Saturday, April 23, 2016

5 Great Flowers for a Moonlight Garden

Most gardens are designed to be enjoyed during the day. You can take in the color, texture, and smells as you wander about them. Nevertheless, there are times that you might like to enjoy your garden at night. For instance, you might like sitting outside with family and friends partaking of a beverage and some good conversation. Your garden, though, is hiding in the dark. A moonlight garden, however, is specifically designed to show off its best features at night. This is usually accomplished by incorporating a lot of white into the garden. White flowers can almost glimmer in the night. Following are five great flowers that you might want to bring into your moonlight garden.

Moonflower (Ipomoea ‘Alba’)
This is a must-have flower in any moonlight garden. The moonflower is a member of the morning glory family and has the distinction of blooming at night rather than in the morning like its cousins. It is an easy-to-grow annual. Really you just need to plant the seeds in the spring after all chance of frost has passed. Moonflowers, like morning glories, are climbers; therefore, you should make sure that they have something on which they can climb. They will produce large pure-white blooms beginning in the early evening.

‘Iceberg’ Floribunda Rose
Anyone would want a rose in a moonlight garden; however, not everyone is much of expert at growing roses. Floribundas tend to be hardier than some other roses and also are continuous bloomers — usually from spring until the first heavy frost. The ‘Iceberg’ is an extremely popular rose, producing 3-inch clear-white blooms. (They may show a pink tinge in cool weather.) The blooms are also lightly fragrant, which adds a nice touch to your moonlight garden.

Astilbe
I have grown quite fond of astilbes. They are an easy-to-grow perennial and can grow to be 20 inches or more. There are numerous varieties in various colors; however, you will, of course, want to look for the white ones. They grow well in dappled shade; although, they can handle full sun if kept watered well. They produce large spikes of flowers in the late spring and bloom through the summer. I have some in my garden, and they really stand out at night.

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum)
I absolutely love daisies, and the Shasta is one of my favorites. The flower stalks can grow to be 24-36 inches tall while the dark green leaves are generally only 4-6 inches high. The large blooms are present throughout the summer; although, I have managed to keep mine blooming into the early fall through regular deadheading. Shastas spread but are not invasive. Most gardening books will tell you that they prefer full sun; however, I have mine growing where they are protected from the hot afternoon sun that we have in the South. They are doing just fine, too.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
Of course, you will want some type of ground cover for your moonlight garden. What could be easier than creeping phlox? It generally blooms from early to midspring; although, I have had mine bloom into the early summer. Creeping phlox comes in a variety of colors; however, there is a pure white version. Phlox is really quite simple to grow. You basically stick it in some decent soil, water, and step back. Once it has ceased blooming, the green does make a nice ground cover growing to be only 6-8 inches tall when in bloom. The spread for each plant is about 24 inches.

These are just five of my personal favorite white flowers for a moonlight garden. You might also be interested in mixing in wall rockcress (Arabis caucasica ‘Snowcap’) with your creeping phlox, another easy-to-grow perennial that is also fragrant. If you are a daisy-lover, don’t be afraid to add some wild daisies. I have wild daisies — normally referred to as oxeye daisies — that bloom continuously as long as they are kept deadheaded. (I just shear mine.) You might also consider planting some white irises or white bleeding hearts. Just use your imagination. If the flower is white and appeals to you, don’t be afraid to give it a try in your moonlight garden.

You might also be interested in the following articles:
Design a Moonlight Garden
Creating a White Garden
Creating a Garden Using White and Pink Flowers

References:
Ondra, Nancy J. Taylor’s Guide to Roses. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.
Roth, Susan A. New Complete Guide to Gardening. Des Moines, IA: Meredith Books, 1997.
Scarlett, Kay, pub. The Complete Garden Flower Book. London, England: Murdoch Books UK Ltd., 2001.

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5 Great Green Tips for Thanksgiving

When trying to find new ways to help the environment and save some money, it is important to look closely at what we do most on Thanksgiving. Green tips for Thanksgiving are everywhere…

By Exploring

  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Cooking
  • Clothes

It’s easy to find enough great green tips for Thanksgiving to write a book!

