Archive for the Home category


Get Insured Locksmith Services

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So, why do you feel that it is important for you to get a locksmith service that is insured over the normal services? For one, it is more or less an important clause for you to hire any professional to get the job done in your house in various countries across the world. If the professional working on your house does not have insurance, then the party in getting that person is liable for any kind of work-related damage, even if it is due to the incompetence of the professional in question. What this means is that in case there is any kind of damages done by the locksmith to your house, he or she is not liable to pay up for the repair charges of the damage. Getting a locksmith who is insured can change the situation in your favor.

Moreover, if you hire an insured locksmith, you are getting a professional that has been vetted by the government agencies, and the legal authorities have their authorization details as well as proper identification along with the necessary certification. Therefore, in case there are any problems and there is a conflict which needs to be resolved, the proper authorities will be able to reach out to that person in case he or she leaves without a word. As a homeowner, it would give you immense pleasure to find yourself in a situation where you can take the guilty person to task and tell that person that they are liable to pay you money.

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At the end of the day, getting a locksmith that has been insured is a good thing, as the client will not be responsible in case there is any work-related injury to the locksmith. It is always important for you to be responsible as a client, but at the same time, you also need to be aware of the legalities that going to hiring undocumented workers for all your home activities for a cheaper price. This is the reason why a lot of people have now been paying a lot of attention to hiring professionals for the job and making sure that they have the proper insurance in order to take on the job.

This is the reason why people are looking to go for the insured locksmiths rather than go for any other person, and end up making themselves liable for any kind of work-related damage.


What You Should Know About Powder Coating?

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Are you thinking about using powder coating in your automobile? Well, if so, then you need to realize a few things pertaining to powder coating. Of course, it is much better than simply painting the surface of your automobile, as it can guarantee you the longevity for the surface of the product which will also create a barrier for a scratch free surface in your automobile. However, achieving it on your own can be impossible unless you have been trained in the art of powder coating. Therefore, you need to seek help from an expert in order to get the kind of smooth finish that you are looking at.

So, what are the benefits that you get by using the powder coating?

Powder coating emits a lot less volatile organic compounds which end up harming the environment. It does not create that big of a problem for the environment, and therefore it is known as a shining beacon of hope for people that are looking at environmentally friendly products to apply to their automobiles. Moreover, the coating that it would provide is much thicker than what you might get from a wet paint coating, and even long-lasting and resistant to any kind of corrosion.

The other benefit associated with the powder coating is that there is extremely less wastage of the powder. Even if there is wastage of the powder, it can be easily recycled and used later on for some other product. This not only gives the companies a zero wastage policy but enables them to cut down on unnecessary expenses, which would sometimes eat up their bottom line.

When the coating of any metallic surface is done through powder coating, the finish will be extremely small. This is primarily due to the fact that the pretreatment rituals have to be maintained, which involves removing any kind of dirt or dust that might have accumulated on the surface of the product. Of course, it is a time-consuming task, but at the end of the day, the kind of finish and shine that you would get by making use of powder coating is unparalleled.

Did you know that first step in chemical processing involves the removal of metal oxides and oil? Learn more at

In terms of expenses, powder coating is a lot cheaper than the wet paint coating that is normally found on the market. The equipment cost for powder coating is also a lot less in comparison to the wet paint coating solutions. This is the reason why when companies are looking at effective coating solutions, they prefer to make use of powder coating.


Stain Removal From Your Carpet With Proper Carpet Cleaning

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When we talk about a modern day household, it is incomplete without a carpet. The carpet, which was previously known as an item of luxury has now transformed into a necessity in order to keep away dust and dirt and prevent a lot of cleaning on a daily basis. For people that have a limited amount of money and a lot less time on their hands, cleaning every day is not something that they can do. This is why most of the households of today have carpets, which have been successful in masking the need for cleaning on a daily basis.

