Do It Yourself

Helpful Products and Ideas for Your Life

Tips to Get Over a Broken Heart

tips for a broken heart

People who enter into a special relationship sometimes throw themselves into the situation heart and soul. As they soak in the joy of being the apple of someone’s eye, they sink every bit of their being into making the relationship with that person the best it can be. Unfortunately, if a relationship like this ends, there can be some very deep feelings of hurt.  What follows are some simple tips to get over a broken heart.  I hope they help you.

Dealing with Heartbreak

tips for a broken heart

Friends can help you to get over a broken heart.

Knowing how to deal with this heart breaking reality can be difficult to fathom. You must focus yourself on healing if this has happened to you. Each person is an individual, so not every method will be right for every person, but here are some simple pointers to get you on the road to emotional healing as quickly as possible.

5 Tips to Get Over a Broken Heart

1. Although rebound relationships are generally seen as a bad thing that should be avoided, you may want to consider looking for one. Do not do anything silly or anything that you may regret, but try to get out and have some fun with another person. For some, this is enough to completely get over a broken heart. At the very least, it can be a way to take your mind off of the pain you might be feeling

2. You might also want to consider getting in touch with someone you had a relationship with previously. This isn’t to suggest that you should go running back to re-start a relationship. Rather, this should be done just as a gentle reminder to yourself that you have made it through a similar challenge previously and that you will be fine now.

3. As long as you are not indulging in anything dangerous, you might also want to just go ahead and get yourself some kind of special treat. A small splurge might help you to smile again and nudge you toward seeing that life does go on and can be enjoyed without the person you had a relationship with previously.

4. If you have a group of friends that you have let drift away during your relationship, try rounding them all up again. They may tease you a bit if you haven’t been in touch, but more likely, they will welcome you back into the fold and help to get you back on your own two feet again.

5. If things are really not going well for you, you can always talk to a professional about the feelings you are having and the struggles that are making life tough. This could be a doctor, a clergyman, or any other person trained in dealing with the difficult issues you are facing. Don’t go it alone. There are many helpful resources available to you if you need them.

If you find that you’re still struggling with lost love after a significant amount of time, you might also want to read this for some extra support.  I found it on a website that I visit from time to time.

Saving Time and Effort with Gas Powered Post Hole Diggers

one man post hole digger

A Motorized Post Hole Digger Makes Life Easier

Should you rent a post hole digger or buy one?  To be honest, you’ve got to do a little bit of math here. A gas powered post hole digger is not something that’s needed in every home. If you just have a small project to complete, it might be total overkill. Sometimes you can even get by with using a manual approach to labor. Other times though, the trade off in time and effort just isn’t worth it. Digging fence post holes is a time consuming chore that can be a serious pain in the neck (and back). When there’s a good deal of work to be done, one of these powerful digging machines can be a real blessing. You should consider how much your time is worth and how much renting one of these machines could end up costing you. You might be better off buying yourself one of these earth augers if you are going to need it for more than just a day or two.  Back when we first bought our home, I went the rental path a few times, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out that just a couple of multi-day rentals often ended up costing me enough to have purchased the item I needed (a rototiller comes to mind here).

The Earthquake Post Hole Digger

One of today’s popular choices

If you are looking for a gas powered auger, and you’ve been doing any research, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across the Ardisam Earthquake name. These earth augers are popular because both the price and the performance are pretty good compared to other comparable brands. Just as with any post hole digger you might purchase, you’ve got to use care in handling one of these machines, but they can get serious digging jobs done for you at a reasonable cost. Compare the price of owning one of these to what it would cost to rent an auger for one or two big jobs. You have your choice of power with the Earthquake diggers.

 Earthquake E43 1-Person Earth Auger Powerhead with 43cc 2-Cycle Viper Engine Earthquake 9800B 2-Person Earth Auger Powerhead, 190cc 4-Cycle Briggs and Stratton Engine

One Man and Two Man Augers

These gas powered hole diggers save a ton of time!
If you have a fence to install or another project that involves digging similar sized holes, you will save a lot of time by using a gas powered post hole digger. These diggers make the job much easier on your back and can finish a job, which would take hours by hand, in minutes. There are quite a few models that are able to be operated by one person. There are also many models that take two to control the digger effectively, so you will want to factor this into your decision as to which brand to purchase.  The two diggers shown above are pretty typical of what is out there in one and two model designs.

Working Safely with an Auger

Protect yourself when you’re working.
Buy safety goggles.   You will want to have some ear and eye protection as these machines can be fairly loud. The eye protection will keep you safe in case the auger encounters a rock in the soil. It will also save you some time if you clearly mark all of the areas in which you need to dig holes. This will allow you to move from one hole to the next without having to stop and start the digger each time. Most post hole diggers that are gas powered will require a pilot hole in order to make certain that the digger remains stable. A pilot hole is basically a starter hole and can be quickly dug out with a hand shovel. Obviously you should read, understand, and follow all of the directions that come with the post hole digger you purchase.

How Much Power Do You Need?

Get the tool that’s right for the job
When you are selecting a brand of gas powered post hole digger, make certain that it includes the drill size that you need. Many models come with multiple drills and these will help you to accomplish different jobs. A one-person auger will be suitable for most backyard style jobs. The two-man augers will be able to accomplish these jobs and will also be suitable for more industrial style work. Be certain that the digger you select has a comfortable grip and drills that can be replaced if they become damaged. You will also want to make certain that the model you select has enough horsepower to complete the job you have in mind. The more horsepower a model has, the more likely it will take two people to effectively use the post hole digger in a safe manner.

How to Get the Most Juice Out of a Lime

countertop lime juicers

Today I actually got into a conversation with my neighbor about how to get the most juice out of a lime. Yeah, I never saw it coming. She was very firm in her belief that a lime juicer is an essential item in any proper kitchen though. I’m kind of bored today, so I’m going to share what she had to say about the proper method of collecting lime juice… Something I never even considered previously. I seriously think I might start a category on here

countertop lime juicers

Some people really like limes!

called “Things other people care about that I never even considered.” Apparently, juicing lemons and limes can be very easy if you have the correct kind of citrus juicer. Although it is possible to simply squash these fruits using the heel of your hand (my preferred method), this can be hard work and also painful if you have small hands or are not very strong (like my neighbor). A much better alternative is to buy a proper lemon or lime juicer.

She tells me that by far the cheapest way to juice is to buy a simple hand-held juice press. These are similar in design to a nutcracker, and simply use two levers to effectively crush the little citrus fruit. You can expect to buy one of these for as little as $10, and for a little bit more, you will get a really good quality stainless steel juicer which will last you a lot longer. These kinds of hand-held juicers are reliable, and should cover most applications fairly well.

You may, however, want to juice larger quantities of limes or lemons. Although there is rarely a need for such a large lime juicer, you may want to consider the upright Metrokane juice presses. These provide an easy and effective (although expensive) means to juice a lot of different kinds of citrus fruit.

These juice presses stand about 18 inches tall, and are designed to be used on a countertop or bench. By using a long pull down lever, it is easily possible to crush 10 or more oranges or any other citrus fruit per minute, and using minimal effort.

These upright citrus presses make fantastic lemon or lime juicers, and can be used by absolutely anyone. They also look fantastic, finished in stainless steel and are a real compliment to any kitchen. You can expect to pay between $100 and $200 for one of these presses, and although this sounds like a lot of money, consider that you will be able to make all of your own juices at home and thus be able to save significantly on your grocery bills.

Buying an upright juicer press such as this is a long-term investment. I personally don’t consume enough limes to make it worth my while, so I think I’ll just stick with the cheaper alternative. I might even just stick with rolling the lime around on the kitchen counter and squishing it by hand.

How to Get the Most Juice Out of a Lime

OK, now for those people who absolutely don’t want to add to their kitchen gadget collection, I offer you the following video.  I would also add that you should roll the lime on the countertop under the heel of your hand before making the cuts suggested in this video.

If someone wants to do an actual comparison of juice quantities by various methods, please leave a comment and share your findings with us!

What are the Best Hunting Binoculars?

very good for hunting

Why I’m Buying New Binoculars

very good for hunting

These Bushnells offer great value and performance. Watch the video to learn more about why Bushnells are the choice of so many hunters and bird watchers.

