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August 3, 2017 |

Archive for » August 3rd, 2017«

Inside Design: Do You Still Need a Dining Room?


Photo by Toby Weiss

Dining rooms have long served as mainstays of American homeowners, but at some point in our recent history, we stopped using them with any frequency. In that light, in the remodeling world, we often ask homeowners whether they still need a dining room.

 Our lifestyles have radically changed regarding the traditional notion of a family gathering, eating together at a set time in the evening. It’s now easier to do grab-and-go meals or stay in the kitchen to eat and chat with whoever’s around; there’s just no need to go into the dining room on a daily basis. People also eat out far more than they did even 10 years ago. When they do entertain at home, they congregate in the kitchen and casual living spaces open to the kitchen.

The dining room, in short, has become a victim of its own isolation and formality. Even its placement in older homes creates a barrier from the kitchen, and when that room opens onto a seldom-used front living room, it’s close to dinosaur extinction!

The remaining purpose of a traditional dining room is to accommodate large, infrequent gatherings of family and friends, typically at the holidays. So how do you expand a dining room’s life beyond Thanksgiving dinner?

Making the dining room a multipurpose space is a useful option. Create a home office or library that can easily convert into a dining room when needed. Built-in bookcases can hold a combination of dinnerware and books. A large dining table easily becomes an excellent desk or work surface with a change of accessories. Dining chairs needed only for large gatherings can be placed in other areas of your home, such as a pair of dining chairs creating a conversation area in an empty corner of a great room. Or you can completely change the function of a dining room. If you remove the dining table and chairs and simply view it as an extra room in the house, what would you do with it?


Becky Trent

In a recent project, my colleagues and I knocked down a wall between the kitchen and the living room, and the dining set moved into that new open space, which left the dining room empty. We conferred with our clients about what type of room they always wanted but couldn’t have, and the answer was a fully decked-out home office. They now have a room they love which gets used every day rather than just a few times a year.

Just as our lifestyles have changed, so must our thinking of what to do with a dining room. It’s just too much valuable square footage to let go to waste.

Becky Trent is a designer and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (through the National Association of Home Builders) with St. Louis remodeling and design firm Mosby Building Arts. Her passion for kitchen and bath design has resulted in several local and national remodeling awards.

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5 Creative Ways to Use This 79-Cent Ikea Kitchen Product

For avid homeware shopping enthusiasts, one of the best times of the year is right about now, when the new annual Ikea catalog drops. Filled with hundreds of pages of staged rooms, interior inspiration, well-designed minimalist-ish form-meets-function household goods, furniture, and cookware, thumbing through the latest edition becomes a respite from everyday life—and gives us hope that there might just be an affordable solution to the clutter and dreary familiarity of our current surroundings. The Ikea catalog is selling us optimism, and we’re buying it.

Behold: The humble 79-cent Ikea “Tekla” tea towel

The Daily Mail points out that one of the star best-selling products in the latest catalog is this “Tekla” 79-cent dish towel–and it’s not like it’s some super-hi-tech ultra-absorbent dirt-repelling cleaning machine. Nope, it’s just an ordinary 26″ by 20″, 100 percent cotton, machine-washable (it’s prone to shrinking, but only by 8 percent) tea towel ostensibly meant for drying hands and dishes, and for just keeping around for mopping up spills in the kitchen and dining area.

But take a look at the comments on the product page—and you’ll find happy customers who’ve rated the tea towel five-stars, and who’ve even suggested creative uses for the white-and-red dish dryer. Here are six of our favorites:

Carry it in your gym bag: “They have uses in more than the kitchen,” user KFling writes. “They make a bathroom hand towel that no one worries about actually using, and with the loop it comes in very handy at the gym to make sure only dry bottles get packed into the bag after one’s shower.”

Use it to store your vegetables: “I use then for just about everything the other reviewers do, but I also use them to keep my garden greens fresh in the refrigerator,” writes dobemom. “I wet the towel and wring it out as thoroughly as I can, then wrap the greens in the towel and place on a refrigerator shelf. The greens stay crisp quite a while this way.”

They’re even soft enough for babies: “I have cut them in half and used them to wash up babies after meals,” writes Mamaroonie.

