Monday, December 12, 2016

5 Easy Steps to Become an Effective Writer

Throughout a person’s life, they acquire various skills and talents. Some people may become great painters others may be able to manipulate the digital realm of computers. One of the greatest skills that a person can and should develop is the ability to be an effective writer.

Writing is more than simply touching pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to form letters and words. Being able to write allows a person to convey their thoughts, perspectives, and opinions, forever immortalizing them in record. Classical authors were able to shape the very fabric of society through their novels. Even scientists, whose foundation is in the analytical sphere of knowledge rather than the creative, cannot effectively convey their theories without the ability to organize and publish their work. As such, it is prudent that a person does everything in their power to become an effective writer.

Despite a common misconception, writers are not born. Instead, a person may simply be predisposed to creativity and be more willing to pursue the methods in becoming a better writer. Therefore, a person should never waiver in their determination to attain this skill.

1. Read a Book, Read Lots of Books

One of the best, if not the best, methods of becoming an effective writer is to be an avid reader. By reading literature, a person will get the feel of the writing style of the author. Take for example a book like, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Oscar Wilde is an extraordinary author and in his book, Wilde demonstrates a unique control of the English language and offers the reader a prime example of character development. Even if we bypass classic literature, we can look at authors like J.K Rowling. The Harry Potter series is one of the best pieces of literature to be written in this century. J.K Rowling brings her imagination to life in the text of the novels through the use of vivid imagery, excellent character development, and an unobstructed flow of the plot. Learning how to appreciate literature is a tool that can be more helpful to some than memorizing grammar rules. Reading allows a person to see and become accustomed to the various sentence structures used by authors, even giving a person the ability to write by ear.

2. Rhetoric

If you go into any college introductory English class, chances are that you will encounter the topic of rhetoric. Rhetoric is the use of language to be persuasive and argumentative. Generally, the written structure of rhetoric is broken up into five main sections; introduction, your argument, opposing argument, reaffirming your position and attacking the opposing argument, and conclusion. This is a useful tool to any person that is looking to write opinion pieces, articles, and persuasive papers. In fact, by learning how to effectively argue with rhetoric, you can even employ it in verbal communication.

3. Open Your Eyes

Writing about topics that interest you is a much easier task than forcing yourself to plow through an essay on a subject you detest. Whenever you approach a topic, always look for that small grain of interest. Or you may choose to tailor the topic to your own interest. For Example, you may hate politics, but you like issues that concern your local community. It would make the writing much more interesting if you would write about how a certain law or politician is affecting your community. Therefore, try to avoid looking at topic based writing as a linear assignment. Be creative and have fun.

4. Get Feedback

This is always a function that people tend to avoid. What if someone hates what you wrote? What if you made a lot of mistakes? What if you embarrassed yourself? All of these questions are standing in the way of you becoming a better writer. If you are nervous about anonymous feedback, feel free to ask a friend or if you are at college, stop by a writing center for help. Feedback is especially useful when you are writing topic specific papers because you need to be able to effectively inform a person of the topic and convey your position.

5. Write, Write, and Continue Writing

Reading will give you a handle on writing styles of other authors. Writing will give you a handle on your own writing style. Therefore, as with the advice to read continuously, you should be writing more than several times a week. Your prose does not necessarily have to be about anything important. The point is to get yourself used to committing your thoughts to paper. With enough practice, writing will become an automatic activity.By employing these five simple tools, you will be able to experience growth as a writer. Tools like grammar, transitions, and other such technical elements are only useful if you have something to use them on. They won’t help you develop your thoughts, creativity, and style. However, if you use the tools I have given you to make writing a regular part of your life, then you will be able to not only write effectively, but improve your overall communication skills.

Labels: 5 Easy Steps to Become an Effective Writer

5 Sweet Wordpress Plugins to Help Your Blog Post Go Viral

Wild berry bushes have the concept of going “viral” worked out to a fine art. They have a need to ensure the survival of their species by spreading their population over as much territory as possible. They also know there are certain species of birds and animals that need the nutrition they are capable of providing, and they package these nutrients up into a neat little packages in the form of seed-containing berries. Hundreds of birds and animals flock to the ripening fruit for sustenance. Later the seeds, which remain intact after the fruit is digested, are excreted in other parts of the forest. In time, the seeds sprout and take root.

If you can take this principle, used by Mother Nature to propagate new life and guarantee the future survival of a species and apply it to your blogging efforts, you can create a lot of interest in your blog posts.

If you approach your writing solely from the perspective that you are looking for it to go viral, you will fail. Pat attention to what the berry bushes do – they guarantee their own survival only by ensuring the survival of others. They provide a service on which the lives and well-being of other creatures depend. Make it so with your writing. If it’s only the money you are after, your blog will fizzle out after the initial flash in the pan. You must offer substantial information that is so valuable; your readers will naturally be inspired to share it. Then your viral marketing campaign happens on its own steam, without much more effort from you.

With this is in mind, here are 5 WordPress plugins that make it a little more conducive for your readers to share what they like about your content.


This WordPress plugin makes it super easy for readers to tell their friends about your blog. It maintains a log that shows you who told who.

Digg Integrator

This is a totally Ninja plugin for Digg, one of the most important social media sites. It gives you several options for graphics and buttons.

Subscribe to Comments

The comment function in WordPress is one of the features that keeps readers coming back to your blog. It makes a huge difference when you keep the love going by responding to your reader comments. This plugin allows your followers to subscribe to comments.

Top Commentators Widget

Your readers will really appreciate this once, since it gives you a chance to reward their loyalty. The plugin shows the top 10 commentators in a sidebar widget and links back to their personal sites, allowing them to benefit from the traffic.

TweetMeme Button

Tweetmeme is an application that allows your followers to retweet your tweets to their followers. This plugin for WordPress is a kickass way to amplify your message.

