invite your friends over for the perfect refreshing summer bash, there are several things to consider during the planning process.

1. Decorate to Impress

First, you want to work on creating a fun summer backdrop that clearly transports your guests to paradise. With a pool party, it is important to think more fun and simple rather than extravagant and elegant. Pops of color can quickly add excitement to the décor. Pick vibrant shades of pinks, greens and purples and place them around the pool. Use small paper lanterns or bunting in bright colors to add the sense of an outdoor fiesta or barbecue. If you want to go with a theme, you could add touches of tropical elements like vibrant flowers and subtle bamboo details, or hang beach balls from tree branches and awnings to add a fun childhood element.

If you want something a little more grown up and sophisticated, you could use a nautical theme with deep blues and reds accompanied with white details, adding touches of anchors and sailboats.

2. Refreshing Cocktails

Sangria cocktail

Make vibrant fruity cocktails that are reminiscent of tropical pool cabanas in the Caribbean. Mai tais, mojitos and margaritas are perfect refreshing poolside drinks that will leave people impressed. You can easily find recipes and add small touches of your own, such as adding hints of watermelon or mango. Sangria is also an excellent refreshing option for wine drinkers.

If this is a family event, don’t forget the kids. You can easily make virgin versions of poolside cocktails and punches that will have them coming back for more.

3. Summer Wine

While wine is often ignored at outdoor barbecues and events, don’t be so quick to count it out! Many people are not liquor or beer drinkers, and it is important to have something for everyone. As you select wines for the event, consider light refreshing options that will be optimal for the heat of the outside setting.

Rosés are an excellent option for a hot summer day. While traditionally they were extraordinarily sweet, many new dry rosés are light and refreshing. Lighter white wines, such as the floral Viognier, can be ideal picks for your gathering. Overall, look for wines that are off-dry with a hint of sweet that come from cooler climates and are derived from lighter grape varieties. These qualities will help you find the perfect summer wine.

If you have the space, consider installing a wine refrigerator in your kitchen. This will help you store your collection of wine for your pool guests and ensure that the wine is perfectly chilled in time for the party.

4. Pool Side Beer

Nothing screams warm summer day like a crisp cool beer. As you begin to select beers for your party, you want to look for beers with lower alcohol by volume. Because your guests will be hanging out in the warm sun all day, you want beers that they can sip on throughout the afternoon without getting a little too intoxicated. Remember that safety should always be your first priority!

Secondly, you will want to consider lighter refreshing options. A number of breweries release summer editions that will add an excellent touch to your event. There are a wide variety of summer wheat beers, blondes and ales to choose from. Select a range of refreshing options to satisfy even the pickiest beer drinkers.

If you have an outdoor kitchen, you might want to invest in a kegerator for your guests. A kegerator will allow you to serve your favorite beers on tap in your very own backyard.

5. Expert Grilling

Laguna Grill Smoker

A summer party would not be complete without some delicious food hot off the grill. There are a variety of options when planning your menu for the party. You can go with more casual burgers, hot dogs and sausages, or you could go with something a little more impressive like steaks, fish or kabobs.

Whatever you may be putting on the grill, there are some important steps to follow. First, you want to make sure that you are not putting the food on the grill too early. You need to let the grill sit for at least 30 minutes before cooking to ensure the best results. Also, avoid babysitting the food. Every time you lift the lid of the grill, heat and smoke is lost and your meat loses flavor. In addition, over flipping the food can result in flare-ups which can cause your food to burn. Look up appropriate cooking times and set a timer so you only have to check on and flip your food once. You can also ensure perfectly cooked meat by using a meat thermometer. Finally, you want to wait until the end of the grilling process to add your sauce. If you add it too early, it will simply burn off onto the grill.

6. Delicious Salads

The sides you serve along with the barbecue are just as important as the main course. Consider providing a spread of light summer salads. There are many options that go beyond a traditional green or potato salad. Bring back memories of corn on the cob by creating a light refreshing concoction from the kernels. There are also a variety of salads that use bright green asparagus, broccoli or kale.

