Stink Bugs Endure Through the Cold Sat, 15 Mar 2014 17:20:18 +0000   Ugh, stink bugs. Like other invasive insects, they're gross, unpleasant, and positively creepy...but they don't take well to cold weather, right?
WRONG. Stink bugs like cold weather just fine, and they'll keep on trundling even through sub-zero temperatures.  See full article.]]>
Uses for Wood Chips Sat, 15 Mar 2014 17:20:17 +0000   As I write this morning, the warm early March sun is beaming down and I can hear the sound of a neighbor's chainsaw busily at work a few acres away. While this weather might be deceptive, with more harsh days predicted ahead, it along with the chainsaw is a reminder that I'm likely to be looking at a lot of wood chips in my near future.   Setting up for a home show is nervewracking business for designers, contractors, and other building professionals. They want to showcase the latest styles as well as innovative developments, but they're got a serious problem: tens of thousands of people will be walking through their displays, which means that they need to be able to withstand high-traffic uses.  Hold on to Your Atlanta Roof! Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:21:14 +0000   Remember how the saying goes: March, in like a lion and out like a lamb. While many of us across the US are enjoying beautiful early March days, the month has more foul weather to bring us before we transition fully into spring. In Atlanta, that's coming in the form of dangerously high winds that herald the arrival of cold weather for the region.   Growing and storing your own food is an excellent way to cut food costs and enjoy the bounty of spring and summer in the fall and winter, when your options might feel grim. Stocking up on meats, grains, and other supplies from the store can also be a great idea, ensuring that food is available when you need it, whether you're preparing for heavy weather that might [...]]]> Can You Handle a Free Historic Home? Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:21:11 +0000   It's a deal that sounds too good to be true: a beautiful historic home offered for free or for a very low price to anyone who's willing to move it, usually by a developer or organization that needs to use a lot, but doesn't want to tear down the historic structure occupying it.   The planet's covered in blue stuff, but the old saying still goes: "water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink." Globally, water needs are outstripping supply, even as potable water is being contaminated, complicating matters even further. Since we need water to survive, it's becoming a critical issue in many regions of the world, from California, where people are [...]]]> The MacKenzie-Childs Estate is Pure Alice in Wonderland Thu, 13 Mar 2014 11:21:00 +0000   After almost three years on the market, the lavish MacKenzie-Childs Estate in New York has sold for nearly $600,000, which is actually kind of a bargain when you realize how bizarre and whimsical it is. This is the kind of place that has to be seen to be believed, and fortunately, the realtors took a whole lot of pictures of the estate in preparation for sale.   Baby on the way? Congratulations, whether it's your first or any number beyond that! Bringing new life into the world can be a really amazing experience, but there's also a lot to think about, from the mundane to the serious and life-changing. Handling the nursery setup and decoration falls somewhere along that scale, although where exactly is up to you: you need a space [...]]]> Bust the Rust! Wed, 12 Mar 2014 22:19:53 +0000   An old, rusty object can look picturesque, but you don't actually want rust taking over the objects you use and rely on every day, including tools, locks, fixtures, and so forth. The war between oxidation and exposed metal can run hot and heavy, but you don't have to stand on the sidelines: become a member of the ground forces and stop rust in its tracks.   In a difficult economy, even people with valuable job skills, like Seattle contractors, can find themselves struggling for work. For some, it's even harder, which is why Seattle's Vigor Shipyards is offering a fascinating, and enterprising, new pilot program: it's training people in maritime welding so they can restart their careers with a job in the shipping industry, which [...]]]> BPA-Free Plastics May Not Be Safe Wed, 12 Mar 2014 11:21:50 +0000   In 2008, the news burst on the media everywhere: common plastics contained potentially dangerous levels of bisphenol a (BPA) an additive that could be hazardous to consumer health. It leached into food and drinks, especially when plastics were warmed, posing a risk in baby bottles, water bottles, plastic storage containers, and more.   Minnesotans are famous for their cold tolerance, love of extreme weather, and bizarre fondness for being outside when all creatures great and small would prefer to be curled up in front of the fire. So it makes sense that a photographer looking for some good weather photos would run into a couple rambling on Lake Harriet, Minneapolis (seen above in warmer weather) on a [...]]]