Converting a basement corner into a pandemic podcast studio


The coronavirus pandemic brought about changes in people’s habits and their habitats as they adapted to a new normal. Not only did we work and school from home, but we also sought new pastimes, ways to connect with each other and new sources of information and entertainment.

During the pandemic, the number of podcasters and listeners grew to an all-time high. As of November 2021, says there are more than 2,000,000 podcasts with more than 104 million monthly podcast listeners in the US. With this boom came the trend of the home podcast studio.

Build it, and they will listen

A home-based recording room can be simple – say a few sound-proofing foam tiles glued onto walls. It can also be an inspiring, creative, multi-purpose place that makes you feel excited about being shut into a confined, windowless room to conversate with an audience in the ether, and that’s what I built in my basement.

The unfinished basement of my home had become a catch-all storage area for junk. After several runs to Salvation Army, I cleared out the area. With the help of my neighbor, friend and hobbyist carpenter extraordinaire, Craig Smith, and my son, Stephen, I began framing out the studio.

Sounding boards

Across the largest, longest wall, we installed sound-absorbing Vant wall panels. These stylish upholstered panels are easy to install on a track that we measured and cut for a custom fit of five panels in height and four panels across. The panels not only significantly reduced echo in the room but served as an aesthetic backdrop for videotaping. We lit the room with small spotlights, cleverly shaped like min-Fresnel lamps, from Lowes.

Color me chic

We painted the walls with a plum shade of Sherwin-Williams top-of-the-line Emerald Interior Acrylic Latex paint, appropriately called Soulmate (SW 6270), for a chic and modern look. Because the room was small, measuring approximately 10’ x 13’, we used ProMAr Ceiling Bright White (SW 7007) above, to create the effect of higher overhead space, except for the boxes we built to cover the air ducts, which we painted to match the walls. To seal out moisture from the unfinished concrete floor, we applied Sher-Crete Flexible Waterproofer.

Next step: get floored

While I loved the look of polished concrete, it is not ideal for sound dampening, so we covered the floor with FLOR rug tiles, cut to fit like wall-to-wall carpeting. The handy thing about these tiles is that they can be applied to any surface, and when – not if – someone spills coffee, you can replace just the stained tiles. We chose a contemporary dark grey and white pattern that complemented the wall color and Vant panels.

Budget décor  

Most furnishings and décor came from HomeGoods and its sister store TJ Maxx, such as the faux leather mid-century modern stools, artificial plants, salt lamp, end-table (with a built-in USB charging port), decorative pillows, knick-knacks for the bookshelf, which was from Amazon.  The round table, custom cut to counter height was from Wayfair, as was the sofa, ottoman and artwork.

Essential AV

Now, for the most crucial part of the studio: the electronics. A host mic is the most important item, so I researched the best option for my needs, which was a Blue Yeti X ($139) multi-pattern USB mic that came with Blue Voice software.  I envisioned my initial podcasts as call-in interviews, but post-pandemic I planned on having in-studio guests, so I added an Audio-Technical streaming/podcasting kit (AT2005USBPK, $129), which includes a USB AT2005USB cardioid mic – with both USB and XLR connections, ATHM20x headphones and boom arm.

Because the most successful podcasts are not just heard but seen, I wanted a changeable backdrop in the form of a digital image for videotaping. To accomplish this, we mounted a TCL – 55” Class 5 Series 4K UHD Smart Roku TV – controlled remotely by voice using Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and featuring private listening through the Roku app. As we intended the studio to be a multi-use space, the TV transformed the room into an intimate viewing lounge.

Stand-up studio

Finally, all put together, the new studio was a quiet, visually appealing and imaginative space. All elements, selected for form and function, created an inviting environment that was suitable for podcasting from both an audio and visual perspective, ideal for ideating in a feng shui space surrounded by calming colors and textures, and ready for recreation and unwinding.

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Your maid just might clean out your house

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One in three home contractors flunk background checks

I found out the hard way that not finishing on time or making a mess is not the only crime you have to worry about with a home contractor. I had the unfortunately experience of hiring a handyman who came back a few days after he finished a painting job to burglarize my house, making off with about $40,000 worth of jewelry and other valuables.

So I was not surprised when I read that when home services app SERVIZ put applicants through a pre-employment background check, they discovered that as many as a third of home contractors had prior criminal records.