However, what this also means is that since the carpet is able to absorb the dust and dirt on a daily basis when the cleaning day arrives, it becomes a hassle for you. Since you would need to clean the carpet in order to maintain the hygiene of your house and prevent the carpet from being spoiled, you need to prepare for this day. In case you’re wondering about the different ways in which you will be able to get the stains out of the carpet, here are some of the methods;

  • Using shampoo- One of the cleanest methods when it comes to cleaning the carpet would be to use a shampoo. Of course, using the same shampoo that you use on your hair will work in this case. What you need to do is to soak a particular area of the carpet that has stains with a mixture of shampoo and water. This solution will be able to get absorbed into the fibers of the carpet, loosening the stain causing materials. After the solution is totally absorbed by the carpet, what you need to do is to vacuum that particular portion. You would find that the dirt materials have been removed. Another product that can be used instead of your normal shampoo is to use an aerosol shampoo that has foams. The foam will be able to solidify that particular reason of the carpet, and after it dries up, you can simply vacuum that area. A word of caution; do not use shampoo which is ammonia-based, as they end up leaving a foul smell after the cleaning is complete.
  • Steaming- One patience inducing method when it comes to cleaning your carpet and getting it rid of all the stains would be to steam the carpet. What the steam does is to stubbornly break down any kind of dirt and dust materials that may have formed a coalition of sorts in the carpet. After the steam particles loosen the dust, simply beating the carpet with a wooden mallet or anything of that sort will be helpful in order to get rid of all the dust that may have to collect the carpet.

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By easily following these methods, any person would be able to get rid of stains from their carpet without any kind of professional help.


How Can Real Estate Services Get Rid Of A House That Won’t Sell?

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There are a few ways in which real estate services will be able to help you get rid of a house that simply won’t sell on the open market. It includes;

  • Improving the overall condition and appearance of the real estate- It goes without saying that when a potential buyer comes to a real estate listing and witnesses the horror of unkempt garden and a house that is filled with filth, they do not want to purchase it, even if it means losing out on a potential money deal. The basic consensus amongst humans is that if it is filthy, it does not warrant a purchase. This applies to any product that you have in the market. So, the real estate services would do cleaning on your behalf, ensure that the property looks pretty wonderful, and if possible, undertake some minor cosmetic repair work that will be able to show the real estate in a positive light.
  • Getting rid of the clutter- There is a specific art of interior decor that needs to be applied to a new house to make it look wonderful. The real estate services have dedicated interior decor items and interior decorators that would be at their beck and call, and who can transform a house into a wonderful looking home pretty easily. This not only helps the prospective purchasers from feeling welcome to the new house, but it also makes them understand the potential that this house shows to them in the form of decorations. Moreover, the interior decorators will also be able to remove any kind of clutter, try and make the house wonderful looking with proper synchronization of the background and the foreground within the rooms itself. Check out Aerial view (Luftfoto) of all these photos that are made with 3d visualization.
  • Neat and clean rooms- Any kind of dust or dirt in the house is frowned upon, particularly when you have prospective buyers coming over. It needs to look neat and clean, and if there are carpets or shelves that are permanently affixed to the house, then they need to be cleaned pronto. The potential buyer should walk into a house that not only looks bright and cheerful but also gives them a sense of being in a place that they have committed for quite a while. It is only then that they would be able to feel comfortable, and would look forward to purchasing this real estate.

  • Landscaping- When unkempt gardens and an extremely bad garage or walkway is attached to the property, it can lead to a lot of negative impression by the people willing to purchase the house. They do not want to spend a fortune trying to get everything in order, which is the reason why most of the real estate services take it upon themselves to undertake landscaping and a bit of cosmetic construction work in order to enhance the property. The potential buyer should always think of getting a property that is in its pristine condition, and it does not have any problems whatsoever.

Cool Ideas for Fish Tank Coffee Table

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So, in your need to stand out from the rest of the people in your vicinity, you end up building a fish tank coffee table. Of course, it looks wonderful, and is definitely something that you would want to showcase as a centerpiece to the people visiting your house. However, instead of going for the mundane -looking, rectangular fish tank, there are a lot of designs and different patterns that you can build for your coffee table. It will look wonderful, wacky, and overall, it would be a true testament to your innovation.

Building a fish tank coffee table is not an easy task, but then the entire work makes up for the amount of hardships that he would go through. Purchasing all the supplies from your local store, you might be able to purchase the glass as well as all the other equipment according to your dimensions. The cost factor does not come into play as they are extremely cheap, and when you compare it to the original product that you would have purchased from market, you would find that the cost is way lower than expected.

