Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Some Culture and Some Sport

Nobody guessed what we were going to do this weekend.  Actually, nobody even guessed at all.  My mom asked for some hints over on facebook.  I guess I did leave it wide open - it could have been anything.

So, for those of you who have been anxiously anticipating the answer, here's what we did this weekend:
  1. Saturday night we went to a ballet.  We saw the Anderson Young Ballet Theatre's performance of The Nutcracker.  I'm not sure ballet is something we'll make a habit of attending, but it was interesting.  I especially liked watching the little bitty kids.  And the theater itself is really neat.

  2. And Sunday we went to an NFL football game.  We saw the Indianapolis Colts play Houston.  It was fun walking around the stadium and checking everything out.  When it comes right down to it, it doesn't really matter what sport it is - basketball, baseball, football - they're all about the same.  I'm not saying the actual games are the same, but all the silly things to keep fans interested, I guess, are all about the same.  It's crazy, and it's very tiring.  We had a good time, but I was really wiped out by about the 3rd quarter.  There's something about the lights and the constant noise that is really wearing.

So what did you do this weekend?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bundle and Save

If you're like me, you're always looking for ways to save money.  Have you ever looked at your monthly bills and wondered if there was a way to cut them down?  Why do things like cable television and Internet access have to be so expensive?  There aren't many of us who would be willing to cut those things out of our lives, but there are ways to save on the bill every month.

Computer RepairThe key to saving on your Internet service is to look for phone and Internet bundles that package multiple services together with significant discounts.  It's hard to believe, but sometimes you can get television, Internet, and home phone services bundled together, and it won't cost you much more than it would cost to get just one of those services.  It will definitely cost less than using one provider for cable television, a different provider for Internet, and another one for home phone service.  Companies want all of your business, and they'll usually give significant discounts when you bundle your services and use just one company for all of your needs.

Many companies offer promotional deals to get you to sign up with their services.  While that sounds like a really good deal, be sure to check the length of the promotion and whether you'll be locked into a contract which will require you to pay higher prices after the promotion runs out.  It often ends up being a good deal anyway, when you average the cost of your payments over the length of the contract, but just be aware of when or if your monthly bill will increase and prepare for it.  Our cable and Internet provider offers promotional deals, and when they run out, we have to call to find out what the current promotion is so we can get our discounts back - which my husband needs to do about now to see if we can get our bill lowered again.

If your provider isn't willing to give you the latest promotional pricing when yours runs out, you may want to look into other providers in the area.  It's a crazy game, but most companies offer their promotions to new customers but not necessarily to their current customers.  So, switch providers if you have to in order to get the better prices.  It seems like a pain, but you'll end up getting newer equipment and perhaps some extra movie channels for a while.
Day 308/365: 'Prisonbreak' and 'Heroes' are back!!!
Besides saving some money every month, bundling your services means you'll also have the convenience of only having one bill to deal with.  Oftentimes you can save even more by signing up for paperless billing and automatic payments.  Which, of course, means that once you've got it set up, you don't have to do anything but enjoy your services. 

Until it's time to look at lowering your monthly payments again.

Try Something New

Let's play a guessing game.

Next weekend Jeffrey and I are going to do, not one, but two things that we have never done before.  Who wants to guess what we are going to be doing?  Mom (Ruthie), you are not allowed to guess since Jeffrey already told you.  The rest of you feel free to chime in with your guesses.

I can tell you that we will not be going zip lining - because we already did that last month.  I had been wanting to do that for ages, but Jeffrey wasn't so sure he wanted to do it.  He changed his mind pretty quickly once we got out there.  We had a blast! We are definitely going to have to do that again.

But not next weekend.  Next weekend we are going to do two completely different things.  Get your guesses in now, and I will let you know after the weekend - and see if anyone guesses correctly.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Should You Hire a Professional Cleaner?

CleaningYou may have several surfaces that you need to have cleaned. Should you attempt to clean them yourself? Many people try to avoid the cost of hiring a cleaning company by trying to do the cleaning on their own. However, some jobs are just too big for the average person to handle. Also, some cleaning jobs involve the cleaning of biohazardous materials. Obviously, these items are incredibly dangerous and need to be cleaned up in a very specific way. Otherwise, the health of the people doing the cleaning could be put in jeopardy.
Here are some of the advantages of hiring a cleaning company.
  1. The job will be done right the first time
    You run the risk of not doing the cleanup correctly if you attempt to do it yourself. This can create additional problems at your home or business that could have been prevented if you had simply called a professional cleaning company in the first place. The pros will take a look at the surface that needs to be cleaned. They will then determine what the substance is that needs to be removed. These two pieces of information will allow them to figure out exactly how they will go about cleaning it off. Different substances require different cleaning chemicals to completely remove them.
  2. Many cleaners do not harm the environment
    You might be one of the many people who are concerned about possibly harming the environment with chemicals used in the cleaning process. If this is the case, there are now many professional cleaning companies that exclusively use cleaning products that will not harm the environment. This was not the case 10 years ago. However, the general public has recently expressed a desire to use cleaning products that are safe for the environment and the cleaning industry has responded. Do you need to hire an experienced concrete cleaner? You can get in contact with one by visiting http://actcleaners.com/.
  3. You can avoid contact with dangerous substances
    You may find yourself in a situation where you have potentially harmful substances that need to be cleaned up. This requires much more than your average cleaning chemicals to do the job right. There is a special protocol that must be taken to ensure that all traces of the substances have been removed from the area. There are special cleaning solutions that need to be used to clean substances like feces and medical waste. A cleaning company will know what to do.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Holiday Shopping with Less Stress

ShoppingI used to work retail, so maybe that's why I don't really like shopping.  Any time.  At this time of year I especially want to avoid stores at any cost and only go out if I absolutely need something.  You know I like to save money, but are any of those holiday sales actually worth braving the crowds?

