10 uses for the unsung hero of your medicine cabinet!


You likely have a trusty bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide in your medicine cabinet, for treatment of minor cuts. But there are far more uses for this unassuming product than you could possibly imagine! Here is a list of 10 reasons to stock up:

  • Clean tile and grout – Mix a half cup of baking soda with a quarter cup of Hydrogen Peroxide in a sealable container. Add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap, close the lid and then shake until combined. Apply the mixture to tile and grout, let sit for five minutes and then rinse clean with water.
  • Wash your fresh produce – Remove dirt and pesticides by adding a quarter cup of Hydrogen Peroxide to a sink of cold water, then washing your produce in it. Afterward, rinse your produce thoroughly with cool, clean water.
  • Remove grime in your bathtub – For a safer solution than your typical tub and tile cleaners, make a paste of 2/3 baking soda to 1/3 Hydrogen Peroxide. Apply to your tub and shower area and wait for 30 minutes, then rinse.
  • Banish rust – Add equal parts cream of tartar and baking soda to a bowl. Add a few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide to the mixture to form a paste and rub the paste onto your rusty objects. Wait an hour, then wash off with water.
  • Get rid of skunk smell – If your dog or someone you know has a run in with a skunk, combine one quart of Hydrogen Peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda, one teaspoon of dish soap and two quarts of warm water. Apply to the person or animal and work into a lather before rinsing.
  • Perk up your plants – The extra oxygen atom in Hydrogen Peroxide can benefit the plant growth process and treat conditions like pests, root rot and fungus. For houseplants, mix one tablespoon of Hydrogen Peroxide and one cup of water in a spray bottle and soak the soil with the solution once or twice a week.
  • Erase water marks on granite – Get rid of pesky water marks by mixing a half cup of baking soda in a bowl with a few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide to form a paste. Spread over the water marks, let sit for five to 10 minutes, then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  • Clean your toothbrush – Soak your toothbrush in Hydrogen Peroxide between uses to keep it clean. This can be particularly beneficial if someone in your house is sick.
  • Sanitize your kitchen sponge – Combine equal parts Hydrogen Peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish, then soak your sponge in the solution for about 10 minutes. Rinse the sponge thoroughly afterward and let air dry.
  • Keep salad greens fresh – Before covering and refrigerating your greens, spray them with a solution of a half cup of water and one tablespoon of Hydrogen Peroxide to keep them fresher, longer.

Give your home a spring refresh!


After a long winter, March is a good time to assess both the inside and outside of your home. It’s the perfect time to plan a garden, remove debris and clean up all the mud and remains of snow and slush your family has likely tracked into the house the last few months. Here are a few projects to do in March:

  • Check your lawn – Rescue a patchy lawn by removing dead soil, tilling the soil and adding compost. However, wait for warmer weather to reseed.
  • Tidy the gutters – Winter storms can blow twigs, leaves and debris into your gutters, so even if you cleaned them in the fall, it’s best to clean them again.
  • Check your home exterior – Check your roof for loose shingles, gutters and siding and keep an eye out for wood rot.
  • Clean up your patio furniture – Give everything a good scrubbing before putting it out for use.
  • Prepare your garden – Plant summer-flowering bulbs after the last frost and ready your garden beds for other early plantings.
  • Refresh your entryway – Swap mittens and hats to make room for spring boots and rain jackets. Put out an umbrella holder for rainy days.
  • HVAC Maintenance – Clean your AC condenser using a garden hose and spray nozzle, which will help ensure your AC runs smoothly in the summer.
  • Carpet cleaning – Give your carpets and rugs a deep spring clean to clear out ice melt or anything else your family may have brought into the house over the winter.
  • Reorganize your closets – Donate or sell any winter clothing you didn’t wear this season, then pack your off-season clothes into boxes or bins.

Maintain your home and environment with salt alternatives


While salt does a great job of melting snow and ice, it can be bad for your driveway and walkways, garden, pets and the environment. Here are some alternatives you can use instead:

  • Sand – Sand will absorb sunlight, which can help melt snow and ice. It will also provide traction, so you won’t slip and fall.  
  • Kitty Litter – While it won’t melt ice, it will provide more traction for a non-slip surface.
  • Urea – Available in areas where fertilizer development is common, urea is a natural de-icer. While safe for pets and concrete, avoid using it near your garden.
  • Vinegar – It may take a few applications to work, but vinegar contains citric acid, which will help melt snow and ice.
  • Sugar beet juice – Completely safe for roads, pets, plants and grass, sugar beet juice lowers the melting point of ice and snow.
  • Alfalfa meal – Commonly used as a fertilizer, alfalfa meal is completely natural. It’s also grainy, which will help provide traction.
  • Coffee grinds – Like sand, coffee grinds absorb sunlight to help snow and ice melt faster. It will also help provide a non-slip surface.
  • Calcium Chloride – Fast-acting calcium chloride’s snow melting-and de-icing properties continue to work for up to 24 hours after application. However, it is not as common and tends to be much more expensive.
  • Stone grits – While stone grits don’t melt snow or ice, they have a similar composition to gravel or gritty sand which can provide traction. Many stores carry stone grits as a sand or salt alternative and tend to be the last option available when everything else has run out.

