Monthly Archive for "June 2011"

Gardening Vivian | 30 Jun 2011

Houseplants That Clean the Air

Common airborne chemicals are found in nearly every home or office. The most common ones are carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, and even in very low concentrations that can cause health problems for many. A live plant in your home or office is one way of combating these chemicals of indoor pollution.

Besides adding extra beauty to your home because of their variety of shapes and growing habits, plants also improve the air quality. The chemicals that are found in your home are in your everyday surroundings, such as the furniture, the carpet, permanent pressed clothing items, natural gas, kerosene and of course cigarette smoke.

The most effective plants for removing these chemical pollutants are the philodendron, spider plant and golden pothos. Since all plants use carbon in producing their growth these three varieties effectively remove low levels of carbon monoxide.

Other varieties of plants such as the Snake Plant (mother-in-law’s tongue), English Ivy, some types of Dracaena and Bamboo Palm also effectively remove harmful elements from the air. Plants produce oxygen and any plant that you choose in addition to these mentioned will increase the oxygen in their surroundings. Most houseplants are easy to grow in moderate lighting or in indirect sunlight, however try and avoid glass doors or direct sunlight. Many plants fair exceptionally well under florescent lights.

To prevent infestation of spider mites, mist philodendron, ivy, palm, spider plants and dracaena often because they are susceptible and avoid placing them in an area that will be hot and dry. Plants such as Golden Pothos, Chinese evergreen and the snake plant should not be misted and should be allowed to dry out before watering to help keep their roots healthy. Do not over-water or over-feed your houseplants.

Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when feeding and water them with slightly warm water. Water only when they need it when the soil feels dry. Adding houseplants to your indoor environment will not only add beauty to your surroundings but will help you to breathe a little better.

Holidays Vivian | 30 Jun 2011

Americans Slow to Warm Up to Christmas Tree Tradition

When many Americans think of Christmas, images of a beautifully decorated tree piled with Christmas gifts underneath probably comes to mind. Images of a fat and jolly Santa Claus making his way down a chimney to leave presents underneath a huge tree that has been joyfully decorated for the holiday season.

Santa Claus and Christmas trees. How did such a fun Christmas tradition begin? Some say it was good old Saint Nick who decided a decorated tree might be a good place to leave all the Christmas toys and goodies he loaded on his sleigh. Perhaps, but Santa really had nothing to do with the reason that Christmas trees came about.

While it may surprise some, the truth is, Americans were a little slow in catching on to the jovial holiday tradition. Not just decorating the tree, but with celebrating Santa Claus and Christmas gifts in their festivities as well.

Up until the very end of the 1800s, Americans saw Christmas as a very religious holiday. There simply was no room for chubby men in red suits, bright decorations and candles, or even a Christmas tree.

The holiday tradition of tree decorating started in Germany and later became popular in England after the Royal Family started decorating a tree for Christmas.

Eventually Americans did catch on to celebrating December 25th with decorated trees, lights, and holiday cheer. Then in true American fashion, Americans not only took on the tradition of Christmas trees and decorations, they improved on it. Everything had to be bigger, better, and more festive. Americans decided they liked their trees big, so big that they touched the ceiling of their homes.

With the invention of electricity in homes, Americans took Christmas decorating one step further. Trees were braided with strings of multicolored lights. Homes were covered with decorations of every color, blinking lights, and Santa Claus statues with his sleigh of reindeer. House after house, whole neighborhoods lit up for the holidays. Even towns and cities started setting up Santa Claus displays around Town Hall, as well as Christmas trees that reached to the sky.

The holiday tree, Santa, gifts for Christmas, and holiday cheer are all now firmly rooted in American Christmas traditions along with the spiritual and religious celebrations. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.

Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 30 Jun 2011

Finding the Right Bee Hive Plans – Save Money by Building Yourself!

Beekeeping, or Apiculture, is a hobby that has been practiced for thousands of years. Getting a hive set up properly can be expensive, but you can save by building the hive yourself. The key is finding the proper bee hive plans to make your project run smoothly & easily.

There is no shortage of information on the internet about beekeeping, but doing an internet search for “bee hive plans” brings up rather disappointing results. Most of the top results are either for free plans that are difficult to follow or are sites set up to generate revenue from Google AdSense.

A word about “free” bee hive plans. Most times they are not worth the paper you print them out on. They can be difficult to follow, & many times have incorrect measurements. Ever tried to decipher instructions on anything with the words “some assembly required” on the box? And free can turn into expensive really quick when you cut the wood you bought to incorrect specifications.

