Monday, April 27, 2020

SYNC 2020 Starts THIS Thursday

Once again SYNC will be giving away 2 FREE audiobooks every week all summer long. The first two books will be available starting this Thursday, April 30, and two more will be available each week through July 29. All books are yours to keep - no due dates - but you do have to grab them during the week they are available. The program is aimed at teens 13 and up, but anyone can sign up and enjoy the books.

This year Sync will be using the Sora app from Overdrive, so it's a bit different from years past. Be sure to visit the Sync website and register for the program. They'll give you all the information on downloading the app and getting signed in so you'll be ready when the first two books come available. I just did it, and it was super simple and took just a couple minutes. Be sure to get that done before Thursday.

Also, while you're there be sure to sign up for the text and/or email reminders so you don't miss any of the books. Remember, they're only available for 1 week, and if you miss them, there's no going back.

Here's a look at all the books that will be available this summer:

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Looking for a Fun Family Vacation? Rent an RV!

You’ve done the theme parks, and you’ve been to all the tourist traps. You want a vacation that is not only fun but relatively stress free — a vacation where you are not spending most of your time waiting in line, not surrounded by huge crowds, and not shelling out a fortune. You want something different, a way to really make some memories. Renting an RV  may be the answer you are looking for, especially if you have kids.
RV Rental
  • An RV Is More Fun Than a Hotel - A hotel room can be rather small and restrictive, and most of the time there are just a couple of beds, a TV, and a bathroom. But an RV has it all — a kitchen for midnight snacks, a table for family game night, and a bed for an afternoon nap. Unlike in a hotel room, you and your family can spend evenings outside enjoying a campfire and each other’s company. And when you’re ready to hit the hay, your bedroom is just a few feet away.
  • RV Parks Are Fun, Too! - If you haven’t been to an RV campground in a while, you might be in for a surprise. There are some great RV parks that are full of sights you’d never get to see if you were stuck in a hotel. Many of these places are not too far from major cities. If you run into trouble, you can find a mobile RV repair Waco TX company to get you back on the road.
  • You’ll Save Money - If you stay in a hotel, you have to shell out some money for expensive restaurants, but an RV has its own portable kitchen. This might be a great time for the kids to pitch in and make some meals, and think of all the money you can save!
If you and your family are staying in an RV, you also don’t have to worry about transportation to the sights you want to see, and you don’t have to pay extra for a rental car or a taxi. A rental RV is inexpensive and the possibilities for fun are limitless. It might just become your family's choice for an annual vacation.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Common Plumbing Issues

Clogged Drain and waterproofing Repair EtobicokeWhether you’re looking to purchase your first home or have owned a home for a while, you may not understand just how complex your plumbing system can be. It’s an essential feature of your home, bringing you fresh drinking water, disposing of waste, and allowing you to clean yourself, your home, and everything in it. The following are some common Batavia plumbing issues to look out for.
  • Clogged Drain - One sure sign your drain is clogged is when it doesn’t drain properly. It might drain, but if it’s slow, there’s something causing a block in the pipe somewhere down the line. It could be close to the surface or it could be deeper into your system, even underneath the ground. Clearing out a clog will ensure the pipe doesn’t burst or the problem doesn’t become so bad it stops draining altogether.
  • Running Toilet - Has your toilet ever sounded like the water was running even though it had been a while since it was last flushed? This is not a good sign. Running toilets can waste hundreds of gallons of water in just one day. In many cases, it’s a simple fix, but it should be fixed in order to save as much water as possible. It can make a big difference in your water bill.
  • Poor Water Pressure - You may have noticed it while taking a shower or doing the dishes, but poor water pressure can put a damper on your day. If both cold and hot water run at low pressure, the issue could be with your aerator. If it’s only the hot water, it could be due to an issue with the water heater. If it’s only the cold water, you could have another problem. It’s important you have it checked out so your system works properly.
There are some common plumbing issues that aren’t so bad they’ll cause a flood in your home, but they could end up causing a host of other issues if not handled properly. For preventative maintenance, watch for clogged drains, running toilets and poor water pressure.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

How To Minimize Grocery Store Visits

Everyone has to eat, but many people view buying groceries as a necessary but dreaded chore. You make a long list and then you head to the store, hoping that you don't forget anything crucial. The errand may take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on how much you need to buy and how busy the store is. The good news is that there are ways to streamline your grocery habits so you can make fewer and shorter trips to the market or maybe even eliminate them altogether. This is especially true in these days of social distancing. The fewer trips we all have to make to the grocery store, the better. 5d2_8175ehC_1080
  • Buy in Bulk - There are many practical reasons to buy in bulk. It's more cost-effective, and it's more environmentally friendly. Another great benefit of making bulk purchases of the pantry staples and household products your family uses often is that it saves you extra trips to the store. As long as you have adequate storage space, you can relieve your worry about running out without having to go to the supermarket every weekend.  (see note below)
  • Order Online - If you don't have a lot of storage space, you can still shave time off your grocery trips by ordering online. You can get your favorite gourmet coffee Los Angeles CA, and a lot of your staples by arranging regular shipments to be delivered directly to your home. With a few clicks, you can set up subscriptions and choose payment options to automate the delivery of the items you use frequently.
  • Use Delivery Services - You may find that you like ordering groceries online so much that you make it a regular habit. There is probably at least one grocery delivery service in your area. You order from a participating store, and a personal shopper makes the trip for you. You can get all your shopping done without leaving your house.
Getting groceries for your family doesn't have to be a huge ordeal. You can always find ways to simplify and outsource this errand.

