Category Archives: Education

The Vaccine Controversy

We are coming up on cold and flu season and a time when people begin to speak up more heatedly about vaccination. From seasonal vaccines to childhood vaccines- people begin to defend their point of view on the validity and necessity of such a practice. I am a nurse and have written posts defending my point of view on this topic more than once. I have collected studies and data to compile for collegiate papers while obtaining my degree, and did so again after obtaining a position as a full time RN for the benefit of staff and patient education. I have seen the devastating, and sometimes non-reversible, effects of  preventable illness on young children and their families. I have provided care and treatment for these families in their times of crisis, and have as a result found myself firmly rooted in a position for vaccination. However, today instead of once again writing my own article and simply leaving a trail of links for studies at the end I thought I would let the articles and research of physicians/scientists do the talking. Please find below just 2 links abounding with research and MORE links for your review. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day!

From: Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism: Healthcare Triage 12

“Humans try to make sense of the world by seeing patterns. When they see a disease or condition that tends to appear around the time a child is a year or so old, as autism does, and that is also the age that kids get particular shots, they want to put those things together. Parents watch kids more carefully after they get shots. Sometimes they pick up on symptoms then. Just because two things happen at the same time doesn’t mean that one caused the other. This is why we need careful scientific studies.”

 

From Violent Metaphors : Dr. Jennifer Raff

http://violentmetaphors.com/2014/03/25/parents-you-are-being-lied-to/

Dear parents, you are being lied to.

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Filed under Children, Education, Family, Motherhood, Uncategorized

DIY Wedding Dress

Back in April I had the great privilege of making a wedding dress for a good friend of mine. I hadn’t made a wedding dress since I worked in the costume department during my college years (so needless to say I was a bit rusty), but I had a friend in need and so I set out to make the dress she had been envisioning for the last year. Truthfully, my friend had been very wise and had picked out and ordered her dress a year before the wedding. However, when the dress arrived a mere 3 weeks before the wedding it wasn’t right. From the fabric, to the design, all the way to the size the dress was wrong. Panicked and overwhelmed with the final weeks of wedding planning she had resigned herself to buying a simple cocktail dress at a department store to get married in…but for me that simply wouldn’t do! So one duct tape manikin, 6 yards of dupioni silk, and 72 pearl buttons later I was helping her into her dress for the wedding. AND I am happy to report she was happy with the final product! Here is a quick breakdown (in pictures) of how I made her dress in 3 weeks (while still working my normal job, cleaning my house, and attending pre-wedding / bachelorette functions etc 🙂

First we bought a long night shirt and a roll of duct tape and I made a duct tape manikin of my friend. (By doing this I was able to make the dress to fit her perfectly from the start. We didn’t have time for extra alterations later.

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Next I created the general shape of the dress with a basic white satin (this will become the under slip and guide for the rest of the dress). My friend wanted a deep sweetheart neck line, low back and mermaid fit through the hips…so I pinned and created seams accordingly. (I also added corseting style boning and cups at this point so my fiend wouldn’t have to worry about an uncomfortable strapless bra. This dress was made to stay up throughout the ceremony and party without any unsightly tugging or adjusting!)

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Always make sure you look at the dress from every angle ensuring you have extra fabric for finishing seams and zippers later!Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Next I began laying the Dupioni silk over the top of the Satin under dress. Achieving the right look with ruching or folds can be difficult. If you are going to attempt this type of project take as much time as you need at this point and get the fabric to lay properly. Pin and re-pin as necessary without getting discouraged. Trust me it’s worth it in the end to do it right at this point 🙂

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Once I had the front pinned I began working on the back. To some degree the back of the dress can be more difficult than the front as a result of the zipper. For this dress I started by creating the folds on one side of the zipper and then moved to the other side working to ensure everything would match up perfectly once the dress was zipped.

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Next I closed all of the seams (which can be tricky keeping all of your ornate folds in place properly and the only piece of advice I can give is lots of pins and lots of patience!)