After gathering all the supplies, you would need to start shelving everything in a desired format. Discuss the size of the fish tank coffee table that you would want prior to cutting up the different fixtures that is pertaining to the table. It is always suggested for you to go through the packaging, read the guidelines, and then look at the designs that have been provided to you. Of course, the aquarium coffee table is definitely a project that you would want to take on after looking at the builds undertaken by a lot of other people across the Internet.

If you are wary of the fact that you might not be able to get a perfectly good quality material for your aquarium coffee table, it is important for you to purchase the ones that are the costliest in the rack. That way, you can be guaranteed about the quality of the product, and it would be a worthwhile purchase for you.

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The next thing that you can do is to incorporate new designs that you see from the Internet. There are a lot of images pertaining to the aquarium coffee table built by a lot of others, and you can use those designs in your own project. For most of the people, not going for the rectangular coffee table is a norm. Instead, they look forward to introducing new geometrical shapes like hexagon coffee table that looks pretty wonderful, and will be able to provide a better perspective for the fissures within the aquarium in order to live properly. It gives them a lot of surface area, while at the same time it becomes a cool and innovative design that you would want. With appropriate fixtures and proper materials, building your own aquarium coffee table is no longer a hassle. You need to shoulder on and get the job done.


How to Paint the Exterior of a House: Additional Tips

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This article is the last part of the series of articles on painting the exterior of a house. The preceding sections discuss preparation, priming, and painting. The following are a series of tips that address some common issues and may help when painting a house.


  • Safety is important, and no one should work alone on ladders and scaffolds, should an emergency arise.
  • A safety harness should be used when working on two-story structures.
  • No one should work underneath scaffolds.

Time Saving Tips

If a scaffold or ladder is being used in a spot that is difficult to access, it is possible to finish all of the painting in one pass. Depending on the drying time, this can be accomplished in a relatively short time. Painting the soffit, then the fascia, and finally the wall, in that particular order, and repeating the process for the second coat is one way to keep consistently working on a section while waiting for the paint to dry in other sections. In this manner, the scaffold does not have to be moved back and forth multiple times.

If time is of the essence, then with a steady hand, trim can be painted when the wall paint is dry to the touch. If a spot is particularly difficult to get to, this may be the best option. It is, however, preferable to wait until the wall paint is completely dry.

Touch-up Tips

When touching up the final coat, a brush can be used to fade the edges out to a thin featheredge, which will prevent highly visible spots of lighter or darker paint shades, as paint can sometimes appear lighter or darker in places with multiple coats. Even relatively large areas can be faded in this manner, if necessary, such as when paint was not mixed properly and there is a slight variation in color or shade.

Painters tape can be used to clean up trim if freehand efforts have failed.

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Brushes and Rolls

Brushes should be kept in a bucket of water when not in use. This will prevent the bristles from clumping together. If they are allowed to dry with paint on them, they will be next to useless. However, they should be dried well before painting.

At the end of the day, rinse the paint rolls and brushes quickly, and leave them in a bucket of clean water overnight. If they are not going to be used for several days, wash them carefully until the water runs clear and leave them to dry.

Paint rolls can also be kept in a plastic bag, even overnight. A paint roll holds a large quantity of paint, and washing it unnecessarily consumes both time and paint.

Miscellaneous Tips

Always mix your paints well before application to maintain a uniform color. A small paint mixer bit on a drill works best for this purpose.

The weather plays an important role. It is not a good idea to start a painting project when rain is expected. Most paints should not be exposed to water within the first 24 hours from the application.

Any sprinklers that spray the wall should be turned off.

Although painting is rather easy, it can also be slow and tedious as there is usually quite a bit of surface to cover. Any homeowner can manage the project and it is certainly worth the effort, but it will not be extremely fast. Multiple days should be reserved for the project, and finding extra help is definitely a good idea.


How to Deal with Mold in Container Gardens and Potted Plants?

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Because of the nature of potted plants and container gardens, especially those kept inside or in shady areas, they can be very susceptible to mold growth. Usually it does not cause any problems, as it is just a little spot or two, but sometimes it can get out of hand and become a real problem, especially if it is in containers of herbs intended for consumption in food or for medicinal purposes, as many molds and mold spores can be detrimental to human health.