Labels: 5 Sweet Wordpress Plugins to Help Your Blog Post Go Viral

7 Famous Pro Wrestlers Who Have Killed People

Pro wrestling attracts some of the strangest people. The rock and roll lifestyle combined with the adrenaline rush of 60,000 fans screaming your name, is a tempting concoction that lures in the egotistical and insecure. In the past, many wrestlers have been arrested on charges of drug possession, drunk driving, domestic abuse and robbery. But even a small few have been captured or accused of worse. That includes murder. Here is a list of seven popular wrestlers who have killed someone.

Scott Hall

In a short documentary last year, Scott Hall admitted that he once executed a man. In an episode of ESPN’s E:60, Scott Hall recalled a 1983 circumstance when he got into a conflict with a patron at a bar. During the struggle outside, Hall claims he punched the guy and as the man laid on the ground, he went into his waistband to draw a gun. The two wrestled around with the handgun before Hall was able to get a hold of it. Hall shot the bruiser in the skull. Hall was charged with second degree murder, though the charges were later dismissed for insufficient evidence.

Chris Benoit

The most obvious murder in the history of pro wrestling. What Chris Benoit did to his wife and son over a three day period in June 2007 is one of the most heinous massacres in the last ten years. It’s been reported that Benoit murdered his wife Nancy by asphyxiation, and then waited a substantial amount of time before doing the same to his son. Police used that evidence to determine the slayings were deliberate, and not a result of roid rage. There has been no conclusive cause, but many attribute the murders to Benoit’s mental state, which had decayed as a result of numerous head traumas over his 22 year career.

New Jack

Hardcore wrestler New Jack made a name for himself by taking incredible risks with his body, and by beating the every living crap out of his opponents. So it should come as no surprise that New Jack is the only professional wrestler with four justifiable homicides under his belt. Before Jerome Young was christened New Jack, he was a professional bounty hunter. In addition to the four homicides, New Jack has driven headlines several times over the last twenty years. Most notably were his run ins with indy wrestlers Gypsy Joe and Mass Transit.

Great Khali

Former WWE Heavyweight Champion and current WWE superstar accidently killed a man during an APW Beginners Camp. Apparently the man, named Brian Ong, had suffered a previous concussion, but continued training at the camp. After taking two consecutive Flapjack maneuvers, Brian’s got even worse. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The Great Khali was never brought up on charges, but the APW company was successfully sued for over one million dollars.

Verne Gagne

Verne Gagne is of the same ilk as men like Killer Kowalski, Lou Thesz and Bruno Sammartino. He was an old school wrestler that impressed the generation before the cartoonish WWF destroyed regional territories. But in 2009, the WWE Hall of Fame wrestler killed his nursing home room mate after bodyslamming him to the floor. Gagne, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, could not recollect the catastrophic events due to his dementia. The victims wife and family did not want to press charges.

Jimmy Snuka

The popular “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka has never been charged with murder, but there is a very compelling story about him and a female wrestling fan named Nancy Argentino, whose relationship culminated in death. The official story states Snuka returned to his hotel room after a night of wrestling matches, to find his girlfriend gasping for air. However, it was eventually determined she passed away from craniocelebral injuries. The case remains a jumbled mess, with accusations flying on both sides. Vince McMahon functioned as the mouthpiece for Snuka at the time. No charges were brought, though in 1985 a default judgment was made against Snuka in favor of the family of Nancy Argentino.

Ox Baker

Before I go into detail here, let me state that Ox Baker has never killed a man. But it is worth mentioning that his opponents have had poor luck while wrestling the legendary grappler. In 1971, Ox Baker’s opponent Alberto Torres died after taking Baker’s finishing maneuver the Heart Punch. It was later divulged Torres had a pre-existing condition. But it doesn’t cease there. One year later, opponent Ray Gunkel had a heart attack during a match with Ox Baker. These two incidents were never Baker’s fault, but it did help sustain his career.

With the exception of Chris Benoit, the episodes of these men did not hinder their involvement in pro wrestling. In fact, in the case of Ox Baker, Scott Hall and Great Khali, the men embarked on to bigger and better careers in the sport.

Labels: 7 Famous Pro Wrestlers Who Have Killed People

5 Popular Alternatives to Shaving Cream for Women

Shaving creams designed for women can be very harsh on the skin. Even the creams that claim they are formulated for sensitive skin still may not feel very soothing. They may leave your skin feeling overly tingly, rashy, or irritated. If you have sensitive skin consider the following alternatives to shaving cream for women.

Baby Lotion

Baby lotion is extremely gently and leaves your skin feeling soft. Since it is designed for an infants sensitive skin it is one of the most gentle alternatives to shaving cream. I myself have tried this technique and my skin felt soft and supple for many days after use. Look in the infant section of your local Target, Walgreens, or Walmart to find it.

Hair Conditioner

Conditioner has a lot of moisturizing ingredients. The scalp is a tender area so most conditioners are geared in consideration of that. If you choose to use conditioner as an alternative I recommend buying a large container at a cheap price. For example V05 is a pretty large bottle and is priced under two bucks. It beats using your own conditioner that may be more expensive.

Aveeno Body Lotion

Aveeno is a lotion that I personally used as a shaving cream for quite some time. Aveeno does have its own line of shaving creams but unfortunately were not gentle enough. Aveeno lotions help to smooth out my skin and it even got rid of many of the razor bumps I had. Of all the shaving cream alternatives listed, this one is my favorite.


Soaps with lotions in them are great alternatives to shaving cream. For example Dove soap bars come in many different scents and are infused with moisturizering ingredients. Find the one that works best for you.

Moisturizing Body Washes

Olay or Dove body washes also work wonderful as alternatives to shaving cream. Most bottles are large and come with a very generous amount of body wash.

Alternatives to shaving creams are a lot cheaper and most of the time more effective. If shaving creams or gels aren’t doing the trick don’t waste money on them!

