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Seeking inspiration photos - painted kitchens other than white

posted by: happymrsh on 01.24.2010 at 10:47 pm in Kitchens Forum

Hi, does anyone have photos of kitchens painted colors other than white or black? I'm looking for actually colored cabinets. I'm thinking you all might have an inspiration gallery somewhere? Someone could direct me to that as well :)


clipped on: 02.28.2010 at 11:48 am    last updated on: 02.28.2010 at 11:48 am

Buying pearls

posted by: mariposatraicionera on 01.13.2006 at 12:13 pm in Kitchens Forum

I want to get a strand of pearls for a very special someone. I've never owned or bought pearls before and I'm clueless. They're just not my thing, but my mother would love them.

Any advice would be appreciated. Also, from what I've seen so far, freshwater pearls are a lot cheaper but is the quality that great? I want to give something classy and reasonably good quality.


clipped on: 02.27.2010 at 12:22 pm    last updated on: 02.27.2010 at 12:22 pm

Subway Tiles... Dated?

posted by: jbax on 02.21.2010 at 01:10 am in Kitchens Forum

Let me first say that I do not mean to offend anyone who has subway tiles. I just have a question.

Given the wide use of subway tiles, when do you think this will be "dated"? I like the look of subway tiles and am trying to find something that gives a classy/timeless look. At the same time I like things that are a little less ordinary. But it seems that those are also the things that have the possibility of aging more quickly.

I always thought it was funny when people couldn't decide on something as "simple" as tile. Now I understand! There are some really interesting tiles around, which also tend to be more pricey (read as: not in the budget).

So, black cabinets, gialo ornamental granite... subway tiles? 4x4? or something completely different? Ugh...

P.S. If someone knows of a source for tiles like those from Ann Sacks, etc. but cheaper, please pass it along!


clipped on: 02.21.2010 at 06:56 pm    last updated on: 02.21.2010 at 06:56 pm

Where to buy a nice looking mailbox?

posted by: oldhometara on 04.23.2008 at 08:40 pm in Old House Forum

Anyone have some good sources for buying a nice mailbox, large enough for today's needs but suitable for an old home? I will of course do a google search, but thought I'd start here. I have seen the ones offered by Rejuvenation, Resto Hardware and Van Dykes - all nice, but so far nothing has knocked my socks off. If anyone has some ideas, I'd be very appreciative!


clipped on: 02.21.2010 at 06:19 pm    last updated on: 02.21.2010 at 06:19 pm

Modernaire Hoods -- pics and thoughts?

posted by: marg42 on 01.07.2010 at 04:53 pm in Kitchens Forum

Just wondering what you all think about Modernaire hoods. We were looking at Vent-a-Hood and Zephyr but the Modernaire hoods are beautiful too. Sre they just as good functionally? (i.e., venting?) P.S. I just saw your hood (and kitchen, elizpiz, on the Modernaire site. Beautiful! Did you choose the hood for its performance as well as its great aesthetic?


clipped on: 02.15.2010 at 01:57 pm    last updated on: 02.15.2010 at 01:57 pm

anyone regret getting marble countertops?

posted by: enright on 02.12.2010 at 11:00 am in Kitchens Forum

I really want marble despite the prevailing negative opinions about its use in kitchens. I would like to hear from those who actually went ahead against popular opinion and installed marble countertops. Do you regret it? Would you do it again?


clipped on: 02.15.2010 at 12:49 pm    last updated on: 02.15.2010 at 12:49 pm

bathroom tile FAQ's

posted by: bill_vincent on 07.01.2008 at 09:31 pm in Bathrooms Forum

This is going to take me a while, so I'll post as many as I can each night until it gets done. To start, here's the first set of questions and answers:

Okay, here we go. These questions come from the thread on the discussions side where I solicited questions from everyone for this thread. These are in the order they were asked:

Q) What are the different types of tiles you can use in a bathroom and what are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

A) There are several types of tile available. They fall into two general groups: ceramic and natural stone. I'll take these one at a time:

Ceramic tile-- For purposes of this discussion, there's glazed conventional, unglazed porcelain, and glazed porcelain. All three are good tiles for bathroom use, but the porcelain is a better choice only because of its density and lack of water absorbsion, which makes upkeep and cleaning easier. Also, with reference to steam showers, you DO NOT want to use natural stone, being that the steam would tend to permeate into the stone even more readily than liquid water, and could end up giving you algae problems, as well as mold and mildew problems, unless you don't mind being tied down to your bathroom.

Natural Stone-- There are several types of stone that are used in bathrooms. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're all GOOD IDEAS for bathrooms, expecially the softer (and more absorbant) stones, such as slate or limestone. Now, I know I'm going to get a world of flack about this from epople who have bathrooms finished in these materials. I know they CAN be used.... so long as you're aware of the extra upkeep involved. But if you're someone who doesn't like to keep after things, you may want to pick an easier material to maintain. Generally speaking, the softer the stone, the more the upkeep. Limestone being the softer of the stones, and that would include travertine, next would be many slates (although some would actually be harder than even most marbles, such as brazilian and british slates), then marbles, with quartzite and granite rounding off the list as the harder and more dense stones that you could use.

Q) What should I be sure to look for when choosing tile for a bathroom?

A) Short answer-- something that you like! The bathroom is the one place that just about anything the showroom has can be used. The only limitations are basically the upkeep you want to put in, and slip resistance on the floors of your bathroom and shower. Now, although ceramic tile is basically maintenence free, you don't want to use something with a texture to it that will catch all kinds of junk in the shower, making it more difficult to keep clean. At the same time, you don't want to use a polished stone or bright glazed ceramic tile for the shower floor, either. These both CAN be used, but again, it comes down to upkeep for textured wall tile, and doing something to rectify the slippery floor.

Q) Where should I use tile and where not?

A) Tile can be used on every single surface in the bathroom, if that's what you like. This is all a matter of taste... for the most part. About the only place where there's a requirement is any place there's a showerhead involved. If tile is to be used either in a shower or a tub/ shower combo, The tile MUST go up to a minimum of 72" off the floor. Past that, it's up to the disgression of the owner.

Q) What size tile and what layout patterns to use in various areas?

A) Again, this is a subjective question that can really only be answered by the owner. The ONLY place where there's a recommendation for mechaincal reasons is on a shower floor. TCNA recommends that mothing bigger than 6" be used on shower floors due to the cone shape of the floor's pitch. In addition, most installers will request no bigger than 4", and prefer a 2x2 tile to work with on the shower floor. This is also advantageous to the homeowner who'll be showering in there, because the added grout joints will add more traction to the floor.

Now, I've heard many times that you shouldn't use large format tiles in a small area like a powder room floor, and if you have a wide open bathroom, you don't want to use real small tiles. My response to both is the same-- HORSEHOCKEY. I've done bathrooms both ways-- 24x24 diagonal in a 3' wide powder room, and 1" hex ceramic mosaics in an open 100 sq. ft. bathroom floor. The rule of thumb is if you like it, it's right!

Q) How do I find/choose someone to install the tile?

A) Many people will tell you to get names from the showroom you get your tile from. This is no good, unless the showroom is willing to take responsibility for the installer by either having them on payrool, or as a subcontract. Then they have something to lose if they give you a bad installer. Many people will also tell you to get references and to actually check them out. This ALSO doesn't work. I've been in this work for just under 30 years now, and I've yet to find a single installer who ever gave the name of someone they had a problem with. They say even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while. The same can be said for "fly-by-nights" and good work.

So if you can't trust recommendations, and checking references is a lost cause, what do you do? REVERSE THE PROCESS!! Instead of finding an installer and getting references, get references, and thru them, find your installer!! No matter where you live, if you drive around, you'll find constructions sites and developements. Stop and ask who the GC uses. Get a name and phone number. Sooner or later, after asking around enough, you're going to find that the same names will begin to show up time and time again. THESE are the guys you want to use. But don't expect a bargain price, and be prepared to wait, because these guys will be in high demand, even in the worst of times, and they may demand a bit higher price, but they'll be worth every penny, if for no other reason, just because of the peace of mind they'll give you in knowing you're getting a good quality installation. Ask anyone who's gone through this experience, good or bad-- that alone is worth its weight in gold.

Q) What are the proper underlayments for tile?

A) There are several, and I'll take them one at a time:

CBU (cementitious Backer Units)-- This is the term that generally covers all cement boards (such as Wonderboard or Durock) or cement fiber boards (such as Hardibacker). This is the most common used tile underlayment. Generally speaking, it comes in two thicknesses-- 1/2" and 1/4"-- and each has its use. !/2" must be used for wall installations, due to the fact that the 1/4" is way too flimsy with nothing to back it up, and would flex too much to last. Besides, the 1/2" CBU will usually match up nicely to most sheetrocks. The 1/4" is used for floor installations, unless the added height of the 1/2" is needed to match up to other floorings. Being that neither has very much structural strength, so long as the subfloor is 3/4" or more, the 1/4" CBU is all that's needed. Keep in mind that even though it's basically fiberglass reinforced concrete, the only thing it adds to the floor is a stable bonding surface, so the 1/4" will do just fine. One place where alot of contractors will try and shortcut is by using greenboard instead of CBU for shower walls. This is expressly forbidden in the IRC (International Residential Code) by the following code:

IRC Greenboard Code:
The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) states in
Section R702.4.2 that "Cement, fiber-cement or glass mat
gypsum backers in compliance with ASTM C1288, C1325
or C1178 and installed in accordance with manufacturers
recommendations shall be used as backers for wall tile in
tub and shower areas and wall panels in shower areas."

The 2006 IRC also states in Section R702.3.8.1 that
"Water-resistant gypsum backing board [Greenboard] shall
not be used where there will be direct exposure to water."

Membranes-- There are several around that work well over many different surfaces. Most of them are what's called "Crack Isolation Membranes". Just about every manufacturer has one, from trowel ons or roll ons, such as Hydroment's Ultraset or Laticrete's 9235 or Hydroban, to sheet membranes such as Noble's CIS membrane. All will give the tile a little more protection against movement than just going over CBU. However, there's another class of membranes called "uncoupling membranes" of which the most popular by far is Schluter's Ditra, that are made from bonding two layers together, usually a fabric fleece backing and a plastic sheeting with dovetailed waffling to "lock" the thinset in place ( as opposed to accepting a thinset BOND). These membranes will, as their name implies, uncouple their two layers in case of movement, to save the floor, and for thinset floors, it's the most protection you can give your tile floor.

Plywood-- This is one where I get the most flack. I'm one of a dying breed that still believes in tiling directly over plywood. However, I can very well understand the reluctance of the industry to embrace this installation method, even though the TCNA DOES approve of its use for interior installations (Those with a handbook can check Method F-149). The reason I say that is it's a very "tempermental installation method. You need to be very familiar with what you're doing, or you risk failure. There are even many pros I wouldn't trust to tile using this method. Everything you do is important, from the species of plywood used, to the direction the grain is laid with relation to the joists, to how it's gapped, and a host of other specs, as well-- many of which won't be found in the handbook, and if you miss just one of them, you're flirtin with disaster. All in all, when people ask me about it, I tell them that with the membranes available, there's no need to go directly over plywood. There are other methods that will give you just as long lasting a floor, and aren't NEARLY as sensitive.

Mudset-- This is the oldest, and still, after THOUSANDS of years of use, the strongest installation method available. In a mudset installation, a minimum of 1 1/4" of mortar called "drypack" (mixed to the consistancy of damp sand) is either bonded to a concrete slab, or laid down over tarpaper or 6 mil poly with wire reinforcement, packed, and then screaded off to flat level (or pitched) subfloor. This is what most people see when tiling a shower pan. Initially, the mud will be a somewhat soft subfloor. But over time, if mixed properly, it'll be stronger than concrete.

Q) What are the proper tile setting compounds?

A) This is one where I could write a book. It all depends on what kind fo tile you're installing, and what the underlayment is that you're going over. I'll give a generalized list:

Polymer/ latex modified thinset: For all intents and purposes, this is the "cure-all". For almost any installation the modified thinset, which is basically portland cement, silica sand, and chemical polymers added for strength, will work. There are some that are specialized, such as the lightweight non-sag thinsets (such as Laticrete's 255 or Mapei's Ultralite), or the high latex content thinsets (like Latictrete's 254 Platinum or Hydroment's Reflex), but with the exception of going over some membranes, there's a modified thinset for every installation.