Please note that buying in bulk when it comes to regular shopping and stocking your pantry looks nothing like the crazy panic over-buying some people indulged in as this COVID-19 nonsense began. If those people had known how to shop in the first place, they would have already had enough toilet paper and other necessities in their homes to survive a few weeks - even if they couldn't get to the grocery store.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Hosting a Springtime Brunch

BrunchAfter a long winter, spring is the perfect time to host a brunch for friends, family or neighbors. Whether you are hosting just for fun, to celebrate a milestone birthday or life event or to host a big holiday, there are three easy ways to make your brunch easy to host and a hit with your guests.
  • Buffet - While preparing food is arguably the most stressful part of hosting a big event at your home, there are many ways to help make it a little less intimidating. Consider making it a buffet where you prepare a variety of foods and have warming dishes set up to hold food. This allows your guests lots of choices, and it's easier to accommodate various dietary needs or food preferences. A simple way to do it is to prepare two hot breakfast items like casseroles or quiches, one with meat and one that is vegetarian as your main dish. Add in a fruit salad, buy some pastries Schaumburg, and create a couple of side dishes and you are good to go.
  • Host Outside - If possible, plan to host your brunch outside. The springtime air, the blossoming flowers, and the earth coming back to life is enough to put everyone in a good mood. While weather can be poor with rain showers, host under a rented tent or have a back-up plan to move indoors if the weather just will not cooperate.
  • Table SettingSpringtime table settings and décor should be bright and floral. Buy a pastel or bold table runner or tablecloth that has flowers within the pattern. Of course, fresh springtime flowers like carnations and roses should be on each tabletop as décor but also give guests an opportunity to create their own small flower arrangement as a fun activity and favor.
As you begin planning your springtime brunch do not forget to keep it simple yet colorful. By creating a beautiful buffet spread of food, utilizing the outdoors as your backdrop and setting a gorgeous table of flowers you will be the “host with the most” in no time.

Of course, with the current situation, your springtime brunch could end up being a summertime brunch - by then we'll all be happy to get outside and spend some time together! In the meantime, try hosting a weekend family brunch via Zoom the way my neighbor did the other day. Everyone fixes their own food (or orders delivery from a local restaurant), sets their own tables, and then just connects online for some good conversation.

Random Acts of Kindness That Make a Big Difference

be kind - 226/366Random acts of kindness are one of the best ways to spread joy during difficult times. These can be big or small things that you do for people you know or even complete strangers to show them that someone cares. Here are a few ways you can help bring cheer to other people who are going through a hard time.
  • Deliver Groceries - It can be especially difficult for some elderly people to get out and get their own groceries. Picking up groceries for them can make a huge difference in their lives. This is also true of new mothers or single parents who are raising multiple kids and have a limited amount of time to do the shopping. Next time you're going to the store, see if one of your neighbors needs anything as well.
  • Pay for Someone - A popular random act of kindness is to pay for the person in a drive-thru line behind you. Some coffee shops have even had this go on for hours as each person in line continues the kind act. You can also add kindness cards to this act and pass them along to each person you do this for or as a way to challenge others that you know to do it.
  • Write a Note - An act of kindness can be as small as writing a note on a post-it for someone and putting in their locker, car or front door. Leave them a compliment or a few kind words to let them know you care. You should also consider sending cards to distant family members or friends. Receiving a note in the mail doesn't happen often these days, so it's extra special when it does.
Keep in mind that these are only a few suggestions. A random act of kindness doesn't need to take a lot of time or even cost money. It's just a simple, small way to show that there is good going on in the world even during the hard times.

If you missed my last post, go watch the video to see what a difference a little thing can do.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

DISTANCE (Official Short Film)

In the midst of all the COVID-19 stuff that is going on right now, remember what's important.

Take care of your families; take care of your friends; take care of your neighbors. Let's all come out on the other side of this as better people. Learn the lessons; use the time; love the people God puts in our path.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Why Your Home or Business Needs a Security System

Whether you have a home filled with valuables, a family to protect, or a business you want to keep an eye on, a security system can put your mind at ease. Here are three reasons why surveillance system installation baton rouge LA is the right choice for your lifestyle.

