Gunning Daily News

End-of-Summer Renovating Tips

August 22, 2012 5:38 pm

Just because summer is nearly over, doesn’t mean your home improvement projects need to come to a halt along with those lazy pool days and barbecues.

One effective method to choosing a home improvement project is to conduct a perimeter walk of their homes and take note of any exterior problems, including landscaping fixes, driveway repairs, new paint, etc.

Landscaping fixes generally can be done by the homeowner; trim back your trees, fix any broken fences and clean up those flower beds for fall. If it’s a larger project, be sure to do your research before calling in a professional. A certified contractor can make driveway repairs and a quality housepainter can freshen up your home’s outdoor appearance.

Another end of summer project to tackle is checking and testing window seals, as the days of ceiling-fan and air-conditioning use eventually will lead to turning up the heat.

Out back, pool decks, boat docks and pathways should be inspected for damage, such as mildew, rotting wood and cracks. All are relatively easy to fix and will improve the look of the back-yard vista, making it more appealing for potential buyers.

Source: Waterfront Properties

A Guide to Small Bathroom Solutions

August 22, 2012 5:38 pm

While dealing with special issues can be a challenge in any room of the home, finding a way to make a small bathroom livable is one of the biggest design challenges homeowners will face. Unlike many other rooms, in a small bathroom there isn’t a whole lot of room to skimp on furniture or fixtures. To make a small bathroom work, one needs to know exactly where to pare down and do it intelligently.

One of the most obvious ways to save space is to get a smaller bathroom vanity. But bathroom vanities that are merely small can present a whole host of their own problems, especially when it comes to storage.

The number one problem with small bathroom vanities is that no matter how much the physical space it takes up is pared down, some portion of what’s left still has to be devoted to the plumbing for the sink. So if the vanity has to be very narrow, look for a model with an easily accessible upper cabinet, where space is not wasted, and the stuff can still be stored around the drain pipe, an open shelf adds some extra storage as well.

One of the smartest solutions to the plumbing problem with small bathroom vanities is to slightly offset the sink to one side. That means the plumbing is offset, too, leaving one side of the vanity clear for storage where it would ordinarily be blocked off by the drain pipe. The vanity will end up being a little wider, but it’ll easily save from having to buy a secondary storage unit, which ultimately opens up more floor space.

Despite adding a few extra inches to the vanity, drawers – especially ones that start at counter level – will make the access to small items much easier. No more bending leaning stashing or searching in a single poorly organized cabinet. Neat, well sorted drawers are great for all the small stuff so a separate storage cabinet for the bigger items is not necessary.

Although large cabinets offer more storage space, they are usually hard to organize, and to lose stuff in if they’re deep and don’t have enough shelves. That’s why wall mounted vanities are much more space efficient. They cut down the size of the cabinets and raise them up to waist level, making them easier to access and navigate, while leaving lots of room for much more useful drawer space as well.

Shelves and cabinets built into the mirror are also a great add-on. While medicine cabinets make great small bathroom solutions, having to open the mirror all the way can be a problem in a tight space. Instead, vanities that are pre-paired with matching mirrors with built in shelves or smaller storage cabinets are recommended.

For those in the market for a small bathroom vanity it is important to remember - smart design is much more important to usability than anything a measuring tape can tell.


The ABCs and 123s of Healthy Back-to-School Snacking

August 22, 2012 5:38 pm

As children across the country head back to the classroom, parents will likely hear a familiar refrain each afternoon: "I'm hungry." It is officially after-school snacking season! With research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill indicating that children consume a quarter of their daily calories from snacks, it's important to make sure that after-school goodies are truly good for them, too.

"Think of your child's afternoon school snack as his or her fourth meal," says Christine M. Palumbo, registered dietitian, mom and a nutrition advisor for California Raisins. "As a mini-meal, healthy after-school snacks can provide needed energy to sustain grumbling tummies until dinnertime."
For easy and healthy snacking ideas, Palumbo shares the following five tips:

Pack your own. At the beginning of the week, assemble nibbles such as whole grain crackers, unsalted nuts and no-added sugar dried fruit into small containers or bags. You'll save time and money by preparing these easily accessible snacks in advance.