When I was about twelve years old, I asked for a pair of binoculars for my birthday. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they did buy me a pair that was good enough to let me get an up close look at the animals that lived in the woods by our house. I don’t remember what brand they were (they probably were an off brand sold by K-Mart), but I was just excited to have my own binoculars. Many years, and several moves later, I decided to get back in to bird watching and hunting. I tried to find my old binocs, but didn’t have any luck. Apparently, they went missing during one of our moves. Maybe they’re in a box in the attic and my grandkids will find them someday!

What to Consider When Shopping for Binoculars

Anyway, I came to the conclusion that I’d have to buy myself another pair. This time, I’m actually concerned with quality and price, so I started doing some research. I was shocked to find that some binoculars cost over a thousand dollars. I’m definitely not interested in spending that kind of money to replace something I’ve already managed to lose once! After scouring the internet for information about what makes for quality hunting binoculars, I narrowed my field down to a few likely contenders. I eliminated some because they got poor reviews and/or they didn’t meet my quality requirements. I want these glasses to have a decent magnification, provide a good image when I’m in the woods (where it can be rather dark at times), and allow me to wear my glasses while looking through them. I also don’t want them to be too heavy because I don’t think that binoculars should be a burden to carry. I want them to be there when I need them, but I don’t want their weight to be distracting. I guess maybe I’m a little bit picky, but when I am spending more than 100 dollars on something, I want to be sure that I’m happy with the purchase.

I Choose the Bushnell Trophy XLT Roof Prism Binoculars

So, after much research and price comparison, I have settled on the Bushnell Trophy XLT Roof Prism Binoculars. They allow you to focus at a relatively close distance ( 7.5 feet), the eye relief is 17.5mm (so I can wear my glasses), and they have a field of view that I can live with (393ft at 1000 yards). Some other things you might want to know about them include:

  • 8 x 42mm magnification x Obj lens.
  • They have a fully multi-coated lens coating.
  • The focus system is CENTER.
  • They use a roof prism system.
  • You CAN mount these on a tripod.
  • They are fog and water proof.
  • They don’t weigh too much at 25 ounces.

The Best Binoculars for the Money?

The original list price I found on these hunting / birding binoculars as I looked around, was a little too rich for my blood. I wanted binoculars that I could afford and not regret paying for if I they were ever damaged on one of my trips into the woods.  I found some that fit my budget nicely on Amazon. Since I can’t update this post every day, I’d recommend checking their current price on Amazon (just click that link). From what I’ve seen, they’ve got some good deals on binoculars. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money and you like getting good value for your dollars, you should check the price and read the other reviews for these Bushnell binoculars.

DIY Home

What is the Best Automatic Pool Cleaner for an In Ground Pool?

Clean in ground pool

Keeping the Pool Clean

When you consider the cost of installing a swimming pool, it only makes sense to invest in the best pool cleaning equipment that you can afford.  My friend Kristin just had a beautiful swimming pool installed last year. I think she said it cost her and her husband about $30,000. That’s a just a little outside of my budget right now, but hey, she lets me hang out next to it any time I like during the summer, so I can be happy with that for now! The one thing she doesn’t like about her new investment is having to clean it. We started talking about that yesterday, and she mentioned that what she really needs now is a robot to do the work for her.  I told her that I’d try to find out what a top quality cleaning machine for her swimming pool would cost while I was sitting poolside with my iPad. Here’s what I found out!

Which One to Buy?

choice for number one

The Polaris Vac-Sweep Pressure Side Pool Cleaner is DEFINITELY worth checking out! Click on the image to see details and reviews on Amazon.

The first thing I learned as I started researching is that a lot of sites say they will show you “the very best” vacuum, and then go on to show you almost every cleaner for sale online. What good is that? I wanted to weed out the cleaners that buyers don’t absolutely love. I also am eliminating products that have very few reviews written for them. The minimum number of reviews I looked for was five. For me, unless the product is brand new, having so few reviews available is a red flag. It probably isn’t a coincidence that most of the cleaners that fell into this category were also extremely expensive. Why would you want to pay over a thousand dollars for something unless it has stellar feedback? The models I eliminated from consideration had average feedback at best and they cost a ton of money.

The Polaris Vac-Sweep

OK, so what did I pick as my favorite machine for the money? After crunching the data on the cost, average ratings, and what I learned from customer reviews, I came to the conclusion that the Polaris Vac-Sweep Pressure Side Pool Cleaner might be the way to go (that link will show you reviews and details on There are three models available on Amazon at the time of this writing (280 model, 360 model, and the 380 model). As expected, the more expensive models have more features that you may or may not want. Click the link or the photo to get more details on the differences between the models, read customer reviews, and to check on eligibility for Prime shipping savings if you happen to be an Amazon Prime member.

Things to note

  • I highly recommend reading the reviews for the Polaris. They include a very detailed analysis and video from a “poolman” who discusses his experiences with this particular pool vacuum. He has several customers who have already purchased the unit, and he offers an interesting perspective. I really like the fact that there is a video included (also shown below now).
  • If you are replacing an existing machine, you probably know this, but it deserves to be mentioned… Many pool cleaning units require booster pumps and/or additional plumbing for the unit. This should be considered when you are figuring your total cost. Of course, if you are spending tens of thousands of dollars on the pool itself, going cheap on a tool to keep it clean and maintained doesn’t make much sense, but some people do think of such things.  Whether you choose to go with the Polaris or not, go for quality.  Get the best that you can afford.

Vac-Sweep 360 Review Video

Do It Yourself Home

Finding the Best Work Boots for Flat Feet in 2016

My choice for flat feet is this Red Wing Irish Setter work boot.  Click on the image to see other styles of Irish Setters on Amazon.

So, how do you go about finding the best work boots for flat feet?  Well, usually you find something wide, and then hope for the best.  No one really thinks much about flat feet unless they (or someone they care about) actually suffers from the condition.  I’ve got feet that are as flat as boards. I was born with them, and I’ve been living with them for 40 plus years now. My feet also were turned in toward each other when I was born, so there are plenty of baby pictures of me with casts on the lower portions of my legs. Thankfully, I don’t remember that time, but I do remember going through the fun of wearing “special” corrective shoes throughout my elementary years. Hey, a lot of people have it worse than that, but my point is, I’ve never had an easy time finding shoes or work boots that fit right and that actually help me with the discomfort of being flat footed.  Today, my quest is to find comfortable footwear for those of us living life without arches!

Shopping for Shoes

good boots

My choice is this Red Wing Irish Setter work boot. Click on the image to see other styles of Irish Setters on Amazon.

If you have flat feet, you’ve probably noticed that it can be nearly impossible to find decent footwear at your local shoe shop or Wal Mart. One of the first problems with buying off the local racks is that most of the boots in stock are not made to accommodate those flat and often very wide feet that leave duck-like prints around the swimming pool. You’d think that every other person in the world wears a “D” width judging by what is on sale in most places. I’ve made the mistake of thinking these too narrow boots would eventually break in to the point of fitting my feet comfortably, and it has never happened. I’ve walked boots to the point of them falling apart without them ever actually being comfortable. Also, boots made for people with “normal” arches usually do nothing to provide the support flat footers need to make it through long hours of standing or walking.

My Research for This Review

I honestly never really had any plans for writing a work boot review or recommendation. When I started trying to find some information on the topic though, I found that there was very little information available. What was available sometimes seemed like it was written by someone who never actually experienced what it’s like to wear shoes that don’t fit right without any natural support from the arches of their feet. So, here I am, sharing what I’ve learned. I hope it helps someone.

Quality and Price Matter

As I was reading work boot reviews, I came across a comment that really struck home with me. Someone mentioned that over the past ten years or so, they’ve noticed that the prices of “cheap” boots have gone up, while the quality of them has gone down. That is exactly my experience as well. I don’t see any value in buying a pair of boots for $40 if they are uncomfortable and fall apart after three months of use. I’m not looking to pay hundreds of dollars for shoes, but I realize now that I’m willing to pay a little bit more for shoes and boots I don’t dread putting on for several hours each day. I’ve also come to believe that you often get what you pay for when it comes to durability.