For those of you with mile-long gift lists, the question is - Is it possible to still get something for everyone on your list, without actually having to brave the insanity of holiday shopping?  Nowadays the answer is a great big YES!   Here are some ways to get all of your holiday shopping done with as little stress as possible:
    Airport gift list
  • Shop online.  I know this is probably the most obvious one, but oh, what did we do before we had the Internet?  Not only can you shop at the obvious online retailers like Amazon and Rakuten (formerly Buy.com), you can also order online from most of your favorite stores.  While you're shopping, be sure to check for extra savings, like extra savings with an online coupon code and cash back on your purchase, and you can get an even better deal than you would have if you'd gone to the store.  Most retailers will ship your order for free, whether to you or to your recipient, if your order is over a certain dollar amount, or you can order online and pick it up in the store.  A lot of stores have special parking for customers who order online, and all you'll have to do is run in and get your order.  An advantage to ordering from a physical store is that, should your recipient need to return or exchange the gift, they can do it right at their local store.  No messing with shipping it back and waiting.
  • Make something.  In my case I'd probably bake something.  My daughter Beth loves to crochet, and people love getting a handmade blanket, hat, or scarf.  The key is to use your talents and skills to give someone something they can't, or won't, actually make themselves.  If you're looking for inspiration, Pinterest is a great place to look, and if your gift recipient is also on Pinterest, check to see what he or she is pinning to get an idea of what they might like or want.  I personally pin lots of things I like but would never be able to make myself, and I have a friend who has made me several of them!  There are also sites like Etsy where you can buy handmade items online.  If you don't have the skills or time to make something yourself, you can still give a unique gift, and support the real people who make the things they sell.
  • Gift CardsBuy gift cards.  This may sound a bit impersonal, but as long as you know what restaurant your gift recipient likes to eat in or what store he shops at, you have a gift that is guaranteed to please, and you won't have to brave the crowded retail stores.  Right now many places are offering some special bonuses when you buy gift cards, so not only will you get a gift to give, you'll also get a little something for yourself.  Olive Garden and Steak & Shake are two restaurants that are giving an extra $5 or $10 to you when you buy a certain dollar amount in gift cards.  Our local grocery store sells many different gift cards, and they're giving 4x the fuel points on gift card purchases now, making it really easy to save extra money on gas when purchasing gifts.  There aren't a lot of people buying holiday gifts at the grocery store, so it's pretty safe.
Those are just a few ideas for surviving the holiday shopping season.  I'm sure you have some of your own, so feel free to share.  You might have just the suggestion someone is looking for.  Of course, if you love shopping and the crush of crowds, feel free to disregard all of this and Carry On!

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Help Kristen and Ryan

    My precious friends Ryan and Kristen lost their 7 week old firstborn son on Thanksgiving.  Along with their devastating loss, they are now faced with the emergency and medical expenses and the cost of planning a funeral.  Please, if you can help at all, it would be greatly appreciated.

    And please, keep these young parents (and their extended family) in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

    Thursday, November 12, 2015

    Express Your Feelings With A Gift Of Willow Tree Collectibles

    I was recently asked to share this article about Willow Tree Collectibles.  I had never heard of them, but after reading the information, I was eager to check them out.  Then, this evening Jeffrey and I attended an awards gala for Community Shining Star Award Finalists here in town. One of the finalists was sitting at our table, and she was given one of these figurines, appropriately called Shine.

    It always amazes me how I can be completely unaware of something, and then when I find out about it - in this case these figurines - I'm suddenly seeing them everywhere.  Well, not everywhere, but what are the odds that I would just learn about them last week and then see someone receive one as a gift this week?

    If, like me, you would like to learn more about Willow Tree Collectibles, read on:
    If you're searching for a special gift that will really express your feelings, Willow Tree figures from the Demdaco Willow Tree collection could be the perfect choice.

    Willow Tree figurines are unique collectibles that portray all of life's most touching moments, from the blissful arrival of a new baby to the happy excitement of holidays, birthdays, engagements, weddings, and anniversaries. They're a beautiful way to mark and remember special days in the lives of people you love.

    But the Willow Tree collection goes beyond events and actually celebrates the deeply personal joy of relationships as well. The caring that holds families and friends together comes to life in these collectibles. They're the ideal way to tell someone "I love you" or let them know what they mean to you and how much you appreciate their presence in your life.

    The Willow Tree collection is the creation of artist Susan Lordi, who uses her own friends and family for models as she painstakingly sculpts the original for each and every figurine. One of the things that makes this collection so unique is that while the figures are realistic and beautifully detailed, they're carefully crafted to be anonymous. Lordi says this makes it possible for everyone to see themselves and their loved ones in her art, so every figurine is truly personalized by the feelings of the giver and the receiver.

    The figures have a lovely natural grace that makes them feel alive, and the way each figure is posed really expresses feelings in a way that's beyond words. The emotion behind each figure, whether it's love, joy, tenderness, or just the close connection you feel with someone special, comes through clearly.

    Lordi's original sculptures are used as a pattern for the collectible figurines, which are cast in resin and hand-painted in warm, soft colors. The figures are delicate but durable, and are small enough to fit on a shelf, desk or table where they can be a constant reminder of that special day or relationship. The collection is affordably priced, so each figure is a luxury gift that's within anyone's budget.

    The Willow Tree collection is available online at sites like Coppin's Gifts or at select retail stores.

    Kind of neat, huh?

    Thursday, November 05, 2015

    Review: The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge

    I just finished reading The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge.  I admit, I picked the book because the dog on the cover is quite cute, and the description sounded really interesting.

    About the Book: (from Amazon)
    A light-hearted love story about a young couple brought together by a four-legged bandit.

    When a stray dog helps himself to a bone from a display in the supermarket, he doesn't know his actions will brand him a criminal and spark a romance between two humans. Stewart Coolidge works as a bag boy at the store, and his outraged boss offers a reward and demands Stewart catch the thieving animal. He fails at that, but now he finally has the perfect excuse to talk to his cute neighbor, Lisa.

    Lisa has always dreamed of being a journalist and asks Stewart if she can interview him for the local paper. As she gets to know Stewart, she likes him more and more, and she's delighted to learn he shares her Christian faith. Stewart can't bring himself to tell her she's mistaken, that he's not religious at all. And that's not Stewart's only deception. When the dog shows up on the doorstep of their building, Stewart decides to harbor the furry fugitive. But this is no ordinary dog, he has a divine sense of how things should be--and recognizing how much Stewart needs Lisa, he decides to do all he can to bring them together.
    While this book was OK and a fairly quick and simple read, I don't feel that it lived up to its description.  Things happened - the dog stole from the local grocery store (repeatedly) and Stewart took the dog in (instead of catching him and turning him over to the authorities), and then Stewart finally got to know the cute girl downstairs in the process.  It all sounds good, but it really didn't feel believable or that Point A really led to Point B.  The story just doesn't seem to carry itself, and I wasn't convinced.  I'm not sure that really makes sense, so obviously Jim Kraus is a better writer than I am, but I just don't think his writing is for me.

    He's written several other books, several of them featuring animals used by God.  If you've read any of his other books and enjoyed them, I'm sure you'll like this one too, judging by the Amazon reviews.  I'd give this 3 stars.  I definitely didn't hate it, but it wasn't one of those books I'm going to be raving about or wanting to read again.  (So many books, so little time, and I don't even have time to read the entire list of books I really really want to read again.)

    I received The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

    Wednesday, November 04, 2015

    Oh, November!

    These past few days have been absolutely glorious.  Sunshine and 70s in November mean only one thing - get outside and enjoy it!

    I spent Monday afternoon raking leaves, not that you would know it now because that same part of the yard is again covered in leaves.  But that doesn't really matter.  I got to be outside.  In the sunshine.  In November.  I'll take it.

