Clean Out Home Clutter & Donate Household Items to Those in Need

declutter concept on napkin

‘Tis the season to de-clutter and donate. No matter what time of year it is, a good thorough housecleaning lifts the spirit and lightens a dull mood. Double the good feeling by donating items gently used or no longer wanted. Learn how to safely get rid of old medicines. Properly dispose of old paint taking space in the storeroom. Check out the suggestions below for great places to donate eyeglasses, shoes and many other needed goods.

Where to Donate Household Goods and Belongings

There are plenty of places to donate gently used house items and personal belongings. Re-using something rather than throwing it away is just one of the many great ways to go green. Donations may be tax-deductible so be sure to get receipts and put them in a safe place.

Where to donate books, videos, DVDs:

  • Public library
  • School library
  • Nursing home
  • Adult or children’s daycare facility
  • Children’s home or shelter

A used bookstore may pay cash or give store credit for books in good condition. Check out the website Books for Soldiers to get information on how to send books and DVDs to men and women in the military. Boxes are free from the U.S. Post Office and shipping is a flat rate.

Agencies that Benefit from Donated Goods

Thrift stores accept almost anything donated. If there’s a public housing program in the area, there may be a resource office that collects all kinds of useful items – things like tools, sports equipment and computers. Donate to:

  • Homeless shelters
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Churches that collect for the needy, especially Catholic Charities
  • Thrift stores, the Salvation Army and Goodwill
  • Children’s Home Society or other children’s homes
  • Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies
  • Habitat for Humanity collection center

Some agencies accept working electronics. Send used cell phones that can be recycled to Shelter Alliance. The agency earns up to $30 to benefit domestic violence shelters. Heritage for the Blind accepts vehicle, boat and RV donations. Check their website or call 1-800-Donate-Cars.

Backpacks gently used and unopened school supplies can go to shelters, a children’s home or public housing resource center. If autumn is near, then see if your community participates in Cram-the-Van or a similar program that collects school items for children in need.

  • Re-gifting items is another way to de-clutter a home space. Wrap up and pass along figurines, flower vases, jewelry, wall hangings and items in excellent condition.
  • Bring old glasses to Lenscrafters or Pearle Vision where they will be donated to Onesight, which recycles them for the needy.
  • Too many shoes cluttering the closet? Soles4souls will take them.
  • A soup kitchen is a great place to donate dishes, drinking glasses, cups, and silverware. The staff might also appreciate kitchen appliances.

Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet

Medications are hazardous waste and require proper disposal. Tossed into the trash, medications can eventually make their way into the soil, contaminating the environment. Flushing medicines down the toilet may pollute the local water filtration system with chemicals that could end up in the community water supply. What’s the best way to discard old and expired medications?

  • Bring the drugs to a pharmacy that disposes of unwanted medicines.
  • A number of states in the U.S. have started programs that recycle old and expired drugs for the poor and uninsured in America. Contact a pharmacist or doctor to see what the law allows in your state.
  • Some communities have hazardous waste disposal programs that will also accept medicines.

What’s the Best Way to Dispose of Paint and Hazardous Home Chemicals?

Properly dispose of old paint, insecticides, and other harmful materials at a hazardous waste facility. Some towns have amnesty days where residents can go to a nearby designated location and unload used motor oil, paint, and other products hazardous to the environment. Is paint really that harmful? Yes.

The website lowes.com offers detailed disposal information in the article by C. Jeanne Heida, “Safe Paint Disposal: How to Get Rid of Old Paint”. Heida writes, “The metal in the pigments and the petroleum based solvents are what make paint so harmful to the environment. Latex and oil based paint can harm wildlife and pollute food sources if dumped onto the ground or into a storm drain.”

Pouring paint down the toilet or sink is not an option. Paint can cause problems for the local sewage treatment plants where water is filtered. It can damage microbes in septic systems. Why not just throw the cans in the trash? Heida gives two good reasons: “… the solvent in oil paint is highly flammable and can be toxic if inhaled.”

