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  • 10 Facts About Christmas Cacti

    Doesn't this Christmas cactus look pretty in the copper pot?If you're lucky, you could receive a Christmas cactus as a gift this holiday season. This common house plant blooms during the Christmas season, but its long green arms are attractive throughout the year. With cultivars in a rainbow of colors, it is a plant worthy of appreciation. These 10 facts about Christmas cacti will help you to care for your plant if you happen to receive one this holiday season.

    1. It's called a "cactus", but it thrives in cooler temperatures. Christmas cacti need to be kept away from heat sources. According to the Purdue University Extension Service, a Christmas cactus will blossom longer when exposed to only cooler temperatures. For best results, keep your Christmas cactus in a cool place (away from heaters and fireplaces) where there are not frequent drafts (right next to a frequently used door would not be a good place). Big changes in temperature can cause the blooms to drop off the plant before they open. The optimal temperature for Christmas cacti is

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  • 10 Easy Bathroom Upgrades

    Small renovations like installing a new vanity or buying new linens can update the look of a bathroom.
    By my estimation, an "easy" bath upgrade could include virtually everything in the room except replacing the tub or shower, tearing up and/or replacing floor or wall tile, and relocating plumbing fixtures. That still leaves the faucet and sink, the walls, the lighting and many more options that can make a surprisingly big difference. Here are 10 of those options, as promised by this article's title. (Actually, you'll get 11, because I'm going to mention paint right now, but that's only so you don't have to read it as a "brilliant" tip for the 10-million-and-oneth time.)

    1. Faucet

    Replacing a bathroom faucet (a.k.a. lavatory faucet) really is a pretty easy job. If you haven't done it before, it'll take you a while, but it's not hard work, provided the old parts aren't rusted onto the sink (see item 2, below). For such small fixtures, faucets can really date an old bathroom, so this tends to be a high-return improvement.

    2. Sink and/or vanity top

    If you're replacing your

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  • Advantages of Biodiesel Fuel Blends for Home Heating

    Oil burners like this can run on biodiesel blends.
    By Chaya Kurtz, Networx

    Biodiesel fuel blends don't necessarily cost more than standard heating oil. Give or take ten cents per gallon, it is comparable in price. However, depending on one's local biodiesel fuel blend distributor, that "give or take ten cents" could lean toward the "give" side. I state this so bluntly because I understand the human psyche. The act of paying more for one product that does the same job as a slightly cheaper product, regardless of its behind-the-scenes benefits, is rarely an attractive proposition. Outside of altruism, why would you actually pay more?

    I think, though, if the general public knew the advantages of biodiesel fuel blends over standard home heating oil, they might be willing to fork over an extra ten cents per gallon (maybe, depending on your local distributor, like I said it could even cost less).

    "It's exceptionally better. It's virtually sulfur-free; it's a very good lubricity additive. These systems have fuel pumps. It can help

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  • 5 Hot Green Building Materials for 2013

    By Chaya Kurtz, Networx

    2012 is drawing to a close, and it's time to look toward 2013. Although I am not psychic by any means, I do have a pretty good eye for industry trends. I think that these 5 new(ish) green building products will be hot in 2013.



    Kohler Memoirs Comfort Height Toilet: Low-flow and high-efficiency meet classic design in the form of the Kohler Memoirs Comfort Height Toilet. With homeowners looking for minimalist, but not-too-modern, fixtures, this toilet fits the bill. This toilet should appeal to shoppers seeking industrial-chic and antique-looking on-trend fixtures, while meeting EPA WaterSense standards. Plumbers in San Francisco and other hip locales will be, I predict, installing a lot of these.



    Insulfoam HD Composite Roof Insulation: At a competitive price, Insulfoam HD Composite Roof Insulation should be a strong competitor in the roof insulation market. With strong R-values, its sustainable characteristics

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  • 60+ Sensational DIY Wreaths Made from Recycled Materials

    By the Hometalk Team via Hometalk on Pinterest

  • 10 Facts About Turkeys

    Check out the snoods on these wild turkeys!As Thanksgiving nears, it is time to pay homage to the iconic bird. Not just tasty and delicious, turkeys are multifaceted critters with fascinating histories. Enjoy these ten facts about turkeys.

