Samsung RSH1DTMH Fridge Freezer – Review

Me and my family were in the market for a new fridge because our old one wasn’t doing a good job at keeping things cool and fresh anymore. We used to have a separate fridge and freezer that were both over a decade old. This day and age, one American style fridge freezer is all you need. You get two in one and it ends up saving a lot of space, even when you buy a big one! So we threw out our old fridge and our old freezer and we replaced it with a new one.

Samsung RSH1DTMH Fridge Freezer – Review

After doing some research online, me and the wife had decided that we were going with the Samsung RSH1DTMH Frost Free Fridge Freezer. I had heard some good things about refrigerators from this brand and I felt comfortable taking the risk. I’m glad to say everything went better than expected. For a moment there I was worried that this fridge didn’t have enough room to store all the food that is required to feed a family of 5. Me and my wife have three boys. Thankfully this fridge has lots of room with many compartments. Luckily, it ended up having plenty of space and then some! You do still need to be able to pack things away efficiently, though.

This American style fridge freezer also has a very large water and ice dispenser under which you can easily place tall glasses. It’s a great feature that will not only keep my food cool but me as well during the summers. The lighting strips in the fridge’s interior are very well placed and they really light the place up very well. Everything is in clear view. No more dark corners where I have to guess what food I put there. This fridge also looks very stylish. It has a Manhattan silver color and it goes very well with the rest of our kitchen. It has two doors as opposed to one door, which you often see on smaller fridges.

The doors swing open to the left and the right. You don’t have to open them both at once. Because the fridge is so tall, you will hardly ever have to kneel down to take what you want. Instead, you can store your most frequently consumed foods at the top for easy grabbing. It was also very easy to install and it comes with all the parts required for the plumbing. When you leave the doors open accidentally, a quiet alarm goes off. Very useful for when you have small children running around the house! Because of all these excellent features, this is one American style fridge freezer that I would recommend to anybody!

Feng Shui – Toxic Energy

Bad energy is toxic to your health, some of this toxic can be measured exactly.So where are the toxic areas in your home?

Think firstly about the wet areas. Your bathroom and laundry are prone to molds and small undetected water leaks, which become a breeding ground for a multitude of toxic organisms which can make both you are your house sick. This is definitely bad Feng Shui. You can have your walls and wall spaces moisture tested to determine if there are leaks. If found its likely you can make an insurance claim and have the problem repaired.

Health problems such as allergies, asthma and chronic fatigue have been connected to such water and mold problems. With often spectacular results when the offending area is cleaned up.

These rooms are often poorly ventilated especially in winter and usually contain many toxic agents including cleaners, detergents, and shampoos conditioners and some of the worst of all, the deodorants. Applying some of these aerosols in a confined space is harmful to your health. Not to mention the concentrated chlorine form your shower, delivered in the hot water vapor.

The shower vapor is easy to fix with a shower filter which removes chlorine. A ten minute shower is the equivalent of drinking 4 gallons of chlorinated water because of the concentration of chlorine in the steam.

Your kitchen is next on the toxic list. Do you know what happens to a child if they drink dishwasher liquid, washing up liquid or laundry detergent, they will die! But we wear these chemicals on our clothes, and inhale them when we open the dishwasher. But did you know that you can buy non toxic versions of all the kitchen, bathroom and laundry chemicals, which work just as well and cost no more.

These rooms are potentially a black hole of energy, but there are areas which are under your control. Visit your local health food supermarket or search on line. One company we use is Melaleuka. This is not strictly Feng Shui in the traditional sense, but every system has to develop to suit the times.

In the 21st century you cannot logically discuss energy within your home within addressing known health issues. Sick building syndrome is a well documented field of study.One government building my wife worked in was eventually closed after repeated complaints from the staff and a very high level of absenteeism through sickness.

The ABC government television in Australia closed one of their broadcasting studios, after it was identified as a cancer cluster. Several women contracted breast cancer, well above the averages for any workplace.

Features of a Modern Refrigerator

Refrigerators are a great invention for house wives. These units can help people save food for a long time without worrying about the quality of the food products. Even those food items that do not last for long and perishable products can be safely stored in these coolers. Beside the optimum temperature that is maintained within these coolers, you can also get a new age anti bacterial coating inside that gives an added protection to your food products.

You should make sure that the best refrigerators that you buy caters to everyone’s need in the family. The size of the machine is essential. It is always better to go for bigger machines as family sizes increase over time. There are some typical features that one can expect in a refrigerator like de-frosting system, humidity control technology and complete frost free option. Also there are many sizes available in the market. With more and more brands coming into this industry now the market provide lots of options for the buyer. He can now choose from a wide array of products and variations available. It is better to go for more divisions and drawers in your fridge. This makes sure that you can separate the products from one another and hence you can maintain the quality of each product intact.

Most refrigerators also have an interior light, even inside the freezers. This makes it easy for people to search for item at the nook and corner even at night. Also the lights are powerful and automatic, so once you open the door the light stays on until you close it again. So now you do not have to grope in the dark for you favorite ice cream at the dead end of night, if suddenly you are besieged by a desire to taste them!

You can easily control the temperature within the machine easily. There is an adjustable thermostat that you can control easily. Also there is a reversible door which is an added attraction. Plus the fridge does not make any noise unlike the models of the past. If you are worried about huge electricity bills then let us assure you that there is nothing to worry about. Most modern machines are environmental friendly and are does not burden you with excessive electricity bills. But it is better to compare the different models before you buy a product. It is also important to compare a new model with the existing one to see the difference in energy conservation levels.

You can directly go for free standing machines which are conventionally used or those in the shape of a chest. These are shallow but have enough space in them hold the food items for all the family members. If you are trying to save wines and other costly liquors then it is advisable to go for specialized fridges that can maintain the wines at the exact temperature. However, with development of technologies one can expect a combination of a regular fridge and a wine cooler.

