Archive | February, 2008

Quick Tip #21

February 28, 2008

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We were hit with a snowstorm Tuesday and Wednesday. Our snow total is 10″! That’s pretty phenomenal for the Mohawk Valley, which tends to get less snow overall than areas like Syracuse or Barneveld. So… we’ve been shoveling a lot last night and tomorrow. Here’s a quick tip from a snow expert, on how to make shoveling a little easier: spray WD-40 on the shovel. It will make the shovel slippery and move to snow off the shovel better. Don’t saturate your shovel, though! A thin coating will do the job. Happy shoveling!

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Quick Tip #20

February 27, 2008

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I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and I have a nice collection of very very old books. My kids are starting to collect them, too. I have some children’s books dating back to the 1910s! Some are very musty-smelling. Here’s a quick way to get rid of that musty smell in your books. It works for cigarette smells, too.

Sprinkle some baking soda in a ziploc bag (a bag large enough to fully contain your book). Don’t douse the bag with the baking soda! A tablespoon or so should do it. Place your book in the back, press out the excess air, and ziploc the bag closed. Allow the book to sit for a week or two in the bag. Repeat of your book still has a smell.

Of course, if your book is a priceless collectible, test a little part of the back edge before placing it in a bag full of baking soda, just to be sure the book isn’t stained or soiled.

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What’s In Your Pet Food?

February 26, 2008

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If you have a weak stomach, read a post about me wiring the house or something. This post is going to be about ingredients in pet food, and it ain’t pretty. I’ll try to keep it short.

I was talking with some fellow pet owners yesterday, and one of them said that pet food companies add “animal digest” materials. That is, euthanized, ground up pets. Added to the pet food. I almost barfed right then and there. I did a little digging and found dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=badingredients:

AAFCO: A material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue. The animal tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves and feathers, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind or flavor(s), it must correspond thereto.

A cooked-down broth made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. The animals used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.

api4animals.org/facts.php?p=359&more=1 has more specific information on what company uses what. And iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring04/Perhach/PetFood/CompanionAnimals.htm has some information, too. The whole things is DISGUSTING. I cannot BELIEVE that companies would add dead, diseased, crushed-up parts of the same kinds of animals to feed animals! What the heck do they think causes mad-cow disease?!

And of course, when it comes to the human food supply sources, the corruption is so bad that I am apoplectic with fury. I’d read that companies have put human genes in rice, and it’s planted in Kansas. The only good thing coming out of this is that Mr. M may allow us to finally raise chickens around here.

It’s time we consumers took responsibility for our food. Of course, not everyone can raise all their own food, especially us in the Northeast who have such long winters. But we can make a tremendous stink to those food companies, that we are sick and tied of the contamination of our food supply. And folks, try your best to buy local produce and local meats. Farmer’s markets are wonderful, too. Grow your own food if you can.

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A Little Bit About Title Insurance

February 25, 2008

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A week ago, I’d said I would be blogging a little about insurance, particularly home insurance and insurance related to buying a home. I’m going to first address the topic of title insurance. Wikipedia has one of the best concise definitions of title insurance, and I think it’s accurate; it says:

Title insurance is insurance against loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity or unenforceability [sic] of mortgage liens. It is available in many countries but it is principally a product developed and sold in the United States. It is meant to protect an owner’s or lender’s financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. It will defend against a lawsuit attacking the title as it is insured, or reimburse the insured for the actual monetary loss incurred, up to the dollar amount of insurance provided by the policy.

At its most simple, title insurance protects you, the property owner, of a situation where someone else might come and claim your property as rightfully theirs, even though you purchased the property. Title insurance protects your claim to your property, or protects your right to defend your rightful claim to your property. Our title insurance costs were paid on our closing date when we finalized the sale of the house and land. My mortgage lender has handled the paperwork. Title insurance is a one-time payment, usually made at the closing or shortly before, and protects you the entire time you own that property.

Historically, title insurance began in Pennsylvania in 1853.