Travel Green

The obvious way to go green this Thanksgiving is to stay home but that’s not always an option. Stay within biking distance and use one if the weather permits. If you have to travel, try to take non-stop flights. According to Travel Channel, the most carbon emissions occur during takeoff and landing, so plan accordingly because it will not only save the planet but should save a few dollars and some time with fewer flights and layovers.

Cook Green

The best tip for cooking green this Thanksgiving is to cook only what is needed. That is not always easy to do, especially when there are several guests expected, so plan ahead. Having a full guest list will help as well as knowing who’s the hog and who’s only going to have a glass water.

Entertain Green

There is nothing more annoying then Grandma yelling at the kids to keep the heat in. “We are not heating the outdoors,” she will say at least once unless you manage your guests. A great tip to help entertain green this thanksgiving is to set up stations for different types of fun. This helps keep guests indoors. Some people want to watch the football game but not everyone so an extra television set up for others helps settle the stirring dramatically. Of course using extra appliances on Thanksgiving is not the best solution, board games and storytelling often go great with the season.

Dress Green

The temperature has changed quickly and many hurry to cover-up with whatever they can find. This may not be the best option for the environment or your pocketbook. Considering the fancy sweaters and quaint dress clothes many wear on Thanksgiving, often hundreds of dollars can be saved by reusing worn out clothes or even shopping the thrift stores. This can give you time to shop the deals for cold weather clothes that stores have just recently hiked up for maximum profit.

It is never too late to start a list of green tips for Thanksgiving. If you’re trying to go green this Thanksgiving, these 5 tips should get you well on your way.

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5 Great Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom

Whether your mom is a picky Polly or easy-to-please Emily, buying a gift for your mother is like playing Russian roulette without the revolver. I once bought my laid-back mom a holiday gift I thought she would really enjoy, an exercise DVD with retro music from her salad days. Wrong! I wasn’t there when my mother opened the gift, but my sister reported back later her exact words were, “If she thinks I’m going to use that, she’s mistaken.”

If you’re looking for a holiday gift that your mom will really love, don’t make the same mistake I did. Think about what your mother really loves to do (obviously, exercise wasn’t on my mom’s top 10 list), and choose a holiday gift that shows your mom you really “get” her.

Here are some of the best holiday gift ideas for moms for 2010:

Holiday Gift Idea for Mom 2010 #1: eBook Reader – If your mom loves to read, but the letters on the page are becoming as fuzzy as a Renoir painting, an electronic book reader will allow her to adjust the font size so the text is more readable. Another plus of the eBook reader is its light weight, especially if your mother is arthritic and has trouble holding up a hefty hardcover. Some of the eBook readers will even read to your mother, although the audio may sound more like a robocall than a book-on-tape. Prices for these once expensive readers have plummeted, making them highly affordable holiday gifts.

Holiday Gift Idea for Mom 2010 #2: Season Tickets – Whether your mom is a sports fan or theater buff, getting her season tickets at her favorite entertainment venue is sure to make her swoon. Better yet, offer to attend some of the events with her, provided your mother enjoys spending time with you. Alternatively, you could buy her a ticket for a single theater or sporting event and even throw in a meal at her favorite café.

Holiday Gift Idea for Mom 2010 #3: Gaming System – If you think the words “gaming system” and “mother” do not belong in the same sentence, think again. Gaming systems have come a long way from shoot ’em ups and missile destroyers. Look for a gaming system that has games that match your mother’s interests, whether it’s dancing and bowling or playing word games. To make sure your mom uses her new gaming system, be sure to set it up for her and teach her how to use it.

Holiday Gift for Mom 2010 Idea #4: Latest Kitchen or Gardening Gadget – Whether your mom likes to slice and dice onions or dig in the mud, she’ll enjoy the latest and greatest gadget for her culinary or gardening hobby. For cooking moms, silicone anything is hot right now, and the latest salad spinners seem to do everything but grow the lettuce. If your mom gardens, check out some of the new tool totes that fold down to a seat or the new soft-handled garden tools that are soft as butter.

