Hmmmm... which project to tackle?  In the past few weeks we have shown you a couple of projects, like fixing a hole in your wall and installing a faucet. This week we have a couple of other stories to help you on your way to project success.  The first is a story on the basic tools that everyone should have in their home and the second story is about dealing with a clogged drain.  We have already used the tips on the drain and they worked! Isn't it amazing?  Once we feature a story, then I notice the project that needs to be done!  Stay tuned for more projects in the coming weeks!

Quick Tip - Hostess Hand Towels

If you have been invited to a party and are looking for the perfect hostess gift, a bottle of wine may not cut it.  We stopped by Ste. Maine (503-232-1880) to see if they had any other ideas for that perfect gift.  Elizabeth took us over to a rack of towels, but these are not just any towels.  These are monogrammed guest towels.  These are very elegant and very hygienic.  Your hostess will be impressed and those future guests will be happy to not have a drippy hand towel to share in the bathroom.


East India Grilled Mushrooms

Does the thought of Indian food scare you?  A lot of people think that cuisine from India means a lot of curry, and for people who don't like that spice it means that all facets of this wonderful food is off-limits.  We learned that true Indian food can be full of flavor and not have any curry powder in it!  Chef Pradeep Chandrana, who is the culinary director at the East India Company Grill and Bar (503-227-8815), shared a grilled mushroom recipe with us that was incredible.  He started with the marinate which has 5 different greens; green chilies, green onions, green bell peppers, cilantro and some fresh mint.  To this he also added ginger root and oil, lemon juice, white pepper, a spice blend.  He then blended it into a tasty sauce, with no curry powder at all!   The mushrooms are put into this marinade and left to set for a time, sometimes overnight.  Then the mushrooms are placed on a skewer and placed in a charcoal fired Tandoor oven.  This oven is like a large clay vase and once the skewer is placed inside it cooks the mushrooms inside and out at the same time.  The heat from the oven cooks the outside and the skewer heats up and cooks them from the inside as well.

If you want to try the recipe for yourself, you can click here. You can also enjoy this recipe and many others by visiting the East India Grill and Bar in Downtown Portland!

Basic Tools

Chris Erskine joined us at the Parr (503-531-7277) store in Hillsboro to cover some 'must have' tools.  First we covered screwdrivers.  Chris brought out a power screwdriver which, if used right will help speed up the jobs you are tackling, but if that seems a little overkill then you will want the 15-in-one screwdriver.  A multiple head tool like this is good for dealing with any style of screw that you may encounter in your home and everything is right in your hand!  Next we looked at gloves.  A good set of gloves will protect your hands from getting hurt and it will also help keep them clean. Safety glasses go along with the gloves and should be in everyone's tools chest.  What good is a project if you injure yourself and can't enjoy it? We moved to the hammers next.  Chris recommended a medium weight hammer (so you don't get tired) with a smooth head.  The ones with a scored face are for framing and they will leave marks on your wall or trim if you are doing finishing work.  The next tool was a channel lock pliers.  This is an adjustable pliers and it is good for nuts, bolts and even plumbing fixtures. Another great tool is a needle nose plier.  This is a small narrow nose pliers that is good for tight places and fine work like fixing jewelry.

Next we found a tape measure.  You will need one that can extend without folding.  The one we saw also has fractional measurements on the tape so there is no guesswork when you are measuring.  A good length for a tape measure is 25 feet or slightly longer.  The next tool was a utility knife.  This will help you cut anything from fine wires to sheetrock.  Make sure you get one with a retracting, replaceable blade for safety reasons.  A level is next and is a must if you want things straight.  Have you ever hung a picture and wished you had one of these?  Finally, you will want a good tool box or carrier to put all these tools in.  A good carrier will protect your tool investment and it also makes sure they are in one place when you need them.

Unplugging Your Drains

A plugged drain is never convenient!  Drains always seem to get plugged during those big events like dinner parties.  To learn about un-plugging we stopped by George Morlan (503-224-7000) and talked with Dave Charvet. We started with the simple stuff, like the 'drain stick'.  The drain stick is a little stick with little barbs of the end of it to catch those pesky hair clogs and pull them up from your drain.  Then we stepped it up a notch with Hair Away, an alkaline liquid that you pour on the drain and it dissolves the clog.  If you have a clog in your kitchen sink it may be tougher because of grease or other kitchen goodies.  For that you will want to use Clobber, which is an acid that will take care of the tougher stuff. Remember to follow the instructions when you use these two chemicals and to wear protective clothing!  If you are looking for a non-chemical method you can use water pressure to release the clog.  There are specially designed hoses that will use high pressure to 'blow' the clog away.  If you are having problems with a clog in your toilet you have a couple of choices. First is the plunger!  This is the old stand-by and it can work wonders if you just have a paper clog.  If there is some other object in the toilet you may need a closet auger.  This tool can push a clog out or you can grab it and pull the clog free.  Obviously, there are other tools and techniques that you can use.  To get all the help you need you can stop by any location of George Morlan!

Yeast in your Toilet

This little quick tip is one that been around for many years and is supposed to help extend the life of your septic system.  The tip is to add a tablespoon of brewers yeast to your toilet once a month.  The yeast will help the bacteria in your tank and drain field break down the waste. Of course, the best way to promote a healthy septic system is to not add any non-biodegradable materials or caustic chemicals to your system.


Closet Organizing

Are you getting the most use out of your closet space?  Natalie Lamar of The Container Store (503-620-5700) in Bridgeport Village showed us how to get the most out of your closets, no matter what size they are.  The first step is to separate your items into two piles: "donate" and "keep."  By getting rid of clothes you seldom use, it will create more space for the items you use regularly.  Use the 'two-year' rule when cleaning out your closet.  If you haven't used it in 2 years, dump it (or donate it).  Natalie told us that closet space falls into six different categories: Long-hang, short-hang, shelf space, shoe space, drawer space, and accessories.

Long Hang: Dresses, long coats, pants hanging from the waist or cuffs.

Short Hang: Blouses, shirts, pants folded over a hanger.  This is what most people will have, and you can do one or two levels of short-hang space.

Shelf Space: Often up above the other areas, this is a great place to store seasonal clothes, tax records or things you don't need access to on a regular basis.

Shoe Storage: Natalie demonstrated a rack that holds nine pairs of shoes and glides out for easy access.  If you don't want your shoes out, you can store them on shelves or in clear boxes, which make it easy to find the shoes you want.

Drawer Space: Sweaters, t-shirts, socks, undergarments.  Anything that has a tendency to fall over on a shelf or take up room in a dresser can be neatly contained in a drawer in your closet.

Accessory Space: Purses, hats and jewelry.  Boxes on a shelf work great for this.  Also, there is a "jewelry box" that holds your small accessories and organizes them and makes them easy to access.

The system demonstrated by Natalie is interchangeable, and allows you to tailor your closet to fit your needs.  And, while there is no formula for how much of each type of space you should have (it all depends on the makeup of your wardrobe), one thing that will increase your closet space is to use the same type of hanger for all your clothes.  Stop by the Container Store and get these tips and many more to help you with your closet organizing.
hers you can stop by Cornell Farm and talk to their staff.




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This page last modified
September 24, 2010.