Spotting Mold in Container Gardens

The first step to dealing with mold is of course spotting it. It generally appears as a rather fuzzy, or occasionally slimy or crumbly, coating on the soil or lower stems of the plants, ranging in color from black, to various greens and browns, or even grays or white. Splotches of molds may look like a single solid object, however, when pulled at it comes apart easily; if the growth is more cohesive, forming an actual solid or mostly solid unit, it is more likely a moss or lichen and probably no cause for concern.

Change Watering Habits to Help Control Mold Growth

The first suspect for the cause of mold in container gardens is overwatering. Especially in the case of herbs, potted plants don’t need a great deal of water. With only a few exceptions, herbs should never be in -wet soil, as most prefer slightly dry conditions. If mold (or other symptoms of overwatering, for that matter) develops, try decreasing the amount of water given dramatically, and instead water more often in tiny amounts, so that the soil is never fully wet, but kept regularly moist.

Natural Mold Fighters

There are, of course, chemical sprays and treatments if mold simply cannot be controlled any other way, but it should be used as a last resort, only if nothing else will work — especially if the plants are intended for consumption.

The easiest way is to simply increase the amount of direct sunlight the potted plants receive. Sunlight helps to limit mold growth dramatically. However, this may not always be possible, and may not work even when it is.

Another method, especially if it is a recurring problem, is to periodically crush a clove of garlic into a cup or two of water, shake thoroughly, and mist the soil or problem areas well. Garlic can often act as a natural fungicide.

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There are also several aromatherapy oils that act as natural fungicides, including rosemary, tea tree, and cinnamon essential oils, and jojoba oil as well. Similar to the garlic infusion, simply add a few drops of one of these oils to water, shake very thoroughly, and mist the affected areas. This can be used more frequently, as much as once a week. Alternately, it is possible to just add one drop or so to the water used to water the plants.

Any of these methods can be a huge help when trying to deal with a mold problem; as with most things, try a few different methods and find out what works in an individual case.


Did I Get Bed Bugs from eBay?

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People like me do not get bed bugs, but apparently that is news to the bed bugs.

Bed bugs are the venue of motels with broken neon signs and neglectful institutions that house the poor and unfortunate. Wrong.

According to news reports from recent years, apparently these six-legged felons have extended their range. Bed bugs steal blood with no prejudice for health, wealth or cleanliness. Increasingly they can be found in four-star hotels, cruise ships, dormitories and apartments, as well as single-family units.

How I acquired bed bugs is second only to how to quit tearing at my skin and get some real sleep again. Knowing the cause may prevent these stealthy predators from future attacks.

While I am waiting for the experts to take care of the problem and dictate which belongings, now wrapped in plastic, must go and which can stay, I have been doing a little research.

Why the title? Well, as you read the myths, keep in mind that the only additions to my bedroom in recent months consist of computer-related equipment I purchased online, primarily through eBay. See what you think.

Bed Bugs Myth #1
Bed bugs are caused by filth

Bed bugs are better controlled by thorough vacuuming, clean linens and tidiness but can be found in the cleanest of places along with their bottom-of-the-barrel counterparts.

The return and propagation of bed bugs is largely unknown, but is thought in part due to both safer pesticides that are not as effective and the increase in international travel.

Bed bugs are often carried by used furniture and suitcases and can travel 100 feet to find their desired host. This writer has neither traveled in the last year, bought furniture and is very tidy.

Bed Bugs Myth #2
Bed bugs will die off easily if there is no host

Though bed bugs will feed when they can they can live 12 months or more without a host. Hardy suckers indeed, pun intended.

Bed Bugs Myth #3
Bed bugs live in the bed

While you may or may not see visual evidence of bed bug infestation in the bed, bed bugs can live in cracks and crevices, under loose wall paper, picture frames, under the carpet and even in nearby electrical appliances such as telephones and alarm clocks.

Bed Bugs Myth #4
Bed bugs are easy to see

Despite looking like I have a bad case of chicken pox, I began to wonder if I had delusional parasitosis for I found little evidence of bed bugs, or any bugs, at first.

While a gross case of untreated bed bugs would be much easier to see, apparently I am catching this problem early due to my fastidiousness and an allergic reaction which so prompted my investigation.