Holiday Gift for Mom 2010 Idea #5: Spa Day – Narcissistic real housewives aside, many mothers refuse to indulge themselves unless they are guilted into it by a gift certificate that would otherwise go to waste. Most spa gift certificates allow the user to choose among a massage, facial or other pampering treatment. Choose an amount you can afford, or if you’re on a tight budget, give her a head-to-toe spa treatment at home.

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5 Great Interview Question Ideas for Hiring Managers to Use at a Job Interview

Hiring managers are always looking for ways to find the next great candidate for their jobs. Unfortunately, the only chance an interviewer has to get to know a candidate is at the job interview, and job interviews can be misleading, because how someone performs at a job interview may not necessarily represent how effective they’ll be at their job.

The only way you will be hiring the right employee is to ask questions that will highlight the best of the best. Here are some great questions to ask candidates at the next job interview.

Question 1: “I noticed you mentioned you know how to do Task X on your resume. If we can find a computer, do you mind showing me?”

Lying on someone’s resume is all too common, which is why this is a great question to ask at the job interview. If a skill on the resume is needed to perform the job well, ask the candidate politely if they are willing to prove it to you. If the candidate doesn’t truly know how to do the task they’ll immediately look for excuses not to. You don’t actually need to have them do the task. You simply need to watch their reaction when you suggest that you do.

Question 2: “What is your biggest weakness?”

Here’s a tricky one. This is an old-school question that every hiring manager asks at the job interview. Originally it was designed to see if the candidate was really willing to list a weakness that may prevent them from doing the job. However, these days it can tell you something else. Namely, it can tell you how much a candidate rehearsed for their job interview. Most candidates that over-rehearsed will say something along the lines of “I’m a perfectionist.” This is a terrible answer, and it tells you that all of the candidate’s answers may be suspect, so you’ll need to drill them even further.

Question 3: “What didn’t you like about your last boss?”

Lots of people feel victimized by management. Good employees know how to overcome it, while bad employees tend to simply play the victim card and claim that their boss treated them unfairly. Look between the lines and see if you can pinpoint the employees that are still bitter about their last job. However, keep an open mind too – sometimes employees really were victimized by their previous employer. Pay attention to how they answer, not necessarily the content.

Question 4: “What are your three greatest weaknesses?”

Looking back at question two, we see that many candidates have learned about the greatest weakness question and found ways around answering it. However, you obviously want to keep your candidates honest. That’s why a great question for hiring managers to ask for three greatest weaknesses. A prepared candidate will have only one. An over-prepared candidate will have two. No candidate is going to have three weaknesses at the ready. This question should force them to think more about how to actually answer the question, and will hopefully provide you with a better answer.

Question 5: “… is that it?”

It should be clear now that one of the hardest things for a hiring manager to do is tell when an answer is rehearsed and when it’s real. So a popular way around this is to give the candidate a little bit of a stress test at the job interview. When they give an answer to a question that’s important for your company, give them a long pause and add “is that it?” Few applicants are ready for that type of challenge, and the best applicants are going to find a way to still shine with their response.

Finding the Right Questions for a Job Interview

It’s easy to spot the worst candidates at a job interview. They’re the ones that walk into the interview talking about how they were fired for stealing, or the ones that are openly crude, insulting, or unintelligent to the point of being laughable.

The tough thing for a hiring manager is to find the candidate that is truly great for the role. To do that, you will need to not only ask tough questions – you will also need to find ways to keep even the most rehearsed candidates on their toes. The questions above are just a few examples of how you can uncover the truly great candidates.

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5 Great iPhone Apps for Your Small Business

Running a business is very hard. This is especially true in today’s climate. Fortunately, not everything has to be difficult. If you have an iPhone, there are several great small business iPhone apps that will help you simplify your days.