Labels: 5 Popular Alternatives to Shaving Cream for Women

5 Fitness Tips for Work: Getting Fit at the Office

If you find that you spend most of your day in the office you are not the only one. By the time you get out of work you may not feel like getting in a workout. Although that may be okay, you still need to get in your daily physical activity. Did you know that you can get a small workout in while you are at the office? It is not that difficult, it just takes some time, creativity and you have to not be afraid of getting caught looking silly!

If you spend your work time sitting in a chair staring at a computer it is likely that you walk away from your shift with a neck and back ache, as well as eye strain, which is usually accompanied by a head ache. The only way to combat these effects of office work are to get up and stretch out. But why not stretch out and work towards dropping a few pounds while you are at it. Here are five great tips to keeping your body flexible at work.

Exercise 1: The Desk Lean

You can do this move with a desk or with a counter. Just lean with your hands up against the desk, like you would be positioned if you were on the floor getting ready to do a push-up. Now, do push-ups. This is just a form of a standing push-up. It stretches your back and your arms.

Exercise 2: The Chair Stretch

Stand next to a chair and put one leg up on it (it can be on the rungs, the seat, or if you are very flexible you can use the back of the chair). Lean in with your upper body and touch your toes. Repeat this with the other leg, for however many reps feel comfortable to you. Stretches the hamstrings and will help keep your butt from falling asleep from sitting so much!

Exercise 3: The Tippy-Toes

Stand up and lift yourself onto your tippy-toes, then down, then back up. This stretches your calves and gives your feet a good wake up call!

Exercise 4: The Twist

Remember that dance, from a long, long time ago. Do it. It doesn’t matter how you twist or how often you twist, just twist. There is no specific form, just do it. Great stretch for your entire back.

Exercise 5: The Chair Stand

Sit down, if you aren’t already. Now get up. Now sit down. Repeat. This is pretty much a full body workout, even focusing on your core muscles.

You do not have to work in an office to do these exercises. You can be a warehouse worker, a restaurant worker or even a retail worker. If you work where there are no chairs replace your chair exercises with this one last quickie: Touch Your Toes. That is it.

Get fit, stay flexible and don’t feel like you are glued to your chair at work!


Marcus, B. & L. Forsyth (2009). Motivating people To Be Physically Active. Physical Activity Intervention Series. Human Kinetics. Champaign, Il.

Labels: 5 Fitness Tips for Work: Getting Fit at the Office

5 Pieces of Technology that Could Save Your Life

Technology is something that most of us couldn’t imagine living without, and wouldn’t want to if we could. But no one ever thinks about how important technology is until they really need to use it. Here are 5 ways that technology could save your life.

1. The Cell Phone

The number one and the most obvious piece of technology that is not just for making phone calls, is the cell phone. From being able to get into contact with people when you are in a remote area to contacting emergency services, the cell phone has got to be the ultimate life saving technology. The police are also able to track any cell phone that is on so find your location. This is something that you should never leave home without.

2. The GPS

The GPS can help you if your driving and get lost, but most importantly a handheld GPS could help a lost hiker find his way out of the woods. The GPS besides being able to give directions can give you your exact location to relay to emergency services or to help you find your way out of the wild.

3. Solar Charger

If you do happen to find yourself stranded out in the woods, all of the technology in the world won’t save you if you don’t have a charger for them. The answer to that is a solar charger, such as the Helius Solar Charger Backpack, which comes with adapters that are able to charge virtually any piece of technology out there.

4. IDistress

This is an IPhone app that makes it more likely to get help in an emergency situation. The IDistress is able to send a text message and email to three different people that you preprogram just by sliding a button, according to TrendHunter. It also will dial a preprogrammed number or the emergency number for the area that your in. It also will send your longitude and latitude coordinates to your contacts.

5. Life – Saving Underwear

There are underwear that are able to measure a wearer’s blood pressure, and heart rate just by the electrodes that are attached to them, according to Discovery. These would help soldiers on the battlefield and many others. They are not available yet but the maker hopes them to be soon.


KR-ADVANTAGE, “Helius Solar Charging Backpack” Vendio

Rainer Takahashi, “Life-Saving IPhone Apps” TrendHunter

Tracy Staedter, “Underwear That Could Save Your Life” Discovery

Labels: 5 Pieces of Technology that Could Save Your Life

Algebra Help: How to Solve the Dreaded "Two Trains" Word Problem

Over two years ago I wrote the articles “Solving Equal-Distance Uniform Motion Word Problems in Algebra” and “Algebra Help: How to Solve Uniform Motion Word Problems of the Form D1 + D2 = k.” As I was reviewing my library of articles I saw that these were fairly popular and regularly clicked on, but that they were probably too generic in description for the average Algebra student (unless he was specifically using the Saxon math textbooks) searching for homework help to find. To correct this, I decided to write a series of articles that were more specific to the kinds of uniform motion word problems students would be searching on: the boat-in-the-river word problem, the airplane-with-a-tail-wind word problem, and lastly here, the dreaded “two trains” word problem.

Like with all uniform motion word problems, we assume that the two trains are moving at a constant rate and are traveling in straight lines. For this article, we will assume that they always start at the same point and either go in the same direction or one goes in the opposite direction. (So if one train goes south, the other train will also go south. Or if one train goes east, the second train will go west.) The first kind of problem, where both trains go in the same direction and one overtakes the other is what we would call the “equal-distance” uniform motion word problem, while the second kind of problem, where the trains go in opposite directions, would be the “Form D1 + D2 = k” uniform motion word problem.

The most important basic algebraic equation to always remember when working with any uniform motion word problem is the equation:

Distance = Rate * Time

I recommend that the student uses the following variables:

D1 = distance Train #1 travels
D2 = distance Train #2 travels
R1 = speed (or rate) of Train #1
R2 = speed (or rate) of Train #2
T1 = Train #1’s travel time
T2 = Train #2’s travel time

The best way to learn how to solve these kinds of problems is to study solutions from actual problems.

