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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How to Choose the Right Type of Grill for You

Personal Sized Grill

When I was 23 living in a studio apartment that had a common area for grilling, I got myself a personal hibachi grill. When I was married, living in a condo apartment with a balcony, I got a stand up electric grill (per my lease requirements), and now that I own my own home with ample pool deck for any size grill, my husband chose a large gas grill with all the bells and whistles. There are many types of grills that you can choose from, but they’re all built differently and may not be the best fit for your home.

So, whenever you move to a new place, it’s time to re-evaluate your grill choices. You can do this by asking yourself the following four questions. Based on your answers, you will have a better idea of what type of grill fits your life (and space) perfectly.
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How to Move Large Appliances Without Damaging the Floors

Moving Large Appliances

Whether it’s for spring cleaning purposes or a big move, it’s important to be very careful when moving large appliances. You run the risk of ruining your floors, hurting your back, or even damaging your unit. Depending on the model, the appliances in your home can weigh from 100 to 300 pounds or more, so having a plan of action is crucial.

Whether you have hardwood floors, laminate, carpeting, or tile, you can protect them from dings, dents, and rips if you approach your appliance-relocation challenge armed with knowledge and the right tools. Here are a few tricks of the trade that, when followed, will help you avoid potential damage to your floors and move your unit quickly and efficiently.
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