Author Archives: Jennifer Noonan

About Jennifer Noonan

Jennifer Noonan is a writer (and home improvement lover!) living in Delaware. Check her out on Google +!

Buy or DIY: 5 Ways to Fit More in Your Fridge & Freezer

To buy or DIY: It's one of life's great dilemmas. Whichever route you choose, if you have a fridge that fills up fast, organization accessories can be super helpful, enabling you to pack more food into cold storage.

Spice racks, knife holders, and towel bars—there’s no shortage of organizational helpers aimed at bettering one’s life in the kitchen. Ironically, though—given how frequently we use the fridge and how crucial the appliance is to our daily lives—refrigeration organization flies under most people’s radar, even those who have eagerly gone to great lengths to improve storage elsewhere in the kitchen. If poor design or lack of space in the fridge or freezer frustrates you on an ongoing basis, it’s time to act. Proper organization can make your next interaction with the fridge a little easier, whether you’re preparing a meal or grabbing something on the go. Scroll down to see five favorite refrigerator organization ideas, any of which can you buy, usually cheaply, or easily create the DIY way.

 

1. WIRE BASKETS
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: After making an extra trip to the market for item X, you return home only to find that you had item X all along, only it was hidden beneath something else. To make it easier for you to see what you have and what you need, buy or DIY at least one wire basket to corral all those packages and bags in the freezer.

BUY
You can keep frozen foods organized with a set of wire baskets like these. Put veggies in one, meats in another, dessert items in a third. You might find that the baskets not only help you create and maintain organization, but also free up space, enabling you to pack even more into your freezer. (Ice cream, anyone?)

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Baskets

Photo: amazon.com

DIY
To make the most of every inch in the freezer, custom-make baskets to fit your freezer’s dimensions exactly. Hardware cloth makes it pretty easy to do this. You’ll need a pair of tin snips, needle-nose pliers, and sturdy gloves. You might choose to use some graph paper, and you’ll definitely want to use this walkthrough from Four Corners Design.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Baskets

Photo: fourcornersdesign.blogspot.com

 

2. CONDIMENT CADDIES
The next time you fire up the grill and set the patio table for an alfresco dinner, wouldn’t it be so much more convenient if you could carry all your condiments outside at once? That’s where the condiment caddy comes in—this is the fridge version of those sweet little handled baskets on the table at your local diner.

BUY
The Refrigerator Condiment Caddy slides right into the door compartment of your refrigerator, and it keeps items like ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce handily portable. When the meal is about to be taken out back, simply lift the caddy out of its perch and take the durable plastic basket along with you.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Condiment Caddy

Photo: rubbermaid.com.au

DIY
Create your own condiment caddy with a six-pack carrier and contact paper. (If you’ve never experimented before with contact paper, trust me—you’re going to love how versatile and DIY-friendly it is.) For step-by-step instructions on how to make your own caddy, run—don’t walk—over to Neat Nest Organizing.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Condiment Caddy

Photo: neatnestorganizing.com

 

3. ABSORBENT MATS
When it’s all over the refrigerator shelves, there is indeed reason to cry over spilled milk. If you don’t clean up the mess immediately, it soon becomes crusty and caked-on. And what about that rotten tomato in the crisper? Or was it a pepper? Yuck! What you need is the fridge version of cabinet shelf liner.

BUY
The Fridge Coaster absorbs drips and can be cleaned or replaced when necessary. It’s available in colorful prints and in an array of sizes to fit different parts of your fridge, such as the shelves, crispers, and door bins. Not only is the Fridge Coaster functional, but it also relieves the stark whiteness of the fridge interior.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Mats

Photo: fridgecoaster.com

DIY
Take a tip from 2 Little Superheroes and make your own fridge mats out of dollar-store placemats. To get a snug fit, simply remove the fridge shelves you wish to cover, trace their outlines onto the placemats, then cut the mats and insert them. These are as pretty as a picture and ready to rock, no matter what messes arrive.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Mats

Photo: 2littlesuperheroes.com

 

4. LAZY SUSANS
Meal prep would be so much easier if you didn’t have to rifle through almost every jar and plastic storage container in your fridge to find the one thing you need. Oh, wait—there’s such a thing. It’s a lazy Susan, and you can definitely have one in your refrigerator.

