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Holiday Food Safety

Here is a short list of food safety precautions to take during this holiday season.

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With the various fall and winter holidays upon us, we know everyone is busy. Here is a short list of food safety precautions to take during this holiday season. As always, enjoy the fun and have safe holidays this year.

Food Preparation:

  • Before cooking or preparing anything - wash your hands! In between working with different dishes - wash your hands!
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables. Even those with tough outer skins that you do not eat. When slicing these, the knife may pick up bacteria from the outer skin.
  • Thaw meats in the refrigerator overnight. Never leave them on the counter to defrost. If defrosting in the microwave, make sure the meat is cooked soon after.
  • If preparing a turkey, make sure it is completely thawed before cooking. Cooking a frozen turkey can lead to uneven cooking with the inside not being up to temperature. According to the FDA, a "20-pound turkey needs two to three days to thaw completely when thawed in the refrigerator at a temperature of no more than 40 degrees F. A stuffed turkey needs 4 ¼ to 5 ¾ hours to cook completely."
  • If marinating food then do so in the refrigerator - not on the counter! If you want to have extra marinade to use as a sauce later, make sure to separate a portion ahead of time. Never reuse marinating sauces!
  • Do not reuse any batter or breading that has touched raw meat.
  • Use one plate for raw meats and another clean plate to take cooked items to the serving area. Never use the same plate. The raw juices can contaminate your cooked meats and side dishes.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on kitchen projects. If you are faced with a grease fire, remember, put a lid on it, and turn the heat source off!
  • That evil mayo - did you know according to the Department of Health, it is not really the mayo that is making those deviled eggs a dangerous game of chance. Instead, it is the fact that when making cold salads usually the ingredients are mixed together when still warm creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Instead, chill all your ingredients separately before mixing them together.
  • Use ciders labeled as pasteurized, or bring unpasteurized cider to a boil before serving. This is especially important when serving cider to people with weakened immune systems.

At the Table:

  • So you have guests over and have set out a brunch style breakfast. If you have late risers, consider these times when leaving items such as milk or cooked meat on the table:
    - These foods are safe to leave out: Dry foods such as nuts, crackers, baked goods, breads, hard cheeses and candy don't support bacterial growth. Fruits, pickles, jams and jellies are too acidic for most bacteria.
    - Anything else should be discarded after sitting out for 2 hours.
    - To save milk or soy, make certain they are kept in the refrigerator instead of on the table.
    - An alternative is to keep cold items on ice. However, the ice will still need replacing every two hours or so.
  • Supply plenty of clean plates and utensils. Encourage guests to get a new plate if theirs has been sitting out as they waited between helpings.
  • Do not add new food to a serving dish that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.

The Cleanup:

  • Refrigerate any left over food within 2 hours of its initial serving. If the temperatures are higher, then 1 hour or earlier. Meat should be be kept hot for serving (140°F) and unused meat should be refrigerated immediately as it cools. If you have too much left over meat, make sure to freeze whatever you won't eat within the next 2 days.
  • Use leftover turkey meat, bones, stuffing, gravy and other cooked dishes within two to three days.
  • Cut up any leftovers before refrigerating so they may be spread out in a tray. For meats like roast beef, this helps to make sure the meat cools at the same rate.
  • Date leftovers - you'll appreciate it a week later when you've forgotten what food is from which feast.

Holiday Specific:

Turkey Fryers:

- Always use outdoors away from anything flammable. 
- Use on cement or stone surfaces - not on a wooden deck!
- Do not leave unattended. It is a very good idea to not have children and pets in the vicinity, better if they are inside. If they must be outside, make certain they are watched very carefully! Do not allow children and pets near the fryer as it cools after use either.
- Make certain the turkey is thawed before cooking - water and oil don't mix!
- Check the oil temperature frequently and immediately shut off if the oil begins to smoke. 

Mail Ordered Food:
- If sending mail ordered food as a gift, let the recipient know so they may know to look for the package.
- If you receive any mail ordered food, make certain to check that items that should have been kept cool were packaged properly.

Candle Decorations:
- Do not use candles on evergreen or natural trimmings.
- Use nonflammable holders and make sure they are placed where they cannot be knocked over easily.
- Do not keep candles lit in rooms that is not occupied/supervised.
- Check your candles as they burn. Some will burn unevenly and may finish sooner than you expected.
- Do not leave children unattended around candles and matches/lighters.

More

USDA Food Safety - Cooking a Turkey 
ttp://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Countdown_to_the_Holiday/index.asp

USDA Food Safety Ask Karen
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/food_safety_education/ask_karen/index.asp#Question

USDA Cooking for Groups
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Cooking_for_Groups.pdf

RI Food Safety Education - Kitchen Thermometers
http://www.uri.edu/ce/ceec/food/factsheets/therm.html

More Spooky Vacations

Haunted Hotels, Inns and Castles!