Concerned at these numbers, SERVIZ then researched and assembled its groundbreaking new Home Safety Rankings (HSR) Index for over 100 metropolitan areas across the U.S. It’s a comprehensive look at statistics and findings on home safety across the U.S., with participation from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and other national organizations.

The list ranked cities according to highly specific home safety and crime statistics, and the results included more than a few surprises, with cities in the Los Angeles, Dallas and San Diego metro areas appearing in the top 10 safest, and with multiple cities in the Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver and other metro areas also falling in the bottom 10 as the least safe.

In addition to the nationwide rankings on 108 cities, the HSR examined the home safety habits and concerns of residents through city page infographics. The study shows homeowners vital facts about their city’s potential safety and offers important statistics and tips, with insights on such cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, New York, Washington D.C., Denver, and Austin.

The study found that Los Angeles’s Home Safety Score was C+, San Diego scored a B-, New York scored a B, and Washington D.C. scored an F. New York ranked 27 (100 is safest) on the Crime Index, with 40,599 annual crimes, while Los Angeles ranked 19, with 121,241 annual crimes. Washington ranked 3 on the Crime Index, with 39,966 annual crimes.

Shockingly, a person’s chance of becoming a victim of a crime is 1 in 33 in L.A., 1 in 41 in New York, 1 in 17 in Washington D.C., 1 in 39 in San Diego, and 1 in 35 across the U.S. (Average). What is even more concerning is that people nationwide are actually unsuspectingly letting criminals into their homes.

SERVIZ found that home service pros failed SERVIZ background checks a rates as high as one in nine in Los Angeles, with as many as 1 in 6 carpet cleaners failing checks. One in six handymen in New York and San Diego failed criminal background checks, and one in four home repair pros failed background checks in Washington D.C.

The statistics may be frightening, but much less terrifying than coming home to a broken window screen and all your jewelry gone and your home ransacked, like mine was, so be smart, and only hire through a verified service that does a thorough criminal background check.

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How to Make Skateboard at Home


A step-by-step guide to making your own skateboard

Making a skateboard at home is very easy it’s not like a rocket science. Some people feel it’s difficult to make a home but will tell you it is straightforward to make. Anybody can make it at home with a little patience and little knowledge of carpentry work, vacuum press, glues and other materials.

Material requires making skateboard at home

  1. Hard rock maple wooden board.
  2. Three high-quality skateboard veneer glue.
  3. Mold for press
  4. Jig saw
  5. Router for rasp
  6. Paint for designing
  7. Painter tape.


The first most important thing to make a skateboard at home. first you have to buy a hard maple not other types of maple like oak and pine because this kind of material is stiff, strong enough and it can’ break easily.

There are three type of veneers they are called

Face – this kind of veneer is sanded from one side and not sanded from another side.

Cross Band – This sheet of veneer is cut with grain but not cut against gain.

Core Layer- This type of sheet is same like a face, but a difference is that it is both sides of veneer is not sanded.

Applying glue at veneer

Once you have all types veneers now next step is to apply glue on it.

Tiebond glue is best for this. Then you can need of screwed on board. Use glue on all side first Apply glue on the unsanded side of a sheet and unsanded side and then apply on the face of a core layer.

Apply pressure

Once you apply glue on all faces of veneer now, it’s time to make pressure on it.

Take two pieces of cardboard about 3 inches long and put the veneer in between mold and cardboard. Next to take 4 channels irons with 20 inches nuts and washers. Tight a channel iron in the center of a mold so to give a tight press. Once this step is done, let it take shape for about one day to make a hard and stiff.

Designing the uncut after rest one day take it out from a mold and remove the piece cardboard. One you unmold it next step if make your design on it. You can use your creativity or use a cadd program for embossing nose to tail and can draw your design on graph paper. But don’t apply a tape on it once your design is not complete according to your choice. Once everything is complete marking for trucks position, and you can start to apply a tape and cut the outlines.

Cutting the Uncut

Once you do this all process the next step to use a band saw because it is a more accurate technique to cut, but if you not have you can use a handy dandy little jigsaw. After cutting is done take a router rasp to curve edges. Then apply sand paper on it.

Assemble a custom board: final step is to assemble your skateboard

Trucks: this is large metal pieces that hold your axle and attached to wheels.