  1. Let the Cameras Be Your Eyes - If you have children that are old enough to stay home alone, security cameras will allow you to check-in and make sure they’re safe. This also allows you to keep an eye on things when you’re away from your home or business for a while. Most modern security systems have a smartphone app that will allow you to flip through the cameras, and even rotate the lights or temperature.
  2. Track Who is Coming and Going - Dog walker
    Installing an alarm in addition to cameras is a great way to keep track of who is entering your property. Some systems allow you to set several different codes that are only active during certain hours, which is perfect for allowing the dog walker or house cleaner access during their scheduled time frame. As a business owner, you can give each employee their own passcode and use this to track who is in the building.
  3. Collect Data - In the event of a break-in, security cameras that collect and store footage can be helpful in catching the robber. As an employer, you can also use footage to help settle employee disputes. If you suspect that an employee has been stealing or slacking off or that the dog walker is only letting your dog out for a quick potty break instead of going on a long walk, cameras can help prove your case.

Security systems have benefits to both the homeowner and business owner. Protect your family and investments by installing one today.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

3 Ways to Make Your Summer Party Amazing

It seems everyone is going stir crazy - either that or they're the 'essential' workers who really wish they could stay home and can't figure out why everyone else is complaining.

As the weather warms up, we're thinking of getting outside and looking forward to the time when we can get back together with our friends and family and have some fun. I wonder if more people will be planning big parties or get-togethers this summer than in past summers.

Here are three ways to make your summer party a success:
    Portable Restroom Trailers Virginia
  1. Canopy Tent - The hot summer temperatures can make it uncomfortable to be outside in the middle of the day. You can beat the summer heat by purchasing or renting a canopy tent for your party. A canopy tent can offer shade during the heat of the day and give attendees relief. It can be a great place to have tables and chairs set out, so you can enjoy a meal and conversation in the comfort of the shade.
  2. Mobile Restroom - Having a large number of people outside can cause an issue when it comes to using the restroom. There may not be easy access to a public restroom or it may be too far away. Consider renting a mobile restroom. This can offer party-goers access to clean restroom facilities whenever they may need them. Mobile restrooms can have multiple stalls and they can even have a sink area so your guests can wash their hands after using the restroom. (Hopefully, after all this we've all learned the importance of washing our hands; let's just keep that up, shall we?)
  3. 2008 - JUNE 7 - Redneck Waterslide 44
  4. Inflatables - If your party involves children or young adults, consider renting an inflatable or bouncy house. This can offer a fun place for kids to play and enjoy the warm temperatures. Inflatables and bouncy houses can range from small and simple to large enough to accommodate adults. They can have obstacles and slides for added fun for all who want to play.
Don’t let the summer heat keep you indoors next to the air conditioner. By following these tips, you can get outside and have a great time without letting the heat put a damper on your summer party plans.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Harry Potter Themed Digital Escape Room

HogwartsWhen we went to Texas in October, one of our friends had planned and put together an Escape Room. She put it together for the teens and young adults, but everyone else wanted to try it too. We formed teams and attempted our escapes. I have friends who really like escape rooms and seem to do them a lot, but this was the first time I'd tried anything like that.

Honestly, I really didn't know what was going on or where to even start, but it gradually began to make sense, and with all of us working, we did manage to escape - with a bit of time to spare. It really was fun, and I know I'd enjoy doing another escape room sometime.

In the last few days, I've noticed several online escape rooms. I'm not sure exactly how they work, but today I saw a link for this Hogwarts Digital Escape Room, and I think I'll start with this one. It can be completed by groups or individuals. Perhaps challenge your friends and see who gets through it first?

Mostly I'm sharing here to I don't lose the link and remember to actually do this one. But who wants to play along?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tips for Finding the Right Nursing Home

By the year 2060, the senior population will exceed 100 million individuals in the United States. Many of these older Americans will require the care and support provided by a senior living facility. When it is time for them to transition into this type of community, their family has an important decision – which care home is right for their loved one?
Senior Living Communities
While this can be an emotional and difficult decision, there are some tips that can help. Keep reading to learn what to look for when searching for a nursing home. Also, keep in mind that in some cases, a viable option will be elderly home care Massachusetts, which is great for individuals who want to age in place.
  • Consider the Location
    One of the first things to think about is the location of the facility. While many family members have the best intentions to visit their loved one in the new home regularly, if it is located far away or out of the normal, day-to-day travel route, the likelihood of regular visits is low. As a result, families should try to find a care home that is located near either their home or work. This will help ensure the individual receives regular visits from family and friends.
  • The Amenities
    Modern nursing homes and assisted living facilities offer an array of activities and amenities for residents. It’s a good idea to learn what is offered to see if it is something that sounds appealing and fun.
Before making a decision, be sure to visit a few of the homes being considered. This is the best way to get a feel for what the place is really like and if it is going to be a good fit for the senior loved one in your life. If you don’t like it, there’s a good chance they won’t either, so make sure this is a factor in your decision-making process.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Free Coloring Pages

I really enjoy coloring. When the grandkids are here, I like to get down on the floor with some coloring books and crayons. And when it's just me, I do like pulling out my adult coloring books and colored pencils - and when I find the books at Dollar Tree, it's hard not to grab a bunch of them. So I have quite a few.