And most of these plans are put out by bee specialists. When you need information about beekeeping in particular, this is who you should consult. When you need to build a hive out of wood, you should be consulting a carpenter.

I recently discovered a digital woodworking guide that has over 14,000 projects, including a whole section of bee hive plans! This product was designed by a carpenter, contains accurate, easy to read plans with precise measurements, & is very inexpensive compared to the trouble you get in with free. I am sure there will be plans for something else besides bee hives that will interest you in make it worth your while!

Once you have your plans in order you will need the wood to make your hive. Cedar is the best wood to use, as it will not warp & has a wonderful aroma. Pine will work in a pinch but is not a sturdy or warp resistant as cedar. Refer to your plans for the type of fasteners you will need to put your hive together.

By building your own hive, you will have the satisfaction of saving money and knowing you did the work on your own. Just make sure you have high quality bee hive plans, so your project runs smoothly without costly mistakes.

Gardening Vivian | 30 Jun 2011

Why It Is Important To Know What Climate Zone Your In When Growing A Rose Garden

One thing that many people do not stop to consider when planning to start a rose garden is what climate zone you reside in. Sometimes we only concern ourselves with the amount of sun we get in our area on an annual basis but this is actually not the most important aspect of growing a rose garden. The most crucial thing to know is how cold it gets in your area as there are some varieties that can not survive the extreme cold.

Most experienced gardeners and farmers rely on The Plant Hardiness Zone Map from the United States Department Of Agriculture which gives eleven climate zones for every state in the country as well as Mexico and Canada. Proper use of this information will give you what you need to know to decide what you can or cannot grow.

Wherever you go to buy your plants you will receive instructions for that particular plant that will tell you what is required in order for that species to do well. Don抰 plant anything without checking this guide first. Even if it is just landscaping you will want to consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your climate zone and learn what to do.

For a government produced product the publication is remarkably colorful and is also very large. The information it contains comes from decades of weather statistics and records tracking the average coldest temperatures in diverse areas of the U.S. All of the regions are distinguished by different colors and Zone 1 is the area with the coldest temperatures while Zone 11 is the warmest with the lowest temperatures above 40F. The zones are as you would expect, gradually warmer as you head south with the coldest zones being found in the north and in areas of higher elevations such as mountainous areas. To find the climate zone for your area all you have to do is go online and click on your region to give you the information you need.

A Lot of people mistakenly believe that roses are more difficult to grow than many other plants but this is really not the case. Like anything that one chooses to grow they will need to be cared for properly and they need regular maintenance but the most crucial part of the equation is making sure that you are in the proper climate zone to grow them. Roses also come in many different varieties with some being more resilient to cold temperatures than others if proper procedures are followed. What is necessary to do is choose roses that have been specifically raised for your zone if you live in a colder area so that you aren抰 disappointed in the results.

Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 29 Jun 2011

Fontanini and Other Studios Produce Artistic Nativity Creches

In 2008, the Fontanini family celebrated its 100th anniversary in the religious statue business, a tradition which has spanned four generations. Originally founded by Emanuele Fontanini in the hills of Tuscany, the company is considered to be one of the premier manufacturers of nativity figures in the world.

In addition to creating amazingly detailed and vivid smaller nativity cr鑓hes, Fontanini also produces life size figures of the Holy Family. Made in Italy, these colorful and expressive statues are up to 70 inches tall. Fontanini nativity figures can be purchased individually or as a complete nativity scene. Institutions, such as churches, hospitals, and Catholic schools, may sometimes start out with a nativity scene of the Holy Family, and then supplement it, later on, with statues of the 3 kings, angels, Fontanini shepherds, and biblical animals. While not essential, a wood outdoor nativity stable gives Christmas nativity cr鑓hes a more finished look.

The three kings – King Balthazar, King Gaspar, and King Melchoir — are up to 50 inches tall and weigh between 78 and 110 poiunds. When you view enlargements of the online photographs of the 3 kings, it’s easy to imagine the striking effect these Fontanini figures would have on visitors. The facial expressions, elaborate garments, and attention to other details are among the features that make these artistic creations stand out among other nativity cr鑓hes on the market.

The range of life size or even larger-than-life size biblical animals and other accessories that can be purchased from Fontanini or other nativity set companies is also something to consider when shopping for nativity cr鑓hes. A good way to add more visual interest and diversity to a Christmas nativity scene is by adding a Fontanini donkey, ox, or sheep to the display. The donkeys and oxen are available in a lying down position (with their heads up) and the sheep nativity statues (one of which is a lamb) are available in both standing and lying down positions.