Bearings: it allows to move your wheels smoothly, and it comes in steels and ceramics.

Wheels: the central part of skateboard there is a wide variety of wheels available in a market.

After applying all these on board, your skateboard is almost ready.

Finishing touch:

At last, you can design a logo and other painting according to your choice. Now your skateboard is ready to ride.

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Wax on, wax off


Protect your paint and interior and keep all systems go for summer road trips

Just like your Mom told you, even if the sun is behind the clouds, UV rays can be damaging to your skin; but bet she didn’t mention what those rays can do to your vehicle.  Sun, heat, salty sea air and other harsh environmental elements can take a serious toll on your car or truck, inside and out, and under the hood.  Get your car ready for summer vacation with these DIY maintenance tips.


  • Check your tires. There’s nothing worse than a flat tire on your road trip. Be sure to check for proper inflation pressure, especially since under-inflated tires consume more energy, therefor giving you poorer gas mileage.


  • Protect your car from the sun. Similar to protecting your skin with sun tan lotion, it’s important to shield vinyl, plastic and rubber surfaces on your car from the sun’s harsh UV rays. You can use a product like Meguiar’s Ultimate Protectant, which creates a rich shine & darkness on interior surfaces, while bringing new life to exterior trim, moldings & tires. 


  • Wash and wax your car. Your car’s finish can easily fade and rust from the salty air and sunshine. Be sure to give your car a solid wash and don’t forget to wax before heading toward the shore. You can use Meguiar’s Ultimate Fast Finish, the easiest and fastest way to wax your vehicle in just 10 minutes. Simply spray and wipe with a microfiber towel and your vehicle will have a slick, protective top coat that will deliver up to one full year of water beading protection—no buffing required.


  • Clean the underside of the hood. Any salt and grime build-up remaining from the winter months along with added beach salt could harm electrical connections and fuel and brake lines. Spray Nine Heavy-Duty Cleaner/Degreaser can help wipe away bugs, tar and other unwanted hitchhikers on surfaces and can also help control mold and mildews as well as fungicidal growth.

  • It’s hot out there…don’t forget about your cooling system. The last thing you need on your relaxing trip is a problem under the hood. It’s important to inspect your antifreeze/coolant to make sure it’s free of debris and contaminants. If you notice an issue, flush and fill your system with a mixture of 50 percent concentrated antifreeze and 50 percent distilled water. If your reservoir is low, you can easily top off with Prestone® 50/50 Prediluted Antifreeze/Coolant with patented Cor-Guard® corrosion inhibitors.

  • Wipers! Even if you have not used your windshield wipers in a while, they need regular replacing due to dry rot that can make them ineffective when you need them.  Rain-X Arch beam blade wipers are a step up from standard wipers as they have a curved design engineered to improve pressure distribution on the windshield and a graphite coating, so that they wipe smoothly and chatter-free, plus they are simple to install with nearly all wiper arm styles.
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Amazing DIY ways to redecorate that you think require a professional (but don’t)

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Bring out your inner interior decorator and transform a room yourself, in a day, or minutes

Giving a living space a new look does not always require a major renovation, or a contractor.  Here are a few DIY ideas for refreshing and reviving a room with a fresh new style, no home improvement experience required.

Cut a rug

Do-it-yourself and rug are not usually terms that go together, but FLOR is changing that. This innovative flooring company allows anyone to design their own unique rug, one square at a time, using self-adhesive carpeted tiles that can be laid in custom sizes and shapes, using a huge variety of gorgeous patterns, styles and colors with many textures and piles.

The beauty of the system is that the options are limitless. FLOR tiles can be arranged to fit odd spaces, such as hallways or a room with a nook or a jagged floor plan, or the tiles can be placed to create an area rug or seamless-looking wall-to-wall rug to fit any room. Designing an inspired and creative custom rug is made easy with FLOR’s online Design Studio tool, or you can choose from a selection of pre-designed signature pieces.


For those who like to change up a room’s look often, the tiles can be taken up and moved much easier than an installed carpet; and in areas like kitchens or kids’ rooms, where floors suffer the most spills and stains, individual soiled tiles can be replaced, rather than an entire rug. Available at Prices range from as low as $11.49 to $24 and up per square.