BUY
A lazy Susan performs the same role in the refrigerator that it does on your dining table: It make things much more easily accessible. And it need not be an eyesore, as this rotating white marble tray amply proves. Remember to measure your refrigerator beforehand to make sure that your purchase will fit in nicely.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Lazy Susan

Photo: worldmarket.com

DIY
With only a few inexpensive materials from hardware and craft stores, you can make your own lazy Susan, customizing the creation to your exact specifications in both functionality and style. Seriously, you can do this. Visit iHeartOrganizing to find out what you’ll need and how to get it done.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Lazy Susan

Photo: iheartorganizing.com

 

5. FREEZER SHELVES
There’s only problem with stacking things Tetris-style into the freezer. Let’s say you do it very well, brilliantly placing a bag or box into all available space. What happens when you want to get something out of there? You have no choice but to undo what you previously did. Freezer shelves come to the rescue.

BUY
With stackable freezer shelves, you can organize like items into separate compartments. This not only makes it a cinch to find what you need, but also makes it a cinch to reach and remove what you want. That’s right—no more tumbling hockey pucks of hamburger hurtling dangerously toward your toes.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Freezer Shelves

Photo: wdrake.com

DIY
If you’re like me, then these days you are using your paper storage accessories less and less. If you have any magazine files lying around, why not repurpose them into instant, magnificently simple DIY freezer shelves? For details on this project and even more repurposing ideas, visit Aunt Peaches.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Refrigerator Shelves

Photo: auntpeaches.com


How To: Install Click Flooring

Thanks to click-together flooring, it's easier than ever for homeowners to put engineered hardwood underfoot. As with so many other do-it-yourself jobs, careful planning is the key to pro-quality results.

How to Install Click Flooring

Photo: onflooring.com

Over the last decade, engineered wood flooring has developed by leaps and bounds, making it more affordable than ever before for homeowners to put hardwood underfoot. That’s partly due to the fact that engineered floorboards are so friendly to do-it-yourself installation. Click-together flooring products are the simplest of all, requiring neither glue nor nails. The tongue-and-groove design allows boards simply to click together and float, so to speak, over the subfloor. Even a relatively experienced DIYer can install click flooring using basic tools and a handful of inexpensive, readily available supplies. Read on to learn how it’s done.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Click flooring
- Tape measure
- Pencil
- Moisture meter
- Moisture barrier and/or underlayment pad
- Table saw (or circular saw)
- Wood glue
- Jigsaw (for cutting around pipes)

STEP 1
Like solid wood flooring, engineered wood products are sensitive to moisture, alternately shrinking and expanding as temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate. Therefore, the first step in installing click flooring is to bring in the boards, remove any packaging, and give your purchased flooring time to acclimate to the conditions of your space. A period between one and five days normally suffices. It may be somewhat of a drag, but exercising patience here is the best thing you can do to ensure that the floorboards do not separate or cup over time.

How to Install Click Flooring - Engineered Detail

Photo: lumberliquidators.com

STEP 2
No matter the material of the subfloor, test its moisture content by means of a moisture meter to confirm that it’s not above 12 percent. Next, use a level to make sure the subfloor lies, if not perfectly flat, then within a 1/8-inch incline over any given six-foot radius. Make any adjustments necessary before moving on to lay down the moisture barrier and/or underlayment recommended by the manufacturer.

STEP 3
Now is the time to plan your installation strategy. Best practice is to install floorboards so that they run parallel to the longest dimension in the room. You may wish to dry-fit at least some of the material as a way of proving not only that your strategy is going to work, but also that you have enough flooring to get the job done. Before you proceed any further, inspect all planks for damage and defects.

STEP 4
As you prepare to install the first course of floorboards, remove some planks from at least three different boxes (typically, engineered products are boxed by length). Lay out a line of boards in random sequence, then grab the first board and place it in the corner, with the grooved side facing away from the wall. Place expansion spacers between the wall and the board edges that meet the wall. Repeat the process with additional floorboards, running them along the wall and locking together the short ends of any boards that meet (although a full lock isn’t possible until you put down the second row). It’s very likely that you’ll need to cut the last plank to size. Measure the distance from the wall to the leading edge of the penultimate plank, then cut the final floorboard to that length, leaving a little room for the spacer.