> Creative Uses for Jewelry Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   As I grow older, I've found that I wear jewelry much less, while at the same time acquiring more as relatives and friends pass on and I end up with pieces of theirs. Some of their jewelry is fine enough that I prefer to keep it in a safe place for special occasions, but other pieces, while perfectly lovely, lean more towards the costume jewelry end of things -- or I [...]]]> Deicing the Safe Way Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   With a cold, snowy winter lingering in many parts of the United States, many of you may be struggling with a perennial winter problem: an icy front walk. That freeze and thaw cycle wreaks havoc even when no snow has fallen recently, and the result can be the equivalent of an ice rink -- without the fun of skates and a Zamboni -- unless you do something about it. [...]]]> Miami Home Sales Shoot Up Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   The country's housing market is sluggish, but somebody forgot to tell Miami. Home sales in the city are skyrocketing, with housing prices rising by almost 10% in January. The city has always been known for a hot real estate market, but this may go above and beyond the call of duty -- Miami's recovery could be a sign that the market in the surounding area will also [...]]]> Building a Cob House in a Day Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   Cob construction, using a mixture of clay, sand, straw, and water to create a very strong, functional, eco-friendly material, is popular in many regions of the world. Looking through galleries of cob houses is always a fascinating tour into some extremely creative minds, as these homes can twist, turn, curve, and defy both logic and gravity thanks to the flexibility of cob. [...]]]> 10 Uses for Bottle Caps Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   The pop of a cap rocketing off a beer or old-fashioned soda, followed by the hiss of carbonation, is a familiar sound, but what happens next? If you're a tidier, like me, you probably toss the cap into the recycling (or possibly the trash)...or you leave it out until you feel like cleaning up.  See [...]]]> Central Valley Farms Facing Low Water Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   California's Central Valley could be facing a hard, dry spring and summer, thanks to changes to water allocation. Officials have determined that the drought threatening the state requires some serious adjustments to water allocation and contracts, and farmers will be taking the brunt of low or even nonexistant water deliveries, depending on their location.  Turning Pine-Beetle Ravaged Trees Into Furniture Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   Mountain pine beetles (known to less casual acquaintances as Dendroctonus ponderosae) are infamous across many stretches of North America with pine forests. These insect pests come and go, but when they come, they leave a swath of devastation in their wake, as seen in the photo at left.   Having a house fire is one of my greatest fears, especially when I'm away from home and my paranoia is allowed to imagine up all sorts of horrendous scenarios. I'm the kind of person who checks the stove and heater before leaving the house, fusses over the electrical wiring, and takes special care when snuffing candles -- and not just I remember a friend losing his [...]]]> Rent-to-Own to Open Market Sat, 01 Mar 2014 04:30:14 +0000   Getting a home loan can be tough if you don't have the right qualifications, which is one reason rent-to-own programs can be appealing...but they can be hard to get into as well. A new program in Houston aims to change that, making home ownership accessible to people who don't quite meet the standards for traditional mortgages.   Getting ready to pick up plants from the nursery this spring? Worried about bee deaths? You'd better think twice about the source of your plants, because you could unwittingly be hurting your bee pals.
Here's the scoop: Researchers have been tracking a steady decline in bee populations, but they've been struggling to figure out what's happening.   Tea tree oil is one of Australia's most amazing exports (after Hugh Jackman, of course). This aromatic oil doesn't just smell great: it also naturally kills a number of microorganisms and soothes the skin. It's a good thing to have in the medicine cabinet and around the house for a variety of tasks from soaking tired feet to treating wood so it will resist insects to cleaning [...]]]> Camp's Gotten Way Cooler Thu, 27 Feb 2014 22:33:03 +0000   Camps are getting fancier every year, it would seem. Sure, you've got your standard messing around in nature summer camp, but others are offering many more in-depth features for campers, including leadership training and a whole lot more. Kids are building lifelong connections are skills in camp environments that they can [...]]]> Grow Lights: Great for Growing Indoors! Thu, 27 Feb 2014 04:33:41 +0000   You might have heard people talking about grow lights lately -- including us, with our recent grow light bookshelf tutorial -- but do you know what they are? How do they work? Do you need one? What kind should you get? We've assembled a grow light guide for you so you can make the best choices for your indoor seedlings, winter [...]]]