Getting ready for fall can be a lot of fun, especially if you apply the principles of Feng Shui to your surroundings in anticipation of the transition from the lazy days of summer to the coldness of the winter months ahead. The biggest part of Feng Shui for your home this fall involves keeping your chi moving or flowing.

The summer element, fire, is giving way to the winter element, water, and transitioning your home is important to maintaining the health and tranquility of your space. The fall of the year is a time when Mother Nature is shedding her leaves and allowing the past to go. We can do the same thing in our home and office décor. Begin by:

-          Clearing out clutter. Clutter brings to mind decay and can clog your vital energy. Clutter is typically caused by our resistant to a particular area of the home. If you want good things to come inside during the fall and winter months, then rid your space of clutter, whether it is old books and magazines and other items that are cluttering up your space, or whether it is too many collectibles and odds and ends lying about. Put order to chaos in order to allow the free movement of chi, or positive energy, in your life.

-          Move energy. The corners of your room are where your chi tend to come to a stand still. Keep chi moving with artwork, plants or small items of furniture that invite the movement of energy. A fountain or the flow of air via a wind chime is also a good way to move your chi.

-          Organize your closet. Chi can become stuck in closets, in a way, stored. Keep your closets free from old, unwanted items that you don’t use (make a run to Goodwill to make a donation), to keep chi moving.

The kitchen sponge is a hard working tool, but it can be a germ laden tool, too, and one that can spread disease and illness – if you don’t keep it cleaned and sterilized. After all, your sponge does everything from wiping up spills to washing your dishes. Sponges can harbor all types of microbes, pathogens, and viruses from meats, eggs and other foods.  Preventing foodborne illness means being diligent about keeping the kitchen and its tools, like sponges, clean.

First, rinse the sponge under cold water. This washes out any loose grime and debris. Wring out excess water. Fill a microwavable bowl with a cup of water. Lay the sponge in the bowl. Put the bowl in the microwave. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Allow bowl to cool. Remove from microwave. Allow water to cool. Remove the sponge.  Alternately, you can run your sponges in the ‘dry’ cycle of your dishwasher for the same effect.

If this sounds like a lot of work for a tool that probably costs less than a dollar, then you might want to go with a box of disposable sponges (or even steel wool pads or SOS pads instead of a traditional sponge. These disposables usually cost very little. Use them once and then toss them out.

Those pretty pumpkins on your porch will make a beautiful accent right up through Thanksgiving, but then what? How do you make use of a pumpkin once the harvest season is over? While the guys on the hit TV show “Punkin Chunkin” have their ideas about how to dispose of the Halloween pumpkin on your porch, there are better uses for a pumpkin than turning it into a flying missile.

You can always use the pumpkin for what it was intended for –pumpkin pie – or for other baked goods, soups and so on. To use, just scoop out the pulp of the pumpkin, all the way down to the white layer that separates the skin and the pulp. Steam this ‘pumpkin guts’ in a veggie steamer for around a half hour, or place the pumpkin in a couple of inches of water and place in a microwave safe bowl, covering and cooking in microwave on high for around fifteen minutes. Puree the pumpkin in a blender or food processor, or smash with a potato masher. Some people even feed the pumpkin to their pets.

You can also make tasty toasted pumpkin seeds, which are also super healthy. To do this, scoop out the seeds, rinse them and then toss with oil. Spread on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with seasonings and bake for about thirty minutes at 350.

Want to grow your own patch of pumpkins next year? Save some  seeds, store over the winter and plant next spring! You’ll need plenty of room for growing pumpkins, however, since they are very viny.

If you compost, then a pumpkin can be a great addition to your compost pile. Just cut it into pieces and toss it in! You can also coat the inside with peanut butter and place the seeds back inside – and hang it outside for the birds a nice fall treat!

How to Seed Your Lawn

susan —  October 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

Seeding your lawn is a simple DIY task. No, you don’t need to hire a landscaper just to seed your lawn. You do, however, need to know what type of seed to use, the season that you should sow the seed, and how to prepare your soil properly.

Grass can be classified as warm or cool season seed, depending on the region and type of climate that the grass thrives in. As a general rule, you will want to seed your lawn with the recommended seed for your area. If you are re-seeding or planting seed in “brown spots” or “bald spots”, then you need to choose the same seed that was used for the rest of your lawn. Generally speaking, seed with cool season grasses in the fall and with warm season grasses in the spring. Fall seeding is sometimes more successful since the seed doesn’t have to compete with weeds.