Throw some shade

Recessed lighting has its benefits, but it can lack variety and versatility. Make a room with recessed lighting stand out with EzClipse, stylish shades that fit around recessed lighting fixtures that can transform the look and feel of a room within minutes. A lackluster flat ceiling in any space can be instantly upgraded from traditional to modern.

The shades come in several styles, including metallic and fabric options, and in round and square shapes and several colors and profiles. The covers can be used on an entire ceiling, or only on selected lights or areas to add an element of style, draw attention to an area, highlight artwork or furniture, or give a feeling of separation between multiuse rooms, such as a living room that doubles as an office.


The inner fittings of the shades can be adjusted for the size of the recessed light opening, and even if the existing rims are plastic, self-adhesive magnetic holders can be installed without any tools. Installation is so easy that you can remove and change the covers whenever the mood strikes. EzClipse are available on Amazon or at and also at Costco in Canada. Prices start at $13.99.

Launch pad-ding

There is another way, besides painting or adding artwork, to dress up plain walls. Vänt Wall Panels give an instant new look to a room with a wall décor system of padded panels that snap into a track that anyone can install, no special skills required.

Each wood-backed panel is 1.75” thick and either 30” or 39” long. The panels are filled with foam padding and batting for comfort, and covered with a variety of easy-care materials in a variety of collections of different colors and textures, such as Vintage Leather Finish in Black Coal, White Dove, Saddle Brown, Grey Pewter or Dusty Taupe; and Cotton Weave Finish in Black Denim, Midnight Blue, Toasted Wheat Ash Gray, and Gray Mist.

The panels are ideal as a back board for any size bed, or for use in living rooms to add an inviting softness to a room, in a dining room to add a sleek sophistication, in offices and dens to make a stylish statement, and in kitchens, kids’ playrooms or any room to cover an entire wall or as an accent to enhance the look of a room. The panels can be arranged in a solid-colored configuration, or colored panels can be mixed and matched to create unique, custom configurations to transform the style and ambiance of a room in minutes.



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No-hassle home improvement planning


Organized planning can make turning your home upside down easier on your psyche

Getting ready to undertake a home improvement project? Many homeowners get overwhelmed at the magnitude of a large DIY project or a contracted job, even simply not knowing where to start it and how to get organized. Erin Condren, organization expert and creator of the LifePlanners organizers, offers these professional tips and the tool of her “Level Up Your Life” activity sheet, a customizable actionable checklist Condren created with Liberty Mutual Insurance to help people get organized before, during, and after their home improvement projects.


“I’m all for taking pen to paper when it comes to preparing for any project, so this is a great tool for people to utilize especially if they’re unsure where to start,” said Condren.The first section provides mini checklists to help get organized before embarking on a project, perfect for de-cluttering a room and getting ready for a tag sale with items you plan to sell. When it comes to hiring help and setting a budget, under “Planning for the Big Picture” you can find an easy-to-follow guide that shows what you should be writing down when creating a budget plan and what to make note of when researching contractors.

In addition to the activity sheet, below are tips to follow when taking on a home renovation.

Organization from the Ground Up

I’m currently in the middle of a home renovation,” said Condren, “And I can’t urge people enough to clean out their clutter before starting their renovations.”

According to a recent survey from Liberty Mutual Insurance, lack of organization causes worry for nearly one-fifth of Americans on a regular basis. You do not want to begin a home improvement project with this feeling of worry. Clean out clutter room by room and set solid completion dates for each room to be organized. Setting dates helps hold you accountable and makes sure no room is overlooked.

If the room you’re renovating was used as storage space, sort through your items and decide which can be sold during a tag sale. There might be a reason this stuff has been in storage. De-cluttering this space will help you realize which items you can keep, toss, sell, or donate. You do not want unnecessary belongings taking up living or storage space in your new, remodeled space.

How to Hire Help

Another home survey from Liberty Mutual Insurance found that over one-third (38%) of Americans feel that they need assistance or advice on managing a home improvement project. Some home improvement projects, such as those that involve plumbing or electrical, are best to leave to a professional.

When hiring help, it’s important to research multiple contractors to ensure the most bang for your buck. Create a list that includes the contractors’ names, phone numbers, pros vs. cons for each, project type, and budget quote. This helps organize your thoughts as you’re meeting with each contractor and allows you to reference your conversations later in one fell swoop to make your final hiring decisions.