> Green Cleaning in the Kitchen Thu, 27 Feb 2014 04:33:41 +0000   Even if you're a dedicated housekeeper, the kitchen is one of those rooms that tends to attract messes. You can blame it on the kids, the dog, or the chef, but however you slice it, kitchens can get wild and woolly around the edges if you don't keep an eye on them.  See full article.]]> Would You Live On Top of a Parking Garage? Thu, 27 Feb 2014 04:33:41 +0000   To each their own, I suppose: I personally wouldn't choose to live on top of a parking garage, even if it was robotic! But Russell Galbut apparently feels differently, as he's building a massive mansion square on top of a parking garage in South Beach.  See full article.]]> Dreaming of a New Kitchen? Wed, 26 Feb 2014 04:30:12 +0000   Thinking about remodeling the kitchen? Before you pick up the phone to call a Baltimore contractor about the kitchen of your dreams, you have some things to think about. The kitchen is among the most important rooms of your home -- more and more people are spending a lot of time in the kitchen -- and it can be one of the most expensive to remodel thanks to big ticket [...]]]> All About...Textile Recycling! Wed, 26 Feb 2014 04:30:12 +0000   Many households are pushing closer and closer to a zero waste goal, with the city of San Francisco actually setting a city-wide model for residents. If you can find ways to compost, reuse, recycle, and repurpose every item you no longer need, you can keep your waste out of landfills, which is good for the planet.   I love a good estate as much as the next person, but I'm not sure I could afford Bel-Air prices. This exclusive region of Los Angeles hosts some of the most beautiful, and most expensive, homes on the planet. Take, for example, the Doheny Estate, which just hit the market for $43 million, and no, that is not a typo.   Interested in adopting the Mediterranean Diet? Fresh whole foods can make you feel more energized, and they're a great way to fuel your body for whatever exercise you fancy, whether it's mountain biking or rowing crew. Plus, they're delicious: hard to beat a fantastic tomato salad on a hot summer day! (We know, hot summer days feel like they're a long way away, but they're [...]]]> DIY Recycled Door Coffee Table Sun, 23 Feb 2014 04:29:43 +0000   I'm pretty sure you can teach an old door new tricks, and Hometalk users have pretty well proved it with their wide assortment of reclaimed door projects large and small. One of my favorites right now, though, is the humble coffee table, because it's such a great, but simple, use of a door in interior design and decor.   With 45 years of experience as a trucker, 72-year-old Milt Lowe hasn't had a single moving violation (unlike yours truly). This cautious driver has been on some of the most dangerous, difficult roads in the US -- Minneapolis concrete is no joke in the winter! How does he stay safe, even when he's under pressure to deliver a load on time?
He says two things are key: he [...]]]>
Your Winter Garden Sat, 22 Feb 2014 04:29:02 +0000   We know that winter can be depressing for gardeners. The weather is gloomy, the plants are dead and dying, the days are too short to get out and do much, and it feels too cold for anything to grow. We're getting close to the end here -- you just have to hang on another month! But what can you do to make your winter garden a more enjoyable place to be? We already [...]]]> Are You Up On Your Radon Safety? Sat, 22 Feb 2014 04:29:02 +0000   Radon is a common threat to home safety that many people are not aware of, even though Radon Safety Month just passed. We might have dropped the ball in January (sorry about that), but that doesn't mean we can't talk about radon now. This naturally-occurring gas has been linked with cases of lung cancer, and is [...]]]> 10 New Uses for Cornstarch Sat, 22 Feb 2014 04:29:02 +0000   It comes in a classic yellow box or container, you might use it to make pudding, it's great for making oobleck...but did you know that cornstarch actually has some really cool, and handy, uses around the house? It's time to get this ingredient out of the kitchen and put it to work, because, let's face it, do you really use more than a few tablespoons of it a [...]]]> Roof Collapse Hospitalizes 3 in Chicago Fri, 21 Feb 2014 04:29:02 +0000   Everyone's worst nightmare: a roof collapse while the hot jazz beats are scorching the floor and you're just getting your boogie on. In Chicago last weekend, attendees of an event featuring DJ Datsik were treated to unexpected pyrotechnics by way of a partial ceiling collapse at the Concord Music Hall, which closed pending assessment of the damages and an action plan for [...]]]> The Peculiar History of the Toilet Fri, 21 Feb 2014 04:29:02 +0000   Mention the unmentionable -- toilets and the, um, urgent function thereof -- to the average person and youre likely to provoke a flushed face and a nervous giggle. Should you continue the conversation by asking about the type of toilets used in ancient times, the response will probably be: "A hole in the ground. 