Prepare the soil with a tiller, burrowing down to a depth of around three inches, loosing up the soil. Even out the surface. Level the ground and break up large clumps. Spread seeds evenly. You can use a seed distributor if you’d like, or you can just distribute by hand.

Cover the freshly sown seeds with straw. This will keep birds and wind from doing away with your new seed. Water at least twice daily for the first two weeks after planting. You can begin mowing when the grass is two inches in height.

How to Decorate for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and decorating for Halloween can be a lot of fun. How do you decorate for one of the spookiest nights of the year? Chances are good that you have some clever ideas floating around in your head. The ideas that follow can also help.

-          Think beyond October 31st. The good thing about Halloween décor is that if you do it just right, you can have décor that lasts throughout the entire harvest season – through Thanksgiving. To do so, think pumpkins, scarecrows, owls, and things of this sort, not just scary witches, ghosts and bats.

-          Get ideas online. Visiting sites that list ideas for Halloween décor, like Martha Stewart, for example, can be a good way to find unique and neat ideas that you will love. From displays in the yard to creepy porches, you will find a number of different ideas for dressing up the exterior of the home when you look online.

-          Pay attention to the inside. Turning your home into a Little Shop of Horrors with spiderwebs, ghosts, goblins and zombies can help you to get into a hauntingly good mood for the upcoming scare fest. Try to add a touch of the season to every room in the home, including the bathrooms.

-          Get the family involved. Allow your kids and spouse to get involved in the fun of decorating whether it is the yard or inside of the home. Encourage kids to decorate windows with fun window clings in their bedroom and to add accents to mirrors and other areas of the home where you might otherwise not add a Halloween touch.

Many people are naturally bad at letting go – especially of a relationship that is no longer good for them. But the truth is that life is short, and if you are holding onto someone who is not good for you – or good to you, then perhaps it is a waste of time to continue on the same path. This is not only true of physical or intimate relationships. This can also be true of relationships with friends or regrettably, family.

When you are in a relationship that is not healthy for you, either physically or mentally, the time has come to cut ties for good. This can be hard. Some people have a natural aversion to change and thus they hold on, longer than they should many times, to a relationship that died out long ago. In other instances, the relationship may be going nowhere, which can make it hard to really find your true place in life, or your true partner.

The best way to end a relationship for good, is to do just that – end it altogether. Cut all ties to the person.This ‘cold turkey’ approach is just what you need to get yourself started down a different road. While remaining friends can be amicable, this sometimes is a bad idea. If the person remains a friend, you can be more tempted to go back to them and allow the relationship to eventually pick back up where you left off. Just like smokers who quit have the best overall long-term success rate with cold turkey smoking cessation, so can you with a rotten relationship.

How to Speed Up Your Computer

Nothing is worse than a computer that runs slowly. If your once fast running computer has went from blazing speed to slower than a turtle, then it is time for you to do something to speed it up. You do not have to contend with a computer that crashes, is slow, or that makes you feel like pulling your hair out.

Clean it Out!

Just as you must clean your home, your computer must be cleaned, too, from time to time, whether your computer is a PC or a Mac. If you have not been doing regular maintenance on your computer since you purchased it, this may be the reason that your computer is running like a slug instead of a jack rabbit. Start by getting rid of stuff that you don’t need and old programs that are no longer applicable to what you use your computer for. One big thing that many people can do to get a faster computer is to uninstall large programs that they don’t use, like Java, for example. When a program is unnecessary and rarely used, you likely can delete it. For instance, if you have the newest version of Microsoft Office, uninstalling MS Office 2003 or 2007 can help to free up space and make your computer go faster.

Only Use a Few Programs at a Time

You can also speed up performance of your computer by only using the programs that you need at the time you need them. Having a lot of programs open at once can slow down yor computer.

Watch Out for Malware and Spyware

Viruses, spyware, adware, Trojans, root kits, worms and the like – they are all bad for your PC. These malicious software types can cause your computer to run slowly. Using a good virus protection program can get rid of these things that can bog your computer down while keeping your personal information safe.