Unmodified thinset: This is the same as above, but with no polymers added. It's usually used in conjunction with a liquid latex additive, but will also be used mixed with water for going over some membranes. It's also used as a bedding for all CBU's.

Medium Bed Mortars-- This is a relatively new class of setting mortars, used mainly for large format tiles, where the normal notched trowels just don't put down enough material, and with thinset, it would be too much, causing too much shrinkage as it dries, causing voids under, and poor bond to, the tile, but at the same time, there's not enoough room for a mudset installation. This mortar is usually used with either a 1/2x1/2" or 1/2x3/4" notched trowel.

Mastics and Premixed Thinsets: THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! Let me say that again-- THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! They work well for vertical installations, where the tile used is 8x8 or less, and it's not a wet area. ALL THREE of those conditions must be met!! I know just about every pail of type 1 mastic says it can be used in showers except for the floor. DON'T BELIEVE IT!! Also, both mastic and premixed thinset (which is just mastic with a fine sand mixed in to give it bulk) claim they can be used for floor installations. Unfortunately, for the amount of material needed under virtually all floor tiles to bond to the subfloor, neither of these will fully harden. I had a personal experience where I helped a sister in law across country, telling her husband exactly how to do his main floor, what to use, and how to use it. Unfortunately, he went to the big box store to get his tile and materials, and they talked him into using premixed thinset. I didn't hear about it until SIX MONTHS LATER when his tile and grout joints started showing cracks all over the floor. When he called me I asked him what he used for thinset, and sure enough, this is when he told me. I told him to pull one of the tiles, and SIX MONTHS LATER, IT WAS STILL SOFT!!! DOn't let them talk you into it!! Use the proper thinset, and don't try and shortcut your installation. You're spending alot of money for it to be "just practice"!!

Q) How do you deal with different thicknesses of tile?

A) Whatever it takes. I've used membranes, built up the amount of thinset being used, I've even doubled up tiles when it worked out that way. Whatever it takes to get the two tiles to be flush toeach other.

Q) What are the typical tools required to lay tile?

A) Generally speaking, this is a list for just about all installations. Some may require specialized tools, but this would be for all:

Proper sized notched trowel
measuring tape
chalk line
margin trowel
high amp low speed drill and mixing paddle (best would be 6 amp or better and less than 400 rpm)
several buckets
score and snap cutter for straight ceramic cuts
4 1/2" grinder with a continuous rim dry diamond blade for ceramic, anything other than straight cuts
wet saw (can be used for ALL cuts, ceramic or stone)
grout float
hydra grout sponges (2-- once for grouting, one for cleaning)
24" and 48" levels (for vertical work)
heavy duty extension cords
screwgun or nailgun (where CBU will be used)

Q) What about tile spacing and tpes of grout?

A) According to Dave Gobis from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in Pendleton, South Carolina, there will finally be a new standard for ceramic tile next year. The tolerances are shrinking. There will also be a standard for rectified tile. Along with that, there will be a revision to the installation standards that will specifically recommend a grout joint no less than 3 times the variation of the tile. For rectified tile the minimum grout joint width will be .075 or just over a 1/16".

As for grout, there's only one thing that determines whether you use sanded or unsanded grout, and that's the size of the grout joint. Anything less than 1/8" you use unsanded grout. 1/8" or larger, you need to use sanded grout. The reason is that the main ingredient in grout is porland cement, which tends to shrink as it dries. In joints 1/8" or larger, the grout will shrink way too much and end up cracking ans shrinking into the joint. The sand give the grout bulk, and the sanded grout won't shrink nearly as much and therefore, can be used in the larger joints.


clipped on: 01.19.2010 at 02:14 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2010 at 02:14 pm

What was your best bathroom remodeling decision?

posted by: ashlander on 02.19.2007 at 12:40 am in Bathrooms Forum

We're having a difficult time making decisions for our bathroom remodel: choice of shower stall, toilet, flooring, counter, and perhaps even a fireplace. This will be the first and only remodel for our bathroom, so we hate to mess up.
Would appreciate any words of wisdom or advice.
What do you regret? What would you change? What was your best decision concerning the bathroom?


clipped on: 12.27.2009 at 01:49 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2010 at 02:06 pm

RE: aga or other non ss range wanted (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: marthavila on 01.17.2010 at 08:16 pm in Appliances Forum

The Aga Legacy 36" provides you with 5 gas burners (with max btus of 15,000 on the ultra-rapid burner); a multi-featured, programmable conventional oven; a programmable convection oven and a dedicated broiler. As you already know, it comes in several colors, is of a very traditional style and comes fairly close to meeting your price ceiling. Keep in mind, btw, that Aga's offer of free cookware is for purchase of an Aga cooker only, not an Aga Legacy. Again (as I posted in another recent Aga thread this week), when talking Aga, everyone should note that there are several different classes of machines with different levels of performance functions, styles, and, of course, price points. All Agas are just not the same and the differences are not just in size!

I'm also thinking, Cosmocat, if you are looking for a colored range that is of more traditional styling, you might want to consider looking at refurbished vintage ranges. IMO, they look beautiful and many of them are suited to satisfy cooks with large families. Below is a link to just one dealer of these restored vintage beauties but a Google search can give you several more.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Antiques/Vintage Stove Vendor


clipped on: 01.19.2010 at 01:19 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2010 at 01:19 pm

I hate my new Bosch DW. It does NOT clean dishes

posted by: kaismom on 01.16.2010 at 12:03 am in Appliances Forum

I bought a mid range Bosch (Integra 500, I think) at Sears about 6 months ago because my 10 year old Asko died. The reason I bought a Bosch was due to price being cheaper than a Miele by about $500 due to their spectacular sale, and I knew that I would replace the DW when I did my kitchen remodel. I had intended to move the DW to the rental house we own. The dishwasher is so bad that I would be ashamed to give it to my renter. I am really regretting that decision to save money now.

I have been trying to make this DW work but the bottom line is that the dishes are not clean. I am used to the way my Asko washed. They were clean. Just a good solid DW that did its job.

The current Bosch behaves as if the filter on the DW does not trap all the particles. There are bits of food particles still stuck on the dishes. It is very noticeable on the glasses. The glasses are now starting to etch also, which I did not notice before. We do not have hard water. We are on the city water.

We had the installation guy come and show us the high loop because I thought that may be the culprit. Not so. It is installed properly.

What am I doing wrong? Anything that can be done?

The installation guy told my DH that all new dishwashers are about like this because the motors are small on them and they don't have the pressure to wash the dishes properly. He also said we should rinse the dishes well. I don't think so. I think he is full of hogwash.

Luck would have it, we have run out of the time that we can just return the appliance... We will try to return it to Sears but....

In the meantime, help. Anything I can do?

Because of my DW fiasco, I am reminded that my mother refused to use the DW in a brand new home she bought in the 80s because it did not wash the dishes well. After a decade or two, they got a new DW and started to using it all the time. I see why my mother refused to wash the DW. I am about there.


clipped on: 01.19.2010 at 01:07 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2010 at 01:07 pm

Has anyone done an Eco-friendly renovation?

posted by: warmfridge on 12.23.2009 at 10:45 pm in Kitchens Forum

Has anyone done an eco-friendly kitchen renovation? Used wheatboard cabinets? Recycled materials in their countertops? Vetrazzo or Enviroglas? Did you encounter any online resources that were particularly helpful? Any advice on a green remodel?


clipped on: 01.14.2010 at 08:58 pm    last updated on: 01.14.2010 at 08:58 pm

What does DIY radiant floor heat cost and would you do it?

posted by: staceyneil on 08.29.2009 at 10:51 am in Bathrooms Forum

We had to gut our bathroom to the floor joists to repair an leak/mold problem, which means new subfloor and tile. I'm considering adding radiant floor heat when we rebuild the floor. I don't know all that much about it, except that it sounds darn nice for cold winters here in Maine.

Here's my understanding and questions... can you folks confirm/answer?

1) Cost to DIY??? The floor area not occupied by shower and toilet will be about 40 sf. We are on an INCREDIBLY tight budget since this mold/leak forced the remodel a year before we had planned and we are broke.

2) Energy efficiency? The bathroom has forced hot water baseboard heat, which we're reconfiguring when we remodel. Electric radiant floor heat does not sound very green, but, no, we can't afford hydronic! We do NOT take showers at the same time every morning, so I imagine we'd have this on pretty much all the time as supplemental heat?? Is that just stupid and energy-wasteful?

3) Resale value-- I think is probably very good, no? A good way to justify the expense ;)



clipped on: 12.27.2009 at 01:48 pm    last updated on: 12.27.2009 at 01:48 pm

Finished Kitchen~White, Marble, Soapstone

posted by: katieob on 12.04.2009 at 02:57 pm in Kitchens Forum

Hi all.

A huge thank you to everybody on this forum who helped graciously with advice, photos, experience & info. What an incredible resource this is. Shout outs to Erikanh & marthavila for hood help, willowdecor for tile, all the stoners, and many more.

We moved in last week-bottom trim on fridge & dw are still missing, excuse the messy bottoms.

I'll be happy to provide details if anyone wants them.

Thanks for looking!





Marble Close Up


Soapstone Close Up



clipped on: 12.14.2009 at 09:30 am    last updated on: 12.14.2009 at 09:30 am

getting frightened away from bosch DW now

posted by: wade_clara on 08.12.2009 at 05:05 pm in Appliances Forum

My wife and I were all set on getting a Bosch DW. Then I decided to read a bit more and make certain of our decision. All the experiences I've read about have been hit and miss with Bosch and I have not been able to find anyone complain about their Miele. The cheapest Miele in SS I can find is $1149. The Bosch is $729, that's a considerable price difference. We're already over budget on this remodel so should we just go for broke here and get the Miele?

I'm concerned about future headaches down the road. And if there are any problems I want good customer service.

Just looking for some advice on this decision.



clipped on: 12.13.2009 at 02:54 pm    last updated on: 12.13.2009 at 02:54 pm

I am so OVER the high end appliances.....

posted by: momtokai on 09.14.2009 at 07:56 pm in Appliances Forum

Over the years, I have used many different brand high end appliances at various places and also have used so so appliances.

This is my take:
Dishwashers: most wash dishes well enough. None of the Euro DW dry as well as the American ones. But they don't burn up the plastic either. Either you adapt to the cutlery rack on the top, or you don't. The more you pay, the quieter they are. Only you know if it is worth $1000 more for that quietness (they sure are quiet when you spend enough) and the dreaded top rack....

Refridgerator: they all keep food cold. I am short. I could not even reach the top rack on Liebherr in my relative's fridge in Germany. Not a good brand for me. Subzero sure looks nice, so is the Kitchen aide built in etc, so is Liebherr. Only you know if it is worth a semester of your kids college tuition more than the standard fridg.

Gas cooktop: Viking, Wolf, Thermador etc are powerful. You also need to upgrade your pots and pans. If it does not simmer well, $20 disc will do the job. I would say this is the only one where the price you pay get you something worth while for the sauteeing and stir frying at high heat. Even so, only you know if you cook enough to make the difference. They all boil pasta sooner or later.

Ovens: They all seem to work well enough except the real real cheap ones where the temperature is not well caliberated. Even so you can always make up the difference with a $20 oven thermometer.

I have managed to put fabulous meals on our sail boat with minimal appliances and some botched meals on our high end appliances. For those of you that can cook, you can do it on anything. If you can't cook, it does not matter what you cook on!

The worst of all, you never know if you have made the right decision when you spend SO MUCH money. This is the most agonizing part. Sure they look great when they are new and shiny but what about 5 years later? Will they blow up, burn up (which some of my appliance did) fall apart and cost you many thousand dollars again?

Decision, decision, decision.....


clipped on: 12.10.2009 at 10:19 am    last updated on: 12.10.2009 at 10:20 am

RE: Appliance advice (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: sfjeff on 12.09.2009 at 06:11 pm in Appliances Forum

Hoods -- Modern-Aire is excellent in both performance and appearance. They are some of the most helpful in the market to work with.

