Gunning Daily News

Clean House Naturally and Avoid Toxic Cleansers

April 13, 2012 4:24 pm

It's time to tackle the annual home cleaning. But just because you're thoroughly washing, scrubbing and disinfecting your home, doesn't mean you need to turn to cleansers with harsh ingredients and chemicals. In fact, you can easily clean using inexpensive products already in your kitchen, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Use these tips to clean your home naturally. 

Start seeing clearly: After months of winter weather, windows are often coated with a layer of grime. A solution of 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 liter of warm water can be used to gently remove dust or dirt from all glass surfaces including windows and mirrors. 

Freshen up the fridge: In addition to food spills, your refrigerator takes on odors from all the different foods stored throughout the year. Discard old items and be sure you are regularly cleaning out the fridge. Help reduce odors year-round by keeping a box of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda in the fridge at all times, replacing it every 30 days for best results. 

Reawaken your wardrobe: Start the season feeling good in clothes that smell fresh. Even when carefully stored, clothing can still be exposed to dust, and may require a good washing before wearing. Add 1 cup of baking soda to your next wash to naturally boost the power of your detergent. The combination will help balance PH levels to leave clothing cleaner and fresher. You can also freshen non-washable items like gym shoes, bags and sports equipment by sprinkling baking soda inside. 

Renew the everyday rooms: Avoid the fumes of harsh kitchen and bathroom cleaners by naturally cleaning surfaces with baking soda. A sprinkle of baking soda on a damp sponge will clean counters, stainless steel sinks, microwaves, ovens and much more without scratching. For tough grease, mix vinegar and lemon juice to leave your surfaces like new. 

Bet on a BBQ: After the inside of your home is looking spic and span, prepare for warmer weather and outdoor entertaining. Get your grill ready to prevent bad tasting hot dogs and hamburgers from ruining your next BBQ. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush, then scrub away any residue and rinse clean. For really difficult stains, make a paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part warm water and use a wire-bristled brush to work away at grime and grease stains. 


Word of the Day

April 13, 2012 4:24 pm

Counteroffer. An offer made in response to an earlier, unacceptable one; it terminates the original offer.

Question of the Day

April 13, 2012 4:24 pm

Q: What are co-ops?

A: Cooperative apartments – known as co-ops – are not really owned by people as real property. Instead, people own shares of stock in the company that owns the building in which they live. But for all practical purposes, the experts say owning a co-op is almost like owning real property. Personal loans to “buy” a co-op apartment are written almost like mortgages. And the IRS treats co-op owners much like real property owners. They can deduct interest paid on their apartment loans and on their portion of the municipal taxes and mortgage interest paid by the corporation.

Organize Wisely: News for Your Shoes

April 13, 2012 3:54 pm

In the last column, I featured some great ideas for folks looking to replace their kitchen counter tops. But Jennifer Bishop, an Interior and Event Designer at, also offered a great column full of trendy ways to organize and store your out of control shoe collection. 

Bishop suggested using crown molding to hang heels on the wall as a chic alternative to shelving. It can also be a great space-saver—especially if you don't have a walk-in closet—and this technique can be used on any wall. 

According to Bishop, pants hangers with adjustable clips are a perfect way to keep boots from flopping over. No need to keep those boxes when you have this fantastic yet functional display. 

Desiree Stimpert, another blogger specializing in news about shoes, suggests the Shoe Wheel from 

Equipped with wheels, this mobile storage solution allows you to store heels, flats or sneakers in the adjustable slots, and can hold shoe sizes up to a U.S. men's size 10.5. Stimpert says the Shoe Wheel won the coveted Good Design Award from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture & Design - a competition among the world's most prestigious industrial design firms and manufacturers in over 25 countries. 

The j-me horizontal shoe rack is another cool, creative way to rack up your footwear, and it creates a crafty display, which is fun and functional no matter where you hang it. This shoe racks allow shoes to "float" with quick & easy access by creating a cool negative space to slide your shoes. 

Available in three and six pair lengths, the shoe rack retails for $125 and $180. 

Or turn your shoes into a work of free standing art with the j-me "Nest" vertical shoerack, which provides space-saving storage by elegantly stacking footwear within a free flowing stainless-steel form. Providing a much more compact solution to shoe storage, it holds most types of shoes.

Smarter Spring Driving With Top Tire Tips

April 13, 2012 3:54 pm

With spring and summer comes an increase in driving. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), only 17 percent of vehicles had four properly inflated tires, and 55 percent of vehicles had at least one under inflated tire.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistic that underinflated tires contribute to more than 600 highway fatalities and 33,000 thousand injuries each year. Under inflated tires also cause U.S. drivers to waste 1.2 billion gallons of fuel annually and with gas prices reaching $4.00 a gallon, who can afford that? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, properly inflated tires can improve fuel efficiency by 3.3 percent and save 12 cents per gallon at the pump.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of proper tire inflation,” says Bill Caldwell, vice president of marketing for Continental Tire. “It’s one of the easiest ways to help improve fuel economy while prolonging the life of your tires and keeping your family safe on the road. And it only takes a few minutes each month.”