    Bright leaves and brilliant blue skies.  It would have been a shame to stay inside all day.  I filled up both trash toters and two paper leaf bags and set them out by the street to be picked up Tuesday morning.  Of course, then on Tuesday morning I read something on Facebook that said there are scientific reasons for not raking your leaves.  Oh well.  I may keep that in mind, in case the weather isn't so nice next time the leaves need raked...

    There are still a few leaves left on the tree, and they'll end up on the ground soon enough.  Along with those that have already fallen.  After I raked on Monday.

    I got outside for a bit Tuesday and today, too.  Because I had to.  I told Jeffrey he should play hooky from work this afternoon and we should go for a ride on the motorcycle, but he couldn't.  Unfortunately.  I almost went walking again just to get out, but I ended up working in the garden instead pulling out the old bean plants and the lettuce that went to seed and dried up.  It will be interesting to see how much lettuce comes up in the spring.  There are still a few peppers on the plants and quite a few tomatoes so those plants will stay until the weather changes drastically.  Which it will.  They (the weathermen) keep saying it will.  We can all choose to ignore that, right?

    What did you do with this amazing November weather?

    Sunday, November 01, 2015

    Magnetic Copper Bracelet from Earth Therapy

    I've been wearing this Pure Copper Magnetic Bracelet pretty much all the time for a couple of months now.  I've heard good things about the benefits of copper and magnets - being an Effective Natural, Non Invasive, Pain Relief Aid for Arthritis, RSI, Carpal Tunnel, Migraines, and Fatigue.  This bracelet combines the two, being made from the Best Quality Solid Copper and including 6 Powerful Therapeutic Magnets, along with being sleek and stylish.

    This bracelet is a medium Size (6.5") and adjusts to fit most sized wrists.  I have quite small wrists, so I have to squeeze it together until the ends almost meet.  It then fits securely with the magnets against my wrist, but it is loose enough to push up my arm when I'm trying to work.  I usually only take it off when I go out in the sun, since it's been summer, so I don't have a copper-bracelet-sized line on my arm.  And then I put it on again.  So far it seems to be holding up really well with all the squeezing and loosening of putting it on and taking it off.

    I can't say for certain what the benefits of wearing this bracelet have been, but I have had some pain in my right shoulder for a while now.  I was trying to help Jeffrey carry parts of The Coolest Garden Ever, which he built in front of the house, and then they had to be carried to the back yard, and I ended up hurting my shoulder.  Thankfully a very nice young man lives next door, and he helped Jeffrey carry the majority of the garden sides to the back yard.  Anyway, my shoulder does still bother me occasionally, but I have noticed that it's usually on those evenings when I have taken the bracelet off and not yet put it back on.  So, I'm going to believe that it's helping, and I would certainly rather use something natural like this than even think about pain killers or drugs or anything like that.

    I noticed that several reviewers (on Amazon) mentioned that the magnets in their bracelets fell out after just a few days, but like I said, I've been wearing this for a couple months, and I haven't had any problem with the magnets.  They're all right where they belong.  The bracelet is starting to look a little scratched up, because I do wear it all the time.  While I like the smooth look of this particular style, I think I'd go for one with a braided or designed look, like this Mens Heavyweight Pure Copper Magnetic Bracelet (which I really wanted to order, but I knew it would be too big for my wrist), if I were to order another one.  I think that would hide the wear better.

    The bracelet comes with the Magnetic Therapy eBook "Heal Your Pain Through Magnetic Therapy" by Dr Tulsi Dabhi along with a RISK FREE. 60 Day Earth Therapy Full Satisfaction Money Back Guarantee and a 1 Year Product Warranty.  There are several other styles and sizes available.  Be sure to scroll down to the Special Offers and Promotions section to see how you can save when you buy two or more Earth Therapy products.

    Disclosure: I received a Magnetic Copper Bracelet from Earth Therapy in exchange for my review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

    Monday, October 26, 2015

    Review: We Love Disney

    Thanks to One2One Network (#O2O) I've been able to listen to the new #WeLoveDisney CD the last few days. The album features the hottest artists from across the pop, rock, R&B, and country worlds delivering their own unique interpretations of classic Disney songs.

    These were all (mostly) songs I was familiar with, and I really liked hearing them re-imagined.  I was not familiar with most of the artists featured on this album, but after listening to We Love Disney, I am ready to check some of them out and see what the rest of their music sounds like.  I am really enjoying the vocals on this.

    The album starts off with the suave, big band feel of Friend Like Me, which I absolutely loved.  Check out the video on YouTube; I think you'll like it too.  I looked up several of the original songs from the Disney movies on YouTube, just to compare them to the ones on this album - Friend Like Me, I Wanna Be Like You, and Everybody Wants to Be a Cat, to name a few.  I feel like all the songs stay true to the originals while being something entirely updated and new at the same time.

    I'm liking the Rascal Flatts and Lucy Hale version of Let It Go better than the original.  Also, even though I usually consider It's a Small World one of the most annoying songs on the planet, probably because of having to ride the ride over and over and over with my children, I almost like it on this album.  They did a very nice job.

    The We Love Disney track list:
    1. NE-YO Friend Like Me (Aladdin)
    2. Jessie J Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid)
    3. Jason Derulo Can You Feel the Love Tonight / Nants Ingonyama (The Lion King)
    4. Gwen Stefani The Rainbow Connection (The Muppet Movie)
    5. Ariana Grande Zero To Hero (Hercules)
    6. Jhené Aiko In a World of My Own/Very Good Advice (Alice in Wonderland)
    7. Fall Out Boy I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song) (The Jungle Book)
    8. Tori Kelly Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas)
    9. Kacey Musgraves A Spoonful of Sugar (Mary Poppins)
    10. Charles Perry Evrybody Wants To Be a Cat (The Aristocats)
    11. Jessie Ware A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes (Cinderella)
    12. Lucy Hale & Rascal Flatts Let It Go (Frozen)
    13. Various Artists It's a Small World
    Deluxe Version will include two extra tracks:
    Brenna Whitaker It’s Not Easy Being Green (The Muppet Show)
    Yuna A Whole New World (Aladdin)

    We Love Disney will be available October 30th and  can be pre-ordered now on  iTunes and Amazon.
    For more information, visit the Official We Love Disney website.

    I participated in the We Love Disney album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

    Thursday, October 22, 2015

    Review: Harry Connick Jr. - That Would Be Me

    I have enjoyed Harry Connick Jr's music for quite a while now, so I was very excited to see that he has a new CD coming out - tomorrow! October 23, 2015.  I was even more excited when I was given the chance to listen to it early through One2One Network.

    On That Would Be Me, Connick threw himself out of his comfort zone and into the studio with two ‘external’ producers, Eg White (Sam Smith, Adele, Florence And The Machine) and Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Pink, Weezer, Fall Out Boy). The album was recorded in London with White and Nashville with Walker, and the result is a carefully crafted record full of surprises and stirring musical conjurations, delivering 11 new songs and new insights into his artistry.