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Today thrill seekers can go skydiving, cliff jumping, white water rafting or paragliding, just to name a few. Looking for a little adventure, but it's too wet outside to play? Why not snuggle indoors and thrill your imagination with a haunted vacation? Many hotels, inns, and even castles offer spooky weekend getaways. Perhaps a friendly ghost will fold your clothes and lay them out on the bed; a mischievous one might turn on the lights and radio at 2:00AM; or perhaps one with a chip on his shoulder might give you a little "bump in the night" to remind you he's there. You might find it a good laugh or a little fun to shake up the fall and winter humdrums. Below we have expanded a short list of haunted places to stay. We tried to collect from across the US and added in a few international destinations just in case you wanted a ghost with an accent! Enjoy and have some fun! International Haunts: Ireland: Ross Castle | United Kingdom - England: The Feathers Hotel | Scotland: Comlongon Castle | Wales: Ruthin Castle Alabama - Birmingham: The Tutwiler Hotel The History: The original hotel was built in 1914. This hotel was the grandest in the south for its age. Financed by Colonel Tutwiler, its luxury was meant to entice the American and Steel Institute to host its annual convention in Birmingham. Although the original hotel was imploded in 1974, the Ridgley Apartments, also owned by Tutwiler at their inception, was renovated in 1986 as the new Tutwiler Hotel. Either way, the good Colonel owned these buildings, and wanted to keep them for good... The Haunting: Colonel Tutwiler himself haunts this establishment. As long as you mind your P&Qs he will generally leave you alone. He likes to turn on the lights and stoves every night. The staff learned that if they politely ask him to turn everything off, he has been quite obliging. Of course after a renovation in 2007, there does not seem to be as much ghostly activity. Or perhaps the Colonel is just biding his time... How to see it: Although this building is about a century old, it recently received a $9.2 million facelift in 2007 - so all the creature comforts are here. To spend the night, click here. Alaska - Anchorage: Historic Anchorage Hotel The History: The original Anchorage Hotel was established in 1916. In 1936, an Annex was added to accommodate the growing population of visitors. It is this Annex that is now the current hotel and was recently renovated in 1989. Some of the most famous guests include Will Rogers, Wiley Post and artist Sydney Laurence. The Haunting: This is the place to "see" a lot of ghost happenings. Supposedly specters are seen in the halls and objects like to move on their own. TVs turn on and off and faucets are left running by the spirited guests. There is not a particular story other than an abandoned bride, who took her own life when her husband-to-be got cold feet. There is also reportedly a man who walks up and down the stairs, but his reason for staying around is unknown. How to see it: Although a ghost log is not available online, it is rumored to exist - why not check it out in person. All the modern amenities are available to guests. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Arizona - Jerome: Jerome Grand Hotel The History: Built in 1926, this building was originally the United Verde Hospital. The hospital was built to be fireproof and withstand blasts from the dynamite mining nearby. One of the best hospitals in the west, it unfortunately was phased out when the mining in the area began to slow down and closed by 1950. The building stood empty until 1994; it had been a time capsule and was unchanged for 44 years. It is now being restored as a hotel with many of the rooms already completed and open for guests. The Haunting: Being a hospital, there were many patients that perished in its walls. However, there were deaths of two orderlies that many believed was murder. There is also one recorded suicide. When the building lay dormant for 44 years, locals claimed they would still see lights burning in the vacant building. Since being reopen, more paranormal activities have been noticed. The most common is for guests to feel temperature drops and hear coughing or labored breathing in empty rooms or corners of their own guestroom. One ghost is said to be a woman who died in childbirth. She is upset that her child was buried in an unmarked grave and prowls the grounds looking for the babe. How to see it: You may stay in the hotel today. Room rates begin at $110 and go up from there. Being the highest point in the Verde Valley, it offers some great views. And if you're lucky, maybe a glance at a ghost or two! To spend the night, click here. Arkansas - Eureka Springs: Crescent Hotel The History: Founded in 1886, the Crescent Hotel started its career as a sleek and elegant hideaway for the Victorian wealthy. However, not able to stay afloat the hotel closed. It was reopened in 1908 as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. But this school closed in 1924. In 1937 it was opened as a hospital and health resort. Norman Baker claimed to have a cure for cancer but was met with scrutiny as it came to light that he had no medical education. He was later imprisoned on mail fraud. It wasn't until 1946 that efforts were made to reestablish the hotel. The Haunting: Perhaps the fresh spring water under the hotel attracts spirits thirsting for a little human interaction. This hotel has many different haunted areas from guest rooms, to the lobby, to the grounds. Guests have seen a women in the hall, a tall man knocking on the doors, and former cancer patients and nurses to name a few. A long list of guest experiences can be found at the hotel's ghost website. How to see it: The hotel offers history tours for groups of 10 or more. Ghost tours are available by Eureka Springs Ghost Tours. For reservations and more information click here. California - San Diego: Hotel Del Coronado The History: Babcock and Story built this resort to be the "talk of the Western world" in 1888. Since then it was visited by presidents, foreign dignitaries, celebrities and heroes like Charles Lindbergh and Thomas Edison. The hotel was famous as a backdrop for "Some Like It Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The Haunting: According to the hotel website, the tales of ghosts started with the untimely death of Kate Morgan. She was a guest in November 1892 that never left. She came to meet her estranged husband but he never showed. Kate was then found dead on the hotel steps leading to the ocean. She died of a gunshot wound to the head that was officially deemed a suicide. To this day some speculate it was murder. She likes to slam doors and randomly turn on the TV. Some have also seen an indentation in the sheets as if someone was sleeping there. There are other ghosts in the hotel as well that love to flicker the lights, provide cold spots and make some random noises. How to see it: Of course you can stay at this stunning resort and enjoy the spa, golf course, pool or take some surfing lessons. To find out more click here (Kate's room was 312, then renumbered to 3312 and now to 3327 - check with staff to verify your request). Long Beach: The Queen Mary The History: Her maiden voyage was May 27, 1936 but with the coming of WWII she was refitted and used as a troop ship housing 5500 souls by May 5, 1940. By the end of the war she was used to transport as many as 12,886 war brides and children from Europe to the U.S. and Canada on six voyages in four months. More war bride voyages would follow. It became a cruise ship in 1963. By 1967 it was purchased for Long Beach, CA to act as restaurant and museum with the first hotel rooms opening in 1972. The Haunting: The first class swimming pool has the most recorded ghost sightings and noises. Many women dressed in 1930 swimsuits have been sighted. But the spirits like to wander and have been seen in many parts of the ship - especially the engine room where two men were crushed to death by the heavy "Door 13". Those who take the self-guided walking tour of the ship have been spooked more than once! How to see it: Brave enough? Click here to find out how to spend the night and sign up for one of the Attractions @ Night tours including the Paranormal Shipwalk Tour, the Paranormal Investigation Tour, the Dining with the Spirits (Dinner and Tour), or the Twilight Historical Tour. The tours are technically enhanced to make certain you get a few jumps and spooks. The hotel also hosts a 'Terrorfest' of haunted mazes on Halloween. Colorado - Estes Park: The Stanley Hotel The History: Six miles from the Rocky Mountain National Park, this hotel has amazing views and offers a serene escape. F.O. Stanley created this hotel after moving to the west when forced to by poor health. Besides the hotel he helped to create the sewer, power and water supply for the area. A recent claim to fame is that a stay in this hotel inspired Stephen King's The Shining. The Haunting: Both F.O. and his wife Flora haunt the hotel. They are amicable ghosts that enjoy hanging about the rooms they loved so much such as the Billiard room and Ballroom. Rooms 407 and 418 have reputed activity of lights going on and off, noises and of course rascally kids playing in the nearby hallway. One story relates some guests checked out early as the kids playing in the hall kept them up all night. When the hotel staff looked at the register there were not any kids as guests (at least not any live ones!). How to see it: Not only can you spend the night but you can sign up for a Historic Ghost Tour that tells you all the history that has created a haunted playground. The hotel has fun with the reputation, click here for more information. Connecticut - New London: Lighthouse Inn The History: Originally known as Meadow Court, this home was a summer retreat for Charles Guthrie. Built in 1902, it was turned into an Inn in 1927. Among such famous guests as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford was Harry Rodvogin, a resident artist who lived at the Inn after his old friends Bill and Al Ronnick spotted him painting portraits on the street. Rodvogin is now recognized for the paintings he created and you can see his work in the local museums. The Haunting: One guest who hasn't left is the spirit of a bride who died falling down the main stairway on her wedding day. But she is rather harmless, she hangs out in guestrooms reading a book or walks around the halls looking a bit forlorn. Strange noises are also heard around the Inn on occasion but shouldn't disrupt a good nights sleep. How to see it: This Inn is now a resort offering such amenities as its own private beach and in-room spa services. To make your reservations, click here. Delaware - Bethany Beach: The Addy Sea The History: Built in 1902 by John Addy, this Inn was originally a family residence. After a wicked storm in 1927, the house was actually moved further back from the seashore. The original foundations were used as a BBQ pit and hang out until they were covered by sand over time. John Addy was a plumbing supplier and made the Addy house and his neighbors homes some of the most efficient and convenient in the area. This made it popular when it first became a boarding house in 1935. The boarding house was run by the Addy family until it was sold in 1975. The Haunting: Room 1 had a haunted copper tub - well until it went missing. The original Victorian tub was originally used by the Addy family. During renovations in the 1980s the tub was stored in a garage but went missing. The thief may have gotten more then they expected as the bathtub is supposedly haunted and rocks and shakes violently at times. But no fear, even with the haunted bathtub gone, there are still specters wandering the halls, random sounds and footsteps, strange whiffs of perfume and even haunting music all keeping the place "spiritually" active. How to see it: Enjoy the Victorian trappings, walk the beach or sit on the veranda on a rocking chair - who knows, maybe the empty one next to you will rock too? To find out more about staying, click here. Florida - St Petersburg: Renaissance Vinoy Hotel The History: Built in 1925, this resort quickly became a popular hotspot for the who's who of Hollywood and the sports world. After WWII the hotel was sold and became a St Petersburg social center, however it started to decline and was closed in 1974. After an extensive $93 million renovation in the late 1990s, the hotel was able to reopen with its original splendor and the ghosts came out to play. The Haunting: This hotel has ghosts aplenty that like to bug staff and guests alike. However, many of the stories of tragic fires and suicides are not seen in the hotels history. But that doesn't stop the ghosts from coming. Scott Williamson of the Cincinnati Reds tells a chilling tale of being pushed down into his bed by a male ghost from the past who shared the same last name! Other baseball players and coaches have reported seeing apparitions, randomly opening doors, faucets with minds of their own and even paintings coming to life - to name a few - for the full tales, click here. Of course I like the story of the historian giving a tour to a group of kids. When asked if the place is haunted, the historian said the 5th was supposedly. On cue, the elevator they were in suddenly went to the 5th floor and opened to an empty hall, no one was there and there is no explanation about why the elevator went there. Recently the TV show Ghost Hunters on SyFy reviewed this hotel. A clip of it may be seen at YouTube, click here. How to see it: Now owned by Marriott, you can learn more about accommodations and fun local activities (including a private marina and an on-site golf course) by clicking here. Georgia - Savannah: 17-hundred-90 Inn The History: This inn was actually built in 1820, not 1790. First a boarding house and later an inn, this home has had many owners and guests. One of these guests was Anne Powell. The legend says she was unhappily married at sixteen to an Englishman. She fell in love with a German sailor who left her "in the family way." She watched his boat sail away and then committed suicide by jumping from the window, landing on the brick pavement below. The Haunting: Anne Powell is the most famous ghost, believed to haunt guest room 204 from where it is said she jumped to her death. She doesn't seem to be a menacing spirit: she sits beside the fire, lays out guests' clothes on the bed or plays pranks on guests waking them up in wee hours of the morning by setting off the radio alarm. Another ghost in the basement kitchen and restaurant doesn't like women very much and likes to shove them around. But this ghost is countered by the ghost of a merchant marine who will help the staff turn the lights off at closing. How to see it: Savannah ghost tours stop here for a drink but you can go to the restaurant yourself and have a bite to eat. Or if you really dare, spend the night instead - ask for room 204! Savannah: Kehoe House The History: This home was built in 1892 for William Kehoe and his family. The large family (they had 10 children!) kept the home until 1930. After that the home became a boarding house, funeral parlor, and a private residence. In 1992 the home opened as a B&B, it changed ownership in 2003, but remains an inn with a B&B atmosphere. The Haunting: The main tragedy of the house (that we know of) was the death of the Kehoe twins who died when playing around the chimney. Children can be heard running the halls and some guests have even had children check in on them in their rooms. But if you don't see the children, their mother Annie is reputed to still wander the rooms, making sure to tuck in all the guests at night! How to see it: Why not spend the night? Ask for rooms 201 or 203. For more information, click here. Hawaii - Kailua-Kona: King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel The History: King Kamehameha lived on this same site until his death in 1819. The hotel just recently went through a major remodel in 2008 - perhaps the ghosts like the new surroundings? The Haunting: Guests claim to have seen or heard an ancient warrior on the upper floor of this hotel. He seems to shout want guests describe as "war cries." King Kamehameha spent his last years on this property and may be buried on the grounds or under the hotel itself. How to see it: This hotel is proud of its surrounding history and displays portraits and artifacts from past Hawaiian royalty and warriors alike. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Idaho - Boise: Owyhee Plaza Hotel The History: Yikes - built in 1910 is about all we could find. So we'll guess that the ghosts are the garden variety scorned lovers, accident prone brides/grooms, restless owners or ex-staff that can't leave or something along those lines ;) The Haunting: Guests who stay in the main building have reported seeing spirits in their rooms. Staff have seen ghosts run though other areas such as meeting rooms and in the basement. How to see it: Unfortunately, there are not that many haunted hotels in Idaho. So don't miss you chance to check one out in every state and make the Owyhee Plaza your next stop! Click here for more information. Illinois - Okawville: Original Springs Mineral Spa & Hotel The History: In 1867 a saddler named Rudolph Plegge noticed water from his well wasn't "normal." After various tests it was discovered to be a spring with magnesia in the water. Plegge used the springs to launch a healing bath much like the ones he knew from Baden Baden, Germany. However, a real hotel wasn't built until 1885. Sadly, in 1892 all the buildings burned. The hotel was rebuilt with the latest and greatest and has undergone several renovations. Continuing as a Mineral Spa, guests were encouraged to drink up (the water) for their good health. The Haunting: Guests have seen ghosts in their rooms. Staff sometimes hear unexplained noises in empty rooms or feel like they are being watched. There are two suicides in the hotel's history and another owner was found dead in one of the upstairs rooms. Charlie Birger and the Shelton brothers were gangsters who took a liking to the place in the 1920's - perhaps they liked it too much? There is also music that leaks through time and walls. Or maybe there is just something in the water... How to see it: Now the spa includes everything from Swedish message to pedicures. Want to check in? Click here to find out how. Indiana - Nashville: The Story Inn The History: This historic inn is located at the boarders of Brown County State Park and Hoosier National Forest. This inn and its collection of buildings is actually what remains of the town of Story that was established in 1851, set up as a lodging community. The Haunting: The Story Inn is haunted by a lady in blue who floats about the second floor of the general store that has been turned into guestrooms. There has also been activity in the restaurant below. A guestbook details the experiences of the spooked over the years. How to see it: Snuggle in for the night. If you don't want a ghost watching over you there are other cabins available in this small community. Click here to find out more. Iowa - Bentensport: Mason House Inn The History: This hotel was built in 1846 for steamboat travelers along the Des Moines River. Later, the Mason House was used as a 'holding hospital' during the Civil War for soldiers being transferred to Keokuk. It also served as a 'station' along the underground railroad. Mason House gets its name from the Mason family who owned the property for 99 years. The Haunting: Three of the owners have died in the building and there was also one murder in one of the guest rooms. In 1860 poor Mr. Knapp had been drinking and accidentally went to the wrong room. The occupant thought he was being robbed and stabbed Mr. Knapp in self-defense. The home had also been a 'holding hospital' in the Civil War and some patients may have died in the home. Also a Doctor renting a room in the 1940s died in the building. All in all, a great hangout for ghosts. The ghosts come in many forms. There are wisps of fog and cold spots to actual figures who appear and disappear from sight. There is a boy that plays tricks; he likes to rustle sheets and tug at guests as they sleep. There are footsteps, thuds and a woman in white. An abundance of ghosts and paranormal events for all! How to see it: Today you may stay at this B&B for about $80/night ($125 if you are staying in the restored caboose!). Request to stay in the main house on the 2nd floor (rooms 5 & 7) for the best chance of paranormal dreams! Ghost Hunting 101 and 102 classes are also available about twice a year and a Halloween Ghost Walk around Oct 31st. To spend the night, click here. Kansas - Beaumont: Beaumont Hotel The History: First opened as a stagecoach station in 1879, there has been bed and board here to care for weary travelers ever since. Of course when named the Summit Hotel in 1890, the cattle barons stayed indoors while the cowboys had to make camp outside. Later the hotel changed hands quite a few times but stayed open. In the 1950s an airstrip was added and flight enthusiasts still make the Beaumont a destination to visit today. The Haunting: Apparently it is a cowboy named Zeke who haunts the halls here. Legend has it that the hotel owner's wife ran a small brothel in the hotel. She became fond of one of her clients named Zeke. The husband found out it was not longer strictly business, became jealous, and shot Zeke dead. Zeke now likes to move furniture and set off alarm clocks in the middle of the night. Some have heard spurs jingling. And Zeke is one of those who likes to go "bump in the night" and has been heard thumping the walls now and then as well. How to see it: Not only equipped with its own airstrip, the hotel also sits next to a 10,000 acre cattle ranch. If you don't want to eat in the cafe indoors, take a wagon ride and try a campfire cookout. To find out more, click here. Kentucky - Bardstown: The Old Talbott Tavern The History: This establishment has been called the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. It started service in 1779 and reportedly boarded such famous tenants as Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James and even the French King Louis Phillipe. Used as a stagecoach and Pony Express station, it has seen a lot of coming and going. There was a large fire in 1998 which the hotel is still recovering from; however, they are still open for business. Amazingly, the fire uncovered underground tunnels, secret storage rooms and an old staircase that seems to go nowhere. The Haunting: People have reported seeing a women in a white dress - perhaps Mrs. Talbott herself. Another dark figure of a male has also been seen. The tragic deaths of the Talbott children may lead to some of the energy present. Out of 12 children, 4 died of illness, one died falling down the stairs and another took her life because of a broken heart. There are many pranks that happen such as keys being hidden or items moved around. Others have seen mist form in rooms. How to see it: This hotel has fun with its reputation and offers a Ghost Hunting Getaway Weekend with local ghost chaser Patti Star. Patti worked as the hotel's manager for three years and has become very well acquainted with the "residents." If you want to stay always book ahead, only five rooms are available. To book, click here. Louisiana - New Orleans: Magnolia Mansion The History: This home was built in 1857 by Alexander Harris. After Alexander died of yellow fever his widow remarried and sold the home to the Maginnis family. John Maginnis owned a cotton mill and it was whispered he was struck by lightning because of the cruel way he treated his employees. In 1939, John's daughter inherited the home and willed it to the Red Cross. The Red Cross used the home to train nurses for WWII and the Korean War. In 1954 the home was again sold into private ownership. Magnolia Mansion was renovated in 2001 and opened as a B&B in 2002. The Haunting: When renovating the home, the crew had to stop as an oily substance appeared over the walls. The owner then verbalized her plans for the place out loud so the ghosts would know exactly what she was up to. She told them she was improving the home and the ghosts would not be able to scare the guests away. This appeased them for awhile. However, ghosts are still reputed to slam doors and snuggle into bed with guests on occasion. Many guests have photos of orbs and a few extra faces from their visits as well. How to see it: This adult catering B&B offers a great escape to any non-smoker over 21 years of age. Specializing in romance with Elopement and Wedding packages, the B&B also has fun with their ghosts offering a Romantic Ghostly Getaway Package which includes a room, treats and ghost walking tours. For more information, click here. St Francisville: Myrtles Plantation The History: This home was built by David Bradford in 1794 but stories of haunting did not start until the 1950's. The house had a long history with many different owners. There is only one recorded murder of William Winter in 1871. However, there are many tales that are told about the home to justify the haunting. Most of these seem to be fabricated tales, but many say that is just because the house is so haunted, people needed to make up some kind of explanation. The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a woman in a green turban who some believe to be the ghost of a slave killed for poisoning the head mistress and her two daughters. Others claim this ghost is not a young slave but an older, unknown woman. There is also a little girl who has appeared as well as a frustrated piano player who continuously practices the same cord over and over on the old piano. How to see it: You can dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night. The choice is up to you. Click here for more information. Maine - Searsport: Watchtide The History: Built in the early 1790s, ownership transferred to Brigadier General Henry Knox in 1794. He was a trusted ally to George Washington and was the first Secretary of War for the U.S. After General Knox sold the property, it went through many owners, many of them sea captains who were involved in the shipping industry of the area. The house was an inn starting in 1917 to the 1940s when it then became a private home again. In 1994, the inn reopened and is still family operated today. The Haunting: Guests and a previous owner have reported seeing phantoms in period appropriate dress floating around the home. There are reports of music heard without a "source." Footsteps have also been heard. However, the new B&B owner says there does not seem to be as much activity of late. Perhaps it was the recent remodel that chased away or appeased the spirits. How to see it: Recently renovated, this B&B offers a great quiet getaway as well as easy access to many of the great sites around Maine. To make your reservation, click here. Maryland - Baltimore: Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore The History: This Art Deco building was built in 1928. The hotel was named after George Calvert, Lord Baltimore who was the founder of the Maryland colony. This hotel was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and although it has modern amenities, it keeps its historic setting with elegant furnishings and murals. The Haunting: There is a young girl in a cream dress and black shoes that has been spotted playing with a red ball or crying in the guestrooms. Supposedly a women committed suicide on the 19th floor. The elevator will go between the 19th floor and lobby with no one there to push the buttons. How to see it: To make your reservation and check in for the night, click here. Massachusetts - Fall River: Lizzy Borden House The History: As with so many haunted homes, this story begins with a murder. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered by ax in their home. Their eldest daughter, Lizzy, was tried and latter acquitted of the murders. However, she was ostracized from the community for the rest of her life. Some consider that she had a split personality, even those close to her recall erratic and violent behavior. And of course there was the creation of the rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an ax Gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done Gave her father forty-one! The Haunting: There is a strange woman who tucks guests into bed and perhaps the same woman can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment such as lights and cameras have some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom - which you can stay in if you want... How to see it: The home is now a bed and breakfast. You may spend the night, take a tour or even spend a weekend at Ghost Hunter University! To find out more, click here. Michigan - Marquette: The Landmark Inn The History: Although the hotel was started in 1917, it was not finished until 1930 as various investors worked things out. (It was during this time that legend has it the brothel girl met her untimely end - see below.) The hotel closed in 1982 as it was sadly outdated, however, after a large renovation project, it reopened in 1995. The Haunting: A 30 year old librarian was saved from spinsterhood when she fell in love with a sailor who worked on the ore boats. However, his boat was caught in a storm and all died. The librarian, who was staying at the Landmark Inn with him until they could be wed, refused to eat and soon after died. She now is often seen on the 6th floor, looking out the window for her love to return. During the construction of the hotel (1917-1930!), a makeshift brothel and bar were open. It was thought one of the girls was using her time with the men to influence their politics. Enraged, a drunk patron killed her and disposed of her body in an unfinished section of the hotel. She can still be heard crying for someone to dig her out. The lilac room seems to have the most activity for guests. In fact, even when the room is not rented, the phone from the room calls the front desk, with nothing to say.... How to see it: Stay in the lilac room if you're brave. Or have a drink in the haunted North Star lounge. To find out more, click here. Minnesota - Annandale: Thayer's Historic B&B The History: The Thayer Inn was already established when Gus Thayer and his wife Caroline settled in to manage the place around 1889. The B&B was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Haunting: Both Gus and Caroline haunt the place. Gus will leave pennies for guests. A picture of Caroline is said to change depending on her mood. There are also ghost cats that nibble at your feet and make a general mess with yarn. How to see it: Having a lot of fun with its haunted guests, this B&B offers ghost tours, mystery dinners and is owned by a psychic! Instead of spa services, you can order from a laundry list of psychic services from palm reading to past life regressions. To find out more, click here. Mississippi - Natchez: Monmouth Plantation The History: Originally built in 1818, the mansion was purchased by General Quitman, a Mexican War hero, in 1826. The home was almost burned to the ground during the Civil War when the Union won this area of Mississippi. However, Quitman's daughters pleaded loyalty to the Union to save their home (their father was a staunch secessionist). The house stayed in the family until 1914. The home then went into disrepair until it was recently restored after 1978. The Haunting: The General himself stomps around the halls and makes many feel his presence as guests and staff cannot shake the thought that someone is staring at them. He also shows up as a specter to let all know he has an eye on things. Since the new owners have restored the home to its antebellum decor, there seems to be less stomping by the imposing General. How to see it: Regardless of the haunts, this hotel offers luxury accommodation and a great escape. To find out more, click here. Missouri - St. Louis: Lemp Mansion The History: This house was purchased by William Lemp around 1864 to use as a residence and office for the family brewery. William's father had used a family recipe/method to create a lager beer. This beer quickly became popular and William's father abandoned his grocery store to become a full time brewer. The beer continued to be made by the family until 1922 when family mishap and prohibition forced them to shut down and sell for good. The mansion itself has a sorrowful history with one brother dying under mysterious circumstances and three other men of the family committing suicide inside. The Haunting: With three suicides one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion started. However, the families odd history also adds fuel to the imagination. There is the rumor that William Lemp had an illegitimate son with down syndrome who was kept hidden in the mansion attic his whole life. He is now said to be seen haunting the mansion and has the nickname "Monkey Face Boy." Tales of haunting first started after 1949 when the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Strange knocking and footsteps throughout the mansion scared the tenants away so the house started to run into disrepair. In 1975, the mansion was saved and renovated and turned into a restaurant and inn. All