Guide to Purchasing a Glass or Ceramic Cooktop

A glass or a ceramic cooktop is one of the best kitchen appliances that can improve the value and function of your home. This type of cooking appliance is possibly the most useful and the most efficient which is why these are chosen by more and more homeowners. General Electric, Kenmore and Bosch are just a few of the popular cooktop manufacturers that offer high quality cooktops. There are however some important tips to be able to take advantage of these kinds of cooktops.

Energy efficient is the best choice

You must choose the cooktop that will bring you savings in the long run. A ceramic cooktop is efficient and will cook foods fast but it can be either gas-powered or electricity run. A glass cooktop uses induction technology which typically cooks food in a very efficient manner but you should pay attention to your utility costs when choosing the power source.

Easy to clean

Ceramic and glass cooktops resist stains and are relatively easy to clean. Once the cooktop has cooled down you can simply use warm water, dish soap and a sponge to wipe away any food or spills left behind. You typically will not need any special cleaning solutions or tools to maintain the cleanliness of the cooking area.

Appealing design

You certainly want a cooktop that will fit your stylish kitchen and the best one for you will depend on exactly what you want. Would you like a standard ceramic cooktop or a stylish and modern looking glass cooktop? These appliances are available in different styles, number of burners, ignition types and many different colors to choose from.

The price

Possibly the most important factor of all is the cooktop price. Glass cooktops are generally more expensive than regular ceramic or electric cooktops but there are many different brands and features to suit almost any budget. The manufacturer, number of burners and specific features of each model will determine the pricing but the typical range is anywhere from $250-$1,900. Be sure to do a bit of research as to which brands offer the best value and offer the most flexible features based on your needs.

Establishing a Small Herb Garden

Did you know that even with a small space in a small apartment, you can still grow your own herb garden? An herb garden is a great way to grow and cultivate your own organic herbs and spices. You can grow your own plants and save up on grocery bills when you choose to grow your own small herb garden at home. Here are some useful tips:
1. Contrary to the thought that all plants need a lot of space to grow, herbs can actually grow in any kind of space or container, big or small. The most important aspect of growing your herbs is to give them at least 8 hours of sunlight, specifically direct sunlight.
2. Avoid giving your herbs too much fertilizer. Organic herbs will provide you with fantastic fragrance and flavour for your foods if you avoid adding fertilizer or pesticides.
3. If you plan to use individualized pots or containers to grow your plants, you don’t need to be overly concerned when it comes to the size or the capacity of the pot since herbs can grow in almost any size container. Be sure that you have a hole at the bottom of each container to drain water (especially rain water) more efficiently.
4. Not all types of herbs survive the outdoors all year long. Take care to research on the herbs that you want to plant first before anything else. Some herbs require direct sunlight while others require minimal amounts of water. So do your homework and find information about your specific herbs before beginning your herb garden.
5. Some of the best herbs to cultivate are chives, cilantro, basil, tarragon, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, marjoram, mint, thyme and so many more. Choose the herbs that you regularly use for cooking and flavouring. Take time to experiment on different herbs and you will easily master growing your own small herb garden.

Renovating a dishwasher fascia

Faced with the problem of no lettering left on the stainless fascia on a dishwasher, I thought it would be a simple job of getting a replacement facsia. I contacted the manufacturer’s spare parts dealership and was told that there was no replacement available as the dishwasher model was discontinued.Decals were not available as the fascias were screen printed.

The machine was at the stage where anyone not used to the machine would not know how to operate it, not even turning it on or off, or what the warning lights were for, without getting out the instruction manual. Not very convenient!

My first step was to clean off what was remaining of the lettering, including where a tenant had at some stage written with black marker. I use a very fine steel wool and a metal polish and carefully cleaned off all traces of polish with spirit.

I then searched on EBay for some type of lettering system and found Letraset rub-on lettering in a suitable font and size. The size was slightly larger than the original, which made the lettering easier to read.

The most difficult part of applying the lettering was getting the spacing correct, but only wasted a few of the letters, which are easily removed with a wooden spatula (supplied). It was just a matter of using the dishwasher manual to get the correct lettering and position.

To finish off the lettering, I downloaded the manufacturer’s logo, printed it on self-adhesive transparency, peeled it off and placed it in the correct position.