    So far I've listened to That Would Be Me twice, and loved everything about it.  That Would Be Me is a very upbeat and fun album, and I had a hard time sitting still through it.  If I hadn't been on my computer listening...  Body parts were definitely moving.  Currently my favorite songs, if I had to pick some, are (I Think I) Love You A Little Bit and "the sultry/funky damn-near-‘70’s sounding" Songwriter. I'm also liking Right Where It Hurts.

    Here are a couple snippets of the lyrics I really liked:
    you put your smile right where my self control was s'pposed to be
    the last thing I expected
    you caught me by surprise
    everything was fine until I looked into your eyes

    I've been burned before but you sure got my fire lit
    I think I love you a little bit

    That Would Be Me is available everywhere October 23, 2015.  You can grab your copy on iTunes or Amazon.  You'll want to be listening to this one.  For more information, be sure and visit the Official Harry Connick Jr. website and his facebook page.

    Track Listing:
    1. (I Like It When You) Smile
    2. (I Do) Like We Do
    3. Tryin' To Matter
    4. Songwriter
    5. Do You Really Need Her
    6. You Don t Need A Man
    7. You Have No Idea
    8. Where Prisoners Drown
    9. (I Think I) Love You A Little Bit
    10. Every Time I Fall In Love
    11. Right Where It Hurts

    I participated in the That Would Be Me album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own. #ThatWouldBeMe #O2O

    Thursday, October 15, 2015

    What You Need to Know About Flood Maps

    FEMA is about to revise its flood maps, and this might mean physical or financial changes for your family if you live near a body of water. The good news is that the changes aren't necessarily bad. If you'd like to learn more about flood maps, here's some basic information.
    1. Flood maps refer to geographic locations where there's a risk of flooding. FEMA has released many over the years, with the latest revisions coming out in 2013 and the newest expected to come out this fall.
    2. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are expected to increase across the entire country. BFEs refer to the amount of water expected to rise during a flooding situation. Each state has its own BFE, and your state's might be affected by everything from your number of lakes to your annual level of precipitation.
    3. A Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is an area particularly vulnerable to flooding; this may be because of rain, storms, river flows or just low ground elevation.
    4. If your home is decreed to be in a SFHA, this could raise your homeowners insurance or even require you to purchase flood insurance specifically. Your property value might also decrease because of the stigma or the inconvenience to new buyers.
    5. A silver lining of SFHAs: Sometimes homes are added to them by accident. If you think your house doesn't belong in a hazard area, contact a flood insurance company and ask about a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). This amendment will take you out of the SFHA and release you from all its expenses and obligations.
    6. If your home does belong in a SFHA, you still don't have to fret right away. There might be steps you can take to protect your property from floods and therefore exempt yourself from some of the worst SFHA regulations. Again, contact a flood insurance company to figure out your options.
    7. Though flood maps may seem like a hassle, it's important to remember that they save lives. Even if you find yourself inconvenienced by a flood map, there's a reason they exist.
    These are just a few things you may or may not have known about flood maps. As you can see, there's a lot to parse about them, so don't get discouraged if you need additional research to figure it out. Simply check out sites like Flood Zone Mitigations (http://www.floodzonemitigations.com/) to learn more.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015

    Review: Andrea Bocelli's Cinema

    Andrea Bocelli is the biggest selling living classical music artist. His albums have sold over 80 million copies! Andrea even recently sang for Pope Francis on his trip to the U.S.

    I'm not sure where I've been, but I have not been listening to any of Andrea Bocelli's music.  Until now.  Thanks to One2One Network, I have had a chance to listen to his new album Cinema.  The album, Bocelli's first new studio recording in two years, will be released on October 23 by Verve Records.  It includes a collection of interpretations of songs from classic movies like West Side Story, The Godfather and Gladiator.

    Bocelli said the following:
    With the album Cinema, I’m fulfilling a wish that I’ve harboured for decades. I’ve never made a secret of my dream of bringing to life a recording project associated with soundtracks, as I truly believe that it’s an exceptional artistic treasure trove.

    It’s an area that has always fascinated me: the scores written for films are very free and potentially very creative. A vast grassland where the composer can roam as he pleases, whatever his inspiration, where he can experiment without having to submit to the norms of the classical song (based on the sequence requiring two strophes, one short instrumental passage, one strophe, one short instrumental passage), or to a theme that is necessarily the conventional one, relating to love.

    If films are a “dream factory”, the music that supports them embraces these dreams and heightens all of the magic and emotional vitality. My invitation, my token is for these immortal “classics” to merge with the experiences, with the most precious memories, with the emotions of every listener, to become the inimitable soundtrack to their life.
    True to his status as a truly international artist, Andrea has recorded songs in five different languages (Italian, French, Spanish, English and Sicilian) and has partnered with global superstar Ariana Grande on the heart wrenching duet E Piu Ti Penso from Once Upon A Time in America/ Malena and Nicole Scherzinger on the epic musical anthem Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from Evita.

    Here is the entire track listing:
    1. Maria (From West Side Story)
    2. La chanson de Lara (From Dr. Zhivago)
    3. Moon River (From Breakfast At Tiffany's)
    4. E più ti penso (From Once Upon A Time In America/Malèna) duet with Ariana Grande
    5. Be My Love (From The Toast Of New Orleans)
    6. The Music Of The Night (From The Phantom Of The Opera)
    7. Brucia la terra (From The Godfather)
    8. Por Una Cabeza (From Scent Of A Woman)
    9. No Llores Por Mi Argentina (From Evita) duet with Nicole Scherzinger
    10. L'amore è una cosa meravigliosa (From Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing)
    11. Mi mancherai (From Il Postino/The Postman)
    12. Cheek To Cheek (From Top Hat) duet with Veronica Berti
    13. Sorridi amore vai (From Life Is Beautiful/La vita è bella)
    14. Historia De Amor (From Love Story)
    15. Ol' Man River (From Showboat)
    16. Nelle tue mani (Now We Are Free) (From Gladiator)
    I'm sure some of those are familiar to you, and you'll love hearing Andrea Bocelli's amazing voice on them.  I will admit that, not only have I not been familiar with Bocelli's music, but I was not familiar with many of these songs, either.  It didn't matter though.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the entire album.  I did enjoy the songs I was most familiar with most - Maria and The Music of the Night, to name a couple.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to come to love all of the songs on the album, the more I listen.  I'm loving the music (I'm loving the guitar on Brucia La Terra.) and especially Andrea Bocelli's voice on each and every song.  This man can seriously sing!  (I know, you probably could have told me that already)  But seriously - just WOW

    Grab your own copy of Andrea Bocelli's Cinema now.  It's available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon right now. Also be sure to look for Andrea Bocelli: Cinema, which will make its initial airing as the final presentation of PBS’ Fall Arts Festival, and is set to air nationwide across hundreds of PBS stations on November 27. The concert event will be personally arranged for Bocelli’s extraordinary voice by musical director, David Foster. I'm marking my calendar now!

