Home Improvement • Gardening Tips • Pets • Electronics

Maintaining a Clear View

I would like to address the part of your home that is both indoors and out: the windows. Lets begin outdoors. No matter how old your windows or your home, the routine maintenance is the same. Begin by…

Landscaping Design

Winter’s winding down, the soil’s warming up, and the garden calls to us! Is your garden calling out for renovation or redesign as your family grows, your needs shift or your interest in the garden changes?

Home Improvement Porch Makeover

Worn-out mismatched shoes scattered about, a mud-caked welcome mat, and the pile of sporting equipment from last weeks game. If your front porch makes you cringe, here are some ideas that will have you throwing a porch party in no time. Begin with your front door as the centerpiece of your porch. Install a stylish…

Going Green With TV

The new models of LCD and Plasma TV are out, and a big feature this year is the concept of using less power to power a television. Samsung has a fantastic new technology that they are pushing heavily, called LED TV. You’ve probably seen their advertisements on TV with the fiber optic Hummingbird and flowers… Anyway, they consume up to 50% less power than comparative LCD televisions, look incredible, and are less than 1 1/2″ thick! Samsung has several LED television models to choose from this year, and I’ve got them all on display at my store on Roosevelt and 64th in the U. District of Seattle. A new LED TV will satisfy more than a few urges, and not all of them are selfish! Sure, we like to have new things, but what if those things are also less impactful on the environment? I say, that’s a good...

Why hire an architect?

Plenty of building projects get built without architects. In fact, most do, and many even illegally. So why hire an architect? Here are some excellent reasons to hire an architect, if you are currently contemplating your next building project.

Time for a New Mailbox

Greetings to everyone from us here at American Family Magazine,  I trust everyone’s year is starting out on a positive note.  This month I would like to go over some simple steps to building your own mailbox stand.  You will need to use pressure-treated lumber: one 8-foot 4×4 and one 8-foot 2×4, 1 bag of 60 pound concrete, hand tools, 3-inch screws and a mailbox. First and foremost, be sure to check with your local post office to be sure of the specifications in your zip code region, such as mailbox height, setback from the road, etc. Next, dig a 2-foot hole about ten inches in diameter, much like you would a for a fence post. Now, set a pressure-treated 4×4 in the hole and surround with premixed concrete.  Use a four-foot level to make sure your post is plumb.  Let the concrete set for at least 24 hours before continuing with the project. When the concrete is dry, measure up the post and mark 1 and 1/2 inches below your desired height of your mailbox.  Using your speed square or triangle draw straight lines around the entire post And then cut the post, making sure to use the proper safety equipment.  Use sandpaper if necessary to smooth top of post. Now, measure the height of your mailbox and measure down that same measurement from the top of your post.  Make a mark.  Now cut a 2×4 two inches shorter than the length of the mailbox.  Next, cut another 2×4 two inches shorter than the last one, but this time set your saw blade at a 45 degree angle so the long points of...

Bare Root Plants – Budgeting

Beginning in deepest winter, and through very early spring, while plants are safely asleep and you’re thinking the garden is off limits, signs will start popping up around town advertising ‘Bare Root’ plants.  What’s that all about and why should you care?   It means wholesale growers have started shipping all kinds of unpotted plants to retailers for a very small window of time.  Alert gardeners can get tremendous bargains on dormant roses, vines, fruit trees, ornamental shrubs, berry canes, young shade trees, perennial vegetables (think: asparagus) and more.  Mail order nurseries will offer even wider selections at this time, but as always, don’t be tempted by plants that aren’t happy in your climate zone! The term ‘bare root’ simply means it’s a dormant plant that hasn’t been potted yet, prior to it coming out of dormancy.  Without the labor to do the potting, the weight of soil and pots, and space allocation associated with transporting potted plants, bare root stock gives a tremendous break in shipping costs and gardeners can find healthy (but sleeping) plant material at bargain prices.  You can expect to pay 10- 40% less for the same plants, which, some weeks later, the retailer or wholesaler will have put into pots, and the bargain window will have closed. When shopping for bare root plants; look for plants with tightly closed buds, a sign it’s still safely dormant.  Check for robust, firm, healthy roots that don’t carry mold and show no signs of having been dried out. Rapid transition from nursery to garden is the key.  The bare roots can’t be allowed to dry out or be...

Winterize and Save

Now is the time to ready your home for the winter months ahead. If you follow these simple instructions, you will have your family enjoying a warm and cozy winter. Begin your house preparation by trimming…

Surround Yourself in Sound

While a new HDTV is at the top of many shoppers’ lists, most don’t realize how much of the experience they lose watching these broadcasts while listening only through the television’s internal speakers.

Dog Day Afternoons

Dog breath steams up the window, a tail thumps against the car seat. As I turn onto the road to our final destination, low moans involuntarily escape my dog’s throat. I find a parking space, open the car door, and am treated to a 75 orange explosion.

Wiring Your Home Network

Changes in technology happen so frequently that they quickly render even the best do-it-yourself books obsolete. When wiring your home for the future, how do you know what to install? Where? And how much of it should you run?

