Monday, August 10 2009
Create a Fun and Budget-Friendly Outdoor Room
Sitting Area - When creating an outdoor room, think comfort. For upholstered furniture, use outdoor fabrics and synthetic fill. All-weather curtains cast welcome shade from the sun.
Kitchen Area - Avoid the price tag of built-in cabinetry for cooking and dining utensils by using watertight, airtight plastic storage bins that tuck under the counter. Conceal a storage area or a garbage can with a pretty fabric curtain attached with hook-and-loop tape. Also, use stainless-steel fixtures, which don't expand and contract with weather changes.
Sink Station - An outdoor sink is easy to install. Unless you plan to wash dishes, you need only a cold-water connection. This sink is fed by a garden hose (or you can connect directly to the house's water supply) and drains in a bucket. The gray water is then used for the surrounding plants.
Grilling Station - When space allows, add a countertop or island next to the grill to make food prep and service easier. A peninsula works well in this outdoor kitchen. It provides additional seating for outdoor dining that's close enough for the cook to chat with guests, but it keeps people away from a hot grill.
Source: Good Housekeeping
Cut Your Energy Costs - Simple tips for saving resources, money and the planet.
Cool your home naturally: Open windows on cool summer nights. Use energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (they emit less heat). Hang washing out to dry, and grill food outside. Install window awnings. Plant deciduous trees on the east and west to shade your house and cool it by as much as 20 degrees.
Install an Energy Star–certified ceiling fan (50 percent more efficient than others) and comfortably keep your home four degrees cooler in the summer.
Consider switching to a natural-gas water heater (which uses less than half the energy of an electric one) and turn the setting down to 120 degrees.
Seal your house: Close the fireplace damper; install a timer (available at hardware stores) on the bathroom exhaust fan; seal ductwork.
Potential savings: About $500 a year.
Green point: If one household in 10 bought Energy Star–rated heating and cooling equipment, the change in greenhouse-gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road.
Source: Real Simple
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
~ Sam Keen
The Free Lunch Lives! Where to Find Hidden Handouts.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of places where people can eat, drink, play and find treasures without paying a dime. Check out some of these great deals.
Free Kids Meals Year-Round - If you play your cards right, you could eat out almost every day of the week and not spend a dime on your kids’ food. Kids can eat free at many Denny’s restaurants on Tuesday and Saturday nights and at many Perkins and IHOP restaurants on multiple nights of the week. For a list of Kids Eat Free Restaurants, check out www.CouponDivas.com
Free Grub on Your Birthday - Free birthday burgers at Red Robin. Free birthday spaghetti entrees and desserts at Spaghetti Warehouse. Free birthday desserts at Applebee’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Free birthday ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery and Baskin-Robbins.
Free Admission - Most museums offer free admission one day of the week or month. Many art galleries also offer free receptions that feature wine, cheese & other snacks. Also, don’t forget the power of the Internet. A quick online search for the name of your city along with the words "free activities" can do wonders.
Free Tastes - Warehouse clubs, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, offer oodles of free food samples as you roll your cart up and down the aisles. Time it right and you can score the equivalent of a full meal. Trader Joe’s and other specialty grocery stores also offer exceptionally yummy free samples. Eat up!
Ice Cream Sandwich with Strawberries
3 prepared round ice cream sandwiches
1/2 cup chopped California Almonds, chopped finely
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup prepared chocolate sauce
Allow ice cream sandwiches to soften slightly, about 3 minutes.
Place almonds in a shallow bowl and roll ice cream sandwiches in almonds, so almonds stick well to the sides.
Stack sandwiches onto a dinner plate. Top with any remaining almonds and scatter strawberries on bottom of plate and atop stacked ice cream sandwiches. Drizzle with chocolate sauce.
Home service agreements, for resale properties, are often used as a negotiating tool in competitive real estate situations. They are not a substitute for a professional home inspection, but sellers find them helpful in attracting buyers. Buyers find that home service agreements, which can be renewed, where allowed by law, after the first year can save them money in the cash-tight early days of owning a home. Ask me about a HomeTrust Warranty® home service agreement today!