Spring Cleaning Your Backyard

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

MTD Yard Machines Lawn Mower 4.
Image via Wikipedia

If you’re like most people, you have been waiting for the warm spring weather so you can get outside and enjoy!. You may be thinking about spring cleaning your backyard to get it ready for the sunshine and summer. Here are some ways you can do that and enjoy being outdoors at the same time.

Gather the family together so everyone is pitching in with the work. Although it might seem overwhelming, working together in the yard is one of the best family relationship building activities you can do. It’s a wonderful way to work together as a team and have fun at the same time. Of course, you’ll want to be sure to have people work to their abilities, but everyone can contribute.

Decide what needs the most attention. Undoubtedly there will be a build-up of leaves regardless if you raked during the fall. There may also be limbs which have fallen from the tree due to ice or wind. Check out the garden; what attention does it need? Do you have flower gardens which are about to burst forth with blooms? They’ll need consideration as well.

Try to make the tasks fun. Instead of acting like a drill sergeant, let the children toss leaves while they’re raking. They may even want to make a pile to jump into if there are enough of them. After they’ve had some fun they may be more willing to get back to work and get the leaves cleaned up.

Let the air in! Take time to aerate your lawn. This is important to breathe fresh air into the root system which will allow water and fertilizer to reach the roots. There are many methods to do this: use shoes with spikes on them, a hand tool specifically designed for aeration, or rent a power aerator.

Get your hands dirty. Weed the flower beds and along the sidewalks. Of course, you can also remove dandelions and broadleaf weeds with an ergonomic weeding tool. The point is to remove the weeds, roots and all, from your lawn as early in the season as possible so they don’t grow or possibly spread.

Repair your lawn. It’s almost inevitable that your lawn will have bare or brown patches. Remove the dead or discolored grass and sprinkle in some grass seeds. Then you can add fertilizer. Keep the area moist until the seed sprout and you can see new growth.

Take care of yard tools. You may want to take your lawnmower in for a tune-up. Check the hand tools to ensure they’re not rusted or broken. Replace anything you feel is unsafe or past the point of repair.

Decide what new plants you want to add to a flower garden or if you’ll have a vegetable garden this year. Mark off where the garden will be if you haven’t had one, and then choose what you’ll plant. Spring is the perfect time to lay weed barriers and mulch so you’ll have to do less weeding.

Don’t forget any play items in your yard. Decide if there are other pieces you’ll want to add this year and where you will put them. Check the chains and seats on swing sets. Replace them if necessary. You want your children to enjoy the equipment but you also want them to be safe.

By taking a weekend in the early spring, you can get your yard and garden ready for whatever the spring and summer may have in store. Spring clean your backyard with the help of your family. Once the biggest tasks are done you’ll be glad knowing your yard and garden are ready to enjoy.

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Aerogarden Classic (black) with Gourmet Herb Seed Kit

March 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Parent Product Reviews

Where to buy: www.amazon.com

The Aerogarden is an aeroponic device that allows you to grow plants in water using nutrients and air. No mess or dirt and no need to be an experienced gardener to succeed in growing your own plants. The Aerogarden is fully automated and comes with built-in grow lights. The included 2 grow bulbs provide the ideal amount of light for continued and strong growing. It is recommended that the bulbs be replaced every six months.

The included Gourmet Herb Seed Kit contains seeds to grow market fresh herbs right in your kitchen, such as thyme, chives, Italian basil, purple basil, dill, mint and parsley. The herbs should be ready to be harvested in about three to four weeks and last for up to five months. Turn your everyday meals into something special by using home-grown fresh herbs.

The Aerogarden measures 21”H x 18.5”W x 10”D and looks stylish on any kitchen window.

For more information on this fantastic NASA tested Aerogarden, go to www.amazon.com.

