January 2012

Gift Them the Gift of Practicality with a Tool Box

I am the first to admit that I'm not the most functional with tools. However, I do know how to use a wrench and screw driver when needed. I fall under the category of most of the people who I hang out with when it comes to repair knowledge. I believe that everyone who understands at least a little bit about tools would appreciate receiving a box with a couple of basic items for them to use around the house. A tool box is the perfect housewarming gift for both novice and expert alike. You never know when they'll need to tighten an electrical outlet cover or hang a painting.

How To: Wall Repair

Fixing Drywall Holes

When you have two rambunctious kids and a big dog, accidents happen. Our latest accident resulted in from an over zealous game of catch in the living room and a dog punching a hole right through the drywall. The hole is naturally too low to cover with a picture, requiring a full repair that leaves no sign of the patch. Fortunately, drywall repair is a simple process for almost any homeowner to complete on their own.


  • Begin by cleaning up the hole. I use a a utility knife to cut out the crumbling drywall in the center and smooth the ragged edges.

  • Patch the hole, if necessary. Small cracks may not require patching, but anything bigger than an inch does. Patch holes less than 4-inches wide with a metal mesh drywall patch. For larger holes, cut a piece of drywall to fit inside.

  • Smear a thin coat of drywall putty over the edges of the patch, even if it's self-adhesive, to further secure it to the wall. Allow this layer of putty to dry before proceeding.

  • Cover the entire patched area with a thin coating of putty. Smooth it flush to the wall and feather the edges out onto the surrounding wall so it is perfectly smooth.

  • Add a second coat of putty after the first dries if your wall has a texture. Use a stiff brush to texture this layer so it blends into the rest of the wall.

  • Once the putty dries, primer and paint it to match the rest of the wall. Keep your patching supplies on hand, because if your home is like mine you will need them again!

Common Oven Problems

When it comes to appliances, the one that always seems to break down first in my home is the oven. It's used several times a day and with the temperature constantly fluctuating from room temperature to around 400 degrees, it's no wonder that's its the first to go.

One of the first things to happen with an oven is that you discover that it takes much longer to heat to the desired temperature or just plain refuses to go past a certain mark. This is just as common in gas as electric ovens, but the causes are different.

In the case of an electric over, the problem is likely a damaged heating element. In an electric oven, a current is sent through a wire and that heats the coils. When the heating element is damaged, the coils won't heat properly and can either heat unevenly, not heat at all or only heat to a certain point. The only recourse is to replace the heating element. Unless you have experience in fixing overs, it should probably be done by a professional.

Job Loss? Consider Mortgages in Forbearance

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the county's largest mortgage loan lenders and securers have announced a new way to help those who are out of a job and unable to make mortgage payments. The option is to put the loan into forbearance. This would allow the individual with reduce or stop making payments on his or her mortgage while they were out of work.

The Reversal

Forbearance is not something that has always been available from these agencies. In fact, just a few weeks ago, this was not a possibility. Now, both agencies will allow up to six months of time in which a reduction or suspension of payments is possible. The loan servicer (who is the company that actually works with the individuals holding the loan) has the ultimate decision in whether or not it will allow the forbearance, though.

Give the Gift of Flowers to Brighten Up a New Home

It's less than a month away from Valentine's Day and with that thought in mind I came up with the perfect idea for a housewarming gift: fresh flowers. Flowers work even for men. The key to picking the right type of flower is knowing the favorite color of the person you plan to give the gift to and what gender they are.


Men often prefer flowers in colors such as a white and blue arrangement. Think about purchasing varieties including white orchids, blue irises and peace lily plants, which will enchance a space without coming off as feminine. Picture if he would display the blooms somewhere in his office and go from there. One of my family members isn't big into feminine flower shades but I might find a single orchid resting on one of his tables upon visiting his home. My husband would enjoy receiving a functional, blooming herb plant that he could use in his cooking.

Don't Just Save Repairs For The Weekend

For many people, the weekend is a sacred time filled with shopping trips and outings with the family. It's also a time people tend to save for doing things around the house. We try to fit everything into those two days and still find some time for relaxing.