De-cluttering a home is a great weekend project. Donating items no longer used and giving them to others is a fantastic way to teach children about the joy of sharing. Want to make an even bigger difference for others? Spread the word: Pass along to friends, neighbors and co-workers the list of sources and agencies that take donated items.

gutter cleaning wand

A gutter cleaning wand will make your Gutter cleaning a breeze

gutter cleaning wand

There is nothing worse than cleaning the gutter as far as cleaning tour home is concerned. Many homeowners have been known to prefer any type of cleaning than gutter cleaning since it takes a lot of time, effort and not to mention the risks involved. You may opt for professional gutter cleaning services but it will cost you depending on the type of services you have requested. In the end DIY is the best option if you can half the time you use in the process. This is where a gutter cleaning wand comes in. Though there are many sceptics when it cokes to the functionality a cleaning wand, it has proven to be useful over time.

gutter wand

A gutter cleaning wand does most of the work for you meaning that the time spent on the cleaning job is more than just reduced. You get to enjoy not just less time and effort but less risks as well. Going up a ladder to cleaning the gutter can cause accidents. Gutter cleaning wand is best suited for you since you will spend less money especially if you are the type to hire professional services.

But you must first understand how the tool is used when it comes to gutter cleaning. Learn how you can use it to remove leaves and other debris found on the gutters.

There are many stores that sell these wands but you have to be careful not to buy defective ones. You will need to do some research on the best cleaning wand before you spend your hard earned money. As for the DIY addicts its best to buy professionally made wands since you want the best in terms of functionality.

You may get all the wrong information from the skeptics but nothing will beat you tying the product yourself. So spare your roof all the potential damage by investing in a product that will keep your gutters clean in less the time you spend on cleaning it manually.

 

energy efficient home

Ideas On How To Achieve Energy Efficient Homes

energy efficient home

Climate change is not just an issue for environmentalists. Home owners should take their own initiatives to make their humble abodes as earth –friendly as possible. One of the most possible ways of being more considerate with Mother Nature is by simply practicing energy efficiency methods at home.  No matter how we argue and discuss climate change, we still need to take part on this pressing global issue.

Cutting down in energy waste is a brilliant idea regardless how opinions and point of views vary on the significance of climate change and energy efficiency practices in our daily lives. It is important that energy efficient methods are used within your household to lessen the expenses as well as lowering the environmental impacts that our energy sources would have.

If you have not personally checked your home for energy usage and waste, you should ponder on some tips below on how to achieve an energy efficient home:

Tip #1: Re-assess your laundry habits at home. You can consolidate your laundry for the entire household. Full loads are more energy efficient. Sun-dry your clothes or try line-drying them. You will save a lot from not using dryers.

full load laundry

Tip #2: Keep in mind that home appliances which are more than 10 years old are huge electricity hogs. You must invest on new ones to keep your energy consumption low.

new home appliances

Tip #3: Heating and cooling for your home should be in full gear high efficiency mode. You must get rid of older models of furnaces and air-conditioning systems. You will be delighted that you can cut down approximately 20 to 30 percent off from your electricity bill.

heating and cooling system

container water garden

Create a Container Water Garden in Three Easy Steps

container water garden

If you live in a small space, or just don’t want the hassle of caring for a large water garden, you can create a container water garden easily and inexpensively. A container water garden is a beautiful feature for a balcony, patio or terrace. A container water garden could even be sunk into the ground for a permanent feature.

Create aContainerWaterGarden– Choosing a Container

A barrel is an excellent vessel for a container water garden. Choose a barrel that is about two feet in diameter. The minimum depth for a successful container water garden would be about twelve inches. You could also use any container of this size such as an old galvanized sink. However, I’ve found that a wooden barrel is the best for a container water garden.

barrel water garden

You will also want to make sure the container is air tight. To check for leaks, first fill the container with water. Then mark the level of the water and let it sit for a few days. If the water level has dropped, you may need to waterproof the container again before continuing with the container water garden.

Also, before you begin, make sure you have the container in the place you intend for it to stay. Once it’s filled with water, it will probably be too heavy to move again.

Create a Container Water Garden– Step #1

The first step to create a container water garden is to partly fill the container with bricks. This will create different planting levels for the plants you add to your container water garden. You’ll need to make sure that the depths of the bricks are the same as the depth requirements for the plants you’ve selected for the container water garden.

Create a Container Water Garden– Step #2

The second step to create a container water garden is to plant your selected plants in aquatic planting baskets. These come in all shapes and sizes and can usually be found in home improvement stores or gardening shops. For a container water garden, it’s best to choose baskets that are curved and will fit snugly around the edges of the container.