The figures in a “large” Fontanini nativity set — as opposed to “life size” – are up to 27 inches tall, and can also be purchased individually or in a set of 14 pieces. Referred to as “The Masterpiece Collection”, it includes the Holy Family, the three kings, a shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders, three sheep, an ox, two heavenly angels, and a placid-looking camel with its legs folded.

If a Fontanini nativity set is outside of your budget, then some other worthwhile sources to consider for Christmas nativity cr鑓hes include Joseph’s Studio, Barcana Inc., and Bay Designs. A two-dimensional alternative to Fontanini nativity sets is available through a company called Langelier Designs. Each figure is made of water-resistant wood and is signed by the artist. It’s suggested that a floodlight be used to illuminate nativity scenes at night.

Whether you’re considering a nativity set for your church, school, hospital, business, or home, there are a wide variety of different sizes, prices, and styles for nearly every situation.

Holidays Vivian | 29 Jun 2011

3 Christmas Traditions Perfect For Young Families

When parents begin having children, they become conscious of the need to create memorable holiday family traditions that their kids will look forward to year after year. Since Christmas lends itself to memory-making, here are 3 great yuletide traditions that are perfectly suited for young families that will stay relevant and enjoyable even when the children are teens.

– Christmas Campout

On the last full weekend before Christmas, how about setting aside an evening for an “Annual Christmas Campout?” This tradition takes a considerable amount of advanced planning, but the resulting fun is well worth the effort.

Starting at 8 pm, everyone gets to open a present: a brand new set of pajamas: even Mom and Dad! After changing into pajamas, the festivities begin. You can play games, sing songs, read stories, bake cookies, make a craft, or whatever you think is age-and interest-appropriate for your children. No TV is allowed! When the evening is done, spread sleeping bags out on the floor under the Christmas tree and sleep together. In the morning, how about some Christmas tree-shaped pancakes? As children get older, the activities can be modified: even teens love the challenge of having a family “stupid talent” show.

– 12 Days of Christmas

Beginning on December 12, start leaving gifts on a neighbor’s step anonymously. Your children will love being a “Secret Santa” to a neighbor widow or to someone who’s been through rough times lately: the kids will learn to think of others, which is what Christmas should be all about. The gifts should be simple: a plate of cookies, a 1/2 dozen red balloons, a little ornament, etc. Always include a “you are cared for” note and reference to the 12 Days of Christmas with the gift.

– Personalized Ornaments

The Christmas tree is always the center of the season: so why not make it a tree of memories? Online businesses sell ornaments in a wide array of designs that can be personalized with a family member’s name, a date, or anything else. Each child can start to collect his or her own set of ornaments commemorating Baby’s 1st Christmas, 1st Communion, 1st Day of School, Graduation, Hobbies, Sports, etc. Children will love unwrapping “their” ornaments each year and putting them on the tree: these ornaments create a sense of family unity and are a record of all of your wonderful Christmases together.

Babies-Toddler Vivian | 29 Jun 2011

Urban Baby Clothes

Are you a cool dresser and do you want your baby to look the same? Urban baby clothes are great for making your new baby look stylish and trendy when you are out shopping, but they are also functional clothes for all seasons. Individual pieces can be put together to create a really trendy look whether you are in a city mall or playing in the park.

I always think of urban clothing as utility wear, yet flexible enough to be worn in any situation. Babies are really tough on their clothes, you may put bibs on them but they still manage to spread the mess everywhere. The fabric of all baby clothes should be soft and capable of withstanding numerous washes.

Urban baby clothes may be fashionable but they are adaptable. Wearing layers is a real advantage when kitting your baby out. When it is chilly, a trendy T-shirt over a long sleeves is ideal, if the weather warms up, then it is easy to strip one off. If it turns really cold, add a hoodie and your babe will be snug.

Urban clothes are hard wearing. Think of the stylish but practical, casual look that you wear around the city and transfer the idea to your baby. Cargo trousers will look as trendy on your baby as they do on you, stylish sneakers and boots are available in baby sizes. Hats, gloves and scarves will finish the outfit.

If you live in a small town rather than a city, you may find little choice in your local shops, but online there are a number of great stores stocking a wide variety of urban outfits and accessories to go with them.