Here is a link that might be useful: Modern-Aire


clipped on: 12.10.2009 at 01:27 am    last updated on: 12.10.2009 at 01:29 am

New snow blower owner questions

posted by: nor_easter on 08.15.2005 at 02:47 pm in Tool Shed Forum

I took advantage of the tax free day here on Staurday and invested in a smaller 2-stage snowblower. I believe I heard of people treating the inside of the auger-housing/auger/impeller/chute with everything from auto wax, quickdetailer, cooking sprays, to soaps and petroleum lubricants to aid in keeping the snow from sticking. Is this all a farce or do these suggestions really work? I know its early in the season and because I purchased this blower it will never snow, but I was wondering how to increase its performance/longevity from the starting line. It is contructed entirely of metal including the chute so I assume that autowax would be the obvious choice, but I would like some real world opinions as I have never logged many hours behind one of these.


clipped on: 12.09.2009 at 01:16 pm    last updated on: 12.09.2009 at 01:16 pm

RE: snow blower maintenance (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: on 06.30.2009 at 12:59 pm in Appliances Forum

Sounds like a belt stretched or broke. There is a cover about mid-machine to protect the belts. Pull off the cover and inspect.

By the way there are better forums to post on this topic.

Try these:


clipped on: 12.09.2009 at 01:12 pm    last updated on: 12.09.2009 at 01:12 pm

LONG: Should I Talk Myself Out of 48'' BlueStar Range??

posted by: drjoann on 11.30.2009 at 06:02 pm in Kitchens Forum

We're getting darn close to picking a builder for a custom home in the Greenville, SC area & I'm starting to waffle on getting a 48" BlueStar range or if I to go back to induction. (I currently have a smoothtop electric.) When we first got our lot, I knew that there was no natural gas & I ruled LP out. I did a bunch of reading and decided that I wanted an 36" induction cooktop and 30" double electric wall ovens.

Since we will have an LP tank for our fireplaces and backup generator, the 1st builder we talked to assumed that I would have gas in the kitchen. So, I read up on gas and thought I would choose between either a 36" BlueStar cooktop and the electric wall ovens or a 48" BlueStar range which would have two ovens. I have the budget and the space for either configuration.

Also, I'm now back to thinking about induction which would cost about the same in terms of money & "real estate" as the 36" gas cooktop & wall ovens. What really worried me is another induction thread which said that a pot of water for pasta takes 10 minutes to boil on induction and 20 minutes to boil for gas. Yikes! My SIL had gas which they replaced with induction since it took so long to boil water. Usually, I would take anything she has to say about cooking with a grain of salt, but I experienced how long it took when I cooked dinner at her house one Christmas. Timing was all off because of how long it took to boil the potatoes.

I'm leaning toward the 48" range for the following reasons:

* The oven configuration is more like an "oven and a half" that was recently discussed. I've had that before & I like it.

* The wall where the ovens would go is now freed up for a "garage" for blender, food processor & mixer to be stored at the most accessible height.

* I can have 6 burners and a griddle and no crowding.

* It just looks cool & would be a real focal point.


* 12" bigger - but that wall is 10'6" with no other appliance or sink.

* Ovens are lower - because I'm short, the wall oven stack would have to be low enough so the top oven wasn't too far above shoulder height so I think the lower wall oven would be about the same height as the range ovens.

* 48" at least $1K more expensive - money isn't a huge issue, but I don't want to just throw it away if the other configuration is about the same or better in terms of functionality.

* Heat from ovens while I am cooking - this is the only item that really concerns me. The BlueStar doesn't have a self-cleaning cycle so the insulation is much less. This gives a bigger oven cavity, but there is more heat transfer when you stand in front of it. I remember this being unpleasant in the summer when I lived in NJ and had a gas range (20 years ago), but didn't have AC up there.

So, have a talked myself into something I don't really need or should I just go for it? Also, how serious is my concern about boiling water on gas being slow as opposed to induction? (The BlueStar does have a 22,000 BTU burner.) Cookware isn't as much of an issue because much of mine will work on induction.


clipped on: 12.05.2009 at 12:22 pm    last updated on: 12.05.2009 at 12:22 pm

wood counter tops

posted by: cjays on 12.02.2009 at 08:46 pm in Kitchens Forum

Who supplies wood counter tops? Thinking about changing out to wood and not sure where to go for them. Thanks.


clipped on: 12.05.2009 at 11:20 am    last updated on: 12.05.2009 at 11:20 am

moving to small nyc kitchen

posted by: palomalou on 07.22.2009 at 04:26 pm in Kitchens Forum

What have those who have downsized the kitchen (heavens!) done that worked/didn't work? I think I'll be going to 25% of the cabinet space unless I cannibalize a hall closet. Not moving now, but I want to start planning as well as dumping stuff that we don't use anyway. Thanks!


clipped on: 09.18.2009 at 07:45 pm    last updated on: 09.18.2009 at 07:45 pm

RE: Good grief, DH likes carrara marble now, help! (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: erikanh on 08.27.2009 at 12:56 am in Kitchens Forum

Oh man! Why'd you have to go and show DH the marble??

Seriously though, you won't have to worry about stains if you seal the marble. I used 511 Impregnator that I bought at Home Depot to seal my countertops twice when they were installed 6 months ago.

I have a very messy DH and DD. Very messy (sigh). These are the some of the spilled substances that have been left on my Carrera marble overnight.

red wine
cranberry juice
soy sauce
Cosmopolitan martini
black bean sauce

I cook with tomato sauce, lemons and balsamic vinegar without fear! This week I spilled half a bottle of vanilla when I was baking DH's birthday cake. I expected it to get a big etch mark, but nothing.

Sealing doesn't prevent etching, but I've been able to buff away any noticeable etch spots by using a wet scrubbie and a little bit of Barkeeper's Friend. I'm not sure if this method will work for everyone's marble, but I have a very matte honed finish on my countertops. I learned about this method for removing etching on the Vermont Quarries website.

One caveat: marble is softer than granite. You don't want to cut on it or throw your keys down on it because sharp objects can leave scratches. You can also get "bruise marks" if you bang a heavy pot on it ... looks like a little white spot.

I'm linking you to a blog where the homeowner performed a very thorough stain test on his marble.

Good luck with your decision!


Here is a link that might be useful: Sealing Marble: The Acid Test


clipped on: 08.27.2009 at 09:50 pm    last updated on: 08.27.2009 at 09:50 pm

RE: Marvin windows a cold experience (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: tru_blue on 09.04.2007 at 09:18 pm in Windows Forum

The level of service one can expect from Marvin dealers varies from dealer to dealer. Marvin does not include labor in their warranty, so it's often up to the dealers to decide how much support they're willing to offer. It's unfortunate that you've been given the runaround; some Marvin dealers/distributors are more responsive. Pella and Andersen, the two other manufacturers you mentioned, both have service departments that make house calls. Enough on service.

As for the ice, I have lots of comments. It's unlikely that it's Marvin's fault. The problem usually lies with the glass system chosen for the given environmental conditions. I'm going to throw a lot of statistics at you to address your issues regarding ice buildup on your windows. Keep in mind that these stats are based on a worst-case scenario of 0 outside and 70 inside, which even in northern climates seldom occurs.

You mentioned that the Pella and Andersen products in your home do not have ice, but that the Marvin products do have ice. Your builder may not have used Low E glass in the Marvin products. I hope for your sake that they did use it. If not, your windows are more prone to condensation and ice.

Now for some stats. If Marvin windows, or any window for that matter, is double glazed clear insulating glass, the center-of-glass roomside temperature would be about 44-45. (Incidentally, single pane windows with a storm window would be about the same) Adding a Low E coating to the glass bumps it up to about 52, and Low E insulating glass with Argon gas raises the glass temperature to 57-58. Not bad for 0 outside.

However, the edge-of-glass temperatures are much lower than center-of-glass. The type of spacer that separates the panes of glass greatly affects the edge temperature, and there are many different types of spacers. Naturally, condensation, and even ice, would normally occur at the edge first, since that's the cold "weak spot." Clear IG with an aluminum box spacer has an edge temp of only about 29. Thats the spacer that you probably have with your 1990s-vintage Marvins. Low E glass with an aluminum spacer only raises it to about 32. So even with Low E glass, if you have an aluminum spacer you have a weak spot. Then there are "warm edge" spacers, which are warmer and provide more condensation resistance. Stainless steel spacers are about 37 edge temp on a Low E/argon unit (thats primarily what Pella and Andersen use, and Marvin now uses it on most but not all of their windows), and presumably (don't have exact stats on this) Superspacer (mainly found in some brands of vinyl windows) would be at the top at about 39-40. If you have Pellas Designer series with or without between-glass blinds, its the highest possible at a whopping 52 edge temperature because its triple glazed with one pane being a removable glazing panel. Again, warm edge spacers typically range from 35-39, but still tend to max out in the upper 30s. I'd say that if you have aluminum spacers between the glass and are getting ice buildup, you have a humidity level higher than what an aluminum spacer system can handle. If you had warm edge spacers or triple glazing (which you probably have in the Andersen/Pella products), you would be able to maintain a higher humidity level before ice/condensation would occur, but even then it would occur if the indoor humidity is high enough.

Now for the fun part. If you cover a Low E/Argon gas unit with some type of roomside window treatment (blind, shade, shutter, etc.) the center-of-glass temperature drops from about 57 to only 36. That's an amazing 21 drop. I don't have any exact stats on what that does to the edge temperature, but I would imagine it must drop 5-15 as well. (Oberon, any data on that?) Even a couch or desk in front of a window will significantly reduce the glass temperature if the furniture is partially blocking part of the window.

Enough stats. Condensation, and worse yet, ice, can NOT occur unless two conditions are present at the same time: high humidity and cold temperatures. The cold temperatures on your windows could be due in part to concealed damage, missing or defective weatherstrip, poorly-fitting windows, faulty installation, or just because of cold winter weather. If you have cold weather but low humidity, condensation can not occur. Both have to be there. If you're experiencing ice buildup on your windows, you have too much humidity given the current outside temperature with the existing glass system that is in the home (assuming that the windows are properly installed and not defective in some way). Im guessing you have aluminum spacers on double glazed windows from Marvin. There are TWO basic solutions: raise the glass temperature or lower the humidity. That's it in a nutshell - those two things. More about those in a bit. First, I'd buy a digital hygrometer from Home Depot, Radioshack, a hardware store, etc. to measure the amount of humidity in the house (about $10-$29). You need to know that. Then I'd contact the Marvin dealer or their distributor to see if there is anyone that can come to the home to troubleshoot any obvious problems (it sounds like youve already tried that though). They can hopefully also provide you with a brochure on condensation that has recommended humidity levels for various outdoor temperatures. Most window manufacturers have one. You can even look online for window manufacturer's recommended humidity levels.

RAISE THE GLASS TEMPERATURE - There are many things that can be done to raise the glass temperature. For old existing windows, the best solution is often to replace them with modern, energy-efficient windows. Obviously that's not your ideal solution - you have a newer home with 17 year old windows. Another way to increase the glass temp is to upgrade to Low E glass, but let's hope you already have that. But there still ARE many ways to improve your situation. One that doesn't cost anything is to keep your window shades open during bitter cold spells (or have between-glass shades which wouldnt stop circulation in the room against the glass). Although you will avoid the huge temperature drop previously mentioned, privacy is compromised when shades are open or partially open, and it may help but not completely solve your problem because yours is so severe. Other ways to raise the glass temperature include taking out roomside casement screens during the winter, using free standing fans or ceiling fans to better circulate air against the glass, and adding a storm window (I hate to see that though - it shouldn't be necessary).