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Next (and I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of this part) turn your new lovely dress inside out and sew the top of the under dress to the actual wedding dress and then turn right side out again. This will create an invisible hem at the bust line and a clean finish to the whole dress effectively hiding all of your seams (the seams of the dress face the seams of the under dress so you can’t see the seams at all). Once this is complete ensure the bust line is laying properly and make any adjustments necessary to ensure it won’t bubble or pucker.

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Finally insert zipper using the invisible zipper method, attach buttons down the back of the dress covering the zipper (if desired), add any details such as rhinestones or feathers you wish to have, and hem the bottom (You will need your lovely bride to be in her wedding shoes of choice for this last measurement). Vowalla one wedding dress custom made and ready to wear.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam(I also added a bustle to the back of this dress so she could dance the night away without worrying about people stepping on the train.)

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The Vaccine Controversy & Jenny McCarthy

Standing in the line at the Super Market I find myself regularly perusing the magazines that line the checkout counter. I know they are mostly fluff (all arts and leisure with a hearty splashing of Hollywood blah blah) but I can’t help myself…it’s there and so readily available. I only read the covers on the Hollywood blah blah magazines (I admittedly sift through articles from the home improvement and food mags), you know so I can keep up with the headlines of pop-culture LOL. Most days it’s a quick look with little to catch my attention for any longer than it takes to ring up my basket of groceries, but every once in a while I spot something that makes me look a bit more close, last night happened to be one of those nights. There staring back at me was a smiling Jenny McCarthy holding her son, whom she has claimed for many years, has autism as a result of infant vaccines. Head lining the picture “Vaccines” and “Autism” could be seen from 3 checkout counters over so I was moving on pretty quickly…before I realized what the full headline really was. According to the article Jenny McCarthy had stated in a TimeMagazine interview that her son may NOT have had Autism after all. Well, a day later that article is being picked a part and Jenny McCarthy is saying it isn’t true…but there is was before the public once again…the question of a link between Autism and Vaccines.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/jenny-mccarthy-report-of-new-stance-on-autism-vaccines-irresponsible-and-inaccurate-1.1617795

Here’s the truth. I took a double take at that article because I am a nurse…in fact I am a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and Pediatric nurse and I take childrens health very seriously. I have nieces and nephews and hundreds of patients whom I care very deeply about and seeing their wellfare placed in jeopardy over and over again without evidence drives me bonkers! I am all about questioning what we do in medicine because I know that questioning things is how we find great advancements. I know that when we break down what we are doing and why we are doing it- we learn. We learn that some things we have done for years (such as using alcohol swabs to dry umbilical cords)may no longer be necessary….we also learn that some things (such as oral suctioning to prevent pneumonia) continue to be prevelant and very necessary for the well being of those we care for.  It is absolutely vital that we question our practices…BUT it is more important that we research and perform studies to answer our questions. We don’t simply question something, find a few similar cases and decide we have a grand factual finding. We have to break down hundreds if not thousands of cases; we have to look at the science and the written reports before we can come to a definitive conclusion.

As far as Vaccines go I have yet to see reports or studies or papers in medical journals which have clearly and scientifically linked Vaccines to Autism or any other illness similar….and I look regularly. As I said I have a large number of people who are counting on me to have their best interest in mind, and that includes looking to see what the latest research says before I walk into a room to ask a parent if they want me to vaccinate their infant or child.

Naturally after such an article was published and placed on stands in a wide variety of super markets there have been an outpouring of posts on facebook, twitter and personal blogs about childhood vaccines (both pro and con). In the interest of full disclosure I must admit I am pro-vaccine because I have found research to show its benefits and have not yet found any which can solidly refute it. In fact, the only one that came close was quashed quickly. Here’s the link to an article looking at the original publication which brought up Autism and Vaccines together. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/

This is a website I was told about by a parent of one of my patients. http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/  It is a parent run website/movement and I must admit I am very impressed with how professional it looks, the stories and honesty of those on it, as well as the fact that they clear all of their info with physicians and scientists before they report. It is very pro-vaccine…no hiding or pretending here.   http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/

Finally…Information on vaccines from 2 organizations who dedicate their existance to finding the best practice for our worlds communities. Perhaps it is because I have friends who have worked for both of these organizations over the years (and who I know have spent countless hours in small reasearch tents in third world countries trying to find links and traits and cures)…but I trust them. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) http://www.who.int/topics/vaccines/en/ and the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm

Bottom Line – I’m not saying everyone needs to agree with me and run out and vaccinate your children…BUT I do think WE ALL need to make sure we stay well educated so we can make the most informed decisions possible.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Day!