    Now let me get back to listening to Cinema by Andrea Bocelli.  After which, I will probably check out some more of his music on YouTube.

    I participated in the Andrea Bocelli “Cinema” album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.  #Cinema #O2O

    Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    Three Important Ways to Protect Your Home From Dangerous Chemicals

    Having a place to call home is one of the best feelings in life. It is important, however, to ensure that your home is safe for you and everyone who lives in it. Protecting your family and pets from dangerous chemicals which might reside in your home is a big responsibility, but one that ensures the safety of you and your home. Chemicals can enter your home through a number of avenues. Paints, kitchen appliances, cleaning products, and faulty heating devices can all bring in harmful chemicals. In order to ensure that your home environment is safe, take these three precautions to test for and eliminate dangerous chemicals.
    1. Lead
      Many homes built before 1978 were constructed with lead paint on the walls, cabinets, staircases, and other parts of the house. In the late 1970's, however, it was discovered that when the lead begins to chip, it releases dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere. These chemicals can seriously inhibit brain development in children and cause a host of other health problems. If you fear that your home may have lead paint, it is important to have it professionally tested. If there is lead in your paint, you will need to have it removed.
    2. Radon
      Radon is an invisible, radioactive gas, which is naturally occurring in the atmosphere. A leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, Radon can enter a home in a number of ways. Most commonly, it enters through the foundation of a home when radon is present in the soil. It is important to have your home tested for radon. If radon is present, the source should be identified and a radon gas mitigation system should be stalled. Companies such as SWAT specialize in venting this gas out of your home and creating a safe living environment for you and your family. 
    3. Carbon Monoxide
      Carbon monoxide is a combustion pollutant which is caused by burning materials. This dangerous gas is deadly if breathed into your body in large quantities. It can enter your home through appliances, heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, stoves, furnaces, and other common household items. It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector present in your home. This device can measure levels of the gas in your home and notify you it reaches an unsafe level. 

    Sunday, October 11, 2015

    What to Buy for Your Boss

    Buying a gift for your boss, whether it’s for a holiday or for reaching a milestone at work, can be a difficult task.  While there are tons of different gifts out there, you need to choose based on the occasion, and the relationship you have with your boss.
    Vintage Eversharp Fountain Pen and Pencil Set
    Here are some tips and suggestions to help you pick out the perfect gift for your boss the next time you need one:
    • Pen Sets
      You work with your boss, so getting him or her a work related gift just makes sense, doesn’t it? One of the best work related gifts that you can get anywhere is a pen set or a fine pen.  While your boss may already have a nice pen or two, that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t use one more. Best of all, your boss will think of you every single time he uses that pen, and that could be a subconscious boon for your career. Don’t underestimate the power of a great gift for your boss when it comes to your work life!
    • Flowers
      When you buy flowers for your boss the best type are wildflowers or ones that look good in an office setting. Avoid romantic bouquets like roses and go for native flowers that offer a bright pop of color to an office. Examples include sunflowers, lilies or even small plants in pots.
    • Alcohol
      Not everybody drinks, so you'll want to first be sure that your boss does.  If he enjoys a good bottle of wine or scotch, that makes for a wonderful gift.
    • Cookie Baskets
      Everybody loves cookies, and cookie gift baskets are both personal enough to mean something and impersonal enough that you could give one to pretty much anybody. If you know your boss has a favorite cookie you should obviously pick that type of the gift basket.  If you don’t know his favorite cookie, you can get a mixed cookie gift basket that anybody will love. Even if your boss isn't the world’s biggest cookie fan he'll  enjoy taking them home and sharing with family, or may even choose to share with the entire office. 
    Do you have any other gift ideas?  Feel free to share them in the comments.

    To Do

    To do list...I used to keep lists all the time - lists of the things I needed to get done, lists of the clothes to pack when going on a trip, etc. Then somewhere along the line I stopped making those lists.  I kind of made them in my head, but I quickly found out that didn't work too well.  I'd think of something I needed to get done, think to myself that I needed to be sure and remember, and then I'd promptly forget.  I'm not saying I never got anything done, but I know I forgot plenty.

    Recently I have started making lists again - after several months (or longer) of telling myself that I really needed to start writing things down again.  I'm sure I don't write every little thing down that I maybe should, but I've been trying.  It is kind of satisfying to be able to check things off when I actually get them done.

    Today I was thinking about - not writing down yet - all the things I need to get done around the house.  I started listing bathrooms that need cleaned, furniture that needs dusted, floors that need swept, vacuumed and mopped, shirts that need ironed, food that needs cooked, etc.  I started wondering if it would be easier just to make a list of the things that don't need done!

    Of course, that would take away the satisfaction of checking off the things that I get done, and I can't think of a single thing to put on that list of things I don't need to do.

    How's your to do list looking?

    Thursday, October 08, 2015

    A Lake-Front Lifestyle

    Do you dream of peaceful days and nights, great friends and neighbors, and outdoor activities year-round?  Having just returned home from a very peaceful and wonderful Feast of Tabernacles filled with great friends and neighbors and plenty of time outdoors, I can definitely say yes to that.  It's not exactly the same, but if you also answered yes, you may want to check out some of these lake-front homes in the Lake Wylie communities where everything you're dreaming of is right outside your back door.

    Lakefront living offers a tranquil lifestyle with gorgeous wooded areas, wide open vistas and breath-taking water views. Along the shores of Lake Wylie, you'll find beautiful communities with friendly neighbors and wonderful outdoor activities for the entire family. Living on a lake offers easy access to year-round swimming, boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities with family and friends in a peaceful, quiet setting. With your own private boat dock, you can easily take a relaxing cruise around the lake, or head out for an early morning fishing adventure. Lake-front living feels a bit like being on vacation all year.

    Take a look at some of the benefits:


    Whether you're retired or just want a place to unwind after a busy day at work, a lake-front lifestyle will quickly relieve the stresses of your day. You can begin each day with an invigorating sunrise and end each day with a glowing sunset. The soothing sounds of the water and the fresh, clean air will provide a relaxing, comfortable lifestyle where stress just melts away.

    Entertainment and Activities

    With the lake right outside your back door, outdoor entertaining and activities are simple. Whether you prefer an outdoor barbecue with friends and neighbors or a quiet canoe adventure with the kids, the lake provides the perfect setting and opportunity. With a boathouse and dock, it's easy to jump in the boat after lunch for a scenic boat ride or a trip to your neighbor's house for a coffee visit.