LOWER THE HUMIDITY - I haven't searched for any previous posts on reducing humidity, but if they exist could someone please post a link to that topic? One of the best solutions for a new home is to have an air-to-air heat exchange ventilator installed to the furnace. It's required by code I believe in Canada and some northern states now. It brings in the dry fresh air from the outside and exhausts the stale humid air - giving you healthy air to breathe and lowering the humidity to the desired level. New homes are built so much more airtight than older homes, so they often need mechanical help to get air exchanges. Older homes exchanged air by being drafty. Dehumidifiers will help too, but are not as effective, since they usually can't get the humidity low enough. Great for basements though. Other ways include running exhaust fans when showering (and leave them on for a while), or simply stop bathing ;-)

In summary, unless there is a defect with the windows (there probably isn't), condensation can and will occur under the proper conditions. Even ice can form if the humidity is high enough, the temperature is low enough, and other factors are in place such as restricted airflow to the glass. You need a humidity-measuring device to see if your humidity is too high. You might want to contact the Marvin dealer again. And ultimately somebody has to address raising the glass temperature or lowering the humidity. Let us know what happens, please!


clipped on: 08.27.2009 at 02:30 pm    last updated on: 08.27.2009 at 02:30 pm

cleaning made easy

posted by: dxcspilk on 08.04.2006 at 04:47 pm in Cleaning Tips Forum

After buying a package of Windex wipes and using litterally one to clean my bathroom from mirrors to sink/counter to the toilet (then flushing the wipe!) I thought there has to be more ideas out there for easy cleaning!

I *hate* cleaning bathrooms and floors and even was going to hire a housekeeper at one time for these (decided against it for now).

I would love to hear your ideas for cleaning easy.


clipped on: 08.08.2009 at 03:03 pm    last updated on: 08.08.2009 at 03:03 pm

RE: Is the Ladybug worth it? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: housekeeping on 07.15.2008 at 01:23 am in Cleaning Tips Forum

I have a Ladybug and I don't think it's terribly effective on really grungy bathroom grout. In fact, I think the whole idea of steam cleaning is hugely over-promoted.

But I do like my 'Bug and wouldn't want to part with it for a couple of uses. I don't have a self-cleaning oven and it's quite effective (and enormously less ghastly) than than fumey-oven cleaners at getting off routine grease. I also really like it for heavy cleaning of my plaster walls and ceilings, I wouldn't use it on dry-wall, though. It is particularly effective at stopping mold and mildew in its tracks.

I find vinegar much more effective and far less trouble for cleaning up water spots on fixtures and shower walls. I think the idea of steaming one's toothbrush with the appliance you use to clean the toilet is truly gross, so I've never tried it.

The 'Bug isn't very effective at cleaning cotton or linen upholstery, nor does it do much to perk up wool or silk oriental rugs. I have no w/w carpets of synthetics so I have no idea what it does there.

You can do a quick, light, cleaning of painted woodwork with a 'Bug, but you have to be careful as you can lift the paint right off (which is some circs. is a good thing - you can use the steamer to strip woodwork, too.)

I have done a bit of cleaning on my wood floors (old, unfinished, wide-plank, pumpkin pine), but this is more in the line of restoration than routine cleaning. I imagine it would work rather nicely on tile, vinyl, and possibly laminate flooring, but I have none of those.

I once steamed the inside of a car and it did a pretty good job of getting out a smokey smell.
I also use it to disinfect, well, really just to sanitize, animal cages and crates of which I have a big need as I do animal rescue. I have heard of bird-owners using it instead of cleaning chemicals which can easily kill birds.

I like it that the machine doesn't leave the surfaces wet, but it does certainly raise the overall room humidity, something to think about if you live in a really humid climate, or as I do in a climate where it's very cold and excess humidity can be a real problem when wet indoor air condenses on cold window sashes in the winter.

One of the things that isn't really obvious is that the steam doesn't really clean anything, you still have to wipe down the surfaces to remove the loosened dirt. This surprised me because I saw the cloth-wrapped nozzles and thought they would be doing the cleaning. They do do some, but it's the cloth in the other hand that really shifts the soil.

I bought several dozen of the white towels much more cheaply at an auto-parts store than from 'Bug dealers, though you do have to watch the sizes at WalMart or Autoworld.

And you can get a painful steam burn, if you're not careful.

Overall I do like my 'Bug, but I was surprised at all the things it doesn't do that I was expecting. BTW, I saved a lot of money by buying an "open box" machine that had been returned, checked out and then offered for sale. You might ask your retailer (I bought mine on-line) if they have any open box ones. Mine works perfectly.




clipped on: 07.22.2009 at 10:23 am    last updated on: 07.22.2009 at 10:23 am

RE: Cats EyesOut? re Deterring Cats Raised Beds (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: violet_z6 on 03.21.2007 at 09:06 pm in Square Foot Gardening Forum

Limiting your research to just existing threads isn't going to help you determine your answer. What you need to do is talk with places such as the International Cat Association, the Cat Fanciers Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association. Hopefully word has gotten out and people are using any number of the many alternative methods to deter cats which is why you don't find current articles.

What is important to know is that not all cats respond the same way. While they may not literally "scratch their eyes out", they can damage their eyes since cleaning their face with their paws is a regular ritual. Either way, it's potential cruelty and not something most normal human beings would want to be responsible for causing. Most of us humans have accidentally rubbed our eyes after handing hot peppers or cayenne and we know how it feels.

Cat Deterrents for your Garden:

Keep in mind that each cat is different (like people), what works for one may not necessarily work for another. On the plus side, most cats will keep pesty squirrels, moles and other critters out of your garden. They're great for keeping out moles, rabbits, squirrels, and other critters which can do more damage in your garden than a cat ever will. Birds aren't stupid, they watch for cats and stay away. Sometimes natural law comes into play and the quicker animal wins, it's natural law.

If the cats have owners, talk to them without being confrontational. The cat owner who allows his cat to damage other peoples' property is as guilty as the cat hater who kills the cat for trespassing. Remember, cats will be cats, and it is unfair of us to blame them for being what they are and how nature intended them to participate in this world. After-all, we praise them when they catch mice or rats or other creatures we deem to be 'pests'.

* amonia soaked (corncobs, etc)
* aluminum foil
* bamboo skewers
* black pepper
* blood meal fertilizer
* bramble cuttings
* Carefresh - "recycled" wood pulp
* catnip - donated into your neighbor's yards (so they'll stay in their own yards)
* cedar compost
* chicken wire (metal or plastic)
* cinnamon
* citrus peels
* citrus spray
* cocoa bean shells
* coffee grounds -fresh & unbrewed, not just a light sprinkling (highly recommended by MANY Gardenwebbers!)
* dogs
* electric fence for animals
* essence of orange. essence of lemon, lime (citrus essential oils)
* fresh manure(ditto)
* garlic cloves
* gumballs from the Sweet Gum Tree
* gutter covers
* hardware cloth
* heavy bark mulch
* holly leaves
* keep the area damp, they like dry soil
* lavender
* liquid manure (good for your garden too)
* motion sensor sprinkler
* pennyroyal
* pinecones
* pipe tobacco
* plastic forks
* predator urine
* red wine vinegar
* river rocks over the exposed soil
* rocks, crushed
* rose bush clippings
* rue, an herb (Ruta graveolens) (highly recommended in plant form only)
Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler
(do a search or
Shake-Away Domestic Cat Repellent Urine Powder
(do a search or
* short twigs throughout the planted area about 6" apart
* six-inch bamboo skewers (pointy side up)
* Spray on your leaves (not the cat): fill a spray bottle with 1/2 t chili powder, 1/2 t cayenne pepper, 1 t dish soap and water
* squirt gun with water
* talk to your neighbors
* tansy
* thorny berry, lilac, hawthorn, rose clippings
* toothpicks
* upside down vinyl carpet
* vinegar sprayed on areas where they roam
* water bottle on "stream"

*** chili powder, red crushed pepper, cayenne pepper (NOT recommended), it gets on the cat's paws then they wash themselves and they get it in their eyes, beware cats have literally scratched their eyes out because of this. Even if it's one cat out of 500 infected in this way, that's one too many for me.
*** Don't ever use mothballs or flakes. Those little toxic waste pellets destroy cats' kidney function, could seriously harm people who handle them, and yes, contaminate your own garden soil. Their packaging even warns against using them this way.

Give them their own areas:

(To keep them out of where you don't want them)
(If you don't mind them protecting your garden from other critters)

+ Pick the cat up and bring it to eye level with the plant to see and smell it up close. Usually, once a cat seen and sniffed at the plant, she usually doesn't bother with it later.

+ give them their own plants - i.e., pots of grass for her to chew on and a place in a large planted container on her balcony with some miscanthus grass in it (the cat likes to curl up in that for some reason)

+ if the cats are strictly indoors and attracted to your houseplants, grow catgrass for them. If someone forced you to remain inside one enclosed structure all your life, you might be attracted to the plants too.

+ Barley Grass
+ Any type of "catgrass" from the pet store
+ Carex elata 'Bolwes Golden' but put it in some shade
+ Catmint
Nepeta mussini
cultivars (Simply put, Catmints are Catnips without any culinary or feline use. In any case, they are, however, phenomenal, long flowering, hardy perennials that belong in every fairie or flower garden.)
+ Catnip
Nepeta cataria
(in your own yard) The oils of which also work as a mosquito repellent that works 10 times better than Deet! Catmint is the common name for all varieties of Nepeta. Catnip is the common name for the specific variety of Nepeta called
nepeta cataria
, which is the variety that cats are most attracted to.
+ Cat Thyme (Teucrium marum)
+ Flax
+ Oat Grass
+ Jacob's Ladder
+ Lemon Grass
+ Loose soil and mulch like small bark mulch
+ Mints
+ Purple Fountain Grass so the cat lays in the long leaves all day. Maybe put something in that the cats really like and - you know cats won't winky were they like to hang out.
+ Sandy area
+ Silver vine (Actinidia polygama)
+ Striped Ribbon Grass (can be invasive)
+ Sweet grass
+ Trificum aestivum (type of cat grass)
+ Various Varieties of Cat Mints (Catnips)
+ Wheat Grass
+ Wheat Berries
+ Valerian

As a gardener, grow your indoor cat some catgrass and catnip. They're healthy alternatives for your houseplants and they'll much prefer them.

Change the litter to something they prefer. If you don't clean it out everyday, consider it. Cat's appreciate a clean, comfortable place to go just as much as humans do.

This list compiled from existing GW posts by Violet_Z6, email at for comments and suggestions regarding this list.


clipped on: 07.13.2009 at 11:30 am    last updated on: 07.13.2009 at 11:30 am

The Ultimate Home Composting System

posted by: rebag on 05.10.2008 at 09:53 am in Soil Forum

About two months ago I purchased a Worm Factory Composting System to make garden compost. This is one of the best purchases I have ever made! Within about 30 days my Worm Factory was actively converting food waste from the kitchen into rich garden compost and worm tea. The Red Wigglers I used to start the system have more than doubled in number and as the worms continue to increase in population I will be adding them to my vegetable garden and lawn. I recommend this product to anyone who likes to garden. My husband even uses some of the worms for fishing, and he seldom has to buy bait now!

Here is the link where you can buy the Worm Factory. "The Worm Factory Composting System"


clipped on: 06.27.2009 at 01:19 pm    last updated on: 06.27.2009 at 01:19 pm

RE: Posting a picture (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: daisydee on 02.24.2006 at 10:55 am in Potager Gardens Forum

You all are giving me the big head. LOL. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm also ready to get out there and try some eggplant!

Yes, Nicki, I did post a picture of this arbor last summer. You probably remember this picture. I love the way the sun glints off of the rocks and vine in it.
Image hosting by Photobucket


clipped on: 06.13.2009 at 01:31 pm    last updated on: 06.13.2009 at 01:32 pm

Will marble kitchen counters hurt me at resale?

posted by: staceyneil on 05.26.2009 at 11:35 am in Buying and Selling Homes Forum

In our market (coastal Maine, fairly high-end) granite is king. A local realtor I asked said that most builders of new homes in our direct market are installing granite.

But we're renovating our kitchen and I don't love granite, nor can I find a slab that looks great with my cabinets. I will be here at least 2-3 years, and possibly longer, so I don't want to put in something I hate. I love marble, though!!!

Will marble be a problem if we need to sell in a couple years? It won't be pristine anymore, it scratches and etches and stains.... which I like, personally. But will that put people off? Will buyers be scared of the upkeep?

Marble is in just about every high-end kitchen in shelter magazines these days.

But should I stick with granite to be safe?