Small Business iPhone App #1 Quickbooks Web iPhone App

If you use Quickbooks for your small business, you can download a great small business iPhone app. The Quickbooks Web iPhone app allows you to run profit and loss statements and look up your contacts while you are on the go. This small business iPhone app could come in handy while you are talking with your loan officer about your financial condition. While this small business app does not have identical function to the software, it’s a great mobile supplement that is sure to help you in several different situations.

The cost is $9.95 per month for one employee and your accountant.

Small Business iPhone App #2 FedEx iPhone App

Businesses that use FedEx as their cargo carrier are sure to be pleased with the FedEx iPhone App. This small business iPhone app allows you to store tracking numbers for your shipments so that you can have up-to-date tracking information anywhere you need it. It is so convenient to not have to log on to a computer to track your shipments.

The FedEx iPhone App is FREE. Tracking your packages has never been so simple and easy!

Small Business iPhone App #3 SmartTime Schedule Organizer

Being a small business owner is hectic! Sometimes it’s very hard to keep track of everything you need to do on any given day. Say goodbye to clunky day planners and awkward Palm Pilots and hello to the SmartTime Schedule Organizer. This small business iPhone app allows you to organize and prioritize tasks, and keep track of deadlines and appointments. There’s a free version that has limited functionality. The free version is a good way for you to see if you want to invest in purchasing this small business iPhone apps. The full version cost $9.99.

Small Business iPhone App #4 Omni Invoice

Gone are the days that you have to send your clients estimates after you visit them. With this small business iPhone app called Omni Invoice, you can create professional looking estimates and email them while you are still on-site!

Even cooler, you can look up invoices with a click of the finger. If you are with a client and are discussing their account, you can settle any disputes right on-site. All you do is look up their information right from your iPhone. What a great small business iPhone app!

If you’re interested, the cost of this app is $9.99.

Small Business iPhone App #5 Sugar Sync

The Sugar Sync small business iPhone app is really neat. This small business iPhone app helps you make sure that you can access all your important files, no matter where you are. The Sugar Sync iPhone app works with free desktop software for both Mac and PC! It backs up any computer you want to to an online site, which you can access from your iPhone or iTouch. Because your files are backed up to a website, there’s no need to leave your computer on.

This small business iPhone app will be really handy when you need to review something on the go. Imagine someone calling you from the office to ask you a question. In the past, you might have had to walk them through the maze of your computer files to access the file they needed to answer their question. Now, if they call you you can ask them to hold on a minute, then access the file on your iPhone and answer their question right then and there! How neat is that? This is a great productive small business iPhone app. Best of all, this small business iPhone app is FREE!

Whether you need to access your accounting records, send a package, send an invoice or estimate, organize your time, or access your computer files there’s a small business iPhone app that will help you out. The small business iPhone apps make it possible to manage your business any where you may be.

Resources:

www.appleinsider.com
www.textually.org
www.aptism.org
www.apple.com
http://appshopper.com

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5 Great Deals on New, Stylish Motorola Cell Phones

Motorola’s hot new cell phones are all the rage right now. Find yourself with one today! If you want to research or purchase a new Motorola cell phone here are 5 places you can buy a cell online for an excellent price. So if you’re planning on purchase a hot new Razr or a sleek Rokr phone these are some sites I would suggest.

1. Motorola http://motorola.com
If you want a hot new Moto cell this is the ultimate place to buy. Grab your choice on every cool new cell you can purchase made by Motorola. So my suggestion is if you want all the hottest Motorola phones shop at the MOTO STORE. You can also purchase accessories and cellular contracts to hook up your cool new toy.

2. Best Price http://best-price.com
Here we have a link page to hundreds of retailers and every Motorola cell phone you can imagine. Prices on phones range from about eighty to four hundred dollars. However not all of the models and makes are available at the moment due to stock. Included with customer reviews and each item with a customer based rating out of 5 stars. The good news is that is tells you whats in stock and what’s not right on this page so you don’t have to waste your time. This is the site where you will find the real deals on a new Motorola cells. This is a great comparison shopping site to shop or look from. You can also buy phone accessories and important replace batteries for your Motorola phone from this site.