    1. Shock of all shocks - Benjamin Franklin did not actually recommend the wild turkey to be the symbol of America. His official suggestion in 1776 was an image of Moses and Pharoah. He did, however, mention the turkey in a letter to his daughter, after the bald eagle was chosen to be the symbol of America. Franklin disapproved of the bald eagle due to its nature as a scavenger. He found the turkey to be a "much more respectable Bird".

    2. Gobble, gobble, gobble. A wild turkey's gobble can be heard a mile away. Why do turkeys gobble, and which turkeys gobble? Male turkeys gobble to show up other males and to attract the attention of female turkeys, known as "hens".

    3. Turkey chicks need their rest! According to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative

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  • Squatting on the Potty Cures Ailments

    By Chaya Kurtz, Networx

    About a month ago, I blogged about the Squatty Potty. I came across it online, and it looked like a good idea. I wondered if I could DIY something similar. Much to my delight, the creator of the Squatty Potty saw my blog post, and offered to send me a sample unit to test.


    This is the Squatty Potty, as seen in my bathroom. The model that I tested, and is shown here, is the 9 inch tall Squatty Tao Bamboo. They also make plastic and MDF versions. I chose the bamboo version because it is so very aesthetically pleasing. To me, it looks like one of those fancy meditation stools that you see at retreat centers. It classes up the bathroom, no? 1

    undefinedThere she is, the Squatty Potty.

    There she is, the Squatty Potty.

    It is very hard to discuss the Squatty Potty without talking about bathroom functions. I am attempting to write this without using the word "poop". Oops, I just said it. Fine. I give up. The Squatty Potty is a stool designed to help you to poop. The human body was designed to

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  • Hurricane Sandy Victims Need Socks Desperately, and You Can Help

    By Chaya Kurtz,

    A team of DIY bloggers, in conjunction with, have teamed up to collect socks for folks on the New Jersey coast who lost everything to Hurricane Sandy.


    Why socks? Laura Kuhlmann, the blogger who spearheaded the project, lives near Tuckerton Beach, New Jersey. Her beachside community was hit hard by the storm - more than 600 houses were rendered uninhabitable. When her sister went to volunteer at the local emergency shelter, what she found was a glut of clothing, but not enough socks. People in the shelter were walking around barefoot because there were simply not enough socks.

    "There were people who lost everything and only had the clothes they were wearing. All they wanted out of anything they could have had, they wanted a pair of dry socks - just a pair of socks. I couldn't get that out of my head because I get cold feet sometimes and I know how good it feels when you put a pair of warm socks on," said Kuhlmann.

    Kuhlmann, who

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  • The Real Cost of Decorating a New House

    Pretty home accents like these are a small fraction of the cost of decorating a new house.
    By Linda Merrill, Networx

    Over the years, I've had many clients, or potential clients, who purchased a new house without planning for the cost of decorating it. This isn't just about pretty fabrics either; there are many practical considerations such as the need for privacy; heating and cooling (in the Boston area, heating and cooling cannot be overlooked), and air flow.

    New construction homes can be fresh and exciting, but often come with bare windows and rooms that are in completely different proportions from those in older homes. New homes may have large open-space kitchens and great rooms but tiny dining rooms and formal living rooms. Furniture that fit into a standard living room in the "old house" may be too big for the new space while suddenly the cavernous great room needs a furniture store worth of sofas and chairs to fill it up.

    Similarly, master bedrooms are often very large and require full-scale seating areas in addition to the standard bedroom ensemble in order

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  • My Amazing DIY Solar Generator

    The author's solar generator.
    By Kevin Stevens, Networx

    I remember the inspiration for building my solar generator clearly. It was close to 20 years ago and we were camping at the dunes in Oregon. Our campground neighbor, in a huge RV, ran his generator for about 2 hours one evening. Needless to say, it was annoying beyond compare - we go camping for peace and quiet.

    We later found out from overheard conversations that the RV people were using the gas generator to charge the camcorder. Apparently they did not have a DC adapter or know about a thing called an inverter. One of the campers on the other side of them, also in a big RV, explained how the inverter works. An inverter plugs into a cigarette lighter socket (or they can be hardwired) and converts 12 volt DC into 120 volt AC. The other RV camper said they charge all of their things while they are driving. Brilliant, eh? Well I took this idea a few steps further and set up something that is completely solar powered and portable.

    More Modern Needs

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