STEP 5
Now install the second row. To keep the joints between the rows from lining up, start this second run with a board whose end hits at least six inches away from the nearest joint in the initial row. Remember to place a spacer between that first board and the wall. Then slip the long tongue of this first board into the groove on the first row of flooring. To guarantee a secure connection between boards, be careful to keep dirt and debris out of the grooves.

STEP 7
Continue installing floorboards over the surface area of the room until you come to the last row. Here, you may find that the space remaining is not wide enough to accommodate a full board. In that case, measure what space is available, then rip as many boards as necessary down to the appropriate width. If you encounter a clearance issue that prevents you from locking any of these last boards against the groove of the adjacent second-to-last row, simply do this: Using a utility knife, plane the tongue off the edge of the boards that would not fit otherwise, then affix them in position by means of wood glue.

STEP 8
Remove the spacers from the perimeter of the room, and in the gap those spacers were occupying, install transition moldings directly to the subfloor. Quarter-round or baseboard moldings, installed against the wall, are also recommended (but not strictly necessary). Finally, clean the floor per the manufacturer’s guidelines and replace all furniture in the room. And you might want to put felt protectors on the legs of any chairs to protect your beautiful new floor!

It depends on the size of the room, of course, but in most cases it’s eminently possible to install a click floor within a single weekend. With proper planning, you can begin the project on Saturday and be done in time to host friends for a get-together on Sunday evening. They would never guess that you did it all yourself!

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


A Coffee Table Quest Ends at Sauder

The quest for a versatile, attractive coffee table lead this writer to Sauder, the well-known manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furnishings—and to a few new pieces that have quickly become part of her family.

Photo: JNoonan

Three years ago, our family moved from a tiny New York City apartment to a sprawling 3,000-square-foot house in Delaware. In the time since, we’ve been slowly furnishing the rooms of our new home as we better understand our needs and find the time to shop (with two kids under 6, that can be difficult).

Apart from the kitchen, the living room is where we find ourselves spending most of our time. Activities include working on the computer, family game-playing, and entertaining guests. So I had been looking for a storage-friendly coffee table with the versatility to accommodate all the different ways that we use the room.

That’s when I found Sauder. Founded in 1934, the company has been making furniture in Archbold, Ohio, ever since. Navigating the many options might have been tough—Sauder offers 30 distinct collections—but then I found the fun and quite instructive Find Your Furniture Style on the easy-to-use Sauder site.

Photo: Sauder.com

Somehow the tool determined that my taste is “transitional.” That seemed exactly right (and the thrill of a computer understanding my style preferences was something akin to having a fortune-teller correctly guess my birthday). Sauder’s site then recommended sets of furniture with transitional design features. I began to explore.

Quickly, I found the perfect piece—the Lift-Top Coffee Table from the Edge Water Collection. I love how the hinged top swings up to create a higher surface, perfect for typing on a laptop. Meanwhile, beneath the tabletop sits a hidden storage area, and at the base there are three open cubbies. You know how books and board games, remote controls, and DVDs create clutter in the living room? I couldn’t wait to neatly corral these things in the roomy nooks provided by the coffee table.

Photo: Sauder.com

If anything were to change—and with a growing family, that’s always a distinct possibility—there are at least two or three other settings in which I could envision using the lift-top coffee table. Confident I was making the right choice, I went ahead and ordered the piece, along with three accompanying storage ottomans (we need the storage—and places to put our feet up). The online ordering process was simple, and within a week, four boxes arrived on my doorstep.

The ottomans were a cinch to assemble. It took me all of three minutes. Boom!

Photo: JNoonan

Then it was time for the coffee table. Inside the heavy-duty cardboard box, I found the wood pieces, hardware, and instructions I would need. The cam-and-dowel assembly, I knew, would be nearly invisible after construction but would create joints that, while strong and lasting, could be easily taken apart later.

