What’s Trending? Test your home’s tap water for lead

water test kitThere has been much talk locally about lead contamination in our tap water, and it’s been estimated that up to 25% of the homes in the city could be drinking water that is polluted with high levels of lead.  This can led to a host of health issues, and are the most concerning for children, infants, and those that are expecting.

The reason for the elevated levels of lead are going to take time to fix, this is because the lead pipes that were use to carry much of the water to our individual homes are still in use.  If you are concerned about the possibility of lead in your home, then we would recommend a quick water test kit.  This kit will give you instant results for contaminants such as lead, pH, chlorine, common pesticides, and bacteria.  It is a great way to see if anything is elevated in the water that you drink at your home.  If levels of lead (or any other contaminant) are found, we would recommend you purchase a premium filter for your drinking water to reduce or eliminate the lead found in your water.

For more information on the local reports regarding lead in our local water, please reference the following…

Article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

KDKA Investigative Report

Helpful Tip: Know your soil temperature

soil temperatureIf you have had trouble planting grass seed early in the year, or wonder when the best time to put down a crabgrass preventer is, your answer is in knowing the soil temperature.  In fact, the best time to plant grass seed and/or to spread crabgrass preventers in the spring depends on the year and the type of weather we have been experiencing.  Take the guesswork out of this scenario by following soil temperatures in Western PA on this quick reference website, put out by the National Corn Growers Association.

When is it too early to plant grass seed in the spring?  Wait until soil temperatures are at least 55 degrees and then apply your grass seed.  Gone are the days that you apply too early and the grass seed is eaten or washed away… leading to poor and sporadic results.

When will crabgrass begin to germinate in my lawn?  Not until temperatures are 55 degrees will crabgrass even begin the process of germinating for the spring.  Waiting until this time will not provide any setbacks with your lawn.

When should vegetable seeds be direct sowed into the soil?  It is most ideal for vegetables and flowers to be sowed outdoors when soil temperatures raise to between 50 and 60 degrees.  As a side note, wait until after the last chance of frost for any seedlings to be planted outdoors (typically the last week of April for Western PA).

There are many other instances in which knowing soil temperatures can help you success in your lawn and garden this year… so be sure to check the website above whenever you are in question.

Thanks for reading everyone!

What’s New? The iGrill – Bluetooth temperature monitor for you grill

igrill small imageNew from Weber are the iGrill bluetooth thermometers!  These thermometers making grilling out AND enjoying your company (or the big game) easier than ever before!  The Weber iGrill app tracks doneness and temperature progression with the included meat probes, so you can check on your food at any time… from anywhere in the house.  If you add the ambient temperature probe, you can now monitor internal grill temperature from your phone as well!

What all can the iGrill do?  The iGrill is constantly monitoring your grill or food temperatures and sends that information to your phone by way of the iGrill app (available for Apple iPhones or Android phones).  You can simply check on current temperatures, set alerts to be prompted when certain temperatures are achieved (ie. medium rare, medium, well done), or you may monitor grill temperature to make sure that you holding proper heat (and be notified if you grill gets too hot or too cool).  There are lots of options in terms of features and 3 iGrill models to choose from.  Stop by our grilling section to learn more about each model.

 

igrill mood image

What’s New: A Truly Fast Draining Cactus Soil

New to our Garden department this spring is BlackGold cactus soil. I am quite excited about this product, because cactus and succulents are some of my favorites when it comes to houseplants. In fact, I think that we have succulents in every room of our house at this very moment! We love these plants since they are relatively low maintenance and come in so many different shapes and sizes. There is just one problem… we can not get toooo attached to any one plant, because chances are that we will eventually over-water the plant and root rot will eventually cause the plant to die completely. :(

Recently, I have learned that typical “cactus” soils are not what these plants need.  The high peat content that is present in typical cactus or all purpose potting mix is the exact ingredient that you want to avoid when it comes to the majority of cacti and succulents.  Why you ask?  Peat moss fails to dry out quickly and, as a result, causes the short roots of cacti to rot completely.