    Health & Fitness

    Lake-front living also offers opportunities for you and your family to get plenty of exercise and stay healthy and fit. You can take part in fun ways to exercise like swimming, rowing, hiking, or jumping on a giant water trampoline that the kids will love. With a lake-front lifestyle, exercise feels much more like fun than exercise, but your body and health will tell the real story. 

    I feel like I could get used to a lifestyle like that.  How about you?  Of course, when deciding on a lake-front property, you'll want to choose a location that fits your needs and personality. Different lake-front communities offer their own unique lifestyle and amenities, so look for one that's right for the lifestyle you have been dreaming about.

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    This Simple Trick Could Save You Hundreds of Dollars on Car Insurance

    How's that for a link bait title?  But just keep reading, because this might just save you hundreds of dollars every year on your car insurance.

    Since we moved from Wisconsin to Indiana, we've been a bit frustrated with our insurance rates.  Not only are we insuring the exact same cars and the exact same drivers - at a much higher rate - but those already high rates seem to go up every year.  And when I say go up, I don't mean a little bit.  This past month when we got our auto insurance bill, it had gone up over $200 from the last time we paid it.

    So Jeffrey started calling other insurance companies to see if we could save some money by switching companies.  They say you should compare rates on a regular basis, but we honestly never felt a big need to do it.  Until now.  In Wisconsin our rates were reasonable, and when they did go up, it was entirely reasonable.

    While he was calling other companies, Jeffrey called our current insurance agent too, to find out why the policy had gone up so much.  The basic answer is that there has been more severe weather in recent years, and they've had to pay out more in claims - so somebody has to pay for that.  That's where all their insurance customers come in - whether or not we've filed any claims.  After all, the insurance company's stock holders expect to make a profit.

    Jeffrey asked him if there was something we could do to lower our rates, and that's when our agent told him that if he rewrote our policy and we would be willing to pay annually instead of every 6 months, we could save over $800 a year.  Of course that's not something they're going to tell you.  Unless you ask.  And you have to be able to pay a year's worth of insurance at one time, which in this case amounted to paying about $400 more than we would've had to pay anyway - just for 6 months.

    Of course, there's no guarantee you'll get the same savings through your insurance company, but it's certainly worth calling to find out.  And if you're calling insurance companies to compare rates, be sure to ask about the cost of an annual policy while you're at it.  You just might be able to save hundreds of dollars every year.

    Friday, September 18, 2015

    A Disabled Crane Can Mean Trouble for Your Business

    With all the action going on outside Jeffrey's office the other day, I thought it was quite timely when I was asked to post the following information about disabled crane parts.  I'm sure there is no good time for a crane to break down, but it would be especially bad in the middle of a big job like moving a huge milk tank into place.  I think the best advice here is to be proactive and have some spare parts on hand so you're ready when a breakdown occurs and don't have to wait for some new parts to arrive.  That, and finding a reliable source so you can get what you need when you need it.

    When you take on any job with your overhead crane, big or small, you are expected to deliver. Your client is relying on you to get the job done in order to keep the entire project on schedule. You've got more jobs lined up and employees that are counting on you as well. When you have a disabled crane, it brings everything to a grinding halt. The next time that you need disabled crane parts, don't waste your time. The ProservCrane Group stands at the ready for you.

    Find the Parts You Need When You are in a Bind
    That dreaded moment when your overhead crane breaks down can be extremely frustrating. Take it in stride when you have a reliable source for parts. With the ProservCrane Group, you'll find a full listing of parts for every model and make of overhead crane. Simply pull up the website, browse the list of parts, and place your order. You are a priority and your parts will arrive at your earliest convenience to get you up and running once again.

    Be Proactive
    You've been in this business long enough to realize that you have certain parts that are going to burn out. Order what you need the most often from the ProservCrane Group and have your parts on hand. You'll be ready to take on repairs when they arise, ensuring you can deliver the quality service that is a part of your business.

    Be Prepared for Regular Maintenance
    Take care of your equipment and maintain it well with help from the ProservCrane Group. When you're ready to work on your equipment before the next project, line up your parts with the ProservCrane Group. Representatives are always ready to assist you when you need help finding exactly what you need.

    Explore Your Options
    The ProservCrane Group goes above and beyond when it comes to overhead cranes. Not only do they offer you a comprehensive assortment of parts, they can help you with installation, servicing, refurbishing, and maintenance. Turn to the team at the ProservCrane Group to take care of your equipment. Your satisfaction is a top priority.

    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    Backpack Snacks: 5 budget friendly foods that will survive a backpack

    Just in time for back-to-school we have this handy infographic featuring Backpack Snacks: 5 budget friendly foods that will survive a backpack and provide on-the-go nutrition.  Little bodies need frequent fuel ups, and these snacks provide convenience and nutrition.

    The way Jason loves his Cheerios, I bet he'd be thrilled to have a cup or baggy of them in his backpack.  A little trail mix in my purse isn't a bad idea, either.

    More information

    Monday, September 14, 2015

    Keeping Your Equipment Running and in Good Condition

    When you own and use heavy duty equipment on a regular basis, you know what a challenge it can be to keep this gear in good condition. When a machine breaks down, you lose valuable time staying on task and keeping your profits intact. Rather than lose time finishing a project, you can find gear like Gaso pump parts online. Having access to the gear you need online can save you time and also let you order what you require without having to wait for local dealers to replenish their inventory.

    Online parts dealers make it a regular habit to keep their inventory updated and always ready for customers. Because they service people from all over the country and the world, they also have a wide variety of mainstream and lesser known parts on hand. You can find the gear you need for the pump made by a particular manufacturer, even if local stores do not have the same parts on hand. You can specify in what quantity you need these components and even order extra if you want to have enough on hand for future repair or maintenance jobs.

    Pumps come in a wide variety of makes and models themselves. Even the makers themselves create different models so that they can serve a wide variety of clients. If you have a pump that is a 1500 model, for example, you may want to know if the online store has the parts you need on hand. You can click on your model's number and find the gear you need to make the needed repairs. If you are not sure of what kinds of parts you need, you can also refer to the reference table that is on the website. This table makes searching for the needed components easier.

    Anytime you begin ordering parts online, you want to know that you can reach someone from the company if necessary. The website makes available several contact options so you can speak with someone if you have concerns or questions. The customer service number is listed at the top of the page. You can also use the email option or click on one of the social media plugin buttons at the top of the page as well. The website also has a form available that you can fill out and submit to the website for help.

    He's a Bike Rider

    Jason doesn't have anywhere to ride his bike at home, so he doesn't get much of a chance to learn to ride.  We have a nice driveway with lots of riding space, so his Uncle Cory brought the bike along when they came to visit.  At first Jason was having some trouble peddling and spent most of his time looking at his feet to see what they were doing.  That made it a bit tough for him to steer, too.