types of sights and sounds have continued and are still reported today. How to see it: Spend the night! Or take a tour if you're too scared... The mansion is a bed and breakfast that offers tours and a restaurant to those who don't want to spend the night. They also host a Halloween Party and Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. To find out more click here. Montana - Pray: Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa The History: In 1894 Percie and Bill Knowles inherited a home near the hot springs and opened their doors as a boarding house as there were not any accommodations in the area yet. They built a hotel in 1900. In 1912, Percie teamed with Dr. Townsend and turned the hotel into a hospital. It would remain a hospital until the 1940s when it would begin to change hands. In 1974, it was renovated and again opened as a B&B. The Haunting: There is a woman in white who likes to wander the halls and spook the security guards. She also likes room 349 where she makes sure the rocking chair is always facing the window. Many think it is Percie making certain everyone is minding their manners and running her hotel/hospital efficiently. How to see it: Relax your spooked nerves in the day spa or natural hot springs. Or get some more adventure on a trail ride or a dog sled trek in the winter. To find out more, click here. Nebraska - Chadron: Olde Main Street Inn The History: This hotel was built at the end of the 19th century. Over a hundred years old it is now a family run (3 generations) B&B who first took ownership in 1969. The most famous story associated with the hotel is that it housed General Nelson Miles and his men before the Wounded Knee Massacre in December of 1890. The Haunting: There is a heavy footed ghost named Jack who stomps up and down the halls and stairs. General Nelson Miles and his men stayed here before the Wounded Knee Massacre. He was a pacer - perhaps the footsteps are Nelson's and not Jack's. How to see it: You can grab a drink at the saloon or stay the night. To find out more, click here. Nevada - Gold Hill: Gold Hill Hotel The History: Most likely this hotel was built in 1859 and is considered the oldest hotel in Nevada. Early in the 1860s the hotel was expanded as business was booming around the combined gold mining towns of Gold Hill and Virginia City. The boom ended after the 1870s and by 1930 only a few hundred people lived in this area. The Gold Hill Hotel fell into disrepair after the 1950s and went through major renovation in 1986. The Haunting: Being so close to the mine shafts, it is believed many of the miner spirits still visit the hotel. The nearby Yellow Jacket mineshaft opens right next to the hotel. A fire in 1873 killed 37 miners in this shaft. Footsteps are heard, and strong smells of cigar smoke and rose water perfume are often present with ghosts William and Rosie respectively. How to see it: This hotel offers rooms as well as lodges made from older buildings around the hotel. Take your pick and enjoy! To find out more, click here. New Hampshire - Durham: Three Chimneys Inn The History: The Three Chimneys Inn was built in 1649 as a residence for Valentine Hill. The home was used during the Revolutionary War to house munitions stolen from the British. The house stayed relatively privately owned and within about four different families. Extensive renovations were done recently in the 1990s. The Haunting: It is possible one of the ghosts is that of Hill's daughter, Hannah, who drowned nearby. Hannah seems to like to hang out in the dining areas and there is an unidentified gentleman spirit that hangs out there as well. The spirits here like to play with electrical equipment - many things just don't work in certain rooms. Furniture will be heard moving about in guestrooms where no one is staying. Also, there will be music heard from the dining rooms. The gentleman has been heard stomping around pacing and one of the spirits even shattered a water glass in the dining hall while dinner was being served. How to see it: Although built in the 17th century, you won't have to rough it here. An elegant stay along the coast and you might get to meet Hannah as well. Click here for more information. New Jersey - Ocean City: Flanders Hotel The History: This hotel was built in 1923 by prominent citizens in Ocean City. This hotel was the luxury accommodations on the boardwalk. The investors were hit hard in the Great Depression and the hotel was bought out by Elwood Kirkman in 1932. After a change of hands, the hotel was considered for a retirement community. However, this was opposed and the hotel stayed and instead was remodeled in 1996 and reopened in 1997. Some of the famous who have stayed at the hotel include Grace Kelley and Jimmy Stewart. The Haunting: Emily is the name of the resident ghost who likes to walk through walls and mess with the lighting. She can sometimes even be heard singing. If she is not signing, she may be spotted hanging around the grand piano or walking through the hall of mirrors. Overall, she seems happy to have all the company. How to see it: Come stay for a visit and enjoy the suites, ocean, boardwalk, and ghosts. For more information, click here. New Mexico - Santa Fe: La Fonda Hotel The History: Records show that a hotel, Fonda, was established here by the Spanish as early as 1607. With the establishment of the Sante Fe Trail in 1821, the hotel became a welcome destination at its end. The original structure is gone but the hotel that sits there now was built in 1922 and has been hosting weary travelers just the same but with a lot more elegance and comfort. The Haunting: This hotel has a selection of ghosts. There are various ghosts that stomp up and down hallways and stairways. There is the gambler who committed suicide by jumping in a well - the well now filled and covered doesn't stop the ghost from disappearing into the floor where he jumps again and again. There is also a young bride who haunts, wouldn't you know it, the wedding suite. Many of the ghosts for this hotel like to be seen, not just heard, as all ghosts have appeared visually at some point another. How to see it: Located in downtown Sante Fe, this hotel offers a great home port for touring. While touring about the town, perhaps you can explore a haunted corner as well! To find out more, click here. New York - Bolton Landing: The Sagamore The History: This hotel was originally built in 1883 to provide a getaway on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains. This historic building suffered two fires but was reconstructed in 1930. The resort was meant to be a retreat for the wealthy and is still neighbored by palatial mansions across the lake. The Haunting: This hotel has many ghosts including one of a little boy on the golf course! This boy chased balls and sold them when alive. He died in a tragic accident when he was hit by a car running after a ball. Now his shadowy form can be seen running after golf balls on the course. He likes to steal balls and laugh at golfers as they look for them. When they give up he tosses the ball at them, again, laughing. Other ghosts include the guest who come down from the second floor for dinner every night and wait patiently in the reception area before they literally vanish. Then there is the portly cigar smoker in the elevator who may not appreciate the non-smoking policy these days. How to see it: You can stay in the hotel, vacation lodges or a castle (if you have the cash!). Click here to plan your stay! North Carolina - Chapel Hill: The Carolina Inn The History: Owned by UNC, this inn was built by a UNC graduate in 1924. Throughout its history it has been used by the campus to host conferences, guests and alumni. Today the proceeds from the inn are given to the university library. The Haunting: Professor William Jacocks likes to haunt room 252. Although guests do claim to have encounters with the professor, the hotel staff say he has never frightened anyone to the point of packing their bags and running. Instead he is a friendly ghost who plays pranks such as holding the doorknobs so rooms won't open, rustling papers, and making the occasional noise. Some claim there are additional ghosts walking the halls and looming over their shoulder, but always more curious than menacing. How to see it: You can spend the night in this historic hotel; for more information click here. North Dakota - Anamoose: Sage Hill Bed & Breakfast The History: First opened in 1928, known as "White School," this bed and breakfast started history as a primary school. This model school set an example for the area. It used wind power and offered students hot meals and warm showers. The teachers and bus drivers stayed on site. There were two horse barns onsite to house the horses that pulled the school bus/wagons. At its peak, there were 100 students enrolled. The school closed in 1968 because of lack of enrollment. The Haunting: Legend has it that a superintendent and student died in a fire caused by a coal burning stove. The superintendent smoked cigars and the smell of cigar smoke still hangs in the air at times. Objects like to move by themselves around here and lights and even toilets work on their own. How to see it: Sage Hill was recently converted to a bed and breakfast by the current owners in 1996. Even remodeled, it has the feel of the old schoolhouse. Want to spend the night? To find out more, click here. Ohio - Granville: The Buxton Inn The History: Orrin Grainger opened "The Tavern" in 1812. This place has been a host to guests continuously ever since. The hotel's namesake, General Buxton, purchased the hotel in 1865 and gave the hotel a reputation for friendly service. In 1972, the current owners, Orville and Audrey Orr, helped keep the building from being demolished for a parking lot. Instead, the hotel was renovated and other old buildings in the neighborhood were also rescued. Famous guests have included President William H. Harrison, President Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, to recent celebrities such as Yoyo Ma and Jennifer Garner. The Haunting: A lot of the previous owners haunt the place. Grainger himself was spotted in the 1920s. Many of the ghosts here like to be seen and can be spotted roaming the main hall or sitting in the tavern. They sometimes like to make some noise as well and their voices have been caught on tape. Prefer animals? This inn is haunted by its very own ghost cat! How to see it: Whether you want to step into history and stay at Ohio's oldest continuously opened inn or if you want to play peek and boo with some ghosts, this is the getaway for you. For more information, click here. Oklahoma - Guthrie: The Stone Lion Inn The History: F.E. Houghton built this mansion in 1907. It served most of its years as a residence and later was turned into a funeral home. The only person to die in the home seems to be a young girl who died of whooping cough after receiving the wrong medicine. The Haunting: After turning this mansion into an inn, the new owners woke up at night to the sounds of footsteps and doors opening and closing. They called the police but no intruder was found. Soon after they realized they had their first "guest" who may be a small girl as she likes to take out the toys at night to play. How to see it: Ready for some fun? From a murder mystery night or perhaps a chance to see a real ghost, click here for more information about how to stay. Oregon - Yachats: Heceta House The History: This house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast built in 1894. Many families occupied the house/complex over time which included a post office, school and the light house. But it is only the keeper's house that has tales of haunting. Many believe this is the mother of a child who fell off the cliffs back at the turn of the century. The Haunting: The ghost named Rue is said to be an extra caretaker of the house. She makes it known if she is displeased with any activity in the house. One of the more humorous accounts was of her screaming in the middle of a card game, she didn't want them playing cards in her house! How to see it: This house is now a bed and breakfast. It also has guided tours from its interpretive center. Although the current owners don't play up and advertise the ghost, they have said guests have told them of strange encounters. To spend the night click here. Pennsylvania - Gettysburg: Farnsworth House Inn The History: A house was built here in 1810 and later changed to brick in 1833. During the Civil War, the Sweeney family lived in the home and the Confederates used the home as a shelter for their sharpshooters. The current owners purchased the home in 1972 and have worked on renovating the home keeping the early 19th century feel and history. The Haunting: Many ghosts haunt this home. Including Confederate soldiers who like to move furniture and stomp around the attic. Another soldier has been spotted carrying his wounded comrade to the cellar. He is heard singing to his dying friend as well. Mary, a midwife, likes to tend to anyone who is sick or distressed and may sit down on the bed next to anyone who seems to need the company. There is a small boy who died in a carriage accident out front and his grieving father who also haunt the halls. How to see it: Whether a Civil War enthusiast who needs a place to stay or interested in meeting some of the wandering spirits, this inn will fit the bill. This inn has fun with history providing ghost stories in their tours and theater shows. To find out more, click here. Rhode Island - Newport: Castle Hill Inn & Resort The History: The location for Castle Hill originally had a watch house as early as 1740 when it was used to watch the sea for ships during the war between Britain and Spain. The Americans used the same location during the Revolutionary War to bombard British ships as they passed. In 1874, Alexander Agassiz, an explorer and scientist settled here to better study the marine life. It was not only his home but a lab that housed research students as well. The Haunting: There is a girl spirit here who may have some connection to the original owner, Agassiz. She throws a bit of a tantrum now and then and has trashed some of the china on occasion. How to see it: This inn offers a luxury escape on the coast. For more information, click here. South Carolina - Charleston: The Battery Carriage House Inn The History: This house was built in 1843 for Samuel Stevens, a prominent lender in the area who helped local cotton farms finance their farms. In 1870, after the Civil War had ended local wealth in Charleston, Col. Lathers (of the Union Army) bought the home and had it remodeled to the current New York fashion, Second Empire. However, Col. Lathers was told he wasn't welcome in Charleston and sold the home in 1874 to Andrew Simonds, the great-great grandfather of the current owner. The Haunting: There is a gentleman ghost who may be the son of a former owner who jumped off the roof to commit suicide. But he is a gentle ghost and just seems to enjoy the company. There is also a headless torso who makes many feel threatened by his creepy appearance and moaning. He might be the ghost a pirate as some were executed close to the hotel. However it is just as likely he is a soldier from the Civil War. Some guests report seeing energy orbs or have electronics turn on when they are really off. Overall it seems rooms 8 and 10 have the most activity. How to see it: The owners of the hotel have not seen any of the ghosts themselves, but they don't mind if you want to try and catch a glimpse for yourself. Click here to find out more. South Dakota - Deadwood: Bullock Hotel The History: The Bullock Hotel was built in 1895 by Seth Bullock. Bullock had become Deadwood's first sheriff after James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock was killed in 1876 and the townspeople demanded some law and order. The hotel has since been remodeled and renovated to match the original as much as possible. The Haunting: Sheriff Bullock haunts his old hotel keeping an eye on things. Many guests and staff report feeling a presence of being watched and some have even spotted him in the restaurant and cellar. The sheriff often shows up when people are relaxing or humming - apparently not working hard enough. He then has a bit of a tantrum and throws dishes and glasses about. If he isn't throwing a tantrum, he also likes to mess with lights and other electronic devices. But if that doesn't get your attention, he may just tap you on the shoulder as you walk down the hall. How to see it: They have spruced up the hotel with all the modern amenities. Spend the night, play at the casino and have a beer with the ghost of Sheriff