What would you do?


clipped on: 06.12.2009 at 12:26 pm    last updated on: 06.12.2009 at 12:26 pm

RE: Feeding two very different cats?? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: laurief on 03.20.2009 at 12:56 pm in Pets Forum

Your older cat can learn to eat a portioned meal at scheduled times. She just has to get used to the new schedule. I used to free feed all of my cats (15 at the moment) but switched them all to scheduled, portioned meals. It took less than a week for them all to get used to eating according to the new schedule.

13 of my cats are fed twice a day. Another gets a third meal around lunchtime because he has a fast metabolism and is very active by nature. Another is very elderly with multiple health issues, so he gets fed whenever I can convince him to eat. I just stand guard while he eats so that none of the others bother him.

I recommend you start feeding your cats in separate rooms at scheduled times. Pick up any food they haven't eaten in 15 mins and add it to the next meal. Start with three meals a day. Once they get used to that schedule and start finishing their portion at each meal, you can reduce the meals to twice daily if you wish. You may find, though, that your skinny cat does better with three meals a day. Believe me, it won't take them long to give up the grazing mentality and start finishing their scheduled meals.

One major advantage I have found to switching to scheduled, portioned feeding is that I know at every meal if someone doesn't finish their meal so that I can address the problem immediately, if necessary. I catch illnesses and injuries much more quickly now. I also weigh all of my cats every two weeks and maintain a spreadsheet of their weights so that I can adjust food portions to achieve and maintain optimal weights. If someone starts dropping weight too quickly, I can get them right to the vet for bloodwork and evaluation.

This is an easy problem to fix, believe me. Give your grazer a few days to figure out the new feeding schedule, and everything will be fine.



clipped on: 04.17.2009 at 11:17 am    last updated on: 04.17.2009 at 11:18 am

Good Dog and Cat Food

posted by: lgiorgi on 12.30.2007 at 05:09 pm in Pets Forum

Hi, I usually give my golden nutru Natural chicken dry food. Sometimes I switch to the red bag and get the beef. She really likes that better. My cat eats pro Plan. When I was on line last night they said there is a lawsuit against many of the dogfood companies for putting rotten meat and ethuinzed pets in their food. Also Kitchen grease? I don't know what to do now and what to fed them. Has anyone else heard this. I know we had that pet food scare a while back. But this lists most of the ped food companies for using very bad quality food. What do you feed your dog or cat?


clipped on: 04.05.2009 at 01:59 pm    last updated on: 04.05.2009 at 01:59 pm

RE: vacuum sealing (food safety) question (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: grainlady on 12.03.2008 at 05:17 pm in Cooking Forum

I use the bags primarily in the freezer and for grain. Most bags are opened, remove what you need, then vacuum seal them shut again, so they are used more than once. Think about how many plastic zip-lock bags you go through, and they certainly aren't cheap per bag... It's a similar thing with the FoodSaver bags. Many of the plastic bags can be washed and reused, just like zip-lock bags. Wal-Mart carries an "off" brand of bags that is thinner, but works well for many things. QVC occasionally has a good buy on rolls of bags. I NEVER buy the individual bags. Those are a convenience that WILL cost you money! Cut your own bags.

I also have a large selection of the canisters, and they are great in the pantry. Nothing keeps fresh leaf lettuce or strawberries in the refrigerator longer than a FoodSaver canister. You must realize, not EVERYTHING needs to be vacuum-sealed. Things you use quickly don't need it, while that pricey chunk of cheese will keep longer if it's sealed in a bag in the refrigerator. Whatever the bags cost, you'll save in the money you don't waste from freezer burn and stale dry goods in the pantry. And the money you save by buying in bulk.

I keep my FoodSaver on a rolling cart next to the refrigerator. You'll find if it's out and ready-to-use, you'll use it a LOT. I have the canisters on one shelf, the rolls of bags, scissors, and Sharpie in a basket on another shelf. I also keep the Universal Lids (2 sizes) in a basket on the cart and some empty canning jars.

I "file" foods in the freezer in small baskets. You fill the bags so they lay flat in a single layer, not a huge lump in the bottom like you do zip-lock bags. This way I can flip through the basket and quickly see what I have. Baskets for fruit - vegetables - breakfast meats - poultry - meats, etc... I can open up the peas (corn, green beans, blueberries, peaches, etc.), give it a whack, and take out the amount I need, then reseal the package and "file" it back in the appropriate basket.

After I make a batch of soup, I quick-freeze it in small plastic containers. When solid, I pop the soup "bricks" out of the plastic containers, stack the "bricks" and vacuum-seal them in bags. Now all my plastic containers are back in the cabinet, not in the freezer. If I need one serving of soup, I can remove it and reseal the bag. Quick freeze a casserole, remove it from the dish, vacuum-seal in a bag. When ready to use, pop it back in the dish and let it defrost in the refrigerator. Now all your dishes aren't taking up space in the freezer.

I use the Universial Lids on things I'm using from frequently (if you use coffee, a canning jar and the Universal Lid is a great place to use it). You can use the Universal Lid on a can of coffee. If you have crackers that tend to go stale before you get them used, then place them in a jar and use a Universal Lid on them. They are easy to open and reclose.

Foods, like the "ton" of dehyarated apple slices, I vacuum-seal in canning jars. I have a lot of 1/2-gallon and quart jars filled with dehydrated produce.

I keep hundreds of pounds of grains/seeds/beans in storage. Most of the grain is in FoodSaver bags, and most of the other dry goods are in canning jars with the canning lids vacuum-sealed on them for long-storage. I've never had an insect infestation for all the years I've stored grain using FoodSaver bags.



clipped on: 04.04.2009 at 01:13 pm    last updated on: 04.04.2009 at 01:13 pm

Are these prices reasonable for marble countertops?

posted by: erikanh on 01.08.2009 at 06:37 pm in Kitchens Forum

I'm hoping to get some input from those of you who have installed marble in your kitchens.

I just got my quote for honed marble for my kitchen countertops. Calacatta came in at $200/sq ft and Bianco Carrara came in at $125/sq ft. These figures include 2 undermount sinks, honing and a modified ogee edge. The cost for templating, delivery and installation is an additional $725 for either type of marble.

The Calacatta slab that I wanted is beautiful with gorgeous light green, gold and grey veining. The Bianco Carrara is pretty too, but not nearly as stunning. Unfortunately the Calacatta would cost over $13,000 installed -- $5000 more than the Carrara. There is just no way I can stretch my budget that far. I admit that I'm very disappointed because the Calacatta would have looked especially wonderful on my dark stained island.

I'm getting 2 more quotes, but I'm not expecting to find any budget-priced Calacatta.


clipped on: 04.04.2009 at 12:28 pm    last updated on: 04.04.2009 at 12:28 pm

RE: What Are the Best Knives? #2 (Follow-Up #97)

posted by: rmhardy on 02.01.2005 at 04:03 am in Cookware Forum

In following all of these messages, I see that many of you have discovered what I discovered several years ago. Japanese knives are far superior to European knives.

I started serious cooking 30 years ago (wow!). My first knives were Sabatier, which were the best at the time. But the carbon steel blades were quick to rust, and would begin to dull as soon as you began thinking about using them.

I then went to Henkles, and liked the "stainless" quality of the steel, and how much longer the edge remained sharp. Then, being at the age to want the best toys, I became interested in, and bought a set of Wusthofs. I think there was very little difference in the steel in the Henkles, but the shapes of the knives seemed more functional, especially the Chef and utility. Both, however, were more difficult to sharpen than the Sabatiers, due to the extra hardness of the steel. But, alas, a divorce cost me my Wusthofs.

In starting over the knife collection again, this time I went to Messermeister. Now these are the best of the European knives, in my opinion. The steel is suppurb, the balance and shape are almost perfect, and most importantly, they are much sharper. They are ground to a 15 degree edge, as opposed to a 22 degree edge on Hendles and Wusthof.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. I saw Rachel Ray using a Wusthof Santoku on the Food Network, and became interested in it. So I decided that I wanted one. I found that Messermeister, as well as Wusthof and Henkles, include this shape in their lineup. But I said, you know, before I spend $70 on a German version of a Japanese knife, why not look for the real thing, a Japanese Santoku.

This was one of the most rewarding hobby related investigations I have ever done. As I researched Japanese knives, I began to see the extreme difference in knife philosophy between the European style knives and Japanese knives. I discovered the knife makers that have been mentioned on this board, Kai Shun, Global, Kasumi, etc. I settled on Kai Shun, and have yet to find a better knife in a stainless steel version. I gave my Messermeisters to my daughter, and stocked up on Shuns. I have a sheepsfoot parer, a 6" utility, a 6 1/2" Santoku, an 8" Deba, a 10" Chef, and a 9" bread knife. (I also have a 6" stiff boning knife from Granton Knife Co. in Sheffield Eng., which is a butcher shop staple. It has a large poly pro handle that will not allow your hand to slip when wet, and allows great force to be applied as you do when boning, etc. Everyone should have one of these; they not only take a real sharp edge, they are very cheap - $25).

Now for the punch line. I was talking to the owner of my favorite Sushi restaurant regarding my surprise at the incredible quality advantage of Japanes knives over European knives. And I told him about my Shuns, and the others I had looked at. But he said, ah ha!, have you ever tried a Masamoto? I said a what? and he told me about the old samauri sword makers started making knives after the end of the swords for warriors era. I checked them out, and was amazed with what I learned regarding knife craftsmanship. This was a totally different philosophy of knife science than Europe.

Traditional Japanese knives (Masamoto, Aritsugu, Suisin, etc.) are entirely hand made, hand forged, and strangely shaped. The most famous is the yanagi style, which means willow leaf, and that is how it is shaped. This is your basic sushi style knife. So I ended up forking out the $750 to get a Masamoto Hassouchi Hongasum Gyotoseiko. This was a yanagi style, made with a beautiful blue steel interior with a damascus soft iron outer. (You will have to pay about $350 for an entry level hand made yanagi) Jay (my sushi chef friend) also taught me how to sharpen with a Japanese water stone. (you need several grits; I have a 300, and a 1000/3000 combination. The 300 is for edge restoration, the 1000 is the basic sharpening grit, and the 3000 is the polishing grit. I also finish them off with an F.Dick oval fine cut steel. Never use a regular cut steel on a Japanes knife.)

What makes Japanese knives so special is the edge philosopy. They do not have a "V" edge, like European knives; Japanese knives have a chissel type edge. This provides two advantages. First, you don't have to worry about maintaining a constant angle in the wrist when sharpening. You simply lay the flat edge of the chissel on the stone, and work the knife lightly. No sharpening error. You finish the flat side of the blade the same way, holding it flat against the stone. When you finish you have one very sharp knife. Second, the chisel edge, as opposed to a "V" edge of European knives, allows you to make much thinner and more accurate cuts. For instance, when making a dish that requires garlic, I no longer smash and chop the garlic. I slice ~ .5mm slices of the garlic cloves, and fry them in oil until perfectly golden brown. I remove them from the seasoned oil, and save them until the dish is finished, and return them to the dish for a great garlic accent. No burned garlic; just perfectly browned garlic. You just can't slice garlic this thin, or this accuraately with a European knife. The precise slicing ability of the yanagi style knife is why this is the style used by sushi/shashimi chefs around the world.

Once I began getting used to the feel and balance of the Masamoto yanagi style, I bought another style, a Kamagata Usuba. This a a vegetale knife, that looks like a narrow cleaver, but with a Japanese style edge. The standard Usuba has a rectangular shape. The Kamagata Usuba has a sheeps foot end, that results in an incredigly sharp tip. The shape and balance makes this style a great multi tasker.

Now I would estimate that 98% of my knife work is done with the Masamoto yanagi, the Masamoto Kamagata Usuba, and the $25 Granton boning knife. While I still love my Shuns, there is must more Zen in the real samauri blade than in the new high tech steel (VG-10) of the Shuns. For instance, each Masamoto is persoally signed by the craftsman that made it.

For what it is worth, I have not used my 10" Shun Chef or 6" utility for almost two years now. I do use the bread knife on bread, the 8 1/4" Deba when filleting fish, and the 3 1/2" sheepsfoot parer with I need a little knife. If you get your karma right with traditional Japanes knives, you will want to use them whenever possible. For instance, nothing slices BBQ brisket better than my yanagi.