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Year End

It has been a busy few months for the sisters here at GirlsvsBlog. The end of the year has snuck up on us as we have been busy renovating, baking, writing novels, completing family projects, moving, and welcoming new family members.

The months have slipped by in what seems like only a few moments. Its abrupt passage has me in a contemplative mood as I reflect upon the changes of the past year. We have seen in the news great stories of tragedy and triumph alike this year. Some have drawn smiles to our faces while others have brought tears. At home, the sentiments of the news have been reflected in our everyday lives as we cope with inner turmoil and geographical injustices.

For many this has been a wonderful eventful year and for others…perhaps a year they are happy to be moving on from. As I look back through my own list of events I must admit I have moments in each category…but for the most part I am extremely greatful for the year I have had and the wonderful memories I will take from it. That being said, I feel there are always ways to improve…or perhaps less New Years resolutiony…goals I wish to accomplish.

My own thoughts move toward the future, toward the goals I have set up for myself over the last few months and I wonder are these just blind resolutions? There are countless posts on blogs and facebook and twitter about peoples New Years resolutions and despite my belief that these individuals really think they are going to accomplish their resolution this year,  I have my doubts. So there it is…the year in one simple block. A resolution is made….it is either accomplished or set aside…the year ends with reflection…new resolutions are made. The reflection part takes into account the success or failure of those initial resolutions as well as all the additional ones made along the way as the year elapsed before us. What has me sitting with such great refection this year isn’t why people continue to make resolutions and not keep them…it’s how to keep them.

When I look back I am proud of the year I had…still I wish I had kept a few more of the resolutions (goals) I made throughout the year. I finished NaNoWriMo….but I still haven’t let anyone read my 50K word novel. I lost weight….I gained weight back….I became determined to loose it all again. I published a handful of blog posts…wish I had published a handful more.  Etc, etc, etc.

How do we keep our goals, set in moments, throughout an entire year; throughout a year of many more moments which may come to throw us off our course? Tradgedy strikes the world daily and our “resolutions” seem some how small and much less important…and yet here we are at the end of the year and still we find ourselves counting the successes and failures. How can we balance our moment goals among the great ups and downs of an enitre year?

I reflect but find no answers to my queries readily before me. Still, I do not sit idle but instead look upon the accomplishments of others and the brave recovery of those struck by tragedy and I smile knowing that though I may not have the answer just yet…I have time.

To all of our readers here at Girls vs Blog. Thank you for visiting us this year. We look forward to a wonderful year of blogging adventures ahead and we wish you all the very best of luck in tackling your own New Years Resolutions.

P.S. Please feel free to let us know about your upcoming goals and what you do to stay on top of them!

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How to: Grout Tile Flooring

How To: Grout Tile Flooring

Step 1: Pick out the type of grout you need for the space you are using (we used sanded grout for flooring). Decide on color and then mix in a large bucket per manufacturers instructions. Make sure to wear proper protective equipment while mixing as the grout dust will fly up and get into your eye’s, nose and mouth if you don’t (yuck!). Once the water is thoroughly mixed in allow the grout to set up – it should be about the consistency of damp beach sand when it is ready to use.

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Step 2: Begin work in the corner furthest from the exit door, and work your way out of the room. Using a tile float (looks like a tile trowel but the base is rubber or foam instead of metal) scoop up a large amount of grout and begin to work it into the seams between the tiles. If you have smaller tiles you can drag the grout all the way across the tiles in sweeping patters to push the grout into all of the seams. We are laying larger tiles here and so we focused around the seams. You do need to work the grout in using multiple directions in order to force as much grout into the joint as possible. This will help to create a strong bond and keep your floors in great condition for years to come.

