Published July 22nd, 2014 by

The richest, most nutritious soil you could use in your garden or houseplants is the soil you can make by composting. Composting is an easy process that has many benefits, one being plants grow better and produce a higher yield, an important consideration for vegetable gardeners. Whether you choose a standard kitchen pail, or decide on a rotating compost bin, there are several options available to get the best fertilizer from your throw away food, leaves and grass.  Find out how to make organic compost at home and start enjoying the benefits from doing so.

Getting Started

Your home life and the space you have to work with determine the kind of compost bin best for your needs. If you live in a small apartment and only plant a patio garden, a small bin that fits in your kitchen may work best. For larger areas, a tumbler or larger bin may be the best choice. One of the best ways to make organic compost is by using a composting toilet that will collect your waste, and help to provide a bathroom for hunting cabins or lodges that do not have plumbing.  However, no matter what size bin you choose, getting together some initial supplies is always best, especially if you starting your mix.

Gathering Everything You Will Need

Many people pile leaves and grass cutting in a pile in their yards for making compost. However, placing these ingredients in a bin is best because of the heat decomposition creates, thus allowing your mix to decompose faster and more efficiently. Gathering these supplies for making your first compost mix is a good idea:

  • Suitable bin
  • Starter mix ( activators) for creating the most suitable carbon: nitrogen ratio)
  • Composting guide book, usually sold everywhere composting supplies and bins are sold
  • Brown materials like dead leaves, shredded paper, coffee grounds and filters, sawdust and straw
  • Green materials like grass cuttings, leafy green vegetable scraps, tea leaves(minus the tea bag) and manure from herbivore animals like cows and rabbits

Outdoor bins that are not tumblers do well when you add your composting materials in layers. Doing so helps to evenly disperse decomposition heat and it promotes a healthier carbon and nitrogen ratio. If your mix has too much carbon and not enough nitrogen or vice verse, you could end up with a soupy mess or a mix filled with chunks of last month’s food scraps. In fact, most activators are high in nitrogen content for these reasons.

Materials To Never Put In Your Compost Bin

Some materials, even those from food sources, can ruin your compost. This is especially true about meats and fish, no matter if they are raw or cooked. meat and fish attract wild animals and also diseases that cause the entire area around your compost bin to be seriously unhealthy. Other items you should avoid adding to your mix are:

  • Feces from carnivorous animals like dogs and cats
  • Never put new or used cat litter in your mix
  • Papers with glossy coatings like magazines and advertising circulars
  • Charcoal and ash from the grill

The Finished Product

When you empty a compost bin, you know you have been successful if the results are a crumbly, blackish brown soil like material that smells like the earth. You can use compost for adding nutrients to your garden soil, simply turning it in before planting or adding around the base of plants after growth has already begun. Many people use compost mix in place of mulch while others use it around the base of trees, especially small saplings. Making the most of your gardening efforts starts with you learning how to make organic compost at home.

Published July 22nd, 2014 by
As parents one of our primary goals is to keep our children comfortable. After all, if they are not happy, parents are certain to suffer the consequences. One common source of discomfort for infants and toddlers is the dreaded diaper rash. The truth is no matter how much you try to prevent it, your child is almost certain to get diaper rash at some point or another. However, there are a few precautions you can take to try and keep these outbreaks to a minimum. Make sure you pack some ointment or my personal favorite, Boudreaux’s butt paste in your best kids handbag. Diapers are also a huge factor when it comes to keeping your kids dry. Let’s look at a couple of different diapers and decide which one is the best diaper to prevent diaper rash.ALVA WASHABLE ADJUSTABLE CLOTH DIAPERS

There are some parents who swear by cloth diapers. Yes, they are better for the environment and they cost less in the long run, but how effective are they at preventing diaper rash? First of all, Alva cloth diapers are incredibly cost-effective and are super adjustable. You can adjust both the waist size and the length of the diaper. This, essentially, means that you could use the same diapers from birth until the always fun potty training experience is complete. That is, if you take care of them properly. I suggest investing in a waterproof diaper bag that you can throw your soiled cloth diapers in after wearing out. That way you can clean out the bag with a faucet or water hose!

