Monthly Archive for "February 2010"

Holidays Vivian | 28 Feb 2010

Fun, Cheap Christmas Ideas

The holidays have a way of sneaking up on us and creating a need for cheap Christmas ideas. No matter how sincere we were in our resolutions to be better prepared the next time December rolls around, there are always unexpected expenses. Perhaps the lights on our tree finally go dark or the number of Christmas cards to mail has multiplied beyond our initial expectations. Decorations, gifts and ornaments can be expensive and put pressure on an already stretched budget leaving us tense and wondering how will we ever make the holidays special for our children and have money to buy gifts.

While searching for tips on inexpensive Christmas decorations and gifts, I found more than a few reminders to plan ahead, budget and shop the sales. These are all good recommendations, but for those of us who find it a little late in the year to successfully put those wheels in motion I have a few suggestions that have worked well for me in the past that I will share with you.


When it comes down to it, nothing says Christmas like holly boughs covered in gleaming red berries. Artificial greenery may be more convenient, but natural is attractive and free. When it comes to cheap Christmas ideas this one may be the prettiest as well as the most entertaining. Load up the kids or a car full of friends and head for the woods to get free material for wreaths, garland and arrangements. Be sure to take a saw and rope along in case you find the perfect evergreen tree on your trip. They will also come in handy when cutting branches and tough vines.

Once you have your beautiful leaves and berries, check out a craft book at the local library and learn how to tie a professional looking bow. Wide, red, gold or silver ribbon is inexpensive and will in many cases, successfully stand alone. A single bow on the front door, the mail box or the mantelpiece has an elegant look and is so easy to make. Add a little greenery and your guests will believe that you had your arrangements designed by a professional florist.

Decorating the Christmas tree can be managed without spending a lot of cash by doing it the old fashioned way. Crochet snowflakes while watching holiday movies with your kids using free patterns that are readily available online or found in old copies of craft magazines. Paper chains will share the fun with the kids and start an enjoyable family tradition. Have a popcorn stringing and chain making party to make the work go faster building memories all the while.

There are times when very cheap Christmas ideas are a necessity but there is no need for your home to be bare or for your family to feel deprived. The key to happy memorable holidays is to approach frugal holiday decor with an attitude of adventure and fun. Enjoy and appreciate what you have rather than to focus on what may be missing.

Jan Bay’s love of interior decorating and child rearing motivated the building of her site, UNIQUE BABY GEAR IDEAS which features numerous articles on nursery design, reviews of modern baby gear and the creation of modern nurseries for babies.

Use of this article requires an active link to Baby Christmas Dress.

Babies-Toddler Vivian | 28 Feb 2010

The Importance of Toddler Toys in Brain Development

The first three years of a child are crucial to brain development. During this period, the brain triples in weight and establishes billions of nerve connections. At the age of three, kids have twice as many nerve connections than a lot of adults. This is the reason why toddlers are very curious and inquisitive.

Their brains absorb thousands of information all at once, constructing new connections and associations, and making sense out of all the new and unfamiliar sights and sounds that bombard their senses. This is also the reason why toddler toys are designed the way that they are: colorful, bright, loud, with many different textures, shapes, sizes, and are made of different materials. These are all designed to stimulate and develop a child’s mind.

Differentiation and classification
In the early phase of development, one of the crucial things that a child learns is differentiation and classification. Toddler toys such as building blocks, stuffed animals, padded play gyms, rubber balls, and spiky mats, help a child recognize the different textures and shapes of different objects. Having toddler toys in different colors and in different hues and shades, also allows a child to perceive the nuances and basic principles of color, developing their creativity and imagination. Exposing the child to as many colors, shapes, and textures as possible can help expand their perceptions and sensory experience, and help them have a wider picture of the world.

Emotional intelligence and imagination
There are also toys for toddlers that nurture emotional intelligence and imagination. The popular ones are musical toys for toddlers. Musical toys help kids learn balance and harmony, and stimulate their creative minds with interesting melodies and artistic rhythms. Classical music, particularly Mozart’s Violin Concertos, is also a big help in developing a child’s brain and imagination.

Logic and reasoning
While infants already have most of the neurons they need for their lifetime, their neurons are not yet wired together to form the compound networks required for complex thought processes. In the early years of a child, the neurons rapidly link together and form connections or synapses. Toys such as puzzles, mind games, mixing and matching, play cards, and mind maps can help toddlers make complex associations and rapidly develop their logic and reasoning.

