What’s Trending? How to protect early spring blooms from frosty nights

spring bloomsSince we have had unseasonably warm weather in February, we are beginning to see spring bulbs, such as crocus, hyacinths, and daffodils emerge from our gardens.  It won’t be long before we see tulips as well.

Protect these spring blooms and others from a late winter frost with the use of blankets, or buckets through the cold nights.  We don’t look to have any really cold day or nights in the forecast for the next 5 days, but there is a really good chance that we will have another couple of nights to worry about before it is all over.  Here are a couple of tips when protecting spring blooms…

  1. Cover plants with an old bed sheet, burlap, newspaper or some other fabric to keep them insulated from frost, cold air, and wind through the night.  If preferred, an empty plastic pot or cardboard box will work just as well.  (If using a bed sheet or newspaper, be sure to pin the edges down with a rock or some bricks.  Also, be sure to place the cover before night fall.
  2. Remove the frost cover the next morning after the frost has lifted from your grass blades.  This will allow the plant to breathe and recoup during the day time.
  3. Repeat as necessary to protect your plants from frost on consecutive nights.

Thanks for reading everyone!  Have a great spring and enjoy the early season blooms :)


Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Heavy duty garment rack expands closet storage

richards garment rackIf you have ever been looking for closet space to hang guest coats during the holidays, or to store jackets and other garments that are not in season, then the garment rack from Richards could be your problem solver!  This item is built like a mack-truck.  Well… not quite like that…. but it is heavy duty and commercial grade.  The chromed metal body extends on either side and the result is up to 74.5″ of hanging space and a load capacity of up to 120 pounds.  When not in use, the rack folds flat for easy storage.

If you have a space with a confided height, then adjust the support arms down so that they are only 54″ tall and capable of sliding underneath a stairwell in the basement or beneath shelving in a laundry room.  If it is in the way, push and pull it out of the way thanks to the heavy duty caster wheels that are included.

Regardless of how you use this deluxe garment rack, it will last you many, many years of everyday use.  Stop by our store to see our display model or to pick one up for yourself.  Available both in our Hardware and Housewares departments.

What’s New: Broil King Gas Grills

Broil King grills are new to our grill line-up for 2017!!!!  We are really excited about these brand new grills, so much so that we decided to use 4 exclamation points on that last sentence.  We are confident that you will like both the value and the performance of each and every model.  For 2017, we will be stocking the best of what Broil King makes, including their Baron, Regal, and Imperial grills.

Why should I consider Broil King for my next grill?  The value is tremendous and the high quality parts used throughout the grill will ensure that you are cooking for 10+ years, no problem.  Even better yet, all of the models that we are carrying are proudly made in the USA!  You will love cooking on this grill, and you will love the taste of the food even more.

What features make Broil King grills unique? 

  1. Broil King grills heat up quickly and hold temperatures tremendously well, thanks to their double-insulated cookbox and unique design that helps keep heat inside the grill, even when the lid is open.
  2. There burner system is second-to-none.  Each stainless steel burner tube actually has two rows of flames, which creates a more even heat than any competitor (there are no hot spots inside these grills!)
  3. Each burner knob has an infinite amount of temperature settings, which allow you to dial up or down the heat to obtain the perfect temperature for whatever it is you are cooking.
  4. Quality materials throughout and a warranty to back it up!  All Broil King gas grills are backed by a lifetime warranty on the cookbox, 10 years on burners, and at least 2 years on everything else.
  5. There are many other features that make Broil King grills easy-to-use and a favorite of many, so we invite you to view our brand page on Broil King for more information.

If you are in the market for a new gas grill, be sure to look at Broil King.  We hope that you are just as excited about these new additions to our barbecue department.



Helpful Tip: Use delicate surface painters tape on freshly painted surfaces

frogtape in packageWhen completely paint a room from “head-to-toe” it is important to remember a couple of quick pointers.  First, it is best to paint the ceiling first, then the walls, and then follow up with any trim.  This will minimize paint drips and splattering onto surfaces that you have already coated.  It will also allow you to slowly move furniture and cabinets back into place once the ceiling is done and out of the way.

When paint the ceiling one day and the walls the very next day, it is important to only use delicate surface painters tape.  This tape is intended for use on paint that has only been able to “dry” for 24 hours.  The important thing to know here is that interior latex paints can take up to a week or two to completely dry through.  It’s surprising, but a new coat of paint actually softens each layer of paint beneath.  When regular duty painters tape is applied in these situations, you will often peel back several layers of paint when you go to remove it… creating an even better mess.

So just remember, when applying tape over fresh paint surfaces, be sure to use delicate surface painters tapes!

frogtape in use


What’s Trending? Treat your Cutting Boards and Butcher Blocks with Oil Regularly

mineral oilMany of us have wooden cutting boards or butcher blocks in the kitchen that we use frequently.  But if you are anything like me, you will forget to treat it with mineral oil on a regular basis.  This simple step will prevent the wood from cracking and help resist stains.  This step is a necessity if you expect any type of longevity out of your cutting board, butcher block, wooden bowls, or even wooden kitchen utensils.

