As many of you know, I am huge fan of cooking outdoors on my Weber grill. It combines all the things I love best; cooking, drinking beer and spending time in the yard I work so hard to make pretty. Over the years I’ve used a few different grills, both gas and charcoal, but I’ve settled on the Weber Genesis E-330 as my grill of choice. It is the top grill you can buy for under $1000 and one of the best gas grills on the market today.
The grill comes standard with 3 primary burners, as well as an additional burner they call the “Sear Station”. This extra burner produces an incredible amount of energy and heat and as the name suggests it is perfect for quickly searing steaks or anything else.
Another feature I use quite a bit is the side burner that you can use for any number of purposes. Often times I’ll have a basic bot on there with a sauce simmering or maybe some vegetables cooking. The grill is very sturdy and holds heat well and I also just love the look of it. It heats up quickly and maintains a consistent temperature, and it does a great job of managing dual zone temps (with the lid open) so that you can cook a delicate fish on one side will cooking a big fat steak on the other. There are also lots of other features you can purchase to go alone with it, such as a rotisserie and smoke box.
I could go on and on about how much I love this grill, but this video from YouTube provides a full review of the Weber Genesis E-330 and goes into lots of details and shows examples of what I mean. I hope you can make it to the house for a cookout some time.
I have family that lives in the Des Moines IA area and they recently had their home tested for radon. Elevated level of radon aren’t as common in the area that I live, but they are in Iowa and other areas of the country, so I thought I would write a quick post on the topic. Besides, I haven’t updated the blog in a long time anyways! If you live in Iowa and after testing your home you discover the levels are high, you can contact the top Des Moines radon mitigation company.
The Purpose For Radon Testing
Radon is a gas that emanates from the ground and it can seep into homes and businesses. A prolonged exposure to the gas can cause the inhabitants to contract lung cancer.
Radon gas is invisible and it has no smell. The only way to be sure that you are not being exposed to the gas is to conduct testing to see if the gas is present.
When people live in areas like Des Moines where there have been known radon gas present, it is advised strongly for them to test for the gas. It is very easy and inexpensive to do so, and it only takes a few minutes to test and get results. Iowa radon mitigation has become a booming business due to all the positive tests.
By testing, you will be able to determine if you should take further steps to protect your home against radon gas. Using the results from the house of a neighbor, does not really give you a good indicator of how much danger you and your family might be in. Each house, even thought they may be right next to one another, can have totally different levels of radon gas within the interiors.
Variables such as any weatherization, remodeling, changes to heating and air conditioning and any other ventilation systems like exhaust fans can make a huge difference.
Types of Radon Tests
Examples of different types of radon tests.
There are two kinds of radon tests, a short range test and a long range test. The short range test measures the concentration of radon gas levels for two to seven days. The short term test does not measure the annual average of radon, it does give the homeowner a quick and inexpensive method of finding out if the radon is even in the home.
The long range test is the best way to determine the average annual radon in the home, as it takes into account both the heating and the cooling seasons.
The short term test costs about $5 and the long term test costs around $25, just be sure that the test kits include the costs for the laboratory analysis. If you are depending upon an expert to get an independent opinion, such as when you are selling a home, a third party test is much more expensive.
It is recommended that people who live in or near exposed radon areas test their home at least every 2 to 5 years and the results from the tests should be saved. You should also test before and after you make any structural changes to the house like building on an addition, finishing up a basement and adding new windows or insulation.
You should also test for radon if you add on a new heating or cooling system.
Levels of radon are measured by picocuries per liter of air, and yet there is really no safe level of radon gas. The only thing that can be done is to reduce levels as much as possible. The fact that lung cancer increases with each increase in radon gas is cause for concern, even though smaller levels offer less risk.
As much as love being outdoors and working in the yard, like many others, I fall victim to seasonal allergies. The thing is, I could handle seasonal allergies. Its the fact that “allergy season” seems to never end. It could be Spring, Summer, or Fall, and it doesn’t matter, I get allergies. The allergies are primarily due to pollen and and other airborne substances. Basically, my body is super protective of me and thinks this constant stream of airborne particles that I subject it to are evil beings coming to attack it. It confuses the particles as an attack on my body and goes into full protect mode. All the sneezing, wheezing, coughing, watery eyes and other symptoms are just my body trying to rid me of the “germs”. Because I’m constantly stuffed up have a bunch of other health issues.