Consider serving fruit salads, which can provide a sweet and refreshing touch to your summer soirée. Adding a hint of vibrant herbs to your fruit, such as lavender, mint, basil or rosemary, can make for a truly unique dish. You can even bring a little bit of influence from the grill to your salads. Grilling more obvious vegetables like squash, eggplant or mushrooms create a savory dish, and grilling more adventurous items like avocado or fruit provide an element of surprise.

7. Fun and Games

Games are not just for the kids. On a hot summer day, the adults want to spend just as much time playing in the pool. Throw some fun floating tubes and lounges for people to relax in the pool. This not only provides a place to cool off but also adds to the décor. If you want to incorporate more active games, get a beach ball and set up a net for some pool volleyball. Get everyone involved and create a little competition while enjoying the water. If you’re feeling a bit more nostalgic and adventurous, purchase some inexpensive water guns and water balloons for a water gun battle. Fun activities such as these will ensure that everyone has a fantastic time.

You have a lot of options when hosting your party. Just try to be creative and have fun with the process. Vibrant decorations, delicious barbecue, impressive drinks, and fun activities will have your guests talking about the event for weeks and months to come.

Top 11 Gifts for Your College Freshman

college dorm

So your child isn’t so little anymore, and the time has come for you to send him or her off to the exciting new world of college. While you might have a hard time containing your own nerves, you can help make the transition as easy as possible for your kid.

If you want to help set your freshman up with some of the comforts of home in their tiny college dorm room, there are some key items that can make their transition to self-sufficiency a little smoother. Because space and access to electricity might be limited, it’s best if you can carefully narrow down your list of potential gifts to the most practical and useful. Here is a list of the top 11 gifts for college freshmen to get you started.


1. Bedding

bedding

Your college student’s dorm room will more than likely come with a bed platform and a mattress. However, you’ll need to purchase your own sheets, pillows and blankets for your child. This is one of the best gifts you can provide your college-bound child because you know they will need them and use them every single night.

Be sure to choose a collection made of light, breathable fabric because you never know if the heating and cooling systems in the dorms will function properly. Also, see if you can find out if extra-long twin sheets will be needed. This often is the case for college dorm beds. Many students use their beds as places to study, so include several pillows of different sizes and firmness levels.


2. Computer

laptop

Although your student might have had a serviceable laptop that got them through high school, now might be the time to upgrade. A college student is likely to need more memory, computing power and certain software that an older machine might not come with.

When picking out a newer model, make sure to get something durable–multiple daily moves in and out of a backpack, plus routine bumps and bruises can really take their toll on the lighter versions.


3. Bicycle

bicycle

For kids that will be attending a large college, a fast mode of transportation can be crucial for getting from one end of the campus to the other before the next class starts.

Unfortunately, bikes are one of the most stolen items at any university. Make sure you also provide a hefty bike lock, and consider a seat that has a quick release mechanism so that it can be removed between uses to help dissuade thieves. If your state has a helmet law for adults, new head protection should be part of the gift.


4. Mini Fridge

Mini Fridge

Where will your student store his or her leftover slices after a late-night pizza run? It’s times like these that a mini fridge can come in handy.

If there is space in the dorm room and an ideally placed electrical outlet, provide your freshman with an appropriately sized fridge so he or she can keep their soda and perishable foods cool and safe to eat.


5. Extra Storage

extra storage

Under-the-bed space and other nooks and crannies are prime real estate for additional storage in a small dorm room. Look for shelf or drawer units that will fit in these spaces in order to inspire organization in your student.

Consider getting something portable for your kid to use as storage. College students do a lot of traveling and always need a sturdy trunk to keep their belongings in. When they are not traveling or moving, they can use the trunk to store items under their college dorm room bed or in their closet. They come in all kinds of materials, but you want to purchase one that is light enough to carry up the stairs if necessary. In some cases, a trunk can be used as additional seating or as a coffee table in a pinch.


