Taryn Williford's Recent Articles
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The One Thing Your Holiday Houseguests Won’t Tell You
I’ve been a houseguest before, and there are plenty of things I have wanted to ask of my host that went unspoken in the spirit of gratefulness and generally trying not to be a pain in the chateau. I do want to get invited back, after all. But I’ve also been on the other side of the coin, and I know that any generous host wants their visitors to be happy and comfortable. Here’s the most important thing your guests won’t tell you. Your home is too cold, or maybe too hot.
Nov 11, 2013
DIY Lighting Ideas: 15 Nightlight Projects for Grown-Ups
There are plenty of reasons for an adult to have nightlights in the house. Some use them to avoid tripping during late night trips to the bathroom, or to illuminate the path to a midnight snack in the kitchen. And, yeah, OK? Some of us might still be a little afraid of falling asleep in the dark. Whatever the reason for the all-night soft lighting, nightlight options aren’t limited to the fairy and fire truck options in the kids’ aisle.
Sep 30, 2013
10 Ways to Update & Decorate a Basic Cork Board
While shopping for a bulletin board to hang above my home office desk, I was shocked to discover how much this home office essential can fetch from some decor retailers. And adorned with something special like an ornate frame? Forget it.
Sep 17, 2013
The Do’s and Dont’s of Resting Audio Speakers on the Floor
Maybe you hate the way audio speaker stands look. Maybe you’re scared your pets/child will knock them down and damage your precious speakers. Or maybe you’re going for a college-chic aesthetic with everything from your mattress to your TV on the floor. Whatever the reason, plenty of people place their audio speakers on the floor. Here’s why you might want to reconsider… DO recognize audio speakers are most effective at ear-level.
May 29, 2013
8 Great Stenciled, Papered, and Painted File Cabinet Makeovers
It’s one of those things that nobody wants, but everybody needs in their home office. A utilitarian fireproof file cabinet is a must to keep your important documents safe and in order. But you don’t have to settle for the metallic beige eyesores of your parents’ den circa 1970.You can take an old cabinet (or a new-to-you one from a flea market or thrift store) and tailor it to suit your home office with a fresh coat of paint, wallpaper or patterned vinyl.
Jan 28, 2013
Before & After: Tube TV Armoire Gets a Widescreen Upgrade
Upgrading an old CRT television to a modern flat screen is a costly endeavor in itself, and it gets even more expensive when you consider some of the hidden costs of upgrading. For instance, if your old tube TV fit snug in a TV cabinet, you’ll need to find a new furniture home for the likely larger new screen. Or, you could take a cue from this no-cost DIY project and transform an old TV armoire into something new.
Jan 3, 2013
5 Places You Should Be Using Recessed Electrical Outlets in Your Home
Just like suitcases with wheels, recessed power outlets are one of those “I can’t believe it wasn’t around ’til now” inventions. But even if you know they exist, you might not know how to use them. Here are five places around any home, apartment or loft where you should install this space-saving electrical hardware.Recessed outlet hardware has a faceplate that is set deeper into the wall than a regular outlet.
Jul 23, 2012
Why You Should Switch Your Cell Phone to Military Time
Thinking of “fourteen hundred hours” as 2 o’clock will take some getting used to, but there’s one really good reason to switch your cell phone to military time: You’ll never make an afternoon alarm mistake ever again.Have you ever woken up late one morning to find your 6 a.m. cell phone alarm was actually set to go off at 6 p.m. that night? It’s an easy (and far too common) mistake to make.
May 15, 2012
10 Snapshots You Should Keep in Your Phone’s Photo Album
You might already use your email or notes apps on your smartphone to keep track of little everyday reminders. But your camera app and photo album can be just as useful as a memory aid. Here are a few things that can easily be remembered with a quick snap of your camera phone’s shutter button: • A reminder of where you parked. Parking in the city is no joke. • Your printer cartridges. Make sure you can see the refill numbers. • Your family members’ clothing sizes.
May 2, 2012
Before & After: Same Stuff, New Look
Think you need to spend a lot on new furniture to give your space a total overhaul? Think again. This compact kitchen office gets a 180° makeover from the pros at Martha Stewart using a new color and a few inexpensive additions — a task chair, acrylic desk organizers and a rolling window blind (really!).
Mar 13, 2012
How To Stop Annoying Smoke Detector False Alarms
“You know you’re a bad cook when you use the smoke detector as a kitchen timer.” Har har. Real funny, guys. The reality is the false smoke alarm thing happens to everyone at least once—whether you’re a skilled home chef, a frozen pizza in the oven type of cook, or someone who likes a hot, steamy shower. Here are a few ways to shut the thing up safely. Whenever you’re tampering with a safety device, you want to tread lightly.
Jan 20, 2012
Is It Safe to Mount Your TV Over the Fireplace?
Out of all of the options available for mounting your flat-screen television, you’ve decided to save space and go for above-the-fireplace placement. Good move! Or is it? (dun-dun-dunnnnnn…) Is the heat from your fireplace doing damage to your TV? Could your mounting decision end up voiding your warranty?Sorry for the eleven-o’-clock news-y intro, but this is critical info for anyone who cares about their gear. Want to know if fireplace placement is safe for your gear?
