Spruce Up Your House by Gardening!

It’s a good time to start thinking and planning ahead for your garden. A neat and tidy front yard can enhance a property, but a beautifully planned one can really make an ordinary house look special.

Some accessories that will make your yard look really good can be very inexpensive. Most of us are on a budget, especially these days when we never know how much it will cost to fill up our gas tank. Sometimes at this time of the year, you can find last year’s garden accessories discounted. Benches or garden lights may be listed for sale before the new stock comes in.

There are some basic rules which apply to every garden. Before you start you should try and afford a soil test. This is quite inexpensive and either your local nursery or the Internet will tell you how to go about it. You can also buy do-it-yourself kits. The second thing is to dig compost into your garden, and now (winter) is a good time.

If you are having a soil test carried out, you will know from the results if you should add any other nutrition to your soil. A soil test will mean you will not be buying the ‘wrong’ shrubs, plants etc for your soil type.

There is one last thing that you should monitor: how long and where the sun shines on different parts of your garden. Plants can thrive without direct sunlight, but only if you plant a type that likes the shade. This can still include many bright, colorful plants (i.e. impatiens), so you can still brighten up dull areas.

Once you decide to buy, you do not want to waste your money by having the plants or shrubs die on you. The soil test will curb some of these mistakes. The other thing to do is to look up, on the Internet or from a book, your particular growing zone. If you live in an area where, for instance, you come into the ‘Hardiness Zone’, it will enable you to pick the type of plant that has the best chance of surviving in your type of climate.

Always put short and stocky plants in front of taller ones. Remember to check the expected height to know this information – do not decide by the height at purchase time. Remember that short and stocky plants are generally tougher and more resilient, so choose more of these.

Try to resist buying plants in bloom at the time of purchase. The ones that still have to bloom will probably be stronger for the transplant process. If you have more shady areas than you wish, think about drastically trimming a tree to get more sunlight onto certain patches. Remember that some plants like a lot of water, so group these together to make the watering less laborious for you.

There are many small accessories that will really make your yard stand out. Obviously a strategically placed bench -or chairs and small table- under a tree will look welcoming and relaxing. A small bridge can really enhance a yard, and you can use it as a focal point for a few reeds or grasses to give the impression of water. Or if you feel daring you can try digging your own long shaped pond. Instructions on this are easy to find in books or on the ‘net.

For cheap plants (in fact free ones!) buy a can of ‘rooting powder’ and offer to swap cuttings with your neighbors. It is not recommended to sneak out at midnight with your scissors in hand!!

Family Tree Creation: Reasons To Create Your Own Family Tree

What is the purpose of family tree creation? Why would you set out to create a family tree, or even write the genealogy of your family?

For a lot of people, the answer is simple. They want to know where they are descended from. They want to know who was in their family before them and what those people’s lives were like.

But what more can family tree creation mean for you?

Surprising Information

Other than just satisfying the curiosity about your roots, you could stumble on to information that could change your life. Some of the greatest discoveries about people have been made in the process of finding out their family tree. People discover inheritances that were left for them, or family treasures, which they would otherwise never have known about had they not started to look into their family’s past.

A lot of people also discover great stories. Some of these stories have been published and have earned the authors a great deal of money. Alex Haley wrote the biography of Malcolm X, but that’s not what brought him into the limelight. He became famous when he took time to research 7 generations back into his family; he discovered great stories of how lives were lived, how hardships were overcome and successes made. When he wrote Roots, it was an instant hit; people like to read true stories of people who came before them because it validates their existence today.

There is nothing to stop you from doing the same. Perhaps your family tree creation project could turn you into a millionaire too! Each family, each person in your family, had a unique life that’s worth telling about if you can craft it in such a way as to make an interesting read.

Science and Medicine

Family tree creation is also a valuable scientific asset especially when it comes to researching genetics and diseases. There are particular diseases that seem predominant to very small sections of the population, and research into how these people are related, which has been done using family trees, has shown certain groups to all be descended from one gene. In terms of looking for cures, it narrows the scope so that scientists are able to isolate a single gene and deal with it if, for example, they were looking to cure or understand a disease.

Criminology

In criminology, it’s been found that some serial killers have a violent gene that runs ways back through the family lineage. If you have someone who is particularly errant in your family, you might want to trace your roots and learn about the lives of the people in your family who came before you because it could help explain why this particular person is the way they are – there may be people in your family tree who suffered similar problems and it would help to know this as you look for a solution.

Your Legacy

Family tree creation is also a way of leaving your own legacy behind for those who will come after you. There is no better gift to the next generation than handing them their genealogy: they will know from whom they are descended and somehow, this seems to give people a certain satisfaction. If you can put your family tree together for your kids or grandkids, it’s a perfect gift that they too can add onto and then pass on to the next generation – it means that no one in your family will ever go un-noted.

There are all kinds of ways in which family tree creation and writing your genealogy can be of benefit; it’s worthwhile spending the time recreating your family’s history because, unless you do, you will never know what wonderful stories are waiting there for you!

Ten Reasons You Can not Lose Weight

You may be among many who have attempted to lose weight many times yet remain unsuccessful. You might be thinking, "If only I had the secret!" If you are frustrated, take a look at why weight loss comes difficult. Here are ten pitfalls that slow down or halt the process:

1. Fat Overload . We need protein, but often the sources of our protein are also sources of fat. Fat has nine calories per gram. It is wise to choose foods with unsaturated fat and eat cleaner proteins, such as soy products and whey protein powders.

2. Sugar Overload . By eating candy, cookies, and breakfast pastries, and drinking juice, we tend to consume a lot of empty calories, which digest very quickly in our bodies. The excess gets stored as fat. It is better to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings with fruit.

3. Water Deficit . Water is a miracle nutrient. It can help us to lose weight. Many times we feel hunger pangs and think we are hungry, but our bodies are really telling us that we are thirsty. Water satisfies our cravings and makes us feel fuller.

4. Soda Pop Overload . Many people try to quench their thirst with soda pop. This contributions to the many empty calories that we consume each day. And why put all those chemicals in your body anyway? Switch to water.

5. Alcohol Overload . Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. One 12 oz. bottle of beer has 180 calories. A 24 ounce beer has 360 calories. Your body will break down alcohol calories before it breaks down carbs, fat, or protein. Drinking only one serving a day and counting those as calories is very important.

6. Condiment Overload . It is really important to count condiments in your calorie counting. How much mayonnaise or ketchup are you putting on your chicken sandwich? Yes, and pickles have calories, too.

7. Meal Deficit . It is a whole lot more fun to eat six times a day then three times a day. Eating more often raises the metabolism and improvements digestion, because we consume less food at a time and are able to eat more in 24 hours.

8. Skipping breakfast . Never skip breakfast. You may be eating less food, but you are also slowing down your metabolism. Who wants to drag all day?

9. Burning too few calories . It is difficult to lose weight by only dieting. Exercise is essential. So get on those running shoes and go for a thirty-minute walk every day. Weight training can also really accelerate your weight loss efforts.

10. Lack of goal setting . Weight loss takes time. One should lose only 2 pounds per week at most. It is there important to set short-term and long-term goals so that you can celebrate as you reach miles and continue this lifelong journey.

Now, it is time to throw out all of those negative results and get some positive ones. Get excited, because you are about to begin a successful weight loss journey.

A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006