Create a Container Water Garden– Step #3

The final step to create a container water garden is to place the baskets in the container at their recommended depths. Sprinkle loose gravel or pebbles on the baskets to keep the soil in place. Then, add any decorations you like to the container but don’t go overboard. A few strategically placed decorative rocks will be all you need for a container water garden.

Finally, gently fill the container with water and you have a beautiful, easy to care for container water garden.

 

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3 Amazing Ways Insect Exterminators Help You

As homeowners, we are tempted to try and deal with pest problems by ourselves. This may initially seem like a good idea, but you cannot beat the expertise of an expert. Remember you do not know the threat you are dealing with, so you end up making the situation worse. Exterminators play a major role in making sure that the pest is dealt with effectively. Here are three ways exterminators help you:

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1. Time savers

If you have ever tried dealing with pest as a DIY project, then you will understand what I am talking about. Pests are tricky and know where to stay out of site. You have to look for the place they are hiding before you start the extermination process. A good example is ants. They build nests outside your home, and you have to follow them to determine where it is. An exterminator will spare you from all this, and you can spend your time doing something else.

2. Save costs

This may sound like it doesn’t make sense, but it is true. Buying pesticides in a trial and error frenzy as you try to get rid of those insects that are troubling you will make you lose lots of money. The many products you buy are not guaranteed to work on the bugs. Even if you choose a more natural way to exterminate the insects, you will end up wasting money on products that are probably a scam. An exterminator will save you from spending extra on ineffective pesticides as they are more experienced in the field of extermination.

3. You are assured of success

Exterminators have years of experience and will make sure that the insect is exterminated from your home or premises. This is something you cannot assure yourself as you do not know what to the different insects that may have intruded into your home. Insects require different treatment and not all of them need to be killed or sprayed with lots of pesticides some just need to be moved to ensure total extermination. A qualified and experienced exterminator will know this.

These are but some of the major ways we benefit from exterminators. The list is endless so to say just as long as you choose an exterminator who is qualified to handle the situation you are facing. Do you research and pick from the best?

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Bog Gardens Create an Ecosystem of Beauty in your Backyard

A bog garden is based on a permanently saturated soil. Plants that grow well in this condition thrive because of the acidic nature of the soil brought about by the peat and moss that grow there. However, it is important to note that this does not mean a water logged area as drainage and aeration of the soil as important for the plants.

Plants for bog gardens

When you want to start a bog garden, you should be aware of the plants that do well in this conditions. Another factor that comes into play is the place you wish to start the garden. Is the plant you have chosen prevalent in your area?

Rodgersia pinnata

This is a plant that is known for its frothy looking flowers and thrives in areas with permanent moisture in the soil. It also has broad brown leaves.

Ligularia

This plant has vibrant flowers that are yellow in color and pointy in shape. The leaves are large and have sharp edges.

Caltha palustris

This is also known by it the much simpler name of marigold. It has green leaves and yellow flowers as well and thrives well in shaded areas that are boggy.

Geum rivale album

This is a species of the Water Avens that is usually tall with white flowers and green stems. The plant is usually found in sports that are shaded from sunlight, and the soil is boggy.

Care tips for bog gardens

Unlike most gardens, you do not have to keep watering the garden, but the soil needs to be moist all the time. Use a garden hose made specifically for this garden. Weeding is important just like other plants, keep the garden clear of weeds are remove dry leaves as well.

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Best Way to Install Half-round Seamless Copper Gutters

A lot goes into the installation of Copper Gutters. You have to get the math right to avoid any complications. Be precise and strive to get the right bracket spacing on the radius installation to get the best results.

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Summary on Installing Copper Half-Round Gutters

• First you need to set the pitch
• Next, Attach the brackets using copper screws
• You then cut downspout holes
• Now its time to hang the gutter
• Ensure you solder elbows, outlets and downspouts
• Lastly, you can now install the downspouts

As you have seen above, you ought to follow the procedures to get the right results. Setting the pitch of the gutter should come first. You should then put up a line on both ends where the gutter will be installed to assist you. This line will be used to test the leveling and the gutters height from the ground.

Recommended Measurements

• 24 – 26” for hanger spacing
• For the inside corner average between 10 – 12”
• For the end cap from the end of the shingle, work within 5 – 8”
• 5 – 7” for the outside corner
• 3 – 5”for the entire house and should be maintained for homes with a hip roof for the difference in hanger spacing between sides

Note that the measurements are recommendations and based on the site the measurements hangers will generally never be spaced at exactly 24”.