Nov 29, 2011
How Your Home’s Insulation Affects Your Wireless Signal
There’s a long list of things we love to blame for poor wireless signals—the weather, antenna placement, AT&T—and insulation is rarely one of them. It should be, though, because the insulation in your walls at home and at the office could be the real reason you’re dropping calls.Some construction materials are well-known to mess around with wireless signal strength.
Sep 15, 2011
The Easy Way to Remove a Stuck Light Bulb (with Tape)
Old apartments come with a lot of character. They also sometimes come with really old fixtures, the kind of fixtures that are caked with centuries of wear and tear. Those kinds of fixtures don’t like to let go of light bulbs too easily. Luckily, you have this tip in your back pocket.Don’t let a stuck bulb be a bigger problem than it has to be. Before you go bonkers trying to loosen that dead bulb (and inevitably break it* in the process—natch!
Aug 12, 2011
How to Choose and Place the Perfect Ceiling Fan
If you’ve ever been told that installing a ceiling fan is a great way to keep cooling costs down, you ought to keep that friend close because they’re exactly right. But if you buy the wrong size ceiling fan, or install it too close to the ceiling or walls, you could be counteracting all of the good work your fan should do for you.SizeThe size of a fan probably has the most effect on how well it cools down your room.
Jan 31, 2011
The Best Way to Close Off Any Vent
Remember when we discussed whether or not it’s OK to close off air vents to unused rooms? The answer was that, yeah, it’s OK to do—in moderation. But do you know the most effective way to close off those air vents? Here’s a quick trick that will have your vent sealed up in no time—all you need to do is make a trip to the craft store.Think you need a screwdriver or super-tiny fingers to shut down your extra, extra bedroom for the winter? Nope.
Jan 18, 2011
Wash Dishes and Clothes at the Same Time to Save Money
If you don’t subscribe to the “every little bit counts” idea for saving money and living green, we suggest you turn away now. This tip is going to have such a small dent in your monthly hot water bills that it almost won’t seem worth it. In fact, we wouldn’t even suggest it to you—but it is so. incredibly. easy. to do.
Dec 10, 2010
Explaining the “Ghosts” That Power On Your Appliances
The spookiest thing to happen in our house this past Halloween weekend was a toaster oven that mysteriously turned itself on. Was it a visit from a long deceased Bagel-Bites-loving ancestor? Probably not. It turns out that it’s part of a sporadic phenomenon that popularly plagues small appliances like toasters, microwaves and coffee makers. Has it ever happened to you?
Nov 1, 2010
Tech Mythbusters: Can a Cell Detect Microwave Leaks?
Ah, the internet. Where else would we find answers to all of our random questions? Our latest internet research: Whether or not your cell phone can help you identify leaks in your microwave. The legend says that if you place your phone in a microwave and close the door, it will only be able to receive an incoming call if there’s a leak. But is that true?Paranoid about cell phone radiation? You’re not the only one.
Oct 5, 2010
What Do Those Microwave Settings Actually Do?
We can install our own surround sound and hack wires to do what we need, but somehow, the microwave still eludes us. Yes, our microwave has a “beverage” button. No, we don’t know exactly what it does. Instead of living life in the dark, we wanted to find out exactly what all those crazy microwave settings are designed to do.If you’re equally confused by your own microwave, the first step is going to be reading the manual.
Sep 29, 2010
Avoid These 8 Common Dishwasher Mistakes
Life lessons happen less frequently as you get older. After years of getting to know the ins and outs of the world, you find you’re a pro at life—navigating your once-foreign city with ease and troubleshooting the office coffee maker. Yeah, yeah. But you’re probably still loading the dishwasher wrong. Sorry. Don’t feel bad. There’s a reason these are 8 common dishwasher mistakes.
Sep 8, 2010
Is This Normal? Standing Water Left in the Dishwasher
One of our tips for “How to Know When to Replace Your Dishwasher” was to check that your dishwasher is draining properly by looking out for water leftover after it runs a cycle. But the truth is, not all standing water is a bad sign. After a few awesome commenters asked about their own water woes, we’re here to help set the record straight.How much water should there be?Anywhere around 1 cup of water leftover after a cycle is normal.
Sep 3, 2010
Help! My Microwave Turntable Won’t Spin
Repairs are expensive. New microwaves are cheap. But you don’t have to spend a dime on either. If your microwave turntable stopped spinning, here’s an easy way to try and fix it. And all you need is some warm, soapy water and your own two hands.You don’t have to be an appliance expert to troubleshoot a seemingly broken microwave turntable. You might find that all your little Zappy needs is a checkup and a good, thorough cleaning.
Aug 25, 2010
Terminology: Turn the AC “Down” or “Up” to Get Cooler?
Being a writer by trade—with more than a few writer friends—we’ll often get caught in discussions about semantics. Things like whether it’s proper to say “done” or “finished,” for example. But recently we got caught up in an Unplggd-worthy battle of meaning: When you want it to be cooler, do you turn the air conditioner “up” or turn it “down?”You say po-TAY-to, I say po-TAH-to. You say turn it up, I say turn it down.