6. Small Appliances

Coffee maker

Depending on the rules of the dorm, you might be able to provide a variety of small appliances to help out your freshman. A coffeemaker or compact espresso machine might be vital to some students, while others may prefer a toaster oven or hot plate for times when they can’t make it to the cafeteria.

Irons and light vacuum cleaners could be smart options as well, depending what kinds of resources the kids can expect to be provided for communal use in their college dorms.


7. Comfy Chair

Desk Chair

Your freshman likely will spend a great deal of time at his or her desk, either working on the computer or studying for exams. Even on down time, you still want your child to have a comfortable place to be when hanging out with a roommate or other friends. A cushy rolling desk chair could be a good fit, or else they might want a large bean-stuffed loveseat for extra seating space.

Be sure not to get a chair or mini loveseat that is too big though–we all know that dorm rooms can be criminally small. Before your purchase, be sure to take thorough measurements of their room to make sure this item will fit.


8. Decorations

wall calendar

Help turn your kid’s dorm room into a home away from home with fun and festive decorations that match their style. However, there may be college dorm room regulations that dictate what kinds of things can be hung on the walls of the room, so it’s important to be aware of the rules before making any purchases.

You might also want to stick with serviceable wall hangings such as dry erase boards, rewritable calendars or hanging mirrors. There likely won’t be a lot of space for knick-knacks, so don’t choose those for gifts unless you know for a fact there will be a place for them.


9. Laundry Supplies

detergent

If they are lucky enough to live nearby, your child may visit home most weekends to get a good meal and do his or her laundry. However, that won’t be the case for every family. Help your college freshman be prepared for long hours in the laundry room by providing a kit that includes a compact laundry basket, detergent, bleach, dryer sheets and rolls of quarters.

If they don’t already know how, it might be a good idea to teach them how to do their laundry before they move off to their dorm. This can help them avoid bleaching the wrong items or shrinking others.


10. Basic Tool Kit

toolbox

It may not seem likely that your child will need to make a lot of repairs in the college dorm room, but there will be times when a bike repair or broken chair can be remedied by having the right screwdriver on hand.

Having a tool kit allows students to be problem-solvers and take care of themselves in a self-sufficient manner. Tool kits may not be needed every day, but when you do need one, they are good to have on hand.


11. Reloadable Credit Card

reloadable credit card

You may want to believe you are done handing out cash all of the time to your student, but it may be a while before he or she gets used to managing money properly. In the meantime, it can be convenient to give them a prepaid credit card that you can load with money without a trip to the bank.

Be sure to let them know this card is just for emergencies, though, and won’t be refilled very often. Before you give them the card, it might be a good idea to set up a monthly budget or allowance for your freshman so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to their expenses.

10 Tips to Help You Stay Cool During the Summer Heat

Summer sprinkler

Staying cool in the summertime can be a real chore. Not only can the heat make you generally uncomfortable, you can also suffer heat-related illnesses if you’re not careful. These 10 tips can help you learn how to survive the summer heat while still having fun.

1. Air Conditioning

Air conditioners can be lifesavers in areas with high humidity, where fans often just can’t cut through the mugginess to provide proper cooling. To help you save on energy costs, set your thermostat to a higher setting when no one will be home. When you are home, choosing to set the thermostat just a few degrees higher than your desired temperature can have huge positive effects on your energy bill. Also remember to properly maintain your cooling system and replace filters monthly for superior performance and top cooling power.

2. Dress Appropriately and Protect Your Skin

Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is going to help you stay cool and dry when the weather is hot. Loose clothes will help air circulate on your body to keep you cool, and clothing in light colors will reflect heat and sunlight. Cotton clothing tends to be the best choice for summer weather, as the natural fibers allow for better air flow and they help wick sweat away from the body to increase cooling.

Don’t forget to protect your head, eyes and skin. Wear a large hat that will provide shade and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don’t forget to use lots of sunscreen for skin protection, and reapply it often!