Nowadays, there are gutter machines that can be used to fabricate seamless gutters. Once the custom measures are determined, the machine can then be used to bend rolls of copper to form the seamless rain gutters.

Cutting holes for downspouts should come before you hang your gutters. You can get the measurements of the holes by measuring the distance from the end of the roof to the exact spot where you will install the downspout.

When hanging the seamless half-round gutter, you should press down the front edge using spring hooks as you put the gutter into place on the brackets. Ensure that you hook the back edge to the bracket.

From here, you can now install the downspouts. Solder the cleats to hold the brackets onto the back of the downspout. Finish by screwing them into the wood part of your roof.

Leaves in rain gutter

Gutter cleaning – Should I Do it Myself or Hire a Company?

Overview

When it comes to home maintenance, gutter cleaning is a necessity. It is an exercise that is carried out to ensure that your gutters are not clogged by unwanted materials. Also, it helps prevent growth of algae as well as buildup of debris, which may distract the flow of water towards the reservoirs. It is, therefore, imperative that you have your gutters cleaned on a regular basis. The cleaning task may appear simple, but it is very taxing especially if you do not have the expertise to do it. The best way is to hire a professional to do it on your behalf.

Leaves in rain gutter

More About Gutters

The work of gutters is to redirect rain water to reservoirs or collecting tanks. They prevent water from pouring down from roofs. If allowed to pour on the ground, it can interfere with the landscape due to the force it pours down with. When the gutter system is functioning properly, rain water runs smoothly through the gutters direct to the collecting tank. But a gutter system that has malfunction or one that has blockage makes rain water to accumulate around your home, thus causing damage to your terrain. By regularly maintaining your gutter system, you will ensure smooth flow of water from the roofs and your foundation will not be affected in any way. For thorough cleaning of gutters, ensure you engage a professional in the field.

The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Gutter Cleaner

Cleaning the gutters yourself can be a challenging task. In fact, it is time-consuming because you not only lack the expertise but also the right equipment to do the job. It is also a risky job because you will have to climb to the top of the roofs to clean your gutters. But engaging a professional gutter cleaner is highly recommended because you will have the task done more easily and efficiently. The following are some of the advantages of hiring a professional gutter cleaner:

  • The task will be done efficiently. By hiring an expert to do the job, you will be sure the job is done in a more professional way. This is because professionals are well-versed with the task since they have been doing it for so long. They will ensure the entire debris is removed from the gutters and any other unwanted material that is likely to distract the water flow. Also, a specialist is able to detect some areas on your gutters that need repair and fix them immediately.
  • Professionals have the right cleaning equipment. A typical homeowner may think that cleaning gutters only requires a sweeping brush. This is not true because there are recommended tools for this kind of job. A specialist knows all what is needed to do the job professionally.
  • Experts are always licensed to operate. It is worth to note that licensing is a sure sign that the person is fully qualified. This is because licenses are never issued to unqualified people. So, when working with a licensed contractor, be sure you are with a real professional in the field.
  • The job will be done quickly if you choose to hire an expert to do it. Bear in mind that professional gutter cleaners are well-versed with the cleaning task and can therefore do the job quickly and efficiently. But if you choose to do it yourself, you may spend a whole day there and end up doing shoddy work.
  • Also, professionals carry adequate insurance cover. As stated earlier, this job is risky and therefore needs to be carried out by someone who is adequately insured. A reputable company is properly covered and it is therefore the right service provider to hire. If you choose to do the job yourself and by bad luck you get injured, no one will compensate you other than yourself.

Dangers of Doing the Job Yourself

A lot of homeowners take the risk of cleaning their gutters. However, you may succeed if at all you have some previous experience and the right tools to do the job. But there are some dangers associated with this and these are outlined below:

  • You may fall down and get injured while on top of the ladder. This is because you may not have the know-how to incline the ladder well in order to reach the top of the roof.
  • Secondly, gutters are made of metal and if not handled properly can injure you. The chances of cutting yourself are way too high since you do not have the right attire and gloves to wear during the cleaning process.
  • There is also the risk of being bitten by parasites or animals that hide beneath the gutters. For example, wasps are common in gutters, so if you are not careful you can easily get a bite.
  • Lastly, you may not be able to do a thorough job. Since you lack both the expertise and cleaning equipment, you may not be in a position to undertake the task well. This means that unwanted materials will continue to pile in your gutters hence affecting the flow of rain water.