Photo: JNoonan

Having experience building similar pieces in the past certainly made things easier, but the instructions from Sauder were as clear as one could hope. If I had needed any help, I could have contacted customer service, online or by telephone, anytime Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

All told, there was only one hitch: A single piece arrived damaged. Remedying the situation was painless and took only a few minutes. On the Sauder site, I placed an order for a replacement part, and it was delivered to my door free of charge.

Photo: JNoonan

The coffee table is now sitting where I’d envisioned it, in the middle of the living room, and I couldn’t be more pleased. When my daughters want to play a game of Uno after dinner, they pull the storage ottomans up to the sides of the table, and it all works. We’ll be enjoying these pieces from Sauder for a long time.

Photo: JNoonan

 

This post has been brought to you by Sauder. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.



Get the Job Done Quicker with Prefinished Flooring

Prefinished wood flooring gives you all the beauty and warmth of real hardwood in a fraction of the time.

Prefinished Wood Flooring - Brazilian Koa

Photo: Lumber Liquidators

Anyone shopping for a new hardwood floor quickly discovers that there’s no shortage of options on the market. Homeowners are confronted by a seemingly infinite variety of wood species and floorboard finishes. But before you can choose between, say, dark-stained oak or hand-scraped maple, you have to decide whether you want traditional or prefinished boards. Bear in mind that if you opt for the latter, you can complete a hardwood flooring job more quickly than you might have thought possible.

Understanding the Distinction
Installing traditional floorboards can be a tiring, time-consuming process. Even after the boards have been laid down, there’s still a fair amount of work to do. Before the floor can be finished, it must be sanded, and each coat of stain or sealant must be given sufficient time to dry thoroughly. Taking all these tasks into consideration, it might take a week, possibly more, before you’ll be able to walk on the completed floor. Also, because installation and finishing both require the kind of skill that only experience provides, many homeowners decide to hire a professional rather than risk an imperfect result. Prefinished floorboards are a whole different story. Here, the finishing process has already been done back at the factory, putting the do-it-yourselfer in a better position to achieve a professional-quality installation.

Prefinshed Wood Flooring - Pre Detail

Photo: istock.com

Get More for Your Time (and Your Money)
Opt for prefinished flooring if you want to avail yourself of the widest-possible range of floor finishes. A simple stain is one thing but with traditional floorboards, something like a hand-scraped finish would involve hours of additional labor (if it wasn’t off the table completely). Whereas you might have dismissed a highly involved finish as being too difficult to DIY or too expensive to hire out, ready-to-go prefinished flooring makes such options not only practical, but also affordable.

Access the Help You Need—Fast 
When you buy a prefinished floor at Lumber Liquidators—or any type of floor, for that matter—support is at your fingertips. Installation experts are ready to help, whether by phone or live Internet chat. With someone there to answer your questions, most jobs can be done within a day or two—a speed that’s basically impossible to match with the installation and finishing of traditional floorboards. If you prefer not to handle the installation yourself, then you can leave the installation of any floor from Lumber Liquidators in the hands of the company’s capable installers.

Prefinished hardwood flooring affords you the best of all worlds. Enjoy the warmth and beauty of real wood at a competitive price, be able to select from all the varieties offered in traditional hardwood, and benefit from installation (DIY or otherwise) that can be done quickly with a minimum of hassle. Seriously, what’s stopping you?

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Weekend Projects: 5 Summery DIY Porch Swings

I’m not sure, I haven’t researched it, but sitting—no, swaying—on a porch swing might be the most relaxing of all the ways a person could spend a summer afternoon. Of course, there’s a big difference between enjoying a porch swing and actually (successfully) building one. In fact, the work involved in making a DIY porch swing probably sounds to you like the very antithesis of relaxation. But though the prospect may at first seem daunting, it’s more than attainable. Scroll down now to see five DIY porch swings, any of which could be a permanent fixture of your outdoor living area before the sun rises on Monday morning.

 

1. SWING SIMPLY

Photo: shanty-2-chic.com

Compact in size and elegantly simple in shape, a no-frills modern look characterizes this stylish DIY porch swing. It’s built almost entirely of 2×4 and 1×6 lumber, so if you have intermediate woodworking experience, go ahead and set up your saw. Then visit Shanty 2 Chic for clear and simple step-by-step project directions.

