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Did you feel that? I think oxygen returned to the air when the humidity broke. We might just be able to go back outside to enjoy the patio again!

What? Your porch is in shambles? Your patio is a pass? With the cooler temperatures that have moved into Southwestern Ontario and swept away the heat wave that gripped much of the Eastern US and Canada last week, we can all look forward to breathing a little easier again. Perhaps it’s high-time that you get a little work done outside the house now.

Porch Problems 

A porch is only as good as its support system

If you have stayed away from the porch due to rotten boards, peeling paint or just a general state of ill-repair, take the bull by the horns and move this outdoor project to the top of the list. Take a good hard look at what you’ve got and assess whether this is a job for Superman You or whether you need to call in a professional. If construction is more than you can normally shake a stick at, then don’t add to your pocket book’s woes by taking on a project that might cost you far more when a contractor has to come dig you out of a mess farther down the road. Look at the extent of your project and estimate what it would cost to tackle the job yourself. Is it just a matter of slapping on a fresh coat of paint or stain? Then go for it! Does it look like you might have to rebuild stairs, railings or support structures? Perhaps an estimate from the pros might be in order.

Wondering what to look for? Check for loose or punky boards. Watch out for nails that are ready to cause a trip hazard. Assess the shape of your surface (is it peeling, fading, streaked, rough?). How solid is your porch as a whole (are you in need of new support columns to keep it level)? Is mold, rot or animal infestation an issue? Is it too hot to sit on (solution – thinks shades or umbrellas)? Are your railings to code (you need a guard railing if your deck is 60 cm or 24″ above the ground and they should be a maximum of 100 mm or 4″ apart)? Is this all more than you can wrap your head around? Call in the professionals when in doubt. If you are feeling brave, ask the folks at your local hardware store for some pointers. And remember that the internet is a great place for how-to articles and videos to make any DIY project a breeze.

Party on the Patio?

Watch your step on this weedy patio

Watch your step on this weedy patio

If you can’t remember the last time you partied on your patio, why is that? Is there insufficient seating? Are you lacking in lighting? Does your patio’s surface look like Great Aunt Elsa’s spider veins? It’s time to tackle the patio repairs.

Patios may equate to more or less effort in the home repair department. If you don’t go out to your patio due to overbearing sun, than a simple umbrella might be the solution to your woes. Of course an awning, pergola, or some sort of permanent roof structure would offer shade on a larger scale too. Seating is often as simple as picking up chairs at a local department store, but have you thought of built-in benches, or adding a swing to the mix? You could light the night with anything from citronella candles, to solar lights, to custom lanterns that offer a cozy glow after dark. The choice is yours! Maybe you crave some heat after dark. Does a fire pit fill you with wonder or would a gas heater in the corner do? Sadly, the patio’s actual surface is often the biggest culprit to a lack of time spent on it. Patio bricks are only as good as the prep work done before they are installed. Sinking stones make for an uneven surface and trip hazard. Weeds, molds, or moss make for an unattractive finish. Can you fix that yourself, or is it worth the money to call in contractor?

If you aren’t using your patio, isn’t it worth it to add the extra space to your real estate?


It’s getting onto lunchtime and my stomach is a’grumble. As I will not be clamouring up the ladder in the rain to check on the roof and eaves troughs today, perhaps I will focus on lunch first. There is always time for DIY projects later, once I have a full belly and can focus better. How about a hot sandwich, for a damp day? Here’s a delicious recipe from to add to Crock Pot Corner. Who doesn’t love pulled pork sandwiches! Perfect for the dreary December weather we’ve been having.


BBQ Pork for SandwichesIngredients:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
  • 3 pounds boneless pork ribs
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce


  1. Pour can of beef broth into slow cooker, and add boneless pork ribs. Cook on High heat for 4 hours, or until meat shreds easily. Remove meat, and shred with two forks. It will seem that it’s not working right away, but it will.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Transfer the shredded pork to a Dutch oven or iron skillet, and stir in barbeque sauce.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until heated through.
  4. Enjoy!


With a full belly, how about tackling one of those DIY projects on the list? As Christmas is coming, why not turn an eye to an organizing project or two. Think spaces that your guests will probably see the inside of; hall closets, spare bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. How can you make these spaces less of an eyesore and more a source of jealousy for your sister-in-law? Let’s take a look.