HUGGIES NATURAL CARE DIAPERS

If you prefer disposable diapers, Huggies is by far your best option, at least according to this mom of 4. They are slightly more expensive than other brands, but you get what you pay for. Plus, you can always find coupons online. They are quite soft, designed not to irritate a baby’s skin, only leak when you do not fasten them properly or wait too long in between diaper changes, (This is a major cause of diaper rash, by the way.) and tend to hold in smells better.

WHICH ONE IS THE BEST DIAPER TO PREVENT DIAPER RASH?

According to an article in The American Journal of Pediatrics, there is no significant difference between cloth diapers and disposables in regards to diaper rash. This leaves the decision to a matter of convenience, price, and parental preference. As a result, Huggies Natural Care Diapers are our top choice for preventing diaper rash. Sure, they are more costly than cloth diapers, but they are certainly more convenient and they do not irritate a baby’s skin.

Published July 22nd, 2014 by
Piano tuning is not, as some people believe, an expensive drain on a piano owner’s budget; nor is it something that should only be done when preparing to sell one or pass it down to a friend or family member.  Tuning should be accomplished at least annually, with most manufacturers recommending twice a year, regardless of the type of piano owned (especially if you have an electric stage keyboard that you use to perform live).  The longer an owner exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendations, the longer and more expensive a tuning will be.

First, understand that tunings and repairs are not the same work.  Replacing hammers, hammer surfaces, strings (or anything else) will not be needed as part of a tuning.  An experienced and reputable piano tuner will do a quick inspection and explain, usually for free, if there are any repairs needed before a tuning can be accomplished.  This is rare, unless the piano is very old or has suffered some type of water or smoke damage.

Second, piano tuning and a pitch raise are also not the same thing.  A piano will begin to lose or drop pitch the longer it is out of tune.  Once a piano begins to lose pitch, it will have to be brought back or “raised” before a tuning can be accomplished.  This is more likely to happen over the colder winter months, which is why having a piano tuned as part of a household “spring cleaning” is recommended at minimum every year.

The cost of a good tuning will depend on the training and experience of the individual hired.  Some technicians starting out will charge as little as $75 an hour for a basic tuning.  They are looking to build their client base and encourage repeat customers along with good word-of-mouth advertising.   Once that tech has enough experience and develops a more efficient work method, he will begin charging more.  Most tunings will take around 1 hour to one-and-a-half.

Average cost in the U.S. is about $100 per hour.  As with every specialty field however, there are individuals who stand out.  For a very experienced tuner with a sterling reputation, $150 to even $200 an hour is not unheard of.  Generally though, technicians that skilled are only called on when someone has a very expensive instrument such as a Nord Stage 2 SW73 or large Grand Piano.
Regardless of what type you personally own, annual tunings are necessary to maintain not just a good sound, but also to protect the investment you have made in purchasing a piano.  This is not a sofa or a dining room table that goes out of style.  A well-cared for piano survives generations and can be the centerpiece of family gatherings for many decades to come.

Published July 22nd, 2014 by
Good quality cookware tend to be close to any chef’s heart.  One of the best ones at locking in flavor is a cast iron skillet. They’re used in professional restaurants, kept in almost all people’s pan collections, and are even dubbed as some people’s secret cooking weapon. Foods tend to always taste great when cooked correctly in a cast iron skillet, but which foods taste the best?1. Steak
Instead of grilling a steak, try cooking it in a cast iron skillet. Do you know the taste of those exquisite restaurant steaks that leave your mouth watering and your mind trapped in a food high? Those types of steaks aren’t grilled, they’re pan fried. Cast iron skillets make it so that the steak won’t end up with a tasteless black crust when they middle reaches the ideal temperature, and the interior won’t get overcooked. If one uses a technique called the sear and bake technique. With a cast iron skillet, the crust will turn out perfect and the steak will be restaurant quality delicious.

2. Cornbread
Cornbread made in a cast iron skillet is sweet, simple, and absolutely delectable. If the cast iron skillet is preheated correctly, the cornbread will be heated thoroughly, causing a better cooked and great tasting cornbread.

3. Roast Chicken
Roasting chicken in a cast iron skillet is quick, easy, and it cooks the chicken perfectly. Cooking roast chicken in a cast iron skillet is one of the easiest ways to roast chicken to perfection. Skip the tricky techniques and hard work aside, and just use a cast iron skillet.

