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Eye-Catching Centerpieces Beyond Flowers and Fruit

Use your imagination to create a tableau that reflects your surroundings, creates dramatic tension or elicits surprise Full Story
     Comment   Yesterday
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However, I must admit that my cat swiped and decapitated a fake little finch from one of the nests.
last Saturday at 2:24pm     
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   Comment   last Thursday
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How to Create an Inventory, Whether You're Naturally Organized or Not

Documenting your home items is essential, even if disaster seems unimaginable. And it may be easier than you think Full Story
     Comment   last Thursday
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Great article, I'm sorry this happened to you but thanks for the writing this. Our area was devastated with fires in a drought in 2011. End of story is our neighborhood ended up ok. But when the fires got close, we got ready to evacuate. I spent 30 minutes and opened every cabinet door and took photos (don't forget all the tools in the shed/garage) and uploaded to Flickr. One box got filled with handmade quilts and photos to go with us and it was weird but we were mentally ready to let our house go.
last Saturday at 1:29pm   
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Thank you to audreyhg for reminding everyone of the importance of a public adjuster. I have been a PA for 6 years and take great pride in being able to represent the property owner. Most of my clients would not have been able to make full repairs with the settlements offered by the insurance company. I was able to get them the full amount they needed to bring their property back to pre loss condition. However, everything being written about creating an inventory, taking pictures, scanning or keeping receipts, etc. gives the PA the backup needed to process the claim. A loss in a home is devastating - fighting the insurance company just adds to the aggravation. Take all the advice that's been given !
Yesterday at 5:16am     
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6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Turn off that cash-guzzling, energy-hogging A/C — these methods of cooling your home and your body are cheaper and kinder to the planet Full Story
     Comment   July 20, 2014
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Excellent article. Listen to what this writer said of not letting the windows heat!

I had the burden of spending a month in Italy (venice) last august. Good food, no car noise or smell, beautiful clothes and shockingly attractive men at every turn, yes it was tough but I rose to the challenge.

But I digress. My flat was the top of a 4 storey building, and it was often well over 100 degrees on the ground, hotter still up there.

The flat had windows in four sides, shutters on all of them. What I found was, by learning the rhythm of the day (these shutters open at this time, closed at this time, the windows open and close on this schedule, etc), I hardly ever needed the air conditioning on. It was amazing.

Mind you, I did feel a bit flushed when vaporetto driver Antonio said hello. But that heat, an air conditioner can't stop.

July 16, 2014 at 6:49am     
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   Comment   July 13, 2014
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   Comment   July 8, 2014
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   Comment   July 2, 2014
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Contractor Fees, Demystified

Learn what a contractor’s markups cover — and why they’re worth it Full Story
     Comment   June 30, 2014
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Like lchb, I chose to select and obtain materials myself for two different accessible bathroom remodeling projects. I wanted to make sure that I had the materials I wanted and on site ready to go to avoid issues like "that item is discontinued" or "there isn't enough stock and we need to order more from Norway" or "the delivery truck is stuck in Kansas" or [insert other problem causing a delay]. We needed the project done quickly and correctly and were fortunate to find a contractor who had no problem with me doing so and communicated very well. I've had the experience of materials errors before which resulted in delays that throw everyone's schedule off. Since in our particular situation we don't have the luxury of time, I wanted to make sure that did not happen ever again.
June 30, 2014 at 8:18am   
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Michelle Portesi
@mylilremodelproject - That is a GORGEOUS staircase. And it's one I wouldn't have attempted to design construction wise myself. That's why God created architects! Or even better, the craftsmen who specialize in building staircases. Having truly knowledgeable and skilled tradesmen are invaluable to construction companies, designers and homeowners alike. I have certainly relied on a master staircase builder on a few projects.
July 8, 2014 at 9:32am     
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Michelle Portesi Thanks for the input. I am very aware of what products cost and am great at choosing just the right thing to buy that is the best value (for me at least what that means is it looks good and is good quality, but I'm not paying extra for bells and whistles or for status.) And you are right that when you're talking about a high end house, nobody can get it through their heads that I don't want a $5000 commercial stove plus $5000 double wall ovens when I've used 2 ovens at once only a handful of times in my life.

One reason I would go with a higher end contractor is to get high quality work. Do lower end contractors have as good of subs? Or do the better subs work on the more expensive projects? I suspect the latter, and I do like attention to detail as we're talking about a $2m home. But also, there are numerous large picture windows that need to be replaced, large beams which are needed to make longer spans, etc. Seems like the higher end guys probably have more experience with that type of thing. But maybe you're onto something, and I should look for at least a mid-range contractor rather than a high end contractor. Maybe cost-wise I don't want someone who also works on $5M homes.

But I'm surprised to hear you say labor is cheap, because what I learned in my bathroom remodel is the opposite. What I came away with is to spend any amount of money you can on materials to make the job easier for the contractors, because at $55 an hour (or whatever your labor cost is), it adds up quickly. For example, solid surface shower wall panels seem expensive, but they are so quick to put up compared with tiling, it ends up way cheaper than tile. And spending more on rectified tiles (which are perfectly flat) is worth it compared to cheaper ones which are not perfectly flat. You quickly make up for the extra cost with less labor.

Lastly, the 10% figure is interesting but leaves a lot to be desired. In some areas $2m is considered a lower end home, for example when it's in a desirable location and the land itself might be $1m or more. That would imply an average $200,000 kitchen; I don't think so. 10% of construction costs would be more realistic for an average. Maybe that's what you meant?
July 13, 2014 at 6:43pm   
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   Comment   June 29, 2014
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