 

2. HANG OUT

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

A couple yards of canvas, a length of polypropylene rope, and a wooden dowel all combine to create a unique hammock swing. Install yours indoors or out. Though sewing is required, you can most definitely complete the project within the space of a weekend, even if you’re a novice when it comes to needle and thread.

 

3. DREAM OF DAYBEDS 

Photo: club.conservationgardenpark.org

Large enough to accommodate a twin-size mattress, this oversized DIY porch swing might more accurately be described as a hanging daybed—hat luxury! To be certain the bed remains safely suspended, and that you don’t tip over once you climb in, be sure to hang something like this from four (sturdy) points, not two.

 

4. HACK A HEADBOARD

Photo: therusticpig.com

If you’re looking forward to catching some Z’s on your new porch swing, there would be a certain poetic justice to repurposing a headboard as part of the swing’s construction. Don’t have an extra headboard in your attic or basement? Try your local thrift store. Once you’ve got one, see The Rustic Pig for all the DIY details.

 

5. RESTORE A DOOR 

Photo: huckleberrylanefurniture.blogspot.com

From Huckleberry Lane Furniture, here’s a DIY porch swing involving an old door and the remnants of a falling-apart antique table. It goes to show that scrap wood comes in many forms and that, for a functional and beautiful result, money spent at your local lumber yard is by no means a prerequisite.


Weekend Projects: 5 Delectable DIY Picnic Tables

Whatever your aesthetic, whatever your needs, there's a DIY picnic table for you. Don't miss these five creative takes on a backyard classic. One is bound to suit your summer style—and your budget.

There’s nothing nicer than enjoying the company of friends and family over food and drink in the summertime. But do you have room to seat everyone on your deck, porch, or patio? If not, consider adding a picnic table to your suite of outdoor furniture. Though it has a relatively compact footprint, a picnic table provides plenty of seating, possibly even enough for every member of your crew. Plus, it doesn’t have to cost much. If you’ve got the time and a little lumber, you can make a DIY picnic table for hundreds less than you’d pay for a brand-new setup. Scroll down now to see five favorite DIY picnic table designs!

 

1. GET BENCHED

DIY Picnic Table - Benches

Photo: instructables.com

Compared with a stand-alone picnic table, a design with detached benches offers more versatility. Because the pieces need not travel together, the table and benches can be put into service in different places, for different purposes. Visit Instructables for a guide to making the model pictured above, complete with sleek profile and mitered corners.

 

2. REPURPOSE PALLETS

DIY Picnic Table - Pallets

Photo: diycozyhome.com

These days, people are using plywood shipping pallets to make all sorts of nifty furniture. Here, a handful of pallets have been combined—with only slight modifications—to create a DIY picnic table. The simple, utilitarian design can be enlivened with the addition of paint in your favorite bold, summery hues.

 

3. PACK A SUITCASE

DIY Picnic Table - Suitcase

Photo: momentarilyyoursevents.blogspot.com

Equip yourself for impromptu picnics with the ultimate in upcycling—a vintage suitcase that can not only carry snacks and beverages, but also convert into a table at a moment’s notice. Oh, and did we forget to mention the speakers? Yup—expect conversations with strangers wherever you take this ingenious creation.

 

4. PIPE DOWN

DIY Picnic Table - Plumbing Pipes

Photo: 4men1lady.com

Easier to build than it looks—and a minimalist complement to any outdoor living area that sports a modern vibe—this industrial-chic DIY picnic table involves two very different materials that, when united, manage to look elegant and perfectly paired. For convenience, add casters to make the piece effortless to move.

 

5. FOR THE KIDS

DIY Picnic Table - Kids

Photo: kidfriendlyhome.com

Prime your patio for pint-sized play by building this DIY picnic table, a scaled-down version of the classic design found in so many parks and yards, today as well as in years past. For kids ages 3 to 10, this bright-painted construction is destined to be home base for everything from meals to arts and crafts.


How To: Recover a Chair

A little DIY know-how—and minimal supplies and tools—could transform a lackluster dining chair into a seat of distinction. Here's how to recover a chair seat cushion yourself.