One of the biggest issues, because it effects Karen almost more than it does me is that I snore. I mean I snore a lot! I tried a few different home remedies and nasal strips thinking that if I just had open nostrils I wouldn’t snore as much. Needless to say those didn’t work at all. So, instead I started searching online for the best products to stop snoring and found some great results. There are LOTS of devices on the market today and they each cost $50-$150 so I wanted to take some time and find the right one for me. I ended up trying the SnoreMD snoring mouthpiece and it has worked great for me! It to0k 2-3 days to get used to but now I sleep well, and more importantly so does my sweet, lovely bride!
So the SnoreMD is great, but if you know me at all you know that I didn’t just settle at that. Like everything else I do I went into full overkill mode! I also started a stop snoring exercise program that tightened the muscles in my throat and mouth and helped me to open up my air passage ways even more.
The other big side effect of my allergies is that I constantly have red, watery eyes. It makes wearing my contacts a challenge and also makes it look like I’m constantly stoned! I’m not, I promise!
I have yet to find a great solution to the eye redness. My primary physician has prescribed some medications, and my ophthalmologist did too but neither did a great job. They did help get rid of some of the itchiness but didn’t do much to get rid of the redness itself. I suppose they “did their job” because they got rid of the annoying and irritating feeling, but my eyes were still watery and red.
All that said I wouldn’t give up working in the yard for all the allergies in the world. There is nothing that brings me the same calm and peaceful feeling as well as sense of accomplishment and pride as working in my garden. I love working the soil and planting seeds, watering and nurturing young plants, pruning them so that they bloom in the right places. All of that is such a joy to see payoff that I’ll happily take a few allergies in return.
I recently had the foundation on my home repaired, and while I’m glad I don’t (or I hope!) I don’t have to go through it ever again I will say that it wasn’t quite as awful of an experience as I thought it might be. I was most upset because I had some really great landscaping right next to the exterior walls of my home and a lot of it was torn up. The contractor did a great job of putting things back in place as best they could, but when you are as fanatical about your yard as I am…well lets just say I had fun re-doing things!
So what exactly do I mean by home foundation repair? How did I know I needed it? And what were the results? Let’s take a look!
What do I mean by fixing my foundation? Your home’s foundation is essentially the platform on which your home is built. Most folks have a concrete foundation which is poured over a mix of sand and rocks. It is designed to make a smooth and sturdy platform for your home. That is the type of foundation in my home, you could also have a pier and beam foundation which you can read more about here.
I first realized I might have foundational damage when I noticed a few doors that all faced the same hallway were starting to jam and not close properly. Then I started to see signs of cracking along my exposed foundation and quite a bit in my driveway. I put off doing anything about it for a while, then after a wicked storm I got some water damage seeping into my floors. At that point I was just really worried about the cost, so I got in touch with the folks at Nationwide Foundation Repair and they provided me with a full free consultation and really eased a lot of my fears.
It really is very similar to the way you jack up a car. The repair team came in and dug holes next to the house (thus the damage to the garden) and started digging holes directly beneath the foundation of the house and kept digging until they hit solid earth (imagine an oil well). Then the essentially used the security of that solid earth and a massive jack and reinforced the foundation of the house. This video shows it better than I can explain it:
All in all it was a rather easy process, and while it certainly wasn’t cheap, it wasn’t near as expensive as I hoped it would be either. If you run into these problems with your home.
For my first post on the new blog I wanted to pay tribute to the history of the landscape architecture and honor a man I’ve studied and respect. You’ve likely seen his amazing work countless times and depending on where you live you may even drive by or wall through his landscapes every single day! He is a true pioneer of landscape design and great American!
The man I’m speaking of is Fredrick Law Olmsted and he is considered by many to be the father of landscape architecture. He created the master plan for everything from Central Park in New York to the Vanderbilt House in Asheville NC. He is also responsible for the layout of college campuses like Stanford University and Cal-Berkeley. Learn more about him here.
I’ve visited all of those places (with the exception of the Cal campus) and his work is truly astounding. All of his landscapes are meticulous yet flowing and natural. He combines natural flora and fauna in a way that perfectly compliments the natural features mother nature provided him with.
Check out this video that is an introduction to a well made PBS documentary that I enjoyed:
So next you are in an park or garden take a few moments to look around and try and appreciate all the hard work that was put into it. In the meantime, I encourage you to try and channel your inner Olmsted and incorporate some of his ideas into your next project!