log in to manage your profile and account
- Create your account
- Receive up-to-date newsletters
- Set up text alerts
Published: Saturday, October 03, 2015 @ 9:34 AM
Updated: Saturday, October 03, 2015 @ 9:34 AM
You're wasting water
For a lot of people, the typical after-meal routine includes rinsing off the dishes before they're placed in the dishwasher. Well, you should stop doing that.
First of all, you're wasting water. That pre-rinse uses a lot of water for something the dishwasher is going to do all over again -- and much more efficiently.
"Pre-rinsing your dishes in the sink can easily waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year," according to Consumer Reports.
You can try to do it more efficiently than the dishwasher, but...
“In order to wash the same amount of dishes that can fit in a single load of a full size dishwasher and use less water, you would need to be able to wash eight full place settings and still limit the total amount of time that the faucet was running to less than two minutes,” Jonah Schein, a technical coordinator in the EPA’s WaterSense program, told The Washington Post.
Washing dishes by hand doesn't make them cleaner
The sponge you use to wash dishes by hand is probably really dirty. In fact, it's likely dirtier than your toilet seat. Sponges get wet, stay wet and collect bacteria. One survey that studied kitchen sponges and dish towels found that 10% of them contained Salmonella. To clean a sponge, just throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Even without all those dirty dishes piled in it, your kitchen sink likely isn't very clean either. “There’s more E. coli in a kitchen sink than in a toilet after you flush it, according to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Read more: Three things you should probably clean more often
"The sink is a great place for E. coli to live and grow since it’s wet and moist. Bacteria feed on the food that people put down the drain and what’s left on dishes in the sink. That’s probably why dogs drink out of the toilet—because there’s less E. coli in it.”
Let the dishwasher do its job
You have a dishwasher for a reason.
When you wash dishes by hand, you probably use lukewarm water -- so you don't burn your hands off -- which is understandable. But when you do that, you aren't really cleaning much. Our hands can't take the heat required to truly clean dishes to the point of being bacteria free. Dishwashers use water that's around 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don't have a dishwasher...
There are ways to making hand-washing the dishes a cleaner and more eco-friendly process.
First, clean the sink. “Clean the sink basin with a disinfectant product made for the kitchen," says Dr. Gerba. "Vinegar and lemon juice can clean some bacteria, but they can’t clean really bad pathogens, so the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t recommend using them as an alternative.”
And if you want to reduce the amount of water used, here are some ways to make hand-washing more eco-friendly.
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 @ 10:36 AM
If you think possums are funny-looking, threatening pests that should be destroyed if they set so much as a paw on your property, you're probably in the majority. However, you are still sorely mistaken.
Granted, with their 50 sharp teeth − more than any mammal in North America − and naked tails, possums certainly do look strange, but their other negative qualities are sometimes exaggerated.
Although, a recent report of an opossum breaking into liquor store and getting “drunk as a skunk” doesn’t support the theory of the animal’s positive qualities.
Still, as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife attests, in urban areas, possums are beneficial as rodent and eaters of carrion (flesh of dead animal).
Mother Nature Network lauded possums for their pest control attributes, explaining, "Since their diet allows them to indulge on snails, slugs and beetles, they are a welcome addition to the garden. Opossums also keep rats and cockroaches at bay by competing with them for food. In fact, it's common for opossums to kill cockroaches and rats if they find them in their territory."
Not only do they take care of pests, they do so without spreading disease to humans.
"They are far less of a health risk to you or your children or pets than nearly any other wild animal," according to The National Opossum Society (which is run by human advocates, not the marsupials themselves).
Possum or Opossum?
Technically, the North American animal is called an opossum, while possum refers to a similar Australian species. According to Garner's Modern American Usage, however, the terms are used interchangeably. In fact, "possum" is twice as likely to appear in print and is even more common in speech.
Possums are North America's only marsupials
That means the undeveloped young they give birth to just 12 days after breeding then crawl into their mother's pouch and attach to a teat, according to WDFW. When they're 80 or 90 days old, the young start riding on their mother's back, sometimes five or 10 of them, with feet and tail firmly attached to her fur.
Possums are smart
Sure, they're not so great at looking out for cars, but they have a remarkable memory. According to MNN, when possums were tested for the ability to remember where food is, they scored better than rats, rabbits, cats and even dogs. They can also make their way through a maze more quickly than either rats or cats.