In today’s economy, finding and buying used clothing is becoming more and more acceptable as people learn to live frugally and saving money is an important concept. But where can you find used clothing that is in good enough shape to bother investing in? Buying used clothing does not have to be a complex process. Happily, there are many different places that you can buy clothing that has been gently used. You may be surprised to learn that many times, used clothing is just barely used. And after all, once we wear an article of clothing, it is used, right?

Try to find used clothing at second hand stores, consignment shops, and thrift stores. The Goodwill store in your home town is a good source for used clothing. Likewise, you can shop at yard or tag sales and garage sales.

Craigslist oftentimes has a number of good used clothing listings. Just be sure to use care when you meet anyone from Craigslist. Remember the precautionary tale of the Craigslist killer.

And finally don’t overlook Ebay. There are oftentimes many good used lots of clothing that you can buy for a very cheap price. For instance, you might buy 12 good shirts in one lot for less than twenty dollars! One man’s junk (or one woman’s junk) is oftentimes another’s treasure.

How to Fry Perfect Chicken

susan —  September 22, 2012 — Leave a comment

Most cooks are on the lookout for tips on frying the perfect chicken. Fried chicken is a staple of southern cooking, and people around the world gobble up fried chicken, Kentucky style, at KFCs from here to Tokyo and back. Many cooks struggle with frying chicken, but it is possible to fry chicken perfect – every time – using the technique that many good cooks have mastered over years.  First off, you need the right pan for frying your chicken, and then you need the right batter for dipping it in!

The Pan

The best pan for frying chicken is an iron skillet. An old, well-seasoned iron skillet is even better. If you are looking to buy an iron skillet, you may do best by buying one that has been verifiably used for many years. With iron skillets, they only get better with age. If you don’t have a local source (flea market, antique store), then try Ebay.Com or some other auction site. Sure, you’ll pay a lot of shipping for a heavy iron skillet, but it will literally last you a lifetime with proper care.

The Batter

Next up is the batter for your chicken. Two simple ingredients are needed: flour and eggs. Just use any flour that you have on hand, as long as it is self rising. Cut up your chicken. Dip it in a mixture of pure eggs (beaten, of course), and then roll in flour. Dip back in eggs. Roll in flour again. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and paprika. Drop into an iron skillet that is about a fingertip deep in oil over medium heat. Fry for about ten minutes per side. Drain onto paper towel.

Stand back and accept the compliments you are sure to get. Now you know how to fry perfect chicken!

How to Choose the Best Dog Bed

susan —  September 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

Looking for just the right dog bed for your “fur baby”? Then chances are good that you are a little bit bewildered by the sheer number of dog bed options on today’s market. There is a dog bed for every taste and every preference. But when choosing a bed for your dog, it is important that you keep the dog’s needs in mind, not your own. Choosing a dog bed solely because it matches the furnishings in a particular room may mean that Fido ends up with the short end of the stick.

Finding a Dog Bed for Your Four-Footed Friend

So what is a pet owner to do? A myriad of options is invariably a good thing because it gives you lots of choices to pick from, including donut shaped dog beds, round dog beds, and even pet water beds, among others. Ultimately, your choice of pet dog bed for your canine companion should be based on:

• The size of the dog. Take measurements of your dog to make sure you buy a pet bed that he can fit into comfortably while giving him enough room to roll from side to side while dreaming of eating that platter of bacon or chasing the neighborhood cat. Don’t just guess when it comes to the size of pet bed you will need. Make sure the bed is long enough and wide enough for the dog to sleep in easily.

• The budget you have to spend. Browsing the dog beds on the market, you will see that there is a dog bed in a price point for all budgets, whether you have just a little to spend or you are looking for a pricey bed for your precious, furry princess. Have a budget in mind beforehand to make shopping for your pet bed a lot simpler.

• Your dog’s health. If your dog has a special health condition or health problem, like arthritis, for example, then he might need a special dog bed, such as one that sits all the way on the floor as opposed to one on short legs. Your veterinarian can likely recommend the best type of bed for your dog’s health. For arthritic dogs, a memory foam dog bed might ease his aching joints.

• The climate where you live. If you live in a climate that is cold much of the year, you might want to purchase a self-heating dog bed. For hot climates, a dog bed that is made from naturally cool fabrics might be a good choice. You might also choose one bed for warm months and one for cool months.

Follow these tips and you’re sure to make man’s best friend happy and content when nap time rolls around each day!