Two Trains Word Problem #1: Both Trains Going in the Same Direction
Two trains start from the same point and travel in the same direction. One leaves 48 minutes later, travels 10 miles per hour faster than the other, and overtakes the first train in 4 hours. Find the rate of each train.

I always recommend immediately writing down the two essential distance equations to start.

D1 = R1*T1
D2 = R2*T2

Now, dissect the word problem to see what information we can write down in the form of Algebra equations.

We must be careful when we read statements like “one leaves 48 minutes later.” This tells us that the first train actually travels 48 minutes longer than the first train. (The stopping point is when the second train overtakes the first.) Since we want to work in terms of hours and not minutes, we have to convert our 48 minutes to a fraction. 48 minutes becomes (48/60) hours.

T1 = T2 + (48/60) = T2 + (4/5)

“travels 10 miles per hour faster” is easier to translate:

R2 = R1 + 10

“overtakes the first train in 4 hours” gives us two pieces of information:

D1 = D2 = D to simplify matters, we use D for our distance.
T2 = 4

We can now solve for T1.

T1 = T2 + (4/5) = 4 + (4/5) = (24/5)

Plug in what we’ve learned into our two distance equations.

D = R1*(24/5)
D = (R1 + 10)*4

Make the two equations equal to each other, simplify, and solve for R1.

(24/5)*R1 = 4*R1 + 40
(24/5)*R1 – (20/5)*R1 = 40
(4/5)*R1 = 40
R1 = 50

We can now solve for R2.

R2 = 50 + 10 = 60

The speed of the first train is 50 mph, while the speed of the second train is 60 mph.

This was an example of an equal-distance uniform motion word problem in Algebra, as the problem, when defined, set the two distances to be the same.

Two Trains Word Problem #2: Trains Going in Opposite Directions
Two trains start from the same place and travel in opposite directions. One train travels 7 miles per hour faster than the other. In 5 hours they are 385 miles apart. Find the rate of each train.

As always, I recommend immediately writing down the two important distance equations.

D1 = R1*T1
D2 = R2*T2

Each distance given tells us how far each train travels from the starting point, one in one direction, the other in the opposite direction.

Dissect what information we are given from the problem. No mention is given of one train leaving before or after the other, so we can assume:

T1 = T2 = 5

“One train travels 7 miles per hour faster than the other” give us:

R1 = R2 + 7

“they are 385 miles apart” translates to:

D1 + D2 = 385

Let’s solve D1 in terms of D2:

D1 = 385 – D2

Plug in the information we have into the two distance equations.

385 – D2 = (R2+7)*5
D2 = R2*5 = 5*R2

Fortunately we can easily plug in the second distance equation into the first, simplify, and solve for R2.

385 – 5*R2 = 5*R2 + 35
350 = 10*R2
R2 = 35

R1 = 35 + 7 = 42

The first train travels at a rate of 42 mph, while the second train travels at a rate of 35 mph.

This was an example of a “D1 + D2 = k” form uniform motion word problem in Algebra, as the two unknown distances, when added together, were equal to some known constant.


Virgil S. Mallory. A First Course in Algebra (1943)

Labels: Algebra Help: How to Solve the Dreaded "Two Trains" Word Problem

A Guide to Choosing Your First Pet Chameleon

Well, you have decided to get yourself a chameleon! The first thing that I will say to you, is to make sure that this is the right pet for you. Chameleons are not good pets for beginners and a lot of care and attention to detail is needed. The wrong food, home or handling will result in costly vet bills and therefore this is a decision that needs a lot of thought!

There are over 135 different species of Chameleon, but in general, there are three main ones which are considered to be safe as pets. There is the Jackson’s Chameleon, the Veiled Chameleon and the Panther Chameleon, and each has their pro’s and con’s as with any animal, but there may be one of these three that you will be better suited to.

First of all, when considering a Chameleon as a pet, you must always buy a captive bred Chameleon. Wild chameleons can prove much more difficult to tame and due to the travelling, can be home to some pretty nasty parasites and other bugs as well as being stressed. This can result, again, is expensive Vet bills and an unpleasant pet-owner relationship.

Most Chameleons do not enjoy excessive handling. As a general rule, you should consider this animal as one to be observed, rather than one to be played with, therefore, if you are looking for an animal to get out and play around with, do not choose a Chameleon. Although this is the case for most Chameleons, the Veiled Chameleon is considered as the more docile of the three species considered as good for pets, therefore this may be a good choice if you prefer to interract with your pet.

The Veiled Chameleon is a good choice of pet, not only because it can deal with mre handling, but also because it enjoys vegetarian foods as well as grasshoppers, crickets, locusts and flies. This means that there is a wider variety of foods that you can feed it, making it easier to accommodate as a pet. As well as the meaty types of food that Chameleons enjoy, you could try feeding a Veiled Chameleon thin slices of apples or pears. The Panther Chameleon and Jackson’s Chameleon are definate meat eaters, and will not eat vegetables or fruits, so although this means that the Veiled Chameleon is more high maintenance, it can also make life easier for the owner as you are more likely to have things liek apples and pears in your home on a regular basis, rather then crickets or locusts. You must remember, however, that a varied diet is essential, so you cannot just feed your Veiled Chameleon fruit!

As a general rule, all Chameleons are long term commitments. The Jackson’s Chameleon will live between five to ten years in captivity and can grow up to 13 inches in length, including the tail, making it the smallest of the three species, and therefore easier to home, but harder to find should it do a runner! The Panther Chameleon will grow up to 21 inches, with the males being larger than the females, and they can live up to 5 years, making it a slightly shorter term commitment that the other two. The Veiled Chameleon can grow to 24 inches in length for males and 13 inches in length for females and again, lives for five years.

To sum this up, if you are looking for a smaller Chameleon, a female Veiled Chameleon is a good idea, as it is smaller in length, only lasts for about five years and can be handled more often, and fed a wider variety of foods. Therefore, a Veiled Chameleon would be the Chameleon of choice, should you consider to get one as a pet.