How to Recover a Chair - Complete

Photo: JNoonan

It’s only a matter of time: Sooner or later, your chairs with upholstered seats are going to get worn, dirty, or dated. When you decide those chairs have gotten too beat-up to keep around, remember to weigh your options. Your instinct may be to donate the chairs or throw them away, but if they remain in good condition, why not give a thought to reupholstering the furniture? In your local area, there’s more than likely a professional specializing in these sorts of repairs. Much easier—and yet equally transformative—would be to recover the chairs yourself,  replacing their seat covers with new fabric. Even a novice DIYer can recover a chair within an afternoon. Here’s how.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- New fabric
- Scissors
- Staple gun
- Staples
- Screwdriver

STEP 1

How to Recover a Chair - Materials

Photo: JNoonan

When you undertake to recover a chair, start by measuring the seat cushion to determine how much replacement fabric you’ll need. During the measuring process, be sure to allow for at least three extra inches of fabric on all sides (in later steps, you are going to work with this excess material on the underside of the cushion).

STEP 2

How to Recover a Chair - Unscrewing

Photo: JNoonan

Using a screwdriver, remove the existing cushion from the chair frame. (By the way, this would be an opportune moment to address any minor repairs you wish to make on the chair.) Bear in mind that if there’s only one cover on the cushion, you can recover the chair without even removing the old fabric; simply lay the new fabric over the old. When dealing with a cushion that has more than one cover, however, take off the top layer by drawing out the staples that hold it in place.

STEP 3

How to Recover a Chair - Cutting

Photo: JNoonan

Having laid the fabric onto your work surface, cut a piece that conforms to the dimensions you calculated in the earlier step. Working with a patterned fabric (for example, one that includes a floral medallion)? Then take care to ensure that your cutaway includes the part of the pattern you would like the chair seat to display.

STEP 4

How to Recover a Chair - Stapling

Photo: JNoonan

• To attach the new cover, fold one edge of the fabric over the seat, then staple that fabric to the underside of the cushion, about one or two inches from the edge. From there, stretch the fabric across the top of the seat, folding the fabric over the opposite side of the cushion before stapling again on the side opposite to where you placed the initial fastener.

• After checking to confirm the cover is aligning correctly on the cushion surface, flip it back over and continue stapling along the sides, all while keeping the fabric taut (but not so taut that the weave or pattern becomes distorted). If the cover goes on crooked at any point while you’re working, pop out a staple or two with your screwdriver, then re-attach.

• When you arrive at one of the corners, staple at the same time that you stretch and angle the fabric. It may take some trial and error, but eventually you will figure out how to attach the fabric without causing any wrinkles to appear. Remember that if you do get wrinkles, there’s a quick and easy fix: Just pop out a few staples, adjust the cover, then staple again.

STEP 5

How to Recover a Chair - Trimming

Photo: JNoonan

By now you will have finished stapling on the cover. Proceed to trim away the excess fabric by means of a scissor, leaving one or two inches of material beyond the staples. There’s no need to sweat appearances, as the underside of the cushion will not be visible. Finally, reattach the newly recovered cushion to the chair frame.

Voila! It’s no more complicated than that. All it takes, really, is a length of fabric and a staple gun. Believe it or not, you can get good at this with a little practice. And you’ll be amazed by how easy it becomes to refresh your cushions with a new look, all for little more than the cost of new fabric. So go forth, recover, and sit pretty!


Staying Safe: 5 Home Must-Haves for Storm Emergencies

Don't wait for storm clouds—or warnings—before taking steps to keep your family safe. Here are 5 things you can do today to keep you safe and storm-ready should rough weather strike tomorrow.

Shutterstock

Photo: shutterstock.com

The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to storm emergencies. Almost everyone knows you should have batteries and water on hand when the weatherman sends out the warning. Still, so many people end up scrambling at the last minute, with wind and rain bearing down, waiting in long lines at stores that are already sold out of storm essentials. Don’t get caught unprepared. Here are five home must-haves to keep you—and your family—safe should a storm emergency occur.

Energizer Weatheready Area Light

1.5-Volt Energizer Weatheready® 360-Degree Area Light at The Home Depot for $17.97.

