Archive for February, 2013

January/February Mid-Winter Blues

Welcome back to guest blogger Annette Presseau….Missed your garden blog….Glad you are back……

 

Are you feeling blue these days with the shorter days and the cold dreary landscape? There are some days that I feel that way until I realize that it is only a few months until Spring and even better the days now are brighter longer and before we know it the Crocuses will be coming up!  So take heart Spring is not far away!

The first day of spring (Spring Equinox) is March 20 this year but it isn’t really Spring until the nice weather gets here around mid-April.  It would be fun to come up with a nickname for this time of year like betwixtism?  What do you think would be a good name for this time of year?  Maybe we can come up with one!

Crocuses.  I just love Crocuses they are the first to pop out of the soil when the weather gets a little warmer and even through a dusting of snow and they add so much color to your garden and if you didn’t plant any this past fall well there will be plenty in the stores for you to purchase and you can leave them in the ground or dig them out and replant them in the fall for next year!

Amaryllis. One of my Christmas gifts was an Amaryllis which is a great flower to have inside during the winter months their blooms are just stunning.  I also gave one as a gift this past Christmas and we have a contest going as to which one will bloom first!  Winter doesn’t have to be dull we just have to make it interesting!

Painting Classes.  How about taking a painting class and painting a garden scene?  If you have kept you calendar from 2012 you could paint from some of those pictures and discover your own talent!  There are all sorts of painting classes that start in January at schools everywhere you could even take a sewing class and learn to sew a flower lap quilt or maybe take crochet lessons and create a spring shawl the possibilities are limitless.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking of a painting I did last year of flowers in bloom and how it is bringing a smile to my face just thinking of it.  There are limitless possibilities out there all you have to do is just think outside of the box!  As adults we sometimes don’t use our imagination enough we are programmed to think inside of the box so let your inner child come out and experiment with something fun to do!

The Beauty of Snow.  I know what you are thinking is she crazy?  Well maybe a little!  Here in New England we have already had snow and a lot of it and if there is one thing I can say is that after I shovel the snow I have noticed how beautiful it is and how serene it is and I just stop for a minute and take in the beauty of my surroundings before I go back inside it takes my breath away to just take a moment and be in awe of the serenity.  There is such a peaceful feeling after a snowstorm and it is really beautiful to look at just not so beautiful to shovel!

Garden Books: I just love looking at garden books this time of year it gives me inspiration and makes me feel great!  Now would be a great time to pull out your garden pictures and put them in a scrapbook or album for future reference.  Check out your library for garden books you will be surprised at what you will find!  How about this book “The Winter Garden: Create a Garden That Shines through the Forgotten Season” by Val Bourne which is an inspirational guide that shows how trees, shrubs, seed heads, berries and evergreens can bring your garden to life in winter and check out this book “Don’t Throw It, Grow It” 68 Windowsill Plants From Kitchen Scraps” by Deborah Peterson & Millicent Selsam.  In this book for instance, did you know that Sweet potatoes have small purple flowers that resemble morning glories, or that Chickpeas make great looking hanging baskets? With this book you will find indispensable little tidbits of information like that and so much more. So the next time you take a look around your living room and think I could probably use a nice potted plant in that corner of the room, think about growing your own little Pomegranate or Avocado tree for a change of pace.

Flower Shows.  Yes, it’s that time of year again to plan to see a Flower Show in March and before you know it the show will be here.  Check out your local Horticultural Society for lectures during the winter months.  Flower shows are a great way to make you feel happy and also give great ideas for planting flowers.

Garden Clubs.  What about joining a Garden Club?  You can get some really great ideas from them and most of them are very reasonable and welcoming.  I absolutely love flower gardening and was reluctant to join a garden club but it has been one of the best things that I have ever done.  I have learned a lot about gardening and have made a lot of friends.  If you don’t have a garden club in your area maybe you can connect with one outside your area or start one.  Think about taking a course in Horticulture who knows you might really like it!

Cut FlowersHow about purchasing some cut flowers at the supermarket?  Every now and then I pick some up especially in the wintertime just to brighten up my home a bit.  One can also pick up some silk flowers and make a nice centerpiece for your table.

Garden Art.  Now would be a good time to plan what garden art you would like in the garden and it would be a great time to either make something or go antique shopping to find that unique piece for your garden.

Yes, Spring will be here before you know it and birds will begin looking for materials to feather their nest and bulbs will start to show their heads.  Yes, appreciate every season, savor winter, and the gifts she brings and remind yourself that without winter, spring would never be here for us to enjoy.

For now I’m going to go back to my flower book, my cup of tea, and my warm afghan and dream about the garden I would like to see this summer and plan to start to grow it this Spring.

 

Happy Spring dreaming everyone!