Usually black specks can be found from the blood meal, I saw a few, but they were difficult to find. Then later, tearing the room apart, I found some eggs and caught a few near microscopic-sized critters that I wasn’t even sure if they were bed bugs or dirt.

Now, over a week later, my sanity is redeemed. I found a very small bed bug, pending analysis, that is visible to the naked eye. It was hidden in a loose seam on the mattress. I didn’t think I would ever be so happy to find a bug.

I had a problem with bed bugs and called the guys at Arizona bed bug exterminator and they were able to get rid of the bed bugs for less than $200.

Bed Bugs Myth #5
All members in the household are affected and bed bug bites are easy to diagnose

Bed bugs inject an anesthetic upon feeding and many individuals can not feel the bite nor react to the substance. Others may be misdiagnosed or self-diagnosed with eczema, allergic dermatitis, poison ivy, and like appearing conditions.

Though not all people are affected by bed bug bites, I can say the itching in my case has been so unrelenting at times my delirious mind has wandered from thoughts of voluntary euthanasia to the effectiveness of using bed bugs as a means to interrogate terrorists.

Misdiagnosed with an allergy, it took some days on prednisone to see the actual bites due to a near head-to-toe rash. This while my roommate sleeps in begrudging comfort and has no apparent bites or symptoms – yet. Incidentally, he loves to travel and lacks some of my neat practices. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to call foul play on the bed bugs part.

Bed Bugs Myth #6
Heat kills bed bugs

This is a half-truth, which makes it all the more dangerous. Bed bugs need to be subjected to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 minutes for assured death to occur.

Bed Bugs Myth #7
Any pest control company can kill bed bugs effectively

Obviously, you can only do what you can afford when it comes to pest control. But experienced, integrated pest control management, not just simple extermination, is needed. An understanding of how bed bugs hide, are killed and spread makes a difference. Many stories on the Net exist of improper treatments that produced very temporary and expensive results, including lost possessions.

If you decide to treat bed bug infestation yourself, be especially judicious in following professional guidelines and double check the information from another expert source on bed bugs for accuracy.

So, Why Is My Neighbor Throwing Away Her Books?

It is the day before the exterminator is to arrive and I notice my neighbor is throwing away some very expensive pre-med college text books. Even if the rent here was not prohibitive for one, even two, college students, I’m thinking she could make a small fortune from selling these books on eBay.

Then I notice professional cleaning supplies nearby and a cleaning cloth wrapped in plastic that looks coated with some of the black flecks I’m seeing from the bed bugs, supposedly. I can be slow on the uptake but this doesn’t take a rocket scientist to consider where the original bed bug infestation may lie.

Is the bed bug infestation upstairs? Probably, even if it didn’t begin there. She does not realize what it is I assume so I’ll let the property manager inform her.

Then I think what if she had sold these books on eBay? Who would have been the wiser except maybe a future bed bug host?

The Net is filled with stories of bed bug victims lamenting over their lost furniture and treasures, including books, pitching out bookcases full. My treasured books are now in plastic, waiting for what probably will be a premature burial. Aside from my sanity, this is my most pitiful loss. I won’t shed tears over my signed book by Bill O’Reily but collector items, including cookbooks, is what I’ll miss most.

The Terminator Arrives

A gentleman came out today to pick up my bed bug samples for microscopic evaluation. I’m half expecting to get a call from the CDC to tell me it’s something exotic. Ok, so I’m a little sleep deprived.

Thankfully I live in a place that cares about their tenants, not to mention reputation. Some poor souls have to take their landlords to court to pay for bed bug removal.

My hero, the terminator, could not yet tell me where the bed bugs came from now, if ever, but indicated adjoining apartments would be treated and he was interested in the blasphemy of discarded books I witnessed.

Lastly, I learn it is just a manner of a few more days until bed bug Armageddon ensues.

Conclusion on Bed Bugs

While I may never know where the bed bugs came from, I am sure I will have delusional parasitosis for life, stemming from the real thing, ironically. I guess there are worst phobias than imagined bugs, though lint may pose a problem.

Today, anything is a potential bed bug vector, and my passion for flea markets, garage sales and eBay has been effectively thwarted. I can’t help but think just how easily these bugs could be passed on, unknowingly.