1. Light & Batteries. When the power fails, it’s essential to have an alternative light source—and the batteries to power it. Consider something that is compact, yet offers abundant light, like the Energizer® Weatheready® 360-Degree Area Light, available at The Home Depot. The 1.5-volt lantern powers an LED bulb and operates on either AA or D batteries. (You can also use it for camping or wherever an additional light source may be required.) Make sure to have an ample supply of batteries not just for it, but for flashlights and portable radios as well.

2. Food & Water. You should keep a supply of food and water set aside for storm-related emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing at least one gallon of water per day for each member of your family, and to store a two-week supply. If you can’t store that much, store what you can. You should also consider storing a two-week supply of food. Include foods that are high in calories and nutrition, and that don’t require refrigeration, water, or special preparation. Canned food, dry mixes, and cupboard staples are all good to stock. Keep your stores in a cool, dry place—dark, if possible. Monitor the expiration dates, and be sure to use things before they go bad, replacing as necessary.

Sentry Safe

Sentry®Safe Waterproof, Fire-Safe® Security Chest at The Home Depot for $28.97

3. Protection for Documents & Records. Storms and natural disasters can displace people from their homes, and sometimes destroy their homes altogether. It may be unpleasant to think about, but prepare for the worst. Recovering from disaster is hard enough—it’s even harder if you can’t prove who you are. Protect your important identification documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, adoption papers, passports, and naturalization documents, in something like a Sentry®Safe Waterproof, Fire-Safe® Security Chest. It will keep everything safe from water and fire damage, and, because it is compact and portable, you can take it with you if necessary. Other documents you should protect are wills, living wills, powers of attorney, and property deeds and titles. You can also store important DVDs, portable disks, and flash drives.

4. Plan for Evacuation. Should a big storm come your way, it may be necessary to evacuate. You’ll fare better if you are prepared, so develop an evacuation plan before your area is threatened. In devising your plan, keep a few considerations in mind:
- Be aware of low-lying areas on your evacuation route, and prepare for ways to circumvent them if necessary.
- Choose a destination to evacuate to that is outside of the affected area, preferably with family or friends who live close to your home, but who won’t need to evacuate. Hotels and motels fill quickly in evacuations, so if you do need to stay in one, make a reservation as early as possible.
- If you can’t get to family or friends or a hotel or motel, plan to go to a shelter. But be prepared to bring your disaster supply kit with you, and make arrangements for any pets, as shelters will not accept them.
- If you’re evacuating by car, be sure your tank is full of gas. Traffic jams are a given, and fuel supplies on the road could be very limited.

3M First Aid Kit

3M™ 169-piece First-Aid Kit at The Home Depot for $19.97.

5. First-Aid Kit. Be ready to handle minor injuries, because emergency workers will be stretched thin during a major storm. Have a first-aid kit on hand, such as the 3M™ First-Aid Kit, which comes in a portable carrying case and includes bandages, gauze, a cold compress, scissors, tweezers, and more.

With proper preparation, you can ride out a storm or natural disaster in relative comfort, with a modicum of inconvenience. So, don’t wait for the governor to declare a state of emergency.  Stock up now, be ready, and have peace of mind.

 

This article is sponsored on behalf of The Home Depot. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Weekend Projects: 5 Quirky Ways to Build a Bird Feeder

A DIY bird feeder will attract feathered friends to your yard and charm two-legged visitors of the wingless variety.

Whether you’re washing dishes at the sink or sitting at the desk in your home office, it’s pleasant to look out the window and see birds atwitter in the yard. You can invite feathered friends to your property—and help them survive difficult winters—with a bird feeder of your own devising. With only a modest investment of time and a minimal number of basic tools and materials, you can easily create a DIY bird feeder that will provide an enduring enhancement to your landscape.

 

1. TWEAK A TEACUP

DIY Bird Feeder - Tea Cup

Photo: elizabethkartchner.com

Here’s an offbeat yet undeniably charming DIY bird feeder design: Using strong adhesive and a cut-to-length wooden dowel, you can transform a teacup-and-saucer combination into a pretty pit stop for peckish winged creatures. Include a spoon too—it makes the perfect perch for incoming and departing birds.