Bullock. For more information, click here. Tennessee - Chattanooga: Sheraton Read House Hotel The History: First named Crutchfield House, this hotel opened in 1847. Although the family was split about the war, the hotel was used by the Union during the Civil War. The hotel burned down in 1867 and was rebuilt. In 1926 the hotel was again destroyed (this time demolished on purpose) and rebuilt to what you see today. The Haunting: Legend has it that a Union soldier killed a prostitute in his room. However, the hotel burned in 1867, so perhaps it is not her ghost that is pestering people. Another story relates that it was the cheating wife who was killed by her husband in the 1920s. Regardless of where the ghost comes from, it seems to like room 311. You may have to specifically request this room as rumor has it the hotel only assigns the room as a last resort. How to see it: A hotel more interested in your comfort than ghosts, you should have a pleasant stay no matter who you "bump" into. To find out more, click here. Texas - Austin: Driskill Hotel The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened this hotel in 1886. The hotel was grand and luxurious, funded by his success as a cattle baron. In 1888, the family lost its fortune due to drought and a cold winter that killed most of the cattle. The hotel then changed from owner to owner with the most recent change of hands in 1995. The Haunting: Driskill is claimed to still wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke while he turns lights on and off. There is the ghost of a small girl, daughter of a Senator who was left unattended and fell to her death while playing with her ball - she can still be heard bouncing the ball today. How to see it: The hotel today offers all kinds of pampering. To find out more about staying, click here. Utah - Salt Lake City: McCune Mansion The History: This mansion was built in 1900 by a railroad tycoon named Alfred W. McCune. After leaving for California in 1920, the McCune's donated the mansion to the Latter-Day Saint Church. It was then turned into the McCune School of Music. It later became a Brigham Young University Salk Lake City Center and Virginia Tanner Modern Dance School. In 1999 it was purchased by Phil McCarthy who worked to restore the mansion and open it as a hotel. The Haunting: Music is said to still haunt the McCune halls. A small room under the stairs was used by the McCune's as a stage for hired musicians. The whole house would be filled with music but their guests did not know from where it came. It is said this music still fills the air from here. Other happenings include doors locking that are not fit with locks, doors opening on their own and lights going on and off on their own. How to see it: You can schedule a tour of the mansion through the Utah Heritage Foundation. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Vermont - Stowe: The Green Mountain Inn The History: This home was built in 1833 by Peter Lovejoy. The home changed hands and became a hotel in the later 19th century. Mark Lovejoy purchased the hotel in 1893 and renamed it The Green Mountain Inn. The inn stayed in service while having many different owners. In the 1980s massive renovations were done including the addition of clubhouses and townhouses with luxury suites. The Haunting: A tap dancer named Boots Berry haunts the third floor of this inn. Born in 1840, Boots was actually born in the servants quarters - now hotel room 302. He gained local notoriety after he stopped spooked horses from running away with the stagecoach. Boots was treated to one too many drinks and became a bit of an alcoholic and lost his job at the inn. Boots left the area and, as legend has it, was arrested in New Orleans where he learned to tap dance from his cellmate. After a life of a traveling vagrant he returned penniless. During a winter snow storm a girl was stranded on the roof of the inn. Since Boots was familiar with the area (right above the same servants quarters) he found a way to her and helped her to safety. He however slipped and fell to his death. Now it is said during winter storms you can hear Boots tap dancing on the third floor. How to see it: There is lot to do in the area and at the inn itself. Ice cream, chocolate and wine tasting - yes please! Click here to find out more. Virginia - Middletown: Wayside Inn The History: The Wayside Inn opened in 1797 acting in its early years as a stagecoach stop where travelers could get some rest and a hearty meal while the horses were changed. During the Civil War, the inn kept neutrality and served soldiers on both sides which probably helped to spare it from any real damage. The inn was renovated in the 1960s with modern amenities but added antiques to keep the history of the place. The new owners purchased the inn as recently as June 2009. The Haunting: Many of the ghosts here are soldiers from the Civil War. Both sides were welcome here and it seems liked their stay a little too much. The soldiers have been seen and also heard on occasion. Heavy footsteps or a conversation your not part of, just little things to let you know they are there. If you are going to stay, room 14 is said to have the most activity. How to see it: This inn offers old world charm with modern comforts. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Washington - Lakewood: Thornewood Castle The History: Thornewood Castle was built for Chester Thorne, a successful founder of the Port of Tacoma. This Tudor/Gothic estate was completed in 1911. Inspired by the estates in Britain, the stained glass windows were even imported from a castle in Europe. The castle has many different imports that add to the structure and contents of the building. One of the more interesting aspects is the "wishbone sticks" left by the Native American workers who helped in the construction. These sticks help to ward off evil and are found at the foundation in the basement. The Haunting: There are multiple photographs taken of orbs throughout the castle and reports of objects moving on their own. Tape recorders have picked up voices, one of an unknown child. One child did drown in the lake and is said to haunt its shore, perhaps they visit the house as well? Overall, the spirits at Thornewood seem to be a good natured sort. There is not a violent history attached to this home. Although the wife of Mr. Thorne is said to haunt the halls, this is more because she likes the place rather than she is out to get anyone. In fact, some believe Thornewood Castle acts as a vortex and can attract ghosts from the other side. Some guests have reported making contact with loved ones from their lives who have no connection with the castle. How to see it: You may stay in the castle as it is now a B&B. There are Candle Light Tours: for $100 and the cost of a room you can spend the night exploring the haunted halls with a small group of ghost hunters. To spend the night, click here. West Virginia - Parkersburg: Blennerhassett Hotel The History: William Chancellor designed and built the hotel in 1889. The hotel was luxury living and housed the First National Bank of Parkersburg in the front. The hotel underwent renovations in 1985. The Haunting: William is said to haunt the hotel and many can smell his cigar smoke as he patrols the halls. When his portrait was put in storage during renovations he acted up bit - climbing into bed with guests - to make certain he was not forgotten. Since his portrait has been placed back on the wall, he has been a bit less obtrusive. But William isn't the only ghost. Another gentleman ghost in a white suit likes to pop up behind you when you look in the mirror. I think I would rather hang out with William... How to see it: This hotel offers comfortable accommodations with an old world feel. They even have fun with their haunting reputation and offer a haunted weekend getaway in the fall. To find out more, click here. Wisconsin - Milwaukee: Brumder Mansion The History: George Brumder had the home built in 1910 for his son, George Jr. After they sold the home, the house was everything from a boarding house to an activity center for a Lutheran church. They used the home for office space, a theater, and later opened a coffee house with a live music venue. The current owners purchased the home in 1997 and opened the renovated space as a B&B in 1998. The Haunting: The Gold Room was once the room of one of the Brumder daughters who never married after suffering a broken heart early in life. She is said to still stay in the room, in fact she was quite appalled and upset when the current owner spent the night in this room with her dogs - no dogs allowed! Your dreams will be haunted if any dogs sleep on the bed! How to see it: It's a Bed & Breakfast, so take the plunge and spend the night - request the Gold Suite! You can even join a ghost hunting seminar or enjoy a haunted history dinner! For more information, click here. Kewaunee: Kewaunee Inn The History: Built in 1912 by William Karsten this inn is still commonly known as the Hotel Karsten. Father and son managed this hotel until William Karsten Jr.'s death in 1964. The hotel then changed hands and received various facelifts. The most recent owners renamed the hotel to the Kewaunee Inn at Hamachek Village in May 2008. The Haunting: The ghosts at the Kewaunee Inn didn't start to bug the living until after renovations started in 1966. The inn website mentions the triad of ghosts include William Karsten Sr, Billy Karsten III (who died at 5 years of age shortly after his grandfather), and Agatha the housekeeper. Agatha seems to be the most active, floating about the halls and popping up behind you when you look in the mirror! She doesn't seem to like men much - so any male guests be on your guard! William likes to have a drink at the bar now and then and Billy still runs up and down the hall playing. How to see it: Brave enough to spend the night? Click here to make a reservation. Wyoming - Cheyenne: The Plains Hotel The History: This hotel opened in 1911 to meet the needs of travelers, oil tycoons and cattle barons alike. Attracting all types of guests, presidents such as Harry S Truman and Ronald Regan as well as movie stars such as Jimmy Stewart and Debbie Reynolds have stayed here. The most distinguished visitor was an Arapaho, Chief Little Shield, whose portrait now is used as a type of logo throughout the hotel. The luxury of yesterday was recently restored in 2002. The Haunting: Legend says a newlywed couple and a mistress walk the halls here. The couple were on their honeymoon when the new husband went downstairs to the bar. When the wife followed she spotted him with another woman. The wife followed the two lovers to their room, shot them, returned to the honeymoon suite and then shot herself. Laughter and crying can now be heard in the honeymoon suite. The husband is seen wandering the halls and the basement. The mistress can't be missed, she wanders the halls in a fancy red dress. How to see it: Shake up your journey a bit and spend the night. To find out more, click here. Puerto Rico: Hotel El Convento The History: This former Carmelite convent named The Monastery of Our Lady Carmne of San Jose was founded in 1651. The nuns left this convent in 1903 and site fell into ruin until 1962 when Robert Woolworth purchased it to make it into a resort. The Haunting: Dona Ana was a noblewoman who lost her husband in the war with the Dutch and then turned to her faith. She donated the land for the Carmelite convent. It is said her spirit and those of nuns can be seen about the grounds and gliding through the halls. How to see it: For information about how to enjoy a luxurious stay with these faithful spirits click here. International Haunts: Ireland: Ross Castle The History: This area shows record of settlement since the Iron Age. The castle tower was completed in 1537 by Richard Nugent, 12th Baron of Delvin. A family loyal to the English crown for their title and rank hoped to received the extra boon of £10 given as encouragement for each fortification built in Ireland. In time the Nugents began to marry the once rival Celtic nobles especially the O'Reillys. In 1644 the castle was pulverized by Cromwellian soldiers in retribution for Myles O'Reilly's defiance. Restoration was begun by the family in the 19th century and the castle was later modernized with plumbing and electricity. The Haunting: The castle's founder, Richard Nugent was also known as the Black Baron and, you guessed it, he had a reputation for being quite unpleasant. The Black Baron had a beautiful daughter named Sabina who had the unfortunate luck to fall in love with Orwin O'Reilly (at this time still an enemy). Moved by love to give up their home, family and wealth, they decided to elope. However, as they made their escape by boat a storm came up and it capsized. Orwin died but Sabina lived. Crushed with heartache, she pinned away in Ross Castle tower until she finally gave up the ghost which in turn walks the halls to this day. She is said to sometimes be heard screaming! The Black Baron is also rumored to haunt the grounds and can be quite unpleasant. How to see it: Besides ghost hunting, you can go fishing, golfing, horseback riding, sailing, boating, hiking, cycling, go see the races or even take flying lessons! Plenty to do and see in a romantic setting. For more information about spending the weekend, click here. United Kingdom - England: The Feathers Hotel The History: The original building was built in 1619 and has been added to and modified since. First a private residence, it was changed to an Inn in 1670 after the English Civil War and would remain one for the next 200 years! In 1863 it changed to a hotel and started to acquire more land and expand. Why feathers? There are faded motifs of ostrich feathers on the outer woodwork still visible. They were a symbol of the Prince of Wales and en vogue at the time of construction. Not to mention the town of Ludlow was royalist even during the English Civil War. The Haunting: There is a female "guest" in room 211 who is known to bother women rather then men in the room, pulling their hair and letting them know they are not welcome. There are a couple gentlemen ghosts roaming about including one who is accompanied by his ghost dog! How to see it: You can join on a ghost hunting adventure either with Eerie Evenings or Haunted Breaks. Or you may opt to spend the night and enjoy the historic surroundings. For more information click here. Scotland: Comlongon Castle The History: This stronghold dates back to 1451 when it was constructed for the Murray family. The residents of this border castle enjoyed the profits of dealing in "the black meal" or modern day blackmail. They would kidnap wealthy neighbors and hold them in a dark pit until terms of the ransom were arranged. They would then treat the prisoner as an honored guest until the amount was paid. But business wasn't always that good and the castle later fell into disrepair until purchased by the Earls of Mansfield in 1880. During WWII the castle changed hands again and became an orphanage. Then after 1984 it was revamped into the hotel it is today. The Haunting: In 1570 Lady Marion Carruthers was hiding out in the castle trying to avoid a forced marriage to James Douglas who wanted her fortune. When the courts ruled in favor of James, she jumped from the tower to her death and subsequently became the castles resident ghost. She is still seen wandering the castle and grounds today, you'll know if you see her by her green dress. How to see it: Advertising mostly as a picturesque local for weddings, this castle has plenty to offer the general weekend escapists as well. Click here to learn about spending the weekend. Wales: Ruthin Castle The History: Legend has it that the original castle was a wooden fort lorded by Huail. He fought King Arthur and wounded him in the knee. A truce was called but Huail later mocked King Arthur and was beheaded. The first stone structure was put up by King Edward I in 1277 and the castle was owned by the crown off and on until sold by Charles I in 1632. The modern stone structure was built in 1826. However some of the older walls, dungeons and tunnels are still standing today. The Haunting: This castle comes with its own Grey Lady, dating back to the time of Edward I, this ghost was sentenced to death for killing the lover of her husband. Soldiers are said to still march around the grounds and prisoners long dead are still heard moaning in agony. How to see it: If you don't find ghost hunting or random spooks exciting enough, this castle offers other entertainment including medieval banquets (one even with a murder mystery theme!), golf, and romantic getaway packages.