The Best Work Boots for Flat Feet

I won’t keep you in suspense. After spending the better part of recent Saturday reading about flat foot pain, causes of flat feet, recommended remedies for fallen arches, and work boot reviews, I’ve decided that my boot of choice is one of the “Irish Setter” boots made by Red Wing shoes. This is a well established boot design by a respected company, and the reviews are glowing. They also offer a variety of boot styles in the double E size and style I need. I personally prefer the 6 inch steel toe boot, but they offer a LOT of different styles.  You can get more information and read the customer reviews by CLICKING HERE.  I’m also considering purchasing a set of Superfeet insoles (this will also show you Amazon info). I saw them mentioned often during my research and they seem to be some of the best supports available for fallen arches. Beware however, because another article recommended getting the green Superfeet, but from all I’ve read, it seems that the BLUE ones are actually much better suited to people who have no arch. I shop a lot on Amazon nowadays since I signed up for Prime, so the links above will show you current prices and reviews from their site. If you have an opinion about the boots being sold for people with flat feet, please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Why You Should Buy Top Quality Boots

While I was searching out the best work boots for flat feet, I decided to do a little bit of research on the phenomena itself.  If you’ve got feet that are flat, you have different needs than someone with “normal” feet.  If you don’t make some adjustments, you are likely to continue suffering with sore feet every time you wear an ill fitting pair of shoes or boots.  Here are some interesting bits of information I found:

  • If you aren’t sure whether or not you have fallen arches, do what I think of as the “duck” test. Get both of your feet wet and then step on to a dry surface where your footprints will be visible. For me, this was always the area around a swimming pool. If it looks like duck feet (the whole bottom of the foot can be seen) you’re probably flat footed. I still remember someone saying it looked like a duck walked near the pool. I started walking on the outsides of my feet at that point. Kids do strange things sometimes.

    best work boots for flat feet

    Just some more flat feet!

  • Some children can have this condition, but will later develop a normal arch.  Consult your pediatrician, obviously.
  • Flat feet can be caused by tendons that have been torn or stretched, obesity, normal aging processes, being pregnant, damaged bones (breaks or dislocations), diabetes, nerve issues, or even rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Proper footwear can help to relieve the pain from fallen arches. Some stretches (recommended by a doctor) can help with pain too.  Obviously, you should purchase the most comfortable work boots that you can afford.
  • You might want to avoid high impact activities (many sports) because they can make the pain worse.  I’ve personally found running for distance and ice skating to be extremely painful in the absence of an arch.  I may give them another chance with some proper inserts in the future though.
  • If the pain is bad, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. An exam may reveal that there are other methods (some surgical) that might be able to provide you some relief.  You can read more about options at Web MD if you like.

Stretches for Your Feet

Here are some step by step instructions for flat foot stretches that might help you find some relief after a long day of standing on sore feet (but be sure to check out the Irish Setters)!

Do It Yourself Home

Medieval Armor for Sale REALLY!

suit of armor

Where Do You Buy Suits of Armor?

Alright, I’ve got to admit that I’m one of those people who can quote every line of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Go ahead and take your best shots, but it still makes me laugh all of these years after I saw it for the first time.  So I

medieval suit of armor

Very cool suit of armor!

thought I’d look into getting myself some really sweet medieval armor that I could wear as a Halloween costume, or maybe just as something really fun to throw on for a trip to the local Shop-a-Lot.  The problem was, I couldn’t find any decent quality medieval armor for sale locally, and everything I found selling online looked like a cheap costume.  That’s when I found Swords of the East.

This is a site that takes itself pretty seriously when it comes to supplying potential warriors (or at least people who like to dress up as warriors).  They’ve got tons of stuff ranging from martial arts equipment to chainmail armor.  I know that a lot of people who visit this site are looking for “unusual” things.  That’s why I highly recommend checking out to at least take a look around.  There is SO much cool stuff for sale there.  I could spend several thousand words describing the swords, armor, helmets, and such, but that would be silly.  Take a minute to check out what they have to offer.  You won’t be disappointed.  Click here.

What’s the Best Way to Remove Hair from Your Nose?

nose hair removal

When you were younger, did you ever think that you would be looking for the best way to remove nose hair from your own nose?  I certainly never thought this would happen.  I never really thought of trying the method described below until I was bopping around Amazon looking for some other personal care products recently.  So, what is the best way to remove hair from your nose?  The truth is, it depends a lot on your personality.  Do you prefer to rip a band-aid off quickly, or do you linger over it, carefully peeling it back millimeter by millimeter?  You’ve got sort of the same choice when it comes to getting rid of nose hair.  We’ll start with the peeling back the band-aid approach, and then go from there.

How to Remove Nose Hair

You’ve probably already thought of this, but there ARE nose hair trimmers out there.  At least you know you aren’t the only one dealing with the problem of thick nose hair.    These are the gentle approach.  This method requires more maintenance and some patience, but you can get by on that if you don’t like the “quick strike” method described below.  I’ve tried some of the best nose hair trimmers out there (THESE are very good), but I wanted to try something that would last a little bit longer.

Is This the Best Way?

My recent discovery was nose hair waxing.  Yes, it sounds brutal, but it also sounds like a solution for people who don’t want to shove a trimmer up their nose multiple times each week! It occurred to me that this is very much a do it yourself project.  I suppose there might be some folks out there who have their nose hairs professionally maintained, but I wouldn’t even know who to ask to perform such a service.  Is there such a profession as “nose hair waxer”?  Besides, who knows what might get yanked out of there?

best way to remove hair from your nose

Behold… A nose hair waxing kit for men and women. This is Definitely a do it yourself job!

Quick and Easy

As I’ve grown older, I’ve definitely noticed that some strange things have started to happen to the various hairs on my body.  I’ve often stood in front of the mirror wondering why the thick hair that used to grow on top of my head has decided to migrate to other parts of my body.  It’s magical almost.  My scalp has started showing itself and other small parts of my body are suddenly trying to protect themselves from cold weather.  It’s as though my nose, eyebrows, and even my outer ears have lost their minds.  Crazy, out of control, old man hairs now sprout from these places and grow as a rate that far out-paces any hair I’ve ever grown before.  I was totally freaked out the first time my barber used a comb and hair trimmers to clean up my eyebrows.  When did this nonsense start???

So I’ve watched in horror for years as various people have talked about waxing things all over their bodies.  Now the idea of using a glob of warm wax to yank spiders out of my nose is actually looking like a semi-attractive option.  Using scissors and even trimmers doesn’t really do a very thorough job of removing nose hairs.  It also has to be done way more often than I’d like to admit.  I’ve heard that nose hair razors exist, but the possibility of a painful slip seems way too likely for me to consider that option.

Video Demonstration

I was able to find a wonderful demonstration video, so I thankfully didn’t have to try to video myself while doing this procedure.  Check it out.

The process of removing your nose hairs with wax is pretty simple really (follow the directions on whatever product you buy if you try this).  You trim down the current crop of nose hairs, warm up the nose hair wax for about a minute, then use the supplied applicator to fill one nostril at a time with the wax  that will grab on to those hairs you could reach on your own.  Let the wax set for a minute, then yank those puppies out with one swift motion.  The resultant hairy glob of furry wax can be scraped off of the applicator if you are thrifty and want to reuse the applicator.  If you are the crafty type, you might even want to make yourself some very interesting homemade earrings with your wax globs.  They certainly would be amazing conversation starters, wouldn’t they?  If you are interested in waxing your nose hair with me, it looks like the best brand to go with is Nad’s Nose Wax for Men and Women.  If you do, please come back to share your comments!  If you agree that this is the best way to remove hair from your nose, please give us the details of your nose waxing experience.  No photos are necessary.

The Best Dog Grooming Clippers for a Goldendoodle

what are the best dog clippers

How I found the best dog grooming clippers

You can save a lot of money by purchasing some good clippers and clipping your own dog’s hair.  I’ve saved hundreds of dollars since I started doing my own grooming less than a year ago.  Do you know how much it costs to get a dog groomed nowadays? I know, it varies a lot by the type and size of dog, but around my part of the world, it costs about 80 bucks. At least it does for my very hairy pooch. She’s an amazingly lovable goldendoodle, but as her most recent grooming appointment grew closer, the idea of shelling out

what are the best dog clippers

I like the body clipped close but the long hair on her face shows some personality.

