Show Notes: Merry Christmas Presents – On the House

Show Notes: Merry Christmas Presents

By on December 19, 2015
Fixing Christmas Lights

Merry Christmas to all our listeners and readers. We hope you enjoy our special holiday show with lots of gifts for you.

Thank you to our guests:

Jose De La Portilla with Lennox

Chef Marcel Cocit


Organization Can Save You Money

It’s extremely easy to translate organizing your world into fattening your wallet. So easy, in fact, that you probably haven’t even thought to do these things.

Organize your tools

Pop quiz: in the past year, how many times have you bought something you already owned but couldn’t find when you needed it? If the answer is “more than two,” this is how organizing tools saves your ass money. Any questions?

Figure out a place to put the things. Find a spot at your desk for craft and art and office tools, a spot in the closet for your first-aid equipment, and a spot in your garage for your — um — tool-type tools. Organize each more deeply when you have the time. That way, you won’t be rushing out to Home Depot every time you need a hammer or some glue (or free popcorn).

Want to take it a step further? Collaborate with friends to make a tool pool you can all use. No group of buddies needs a chop saw and a table saw each. And if you live in a town with tool libraries, well, use those too. Because free is always better.


Don’t Panic  

Here’s What To Do When You’ve Clogged Someone Else’s Toilet

Lots of embarrassing things can happen in a bathroom, but none are worse than clogging someone else’s toilet!

So what do you when you’re flushed — but the toilet’s not? To bail you out of this awkward situation, we asked Mr. Rooter franchisee Jamie Smith of Baltimore for some professional plumbing tips. Even if you’re not a gambler, he knows the surest way to get a straight flush.

“The first thing to remember when you clog the toilet in another person’s house is to breathe, stay calm and don’t panic,” advises Smith with a chuckle.

If the water looks like it’s heading for the rim, shut off the water valve behind the toilet by turning the knob to the right. (“Righty, tighty. Lefty, loosey” is the plumber’s mantra.)

If for some reason you cannot shut off the water valve, don’t keep flushing the toilet because chances are that it will overflow and you’ll be worse off than you were before.

Next, says Smith, look around the bathroom for a plunger. Unless you know what you’re doing, once you find it, don’t just start plunging. Take your time and use the plunger correctly. Otherwise, it can’t do its job.

Here’s how to plunge like a plumber:

  • Make sure you get a good connection between the plunger and the toilet. (Plumbers call this a “good seal.”)
  • Once the connection’s established, begin plunging up and down with a good amount of force. Take care not to lift the plunger away from the bottom of the toilet bowl or you’ll break the
  • Be quick and repetitive with the plunging motion. This will establish a suction force that will push through whatever is blocking the drain pipe.
  • Keep an eye out for movement in the toilet which means the blockage is being pushed through.
  • Once you’re sure the water is draining, turn the water valve on, allow the tank to fill, then flush the toilet. Swish the plunger in the fresh water for a quick cleaning before leaving. Flush again.

If all your efforts fail, or if there is no plunger in the bathroom, swallow your pride and discreetly tell the host about your dilemma. Ask for a plunger and volunteer to do the labor–after all, now you know how to do it like a pro.


Wintertime Safety Tips for Your Pooch

Antifreeze is a bright, yellowish-green liquid used to keep car engines from freezing in the winter. It’s also got a sweet taste that dogs (and sometimes even kids) love — and it’s very poisonous.

Keep any antifreeze sealed and away from where pets and children can get to it, and be sure to clean up any spills you might create immediately.

If you live near a road or parking lot, don’t let your dog out unattended. And if you see your dog acting sick or strangely, take them to the vet immediately.


Oh Oh, Too Many Holes!

If you are decorating for the holidays and made a few to many nail holes in your white walls and have no time for spackle and paint, here is a quick fix. Fill the holes them by rubbing a bar of white soap over the hole, then wipe away excess soap with a damp cloth. White toothpaste will work too!


Learning The HVAC Lingo To Make Informed Purchases On Heating Equipment

AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency is similar to SEER but pertains to furnaces. Heating products with higher AFUE use less energy – and fewer dollars – to heat up a home.

MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is the number that represents the precision and accuracy of an air cleaner, which reduces pollen levels and humidity within a home. Overall, an air cleaner’s performance is determined by the amount of particles it catches. Higher MERV ratings correspond to a greater percentage of particles captured, which lowers energy usage and improves air quality.

