Show Notes: Vacations and Backyard Parties – On the House

Show Notes: Vacations and Backyard Parties

By on May 21, 2016

Backyard Makeover Sweepstakes

Going on a vacation?  Is your house ready for your vacation? Are you having a  backyard party and don’t know where to start to get ready?

James and Morris have tips for what you need to do — and not do — before leaving on vacation.  A little planning before you go can keep you from worrying about your home while your ‘re away and prevent surprises when you return. Are you planning a summer party? We have some great ideas to get your yard ready in a flash!      

Thank you to today’s guests:

Jayson Ellingson – Blinds Chalet        

Darci Kunard – Sashco

Rosie McGoldrick – Center for Sustainable Energy

Nick Pereyra – Tiny Mountain Houses



Glow-In-The-Dark Cement

You could even say it glows









Dr. José Carlos Rubio, a scientist at Mexico’s University of San Nicolas Hidalgo, has created a new type of cement that glows in the dark, opening a whole new world of possibility for illuminating streets and buildings.

The idea of glow-in-the-dark cement is so simple and elegant, you might wonder why it hasn’t been patented before. Traditionally, there’s been a pretty significant barrier, since conventional cement is opaque and therefore incapable of capturing and storing light energy, even when combined with phosphorescent materials.

After nine years of research, Dr. Rubio has overcome this hurdle and figured out a way of altering the micro-structure of cement itself, eliminating the opaque crystalline byproducts of the normal production process that blocked phosphorescence.

When fully charged by exposure to light, Rubio’s cement can glow for up to 12 hours, and should retain this ability for about a century.



Vacations are supposed to be relaxing and worry-free. That’s why it’s important to secure your house before your trip so you don’t have to worry about broken water connections, power surges and burglars.

Make your house look lived-in

  • An empty house is a welcome invitation to burglars. To avoid making your house look empty:
  • Stop the newspaper and mail (or ask a neighbor to pick them up).
  • Park your car inside the garage.
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.
  • Put at least one light on a timer.
  • Install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight.
  • Make sure your lawn stays trimmed.

Take the necessary plumbing and electric precautions

Not only is running appliances an unnecessary utility expense, it also could lead to costly problems. To avoid the expense and headache of something going wrong with an appliance while you’re away:

  • Unplug small appliances and electronic devices.
  • Put the water heater in vacation mode.
  • Turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and all sinks.
  • Set the thermostat to a temperature that is less comfortable, but still protects your plants, pets and furniture.


Other tasks you should consider doing before your vacation:

  • Notify your credit card company that you are going out of town.
  • Notify your security company that you are going out of town.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly.
  • Leave your emergency contact information with a neighbor.
  • Run your garbage disposer with a half cup of vinegar and some water.
  • Toss out any food that will go bad before you return from vacation.
  • Take out the kitchen trash, or any other trash that could get smelly.


Time To Tune Up Your Gutters And Downspouts

With the exception of a few possible May showers, your rain gutters and downspouts have probably done their job for the season. But consider cleaning and flushing the gutters and downspouts one final time after the rains have stopped. It’s a great time to look for leaks at seams and gaps, and will ensure the gutters are clean in event of a sudden downpour.

A ladder and garden hose are all you will need to perform this task. Be sure that the ladder is on solid footing and prevent stuff from getting into your eyes by wearing safety goggles. Then:

Remove rust with a wire brush and a chemical rust remover.

Use a high quality exterior caulk to seal holes, joints and gaps.

A fresh coat of paint will finish the job and offer added protection for next season.


Quick Ways To Get Your Yard Party Ready  

Correct any lawn and landscape problems

  • Add grass seed to get any bare spots growing.
  • Add fertilizer to the rest of the lawn to make it lush!
  • Feed plants with proper fertilizer to get them blooming and thriving.
  • Prune bushes and trees.

Clean all walking paths and decks

  • Check walkways and paths to make sure they are free of debris and clear for guests
  • Check deck for loose boards. It might be time to give the deck and patio a good power wash.

Add color and interest by planting container gardens

Planting container gardens will brighten up any yard and add continuous color all summer long.

Add lighting

  • To create a festive mood add string lights. I think nothing adds a more festive feel than string lighting!
  • Install lights along dark walkways to brighten the area and take away tripping hazards.


Adding items of special interest like pillows and candles will make the area come together.  Try making these flowering hurricane centerpieces that will last all summer and provide a warm glow in the evening!

Quick Tip

Coffee filters

Because coffee filters are lint free, they are ideal for wiping mirrors and glass surfaces. They also are highly absorbent so perfect for blotting up paint, oil, or other household spills. They even make a great disposable popcorn/treat bowl!


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