Online auctions are a good place to look for clothing bargains. As good quality urban clothes are tough, children outgrow them so quickly they do not wear out. Selling them online means parents can make a little money to reinvest in a new outfit, while the buyer gets them at a fraction of the shop price. Look out for bundles of clothes, you may not like them all, but you can always put any you don’t want back into the auction.

Of course there is no need to stop at clothes. Really cool bibs, bottles and fancy diapers bags are all available to complete the image. There are some great looking sling carriers for your little tot too, so shop around and turn your baby out as stylish as yourself!

Gardening Vivian | 28 Jun 2011

Getting Rid of Garden Pests with Less Chemicals

Can we avoid potentially harmful gardening ingredients? The best thing about the world these days is the open mindedness as well as the awareness most people have about products that do more good than harm to the environment. This is important both in preserving the planet as well as not compromising the body’s immune system through chemical exposure.

It is a lot easier to find certain products now that are organic in nature compared to looking for such a product five, ten or twenty years ago. The market is now opening its doors to a lot safer and a lot healthier as well as a more effective way of gardening. Believe it or not, Lowe抯 as well as Home Depot now have organic gardening materials at one抯 easy beck and call. Such products are clearly a very welcome alternative to the majority of products that are harmful to nature and humans.

There are now gardening products that are good for the plants as well as for you. Fortunately, there is an insect repellant that consists basically of oil made out of orange which does the same functions of an insecticide minus the bad and unhealthy smell. This insect repellant and killer is made out of diatomaceous earth. Also, a soap that kills insects that it so happens to come in contact with is made out of ?believe it or not ?the fatty acids of potassium salts. Miracle II put in some water is great to throw on ant piles including fire ants probably due to the mineral content.

Those pesky, creepy crawly slugs can be stopped via good old fashioned coconut oil made into a soap. Weeds meanwhile, one of the persistent enemies of the garden, is prevented with the use of a gluten meal made out of corn.

Rosemary oil as well as neem oil is another good repellant as well as killer of those little insects usually found in the outdoors. Worms and caterpillars are also best battled naturally via bacillus thuringienensis.

Mosquitos are best repelled using common and ordinary household garlic. Mint oil could also be utilized to kill away those wasps and hornets from the home. If you do get bitten, miracle ii gel is wonderful for eliminating the itch and speeding up healing.

Fortunately, big name companies are getting to understand the value of getting into the naturally healthy bug killing industry and have now started to offer insect repellents that are based on plants. Most of the ingredients of such products are eugenol and a very minimal risk pesticide as determined by the EPA.

Plus, repellents that are applied directly on the skin have also jumped into the bandwagon of safety. Picaridin is a common ingredient on skin inspect repellents and this chemical proves to feel light on the skin and is recommended by the CDC to be one of their currently recommended repellents. Eucalyptus plants is also used by the product OFF! in their inspect repellant product.

Believe it or not, a just as effective herbicide that is a naturally occurring element is vinegar. It is extremely great to know that hardware stores as well as stores for those who love to do gardening activities already carry vinegar based bottles ?basically about twenty percent vinegar based herbicides. This is a product that is used and certified organic. This herbicide also consists of seaweed, liquid fish and tea compost. All these ingredients are generic and are used as fertilizers that are one hundred percent organic.

All in all, the best gardening products are those that use naturally occurring elements from the garden or from nature. What best way to take care and nurture a garden than using the same products that nature also offers. It is also a non invasive and natural way to keep everything in order, wholistically and perfectly in a manner that is free flowing and does not in any way harm another living being or its natural habitat and does not in any way destroy the intricate balance of nature.

Pregnancy Vivian | 28 Jun 2011

Acupuncture and IVF Information

Because they are used as aides to fertility, there are many questions which surround acupuncture and IVF. Primary among them are questions regarding what types of infertility can be treated by acupuncture and whether there is a point where it is no longer safe for a woman to receive acupuncture treatment after she has undergone the IVF process. Some studies have found that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for certain types of infertility. Knowing which types of fertility apply in this regard and which do not is the first step in understanding the use of this treatment for IVF.

Acupuncture is not a one-time cure for any ailment. Acupuncture and IVF generally represent a process being used in advance of a procedure. Acupuncture generally takes several treatments before it is effective. These treatments may be used before and during pregnancy. Acupuncture is usually not a treatment that is used by itself. Along with acupuncture, one is usually given herbal treatment. One should consult with their doctor before taking any recommended herbs in case there are contraindications with any other medications being used. After one has received their IVF, the types of acceptable acupuncture treatment will change, as well. It is important to work with an acupuncturist who is aware of these situations.