What to Do

Whenever you want your gutters cleaned, never decide to do the job yourself. Even if you have time to do it, consider hiring professional gutter cleaning service for the best quality work. Finding the right company to undertake the task can be somehow tricky, especially if it is your first time. It is, therefore, advisable to invest your time properly to look for an expert in your area. Ask people around to recommend you those companies they go to whenever they want their gutters cleaned.  Your friends or family members can be of great help. If no one is willing to offer good referrals, consider searching for an expert online. In fact, big and established companies have moved their businesses online. So by searching the relevant keywords on Google, you are no doubt going to land the most reliable and trustworthy service provider.

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Top Five Home and Garden Stores in Austin, TX

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Beautiful homes and gardens are made with plants, flowers, seasonal home décor, outdoor furnishings, and unique landscaping features, all of which can be found at these specialized stores. Home and Garden retailers sell essential items needed to tend the garden and complete projects around the house. We scoured review sites like Yelp to narrow down the best home and garden stores in the Austin area.

The Natural Gardener

Described as a candy store for gardeners, The Natural Gardener has been voted Best Nursery by the Best of Austin poll numerous times. It features a full nursery, butterfly garden, old country store, test gardens, and mini farm. It really is an experience, rather than just a home and garden store. They do have quite the variety of seeds, plants, tools, outdoor furniture, and décor. In keeping with their sustainable mission, they also sell composting supplies and rain barrels. The knowledgeable staff is also prepared to give you advice, along with the on-duty botanist to solve all your gardening woes.

Best Feature: The Natural Gardener is known for organic gardening and sustainability. All of their seeds are non-GMO, plus the fertilizers are all-natural, along with soil amendments and non-toxic bug repellants.

You May Also Like: Should you clean your own gutters

Breed & Co.

While they do have a selection of seasonal plants and gardening supplies, especially in the warmer months, Breed & Co. is a little heavier on the “home” of home and garden stores. They do also have a wide array of hardware offered in conjunction with Ace Hardware, so this really is a one stop shop. With two locations, the original Breed & Co. is located adjacent to the University of Texas and has been an Austin institution for over 40 years. You can find many plants, vegetables, herbs, and flowers here, plus an assortment of houseplants. You will definitely find all the garden and home accessories you need to add the perfect touch to top off you project.

Best Feature: It’s a local version of a big box store, so you know you’re options aren’t limited. Their partnership with Ace Hardware proves Breed & Co. is committed to helping their customers find all they need at a local establishment.

Zinger Hardware and General Merchant

If variety is the spice of life, Zinger Hardware makes things a whole lot spicier. This retailer offers products for the home, garden, tool shed, and all your gift giving needs. You’ll find everything you need to make time spent outdoors more enjoyable. They have a great selection of accessories to help with house and garden design, plus the tools needed to get the job done. Reviewers love the experience of browsing through the store and finding things they didn’t know they couldn’t live without.

Best Feature: Zinger Hardware is committed to finding every day solutions. They have a great blog on their website that offers tips and ideas for their local community.

Miguel’s Gallery & Garden

Miguel’s keeps the local flair in mind. All of their plants are based on hardiness to survive the Texas climate. They mainly sell heat and freeze resistant, low water, low maintenance plants. These include succulents, cacti, and agaves, plus more. They also sell home and garden décor, specifically influenced by local culture. This includes outdoor pottery offered at a reasonable price. The inventory really is what sets this store apart from others.

Best Feature: Miguel’s captures the beauty of it all. They appreciate hand-crafted art influenced by Mexico and the rest of the world. They have the largest selection of Asian and Mexican pots in the area, which many reviewers raved about.

East Austin Succulents

Another retailer who focuses on the low maintenance plants that thrive in central Texas, East Austin Succulents is a newer addition to Austin. They offer custom arrangements for special events, or you can stop in for individual plants, containers, and other garden needs.  They sell rare species from around the globe so you can bring a little more culture to your home. They also have pets that roam the grounds and make your visit that much more enjoyable.

Best Feature: You can bring your own container and they’ll pot your succulents for you. This is great for those people who don’t have a green thumb or an eye for design.

Also Read: How Naturally Freshen the Air in your Home