Faucet, Tap, or Spigot? Fri, 21 Feb 2014 04:29:02 +0000   Back in 1937, the Gershwin brothers composed a cute and comic love song entitled "Lets Call the Whole Thing Off," which poked gentle fun at the contrast between American and British English. In the movie "Shall We Dance," Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang and roller skated their way through this iconic ditty, tearing up New York floors [...]]]> Thank You Berry Much! Thu, 20 Feb 2014 04:32:08 +0000   Berries are packed with antioxidants and delicious flavor, make great jams and jellies, and are hard to beat in a pie or eaten straight out of hand. You could pick them up at the store, but did you know that most are super-easy to grow in a range of climates? Position them strategically and they'll even create great Dallas fencing in addition to a delicious source of [...]]]> Upgrade Your Home, Thrifty Style Thu, 20 Feb 2014 04:32:08 +0000   Have you been dreaming of concrete-finish counters, a sleek panel wall, or some other luxury finish for your home, but goggling at the actual price tag? It can be frustrating to add upgrades to your house when you see how it affects your pocketbook, but I'm here today to let you in on a little secret: you actually don't [...]]]> Fun Garden Pots for Spring Thu, 20 Feb 2014 04:32:08 +0000   It's almost time to hit the nursery and pick up some splendid starts, flowers, seeds, and more for spring, but if you're like me, you might be facing a small problem: most of your gardening containers are pretty blah. Let's face it: nice flowerpots are expensive, and unless you happen to be rolling in dough, you might not want to shell out the big bucks for a fancy pot.  $6.5 Million Home Sale Turns Heads in Cleveland Wed, 19 Feb 2014 04:24:18 +0000   Have you ever wanted a 5 bedroom, 13 bath, 27,000 square foot home complete with a music room that hosts an organ and a variety of other instruments? Well, you'll have to look somewhere other than Cleveland, because a home matching that description just sold "to a very well-known Cleveland family" for a cool $6.  See [...]]]> Head to Tiny House Boot Camp! Wed, 19 Feb 2014 04:24:18 +0000   My obsession with tiny houses knows no bounds, and I'm particularly in love with upcycled projects made from materials people find around them in their communities. Upcycling and recycling provide a fantastic way to keep construction supplies out of the waste stream while also cutting [...]]]> Citizen Science: How Radioactive is the Ocean? Wed, 19 Feb 2014 04:24:18 +0000   As the nuclear plant at Fukushima Daiichi has been plagued with problems, including the release of radiation into the Pacific Ocean, many scientists from around the world have grown concerned about the spread of radiation. It's of particular concern to those in nations like the US, where radiation could be hitting US shores, affecting US fisheries, and causing other problems. [...]]]> Are You Ready for a House Fire? Sun, 16 Feb 2014 04:24:13 +0000   A fire in Cincinnati last night displaced five people and caused an estimated $40,000 worth of damage, a grim reminder of how quickly your life can change. The victims of this fire will be working with Cincinnati remodeling teams to rebuild their house, with the assistance of the Red Cross, but while they wait, they'll be without a home base and they'll have to sift [...]]]> 10 Shade-Lovers to Grow in 2014 Sun, 16 Feb 2014 04:24:13 +0000   Living in a shady spot can be a pain. You're tremendously limited in terms of what you can plant in the garden, as most plants prefer full sun or part shade at most, but you're rather not look at an array of ferns and moss, right? Fortunately, there are actually tons of shade-loving plants, with more cultivars coming out every year.   After West Virginia dominated the news with a horrific chemical spill into its water supply that left thousands of people without water for days, it's Charlotte's turn. Fortunately, this spill isn't as catastrophic: it appears that ethanol was allowed to flow into a sewage treatment plant (as opposed to the drinking water supply) and that it may have contaminated several [...]]]> Heat Up the House With Compost Sat, 15 Feb 2014 10:23:57 +0000   When compost breaks down, it provides a lot of heat as a byproduct -- so much heat that you can actually cook with it -- and many people have long wondered why that heat should go to waste, such as students at the University of Vermont. Their solution? Loop coil heating systems, where tubes are run through the compost pile to allow water to pass through it, heating the water so [...]]]