4. Pizza
Not many people consider making pizza in a cast iron skillet, but more people should start to consider it. The pizza dough will cook to where it’s thick, chewy, and buttery. The best way to cook it is with a Cuisnart cast iron grill pan while using good dough. This ensures that pizza is thoroughly cooked and not too doughy or burnt. Plus, assembling pizza while it cooks in the cast iron skillet is much more time efficient. A person can place the toppings on while the pizza cooks on the cast iron skillet.

5. Pork Tenderloin
Cooking pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet will bring out the subtle, balanced, and delicious flavor of rosemary, tomatoes, and olives. It’s easy to prepare and delicious to eat.

6. Pancakes
A cast iron skillet won’t burn a pancake as easily as other pans will, so it’s the ideal pan to cook a delicious pancake with even heat without burned spots. Pancakes, like steaks, taste restaurant quality when cooked on a cast iron skillet. It’s definitely a simple dish changed drastically by a different type of pan.

7. Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich
The Philly cheese steak sandwich is much like the steak, considering that there is sliced steak cooking in the pan, but with the Philly cheese steak sandwich, other vegetables are added to cook along with the steak slices. Marinating steak with other vegetables and spices within a cast iron skillet makes for a perfectly balanced, even flavored meal.

8. Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Just like previously stated in #3, chicken is very easy to cook in a cast iron skillet. Buttermilk fried chicken comes out crispy, flavorful, and cooked to absolute perfection.

 

Which dish gets the award for tastiest?

When cooked right, all the previous dishes are delicious, but my personal favorite is the Philly Cheese steak. I never knew the secret to getting a great tasting Philly, but now I can cook them like a champ using a cast iron skillet.

Published July 22nd, 2014 by

With its large, beautiful scented blossoms and diverse leaf shape, the magnolia tree is quickly becoming a common fixture in American home garden. And with some many different types of magnolia trees to choose from, along with the magnolia tree’s hardy nature, what’s not to like about them?

Before trimming a magnolia tree, make sure you use the best pole saw for your project such as a  high powered gas trimmer  to ensure clean and consistent cuts. Remove decayed, broken, diseased, or dead branches and cut at the origin point or a lateral branch. After that, start shaping the tree, fill in an open space, or keep the tree in check.

With the proper amount of care and attention, a magnolia tree can In this article, we will give you tips and advice on how to grow, trim and maintain magnolia trees.

How To Plant and Grow Magnolia Trees

Before you plant magnolia trees, you need to collect the seeds from the tree first. Search for magnolia cones that have already started to open up a little, or set out fresh cones to dry. Once the cones are open, shake the seeds gently out of the cone. Remove the red pulpy coating by scrubbing the seed; if this doesn’t work, soak the seeds overnight.

After the seed coat is removed, scarify the seed by using sandpaper, steel wool, or screen wire to lightly rub the surface. This opens up the seed and makes it easier to sprout. Let the seeds rest at 40° to 45° F for about 3 to 6 months. Make sure the seeds do not dry out; you can keep them in the refrigerator, cold frame, or outdoors.

Once the 3 or 6 months are up, plant the seeds in pots or in the ground using a light planting medium when the temperature is about 70° F in spring time. The seeds should germinate in about 5 weeks or longer, keep the soil evenly moist till then.

When the seedlings come in, transplant them to the ground or keep them in pots until they grow a bit bigger. If planting a bunch of trees, use a high rated fertilizer spreader to cover the area with nutrient rich fertilizer. Keep the seedlings out of direct sunlight and evenly moist for a year.

How To Trim And Maintain Magnolia Trees

Trimming, or pruning, a magnolia tree is essential to its overall health and appearance. The best time to trim a magnolia tree is right after the tree has started blooming. Note that certain types of magnolia trees do not need to be trimmed, or they should only be trimmed lightly. Do not prune a mature magnolia tree, large cuts will not heal and can damage the tree. The same care should be taken with young magnolia tree.

Do not leave any stubs and don’t tear the bark from the tree. When cutting back to the lateral branches, look for branches that have a 45 degree angle to the branch to be cut. If the branches grow upwards, make slanting cuts. Keep all of your pruning tools sterilized to prevent the spread of bacteria. You can do this by soaking them in hydrogen peroxide for 20 minutes.

The Final Product

Maintaining trees can be very rewarding, and keeping them properly trimmed is essential. With Magnolias, you will have a great tree with long branches that offers nice shade and a rich history.