So will I ever shop on eBay again and risk bed bug invasion? Yes and no. Purchases will be limited to non-porous items and the packaging will be removed outdoors and swiftly discarded.

Will I ever buy a used book again, on eBay or elsewhere? I think I’m sticking with audio books in the foreseeable future.


Bugs in the Bed

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Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed on human blood, as well as the blood of other mammals and birds. They generally bite at night, especially exposed skin like on the face, neck, chest, back, arms and hands. Contrary to public perception, bed bugs do not carry infectious diseases harmful to humans. However their bites can lead to scratching, which may lead to infection. Bed bugs can appear in any home, regardless of cleanliness.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch in length. Before feeding, they are paper thin. After feeding, they are thicker and are blood red in color. Eggs are about the size of the head of a pin, pear shaped, and white in color. A female can lay between 200 and 400 eggs in a one-year lifespan. Eggs are usually clustered in groups of 10 to 50 eggs and can usually be found in crevices in sheets and mattresses. Bed bugs can live for six months without eating.

Bites can be identified as small raised red lesions on the skin, often in groups of three, usually visible upon waking in the morning. In some cases, if the skin is particularly sensitive, the bites can lead to rashes

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Where to Find Bed Bugs

Bed bugs do not just live in beds. They can be found throughout the house. In the bedroom look for them in sheets, pillow cases, between mattresses and box springs, and between the bed frame and head board, They can also be found under couch cushions, chairs, under rugs, on the edges of carpets near the baseboards, in curtains, and drawers. They have also been known to live in telephones, clocks, behind wallpaper, picture frames, behind baseboards, and cracks in the wall.

What to Do if You Find Bed Bugs

Contact a pest control office. Vacuum the entire house to get rid of bugs and eggs, including furniture. Vacuum every day and empty the vacuum outside of your home as soon as you are finished. Wash all bedsheets and household linens in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer for at least twenty minutes. Remove any unnecessary clutter from your household that may give them a place to hide. Repair cracks in the walls, and remove peeling or cracked wallpaper. After a few days, place carpet tape on the floor near baseboards and under the bed to determine if the infestation has been stopped or not.


Antique Eyewear

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Are you looking for an antique to collect that won’t cost you the proverbial arm and leg? Antique reading glasses come in many different shapes and sizes and can be found for pennies if you look in the right places.

While many collectors focus on a specific style of spectacles, others try to have a variety of specimens from each type. Materials used in vintage reading glasses range from wood to gold.

The first reading glasses manufactured are known as Pince Nez. They made their appearance in the late 15th and early 16th century. Generally formed from wood or leather, these glasses and featured a center pivot to hold the glasses in front of the eyes. Many old paintings feature men wearing these types of glasses.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that glasses with temple wires came into being. Also known as wig glasses, these spectacles became popular with the aristocrats. It was believed that the glasses, with the temple wires held in place by the powdered wigs they wore, made them look more intelligent and smarter than the common man. During this period, bi-focal lenses came into being also, their creation usually attributed to Ben Franklin.

Cheaper glasses of this sort were made with lesser metals, but many were made from 12 to 24 karat gold rims. As wigs fell out of favor, the ear loop came into play to hold the glasses to the head.

Other variations of collectible eyewear include Lorgnettes or frames with a single long stem to hold the lenses in front of the eyes. Monocles, as worn by the little Monopoly man and the Planter’s Peanut, were held on strictly by muscle control around the eye. Monocles, to this day, still represent superiority.

As production increased in the last century, so were the materials used to create glasses. You can find reading glasses made of plastics and Bakelite and in all shapes and sizes with a bit of effort.

Finding vintage and antique spectacles is relatively easy. Most flea markets have boxes stashed in the corners filled with old glasses of all sorts. Thrift stores and garage sales are also a good place to look.
Online, eBay is a wonderful place to shop for inexpensive reading glasses and many gold pairs sell for less than ten dollars. There are also websites and news groups devoted to vintage eyeglasses, where members buy, sell and trade.

As you begin your collection, don’t forget older relatives. Many older people still have the first pair of glasses they ever purchased. Asking Grandma or Uncle Hobart may reap you some exquisite collectables for nothing.