3. Eat Right

When the weather heats up, the right food choices can help keep you cool. Colder foods, such as salads, fruits and fresh raw vegetables can all help keep your body temperature from rising after a meal, as they require little energy to metabolize. Cucumbers and watermelons, for example, are both well known for being high in water content, so snacking on them can provide heat relief as well as some much-needed hydration.

watermelon slice

On the other hand, protein-rich foods, such as meats, fish and cheese, require higher energy levels to metabolize, which can increase your body temperature as you digest them. Try to avoid these foods when you are feeling overheated.

4. Fan Yourself

Using fans, whether electric, battery powered, or hand-propelled, will all help circulate the air around you and reduce the mugginess of a hot summer’s day. Ceiling fans work well in homes without air conditioning to create a breeze and increase cooling, and smaller fans can be moved from room to room to circulate the air wherever you may be. Create a cross-breeze by positioning a fan across from a window, so that the wind outside and the fan can combine to cool you down. Small, battery-powered fans can be brought with you outdoors and can even be attached to stroller trays to keep babies cool in the heat.

5. Go Swimming

Many times the only way to cool down is to get wet. Take a dive into your pool, put your sprinklers on and run through them with your kids, or take a cool shower or bath and let your body air-dry. A small plastic kiddie pool can be the perfect place to splash and cool down, both for little ones and grown-ups alike. Swimming is a fun summer tradition that can help protect you from the dangerous heat, but be sure to always follow our pool safety tips.

6. Home Tips

If you are without air conditioning, there are other ways you can reduce the temperature of your home in the summer. Keeping your curtains closed during the day will help reduce the heat coming through your windows, and you can even invest in specialized “thermal drapes” that can reduce the amount of light and heat that come in through your windows. Light bulbs and even small electronic gadgets give off heat, so keep the lights off as much as possible and unplug your devices. Do your laundry and cleaning during the cooler times of the day if possible, as running the dishwasher and doing your laundry will also generate indoor heat.

Consider purchasing a portable air conditioner if you are without a built-in A/C system. Portable air conditioners allow you to cool individual rooms efficiently. By only cooling the rooms that you need to cool, you can save a lot of money on energy.

7. Schedule Activities Carefully

Stay out of the sun when it is at its highest and hottest points during the day, typically between 10am and 4pm. You should avoid activities in the afternoon sun as much as possible, which means that you’ll need to schedule your outdoor activities carefully so you can avoid being outside when the day will be the hottest. The morning is a great time for outdoor activities, especially for younger kids.

8. Stay Hydrated

Water glass

Drink plenty of water when the weather is hot even if you aren’t feeling thirsty, as it is essential to help your body regulate your core temperature. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are participating in any outdoor activities or if you are in the sun. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks, as they might increase dehydration. Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided, as they might increase your chances of falling victim to heat illness and impair your balance, coordination and judgment, leading to possible accidents and injuries.

9. Stay Inside

Take advantage of any the public libraries, aquariums, museums and other public buildings or commercial venues that are near you when the days get too hot. And since they’re always freezing, the summer is a great time to enjoy that local indoor ice-skating rink or cool movie theater. These public venues are always air-conditioned, protected from the sun and a fun way to spend the day when you just can’t handle the heat at home.

10. Try A DIY Cooler

If your home doesn’t have air conditioning and fans just aren’t cutting it, try some do-it-yourself cooling techniques to bring the temperature down in your home. You can create a small cooler by placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan, thus blowing cooled and moisturized air where you need it most. Moist towels or sheets can also be hung in front of fans for the same effect. You can also soak towels in water or even freeze them and place them directly on your head or the back of your neck for instant cooling, which can be especially useful when nights are oppressively hot and you need something to help you cool down and fall asleep.

This summer, beat the heat, don’t let the heat beat you!. By taking advantage of these tips to help you survive the heat, you can enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures without losing your cool.

5 Basics for Measuring Baking Ingredients

Baking Ingredients

When it comes to creating the perfect meal, it is imperative that you measure your ingredients correctly. Even when you’re just experimenting in the kitchen, finding the right amount of any ingredient is critical for creating a delicious end-product. There are many different options for tools to help you measure foods and spices. Here are five basic ways to measure common baking ingredients, including how to properly use tools such as cups, spoons and scales.