What I don't have is a bunch of time to color. I suppose if I got off Facebook in the evenings... (seriously, by the end of the day my brain isn't really doing anything, and I'm just mindlessly scrolling anyway)

I do find that coloring while I'm listening to an online presentation or sermon helps me listen better, so I ought to do it more often.

If you also enjoy coloring and have some extra time on your hands, you can download some free coloring pages right now. They come from the popular coloring books Whatever is Lovely and Everything Beautiful and each one has a lovely image and a scripture.

It sounds like a great way to relax, calm your mind, and focus on God in this uncertain time.

New Activities to Try This Summer

Judging by all the posts I'm seeing on social media, people are going to be overjoyed when summer rolls around and they can get out and try something new. Honestly, they just want to get back to normal life, but here are a few new activities to try out this summer. These all sound like a lot of fun.
  • Equestrian - Equestrian combines the natural wonders of outdoor horseback riding with the thrill of competition. Learning to ride a horse is one thing, but then learning to navigate it around an obstacle course is another aspect of the fun challenge of equestrian. The one easy part of this activity? It's easy to find a place to learn it this summer, such as the equestrian center Chester County. The summer will provide the time you need to get this activity down and make some big strides in equestrian. And then, when the Summer Olympics finally roll around next summer 2021, you'll know a lot more about the equestrian events, too. (I am really bummed about the Olympics being postponed)
  • Surfing - Live near the water? Why not try out surfing? This sport also requires lots of practice and skill, but the refreshing nature of being in the water on hot summer days is a bit of consolation to wiping out on your board before you get the hang of things. There is nothing as cool as mastering a wave and being in complete control of your board. If you have the time, learning to surf can be a memorable summer activity that you'll come back to for life.
  • Camping
  • Camping - There are lots of activities to get you closer to the great outdoors, however, nothing will immerse you in them more fully than going camping. With the warm weather, the camping season is at its peak in the summer. To try something different this summer, find a favorite park or campsite and pick a place for your tent to enjoy a rustic night outdoors.

Equestrian, surfing and camping are three fun new activities to try out this summer. With the extra time on your hands the summer will provide, why not try something new?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Why Are Professional Plumbing Services Important?

When something goes wrong with your plumbing, it can be a real emergency. You might be tempted to fix things yourself, and if it's something simple there's no reason you shouldn't. However, if you don't have the proper training, knowledge, and tools to get a more complicated job done efficiently and safely, you could end up making the problem much worse. Hiring a plumber may not be your first choice, but that's often the best course of action.

Here are a couple of reasons you need plumbing repairs gastonia nc.
  • Safety - Perhaps the most important benefit of hiring a professional plumber is ensuring safety. Many plumbing tasks involve objects that can transmit large volumes of electricity. These objects can cause serious injury to an inexperienced plumber. Plumbing tasks can be risky and take extensive knowledge to complete safely. Qualified and skilled professionals should be tasked with things like changing a water heater or dealing with a water line.
  • Experience and Knowledge - If you or someone else who isn't right for the job tries to complete plumbing work, you could end up making a lot of mistakes that could make things worse instead of better. For example, you might choose the wrong tool to fix a leak or clear a drain. This could result in more damage to your pipes than there was from the start.

    You might also connect plumbing joints and fixtures incorrectly, which could cause leaks soon after installation. However, a professional plumber has extensive experience and knowledge of all plumbing parts and is less likely to make amateur mistakes.

PlumberPlumbing takes serious work - work that the average person can't adequately complete without the proper training. If you're worried about the extra cost of hiring a plumber, think about your safety.

Be Aware of What They're Selling

Recently I've been seeing these Cascade commercials encouraging people to 'do it every night' because running the dishwasher only takes 4 gallons of water while washing dishes by hand uses 4 gallons every 2 minutes. As I mentioned a while back, I never had a dishwasher until we moved into this house, and I still haven't figured out what's so great about having one. Occasionally we'll have a house full of people, and it does come in handy, but the rest of the time it really is easier just to wash the dishes and get them done.

Still, this commercial had me intrigued. My view is that it takes the same amount of water, power, and dishwasher detergent to run the dishwasher no matter how many dishes you put in it, but maybe it really is better to run it every night, or a little more often, whether it's full or not. Still, I can't imagine that washing my dishes in the sink every night really uses that much water. Am I really wasting water by washing my dishes by hand?

So, today I thought I'd measure the water it takes to fill my sink up - just to see. And what I found out is that the most I use is about 5 gallons of water - and that's when I have a lot of dishes. Believe me, I can stack a drainer. I'm not sure why loading a dishwasher seems so much harder for me, but it does...

When I'm washing a regular amount of dishes, my sink doesn't get even as full as that 5 gallons. I might actually use the 4 gallons my dishwasher is supposed to use, but that's for all of the dishes. I'm certainly not using any 4 gallons every 4 minutes. What in the world are they talking about? Who does that?

