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Home Improvement

Woodman, Spare that Tree0

We have a very old maple in our yard. Its large branches have held many swings and rope ladders over the years. The leaves have provided shade on the south side of the house and years of leaf mulch for the gardens. But its days unfortunately are numbered. The great trunk is marred with deep vertical lesions showing definite signs of disease.


Think About The Trees When You Renovate0

The benefits of having trees around us has been proven time and again. The National Arbor Day Foundation tells us their shade cools us in summer, saving 50% on air conditioning costs. In winter, they provide a windbreak which can reduce heating bills by as much as 30%. But often, trees aren’t the first thing to come to mind when planning a major home renovation like the addition of a new room or two.


How to Make a Gasoline Can Caddy0

Gasoline cans are an unsightly nuisance.  Ugh!  Where’s the best place to put ‘em?

That space under the deck stairs is big enough, shaded from all but late afternoon sun, well ventilated, out of the way, and mostly hidden from sight . . .

Okay, so what’s my problem?


Building Efficiency: Insulation0

I know next to nothing about insulation. Except that our old house doesn’t have enough of it.

But I work with a colleague who recently taught me a little bit about the different kinds of insulation and, most importantly, what a difference proper installation of insulation can make. He used phrases like “nice face stapling”, “low density” and “band joist”. A new vocabulary for me that rolled off his tongue as easy as pie.


Internet Tools: How to Build a Bookcase0

As you can see by the picture above, I have a book problem.  To call me a bibliophile would be a massive understatement.   By the way, this photo represents only one part of my eight bookshelves—all in the same state of chaos.

When we moved into our new house, my girlfriend suggested that I box up some of the books and put them in storage.  I said no.  


Kindle™ Around the House0

I was given a Kindle 3G wireless reader as a gift and wasn’t sure how I’d like it. Well, I do. It’s slim, lightweight and easy to use. And I think it has great applications for do-it-yourself projects around the house.

At A Glance image


A Second Chance for Building Materials0

A movement to deconstruct and reuse building materialts has been a growing trend  for almost 20 years now.  It’s saved thousands of tons of building scraps from being  dumped into landfills. What was once considered the cheapskate’s way of renovating has become a way of doing business in the residential and commercial building industries.


Building professionals are aware of the cost-saving and environmental benefits of materials reuse. And in some parts of the country, new building codes have been adopted making reuse the law. Builders must salvage materials and use them in renovations or building projects. If salvaged materials can’t be reused, they can be processed and turned into new materials.

Retail reuse stores are great sources of recycled materials for building and renovation projects. They stock donated and reclaimed building materials making them available to consumers for purchase. Homeowners can shop from an extensive list of materials — doors, windows, bricks, sinks, bathtubs, lighting fixtures, construction grade lumber, and barn board. These stores often have lots of vintage items too, like art deco light sconces and claw foot bathtubs.

So plan ahead with your next renovation project and design with reuse building practices in mind. It’s a great way to build green.


 text by Ann D. Travers

top photo:

second photo:


Can You Fix This?2

Admittedly, I am not the handiest FixItYourself-er.  As a result, fix-it projects at my house take a long time. 

This past weekend, I got a burst of  motivation.  After all, a long-put-off -home-improvement project is still better than taxes.  And, the in-laws are coming to visit next week. 

But, it didn’t take very long before we got in over our heads. 


Beadboard Paneling2



I love beadboard. We’ve used it in a number of room renovations around the house including the bathroom, master bedroom and upstairs hallway. It’s a relatively quick way to cover a multitude of evils. And the end result is a nicely finished wall.


A Garden Tool That Works!0

Shoveling dirt is hard work, and while I don’t mind hard work, I confess that I am not opposed to finding ways of  making difficult jobs a bit more pleasant.  I’m guilty of trying the occasional shortcut, which usually fails miserably—and teaches me a lesson in the process.  But I’m also an advocate of trying out new tools, such as  ToolStep—also fondly known as the TrenchFoot:


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