Waves of Water Damage

Over the years, water damage has become a huge deal. Gone are the days when a simple sweep and air drying of the flooring and water damaged area could be considered proper situation control. The reasons of water damage are many and varied. A broken pipe, broken dishwasher, leaking roof, leaking pipes, damaged plumbing, tub water overflow, faucet overflow, improper piping of washing machines, moisture, humidity, snow, rain, storms and floods are the some of the many causes of damage by water. Some of these might seem harmless enough but if not treated properly and at the soonest, they can create some major problems and serious damage to property as well as health.

Water that causes damage is categorized into three different categories. Damage can be caused by 'clean water' which does not pose any harm to human health. The water in this category comes from leaking or broken supply lines, flooding of tubs, faucets and water taps left open etc. The second category of water that causes damage is called 'gray water' and has a particular degree of containment (chemical, bio-chemical etc). This kind of water usually comes from leakage in toilets (only urine, not feces), discharged water of washing machines, dishwashers etc and can cause sickness or discomfort when it comes in contact with the skin or when consumed. The third category consists of 'black water' and is highly unsanitary and dangerous. It comes from standing water, sewage water, ground surface water and seawater. It can cause extreme health problems for people and usually contains harmful bacteria and other micro-organisms.

The most serious damage posed by water is health related damage. Flood water, sewage leakage and standing waters are breeding homes for mosquitoes and bacteria. It can cause diseases like dengue fever as it produces fungi which are very dangerous for human health and can cause breathing problems in them. Water damage restoration is crucial for the health of the affected family's members. It is very important to take steps in time to save the family and the home from any permanent damage.

Water that seeps into the foundations of the building can cause serious damage by weakening the structure, dampening the supporting structures, and rotting the foundations. It can literally cause the building to sink. Water harms everything that comes in its way; furniture, electronics, clothes, books, carpets. Every household item is prone to water damage in case of floods, rain storms and leakages. Water seepage into walls and closets due to leakages or humidity in the area is also a nuisance. It damages the walls and weakens them and causes rot and mold in the closets which destroys clothes, electronics and utensils.

Water damage restoration is crucial to save and restore everything destroyed by water. It includes various procedures such as extraction, drying, cleanups, dehumidification, sewage disposal, waste removal, sanitizing, odor control, cleaning and drying of furniture and carpets and countering the damage caused by mold and rot.

Water damage restoration can be a lengthy process and demands a lot of patience. The help of experience and trained professionals can be sought who not only carry out restoration but also provide a strict guideline as to how to avoid damage in future and what steps to take if the situation ever recurs.

Pros and Cons of a Bread Maker

Bread machines are very useful machines that have been designed to make bread baking easy for you. If you like making your own bread at home, you cannot afford not to have one of these in your kitchen. If you are thinking about buying one of these, it would be a good idea to first of all familiarize your self with the bad and good side of bread machines.

If you have already made a choice of the bread machine that you want, then you should also know its positive and negative side. This will help you determine whether or not you can handle the disadvantages and also if the advantages out weigh the disadvantages. If this is so, then may e you have landed your self on a pretty good bred machine. Let’s have a look at the Panasonic sd-yd250 bread machine.

The first advantage of this machine is that you can always have bread, freshly made within your reach all the time. Since you already have the machine with you in your kitchen at your disposal all the time, have your recipe ready and all it takes is sparing a few minutes to bake fresh smelling delicious bread.

You will be in a position to do this all the time, when you want whether it is at a party as long as you have the ingredients with you. If you have a big family or eat brad a lot, it is a good idea to have bread machine to make your own bread. When you have to by read all the time or every day for a big family, it can cause a really big strain on your budget.

When you have a bread machine at home, you will definitely use it for baking your own bead. You do not have to spend money on buying bread from the store. It is therefore economical to have a bread machine. The features of a bread machine are advantageous and attractive and they function well in making the best bread with the recipe you have. The dispenser for instance is very flexible so that you can add whatever ingredient such as dry fruit to make a tasty bread or cake. The different features will determine the type of bread you will make, fro instance with light or dark crust among other options.

A disadvantage of this bread machine is poor customer service. Many customers complain about the long time they have to wait to be served when you make a call, or even getting through to them. However, this can be understandable because Panasonic is a company that makes so many products, there fore there nature so many customers to deal with.

Another disadvantage is that it cannot be washed in the dish washer. This specific type is about seven point five kilos and measures thirteen by ten inch, fourteen inches tall. It has many features and therefore you will have to clean the inner baking pan using hand.

Home Improvement Tips For Your Kitchen And Bathroom

Kitchen and bathroom renovations are near the top of the list when it comes to home improvement projects. Here are some things to keep in mind if you're thinking of remodeling one of those rooms.

1. Choose elegant edges on affordable countertop materials. By picking an attractive edge on less costly countertop materials like laminate, you can improve the overall look without increasing the cost by very much. Currently popular is the 45 degree edge which gives the countertops the look of being rounded.

2. Install a water filter beneath the sink. This will allow you to enjoy filtered water, but without having to pay for the replacement filters for jugs, or buying bottled water. Most filtration systems will save a homeowner approximately $ 360 each year on purified water when compared to the same amount of bottled water.

3. Create a temporary kitchen while yours is out of commission. During the period that your renovation makes your kitchen unusable, it is much less expensive to be able to use your fridge, microwave oven, coffee machine, and table in a different space than it would be to eat in restaurants or order take-out each day.

4. Clear away large scratches from stainless steel with steel wool. If you have a stainless steel sink or countertop, you should use a stainless steel polisher for everyday maintenance and cleaning. However, when dealing with a large scratch, decrease it with steel wool. With gentle strokes in the direction of the grain, rub the steel wool over the scratch until it's barely visible or has been removed. Afterward, recycle the steel wool. Clean the surface carefully to get rid of tiny flecks of metal. This will keep the surface beautiful and will halt bacteria from being able to collect in scratches.

