We are now in our second spring of the Fusion show and we are finding all new stories to share. When we chat about what is of interest to us, they are generally stories that our friends and family have questions about also. If you have questions about home improvement, décor or cooking we invite you to share those ideas with us. Either way, drop us a line and let us know how we are doing!

Lampshade Chandeliers

A lot of the newer homes and condo are missing something! Just walk into a room and try to turn on a light. In most of the rooms, there is no overhead light. To help get around that we stopped by Naomi's Lampshades and Lamps (503-636-1884) to chat with Bea for some 'bright' ideas. She showed us how easy it is to build your own chandelier out of your favorite lampshades. It's a lamp, without a lamp! Not only that, you can also use this same technique to build reading lamps for your bedroom or even replace an old, out of date chandelier in your dining room!. It is a great way to bring light to those darks rooms and make your own creative mark on your living area.

Changing Your Patio

The weather is getting warmer and that means we will be moving outside to entertain and enjoy our homes and gardens. You can create a great outdoor living space without breaking the bank. Jeanette from Al's Garden Center (503-726-1162) joined us at their Sherwood location to show us how easy it is to build that welcoming environment. She told us that we should be asking ourselves some questions. What is the size of the area, what do you want to do in that area (entertaining or dining), and what is your 'look', color or theme. The first thing you start with is good bones. That means the major elements have to be of high quality. Your furniture, tables and chairs have to be built to last. You will build your area around these quality items! We then showed you how easy it was to change from a Tuscan theme to a tropical theme with a couple of simple changes.

We then moved to a small bistro set to show you how small changes can make a difference in your outdoor dining area. Here we featured an outdoor piece of art, some new cushions and a plant in a quick change to create a totally different feel. The most interesting piece for us was the half umbrella over the table. This new umbrella would be great in those small spaces of a patio at an apartment or condo. If you need some tips for creating a big impact in a small space check with the experts at Al's in Woodburn and Sherwood.

Grind Your Own Spices

One of the quickest ways to 'punch' up your recipes is with fresh spices and you can create your own tasty spice combinations by 'cooking' and grinding your own spices. We met with Chef Vaidya from the Oregon Culinary Institute (1-888-OCI-CHEF) who showed Chef David how easy it is to do. Chef Vaidya picked out 7 different spices for us to look at. We saw some different spices like clove, cinnamon, bay leaf and nutmeg. Spices can be anything that adds flavor to a recipe and can come from different parts of plants in nature. It can be a leaf, seeds or even bark from a plant. Chef Vaidya showed us how to use a stove-top pan to heat the spices. The heat releases the volatile oils from the spice and creates a more intense flavor. After heating, he ground the spices in a mortar and pestle. This also helps release the flavor and mixes the spices into different combinations. You can store these spice mixes up to 6 months. If you are interested in taking some cooking classes and learning more, check out the Oregon Culinary website.

Sanderson Fire Extinguishers

We all know that fire extinguishers are important for the safety of our families and property, but there the important differences in the types of fire extinguishers that are available to the homeowner so we stopped by Sanderson Safety Supply (503-238-5700) to talk with Geoff about the different types and how to use them. First of all you may have noticed a letter designation on the front of your extinguisher, an A-B-C or a combination of those letters. Those letters refer to the type of fire that the extinguisher can treat. 'A' means a paper or wood combustible. 'B' refers to liquids and 'C' deals with electrical fires. So an ABC extinguisher can handle all of those different fires in your home. The most important areas for placing an extinguisher is a kitchen, a garage (near your furnace or hot water heater), and your sleeping areas. The first areas are where you are most likely to encounter a fire and the last area is for your safety if a fire happens during the night. Make sure the equipment is accessible for use too. Don't bury it in a closet.

To use the extinguisher you would use the PASS technique. That means 'Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep'. Pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle and sweep at the base of the flames. Remember to keep the fire extinguisher up-right while using it too. When you use a fire extinguisher you are trying to remove the heat and the oxygen from the fire which are 2 of the 3 items from the fire triangle that maintain the fire (the 3rd is to remove the combustible material). If you have a fire extinguisher make sure you maintain it and if you don't then consider getting one (or two) for your home.

New Hot Water Heaters

There are lots of new innovations in water heaters and to learn about the latest in hot water we went to the water heater king, George Morlan Plumbing (503-224-7000). You may not think you need to worry about your water heater, but in the Northwest the average water heater lasts about 12 years, so you will have to worry about replacing yours soon. The conventional water heaters come in 2 main styles, one for natural gas where a flame heats the water and an electric water heater which uses two heating coils to heat the water for your home.

Next, we moved to the new 'Cadillac's' of energy efficiency in water heating. First was the Rheem Marathon water heater. The main cause of failure for most heaters is a leak in the tank. This new model from Rheem is guaranteed to never leak. Next we saw the GE Hybrid water heater. This one uses a heat pump to pull heat from the surrounding air to complement the normal heating process. That extra heat from the heat pump can lower your water heating costs by half. The final model we saw was a 'heat on demand' water heater. This one only heats water when you turn on the faucet so you don't have to pay money to keep a tank of water hot, even if you are not using it, like a normal water heater. You can even get an on-demand electric water heater for those hard to reach areas in your shed or garage. The thing to remember when you are choosing a new water heater is to figure out the water needs of your family and then find the right unit to meet those needs.

No matter which type of heater you use, remember you have to secure it to keep it safe in case of earthquakes. Also, for most areas you may need a permit to install a new water heater. Be sure to check with your local municipality. For any of your hot water needs, check with your local 'Water Heater Kings' at George Morlan.

Quick Tip - Replacing Filters

Did you know that you could be losing a ton of money due to an inefficient furnace? Having a dirty air filter in your furnace restricts the airflow and makes it work harder to get the same amount of heat or cooling in your home. You should check your filter once a month and replace it every 3 months to get the most out of your heating and cooling system. For answers to all your heating questions check with Roth Heating and Cooling.




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This page last modified
August 13, 2010.