$480 for goldendoodle haircuts every year started to eat at me. I don’t know if I’ve spent that much on my own haircuts over my entire life.

Giving my dog a haircut

Long story short, I called the groomer and cancelled. That might have been a little bit bold considering I didn’t even own any clippers and I had no idea how to cut dog hair. Still, it cut off my options and forced me into taking some kind of action. I see that as a good thing. I decided to write this post for other people who might be thinking that they could find a better way to spend almost five hundred dollars per year. I’ve got nothing against groomers, but I don’t show my dog, and her haircuts are mostly for maintenance. I might make a few mistakes, but I’m sure I’ll get better with the clippers and my dog doesn’t seem to be embarrassed when we go for walks.  If you plan on showing your dog in competitions, I certainly wouldn’t recommend jumping into home grooming the day before a show!  It takes some practice, but I think the savings is worth it.

The day after I cancelled the appointment, I started to look for information about how to groom goldendoodles (see videos below). If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. She’s a special blend of golden retriever and standard poodle (those are the big ones). The hair (not fur) that results from that mix grows fast and can be very coarse. In my dog’s case, it is also curly. I was just looking for a nice close cut on the body without anything too fancy on the face, so it wasn’t too hard to find some good tips for a basic cut online. The confusing part came when I had to choose a set of clippers for the job.

Finding the Best Dog Grooming Shears for my Goldendoodle

To start, I searched “pet clipper reviews” and “what are the best dog clippers?” That narrowed things down to a few major clipper brands… Wahl, Andis, and Oster. My groomer had previously mentioned that goldendoodle hair could be tough to cut, so I focused on professional grade clippers. The clippers that made the cut at that point were made by Andis and Oster. I figured that I’d have my money back after just a couple of home clipping sessions, so I might as well get something that would do the job right and last a long time.  I’ve made the mistake of focusing on the absolute lowest price in the past and I’ve found that you usually get what you pay for in the end.  I didn’t want to buy cheap clippers that would make my learning experience even harder.

I ended up going with these Andis 2 speed dog clippers mostly because there were so many people raving about how quiet they were when I read reviews. (They really are remarkably quiet) They also sell ceramic blades that are supposed to stay cooler longer. I picked one of those up too. There are actually many Andis clipper blades available, but you could also just buy a set of plastic clip on guide combs if you like. That’s a bit cheaper, but I was looking at this as an investment that would pay for itself within a few months.

I’ll admit that I was nervous about cutting my dog’s hair at first, but I think she came out of it OK. I didn’t scalp her and she sat still through the whole adventure. The clippers really were very quiet and she never even flinched. I’ve been watching some more grooming videos online, and now I’m actually looking forward to the next time my dog needs a haircut!

How to Groom a Goldendoodle

I was so excited to find these wonderfully helpful videos on Youtube.  I’m including them here so you don’t have to search them out yourself.  Thank you so much to the talented lady who posted them! Just a note, I after I started using the Andis clippers above, I was amazed by how much quieter they are than the clippers used in the video. I just wanted to mention that in case you have a dog who isn’t fond of loud noises.

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Part 5

Part 6

Favorite Designer Bags That You Can Actually Afford

Coach domed Cora

There are a lot of women who simply adore beautiful designer purses and handbags. There is something about them that seems to exude elegance and good taste. The best creative minds are brought together to come up with the designs and they focus their lives on creating beautiful new purses and handbags for women to carry proudly.  That’s all good to know, but some of us just like to look good and maybe show off just a little.  For example, I LOVE being seen carrying THIS COACH BAG around (and I got it at a discounted price)!

Coach domed Cora

This Coach bag is one of my faves!

When new lines are introduced, although there are a few flops, most are greeted with awe by fashion loving women. The best designer bags are made using top quality materials. Using only the best in the fabrication of these bags ensures quality, but it also plays a part in creating prices that also stand apart from the crowd.

Not all designer bags are quite as expensive as top names like Fendi or Chanel though. There are some relatively cheap designer bags that carry a much lower price tag. You might want to check out some of the beautiful, but not as pricey styles available online, like Marc Jacobs or Tignanello handbags. These bags are not cheap, but they can often be had for what many would consider more reasonable prices. Chasing the very latest styles will almost always result in paying the highest prices.

Sometimes, a bit of patience can result in finding prices that are a bit more reasonable. You will still get the stylish looks you want, you might just need to wait for the price to settle a bit as newer bags appear on the scene. Another thing to look for is lower priced alternatives being offered by the most famous designer brands. Although some designers may consider their products to be of elite status, many realize that keep the prices for every bag sky high has the side effect of driving some potential customers away. Watching out for lower priced alternatives in big name purses can save some you some serious money. These will most likely not be advertised as heavily, but there are alternatives there if you are willing to dig a bit.

If you’d like to see some really beautiful bags, and you aren’t too scared off by the sometimes formidable cost, take a minute to check out the Coach website.  It is a beautifully designed site that does a wonderful job of showing off their latest and greatest ideas in purse and handbag fashion.  Even if you aren’t ready to buy, just clicking around and browsing these spectacular fashions can be a fun way to spend some window shopping time.

This is Why People Buy Berndes Signocast Cookware


Some people are OK with buying cheap cookware at Walmart and replacing it repeatedly.  Hey, no judging here.  I’ve done that for years.  However, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes you’re better off buying something decent once instead.  I recently became aware of a quality brand of cookware that doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money.  If you’re tired of dealing with “nonstick” pans that lose their protective coating way too early, please read on…

Berndes Signocast Cookware has made a name for itself because people recognize that you get what you pay for in cookware (and with most things). Even heating, a non-stick finish that doesn’t end up in your food, and actual non-stick performance are the common traits among all of the pieces in the Berndes Signocast Cookware line. If you like to cook, you’ll find the experience even more enjoyable when you have the right tools at your disposal.

A Good Cookware Set for Starting Out

Invest in quality cookware from the beginning

If you’re ready to stop messing around and get yourself a good set of cookware, this bundle of seven pieces is something to consider. This collection of Berndes SignoCast Classics will have you set up to cook just about anything you could want to make in your kitchen. You’re going to use your cookware nearly every day. You might as well invest in a quality product!

Learning a Lesson About Quality

Why did it take so long?


Very nice! You use your cookware a lot. Why buy and replace junk? This is a very popular, high quality set of cookware.

I like to think that I’m a reasonably intelligent person, but I’ve got to admit that there are some lessons I’ve had a hard time learning. A few of them have to do with high school trigonometry, but others are more practical, and I wish I had learned them sooner.

A big “light bulb moment” for me was coming to the realization that it is hardly ever worth it to buy the cheapest of ANYTHING. I’ve proven this to myself countless times in the past when buying cookware. I’d buy whatever nonstick cookware was on sale at the local Wally World store (or some other discount place). After working fine for about a week or so, it would start to show its true colors (low quality) and there I’d be, kicking myself in the backside again, and stuck with some pan that I did not enjoy using because it didn’t live up to its nonstick claim.

When I was younger, I taught myself this same lesson by buying cheap used cars and then spending thousands of dollars on repairs, but that’s another story. If you haven’t already figured this out, save yourself a lot of aggravation and listen to me now. Buy decent quality in the first place and then take care of what you purchased. That’s a rule I sincerely try to live by nowadays. I hope I got to you in time before you repeat my mistake of only looking at how much things cost and ignoring what you’re actually getting for your money.

Buy Quality and It Will Last

Where does this nonstick cookware come from?

You’ve got to appreciate a company that recognizes and fixes their mistakes! Learn about this company’s focus on quality and how far they were willing to go to maintain their high standards.

It’s just my opinion, but I’ve found that it hardly ever pays off to look for the cheapest of anything. This is especially true of anything I plan on using a lot or keeping for a long time. As you can imagine, for me, this would include cookware. I’ve purchased so many bargain brand nonstick pans over the years that I’ve lost count of them. Every time I “save money” by buying cookware based on price alone, I end up regretting it.

You don’t want nonstick pans that are easily damaged. It seems like once you get that first chip in the pan’s coating, things go bad in a hurry for that pan. I certainly don’t want to feed my family or myself any small flakes of nonstick coating and I’m sure you don’t want to do that either. After doing quite a bit of looking around, it seems to me that Berndes SignoCast cookware is one of the better values available. These are tough and durable, yet they are still affordable if you think of your cookware as an investment that you will be using for years to come without having to purchase another replacement set.