Tire maintenance is the first line of defense when it comes to car care.

Continental Tire recommends that motorists take five minutes every month to check their tires, including the spare. Here are the four key elements of tire care:

• Pressure – Check tire pressure regularly, meaning once per month and before every long trip—including the spare. Tire pressure should be checked when tires are cold (car has not been driven for at least three hours). The correct tire pressure can be found in the car owner manual, on the gas tank lid, the driver’s side door edge, or on the door post. Tire pressure must be the same on the tires of each axle, but may be different on the front and rear axle. And remember to tightly close the valve caps to protect the valve from dust and dirt and to prevent leaking. Replace missing valve caps without delay. 

• Alignment – A jolt from hitting a pothole or curb can put a front end out of alignment and damage tires. Misalignment of wheels in the front or rear can cause uneven and rapid tread wear and should be corrected by a tire dealer. Have the alignment checked periodically as specified by the vehicle’ owner’s manual or if trouble such as a “pulling” sensation or vibration is experienced. 

• Rotation – Unless a vehicle owner’s manual has a specific recommendation, the guideline for tire rotation is approximately every 5,000 – 8,000 miles. Rotating a vehicle’s tires regularly will help achieve more uniform wear. If uneven wear is experienced, ask a tire dealer to check for and correct any misalignment, imbalance or other mechanical problem involved before rotation. 

• Tread – Proper tread depth is essential to prevent hydroplaning and skidding. The minimum tread depth is 2/32nd of an inch (1.6 mm). Advanced and unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to properly grip the road in adverse conditions. Visually check tires for uneven wear, looking for high and low areas or unusually smooth areas and any signs of damage. Motorists should also check sidewalls for gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities. 

It’s important to replace tires with the same type of tires that came on the vehicle as original equipment (including tire size, type and speed rating). Other potential hazards to avoid include potholes, debris in the road, fast stops and starts, and hitting or driving over curbs. All of these things can cause tire trouble. Remember, when packing for that summer road trip, it's important not to overload a vehicle as that can shorten the tire life. Motorists can check the owner's manual for the vehicle's maximum load. 

Just a few minutes each month will help motorists across the country save money, help the environment and arrive to their destinations safely.


Spring Cleaning: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

April 13, 2012 3:54 pm

Spring isn't just about flowers and rain showers, but it's also about decluttering our homes and embracing the good ole' tradition of spring cleaning.

Unfortunately, due to the labor intensive duties that go into many of our spring cleaning rituals, we run a high risk for injuries, especially if the proper safety precautions aren't taken.

"We all want a perfectly clean house with the snap of a finger, so we tend to rush through a numerous amount of burdensome tasks in a short period of time, and that's where we put ourselves at risk for injuries," says orthopedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Lana Kang, MD. "Whether it's a fall caused after making a wrong step on a ladder or straining a back muscle, it's best to pace yourself, complete one task at a time, and take regular breaks."

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010, more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder.

Before creating your spring to-do list, make these spring cleaning safety tips a priority.

• Use proper techniques for lifting, carrying and bending to avoid back injuries:

• Separate your feet, shoulder-width apart and keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles. 

• Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up; don't try to lift heavy objects by yourself. 

• Use a sturdy step stool instead of a counter or furniture—such as a chair or the couch—when dusting high hard to reach areas. 

• Ladders used for chores—such as washing windows, painting, cleaning gutters and trimming trees—should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft or wet.

• Use care with extension cords: be sure they are properly grounded. To avoid tripping or falling, do not drape extension cords across spans of crossing walkways. 

• When working on a ladder, leaning too far to one side and reaching too far overhead can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder. Never climb a ladder without someone nearby who is able to spot you. 

• Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary – carefully look for others behind you when you do. 

• Wear protective gear such as proper eyewear, footwear and thick, well-fitted gloves that serve as a layer of protection to minimize cuts, scratches, and chafing, or injury from dangerous chemicals. 

• Read product labels for proper use of chemicals used for cleaning. Store all chemicals in places indicated on the package. This should be out-of-reach of both children and pets. Never place chemicals into unmarked containers or containers labeled for a different substance. 

• Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration. 

• Be sure to stretch your arms, back, shoulders, knees and hips before starting your cleaning. 

• Keep a cell phone within reach in case of accident or injury. 

Source: AAOS

Spring Selling Season: Keep Your Inside Air Fresh

April 13, 2012 3:54 pm

Spring is in full bloom—and so is the spring housing market! The last thing you need when prepping for an open house is odor or airborne pollen and dust, making your clean house seem dirty.

ABC The Chew correspondent and home expert, Evette Rios, knows how to keep a home fresh and clean for showing. She offers some of her top tips, below.