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Step 3: Allow the grout to set up for approx. 30min depending on the manufacturers instructions. Once it has had the initial set up time using a damp sponge begin to remove the excess grout from the top of the tiles.

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Work in a circular motion with a lite touch to ensure you don’t pull grout out of the seams. There will still be a haze over the floor, this is okay. Allow the grout to set up another 2 hrs or so (again refer to manufacturer guidelines) and then go over the tiles again with a barely damp sponge or cloth. Wipe up the haze and then go over it with a dry cloth after. Once the tiles are clean allow the grout to cure for a few days.

Step 4: Step back and admire your newly grouted tile floor. Allow floors to cure for a few days before moving onto sealing.

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Step 5: If you have made it this far in your floor improvement project…Congratulations you are only one step away from being done! With the commercial sealer of choice in hand start once again in the back corner of the room and run a thin line of grout sealer over each joint. Do not wash over tile with sealer…stick to the grout! Allow first coat to sit for 20 minutes and then go over the grout again. Then allow the sealer to sit overnight and vowalla…you are done! Clean out the tools, repaint your walls, put your floor boards back up, and start using your lovely new floor!

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Apple Cider

With the recent rain storms came the all to familiar autumn chill that accompanies this time of year in the Rocky Mountains. It is a time of year I love and dread all at the same time. The beauty of the changing foliage, the delicious recipes that accompany apple picking season, and of course the lovely sweaters! However, though some may celebrate and dance to the end of summers long hot days…I dread the cold short dark days of winter. I can appreciate a beautiful snow crested hill or a crisp sleigh ride under warm blankets, or watching the snow fall out my living room window while I cuddle up next to the fire with a good book…but the days between when I leave for work in the wet, cold, dark and come home in the same act as a reminder that winter simply isn’t my best time of year. There are however the two lovely seasons that flank winter and are filled with an endless array of activities and food that I love to get caught up in. So here’s to Autumn! It’s true it is the herald of winter…which is why I intend to enjoy it while it lasts!

Home Made Apple Cider – I made up this recipe after looking up multiple recipes online, and not finding myself particularly satisfied with any. It turned out really well. I hope you enjoy it!

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What you will need. Apples, water and/or apple juice (we had apple juice I wanted to use), vanilla, honey, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, a stock pot, potato masher, knife, strainer/cheese cloth, and a cup to enjoy!

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Start by adding your apple juice and equal parts water to your stock pot and set heat to medium. (If you have enough apples you can use just water because the quantity of apples will provide enough flavor and acid. However, if you have apple juice in the fridge you want to use…or you only have a few apples I recommend throwing in the apple juice and adding equal parts water.)

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While the apple juice is coming up to temp chop and core your apples. Then add them to the pot skins and all.

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Next add your spices cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and whole cloves to the pot. (You may have noticed I didn’t include measuring spoons into the list of things you will need at the top. Even if you are new to cooking do not fret – get comfortable with your own tastes and preferences and then go the old fashion route and add a palm full of spices and herbs here and there to suit your tastes)

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Next add a few drops of vanilla, a good squeeze of honey and finally a pinch of salt. These three ingredients add the sweet note in the background to compliment the spices. (Don’t forget your salt! It may seem odd but sweeteners simply won’t pop the same way without it.)

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Stir to combine all ingredients and let simmer over low for a few hours until the house is fragrant with autumn spices and the apples are tender.

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Once the apples are nice and tender go to town with your potato masher (or other smashing tool). Break up all those apples to release the flavors, juices and color. Then allow to simmer further (you can simmer for 30min or a few hours at this point. It is to your discretion. Just sip and taste as it simmers until it has the flavor you are looking for. Add any additional sweeteners or spices as needed.

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Once the cider is to your level of sweet and spicy remove from heat and pour through a thin mesh strainer or through a cheesecloth.