> Grow Your Dream Garden...In A Window Sat, 15 Feb 2014 10:23:57 +0000   Forget a few pots of herbs on a windowsill. The modern window garden is a work of art and genius, a masterpiece of food production in a cramped space that allows you to grow an amazing amount of food even if you don't have a lot of room. You don't need a deep bay window, or a porch, or a spacious fire escape, let alone a sweeping garden courtesy of an Orlando [...]]]> Atlanta Fights Back on Uber, Lyft Fri, 14 Feb 2014 10:24:51 +0000   In cities across the US, and the world, anyone with a smartphone can quickly dial into a service that will allow them to quickly identify a nearby car, hail it, and track it as it heads over to pick them up. These services bypass traditional cab models, and in some cities where cab drivers have been working for generations, hackles are up: they argue that such businesses [...]]]> New Uses for Ghost Metro Stations in Paris? Fri, 14 Feb 2014 10:24:51 +0000   Remember that episode of Sherlock where they have a stop a bomb from going off under Parliament, carried under the historic building via a train moving through decommissioned Underground stations, also known as "ghost" stations? How about a similar storyline in V for Vendetta? It seems like unused Underground stations are popping up right and left in pop culture these [...]]]> 7 Unexpected Uses for Honey Fri, 14 Feb 2014 10:24:51 +0000   Honey sure is great stuff. Bees may make it to provide nutrition to members of the hive, but we've been liberally "borrowing" it for centuries, and using it in all kinds of delicious dishes as well as intriguing medical treatments. Depending on where the bees go on their daily rounds, the flavor and color of honey can vary radically, from light golden blonde to rich, dark [...]]]> 4 Cute Gifts with Seeds Fri, 14 Feb 2014 10:24:51 +0000   Is there anything cooler than the gift of life? As we're getting ready for spring, it's definitely time to start thinking about lovely seasonally-appropriate gifts, so I rounded up four delightful seed-themed projects I found on Hometalk. Whether you have gardeners, plant-loving friends, neighbors you want to be friendly with, or anyone else in your life who might appreciate it, [...]]]> Enjoy Snow-Free Streets While You Can, Boston Thu, 13 Feb 2014 11:29:42 +0000   Massachusetts residents may be facing an even snowier winter than usual, and I'm not talking about the polar vortex. Plow contractors who spend their hours pounding the Boston concrete with every snowfall say the state is falling behind on outstanding invoices, and they're tired of waiting around.   I've been spotting a new trend popping up on more and more home design, home improvement, and home fashion blogs: wall patterns. These bold paint effects are easy to do, they're far more reversible than wallpaper if you decide you don't like them, and they can dramatically change a room -- for the better, we promise.  Who's the Greenest Floor of All? Thu, 13 Feb 2014 11:29:42 +0000   Ah, those things we put our feet (or wheels) on. Floors do a whole lot for us without asking for much in return, and if you're thinking about replacing or upgrading yours, have you considered the environmental implications of what you choose? Flooring makes up a significant portion of your home and it's a building material that's often replaced, thanks to the fact that [...]]]> Freezing Rain Wreaks Havoc in Baltimore Wed, 12 Feb 2014 11:32:25 +0000   It's been a rough winter on the East Coast, where the polar vortex and related events keep hammering residents with ice, snow, and more. In Baltimore this morning, a freezing rain brought the city nearly to a halt as power shutdowns, innavigable roads, and other challenges made it virtually impossible to get on with daily [...]]]> Install Thermostats on Radiators for Efficiency Wed, 12 Feb 2014 11:32:25 +0000   Does your Chicago heating system rely heavily on old steam radiators? You're not the only one -- across the US, this type of heating is common, with some systems boasting radiators that are decades and sometimes almost a century old. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is an old eco-adage, but no one said anything about upgrading.  Welcome Bats to Your Garden Wed, 12 Feb 2014 11:32:25 +0000   Bees, mason and otherwise, are among our favorite pollinators, but there's another group of pollinators out there that doesn't get nearly as much friendly press: bats.