Kitchen Remodel

Hints and Tips

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Remodeling your kitchen is a major event. You may be without the room entirely for most of the remodel process. There will be many different contractors and specialists coming in and out of your home. And changes in timelines may happen due to product availability or other unforeseen circumstances. All said, it is a major project that takes careful planning and attention to detail for a satisfactory outcome. Take your time to plan carefully and enlist professional help if you hit a brick wall and don't know how to make certain items or features work. We have given you the short list of some things you will need to consider before and during a kitchen remodel.

The Kitchen Remodel List

Sink with money going down drain

The Dreaming Stage: Evaluate your needs. What do you want to change about the existing layout, appliances, utility, storage, lighting, flooring, ascetics, etc. Consider how you use your kitchen - where do you prepare meals, cook meals and clean up. How can these used spaces be improved. What will make your ideal kitchen in the space you have available? Do you want to go as far as to restructure walls? Review the three basic layouts for kitchens: U-Shaped, L-Shaped and Galley. Which of these works with your kitchen use? You may also consider the "work triangle" which places the refrigerator, sink and stove in an easily accessible triangle to help optimize your kitchen tasks. Of course with the inclusion of other useful appliances and innovative cabinetry/counter space, you may think outside the triangle. Picture your ideal kitchen and write down the elements it includes.

The Reality Stage: Figure out your budget. How much can you afford to spend/finance to make your dream kitchen happen. Do this before any purchases are made or contracts signed. Knowing your budget limitations is a must so you don't get in over your head!

Your Timeline: Consider how much time you can be without a kitchen. You may want to plan ahead and have the remodel done when the kids are at college or you are certain not to have house guests, etc. Because of the scope of the remodel, knowing a timeline is essential to preventing some of the headaches involved with not having access to part of your home for weeks or even a month or two!

The Design: Now that you have your ideas, budget and timeline, you can contact an interior designer (some are now specialized as kitchen designers) to begin hacking out the reality. Now is when you determine which of these formats will best fit your ideal use of the space. The designer can help you determine how to make all your ideas work with the products available to you at your budget.

The Material Breakdown - There are many different types of materials for you cabinets, countertops, floors, etc.

  • Types of Cabinets: Cabinets either come with a framed or frameless design. You can get 'Flat Pack' or the do-it-yourself assembly-required variety, 'Stock' which are limited in size but are fully assembled, 'Built-to-Order' which are made at the factory and shipped and finally 'Custom' that usually include some factory pre-build and more fine tuning on installation. The cabinets can be stained, painted, laminated, and sometimes even made of material other than wood like metal. There are plenty of options to get carried away with. Review the options for the drawers, slide outs and other extras for the interior of you cabinets as well. Determine your style and use of your cabinets and you will still be overwhelmed by the choices!
  • Types of Countertops: Countertops can be natural stone such as granite or marble, sealed surfaces such as laminate or ceramic tiling, or manufactured surface material such as Corian. Laminate and ceramic tiles may offer a project for the do-it-yourselfer, but any of the other products will have to made to order and usually need professional installation to keep the warranty valid.
  • Types of Flooring: Just like any other room in your home, flooring options are endless. However this would not be a room for carpeting! Installing hardwood floors, Pergo flooring, vinyl, or tiles can be a do-it-yourself project or another one you hire out.

The Appliance Breakdown - The choices for appliances are abundant. When designing your new kitchen you will want to consider the size and layout of these major items. The layout of everything else in the room will be effected by the appliances you choose. You may decide to include appliances built into the cabinetry or countertop or keep them freestanding. Overall, you are considering your refrigerator, freezer, dish washer, microwave, stove top and oven.

The Kitchen Sink - The kitchen sink stands alone as a major item to consider. You may have a double sink, typical for hand washing dishes. You may have more than one sink including one on a workspace island or countertop. You may get a deep sink, shallow sink or a combination of both.

Permits: It is very likely a major kitchen remodel will need permits from your city or county government. Research these to get a good idea of what permits you will need. Your interior designer may be able to help with this. More likely, the contractor(s) that you work with will either do the permits themselves or be able to help you determine what permits you may need. Steer clear of a contractor who tells you that you can "get by" without getting a permit; it may sound like they are saving you money but in the long run they could cost you much more!

Hiring your Contractor(s): With a major kitchen remodel you may be using several different professionals. You may start with a general contractor, however, they may hire or you may need to hire specialists such as plumbers, electricians or tilers. Talk to several contractors and get estimates and references from each. Call the references and make sure to ask questions about estimate variations - some may substitute materials to cut costs. Discuss the timeline in detail with the contractor you choose.