But then, they are trying to sell dishwasher detergent. You won't actually be saving water or energy, but the more often you run your dishwasher, the more dishwasher detergent you'll need to buy...

Monday, March 23, 2020

Finding a Trustworthy Plumber in Your Area

If your home is experiencing plumbing problems, you might be tempted to fix the issues on your own. Of course, there's nothing wrong with this, especially if the issue is simple to fix. For example, you might notice a leak from a pipe at the bottom of your sink. It likely just needs tightening up using a pair of pliers. That's precisely the issue we had not too long ago. My husband looked at it and fixed it in no time.

However, every problem won't be easy to solve just using the items you have in your home. Sometimes you need a reliable plumber to get the job done. The question is, how do you find a trustworthy plumber in Mississauga? (or anywhere) Here are some things to keep in mind:
plumbing florida
  • Ask Around - It's very likely that your friends, family or neighbors have needed the expertise of a plumber at one time or another. That's why using your network is a good way to find a reliable plumber. Ask a few people you have a close relationship with who they use for their plumbing needs in your area. If your neighbor or best friend has faith in a reputable plumber, then chances are, that plumber or company has worked hard to earn that trust.

    Even if you're new to an area, talking to your neighbors is a great way to introduce yourself and ask for recommendations. You can also utilize the internet to read about recommendations and frustrations customers have about local service providers.
  • Check Licensing - Because most states require plumbers to obtain a license before they can start practicing, many government websites offer an online database of professional license holders. These websites might also include phone numbers to call in order to check the state of a plumber's license.

    For example, the National Contractor License Service compiles a list of each state's professional licensing agency where you can look up certain licensing plumbers are required to have in your state. You can view a list of state licensing agencies to determine if a plumber is licensed in your state.
  • Don't Call the First Plumber You Find - If you're experiencing a dire plumbing emergency, you might be tempted to settle for the first plumber you get in contact with. However, this could be a mistake. That's because, with any big job that needs to be completed in your home, you want to make sure you can fully trust the professionals you hire to complete it.

When searching for the right plumber for your needs, be sure to ask people you trust and do your own research.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Benefits of a Vinyl Fence

Vinyl fencing is a practical and aesthetically pleasing addition to your property. A vinyl fence has many benefits and minimal upkeep. There are options for nearly any area and budget.

VinylHere are a few of the major benefits:
  • Protection - A vinyl fence offers great protection and an added level of security to your home. It keeps your yard safe by deterring anyone from entering your property. A fence will let you enclose your yard or specified area to allow any children or pets to be safely contained so they aren't harmed from nearby traffic and can't wander away into someone else's yard.

    A vinyl fence is also a good way to protect against weather. It can be an effective block for wind or heavy snows, keeping the worst of it away from your property and possessions. This could save you time and prevent the need to shell out money to replace damaged items.
  • Privacy - A vinyl fence can be a great way to add privacy to your home.  The fence can protect your property from the prying eyes of any neighbors or passersby, allowing you to enjoy your activities in peace. You will be able to relax and spend time with your family or entertain friends without worrying about someone spying on you. Vinyl fence
  • Types - There are several types of fencing available. A full privacy fence or a semi-private fence offers great coverage. They're available in many different styles, varying in the amount of embellishment and decorative elements. You can choose a rail fence or a traditional picket fence if you are looking for the functional elements of the fencing and not concerned so much with the privacy aspect.

    Vinyl fencing is also available in several different colors to better match your home and to seamlessly incorporate with your existing landscaping and decor. You can also choose to include a gate or two for your fence for easier outside access.
  • Cost - A vinyl fence is a cost-effective solution to several problems. Pricing fluctuates depending upon the options you choose. These fences are built with high-quality materials that are made to last. They are strong and fade-resistant, so they will stay looking like new for years. There is minimal upkeep and cost once the fence is installed. These fences are installed by professionals to make sure that they are even and level. 

Installing a vinyl fence can be a good investment for your home. Consider speaking with a knowledgeable professional to explore your options and get started.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Betty Reads Harry

How cool is this? Two things I love - Betty White and Harry the Dirty Dog. This video has been around for a while, but this is the first time I've seen it.

Of course, there's nothing quite as special as sitting down with your kids or grandkids and reading books together. Now you can just let Betty read one of them!

Be Sure to Try These Foods Next Time You're in Texas

Texans are a proud bunch and will tell you that everything is better in Texas. It is well-known that they are passionate about their food, most notably their barbecue. Modern Texan food culture, however, is comprised of so much more than just slow-cooked meat slathered in a tasty tangy sauce. Texans don’t do things halfway; they go full throttle and put the time, effort, and love into whatever they make until it is perfect. This especially applies to their food.