Easy Clean Up is the Key

Nonstick cookware makes cleaning up easy!
The Berndes SignoCast Classic line has something for everyone who likes to cook. Here is a small sample of what they have to offer you for your culinary creations!  The Berndes Signocast 8 inch skillet is a great choice for people who love their omelets!  The pan is light weight and easy to work with even if you’re making omelets for the entire family!  Of course you can cook whatever you want in it, but I sure do like an omelet cooked to perfection!  Some people find that they use on piece of cookware more than all of the others.  This Berndes SignoCast 13 inch, 6 quart pan might end up filling that spot for you.  It makes a great all purpose pan whether you are cooking an entire meal, or just something small.  Plan on using this one a lot if you buy it!


Dog Proof Garbage Cans for the Kitchen are Essential!

dog proof trash cans

Keep Dogs Out of the Trash

I’m definitely a dog person.  I’ve had them as pets for most of my life.  (If you’ve got a minute, read about my goldendoodle clipping experience)  I’ve noticed something though, even the best dogs seem to reach their limit of self control when it comes to good smelling human food.  Personally, I’ve found that purchasing  dog proof trash cans will go a long way toward keeping my furry friends out of troubledog proof trash cans.  The key to buying a dog proof kitchen trash can seems to be finding one that has a lid that is heavy enough to resist prying noses.  If you try to simply purchase one of those cheap bins with a plastic flap on top, Fido will make short work of getting to the scraps you threw away after dinner.  If you want to keep dogs out of indoor trash cans, you’ve got to be smarter than your dog!  Your pet doesn’t have your discriminating tastes.  They don’t get the concept of “garbage” when there’s a bunch of perfectly edible dinner scraps sitting right in front of their nose!

Dog Proofing Tools for Your Home

Here are two very handy products.  The first is a garbage can that’s meant to keep pets out and garbage in.  The lid closes tight and opens when you step on the pedal.  The second product is actually meant for storing your dog’s food.  I wanted to include this because a lot of people have problems with their dogs going after their food supply when they aren’t supposed to be eating.  A container like this also helps to keep unwanted critters from getting into your dog’s food supply.

 simplehuman 50L-Liter / 13-Gallon Semi-Round Step Trash Can, Black Plastic simplehuman 30-Liter Pet Food Storage Can, Brushed Stainless Steel

Take Care of Your Dog

Another thought on dogs for the day is how important it is to keep a current ID tag on them.  I’m talking about the kind of tag that has the dog’s name and the phone number(s) to call to contact the owner in the event that the dog gets separated from its family.  I recently found a rather old dog wandering around my yard looking lost.  It was extremely friendly, and my kids wanted to adopt it, but I figured that someone would be missing it soon because it did have a vaccination tag  and a little bell on its collar.  The problem was, the clinic that provided the tag was closed for the weekend and that was the only phone number I could find.  After walking around door to door with the dog for quite a while, we did eventually get it reunited with its owner, but things would have been much simpler if there had been a phone number to call the minute the dog was found.  I’m not writing this to chastise anyone, but to remind them.  I actually realized that day that only one of my two dogs has such a tag on its collar.  Getting a new tag with contact info is on the short term to do list for this week.

How Much Does Your Dog Eat, Really?

Finally, I thought I’d mention something that others might be dealing with.  For about a year, I could not understand how my dogs were getting fat.  I’d actually been giving them less food than was recommended on the bag, but their weight kept increasing.  Finally, I started watching them from inside the house.  It seems that they’d gotten into a routine of getting treats from several of my dog loving neighbors who were meeting them at the fence.  I talked to the neighbors (nicely) and they cut back the treats a bit.  Suddenly the dogs were getting back into shape.  If your dog is mysteriously gaining weight, you might want to ask the neighbors if they’ve been handing out treats to them (but be polite about it!)

A Couponing Hobby Can Save You Money

Getting Serious About Using Coupons

There are a lot of people who think that hobbies are little more than an expensive diversion. The truth is, there is at least one hobby that can actually save you a ton of money. Of course I’m talking about couponing. For those who may have never heard the term before, it is simply learning and applying the skills involved in making the most of the coupons that are made available both in Sunday newspapers, and online, in printable form.

When some folks think of clipping coupons, they imagine that it is a silly waste of time. Many people spend hours clipping away, just to let their coupons expire in a disorganized, messy pile. The key to being a successful couponer is to actually get out and put the savings to use. The best couponers are serious about this. Just like a collector of stamps might know every item in their collection, a hard core clipper will have his or her cents off offers well organized and ready to use in conjunction with all of the best weekly specials in their area.

People interested in the hobby of coupon collecting understand that organization is the key to their success. Some of them use computer software to keep track of their current coupon collection. Others prefer a more “old school” approach. They will sometimes rely on a zip up style binder for keeping things organized. The coupons held within are usually organized by category as well as expiration date. Some of the most serious “extreme couponers” are able to walk out of the store with hundreds of dollars worth of savings. Here is a helpful video that serves as a good introduction to this money saving hobby.

Buy Extra Large Dog Houses at Discounted Prices

Where the Big Dogs Like to Hang Out

Who needs an extra large dog houses? Anyone with a big dog or more than one smaller dog if they spend a fair amount of time outside! I’ve had dogs around pretty much all of my life, and although they never came right out and told me, they sure do seem to like having a place to just hang out and call their own. These extra large dog houses give your canine companion their very own safe space to feel safe and relax. Being able to get out of the elements when necessary is pretty nice too!

Top 4 Extra Large Dog Houses

Save yourself some time
I like to save time, and I like to save money when I can. (Check out how I saved on dog grooming costs.)  If you want to cut to the chase, check out these four dog houses for your extra large friend. A variety of styles are shown, but they are all big, top rated, and made to keep your pet out of the elements! It’s a good idea to measure your dog before you order any dog house. Manufacturers usually provide the dimensions of the house, including the entrance. For most dogs, getting through the front door isn’t an issue, but if you’ve got an especially large dog, it’s worth the time to take a quick measurement to see how wide he or she is before ordering.

I really like the dog house with the porch shown below. It provides a clean place for your dog to hang out when it doesn’t want to be in the actual house. If you have a dog who always seems to plop himself where it’s muddy, you can probably see the advantage of the porch area. Put down a little rug or carpeting for your dog to snuggle on inside the house and on the porch, and he may never want to go anywhere else!

Choosing the Right Dog House for Your Furry Friend

What to look for in a dog house (besides your missing shoe!)
Tuff n Rugged Dog House If you’re going to invest in a dog house for your pet, do yourself a favor and get something that both you and the dog will be happy with after the purchase. You’ll want to get something that is easy to set up and take care of, but the most important thing to consider is the comfort of your pet. If the dog doesn’t enjoy being in its new house, you will have wasted your money, and nobody wants that.

Dogs like close quarters when it comes to their private “dens”, but when you are choosing a dog house, you should make sure that it is large enough on the inside for your pet to stand up and turn around. You can save a lot of money buying a dog house online, but that means that you should take a minute or two to actually measure your dog. Write down how tall and long he or she is before you start shopping for dog houses. If you have a puppy, remember to take their future growth into account.

Dog houses are made of a variety of materials including wood, plastic, and metal. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Plastic is easy to clean and set up, but if your dog is a chewer, you might have to keep an eye on him when you introduce his new outdoor pad. Wood looks great, but is will be harder to move from place to place. It can also be a bit more challenging to keep clean and pest free. The thought of a metal dog house isn’t very attractive to me personally. The thought of being inside of one during extremes of heat and cold make me cringe. They do offer the benefit of durability however. What you choose to go with will depend a lot on things like whether or not you plan on moving the house around, how willing you are to put in cleaning time, and the possible destructive tendencies of your dog. In this lens I will focus on a few well known, favorite brands of dog shelters as well as some popular features that dog owners sometimes look for when they are shopping for dog houses.