Once you get to Masamoto traditional knives, I think that you have reached the top of the mountain. Not only are they wonderful kitchen tools, but when you pick up a yanagi style from a kmife maker such as Masamoto, you can feel the soul of a real samauri warrior. Those of you who have chosen Shun or Global or Kasumi (which I believe is the same knife as a Shun, with a different handle) are just below the top of the mountain. Thouse of you still using European knives, however, have a long way to go to experience truly great knife craftsmanship. In the case of knives, "made in Japan" means the very best in the world.


clipped on: 04.01.2009 at 12:00 pm    last updated on: 04.01.2009 at 12:00 pm

Solarpowered - Demeyere Silvonix

posted by: marys1000 on 01.10.2008 at 04:57 pm in Cookware Forum

Sorry if I butchered the spellings!

My question revolves around coatings in general and Silvonix as part of that.

If I'm buying SS to get away from the whole toxic coating thing - why would I want a coating on my SS? Sure Silvonix is supposed to be wonderful, so was Teflon and now Green Pan and everything else.
Shouldn't I be looking for the best non-coated SS pan?


clipped on: 03.31.2009 at 03:36 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2009 at 03:37 pm

Favorite Kitchen Item

posted by: bluelou on 07.24.2006 at 01:59 pm in Cookware Forum

I'm stocking a new kitchen, and I would love to have your comments. What kitchen gadget or small appliance is your very favorite. Something that you would never want to be without and use every week in preparing food.


clipped on: 03.31.2009 at 03:17 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2009 at 03:17 pm

I think I'm In Love....

posted by: gardenlad on 02.01.2007 at 06:15 am in Cookware Forum

Question: Did I need an electric knife sharpener?
Answer: Absolutely not!

Question: Did I buy an electric knife sharpener?
Answer: Yes I did.

Well, there was this unexpected royalty check, you see. And I'd been browsing around the ads and reviews and really wondering. So I went and ordered the Chef's Choice 130. Which arrived yesterday.

Spent a pleasant hour playing with it as soon as the UPS man left. People, this is a keeper!

My knives required, at most, two passes through the first station, then the same through the third. And poof! Done!

In hindsite, I should have ordered the 120, and saved ten bucks, because it will probably be a rare instance that I use station 2--which is the steel. With the 130, you see, you use station one to sharpen, then either station 2 (the steel) or the recommended station 3 (the strop). And, the fact is, I like playing with my hand-held steel. Gives me the feeling that I'm in charge, or something.

How would the 130 work on a truely dull blade? Haven't a clue, cuz no such animal exists in my house. But my best guess is that the machine would just laugh at it, and change it to paper-cutting sharp in just a few passes.

So, on net, I'm in love with the 130. Given the price tag, though, it's not the sort of purchase I'd recommend to everybody.

Anyone else got experience with a power-sharpener?


clipped on: 03.31.2009 at 03:13 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2009 at 03:13 pm

Good Cutting Board

posted by: chitownfifi on 01.10.2005 at 01:15 am in Cookware Forum

I am looking for some new cutting boards. I currently have a Wusthof carving board that warped within the first week I had it...I sent it back and they sent me a new one. It also warped within week. By this point, I was so disgusted and annoyed with taking this huge baord to UPS I just kept it. Now I have been left to cut on what's basically a half-moon-shaped rocking board...I even tried sitting on it to get it to flatten out!

Has anyone tried bamboo? I do not like glass boards and would like something that will not dull my Wusthof knives.

Any suggestions??


clipped on: 03.31.2009 at 02:29 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2009 at 02:30 pm

RE: Best cookware for induction? (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: alanrockwood on 05.31.2005 at 12:43 am in Cookware Forum


A few tips about cast iron. You might already know some or all of them, but here goes. First and most important, the pan has to be seasoned before use. This basically means heating the pan with a thin coating of cooking oil until it turns dark and quits smoking. Usually, several treatments are required to get a good seasoning layer. I do it in my propane BBQ to keep from filling up the house with smoke. The seasoning will get better as you use the pan, provided you take care of the pan correctly. After a while it gets to be a non-stick surface, almost like teflon.

Second, don't wash the pan with soap and water because that will ruin the seasoning. Often you can just wipe out the pan with a towel or paper towel and put it away. Sometimes you might have to use warm/hot water and a mild (not aggressive) plastic scratch pad. If you do have to resort to soap and water you will probably end up needing to reseason the pan.

Third, when you cook something in the pan it is best to heat the pan first. Otherwise the food is more likely to stick. For a typical example, to make skillet cornbread you would preheat the pan, either on the stove top or while you preheat the oven. Put a little oil in the pan. (You can put the oil in first, but if you do it will smoke a lot when you preheat the pan.) Then pour the batter in the hot skillet and return to the oven to bake. This technique makes a superior crust.

Fourth, never put really cold water into a really hot pan. Perhaps I should say don't put a lot of really cold water in a really hot pan. A small amount won't hurt. The problem you are trying to avoid here is cracking the pan from thermal shock.

Fifth, don't soak the pan for long periods before washing, and be sure to wipe the pan thoroughly dry. It works best if the pan is warm when you dry the pan so any water residue will evaporate. Some people even heat the pan briefly on the stove. The idea here is to avoid rust.

Sixth, store the pan with a thin coating of oil on the surface. This prevents rust. Cooking oil works if you use the pan regularly, but it tends to go rancid rather fast. Shortening is said to work well... doesn't go rancid. There is a product from a company called Camp Chief that is supposed be work well and doesn't go rancid. I usually use a very thin coating of food grade mineral oil.

Do some googling on cast iron cookware and/or dutch oven cookery to find more information on the care and use of cast iron cookware.

If you take care of it cast iron will reward you. It heats evenly, it holds heat a long time, and a well seasoned pan has a non-stick surface that will rival teflon, and unlike teflon the surface can be renewed if it gets damaged. Take care of it and your great grandchildren will be using the your pans long after you are gone. Besides, for some reason food tastes better when cooked in cast iron.

Did I mention that cast iron is relatively inexpensive? You can get a plain cast iron indoor-style dutch oven (Lodge brand) for a fraction of the cost of porcelain covered cast iron (Le Creuset), and the plain cast iron is more non-stick, and less likely to be damaged by mistreatment. If the surface does become damaged you can always renew it, as mentioned earlier, whereas with the porcelain covered cast iron if you chip the surface it can never be fixed. In comparison to teflon covered cookware, cast iron will last forever if treated well, whereas with teflon you will buy new pans every few years or so.

A couple of more things, the first few times you use your newly seasoned cast iron cook some nice greasy things. It helps develop the seasoning. Avoid acid foods, like tomato sauce or things with a lot of vinegar until you have used the pan a lot to develop the seasoning.

Alton Brown, host of the TV show Good Eats, is a proponent of cast iron cookware, as befitting his southern roots.


clipped on: 03.31.2009 at 02:03 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2009 at 02:04 pm

Am I crazy to have my marble in my my cooktop?

posted by: alterit on 02.06.2009 at 09:16 pm in Kitchens Forum

Does anyone else have white marble next to their stove/cooktop? I was planning on using Calacutta gold marble for my kitchen. My cooktop will be a GE Induction.

I was cooking in my rental house today and grease and food was splattering all over. I started to worry about the marble.

IF you Have Marble PLEASE tell me if you have had problems with it so close to your cooking area. If so what problems.

If you could do it all over, would you use marble again?


clipped on: 03.31.2009 at 12:44 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2009 at 12:45 pm

Could you (would you!) rescue this 1930s kitchen?

posted by: artemis78 on 01.23.2009 at 03:05 pm in Kitchens Forum

We've been in kitchen limbo for months now trying to figure out what we should do with our space, and I thought maybe I'd try posting our layout here to see if you layout gurus might be able to work your magic and come up with any ideas we haven't thought of yet, since I've gotten so much great advice here.

We have an old house with an old kitchen that has lots of idiosyncrasies---and some things we like. We're first-timers tackling this on a very limited budget (max $10K, but ideally well below that), so a full makeover isn't in the cards, and we're also trying to keep this fairly low impact environmentally, so where we can reuse materials or work with what's there, we will. In time, we may renovate other pieces, though, so I want to have a master plan for it now so that we don't end up doing any work twice because we didn't tackle things in the right order. At this point we're not removing any walls, though we're designing to leave that possibility open in the future between the kitchen and the breakfast/mud room.

- Small 1915 Arts & Crafts bungalow with a 1939 kitchen remodel and a 2007 seller "update."
- Solid wood cabinets, all painted pink right now....agh. Decent but not great quality construction, so they don't *have* to stay. The California cooler (just out of the photo to the left of the sink counter) does, though!
- New rose granite counter, sink, backsplash, and faucet put in by PO two years ago. All big box stock done on the cheap but certainly workable. We hate the granite color (very out of place in this house) but respect that granite's $$$ and maybe we shouldn't just rip it out.
- Counters are 22" deep and cabinets 21", a limiting factor unless we replace them
- There is a little space (4") behind the cabinets before the outside wall (and NOTHING between the two!)
- We plan to be here for at least 7-10 years, so more concerned about functionality than resale.

- Dishwasher! (This is what triggered this whole debate---we though it was a cut-n-paste job, but it kept getting more complicated and more costly because of all of the other factors. We don't want to throw a lot of money at carpentry only to end up with a kitchen that's still not working well.)
- More continuous counter space---possibly by taking space where vent chimney is?
- Get rid of vent chimney in the middle of the kitchen (still used, but furnace can be vented to outside wall---just a lined flue, not structural)
- Do something to make the kitchen look less pink, if cabs and counter stay---paint suggestions to minimize pink effect?
- Better fridge placement (cubby was designed for a 1930s fridge, so ours sticks out at twice the depth, and the PO had to build a little platform to keep it from tipping---this also means the counter next to it isn't very useful)
- New floor, maybe refinished fir or Marmoleum?
- Insulate outside wall somehow, since kitchen isn't heated and you get bursts of cold air when you open the drawers.

We need to make some key decisions in order to move forward, and are really stuck on whether or not to rehab the existing cabinetry (which, for the most part, means sticking with the existing layout) or whether to plan for larger changes. Broadly speaking we like the general work triangle we have, though it would work better with more usable counter space.

What would you do in our shoes? Is this a workable kitchen, or should we be saving up to do a full remodel and living with it in the interim? If we stick with what's here, how might we give it a more consistent "look" (whether it's Craftsman, 1930s, modern, etc.)?

Here are a few photos:

And the existing layout:

Thanks for any thoughts!


clipped on: 03.31.2009 at 12:37 pm    last updated on: 03.31.2009 at 12:38 pm

RE: Choosing a fabric for a sofa (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: bobsmyuncle on 01.18.2008 at 09:45 pm in Furniture Forum

RE: Stain guides. Here are couple that I use

First is using commercial products that I have:
Spotting guide

Second is using household or consumer products:

and another:

Not an advertisement, I just like and use CTI's products quite a bit.


clipped on: 12.03.2008 at 11:34 pm    last updated on: 01.28.2009 at 11:02 pm

RE: Choosing a fabric for a sofa (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: bobsmyuncle on 01.17.2008 at 10:33 pm in Furniture Forum

Among other things I professionally spot clean upholstery. I agree with you on 100% cotton. It was my nightmare until I started to see more and more rayon. Viscose is a type of rayon.

I agree with Duane that S-coding fabric is a nasty trick mills play on us guys. I regularly water clean S fabrics. But I know what I'm doing and what I can get away with. The general cleaning rule is "if it goes in wet, it comes out wet."

Nearly all the stains I see need water cleaning (dry cleaning fluid just does not do much for foods and body fluids). Even the stains that can be dry cleaning removed, I generally wet clean with a POG (Paint-Oil-Grease) cleaner, with the exception of 100% cotton and anything with rayon.

If had to pick one fabric to clean, it would be microfiber. There's nothing, including a whole pen's worth of ink, that I have not been able to get out of it.