1. When to Go with the (Air) Flow
Rios points out that many don’t realize is that the EPA states that indoor air can be 5 to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. So if the day is nice and the pollen count is low, homeowners should consider opening their windows and doors to let fresh air circulate. On days when pollen is high, consider an air purifier. “Try the Honeywell AirGenius 5, which helps diminish odors and even helps reduce VOCs, airborne allergens, and airborne germs, which is key for families that spend a lot of time indoors,” says Rios, who also suggests using an air purifier when sleeping to keep lungs clear all night long.

2. What Your Fragrance Says about You
When you walk into a home, one of the first things that hits you is the smell, which can be a deal breaker if it’s an open house. Even if your home doesn’t have a strong odor (think kitty litter or last night’s dinner), a musty, dusty smell can still resonate. “Dust has a way of finding its way into the home and can start collecting as soon as you wipe your furniture, floors or countertops clean. Help reduce airborne dust particles with an air purifier,” says Rios, who also suggests using a fan to circulate stagnant indoor air while helping to eliminate odors.

3. Improving the “Ahh” Factor in Your Home
“If you live in an apartment building, air ducts between apartments can be carrying unfiltered air from your neighbor straight to you,” says Rios. “From cooking smells to viruses to pet dander – you name it – just imagine what could be passing through to your dwelling. Use an air purifier to help capture microscopic airborne allergens and help reduce odors in the air.”

Source: Honeywell

Word of the Day

April 13, 2012 3:54 pm

Credit report. A past history of debt repayment used by creditors as an indicator of future readiness to responsibly repay debt.

Question of the Day

April 13, 2012 3:54 pm

Q: What are the pros and cons of owning a townhouse?
A: On the plus side, exterior maintenance and repairs are minimal; there are no neighbors above or below the home like in an apartment; and because the homes are attached, they may offer a greater sense of security. 

As for the disadvantages, if there is a homeowner’s association, buyers will have to pay a homeowner’s fee. There is also less privacy than with a detached single-family home. And there are limits on how you can make exterior changes to the home.

5 Ways to Ensure a Healthy Lawn and Garden This Year

April 12, 2012 5:12 pm

With unseasonably warm temperatures across the nation all winter long, early spring looks a bit different this year with lush grass, budding trees and flowers blooming sooner than usual. New growth is a welcome occurrence for lawn and garden enthusiasts, but it also begs the question: should yard care be done differently this year?

According to Troy-Bilt®, a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, the answer is yes.

"It's difficult sometimes to resist the urge to mow the lawn and plant new flowers as soon as the temperatures rise," says Heidi Ketvertis, director of marketing communications for Troy-Bilt. "Warm temperatures earlier in the season can cause many plants and grasses to begin growing sooner, but there's also more time for them to be exposed to damaging freezes, which could still come throughout spring." 

Troy-Bilt offers five tips for making sure your lawn and garden are healthy this year:

1. Don't plant annuals or fruit- or berry-producing plants early. Annuals and fruit- and berry-producing plants are especially susceptible to being killed off or damaged by frost. If you have these kinds of plants already in the ground, keep them well-watered. If you know the temperature will be dropping dangerously low on a particular night, cover the plants with mesh netting.
2. Begin pest and insect control earlier than usual. Cold winter temperatures keep pests and diseases in check, but this year many of those pests and diseases may not have died or gone fully dormant. Also, it's possible the warm winter could have thrown off the life-cycles of various insect species, which may mean the good insects we count on to gobble up the bad insects that harm grasses and gardens were born too early to do the job—so keep an eye out for new problems.
3. Protect ornamental bushes and shrubs that are out of their native range. Ornamental bushes and shrubs that are on the border of growing in their climate zone are usually more susceptible to blooming early at the first sign of warmer weather. If they do and there's a freeze, it's likely they'll lose their flowers for the season or produce fewer flowers this year. Protect them by watering well early in the season.
4. Begin weed maintenance earlier than usual. Your grass and garden aren't the only things growing sooner this year. Weeds had an early start as well. If you don't get an early start on weeding this year, your lawn or garden may get choked off and not grow as well this season.
5. Stay off the lawn, and resist the urge to cut the grass too short too early. A growing lawn is more susceptible to freezing than a dormant lawn. Staying off the lawn keeps the stress down on the grass and helps protect it if the temperature suddenly drops. Also, don't cut more than a third of the blade at a time. If you go lower and a freeze comes along, it could shock the grass and stunt its growth. 

Once you're ready to pull your lawn mower out of the shed for the first time this year, take some time to tune it up. If you've used your mower for more than a year, it may be time to sharpen or replace your blades. Also add fresh gas and oil. If your mower needs to be replaced, now is the time to start researching and hitting the stores. Not sure what kind of mower you need? Consider the following choices to find the mower best suited to your needs:

Walk-behind mower – If you have less than an acre of land or many obstacles in your yard, a reel, push or self-propelled walk-behind mower may make the most sense. 

Lawn tractor – For larger yards that would be difficult to cover on foot, consider a riding mower.
Zero-turn rider – If you're looking for faster mowing and easy maneuverability, a zero-turn rider may do the trick. A zero-turn radius enables quick turns and trimming. 

Source: Troy-Bilt