Which product should I use?  There are lots of mineral oils on the market; just be sure to get one that is food safe.  The Howard cutting board oil is one of our favorites and it can be found in our paint and housewares departments year-round.  Simply apply to wood with a clean cloth and allow the oil to soak in for at least 20 minutes.  Wipe off any excess and you are ready to go!

Looking for a solution to severely damaged wood?  Howard products makes a butcher block conditioner which includes the same food grade mineral oil with vitamin E as does their oil, but it also includes beeswax and carnauba wax which help to create a more water resistant surface.  The addition of these two waxes help to repair knife marks, keep mineral oil in, and keep other moisture out.  You can use this product solely, but you can also use it on top of a straight mineral oil treatment since the beeswax and carnauba waxes in this products help to create a bit of a “seal” to the wood.

Taking this extra step every month or two with all of your wooden cutting boards and kitchen utensils in your home will go a long way to making them last for years!

What’s Trending? Rubber Doormats – The Perfect Choice for Winter

RUBBER DOORMATIf you are struggling to find a durable, yet functional doormat for the winter months, consider the naturally tough characteristics of a rubber doormat.  My household has 2 doorways that lead directly outside to un-sheltered areas that constantly get impacted by snow and ice.  I have found that the rubber is a material that is easy to keep clean, one that lasts for years, and one that is very safe to use.

Easy to Keep Clean – Rubber doormats are simple to lift and “shake” clean when snow falls on them.  If ice gets inside the openings that is no trouble at all either… simply lift and roll the edges to dislodge the ice.  Then broom or shovel away the snow and ice that has fallen from the doormat.  You are “back in business”, just like that!

Durability that will Last for Years – As you can imagine, rubber holds up quite well to traffic, weather, and sunlight.  A quite rubber doormat can last 10+ years, especially if you are only using them during the winter months.  Despite all of our rubber doormats being black in color, we do have many different patterns to choose from, so you can create a more unique space as a result.

Safe to Use – Rubber mats are heavy and provide great trip to any small or texture surface below.  On our wooden deck, we often have trouble with doormats sliding around because the wood is too smooth.  Once we lay down the rubber mats, you get an instant feeling of traction, which is great for once that winter weather rolls around.

To see our full selection of doormats including the many rubber styles, please stop by our Housewares Department.  You will not be disappointed.  We have one of the largest selections of doormats in town!

Spend a Little – Save a Lot: Fire and Carbon Monoxide Safety

smoke alarm resizedOur homes may feel safe since they protect us and our belongings from the cold, rain, snow, and wind; however there is more to a safe house than just having locking doors and an alarm system.  Carbon monoxide poisoning causes over 200 deaths a year and fires cause thousands of deaths each year in the US.  To protect yourself from these harmful, and possibly deadly occurrences, be sure to install fire and CO detectors in the proper areas and maintain/test them with regularity.  Here are some guidelines that are recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the US Fire Association.

Fire safety in your home:

Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, within every separate sleeping area, and on every floor of the home.  Smoke rises, so be sure to place them high on the wall or ceiling.

There are several different types of smoke alarms: photoelectric is more sensitive to smoldering fires, and ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires.  For the best protection, you may want to purchase a smoke alarm that uses both sensors.  Use a photoelectric alarm close to the kitchen.

Test alarms weekly by pressing the “test” button on the alarm.

Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year, or whenever the alarm starts to chirp (signaling a low battery).

Replace the entire unit every 10 years, regardless of whether it is a battery, long-life battery, or hard-wired unit.

Keep a fire extinguisher on every floor and one in the garage and kitchen.  Since all fires start small, you may be able to prevent heavy damage with a fire extinguisher that is within quick reach!

Carbon monoxide safety for your home:

Even though carbon monoxide (CO) only causes a couple of hundred deaths a year, carbon monoxide related incidents were documented in over 80,000 homes during 2010.  To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning and other harmful effects of CO, be sure to take these safety tips.

Install CO detectors in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable codes or laws.  CO is termed the ‘silent killer’ since it is odorless and colorless, which makes it so important to have one installed on each sleeping level of your home.  Be sure to read the instructions closely and keep them away from sources that may throw readings off, such as doors, windows, or vents for heating/cooling.

Test them once a month with the ‘test’ button on the alarm.

Recommended to replace every 7 years, because the sensors get dirty and will cause inaccurate readings.

Other ways to prevent CO from entering the living areas of your home:

Have your home heating systems (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually by a trained service technician.

Never use portable generators inside home or garages, even if doors and window are open.

Never bring a gas or charcoal grill inside the home to cook (this includes the garage).

Never use a gas range or oven for heating the home.

Be sure to open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool.