Focus on fruits and veggies. Create tasty grab bags by mixing raisins with cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, grapes, sugar snap peas or celery sticks.

Make an inside-out sandwich. Spread low-fat cream cheese on a slice of deli turkey and wrap it around a sesame breadstick.

Subtract the sugar.
Rather than fruited yogurt, which can contain more than 20 grams of sugar (5 teaspoons) per six-ounce container, take plain Greek yogurt and top with chopped walnuts, a light drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of naturally sweet raisins.

Involve the kids! If the kids make their own healthy snacks, chances are they'll be more likely to eat them, too! For a fun snack activity, try these California Raisin Peanut Butter Roll Ups: grab a tortilla, spread a light layer of peanut butter, dot with raisins and fold into a roll.

Palumbo adds that after-school snacks are a great opportunity to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables to help children meet their daily nutrient needs.

"Instead of highly processed snack foods, consider offering your child a half sandwich on whole- grain bread, along with some dried fruit," says Palumbo.


Word of the Day

August 22, 2012 5:38 pm

Refinance. To pay off one loan by taking out another on the same property.

Q: How Do Capital Gains Work when You Sell Your Home?

August 22, 2012 5:38 pm

A: If you sell your primary residence, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of gain – $500,000 for married couples – from your federal tax return. To claim the exclusion, the IRS says your home must have been owned by you and used as your main home for a period of at least two out of the five years prior to its sale.

You also must not have excluded gain on another home sold during the two years before the current sale. However, special rules apply for members of the armed, uniformed and foreign services and their families in calculating the 5-year period.

If you do not meet the ownership and use tests, you may use a reduced maximum exclusion amount. But only if you sold your home due to health, a change in place of employment, or unforeseen circumstances.

If you can exclude all the gain from the sale of your home, you do not report it on your federal tax return. If you cannot exclude all the gain, or you choose not to, you must use Schedule D of Form 1040, Capital Gains or Losses, to report the total gain and claim the exclusion you qualify for.

More Green Tips from the Great Northwest

August 21, 2012 4:48 pm

I recently added another name to the ‘green rolodex’ - Seattle’s own Ally Wangsness, who blogs as the She recently clued me into the City of Seattle Green Home Remodel Guides, which can be accessed via
In perusing the virtual library of materials I noted a stat that we have cited in previous reports: The right landscape can increase a home’s value by 15 percent (per the Association of Landscape Contractors of America). So we will occasionally visit this resource for ideas about how to improve the look and value of your property.
Here are a few random points from the guide about greening exterior landscaping:
When considering walkways and patios that last and look great, the Seattle guide suggests considering much more than their surface materials. Especially when designing for rain to percolate into the soil below, the surface – and structure below the surface, including sand, crushed rock, etc. – must be carefully prepared.
The guide examines pros and cons of poured ash, broken concrete, permeable or salvaged pavers, wood chips, glass, stone, clay pavers, even – wait for it – nutshells!
According to the guide, recycled nutshells are effective mulch for controlling weeds. And since shells are often burned for fuel, reusing them for mulch and pathways reduces the amount of burning and protects air quality.
If you are committed to using salvaged materials for exterior projects, the Seattle guide says beware lead- based paints, toxic wood preservatives, and other hazards. Ask questions of the person giving away or selling the material; if in doubt, pass on suspect items.
And if you’re looking for maximum water conservation, the guide suggests adding one or more cisterns to your property.
Cisterns store from several hundred to thousands of gallons of water, enough to significantly reduce or even eliminate the need to use municipal water for landscape purposes, especially when combined with the use of water-wise plants. Cisterns can also regulate storm water runoff during winter months, when landscape water isn't needed.
We will look at more universal ideas from this library of Seattle guides in future segments.

10 Unexpected Uses for Coffee Filters

August 20, 2012 6:08 pm

Have an over abundance of coffee filters? Out of paper towels? Bored on a Sunday afternoon? Below is a list of 10 things you can do with your coffee filters, aside from brewing fresh java, of course!