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How to Treat Problem Skin during Winter

January 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

Penguin Humidifier
Image by joshbousel via Flickr

It’s amazing how many people complain about the condition of their skin during the colder months of the year. My daughter, for instance, has horrible dry, peeling skin on her face, (specifically her eyelids) and neck. The reason is there is less moisture in the air, both indoors and outdoors, during the winter. You don’t have to wonder about how to treat problem skin during the winter anymore; follow these steps and your skin will look great.

To combat the lack of moisture in your home, be sure to set up a humidifier and keep it running while you’re at home. This will replace the moisture in the air which will help your skin look better.

Rather than taking long, hot showers during the winter, take shorter, lukewarm showers. Ten minutes is about the limit. Why lukewarm showers? Hot water wicks the moisture and natural oils from your skin.

Find an alcohol-free moisturizer and use it every time you bathe or take a shower. This will enable the most moisture to be absorbed back into the skin. You can also reapply a moisturizer whenever you feel your skin becoming dry. We love Eucerin lotion as well as Mercola’s Organic Body Butter this time of the year.

Caffeinated beverages like coffee, alcohol, or soft drinks actually have a dehydrating effect. So, you may want to avoid them during the winter. Instead, to combat the possibility of being dehydrated, drink eight to ten glasses of water.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself during the winter. Eat a healthy diet and take a multivitamin to ensure you’re not missing any important nutrients. Being healthy on the inside may show through the condition of your skin on the outside.

Be sure to put on gloves, a hat, scarf, and coat every time you go outdoors. You may not be outside for long, but that short time can be enough to suck the moisture right out of your skin. You may also be affected by wind. Using rubber gloves during cleaning will also help protect your skin.

Avoid wool or synthetic materials during colder months as they make winter skin itchier than softer fabrics. If you need wool for warmth, be sure to wear a layer of cotton between the wool and your skin.

Dry, itchy skin isn’t fun at any time of the year, but it’s even worse during the winter. Knowing how to treat problem skin during winter is important, and following some of these tips may allow you to enjoy the season this year.

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Keep Your Lips Beautiful in Winter Time

December 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Chapped lips
Image via Wikipedia

It’s one of the major pet peeves during the winter months. Nearly everyone’s lips are dry, chapped, and sore. There is a way to keep your lips beautiful in winter time; if you continue to read, you can find out the secrets.

If your lips are chapped and sore during the winter, you may have noticed dead skin which is unsightly. Removing the skin gently is one trick to helping your lips begin to look better. How do you do that?

Run a clean, soft bristle toothbrush under warm water. Gently brush your lips to remove the dead skin. A child’s toothbrush may be the best choice since they’re designed for tender gums. Then apply lip balm and allow it to penetrate into the lip. Using a lip balm with a sunscreen will give extra protection from the sun as well as from the wind.

Avoid licking your lips. Winter air is drying to skin and lips, so its important lips get their moisture through a lip balm rather than your tongue. Licking your lips actually makes your lips drier, because the saliva from your tongue evaporates and draws the natural moisture from your lips away. So, even though it’s often an unconscious habit, try to keep your tongue in your mouth.

Some people, when they get dried and cracked lips, will bite their lips in an attempt to remove the dried skin. They may also bite their lips while in thought. Like with licking your lip, biting is a no-no – particularly in the winter. If it’s a habit, do your best to break it. Applying lip balm more often may not help you break the habit, but at least your lips will be protected between bites.

Other habits you might want to give up for the sake of your lips are smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking will dry out your lips, cause wrinkles around the lips and mouth, and thin the skin on the lips due to the chemicals in the cigarettes. Alcohol is also bad for your lips as it will dehydrate the body which normally shows in the lips first. If you’re looking for a reason to quit either of these habits, maybe having beautiful lips will be enough of a reason.

Be sure to drink plenty of water during the winter. The dry air, both inside and outside, can dehydrate you quickly. If your body is hydrated, your lips are less likely to suffer. Eating healthy meals and snacks will also go a long way to keeping your lips healthy during the winter season.