PROTECTING YOUR FOUNDATION


As we well know, in the Midwest, temperatures in the winter can fluctuate from freezing to the upper 50s and possibly higher. Combined with rain and snow, these factors can take a toll on the foundation of your home! Here are some ways you can protect your foundation and avoid costly repairs.

LOOK TO SEE WHERE WATER IS POOLING

If you find a low spot or water puddles against your house, take note of the location and fix it when it’s dry.

CHECK OUTDOOR WATER FAUCETS AND GARDEN HOSES

Make sure they are off and not leaking. Turning a frozen faucet on in the middle of winter can cause the pipe to leak, which can cause damage to your foundation.

KEEP YOUR BASEMENT DRY

Prepare for flood conditions in your basement and don’t allow water to collect during rains. Installing a sump pump can help keep water out during a storm.

REDUCE HUMIDITY

You may be tempted to turn off your dehumidifier in the winter, but excess humidity can cause damage to your foundation and walls. To avoid that issue, turn your dehumidifier to the lowest setting so that it will activate when the humidity becomes a problem in your home.

REPAIR CRACKS AND CREVICES

If you spot a minor crack in one of your walls or your foundation, it’s often a sign of underlying damage. Fill them as soon as possible to prevent the cracks from getting bigger.

WINTER HOME EMERGENCY KIT CHECKLIST


Winter brings cold, snow and sometimes power outages, so it’s good to prepare for the worst. One way to do that is by prepping a winter emergency kit. Here is a list of items you’ll need!

  • Water – At least five gallons per person and more if you’re in an area prone to long periods of cold temperatures.
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Power source – If you don’t have a backup generator and don’t want to invest in one, consider an alternative power source. You could use a power cord that can connect to your car to charge your phone, a backup battery to power your phone at home or a hand-crank tool to produce your own power.
  • Food – High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration is best. Don’t forget extra food for your pets.
  • First aid supplies – Compress dressings, bandages, cloth tape, antibiotic ointment packets, antiseptic wipe packets, aspirin, non-latex gloves, oral thermometer, tweezers, etc.
  • Radio – Purchase a battery-powered NOAA weather radio and portable radio to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside in a power outage.
  • Toiletries and special needs items like diapers
  • Extra medicine
  • Heat – Keep an alternative way to heat your home during a power failure handy, like a fireplace, woodstove or a kerosene heater.
  • Matches
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Battery powered clock

Now you’re prepared for whatever mother nature throws your way!

MAKE YOUR HOME READY FOR WINTER


Before the snow falls and a chill takes hold, it’s important to winterize your home. If you procrastinate, it could come at a cost! Here are some tips that’ll help make your home more enjoyable when the temperature drops.

CHECK YOUR HEATING SYSTEM

Turn the thermostat up to 80 degrees, just to test it. Listen for the furnace to turn on and make sure warm air comes out. If the furnace is not running properly, you may be able to fix it yourself, or you may need to call a technician.

INSULATE YOUR WINDOWS

By reducing drafts, you can lower your home’s energy costs by up to 20% per year! Use anything from V-seal weather stripping and rope caulk to shrink film or even nail polish.

PREP THE PLUMBING

Drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses and roll up the hoses and store them inside. Check for any “problem” pipes that tend to freeze in the winter and consider using heat tape to keep them warm.

CHECK THE ROOF

Spot any potential issues before the first snow! Check for cracked caulk or rust spots, shingles that are missing, broken, or curling, cracked vent pipes, or large masses of moss and lichen, which could indicate your roof is decaying.

CLEAR GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS

To prevent ice dams or damage to your foundation, clean your gutters to remove leaves and twigs. Also, make sure the gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water.

IS YOUR HOME ONE OF KANSAS CITY’S HAUNTED HOUSES?


Haunted house

Kansas City is known for its haunted houses—from The Beast to the Macabre Cinema, you can get your scare on not far from home. However, what if it’s your home that is haunted? Strange noises, unexplained lights flickering, doors closing on their own. Who you gonna call? Probably a handyman.

 

Flickering lights

Loose wiring is the most common reason lights flicker. Flickering lights are also one of the top reasons for house fires. First things first, shut off the light circuit before removing the light fixture that you suspect is the problem. The best thing to do is to contact an electrician.

 

Doors shutting on their own

If your doors are shutting without your assistance, it means their top and center hinges aren’t plumb. It could just be loose screws. You can lift up the door and tighten the screws.

 

Floors creaking

Both solid-board and plywood floors can cause annoying squeaking and creaks. Traditional hardwood flooring is the most likely to give you trouble. A handyman can fix your squeaky floors by sealing up any gaps to stop the wood floor rubbing against the underlying plywood subfloor.