I then gave the whole fascia a number of coats of matt finish clear spray lacquer and the job was done. A big improvement for minimal cost and a bit of time.


Preparing to Renovate Timber Floors

Quite often, when buying an older home, the original timber floors have been covered with fiberboard/hardboard underlay, then a vinyl sheeting has been laid over the fiberboard.vinyl

If you decide to remove the vinyl sheeting to expose and restore the original timber flooring, then there are some challenges ahead. The vinyl sheeting has usually been glued to the underlay and can be a strenuous and time-consuming job to pull up and remove. Once the vinyl has been lifted, the hardboard underlay is exposed and it can be seen that the underlay has been fixed to the original timber flooring with metal U-shaped staples.

Sometimes it’s possible to lift the vinyl sheeting so that the hardboard underlay comes away with it, but it’s quite heavy and is best broken into manageable pieces as you go. It’s suggested that you wear a dust mask because of the fibers from the broken underlay and heavy gloves because of the metal staples that have been used to fix the underlay to the timber floor. These are very sharp and will enter fingers very easily.

Staples can be used at the rate of roughly 120 per square meter, so a room 6 square meters will have approximately 1500 staples that fix the hardboard to the timber floor, so if you’re doing 6 rooms, then there are going to be around the 10,000 staples that in the majority are going to be left in the original floor boards. They all have to come out, that’s the scary part! Quite often, the staples would be rusted and break off, but best practice is to get out as many as possible, because they can show after the floor has been polished as tiny silver specks.

I spent a fortune on trying different tools to get the staples out of the floorboards and none of them really did the job properly or were not easy to use. I found the following tool on a DIY forum and was amazed at how much easier it made the job.  I’m not saying the job was easy, it certainly wasn’t; it was tedious and wrist aching, but the adjustable pliers did the job once I got the knack and some practice.

Try both sizes, but I prefer the larger one. The small one is good for broken stubs of staples.  The technique I found best is to lock the pliers to the thickness of the staple. Push the pliers down vertically over the staple, then pull back with the jaws against the floor, and if you’re right-handed, then the knurled screw goes against the palm of your hand. Pull back slowly and gradually with a rocking motion, re-gripping lower on the staple if it doesn’t come out all at once.

Keep a bucket alongside you and drop the extracted staples into it, out of harm’s way. Get into a rhythm and a swing and you’ll make progress. It’s not a fast job, and you’ll get bored, but the floor sander will appreciate it, and you’ll appreciate the lack of shiny silver specks in your beautifully polished timber boards!timber_floor

Fruit and Vegetable Juicers – The Way to Improved Health

Fruit fresh for juicing


One of THE best ways to maintaining good health is to eat a plentiful supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables supply your body with the vitamins and minerals and fiber that your body requires, but what’s more, they taste good! Fruit and vegetables protect your body against many illnesses and diseases, including heart disease, stroke, many cancers, and high blood pressure and go a long way to help guard against obesity. The antioxidants contained are even said to reduce the effects of aging.

Some people, while knowing the benefits, can’t seem to (for a number of reasons) eat the quantity necessary each day (around 4-5 cups) for the best health benefits. THE easiest way to get the quantity needed each day, if not getting it by eating fruit and vegetables as part of a meal or as a snack, is to juice them.Drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice is like taking a power hit of vitamins, minerals and fiber all at once! It’s hard to beat, and just so easy. Juicers start at a very low price, for a small hand juicer (search ebay, where a small manual juicer can be had for just $1!), and reach around $600 for a top of the range domestic juicer.

However you decide to juice your fruit and vegetables, you’ll love the flavors and textures and be able to disguise some of the vegetables with a pungent taste that you just know are good for you, but find it so hard to get them into your mouth!  Quite often it’s possible to pick up fruit and vegetables, particularly fruit, at reduced prices just because there is slight bruising, which while affecting the look of the piece, is not going to affect the taste or benefits once juiced.

If at all possible, try and buy organic fruit and vegetables for the added bonus of the lack of pesticide and artificial fertilizer residues. The local farmer’s market is a great place to pickup fruit and vegetables from those that care more about the quality and lack of chemicals than do the large supermarket chains.

So, put something really enjoyable and healthy into your day: fruit and vegetable juice!