You can keep your lips beautiful in winter time if you’re willing to take care of them. Follow these secrets to help your lips remain hydrated and healthy this year rather than dry and chapped.

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How to Make Thanksgiving Candles

November 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Close up of a candle flame.
Image via Wikipedia

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the winter holiday season. It’s not officially winter yet, but the air is turning cooler, and people tend to spend more time indoors. Using candles for decoration during your Thanksgiving dinner provides a warm, cozy atmosphere for you and your guests that’s perfect for the season.

Making special candle centerpieces just for Thanksgiving is quite simple. Here are a few ideas that you can whip up in no time.

# Mini Jar Thanksgiving Candles

What You Need

* Tea light or votive candle in a Thanksgiving color and scent
* Empty baby food jar
* Tissue paper in autumn colors
* Tiny foam leaves
* White craft glue
* Water
* Small plastic bowl
* Paintbrush


1. Rip tissue paper in two or three different colors into small pieces.

2. In the bowl, mix one part glue to three parts water. Stir with paintbrush until it forms a thin white solution.

3. Use the paintbrush to cover the outside of the jar with the glue solution. Stick on pieces of tissue paper, overlapping them. Add more glue on top of the tissue paper to make all pieces lay flat against the jar. Stick foam leaves on top of the tissue paper. Let dry.

4. Place candle inside the baby food jar.

# Harvest Candles

What You Need

* Acorn squash or small pumpkins
* Knife
* Votive candle in autumn color and scent


1. Cut off the top of the pumpkin or squash. Scoop out the flesh and seeds.

2. Place the votive candle inside the pumpkin or squash.

# Pouring Your Own Candles

You can also pour your own candles into prepared baby food jars, pumpkins or squash. Here’s how:

What You Need

* Double boiler
* Candle wax
* Wick
* Candle coloring
* Fragrance
* Oven mitt


1. Insert a candle wick into the center of the container. For best results, use wicks with metal disks on the end (called wick clips). This will help them stand up on their own.

2. Melt candle wax in a double boiler. Add an autumn color and fragrance and mix well.

3. Carefully lift the top pot from the double boiler and pour the wax into the container. Let cool until hardened completely.

4. If you find a sunken area around the wick, melt more wax and pour it on top. When hardened completely, trim the wick.

Making several of these small candles and grouping them together makes a lovely centerpiece. Or you could place one at each guest’s place setting for them to take home. Either way, these home-made candles will add lots of beauty to your Thanksgiving table.

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House Moving with Pets

November 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

HAWTHORNE, CA - JULY 16:  A dog sits in its cr...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Pets feel the stress of change, too, and the upheaval of a move can be hard on animals. If your move involves an airline flight, then you will need to take more comfort measures to assure your pet makes the transition well. Here are some ideas and tips to soothe your pet in the midst of house moving.

Visit the new house ahead of time

This is not always possible, especially if the house is very far away. If it is possible, however, it’s a good idea to take some treats along to make the experience positive and let your pet check out the new house. Try to get your scent and the pet’s wherever you can. Humans can’t discern these smells, but your pet will, and when you arrive ready to move in, it will have some smells that are familiar to your pet.

Flying on an airplane

Check with various airlines and find out if your pet qualifies to ride in the cabin with you, under the seat. This costs an extra fee, but is well worth it to avoid having your pet travel in the cargo bay. If your pet does need to travel as cargo, make the sure kennel is strong and escape-proof, and has a spill-proof container for water. Put in a favorite toy or blanket that smells of you and your house. For dogs, include something to chew; for cats, include a toy with catnip.

The kennel

Several weeks ahead of time, purchase the kennel or carrier, or set up the one you already own, and leave it open for several weeks in your old home before you move. Your pet can come and go and get familiar with the kennel. Keep toys and water in there, and when it’s time to go, nothing will change inside the kennel.