When we purchased our home, our mortgage lender required that we purchase title insurance from a title insurance company. Our house and property had changed hands so many times throughout the years that I was glad to do it. I have seen my share of schiesters, scammers, and difficult circumstances. I recommend insurance. Some people do not like it, but bad things do happen whether we like it or not. I am not a person who likes to take risks– any kind of risks– and gladly pay for insurance on my “big ticket” investments (like my home).There are a wide variety of title insurance companies that will insure your property title. The great thing about the United States is that in this country, homeowners are free to choose their own companies with whom they prefer to do business. This free-market form of choosing insurance helps to encourage accountability and healthy competition among the businesses.

Most lenders require title insurance. In most cases, the payment includes an investigation into the property’s paper trail of previous owners, making sure that all previous sales and purchases on the property were legal and are accounted for at the local registrar’s office.

I will say I am no insurance expert. I am merely offering my opinion based on the knowledge I have and on my experiences. Be sure to do some research and ask experts (like mortgage lenders, lawyers, and insurance companies) for advice and costs estimates. Look for an established, reputable title company that has been in business for a long time. The Internet can also be a helpful resource, but be sure to verify your information.

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You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me

February 25, 2008

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I just got this in my email…. noooooo….

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE

…HEAVY SNOW ACCUMULATIONS WILL OCCUR ACROSS PORTIONS OF CENTRAL NEW YORK TUESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY…

LOW PRESSURE DEVELOPING OVER THE CENTRAL PLAINS WILL INTENSIFY AS IT MOVES ACROSS SOUTHERN PENNSYLVANIA ON TUESDAY…AND THEN TO THE NEW ENGLAND COASTAL WATERS BY WEDNESDAY MORNING. THIS STORM WILL BRING HEAVY SNOW TO PORTIONS OF CENTRAL NEW YORK TUESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY.

315 PM EST MON FEB 25 2008 …WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM TUESDAY TO 12 PM EST WEDNESDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM TUESDAY TO 12 PM EST WEDNESDAY.

SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE AREA DURING THE MORNING TUESDAY AND CONTINUE INTO WEDNESDAY. TEMPERATURES WILL BE NEAR TO SLIGHTLY ABOVE FREEZING TUESDAY AFTERNOON WHICH MAY LIMIT ACCUMULATIONS ON TREATED SURFACES. HEAVY ACCUMULATIONS WILL OCCUR TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY AS THE SNOW CONTINUES. SNOW ACCUMULATIONS THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING WILL RANGE FROM 6 TO 12 INCHES.

A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. THIS WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS OR IMPOSSIBLE.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

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Clouds in My Coffee

February 25, 2008

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I read syracuse.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-24/1203875944305880.xml&storylist=state” at Syracuse.com today. It’s about the spate of severe flooding that has afflicted New York State for the past decade. The most recent three years have been the worst.

New York has endured nine floods since 2004 that were declared federal disasters — including a deluge that ripped a crater through a highway north of Binghamton and another that scattered buildings and cars in the Catskills.

People died in those floods. Awful.

My own property has not suffered devastation as much as folks in the southern part of the state, but I have suffered extraordinary flooding here for years. The worst was in 2005, when we suffered a dozen floods each soaking my basement with two to three feet of water. In 2006, we saw three more severe floods, which decimated my yard and garden, and ruined my furnace in the basement. There is something terribly, terribly frightful watching murky brown water rise in your home. Last year we had only three spring floods (one deluged the yard with 6″ of water, but the basement only had a few inches) and thank God– we had a dry summer and autumn. I have said to the Hubby that I just cannot live in a home that floods. It is too stressful and I am terrified. If it continues, I am scrapping my renovations and we are moving to higher ground. I’ve suffered house fire, damage from a tornado, and power lines falling, and those were bad enough. I just can’t live on property that floods.

The reason for the flooding problems in Upstate New York has various hypotheses. Some say it is because the state has been negligent for decades, not dredging the rivers and streams. Others say over-development (like McMansions on hilltops and shopping malls on top of swamps) have changed the toposcape of the land, and water is working its way down the path of least resistance. And others say the the past decade has been unusually rainy, with weird weather patterns that soak the state.

“You put pavement all over the place and it rains, then a stream that used to get a maybe a thousand cubic feet per second during a high-precipitation event gets two or three or five thousand cubic feet per second,” he said. “That water moving through the stream rips the stream apart … and starts to flood things.”