1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave.
2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome... Coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.
3. Protect china by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.
4. Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.
5. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.
6. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.
7. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.
8. Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.
9. Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.
10. Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a zip-lock plastic bag until they sprout.

Kitchen Knives 101: Choose the Right Knife

August 20, 2012 6:08 pm

Good knives are an essential part of any cook's kitchen. But having a nice set of kitchen knives isn't enough -- you need to know how to use them properly.

Using the right knife for each task helps you prepare ingredients more efficiently, gives your food the appropriate texture, and lets you work more safely. The wrong knife can not only make food prep slower, but messier.

Choosing the right knife, using it safely, and holding it correctly will give you superior control when cutting your ingredients, and give you more confidence in the kitchen.

Types of Knives

These are the basic types of kitchen knives home cooks should have on hand:

Chef - An essential knife for every kitchen. Chop, slice and dice all fruits, vegetables and meat.
Utility - An all-purpose, mid-size knife for chopping and cutting larger fruits and vegetables. A serrated edge is ideal for tomatoes.
Slicer - Cut clean, even slices of meat with the long blade and pointed tip.
Bread - The serrated, scalloped edge is perfect for cutting loaves of bread with hard crusts.
Boning/Filet - Used to trim and carve meats.
Parer - A small knife that gives you control to trim and slice small fruits and vegetables.

Knife Basics

Keep it sharp - Dull blades can slip and cause you to cut yourself. Be sure your knives are properly sharpened at all times.
Get a grip - For maximum control, pinch the blade near the bolster with your thumb and curled index finger and wrap your three back fingers around the handle.
Use it mindfully - In the hustle of preparing a meal, it's easy to get a little careless. After handling a knife, lay it down in a cleared area with the blade away from the body and at safe distance from the edge of the cutting area. Don't reach blindly for a knife; reach deliberately for the handle. And remember; never try to catch a falling knife.


This Fall, Tackle Invasive Plants

August 20, 2012 6:08 pm

(ARA) - The crisp days of fall will soon be here, but a long dry summer has left many homeowners looking out on lawns and gardens overtaken with invasive weeds and vines. A yard full of these noxious plants is sure to make it difficult to enjoy the cooler outdoor temperatures.

In 2012, the nation faced one of the hottest summers on record in the last 60 years. With more than two thirds of the country experiencing severe to extreme drought, conditions were ideal for pesky weeds to flourish.

Weeds like dandelions, crabgrass and clover easily tolerate hot temperatures and dry soil, overtaking lawns and gardens and lingering throughout the cooler fall months. Ivy and other aggressive vines thrive in the summer heat, climbing and covering bushes and trees and ultimately killing the plants underneath with their shade.

Left untreated, invasive plants can quickly become health and safety hazards. Kudzu can grow up to a foot per day, causing tree limbs to break under its weight, damaging homes and outdoor living spaces. Common grass weeds like nettles and thistles sting and prick the skin, and contact with dangerous plants like poison oak, ivy and sumac cause moderate to severe allergic reactions in almost all people.

"Fall herbicide treatments are the most effective way to eliminate unattractive and potentially harmful plants from lawns and gardens so that those spaces can be enjoyed throughout the cool fall months," says Aaron Hobbs, president of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), a national organization representing the manufacturers, formulators and distributors of pesticide and fertilizer products.

"This is the best time of year to eliminate invasive plants," Hobbs adds. "Weeds move the products of photosynthesis like water, glucose and oxygen to their roots for winter food storage in the fall, enabling the roots to soak up herbicides as well." Two to three treatments are usually all that is needed to completely destroy these types of plants.

Effective herbicide options exist for every type of weed and vine. The Environmental Protection Agency rigorously tests herbicides for potential human health and environmental impact before they can be registered and sold for use. As with all pesticides, users should always read labels and use and store products accordingly.

With just one or two follow-up treatments after an initial fall herbicide application, invasive plants are eradicated at the root, and people can take back their lawns and gardens to enjoy the beauty of fall.

Word of the Day

August 20, 2012 6:08 pm

Recording. Entering or recording documents affecting or conveying interests in real estate in the recorder’s office; until recorded a deed or mortgage generally is not effective against subsequent purchases or mortgage liens.