Now for the good stuff… the NEW BlackGold cactus soil has NO peat moss, and instead uses primarily pumice/perlite, and bark.  These two ingredients provide excellent drainage, that prevent the short root bases of these succulents from rotting.  Plus the pumice mixture provides a good, sturdy base for cacti and succulents to sink their feet into!

If you have had trouble with rotting cacti plants and are looking for a better mixture, we highly recommend that you try this ready-to-go, pumice/bark mixture from BlackGold. Available in 8 quart bags in our Garden department.

blackgold cactus soil

What’s Trending? The Big Green Egg Provides Versatility & Incredible BBQ Flavor

big green eggSo what makes a Big Green Egg so special? Many of you have heard about the egg or have seen them in our store, but are they really worth the money? The Big Green Egg is the grill of a lifetime and will never corrode or rust through like some gas grills.  The heavy duty ceramic parts are designed to never break and, if they do, they are warranted and replaced for free.  This grill will never go out of style and most importantly can cook whatever your taste buds desire!

The Big Green Egg offers the versatility to grill, sear, smoke, and bake with the best of them. Feeling like a big juicy steak that is charred to perfection? How about some pork shoulder that has been slow cooked for hours and falls apart with the use of a fork. Or maybe a homemade pizza pie that has been baked to a perfect crisp? The Big Green Egg can do all of these things, and more, thanks to three critical components. 1) hardwood lump charcoal is used to create intense heat and smoky bbq flavor, 2) a heavy ceramic exterior that holds heat even in the coldest days of winter, and 3) a huge assortment of BGE quality accessories to help you redirect heat, roast, sear, etc.

For more information on the Big Green Egg and what it is all about, please visit our brand page, seen here.

What’s New? Genesis II Gas Grills from Weber

weber genesis IINew for 2017 are the redesigned Weber Genesis II gas grills.  These might not look a whole lot different from their predecessors, but the improvements are many and they were made to the hardest working components of the grill.  Here is what you can expect on the new Weber Genesis II grills:

  1. All Genesis II grills feature their newest infinity ignition, with improvements made to the push button, to the wiring, and to the sparking devices.  The result is an ignition system that is now warranted for 5 years!
  2. Redesigned stainless steel burner tubes that are easier to clean and generate a more consistent flame.  The new shape means that moisture and grease from the cooking environment will NOT settle around the burner openings and cause clogs or corrosion.
  3. The new Flavorizer bars improve heat distribution and create a more evenly heated cooking surface.  The small cuts in the bars also allow you to view when your burners are been lit… no more guessing here.
  4. The improved grease management system means that less grease accumulates under the grill.  Plus the grease tray is easier to clean thanks to the open cabinet design.

If you have ever wanted to monitor your grill from the convenience of your phone, you now can thanks to the iGrill3 from Weber (sold separately).  Simply hook up the meat probe(s) to what you are cooking, and clip another probe to the cooking surface and now you can keep tabs on your grill from anywhere in the house.  Great for slow cooking ribs or pork shoulder, even better for those Thanksgiving day turkeys!

For more information on these new features and more, you might want to check out this short informational video on Weber Genesis II grills below…

 

What’s Trending? Coco Doormats Perform During All Seasons

The all natural look of our natural coco fiber doormats have long been a favorite among our customers.  “They look great in front of any home, no matter the style!”  We love these natural coco mats so much, that we stock them in 6 different styles; including a low profile doormat that measures only 7/8″ thick, which can fit underneath almost any doorway… as well as, several woven styles that provide a bit of texture for those looking for something more unique.

What makes coco fiber doormats so great for use outside?  100% coir mats are perfect for any outdoor space, whether it is sheltered or not.  Unlike decorated coco fiber mats that you often see around the holidays, 100% coir mats do not have a vinyl/rubber backing to them.  The result is a doormat that drains properly and prevents a build-up of mold or mildew from occurring.

Did we mention that they do a wonderful job of cleaning your shoes as well?  The many fibers that make up a coconut doormat act like a stiff bristles of a broom and they get inside all the nooks and crannies of your shoes to clean them quite well!