Memory and concentration
These days, with numerous technological advances and a bombardment of media messages and information, from home theaters to 3D video games, all-day cartoon channels to internet access and online entertainment, and from billboards to interactive LCD screens, ubiquitous advertisements, and sophisticated gadgets, kids and toddlers have shorter attention span and concentration. They are easily distracted and bored. Traditional toys for kids can help them be more patient, increase focus and concentration, improve their listening skills, filter out distractions, and enhance their memory.

Traditional toys that require kids to sit down, think, and tinker for a couple of minutes or even an hour will help a child form good habits and acquire discipline-two important traits for excelling in school and the adult world.

For more tips and information about toddler toys, check out

Parenting Vivian | 28 Feb 2010

Methods to Improve Child – Parent Relationships

As the generations rolled by, gone are the days of a stringent parent-children relationship. Well my mum always recalled how much she feared her dad and the methods her father would use to discipline the kids. It’s a fact, times have changed. Methods used in the past are virtually non-effective in this era. As people will lament on the gap and communication barrier between parents and child, below are perhaps some of the ways to take the bonding to another level.

1.Play Boardgames or Computer games together. All kids love games, you name it, they love it! Doing an activity together with them will enhance the relationship level, especially if it involves something which the child enjoy doing.

2.Casual conversation. It definitely pays to constantly communicate to the child often. One of my friends shared with me that she knew more about her child by asking her what is her dream profession and the attributes she would like to possess. She will never have known these information had she not taken the initiative to ask her daughter.

3.Bring the child to new places. Children are curious by nature, and it helps in their mental development to expose them to places which they have not been to. When I was young, my parents brought me to various parks, different hawker centres and shopping malls. In fact many of my current favourite places are those which I’ve gone to often in my childhood days.

4.Rewarding. In a competitive society like Singapore, it’s no surprise that we are results driven and orientated especially when it comes to academics. Kids often feel the pressure to do well, and when the standards are met, the child will want some form of recognition. It can be in the form of a compliment, an ice-cream treat or a choose-what-you-want at the toystore. One thing is for sure, kids want the appreciation and recognition. I would touch on the extent of rewarding in another separate post.

In summary, the four steps are just one of a wide array of methods to forge a more close-knitted parent-child relationship. Remember, it’s never too late. Have you done your part for your child? (:

Justine Lee contributes to articles as part of the committee of a parenting website founded in Singapore. She writes for on a regular basis and likes to share her parenting experiences with other online readers. She is happily married to her husband Jason and have a boy who is eight years old.

Parenting Vivian | 28 Feb 2010

Educating Young Children is Easy and That is Why Wonderful Children Are Every Where Around Us

Is it difficult to educate young children? Apparently not, because I’ve seen wonderful children every where.

Someone I know very well, Akang, has two teenage children. He often visits remote villages in the mountainous area of Sukabumi (west Java- Indonesia), his home town. His mission is to distribute charity money that he has collected from a list of his close friends in his office. One day, he decided to adopt a 6 year old girl from one of the villages. The girl is very happy to be able to live with him and never wants to get back to the mountain.

One day, the girl told Akang that she wanted to go to a restaurant, a place she’d never found in the mountain. It’s also one of the places where Akang visits once in a blue moon in his modest life. So Akang took the girl to eat out at a street food hawker. She enjoyed the food, took a time to look around and asked a question :” Is this really a restaurant?”. Akang answered: “Yes”.

My son, Aqmal, was also such a wonderful boy during his pre-school years (I didn’t send him to kindergarten). I remembered him as an independent young boy as he always managed to find something to keep himself busy.

At about the age of two, little Aqmal was crazy about toy cars and no wonder every one around him would give him a piece or two pieces of car miniatures. That’s why he had a huge collection of them. He also liked to collect pictures of car accessories. I helped him cut pictures from magazines and pasted them over his ‘cars’. There was also a time when he loved watching the film “Dare Devil” so much. He watched it over and over again and would ask me to draw the characters he saw in the film. At the age of four, he turned into computer games. It even made my trouble-free life with him a lot easier. There were other activities that we did together: visiting interesting places in town, reading books, counting, writing, etc.

Aqmal entered a primary school at exactly the age of six. My husband and I found a new and promising school not very far from our house. The lady who run a psychology test on Aqmal wrote down on the test report (I read it a few days later) that Aqmal looked as neat as an adult. On that same day, as the test was still being performed on other children, the school director spotted Aqmal and gave a remark to the father that he could be certain Aqmal was a smart boy by looking into Aqmal’s eyes. Then, surprisingly, he sent Aqmal together with the father to the enrollment room and gave an order to enlist Aqmal as their new student right away.