1. Measuring Cups

If you have a kitchen and you do any sort of cooking in it, then you probably already have a set of measuring cups on hand. There are a couple of different types of measuring cups available. Some are designed for measuring dry ingredients while others are designed specifically for measuring liquids. Dry measuring cups often come in nested sets that range in size from 1/4 cup to 1 cup. Liquid measuring cups typically come in a wider range of sizes with more precise readings. They may have notches located somewhere on the cup that indicate an amount in cups or by ounces.

An accurate measure of dry ingredients meets the rim of the dry measuring cup. You can usually take your finger and run it across the top of the cup to push off any excess ingredients. Make sure you do this away from your bowl or pot where you are combining the ingredients in order to avoid accidentally adding too much of the ingredient. Whether or not you need to pack the ingredient into the cup depends on the ingredient. Brown sugar, for example, should be packed down into the cup. Ingredients that are bulky, such as oats, coconut or shredded cheese, do not need to be packed down. Packing down these softer ingredients can damage them and ultimately create undesired results in your cooking.

Accurately measuring liquid ingredients usually just involves filling the liquid measuring cup to the indicated line. Use a clean, dry measuring cup before pouring the liquid in. If you are measuring a sticky ingredient, such as molasses, syrup or honey, you can lightly coat the measuring cup with vegetable or olive oil to help it slide out more easily.

2. Measuring Spoons

Teaspoons

Measuring spoons are another necessary tool to have stocked in your kitchen. Similar to dry measuring cups, most measuring spoons come in a nested set that ranges from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. Measuring spoons can be used for small amounts of dry or liquid ingredients.

If you can, it is useful to have two sets on hand, one for measuring dry ingredients and one for liquids.

3. Measuring Scales

Kitchen scales can be used for a wide variety of dry ingredients. If your recipe calls for an ingredient by weight, then a kitchen scale will come in handy. Kitchen scales are usually able to measure very light ingredients, which is particularly useful when measuring out portions of meat or chocolate. If you are more comfortable measuring out dry ingredients by weight rather than volume, then a scale is likely to be an asset in your kitchen.

When using the kitchen scale, be sure to zero the scale with any additional container you will be using already set on it. For example, if you are using a measuring cup to hold the ingredients that you plan on measuring on the scale, be sure that you calibrate the scale so that it does not measure the weight of the cup and the ingredients, but only the ingredients.

4. Unusual Ingredients

Some ingredients will simply not sit well in a measuring cup or spoon. At the same time, they are probably not suitable for measurement by weight. These are items that might not necessarily fall into either a liquid or dry ingredient category, or perhaps they are a chopped ingredient that sits awkwardly in a cup.

For ingredients with difficult or abnormal consistencies, such as butter, scoop it in the cup, pack it down and level it off, then add it to your ingredients. For chopped ingredients, chop them as best as you can and measure it out as directed. You do not necessarily need to level off these types of ingredients; rounding is usually just fine. For eggs, remember to crack them into a separate bowl to check for shell pieces before adding them to the rest of the ingredients.

5. Unusual Measurements

Sometimes a recipe has an unusual phrase that is not an exact measurement. If you have ever run across a pinch of this or a dash of that, you may have wondered how much it is in exact measurements. Believe it or not, a pinch and a dash are two different measurements. Here are some unusual measurements that you may come across with some of your recipes:

Dash of salt
  • Dash

    A little over 1/16 of a teaspoon for dry ingredients. If you are using a dash for liquid ingredients, use about three drops.

  • Jigger

    For dry ingredients, approximately three tablespoons. When measuring liquids, it equates to approximately 1.5 fluid ounces, or your standard shot glass.

  • Heaping

    A scoop that heaps up and over the edges of the cup or spoon. There is no need to level off ingredients that require a heaping.

