Monday, November 14, 2016

Holiday Decorating Ideas for Your Home, Inside & Out

The holidays are just around the corner, and with them, the hustle and bustle that accompanies them each year. This year, wouldn’t it be nice to focus on your own home, adding some holiday cheer in the small details? Or maybe some big details, too. Whether you’re a veteran at holiday decorating or are new to this vast world, you’ll be sure to find some holiday decorating ideas and tips you hadn’t thought of here. Just remember, you can make your d├ęcor exactly as simple or complicated as you want it to be – just enjoy the process!

For those of you who want to add a little festivity to the inside of your home, we offer the following indoor Christmas ideas:

  • Clip cards you receive to a string and hang them along your staircase – or across any wall if you don’t have stairs.
  • Place festive candles throughout your home. Whether they’re green, red, gold or white, light them in the evenings (or even by mid-afternoon this time of year) for a warm, welcoming ambiance. Deep windowsills or end tables are ideal – just be sure that any drapes or other materials don’t get too close and catch the flame. 
  • Make your own Advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas using a bulletin board and 24 envelopes. Be sure to put a special little something in each one!
  • Add wrapped presents under the tree as you go – you’re going to be wrapping them anyway, so why not double their use as both a present for someone you love and a decoration for your house in the meantime? The trick is in the final touches – a gorgeous, bright ribbon, perhaps tucking a candy cane under the knot.
  • Hang ornaments from strings in your front window for some simple holiday flair.

And for those of you who want to wow your neighbors and any passersby with your holiday spirit from the street, a few outdoor Christmas decoration ideas:

  • Use glass vases or mason jars to light the path to your front door for guests on their way in. Just pour a thin layer of rock salt at the bottom of each vase or jar and place a tea candle inside for a gorgeous illumination guiding guests to your home.
  • Or if it’s really cold out, replace the mason jars with ice lanterns to hold the candles. You can make your own ice lanterns by placing a plastic cup filled with rocks (or something to weigh it down inside of a larger plastic container. Fill the larger plastic container with water, and then freeze the whole thing overnight, either in your freezer or outside. You can even place berries or leaves in the water (before freezing) as decoration. To get the ice lanterns out of their containers, run warm water along the outside and viola – a pretty ice lantern!
  • If you’re handy and have some extra plywood lying around, try sawing the wood into holiday decorations like evergreen trees to set up in your yard.
  • Hang some frozen fruit ornaments from trees for your furry and feathered friends using a plate, string and your favorite holiday berries, oranges and greens. 
  • Illuminate your porch (or stoop) with some pretty birch log luminaries – just cut a birch log into a few pieces of varying heights, drill holes into one of the two flat sides (large enough to fit a tea candle), and you’ve got beautiful, natural candle holders. 
  • String cranberries to make a garland and wrap the garland around any greenery you have in planters.

You can also decorate the outside of your home, yard, or your Christmas Tree with a Lighting Effects Laser Light Projector from Prime! An alternative to the hassle of stringing lights, a Laser Light installs easily and quickly, and covers the outside of your home with a dazzling red and green light display. Simply plug it in, aim the laser where you want, and cover your home or tree with a bright light display in a matter of minutes!

And of course, check out our own selection of holiday decorating items, offering everything from string lights to angels, ornaments to tree stands. It’s time to get into that holiday spirit – so embrace it!
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Winterizing Your Outdoor Equipment

In our past two blog entries, we provided a detailed guide for prepping your home and plants for the impending winter season. We’re continuing with this theme but shifting our focus to the toolshed. When winter rolls around, Jack Frost can wreak havoc on unattended lawn tools – especially power equipment like mowers, blowers and hedge trimmers. These power tools are substantial monetary investments that can often be neglected during the off-season. Freezing temperatures throw a wrench into the inner workings of small gas engines and, in some instances, cause irreparable damage.

Thankfully, with a little foresight, you can avoid wasting valuable time (and money) futilely futzing with a faulty gas engine or replacing it altogether. Prepare for the impending cold front by following these simple steps, and ensure a smooth start to the spring season.

Regulate Storage Temperature

If you’ve ever plugged in a power tool only to have it sputter and shudder, the engine might be having difficulty generating the heat required to power up. After months of lying dormant in a frigid environment, your engine is unable to adjust to such a dramatic shift in internal temperature.

In addition, the freezing cold also has the potential to drain an engine’s battery life and substantially accelerate degeneration. Certain chargers are completely ineffective after being exposed to the cold for prolonged periods of time.

To extend the longevity of your tools and ensure easy startup, invest in a portable garage heater. Your heating unit doesn’t need to be robust or cranked up to full capacity – in fact, that would be wasteful. As long as your shed’s temperature is kept slightly above freezing, your tools should be able to rev up without issue.

Remove or Stabilize Your Leftover Gas

Left untouched, oil gradually oxidizes and turns into a heavier sludge that is less effective at lubricating your engine. Old gas also does not ignite as well as fresh fuel. At the tail end of fall, stagnant gasoline should be completely cleared out or stabilized prior to storage.

Emptying out your equipment is simple – unscrew the fuel tank and dump the remains into a capped container. If you’re unable to drain all of the gas, try using a turkey baster or similar hand pump to get every last drop. Once full, dispose of your unwanted fuel responsibly at your community’s toxic waste center.

Instead of tossing out your fuel, you can add a gas stabilizer to it. By diluting your gasoline with fresh fuel or a product like Sta-Bil, you can substantially mitigate the effects of oxidation. Once your gas has been diluted, make sure to store it in an air-tight container to seal it off from additional oxygen.

Clean Filters, Hinges & Spark Plugs

After frequent use during the spring and summer, engine parts can deteriorate and suffer poor performance. Before stowing your tools, open up the insides and perform a thorough examination of your filters. To swap out your fuel filter with ease, bend a metal coat hanger, snag your fuel line and replace the filter attached to the end. A torn air filter can cause debris to accumulate. Fortunately, changing air filters is a breeze – just make sure you wear a dust mask!

Spark plugs are also an easy fix. To keep your plugs in perfect condition, remove them with a wrench and scrub off residue. If your plugs are particularly filthy, don’t worry – replacing spark plugs is quick and inexpensive.

Another inevitability of winter storage is unwanted contact with moisture. If your ceiling suffers a leak, moisture can seep onto your equipment’s hinges and rust them beyond repair. To prevent rust from deteriorating your tools, rub them down liberally with lubricant.  

By taking these precautions, you’ll stay one step ahead of winter and avoid defrosting your equipment in the spring. These tips may seem like common sense, but with the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to neglect tools lying dormant in your shed. Check out our selection of lawn power equipment and then our heating & cooling page to ensure your tools survive winter!