The school director also has a wonderful daughter. The two of them travel a long distance between home and school. The school is in Tebet (Jakarta) and their house is in Sentul area, about 50km away. The only vechicle they have is a motorbike. Every morning, the young girl sits behind her father, hugs his waist from behind and doesn’t stop reciting the content of Quran that she has memorized all the way to school!

The author was a working mother for years before she decided to stay home and to focus caring for her family with three children beside writing a real life parenting blog (

Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 27 Feb 2010

Ways to Earn Money Fast – Getting Started in Candle Making

The market for home made gifts is really booming and it’s a great time to take advantage of that boom. One of the best ways to earn money fast in this niche is making home made candles. There are many reasons that this is a great opportunity.

First of all, the start up cost is very low. You can buy wax and wicks in bulk. The best way is to buy plain white wax and purchase dyes to make it the color you want. This is very easy and will cost much less money than if you tried to buy up several different types of pre-dyed wax.

Another reason this is such a lucrative idea is that it doesn’t take a lot of skill. With a lot of other crafting home businesses, you must have a certain amount of artistic vision and skill to get started. It often takes years of practice before you can make products good enough for resale. With candle making, however, the process is extremely simple. There are many tutorials available on that can teach the tips and tricks in no time.

Once you’ve made a few candles you can list them for sale on sites like or and be getting orders in before you know. These candles only take a few minutes to make and you can see profits within hours of first listing them for sale. Of all the ways to earn money fast, this is truly one of the most successful I’ve come across.

If you need money now, like I mean in the next hour, try what I did. I am making more money now than in my old business and you can too, read the amazing, true story, in the link below. When I joined I was skeptical for just ten seconds before I realized what this was. I was smiling from ear to ear and you will too.

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Uncategorized Vivian | 27 Feb 2010

Retirement – Do You Have a Renewable Source of Income?

In today’s uncertain times, having a retirement account may not be enough. You can do all the right things and still see your money evaporate due to forces outside of your control. Having a retirement account is like fossil fuel energy, it’s finite, and sooner or later, it will be used up. What you need is a renewable source of income.

Retirement is something that most people are in denial about. They struggle day to day to make ends meet and are then told they have to save hundreds or thousands of dollars a month just to retire at the same income they are struggling with. Most people just don’t do it.

This is born out by studies. The statistics show that even after of 20 years of tax favored retirement savings accounts such as the 401(k), 4 out of 5 baby boomers have less than $25,000 in savings. What’s worse is that 2 out of 5 have less than $1,000 in savings which is virtually nothing.

Those that have saved usually put their funds into mutual funds which typically invest in stocks. They have done their due diligence and spread their risk. However, lately, they are finding the value of their accounts have dropped due to the latest turmoil on Wall Street.

People who have already retired may be forced to ‘unretire’ because their retirement accounts have dropped to unsustainable levels.

The basic concept flaw of a retirement account that no one wants to talk about is that once you retire, you set up a race to see which runs out first, your money or your life. The recent economic climate points out that most likely it will be your money.

The retirement account is designed to fund your income stream once your job stops. It’s the income stream that is important, not your retirement account.

How do you create an income stream that will allow you to retire? Some of the criteria you might want to look for is will it continue while you enjoy yourself? Can it increase to cover the rising costs of living such as the huge increase in gas prices? Can I do it? And, can you pass it on to your heirs?

One such answer that fits is a home based business. Many home based businesses offer residual income. Residual income is income that comes in long after the work to create it has been done. One example is an author who published a book in 1980 and is still collecting royalties from it 28 years later.

Once you build your residual income, it keeps coming in. Many people have had interruptions in their lives such as medical problems for themselves or loved ones that have taken away their ability to work and the checks continue. Others have taken years off to raise their children and the income continues.

Since the income is under your control, you can increase it to cover inflation. This income is definitely not fixed. In many businesses, your income will grow due to leveraging other people’s efforts without you having to do much.

Most home based businesses offer training and coaching designed to help the average person become successful. The people who help you are more successful when you become successful so they have a big incentive you help you. With most home businesses, you are in business for yourself but not by yourself.

Since you are building a business, it’s an asset that can be passed on to your heirs. If you have a special needs child or grandchild, you can set up the business so that the income will continue to take care of them after you are gone.

