Yankee Home Improvement- November 2017

NOV 2017


One day, years back, I got tired of my leaky roof and decided to call up a contractor. I heard an ad on the radio from one who promised he’d beat anybody else’s quote. At the time, I was already in the industry, working for a company that did windows. I considered myself pretty savvy. So, when he asked for a third of the cost — $2,500 — as a down payment, it didn’t bother me. I knew that it was standard procedure, and I’d already checked out and confirmed his licenses and insurances. I handed it over, looking forward to the day when my roof would finally be patched up and I could stop worrying about it. Day after day passed, and he didn’t show up — nor did my phone ring with any word from him or his business. I called the number he had given me, over and over and over, to no avail. As time went on and it became clear that he had no intention of ever showing up to actually finish the job, a distinct feeling of helplessness came over me. After all, what could I do? I knew nothing would come of calling the police, and online reviews did not exist. I resolved to do whatever I could to hold that shady contractor accountable. One morning, I got into my car and just drove around town, looking for any signs of the company’s construction crew. Lo and behold, I managed to track one of his roof crews down. The logo on their van gave it away. They were up on the roof, busy with their work. I parked my car, got out, and marched on over, even going so far as to climb up the ladder up to the top of the roof. The team looked at me, flabbergasted. The owner wasn’t there, but I explained my frustration, asking if I could call the owner from the construction chief’s cellphone. Not beholden to what I’m assuming was probably not a great employer, the chief dialed the number and handed it over. Though he never answered any of the dozens of calls I made from my home phone, you can bet he picked up for his construction chief. Furious, I confronted him for duping me out of thousands of dollars AN UNLIKELY INSPIRATION How Getting Ripped-Off Spurred Me to Start My Own Business

without any intention of doing a single hour of work. He was a smooth operator, pretending to ease my frustrations and assuring me, with his voice of authority, that the crew would be over to my house in a few days to complete the work. I’d like to say this is a story of success, of me getting justice and receiving the service for which I’d so dearly paid. But guess what? They still never showed up. This horrible experience, and the horror stories I heard from dozens of others, are what spurred me to start my own business the following year, along with my signature no-worries, money-back guarantee. I hired a reputable construction manager I knew from my time in the industry, rented a small space in Northampton, Massachusetts, and got to work. Though I didn’t draw a single cent out of the business for the first six months, I never looked back. Now, I’m proud to be able to say that I accomplished my goal, and that I’ve established a business with a reputation that fosters real trust and accountability with its clients. It means a lot to be able to prevent them from ever having to experience that terrible feeling of helplessness I went through back then. –Ger Ronan

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to Incredible-Looking Leaf Crafts THE SECRET

It’s fall, and your Pinterest boards are full of fall crafts. You find yourself daydreaming about candles glowing in leaf-adorned jars, leafy wreaths on the front door, and a garland of leaves lending a touch of whimsy to the dining room. Colorful fall leaves are the secret to a home that’s perfectly decorated for the season, but how do experienced crafters find leaves that last? If you just grab a handful from your backyard, in a few weeks, your painstaking project has dried up and you’re stuck vacuuming leaf bits out of your carpet. It’s time to step up your crafting game and learn the trick to preserving leaves for years to come. Before you go out hunting for the perfect leaves, grab a few newspapers. After you’ve gathered up all your favorite leaves, place them in a single layer on a newspaper page. When choosing your leaves, make sure they are still fresh and flat. Leaves that are already dried or curling cannot be preserved well enough to use as decorations. If your leaves are damp, gently dry them off before

putting them on the newspaper. Make sure none of the leaves touch each other. Set a few more pages of newspaper on top and add enough weight to keep them flat. Heavy books are ideal for this. Move the newspaper somewhere it can sit undisturbed and leave your leaves alone for at least two weeks. Just letting your leaves dry flat isn’t enough for decorations that last. The true secret to leaf preservation is an all-in-one glue, sealer, and finish such as Mod Podge. This is a popular tool for decoupage projects, and it belongs in every craft closet. Once your leaves are dry, gently coat one side of each leaf in a layer of Mod Podge. Place your leaves on a sheet of wax paper and wait for them to dry. This should take less than an hour. When the Mod Podge is dry, turn the leaves over and coat the other side. Repeat with a second coat on each side. Mod Podge brings the bright colors back to your leaves and makes them more flexible. They’ll look like they just fell off the tree! These leaves will last for years, and you are free to craft to your heart’s content.

14TH ANNUAL HOT CHOCOLATE RUN A 5K Run and 3K Walk to Promote Freedom From Violence in Hampshire County

When: Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 Website: hotchocolaterun.com

We want to invite you to join us this year at the annual Hot Chocolate Run to benefit Safe Passage. Safe Passage is dedicated to creating a world free of domestic violence and relationship abuse. Since 1977, Safe Passage has supported survivors of domestic violence through a range of programs and services, including a shelter, counseling and legal services, and a crisis hotline. Services are available to anyone who has experienced domestic violence, regardless of age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

We at Yankee Home Improvement are proud to be helping Safe Passage as our featured nonprofit!