3. Yahoo! Shopping http://http://shopping.yahoo.com/
Yahoo! is a great place to shop to find an awesome deal on new Motorola cell phones. With 10 pages of Motorola cell phones there are over hundreds of makes and models to choose from. Yahoo! is also a great place to compare prices. Giving you choices from dirt cheap phones to more expensive Motorola cellular phones.

4. PC Mag http://pcmag.com
At PC Mag you can find a variety of Motorola cell phones for sale. Known as “The Independent Guide To Technology” it is great place to find a phone or any other electronic device. With tons of different options on Moto cells and even an editor’s rating to let you know what they rate each product. Giving you the head’s up if they think it’s well worth the buy or not worth the time. Prices vary on this site but you can find a good deal on most products. PC Mag is your place for technological information and a go for Motorola cell phones.

5. Motorola Cellular Phones http://ift.tt/1WjuWsl
This site is a listing page with 10 excellent places to check out and purchase Motorola cell phones on the internet. With these links you will be able to find the ideal phone and plan for you today. If you are searching to purchase a hot new Moto phone I highly suggest checking out this site and comparing these different sites so you can choose what is best for you.

So there you have it! 5 great e-tailers with all the newest stylish and compact Motorola cell phones at an awesome price.

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5 Great Super Bowl Halftime Shows: A Reflection of the Game

For many NFL fans, the Super Bowl HalfTime show is as anticipated as the game. For Super Bowl XLVIII, set for the MefLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will be no less the same. On February 2, 2014, Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will hopefully bring the heat to what will be the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold climate. This is sure to be a mix of new school and old school high energy rock and funk!

The organization, Up with People, has the longest record of Super Bowl performances, having performed at the games four times. The halftime show is a long football tradition and for the Super Bowl, the show has been welcoming well-known entertainers for decades. In 1991, for Super Bowl XXV, to bring in younger and more diverse viewers, more contemporary pop artists were invited to perform such as the New Kids on the Block. Since then, the halftime has been an event to not to miss. The most notorious halftimes show to date was the 2004 “wardrobe malfunction” incident between Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson where Justin inadvertently exposed one of Janet’s breasts, resulting in a large contested FCC fine.

When selecting my favorites, I generated a list of performing acts that seem in sync with the American tradition of football which are acts that are iconic, either at the time or in the past. This is because many feel that football, like music, is supposed to bring people together. Many of these acts have done just that. Therefore, while many would have their own personal favorites, here is my list of the top Five Super Bowl Halftime Performances.

5. Super Bowl XXXII – Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations and Queen Latifah (1998)

What can be more iconic of America than Motown music? This halftime show was billed as a tribute to Motown’s 40th anniversary. First, the legendary Temptations began the show, followed a medley by smooth crooner Smokey Robinson. Queen Latifah sang Motown classic ”I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, after which Boyz II Men joined in with their big hit, ”Motown Philly.” Martha Reeves led a joint grand finale of ”Dancing in the Streets”. A perfect touch for a great show.

4. Super Bowl XLI – Prince (2007)

In 2007, Prince would have been 49 and already converted to his newly found religion as a Jehovah’s Witness. Thus, the NFL probably felt that he would have been another safe rock legend performer, similar to other previous performers like Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones, who unmistakably would appeal to the masses and to the NFL’s eclectic audience. Prince performed his own music as well as some classics of others such as “Proud Mary”, and “All Along the Watchtower.” Unfortunately, the buzz about the erotic way Prince played his guitar garnered a great deal of attention. However, the music was still took center stage as Prince performed his classic “Purple Rain” in the Miami rain.

3. Super Bowl XLVI- Madonna (2012)

Clearly, the NFL was willing to gamble on some controversy by inviting one of pop music’s most controversial artists to perform. Nonetheless, Madonna staged the most watched Super Bowl halftime show in history and one of the most watched events in U.S. TV history. Entering the Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil stadium in a grandiose fashion similar to a scene of out of Elizabeth Taylor’s Hollywood classic, “Cleopatra”, Madonna came to impress by singing a series of her well-known hits like “Vogue”, “Music”, and “Like A Prayer”. Contemporary music stars like LMFAO, Nick Minaj, M.I.A., and Cee Lo Green joined Madonna’s gig. Although the Material Girl is known as a perfectionist, a slight slip in her high-heel boots and M.I.A’s quick flash of the middle finger left a slight dent in what was an outstanding show.