When they're just hanging out, possums constantly groom themselves, sort of like house cats, according to WDFW.
Possum tails are cool
Their tails are able to wrap around and grasp tree limbs and can support the animal's full weight for short periods. Contrary to myth, opossums do not hang upside down by their tails when sleeping.
As for "playing possum," that's a real thing
"When threatened, opossums run, growl, belch, urinate and defecate," according to MNN. "And when all else fails, they 'play possum' and act as if they are dead. It is an involuntary response (like fainting) rather than a conscious act. They roll over, become stiff, close their eyes (or stare off into space) and bare their teeth as saliva foams around the mouth and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from glands. The catatonic state can last for up to four hours, and has proven effective as a deterrent to predators looking for a hot meal."
How to prevent human-possum conflicts
While you may benefit from possums' pest patrolling skills, that doesn't mean you want them in or around your house. According to WDFW, there are fairly simple ways to prevent possums getting too close.
It recommended these steps:
And if one of these critters does end up in your house or too close for comfort in the yard, WDFW reminded people that as long as you limit their interactions with your pets, possums are not dangerous. The fish and wildlife experts suggest staying calm if an opossum gets too close. If necessary, homeowners can use a broom to coral possum outside.
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 @ 6:06 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 @ 6:06 PM
— Forget about "Snakes on a Plane," we're more concerned with snakes in the yard. Even though snakes are nowhere near as prevalent as our irrational fears would have us think (assuming you don't live smack dab in the middle of rattlesnake territory), if you're a homeowner with a bit of landscape or yard under your direction, you may encounter snakes on occasion.
That should be no biggie, according to experts at the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension.
"As a general rule, snakes are just as frightened of you as possibly you are of them and often they move as quickly as possible in the other direction," the extension noted. Venomous snake bites are rare and you can readily take steps to treat them. If you're an avid gardener, you may even want snakes in your slice of the great outdoors, since they diet on rodents and insects and can actually help protect you from garden pests.
Not buying it? You can try to keep snakes out of your home life. Just understand that even the best measures are not 100 percent foolproof, according to America's Wetland Resources, which is based in the South.
"There are no magic or absolute solutions," AWR asserted. "There are no poisons or repellents that work, though some new 'breakthrough' is occasionally advertised. Horsehair ropes and trails of mothballs have consistently tested negative, and pest control operators have no answers."
Seal crevices. Closer to your home, seal the openings where snakes like to set up house. "Check the clearance of door bottoms, weep holes, openings where pipes enter, cracks and spaces under eaves," AWR recommended. "Don't neglect storerooms and sheds."
AWR added that sealing enough openings to make a difference is much more difficult if you own a raised wooden home.
Tidy up the yard. Snakes might choose to live on your property or simply travel through, according to AWR. You want to make your property as inhospitable as possible, so concentrate on ridding it of any places snakes would consider good spots to hide. Remove debris, from piles of boards, tin, sticks and leaves to flat boats on the ground and piles of bricks or stone, AWR advised, and keep vegetation cut back.
Stop serving the snake's preferred menu. It's a win-win. When you take away potential hiding places for snakes, the spots where rat and mice families like to congregate are also eliminated. But take this one step further, AWR advised, and take further steps to get rid of the rodents that snakes like to snack on. You may want to involve a pest control agent, but you definitely want to practice anti-rodent hygiene, including not leaving pet food out for more than an hour or so, closing trash cans tightly and securing compost in a sealed container.
Combat the climbers. If limbs from a neighbor's yard hang over your fence, snakes may use them as an entry to your place. Consider working with your neighbor to get them trimmed.
Consider the snake-proof fence. If you live in an area where one or more venomous snakes are common, you may want to invest in a snake-proof fence, according to NCSU. "Small areas where children play can be protected from all poisonous and most harmless snakes with a snake-proof fence," it noted. "However, the cost of the fence may make it impractical to protect an entire yard."
Make a fence by burying 1/4-inch mesh wire screening 6 inches underground and building it up 30 inches, instructed NCSU.
"It should slant outward at a 30-degree angle from bottom to top. The supporting stakes must be inside the fence and any gates must fit tightly. Tall vegetation must be removed along the fence, both inside and outside."