Determine how they will work with any sub-contractors. For example, when does the electrician and plumber need to come in or when will you be ready for the tiler? What time of day will they begin work and what days of the week? What will the contractor do if there is a delay due to materials or labor? For even more information about hiring and making a contract with a contractor, please see our previous article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project.

Demolition: Once you have removed all the dishes and other small items, the big demolition will begin. Even if you are just replacing a small section or part, there may be demolition involved. Usually appliances are removed first, then sinks, then fixtures, then countertops, then cabinets and finally flooring.

The Remodel: After everything is taken out the first couple items that will be done will be any reframing, plumbing changes and electrical wiring. Any plumbing and electrical work will need to be inspected before they can be sealed back up. You may only have portions of wall removed for this type of work. Once the inspection is done and the walls are in place, the cabinets will usually be the first item installed. After the cabinets are in place, your new countertops will be installed. After the countertop and any backsplash is done, the flooring will be installed. The final items to be done will be all the finishing work such as installing light switches and fixtures, installing the sink and faucet, and finally, installing the appliances from the garbage disposal to the refrigerator. Keep in mind, if any of the appliances are built-in, they may be installed earlier. Extra care should be taken to make sure they are not damaged while other work continues!

If Things Go Wrong: Stay calm! Delays may happen. The worst case scenario is if there are any miscommunications between you and any of the professionals working on your home. This can be anything from timing to cost. Make sure to get all details in writing before any work begins!

  • You should have a section in your contract that states what is expected if there is a delay due to material delays, staffing delays, etc.
  • Stay involved in the process and don't be shy - get progress reports daily!
  • If a problem does arise, contact the contractor immediately, a good contractor will respond quickly and appreciate you speaking with them directly. If there is any question about the quality of work, you may consider having an inspection done early to ensure everything is on track.
  • Never pay for the job fully in advance. Many contracts work out a payment plan that will include paying a certain portion as various stages of the project are completed.
  • If there are disputes, make sure to write your concerns down and keep records that you have communicated all of these concerns with the contractor.
  • You will save yourself from a headache if you make sure to: Get it in writing, get the work described in detail and leave no questions unanswered.
  • Again see our article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project for more details about hiring contractors and sample contracts.

Finally - It's Done!: With a major remodel there may be another building inspection of the site on completion. Once that is done you are ready to clean up and move back in! Enjoy your new kitchen. Take pictures and keep a record of all your new appliance, cabinet and other big item warranties.

Conclusion

One of the most major remodels of the home is the kitchen. Take time to plan it out carefully, store a lot of patience, and get ready for one of the most intense but rewarding remodels to your home! It can be done, there are many people out there to help you get it all organized. We hope you find the above short list of things to consider for a kitchen remodel helpful. To the right of the article are some additional sites that will help get your creative ideas going. Enjoy! 

Other Useful Sites

Do It Yourself.com
ww.doityourself.com/scat/kitchenc
tchen remodeling will increase the design, function and resale value of a home. This section provides information about building kitchen cabinets, re-facing kitchen cabinets, selecting a kitchen cabinet style, selecting a kitchen countertop style, and planning a kitchen design that will look great and maximize the amount of available storage space.

HGTV
http://design.hgtv.com/kitchen/
HGTV KitchenDesign is your ultimate online destination for all things related to kitchens: design and decor, renovation and remodeling, appliances and products. Utilizing original video content as well as the rich television libraries of HGTV, Food Network, DIY and Fine Living, we show you everything you'll ever want to know about your kitchen.

Improve.net
www.improvenet.com
Welcome to ImproveNet's Kitchen Remodeling Center. In these and supporting pages, you'll find information and ideas for kitchen remodeling, from kitchen cabinets to kitchen countertops and everything in-between. Our goal is to inform you, give you kitchen remodeling ideas and direction and show you some examples of kitchen designs to get you started. For their kitchen cost estimator click here.

Kitchen Remodel Ideas
ww.kitchenremodelideas.com
itchenRemodelideas.com is a guide to new products for your kitchen.

Kitchens.com
ww.kitchens.com
Kitchens.com is the Web’s most comprehensive consumer resource on kitchen design. We invite you to: Be inspired by our Featured Kitchens and Photo Gallery. Learn the basics of Design and Products & Materials. Check out the latest New Product News and Trends. Follow the Kitchen Diaries for the homeowner perspective of the remodeling experience. Get started on your own kitchen project at Budget & Planning or our Professional Locator

National Kitchen & Bath Association
www.nkba.org
National Kitchen & Bath Association has created the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Workbook. This workbook will take you through every stage of creating that perfect space, whether it's new construction or a remodeling project. From selecting a designer, to collecting ideas and establishing a budget, this workbook will help turn your dreams into a reality.

Renovation Experts
www.renovationexperts.com/green-kitchen.asp
Whatever the reasons and goals are, there are more options available today for Greening your kitchen. Green kitchen design can be eco-friendly with out losing luxury and style.

This Old House
ww.thisoldhouse.com/toh/knowhow/kitchens/pk
Kitchen Know How - Cabinetry, Countertops, Kitchen Sinks, Backsplash, Appliances, Wet Bars, Design and Outdoor Kitchens.

ONIONS

Wood pests, wood destroying organisms, structural pests, termites and dryrot, or, fungus, whatever or however you refer to them, they are the uninvited, unwanted guests that can degrade the wood structure of your home, or, the home you are interested in purchasing.

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Wood pests, wood destroying organisms, structural pests, termites and dryrot, or, fungus, whatever or however you refer to them, they are the uninvited, unwanted guests that can degrade the wood structure of your home, or, the home you are interested in purchasing. What is interesting is how these conditions are addressed in the various states. Some states allow Home Inspectors to identify and report on these issues if the inspector is properly certified/licensed. Meanwhile, other states (California is one) do not allow Home Inspectors to identify wood destroying organisms unless that inspector is also licensed as a Structural Pest Inspector, of which there are very few. But, if the inspector is properly licensed, then the reporting will be done on a report form mandated by the Structural Pest Control Board located in Sacramento, and the reporting process falls under a whole slew of regulations administered by the Structural Pest Control Board. In California, a Home Inspector can only mention a “wood pest” or “white growth” condition and note it in his or her report, and then, can only refer/defer to a licensed Structural Pest Inspector/Company for further details, proper identification of the wood pests involved, and, recommendations necessary to correct/repair the issues present.

This practice is unfortunate as that process breeds (in California anyway) a huge conflict of interest situation that revolves around the home sale/purchase activity. In California, the Structural Pest Companies perform the “termite” inspections (the term commonly used to describe a Structural Pest Inspection) for little or no money with the intent of getting their “foot in the door” to do the chemical treatments and repair jobs, which can be very expensive. So, lets peel off the first layer of the onion. The scenario goes: The inspector/company you call to make the inspection is the same person/company who provides you with a report that outlines the repairs and chemical treatments that he/she says are needed, which is the same person/company shoving a pen and a work contract into your hands to sign, which is the same person/company that sends out their repair crew to perform the work, which is the same person/company that “inspects” the completed work and then issues a Notice of Completion and certifies the property “free and clear.” I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that is a big conflict of interest.

But wait, lets take it one more step further. Lets peel off the next layer of the onion. How about the fact that many of the “termite” companies pay their inspectors straight commission on WORK PERFORMED/COMPLETED! Might that smack of a little conflict of interest? How comfortable would you feel having your home inspected under those conditions? How objective and impartial do you feel the outcome of the “termite” report will be, knowing that the “termite” company/inspector lost money the moment the tailgate of the inspectors’ truck went through the shop gate on the way to the inspection and now they need to recoup?

Time to peel the next layer off of the onion (are your eyes watering yet?). Now lets throw the real estate agent into the mix. The agent calls the “termite” company for his client (purchaser) and orders the inspection. All fine and good unless this agent happens to be one of those who has a predetermined idea as to what the outcome of the inspection should be in order to close the deal quickly and with no hassles even though the inspection report may have no basis of reality as to the conditions present. This is why, on occasions too numerous to count, two inspections of the same home are worlds apart. The rule is: both/all reports of the same home should contain the same findings, but the recommendations to repair may differ as inspectors may have different methods to correct the conditions found. It is very disturbing when comparing two reports of the same home, that, the diagram, as well as the findings, are as if the two inspectors looked at two different homes. But, this occurs all too often because of the pressure applied by the agents by “black balling” inspectors that are perceived to be “deal busters” because they actually do their job and accurately report conditions present.

Please don’t feel that this discussion is saying that all real estate agents or termite inspectors/companies are “shady.” More are good than bad, but the questionable still exist and you need to be aware and "do your home work” so you don’t end up in a situation for which you didn’t bargain.

So, lets peel another layer off of that onion, but in a positive way this time. ALWAYS, I REPEAT, ALWAYS interview the real estate agent before engaging them. Just because the agent meets you at the door of the office doesn’t mean you are “stuck” with him/her. If the agent is the listing agent of the property, be especially wary. They will not legally be working for you or have your best interest at heart. That is where the questionable termite inspector/company may suddenly appear. You want to ask the hard questions and get the proper answers! You want to know names and phone numbers---- not of sellers, but of purchasers of property handled by the agent so you can find out how their (the purchaser) experience was. Of course, this is a good time to find out how satisfied they were with the pest work that was performed. You would be surprised by how many buyers are very unhappy with the quality/completeness of the pest repair work but don’t have the stamina to “fight the system.”

In closing, referrals from qualified sources are your best way to find the inspector and real estate agent that will best serve you. Remember, the ones charging the least are most likely the ones to give you the least. A home purchase is probably the single largest investment any of us will make in our lifetime, so don’t shortchange yourself by falling into the age-old trap of the “cheapest.” Ron Ringen owns and operates Ringen’s Unbiased Inspections, which is located in Sonora, California. Ringen’s Unbiased Inspections serves the beautiful gold country of California that includes the foothills and Sierra Mountains in the counties of Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amadore. Ron has been involved with the Structural Pest Control business for 43 years and has been a licensed Structural Pest Inspector in California since 1968. Ron is a licensed General Contractor (B) in California and has been since 1977. Ron is certified with the American Institute of Inspectors as a Home Inspector, Manufactured/Modular Home Inspector and a Pool and Spa Inspector.

Homes fo the Future

Smart homes and integrate technology.