 

Strange noises

Banging and clanking sounds most likely come from your AC unit. Have you changed your filters this year? That’s important; dirty filters can clog up your system. If you hear high-pitched squealing, you might need to have your fan belts checked.

 

If you hear hissing and can’t identify it

It’s time to get out of the house. Don’t touch any lights or anything electrical. Call 911 and tell them you suspect a gas leak. This is one thing you don’t want to wait on. If you smell gas, be sure to act quickly, and warn your neighbors as well.

 

Items disappearing

Chances are you could use the help of a talented organizer. Or, it could be a ghost—we hear they love single socks.

FIREPLACE MAINTENANCE AND SAFETY


Nothing sounds better than curling up by a warm fire these days. But before you break out your supplies, it’s important to make sure you can enjoy your fireplace safely. Here are some tips you should remember before lighting your hearth.

Check your chimney

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney at least once a year, or after about 80 fires.

Only burn firewood

Burn logs that have been split, stacked and dried for eight to 12 months. Hardwoods that will burn the longest include hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple and white ash. Never burn construction scraps or painted wood, which could release chemicals into your home.

Clear the area

Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that could be flammable, like furniture, drapes or books. In fact, keeping a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace will prevent sparks from melting or damaging your carpeting.

Open the flue

Before starting a fire, make sure the damper or flue is open. This will ensure smoke is drawn out of the house. Also, keep a window open to prevent the room from getting smoky.

Never leave a fire unattended

Even if adults are near, children should not play near the fire or with any fire tools. Before leaving the house or going to bed, make sure the fire is out.

Only burn for a few hours

Although fireplaces are warm, they should not be used as furnaces. Only burn a fire for a short time—no longer than five hours.

With these reminders, you’ll be able to enjoy your fireplace without any worries!

KEEPING BACKYARD BEES


Beekeeping can be a very rewarding experience and it’s become a popular hobby, with more and more hives popping up in neighborhoods across the country. Whether you’re trying it to keep yourself active, to help improve pollination in your garden or to launch a side hustle selling honey, like any other form of agriculture, beekeeping involves knowledge, time and commitment. Where to begin? Here is some advice from the University of Missouri Extension.

Do Your Research

First, find out if beekeeping in your city is legal. Some places require permits, while others don’t have any restrictions at all. Check with your local government to find out what is allowed where you live. If beekeeping is allowed, touch base with your neighbors to make sure there won’t be problems down the road. Then, learn all you can about beekeeping. Read introductory books and join a local beekeeper’s organization, such as the Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers Association or the Midwestern Beekeepers Association.

Order Your Bees

Plan ahead and order your bees for the following year. Bee suppliers will typically take orders in November and December, for delivery in April or May. Then, several months before your colonies arrive, buy your hive supplies and any other equipment you need, making sure everything is assembled and in place 30 days before your bees arrive.

Plan Your Location

Place your apiary near a good source of nectar and pollen. Trees and shrubs are good sources of pollen, and for nectar, look for plants in the daisy, legume or mint families. It’s also important that your hives have a good supply of water nearby, ideally within a quarter mile. Lagoons, swimming pools, birdbaths or even a shallow pan of water would work well. Whatever you use, make sure to add some type of substrate, like small rocks or floating pieces of wood for the bees to perch on. Hives should also be placed in a level location, where they can get sun during the day and be sheltered from strong winds.

Order Your Equipment

In order to keep your bees healthy, it’s better to purchase new equipment. For a beginning beekeeper, an eight or 10-frame Langstroth hive is ideal, because you’ll be able to interchange and add standard hive equipment as needed.

This is just an introduction to a topic that incorporates a lot of knowledge. For further resources and information, visit the University of Missouri Extension. Happy beekeeping!

FALL IS HERE! IS YOUR HOME READY?


Break out the pumpkins and cozy blankets – Fall is here!

Switching up your décor is a great way to get you prepared for the change of seasons, but what about the rest of your home? Here are 5 tips to get your home ready for the cooler weather!

Work from the top down

Check for loose shingles, leaves in the gutter and everything in between. Once you’ve made your way back down, take a look around for any cracks in the concrete and asphalt and patch them up.

Give everything a little TLC – Tender Loving Cleaning

    • Power wash the siding
    • Wash your windows and their screens
    • Clean and reverse ceiling fan blades
    • Shampoo the carpets

 

Cover up

Hanging heavier drapes can help you keep the warm air in and the cool air out by providing additional insulation.

Look out for weathered weather stripping

Avoid cold drafts and improve energy efficiency with weather stripping. Here’s a guide on what you need and how to replace it if yours is looking worn down.

Take additional safety measures

    • Replace batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors
    • Restock your emergency kit – things like flashlights, candles, spare blankets and so on are good to keep grouped up just in case.
    • Schedule an HVAC inspection so it can heat your home safely and efficiently.

 

With these tips, you home will be fall ready from the inside out!