A crackling fire is a great place to gather and creates a relaxed vibe in any home. But, if the chimney hasn’t been cleaned in years, it’s time to hire a chimney sweeper.
The last thing you want is to end up in a room full of smoke from a dirty chimney, or worse, with a chimney fire that puts your home at risk. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that homeowners inspect a chimney and fireplace annually, and to clean open masonry fireplaces when there is 1/8 inch of soot built up, or more quickly if glaze has built up inside.
Three ways to clean a chimney
There are three methods that a professional can use to clean a chimney.
The top-down method: Cleaning from the top down involves climbing onto the roof, with chimney cleaning supplies (notably a stiff wire brush that fits the space, flexible rods, and a weight of some sort), lowering the brush into the chimney, and moving it back and forth in a scrubbing motion.
The bottom-up method: Cleaning from the bottom up requires the same tools and actions, scrubbing the inside of the chimney.
The dual line method: This method gets messy, but with a partner and a line attached to both ends of the brush, the entire chimney area can get cleaned, as each partner takes turns pulling the rope and brush inside the chimney. The downside to this method is that there is no way to close the fireplace space to keep the grime inside during cleaning.
No matter which method a chimney cleaning professional chooses, you’ll want to ensure that the area inside the home around the fireplace is protected from soot. Cover all furniture and floors, if the company doesn’t do it for you.
I just adopted a dog, now what?
Adopting a dog is a life changing event. Here are some steps to take when you bring your new canine companion home.
• Take them to the vet. Your dog should be examined to ensure that they don’t have a disease or other issue that requires attention. In most cases, they’ll also make a recommendation for when the dog should be spayed or neutered.
• Schedule their vaccinations. Many animal shelters vaccinate dogs before they’re adopted. Nevertheless, you’ll need to make sure your pup’s up to date with their shots. Vaccines should be administered annually for the rest of their life.
• Get identification. If your municipality requires it, get your dog licensed right away. Also, make sure they can be identified, either with a tag on their collar or a microchip embedded under their skin.
• Start training. It’s a good idea to train your dog to come when you call and follow basic commands like sit, stay and down. Not only are these commands useful, but training sessions serve as a great way for you and your pet to bond.
If your new pet seems shy or nervous around you at first, don’t get frustrated. A period of adjustment is to be expected. With consistent love and attention, they’ll quickly become more comfortable around you.
10 gifts outdoorsy types will love
Are you looking for a gift for the outdoor enthusiast in your life? If so, here are some ideas.
For their next adventure
1. A portable water filtration bottle or straw
3. A kit to turn the flashlight on their phone into a lamp
4. A military grade compass
5. A down jacket or rain coat
6. A wireless charger for their electronics — one that’s solar powered is ideal
7. A portable camping stove and mess kit
To inspire them
8. A wilderness survival book
9. Novels and memoirs about outdoor adventures
10. A birdfeeder to bring wildlife to their backyard
To really spoil your outdoor enthusiast, consider buying them a pass that will grant them access to the country’s national parks for a year. No doubt, they’ll love exploring the American wilderness.
5 ‘wild’ books for wilderness buffs
1. Into the Wild
By Jon Krakauer
2. Wild: From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail
By Cheryl Strayed
3. The Call of the Wild
By Jack London
4. One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey
By Sam Keith
5. Lost on the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods
By Cary J. Griffith
Top brass: the metal interior designers are falling for
An alloy of copper and zinc, brass is once again at the forefront of home decorating trends. Today’s brass, however, is muted and offers a welcome respite from the flashier rose gold and copper that dominated the design world in years past.
Brass goes well with almost any color, from somber blues and burgundies to pale neutrals like cream and blush.
Increasingly, retailers are offering an assortment of brass items to their customers. From cabinet hardware and faucets to floor lamps and chandeliers, there’s no shortage of options if you want to bring brass into your home. If you’re in the market for a new bedframe, consider one made of this metal.
To prevent your brass from looking dated, choose angular, modern pieces that are brushed to a dull sheen instead of the overpowering shine that was once popular. Keep your pieces looking new by regularly cleaning them with ketchup, tomato juice or a simple solution of lemon and salt.
Gifts for the people who serve you all year long
The holidays are the perfect time to say thank you to the hairdressers, bus drivers, babysitters, baristas and many others who regularly serve you. If you’re wondering what to get them, here are some ideas.
• Pretty hand soaps
• Holiday dish cloths
• A scarf or shawl
• A soft blanket
• A tote bag
• Premium coffee or tea
• A to-go mug
• A bottle of wine
• A box of chocolates
If you know a little about their tastes, you can also consider something more personal like a book you think they might enjoy, a sweater or a decorative item for their home or workspace.
The point of buying gifts for the people who serve you is to thank them for the positive difference the make in your life all year long. Don’t forget to include a nice card with a handwritten mes¬sage expressing your appreciation.
Protect your home from radon
Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when the uranium in rock and soil breaks down. When released into the outdoors, it poses no threat. However, if it seeps into a home, it can accumulate and cause significant health issues.
Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking, and it’s the leading cause of the disease in non-smokers.
While you can’t see, taste or smell radon, you can test for it, either by yourself or by hiring a professional.
If you decide to test your home yourself, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and to send your samples to a lab for analysis after the test period.
Alternatively, if you hire a professional, ensure that the individual is certified and that they conduct a long-term test over the span of at least three months.
A test that reveals radon quantities higher than four picocuries per liter is concerning. In such a case, it’s important to hire a professional to seal any leaks and reduce the level of radon in your home. A certified radon-mitigating contractor can assess your property and make changes that will stop the gas from entering your home.
Don’t risk your family’s health. Have your home tested for radon gas and take the steps necessary to guarantee clean air.
Games to liven up your gift exchange
Are you tired of the same old holiday gift exchange? If so, here are some fun games to enliven this year’s gift giving.
• Dice. Every number on the dice comes with an instruction (pass to the left or steal a gift). Take turns rolling the dice until everyone has a present.
• Hot potato. This childhood favorite is just as fun to play as an adult. Turn on a holiday song and pass a present from person to person until the music stops. The person left holding the gift is out of the game but keeps the gift.
• Personal trivia. Everyone writes a little-known fact about themselves on the gift they contributed. The others must guess who the information is about in order to win the right to open the present.
• Cards. Cut some regular playing cards in half and distribute card halves to all participants. Draw the other card halves from a bowl or hat to determine who gets to choose or steal a gift next.
• Story. Rewrite a well-known Christmas story to include the words right, left and across numerous times. To start the game, everyone holds the gift they brought as someone reads the story aloud. Every time an instruction word is said, the presents get passed in that direction.
To make sure that everyone receives a gift they’ll enjoy, be sure to decide on a budget and theme beforehand.