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What better way to open the new year with a look at the future. In particular the technology and innovation behind homes of the future. There is no doubt that as technology changes so many aspects of our lives it will soon also effect our personal sanctuary. Last year we looked at how computers were changing how we watched television. Other simple pastimes such as reading are also affected by computers and software notebooks that change our libraries. Music collections can now be slimmed down from plastic CD to bits of data on our computer. But what about the home structure itself? How will new technology effect how we use energy, water, communications and the natural environment surrounding the home? What might the homes of the future look like? Below we take a look at some of the more fast approaching changes to residential buildings that we might see take hold in the next few years.

Homes with a Brain - The new smart homes integrate new technology while keeping flexible for future innovations. A central command for everything from lights, security, and temperature control to entertainment features such as TVs, computers, and music are all connected to one central powerhouse that can be accessed from anywhere in the home. Programming options will allow you to set the home to various tasks based on the time of day. Imagine waking as the blinds open to the sun in your room, the kids are all woken for school by the house using lights and/or radio alarms, the coffee is already brewed and the security system turns off the evening protections so you don't set it off as you grab your morning paper. At the end of your day, the house checks that all the lights are off for you, all the doors and windows are locked, the security system is on, and maybe the refrigerator tallies its contents so it can remind you in the morning that you are running low on milk.

  1. Automated Climate Control - Homeowners with newer heating and cooling systems already know the benefit of automated temperature control. Currently the system can check the temperature and adjust to the ideal climate you preprogrammed. In the future, these systems will be even smarter. Look for future heating and cooling systems to respond to more than just temperature. They will also adjust according to sunlight and wind - perhaps your shades will automatically close against a setting sun. Climate control will also become easier by zone or area. You can control heating to the bedrooms at night in the winter while balancing the rest of the house so you are not paying to heat empty rooms.
  2. The Efficient "Big Brother" - Smart homes of the future will help us monitor how we use energy and resources. With a fully integrated home, families can examine how they are using and wasting energy, water, etc. They can then easily determine where they can make changes to make their homes more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
  3. Smart Appliances - These futuristic appliances can tell when your dishes are clean and will stop washing automatically. Your laundry will also only run until the rinse water is clean which will moderate water use and shorten cleaning time. Or better yet, instead of running the whole timed 60 minutes, the dryer will stop as soon as your clothes are dry.

Solar Energy - Recent oil prices and environmental concerns have created a resurge in the use of solar power. The new solar panels are not the same ones from the 70s. Instead, new solar panels on the market collect more photovolatic energy and are easier to install. Many homes are already including a few solar panels on the roof to offset energy costs. Setting the panels at the right slop towards where the house receives the most sun exposure is key. Even in a sunny state like California, consumers should realistically expect only a 50-75% savings at this time. But this is still substantial! Just imagine, as technology improves, so will our ability to use the sun's energy.

Wind Energy - Harnessing wind energy for a single urban residence is in a much more experimental/infancy stage than solar energy. But in the future, wind energy may help offset your energy costs just as much. Traditionally, wind power has been on a large scale and usually used rurally because the size of the turbines. But there are innovative thinkers already creating compact wind turbines for the urban resident. A recent example is the Clarian Jellyfish that is no more obstructive than a TV antenna on the roof.

Wireless Energy - Various forms of wireless energy are still under experimentation. Some are already proven to work in models - such as the WiTricity created by MIT Professor Marin Soljacic. In the future, using electromagnetic induction, microwaves or even lasers, energy may be transferred without the use of wires. In cases such as electromagnetic induction, the transmitting energy is reportedly safe to humans as energy moves from the power source to the receiver at a resonant frequency that matches each other but not other items in the environment. At this point the idea is that homes will still be connected to the city power grid, but all the devices in the home would be powered without wires. Imagine never having to charge your cell phone again or hanging a television on the wall without any wires. To read a bit more, click here.

Phones - Will your home in the future have a standard phone line? Many customers have been dropping phone line use in favor of wireless options - in fact, last year it was estimated that one in every five homes only uses wireless phones.* In addition, homes are now using more Internet phone and communication options such as video conferencing. Homes in the future may not be built with a standard phone line as more users switch to an IP based or wireless phone plan. Already many businesses are cutting costs by either not upgrading or not installing these phone lines for reconstruction or new construction projects. Starting with the business sector first, it may only be a matter of time when the phone line becomes optional for new homes.

Security - Many of the gadgets from the movies are now a reality for the everyday consumer. It is becoming easier to set up cameras around your home that you can access from any computer on a secured site. Add to this new electronic locks that allow you to lock/unlock your home online - perhaps you forgot to lock the doors this morning but can now do so from work or you want to let your neighbor in to bring in the paper while you're on vacation. And yes, these new locks will let you track which doors are opened, when and, in the future, by whom. You can already get fingerprint readers that will limit access to computers and/or your home. Some of the new model homes also include iris scans that make keys almost unnecessary.

Space - In the cities our available living space can be limited and will be even more so in the future. For urban living, therefore, it makes sense that our living spaces take on multiple functions. Tucking away what is not in use and creating efficient use of space is a common element many urban homes are adopting. For example, compact, built-in furniture features can help turn a living room into a bedroom or dining room. Perhaps suburban and even some rural homes will adopt some of these innovations as they give evidence of their cost effectiveness. Homebuyers may use urban designs to lower energy bills and the cost of building or remodeling a home. However, large homes will not disappear overnight and design will not change in most of the country until these slim urban concept designs prove their efficiency without sacrificing comfort.

Plants - Plants can help make a room more appealing and complete. In the future, plants may also be used to facilitate cleaner air in the home or to help clean waste water. Plants already can act like a carbon filter and help in taking gases such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde out of the air.* Maybe start this today and get a spider plant which is reported to work on both of these gasses. Currently plants may also be used around the home to help slow chemicals from storm runoff, safely adsorbing chemicals and creating clean waste. In the future, as more ways to treat water through phytoremediation are developed, this technology may become more accessible and plants may take a greater role in helping remove toxins from the water coming in and out of our homes.

Sprinklers - Okay, so not as impressive as say wireless energy, but the new sprinkler systems are still pretty neat - and cost effective. New systems allow for thinking sprinkler systems that will water the lawn only as needed. Set to read the amount of rain already received - you won't see automated sprinklers on during a rainstorm again!

Interior Design

What to Look for in Interior Design Schools

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The interior design industry is growing and is expected to grow 17% by 2014.* Those interested in this career should have strengths in interpersonal communication and project management. Interior designers work on a regular basis with business and home owners, architects and various trades professionals from carpenters to electricians. Planning these projects will take good communication and the ability to plan around various schedules. Interior designers should also have an artistic and creative mind. Many times they will need to "think outside the box" to make a space work with both function and aesthetic design. Most interior designers work through the following steps: assess the needs of the client, make a plan for review, calculate the estimated cost, select materials to be used on the project, contact architects and other trade professionals if needed, set a timeline, and coordinate all materials and labor for the project thru to completion. It is quite a list, but many enjoy the challenge all the same. Does interior design sound like something you would enjoy? Then time to sign up for classes! This month we look at interior design schools, what to look for in the school and where they are located in your state. Perhaps it is time to begin that new career.

Part I: What to Look for in Interior Design Schools

The recommendation is that those interested in interior design get a postsecondary degree for most entry level positions. Besides a school education, many interior designers also do anywhere from 1-3 years of apprenticeship in the field. Gaining this "real-world" experience can be just as important as the school education. Therefore, consider schools that help prepare you for work inside and outside the classroom.

  • Here are some items you should consider when choosing an interior design school:
  • Take a look at class size and curriculum. The school should offer both theory and hands-on experience in labs, internships or other projects.
  • Set up an interview with faculty and/or students along with a visit to the school. Some schools may let you sit in on a beginning level class for the day to get a feel for the school's culture and program style.
  • Consider the area of interior design you want to specialize in when choosing a school. Some schools may have more experience or strengths in different specializations. Areas of specializations vary: Commercial Design, Residential Design, Hospitality Design, Healthcare Design, Green Design and so on.
  • Get to know the faculty members via online bios or in-person interviews. Does their experience and expertise fit in with the type of interior design you wish to pursue?
  • If required in your state, the school should help you prepare for the state interior design certification/competency exam.
  • Check to see if the school you selected did the voluntary accreditation with the Council for Interior Design Accreditation or the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
  • Find out what type of apprenticeships are available or if students must arrange their own outside "real-world" experience.
  • What kind of employment opportunities are available to graduates? The school should offer data about employment rates and a list of they types of employers their graduates work for.
  • Does the school offer continuing education classes that you may take after graduation? You may need access to these types of classes to learn about innovations in the field or keep an active professional certification or license in your state.

Useful Interior Design Sites

American Society of Interior Designers
www.asid.org
ASID is a community of people—designers, industry representatives, educators and students—committed to interior design. Through education, knowledge sharing, advocacy, community building and outreach, the Society strives to advance the interior design profession and, in the process, to demonstrate and celebrate the power of design to positively change people’s lives.

ASID: List of Registration Laws
Currently, 25 states and jurisdictions have licensing requirements for interior design practitioners. In many of these states, you cannot even call yourself an interior designer unless you meet or exceed a certain level of accredited education and in some cases pass the qualifying exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Regulation of interior design practice continues to become increasingly wide spread.

Careers in Interior Design
This website has been created by professional organizations as a service to individuals pursuing a career in Interior Design.

Council for Interior Design Accreditation
ww.accredit-id.org
The Council for Interior Design Accreditation is an independent, non-profit accrediting organization for interior design education programs at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

Interior Design Educators Council, Inc.
www.idec.org
The Interior Design Educators Council, Inc. (IDEC) was founded in 1963 and is dedicated to the advancement of education and research in interior design. IDEC fosters exchange of information, improvement of educational standards, and development of the body of knowledge relative to the quality of life and human performance in the interior environment.

The Interior Design Society
www.interiordesignsociety.org
The Interior Design Society (IDS) was founded in 1973, and is the largest design organization exclusively dedicated to serving the residential interior design industry.

International Interior Design Association
www.iida.org
The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) is a professional networking and educational association of more than 10,000 Members in 8 specialty Forums, 9 Regions, and more than 30 Chapters around the world committed to enhancing the quality of life through excellence in interior design and advancing interior design through knowledge.

The Library of Congress: Architecture and Interior Design
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/gottscho/
The Gottscho-Schleisner Collection is comprised of over 29,000 images primarily of architectural subjects, including interiors and exteriors of homes, stores, offices, factories, historic buildings, and other structures.

US Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics
ww.bls.gov/oco/ocos293.htm
Statistics and review of the Interior Design profession.