Coconut fiber mats don’t take any days off and can be used during all seasons.  You might even find that you can get a couple of years out of just one doormat, but that will depend on just how much it is used.  During the winter, the fibers will become stiffer because of snow and ice that may lay within, but this will not affect the look and function of the doormat.

Take a look at all of the aforementioned style choices with our picture below, or stop by our Housewares Department for one of the biggest selections of doormats that you will find anywhere!

coco doormats

 

Helpful Tip: Use pipe fittings to create low cost railings

railing fittingsHave you ever been told that you need a railing to pass a safety inspection?  Or you are looking for something inexpensive to provide support out in your yard for a low two step elevation change you have?  Our aluminum pipe railing fittings and black pipe railings provide just the right low cost, long last solution for these areas.

These railing fittings are made in the USA and sourced from Cincinnati, OH.  They are customize-able to your situation.  For example, put a couple of swing arms together and you have an adjustable railing elbow!  Add one more swing arm and you have a “T” support that can be used to brace the center of a longer railing (shown to the right).  Apply a simple coat of paint over the railing and you have a protected metal that will look great and hold up to the elements of the outdoors.

Stop by our Plumbing department and we will custom cut the railing pieces for your specific need.  If you have a potentially unsafe situation and need the support of a simple railing, we hope that this solution will be of some help!

Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Fabric shavers make clothing look like new again

fabric shaver

One of my favorite coats is a gray cotton fabric and it has help up great for many years.  Just this year, the fabric became worn in areas of the front and sleeves enough so that the “pilling” was noticeable from near and far.  If you try to pull on the pills, you don’t make the situation any better.  That’s when I remembered about an old fashioned product that we sell… the Evercare Fabric Shaver!

This fabric shaver uses three spinning blades to slice and cut pills and loose fabric from the body of the jacket.  Works on all types of clothing (tough or delicate) since the blades are enclosed inside a metal screening.  Simply turn the battery-operated tool on and let it do the work.  Run the shaver over top of the worn clothing and you will hear it doing the work!  In the end, your well-loved, yet worn jackets will look “like-new” once again!

Take a look at the picture to the right for a dramatic before and after use of the Evercare Fabric Shaver.  Available in our Housewares department year-round.

What’s Trending? 40 Volt Cordless Lithium Yard Tools

40 volt toolsOver the last two years, we have seen an increasing popularity of battery operated tools for around the house and in the garden.  The increase has much to do with the tremendous power and quick charge capabilities of the new 40 volt lithium batteries.  Gone are the days that you only buy cordless for the convenience of no cord or no messing gasoline mixture.  Now the long list of benefits are causing long-time users of gasoline equipment to switch to the convenience of a lithium battery.

Quick Charge – Lithium batteries charge quicker than older NaCl batteries of the past.  In fact, lithium batteries can charge completely in just about an hour!  If you run out of battery power (or if you forgot to charge the last time the equipment was used), you can perform a quick partial charge in under 30 minutes to get you back up and running the same day to finish up the job.  This is a large improvement on the “overnight” charges of the predecessor.

High Power – 40 volts is more than double the power of old 18 volt and 20 volt equipment.  The results are fully functioning tools that have few limitations.  40 volt leaf blowers can be used all around the yard to clean up leaves and the vacuum on them can bag the messes with no problem.  40 volt string trimmers are strong enough to cut through heavy overgrown grass and even cut into the soil layer some to create a professional edge.

Longer Lasting – Lithium batteries will drain like anything else, but the rate is much less.  Take a look at the chart below that shows how lithium batteries provide more output to the very last moment, before you notice a loss in power.

There are still a few limitations when using a cordless yard tool, but most of these have to do with large applications or frequent use, like that of a contractor.  For the typical homeowner use, you will find that the power of 40 volt tools, such as string trimmers, chainsaws, and blower/vacs are perfect for every corner of your yard or garden.

Thanks for reading everyone,

Derek Satterfield