    After a few days of practice, the boy was peddling like a pro and riding that bike all over the driveway - down the driveway, up the driveway, into the garage.  One of his favorite games was to chase me all over the driveway while I gave him a hard time about how he'd never catch me.  He might not have been able to catch me at first, but I was having to run to stay away from him by the end.

    And sometimes I had to take a break.  Four-year-olds have more energy than the rest of us, I think.  While I took a break, he'd keep riding around the driveway and playing his other favorite game.

    This little boy really does crack me up.

    Tuesday, September 08, 2015

    Rugged Heavy Duty Mats

    Ever since we built our first house and my brother walked from the front door, across the (brand new) living room carpet and into the kitchen, tracking mud all the way, I have had a no shoe policy in my house.  That means shoes come off at the door, and we don't track whatever our shoes may have come in contact with into and through the house.  And, I expect the people who come to visit to take their shoes off, too.

    Milliken Forma available from Syncros Entrance Matting SystemsOf course, for stores, offices, and other places of business, a no-shoe policy is not possible.  People are going to be walking in and out all day long, and they are going to be wearing their shoes.  Dirt, water, snow, and other debris will be tracked into the building on the soles of all those shoes, unless something is done to stop it.  The proper entrance mat is specially designed to stop that debris at the door and maintain a clean and welcoming entrance.  Not only that, but entrance mats help protect flooring, and they protect guests and employees from slips and falls.

    There are a wide variety of rugged heavy duty mats to choose from.  Here are two kinds that you've probably seen:
    • Grip Rock
      This is the original non-slip matting made from crushed garnet and ceramic beads with fiberglass in the middle. The highly textured surface provides maximum slip resistance and secure footing, promotes safety, resists fungal and bacterial growth, maintains employee performance, and decreases time off related to injuries from accidents and possible workers compensation claims and litigation. Comes in standard sizes, rolls, or custom cuts and is available unbacked for glue-down applications.
      It is commonly used in restaurants, food preparation areas, beverage stations, washing areas, freezers, kitchens, stairways, under thresholds, on incline ramps, in industrial areas, hospitals and more. 
    • Poly Weave
      This carpet in heavy duty polypropylene is available in five patterns, many color options, and in rolls, tiles or custom cut sizes. The unique and rugged carpet is popular with its blend of 18-240 dpf solution dyed heavy duty UV stabilized olefin fiber (polypropylene) with a synthetic non-skid rubber backing. It is used indoors or out on the surface or recessed, is UV fade resistant, has a thickness of 7/16”, and more.
    I still believe shoes have no place in the house, but these are some good options for places that can't have such a policy.

    First Day of 4K

    It's hard to believe.  It seems just yesterday that our adorable grandson Jason was born.  Now he's 4 years old and started school today.  OK, so they start kids in school a lot earlier than they used to.  His mommy had to wait until she was almost 6 to start kindergarten.  But I'm again asking myself - "Where does the time go?"

    Who told the little stinker he could grow up so fast?  Somebody tell him to just stay little.

    (If he's anything like my kids, which I'm pretty sure he is since he's related to both of them, then he wouldn't listen anyway.)

    Thursday, September 03, 2015

    Gift Ideas for Men

    When it comes to shopping for gifts, I either know exactly what to buy for someone, or I'm at a complete loss.  Some people are just easy to buy for; I'll see something in the store or online, and it has their name written in capital letters all over it.  For others, gift giving takes a little more thought and planning.

    Thankfully, most of my gift-giving involves that kind of see it, grab it, give it process.  If I had to make a list of everyone I should buy a gift for and find something for all of them - all for the same occasion - I'd be in huge trouble.  I do not envy those of you who are just beginning to think about Christmas shopping.  Better you than me!  I hear it is never too early to start planning, though I'd probably leave it to the last minute because once I buy a gift, I need to give it to that person NOW.  How do you stand waiting?

    If you are starting to think about gifts for the men in your life, the following list of gift ideas may be handy.  Wait, or don't; it's up to you.

    Monthly Gifts
    Subscription boxes have become extremely popular in the last few years. Your recipient will receive one box a month filled with goodies.  There are many different subscription options with boxes available for gamers, golfers, cat lovers, bakers, and pretty much anyone else you can think of.  Subscriptions really are the gift that keeps on giving.  They may not be the cheapest gifts available, but your gift recipient will remember you every month when that box comes in the mail!

    Practical Gifts
    I tend to think that practical gifts make some of the best gifts. Think about something that your gift recipient does, or likes to do, on a regular basis, and give him something to help him with that.  If your guy likes to cook, perhaps get him that new kitchen gadget you've seen advertised, something he might enjoy but not actually buy for himself. If he likes to keep his facial hair to a minimum, consider some high quality shaving supplies nicely arranged in a basket.  The key is to tailor the gift specifically to your recipient and think of something he will actually use, instead of just putting it away somewhere (after saying "Thank You" of course) never to see the light of day.

    Homemade Gifts
    Homemade gifts are the most personal of all gifts.  Anyone can go out and buy something at the store, but it takes immense time, dedication and consideration to handcraft a gift.   Homemade gifts can also be a great way to stick to a tight budget.  Think about where your talents lie and give something that uses those talents.  If you're a baker, bake some cookies or banana bread or something you know he really likes.  If you can crochet or knit, a scarf or hat might be really appreciated.  Making something yourself is a great way to show someone you care about him without spending a ton of money.

    Do you have any other great gift ideas?

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015

    Where Does the Time Go?

    I just visited my own blog and realized I haven't posted here since June.  JUNE?  What happened to July and August? 

    You know, if I was blogging consistently and keeping up with things, I'd know what happened during those months.  But I didn't, and now I wonder if I will ever remember. 

    I know in June, after that last post, I spent a week at Camp Outreach, which was an amazing experience. 

    And then the rest is escaping me now.  I know there was some gardening, lots of mowing because this summer was crazy rainy, a canoe trip, visiting our kids and seeing Cory in a play, but don't ask me for details.  (I really should sit down and try harder)

    Challenge Participant
    The main reason I was here was to post this badge here:

    I'm a member of NetGalley, which is a really great way to read new books and spread the word about the good ones.  Unfortunately, though I love to read, I'm not always that great at writing reviews.  That's why I joined the NetGalley Challenge which is supposed to offer some great resources for writing better reviews.  I'm looking forward to it.

    Of course, I also need something to help me read faster because there are always so many books I want to read.  And so little time.

    Friday, June 19, 2015

    Review: VENUS by Joy Williams

    Thanks to OnetoOne Network (#O2O) I've been listening to this new #JoyWilliams album quite a bit recently.  I am enjoying it very much.

    You may know Joy Williams as one half of the four-time Grammy-winning folk-rock duo The Civil Wars. That duo broke up in August of last year, and Joy Williams is set to release her solo album VENUS on June 30th. 