A Dog House with a Porch

If you are looking for a dog house that looks really cool sitting in your yard, one of these dog houses with an attached porch might be the way to go. They look great and they are nice for dogs who need to work their way into being comfortable enough to finally “move in” to their new house. When you are shopping for one of these houses, be sure that you look for at least the “large” size and then check the dimensions against the dog’s measurements that you took earlier. Sometimes these look larger than they actually are because of the included porch. The model shown here is the large model of “The Mansion” wood pet house by Merry Pet. It’s got great looks and offers the extra size that you need for large dogs. The dog house with porch set up can be great for some dogs, but remember to double check the dimensions against the size of your dog!

Do You Want an Air Conditioned Dog House?

Or a heated one?
Air conditioned dog houses can be tough to come by, but you can pick up outside air conditioners for dog houses at a reasonable price. A portable dog house air conditioner can help to keep your pet comfortable when the temperatures soar and they are stuck outside. As the owner of two dogs who went through “chewing phases”, I highly recommend keeping the electrical cord out of sight if you have a puppy who likes to chew things. The ClimateRight CR-2550 Mini Outdoor Portable Air Conditioner and Heater is shown here. It not only cools in the summer, it also serves as a heater when the temperatures drop. Very nice for places where seasonal temperature changes can be significant.

The Petmate Indigo Dog House

Made with Microban
You’ve probably seen variations of this dog home around your neighborhood. It is quite popular. These are dog houses that look like igloos. My neighbor has two huskies and she and her dogs seem to love this model (although I think she had to entice them in with dog treats when they first got their new homes). These plastic dog houses are made with Microban. That helps to eliminate the problems that mold and bacteria can cause. The Petmate Indigo dog home is a very popular choice with pet owners.

The Tough n Rugged Dog House

This is yet another favorite. It is an easy to clean, simple dog house that resists destructive teeth. It also offers ample space for your pet without taking over your whole back yard. It is a very nice mix of form and function for dog owners. If you are looking for something that is affordable, easy to care for, and well made, this might be just the right combination for you!

Do You Like to Do It Yourself?

Building Your Own Dog House
If you’ve got the skills for it, you can save a good bit of money by building your own dog house. Most people never really consider this alternative because they don’t have any idea where to start. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can end up wasting a lot of money on materials that you’re just going to mess up. If you do want to look into the possibilities of building your own dog house for your pet, you might want to read a book on the topic.

How to Build a Dog House

If you are a do it yourself type, you may want to take on the challenge of building your own dog house. Considering the cost of materials and time, that’s just not for me though! If that is what floats your boat though, here are some good instructions for how to build a dog house. Watching this just convinced me that buying a dog house is a pretty good option!

This is Why You Should Buy Your Pet Ferret Toys

Choose Safe Ferret Accessories to Stimulate Little Fuzzy Minds

Ferret toys are a great addition to your ferret’s home environment. They stimulate their minds and keep them occupied when you can’t be there devoting “floor time” to them. Still, you can’t just throw any old thing into your ferret’s cage and cut them loose on it. If the toys they are given are unsafe, you could end up dealing with a very sick ferret and an expensive vet bill. You are much better off making sure that the ferret toys you choose are safe from the beginning. Keep on reading, and be sure to check out this list of highly rated ferret toys for your fuzzy!

Choose the Right Toys for Your Pet Ferret

Ferret Alligator Toy Ferrets can sleep a lot, but when they are awake, they LOVE to play! It is a good idea to make sure that your ferret has plenty of safe ferret toys to play with when he’s feeling playful. There are many different types of toys available for ferret owners to choose from, but you should always make certain that whatever you choose is safe for your pet.

A Video About Ferret Toys

Ferret toys should be made of materials that are resistant to your ferret’s teeth and claws. They should not be allowed to play with things that can be chewed up and swallowed by accident. Soft plastic squeaky toys are cute, but could be very dangerous to your pet ferret. Ferrets who swallow pieces of these toys can end up with blockages in their digestive tract that can be very dangerous.

What Can My Ferret Play With?

Finding safe toys for your pet ferret
Ferret fun tunnel Good items for a ferret to play with would include hard rubber or hard plastic toys and balls. Softer toys should be resistant to chewing and watched closely for signs of wear. Any toy that looks as though it has been damaged deserves your attention so that your pet does not swallow any of it. Ferrets have a more difficult time passing these “non-food” items through their systems than larger pets do. The safest bet is to never let them swallow pieces of toys in the first place.

Ferrets like to gather “stuff” whether it is yours or theirs. Giving them some toys of their own can help to satisfy their desire for interesting things and keep them away from items that they shouldn’t be allowed to have. Before purchasing any ferret toy, check with the seller to ensure that it is safe for ferrets to play with and that it is designed for ferret use (if the information isn’t included in the description).


Office Etiquette and Manners at Work

Common Courtesy at Work

Office etiquette and good manners are an afterthought to some people. Sometimes it seems like people have forgotten how to treat each other in a professional setting. When people don’t act appropriately, it can make going to work a very uncomfortable experience. My hope is that this post will make things a little bit better.

Some people might argue that people behave differently at work than they do at home. That might be true, but I believe that there is probably a strong likelihood that anyone who acts in a crude manner at work, also acts that way in other areas of their life. Treating others correctly is an important step toward having a happier overall life.

What is expected of people at work

A brief history of the workplace
It used to be that working in an office setting meant a suit and tie for men, and a dress or business suit for ladies. There was also a certain level of proper social behavior that was expected. Some might say that these levels of formality were extreme, and to some extent, they might be correct. We have to consider though, that with an increasing informality in the workplace, a certain level of civility may have been lost. This isn’t to say that casual Fridays or regular dress down days are bad overall, but when such informality is the norm, problems sometimes arise.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, I think that most people feel a little bit differently about themselves when they are “dressed up”. It isn’t that they actually undergo any change really, they just feel a little bit better and, for lack of a better word, professional. It doesn’t feel appropriate to use cuss words or to act in an inappropriate manner. Think of when you go out to a fancy restaurant. Don’t you notice a certain feeling present that doesn’t exist when you pop into a McDonald’s restaurant? I think that the new level of informality in dress and behavior in the workplace might be contributing to an overall drop off of overall “good” behavior on the job.

When People Ignore Office Manners

Things I’ve seen
Some of the people reading this might wonder why someone would take the time to write such a thing. The truth is, I have seen far too many etiquette mess ups in my own work environment. I find that such behavior creates an uncomfortable situation. With that said, here are a few things that bother me.

When you are introduced to someone new, you should not instantly refer to them by their first name unless they have invited you to do so. Stick with using Mr., Ms. or Mrs. as appropriate.

Please don’t groom yourself in public while you’re at work. Don’t clip your nails, pick your teeth, etc. if it can be avoided. Do such things in the restroom.

Please don’t tell us every personal detail of your life. A little bit is fine if we’re friends, but please… think before you speak.

Don’t take other people’s personal belongings. If we could, we’d all have our own offices, but when we have to share a space, we shouldn’t have to stand guard over what we brought to work with us. Come on, you know better.

What is common courtesy?

People my age were taught about common courtesy by our parentswhen we were young. I suppose that we could get into a big discussion about it, but it pretty much boils down to treating others with some respect. Don’t take things that don’t belong to you. Do your best to make a good first impression when you meet people, then do your best to convince them that their first impression about you was right.

There is a famous book about living by the same rules you learned in kindergarten. I think that is a pretty good primer for people who have no clue what common courtesy is in the workplace and in life. You know these things. If you have a conscience at all, it should be shouting at you when you are going against these common sense principles. Just listen and follow your gut instincts. They’ll usually guide you in the right direction.
Video About Common Courtesy

30 Days from Today

What can you accomplish in 30 days?

30 days from today, you could be quite a different individual if you put your mind to it. You could learn a new skill, develop a talent, or just get a better understanding of yourself and your goals. Today more than ever, there are resources available that can help you to make significant progress toward your goals without having to spend a fortune. I love to learn new things, and I’ve found that one month is a pretty good amount of time for figuring out whether or not I find something interesting enough to pursue for the long term. Below you will find some helpful resources for making your own 30 day plan for self improvement.

