We are just a couple weeks away from Halloween. Does it seem like the seasons are moving fast? Soon the holidays will be here and so will the guests. After making your third trip to the store for Halloween candy (it never seems to make it to the holiday), take some time to do some fix-it jobs around the house so you won’t feel rushed later this season.

Organizing your Bathroom

Counter space is at a premium in the home and that is especially true in the bathroom. We asked Linda Gemal from Rejuvenate your Home (503-803-8000) to give us some tips on how to organize your bathroom cabinets. Most people have quite a mess under their cabinets. In the bathroom the clutter is really bad. Organizing this space is tough; there are water pipes and drains to consider. First, clean out the area you are trying to organize and then measure the space under the sink and find out what type of room you have to work with. Take these measurements to the local home improvement or container store. Look for someone that can point you in the right direction and help you make an efficient space. Linda went to the Container Store and found a lot of fun and functional drawers and bins. Linda picked out some trays that had rollers and were stackable. She also picked out ones that were clear so she can see what are in the drawers without opening them. Once she had them installed you can really see how much better the space is organized. There is much more room for storage and it is much cleaner too. What a great way to take control of your bathroom again.

Cutting a Potato

If you are looking to make fresh cut potatoes you may have run into a problem with slicing due to the round shape of it. Chef David showed us how easy it is to cut once you know a few tricks. First, cut of a small slice on one side. This will allow you to have a flat surface on one side and it becomes more stable to slice. From here you can make scalloped potatoes by cutting off rounds, or you can slice long planks that can then be sliced into long French (or steak) fries. Then you can also cut these down even more by dicing them for a southern style hash brown!

Terra Casa Wine Gadgets

Wine is growing in popularity and bringing wine as a gift seems to be the ‘hostess gift’ of choice. Why not shake things up a bit and give a wine gift that will last longer than an evening? We stopped by Terra Casa (503-577-8242) to chat with Diane about all the different and unique wine themed gifts that you can get for yourself or friends. The first thing that caught our eye was the wine bags that you can get. These are decorative bags that protect the wine and keep it chilled. Next we saw the new wine aerator that fits on top of the bottle. Some wines can really benefit by adding air to them (known as ‘letting them breathe’) before drinking. This device does that as you pour! We also saw some new silicone corks that really seal the bottle. The problem with wines is that they can get a little funky if they get too much air. These corks help prevent that. Terra Casa also has a lot of cute decorative corks as well. Next Robin showed us how to use the Rabbit. This is an incredible wine opening tool that anyone can use! It works in one smooth simple operation. They even have wine rings to prevent drips after you pour! If you are looking for some fun and unique wine tools, check out Terra Casa.

Garage Door Testing

The garage doors and their maintenance are one of those projects that we never do, but these doors are important access points to our homes and should be checked once a year or more. David walked us through the different steps to see how that they are working properly. The first step is to check the ‘balance’ of the garage door. Disengage the door from the track by pulling the cable release. Then pull the door up and down. It should be easy to pull and it shouldn’t move on its own without your help. If it sticks it could mean a problem with the cables or springs. The springs and cables can be under a lot of pressure and so you shouldn’t try to work on these by yourself. They could snap loose and cause you and the door some serious damage. Next we tested the safety reversing mechanism. Place a 2x4 or a 2x2 under the door. Activate your opener, the door should close, hit the obstruction and reverse open. This means that the reversing mechanism is working. Next you want to test the sensitivity of the reversing mechanism. Stand with your arms out and close the door. When it hits your arms you should give a little resistance and see if the door reverses. This is one of the most important features of the garage door. You can adjust the sensitivity so it reverses easily. This is to protect children, pets and property from getting crushed if the door closes on them. Also, if you have a photo-electric eye sensor near the floor, make sure that works as well. If you get in over your head, check with a qualified professional.

Cleaning Your Gutters

As the fall approaches you will want to get your gutters ready for the falling leaves and other issues that come along with that. If you don’t clean your gutters you can have them plug up and overflow, and that can create some structural problems in your roof. The problem is that it can take quite a while to clean if you have to move the ladder a lot just to get the job done. We found that using a leaf blower is the best way to do the job quickly and efficiently. Start at the downspout and blow away from it. This will prevent stuff from falling down the spout and plugging it up. You will also do want to do your gutters first before you clean below. You don’t want to clean below twice! Don’t forget your ear and eye protection and finally be aware that the City of Portland has new rules for leaf blower use within the city limits. You can find the quietest approved models listed here, but the best rule of thumb is to be a good neighbor when you use a blower.

Weather Stripping

The cold days are soon to be upon us and if you are looking for a quick fix for cold drafts and other ‘heat’ leaks in your house, weather stripping may be your answer. David and Robin tackled 2 of the areas where you can make a difference really quick; your doors and windows. If you have an older door you will want to close the door and run the stripping along the sides and top of the door, making sure that there are no gaps between the door and the foam. Make sure that you measure well so you don’t cut your pieces too short. You can also install a door sweep at the base of the door to complete the job and cut the heat loss under the door. If you have a newer door you may just need to replace the old, worn out tubing in the frame around the door. If you have questions, take a piece to your local hardware store to get some help.

Your windows can also use a little help. Newer windows are pretty well built, but you can still look for cracks in the weather stripping or the seal around the window. Older windows can also use a quick fix with the foam stripping. It can be a simple as running a piece under the window. Pick up a pack at your local hardware store and simply follow the instructions on the package.

Cleaning Stickers Off Your Doors

Our girls recently left for college and in the process of fixing up one of the rooms as a guest room we found the back of the door covered in stickers! This had us wondering if we could remove the sticker without damaging the door. Once again we found ourselves at Parr Lumber (503-531-7277) to talk to Chris about what to do. Stickers can be a problem because of the type of adhesive used on the sticker. Chris told us about 2 different products, Goof Off and Krud Kutter. The Goof Off is a stronger product and it could remove some of the paint off of the door. He recommended this product for the tougher jobs and for jobs where we were going to repaint. The Krud Kutter may require a little more elbow grease, but it is not as strong and there is less danger in damaging the paint. Once we got home we pealed off as much of the old stickers as we could and then applied the product. After a few minutes we started rubbing the adhesive and it came off. In a half an hour the whole job was done! If you have a job that seems too tough to handle, check in with our friends at Parr for tips to make that job easier.

Check Your Roof

With the cold wet days of winter approaching it is a good time to get up on your roof to make sure you can avoid future problems. Mike Satran of Interstate Roofing (503-684-5611) took us up on a roof to show us some of the things a homeowner should look for. First of all check for nails that may be exposed, they could mark the point where a small leak could start. You also want to check the flashing and seals around your chimney and skylights. You should also check the grout on your chimney to make sure that it is intact and not chipped or broken off. Next we moved to an overhanging tree. This is a problem because the branches have rubbed the shingles off in places and even started to wear a hole in the roof. An arborist may need to be called if the job is too big or requires some big cutting (you don’t want to carry a chainsaw up there yourself). Finally we checked out the flat roofs and talked about what to look for up there like pooling water, plugged drains and damaged skylights. Of course, if you get in ‘over your head’ you can always call the experts at Interstate Roofing.



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This page last modified
October 22, 2010.