Budget Appropriately

No matter the home project – big or small – leaving a 15-20% cushion in your budget is necessary. The cushion allows you to be prepared for the unexpected without hurting your wallet in the long run.

Use an organizer, such as the LifePlanner, to write down the project type and project to-dos. Document what you plan to accomplish during the renovation project and the exact improvements that will be happening along the way.

Writing down the step-by-step process will help you visualize how big or small of a project you’re planning. Mapping out the project details in this manner will also make creating the budget an easier process since you can go line by line for each item.

For more budget tips, Liberty Mutual has a new go-to resource MasterThis where you can view more home improvement budget tips in the “Tackle Home Repairs” MasterKit.

“Techorate” to Add Value

Many of us have recently hopped on the smart home bandwagon and installed items like smart home security systems, smart lighting and thermostats, and smart locks in the home. If budget allows, consider purchasing smart home devices, such as locks, security cameras, leak sensors, or smoke/fire alarms. You might be surprised to find that installing these devices can save you money on your home insurance.


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Brand building the right way with Home Depot


The leading name in home improvement opens its doors to a bunch of media influencers, and exposes the nuts and bolts of its operation


I am only allowed to tell you part of what I saw at The ProSpective, but what I can tell you may alter the way you look at Home Depot, and power tools. It did me.

For three days in April I participated in ProSpective, an invitation-only event sponsored by Home Depot in the company’s hometown of Atlanta, where 80 journalists, bloggers and influencers came together to get a look at the latest in tools for DYI and professional use. It was a first-ever opportunity for media to go behind the scenes and see how things work inside the home improvement retailer giant.


On arrivals night, attendees had the option to tour the top-secret Husky lab, a place that is a chamber of horrors for tools, and a playground for kids who became adults who loved to blow up things. As one of Home Depot’s premier brands, Husky ensures its quality by constantly testing the limits on its products. While there were certain areas and tests at the lab that visitors are not allowed to photograph or write about, I will describe what happens there as a cross between YouTube’s Crushit and an episode of Jackass, but in this case engineers and technicians wearing ties and safety goggles are executing the torture tests.


Here we saw machines shaking and dropping boxes from great heights, compressors exerting the weight of two Corvettes on top of tool chests, bolts being purposely rusted and weathered and then subjected to thousands of pounds of torque and force, flashlights frozen into buckets of water at 40°F, and straps and fasteners stretched to the extreme, until they snapped, to make sure they could all withstand superhuman abuse and still meet or exceeded the Husky quality standards, per their lifetime guarantee.


I only wish I could post it all on online, to inspire all of those pyrotechnic-obsessed YouTubers, whose fascination with deconstruction might one day lead to a successful career.

This was our first peek under the hood of Home Depot.


The Town of Home Depot

The official Day One of the event began with a tour of the tiny town that is Home Depot headquarters, though they don’t call it that. To avoid sounding overly corporate, the employees refer to the complex as the Store Support Center, or SSC for short.


Being an iconic American company with over 7,000 people walking through its doors each day, the company realizes it could be a target for bad guys, so security is tight. After showing ID and getting barcoded passes, we went one by one through revolving doors to enter. Once inside, we were given a tour of Main Street, the central passageway through the complex, which includes an on-site CVS and Minute Clinic, Starbucks, a dry cleaner, an in-house fitness center and childcare facilities.


There’s also a museum dedicated to all things Home Depot, with artifacts from its founding days when Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, two guys who got fired from competitor Handy Dan, came up with the concept of a warehouse type hardware store.

An American Dream Story

The founders’ story is a lesson in perseverance. At first they had a difficult time getting buy-in from investors and suppliers. In 1978, the DIY movement was just getting started, and most hardware stores were small neighborhood shops, like ACE Hardware, and customers and vendors were skeptical of the big-box store format. Home Depot couldn’t fill the shelves in the beginning and even resorted to staging racks with empty paint cans to make their inventory look fully stocked.  Eventually, the concept caught on, and the store became the behemoth brand Home Depot is today.