  • Pinch

    An amount that you can pinch between your thumb and finger. It is about 1/16 of a teaspoon, but slightly less than a dash.

  • Scant

    This is a term that means to use slightly less than the specified measurement.

Additional Tips

Accurate measurements are important for the outcome of your recipe. The best way to learn how to accurately measure ingredients is to practice. Over time, you are more likely to become familiar with small measurements, saving you a lot of time during preparation.

You might also consider having two sets of each type of measuring device so that you have something to use with dry ingredients and something to use for liquids without having to clean and dry in between.

Keep in mind that fluid ounces measured in a liquid measuring cup and ounces measured on a kitchen scale are not the same thing. Fluid ounces measure volume while ounces are a measurement of weight. Once you have ingredient measuring down, you’ll quickly gain the confidence to create delicious meals.

9 Tips for Using a Chainsaw

Chainsaw Tips

Consumers, construction workers, and landscapers alike are realizing the benefits of owning a chainsaw. From tackling large tree-cutting jobs to home-improvement projects, there are many uses and benefits to owning this piece of equipment. Regardless of what type of home project you’re using it for, it’s important to understand how to use this powerful tool correctly and safely from the start. The following are nine helpful tips for using a chainsaw safely and effectively:

1. Read the Instructions

As with any new machinery you purchase, you should read the instruction manual completely and thoroughly to understand the specific functions, components, and modes of the product before you begin using it. While the basic operations of all chainsaws are essentially similar, there can be variations. If you’ve owned a chainsaw in the past, don’t assume that the one you’ve just purchased will operate in the exact same way. Again, reading the instruction manual that comes with the product is the only way to determine what the product can do. This should absolutely be done before using the product for the first time.

2. Take a Class

Because a chainsaw is a powerful piece of equipment–more so than most over-the-counter machinery sold today–having some initial in-person instruction as to its functions and operation can help you acclimate to the product more quickly. Many retailers offer one-on-one tutorials or even classes in properly using chainsaws when you purchase the equipment from them. It’s important to take advantage of these tutorials or classes if you can. Indeed, fully understanding how to use a chainsaw requires a bit of a learning curve–you need to get used to the nuances of holding the equipment and cutting through wood or other materials. In short, the more you correctly handle the equipment, the better you’ll get.

3. Pay Attention to Safety

Because chainsaws cut through things at a rapid speed, it is inevitable that they produce a lot of debris. As such, safety measures should be taken, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as goggles. Other PPE to consider, particularly if you’re using a chainsaw to cut down trees, are helmets and “chainsaw chaps”. Chainsaw chaps are made of several layers of Kevlar beneath a nylon outer shell to protect against both debris and potential accidental “kickback” from the chainsaw. Finally, ensuring that the chainsaw is not operated within close proximity to people or pets should be a standard safety measure.

4. Use a Work Station

Chainsaw

Setting up a work station goes hand in hand with tip number 3–that is, paying particular attention to safety–and is especially important when you’re working with lumber or other pre-fabricated construction materials. By giving yourself the proper radius to work, you’ll keep yourself and people around you safe from flying debris and potential accidents. A work station also provides a controlled space to put the chainsaw down safely as well as a place to hold the lumber or other materials that you’re cutting through. This step may seem simple or obvious, but it is often overlooked.

5. Know the Risks

If you’re planning on going into the woods and cutting trees with your chainsaw, knowing your surroundings and the trajectory that the tree will fall is paramount to both your safety and a successful operation. Just as setting up a work station is key to creating a safe environment for chainsaw use, so is ensuring the environmental safety of a specific situation when you’ll be using the machinery out in the woods. You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there an escape route to take when the tree falls?
  • Is there a clear path for the tree to fall?
  • If the tree goes in an unintended direction, what would be the consequence?
  • Are there any other people or animals that could potentially be harmed by the falling tree?