Your donations and ours help give survivors what they need to stay safe, heal from violence, and gain hope for a brighter future. Safe Passage’s counselors ask, “How can we help?” instead of saying, “Here’s what we can offer you.” It’s an important difference. Survivors come to Safe Passage with a range of experiences, resources, and challenges, and what works for one person may not be helpful for another.

This individualized, flexible response is made possible by generous community support. To learn more about Safe Passage, visit safepass.org.

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4 Steps to Prepare Your House for the Winter Cold WINTER IS COMING ...


SET TIMERS ON YOUR HEATER The U.S. Department of Energy reports it’s not energy efficient to leave your heat on all day. If the heat is on when you’re not at home, you’re just paying money for warmth you don’t get to appreciate. This doesn’t mean you have to come home to a cold house. A programmable thermostat can switch on shortly before your arrival, warming your home without wasting money. UPGRADE YOUR WINDOWS Old windows let warm air escape. If you can see condensation between the double panes in the morning, have trouble opening or closing windows, or feel air flow around the windows, then it’s time to schedule a replacement. 1800 series installed by Yankee Home Improvement, help keep the heat inside, reducing energy costs and preserving the beauty of your home. There are a lot of things to enjoy about the winter, but a cold house isn’t one of them. With a little prep Energy efficient vinyl replacement windows, like the leading Veridis

As winter rolls in, homeowners struggle to maintain a warm house and stick to their budget. With a rough winter predicted, here are four things you can do to prepare your home for the cold weather. CLEAN YOUR GUTTERS Icicles hanging around the house might be a sign water isn’t able to drain properly from your roof. Icicles and ice dams can cause melting water to back up and flow into your home, damaging your roof and leading to leaks. Clean leaves and other debris from your gutters, downspouts, and extensions, so rain and melting snow drain from the roof and away from your house.

Looking for an easy, delicious Thanksgiving side dish? This gem requires only a few ingredients.


2 tablespoons olive oil 3 1/3 ounces fresh, hot Italian sausage

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

1/2 cup water

Salt and pepper


1. Trim sprouts and cut in half. 2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, 3–5 minutes. 3. Add sprouts to skillet. Add 1/2 cup water. Add salt and pepper. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until just tender. Check them periodically and add a bit more water, if necessary. 4. When sprouts are just about done, remove cover and raise heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring just once or twice, for a couple more minutes. The liquid should evaporate, and the sprouts should start to brown. 5. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or warm.

CALL A CHIMNEY SWEEP If you have a fireplace, be sure to have it inspected before you light up the yule log. Soot and ash can build up inside your chimney, and a clogged chimney causes carbon monoxide to enter your home, which could cause a fire. Schedule an inspection to ensure your fireplace is clean and safe to use.

work, you can protect your home (and your wallet) from the worst winter might bring.

Recipe courtesy of InTheKitchenWithKath.com.

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It All Started With a Shady Contractor INSIDE

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Feeling Crafty This Fall?

14th Annual Hot Chocolate Run


A Homeowner’s Guide to Warmth This Winter

Brussels Sprouts With Sausage


Iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons


SNOOPY When it comes to balloon characters, none is more famous than the classic “Peanuts” beagle. His first balloon floated through the sky in 1968, and he’s been a regular fixture ever since. Charles Schultz’s famous pooch holds the record for most variations in a parade (eight) and most total appearances (40). Though Snoopy doesn’t come out every year, he usually closes the show when he doe s. PIKACHU The Pokémon mascot didn’t appear until 2001, but he’s become a star attraction, showing up every year since. Bright, expressive, and impossible to miss, Pikachu checks off all the boxes for a successful balloon character. For 16 years, those who predicted that Pokémon was just a fad have gotten a big, yellow reminder of just how wrong they were.

Thanksgiving is a holiday full of traditions, from turkey and stuffing to football and naps. Since 1924, the Macy’s Parade has grown to become not only a Thanksgiving staple but also the world’s largest parade. Over 3.5 million people attended the parade last year, with another 20 million tuning in from home. The main attraction is always the massive character balloons, which first graced the skies in 1927. Over the decades, some of these balloons have become nearly as famous as the character they depict. FELIX THE CAT When the Felix the Cat balloon appeared in 1931, it set the standard for all characters to follow. Sadly, the original balloon got tangled in wires and caught on fire, so it has been lost to history. Felix’s influence on the parade is so immense, however, that when Macy’s brought him back in 2016 for the parade’s 90th anniversary, they recreated his original design. Without his debut, the parade might look a lot different today.



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