Zoning If you want the bedroom to be 68 degrees but the living room to be 74 degrees, zoning is what you are looking for. With new technology, zoning helps segment a home so certain rooms, typically in a larger home, can have different temperatures while using the same central heating and cooling system.

Heat Pump Don’t be misled by the “heat” in “heat pump,” as a heat pump can heat and cool a home. Ideal for climates with milder winters, a heat pump provides cooling in the same way an air conditioner does, but also can heat a home by converting cold air to warm when needed. In some climates, using a heat pump instead of an air conditioner and furnace can yield significant energy savings.

Mini-Split A mini-split is a system that can heat up or cool down a space without adding ductwork. It’s best suited for smaller or converted spaces, such as garage apartments or sun-rooms, which take less time to reach the desired room temperature than a larger space and where the expense of adding ductwork can be avoided.


 Last Minute Gifts For Under $20.00

Empire True Blue 9 in. Professional Torpedo Level $9.97

  • True blue vials help provide accurate plumb, level and 45-degree readings
  • Accuracy of up to .0005 in. per in. in all 10 level and plumb working positions
  • Continuous-length magnetic edge for holding power on steel studs and other surfaces

Heavy-duty extruded aluminum frame for durability

Husky 24 in. Tool Box $4.98

  • Heavy-duty, impact resistant construction
  • Rugged metal latches
  • Add a pod lock for extra security

24 in. x 10.5 in. x 10.25 in.

Coast HL50 LED Headlamp $14.98

This headlamp is perfect for any job requiring portable hands-free lighting.

  • Wide view, inspection beam
  • Hard hat clips included
  • High/medium/low settings

Reflective head strap


Chef Marcel Cocit’s  Holiday Cookies

Chocolate Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies 


1-cup flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

2 cups dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

11/2 cups dried cranberries


  1. In a medium bowl, add the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until blended. Beat in the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the whole egg, egg white and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients into the batter. With a large rubber spatula, mix in the oats, dark chocolate and the cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a rounded tablespoon, or a small ice cream scoop, place the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and just set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

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The Wet Weather Is Here:

8 Ways To Dry Out And Move On 

Drying out after water damage should top any cleanup priority list. If you can dry items within 48 hours, you might salvage many goods, and avoid mold and rust.

  1. Move air naturally: If humidity isn’t too high, open windows and doors to start air circulating. Open closet and cabinet doors, and remove drawers.
  1. Move air mechanically: Rent or buy high-powered fans to rev up air circulation. Depending on size and power, fans cost between $50 and $500 to buy; $20 a day to rent. (Do not use your central air conditioner or furnace blower if HVAC ducts were under water.)
  1. Dehumidify: A portable dehumidifier can remove water vapor from the air in a contained area, like a bedroom or downstairs rec room. Shut the room’s windows and doors to prevent more humidity from seeping in. Buy a big dehumidifier ($270) so you don’t have to empty its water drawer frequently.
  1. Pump water: A sump pump is a submersible pump that continuously moves water out of the house through a hose or pipe. If you have standing water that is several inches deep, a sump pump can help. Rent a sump pump for about $44 a day, or purchase one for $100 and up.
  1. Wet/dry shop vac: Some shop vacs are rated for use in wet conditions. These vacs suck water from carpets and give you a fighting chance to save rugs and wall-to-walls. Don’t use an ordinary household vacuum whose innards are not protected from water. A 6-gallon wet/dry vac costs $50; a 16-gallon goes for about $170.
  1. Remove sodden objects: Haul wet rugs and furniture into the sun to reduce inside moisture level. Remove sheet vinyl or linoleum flooring to promote maximum evaporation. Throw out wet insulation under floors.
  1. Freeze papers: To buy time, place wet books and photos into plastic bags and place in a frost-free freezer. This will stop additional deterioration, and prevent mold and mildew. When you have time, retrieve books from the freezer and air- or fan-dry the pages.
  1. Absorb moisture: Desiccants (silica gel, clay, calcium oxide) absorb moisture like a sponge. Place water-permeable packages of desiccants and wet items in airtight containers or in sealed areas, like closets. Some desiccants change color to indicate they are saturated, which can take days or weeks, depending on how much moisture items contain.




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