Author Archive

Aquariums, terrariums, and cages – which is right for your pet?

If you are thinking of adopting a small pet, such as a rodent, fish, reptile, or amphibian, caring for their habitat is an integral part of caring for the animal. It isn’t enough just to make sure they are fed and with access to fresh water – their cages have to be kept clean too.

An aquarium is pretty much the only option if you want to keep fish or another aquatic pet (barring a pond in your backyard). Aquariums can also be used to create a terrarium, either to house amphibians or reptiles, or just to grow plants. If you use an aquarium for a terrarium or to keep rodents, remember not to put it in direct sunlight, as the “greenhouse” effect will make it far too hot, and there is very little ventilation.

One advantage to keeping rodents in an aquarium is that the wood chips are contained, and won’t end up all over the floor. A special mesh or plastic top can be purchased especially for keeping rodents in an aquarium, that will allow ventilation and keep other household pets out of their enclosure. Don’t use a solid cover, as mammals require ventilation and may become sick if they don’t have access to fresh air.

There are a wide variety of different types of terrariums, and you should research which type is best for your reptilian or amphibious pet. Aquatic terrariums are much like aquariums, but require much less water and have different décor than an aquarium, generally including at least one area where the pet can climb onto a surface outside of the water to bask in warmth. Semi-aquatic terrariums have a combination of land and water, and often have a heat source over the land. A woodland terrarium is an ideal habitat for tree frogs and many other animals that live in a forest in the wild. These often feature full spectrum lighting and many types of plants. A desert terrarium imitates the desert climate, and often features plants such as cacti. Different reptiles and amphibians have wildly varying specific needs, so if you are interested in maintaining a terrarium as a pet habitat, be sure to extensively research the requirements of the animals you are interested in owning.

Wire cages are a popular choice for rodents, likely due to their low cost and the ease of cleaning them. They provide great ventilation, but if you have cats or any other predatory pets, these cages make it easy for them to get their noses or claws uncomfortably close to your smaller pet. Some designs of wire cages are much easier for a rodent to escape from, especially a hamster, rat, mouse, or gerbil. If you opt for a wire cage, ensure that the model you purchase is designed for the type of pet you have opted for. Wire cages are a fantastic option for larger rodents, such as rabbits or guinea pigs, as they are much lighter weight(and thus significantly easier to clean) when dealing with a large enclosure.

Categories:Kijiji Pets

Cookware 101: Which Material is Best for Pots and Pans?

Cooking was a lot simpler back in the day. Pots and pans all looked pretty standard, and everyone used relatively the same cookware and tools. These days, as with everything else in our lives, we have a lot more options available to us (which can be fantastic, but also a little overwhelming.)

One look down the kitchenware aisle (or aisles) at any department or cookware store is enough to give any cooking novice a headache. For the average person, all the pots and pans look the same- so how do we know which type is going to cater best to all our different cooking needs?

Here’s a simple breakdown of the most common types of cookware with some quick pros and cons and cleaning tips so you can shop without becoming overwhelmed.

Aluminum

The pros of aluminum pots and pans is that they transfer heat quickly, aren’t too heavy, and best of all, they are quite affordable. One important note about aluminum cookware is that aluminum itself is soft and can change shape when it’s used on high heat. One way to solve this problem is to use an aluminum pan or pot that has been coated in aluminum oxide, (also called anodized aluminum). Once there is a layer of coating on, the cookware becomes scratch resistant and much stronger under any cooking circumstances. Keep in mind, however, that anodized aluminum cookware is more expensive than a plain aluminum pot or pan.

Care Tip: Check to see if it is dishwasher safe! Some versions of aluminum based cookware cannot be cleaned in a dishwasher.

Stainless Steel

There are many pros to stainless steel cookware. It’s scratch-resistant, dishwasher safe, strong, and not usually very pricey. However, depending on how often you cook and what you usually like to cook, the cons may not work for you. Stainless steel cookware tends to not be very efficient with transferring heat and it’s also not known for being good with spreading the heat evenly throughout the cooking surface. Now, there are modifications that have been made to certain stainless steel cookware where an inner core with a more conductive metal has been added which will help spread the heat, however, this addition raises the cost.

Care Tip: Store stainless steel cookware in a dry, cool area otherwise you will have to deal with rust on your cookware.

Cast Iron

You might have seen cast iron skillets or pots at your friends’ homes and wondered what in the word could be cooking in there. Cast iron looks really heavy duty because it is. It’s one of the strongest, everything-resistant materials for cookware. You can really get a sense of how durable it is when you pick it up and feel just how heavy it is. Heat gets spread out very well with this type of material and what’s even better is that it can keep heat in long after it has been taken off whatever heat source you use. Another pro is that it’s perfect for getting the ideal sear on meats, so even when it’s the dead of winter, you can still get BBQ-esque food without the BBQ. Cons for this type of material are that it takes longer to heat up, and the heaviness of the cookware that was mentioned before isn’t ideal for everyone. Also, in some cases, it’s not a buy and use type situation- some cast iron pans and pots haven’t been “pre-seasoned” (which essentially means a coating of cooked-on vegetable oil that the manufacturer has performed). Without this protection, it can rust or make food stick to the surface. Even if the cast iron cookware is pre-seasoned, it still requires special maintenance in order to preserve its quality.