We want to take a few hours to paint that room up stairs. We try to fit in fixing the garbage disposal and the dish washer before the big game. Do you know what ends up happening? Nothing gets done and another weekend is gone.

We get distracted by other chores, things take longer than expected and lets face it, we just don't want to do it. The best and easiest way to remedy this is to not save it all for the weekend. I know the last thing you want to do when you get off work is spend an hour or two making repairs or fixing up the house, but that could be your only chore for the day.

Midwinter Home Checkup

Winter isn't over yet!


There's an old saying for Candlemas, known as Groundhog Day in the US –

“February Second, Candlemas Day,

half your wood and half your hay.

Half the winter has passed away,

we'll eat our supper by the light of day.”


While many of us no longer depend on wood for heat or have hay fields to tend, the advice is still sound. In the northern parts of the country January and February often bring more wet and cold than the preceding months, so it's best to still be prepared.

Home Improvement Doesn't Have To Mean Major Project

Many people assume that improving your home requires some momentous amount of work and money. The truth is that it doesn't have to be anything more than simple improvements, and they can make a big impact.

When most people thing of home improvement, they envision sledge hammers and knocking down walls or smashing tiles. This is thanks to things like the home improvement channels and television shows that get an audience by how fast they can destroy and rebuild.

Something as simple as sitting down and caulking a old window or changing your light bulbs to more power efficient versions is all you need. Any action that improves your home can be considered a good example of home improvement.

Mortgage Rates at Record Low - What Does It Mean to You?

Those purchasing a home right now will find that mortgage rates are still at remarkably low levels. Interest rates follow a pattern of movement dependent on numerous factors, including the major indexes, the Federal Reserve's key lending rate and other factors, such as demand. As a buyer, now is the time to buy. Hands down, doing so now will be far more affordable than buying anytime in the near future.

Rates Continue to Fall

According to a recent article by the San Francisco Chronicle, mortgage rates remain at the lowest level or near the lowest level they have been at in decades. The average lender is offering 30 year mortgages at 3.75 percent. 15 year mortgages, at a fixed rate, came in at even lower numbers on average at just 3 percent APR.

Housewarming Gift Idea: Kitchen Herb Garden

Winter isn't the best time for flowers to bloom, even with the mild one that's dominated much of the country for the last month. It's a frustrating combination for those who love to garden but can't rely one the weather enough to plant new seeds. That being said, you just got wind that your best friend, who loves to garden, is moving into a new house next week. Help chase the gardening blues away by putting together kitchen herb garden housewarming gift.


Incorporate herbs that he or she can sprinkle into meals. Find plants that complement the type of food she eats. For example, if she enjoys spaghetti and meatballs, purchase a basil plant. Herbs you can add to your housewarming gift include bee balm, chamomile and oregano. Bee balm is used both in tea and as a garnish. Chamomile is placed in tea and can work for covering the ground outside, should she decide to plant them outdoors once spring rolls around. Oregano often accompanies basil in spaghetti dishes, along with thyme, rosemary and parsley, according to an “Ehow” article titled “Herbs to Grow for Making Your Own Spaghetti Sauce” written by Anna Johnson.

How To Install Door Molding

When I first moved into my home, the previous owner had installed some very cheap molding around the door frames. I didn't realize this at the time, and after a few years of children grabbing and pulling on them, they started to break and fall off.

This was incredibly annoying to me because as soon as I got one put back up, another would fall off. Ultimately, I decided it was time to just replace the whole lot. Thankfully, replacing molding around door frames isn't too difficult, but there are a few tricks that you need to know.

Take off the old molding using a pry bar and remove any nails still sticking into the frame. Using a measuring tape, measure each and every door frame, so you know exactly how much molding you are going to need. The last thing you will want to do is have to go back for one more piece of molding.

Go to a home improvement store and pick out some good sturdy molding. You are going to want something that won't break easily. If they have any real wood molding, then that would be the best choice.