Another option, if you have it available, is Crypton or Sunbrella. I saw some spec sheets for Sunbrella and you can clean it with straight bleach, acetone, and a number of other things that would destroy mortal fabrics.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cleaning chenille


clipped on: 01.28.2009 at 11:00 pm    last updated on: 01.28.2009 at 11:00 pm

RE: Questions about marble countertops: color and color enhancer? (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: ramses_2 on 11.21.2008 at 09:42 am in Kitchens Forum

Gail, I was nodding while reading your post...exactly...for whatever reason polished marble seems more appropriate for an older home than granite. Maybe it's because marble has been used forever on/in public buildings, threshholds, antique furniture and mantels?

We were torn between honed and polished as we loved both looks, polished won out because it was much cheaper than honed.

I've googled around and found repeated claims by the experts that green marbles that are serpentine do not etch. Here's a few:

What is Marble?

It is a natural stone formed from fossil sediment deposits, which have been placed under the earth's tremendous pressure for at least a few million years. The combination of the natural materials in these deposits, along with natural geologic events, produces unique veining with a richness of depth and intensity. Marble material is generally softer than granite, therefore scratching occurs more so on marble. This characteristic should be considered when making your stone selection. Generally, marble countertops are recommended for such places as: bathrooms, bar tops, fireplaces, etc; and granite countertops are generally utilized for kitchen countertops. Aside from our recommendations, if so desired, Marble can be used for any countertop.
Marble is available in a multitude of colors from light to dark, and generally boasts beautiful flowing veins. This unequalled beauty makes marble a natural choice for countertops, bath vanities, wall and floor tiles or slabs, and tub and fireplace surrounds.
Commercially, the term "marble" applies to any compact limestone that will take a polish, which includes most of the colored marbles, except some of the greens.

Can I use a marble countertop for my kitchen?

Marble countertops can be scratched more easily than harder stone such as granite. Marble is sometimes used in the kitchen as a pastry slab; its perfectly smooth, cool surface is ideal for rolling out dough and piecrusts. However keep in mind that the ideal material for the kitchen is granite. Marble pieces that have a honed finish will not etch because their surfaces start out with a matte finish.

Because marble (and limestone) are calcium carbonate, the polished surface is more vulnerable to household acids including vinegar, mustard, ketchup, citrus and a host of other food-related products. These acidic substances cause a chemical reaction that will remove the polish.

Does green marble countertop require special treatment?

Some green stones, such as the "jades" from Taiwan, are not truly marble, but a different material called serpentinite. Serpentinites, or serpentines, as they are sometimes called, do not etch or react to acids the way limestone and marble do, and are somewhat harder. Green tiles of this family must always be installed with an epoxy adhesive to prevent the curling that can take place if a water-based setting material is used.

And this:

What is etching?
Etching happens when acid in some form comes in contact with a polished marble or limestone surface. This causes a chemical reaction that removes the polish, or roughens the surface of honed stone. Green marbles, such as the "jades" from China are resistant to etching, and granite is impervious to any common household acids

Hope this helps!


clipped on: 01.19.2009 at 11:04 am    last updated on: 01.19.2009 at 11:05 am

White Kitchen with Lacanche and Carrera Counters

posted by: mwardlb on 07.10.2007 at 07:41 pm in Kitchens Forum

Well, nearly 2 years later and we are 90% done with our kitchen. Most, if not all, of our ideas, inspiration and guidance came from these forums, and for that, I am so grateful.

We have actually been pretty much done since October, but we are still waiting on 36' SZ or KA fridge and a custom VAH blower and a Franke Little Butler Insta-Hot tap. Also a few spots of floorboards.

Let's see, we have:

White maple custom shaker cabinets w/ Classic Brass hinges, knobs and pulls in brushed nickel. "Chantilly Lace" by BMoore white paint. A little water damage on sink drawers and some chipping on heavily used trash drawer but over all LOVE IT!
Drawers have those automatic closing hinge-thingies LOVE THEM!!
New seeded glass in hutch cabinet with smoked grey mirror below. LOVE IT.

White carrera marble counter tops 1 -inch slab. Sealed with magic-bulletno real staining or etching issues. I even cut on it when in a hurry but the marks just rub out. LOVE IT!

Lacanche Cluny 1400 in matte black with stainless & chrome (warming cabinet, gas oven, electric oven, 5 burners w/ portable simmer plate)... I really can't say enough about this masterpiece! No bells and whistles - no hassles! LOVE IT!

Walker Zanger 4 X 8 white subway tile backsplash with shelf and surround. LOVE IT!

Jenn-Air DW - not fully installed with panel and rubber seal yet, so it's pretty noisy. Cleans very well, but doesn't dry all the way. LIKE IT OK.

Price Phister faucet in polished chrome. Heard they drip, but no real issues. LIKE IT A LOT.

Under mount fireclay farmhouse sink found on Ebay. I wish the tubs were deeper, but it cleans up well with astonish paste. LOVE IT.

Under counter halogen lights are great, but are really hot. They even warm the food in the cupboards. We are switching to fluorescent. LIKE IT.

Well, I cant think of anything else.

Thanks again for everyone who answered posts, threw out suggestions and sparked fresh ideas. Its been a long process but a lot of fun. LOVED IT!


Here is a link that might be useful: MWardLB's White Kitchen w/ Lacanche


clipped on: 01.10.2009 at 09:03 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2009 at 09:04 pm

Prettykitty's Classic Vintage White Victorian Lacanche Kitchen

posted by: prettykitty1971 on 10.06.2008 at 05:48 am in Kitchens Forum

I have been asked by several to post my kitchen redo so, here goesforgive the repeatsforgive the length...

We began designing a rework of our home in 2004. The back of the house (where the kitchen is located) was okay and livable, but it did not flow or have any stylistic continuity to the front of the house, which is so amazing in itself. I felt like I was in a different house when in the kitchen. The main part of the house was built in 1890 and still has a Victorian feel, the kitchen and breakfast room and porches were built about 1920 in the Craftsman era and kept being added onto and changed to the point that an "extra" half bath had been added jutting out into a hallway and disrupting important flow. There were a few things that had been done that would make me stare and say "why???" The kitchen also felt very far away from the living areas of the house.

I have slipped in "before" shots where appropriate on the web album.


From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

after: same view

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

The house was near museum quality in the front rooms, but it was like entering the twilight zone in the kitchen and breakfast room, breakfast room (yes, 2 of them) and bathroom(s). Our house had 2 nightmarish half baths downstairs, one of which had been built in the middle of a major passage way and was so small a space that the previous owner who had built it bumped out the opposite wall just a funky bit to accommodate the space. I would not even allow people to use that bath as it was not vented properly (think smelly) and would not flush well (think plunger). Mainly, we wanted to restore the architectural integrity to the back of the house, which included removing a diagonal path and countertop that was the main path to the kitchen, raising doorways up to 10 feet to match the doorways in the original house kitchen doorways etc, were all 7 & 8 feet, one directly behind a 10 foot opening, so it was readily apparent something was amiss. Another goal was getting a back door and opening up our back porch which had been totally enclosed and door removed the room that went nowhere with a window looking into the current kitchen. I also was determined to have French doors from the kitchen that went out to a deck which was the same elevation as the kitchen floor, to the North, shady side of our property.

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

We hired an architect that we had worked with previously with great success we saw eye to eye on everything. After several attempts, he fired ME not the other way around. He would not draw what I wanted, kept giving me drawings of what he thought we should do, that we should work with what had been done to the house "dont open the old back porch, build on a new one; put the bathroom in the old porch," etc. That was $3000 down the tubeswe were already starting out in the negative! A dear architect friend of mine said she would work on the design. She drew what I wanted. I would ask for suggestions, but she assured me that my ideas made sense and would be really improving our home. The drawings were not cheap, but it was well worth it and we are even better friends, although, I was afraid I would be fired at any moment!

Our cabinet maker said he was going to get me a nice "johnny-back" cabinet for over the toilet, I said no, you're going to make this...

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

A word about the bathroom: I loved this apron sink but knew I could not use it in the kitchen with the island we wanted, so I came up with this cabinet. The floor is American Restoration Tile and includes encaustic tiles. I almost went with white subway tile, but I felt it would be too utilitarian for the space, so these are travertine stone cut into bricks. They are the kind with holes and I paid a large fortune for the tiler not to fill the holes with grout! Many like the bathroom more than the kitchen. We had a family member who was very much a sportsman and inherited all his fishing and hunting items and gear and have chosen to use it in decorating to add a bit a masculinity to the house and we loved him very much so we enjoy having it around us.

I have to say that I am proud of myself for coming up with this design, the architect drew it, but it was all me and my husband thinking it out and after living a year in the house, we knew what we needed and how we need it to look. I am picky if you havent figured it out.

The basis for the design was figuring out where the openings had to be in the rooms. I wanted the French doors on the north wall, we had to have the passage to the dining room, and we needed a double opening to the breakfast room. So with all that, that dictated where we could and couldnt have cabinets, a stove, a sink, etc. We were also returning the flow to the back of the house, so that made it easier to figure out where the back hall need to go and what was left over would become the new full bath. I will admit that in the days leading up to the wreaking crew coming, I was still trying to figure out if we could get a better layout out of the space.

after receiving yet another delivery from ebay, my husband asked how many historic fixtures I had purchased, my quiet response "I don't know..."

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

How I came to have a Lacanche range ( One day I was researching Thermador rangers and ended up on the Gardenweb forums. Someone had written that if you are considering a Thermador then you should take a look at one of these and provided a link to a photo of what turned out to be a Lacanche range. I showed the photo to our neighbor, who we had been taking care of everyday for the past 2 years, just to show him. He was always taking cooking classes, taking photos of his food, practicing garnishes, buying every kitchen gadget on the market, etc. He had a digital Wolf range that he was in love with so I knew he would appreciate seeing this beautiful stove I didnt know such a thing even existed. Paul saw the French Range the Lacanche and said "You NEED that in your kitchen!" I said "No, I dont need anything of the sort" (our previous range was 30 years old, so anything would have been better, a camping stove would have been an improvement!) and he said "You NEED that stove!" He insisted on buying me that stove as his gift to the kitchenit was also his idea that our cabinets go all the way up the 12 foot walls "you might as well go all the way with this." My husband likes to say he had to pay for the kitchen to go with the Lacanche!

Given how my main hobby has to do with historic preservation, I knew I wanted a classic kitchen. I wanted marble countertops and inset cabinet doors and those French doors! I spent hundreds of dollars buying kitchen magazines and found several key ideas from that process. The glass front cabinets and the stainless steel countertop on either side of the French Lacanche range came from one layout I found, the open shelves from another and the pink pantry from yet another photo from a magazine (theirs was bright yellow!). Our butlers pantry was actually in our historic house plans from 1920, so we just recreated it. About our butlers pantry: the bottom 2 cabinets on the left are false fronts they dont open they are where the air return in located. The vents are on the opposite side in the back stair hall, so this just camouflages the box of the air return.

air return in the bottom cabinets

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

The glass cabinets, I thought about that problem of food storage and how unattractive that is and how to make glass front cabinets work for me. I just felt glass would be more appropriate for the look I wanted - it just looks elegant to me and says "original" although Im sure that most true Victorian cabinets had wood fronts. I planned what would go in the cabinets before we got too far in design. I have about 3 complete sets of china in addition to two sets of everyday dishes and needed a place to put/display them, so then I needed a place for food. Its hard to visualize how much space you need for food when your food is all packed up for construction! I happened to have a little nook (it was our downstairs half bath, you could get your knees knocked off if someone tried to enter the bathroom while you were on the toilet!) that we originally designed as a desk area, that I made into "the pink pantry" which actually goes around a corner and is behind the refrigerator, where all the mess of the pantry is along with microwave and toaster oven. The part of the pantry that is visible (if you're at the main sink or range)stays neat and tidy given the way that it is designed - narrow shelves for spices, baking ingredients and display. I saw it in a magazine with its Victorian-ish trim and gave it to my carpenter and he just went to work. The counter in the pantry is just wood - out of money for any other surface and since there is not a sink in there it is not a problem. It is painted pink as that is the color that my 4 year old picked out - it was a compromise as she wanted the entire kitchen to be pink! She also wanted Dora the Explorer knobs - yes, there is such a thing - but I put my foot down on that!