SteakHere are a few examples of Texas cuisine you’re sure to fall in love with the next time you visit the Lone Star State.
  • The Perfect Steak - Texas is cattle country so, of course, they are really into great steaks.  When you think of a Texas steakhouse, you may be thinking of some dusty old roadhouse, the kind of run-down place where you might find great barbecue. And while that definitely has its place, a nice family restaurant Grapevine TX is where you'll find that good ribeye, filet, or  massive porterhouse you're looking for. A great steakhouse meal is sure to be one of your trip highlights.
  • The Perfect Burger - Once again, it’s Texas, and they do love their meat. In fact, they claim to have invented the burger and to have perfected it. It all starts with lean ground beef, a high-quality bun, either cheddar or American cheese and your choice of toppings. The official Texas-style burger has red onion, pickles, lettuce, and tomato, with mustard on one bun and mayo on the other. (Yes! All burgers need mustard!) Some would argue to include green chilis as well, but either way, you’ll be trying to make it at home. 
  • The Perfect Chili - Texans are very particular about their chili, and fights have ensued over the inclusion of beans in the recipe. Purists insist that Texas chili excludes beans, also known as a “bowl of red,” and that chili with beans is a Tex-Mex bowl of horrors. Try each and decide for yourself, they are both delicious.
Whether it’s a steak, a burger, or a bowl of chili, you’ll have plenty of fantastic options to choose from on your next visit to Texas.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Websites for Some Free Learning Fun

With so many kids out of school due to the coronavirus, parents are scrambling to figure out how to keep them busy and learning. Some schools are holding e-learning days and I'm sure many teachers have sent home plenty of assignments and activities. And there are many learning websites out there to explore - many of them are even offering free access at this time.

I don't have any kids at home anymore, but I am seriously tempted to check some of these out myself. I always loved school.

I just downloaded this image from facebook with a list of 10 Free Learning Websites for Kids, so I thought I'd start with looking these up and linking to all of them here while I'm at it - it's easier to click than have to type the url in, right? Enjoy!

  1. Switch Zoo Animal Games - all about animals, of course
  2. Fun Brain - games for some math and reading practice
  3. Nat Geo for Kids - geography (and animals)
  4. PBS Kids - games and videos with your favorite characters (parents can sign up for daily activities and tips for keeping kids playing and learning at home)
  5. Into the Book - games to practice reading strategies
  6. Star Fall - language arts and mathematics
  7. Seussville - all things Dr. Seuss
  8. Storyline Online - some of your favorite stories read by celebrities
  9. ABCya! - fun games that also practice math and reading skills
  10. Highlights Kids - reading, games, and science experiments
Where will your kids start first?

What To Look at in a Child Care Facility

tampa-daycareWith all the schools canceled for the foreseeable future, parents everywhere are scrambling to figure out what to do for childcare. Of course, the ideal situation would be for the parents to be able to stay home with their children. But not everyone can work from home, and not everyone can take extended time off not knowing where the next paycheck is coming from and how the bills are going to be paid.

So, if you find yourself needing a place that can watch your child while you are at work, it may be even harder than usual to find what you are looking for. There are several around, and even in the best of times, it can be hard to know which one you should choose.

Here are three things to look at when picking a daycare for your child:
  1. Staff - Knowing who your child is with is very important when choosing a place. You will want to make sure the staff is friendly and reputable. Meet those who are in charge and get a feel for how they are. Your child deserves the best care while there, and you should not expect any less from those who work there. Their mindset should be focused on keeping your child happy and entertained. Find places like Inglewood child care which assure their workers are trained and ready to be there for your child.
  2. Center - The facility where the daycare is housed should be clean and child-friendly. Although it is not required, having decorated rooms and a bright atmosphere helps everyone be happy. The rooms should be large enough to hold several children without being overcrowded. You should be able to see plenty of toys and areas where children are allowed to play.
  3. Schedule - Finding a center that has an outline of their day is one of the best things you could do. This allows you to see what your child should be doing throughout the day, as well as reassure you that they are not being stuck in a room without really being watched. See if they will be playing outside or what kinds of activities they might do. While everything may not happen exactly as the schedule says, you know that things have been planned for your child to do.
While it may be hard to leave your child somewhere for a few hours, knowing where he or she is can help make it easier. Remember to keep these things in mind when considering a place to put them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tips on How to Detect Hidden Water Leaks

Drip dropWhether you own your own home or live in a rented home, you may find yourself lying awake in the dead of night, listening to the dripping sound of water, and wondering where it is coming from. Worse still, you may be unaware of how bad the extent is. Water leakages are often an annoying and costly occurrence. This may especially be frustrating when you are unable to find any visible signs of the water leak anywhere in your home. You may not have concrete proof that even after identifying one leak, there may be more lingering elsewhere. Here are tips on how to detect hidden water leaks in different scenarios.