5. Employ pad painters for painting smooth surfaces and fast cleanups. If you'll be working on an area that is a straightforward flat, smooth wall or surface, a pad painter can let you do the job quickly, and cleanup is extremely quick so that the project will go by much more quickly. The trick is not to overload it with paint or it will drip and you'll need to dismantle it, clean it up and begin again.

6. Update your exhaust fan. Exhaust fans perform a crucial function in your bathroom, but they are often not given the credit or attention they have earned. If your fan is many years old or small, change it to a better and more powerful model for a more silent function and for more effective protection of the bathroom as a whole from the formation of black mold. This saves the integrity of the structure of the framing support of the room, in addition to the ceilings and walls. It makes cleaning less difficult and extends its life to save your time and money.

Types and Classes of Water Damage

Water damage comes in many shapes and forms, and can leave lasting damage to not only your property but your health as well, if not dealt with correctly. One of the first steps to relieving your property of potential water damage is to determine what kind of water damage you are dealing with. According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) there are three types of water damage, which they outline in their Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (the S500). Water damage is categorized by its source, length of time in the structure, history of the structure, and other impactful factors like chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, animal feces, fuel, detergents, rat poison, etc.

Category 1
The first type of water damage they outline is Category 1, which includes burst water pipes, leaking appliances, and small amounts of rainwater. The defining characteristic of Category 1 water is that it is clean at the source, and therefore does not pose a hazard if consumed by people. Category 1 water requires much less equipment and time to remedy.

Types of Category 1 water damage include, but are not limited to burst water pipes, failed supply lines on appliances, falling rainwater, melting snow or ice, broken toilet tanks, or toilet bowl over flow that does not contain any contaminants. While this type of water damage is not necessarily hazardous, if it is not dealt with it could turn to category 2 within 24 hours. That time period could be sped up if the right conditions for microorganism growth are present such as stagnant air, humidity, and average temperatures (68-86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Category 2
Category 2 water damage, or gray water, is characterized by beginning with some amount of contamination at the source, or Category 1 water that has been neglected as mentioned before. This type of water damage is moderately dangerous, and could cause some degree of sickness or discomfort for people or animals if exposed.

The most common types of Category 2 water damage are discharge from washing machines or dishwashers, toilet flow overflow with urine but no feces, sump pump back-up, hydrostatic pressure seepage, washing machine overflow, broken aquariums, and puncture water beds. These instances of water damage may contain chemicals, bio-contaminants, and other forms of contamination that are hazardous to human health. Health effects are as follows: allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (lung tissue inflammation), burning eyes, skin irritation, inflammatory response, nausea, headache, and fever. Again, time and conducive temperatures allow for deterioration to a Category 3 within 48 hours.

Category 3
The final and most dangerous type of water damage is Category 3, or black water. Black water is highly contaminated, contains pathogens, and can cause serious illness or even death in extreme conditions. Any person with a weak immune system, respiratory illness, allergies, or young children should remain away from the structure for the duration of the infection and clean-up.

Examples of this type of damage include sewage, ground surface water intrusion, toilet backflow from beyond the trap, and flooding sweater / rivers / streams that have entered the premises. Flooding water brings in silt and other organic matter, that may already have bacteria growing in it, and resting stagnant in your home will only provide a more suitable environment in which microorganisms can grow. Negative health effects from black water are numerous, and include bacterial infections from E. coli, salmonella, and shigella, soil organisms like Streptomyces, saccharopolyspora, thermonospora, viruses like rotavirus, hepatitis, and echovirus, and even parasites such as giardia, cryptosporidium, and others. In any situation, black water is very serious and needs to be dealt with immediately.

Besides categories of water damage, there are also 4 classes per the IICRC. Water damage is divided into class based on the rate of evaporation required. Often the type of material that has been affected is the determining factor.

Class 1
The water loss has been limited to only a partial room area, and the materials effected are of low porosity (water is retained on the surface). There is little or no wet carpet or cushion.

Class 2
The entire room is affected, as well as the carpet and cushion. Water has wicked up the walls 1-2 feet. Moisture remains in the structure of the building.

Class 3
The slowest evaporation rate and water may have come from above. Ceilings, walls, carpet, cushion, and sub-floor is all saturated, and will require ample time to dry.

Class 4
Class 4 comprises wet materials with low porosity or permeation such as hardwood, concrete, stone, brick, or plaster. Water has formed deep pockets of saturation and will require special equipment that creates an environment of very low humidity.

As you can see, water damage is a very serious matter. If not dealt with immediately, the negative health effects are numerous. If your home or other property has been affected by any type of water mentioned or not mentioned above, I recommend calling a professional restoration company ASAP. They will know exactly what to do.

How To Find The Perfect Vegetable

Vegetable shopping: Vegetables should be firm and have a nice appearance. The color should be rich. Vegetables are like men, if they're wilted and flabby, leave them in the store. Go for the young and firm. (This could be the reason that I'm back sitting on the shelf.)

Asparagus

Asparagus stems should be firm and thin, with deep green or purple closed tips.
Use asparagus within a day or two after purchasing for best flavor. Store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel, and be sure to place the asparagus in the back of the refrigerator away from any light. Wash under cold water and cut off the base before cooking.

IDEA – sauté asparagus with garlic, shiitake mushrooms and chicken.

IDEA – Toss freshly cooked pasta with asparagus, olive oil and thyme, tarragon and rosemary.

IDEA – Steam asparagus and serve with a light lemon vinaigrette.

TIP – If your recipe calls for cold asparagus, plunge the stalks into cold water immediately after cooking, then remove them quickly: letting them soak too long can cause them to become soggy.