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If using a strainer lift strainer and allow excess juice to come out before removing apple skins, pulp and clove seeds. If you are using a cheese cloth gather the cheese cloth together, lift over bowl and squeeze out remaining juice. With a strainer you may need to strain the cider more than once.

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Finally pour yourself a nice hot cup of delicious spicy cider and enjoy! Store the remaining cider in the fridge or serve immediately to family or guests. This cider turned out very well and can be served hot or cold! Add a little caramel sauce for a delicious alternative for those with a sweet tooth.

As an added bonus…if you love how your cider turned out this can make a wonderful hostess gift! Simply pour your delicious cider into a lovely container (simple glass bottles with tops can be purchased at your local craft store and the dollar store), and then present this delicious beverage to the host of the next fall party you attend.

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How To: Lay Tile Flooring

How To: Lay Tile Flooring

Step 1. Remove all previous flooring, base boards, fixtures (toilets/sinks) and adhesive from the floor in the room you wish to tile. Be sure the floor surface is clean and free from all debris. If the subflooring is particle board, hardwood, etc (non cement) you will need to lay cement backer board first.

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If you have cement flooring you don’t need backer board but you will need to check to see if the floor is level. If there are spots that need repair make sure to fix them first and give the area a few days to cure before beginning.

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Step 2. Once your floor is prepped decide what pattern you want for your tiles and create a layout.

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Step 3. Measure and cut all tiles needed to complete your layout. Do not begin setting any tiles until you have a full room layout. This ensures you won’t find yourself in a pickle (such as being one tile short) when attempting to lay your flooring.

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Step 4. Ensure all difficult cuts line up well and maintain proper spacing once installed. Adjust as necessary. Measure twice…cut once.

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Step 5. With your full room layout complete and all tiles cut you can begin laying your tile. Begin work from the furthest point away from the exit door so that you don’t have to walk on or disturb the tile once you have begun. Start by removing two rows from your layout at a time (Keep tiles in order as you remove your two rows so you can quickly and easily grab each tile as you go). With a notched trowel scoop up a large amount of tile adhesive and begin to spread it across the floor evenly using multiple strokes to drag and pull the adhesive. Only apply enough adhesive to lay 1-2 tiles at a time to prevent the adhesive from beginning to dry before laying (I did about one tile at a time because the tiles I used were large). Take your time and make sure your tiles fit back into the layout you created as you go.

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Step 6. Place tile spacers between your tiles as you lay them to ensure you maintain the same width/gap between each tile. This will be important for grouting and the over all look later.

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Step 7. Once you have worked your way out of the room and placed your last tile…step back and admire your handiwork. Now walk away and let your new tile cure for a few days before moving on to grouting and sealing.

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How to: Level a Cement Floor

How to: Level a Cement Floor

Step 1: Determine if you have a cement floor that needs to be leveled – perhaps to lay new time flooring for example. Using a handy dandy leveler check the overall integrity of your floor and identify spots that may need help.

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Step 2. Gather the needed supplies – Rubber gloves, floor leveling cement, a disposable cup or bucket to mix the cement in, and a trowel to spread the cement.

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Step 3. Mix cement via manufacturers instructions, and allow to set up. Then pour cement over area needing to be leveled.

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Step 4. Using the flat side of your trowel spread the cement over the affected area in fluid strokes. Continue to work the cement into the un-level or cracked areas until you have a nice flat surface.

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Step 5: Ensure the newly cemented area is nice and level with the rest of the floor. Make adjustments as needed and then allow to set up overnight or per the manufacturers instructions.

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Congratulations you just leveled your floor! You are ready to begin tile work!

Side note…if the area needing to be leveled is high instead of sunken, you may need to sand/chip down the area or raise the floor level of the whole room. If you are unsure about the thickness of the cement flooring and the ability to rough sand down an area don’t proceed! Always contact a professional if you aren’t sure about the integrity of the space you are working on.

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How to: Remove an Old Toilet

How To: Remove an Old Toilet

Here are very basic step by step instructions for removing an old toilet…for when you find yourself in need of upgrading your porcelain throne, remodeling your bathroom, or fixing a leak. (Please excuse the black floors – these were taken in the beginning of the renovation process)

Step 1: Identify the offending toilet in need of removal.