 

 

Portable Generator Safety by Guest Blogger Dave Cobosco

This reminds us of the dangers of portable generators.  Take precautions when using.  Follow the safety tips in this post from guest blogger Dave Cobosco

 

Portable Generator Safety

Storms anytime of the year can cause a loss of power that can last for hours or days. The use of a portable generator is one way to help provide basic electric service and maintain a reasonable level of safety and security in a home, as well as possibly minimize the loss of food stored in a refrigerator or freezer. Most homeowners using generators will opt for the less expensive portable type to help maintain a limited power supply.

When using a generator, it is critical to ensure it has been installed properly and is operated in a safe manner. There have been many incidents where individuals have survived a storm only to suffer deadly consequences due to an improperly installed or maintained generator as the exhaust from the unit contains deadly carbon monoxide.

The danger of generator use also extends to utility crews helping to restore power. An improperly connected generator can lead to feedback, or a surge of electricity from the generator that travels through the house wiring and back into the power lines. Anyone working on or in contact with those lines could be electrocuted.

To prevent this hazard, before using a generator, the wiring in the house must be disconnected from the incoming power lines using a transfer switch. This disconnection from the incoming power is also needed to protect the generator from damage when the power returns. Using the main disconnect in the electric panel in place of a transfer switch does not protect adequate protection from all potential feedback situations.

For the efficient and safe use of a portable generator heed these recommendations:

ñ   Store the unit where it is readily available in an emergency.

ñ   Store fuel only in approved containers in a safe manner.

ñ   Read and follow all manufacturer instructions and safety warnings.

ñ   Have an electrician install a transfer switch to disconnect house wiring from the power company supply.

ñ   Never connect a generator directly to a wall outlet; it should only be directly connected to appliances or other electric equipment.

ñ   Only operate gasoline-fired units outdoors. Never run them in an enclosed-in area – not even for a short time or if the areas is seemingly well vented. The unit should also be placed at least 10 feet away from any windows, doors or vent openings.
Get more information from the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov. In Canada visit Health Canada at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.

HouseMaster

Dave Cobosco

Owner/Operator

409 Middlesex Turnpike

Billerica, MA  01821

C:  508-479-1773

O:  866-313-7732

dave.cobosco@housemaster.com

http://www.housemaster.com

 

Home Health & Safety Checklist from Guest Blogger Dave Cobosco

Great Info from guest blogger Dave Cobosco from Housemaster

 

Home Health and Safety Checklist

Most of us schedule an annual personal physical with our family doctor. When you consider the amount of time your family spends at home, it makes total sense to give your home an annual physical as well. HouseMaster has prepared a list of some basic healthy house issues to assist you in performing your home’s physical. Set aside some time to review the following:

r    Humidifiers/Dehumidifiers. Humidifiers add moisture to house air and are typically needed when a warm air heating system is operational. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air and are typically used in basements or crawlspace areas.

m    Both of these moisture control devices should be checked regularly during usage periods.

m    Check to make sure there is no leakage or overflowing of water onto the heating system and all drain lines properly dispose of the water.

m    Some dehumidifiers have to be manually emptied. If this is inconvenient, replace with a unit with an automatic shut-off or drain.

m    They should be thoroughly cleaned before or after seasonal use, and as needed otherwise. Remove any slime buildup with a water/bleach solution or use the cleaning agents recommended by the manufacturer.

r    Alarms/Detectors. Check all safety and security alarms regularly; replace older alarms (after five years or as otherwise recommended by the manufacturer):

m    Smoke/Fire Alarms. These are your family’s first line of defense/warning in the event of a fire/smoke emergency. Change the batteries in all of your smoke/fire alarms at least annually. Set a regular date when all are changed each year.

m    CO Monitors. Carbon Monoxide is odorless and colorless. A CO detector is the only way to identify elevated levels of CO in your home before physical injury occurs. If you don’t have CO monitors protecting your home from this toxic gas, you should act immediately and install them in strategic locations near the sleeping areas and other points recommended by the manufacturer or local officials. Check that presently installed units are operational.

m    Radon Testing. Check with your local municipal building department and inquire if radon gas is a community health threat. If it is, you should test your home for the presence of this invisible, odorless gas.

m    Security Systems. All too often homeowners disengage their security alarm to avoid nuisance calls. This puts them at a security risk. If this is the case in your home, check with an alarm company to see if other options are better suited for your family.

r    EMERGENCY PREPARATION. Prepare these essential items for routine activities or emergencies:

m    First Aid Kit

m    Family Contact List

m    House Equipment Maintenance Information

m    Babysitter Information

m    Emergency Evacuation Kit

m    Medial and Financial Records

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at housemaster.com.

 

HouseMaster

Dave Cobosco

Owner/Operator

409 Middlesex Turnpike

Billerica, MA  01821

C:  508-479-1773

O:  866-313-7732

dave.cobosco@housemaster.com

http://www.housemaster.com

 

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