Beets

If the beets still have the tops attached, you can tell from the appearance of the leaves if they are fresh. They should be firm and round with a slender tap root (the main root).

Broccoli

Choose broccoli with floret clusters that are compact and not bruised. They should be uniformly colored, either dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety, and with no yellowing. In addition, they should not have any yellow flowers blossoming. The stalk and stems should be firm. Broccoli is very perishable and should be stored in open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a week.

IDEA – Sprinkle lemon juice and sesame seeds over lightly steamed broccoli.

IDEA – Toss pasta with olive oil, pine nuts and broccoli florets. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Brussels Sprouts

They look like little bright green cabbages. Keep unwashed and untrimmed Brussels sprouts in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Stored in a plastic bag, they can be kept for 10 days.

IDEA – Combine quartered cooked Brussels sprouts with sliced ​​red onions, walnuts and your favorite mild tasting cheese such as a goat cheese or feta; toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Cabbage

There are 3 main groups of cabbage: green smooth-leaved cabbage, crinkly-leaved green Savoy cabbage and red cabbage. The red cabbage looks really nice in coleslaw. The heads should be firm and heavy without too many loose outer leaves. Keeping cabbage cold will keep it fresh and help it retain its vitamin C content. Put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. Red and green cabbage will keep this way for about 2 weeks while Savoy cabbage will keep for about 1 week.

IDEA – Combine shredded red and white cabbage with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and black pepper to make coleslaw with an Indian twist.

Carrots

They should be well formed, smooth, well colored and firm. If they have tops, they should not look wilted.

The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. To do this, make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter.

Cauliflower

The white edible portion is called the “curd”. The outer green leaves are called the jacket leaves. The while portion should be compact and solid. Sometimes the white portion has a speckled look, this is not good.

IDEA – sauté cauliflower with garlic, minced ginger and tamari.

Celery

Look for crisp stalks. The stalks should have a solid feel and the leaflets should look fresh. Just in case, you bought the celery when it was fresh and somehow it got lost in the refrigerator; you can try putting the end of the celery (the part that is attached) in ice water. If it is not too far gone, that will freshen it. To store celery, place it in a sealed container or wrap it in a plastic bag or damp cloth and store it in the refrigerator.

IDEA – Add chopped celery to your favorite tuna fish or chicken salad recipe.

IDEA – Fill celery stalks with peanut butter or cream cheese.

Corn

Sweet corn is most plentiful from early May until mid-September. Yellow-kernel corn is the most popular, but some have white kernels.

Corn should be refrigerated immediately after being picked. Corn will retain fairly good quality for a number of days, if it has been kept cold and moist since harvesting. Therefore, it should be refrigerated as soon as possible and kept moist until used. Look for fresh green husks. The silk-ends should not be dried out.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers should have a good green color and be firm over their whole length. Avoid cucumbers that have a dull color with shriveled ends.
Thinner cucumbers will generally have less seeds than those that are thicker.

Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days. If you do not use the entire cucumber during one meal, wrap the remainder tightly in plastic or place it in a sealed container so that it does not become dried out. For maximum quality, cucumber should be used within one or two days. Cucumbers should not be left out at room temperature for too long as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.

IDEA – Mix diced cucumbers with sugar snap peas and mint leaves and toss with rice wine vinaigrette.

Eggplants

Eggplants may be either a dark purple or white. They should be firm and should not have any brown spots. Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days.

IDEA – When cutting an eggplant, use a stainless steel knife as carbon steel will react with its phytonutrients and cause it to turn black. Wash the eggplant first and then cut off the ends.

IDEA – Mix cubed baked eggplant with grilled peppers, lentils, onions and garlic and top with balsamic vinaigrette.

Garlic

Purchase garlic that is plump and has unbroken skin. Gently squeeze the garlic bulb between your fingers to check that it feels firm and is not damp.

TIP – Store fresh garlic in either an uncovered or a loosely covered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight. This will help maintain its maximum freshness and help prevent sprouting, which reduces its flavor and causes excess waste. It is not necessary to refrigerate garlic.

Depending upon its age and variety, whole garlic bulbs will keep fresh from two weeks to two months. Inspect the bulb frequently and remove any cloves that appear to be dried out or moldy. Once you break the head of garlic, it greatly reduces its shelf life to just a few days.

TIP – Tips for Preparing Garlic:

The first step to using garlic (unless you are roasting the entire bulb) is to separate the individual cloves. An easy way to do this is to place the bulb on a cutting board or hard surface and gently, but firmly, apply pressure with the palm of your hand at an angle. This will cause the layers of skin that hold the bulb together to separate.

To separate the skin from the individual cloves, place a clove with the smooth side down on a cutting board and gently tap it with the flat side of a wide knife. You can then remove the skin either with your fingers or with a small knife. If there is a green sprout in the clove's center, gently remove it since it is difficult to digest.

IDEA – Marinate pressed garlic in olive oil and use this flavored oil in dressings and marinades.

IDEA – Purée fresh garlic, canned garbanzo beans, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice to make quick and easy hummus dip.

IDEA – Sauté steamed spinach, garlic, and fresh lemon juice.

IDEA – Add garlic to sauces and soups.

IDEA – Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.

Green Beans

Purchase beans that have smooth feel and a good green color, and that are free from brown spots or bruises. They should have a firm texture and “snap” when broken.
Store unwashed fresh bean pods in a plastic bag kept in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days.

IDEA – roast green beans, red peppers and garlic and combine with olive oil and seasonings to make a delicious salad.

Lettuce

There are a lot of different varieties. The most common is iceberg lettuce. The heads are large, round and solid with medium green outer leaves and lighter green inner leaves. The leaves should look fresh and crisp. Avoid heads with irregular shapes.
Butter-head lettuce (Big Boston and Bibb varieties) have a smaller head than iceberg lettuce. The leaves are softer and light green in color.