2. Super Bowl XXXVI – U2 (2002)

The famous Irish band was invited to perform what came to symbolize national healing, coming only five months after the September 11 attacks. Appropriately, the band began with “A Beautiful Day”. They also performed “Where the Streets Have No Name” to a scrolling backdrop on names of victims who perished in the horrific tragedy. At the end, Bono opened his jacket to show the lining with America’s Stars and Stripes proudly on display, a definite crowd pleaser.

1. Super Bowl XXVII – Michael Jackson (1993)

Clearly at the height of his enormous lifelong success, Michael Jackson, as one of the most popular entertainers in history, staged one of the best halftime shows. The King of Pop performed his most famous hits such as “Jam”, “Billie Jean”, and ” Black or White”. A fitting end to this now famous halftime show was crowd turning over cards of drawings by children of Los Angeles. Then, with a uplifting ending, MJ performed “Heal the World” surrounded by thousands of children and a huge globe on the 50-yard line, symbolizing what the Super Bowl should be about, bringing people together.

We will see in a few weeks if Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers can rise to the occasion and follow in these same footsteps.

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5 Great Irish Female Singers to Pay Attention To

Ireland has produced some pretty amazing female singers over the years including Enya, Sinead O’Connor, Moya Brennan and Dolores O’Riordan. However, they are not the only talented women to come from the Emerald Isle. Here’s a brief rundown on five more worth getting to know:

Katie McMahon

If you have seen the show “Riverdance” there is a good chance that you may already love and appreciate the music of Katie McMahon. Her solo performance in the show was absolutely stunning. Of course “Riverdance” is not all that this talented lady is known for. She has her own band, a dance troupe and many accolades to her credit. Her albums of note include “St. Patrick’s Day”, “Shine” and “After the Morning.”

Shannon Lambert-Ryan

It would be hard to describe Runa’s Shannon Lambert-Ryan in just one word. What I can tell you is this; she’s a multi-talented woman with a strong voice. Just listen to her 2009 album “Jealousy” and you’ll know what I mean. Some of the best songs on it have to be “Erin, Gra mo Chroi”, “Falling”, “Summerfly” and “Reels.” Other great albums associated with the group include “Stretched On Your Grave” and “Somewhere Along the Road.” In addition to her musical career, Lambert-Ryan is also an accomplished actor. Her film credits include M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” (2004), “Bereavement” (2010) and “The 4th Dimension” (2006).

Melinda Ortner

Melinda Ortner is another vibrant Irish singer worth paying attention to. Her song “Strangers in My Bedroom” is one of my favorites. Ortner’s other songs of note include “Maybe”, “Something You Said” and “Heartbeats.” Each one was featured in major films including “I Hate Valentine’s Day” (2009). MTV watchers may also recognize her from the show “Steal the Spotlight.” Given her tremendous talents, I suspect that we’ll see a lot more of her in the future.

Juliette Turner

Captivating and hauntingly beautiful are just some of the words that I would used to describe the music of Juliette Turner. I just love her song “Broken Things.” In my opinion, it’s a gorgeous piece of music. I also enjoyed listening to the songs “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You” and “Everything Beautiful is Burning.” Turner has also produced multiple albums that I would recommend checking out. They include “Burn the Black Suit” (2000) and “People Have Names” (2008).

Tara O’Grady

If you love jazz and swing as much as I do, you’ll be hard-pressed to stay in your seat when you hear Tara O’Grady’s song “I’ll Tell Me Ma.” Of course that’s just par for the course with this Irish powerhouse. Other amazing songs by O’Grady include “Steady Teddy”, “Your Eyes and Me” and “November Moon.” Excellent albums produced by O’Grady include “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait” and “Black Irish.”