6. Double-Check Before You Begin

Before starting up your chainsaw, make sure that everything is in working order to get the job done safely and effectively. A quick check of the controls, handles, bar, and chain sharpness and tension will help mitigate potential malfunctions. In addition, it’s important to make sure that the gas and oil reservoirs are properly filled before beginning a project. Aside from the obvious frustration of running out of oil mid-way through a job, this can also cause friction and heat that can seriously damage the chainsaw.

7. Startup and Operation

You should always start a chainsaw while it’s on a flat surface, especially if you are a first-time user of the machine. This protocol ensures the safest startup method for you and anyone around you. Know that it’s still important to consult the instruction manual, professionals, or both before trying this for yourself. Before you start your chainsaw, always make sure that the chain brake is engaged, that the choke is closed, and that the start switch is in the “on” position.

8. Proper Stance and Form

Often overlooked, a key aspect of operating a chainsaw effectively is proper body stance and form, which translates to better overall handling. For instance, no matter what you’re using a chainsaw for, it’s important to maintain good footing, to watch for tripping hazards, and to keep a good balance by not overreaching with the saw. It’s also important to employ common sense measures. For instance, know that you should never run with the chainsaw, even if it is off. Finally, when operating this piece of equipment, remember to keep your hand (including your thumb) firmly around the front handle to maximize performance.

9. Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Last, but not least, consider what you’re going to do with your chainsaw when it’s not in use. Storing the machinery safely and securely–away from curious children, for instance–not only brings peace of mind, but it’s the responsible thing to do. Keeping your chainsaw in an industrial storage locker or similar container will also protect it from dust, dirt, and other environmental conditions that could cause damage. This final tip, combined with the previous eight, will keep your chainsaw safe and operating to its fullest potential.

14 Simple and Effective Home Cleaning Tips

We are well into spring–have you started your spring cleaning yet? Although tidying up your house is probably not as exciting of a spring activity as relaxing outdoors is, you can’t deny that a neat living space looks great and really does improve your mood. Here are some of the top tips for keeping your home clean this spring.


Appliance Care

Clean Kitchen Ice Maker

Instead of putting all of your cleaning off to do in a single day, remember that it’s easier to do small, daily maintenance tasks. By practicing this method of cleaning, you can avoid doing a major cleaning project every week or two–giving you more free time to enjoy the springtime. A good place to start is in the kitchen: try to wipe up spills and clear away stray crumbs as soon as you notice them. Also, make sure that your appliances are cleaned often: remember to wipe down your mixer, blender, ice maker or hot plate right after using to avoid stuck-on grime and streaks.

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4 Tips for Remodeling Your Empty Nest

Redecorating

Transitioning from a full and bustling house to an empty nest can be difficult. Don’t think of it as losing your children once they move out, think of it as you regaining plenty of empty space in your home that you can do anything with. If you do not feel the need to preserve your children’s rooms for their visits, why not create a fun an usable space instead?

There are plenty of remodeling options available to you, and hopefully something inspires you enough to take on the project. Here are four great ideas for how to convert your newly regained space:

Repainting

1. A Guest Suite

A lot of older homes have several bedrooms right next to each other. If your child’s room is adjacent to another spare bedroom, you might consider knocking out the wall and converting the entire space into one big guest suite. A guest suite is not only trendy, but also functional. When your kids (and maybe even grandkids) want to come for a visit they’ll have a comfortable place to stay. This is a good bridging point between redecorating the room completely and preserving the nostalgia of your kid’s bedroom.

If you’re learning toward creating a guest suite, consider a bright yet neutral color for the walls and bedding. You’ll want to choose something that’s inviting and welcoming to your guests.

Remember, this space is more than just a bedroom. You can add a sitting room or an entertainment area for the little ones. You can even add a small refrigerator and microwave, like you’d find in a hotel. It’s all up to you and your budget!

2. A Home Gym

A spare bedroom can easily be converted into an exercise room. With the right paint, equipment and decorative choices, you can create a calorie-burning room of your very own. Start by looking into and pricing exercise equipment. Test out a few options, especially if the room is only big enough for one machine.