When you arrive at your new home, don’t put the kennel away yet. When moving in boxes is finished and the new house door is closed, open the kennel or carrier and let the pet decide when it will come out. Leave the kennel out and open the way you did in your old house for a week or two, so your pet will have a familiar place to which it can retreat as it gets used to the new house.

Introduce the new outdoors gradually

Dogs, of course, should not be allowed to run loose even in a familiar neighborhood; but letting them run loose in an unfamiliar place can be disastrous. If there is a fence, check it carefully for holes or other escape routes. If you tie your dog out, don’t leave him outside unsupervised for the first few days.

Cats should not be allowed outside at all for several days. On the first venture out, take the cat out in its carrier and take it around the perimeter of the property, getting the cat familiar with the scents and sites of its new territory.

Car ride

Some animals, especially cats, can get very anxious in the car. There are various anti-stress remedies on the market. Your vet may prescribe a sedative, or you can check at your local health food store for natural remedies.

Keep calm

Animals sense your tension. Lots of gentle touching, stroking, and soothing, upbeat talk will go a long way in relieving your pet’s stress.

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Favorite Family Chicken & Noodles

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

rosó? z kury
Image via Wikipedia

A twist on your usual chicken noodle soup – just plain yummy and super kid friendly too!

4-5 pieces of chicken (chicken breast preferably)
4 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups water
4 chicken broth cubes
1 tsp garlic salt
1 lb egg noodles
salt & pepper

Add carrots to your crock pot, then add chicken, onion, water, cubes and spices (leaving out the noodles). Turn the crock pot on low and cook for about eight hours.

When almost ready, cook egg noodles according to package instructions. While the noodles cook, take chicken pieces out and cut into child-friendly, bite-size pieces. Place chicken pieces & cooked noodles in the crock pot.

If needed, mix cornstarch, water and a bit of broth together and add to your chicken and noodles to thicken.


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Floating Swimwear Girls Pink/Stripes Swimsuit

A Private Swimming pool
Image via Wikipedia

Where to buy: Where to buy: www.sportskids.com

Floating Swimwear make float wear products for babies, toddlers and children that are designed with water safety in mind. The built-in puncture proof flotation will give parents peace of mind when their kids are in the swimming pool but of course it doesn’t eliminate the need to supervise children near water.

This deluxe 2 in 1 swim suit is made from a light-weight and flexible material and comes in an attractive lime color with stripes that can be worn by girls and boys alike. It comes with an attachable floatation vest that consists of soft and flexible foam. It can easily be taken off when playing out of the water due to the durable snapping locks on each side of the swim suit. The suit is very comfortable to wear both in and out of the water and comes in various sizes, XS – Age 2 to 4, S – Age 4 to 6 and M – Age 6 to 8.

Enjoy the many benefits of this swim suit, especially the safety aspect in and around water. For more information on this great product, go to www.Sportskids.com.

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Easy-Set Inflatable Swimming Pool (18’x48’)

Where to buy: www.amazon.com

It’s summertime and you might be thinking about investing in your own pool at home. The Easy-Set Inflatable Swimming Pool might be a great option for you and your family to enjoy some pool fun.

The pool is 18’x48” and is set above ground. The set-up is very easy, all you need is an area of level ground. There are no tools required and the set-up should be finished in about 30 minutes. The material is very tough and durable and made from three separate layers. The two outer layers are made from heavy-gauge laminated PVC and the inner layer is made from polyester mesh to give it additional strength.

Included in the purchase price is a 1500 gallon filter pump with filtration pump filter cartridge for water circulation and removal of debris. The included ladder is constructed of a coated steel frame with sturdy plastic steps. The easy-set pool is easy to drain and take down and store in the fall and winter season.

Also included in the package is a 19ft ground cloth, a 18ft fitted pool cover, a set-up and maintenance DVD and a maintenance kit, which comes with a lightweight aluminium pool sweep and a vacuum.

This pool is an affordable way of spending long summer days in your own pool and is great for the whole family and your kids’ friends. Don’t forget that children should always be supervised by adults when in the water.

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