When it comes to the home for the Chameleon, however, the humidity level for a Veiled Chameleon needs to be very precise – 50% The Panther Chameleon has a wider range – 60-85% therefore allows more margin for error. It is important that you get these details correct, otherwise you will end up with a poorly Chameleon, and therefore ensure that you arm yourself with as much information as you can befor you decide to purchase any Chameleon as a pet.

Every species of Chameleon will have it’s own advantages and disadvantages, and the purchase of one will include a great deal of thought. However, if you look after your Chameleon properly, and have the time and effort needed to make it as comfortable and happy as possible, you and your pet will have many happy years together!

Labels: A Guide to Choosing Your First Pet Chameleon

Advantages of a Stucco Exterior on Your Home

Stucco is one of the many options a homeowner might consider when thinking about an exterior coverage for their home. Whether it be a new home construction or renovating an older home, it is by far, one of the most durable, yet fashionable choices a homeowner can make.

There are numerous advantages to applying stucco over just about any other exterior option.

1) Stucco is extremely durable and will outlast siding, both wood and vinyl, and even brick, by decades. It can withstand the test of extreme temperature changes and weather conditions, resisting the harsh effects of rain, snow, hail and gusting winds.

2) Stucco, unlike wood siding, never needs to be painted. It is maintenance free, worry free, for years to come.

3) Stucco adds an excellent R-value (insulation efficiency), helping to keep your home cooler in the summer months and keeping out the harsh winds of winter, in turn, saving on your heating and cooling costs.

4) Because stucco is so durable as well as fire resistant, many insurance companies will reduce your home insurance premiums substantially, saving you hundreds of dollars. Be sure to check with your local insurance company to see if stucco is on their list of reducing premiums.

5) As well as adding beauty to your home, stucco adds thousands of dollars to the market value.

6) Stucco is mold and mildew resistance and will not rot or flake apart, so it is exceptionally durable in more moist or humid climates.

7) Stucco never goes out of style.

Depending upon your location, stucco is very comparably priced with other home exterior choices. However, when you consider the lasting durability and the numerous benefits of stucco over other exteriors, you will find that you receive much better value for your money over time.

Stucco has come a long way over the past several decades. From the old thick splash coat finish (also referred to as popcorn dash) at the turn of the 20th century, to the bottle glass stone dash of the 60’s, or the Spanish texture of the 90’s, stucco has evolved into more beautiful, modern finishes. The stucco of the new millennium gives the homeowner a vast array of styles and colors to choose from. Gone are the days when your only choices were that of grays and off whites or beiges. The new custom colors offer a variety as plentiful as an artist’s pallet, to either use alone or mix and match. They are sure to suit every homeowner’s particular tastes. If you are remodeling, stucco will turn an old tired looking home into a modern masterpiece.

The most popular designs offered by most professional plasterers are:

– Spanish texture (skip trowel design)
– Splash coat (popcorn dash)
– Knock-down drag
– Knock-down splash
– Float finish (smooth texture)

The projected time it takes to actually stucco a home may vary, depending upon the size of your home and the amount of work that needs to be done. The homeowner can expect a time span from about 2 or 3 days to a week. A good stucco contractor really shouldn’t take much longer than that, leaving little inconvenience to the homeowner. For example, it might take up to one full day to paper and wire the home, another to apply the scratch or under coat and a third day to add the finish coat. In less than a week, most homeowners can be enjoying their new stucco finish.

Most importantly, one must keep in mind, unlike applying siding or paint, laminate flooring or wall paper, stucco is very seldom a do-it-yourself project. It is definitely not as easy as one might think. To try and tackle the job ones self, a homeowner can find themselves dealing with a number of unforeseen problems and an unsatisfactory finished product. It requires a lot of work, physical strength and years of knowledge and experience, therefore, it is important to find the right contractor for the job. A proper stucco application should last the homeowner well into the next 50 or more years.

A reputable contractor will be knowledgeable in the correct procedures from start to finish, as well as having the right equipment and materials on hand. This would also include the process of applying flashing over all windows and doors, adding plaster stop for a clean and neat appearance, as well as the correct paper and wire and/or mesh application. These are the basic foundations to a lasting stucco exterior and must be done properly. As well, only your stucco contractor will know the appropriate proportions of cement, sand and water for lasting durability, along with the correct measure of dyes so the colors chosen will be consistent throughout.

When using a reputable, licensed stucco contractor, the homeowner can be assured with the guarantee that their home will be beautiful and maintenance free for many years to come.

Labels: Advantages of a Stucco Exterior on Your Home

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Sewing Machine

Considering the purchase of a sewing machine but unsure what to look for? Given the large selection of brands, styles, models and prices available now, no surprise that some people end up researching sewing machine brands for weeks and have a hard time figuring out which best suits their needs. However, after reading this article, you will know exactly what key points you should consider when shopping for your next sewing machine.

Since your sewing machine is the biggest investments you will make for your sewing room, before choosing one, consider the following:

(1) Intended use of the sewing machine

Since sewing machines are being designed for different and specific purposes, buying the one that will meet your sewing needs is key. If you are mainly looking to do simple straight stitching, minor clothing repairs and make an occasional curtain or pillow case, a basic sewing machine with 1-15 types of stitches should be good perfect. However, if you’re planning to make a few quilts, make clothing and create buttonholes, then a mid range sewing machine like the Brother PC-210 50-Stitch Computer Sewing Machine or the Janome DE 5124 24 Stitch Decor Excel Pro would be a better fit. If you are focusing on a machine for embroidery, you will need to figure out whether you want an embroidery only machine like the Brother PE700 Embroidery Machine or prefer an embroidery sewing machine combination such as the Singer Futura CE150 or the Brother SE350 67-Stitch Sewing & Embroidery Machine.

(2) Mechanical or Computerized Sewing

Sewing machines can be the basic mechanical or the computerized variety. This is another thing to consider. Whether you want a mechanical or a computerized sewing machine is a matter of personal preference.