Learn to Draw in 30 Days

I always liked drawing as a child, but I stopped doing it as much some time around middle school. I fell into the trap of believing that you either have “talent” for things like drawing, or you don’t. This past summer I decided to start challenging myself to learn new things. As part of this new approach to life, I picked up a book called You Can Draw in 30 Days: The Fun, Easy Way to Learn to Draw in One Month or Less. I LOVE this book. It got me feeling confident about my own ability from the very first day I started reading it and working along with the lessons. I’ve since gone on to buy some other, more advanced books, but I honestly don’t think I’d be getting as much out of them without this first book. If you have ever wished that you could draw something that would impress your family, friends, or yourself, get this book. Mark Kistler does an amazing job of teaching you how to see things and then put them on paper and he does it in a way that is very engaging for both adults and children.

How to Draw 3D with Mark Kistler

Here is a video of Mark Kistler teaching a simple drawing lesson. The book is written a lot like the video. It also includes a lot of essential information about how and why you should do certain things when you draw. The book (see above) is one of my favorite “how to” books of all time. Really!

Simplify Your Life

30 Days to a Simpler Life
There are a lot of people today who are making a switch to a simpler lifestyle. Some people are doing it out of necessity. They find that they simply cannot afford all of the modern “conveniences” like cell phone and cable bills that cost a couple of hundred dollars. Others have just grown tired of the rat race and want to get back in touch with what is truly important in their lives. I suppose the reasons for simplifying are different for every person.

I’m certainly not a hard core “simplifier”, but I was amazed at how much “stuff” I could get rid of without missing. I had a realization one day that my cluttered desk and cluttered garage were a pretty good representation of how my mind felt a lot of the time. Taking some steps to simplify doesn’t take very long, and you might find that you’ve taken some unwanted pressure off of yourself. 30 Days to a Simpler Life is a good guide for starting to simplify your life.

Constant Self Improvement

Getting better every day!
30 days from today Sometime during my thirties it hit me that if I wanted anything to change in my life, it was going to be entirely up to me. Looking around, I saw so many people (including myself at the time) who were doing the same things over and over again, and then constantly complaining about their lot in life. If you want things to be different, you’ve got to get clear about where you want to be and then start taking some steps in that direction. They might be baby steps at first, but even those little things you do can add up over time.

Even if you are perfectly happy with your current life situation, it can benefit you to push yourself a little bit every now and then. Make yourself grow. Try something new. Look for places where you can make a positive change in yourself or your world. It gives each day a little spark. Moving forward toward a goal prevents stagnation. For me, personally, the thought of not learning or trying something new is quite depressing. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Look for something fun. Sit quietly and try to recall something that you dreamed of doing at some point in your life. It isn’t a race. Take some small steps for just one month and then take stock of where you are. Keep going on that path or try something new. It’s entirely up to you. It’s your life. Start doing something to make it a life you enjoy and truly love.

Cheap Rooster Kitchen Decor You’ll Love!

Decorating with Roosters

Even though we often think of roosters in the kitchen as a part of Americana, the idea of rooster home decor didn’t originate in the United States. The roosters I remember in my Grandmother’s kitchen were a connection for her to her younger years spent in Italy. Today you can find rooster kitchen decor in clocks, rugs, ceramic canisters, covers for burners… almost everywhere in the kitchen. The brightly colored rooster brings life to your kitchen even if the walls are painted with muted tones. Even in an ultra modern kitchen, the image of a rooster can make a connection with visitors and evoke feelings of comfort.

Rooster Kitchen Towels

Rooster kitchen towels are an inexpensive accessory for your kitchen, but their bright colors (mostly) grab the attention of anyone who crosses your kitchen threshold. Some say that the devil is in the details. If you are working toward a country rooster look, you’ll find that this little item works nicely to bring things together.

Some folks use these towels mostly for show, but I always end up grabbing them and putting them to work. Plus, I can’t stand having wet hands after I wash them.

Rooster Kitchen Curtains

Rooster curtains for kitchen decor that feels like home!
You know that if you are going to decorate your kitchen in a rooster theme, you’ve got to consider some rooster themed country curtains. The curtains are often one of the last things that a casual do-it-yourself designer thinks about. When your ready to add just the right curtains as a finishing touch, check out these nifty rooster curtains.

Ever seen a rooster get “stuck” before?
One funny rooster video coming up.

I’m not sure if this rooster is an over-achiever or if he just needs a nudge! This is funny to watch, but I’ll bet the neighbors are less than thrilled with this guy.

Rooster Wall Clocks

There are rooster kitchen clocks to suit pretty much any taste. I much prefer the classic, more toned down look, but as you can see here, there are also kitchen clocks for people who like their roosters to look a little more “out there”. My favorites are the Chanticleer Wall clock (there’s just something about those Roman numerals that I like) and the Country Rooster Wall clock that has an antique finish look. I also like that they’re big enough to see from across the kitchen. My kids love the Bird-A-Tude and requested it for their room! One of the great things about collecting, or designing around a broad theme, like roosters, is that you have enough wiggle room to show off your creative side. It is way more than just buying a bunch of things that look like some particular item. You’ve got to get a little bit of personality involved if you really want it to be fun!

More Roosters in the Kitchen

Hard to find country decor
There are so many “little things” that you can add to a rooster themed kitchen, and most of them are not very expensive. Once you start getting into a certain theme, you start noticing all sorts of things that you’d like to add. For this section, I thought I’d show off some of the things I’ve had a hard time finding in my local stores. Even though there are a lot of rooster lovers out there, shelf space is limited in the “real” world, and little knick knacks like these often get pushed aside for bigger sellers. I was thrilled to find a round rooster rug. I’ve never seen one of those where I live. Likewise, I thought the rooster night light was extremely cool! If you are really ready to commit to the rooster theme, be sure to check out the mosaic backsplash. I love it!

Don’t do this to YOUR tile

I was looking at the backsplash shown above, and it reminded me of another story involving my grandmother. According to family legend, my grandfather had quite the temper… especially if he had a few too many. There was a noticeable chip in the glass tile that adorned my grandmother’s kitchen wall. The story goes that she really ticked her husband off one day and he launched a bottle of wine across the kitchen. It made the chip and it was never repaired. Considering that he was a tile setter and the one who put up all of that tile, leaving it that way never made sense to me. I never got to meet my grandfather. He passed away years before I was born. Somehow though, in some weird way, when I looked at that damaged wall, I felt like I got a little glimpse into a story from the past.

Rooster Wall Decor

Decorate that wall! You’ve thought of almost every other nook and cranny, that’s when its time to get creative with that oh so valuable wall space. You simply cannot leave the walls bare when you are trying to show off a them (like roosters). Rooster wall clocks are a great way to finish things off.

Decorative Roosters on eBay

Do you love the vintage look of older rooster decor? Then you better head out to some estate sales being held at farms. Or, you could just check out what is for sale on eBay. I love looking here for unusual older items that you would never find in stores today. This is also where you can sometimes find skilled home based crafters showing off their wares. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, these really are fun to look at when your dreaming of your next kitchen update.

Buy 70s Clothes: Cool Costumes and Funky Fashions!

70s Clothes Live!

Over the past few years, there’s been a renewed interest in 70s clothes. Yes, those funky duds that people sometimes scoff at, have become popular again for a variety of reasons. Some people just like to be different. Other folks love to take fashions from the past and blend them into today’s more modern looks.Whether you want to freak out your future in-laws with hippie clothes, or dance the night away in a retro disco outfit, there is something waiting just for you!

Late 70s Clothing Fashions

Something special for the Disco Ducks in the Crowd
Not everyone dressed like this during the 1970s, but sometimes it’s fun to focus on the extremes a little bit. Did you know anyone back in the day who dressed like this? I have to say that I actually did. Even though I was just a kid, I remember thinking that the outfits were just a little bit “different” than what my parents wore most of the time. I guess they just weren’t very hip.

Hippie Costumes for Women

Women’s hippie costumes
Although you might be searching out hippie costumes for women, you might actually like some of these vintage style outfits enough to add them to your regular wardrobe. Funny how some of the cooler styles have really hung around. I don’t think this style every completely went away. Ever since gaining popularity, there has always been some small portion of society (often found in high schools and colleges) that has fallen in love with this look. The hippie look celebrates what the 1960s brought to the fashion scene. It is still a wonder to me that the same decade that started with hippie fashion could end with disco divas.

How about some 70s hair?