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Step 2: Find the water shut off valve behind the toilet. Turn the water off.

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Step 3: Remove the lid from the tank on the back of your toilet and flush the toilet to allow the water to drain.

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Step 4: With your dollar store rubber gloves on and a large dollar store sponge- soak up the remaining water in the bottom of the tank and empty it into a bucket.

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Step 5: There will be water still in the bowl from flushing the tank. Use your handy-dandy plunger to plunge the bulk of the water out of the toilet before going in with the sponge to soak up the rest.

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Step 6: Squeeze out all the excess water into your bucket, and admire your empty ready to be removed toilet.

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Step 7: Disconnect your water line from the bottom of the tank (place your bucket under the valve if you weren’t able to get all of the water up with your sponge).

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Step 8: Remove the bolts from the base of the toilet and use a utility knife or multi-tool to cut the seal around the base of the toilet (many times it is simply a thin layer of silicone).

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Step 9: Call in the muscle! (If you are taking the toilet out on your own and don’t think you can lift it whole, you can separate the tank from the base and remove each portion one at a time.) Rock the toilet back and forth in order to break the wax seal between the toilet and the drain. Then pick that bad boy up and haul it away!

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Step 10. After you have removed the toilet, scrape around the drain to remove the old wax seal and prep the area for the new toilet. Finally place a rag into the drain opening (preferably an old rag or section of towel) to prevent sewer fumes from coming up the pipe and to prevent tools from falling into the hole. Make sure the rag is big enough to fit snug and not to simply fall down into the pipe.

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Congratulations you have just removed your very own toilet and by doing it yourself you just saved a bunch of hard earned cash!

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How to: Remove Laminate Flooring

How To: Remove Laminate Flooring

1. Identify the room you wish to change the flooring in.

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Step 2. Remove baseboards, decorative molding, etc from around the perimeter of the room (occasionally this may not be over the top of the laminate but you will want to pull it up anyway so you can place your new floor properly.)

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Step 3. Use a box cutter or multi-use tool to cut the silicone seal around the base of any fixture you are not removing before or at the same time as the flooring (these fixtures should however be removed prior to laying the new flooring. (It is never wise to lay new flooring around an existing fixture such as a toilet or sink. In the event of an accident or leak down the road having access to the base of these fixtures is very important.)

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Step 4. Using your same multi-use tool (I’m using my SHUR LINE 10 in 1 tool available at the local hardware store http://www.lowes.com/pd_178391-1077-07217_0__?productId=3018291 ) or utility knife start in the corner of the room furthest from the door. Cut a line straight out from the corner, use the edge of your multi-tool to get underneath the laminate flooring and lift along the cut area. Then grab with your gloved hand (It will be very sticky under the laminate) and pull.

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Step 5. Remove all laminate from the floor working toward the door so you don’t have to step on the adhesive under the laminate (which will stick to the bottom of your shoes and then come off somewhere else in your house you don’t want to find it). The laminate may come up in one piece if you are lucky…or if (like this room) the previous owners used black tar to adhere  the laminate to the subflooring you may be in for a bit more work. The laminate in this room was very difficult to peal up and I had to take it out in strips. Eventually I worked out a system where I would muscle up a piece large enough to hold on to and then I would squat and lean back so my backside could do the heavily lifting for me (What can I say it was one of those times I felt thankful for all that junk in my trunk lol). It was a lot more work than I expected but in the end I had a room free of laminate and ready for cleaning to start the tiling process!

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Step 6. Admire your laminate free floor before heading to the store to pick up adhesive remover.

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Side note…here is the other bathroom I have removed the laminate flooring in. In this room the previous owners used self sticking individual laminate squares. The adhesive on these is much less durable than the black tar adhesive used for large sheets of laminate…as a result these squares came up very easy. Simply place the tip of your multi-tool under the edge of each square and pop them up! A few stuck better than others, but on whole the process in this bathroom was very easy.

Congratulations you just removed your old laminate flooring!

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