Use them to wipe down mirrors, windows, and other glass surfaces: “It doesn’t leave streaks on glass,” writes Mokayno. “It washes up great. Looks like a restaurant item.” Omah agrees: “These cloths are the very best I have ever had to clean and shine my glass top stove.”

Storage and lining: One way to make sure your plates, pots, and pans are protected while they’re stowed in your drawers and cabinets is to use these dish towels in between layers—which will keep your favorite items from being scratched (or clanking against each other). These inexpensive cotton towels can also be used as tray and basket liners, to keep your fresh-out-of-the-oven baked goods warm, and to prevent scratches on lacquered surfaces.

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22 back-to-school furniture and decor buys to take your room to the next level

It’s August! Which means you’re already starting to think about going back to school if you’re a student (or parent of a student.) When I was a college student, I remember many friends being unhappy that summer was coming to an end. I, on the other hand, was excited because not only did I love school but I also loved decorating my dorm and making it my own.

I will admit that I probably bought way more than I actually needed, and spent too much on dorm supplies. It’s absolutely possible, and necessary, to decorate on a budget during college—whether that’s in a residence hall or off campus apartment—and even post-college (if you live in a small space, here are some home goods we recommend).

Below, I’ve rounded up 22 dorm furnishings (all under $300!) to help you start the school year on a high note—including items for the bedroom, bathroom, and living room. If you’re looking for kitchen supplies, last week I gathered the best kitchen accessories to pick up now. Happy shopping!

Novogratz Palm Springs Convertible Sofa Sleeper, $219


Novogratz Retro Collection Prism Shag Rug, 3’6″ x 5’6”, $130


Exposed Seam Bean Bag Chair, $98

Urban Outfitters

Ottoman with Tray, $27


Assembly Home No Bad Days Pillow, $39

Urban Outfitters

Artificial Jade in Square Ceramic Pot, $19


Tivoli Audio Cube Wireless Speaker, $199


Himalayan Salt Lamp, $34

Urban Outfitters

3-Pack LED Pillar Candle Bisque, $29.44


Stick Table Lamp with Plated Storage Cup, $25


T-Shirt Jersey Comforter Snooze Set, $189

Urban Outfitters

Wamsutta 525-Thread-Count PimaCott Sheet, $20

Bed Bath Beyond

Hairpin Desk Walnut, $60


Modern by Dwell Desk Chair Gray, $119.50


Super Simple Wooden Closet Set, $249

Urban Outfitters

Neon Peace Sign Table Lamp, $79

Urban Outfitters

Umbra Skinny 2-Gallon Wastebasket, $10


City Scape Shower Curtain, $12


8-Pack Washcloths, $5


Mesh Shower Tote, $10

Bed Bath Beyond

Seville Classics 5-Piece Bamboo Bath Set, $45


Canvas Rope Laundry Bag, $39

Urban Outfitters

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Cookware beware

When I was growing up, every home had a black frying pan. The blacker it was, the better for frying chicken. That chicken was cooked right to the bone. Some folks even ate the bones.

During World War II, there was a song entitled “Save the Bones for Henry Jones, ‘Cause Henry Don’t Eat No Meat.” There was a scarcity of meat at that time.

Whether we knew it or not, the element iron was leached out of that frying pan and was absorbed into the foods. This leaching might have been a blessing, because it prevented iron deficiency anemia.

Generally, iron is not a toxic metal unless you have a disease known as hemochromatosis. This medical condition prevents the excretion of iron, thus, causing toxicity from iron accumulation in many organs of the body, including the heart or liver. I would say the “old” frying pan is still safe to cook in.

In a musical that I wrote entitled “Oh! Oh! Obesity,” there is a final scene in the church basement where the minister is conducting a “Watch Your Weight” program. A sister named Fatsie gets up to sing the finale, “I Fried and I Fried.” The lyrics go something like this:

I fried and I fried, I fried all night long.

I fried and I fried until the chops were gone.

I just couldn’t help from frying.

I just couldn’t help from frying.

I just couldn’t help from frying until the chops were gone.

One thing about that old black frying pan, it was capable of cooking good chicken and keeping your iron stores up. On the market today, however, there are frying pans that might not be as healthy to cook in.

For example, chefs love to use copper because it conducts heat quickly, ensuring well-cooked foods. Beware of toxicity found in copper.