Care tip: Wash with hot water and mild soap, and remove all moisture completely before storing away in a cool, dry place.

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron is very similar to cast iron, except for its (arguably) more attractive exterior. These are the beautifully coloured heavy duty pots you see used on cooking shows where the bright red lid is opened, and a perfectly done pork belly or roast is revealed. Enameled cast iron doesn’t require pre-seasoning as long as the lining is enamel as well, and it’s much easier to clean than raw (or plain) cast iron. Cons are that it may not give the most powerful sear or be as effective when used in its skillet form, but as a covered pot, it performs just as well. A popular example is Le Creuset cookware.

Copper

Of all the materials we’ve looked at, copper cookware is the winner when it comes to how fast it heats up and how evenly the heat is distributed. A unique feature that makes it preferable for serious cooks is that it cools as soon as you take it off the heat source which cooks know is essential to get the perfect cook on steaks, fish, and other meat that you want to keep tender and juicy. The cons of copper cookware are primarily that it’s expensive and it requires a little more work to maintain. Lining on a copper pan or pot needs to be replaced every 10-20 years (which isn’t actually too bad). It’s also important to keep in mind that if you cook a lot with acidic ingredients, it could react with the copper to create a metallic taste which isn’t exactly pleasant.

Care Tip: Never put copper cookware in the dishwasher and polish it regularly to keep its shine

Categories:Kijiji for the Home

Troubleshooting: What’s That Rattle?

Cars and trucks contains thousands of individual parts, all designed to move in harmony with one another to propel you down the road. Naturally, noises will occur on a vehicle, but you will generally know when something doesn’t sound right. The following list is by no means definitive, nor is it intended to be a substitute for an actual mechanical inspection. When your vehicle is making a new noise or one that doesn’t sound right, it is best get it to a mechanic as soon as possible to avoid further damage or problems.

High-pitched Whine or Squeal when Accelerating

If you hear a high-pitched whine or squeal coming from the front of the engine (or side of the engine on vehicles equipped with front-wheel drive) when you accelerate, the most likely culprit is a failing drive belt, fan belt, or serpentine belt. These rubber belts, powered by the crankshaft pulley at the bottom of the engine, spin other pulleys on the various engine accessories (like the alternator, power steering pump, etc.). When the rubber teeth on a belt starts to go bad, the belt will start to slip as the crankshaft pulley tries to turn it. This slipping can create a high-pitched whine or squeal as you accelerate. This sound often signals that a new belt is needed or there is a problem with one of the engine accessories.

Clicking Noise or Rattle when Turning a Corner

On front-wheel drive vehicles, a clicking noise or rattle when turning a corner is usually caused by bad CV joints (joints that help the driveshaft turn your vehicle’s wheels).

Light Tapping Sound Coming from the Top of the Motor

A faint tapping sound coming from the engine could indicate serious problems related to engine oil pressure. The problem could be as simple as the engine needing a quart of oil. But if the oil level is sufficient, the trouble could be a failing oil pump or a bad lifter. Either way, you’ll need to consult a mechanic immediately.

Knocking Sound Inside the Engine

A pronounced knocking sound usually means that you’re about to spend a whole bunch of money repairing your engine. This noise often means that your engine has “thrown a rod” (piston rod), meaning one of the rod bearings has failed, allowing the piston rod to jump around inside the cylinder.

If you hear this type of noise, shut the engine off immediately. A good mechanic can usually save the engine, provided the damage isn’t too severe. However, if you try to drive the vehicle with a rod knocking, the pressure that builds inside the cylinder can actually force the piston through the side of the engine block. Should this happen, you’ll have to buy another motor.

No matter what type of knock or rattle you hear, it’s always best to avoid driving the vehicle until you drive it or tow it to a mechanic to determine what the problem is.

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SUV Buyers Guide

Sport Utility Vehicles, commonly known as SUVs, are a fantastic way to travel. They combine the cargo room and seating capacity of a station wagon or MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) with the ground clearance and towing ability of a pickup truck. Sport Utility Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s lots to consider when buying one.

What Is an SUV?

An SUV is essentially a wagon that can go off road and tow heavy loads. They’re often based on the underpinnings from a truck, which means you can get either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). Most use body-on-frame construction (the body is bolted to a full-length ladder frame). By contrast, a crossover vehicle (CUV) is usually based on a front-wheel drive (FWD) car chassis. Thus SUVs give up some off-road and towing capabilities to receive a more car-like ride and handling.

How Big?

These days, you can find everything from a mammoth 9-seat Chevrolet Suburban to the (considerably smaller) Jeep Wrangler. Full-size SUVs offer loads of room for people and stuff, but they’re not very easy to park or maneuver through traffic. Most of them can be ordered with driver aides like blind spot warning systems and cameras to help when backing up. You’ll definitely want to get those features if you plan to drive around in something that’s bigger than your first apartment.