December DIY Projects

If you have guests coming over during the holidays, perhaps now would be the perfect time to organize the hall closet? Finding room for Grandma’s coat in the over-crowded closet is just not the way to start the visit. So here’s my suggestion;

  • Remove out-of-season articles, like flip-flops, lightweight spring coats and summer purses
  • Discard old, spent articles (goodbye holey runners!) and thin out seasonal items to a manageable amount for the space allowed
  • Store excess items in personal bedrooms to make room for guest items
Entryway Solution from Martha Stewart

Entryway Solution from Martha Stewart

Now that you can move coats from one side of the closet to the other and perhaps can even see the floor of the closet again, how about organizing the remaining items into a more efficient system;

  • Arrange shoes and boots on appropriate-sized shelves or in storage boxes. There are some great cloth hanging shelving units available nowadays that free up lots of space!
  • Hang different levels of rods to accommodate different lengths of items, ie. snow pants, car coats, bomber jackets
  • Add a shelf or pegs for hats, purses or other bags
  • Organize scarves and mittens into baskets. Make sure to pair your gloves to make it easier to find them when you need them!


Once your guests have arrived, invariably they will make a bee-line for the bathroom, so think about giving a bigger spit-polish to the guest powder room as well.

  • Give a thorough dusting to the space, including those unsightly cobwebs on the ceiling and above the door frame
  • Don’t just scrub the bowl. Take the time to scrub behind the toilet too
  • Wipe down the baseboards, tops of mirrors and any pictures you may have in the bathroom
  • Hang holiday hand towels to spruce up the space. If room allows, arrange matching wash clothes and  bath towels for your overnight guests as well
  • Put out a bowl of fresh, hand-milled soaps to let your guests know how cherished and thought of they are
  • Add a seasonally scented candle, diffuser or other air freshener too

So cozy, your guests might never leave

Now, for the overnight guests and a thought to the spare bedroom.

  • Pull the vacuum in here and suck all the dirt away, including those dust bunnies underneath the bed
  • Put clean bedding on the bed. Don’t forget to plump the pillows!
  • Make guest slippers and a robe available for your guests. If the bath towels aren’t handy in the bathroom, lay them in the spare bedroom where your guests can find them
  • Add a pitcher of water and a glass, for folks who need to whet their whistle in the middle of the night
  • A mint on the pillow adds a classy touch.


Don’t sweat getting it all done today though. There are still three weeks til Christmas. 21 Days and counting!

While we don’t all aspire to be the next Holmes on Homes or Bryan Baeumler, most of us want to be able to handle at least   a few simple DIY projects by ourselves. That might involve hanging a picture, putting up a shelf or tightening a loose screw or two. Where do you start though? It doesn’t always have to be the Yellow Pages.

Don’t let the experts scare you. With the right tools, many DIY projects can be handled by yourself with ease. The trick is to have the right tool for the right job though. And what tools are those?

10 Essential Tools For A DIY Tool Kit

  • Hammer:

    Forget your high heel shoe, the end of the tool box or the heel of your hand. You need a hammer in that tool box for almost every project you can think of. From hammering nails to removing them, a hammer is one of those tools that every good handyman or woman must have.
  • Screwdriver:

    Close-up of Robertson drivers

    A screwdriver is almost as important as a hammer when it comes to essential tools. The thing with screwdrivers though, is that you must have the right one for the right job. My suggestion to you is to pick up one of every kind; slotted (flat head), Robertson (square head) and Phillips (star head). Remember that screws come in different sizes too, so spend a bit more to invest in different sizes of screwdrivers. The wrong size might find you spinning your wheels with nothing to show for it (or stripping the screw and creating a bigger problem to deal with)!

  • Level:

    If you are hanging a picture or adjusting the height of a table, you will need a level to ensure that you are on an even keel. Eyeballs might seem to do the trick at times, but I wouldn’t be too sure.  Just wait until the pencil you place on your “flat” surface refuses to stay put and then tell me how “level” your surface really is.

  • A typical tape measure with both metric and US...Measuring Tape:

    The standard rule of thumb is to always measure twice and cut once. If you need to measure three or four times though, a measuring tape will be your best friend. It ultimately save you time, materials and money, when you don’t have to keep running back to the store to pick up a little more lumber after cutting it too short. Again.

  • Pliers:

    I am not talking tweezers here, ladies (kidding!). You should probably invest in needle-nose pliers (for small spaces, wiring and more), as well as vise-grip pliers (to hold something in place or just as easily used as an adjustable wrench, pipe wrench or ratchet) . Pliers are your go-to tool for tightening and/or loosening that which you wish was otherwise.

  • Makita Impact Screwdriver 14,4V 3.0 Ah Li-ion ...Cordless Drill:

    I am including the cordless drill here, as I use it all the time. Don’t just think of it as a souped up screwdriver. You can use it on 2x4s, drywall or to scare away the cat when she is wondering what new fool project you are starting. It can drill in a screw a heck of a lot faster and tighter than with your hand-powered model, thus making it worth its weight in gold. You won’t regret getting one. I promise you.