  • Notice Common Signs
    Checking your daily water usage regularly may help you notice any sudden increases that are unaccounted for. Remember that some activities such as watering your garden may cause a spike in your water consumption. To assist you in checking, you may request your water supplier to send you regular updates on your usage. Experts in leak detection Austin recommend that when you notice a decrease in water pressure while taking a shower or filling a bath, it may be a positive indicator of a leak.
  • Likely Signs of Underground Water Leakage
    Be on the look-out for damp patches or pools of water on your floor and first ascertain that your ceiling is not leaking. Certain smells may also likely indicate leakages. Since underground leaks tend to take a while to seep through pores and cracks, it often leads to the growth of mildew and mold, which have distinct odors.
  • Likely Signs Water Is Leaking Outside or in the Garden
    If you are unable to find water leaks inside your house, then you should consider checking outside. You can simply start by checking your water meter. TDo this by first turning off any water going into your house, which you can confirm by running a tap until no more water comes out. After doing this, now check if the meter dial is still moving. Once you have confirmed that the leakage is likely to be on the outside, look for signs like muddy patches or better thriving grass in parts of your lawn.

By checking out the likely leakage signs in your house, garden, and even underground water leakage features, you may be able to ease your frustration and save a lot on extra water bills.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Decoration Ideas for Your Home

If your walls look a little bare and you need some inspiration for decorating, consider these not-so-typical decoration ideas to add a splash of color to the walls.

    A Fine Day for a Drive
  • Landscape Photography - One great way to add some color to your home is by hanging landscape paintings or photographs. When it comes to landscapes, there are so many different kinds of photographs you can choose. If you prefer wooded scenes, ocean scenes or pictures of sunsets, a nice frame makes that photograph perfect to hang on the wall. If you want something a little different, you could get some alternative energy photography to decorate with. Beautiful wind turbines or images of solar panels reflecting a sunset can brighten a room.
  • Tapestries - Another fun way to decorate your home is with tapestries. You can cover an entire wall or just the corner of the room. Tapestries can be made with a variety of materials and come from many different countries. From patterns to scenery to texture, a tapestry can bring a whole new look to a room.
  • Upgraded Collage - While many people probably grew up making collages in school for projects and reports, why not make a collage as an adult? If you get a solid frame and cut out pieces from books or magazines, you can make a sprawling picture of the things or people you love. If you get a shadowbox, you can make an even more impressive collage of sorts out of pieces of items you no longer use. This home decoration can be like a little piece of modern art homemade by you.
  • Wall Plants - Most people keep plants in their home, but have you thought about hanging plants that grow from wall art or square vases? Put your plant collection on the wall for a bit of unconventional decor. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Book List 2019

I've been reading as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until 2008 that I started putting together a list of all the books I read each year. I use Goodreads to keep track throughout the year and then list them all here once the year is over. Even though Goodreads compiles my Year in Books, it's always fun to go back through all the books I've read over the course of the year and see how many pages I've read and how many hours I've spent listening over the course of the year.

Also, once again I'll link to any reviews I did. As always, I have good intentions to review more of the books I read, but I don't always follow through. Let's see what 2019 looked like, shall we?

Again, all books are listed by the month I finished them. Even if I started listening or reading the previous month.

  1. The Memory Box - Eva Lesko Natiello (audio) - 11 hrs 9 min
  2. A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) - James Dashner (audio) - 4 hrs 30 min
  3. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life - Tish Harrison Warren - 184 pages
  4. Still Alice - Lisa Genova - 293 pages
  5. Vox - Christina Dalcher - 336 pages
  6. The Rule of One (The Rule of One #1) - Ashley Saunders, Leslie Saunders - 258 pages
1071 pages | 15 hours 39 minutes

  1. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again - Rachel Held Evans - 270 pages
  2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman - 327 pages
  3. A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1) - Julie McElwain (audio) - 18 hrs 39 min 
  4. The Spitfire Girls - Soraya M. Lane - 328 pages - 328 pages  - (5 stars) 
  5. The Lost Girls of Paris - Pam Jenoff (audio) - 11 hrs 41 min
  6. Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward - Nabeel Qureshi- 176 pages
  7. The Wife - Meg Wolitzer 224 pages
1325 pages | 30 hours 20 minutes

  1. Gilead (Gilead #1) - Marilynne Robinson (audio) - 8 hrs 54 min
  2. Crosstalk - Connie Willis - 498 pages
  3. MAD Librarian: You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Library! - Michael Guillebeau - 402 pages
  4. Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World - Shelly Miller - 226 pages
  5. Under a Painted Sky - Stacey Lee (audio) - 10 hrs 11 min
1126 pages | 19 hours 5 minutes | a review for all 5

  1. Scrappy Little Nobody - Anna Kendrick (audio) - 6 hrs
  2. Five Feet Apart - Rachael Lippincott - 288 pages
  3. Charlotte Morgan and the Lemonade Stand (The Number Investigators Book 2) - Martin Tiller - 61 pages
  4. Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid (audio) - 9 hrs 3 min
  5. Elevation - Stephen King - 146 pages
  6. Bathed in Prayer: Father Tim's Prayers, Sermons, and Reflections from the Mitford Series - Jan Karon (audio) -  7 hrs 20 min
495 pages | 22 hours 23 minutes