You know, one of the defining characteristics for a proper 70s outfit is the hair. You’ve just got to get that look right. Most people don’t have the dedication needed to actually grow a proper 70s hairdo. Lucky for them there are some great wigs available.

70s Clothes for Kids

Letting your mom dress you in the 70s meant that you would probably ended up a victim of some pretty funky kid’s fashions. Here is a commercial for some typical 1970s clothing for children.

Mens 70s Disco Costumes

More 70s fashions for men
Here is a collection of mens 70s clothes that is sure to impress. The ladies will probably want to click on these just to get a closer look at these guys! Seriously, if you are going to go 70s, you might as well leave no doubt about what you’re doing. If you wear one of these 70s outfits and no one notices anything different about you, it might be time to re-examine your existing wardrobe. Click on the buttons to learn more about these outfits. I remember giving my older brother a silk shirt with an image of spilled soup on it for a birthday or Christmas back during the 70s. I didn’t pick it out, I was just a kid. Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t actually remember ever seeing him wearing it. Hmmm.

Vintage 70s Clothes

If you are looking for true vintage 70s clothes, one of the best sources you will find is eBay. People often find these either stored away in their attics or in larger unsold lots of deadstock items that have been sitting in storage for the last several decades.  Now people want to buy it!   Here are some vintage clothes that have come out of hiding.

Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plans Made Easy!

Resources for Creating a Differentiated Classroom

If you teach today, differentiated instruction lesson plans are a part of your weekly routine. If they aren’t yet, they are probably coming. The fact is, today’s classrooms are much different than what most adults remember from the days of their youth. Laws related to inclusion, standardized testing, educational budget cuts… they’ve led us to a new world in education. The times are changing and teachers find themselves in a position where they must accommodate an extremely diverse group of learners. Differentiation strategies are meant to address this issue. This post, along with this recommended list of resources, will help you to make an easy transition to a differentiated style of teaching.

Top Books on Differentiating Instruction

…and why you should get one
When teachers are confronted with the challenge of differentiating their lessons, panic often sets in. They believe that they will need to come up with hundreds of different lessons as a way to meet the needs of their students. It’s quite likely that you found this lens by searching for specific differentiated instruction lesson plans. Perhaps your administrator told you that you need to have differentiated lessons in place by a certain date and you’re scrambling to make changes. If that’s the case, take a deep breath and relax. It doesn’t have to be like that.

I’m going to suggest that you take a slightly different approach as you transition to a differentiated teaching style. Rather than spending every night searching for lessons that someone else “differentiated”, you can easily learn how to make tweaks to what you are already doing in your classroom. It’s like the old saying about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish. The resources shown here will teach you “how to fish” and will save you a LOT of searching. If you’ve been paying for individual differentiated lesson plans to match up to each new thing that you teach, these resources could save you some serious money too.

The three books shown below are great for teachers who have some classroom experience. You know the basics of running a classroom. These books will help you to address the needs of every student without writing twenty versions of every lesson. The ideas inside can serve as templates and guides. Look at what you are already doing, and then apply what the books suggest. Nice and easy!

These books do contain specific plans, but I have found that its very easy to adapt them to almost anything you are teaching. You can save yourself a lot of grief by taking advantage of these resources. Developing your own differentiated teaching materials from scratch can take a long time. These helpful materials will help you to make a smooth transition into a differentiated style of teaching without driving yourself crazy in the process.

The Best Differentiated Instruction Books

Teachers Love Carol Ann Tomlinson Books – Elementary differentiation

If you are looking for a one size fits all differentiated lesson plan, well, you’re a little bit off track. You see, you need something that will serve as a differentiated instruction template. Copying another teacher’s plans exactly won’t really work too well because you need to make adjustments for your own classroom.

Differentiating for the various core subjects and different age levels will be addressed later in this article. You’ll probably notice that two of the three books shown above are written by Carol Ann Tomlinson. That is because she is one of the “big dogs” when it comes to differentiating instruction. If you want to get a deep understanding of the subject, you read her stuff. That’s about it. If you didn’t check those books out, do yourself a favor, and scroll back up. They are worth a look and they can save you a lot of hassle. Really.

Carol Ann Tomlinson on Differentiation

A short differentiated instruction video

What is Differentiated Instruction?

I want to simplify things as much as possible for you. When you differentiate instruction, you address the needs of the many different types of students you are teaching every day. This might include learning support students, life skills students, gifted and talented (GATE) students, emotional support students, visual learners, hands-on learners… and so on. If you teach, you know what I’m talking about. Each student has their own strengths and weaknesses. Each one walks into your room with a different history and a different level of background knowledge. They’ve got different learning styles. Some have much longer attention spans than others. Some will have individualized education plans that require that they have special adaptations made. If you try to do this by creating 25 or 30 different plans for each lesson, you will make yourself crazy. Differentiated instruction is meant to allow you to meet the needs of each student without going crazy. As the name implies, in this style of teaching, you use different approaches with smaller groups of students so that you can best address their needs. I’ll cover some of these strategies as we go through this post.

Differentiating math for K-8

Depending on where you teach, you will have different approaches to math. Regardless of the math series you are using as a basis for your teaching, some new ideas about differentiating math instruction can help you to keep things fresh and discover new ways to reach students who are struggling or just not “getting it” with a traditional approach.

Differentiation for secondary math

Older kids respond differently to instruction. Of course you know that if you teach in a high school or middle school. Getting teenage students to participate can be a major battle at times. Get some great ideas for lessons and questions that can actually get a conversation going in your math class. Although this book says secondary, it includes middle school math ideas for grades 6 through 8. I’m just mentioning this because different districts consider different grades to be secondary.

More Differentiated Instruction Strategies for Math
Differentiating math instruction and keeping their attention
Teaching math is challenging enough. When your principal tells you that you need to have your lesson differentiated too, well, that can be downright scary! Here are some excellent resources that will help you to get your math knowledge across to the students in your class. Please note that these are aimed at different grade level groupings.

Helpful Resources for Teachers

Rolling with the changes in education
I’m going to assume that if you are reading this lens, you are probably a teacher who is looking for guidance because you have gotten word that your school district will be moving to a differentiated model of teaching. This can inspire panic and frustration. Believe me, I know. You might have also been given some type of in-service on the topic, but you are still confused. Once again, I know how you feel.

My advice is to learn to roll with the changes and just relax a bit. If you teach, you already know how important it is to be flexible. Although the idea of learning a new approach to teaching can be daunting, you can definitely handle it. I hope that your administrators are offering their support, but even if they aren’t the books I’m featuring here can give you more ideas than you’d ever actually need. Just take things one step at a time.

Guided Reading Example

A helpful video lesson on differentiating with guided reading

Differentiating Reading Lesson Plans

Guided Reading Group Activities and Leveled Readers
Like it or not, there is a major emphasis today on getting standardized test scores up to snuff. The biggies are math and reading. I’m not here to debate the merits of this approach. I want to help you find what you need so that you can do what your school wants (differentiating) while you help your students to learn more and to do well on those tests everyone is worried about. Guided reading is a great way to keep an eye on the progress of individual students, identify problem areas for specific children, and to get the kids working together with the teacher in small groups.

The three books shown here are being highlighted because they have all received so many outstanding reviews from teachers. Sometimes that’s enough for me.

Differentiating Language Arts

Trying something different
Some students just don’t respond well to traditional teaching methods. Here’s a “different” approach shown in the video below. I’m not suggesting that you have to do this. The kids might LOVE to come up with an interesting way to show what they’ve learned though. Writing and language arts can be some of the most challenging material that students face. It doesn’t have to be that way. Some children also do not test well. Finding a different way to assess their learning can benefit you and them. Spur their creativity!

An Example of Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plans

Resources for Differentiating Language Arts and Writing

Teaching language arts, especially writing, can be extraordinarily frustrating. You explain things, you demonstrate, you provide examples, and still, you want to pull your hair out as you read paper after paper filled with unbelievably bad writing! If you’ve managed to get your teaching degree, chances are good that you’ve reached a point in your own education where the basics of language are second nature. It’s all too easy to lose touch with how your low performers see things. Let these guides help you to get down to the proper level so that you can lift your students up.  Differentiated instruction lesson plans should be seen as a useful tool for reaching and teaching your students, not as a burden being handed down by administrators.