The spring is here and we are trying to get everything done all at once, both inside and outside the home. We walked through the neighborhood and the yards are getting into shape pretty quickly. How is the inside doing? Don’t worry, the rain will return and you can then focus on the chores to do inside your home.

Bassett Design Tips

Are you having trouble trying to figure out how to design a large room? Where to put all that furniture!?! We went to an expert to learn some tips for designing a room. Monique Stantliff from Bassett Home Furnishing (503-469-8333) walked us through the process. First of all, think about the space. What function is going to be happening in the room, how many people will be using it and then measuring the room to make sure it is the right size for the furniture and still have space to move around. You are looking for a minimum of 18 inches between furniture pieces and for walkway areas you are looking for 3 feet or more. And don’t forget the lighting!

We then moved to the design center of the store to check out colors and fabrics. Monique also talked about how you can design a room to include important, or heirloom, pieces so they don’t look out of place. For those older pieces you focus on their primary color and then create a palate from that to work from. Once you have that rough color palate, then you can look at area rugs and they become the base on which you build your room. Now if you want to try to build a design on your own, you can go to the Bassett website and use the helpful design tools.

Chicken Mojito – MiBook

We recently heard about a new computer/viewer that you can use in the kitchen and so we thought we would try it out. The miBook is a multimedia cookbook and home helper. David and Robin decided that they wanted to see how it would do if you used it to cook a dinner. David selected the recipe for Chicken Mojito. The way it operates is that you select a small computer card, insert it in the unit and select your recipe. It then walks you through the steps to make the recipe and stops between each step. You advance the recipe at your pace when you are ready. The first thing it does is list the ingredients you need. Then it lists the utensils that you will need. Then once you have everything assembled you just start following the instructions.

After it was done it turned out great. David recommends that you watch the recipe a couple of times so you get a feel for it. This may not be a gift for chef or a foodie that likes to improvise a recipe, but for beginning cook, young single person or even a teenage cook it could get them excited about being in the kitchen! The miBook comes with a large selection of recipe cards and covers other home and garden topics as well. You can find it at Best Buy and on Amazon.com.


Coming home to the perfect temperature in your home is not tough. Brent Smith from Roth Heating and Cooling (503-266-1249) showed us how you can always have the right temperature in your home with programmable thermostats. The first one was the top-of-the-line, computer controlled device. It has sensors in every room that feed information back to the main unit and that controls everything in the house. Now, if you don’t have the dough for the high end control unit, you can get an easy to install simple model. Mike pulled out a unit from Honeywell that can save you from 5-30 percent on your annual energy costs. It can be programmed to turn your heat or air conditioning on and off depending on when you are home. It is a great way to save money and be more comfortable in your home.

Hot Stove Tops

Things are heating up in the kitchen! This week we stopped by Standard TV and Appliance (503-619-0500) to learn about the newest in cook tops. Tony Gayaldo took Robin through a couple of their design kitchens to show us the ‘hottest’ in gas and electric stove tops. First we looked at gas. Gas is great for most cooks because it is so responsive and it heats up quickly. The only problem is that they wouldn’t go very low for simmering. The newest models have a feature that allows them to barely have a flame so they can do the low simmer that you may need sometimes. Also the materials have improved. You now have brass fittings that will resist corrosion and the surfaces allow for better cleaning and they also hide the smudges better!

Next we moved to the latest in electric cook tops. We checked out the induction cook tops. These burners are actually magnets that place all the energy at the base of the pan and so none of it is wasted heating the air around the pan. It was really freaky when Tony actually touched the stovetop near the pan while it was in a full boil! The whole crew had to touch it! It showed that all the energy was just going to cooking the food and none to heating the unused surface. Tony also showed us how responsive the burner was. He turned the heat down and it went from a full boil to a simmer in just a few seconds! To see these and the newest in other appliances, stop by Standard TV and Appliance.

Fixing a Leaky Toilet

If your water bill is a little bigger than usual it could be a signal that there is a leak in your home somewhere and one of the most common locations for a leak is your toilet. We took a couple of minutes to show you how to find and replace possible leaking parts to your toilet. First, we turned off the water and flushed the toilet to get the water out of the tank so we could work better. We then checked the flapper. This is the part that stops the water from draining into the lower bowl. If you notice flaky pieces, worn edges or cracks you will want to replace this piece. Take the old piece with you to the hardware store so you can get the right size replacement part. Next we showed you how to replace the flush valve assembly. This is the part that has a float attached to it. Sometime the seals wear out and the valve will leak. Before removing the valve we got a bucket, a couple of towels, a wrench and a mirror. We placed the bucket under the valve and unscrewed the valve from the tank. This is where you use the mirror to see the underside of the tank to loosen the valve nut. Once we removed the valve assembly we took it to the hardware store to make sure our replacement valve was the same size. To install the new valve we just reversed the steps we used to remove it. It looks like we fixed the leak, but we will check the toilet in a couple of weeks to make sure there is no other problem. For more water saving tips we recommend contacting the Regional Water Providers Consortium (503-823-7528).

How to Choose a Vacuum

Cleaning your home well is not just a springtime chore; it is something you can tackle year-round. To do a good job you need the right tool! To learn about choosing the right vacuum we went to Starks Vacuums (800-230-4101) and talked to Ken Raasch. The first thing you need to think about; what are your needs? What kind of flooring do you have? Do you have allergies, pets, or children? All those can help narrow down the type of unit you need. Next we looked at the benefits of canisters versus uprights. If you have primarily carpet in your home, the upright is the way to go. If you have a combination of different flooring or stairs then a canister may work better for you. Another consideration is allergies. If someone in your family has an allergy then you will want to get a unit that filters the air with a HEPA filter. These filters remove much more dust and pollen particles than the older units do.
Pay attention to price too. The higher priced models are designed to last longer and do a better job of cleaning. Of course you can check with an expert at Starks to learn about the different models they have and which one will work for you.



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This page last modified
August 13, 2010.