(3) Determine Your Budget

Get a general idea of the price range of the type of sewing machines that fulfill your needs. Figure out just how much you want to spend. Sewing machine prices range from the under $100 basic models like the Omega 605 or the Singer 1507, a basic 7 stich sewing machine and great choice for simple garment construction, basic quilting and mending; to the over $7,000 embroidery sewing machines like the Viking Husqvarna Diamond with an incredible amount of features only a hardcore embroidery afecianado could truly appreciate and utilize. Stick to your established budget to avoid falling into the trap of getting a sewing machine with features you don’t need or will never use.

(4) Research the Brands & Models Available

After you have fine tuned your ideas about what you need in a sewing machine, research the brands and models of sewing machines with the features you need in the price range you want to stay within. Use sites like to compare features and see pricing on a variety of sewing machines. If embroidery will be your main focus, take a look at brands such as Husqvarna Viking, a well respected producer of exquisite embroidery machines. They are pricey but hold their value and last a very, very long time. Review other sewing machine manufacturer’s websites as well, including Singer, Brother, Elna and Bernina. Note the sewing machine models they offer, their features and the price ranges.

Choose the ones with features you know you want to use for sure and the ones suitable for the types of projects you plan to tackle. Shortlist the sewing machines that are not too complicated to learn how to use.

Go to sewing machine forums online to read customer feedback and discussions about the models you are considering to get a sense of whether these machines warrant further interest.

(5) Road-test the Sewing Machine Shortlist Group

Find local dealers for the machines on your shortlist and visit them to see the sewing machines and if possible, a trial and a demonstration. Test out the stitches and features that you have listed as important to you using samples of fabric you have been working with or plan to work with.

Check with the dealer about the sewing machine’s manufacturer’s warranty, cost for servicing and for upgrades. Some local dealers offer free sewing classes as a purchase bonus. Once you feel comfortable with your sewing machine choice, shop around online for prices that often beat those you will find locally. Also consider the possibility of purchasing a used model from dealers, online or locally, who often have well maintained models from other clients who have traded up to another model. Shop around online as well. Many sewing machine dealers also have an online presense and may be willing to beat a price you were quoted by your local dealer as well as throwing in free shipping. Again, double check the warranty availability as well as the return policy

Following this 5-step plan should make it easy to pinpoint the sewing machine that is ideal for your particular sewing room.

Labels: 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Sewing Machine

Arnica Relief - Product Review Following Eyelid Surgery - Sheila's Experience with Arnica Relief

Using Arnica Relief to reduce swelling after eyelid surgery

When my mother recently went through eyelid surgery, her doctor suggested that before her surgery, she go to the local pharmacy and purchase Amica Montana, and then directly after surgery, she should use it as a salve to reduce swelling and bruising.

What is Arnica Relief?

This particular product has several names apparently. It is known as Arnica (Botanical name: Amica Montana) and it is also known as Leopard’s bane, Wolf’s bane or Mountain Arnica.

According to, “Arnica is a perennial herb that is generally found in Europe (except Great Britain), the northern part of the U.S.A and Canada. It is also grown commercially in northern India and Ayurveda Kerala.

Medicinal parts used are the flowers and the rootstock. It is the golden yellow flower heads that are mostly used to obtain the main ingredients; a volatile oil and a bitter glycoside called arnicin.”(IMSERBA)

For more information about The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS), you can go to the official compendium for Homeopathic Drugs in the U.S (but it is not government regulated or related).

Where can you find Arnica Relief?

My mom asked a friend to go to the pharmacy to pick up this herbal remedy but after going to several traditional pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens with no luck, he ended up at the mall at the local GNC store.

He found both the pills and the salve version. You can use the GNC store locator to find a store near you. For $8.99, Arnica Relief is even available online for 100 tablets from GNC and can be ordered in advance and drop shipped to your door.

Product review of Arnica Relief

Arnica Relief is a natural homeopathic medicine made by GNC; it provides a remedy that takes care of muscle aches, bruises and sprains. This is the best stuff, and if you fall and you start taking it right away, it does wonders.

How to take Arnica Relief:

There are two types – salve and ingestion. My mother got the pills and they instructed her to chew one tablet and then take one every 30 minutes until symptoms improve. After that, take one every 4 hours.

Within two hours of taking this stuff her bruising started to subside. “I’m almost yellow and green on one side now- the black and blue bruising is gone.

The package does say for adults only. This homeopathic medicine is a safe treatment alternative for most minor ailments. Symptom relief is attained through stimulation of the body’s natural healing process. Precise levels of homeopathic ingredients work safe and without side effects.

Arnica has been used as a natural remedy for over 200 years. The information obtained here was from my mother’s personal experience, and should not take the place of medical advice from a licensed physician.


GNC Stores, Arnica Relief
Arnica Relief Package
Medical Care Instructions from Dr. Nguyen
Sheila’s Personal Experience

Labels: Arnica Relief - Product Review Following Eyelid Surgery - Sheila's Experience with Arnica Relief

A Playful Collection of Top 10 Pop Christmas Songs

This collection of best Christmas songs are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Whether you are baking cookies or wrapping gifts, these pop Christmas songs will get you moving and have you singing along in no time. Some are remakes of classic songs , others are fun-spirited songs that just may become a part of your top 10 Christmas songs.

1. Lonely Without You (This Christmas) by Mick JaggerMust-have pop Christmas music.

The classic pop sounds of Mick Jagger make this a rocking song to get the holidays started.

2. Fa La La La La (I Love Her So) by WonderfallOne of the best pop Christmas songs

The holidays are meant to be fun. This playful pop Christmas music will help get you in the holiday mood.

3. Don’t Shoot Me Santa by the KillersOne of the top pop Christmas songs

The Killers are one my favorite bands at the moment which makes this song a natural for my top 10 Christmas songs list. This is a lighthearted song that is fun to listen to year around.