Romaine lettuce has crisp, dark-green leaves in a loosely folded head.
Leaf lettuce do not come in the form of a compact head. Leaves are broad, tender, smooth, and they vary in color according to variety.

Romaine and leaf lettuce should be washed and dried before storing in the refrigerator to remove their excess moisture, while Boston lettuce need not be washed before storing. A salad spinner can be very helpful in the drying of lettuce (and other salad ingredients as well). These lettuces should be either stored in a plastic bag or wrapped in a damp cloth and stored in the refrigerator crisper.

To store arugula, watercress and other types of salad greens that are sold with their roots attached, wrap the roots in a damp paper towel and place the entire greens in a plastic bag.
Romaine lettuce will keep for five to seven days, Boston and leaf lettuce for two to three days, while fragile greens such as arugula and watercress ideally should be prepared the day of purchase. All types of lettuce should be stored away from ethylene-producing fruits, such as apples, bananas and pears, since they will cause the lettuce leaves to brown.

Mushrooms

We usually describe mushrooms as having a cap (the wide portion on top), gills (the rows of paper-thin tissue seen underneath the cap when it opens), and a stem.
Look for young mushrooms that are small to medium in size. Caps should be either closed around the stem or moderately open with pink or light-tan gills. The surface of the cap should be white or creamy, or uniform light brown if of a brown type. Avoid mushrooms with wide open caps and dark gills underneath.

The best way to store loose button mushrooms is to keep them in the refrigerator either placed in a loosely closed paper bag, wrapped in a damp cloth or laid out in a glass dish that is covered with a moist cloth. These methods will help them to preserve their moisture without becoming soggy and will keep them fresh for several days. Mushrooms that are purchased prepackaged can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week in their original container.

TIP – Mushrooms are so porous that if they are exposed to too much water, they will quickly absorb it and become soggy. Therefore, the best way to clean mushrooms without sacrificing their texture and taste is to clean them using minimal, if any, water. To do this, simply wipe them with a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth.

IDEA – Sautéed mushrooms and onions make a great side dish to meat dishes.

Onions

One of my favorite vegetables. They come in yellow, white and red.
The yellow onion is full flavored and can be used for cooking almost anything. When they are cooked they turn a rich dark brown color. If you are making French Onion soup, this is the onion to use. Choose onions that are clean, well shaped, have no opening at the neck and feature crisp, dry outer skins. Avoid those that are sprouting or have signs of mold.

Onions should be stored at room temperature, away from bright light, and in a manner where they are well ventilated. To do this, either place them in a wire hanging basket or a perforated bowl with a raised base so that air can circulate underneath. The length of storage varies with the type of onion. Those that are more pungent in flavor, such as yellow onions, can stay longer than those with a sweeter taste, such as white onions, since the compounds that confer their sharp taste help to preserve them. All onions should be stored away from potatoes, as they will absorb their moisture and ethylene gas, causing them to spoil more readily. The remainder of cut onions should be wrapped tightly in plastic or in a sealed container and should be used within a day or two.

Red onions are wonderful for fresh uses and for grilling. White onions are used in most Mexican dishes. When you sauté white onions they turn golden and have a sweet flavor. Avoid buying onions which have sprouted.

Green Onions – Look for bunches with crisp green tops. These are regular onions that are harvested very young.

When purchasing scallions, look for those that have green, fresh-looking tops that appear crisp, yet tender. The base should be whitish in color for two or three inches. Avoid those that have wilted or yellowed tops. Scallions should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator where they will keep for about one week.

IDEA – Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, avocado and jalapeno for an all-in-one guacamole salsa dip.

IDEA – To perk up plain rice, sprinkle some green onions, also known as scallions, and sesame seeds on top.

IDEA – Enjoy a classic Italian salad-sliced ​​onions, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil.

Parsley

Look for fresh and crisp bright green leaves. If your parsley wilts, trim off the ends of the stems and place them in cold water. Avoid any bunches that are discolored or yellowing.
Fresh parsley should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.

TIP – Fresh parsley should be washed right before using since it is highly fragile. The best way to clean it is just like you would spinach. Place it in a bowl of cold water and swish it around with your hands.

TIP – If you have excess flat leaf parsley, you can easily dry it by laying it out in a single layer on a clean kitchen cloth. Once dried, it should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place.

TIP – Curly leaf parsley is best preserved by freezing, as opposed to drying. Although it will retain most of its flavor, it has a tendency to lose its crispness, so it is best used in recipes without first thawing.

TIP – Since it has a stronger flavor than the curly variety, Italian flat leaf parsley holds up better to cooking and therefore is usually the type preferred for hot dishes. Flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor than the curly variety. It should be added towards the end of the cooking process so that it can best retain its taste, color and nutritional value.

IDEA – Add parsley to pesto sauce to add more texture to its green color.

IDEA – Combine chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest, and use it as a rub for chicken, lamb and beef.

Peas

When purchasing garden peas, look for ones whose pods are firm, velvety and smooth. Their color should be a medium green. Those whose green color is especially light or dark, or those that are yellow, whitish or are speckled with gray, should be avoided.

Unlike the rounded pods of garden peas, the pods of snow peas are flat. You should be able to see the shape of the peas through the pod. Choose smaller ones as they tend to be sweeter.
Unwashed, unshelled peas stored in the refrigerator in a bag or unsealed container will keep for several days. Before you remove the peas from the pod, rinse them briefly under running water. To easily shell them, snap off the top and bottom of the pod and then gently pull off the “thread” that lines the seam of most peapods.

IDEA – Mix green peas with chicken, diced onions and almonds to make a chicken salad.

Peppers

Peppers should be firm and have a deep color, green, yellow or red. They should also be slightly heavy. Avoid peppers that appear flabby. Unwashed sweet peppers stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator will keep for up to one week. Before coring and / or cutting the pepper, wash it under running water. If the pepper has been waxed, you should also scrub it well.