Where the "extra bathroom" had been removed at the back stairs and other demolition had taken place near the new/old back door, we found exterior sub walls under the plaster and sheetrock. In old houses this material is something like 1 x 6 set on the diagonal. I had been thinking about paint colors and what I was going to do with all this extra wall and I decided how wonderful it would be if it were returned to its exterior foundations wood siding. I love texture and my contractor thought I was nuts, but he did do the siding for me and milled corner pieces for near the back door. We painted the siding the cream trim color like the rest of our interior house. This really added a wonderful historic and unique quality to the project. The house really looks like its evolved and been added on to in a rather careful way.

Exterior siding and trim on the inside

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

For our back hallway we mimicked the wainscoting that is in our foyer and dining room, but on a cheaper level we used bead board and MDF. The bead board wainscoting is the cheaper stuff: it does not have as deep cuts/lines/beads as the good stuff and the flat vertical and cross pieces are not wood, they are that MDF that they are always making stuff out of on HGTV. The top piece is wood trim.

bead board wainscoting

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

When I was picking out materials for our kitchen I finally reached a moment where I was afraid that the kitchen would be nicer than the rest of the house - which I did not want at all - so I began to try to pick out elements from the original house that could be reproduced in the kitchen, if only in variation, like the wainscoting and the slider doors instead of pocket doors.

We have 4 countertop surfaces(it works because you can only see 2 at anyone time), one of which is unpolished black granite, which looks a lot like soapstone, then marble, polished granite and stainless steel. I really wanted a veined marble for the island and despite everyone, even the marble contractor telling me I did not want that as my island, I got it.

I chose polished marble on the back splash so the gray veining would pick up the gray of the stainless steel, but I also considered bead board (we used it on our butler's pantry, I really love the look and it can be an economical choice if you get the "fake" stuff) and painted pressed tin. We have the marble island and love it and all of it's etchings that my 3 kids inflict upon it. They are not really noticeable unless you look for them.

We have slider doors on reproduction barn door hardware ( that divide our kitchen and breakfast room. Our house has pocket doors, but we could not afford to build 2 walls, so this was another research project and something we are really happy with and that everyone marvels over. I really think it turned out better than pocket doors would have and it is unexpected, which I like.

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

Our cabinets are creamy white with feet for an unfitted look. I did choose to get appliances that will take a custom panel, to be hidden into the cabinetry - careful if you get inset cabinet doors (where the door closes flush into the cabinet box) appliances that take a panel are designed to take full overlay doors we just barely avoided a crisis situation that would have required me to be tried for murder. The main cabinets go all the way up the 12 foot walls, it is quite impressive looking, but fits the style of our home. Our bathroom cabinet is painted a red to give the impression of old wood - I could not afford to have "good wood" so came up with a color that happened to work really well for us. I bought most of my reproduction hardware from Van Dyke's restorers, Historic House Parts, and Rejuvenation, all online. I have different types of drawer and door pulls, just one or two in key areas, to help the kitchen look as if it evolved (Two are fish pulls, I love them!). Our kitchen finally feels like it goes with the rest of our home.

From Our 1890 home and kitchen remodel/restoration

One other thing that worked out really well for us: you will notice in the web pictures that originally there were 2 windows on the wall where the stove goes. The outside of our house is a rough stucco (it was "smothered" in stucco about 1920, the Victorian gingerbread and elements are under the stucco visible in our attic!) and I doubted that my contractor could match the stucco to my specifications we had already had previously unsuccessful attempts on other stucco repairs. On the outside of our house, the windows appear to be there I had wood shutters installed in the openings, the windows simply look shuttered. Its a nice touch to our exterior and I did not have to worry about the stucco being less than perfect.

Lacanche Range, Sully Model - High performance, dual-fuel, double-oven stoves from France, one oven is electric, the other gas, top is gas and has the French cast-iron simmer plate over one of the two 18,000 BTU burners.
16 colors and finishes available
Bosch Dishwasher
Range vent-a-hood: Rangecraft
Ice maker Marvel Industries
Compactor - Kitchenaid
Shaws Original Fireclay Apron Front Farm Sink by Rohl
Blanco stainless steel bar sink
Perrin and Rowe nickel plated sink faucets and sprayers Stainless Steel Countertops and range shelf by Bray Sheet
Antique fixtures bought on ebay, polished and wired by local craftman


clipped on: 01.10.2009 at 08:59 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2009 at 09:00 pm

Best advice from this forum

posted by: justadncr on 07.14.2007 at 08:29 pm in Kitchens Forum

I was just thinking about what all I have learned from this forum and was trying to think of what was the most valuable advice.

I really think it was the advice to actually lay the kitchen out on the ground outside with all the measurements and walk around it to see if it felt right.
For me it was much better than plans on paper. I took my measurements and scraps of wood and laid them out in the various plans I had come up with.

My husband thought I was crazy standing out there pretending I was cooking and getting stuff out of the frig and such.

Of course I learned many, many more things but this helped the most.
What about you all?


clipped on: 01.10.2009 at 08:53 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2009 at 08:53 pm

RE: Choosing a fabric for a sofa (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: dcollie on 01.17.2008 at 05:08 pm in Furniture Forum

Your Flexsteel dealer can help you with that. Every Flexsteel fabric has a durability code on the sample swatch and if your dealer doesn't know how to decipher the codes tell them its on Page 3 of the blue dealer price book. Codes will be "HHH" or "WWW", etc.

There is no one right answer to this question. Its more than just content that makes fabric durable. Closeness of the weave, thickness of material, even the final finish on the fabric come into play. As a general rule of thumb, the more man-made the fibers are, the more durable. Take Oelfin for example, which is a petroleum-based material. I think 100% Olefin can withstand just about everything short of a nuclear explosion, but its very scratchy and not comfortable. Blends are generally good.

Most every modern fabric has a durability rating somewhere - where it has been abrasion tested using machines designed to measure wear-through and pilling. Schumacher, for example, uses a MAR rating system and you will see one fabric have a rating of 9,000, another at 30,000. Thats how many 'machine rubs' the fabric can take before showing noticeable wear.

Every fabric maker uses Cleaning Code S to protect themselves from that steam-cleaning guy who comes in your house and shrinks the fabric on your sofa when he cleans it. Don't think you'll find anything but an S code on most pieces. Water can set some stains, so I never use it on material, rather get a small bottle of CARBONA at the grocery store which is the same as dry cleaning fluid, and never rub it into a spot, always dab it.

Scotchguard is your friend. Buy two cans and treat your new upholstery with it. When water no longer beads on the seating surfaces, get the can out and re-apply.

-Duane Collie


clipped on: 12.03.2008 at 11:32 pm    last updated on: 12.03.2008 at 11:33 pm

Furniture 101 : Q&A

posted by: dcollie on 03.07.2007 at 11:50 pm in Furniture Forum

I keep seeing repeated posts here asking how to tell quality....which brand is best, what will last the longest, etc. I thought perhaps it a good thread to address the basic things to look for, under the premise that an educated consumer can make a wise decision. So let's give this a try and not target "brand names" so much as general questions on furniture. This could be a LONG thread and make take quite a few posts to cover topics, but let's get started!

First off, my name is Duane Collie and I own a small home furnishings store in Alexandria, VA. I've been in business since 1979 and specialize in high-quality, American-made 18th century furnishings. Because of the nature of my business, I have learned hundreds of things about what makes a good piece, or a bad piece, or even a mediocre piece (just don't overpay for mediocrity).

Let's start off with something easy, the basic building block of all furniture..>WOOD<

Solid wood is preferable to veneers (which are laminates over a secondary wood) Wider boards are more expensive than narrow boards in solid woods, and more desirable. There are different grades of wood within a type. For example, there are over 200 species of pine and while Southern Yellow is not very good for furniture making, Eastern White Pine is. A cabinetmaker selects his wood based on his project and costs. If he is using an aniline dye and shellac coats, he needs a higher grade of lumber than if he is using covering stains that mask the wood flaws and mineral deposit variables.

Which wood to get? This varies by price and characteristics. Just because a wood is soft, doesn't mean its not suitable for a project. Here's a rundown of some common woods in the USA that are furniture grade:

Pine. Soft, but relatively stable. Eastern White has good, tight knots that will not fall out. Shrinkage and expansion is moderate. Dent resistance is poor. Takes stains nicely.

Poplar. Great Secondary wood (drawer bottoms, etc.) and very stable. Inexpensive. Halfway between a soft and hardwood. Takes paint well, but never stains up nicely.

Cherry. A great lumber! I personally find it more interesting to look at than most mahogany. Its a hardwood, but not as dense as maple. Takes aniline dyes beautifully and requires little or no sealer. Cherry will darken and 'ruby up' with age and exposure to sunlight. If you use it for flooring or kitchen cabinets, expect deeper and more red dish colors to develop over time nearer the windows of your home.

Mahogany. Poor Mahogany! So misunderstood! Mahogany grows in every part of the world, and varies greatly. Figured mahogany is highly desirable (aka as 'plum pudding' or 'crotch' mahogany) but you rarely see it outside of veneers due to the cost of those logs. The very best furniture grade mahogany is from Central America and Cuba, but is very hard to source. African mahogany is decent, and the stuff from China and the Philippines the least desirable. Mahogany can be done in open pore, semi-closed pore, and fully sealer finishes. Mahogany is a favorite for carvers, as it carves easily and is not prone to splitting when being handled.

Maple. Both hard and soft maple is an industry standard. Very durable, very dense, accepts many colors nicely and stains up well. Excellent for the best upholstery frames. Stable, and plentiful.

Figured Maples. Sometimes called Tiger Maple, or Curly Maple (one of my favorites). A small percentage of maple will be highly figured and is pulled off at the mill to sell to furniture makers and musical instrument makes for about 2x the price of regular maple. Tiger maple MUST be board matched and typically a single log will be used to make a project, rather than taking a board from this pile and another from another pile. Consistency is key, and you will hear the term 'bookmatched' used frequently in figured maples. Figured maples look best with aniline dye finishes and hand-scraped surfaces. Birdseye maples are in this category as well, but are so unstable that most shops only use them veneers.

Walnut: A hard wood to work with. Not many walnut forests, and most cabinentmakers loathe making walnut pieces for two reasons. First it much be bleached before it can be finished, otherwise its ugly. Secondly, it has to be filled and sanded. Very time consuming to do properly, but quite a handsome wood when done right (3/4's of all walnut pieces I see is NOT done right)

Oak: Another mainstay wood. Very durable, and dense. Not widely used in fine furniture because of the grain pattern.

There are other woods as well, but those are some of the mainstay furniture woods.

Wood has to be milled to make is usable. It is run through planers, joiners and wide belt sanders to get it to size. The larger and thicker the board, the more expensive it will be. Bed posts and pedestal bases on tables are very expensive to do as solid, non-glued-up pieces. So if you buy a bed, check to see if you see a vertical seam in the lumber which signifies a glue-up. Nothing wrong with glue-ups, just don't pay the price of solid 1-board.

Industry standard is 4/4 (pronounced four quarter) lumber, which when milled will finish out to 7/8" thickness. Anything thicker - or even thinner - requires more expensive wood or more planing time if being thinned out.

Once the wood is planed, it either goes to a wide belt sander or is hand-scraped. If hand-scraped (much more desirable) you will feel a slight ripple when you run your hand over the surface. Belt-sanded items will be perfectly smooth. Cutting the surface of the wood gives you a brighter finish over a sanded surface in a completed product.

Solid wood MOVES. The wider the board, the more it will move with the seasons. Expands in the summer, shrinks in the winter. The art of the furnituremaker is to build to allow this movement, without sacrificing joinery strength. Narrow board furniture does not move nearly as much, and plywoods and veneers don't move at all.

Joinery. The gold standard is Mortise and Tenon. That's the strongest joint where you have intersecting pieces of wood. All mortise and tenoned pieces will have one or two distinctive wood pins visible from the outside of the piece that secure that joint. Next up is Dowel joints. Not as durable as mortise and tenon, but superior to a bolt-in leg. Dowel joints look like M&T joints, but don't have the cross pins. Last choice are legs than bolt on, or are held on by screws. Plastic blocks, staples, nails, hot glue and the like are unacceptable as joinery methods.

I've reached the character limit for this post. More later. Hope you like this thread and will ask general quesions!


clipped on: 10.18.2008 at 12:42 am    last updated on: 10.18.2008 at 12:42 am