After a woman is pregnant, there are certain points that should not be stimulated by acupuncture. Acupuncture and IVF do not generally have contraindications at any other point, however. After the woman is carrying, the points Spleen 6, Bladder 60, Bladder 67, Large Intestine 4, Gallbladder 21 and Stomach 12 are not to be stimulated. No points on the lower abdomen should be stimulated, for obvious reasons. Any herbal treatments being used should be reassessed once the woman is with child, as well. The types of fertility problems acupuncture can treat and its lack of risk make it very attractive before IVF, however.

There are good reasons why many women consider both acupuncture and IVF. Acupuncture, combined with other medical interventions, has been shown to increase fertility. Oftentimes, the treatments continue through the first few months of pregnancy. There is some data to indicate that acupuncture may help to reduce the incidence of miscarriage. Before IVF, acupuncture is often used to treat fertility conditions including spasmed tubes which are seen to be reduced with the application of acupuncture. Acupuncture is also used to treat unexplained infertility and sometimes to treat infertility in the male partner.

Acupuncture will not treat certain types of fertility conditions. Blocked tubes, for instance, will not respond to acupuncture. Some of the treatments require both the acupuncture and the herbal component to achieve their best results. For instance, elevated Follicle Stimulating Hormone levels can be treated with acupuncture and herbal interventions. Acupuncture and IVF are both types of medical intervention that require a solid professional. In most states, one needs to have an active license to work as an acupuncturist. Be certain any practitioner used has such certification and that they have expertise in treating pregnancy and fertility issues before engaging their services.

Parenting Vivian | 28 Jun 2011

How to Become a Conscious Parent

First, RELAX and go with the flow. Easier, said than done? If you are anything like I was when I started my parenting journey, this is quite a challenge. I was anything but relaxed. I wanted to be the best parent ever and create a perfect little human being who would later grow into a perfect adult. Naturally, I would be able take credit for all this and receive kudos and pats on the back from everyone around.

Boy, was I wrong! Once my child exited babyhood and exerted her free will, expressed her wants and desires and voiced her opinion, I understood that she had her own agenda and was here to walk her own path. I was merely a vehicle through which she would get started! Once I understood that she was not a “mini-me”, I truly was able to relax and do what was right for her growth. And, to my surprise, I grew form the experience as well.

Next, REALIZE you are in a mutually satisfying, symbiotic relationship with your child. Your are in one another’s lives for very good reasons. Together, you may learn, grow, play, laugh, cry, explore and so much more. You may be able to re-live your childhood or create a new one if yours wasn’t so hot. I didn’t know I could learn from a child. I thought it was the other way around. A dose of humility is helpful when doing this since traditionally adults teach children. When I let so of preconceived ideas and trusted in the process, the lessons I learned were amazing.

We all know that kids are some of the best button-pushers around, right? Why is that? I’d say that part of the reason is that they are so honest sometimes that it hurts and they truly have no attachment to the outcome or effect of their words. For example, my daughter and I were looking at some old photos and she admired one of me that was taken about fifteen years ago. She commented, “Wow, Mom you look exactly the same now as you did then!” Beaming and about to thank her for her very keen observation, she intercepted and added, “…except for all those wrinkles!” Yes, brutally honest but certainly keeping the old ego in check.

Then, ENJOY the present moment. How many times do we live in the past or the future? As a parent, I recall thinking how nice it would be when my baby was a bit older: When she slept though the night, I could sleep as well. When she ate solid food I wouldn’t have to nurse her so much. When she walked on her own, I wouldn’t have to carry her as often. You see where this is going. It ends up being the elusive carrot, just like ‘one day I’ll be happy.’

Well one day is now. When we learn to appreciate what is happening right now, even though it may not be that pleasant, we are really living. The baby awakens every two hours? The toddler wets the bed? The preschooler started saying bad words? The pre-teen dyed her hair pink? The teenager hates you? So what? Chances are none of these trivial complaints will matter one day. You may vaguely remember some of them, or forget it all together. Hard to believe when you are the sleep-deprived parent of a potty-mouthed rebel, but it’s true.

Finally, TRUST yourself to know that you are doing the right thing and are on the right track. Ultimately, you know what is best for your family. You know what feels right and what doesn’t, what plans will succeed and which will fail. If you’re not sure, give yourself permission to experiment. There are no real mistakes, only opportunities to learn, grow and change. Be grateful you have the insight and wisdom to know this and remember: This too, shall pass.