 

2. HANG A CAN

DIY Bird Feeder - Paint Can

Photo: goodhousekeeping.com

Got any empty paint cans sitting around your basement or garage? Choose a small one, and coat its exterior in a bright color. Next, reach for the hot glue gun, using the tool to affix a 3/16-inch dowel to the lip of the can. Wrap and secure a strand of ribbon around the middle of the can, and use the ends to suspend it from a tree limb.

 

3. BOTTLE-FEED A HUMMINGBIRD

Wine Bottle

Photo: sierranevadacreations.com

Almost any bottle can become a DIY bird feeder specially suited for summer hummingbirds. Decorate the bottle in whatever fashion you please, fill it with nectar, and insert a hummingbird feeder tube into the neck of the bottle. Hang the feeder from a tree via chain, wire, or twine so that it points downward.

 

4. GET IN SHAPE

DIY Bird Feeder - Cookie Cutters

Photo: prudentbaby.com

Your kids would love to join you in the kitchen to help make this waste-free DIY bird feeder. Mix birdseed with plain gelatin and then put the mixture into a series of cookie cutters. Once you’ve filled the molds halfway, insert a loop of twine before finishing. Let them dry overnight, then place your creations at strategic positions around your backyard.

 

5. BORROW A BOWL

DIY Bird Feeder - Repurposed Bowl

Photo: ninered.blogspot.com

You must own at least one bowl that you hardly ever use. Why not take it outside and repurpose the dish into a DIY bird feeder? Decorate the bowl—or don’t—then drill a small hole in its underside for drainage. Finally, drill holes on three sides of the vessel, outfitting each one with an eye hook to facilitate hanging.


Weekend Projects: 5 Beautifully Basic DIY Bookends

Display your favorite books—and your individuality—with a pair of custom-made bookends. Here are five designs you can make in a weekend.

If you have a few especially beloved books in your collection, why not use a pair of DIY bookends to set them apart as a reminder to yourself and a message to your guests? Though making DIY bookends entails some time and effort, the immensely rewarding results can last for years. Scroll down now to see five of our favorite bookends made by creative and stylish do-it-yourselfers. Then either mimic their ideas or let their designs inspire your own signature set.

 

1. DO A DIORAMA

DIY Bookends - Dioramas

Photo: seaofshoes.com

You can stock up on hiking guides and trail maps, or you can invite nature onto your shelf another way: with wilderness-themed DIY bookends. In your local craft store, there’s a section devoted to the supplies needed to put together this diorama. Sand and stain a couple of wood blocks, then glue on the tiny scene of your choice.

 

2. TOY WITH TOYS

DIY Bookends - Toys

Photo: theweekendhomemaker.com

Here’s a way to make some “ferociously” fun DIY bookends for a kid’s room. For each bookend, glue and nail two pieces of wood at right angles, forming an L-shaped base. Prime and spray-paint the two wood bases as well as your chosen figurines. Finally, hot-glue the toys to the painted wood. Voilà: one-of-a-kind decor!

 

3. REPURPOSE A JAR

DIY Bookends - Mason Jars

Photo: sfgoodwill.org

Do the wonders of spray paint ever cease? Choose a can of paint that features a bold, eye-catching color you love, and use it to transform a couple of canning jars into DIY bookends. (If you don’t have glass jars in the pantry, they can be purchased for a song). Once the paint has dried, fill the jars with pebbles or sand for added weight.

 

4. GO FOR A RECORD

DIY Bookends - Vinyl Records

Photo: flickr.com/gasoline_rainbows

For years you’ve held on to a crate full of vinyl records. Choose two, remove them from their sleeves, and then—are you ready for this?—you can actually shape them into retro chic DIY bookends! Run the records under hot water until they’re pliable, then bend them into right angles. Just be careful not to ruin the labels!

 

5. EMBELLISH TWO BRICKS

DIY Bookends - Brick

Photo: abubblylife.com

For DIY bookends like these, you need only a couple of bricks, painter’s tape, and your choice of spray-paint colors. Use the tape to mark off a pleasing geometric design, then spray on a combination of contrasting or complementary colors. There may be no easier—or cheaper—way to control the chaos on your shelves.