The copper frying pan should be lined with a covering that will prevent the copper from leaching out into the food. Excess copper is toxic and can lead to damage in the body.

A lot of folks use aluminum frying pans. These pans are safe as long as there are no signs of pitting and crusting. As you may be aware, aluminum might possibly be connected to Alzheimer’s disease. This association is not conclusive. More folks are subjected to excess aluminum in foods, water, antacids and medications. Beware of that “old” aluminum frying pan.

When traveling in foreign countries, you might bring home a beautiful ceramic cooking pot. Often, the paints used for decoration contain high levels of lead. Unless the pot has a statement saying it is lead-free, beware of lead toxicity.

A frying pan containing a silicone surface seemingly is very safe to use and reduces the amount of oil used in cooking. You have heard it said that a person is like Teflon, which means nothing sticks to that person. This expression is often used when a criminal gets away with a crime. Frying pans coated with Teflon have that trait; nothing sticks to them.

Teflon is made from a chemical known as perfluro-octanoic acid. This chemical has not been tested thoroughly for toxicity, and DuPont, the manufacturer, is phasing it out. For safety, do not fry in these pans over very high heat and replace them if they become chipped.

Finally, be careful using aluminum to prepare foods over your outdoor grill. You may be getting more aluminum than you bargained for. Be careful also of the fumes produced by the fat and hot coals that are absorbed in your tasty burgers. As you fill your potbelly, be aware of the pots you use to cook those vittles in.

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Kitchen sponges may be a ‘bacteria hotspot’ – but no need to worry

Thursday August 3 2017

Harmless cleaning product or hotbed of bacteria?

“Study finds just a sugar-cube sized piece of kitchen sponge can contain 54 BILLION bacterial cells,” the Mail Online reports. A German study sampled 14 different kitchen sponges and found they contained far more bacteria than expected.

Genetic analysis revealed the used sponges contained billions of bacteria, from 362 species-like groups called “operational taxonomic units” (OTUs).

However, it’s not clear that any would be harmful in the context of someone’s typical exposure to a kitchen sponge, despite 5 of the 10 most common OTUs found being bacteria from “risk group 2” (RG2) – a classification including bacteria that may cause disease in certain circumstances.

For example, researchers found high levels of the Acinetobacter strain of bacteria. This can cause potentially serious infections – but only if it penetrates deep inside the body, or infects traumatic wounds or burns.

People associate bacteria with germs. But we are all covered in bacteria, inside and out, and so are our homes. Most are either harmless or actually play a useful role in biological processes, such as digestion. Only a few cause diseases, so the fact kitchen sponges harbour bacteria is not as alarming as it sounds.

The researchers found that methods to clean sponges, such as heating them in microwaves to kill bacteria, don’t work particularly well. They suggest replacing sponges weekly rather than cleaning and re-using them.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Furtwangen University and the German Research Centre for Environmental Health, all in Germany. It was funded by the Institute of Applied Research (IAF) of Furtwangen University and published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Scientific Reports on an open-access basis, so it can be read online free of charge.

The Mail Online carried a reasonably accurate report of the research. However, it made much of the fact that some of the bacteria identified came from RG2, a class that includes “bacteria that cause typhoid fever, the plague, cholera and food poisoning”. While this is correct, the researchers did not find any of the actual bacteria that cause these conditions in the sponges tested.

What kind of research was this?

This was a genetic analysis of a small sample of kitchen sponges to assess the number, variety and density of bacteria living on and within them.

This type of study can investigate the amount and type of bacteria present in the sponges. However, it can’t tell us where the bacteria came from or how they may have affected the health of the people using the sponges.

What did the research involve?

Researchers collected 14 used kitchen sponges from houses in a German town, along with information about how regularly sponges were changed and whether they were specially cleaned to remove bacteria. The type, number and density of bacteria within the sponges were assessed using the latest genome sequencing techniques and a microscopy visualisation technique.

Most previous studies of bacteria in kitchens and kitchen accessories – such as dishcloths and sponges – used bacterial culturing, which can only detect species that can be grown on culture plates in the laboratory. This study used a genetic sequencing technique, called 454-pyrosequencing, of 16S RNA genes to find a much larger range of bacteria, including those that are difficult or impossible to culture in the laboratory.