IDEA – Add finely chopped bell peppers to tuna or chicken salad.

IDEA – Bell peppers are one of the best vegetables to serve in a crudités platter (vegetables and dip) since not only do they add a brilliant splash of color, but their texture is also the perfect crunchy complement for dips.

TIP – Use a paring knife to cut around the stem and remove it. Peppers can be cut into various shapes and sizes. To easily chop, dice or cut the peppers into strips, first cut the pepper in half lengthwise, clean out the core and seeds, and then, after placing the skin side down on the cutting surface, cut into the desired size and shape. Peppers can also be cut horizontally into rings.

Potatoes

Look for potatoes that are firm and have no green on them. The green produces a bitter flavor. Potatoes can be used for all types of recipes. “New potatoes” are not fully mature. They are best used for boiling or creaming. “General purpose potatoes” are best for boiling and frying. There are also special potatoes grown for baking., For example, Russet Burbank.

TIP – Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving them an undesirable taste. In addition, do not store potatoes near onions, as the gases that they each emit will cause the degradation of one another. Wherever you store them, they should be kept in a burlap or paper bag. Mature potatoes stored properly can keep up to two months.

TIP – Potatoes should be cleaned and cut right before cooking in order to avoid the discoloration that occurs with exposure to air. If you cannot cook them immediately after cutting, place them in a bowl of cold water to which you have added a little bit of lemon juice.

IDEA – Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.

IDEA – Salad Nicoise – cooked new potatoes with chunks of tuna fish and steamed green beans dressed lightly with oil and vinegar.

IDEA – Toss steamed, diced potato with olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice.

Radishes

Look for medium size radishes (3/4 to 1 inch in diameter). They should be plump, round and firm. Radishes are either red or white. Avoid large radishes: they usually have a pithy center.

Rhubarb

Look for fresh, firm rhubarb stems with a bright, glossy appearance. Stems should have a large amount of pink or red color, although many good-quality stems will be predominantly light green. Be sure that the stem is tender and not fibrous.

Spinach

Choose spinach that has deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Store fresh spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep fresh for about five days. Do not wash it before storing as the moisture will cause it to spoil.

IDEA – Add layers of steamed spinach to your next lasagna recipe.

IDEA – Toss steamed spinach with pressed garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.

IDEA – Pine nuts are a great addition to cooked spinach.

IDEA – Spinach makes great salads.

Squash

Summer – When purchasing summer squash, look for ones that are heavy for their size and have shiny, unblemished rinds. Summer squash is very fragile and should be handled with care as small punctures will lead to decay. It should be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about seven days.

IDEA – Add zucchini or other summer squash to your favorite muffin or bread recipe; decrease the amount of liquid in the recipe by about one-third to compensate for the moisture present in the squash.

Winter – Winter squash is easily prone to decay, so it is important to carefully inspect it before purchase. Choose ones that are firm, heavy for their size and have dull, not glossy, rinds. Winter squash has a much longer storage life than summer squash. Depending upon the variety, it can be kept for between one week to six months.

Sweet Potatoes and Yam

Look for firm smooth sweet potatoes with uniformly colored skins. Yams are moist, sweet and have orange-colored flesh. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are dry and have pale-colored flesh. Sweet potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator. Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place, where they will keep fresh for up to ten days. They should be stored loose and not kept in a plastic bag. Keep them away from exposure to sunlight.
Tomatoes

The tomatoes with the best taste come from locally grown farms. They ripen completely before they are picked. Most tomatoes that you find in the grocery are picked when they start to turn pink. If your tomatoes need to ripen more, place them in a warn place out of direct sunlight. Do not put your tomatoes in the refrigerator unless they are fully ripe.

Tankless Water Heaters: Constant Hot Water Supply and Money Savers

Today most homes are heating the water supplied to their homes by the use of a storage water heater. Storage water heaters are constantly heating the water that is in the tank. As water is used cold water filled the bottom of the tank and will be heated in order to keep a desired temperature. Since the water is being heated 24/7 energy is being used all the time in order for the hot water to be supplied to your home. Even when you are not using hot water your storage tank is using energy in order for it to be hot if and when you need.

If it is time to replace your storage tank water heater or you just bought a new home and have to have a hot water heater installed, you should reconsider spending your money on a storage tank water heater and consider the option of purchasing a tankless water heater.

Tankless water heaters work as a supply and demand system. In this system water is not heated in a storage tank. As you turn on your faucet/shower cold water travels through a pipe into the unity and a gas or electrical element heats the water. Since water is not being stored in a tank and it is not constantly being heated 24/7 the system is already saving you energy and money. As long as the demand is there the tankless water heater will supply you with hot water when needed.

Advantages

1. Depending on how much hot water your home needs will depend on how much you save on your energy bill. You can save anywhere from 24-50% on your bill.

2. Tankless water heaters are designed and manufactured to last longer (20+ years)

3. Parts are easily replaceable and inexpensive.

4. Maintenance goes a long way. Making sure your system is running efficiently will not only save you money on your energy bill but it can also increase the life of your system.

5. Standby heat losses are avoided because water is not constantly being heated and staying in the tank

Disadvantages

1. The initial cost of the system is greater than the cost of a storage tank; but it will offset your energy costs

2. If you are running your tankless water heater off of a gas element, the burning pilot light (the ignition source that heats the water) is constantly burning causing energy to be wasted. Although this is inevitable, what you can do is shop around and look for a more energy efficient pilot light, or you can turn it off when you are not using it.

3. Depending on how much hot water you use a day, and how many people you have in your home, you may need more than one tankless water heater so that you can shower and run the dishwasher at the same time this way you will not push the heater to its limit. (This can also be an advantage because having more than one heater will save you more money)

Selecting a Tankless Water Heater:

There are 3 categories to keep in mind when you are choosing the best tankless water heater for your home.

