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Ask the Builder: A bucket of water can usually do what your plunger can

Q. Tim, I was really grossed out this past weekend. A toilet clogged in our home and while using a normal plunger some of the nasty water squirted up on me. It was horrible. Then you have to clean the yucky plunger. Ick! Is there a safer and more sanitary way to unclog a toilet? – Becky, Scottsdale, Ariz. A. Everybody’s had to deal with a clogged toilet before, and that splash back is pretty nasty. I’ve got good news. There’s an easy and fast way to unclog a toilet that doesn’t involve using the black bulb of nastiness in the toilet bowl.

Ask The Builder: Rotting windows a result of subpar wood, no roof overhangs

I’ve seen an alarming rise in wood-rot questions. Perhaps it’s happening with your wood windows, exterior house trim and wood door frames. It’s happening at my own home in New Hampshire. I didn’t build the house I live in and would have never used the brand of wood trim that’s all over my house.

In the Garden: Expand your garden by growing up

When we gardeners lay out our vegetable or flower beds, we often limit ourselves to the ground at our feet. But vertical space is plentiful and should be considered as a way to maximize our gardens.

The best dish towels are rarely the most expensive

Try the towels in a variety of scenarios. Cook’s Illustrated tested how well the towels might absorb a big spill. Testers also used them to wring liquid out of defrosted frozen spinach, pick up hot baking dishes and dry champagne flutes. They put towels through 26 laundry cycles, or six months’ worth.

Decor that brings the luxe outside

Innovations in design, materials and manufacturing have had a big impact on home decor – outdoors as well as in.

In the garden: Largest area plant sales on the horizon

UPDATED: Sat., April 21, 2018, 5:14 p.m.

Gardeners know spring has truly arrived when local plant sales start taking place. Two of the largest sales will kick off the season next weekend when both the Spokane County Master Gardeners and the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane hold their annual offerings of wonderful plants. On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Master Gardeners will host their Garden Fair & Plant Sale in and around the Spokane County Extension building, located at 222 N. Havana St. Visitors will find a wide range of perennials, vegetable and herb plant starts, berries, dahlias and ornamental grasses – all grown by Master Gardeners. Vendors will also offer perennials, native plants, garden art and jewelry. There will be information booths on topics such as gardening for life and sensory gardening.

In the garden: Spring-blooming bulbs brighten up the garden

As spring unfolds in my garden, I’m treated to dozens of delightful surprises in the form of spring-blooming bulbs. These flowers are my reward for making it through what has seemed like the longest winter of my life.