Similar to Disney, there’s a corporate culture of happiness that within a few minutes any employee will tell you about, with complete sincerity and appreciation. They will tell you that Home Depot cares about its people, and that’s why from the top down, the organization has a reputation of being a community member, where local stores give back through contributions of all sorts, including in-kind donations and labor. The company often organizes Team Depot philanthropic projects, where team members join together to give aid to those in need, such as families displaced by natural disasters.

Through the Home Depot Foundation, one of the company’s largest charitable efforts is its support of US military veterans, who the company serves through numerous organizations across the nation and in their local communities at the store level. Home Depot also employs about 35,000 veterans across its 8,000 stores.


Day two of the event was at Atlanta’s Ambient + Studio, an artsy warehouse space, where the leading tool manufacturing brands were on display. Greeted by orange-aproned helpers who handed us bags with 3M earplugs, safety goggles and face masks, the participants were divided into groups so we could tour through the space, visiting demos, similar to a trade show. IMG_5967


The room reverberated with the sound of saws, drills, and nail guns. Representatives from the companies demonstrated the tools, some with entertaining and showy stress tests and comparisons with the competition.


The company representatives were well versed, rehearsed and ready for us. It was hard to choose where to go next, surrounded by so many whirling and buzzing demos.


I tried to get to each of the displays, though I wound up spending a lot of time at the Milwaukee booth, thanks to their very engaging ambassador — a handsome beefy guy with a great laugh and tremendous enthusiasm for his job of showcasing their tools, by putting them through their paces with a number of dramatic demos.


First, he took a competitor’s measuring tape dispenser to task by pounding it with an enormous robot hammer, smashing it to pieces. Then he did the same test with a Milwaukee tape, which didn’t seem to put even a crimp into it. Then he stretched out the tape to 60 feet, alongside a competitor’s measuring tape, with huge balloons attached to the ends of the tapes. He recoiled the tapes at the same time, whereby the Milwaukee tape retracted within seconds, leaving the other leading brand, which I held, trailing behind. As I slowly reeled in the competitor’s tape, he beamed with pride.



What a tool

As I made the rounds, I was treated to previews of the newest, hottest goods making their way to Home Depot shelves. For the do-it-yourselfer, there were drool-worthy tools like the Bosch Daredevil drill bit that can punch through a cinderblock as well as hard steel; the line of Ridged tools for pro or DIY building, that come with free parts, service and battery replacement for life; the Dremel precision tools for engraving on just about anything; the DeWalt cordless air compressor that can go anywhere and double as a generator for your electrical needs for projects – or those outdoor parties; or the Makita pneumatic line-up with tools that can grind through stone, vacuum up the dust and absorb vibration, alleviating some of the worst, hardest, dirtiest and most dangerous aspects of construction jobs. There were also automotive products and accessories companies, such as Armor All, A/C Pro refrigerant, and Rain-x, touting a new long-lasting wiper blade.


Besides demos and hands-on opportunities to try out the tools, attendees also got to talk to various Home Depot brand managers, who informed us about little-known services and departments of Home Depot, like the online Décor department, where customers can shop for everything from mattresses to wine glasses.

Work hard, play hard

After a full day of tooling around, it was dinner time, and game time, at Ponce City Market Skyline Park. This rooftop party space above a retail and restaurant complex, developed from the former crumbling and abandoned Sears, Roebuck & Company building, was a perfect venue for this crowd, who valued what vision, imagination, and industriousness and create.


This place was a grown-up fantasyland: an open bar with craft beers, wine and champagne, delicious hors d’oeuvres of beef sliders, shrimp toasts and chicken skewers; and midway games, mini golf, and even a couple amusement park thrill rides. It was the perfect wind down, to relax in the warm late afternoon Atlanta sunshine, with a view of the city, sipping drinks and socializing in a laid-back atmosphere of literal fun and games.


Winning Team

The next day we boarded the buses bright and early, at 7 AM, to head for a project site, where we were going to help build and repair homes of local senior veterans. The Home Depot crew had to switch gears quickly when the weather turned nasty though. Instead of the outdoor site, we were shuttled to the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta.

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This enormous warehouse and workshop recycles gently used home furnishings and builds furniture for thousands of families a year. The executive director showed us a video of some of the people who whose lives have been transformed thanks to the gift of beds for their families to sleep on, kitchen tables where they could have a meal, and furniture to sit on instead of the floor. Even among the hunky handyman with steely faces I saw some misty eyes, as we all realized the significance of our task at hand.