  • Utility Knife:

    They might not seem like the most glamorous tool to purchase, but the humble utility knife comes in pretty handy when you need to cut up cardboard, open stubborn packaging or scrape some pesky thing. It is a tool that just can’t be replaced when you need it!
  • Hand Saw:

    Paul Bunyan, you may not be, but a hand saw still comes in handy around the house. Whether you need to trim down a piece of wood in a small carpentry project, or cut some limbs off the old apple tree, a simple handsaw will come in handy more often than not.
  • Safety Glasses:

    Regardless of anything else, safety is the name of the game. With all those tools you have amassed, don’t forget to pick up a set of safety glasses to slide onto your nose. Your eyes will thank you and so will any future DIY projects that you might have in store.
  • Tool Box:

    Now that you have all those tools, you need somewhere to store them! If you have bothered to spend the money on the tools, don’t throw them in an old shoe box or leave them out on the counter. You will never find the exact tool that you are looking for when you need it most. Plus, that’s a sure-fire way to lose bits, dull edges and damage just about any tool you care to have around.

    You also might want to invest in work gloves, WD-40, clamps, a wire cutter/stripper, a set of wrenches, a socket set and a Do-It-Yourself Guide to help you through some of the DIY projects that require a little more know-how. Heck, why not throw a plunger in there while you are at it. You never know when you are going to need the right tool for the right job, but these essential tools will be with you every step of the way.


    When NOT to DIY

    We all want to save a few bucks when it comes to home improvements, but when is it time to put down the DIY manuals and pick up the phone to call in the professionals? Well for starters, when you know that you do not have the skills, knowledge, proper tools or general wherewithal to handle a job. It is amazing how that does not deter some people though. I might promote many DIY projects as things that you can potentially handle yourself, but don’t ever forget that your day job is something else entirely and maybe you should just stick with that. In the grand scheme of things, most people are not experts on every DIY project going and you need to remember that. It doesn’t take much to quickly get in way over your head in any project, however seemingly small it is. A dose of smarts just might save you time, money and overall health at the end of the day.






    If you have the skills, knowledge, tools and time for a job, then doing a project yourself is always a satisfying undertaking, that can often save you some hard-earned cash. If any of those aforementioned items are missing, then a well-meaning project can run off the rails faster than a roll of duct tape can fall off a ladder. Think seriously, plan and think again about tackling any DIY project before you ever pick up a hammer or screwdriver, as even professionals make mistakes. Sometimes, it’s just not worth risking a DIY disaster in your home.

    Down the Drain with a Leaky Tap


    drip, drip, drip…

    “What’s that sound?”


    “Mail call! Oh, bills, bills, bills! How can anyone ever get ahead, when the bills just seem to keep piling up?”


    Relax, Jim is here with some helpful tips for you today. Would you care for a suggestion for one way to reduce some of those bills? How about repairing that leaky faucet that you keep doing your best to ignore. While you might just have a drip or two a minute, a leaky faucet can waste up to 10,000 gallons or 38,000 litres of water per year. When water restrictions loom in hotter months, you might notice more, but why not attack the problem now, before all that money just slides right down the drain. Today, I am going to share a few tips on how to repair that leaky faucet and save some money in the process.



    While the easiest solution to fix a leaky tap may be to call in a local plumber, I know there are more than a few handy folks out there that refuse to turn down an opportunity to tackle a DIY project. If you fall into that category, this is a relatively easy project that can potentially save a significant amount of money on your water bill.

    First off, you will need;

    Before you start the project, make sure to turn off the water to the faucet. For most taps, there is water shut-off valve located under the sink. If that is not the case in your home, you may have to turn off the water to the entire house.


    Next step is to assess where the leak is coming from. If the leak is in the handle, then carefully pry off any decorative covers to give you access to the screws that hold the handle in place. Grab your screwdriver and loosen the screw, then gently slide the handle off.  Inspect the washer and replace if it is worn or broken. Then simply reassemble the handle and tighten the screw holding it in place. Turn the water back on and check to see if the leak is gone. Easy!


    If the leak is in the actual faucet, you follow very similar steps. Again, make sure that the water has been turned off before starting. There will still be a minimal amount of water when you take the taps off, but nothing like the geyser you will get if you forget this critical step! FYI: Taping the ends of your wrench is also an easy way to ensure that you do not mar the finish of your faucet while you are working on it. So, with your adjustable wrench, gently loosen the nut at the base of the faucet and slip it off. Carefully pull the faucet off and inspect the washer on the base of it. Again, if it is worn or broken, go ahead and pry it off, then replace it with a new one.


    Just a note, make sure that you replace any washers with identical sized ones or else that leak that you are working so hard to eradicate will still more than likely be there.


    Last steps are to replace the faucet, tighten the nut at the base of the faucet, then turn the water back on and check for leaks. Hopefully any leaks that you had before are now gone! If not, grab the Yellow Pages and start dialing.


    For further tips and a brief walk-through of the process, check out this helpful video from eHow. And happy plumbing!

    How to Fix a Leaky Faucet — powered by ehow

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    Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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