Smaller SUVs also can be challenging to drive, thanks to their tiny windows and huge pillars (the body parts on the corners of the interior that hold up the roof and surround the windows). Nonetheless, they still are easier to thread through traffic than a ‘BargeUV’. The smaller footprint of the smaller SUVs also makes them easier to place off road and control in the snow. Better fuel economy is another advantage of their reduced mass, but you’ll need to make sure that a small-midsize SUV will be able to meet your needs.

2-Wheel Drive or 4-Wheel Drive?

The advantage of driving a truck-based SUV is its off road capability. Thanks to their stiffened platform (the aforementioned truck-like ladder frame), the wheels and axles are able to maneuver over serious obstacles. Real transfer cases (basically the part that transfers power from the engine to the wheels) can also be used to deliver low range, crawl-through-anything torque. The ground clearance typically is much better than that of smaller SUV or car-based CUV.

Depending on where you live, the number of driven axles can be very important. By dividing the engine’s torque between both front and rear axles, a 4WD system can keep your SUV moving forward in deep snow or on muddy tracks. A true 4-wheel drive system uses a transfer case to provide maximum torque in low-speed crawling situations. This allows your SUV to claw its way through deep muck or up steep inclines. On the other hand, an all-wheel drive (AWD) system can only engage the front axle when slippage at the drive axle is detected. This isn’t ideal for serious off-roading, but AWD will certainly help you get the kids to school on a snowy day.

With 2WD or RWD, only one axle receives power from the engine. When wheel slippage occurs, the traction control (or stability control) system will attempt to intervene. However, those systems can only help you to maintain the amount of traction that’s currently available. Whether you choose 4WD, AWD, 2WD or RWD will depend on your needs. If you routinely encounter situations or weather that requires additional traction, you may want to consider an SUV equipped with either AWD or 4WD.

Conclusion

With such a vast array of options available, it’s important to decide what you actually need your SUV to do. Whether you need a truck that can carry you deep into the Yukon, or just a family truckster that can pull a boat and get the kids to school on time, there’s an SUV out there for you. If before you buy you decide on the features that are most important to you, you’ll know what kind of SUV to look for.

How to downsize your living space

Moving from a house to a smaller space like a condo or an apartment can be challenging task, but it can also be a refreshing one.

For many, it’s an opportunity to de-clutter and recreate a place to call your own. It’s the perfect time to take an inventory of what you’ve accumulated over the years and decide each items fate. Perhaps it’s time to get rid of that old hand me down couch you’ve had since college, or recycle that stack of magazines piling up in your basement. Either way, decisions have to be made. Here are a few tips to make the process a little easier.

Downsizing Your Living Space

Create an Action Plan
Professional organizers will tell you to picture what kind of lifestyle you want and how you will achieve this in your next living space. Is it worth it to keep the bulky armchair? Should you keep that large dining room set just because it was pricey? Where will all this go in your new home? Creating a plan and knowing what furniture and other items you’ll want to take with you will help you along the road to downsizing. Do you pour over images of modern minimalist living spaces? To achieve that lifestyle, you will need to be ready to eliminate most of what fills a large suburban home. On the other hand, if you would have trouble feeling at home without your souvenirs and trinkets, aim to curate your collection to only the ones that you would miss if they were not around.

Purge
Do you need a TV in every room? Probably not, but if you do decide to keep some, mount them on the wall and get rid of that bulky entertainment unit to save space. To take it even further, get rid of your TVs altogether and watch programs online through a computer, tablet and or even a smartphone. Connect to Wi-Fi to reduce cable use.

To downsize even further, consider trimming down your library. Think about only keeping your favourite books and have an idea of where they will go in your new home. If you can’t find the space, it’s time to let them go or purchase a Kobo or Kindle, which can store thousands of books. Keep in mind, you can always borrow books from the library as well.

Kitchen appliances can also take up tons of valuable cabinet space. It may be time to give away the waffle maker or pasta maker you’ve only used once since your wedding day. Clothes and toiletries you haven’t used in a year are a good indication that you can do without them.

Memorabilia and other must-keep items you can’t part with
It can be hard leaving behind items that have been with you for decades so consider going digital. Take a picture of your old home and those items you’ve cherished to preserve those memories. Old newspaper clippings, letters and cards can also be scanned and saved. Remember to plan where you’ll be putting the items you do want to keep or consider letting them go.

Multi functionable furniture
When you have limited space, you have to be creative with the furniture you have. Think about buying a sleeper couch to replace your guest bedroom, or an ottoman that acts as a foot rest, storage unit and a coffee table.

Finding a new home for the unwanted
Make a quick buck or two by hosting a garage or yard sale to rid yourself of all the items that don’t belong in your new living space, sell items online on Kijiji or eBay, or you can also donate the items to worthy charitable organizations in your community.