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We were divided into teams of four or five people per workstation, and from the racks of raw materials, we gathered lumber, bolts and nuts and the various pieces to put together basic furniture items. In a few hours, my team had constructed a kitchen table and three coffee tables. In all, our group of volunteers had put together 44 pieces of furniture, all of which the furniture bank executive director informed us would likely be delivered to families within the week. In fact, while we were working, the kitchen table we had made was claimed and on its way to a home in need.


Our participation in this Team Depot project was the highlight of ProSpective for many of us, as we got to see the Home Depot giving spirit at work, and we individually were able to make a contribution and to learn about Team Depot projects, so that we can get involved in our own communities.


Good work

Throughout the three days, the presentations were highly professional, and the event was well produced, which was even more impressive considering ProSpective was the first event of its type. Busses efficiently transported attendees place to place, and the itinerary was organized and thoughtful, hotel accommodations at Hyatt Atlanta Midtown were excellent, and even the food, including a delectable creamy kale salad to die for, by local caterer Avalon, was superb.


Home Depot hit the nail on the head when the company figured out that inviting influencers in the DIY space and professional contracting world into their world would be the best way to make an impression, by allowing us to immerse ourselves in the inner and outer community that makes up Home Depot. The event left us energized not just about Home Depot, but about our next projects and the new tools we can get our hands on, leaving us looking forward to – as the company slogan says – a lot “more doing.”


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The nightlight with a sense of style, for when things go bump in the night



If you have kids that wander the hallways at night — getting up to go to the potty, get a drink of water, or coming to get mom or dad to scare away the monster lurking in the closet, leaving a light on will  keep them from going bump in the night, but that can be costly.

A better option than traditional nightlight is the OxyLED OxySense T–03S Wall Sconce, a stylish nightlight that is perfect for lighting spaces such as hallways, balconies, stairs, attics, basements, closets and other places where it’s not feasible to install a permanent light fixture, or where you need the convenience of lighting that comes on and goes off only when the hall or room is occupied.

This nightlight, which gets its bright, white light from 14 energy-saving LEDs, is larger than a typical plug-in nightlight, measuring approximately 6 inches wide, and 4 inches tall. It does not require an outlet nearby, because it is charged using a USB micro plug cable or four AA batteries. The light can be mounted with the included adhesive strip or using the supplied screws.

The unique design features a translucent disc that is illuminated behind a brushed silver-look band that features a jewel-cut globe in its center for decoration. The small globe also lights red while the unit is charging and changes to green when it is ready for use.

The fact that this light can be recharged with a USB is a selling point for me, because I hate to be constantly replacing batteries, and because this light uses so little energy, it only has to be recharged approximately every six months. Because of its wireless design and its modern styling, the light can be placed just about anywhere, whereas some nightlights have an industrial look more suitable only for garages or hidden spaces like closets.

I have used other light sensor fixtures, but this by far is the most sensitive, lighting up automatically when it senses human motion within approximately 10 feet, and it turns off 15 seconds after you walk away out of its sensing range.

While it can be moved around as needed to light dark spaces, my OxyLED is permanently affixed above the door in my basement, where now when I enter the room my path is lit so that I can find the light switch, which has always been an irksome task, because the builder decided to hide the light switch behind the door.

If you need a small space lit for convenience or safety, this is the best-looking and easiest night light of its type that I have found.

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Sink Shroom quick fix for broken bathroom sink stopper and clog prevention


Recently I pulled up the metal stopper in my sink, and it came out in my hand. After fiddling with it for about an hour I gave up. A plumber told me the entire assembly needed to be replaced, at a cost of $135.


I decided to live with an open drain, but after a few close calls with Contacts and earrings falling into the sink and almost going into the drain, I decided I needed another option. I found out about A sink strainer and hair catcher called Sink Shroom. It gets it’s moniker from its mushroom shape, with a system that fits down into the drain with a top that rests outside the drain. It has two tabs that keep it from going to flush against the drain.

This little device is designed to catch hair before it goes down the drain, and it can be easily removed and cleaned with a tissue or paper towel. It’s a great option if you don’t want to make an expensive repair, as in my case, or if you have a problem with clogs from hair going into the drain.