That's right! Far from being vampires in disguise, bats are actually a vital part of the natural ecosystem, and while you might not know it yet, you really want them in your garden.   In a true Halloween nightmare last year, floodwaters tore through a southeast Austin neighborhood, destroying homes, killing animals and pets, and claiming the lives of six people. The devastating event shook the community to the core -- and, as is common in the wake of flooding, left millions of dollars in damage.  Are Built-Ins Worth It? Sat, 08 Feb 2014 05:27:08 +0000   Built-ins are an incredibly popular aspect of interior design in homes from all eras, from homey Craftsmen with charming woodwork to soaring modern homes with sleek, minimalist shelving built right into their walls. In most modern construction, built-ins are reserved for luxury homes or remodels, rather than being included by default (oh, for the Craftsman days, when wood was [...]]]> Seattle Celebrates Super Bowl Title Sat, 08 Feb 2014 05:27:08 +0000   The city of Seattle is particularly jubilant this morning thanks to a rather impressive victory in the Super Bowl, where they maintained the upper hand throughout the game to send the Denver Broncos to an ignominious defeat. Unlike some US cities, Seattle managed to celebrate its sports victory in relative decorum, with only a handful of things set on fire, arrests, and [...]]]> Tip: Grow Sweet Potatoes for Health Sat, 08 Feb 2014 05:27:08 +0000   How much do you know about sweet potatoes? These delicious, versatile tubers come in a huge array of colors, shapes, and sizes, and they're also incredibly nutritious. If you're looking for a power food, it's really hard to beat a sweet potato. Yet, many gardeners seem a little nervous about giving them a go, even though they're easy and fun to grow.  Bees in the Fridge?! Sat, 08 Feb 2014 05:27:08 +0000   We spend a lot of time talking about honeybees here at Networx, because they're fantastic pollinators and they produce a tasty byproduct. However, honeybees are just one among over 20,000 recognized bee species, all of which contribute valuable environmental roles.  See full article.]]> Gung Hay Fat Choy! Sat, 08 Feb 2014 05:27:08 +0000   A warm welcome to the Year of the Horse! Here's hoping you get many lai see from older relatives, and get to eat lots of delicious sweets and round foods to ring in luck and prosperity over the coming year. This year's Spring Festival will be running until 14 February, another big holiday for some of you, and conveniently, both holidays heavily feature red decor!
For [...]]]>
Phoenix Officials Propose MLK Honors Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:27:07 +0000   Civil rights icon Martin Luther King was cut down far too early -- and cities across the country honor his legacy with statues, parks, and other commemorative locales. Many major cities in the US have a Martin Luther King Street, Boulevard, or other significant thoroughfare (though tragically many such streets become maps of injustice), and Phoenix wants to join them. [...]]]> 10 Amazing Uses for Tension Rods Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:27:07 +0000   If you've ever been a college student, or just an adult who doesn't stand on ceremony, you've probably dealt with a tension rod. These nifty little rods expand and collapse to fit irregular spaces as needed so you can quickly install curtains, but, as it turns out, they're good for more than that.   It's January, which means many people are trying to lose weight as a part of their New Year's resolutions. Sugar's a common target in diets, because it's a large source of calories and it can be an easy one to cut down on or eliminate -- take one lump instead of two, say.  See full article.]]> Learn the Art of Survival in San Francisco Thu, 06 Feb 2014 11:26:52 +0000   Put your reservations in now for a class in urban survival and escape techniques that will be coming to San Francisco at the end of next month. Run by Rift Recon, the class is customized to San Francisco (as in other cities where it's held) to provide attendees with the skills they need to successfully navigate the critical hours and days after a major earthquake or other [...]]]> February Garden Checklist Thu, 06 Feb 2014 11:26:52 +0000   January is about to draw to a close, which means it's time to talk turkey...I mean, February. This shortest month of the year will hopefully bring about the end of the coldest winter weather for most of us, and it's time to start laying ground in the garden to get ready for spring now that your tools are sharpened and your shed is organized.   With a drought just declared in California, I have my garden on the brain, and I'm not the only one. Many people in my community have allowed their gardens to die over the last few months in order to save water, which is a grim reminder that even when you try to plan ahead with native plants, succulents, and other drought-tolerant plants, your garden can still have a tough time in [...]]]