Another aspect of creating this renewable source of income is that it can allow you to retire at any age. Once the income covers your living expenses, you are financially independent. You can go into your boss’ office, put your feet up on his desk and tell him that you can no longer afford to work there whether you are 65, 45 or 25.

With all of these pluses, why aren’t more people doing it? The short answer is that it takes effort to build your business. Most people are content to watch TV for enjoyment now rather than invest their time to make their future better.

For the person who has the right ‘why’ and who is will to be coachable, they can own their life with more freedom and security than they ever dreamed.

Rick Rule has taken control of his life and enjoys the lifestyle he wants. He also teaches others how to become generate their renewable income source to enjoy their perfect lifestyle. To see what he can do for you, visit his site at

Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 27 Feb 2010

Time Saving Quilting Techniques

The first step in the quilting process is to relax. Keep in mind that just like any craft; quilting requires the individual to master the basic techniques first, then gradually work up to more intricate patterns and stitches that more experienced quilters enjoy. It is also advisable to locate a quilting buddy who has been quilting for a while. That person can offer pointers and guide you through some of the more complex instructions, and keep you encouraged.

Foundational Quilting Techniques

Many quilts are created simply using the patchwork process. This involves assembling a number of squares of a certain patchwork pattern, and then stitching them together to create the finished piece. This technique, called patchwork quilting, can be done by hand or by machine. The most important element in making the squares is accuracy, both in the cutting and in the sewing process. Once you have mastered the cutting and the joining of your pieces, you will be ready to explore a few of the other quilting techniques available to you. These include techniques that will help to give your piece a unique, handcrafted appearance, as well as techniques that can help save time in the creation of your quilt.

Some of the time-honored quilting techniques that will give the project your individual touch will be hand piecing and hand appliqu? While both of these quilting techniques take time and effort to accomplish, the end result will be a one-of-a-kind handmade heirloom. On the other hand, quilting techniques like machine piecing and appliqu? chain piecing and strip quilting will also save plenty of time in the creative process, and yet will still leave you with a lovely masterpiece of your own making. These quilting techniques are particularly helpful for beginning quilters who would like to see a finished piece quickly and with more ease in the process. They can also be helpful techniques in the process of creating items in bulk, such as baby blankets to donate to a hospital or quilted pieces to be used in a craft sale.

Quilting is a marvelous hobby, and can be a great way to create unique handmade pieces for gifts as well as additions to your own home. If you are interested in quilting, a class or workshop can teach many of the basic quilting techniques to get you started. You will find classes offered at your local craft or fabric store or possibly at the community center in your neighborhood. By checking the Internet, you may discover a quilting group right in your area that you can join to learn and perfect your craft.

You can also find more info on quilting designs. is a comprehensive resource which provide information about Quilt.

Gardening Vivian | 26 Feb 2010

Nandina Domestica – A Wonderful Landscape Bush For Creating an Emphasis in the Garden

Emphasis plants are those that are different to some degree to the mass of plants with which they associate. Their design purpose is to create a gentle or subtle contrast, not an especially dramatic one. The landscape bush, Nandina domestica, sometimes known as Heavenly Bamboo, is a perfect example of an emphasis plant, especially when combined with landscape shrubs of delicate, leaf texture.

Nandina has a clear, upright form, reaching some 2 meters (6 ft) in height, with a spread of about 1 meter. (3 ft) As its common name implies, it has some similarity in appearance to bamboo, with lightly branched, thin stems, and delightfully delicate, lacy foliage. It is most effective when planted in a small group in front of screening shrubs, which are either trimmed as neat hedges, or loosely shaped. Possessing delicate leaf texture itself, it looks incongruous next to course-leaved plants such as Hibiscus.

A very charming feature of Nandina domestica is its changing leaf color through the year, despite it being an evergreen bush. Young foliage has a bronze tint, which turns to a soft, light, green. In the fall, purplish, bronze tints return, while in cold winter climates, the whole plant can be a fiery, bright red. The white flowers are not especially attractive, but the red berries that follow can add a stunning dimension to the shrubbery. For the berries to be numerous enough to make an effective show, plant a number of specimens together, as single plants do not fruit heavily.

Nandina domestica originates from China and Japan, but is suitable for Mediterranean and dry climate gardens under certain conditions. It is hardy to any cold that a Mediterranean winter is likely to produce, and recovers from temperatures lower than -15c. Although not an arid region plant, its water needs are modest, and considering that as an emphasis plant it is best used sparingly, it can be combined with water conserving shrubs like Pistachio, Sumac and Myrtle. The heat and intense light of a Mediterranean summer are more problematical however, and in such climates the plant is best grown in light shade or filtered sun.