1. Size– You want to make sure that the tankless water heater will meet your household needs while still operating at its maximum efficiency. The flow rate of your appliances (faucet/shower head) and desired temperature must be determined before picking a system.

The best way to figure out what size, or how many tankless water heaters you need would be to write a list of all the devices in your home that use hot water. By determining the flow rate (gallons per minute) of each device you will then be able to add up the totals and figure out how many gallons per minute your tankless water heater will need to be able to handle. Keep in consideration when determining the number of people in your house and the peak hour of maximum usage of hot water. If you have a family of 4 and they all take showers in the morning, one tankless water heater may be a problem so you might have to consider having more than one.

2. Fuel Type – The energy source that you use to heat the water will affect operation costs as well as efficiency of the tankless water heater. When determining which fuel to use you need to take into consideration the fuel that is available to you in your area as well as the cost of operation.

a. Electricity – Available all over the United States

b. Fuel Oil – Available in most parts of the United States; Prices for fuel oil continue to rise since 2010

c. Geothermal Energy – Only available to those who already have an existing

geothermal heat pump system in their home for heating/cooling purposes. If this seems like something that you may be interested in do some research!

d. Natural Gas – Readily available to most areas in the United States; Prices vary depending on demand

e. Propane – Available to most areas in the United States; all depends on where you live which will also determine prices

f. Solar Energy – Available everywhere in the United States except in those areas that go through periods of living in the dark. Solar energy relies solely on the sun for its power.

**Our advice is to check which fuel type is readily available to you and to compare costs in order to determine which one will benefit your home and not put a huge dent in your pocket every month**

3. Costs – When purchasing a water heating system or anything in general, everyone looks at prices. Not only do they want to make sure they are saving money in the long run but they also want to make sure if they are spending a significant amount of money that they are getting what they paid for.

If your fuel bill is high you may want to consider your other options and switch your fuel source. You can also combine your tankless water heater with other systems (like a heat pump) in order to maximize efficiency and lifetime of your system.

Do not go for the highest priced tankless water heater. Do some research! Just because you are spending a lot of money does not mean that it is the best one for your home. You want to make sure that you are choosing the best possible tankless water heater for your home. It is like buying a pair of shoes; you don’t just buy a pair and hope they match with every outfit. You make sure you buy a pair of shoes that can be worn with every outfit because if you don’t chances are you will never wear those shoes and your shoes are sitting in your closet until you get more money to buy an outfit that will match.

Installation/Maintenance

Once you have found a tankless water heater that fits you and your homes needs, you want to make sure that it is installed properly. We would not recommend installing the system in by yourself, unless you have experience. Having a qualified and certified installer is your best option. When looking for companies make sure that you:

a. Ask for references

b. Don’t just stick with one company because they had a great deal; find a bunch of companies and compare costs. You can also look online for reviews of each company.

c. Check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) for any reviews of the company

d. Make sure the company will obtain permits if needed; this way if a permit is needed they will be on top of it so that you will not have to worry

e. DO YOUR RESEARCH and do not settle

Like any system, whether it be a computer or a water heater, you want to make sure that maintenance is done. Just like you need to run an anti-virus protector on your computer every few months, you need to check or have it checked by a technician to make sure that everything is running smoothly and efficiently. Although the system is advanced it does not mean that nothing will ever go wrong. If you are proactive and make sure that your system is operating properly every few months, especially in the months that you use it the most, your system could over work. Ever hear of the domino effect? Once something goes wrong and it is not taken care of, the whole system could shut down. Be proactive so that you will not have to spend more money!

Energy Saving Tips:

1. Use less hot water

2. Install low flow faucets/showerheads. They could cost you anywhere from $10-20 but they could save you anywhere from 25-60% on your energy bill.

3. Purchase ENERGYStar appliances (dishwashers/washing machines, etc. )

**ENERGYStar products are backed by the government in order to make sure that each appliance is working efficiently by reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants and will save you money on your bills without sacrificing comfort and performance.

4. Wash clothes in cold water, even your whites

5. Make sure you fix all leaks immediately! Even a little leak can waste you gallons of water in a short period of time.

6. Turn down your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees

7. If you are running off an old system, consider updating

8. Consider updating all of your appliances in your homes and making sure they have an ENERGYStar label

9. Insulate your water heater tank and pipes. If you are doing this yourself, make sure you pay close attention to manufactures instructions so that you do not cause any problems to occur after insulation

10. Drain a quart of water from the tank every 3 months so that sediment is removed. This will increase energy efficiency and will also encourage heat transfer.

11. Forget storage tank heaters, go tankless!!!

How To Start Your Home Renovation Project

Prior to renovating, it is important to assess your home properly or have a qualified professional do this for you. You will be looking for any major underlying problems with your home that need to be addressed prior to or during your planned renovation project. This will help eliminate any additional costs and surprises that may arise when renovating your home.

Some reasons that people decide to undergo home renovations are:

* Upgrade or improve outdated or deteriorated materials
* Replacing windows, the outdated furnace, and old flooring and siding are common home improvements. Maintain and repair various weather beaten building materials
* New roofing shingles, fixing a cracking foundation and repairing a driveway are all typical weather beaten materials that can be repaired with a renovation. Address your lifestyle wants and needs
* Converting an unused attic space into a new living space, building a sunroom, and adding a home office are all common home renovations that can increase your current living spaces.

Getting home renovation ideas and assessing your home with a thorough home inspection will help you to assess the condition of your home. The best place to start your inspection is the basement. Many of your home's problems start in the basement and it can be a good indicator of problems that originate in other areas of your home.