Never run a car inside the garage and always wait to start the car until the garage door has been opened.  This goes for other gasoline or propane run tools;  Be sure to take these tools outside when starting them.


Spend a Little, Save a Lot: Walk Behind Snow Plow

snow plowThis article is about a product that we have carried for about 7 years now.  It is not new, but does deserve more attention, because of its quick and efficient snow removal abilities.  The 38″ snow plow from YoHo is part of their Polar Tuff line of products and perfect for so many of our Pittsburgh snowfalls.  In fact, this Polar Tuff snow plow can clear more snow, faster than a snowblower!  This is especially the case with snow falls that are only a few inches deep, which seem to the majority of what we experience as of late.

Design:  As mentioned above, the 38″ wide blade clears a path about twice the size of your typical snow shovel.  The unique shape of the blade flips snow forward and the angle that it creates allows the snow to slide off to the one side.  If you want the snow to be pushed to the other side, simply flip the handle and the plow will work to the other side (blade is two sided)  With this snow plow, the concept is to walk the length of your driveway and to push the snow off to the edge(s).  The taller the snowfall, the less you can cut off with each path.  Works great on snowfalls up to about 3-4 inches.

Save on Time:  The biggest advantage the Polar Tuff snow plow is its efficiency.  As mentioned before, you can clear snowfalls of low to medium height quicker than with a snowblower and with the same type of ease.

Save your Back:  There is no need to lift the snow, so your back with be thanking you!

Save on Frustrations:  You never have to worry about an engine that will not start when you need it the most.  And as a result, no messy oil and gas to deal with.  Simply grab and go!

We love this snow plow… you might even see us using it to clear our parking lot or sidewalks throughout the winter.  Because it is only a pusher, it is not great for those that have a wall or ledge next to their driveway, constricting the amount of space there is to pile up the snow.  Quick and efficient way to clean a driveway, parking lot, or sidewalk of light snow.  Thanks for reading!

For a video demonstration of the Polar Tuff snow plow, please view the informational short video below:

What’s Trending? EcoTraction – 100% Safe for Concrete

ecotractionOne of the most frequent questions at this time of the year is “which ice melter is safe to use on our new concrete that was poured this past summer”.  In truth, there is nothing that is 100% safe when it comes to ice melters.  Anytime you use a “safer” product that has no rock salt in it, there is still a chance that damage can be done, especially if the concrete is under 1 year old or the surface in question is something very delicate, such as natural flagstone.

The answer is to provide traction on these slippery surfaces with EcoTraction!  This product is 100% safe for concrete and provides traction even on top of inches of ice.  EcoTraction is made from natural volcanic minerals and poses as no danger to surfaces, pets, or the environment.  In fact, it is a natural soil aerator and can be brushed into your lawn or garden and provide benefits there too!

How does it work?  EcoTraction is entirely made up of volcanic minerals that are colored a dark green.  The “gritty” texture of the granules will embed themselves into dangerous snow and ice and provide instant traction!  The granules do not dissolve and are reusable, if you choose to save them.  EcoTraction will make surfaces safe to walk on immediately, without the use of chemical ice melters, meaning that is is safe for pets of all types.

Does it work better than sand?  Yes, EcoTraction far exceeds the performance of sand.  EcoTraction’s shape is larger and more irregular than sand.  The “gritty” texture provides more non-slip grip because there is more texture than sand would ever provide.  The irregular shape also prevents tracking into your home or car, which is always a plus during this item of the year!

How much do you have to use?  Coverage is actually really good.  1 cup is recommended for up to 144 sq ft (or about the area of a parking spot).  This is about 9X the coverage you get from the same amount of rock salt.

If you are concerned about providing traction on delicate surfaces or areas where your pets walk, we recommend you try EcoTraction… you will not be disappointed!

Spend a Little – Save a Lot: The Magic Eraser makes problems go away

A little scuff there, a little mark there.  The Magic Eraser was made for these exact scenarios.  I’m sure that many of you have heard about Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers.  This unique sponge has some special powers and it is safe to use on almost any surface.  It wasn’t until recently that my wife and I have been using Magic Erasers on more and more surfaces… all with good results.

First we used it to get rid of pencil marks on painted surfaces.  These were guidelines and scribbles that we used to help us make a sign for our recent wedding.  In trying to figure out the product to use, the Magic Eraser came to mind and we thought… “what do we have to lose?”  We rubbed lightly on the pencil marks and they were gone just like that!  We have a video below for you to see the Eraser in action.

More recently, we have been using the Magic Erasers in the kitchen to help clean our porcelain ceramic sink.  We have used them on our walls to get rid of pencil and pen marks that were used to help hang items on the wall.  They are great for bathrooms and most any hard surface.  We have even used them for some plastic items that again got some marks on them.

These sponges are easy to use… simply wet, squeeze, and then scrub to remove stains.  So if some of these scenarios sound familiar, we would recommend using the Magic Eraser from Mr. Clean… it looks like a sponge, but cleans like MAGIC!