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Homework: Reusable peel-away pots; smoke alarm lasts 10 years

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 8:48 p.m.
 

Gardener's Supply Center of Vermont has introduced Peel Away Seedling Pots: washable, reusable containers to promote healthy root growth.

At planting or repotting, Velcro-brand pots air-prune roots and provide optimal water and nutrient uptake in a self-watering tray. The Velcro sides peel away so that root-disturbance is minimized.

Each kit contains three 4-inch pots, a self-watering reservoir and a capillary mat. Each kit sells for $24.95.

Details: 888-845-0677 or www.gardeners.com.

Public can vote on IKEA donation

IKEA Pittsburgh is planning to donate $10,000 worth of goods to a charitable project in the Pittsburgh area as part of its Life Improvement Challenge.

Projects were nominated by IKEA employees, and three finalists were chosen by store managers. Anyone can vote for a winner from Monday through March 11 at www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.

The finalists are: Washington Hospital Teen Outreach Center, upgrades to the kitchen and learning spaces; Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, makeover of the learning areas; and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, upgrade kitchen equipment and dining spaces for some of its rural Partner Distribution Organizations.

Kidde smoke-alarm batteries last 10 years

Kidde's Worry-Free smoke alarms eliminate the chore of changing your smoke detector batteries.

The alarms have a lithium battery that lasts 10 years, the lifetime of an alarm.

Four models are available: one for living areas; one for bedrooms, with a talking voice alarm to better wake occupants; one for hallways, with LED lights to illuminate the escape route; and one for kitchens, with a sensor designed to reduce nuisance alarms. The kitchen alarm also incorporates a carbon monoxide detector.

Each alarm has an end-of-life signal that chirps when the device needs to be replaced.

Suggested retail prices for Worry-Free alarms range from $25 to $50. They're sold at some home improvement stores, hardware stores, discount department stores, drugstores and other retailers.

Help is available when choosing paint colors

Choosing paint colors can be daunting, but remember that paint is fairly inexpensive. If you paint your kitchen and don't like it, repainting it won't break the bank.

Decorating magazines, books, blogs and social media sites such as Pinterest are great sources of ideas, but if you're really paralyzed about choosing colors, you would probably benefit from a professional's advice. Ask paint stores near you whether they have decorators on staff who offer color consultations, or call some interior decorators or designers.

Some Sherwin-Williams stores offer a free in-home color consultation if you buy a $75 gift card, which you can then use to buy your paint. Not all stores offer the deal, though.

After you've narrowed your color choices, buy small quantities of paint in the colors you're considering and try them out in the room. You can paint patches right on your walls or paint pieces of poster board or foam core.

Be sure to try the paint out in different parts of the room and look at it at different times of the day. Light affects how color is perceived, so a paint color will look different in your kitchen than it does in the store.

— Staff and wire reports

Send Homework items to Features in care of Sue Jones, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212; fax 412-320-7966; or email sjones@tribweb.com.

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