Most people make space for a television, which serves multiple purposes. You can watch your favorite shows to distract you from your burning muscles, or you can use it to watch exercise videos. If you buy a few yoga DVDs, for example, you can rotate your routine between the exercise machine and your 30-minute yoga show. Plus, your TV stand can double as a locker. You can store your yoga mat, sneakers and towels in there.

You may want to paint the room an energetic color like a light yellow or green. Sometimes a fresh paint job can completely transform the energy of a room.

3. A Game Room

Edgestar Ultra Low Temp Full Size Stainless Steel Dual Tap Kegerator

What adult doesn’t want a little room to play? From pool tournaments to Bingo nights, you can soon host a game night at your house. Of course, you’ll need to use your space wisely. Try creating a wish list of games you’d like to play in your new space. Keep in mind that the average game table takes up an area of about 3 feet by 5 feet. Plus, some games–such as pool–require additional space for adequate play.

The game tables will likely take center stage, but you should also consider size-appropriate furniture so guests can relax during or in between play. Stools and ottomans make great, space-saving seating options.

Don’t forget a place for cold drinks. A small bar with either a kegerator or a wine refrigerator would make a nice addition to any game room. These appliances are compact enough to fit into a bedroom while not completely dominating the space.

4. A Dad Cave/Mom Cave

Tired of battling your spouse for the remote control to watch your favorite show every weekend? The spare bedroom could solve that problem. Consider converting this room into your own personal space–a private mom or dad cave. Take down your teen’s posters and change the walls to something more your style. A new coat of paint could do the trick, or you might even consider stained wall paneling. Your cave, your rules!

Traditionally, this cave-type room is converted into a sports room, equipped with a flat-screen TV, lots of seating, and a mini bar. If this is your style, go for it! Having a new place for entertainment that is 100% your style can be fun and stress-relieving.

Perhaps you’re less into sports and more into crafting. A bedroom is the perfect size to create an organized sewing and beading station. Or, perhaps you have a couple of grandchildren running around–why not cater this new craft room to their interests?

If you’re more of a book-worm, consider making this spare room into a cozy library. Finally, an organized way to store your hundreds of books! Invest in nice furniture, dark walls, and mood lighting to create the perfect reading room.

Of course, these are just a few ideas. You could remodel the room into a small library with built in bookcases; change it into a hobby room where you can spread out all sorts of odds and ends; or convert the space into a movie room complete with stadium seating and surround sound. You’ve got a lot of options, and what better time than now to turn that room into a fun space for you and your spouse.

How to Pick the Perfect Electric Tea Kettle

Electric Kettle

With a little homework, you can find the pot that fits your family’s needs.

All electric teakettles are not created equal. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, have varying degrees of wattage, and can contain various safety features. Don’t get intimidated though! Picking the right electric tea kettle is hardly a chore, and may just become one of your most used and beloved kitchen appliances.

Here’s how to make sense of all the different features when choosing an electric tea kettle.
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Stove Care & Maintenance Tips

Stove Top

Today’s homes are filled with many time-saving gadgets and appliances. Modern homeowners enjoy the convenience of appliances that wash dishes, cook almost instantly, and practically eliminate the need for an open flame in the home. The stove is a popular cooking appliance that has made meal preparation simpler and faster.

In some homes, these hardworking appliances are used every single day, sometimes more than once. This constant wear will inevitably have an effect on how well and how long the stove works. In order to improve the performance and extend the lifespan of your stove, it’s recommended that you follow a regular routine of maintenance and cleaning. The below tips will typically cover both gas ranges and electric ranges, but it is important to refer to your owner’s manual on what to do for your specific unit.
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10 Handy Washing Machine Usage Tips

Loading a Washing Machine

Many people think that the washing machine is a self-cleaning machine, but it is not. It still needs to be cleaned and cared for periodically. What happens to all of the dirt and debris that the washing machine removes from your clothes? It does not all go down the drain during the rinse cycle, like you may think. Much of that dirt accumulates inside of the machine and the detergent that you use to wash your clothes may also leave behind minerals and residue that accumulate on the inside of the washing machine.
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