    VENUS tells an honest, human story of one woman’s journey out of darkness.  I haven't quite caught all the lyrics, and the one time I checked out the Official Joy Williams website, they were not available.  Even so, I have found quite a few that really grabbed me - "...gather up my fears and throw them in the fire."  "standing in the ache until the levee in my heart breaks."

    The breakthrough for Joy in writing the songs for this album came when Matt Morris (co-writer and co-producer on this album) said to her, “You are so afraid to say anything wrong that you are risking not saying anything at all. You’ve got to be brave. If you’re feeling mad as hell, then we’re going to write a mad-as-hell song. If you’re feeling broken beyond measure, we’re going to write a broken-beyond-measure song.”  And so she did.  Joy actually wrote over 75 songs for this album, though only 11 of them made the actual album.  (I wonder will we see some of these in the future?)

    I have enjoyed Joy's journey, as she starts with miles to go before she sleeps and finally ends up home.  Along the way she faces pain, heartache, and the impossibility of perfection.  She learns that it's OK not to be perfect, gives herself permission to feel all the things, and embraces the fact that it means so many things to be a woman.  It's a very personal album that Joy hopes people will find their own stories in, too.
    The whole emphasis of my new album VENUS is I’m discovering what it means to be a woman. It’s not necessarily the things I was taught. It’s the things I’m learning on my own. The good, the bad and the ugly is all in there. To be strong and to be weak, and to be scared and to be bold, and to be angry and to forgive, and to be broken and to break open, and break through, and to be hurt and to do the hard work to heal. That’s the type of woman I want to be.
    It took a lot of courage to expose herself to all of us in such a way - and so beautifully.  I love the haunting quality of her voice in some of the songs and the different emotions that the music brings forth. Overall, a lovely journey that I will be repeating.

    Though I found something to like in all the tracks, I especially liked the upbeat, almost tribal feel of this song, Woman (Oh Mama):

    Venus is available June 30. Get your copy on Amazon or iTunes.  I think you're gonna love it.

    I participated in the Joy Williams Venus album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

    Monday, June 15, 2015

    The Coolest Garden Ever

    I remember the first time my grandpa came to our first house.  He looked out into the backyard and said, "You've got plenty of room for a garden."  No way!  I was not going to have a garden.  Ever.  I'd had enough of gardening growing up.

    Fast forward a few years - we'd moved to a new house, and I decided I'd like to have a garden after all.  Nothing too elaborate, but some fresh tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and other produce would be nice.  My husband built me some raised beds, and I started raising some vegetables. I didn't grow so much that I had lots of produce to can, but we did enjoy fresh veggies from the garden, and I really enjoyed it.  It really is amazing how you can stick some seeds in some dirt and get food!

    A couple years ago we moved again, and I left my gardens behind.  Because we moved in the middle of the summer, I didn't really have time to get anything from the old gardens, and I definitely didn't have a chance to plant anything at the new house, even if there had been a garden.  Last summer came and went without a garden either, because we realized that simple beds like I had before just would not work.  Not unless I wanted to share everything with the deer.  Which I don't.

     We never had deer in our yard before.  A simple fence around whichever bed the beans were planted in was enough to keep the bunnies out.  But here we need to keep the bunnies and the deer and the neighborhood cats all out of the garden.

    So, my husband designed and built me the coolest garden ever.  This thing ought to keep all those critters out, and look great at the same time. We've got raised beds and fencing all the way around.

    And we're gonna have fresh vegetables this year! 

    Jason helped me plant tomatoes and peppers, broccoli, beans, and carrots - and some other stuff - when he was here.  After he helped move dirt into the garden.

    I'm being amazed all over again watching how seeds in dirt turn into plants and how little plants become big plants.  The only thing the fence can't seem to keep out is the weeds, and those are getting bigger, too.  but I'll get 'em!

    For fun we added some hooks and hung my bamboo wind chime and another cool hanging we used to have on the deck at our old house, but with no pergola here we had nowhere for them to go.  We also added a couple solar 'wine bottles' for a cute glow at night

    The bigger the plants get, the cooler this garden is going to look.  I can almost taste that zucchini!

    Create An Energy Efficient Garage

    Sectional-type overhead garage doors in the st...
    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    If you're thinking about remodeling your garage, you can make it a great, energy efficient space with a few simple steps. Whether your garage is attached or detached, you can create an energy efficient space for a workroom or storage. Take a look at five remodeling tips to make your garage more energy efficient.

    1. Insulate the Garage Walls - Exterior walls in most garages don't have insulated walls. Usually, there's an exterior material wood siding, sheathing, and particle board that act as the barrier between the garage and outside air. By adding a layer of insulation with the right R-value between the joists, or using a blown-in insulation in the drywall, you can increase energy-efficiency.
    2. Caulk Between the Garage Wall and Floor - Over time, structures begin to settle. In garages, the joint between the walls and concrete floor swells or shrinks as your house or garage begins to settle, and this creates air flow from outside. By applying a simple bead of silicone, latex or foam sealant between the garage walls and concrete floor, you can prevent loss of warm air in winter and cool air in summer.
    3. Seal Floor Cracks - Both attached and detached garages typically have poured concrete floors which doesn't provide much insulation to begin with. If the concrete floor develops cracks from normal settling or the weight of your cars, outside air can enter your garage through these cracks. Sealing all floor cracks with a concrete sealant will prevent air flow and provide better energy-efficiency.
    4. Insulate Your Garage Door - Your garage door creates a lot of opportunity for air flow when it's raised and lowered, but insufficient insulation can also account for outside air entering the garage all year. To properly insulate the door, you can purchase an easy-to-install insulation kit from a home improvement store, or install a new energy-efficient garage door for your home.
    5. Change Your Garage Lighting - If you have incandescent light bulbs in your garage fixtures, changing them to energy efficient LED or CFL light bulbs will increase energy-efficiency. These types of light bulbs use between 12 and 15 watts of electricity per bulb, as compared to 60 watt incandescent bulbs. The amount of light output (lumens) is the same as a conventional 60-watt light bulb.
    For more information or to find a contractor today, visit web.com.

    Sunday, June 14, 2015

    How to Remove That Sticky Residue

    I saw something on Pinterest recently for a homemade 'Goo Gone' which is supposed to work well to remove the sticky residue from labels and price tags.  But when I had a label to remove recently, I couldn't remember what the recipe was, and realized I hadn't pinned it.  So, I reached under my sink and grabbed my handy can of Bar Keepers Friend®.  Guess what?  It worked wonderfully!

    There was no scrubbing involved or trying to figure out if cold water would work better than hot.  I just sprinkled some on my sponge, added a little water, and wiped the gunk off.  It was awesome!

    Of course, I've only tried this twice, once on plastic and once on glass, but I really need to remember this in the future.  That sticky, gunky residue is always such a pain.

    Have you found anything that works for you?  If you have some of this stuff, give it a try.