4. Happy Xmas (War is Over) by Maroon 5 – Pop Christmas music remix.

A tribute to the classic John Lennon song, Maroon 5 gives their distinctive sound to make this one of my favorite pop Christmas songs.

5. I Won’t be Home for Christmas by Blink-182 – Funny pop Christmas music.

Funny lyrics and lively beat make this a song you can’t afford to exclude from your collection of pop Christmas music.

6. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Jack JohnsonEssential pop Christmas music.The dreamy voice of Jack Johnson makes this old classic new. It’s an must-have song on any pop Christmas music playlist.

7. Little Drummer Girl by Alicia KeysAnother one of the top 10 Christmas songs. A play on words, soothing vocals and amazing piano make this one of the best Christmas songs.

8. Oi to the World by No DoubtOne of my favorite pop Christmas songs

Fans of No Doubt will love this punked out version of the classic Christmas tune “Joy to the World.”

9. Christmastime by The Smashing Pumpkins – Great lyrics make this one of the top 10 christmas songs.

The Smashing Pumpkins make a new pop Christmas music favorite with the heartfelt lyrics and melody of this song. It’s a great song to listen to any time of year..

10. Santa’s Beard by They Might be GiantsOne of the Best Christmas Songs

Full of the quirky sound they are known for, this fun song by They Might be Giants is full of energy making it one of my favorite pop Christmas songs.

This collection of pop Christmas songs are sure to make the holidays fun. Who know you may find a few new favorites to add to your collection of Christmas songs.

Labels: A Playful Collection of Top 10 Pop Christmas Songs

3 High Quality, Reasonably Priced Computer Mice for Every Personality

You have just purchased the fastest piece of computing power you could afford, either in a desktop or laptop model. The display is perfect, you have more cores than an apple orchard, and enough memory to store every movie Morgan Freeman has made an appearance in. Before your computer set up is complete, you need to top it all off with the perfect mouse. Depending on what you use your computer for and what model of computer you have, you can get a mouse to fit your needs. Here are the top the input devices that will match your specific needs.

The Employee- Canon X Mark 1 Mouse with Keypad

While a 14 or 15 inch display is the perfect compromise for laptop computing, a common complaint is that smaller laptops do not have calculator style number pads. If you do work were entering digits is a necessity, you may want to get a Canon X Mark 1 Mouse. This mouse has the usual 3 input buttons, scroll wheel and wireless connection. It also has a full function calculator and number input pad on the top that is perfect for jobs that require data entry, or basically any type of repeated numerical input. There is a small display on the mouse itself, just like a basic calculator. You can purchase the X Mark 1 Slim from for $59.99.

The Casual Surfer- Microsoft Wireless Arc Touch

For years doctors have stressed that ergonomics is key to avoiding problems like carpel tunnel syndrome from compulsive computer use. Microsoft decided to research the ergonomics of the mouse extensively, and introduced the Microsoft Wireless Arc for laptops. It folded for easy packing, and was very comfortable to use. The next generation of the Microsoft Arc is the Touch model which is a radically different design that looks like it’s from the future, and flattens for easy carrying instead of folding. It takes a while to get used to, but after you do the Touch is a superior input device. Get either version of the Microsoft Wireless Arc for $59.99 from Microsoft online.

The Hardcore Gamer- Logitech G700 Optical Gaming Mouse

If your thing is playing games on a supped up desktop, we have you covered. Logitech’s G700 Optical Gaming Mouse is an inexpensive model that is contoured perfectly to reduce fatigue, and has 13 programmable buttons. The G700 transmits 1000 data reports per second, has a low friction coefficient for superb gliding, and has the ability to store up to 5 gaming profiles. The device is wireless, but comes with a plug and play USB chord that charges the mouse so you never have to worry about running out of juice. You can purchase the Logitech G700 from for $74.99.

Labels: 3 High Quality, Reasonably Priced Computer Mice for Every Personality

A Yearly Event

There are many ways to spend New Years Eve and be safe

Thinking about it brings back fond memories of those days long ago!

I recall going to a friends party and having my father take me and pick me up later

I had to be home early and cars were not a part of our lives back then

I was embarrassed to leave while other kids stayed, but I rarely complained

I did not want to hurt my fathers feelings.

Movie dates were popular during holidays.
This was not the best way to spend New Years eve, but it was safe and fun!

Most of the time we went with friends to see a movie at a nearby movie theater. After the show we walked to the luncheonette next door for something to eat. The usual snack, at that time, was a lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast, with bacon and mayo, a chocolate Ice Cream Soda topped with whipped cream, a cherry and a long pretzel and straw.

We spent little money on holiday celebrating. Finances were sparse those years. We walked or took the Streetcar. Cars were not available until some years later, so celebrating had to be held locally.

We played the usual party games, enjoyed cake and ice cream and Spin The Bottle. This was the popular kissing game those years. We only played this when mom and dad were next door, celebrating with friends.

New Years Eve was different during my younger years than it was in my teens and my later years Everyday living was much safer, fun, and shared with friends and neighbors.

Labels: A Yearly Event

4 Quick-Fix Hamburger Recipes

We love to eat sit-down dinners at our house, but we never really have time to cook large meals. After a little experimentation I came up with four quick recipes for hamburger base meals that we can alternate through out the week. These recipes feed approximately four to six people. I recommend that when you buy your meat from the butcher or grocer that you have it packaged in one-pound increments for easier distribution.

All four recipes take exactly one pound of meat. If you are serving more than four people I suggest you double the recipe. Also I prefer to you 90% lean ground chuck. That way you have more meat and less fat to drain off for a healthier meal. Let’s get started!

Monster Meatloaf

1 lb. of Hamburger
2 lbs. of shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of A1 sauce
1 cup of oatmeal
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients listed above except for 1lb of the cheese in a large bowl while you preheat your oven to 400′ F. It should be smooth and thick like dough. If it is too loose/runny then add another 1/2 cup of oatmeal to thicken it. Place the meatloaf in a 8×4 inch tin and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes and sprinkle the other 1lb. of cheese on top. Bake for 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted but not crispy. Let cool and serve with your favorite veggies or side dish.

