Saturday, March 29, 2003

In the know

What's going on around the home

Earth smart

Spring cleaning tips: Since spring blew in last week, many folks feel moved to throw themselves into washing windows, hunting down dust bunnies and clearing the garage, at least enough to fit the car inside. According to the Soap and Detergent Association, which tracks cleaning, a clean house makes us feel "happy, satisfied, comfortable and healthy." I agree, especially when someone else does the cleaning.

It also says 78 percent of Americans plan to spring clean, up 11 percent from last year.

Those mired in a mess who don't even know where to start can log on to for tips.

Another study, this one from Great Neck Saw Manufacturers, a hand tool company in New York, says 54 percent of all couples living together actually enjoy working on home improvement projects together, and 9 percent said working together was romantic. Only 6 percent said they fought like cats and dogs and 7 percent said, "never again."

Battery disposal: Rechargeable batteries powering portable electronics such as cordless phones, laptops, camcorders and electric toothbrushes can be recycled when they can no longer hold a charge. Make a quick call to (800) 822-8837 or go to for a list of local drop-off spots.

Catnip stops termites: Catnip, the plant that sends cats spinning, may be a future tool in termite control. Oil from the catnip plant repelled and killed termites in a lab test, according to meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans this week. Researchers hope a commercial product using the oil might provide a less-toxic alternative to today's pesticides. The downside is that catnip breaks down quickly - in a couple of weeks - as opposed to termite-killing chemicals that remain effective for five years. But simply planting catnip around the house probably won't work. The oil used was extracted and concentrated.

In print

Behind `Trading Spaces':

So what are these crazy people like, those who run around the country on mad shopping sprees, with tools in tow, helping neighbors redo each others' rooms? New to bookshelves, Trading Spaces: Behind the Scenes ($19.95; Meredith Books), has 12-page chapters on 11 cast members. It includes advice on how to get on the show, decorating tricks and what inspires the cast of decorators and craftspeople.

Wise buys

Keep doors on track: Robert Schneider of Anderson Township has a nifty gizmo that keeps sliding closet doors on track without having to call a handyman or recut shims. His E-Znail-on steel pins are anchored in the floor alongside the door to keep it from slipping. He came up with the pins as a replacement for the old plastic guides that proved useless and frustrating, especially when installed with carpeting. One set, for two doors, $4.95 at

Contact Joy Kraft by phone: 768-8467; fax: 768-8330; e-mail:

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