When was the last time you vacuumed under and behind your refrigerator? It’s amazing how much crud builds up back there, as I discovered while getting a start on my spring cleaning. As I scrubbed away, I began thinking about the origin of this annual ritual.
The idea originated in China. The Chinese clean homes in anticipation of the New Year. A thorough cleaning eliminates bad luck and misfortune from the previous year. In Jewish custom, Passover, which comes around April, is a time of house cleaning as well. And when homes were heated with coal, wood and oils in the winter, families waited until spring to remove soot, ash, Read more
You may not think too much about backing up data until the day comes when your hard drive crashes. That's when I got the wake-up call, thinking I had lost everything – photos, work documents, records, letters, music. Rick Sutherland, owner of ClickAway, a Diamond Certified company, says most people are like me and don't realize how easy back up is, and how expensive data recovery can be. To back up data, some people use an external hard drive, where data is put onto another disc and stored in a safety deposit box, or somewhere else outside your home. You can also use an automatic on-line back up service, which is especially useful for saving data on a daily basis. Read more
The secret to weight control is simply eating the right foods, in the right amount, at the right time. Maureen Sullivan, Founder & Chief Nutritionist of Lite for Life in Burlingame, has found no other “quick fix” in her 30 years of weight loss counseling. She educates her clients on the single most important aspect of nutrition – stabilizing blood sugar.
The biggest mistakes people make are skipping breakfast, exercising without eating before and after, and starting the day with caffeine and sugar (a mocha and a muffin). These habits create spikes and drops in blood sugar throughout the day. If blood sugar is too low before dinnertime, sweet treats are likely to be craved afterwards. Read more
The scammer places a help-wanted ad at a popular job-search site offering a work-at-home job. You fill out an employment application that asks for a Social Security number and your date of birth. Then you're told you got the job! Packages arrive at your home with directions to repackage the items and ship them overseas, using your own money which will be repaid. The original packages were paid for with fraudulent credit cards, something you don't find out until later. Next, you're told that you will be paid by cashier's check. But here's the catch. The check will be written for more than the amount owed. You deposit the check and forward the difference to the company's overseas bank account. Read more
What is the single best question you can ask a camp director when shopping for a camp? I got some good advice from Andrew Townsend, Camp Director for Kennolyn Camps, a Diamond Certified company. “Who are your staff, how are they hired and who supervises them? In this three-part question, you get to the very core of what a parent cares about most: who’s caring for my child? Fancy facilities and exciting programs are no good without quality, trained staff to supervise the campers.”
A well-run camp should have clear plans for how to handle emergencies like fires and earthquakes, although the law doesn’t require this. Mr. Townsend says if the camp has water sports and activities, Read more
Got a Noise Problem? Here’s What to Do? Experts like Diamond Certified’s Paul Asadov, President of Zeus Remodeling, know exactly what to do to reduce noise problems in a home. The most common complaint is about the sound of footsteps in multi-family dwellings. Mr. Asadov explains that the solution to “impact” noise is to replace the original drywall with a detached drywall made of two layers, where one layer is laminated with noise control material. You can also add soundboards inside the ceiling to reduce noise. If your noise problem is street or freeway noise, Mr. Asadov suggests reinforcing the weak spots – doors and windows. Hollow core doors are replaced with solid noise control doors with several acoustical layers inside. Read more
Teach Students Four Simple Things Don’t let your student drive off to college in a vehicle they have no idea how to maintain. AAA Northern California recommends parents have a talk with their students before sending them off to college about the four major things they need to do to care for their car. “Not only does a well-maintained vehicle provide safe, reliable transportation for their student, it also prolongs the life of the vehicle and saves money,” says Matt Skryja, AAA Northern California spokesperson. Ideally, learning how to care for a car is part of learning how to drive, but it is never too late to help your student learn the basics of car care. Read more
Many old Bay Area homes were wired using a method called “knob and tube,” which was in common use until the 1940’s. You don’t always have to replace it, according to Nick Courcoumelis, owner of Positive Electric, a Diamond Certified company. “Knob and tube can’t be used in places where it can’t supply enough power to a kitchen, bathroom, laundry room or outdoor wiring. Or anywhere you need surge protection because it doesn’t have a ground. However, if it’s in good condition, it can still be used in other parts of the house, like bedrooms.”
Mr. Courcoumelis explains that codes don’t allow electricians to install knob and tube wiring anymore. However, you can insulate over it in California, Read more
It's one of the biggest furniture investments you're going to make, so take your time when choosing a new sofa. Our Diamond Certified expert Craig Kohler with Artesanias Unique Home Furnishings says the biggest mistakes people make are on the depth of the seat and the overall size. Seeing a sofa in a large retail space may throw off your sense of how big it really is. Look at your traffic flow and where you're going to place the sofa first. Think about how you will be using the sofa, so you can balance style and comfort. Will you be sitting and reading with your feet on the floor, or lying down to watch TV? Read more
The Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov), the nation's consumer protection agency, wants consumers to beware of telephone sales pitches for magazine subscriptions. While some offers may be legitimate, many are not. Agreeing to buy could result in years of monthly bills for magazines you don't want or could have gotten elsewhere for less. Or, you could end up paying for a magazine you never receive at all. How do you know if an offer is a scam? Words like "free" and "pre-paid" should alert you. And the caller may try to get your guard down by saying he or she is just calling to conduct a survey. To protect yourself: * Don't give your credit card or other personal information to any caller, Read more