It's costly, but you can snake-proof the entire yard with a concrete chain wall that extends six inches or so below the surface, noted AWR.
"If you already have a wooden fence and the boards are very close together, a good solution is to snake-proof the bottom."
One fairly cheap way is to use 1/4-inch hardware cloth cut in strips wide enough to overlap the bottom of the fence so it can be tacked securely and extend down into a narrow trench six inches deep.
AWR added another word of caution for either snake-proof fence design (spoiler alert: it's nightmare inducing.) "Many snakes climb by looping over objects and the above described design may virtually eliminate their entry," it noted. "Others, however, can crawl up vertical surfaces if they are rough, such as the trunk of a tree or a brick wall (including the side of a house)."
To overcome this creepy climbing capability, you can place a foot-wide ledge made of wood or metal flashing along the outer side at the top. "This structure makes the snakes lean out away from the wall and it will lose its grip and fall."
After all this snake talk, AWR does have one bit of great news. "Snakes are rarely abundant in any one location."
And if all your efforts fail and snakes do make their way into your yard, AWR recommended the ultimate failsafe.
Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 2:39 AM
DETROIT — In the market for a whimsical $550,000 home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars and statues lurking around every corner?
You'll still want to check out the now-viral listing for Detroit's Lion Gate Estate. Trust us.
"Unique barely begins to describe this one of a kind Grixdale Farms estate," reads the listing by Real Estate One's Alex Lauer. "Every aspect of 'Lion Gate Estate' has been articulated with painstaking attention to detail and mind blowing decorative flair. Too many custom features to list!"
Unique barely begins to describe this one of a kind Grixdale Farms estate. Every aspect of “Lion Gate Estate” has been...Posted by Alex Lauer - Real Estate One on Thursday, March 15, 2018
And he's not kidding. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, owned by a former automotive designer, is the definition of "extra," with a "Liberace-inspired living room" and "museum-like" interior, Curbed reports.
The listing continues: "Highlights include heated swimming pool with outdoor shower and cabana. Custom two car garage with hand painted automotive murals. Finished basement with billiard room and entertainment area. Fenced in yard with fountains and statuary. Sale includes full contents of the house, including Kohler Campbell baby grand player piano, mint condition Frigidaire kitchen appliances c. 1950. One of a kind custom built 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan, One of a kind custom built 1974 Lincoln Mark IV Coupe, Custom pool table, countless automotive relics and artifacts. Once in a lifetime offering."
But if you want to take a tour, you'd better check the weather forecast first. "Only shown on sunny days," the listing warns.
Published: Saturday, March 10, 2018 @ 7:00 AM
VANDALIA – The city of Vandalia will again offer residents a chance to garden even if they don’t have a backyard.
The Vandalia Community Garden is located at Jeffers Park on Halcyon Drive near Interstate 75.
This year’s garden will feature 22 plots of 15 feet by 20 feet that are available to city residents on a first come, first served basis.
“Our Parks and Recreation Department is always looking for ways to better utilize park space and to respond to emerging community needs. We had heard suggestions we try this for a few years before we finally decided to give it a shot,” said Rich Hopkins, Vandalia communications manager
The first year, the garden offered eight plots, which were claimed quickly. More plots were added along with a water source in the second year.
The program is a low-cost offering for the city, Hopkins said.
“We did have some initial costs in bringing a water source to the park, but beyond that there is not much we need to do. We prepare the plots at the beginning of the year by tilling the dirt, and we check on it regularly through the course of the year, but that’s a part of our routine maintenance,” he said.
Most of the plots are reserved by individuals, although some list friends as “additional authorized gardeners,” said Micki Weber, a city parks and recreation assistant. Among those using a plot in the past was a Girl Scout troop, she said.
Most participants grow food, but some grow flowers.
The number of plots reserved declined slightly the past couple of years, Weber said. However, some of the returning gardeners will take a second plot when they are available, she said.
Registration packets are available at the Vandalia Recreation Center, 1111 Stonequarry Road. There is a $25 registration fee. The growing season is April 1 through Oct. 31.
“Ultimately, we believe the community gardens are a great option for folks who have more gardening ambition than they do garden space. The plots are fairly large and give people a creative and nurturing outlet for the spring and summer months,” Hopkins said.
There have been few problems at the gardens during the first six years, he said, noting “isolated incidents” of trampled plans or pilfered vegetables.