Another limiting factor is the alkaline soils typical of most arid regions. Nandina is subject to chlorosis in alkaline conditions, (high pH) where the inability to take up certain mineral nutrients causes a yellowing of the leaves. For this reason avoid planting it next to walls, as residues of building material like cement, raise the pH to problematical levels. Other than in extreme cases, the easiest way to reduce the soil’s alkalinity is to add massive amounts of compost and other organic matter prior to planting, and modest quantities as part of a regular maintenance regime. This should take care of all the feeding requirements of the plant, without the need for adding chemical fertilizer.

Excessive, indiscriminate pruning, spoils the natural shape of Nandina, Eventually though, mature specimens will become top-heavy and bare of foliage towards the ground. This is easily rectified by occasionally pruning old canes to the ground, rather as one should prune Barberry plants, (Berberis thunbergii) which belong to the same botanical family, and with which Nandina domestica combines so well.

My name is Jonathan Ya’akobi.
I’ve been gardening in a professional capacity since 1984.
I am the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, but now concentrate on building gardens for private home owners.
I also teach horticulture to students on training courses.
I’d love to help you get the very best from your garden, so you’re welcome to visit me on or contact me at

Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 26 Feb 2010

Online Beading Business Creates Profit From Craft

Bead enthusiasts are passionate about their craft. Many spend hundreds of dollars on beads, findings, and beading patterns. It stands to reason that a beading business can make a lot of money. With marketing skills and a quality supplier, anyone can create profits from crafts with an online beading business.

Catering to the desires of the bead crafting community takes dedication. There are quite a few big-name jewelry-making suppliers out there to compete with. Utilizing their business models to create your own beading business only works if you have wholesale bead suppliers available to you.

There are other ways to start your own bead-craft website and make money from it. Many artists and craftspeople make their own jewelry and sell it online. Some use e-commerce websites and internet marketing techniques while others focus on Ebay and Etsy, two popular online auction venues.

If selling completed jewelry pieces is not what you want to do, you can still create a beading business with affiliate programs. Join an affiliate program of one of the more popular jewelry supply companies and offer their products from your own website. You can earn a commission every time a product sells.

How can you compete with the big names in beading? In order to attract attention on the internet, you need an angle that can be marketed to a specific niche of shoppers. The beading niche is large and it can be difficult to target all of them. One of the more popular searches in the niche is for free beading projects. If you can offer project directions accompanied by material product links to the beads and findings necessary for each project, you can build a great beading business online.

Learn how to start your own beading business online at Craft Beading Find free beading projects too!

Holidays Vivian | 26 Feb 2010

Christmas Gift For Mom

Happiness, enjoyment, fun, excitement, togetherness and celebration spells Christmas! Christmas fills our hearts with unbounded joy, and to multiply this joy, we search for the perfect gift for a truly magical lady called mother. Mothers are so very special, and at Christmas we want to show them how much we care by giving them the very best.

If mom loves jewelry companies like Red Envelope, Patagonia, Personalization Mall, JC Penny, Limoges Jewelry, Generous Gems, Personalized Boutique and Sundance, all have beautifully designed jewelry in a range of prices that fits into everyones budget. Stunning birthstone Mothers rings can be purchased for as little as $50, and you know mom will love it.

A very unique gift is the Shiitake Mushroom Log?that produces mushroom for years to come, or a personalized chess set?made up of white onyx and black marble with a personal message engraved on the board offered by the Cyber Gift Center. Equally are stuffed toys with a tape recorder inside so that you can tell mom how much you love her. This can be found at the Connection Channel.

If youd like to give her a gift basket, there are some fabulous choices from Warm Sentiments, Wine Country Gift Baskets, Design-it-Yourself Gift Baskets, Harry and David Gourmet Gift Baskets, Adorable Gift Baskets, Nostalgia Basket and Book Basket are some companies to look for online. A gift certificate is also a nice surprise. You can either give a gift certificate to a mall that would let mom shop in a variety of stores, or an online certificate that gives her several shopping options. You can also go to her favorite shop and ask for a gift certificate. Shell love shopping for something special, and shell love you.

Gifts For Men provides detailed information about gifts for men, birthday gift for him, anniversary gift for him, gift basket for him and more. Gifts For Men is the sister site of Wholesale Embroidered Hats [].