Aug 9, 2010
The Easy (and Quick!) Way to Fix TV Burn-In
We admitted in yesterday’s 5 Things You Should Check on Your HDTV Right Now that burn-in isn’t the problem it used to be (mostly thanks to newer TVs with pixel-shifting features). But that doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. Thankfully, the burn-in cure is quick and painless—and you probably already have all the necessary tools. Check out the solution (and a great prevention idea called the “100-hours rule”) under the jump.
Aug 5, 2010
How to Find The Right Emergency Power Generator
You might not think you need one. But as soon as the TV screen flashes to darkness and the time on your cable box begins to blink “12:00,” you’re going to wish you’d spent your tax refund on an emergency power generator instead of that cruise to Cancun. The next time you’ve got the extra cash, turn to this online Generator Finder guide to help choose the right one for your needs—even if you live in an apartment.
Jul 29, 2010
How to Choose Between Gas & Electric Stoves
It’s been a long-standing legend that “real” cooks use gas-powered stoves. But before you go empty your appliance budget on a new one, you might want to consider if an electric stove better suits your needs. The truth is, when compared on seven different categories, the electric stove wins over gas four times. Click through to discover when it’s better to have an electric stove and decide—finally!—what’s right for your kitchen.
Jul 12, 2010
3 Tips for Taking Care of Window Air Conditioner Units
Yesterday, we featured 5 Tips for Annual Air Conditioner Maintenance. It was a helpful article for anyone with central A/C, but Unplggd reader Amanda H pointed out that we completely neglected many small, cool dwellers with window or free-standing air conditioning units.Just like any other appliance in your place, the window A/C also needs tender love and care. Make sure to give it a thorough cleaning at least once a year:1. Wash the filter.
Jun 4, 2010
5 Tips for Annual Air Conditioner Maintenance
Before you go blasting the cool air from your A/C, make sure you’ve given your trusty appliance it’s yearly check-up. Air conditioners require regular maintenance to work at their peak. If you follow our tips each year, you’ll be staying cool and saving cash—in energy bills and unexpected repair costs.1. Change the filter.Central air systems should have their filters changed at least every few months.
Jun 3, 2010
How to Skip DVD Previews and Get Straight to the Movie
Imagine getting ready to curl up inside your humble and comfy little abode. You’ve popped in a DVD and made your way to the kitchen to gather up some delicious treats and crack open a frosty brew. But when you sit down with your grub, you find yourself sitting through what seems like endless and unskippable movie previews and piracy warnings—what a buzzkill. If only you knew the remote-control trick that works on nearly every DVD Player (Hint: It’s not the menu button.
Apr 19, 2010
New Blu-ray Discs Won’t Play in Old Blu-ray Players
In the ongoing history of technology, there will always be bigger and better digital formats coming along to try and dethrone the top dog. VHS won over BetaMax, and Blu-ray beat out HD DVDs—but who will beat out Blu-ray? Well if it’s up to Sony, Blu-ray XL will. That’s right, Sony’s seemingly begun eating its own tail and releasing new Blu-ray XL discs that aren’t compatible with current Blu-ray players (including the PS3!).
Apr 8, 2010
The Do’s and Dont’s Of Porch Lights
In the same way a few well-placed lamps can revitalize a room, neighborhoods get a face lift when given the proper lighting. A well-lit, bright street is far more more welcoming than a dark row of creaky houses—but does that make it safer? Is it mother-nature-friendly? Should you leave your porch light on all night? DON’T leave the light on all night. It’s not green. DO set any overnight nights to a 1/2 power dimmer setting.
Mar 25, 2010
Tech Myth: Holding the Car Remote to Your Head Increases Its Range
This entry comes to you courtesy of the fact that I’ve heard this maybe-myth told to me more than once in the past few weeks my friends and complete strangers alike. My car’s keyless entry remote, for lack of a better word, sucks. I practically have to be next to the car to get it to work. Alas, plenty of the aforementioned people have given me the tip to hold the remote to my chin with my mouth slightly open to increase the range of the remote signal.
May 4, 2009
Four Ways to Drop Your Old VHS Tapes
If you’re already living in a home without a VHS tape in sight, congratulations. Some others, we know, have a harder time purging old technology. If you’re sentimentally hanging on to your tapes, why not take the time to rip them to DVDs? If you’re hanging on because you don’t know what else to do with ’em, read on…Donate old VHS movies to your local library.
Oct 23, 2008
Roomba Pet Series: Cleans After your Pets
If you’re an AT fan with a dog who has an affinity for shedding (if you’re like me, he sheds more hair than it looks like he has on his body), then you know what a pain it is to keep your space looking good under the carpet of dog hair that rests on top. IRobot’s Roombas have always been a favorite of pet owners for the little upkeep required to reap the results of a twice-daily room vacuuming. Now, iRobot has released a line just for pet owners like us!
Sep 3, 2008