If your home does not have a basement, you can start with the foundation that your home is built on. Depending on the size of your home renovation project, you may want to hire a qualified home inspector or professional general contractor to help you assess your building and develop a plan of action.

Foundations

* Are there any cracks or damage to the concrete walls or floors?
* Are there any damp spots, stains, efflorescence, or bubbling paint on the concrete walls?
* Does anyone notice bad smells or experience nausea or headaches when in the basement?
* Is there a lot of humidity, any condensation or visible mold?

Possible problems if you don't address these issues can be minor to severe:

* Serious structural problems could cause further damage to your foundation and possibly collapse the structure
* Water pressure on the outside of the foundation can cause structural problems and leaks in your foundation. A sign of this could be standing water on your driveway or excessive standing water on your lawn after a rain
* Odors will continue to be uncomfortable and can pose serious health problems when associated with dangerous types of molds
* Unresolved water issues can cause any future renovations to deteriorate quickly, whether the water comes from building leaks, plumbing leaks or high humidity
* Mold can grow on almost anything and be a source of serious indoor air quality problems

Basement ceiling or main floor structure:

-Is there enough head room?

-Is there rotten material, sagging floor joists, or twisted beams?

-Are there any signs of water stains on the main floor structure or finished basement ceiling?

Possible problems if you don't address these issues can be:

* Unresolved structural problems or poorly planned structure changes may cause future settling or possible collapse of your existing foundation

Mechanical and Electrical systems

* Are your heating and cooling bills unusually high?
* Are your current mechanical systems capable of supplying your needs after your planned renovations?
* Is your home too dry or too humid? Are there cold or hot spots in your home?
* Do you ever smell smoke or fuel?
* Is the electrical service and wiring capable of supplying your current and future needs?
* Do fuses keep blowing or circuit breakers keep shutting off?
* Do lights ever dim or outlets spark?
* Are there any leaky pipes, taps, or toilets? Does the water heater operate well?

Finished basement ideas to consider:

* Without regular service to your heating and cooling systems, they may gradually deteriorate, leading to serious health and safety concerns
* Problems can arise if HVAC system cannot keep up to your needs. The heating supply must be enough for comfort. Proper ventilation is needed to control excess humidity
* Electrical service, wiring and outlets may be unsafe or inadequate if you choose to increase loads on the electrical system
* Plumbing leaks will continue to damage the foundation and structure around the leaks. These leaks will also contribute to mold growth and IAQ problems

General living areas, floors and stairs

* Are floors or stairs springy, sagging, warped or squeaky?
* Are floor surfaces damaged or carpets musty or deteriorated?
* Are handrails or guardrails loose?

What could happen if I don't begin to fix these problems?

* Damaged or uneven floors and stairs may be unsafe
* Musty carpets are usually a source of mold
* Loose handrails or guardrails can be a serious safety hazard in your home

Kitchens and bathrooms

* Is there any water seepage around kitchen fixtures, condensation on the windows, or steady leaking taps?
* Are the floors damaged or soft around the bathtub or showers?

These can be indicators of some underlying problems that need to be looked at during a kitchen renovation:

* The leaks will continue to cause damage and will only get worse in time, costing you more later on
* Excess humidity will continue to cause damage and may cause mold growth that could lead to serious health issues

Walls and ceilings

* Do your walls or ceiling have any cracks, holes, bulges, water stains or peeling finishes?
* Are any of your doors or windows hard to open and close?
* Are any of your windows drafty or broken?
* Is there moisture between the panes of glass?
* Are there any water stains or rot in the windows or walls?

Simply replacing windows and doors may not resolve the problem and you may need to locate the source:

* If the problem sources are not fixed, the cracks and binding doors or windows will continue to occur even with new materials. You must fix the source prior to replacing any binding doors or annoying cracks
* Hiding moisture damage with new paint or wall finishes will only cause continuing deterioration and mold growth
* Faulty windows will eventually result in more damage to the walls surrounding the window area, If the windows are leaking down the wall, the problem could result in a total gutting of your home to remove moldy insulation and drywall

Attics

* Are there water stains on your ceilings or excessive dampness in any areas?
* Do you see black mold on any of the roof frames or sheeting?
* Does the attic have adequate ventilation?
* Are there air leaks in the ceilings of the rooms below the attic? Is the attic hatch sealed?

A well cared for attic can save other areas of your home from problems and increase the efficiency of your home

* Moisture damage will continue to deteriorate your home, without proper ventilation your attic will allow moisture to build up and cause serious damage.
* Air leaks in the ceilings will reduce heating efficiency and can be sources of foul odors and pollutants.

Roofs

* Does the roof have any cracked or curling shingles, bare patches, leaks, moss or damaged flashing?
* Do your eaves troughs and downspouts direct water away from the foundation or do you have excessive standing water around your home after a rain?

Roofing materials need to be monitored for decay; Here are some things to consider:

* Most roofing material will deteriorate over time and needs to be replaced when this happens. Failure to replace your roofing material when it's needed can and often will result in more expensive damage throughout your home
* Surface water near your home and foundation will put undue stress on the building foundation material and cause water entry problems

Exterior walls Something to consider when walking around the exterior of your home:

* Does your home have any blistered paint, rotted wood, buckling siding, stained or deteriorated brick, or damaged stucco on the exterior walls?

Keep the outside protected to save your home from preventable repairs:

* Water penetration may lead to more serious siding, structural and interior finishing problems
* Deteriorating exterior walls will also reduce the efficiency of your mechanical systems as well as the physical appearance of your home

Keep your home up to date and well maintained and you will feel the rewards performing regular maintenance and repair projects such as correcting structure flaws, leaks, and making sure that all services are safe and adequate will make your home safe and more durable for years to come. After you have ensured the safety of the people living in your home, other renovations can be done to make your home a more pleasant place to live and enjoy your lifestyle. Always remember to have a contract in place before you begin any work when using a contractor.