Easy Autumn Garlic Garden

October is the time to begin your garlic patch. Garlic is planted in fall and harvested the following summer. Although it takes many months for individual garlic cloves to mature for harvest, the effort is minimal and the rewards substantial.

Halloween Curb Appeal

Happy Halloween to all from your do-it-yourself guide here at American Family Magazine. I trust everyone is adjusting to the autumn weather. This month I will be giving you fun and family-safe ideas for decorating your home for an exciting Halloween event.

Green With Technology

There are ways to do your part for the environment and your checkbook, and also gain something from it. The answer is in new technologies for products that you may already know about, and lots of things that you probably don’t.

Dig ‘n Split Garden Parties

As fall rapidly approaches, our plants begin the transitions essential for over-wintering successfully. During this time, hosting a Dig ‘n Split party is a fantastic way to enjoy the seasonal garden shift. The idea:

Coton de Tulear – Royal Dogs

Once upon a time in the land of Madagascar there lived a royal breed of canine called Coton de Tulear. It was the companion dog of Merina (the ruling tribe) in Madagascar and is presently the country’s national dog.

Native Foliage Plant Appreciation

If you’re looking for solutions to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly garden, look first to native plants. Whether you’re seeking solutions for shady, swampy spots or dry, sunny locations, odds are you’ll find…

Easy DIY Drywall Fix

This month I would like to go over the best way to address a problem that festers in most every home: Damaged drywall. Believe it or not there is a simple and inexpensive way to fix this problem without calling in a professional.

Dress Up Old Floors

Greetings readers, I want to shift back inside for a simple project: Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT) tile. This is great for storage areas, utility rooms, and garages.

Container Gardeners

Whether dedicated to annuals, perennials, bulbs, herbs or a host of other types of plants, containers offer flexibility, mobility and the opportunity to express your style. Containers fit into any budget or space. Plants aren’t fussy about where they’re grown as long as the sun, soil, water and nutrients are available in the proper amounts. Containers make it easy to manipulate all those factors to produce the perfect conditions for anything you plant. Must-do: make sure there’s at least one drainage hole in the bottom of the container. Use rolling trays underneath larger pots for easy maintenance or to easily change the display. Smaller pots should have plastic or ceramic feet under them, letting them drain well. Do NOT put drain rock or Styrofoam pellets at the bottom. It interferes with drainage instead of improving it. Really! When choosing your pots, shop for color, style, height and weight. A design tip: when choosing colors and styles, coordinate with the exterior house color and style, or extend the feel of the inside room. Select several pots of the same style in different colors and sizes, or several styles and sizes all in the same color. Keep some thread of continuity – color or style. High fire, heavy duty ceramic pots can’t be beat for sheer beauty and function. They’re works of art on their own; fill one with a yearlong plant display and you’ll have a stand-alone art gallery. They add dignity to concrete and interest to garden beds. Use stout ceramic feet to lift them off a deck. Low fire terracotta pots absorb water that will freeze and expand...

Spring Garden Prep

Instead of battling weeds all spring, summer and fall, get a jump on the seemingly endless cycle and get the weeds pulled before they have a chance to go to seed, sending this summer’s weeds into rambunctious production.

Great Gardening Blogs

By December I find myself doing more reading about gardens than actual gardening. Often, I turn to fellow gardening bloggers for good ideas. Gardening blogs originate from all over the world and provide knowledge, fact, conjecture and inspiration from the lives and experiences of gardeners from all walks of life. Among the many, a few Seattle originals stand out. Riz’s I flush green with envy over Riz’s experiences seeking out rare plants. Fortunately, he not only propagates and sells rare treasures from his Shoreline, WA nursery, but through his blog he also provides us a way to join his adventures. Riz tells me most readers respond to his step-by-step “how to” posts. But, plant geeks like me will find his unique perspective on “Rare and unusual, and reliable plants for Pacific Northwest Gardeners” reading we just can’t put down. Willi’s Willi is the West Coast Editor of Organic Gardening magazine and a favorite gardening radio personality on KUOW 94.9. Willi was inspired to start her foodie-focused gardening blog one day after “… I was harvesting some greens. I was thinking about what I was going to make for dinner and I realized that I read tons of gardening and cooking blogs, but none of them focus on my favorite thing to do: cooking with food fresh from the garden. So I decided to create a site where I could blog about what was happening in my garden and kitchen…” When you visit her site, be sure to grab the butternut squash taco recipe! Karen’s Enthusiastic amateur gardener Karen started her blog because, “I wanted to showcase...

The Dirt on Soils

One of the most overlooked and under-tended components of many gardens is the earth in which the garden grows. However, knowing and caring for our soil and our soil ecosystems is critical to cultivating a healthy, beautiful and bountiful garden.

The Power of Surge Protection

A few small additions in power management to your A/V system will help protect your investment, and maximize performance. How do power surge protectors, power conditioners, and uninterruptable power supplies make your system more reliable?

Training Kitty

Cats are beautiful creatures with many aficionados. Perhaps you’re one of them. Or perhaps you hesitate to own one because you’re certain they can’t be trained. Here’s good news:

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