Laser scanning microscopy was used on fixed samples of sponge to visualise the numbers and density of bacteria.

The researchers grouped the bacteria into OTUs, which was a way of classifying closely related bacteria so they could then divide them into types that might cause infection.

They also checked to see if cleaning the sponges using special processes, such as microwaving them, affected the number or types of bacteria found.

What were the basic results?

The researchers found billions of bacteria on the sponges’ surfaces and the walls of their interior spaces. Among these, gene sequencing identified 362 OTUs, the majority of which were related to the gammaproteobacteria phylum (a group of classes that share distinctive characteristics).

The 10 most frequently found OTUs were responsible for almost 70% of all the gene sequences found on the sponges, and 5 of these 10 fell into the “German Technical Rule for Biological Agents Risk Group 2”, suggesting they may have the potential to cause disease in humans.

The researchers didn’t find any signs of salmonella, proteus or campylobacter, which are known to cause food poisoning and would be concerning to see in a kitchen or similar environment.

Imaging showed that most of the bacteria were still growing at the time of analysis. The highest density of bacteria recorded was 54 billion bacterial cells in a 1cm cube of sponge.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that “kitchen sponges harbour a higher bacterial diversity than previously thought” but “human pathogens [disease-causing bacteria] might represent just a minority” of the bacteria found.

They added: “Sponge sanitation methods appear not sufficient to effectively reduce the bacterial load and might even increase the shares of RG2-related bacteria.”

Instead of attempting to clean sponges, they suggest “a regular (and easily affordable) replacement of kitchen sponges, for example on a weekly basis”.


There’s no need to panic about the results of this study. Bacteria are everywhere, so it’s no surprise to find them growing in kitchens. The researchers say sponges, being porous and usually damp, represent ideal conditions for bacteria to grow.

The study found that one of the most dominant types of bacteria came from the Moraxella family. These bacteria are often found on human skin, so it’s likely they got onto the sponges from people’s hands. Moraxella are also linked to the unpleasant smell sometimes found after laundry has taken longer to dry, so they seem to be common in the household environment. 

The study has a few limitations. As only 14 sponges from one area of Germany were tested, we don’t know if the results would apply to households in other parts of the world.

The researchers say the relation of the ONU gene sequences to RG2 species provides “only a weak indicator for the pathogenic potential of the identified bacteria” and that they are “not aware of any case in which an infection from these bacteria was explicitly reported from a domestic environment”. The technology is not yet precise enough to show that any specific bacteria found growing in sponges causes disease.

However, we do know poor kitchen hygiene can lead to infections, especially when preparing uncooked food, such as salad or raw chicken. Bacteria-laden sponges, if used to wipe down surfaces, could spread pathogenic bacteria around and make infection more likely. You might want to consider simply replacing your sponge regularly, instead of rinsing it in hot water or zapping it in the microwave.

Read more advice about Food safety and home hygiene.

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Surprising Things You Should Never, Ever Put in the Dishwasher

Think you know your way around the dishwasher? You probably turn to this useful appliance to save time. But a dishwasher isn’t foolproof.

In fact, you can make plenty of mistakes each time you load your dishwasher. And if you aren’t careful, you might be loading your dishwasher with items that are pretty likely to get ruined once you hit that “wash” button. We all want to save time but not at the expense of a good set of knives or that copper cookware you saved your pennies to buy.


Read on to check out some of the most surprising things you shouldn’t put in the dishwasher.

1. Cast iron

Don’t ever put cast iron in the dishwasher. |

While a pro knows you should never put a cast iron skillet or dutch oven in the dishwasher, not everybody got that memo. Cast iron cookware is seasoned with oil to prevent it from rusting. A spin in the dishwasher strips that oil away, leaving your cookware vulnerable. Instead, Good Housekeeping recommends rinsing your cast iron with warm water and rubbing it clean with salt. That way, you won’t ruin that perfect seasoning or cause your pan to rust. 

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Global Disposable Dinnerware Market 2017- Biopac India …

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1 Biopac India Corporation Ltd.
2 Mozaik
3 PrimeWare
4 Hefty
5 Belix
6 PEP Connecticut Plastics

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By Material Types
Foam Plastic
Biodegradable Plastics
By Product Types

Disposable Dinnerware Market: Applications Segment Analysis


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