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The value of the reading glasses, or spectacles, is increased if you can find those that include the original carry case. As with all collectables, the original invoice and pictures of the glasses being worn will also enhance their worth

Antique eyewear is simple to care for. Use any soft cloth to gently wipe the frames cleans. Lenses can be cleaned with vinegar to remove any smudges they may have.

As you begin to explore the many different types of vintage glasses, you may find that not only are they fun to collect, they can also be a practical addition to your own eyeglass needs. Antique reading glasses can be a wonderful accessory for creating a unique look for any social situation.


Building Creative Sandcastles

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Playing in the sand and building castles and other structures is a truly relaxing and creative family activity. Building a solid structure and embellishing it, does require some advance preparation.

Tools of the Sand Sculpting Trade

The most basic tools required for sand creations are buckets and shovels, but more tools can lead to more creative designs.

Consider bringing some old garden tools, like a mini-rake, or kitchen utensils, such as plastic knives for carving or forks for striated designs. Peruse garage sales for old kitchen utensils, cookie cutters, melon ballers or ice cream scoopers. Old Jello moulds can also make an interesting design. Use plastic straws to blow away the loose sand and reveal the detail.

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A spray bottle is useful for special effects. Spray the sand structure for a mottled effect. Cones or plastic tumblers make nice towers.

Look through the toy box for design elements. Consider the windows that come with Legos sets. Press them into the side of the castle to make windows. Bring some knights and horses along for scenery.

A piece of plastic can line the moat and keep the water from sinking into the sand.

Natural Sand Design Elements

Some of the best embellishments are those found at the beach. Line up tiny shells or stones to make a walkway. A line of tiny stones can form a curved doorway. Larger stones and shells can be pressed into the castle as windows.

Driftwood can make pillars and sticks can become doorways, walkways and bridges. Seaweed can provide the landscaping.

Preparing a Firm Sand Structure

It requires the right amount of water and sand to create a firm sandcastle. The most basic way to do this is to throw a bucket of water on the building site and form a mound. Pack the mound very tightly and make it large.

Another way to start the structure is to bring a large bottomless bucket to the beach. Place the bucket in the sand and fill with sand, then add a bucket of water to the mix. Let the water drip out and carefully remove the bucket mould.

Yet another method is to dig a hole in the sand, fill it with water and use this wet sand as sculpting material, by patting small sections together and stacking them.

For molds, such as cones, pack the mould with wet sand, very firmly. Then turn over and gently tap the sides to loosen the structure.

One important tip for sand sculpting is to work from the top down. This saves sand sculptors from constantly fixing sections of the castle that were already done.

Making a Drip Castle

Ted Siebert, author of The Art of Sandcastling, recommends using very wet sand to make drip castles. Fill a bucket with half sand and half water and mix. The sand should have the consistency of pancake batter. Lift some of the mixture with the hand, and let the sand drip through fingers to form stalagmites.

Don’t forget the camera, so the sandcastle can live on in memory.


Bed Sharing Tips and Alternatives for Babies: How to Keep a Sleeping Infant Safe

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For years parents have disagreed over the issue of bed sharing, or co-sleeping, with an infant. There are positives and negatives to both sides.

For Bed Sharing

Any parent will say that it is easier to tend to a child if the child is near the caretaker. If the infant is within an arm’s reach away, the infant can be soothed more quickly. It is also more accessible for a parent who is breastfeeding to feed the infant without leaving the bed. Parents often co-sleep with an infant if the infant is sick, allowing the parent to keep a closer eye on the ill child.

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Against Co-Sleeping

Although, it may be quicker to tend to an infant that is in the same bed as the caretaker, this practice can also lead to serious injury or even death. An infant is more prone to accidental suffocation or could get trapped in the bed and die before the adult wakes up.

According to the National Journal of Nursing, accidental suffocation of infants quadrupled from 1984 to 2004. Also, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has found that accidental infant suffocation is on a rise from 2.8 to 12.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Alternatives to bed sharing:

  • Place the infant in a bassinet or crib next to the parent’s bed to sleep.
  • Keep an eye on an infant by using a baby monitor when not in the same bedroom.

Ultimately the decision to bed share lies with the parent. If an adult does choose to bed share with an infant there are safety measure that can be taken possibly prevent serious injury or death.

Safety Tips for Bed Sharing With an Infant

Parents who prefer co-sleeping can use the following tips to ensure their babies sleep safely.