> San Diego Home Prices Leveling Out Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:27:17 +0000   In San Diego, home prices seem to have hit a plateau, although they experienced an overall increase during 2013. Economists suspect the market will remain flat in 2014, and could slow even more -- indicators, they say, that home prizes have finally stabilized after the cycle of rapid inflation and bottoming out that characterized the economic downturn.  Searching for America's Top (Re)Model Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:27:17 +0000   Are you remodeling all or part of your house this year? Whether you're preparing to move into a home and you want it to be just perfect, or you're working on the home you live in now, you might want to consider entering This Old House's search for the best remodel in the country.  See full [...]]]> Engineering for Tsunamis Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:27:17 +0000   As a utilitarian, my love for modern design reaches new heights when it manages to be aesthetically compelling and practical, creating a happy marriage of form and function. All too often, design looks pretty but isn't as useful -- or is highly useful, but isn't all that attractive.   Do you love tea? This beverage, originating in Asia, has been consumed for centuries, and thanks to careful plant breeding, the development of scores of harvesting and processing techniques, and regional differences in climate and environment, there are hundreds of varieties of tea available on the market today.   We're fans of backyard chickens, but this might be taking it a little far: in Lake View Village, three bedraggled roosters recently caused consternation by showing up one morning without explanation. While they didn't bother passersby, and didn't seem unduly disturbed themselves (except by overly curious dogs), they obviously couldn't be allowed to roam free, for their own [...]]]> Is Geothermal Right for You? Sun, 02 Feb 2014 05:25:19 +0000   Geothermal energy is pretty amazing: by circulating water through a series of pipes under your house, you bring the warmth of the earth up in the winter, and force heat and humidity down during the summer. As the geothermal system (also known as a ground source heat pump -- which is technically more accurate, because this form of heating and cooling captures solar [...]]]> Recalled Items Aren't Fit Hand-Me-Downs Sat, 01 Feb 2014 05:25:02 +0000   Setting up a new household or welcoming a new baby can get costly. No small wonder that friends and family members often pass things down, while people seek out other items at used stores rather than trying to buy everything new. A note of caution, though: items subject to recall could be part of that innocent and well-meant attempt to save money, and they aren't worth the [...]]]> Restoring a Scottish Castle on the Hudson Sat, 01 Feb 2014 05:25:02 +0000   If you're an urban exploration lover like me, you might spend your time scoping out cool abandoned places to visit, and your travel plans could, now and then, include stops at interesting sites. One locale I've always wanted to check out is Bannerman Castle, a fascinating historic oddity on the Hudson River in New York, but by all accounts, I'd better hurry.  Let's Talk Heirloom Corn! Sat, 01 Feb 2014 05:25:02 +0000   Corn was one of many brilliant domestications performed in Mesoamerican culture, with roots tracing back to ancient Peru and Mexico. Brilliant indigenous peoples took corn from a grass with a tiny and basically useless seed to a majestic crop yielding big, juicy cobs that are grown, eaten, and used all over the world today.   I don't want to sound like a fuddy-duddy, but the number of people who still remember card catalogs is starting to wane, and half of kids these days probably wouldn't know what to do with one if it bit them on the nose. But I have fond memories of perusing the catalog at the local library, puzzling out the section I needed, and going off on an adventure for new reading [...]]]> The Five Best Loaves in Miami Sun, 26 Jan 2014 11:05:18 +0000   If you're a bread-lover like me, you may have spent a fair amount of time seeking out the perfect loaf for the perfect application. Like the most delicious whole wheat sandwich bread, or the perfect baguette for eating with a nice, gooey cheese. Thanks to the wonderful staff at the Miami New Times, I now have a list of the allegedly five best baguettes in a city heavily [...]]]> Just Say No to Ice Dams! Sat, 25 Jan 2014 11:05:39 +0000   As round two of the polar vortex descends upon the country, warnings are being issued again about ice dams, dangerous buildups of ice that can accumulate on your roof. These buildups can endanger the safety of your roof, create wear and tear, and lead to other problems, so make sure you stay on top of them.   As developers encroach on all available land in urban areas, the tension between green space and developed space is growing more serious, as evidenced in New York, where green space is at a premium. While some enterprising New York gardeners solve this problem by installing massive rooftop gardens, others do it the old-fashioned way: down in the dirt at ground level.  Reasons to Install GFCI Outlets Sat, 25 Jan 2014 11:05:38 +0000   Have you ever heard people talking about "GFCI outlets" and wondered what sort of gobbledegook is coming out of their mouths, let alone whether it's relevant to you? If so, you're not alone: many people are confused about what they are, how they work, and why they matter.  