Source: Personal Experience

More from this contributor:

Irish Themed Party Favors for Adults

Interview with Pro Motorcross Rider Ronnie Renner

Surfer Andrew Cotton Rides a 50 Foot Wave Off Mullaghmore, Ireland

Unusual Lodging: Medieval European Castles and Irish Gypsy Wagons

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5 Great Sustainable Projects Your Family Can Implement Over the Weekend

With so much going on in the world today, emergency preparedness and survival sustainability are essential to ensure our families get through any rough patches. Beginning this weekend, we should do everything we can to protect tomorrow for the sake of our kids. Let’s start today with fun-family projects.

1. Plant fruits and vegetables – you don’t have to have a green thumb, you just need to try, seeds almost grow by themselves. Take your kids on a quick trip to the dollar store for seeds (in-season), a couple of pots, and potting soil.

Mix the potting soil with backyard dirt, throw in a few dead leaves, coffee grounds, and crushed egg shells for a quick, nutrient-rich, and moisture-retaining compost/soil mixture. Follow planting directions on the back of the seed packets, then water and tend your garden pots. Within 1½ to 2 months your family will be eating homegrown garden delights.

2. Go to the park – you can take your kids to the park for a quick lesson in imaginative play, necessary to recharge your spirits. One or two hours at the park playing with your children will give your family a happy time-out together, away from everyday stress.

This kind of nonsensical play provides exercise, family unity, and allows all family members a chance to get away from (and temporarily forget about) the everyday pressures of past-due bills, unemployment and/or foreclosure. If you live near water (and you’re not already preparing for a hurricane) take a harbor cruise, rent a catamaran, or picnic on the shore, and let the water soothe-away tensions.

3. Go shopping for emergency supplies – have your children help you create an emergency kit by filling up a backpack or ice-chest. Again, the dollar store is the best place to shop for band-aids, topical creams, and any other relevant supplies for an emergency medical/first-aid kit.

Other things to stock-up on would be canned foods, as well as high-protein beans and/or tuna in light-weight foil pouches, along with bottled water. Many stores have sales over long weekends or won’t charge customary sales tax. Combined with cents-off or dollar-off coupons, your family can enjoy big discounts.

4. Search online for reference books – begin with www.Amazon.com or take your kids to a local second-hand book store for family reference books. Every member of your family will need an age-appropriate reference book, creating a portable library of survival skills and reading material, should power be interrupted.

You may want to begin with a family Bible, Farmer’s Almanac, cookbook, or American atlas (road maps bound together in book form – used prior to GPS devices). Your son may want a science book or mischievous-boy book with instructions for making batteries or learning Morse-code. Your daughter might enjoy a doll-making book, or beginner’s guide to judo and karate self-defense.

5. Have your holiday barbecue – but try grilling over natural wood-burning flames, or try digging a pit in the back yard, and heating rocks to cook your meat overnight, island-style. Research how long you need to cook your meat (or vegetables) over an open flame, or buried in the ground.

Try cooking both ways to create family grilling projects for hands-on training. I guarantee your children will enjoy your new culturally-experiential preparedness ideas, for backyard barbecuing, together.

If you make preparedness fun, your kids will take part in emergency survival plans, even if you call it camp-training. Check ahead for qualifying Scout merit-badge participation, or church missionary training to maximize the effectiveness of your family-fun survival-preparations weekend-training session.

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5 Great Plants to Use in Your Dried Floral Arrangement

If you are looking for an economical way to add some variety to your home décor, dried floral arrangements can be a great choice. If done correctly, they can preserve the natural beauty of flowers for years. You can hand pick your own arrangement from your own back yard. There is a myriad of choices. These are some of my favorites:

1. Ornamental Grass- Fountain grass blooms small purplish flowers and can go in a casual or semiformal setting. It is a mound forming grass, not crawling so it will not take over your garden. Fountain grass will bloom from July to fall. They grow slowly and preferably at temperatures from 75F to 85F. Your grass or sticks are typically the tallest part of your arrangement. You usually want to avoid a flamboyant background. Your grass is the setting for your piece.