  1. The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) - Justin Cronin - 602 pages
  2. Love and First Sight - Josh Sundquist (audio) - 6h 25m
  3. The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate - 325 pages
  4. The War That Saved My Life (The War That Saved My Life #1) - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - 316 pages - (5 stars)
  5. The Tales of Beedle the Bard: The Illustrated Edition (Hogwarts Library) - J.K. Rowling - 160 pages
  6. The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom (audio) -12 hrs 57 min
  7. The War I Finally Won (The War That Saved My Life #2) - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - 400 pages - (5 stars)
1803 pages | 19 hours 22 minutes

  1. Inside HBO's Game of Thrones: Seasons 1 & 2 - Bryan Cogman - 192 pages
  2. The Other Daughter - Lauren Willig (audio) - 10 hrs 39 min
192 pages | 10 hours 39 minutes

  1. The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen (audio) - 11 hrs 25 min
  2. Once We Had a Horse - Glen Rounds - 32 pages
  3. Light from Other Stars - Erika Swyler - 305 pages
  4. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower #6) - Stephen King - 413 pages
  5. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman (audio) - 12 hrs 32 min
  6. Murder on Birchardville Hill - Ruth Buchanan - 123 pages
 873 pages | 23 hours 57 minutes | reviews for 4 out of 6

  1. Have You Seen Luis Velez? - Catherine Ryan Hyde - 320 pages
  2. The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath - Mark Buchanan - 240 pages
  3. The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein (audio) - 6 hrs 56 min
  4. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek - Kim Michele Richardson (audio) - 9 hrs 26 min
  5. Enna Burning (The Books of Bayern #2) - Shannon Hale - 316 pages
  6. The Colorado Kid - Stephen King - 205 pages
  7. A Thousand Shall Fall - Susi Hasel Mundy - 178 pages
1259 pages | 16 hours 22 minutes

  1. The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland - Jim DeFede - 260 pages
  2. Extraordinary Means - Robyn Schneider (audio) - 8 hrs 7 min
  3. The Two Lila Bennetts - Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke - 307 pages
  4. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith - Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (audio) - 7 hrs 15 min
  5. The Grace Year - Kim Liggett - 407 pages
  6. Summerlings - Lisa Howorth - 256 pages
  7. These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (Sarah Agnes Prine #1) - Nancy E. Turner (audio) - 13 hrs 47 min - (5 stars)
  8. Love Changes Everything: Finding What's Real in a World Full of Fake - Micah Berteau - 208 pages
1438 pages | 29 hours 9 minutes | 1 reviewed half of them...

  1. Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: One Introvert's Year of Saying Yes - Jessica Pan - 274 pages(5 stars)
  2. The Martian - Andy Weir (audio) - 10 hrs 59 min - (5 stars)
274 pages | 10 hours 59 minutes

  1. The Furies - Katie Lowe - 357 pages
  2. A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles (audio) - 17 hrs 52 min
  3. Sold on a Monday - Kristina McMorris - 352 pages
  4. Glow (Sky Chasers #1) - Amy Kathleen Ryan (audio) - 9 hrs 56 min
  5. The Words between Us - Erin Bartels - 374 pages
  6. Spark (Sky Chasers #2) - Amy Kathleen Ryan (audio) - 11 hrs 12 min
1083 pages | 39 hours

  1. The Flatshare - Beth O'Leary - 336 pages
  2. Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World - Ella Frances Sanders - 112 pages
  3. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved - Kate Bowler - 183 pages
  4. A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) - Brittany Cavallaro (audio) - 9 hrs 7 min
  5. Red at the Bone - Jacqueline Woodson - 208 pages
  6. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 - Joseph Loconte - 232 pages
  7. One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow - Olivia Hawker (audio) - 19 hrs 2 min
  8. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version - 1328 pages - (5 stars)
  9. The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower #7) - Stephen King - 845 pages - I finished re-reading the series!
3244 pages | 28 hours 9 minutes
  • Total books - 71 (compare to 63 in 2018)
  • Total pages - 14,183 (compare to 13,698 pages in 2018)
  • Total time - 265 hours 4 minutes  (compare to 192 hours 13 minutes in 2018)
Page counts courtesy of Goodreads; audio lengths courtesy of Audible. My reading goal for the year was 50 books, and I met and surpassed it. I have yet to decide if I should shoot higher in 2020 or just go for 50 again and see how it turns out.

I didn't do such a good job of writing reviews this year - 34 reviews out of 71 books, so less than half. Some of them were just a few words, but I suppose that's better than nothing, right? Still, there were books that I really meant to review but didn't...

 How many books did you read in 2019?  I'd love to hear some suggestions for my 2020 reading list.  Because my already crazy long and ever-growing TBR list can always use a few more, right?

*if you happen to click any of the book covers and buy from Amazon, they say they'll pay me a small percentage.  Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your support!