  • Only place an infant on a firm bed. A soft bed or a waterbed can cause the infant to roll leading to suffocation.
  • Place infants on their back to sleep, this will help prevent rolling, suffocation and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Do not use bedrails on adult beds. This could trap the infant.
  • Check to make sure there are no gaps in between the bed frame and mattress where the baby could get trapped.
  • Do not put toys, large comforters or pillows on top of, or around the infant. This could lead to accidental suffocation of the infant.
  • Intoxicated adults should never bed share with a child.
  • Never let an infant sleep in an adult bed unattended.
  • Speak with a doctor before practicing bed sharing.

Bed sharing is a controversial topic. Only an adult can make the decision if this is going to be a common practice. If it is decided to co-sleep, it is important to know the risks and how to avoid serious injury or death.


Small Gardens Planted with Shorter Sunflowers

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Sunflowers are so tall gardeners with small spaces gave up planting them. Now, there are a variety of short Helianthus annuus plants fit for compact places.

Beyond herbs grown in food gardens, the Helianthus annuus is a flower so favored for its bloom it is more often found among serious vegetable plants than decorative ornamentals. Rising high above neighboring food crops, the top-heavy seedheads emerge from tall thick stems.

Sunflowers provide seed for people and birds to munch on and will attract bees and butterflies to any style of planted space. So easy to grow even a child can do it, it boggles the mind why more gardeners do not start sunflower seeds outside in their own plot of ground.

Shorter Sunflower Plants for Small Spaces

Helianthus annuus is the annual sunflower plant from which home gardeners obtain their varieties. No matter the amount of downsizing breeders have achieved in creating shorter cultivars, the sunflower plant is still measured in feet and the seedhead is heavy enough to require two hands to carry.

Shorter sunflower plants will grow well in container gardens where a large pot is provided. Dwarf cultivars of Helianthus annuus out in 2011, is inspiration to create a new garden look:

  • H. ‘Pacino’ is a yellow sunflower up to 3’ tall with a good branching habit fit for a potted garden.
  • H. ‘Fire in the Sky’ has bicolored petals and grows 10’ high, tall for a container but fits a small garden plot.
  • H. ‘Little Becka’ is a red sunflower with a yellow radius, also 3’ tall.
  • H. ‘Frilly’ develops a feathered appearance with rays curved inward. It grows 5’ tall.
  • H. ‘Coconut Ice’ starts with creamy colored petals, the evolving pure white sunflowers growing on 6’ tall stems will add a bit of diversity.
  • H. ‘Solar Flash’ grows 3’ tall, labeled pollen free, has burnet orange and yellow rays.

Helianthus plants marketed as pollen-free refer to the amount of loose pollen on the blossoms. Developed primarily for the cut-flower trade, as a less messy convenience for arranging in a vase, all Helianthus plants are suitable for attracting bees. As with any Helianthus plant pollen-free sunflowers are successfully used for projects such as The Great Backyard Bee Count.

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Growing Sunflowers for Bees Butterflies and Birds

Sunflowers will attract bees, butterflies and birds anywhere the summer annual seeds are grown. The plants require full summer sun but are not fussy about a planting-bed’s soil. Gardeners find sunflowers easy to grow, in part, for the plant’s tolerance for high heat and dry growing conditions.

Gardeners with other interests will grow seed to feed their family or to provide food to birds in winter. Learning how to harvest sunflower seeds is a fun family activity with residual benefits.

Related Sunflower Genus Species and Plant Names

Many genera in the Asteraceae family like Helenium and Heliopsis are prone to powdery mildew, Helianthus is no different. Seeds and transplanted seedlings well-spaced for good air circulation and planted in soil, which drains well, will address this issue.

Helianthus species span a range from open prairies to swamp-like environments. Whether species or hybrids, annuals or perennials; there is a sunflower suited for any type of garden.

A classic example, of a sunflower plant found in home gardens, is Helianthus annuus ‘Miriam.’ The annual sunflower grows to 6’ tall, germinates within 10 days, and develops a golden yellow flower and a seedhead stuffed with 1” seeds.

A small but still attractive food garden, anchored by a small fruit tree, can be created by adding a vegetable with interesting foliage, a perennial flower and a sunflower plant for pollinators.