See full article.]]> Progress in Everglades Restoration Fri, 24 Jan 2014 17:16:08 +0000   The Everglades are one of America's natural wonders, but unfortunately, after decades of abuse, they were parched and unhealthy. Luckily, the state of Florida and conservationists stepped in to intervene before it was too late with an ambitious habitat restoration plan that includes levees, wetlands, pumps, and other infrastructure to get water moving smoothly into the region [...]]]> We've Been Splitting Wood All Wrong Fri, 24 Jan 2014 17:16:07 +0000   Splitting wood is one of the least favorite tasks of woodstove owners, and even for people who are just chopping for a decorative fireplace or pit, it gets unfun very rapidly. The repetitive motion and high amount of energy required are demanding, and the concussive force from blow after blow can really set a pair of shoulders aching.   We all know that mason jars are super hip in home decor right now, but what about jars in general? Because jars come in all shapes an sizes, not just the classic mason style, and chances are that if you buy peanut butter, spices, jams, and much more, you have some old glass jars floating around.  See full [...]]]> Making Pasadena Safe for Cyclists Thu, 23 Jan 2014 17:06:06 +0000   Drivers in Pasadena are about to be disappointed, but cyclists and pedestrians are stoked: Los Angeles concrete companies are getting set to turn the city's car-friendly roads into a cycling and pedestrian-centered haven. Like many parts of Southern California, Pasadena is a very car-heavy locale, with numerous residents relying solely on cars as a way to get around.  Store That Food You're Growing! Thu, 23 Jan 2014 17:06:05 +0000   Now that you're growing all kinds of amazing produce, you may have a problem on your hands: an excess of deliciousness. It's kind of astounding to watch how much even a small garden can produce, and if you aren't careful, you can be overloaded, especially in the summer, when a veritable bounty of delicious summer squash, tomatoes, herbs, and more will be exploding from [...]]]> Is Your Dryer Running Efficiently? Thu, 23 Jan 2014 17:05:54 +0000   Being a renter, I don't necessarily get a lot of control over my appliances. And recently, the dryer has started acting up, taking longer and longer and longer to dry a load of laundry. I know it's eating up a ton of energy, because my electrical bill has skyrocketed, and I know that's bad for the environment, which is something I don't want for my otherwise green laundry room. [...]]]> Remember the Alamo! Wed, 22 Jan 2014 17:05:39 +0000   Say, do you feel really passionately about remembering the Alamo? Well, this real estate listing in Houston, Texas might interest you: it's an Alamo-themed estate, and, well, let's just say that the architects put a lot of thought into things. The front of the 6,500 square foot home has been modeled after the famous Texas site, although the inside is far from a spartan fort, [...]]]> Smart Curtains Close Themselves Wed, 22 Jan 2014 17:05:38 +0000   Have you ever found yourself lying on the couch when the sun changes angle, and suddenly it becomes unbearably hot when before you were just nice and cozy? Imagine being your house, which can't just get up and move. Controlling indoor temperatures often requires action like closing curtains to cut out bright light, turning up the air conditioning or a fan, opening or [...]]]> 10 Tips to Go Green in the Laundry Room Wed, 22 Jan 2014 17:05:37 +0000   The EPA estimates that if Americans went green in the laundry room, they'd save three trillion gallons of water annually, along with over $18 billion per year. The laundry room is a place where we seem to spend a lot of time -- the agency's statistics show that the average household runs more than 400 [...]]]> More Parking for Downtown Cleveland? Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:10:19 +0000   What's old could be new again in Cleveland, where the historic Lincoln Building, originally built for parking, may be returned to that purpose in order to free up space in the city's cramped downtown. While Cleveland's parking is actually comparatively plentiful (especially in the eyes of those of us who've ever had to park in downtown San Francisco or [...]]]> Installing Crown Molding Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:10:18 +0000   Step into any older home, and chances are that your eyes are going to be drawn to the beautiful molding. Once a must-have in home design, molding has fallen by the wayside in newer construction in the interest of building cheaply and efficiently -- it's easier to forgo the molding not just during [...]]]> 18 Uses for Rubber Bands Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:10:17 +0000   Got a rubber band ball made up of the seemingly endless rubber bands that seem to trickle into your house when you're not looking? Take it apart. That ball is a total waste of an incredibly useful household item, and we're about to show you the myriad ways you can put rubber bands to use around the home -- besides the obvious.