Stone has long been regarded as a practical and decorative building material both outside and more recently inside your house. But, while builders have been including stone as a feature in construction, it has recently taken on new uses and become easier to work with thanks to modern technology.
Stone has also moved from inexpensive and lovely landscaping material to durable and aesthetically pleasing material for countertops and floors in the kitchen to foyer floor and family room fireplace.
While stone is widely available and thus less costly than many other building products, it takes an experienced stonemason to lay exterior walls, fireplaces, and floors with stone that has to be cut. It is durable and easy to maintain but labor-intensive to use as a construction material.
Once stone was considered a good exterior material. It was also great for fireplaces. Then builders began to explore with using stone in other parts of construction. Today, stone is used more than just the floor and countertops. It is even being used the walls! Stone has become a popular option for interior walls. Thanks to modern manufacturing, you can get the look and feel of solid stone in easy-to-apply stone veneers. They are a cinch to apply with today’s stone-veneer pieces. DIYers can do the work that once required a stonemason to give that solid stone appearance. Here is how it goes:
First, use a trowel to apply a thin-set mortar to the back of stone veneer. Next, press stone-veneer pieces onto your concrete wall. This can be a brand new wall or one from which you’ve removed wallpaper or paneling or paint. Be sure to scrape away excess mortar before it has a chance to harden. Use pre-cut stone corner pieces in each spot where walls meet.
Allow your handiwork to dry and fully cure. Then apply a clear sealant with a stiff brush. Allow sealant to dry and you’re done.
Just as a stonewall provides interest and beauty to the exterior of your home, a stone veneer wall can add interest to your home’s interior. It can be a feature wall or you may choose to do all walls in a den or a recreation room.
Stone veneer panels enhance the look of a home’s exterior or interest in a foyer, hall, or family room inside your home. Stone veneer panels can be used to make a fireplace insert give the appearance of a full-wall fireplace.
Interest in stone veneers has grown rapidly because of its versatility and ease of application. The new stone veneers come in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and surface textures. You might choose one that blends with the rest of the room décor or one that is an interesting contrast or focal point.
If you have a rustic log home, natural look stone will provide a homey contrast in fireplace, kitchen counter, or floors. If your home is an old Victorian, replacing painted or paneled walls with brick veneer will cover wall flaws that paint or paper cannot mask. For a Mexican décor, stone veneers that have a flat sandstone appearance are a good choice. There are many reasons why looking at the latest stone veneers for your next renovation project makes sense.
Buying a home is stressful enough, the last thing you want to worry about is home buyer fraud. But, even the savviest buyers might find themselves lured in by deceptive practices.
Keep these frequently-used schemes in mind when you are in the market for your next home.
The business of buying and selling homes revolves around mortgages. Unless you can afford to pay for your home in cash, you’ll need one in order to buy.
As such, there are many opportunities for predatory lenders to take advantage of prospective buyers. You might hear that you are qualified for way more money that you can actually afford to spend on a house because your mortgage lender misrepresented your income or is trying to ensure that you end up defaulting on your loan.
The best way to guard against this is to do your own math before applying for mortgage pre-approval. Look at your monthly income, expenses, and savings goals to determine how much money you have left over to allocate to your mortgage.
Match that with the estimated monthly payment on your mortgage to make sure the home you want fits in your price range. A good rule of thumb is that your mortgage payment should not take more than 25-30 percent of your monthly income.
A trustworthy mortgage broker can also help ensure that you will not take a mortgage you are not able to afford. Ask for recommendations from friends and family and look for someone who has your best interests in mind.
The other area where homebuyers can fall victim to scams is when it’s time to close on the home and make your down payment. The closing process is a complicated web of banks, title companies, and real estate brokers.
There are so many forms to complete and information to send; it’s easy to go on autopilot and provide whatever information is asked of you.
Because it’s such a large sum of money, many people rely on wire transfers to send the money to their bank. Be wary of third-party services set up to wire money and try to deliver your down payment directly to your bank if possible.
Getting the Grill Ready for Summer
Summer is just around the corner. It’s time to give that BBQ a tune up so it is ready for summer grilling season. Here are some tips:
If you have a gas grill there are some safety rules. Take the tank off and give it a close look. Are there any dents, rust, or wear. Is the valve tight? Pour soapy water over the valve while it is open. Look for bubbles that indicate a leak. If so, fix or replace it.