2. Tulips- Tulips are beautiful and can add strong saturated colors to your floral arrangement. Growing tulips can be fairly easy. Your area needs to be well prepared and clear for growing. Tulips are tougher flowers, so fertilizer is not essential, but it is always beneficial. A specialized formula like a bulb fertilizer would be best. When choosing your bulbs to buy, bigger is usually better. Also, be aware of its blooming schedule and keep them fresh.

3. Sunflowers- Sunflowers are a classically beautiful and are great coloring in a summer or fall flower arrangement. Sunflowers are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance. They are also easily manipulated. If you plant a single seed, you will get one large flower. If you plant multiple seeds in one pocket, you are likely to get multiple smaller flowers on a single plant. Sunflowers can grow from a couple feet tall or taller than you. Because sunflowers can be so large, you may want to plant them several feet apart. If you are growing miniatures, space them by one foot. Full sun or partial shade will work.

4. Baby’s Breath- Baby’s Breath is a common plant in bouquets, and with substantial reason. It provides a wonderful continuity between grass and flower. They are delicate with small white flowers, but grow very rapidly. They can be planted in spring and need to have partial sun and rich fertilizer. They should be planted approximately 8 inches apart. Be attentive to moisture and pH levels.

5.Orchid- Orchids are prized plants. While they can be highly temperamental, they are worth it. If you make an orchid arrangement, you will not be in need of many materials. This flower can be the main focal piece of your arrangement, and can be overdone with too many surrounding flowers. Orchids do best in shade and should not get direct sunlight to long in a day. They make great indoor plants. Orchids do not need to be watered everyday; it is a delicate balance. Orchids can last a very long time if properly cared for.

Any of these plants would be a great starting point for designing a dried floral arrangement or bouquet. You can recycle beauty from your backyard to your living room.

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5 Great Reasons to Love the New BlackBerry App World 3.0

Android has the Android Market, iOS has the iTunes Apps Store, and BlackBerry has the BlackBerry App World. RIM recently released the new and improved BlackBerry App World 3.0, which boast several great features that you’re bound to love.

All-New User Interface

One of the first new BlackBerry App World 3.0 features that you’re bound to notice is its all-new user interface. BlackBerry App World 3.0 is designed to make finding that apps that you want easier and in addition to making its app store easier to navigate, BlackBerry App World 3.0 also boasts new icons and an all-new spotlight banner that showcases the latest and hottest apps available in the app store.

Home Screen Search Bar

Tired of navigating to the BlackBerry App World to download and search for new apps? BlackBerry App World 3.0 makes searching for apps easier than ever, by incorporating a search bar on the home screen that makes searching for new apps even more convenient, less confusing, and easier to access. Sometimes small things can mean a lot and the simple home screen search bar integration of BlackBerry App World 3.0 is a small addition that is very useful.

Subscription Services

Another great new addition to BlackBerry App World 3.0 is the ability to purchase subscription services. The new subscription for content service of BlackBerry App World 3.0 allows users to purchase 7 and 30 day trials of popular apps instead of shelling out the full price. The new subscription for content feature is a great way to try out apps before purchasing them or when users need apps for a limited amount of time and won’t likely need them in the future.

New Channels

Getting to great apps quickly is one of the key focuses of the BlackBerry App World 3.0 and one of the ways RIM is trying accomplish this is by added new channels for easy navigation. BlackBerry App World 3.0 features quick access to Games, Apps, Themes, Account Settings, and other subcategories to help users get to the type of content that they want a lot faster than normal.

New App Sorting

If adding a new user interface, easy access channels, and a home screen search bar weren’t enough to make searching for apps in BlackBerry App World 3.0 a lot easier than before, the new app sorting feature of BlackBerry App World 3.0 will do the trick. In BlackBerry App World 3.0 users can sort through search results by name, rating, price, best match, release date, and most popular ‘” making searching apps even more efficient.

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