Wetlands also play an important role in flood control, acting like sponges for surface water during heavy rains, Curatolo said.

I think it’s a combination of all three: negligence, over-development, and wacky weather; but especially the first two. If the proper maintenance and stricter development controls had been enforced, we could have handled the unusual weather. My own town has been very negligent when it comes to stormwater maintenance and planning. It seems government is more interested in providing rehab programs or kowtowing to rich developers than taking care of we who reside in this town.

I am baffled why New York State self-inflicts its own hand-tying with over-regulation and destructive environmental policies (like save the owl stuff). Upstate has suffered so much already, with the horrid economy and businesses fleeing the state due to liberal policies. Now, even the weather has been against us. And what is our reward? 200-foot-high power lines and eminent domain threats!

I am ranting, I know. It is so much hard work to own property in New York State– with the taxes, burdensome regulations, and government negligence– power lines, flooding, and a bad economy are salt in the wounds. Sometimes it is quite discouraging.

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Quick Tip #19

February 23, 2008

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Ever see those vendors at department stores (particularly at optometrist offices) selling those bottles of eyeglasses anti-foggers? Those little 3 ounce jars of mysterious white paste cost $10 or more! Outrageous! What could possibly be in those jars? My husband asked one of the vendors once, to find out.

The vendor revealed (he was a very open and honest vendor) that those little jars of paste were soap. Yep, just soap. Soap that had been slightly moistened, tainted with pretty coloring, and put in those jars. Pound for pound, you could buy 30 bars of regular soap for one of those little 3 ounce jars of prettied-up soap paste.

Here’s what you do: just moisten your finger a teeny-tiny bit, pat a regular bar of soap with your fingertips, and rub the lenses of your glasses. Buff the lenses lightly. Don’t put on too much or your glasses will be greasy.

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A Girl’s Best Friend

February 23, 2008

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Women love getting gifts. I know I do! Most women love getting jewelry, flowers, shoes, and clothing.But not me.

Most women love getting perfume, scarves, diamonds, candy, chocolates, and manicures.

Not me.

This is what I like.


Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout! Woo! LOL, Am I easy to shop for, or what?

As a young girl, I used to hang out with step-dad in his workshop. Loved it. He used to take me along to our favorite store: the hardware and tool store! I still love tool stores!

That Milwaukee Micro Driver 12V baby you see pictured above is a high-tech piece of equipment that would win the heart of any girl. This one, at least!

# 12V Li-ion power in a small package.
# 1/4 Inch quick change chuck with one-handed bit change feature.
# Built-in fuel gauge.
# Overmold on the side to prevent scratching finish work surfaces.
# LED light for illuminating dark work spots

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Quick Tip #18

February 23, 2008

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Here’s a Quick Tip I saw in one of my many home improvement magazines. If you have pets that shed all over the furniture, don’t vacuum it up and clog your machine! Get one of those dollar store paint rollers (with paint roller handle) for $1 or $2. Wrap duct tape (facing sticky-side up) around the roller. Roll the roller over the furniture cushions, etc. The duct tape will collect the hair. When you are done, just tuck the roller in a plastic bag to pull it from the roller handle, and toss it in the garbage! All clean!

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My Seeds Are In, Are Yours?

February 22, 2008

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I got my package from Johnny’s Selected Seeds yesterday! I am thrilled with the selection. I cannot wait until spring! Here’s the scoop on what I got:

Hybrid Yellow Onions (Olympic)
Hybrid Cantaloupe (Earliqueen)
Sugar Baby Red Watermelon
Magical Michael Basil
New England Pie Pumpkin
Hybrid Spinach (Tyee)
Hybrid Bi-color Corn (X-tra Tender Brand)
Sugar/Snow Peas (Atitlan)

All the varieties are frost hardy. I intend on buying my yellow squash and lettuce seeds at WalMart.

Oddly, the Adirondack Reds seed potatoes I ordered did not come. The package sheet says they were on backorder. How can this be since I just spoke to the lady at Johnny’s? She told me they were available (she double-checked, too) and they would be put on my order. :-p What a lousy deal. I wonder if they will come in time.

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