Get that tank filled so it is ready for summer. If the tank looks worse for the wear, get a new one.
Check any hoses for wear or cracking. Are there holes? Is the hose securely attached at both ends? Use the soap water test on hoses with tank turned on. Replace any hoses that show bubbles.
If your BBQ has a built-in ignition switch, make sure it lights the grill and it burns with an even flame.
Clear burner tubes to avoid blockage like spider webs or debris. These can restrict gas flow and prevent the igniter from lighting. Brush portholes with a stainless steel brush moving up and down. This will keep debris from dropping back into the tubes.
Now that you’ve checked out your BBQ, leave it running for ten or fifteen minutes on high. This burns off last season’s build up. Use a wire brush to clean the grill. If the surface is porcelain let the BBQ cool. Then use warm soapy water to clean it. Soak if there are stubborn stains and use a plastic scouring pad to clean the porcelain grill surface.
If your grill has stainless steel tables, use a stainless steel cleaner and terry towels to avoid scratching the surface.
Lava rocks should be replaced annually.
If repairs are needed, make them right away so they do not become more costly or result in your having to buy a new BBQ. Like any machine, your grill requires maintenance and up keep.
If your grill uses charcoal, clean the outside first. Use a sponge and soapy water. Dry with a clean rag.
Next lift the lid. If your grill looks like paint is peeling, this is carbonized grease. Use a stainless steel brush to clean off this debris. Then use a sponge and soapy water. Lastly, rinse and dry your grill when you finish.
Taking these maintenance tips will ensure you’re ready for the BBQ season.
Being more mindful of your actions is a great way to improve your own sense of well-being and how you feel about the world around you. Expanding that mindfulness one step further into your relationships can have the same great benefits!
The more aware you are of how your partner is feeling, the better you can relate to them and provide the support they need. As you’ll see, even a little bit of effort can go a long way.
Be in the Moment
One of the best ways to practice mindfulness in your relationship is to make your partner the sole focus whenever the two of you are alone together, whether it’s having dinner or taking a walk or watching a movie.
If you’re on your phone or otherwise distracted, it sends a signal to your partner that, although you are physically with them, your mind is elsewhere. Over time, this can lead to feelings of anger and resentment that could damage your relationship.
Handle Problems with Ease
No relationship is perfect and there are bound to be problems that arise. Engaging in mindfulness helps ensure that you stay cool under pressure and do not fly off the handle at your partner if they make a mistake or do something that upsets you.
Being mindful allows you to take a step back from the situation and get to the bottom of what’s really going on, rather than just your surface-level reaction. You’ll find that cooler heads prevail and you are better equipped to work through relationship issues.
Be More Supportive
A practice of mindfulness makes you more in tune with what’s going on around you, which means you’ll be able to pick up on cues from your partner about what they need from your relationship.
This comes in the form of being a better listener when they directly ask for something, and noticing nonverbal signals that come from facial expressions and other gestures. You won’t become a mind reader overnight, but over time you’ll be able to better detect their needs before they ever say a word to you about what’s on their mind.
A bad mood can impact every part of your day--from your interactions with others to the choices you make about food and exercise.
In short, it’s no place you want to be long term. Here are a few easy ways to turn that bad mood around and get your day back on track.
Exercising might feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re in a bad mood, but I promise you that it’s totally worth it. The endorphin rush you get from working out will lift your spirits, and focusing on physical activity will help get your mind off of negative thoughts.
You don’t need a long or vigorous workout to reap the mood-boosting benefits. Even a brisk walk, or ten minutes of yoga poses at your desk can be enough to do the trick.
Laugh and Smile
Again, this is probably not high on your list of things to do when you’re in a bad mood, but even a few minutes of forced laughter can help remind you that things might not be so bad after all.
Queue up a funny video on YouTube, turn on one of your favorite songs, or call a friend to reminisce about a funny story. Any of these activities will trigger the release of feel-good hormones and lift your mood in no time.
This one might not be as easy to do on the spot, but taking time out of your day to help others reminds us that we are players in a much larger community.
Much like exercise, it’s a great way to get out of your own head and forget about your problems for a while. And, you’ll receive the boost that comes from doing a good deed.
This can be as simple as holding the door for someone, or offering to buy coffee for a coworker who might also be having a bad day. Commit to volunteering to keep those positive vibes going and achieve a more positive overall mental state.