My family really loves that meatloaf recipe. You will find that by substituting the oatmeal for crackers that it keeps the meatloaf very moist and less salty. Our next recipe is great for a quick meal on the go.

Prickly Burgers

1 cup of Minute Rice
1 jar of Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb. of Hamburger meat
2 lb. of Shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Mix the Hamburger, 1/2 cup of Spaghetti sauce, and Rice together in a bowl. Pat it out into 4 large patties. Put in 8 x 10 pan and pour remaining spaghetti sauce on top. Sprinkle all the Mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 400’F. Serve with sides of your choice.

Homemade Beef Stroganoff

1 lb. of hamburger meat
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup of sour cream
2 cups of egg noodles.

Brown the Hamburger meat in a large skillet. Once its fully cooked then add the cream of chicken soup, mushroom soup, sour cream and egg noodles. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the noodles are tender. Uncover and remove from heat. Serve with favorite side dishes.

Beefy Tomato Delight

2 cans of tomato soup
2 cups of milk
1 lb. of shredded cheddar soup
1 lb. of hamburger.
1 lb. of macaroni noodles

Brown hamburger meat first. Then in a large pot/pan add hamburger, soup, milk and macaroni noodles. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Top each serving dish of Beef Tomato Delight and add Croutons as a topping.

Labels: 4 Quick-Fix Hamburger Recipes

5 Ways to Make Money with Your Smartphone

If you have a smartphone, you can put it to work for you! Making money with your smartphone has never been easier, and if you want to learn how to make money with your smartphone, these 5 tips are pure gold!

Locket – Locket is a relatively new system available to Android phone users. The free Locket app allows you to rent out the space on your lock screen to advertisers. In return, your lock screen image is replaced with an advertisement and you get paid every time you unlock your device!

App Rewards Club – The App Rewards Club is a system available on iOS-powered devices that allows you to earn money by downloading and testing new apps, and sharing them with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media platforms!

iPinions – iPinions allows Android, Blackberry, and iOS users to take surveys and share their opinions on various topics. In return for your time, you get paid! Internet survey sites tend to get a bad rep when it comes to making money, but iPinions is a safe bet!

ShopKick – ShopKick is a shopping rewards system that uses the GPS on your phone to reward you with points by simply entering a store such as Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys R Us, Exxon, Mobil, and more. Android and iPhone users can take advantage of this unique shopping rewards system, and since you aren’t required to make a purchase, you can make money by simply following your daily routine!

MyLikes – If you’re a social media addict and don’t mind plugging a few products into your tweets, facebook posts, or other social media activities, MyLikes may be for you! This system allows you to choose from a range of promotable campaigns and share the ones that fit your lifestyle. In return for your promotions, you are paid via PayPal or Amazon gift cards!

Do you know of more ways to make money with your smartphone? Share them by leaving a comment below!

Labels: 5 Ways to Make Money with Your Smartphone

5 Restaurant Secrets: Behind the Scenes with a Server

Restaurant work is one job that does not garner the respect it deserves. Often there are stories published of servers and bartenders not getting a tip for different reasons, and if you feel it is justifiable to not tip, I may just change your mind. After working over 10 years in the restaurant industry, I’ve learned there are many things I didn’t know, but also that the general public doesn’t know. Whether you are a patron or considering a job in the restaurant industry, here is what you need to know.

Truth behind the pay

Many servers are only making $2.13 per hour. You may think that is justifiable because they get tips, and many do well, but serving is un-predictable, seasonal, and underpaid. The minimum anyone should tip is 20 percent, but not everyone does. And I’m not saying you should tip over 20 percent if you don’t want to, but to tip less than 20 percent should be a crime. These workers are usually working through college, or providing for their families without being offered any health insurance. Servers don’t just bring you food; servers juggle many tables at once, they are required to remember your every desire, and do a lot of side-work/prep work. Restaurant jobs are high-stress jobs that get blown-off as useless, but if I had forgotten a side of ranch, it was like I had offended that person in the worst way.

Politeness will get you anywhere

I’m the type of person that will do my best to give you everything you want, the way you want it. If you want a crazy special order, I’ll ask the kitchen to make an exception for you. Some employees don’t work by those same rules, but I’ve learned that if you are extremely nice and polite, they can be talked into special requests. Maybe you wanted to sit in a closed off part of the restaurant-just be as nice as possible and state your reasons for wanting to sit there. If you throw a fit and threaten to leave, you’re guaranteed to not get your wishes, but if you use your manners, your chances are greater.

Servers sacrifice meals to feed you

Restaurant employees are legally given a “break”, but that doesn’t mean that they get it. On busy shifts, servers and bartenders are not allowed to eat. So often they go hungry to make sure you are well-fed with the best service possible. They eventually eat, but often times it’s not until closing.

Have you ever had bad service?

If you have, this means a couple of things. The first is that the server is not cut out for serving. I have trained enough people, and could tell the first night if they would make it. You either have the skills, or you don’t. Multi-tasking in a fast-paced environment is not something you can teach. They can get better, but they will never be the server you want serving you. Secondly, the restaurant was probably under-staffed. Managing a restaurant is similar to fortune telling. You either keep a full staff hoping it will get busy, and no one makes money, or you cut a few servers. When you take that gamble, you help the servers make their livelihood, but if a crazy rush comes in, the service could be slower.

There’s also the problem that the staff are friends, so they like to request off at the same time. A manager will then try to approve as many as possible, leaving a bare serving staff.

The position you put servers in with a food order

It may seem silly to you, but cooks do not like when menu items are tweaked with. Unethical cooks might spit in your food, but the majority will just take it out on the server. The kitchen is a very volatile place, and if my name is on a ticket with special requests, I take the heat for you. This is especially true when they are busy, and struggling with production times.

Labels: 5 Restaurant Secrets: Behind the Scenes with a Server

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