Category Archives: Things to know

Ceiling Fans Save Money Year-Round

Save on cooling costs this summer by utilizing a ceiling fan in the rooms throughout your home. Simply installing a fan and turning it on isn’t going to do the trick, though.

When the mercury climbs, be sure your fans are spinning in a counterclockwise direction to maximize cooling potential. The counterclockwise rotation creates a wind-chill effect – an actual breeze – so air conditioning can be set a little higher while you remain comfortable.

Additionally, make sure you close your exterior doors and windows tightly when the A/C is running. Making sure the weather stripping on all your doors and windows is as important during the summer as it is during the winter; keeping the cool inside while it’s hot outside and vice versa in the winter keeps energy costs from skyrocketing.

When cold weather rolls around again, ceiling fans can help circulate warm air by changing the fan’s rotation to clockwise.

Because warm air rises, the clockwise turn of the fan picks up the air and forces it out and down. The natural circulation of the air means the warm air will rise again, and the fan will distribute the air out and down over and over again.

The clockwise rotation eliminates the breeze effect of the summer and instead creates more warmth throughout the room.

Because cooling down often means feeling a breeze, fan speeds can be medium or higher in the summer but should come down to low for the winter.

For optimal performance in any season, fan blades should be no more than 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. If your ceilings are taller than nine feet or are vaulted, a good general rule is keep blades eight to nine feet above the floor.

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Perfect Snacks for the 4th of July Parade

In many communities across the country, the 4th of July parade is a time-honored and beloved tradition that also make for a great family day out.

To keep the miles of smiles of little ones from turning into trails of tears, we put together a few ideas for patriotic snacks:

1. White pretzel/fruit bags: Fill plastic resealable bags with yogurt-covered pretzels, strawberries and blueberries.

2. Patriotic pretzels: Pick up some large pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate and rolled in red, white and blue sprinkles.

3. Flag-wrapped water: Wrap small, plastic American flags around water bottles or open a few bottles before you leave for the parade and drop in some food coloring for a red, white and blue effect.

4. Firecracker popcorn: We found this recipe over on Pinterest from TheNerdsWife blog. Pop a bag of microwave popcorn according to directions, then spread on a cookie sheet and allow to cool. In the meantime, melt white candy melts and pour over the popcorn. Sprinkle strawberry-flavored Pop Rocks and blue sprinkles over the popcorn. Let it all harden and divide into plastic bags.

4th of July Decorating Made Simple

If you’re having a party for the 4th of July, you might also be thinking about whether or not you should take the time to decorate. We say, “Yes!” because the holiday is essentially a birthday celebration.

So, here are some tips to punch up the patriotic for your 4th of July party using inexpensive and reusable materials:

1. Flowers: If you already have red, white and blue containers that can safely house annual blooms, great. If not, no worries. Spray paint pots you already have, and head to your nearest garden center for plants with red, white and blue flowers. Group the pots together and place them outside. Or, take vases and fill them with cut flowers from the garden and use them as accents on the buffet table or as centerpieces down the center of the table.

2. Old Glory centerpiece: Create a colorful centerpiece celebrating our nation’s most enduring symbol. Wrap a tall, clear, plastic glass in red, white and blue ribbon or fabric and fill the glass with small, American flags. Vary the sizes of the flags to keep it visually interesting.

3. Dollar store delight: Your local dollar store is a treasure trove of holiday decorations. For a centerpiece that only costs $3 – and can be used for several years – use one each red, white and blue balloon weight either in a cluster in the center of the table or spread out down the middle. Buy a few and use them in clusters at each end of the table and on the buffet. From beads you can loop around light fixtures to bunting, and ribbon, the dollar store can help you deck out your digs for the 4th of July.


4th of July Party Topping Desserts

A party for the 4th of July isn’t a true celebration without dessert! After your guests have noshed on appetizers and enjoyed a tasty patriotic meal, they’ll need to indulge in the sweet goodness of these red, white and blue – and easy – desserts.

1. Berry Bright Stars: Use a large (3″) star cookie cutter to create shapes from slices of pound cake. Use smaller star cookie cutters for strawberries. Scoop whipped cream onto pound cake, add the strawberries, garnish with blueberries and enjoy!

2. Easy Fruit Kabobs: Sweet and easy! Cut angel food cake into cubes and thread them onto wooden skewers with strawberries and blackberries in a red, white and blue pattern.

3. Patriotic cake pops: Aside from having to melt white candy coating, this dessert from Better Homes & Gardens couldn’t be easier. Poke a cake pop stick into plain cake donut holes, dip them in red, white and blue sprinkles.

4. Last-minute sparklers: Dress up confetti cupcakes with red, white and blue candy zig zags and/or sprinkles. Buy boxed confetti cake mix and white frosting and prepare the cupcakes according to the directions. After the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost them and decorate.