My situation being a case in point, plumbers can cost a lot of money, and clogs can cause other problems besides inconvenience, such as requiring the use of dangerous acid-based liquid solutions to dissolve clogs. These chemicals are harmful to your pipes and also a hazard for humans, not just because they can cause skin irritation if they come in contact, but also because they can splash up and some have even been known to blind people.


So far the SinkvShroom has been an easy fix, with no special installation required. I’m not looking forward to cleaning it regularly, but it’s a better option than clogs, and it beats losing my jewelry other items down the drain. One warning though, there is a gap of about a half an inch that allows water flow, so small jewelry can still fall down the drain, but you may get an extra second or two to retrieve it if it bounces off the Sinks Shroom.


The Sink Shroom fits a typical utility sink drain, which is about 1.25 inches in diameter. It’s made of high-grade material that is resistant to corrosion and discoloration. Find out where you can get it at

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An expert offers fireplace do's and don'ts

cozy by the fire

cozy by the fireHome is where the Hearth is

A fire in the fireplace warms a room and casts a beautiful amber glow that creates a cozy, inviting and romantic atmosphere. But many homeowners avoid using their fireplace because of worries about safety or the hassle of starting a fire and cleaning up the mess. Jason Cameron, DIY Network star and home expert for Pine Mountain, offers these tips and ideas for getting your fireplace started and enjoying this hearth-warming feature of your home,

What are factors to consider deciding between a traditional or a gas fireplace?

In order to have a traditional, wood burning fireplace you must have a working chimney for ventilation. A chimney sweep can easily inspect this for you at a reasonable cost with prices averaging between $125 and $250. Other factors to consider are cleanliness, safety and relative cost per use.

How can I inexpensively update an old fireplace?

Fireplaces have come a long way since the traditional red brick and concrete. To achieve a sleek look, replacing dated brick with a metal surround to make your fireplace more contemporary. To achieve an expensive-looking marble look on a budget, use marble-look adhesive paper helps. Simply cut the adhesive paper into squares and cover the existing fireplace tile to transform your space. Applying the paper can bring a new focal point to your room and look like you’ve made a major upgrade. Updating the mantle is another easy option. Dress up your mantle each, like a wreath during the holidays or nautical decorations in the summertime. 


How do I safety and easily start a fire?

Before starting a fire, make sure your fireplace is clean to use. The National Fire Protection Association recommends sweeping and inspecting chimneys at least annually, usually taking place before your first fire of the season. This helps prevent the potential for a chimney fire.

Once your chimney is clean, starting a fire is easy. If you already have a stack of seasoned firewood to use, try a mess-free Firestarter like the new Pine Mountain® ExtremeStart™ Firestarter. Simply place the firestarter below your seasoned firewood, light it at the indicated arrows, and your fire will spark up into flames within minutes, with no need to add kindling.


If you do not have firewood readily available, try an American Home™ by Yankee Candle® Balsam Fir Firelog. The wrapped log, which gives off a fresh scent fresh, is easy to light and requires no maintenance, so you can enjoy the ambience of the fire without having to collect or buy firewood.


What are some tricks to make a fire last longer?

The kind of wood you’re working with is important. Damp or green wood cause creosote buildup and do not light easily. Stack up with dry, seasoned firewood which burns cleaner and longer. Also, keep the display simple. Place larger pieces of wood on the bottom, then place additional pieces of wood in the opposite direction.  Place smaller pieces above this in the opposite direction. This simple patter will keep a fire roaring for hours.

Is there a “wrong” way to use a fireplace?

Manu users overlook safety measures for proper fireplace use. Even if you hire a professional chimney sweep once a year, it’s important to also self-clean your fireplace and chimney. This extra can remove dangerous creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote is the chemical mass of carbon formed when wood is burned that needs to be periodically removed.

One easy way to remove creosote is with a Pine Mountain® Creosote Buster® Firelog.  Simply add the log to an existing fire at the start of the season and after every 40 fires. When heated, the powder in the firelog changes to an active gas and attacks the creosote in the chimney.

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If you opt to start a fire with wood instead of a firelog, choose hard woods like oak and maple that  produce an intense, sustained fire, so you to burn less wood. Minimize soft woods like pine. Pine starts easily but burns quickly and gives off less heat than hardwoods. Pine also contains sap which can cause increased creosote build-up in your chimney.

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