Garden for a Healthier Lifestyle: How to Start and Maintain a Garden

When most people think of gardening, they think of a hobby for retirees. But did you know that gardening can be a great way to get exercise and fresh air? In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, gardening is a moderate-intensity aerobic activity. It can help improve your balance and coordination, as well as your strength and flexibility. So if you’re looking for a way to get healthy and enjoy the outdoors, starting a garden may be the perfect solution!

Of course, starting a garden can be a bit of a daunting task. But don’t worry – we’re here to help! In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips on how to start and maintain a healthy garden of your own.

The first step is to choose the right location for your garden. You’ll want to pick a spot that gets plenty of sunlight and has good drainage. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, it’s time to start preparing the soil. This is important for two reasons: first, it will help your plants grow better; and second, it will help prevent weeds from taking over your garden.

To prepare the soil, you’ll need to add some organic matter. This can be anything from compost to manure. Once you’ve added the organic matter, you’ll need to till it into the soil. This will help loosen up the soil and make it easier for your plants’ roots to grow.

After you’ve prepared the soil, it’s time to start planting! When choosing plants for your garden, be sure to pick ones that are appropriate for your climate. You’ll also want to consider how much sun and shade each plant needs. Once you’ve chosen the perfect plants, it’s time to get them in the ground.

When planting, be sure to dig a hole that is twice as wide as the plant’s root ball. This will give the roots plenty of room to spread out and grow. Once you’ve planted your plants, be sure to water them well.

Now that your garden is planted, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labor! Remember to keep an eye on your garden and water it regularly. With a little bit of care, you’ll have a healthy and beautiful garden in no time!

Do you have any tips for starting and maintaining a garden? We’d love to hear them in the comments! And be sure to check back soon for more gardening tips and tricks. Happy planting!

Choosing The Best Electric Guitar For A Little Rock Star

Kids are so full of energy. They’re always eager to try new things and they always find them so exciting, cool, and new. At least that’s been my experience with my son anyway.

His latest obsession is with playing guitar. Luckily for me, I think this is a great obsession to have. It comes with it’s weight though, as much as I love t hear him play it does get a little loud and repetitive – but please don’t tell him I said that!

Truth be told, he is pretty darn talented considering that he’s only twelve years old and he’s only been playing for a month. He can hear a tune then work it out by ear, and soon enough he’ll be playing it over and over again. It’s quite impressive, I’d say he has a knack for it.

We bought him an acoustic guitar for his twelfth birthday and it’s been great for him to start learning, but he’s quickly grown to the point that he wants an electric guitar. It’s understandable, all of the music he listens to and loves is on the harder side of rock and roll, and they’re all playing electric guitars. I guess it’s somewhat in line with my tastes, so I guess it’s at least partially my fault.

He has a little bit of money saved up that he’s earned from doing chores around the house. I suspect I’m going to have to supplement it a little bit, especially because if he’s going to make the purchase either way I want him to be able to afford something that will last him a good long while. It’s not a cheap purchase and it doesn’t happen frequently, so why not take the effort to do it right?

Obviously whichever guitar he ends up buying will ultimately be up to him – as long as it’s within his allowed budget – but I went ahead and did some research of my own so that I could at least be able to help guide him to a good choice. Not that I want to pick it at all, I just know the follies that can arise when you start spending larger sums of money.

A Gibson SG Electric Guitar

Some of my key takeaways are as follows:

  • My son will probably know right away if a Gibson style guitar or a Fender style guitar is right for him. The way they feel in your hands are quite different, and people usually have a strong preference. This helps narrow down the options considerably. Even if you’re not limiting to those two brands, it helps you know which types of guitars someone is going to like.
  • If you can fit it in your budget, it’s preferable to have a one-piece neck as opposed to a bolt-on. This is something that you tend to see in higher quality guitars.
  • Again, if it’s within the budget, a hollow bodied guitar tends to have a bit more resonance and as such a bit fuller and more vibrant sound.
  • Pay attention to the quality of the guitar pickups. They have a large impact on the sound. Lower quality guitars often skimp here, so if something doesn’t sound quite right it’s probably because it isn’t.

At the end of the day it’s going to come down to the guitar that my son wants most within the budget. It’s still good to have some background before we get into it though. Soon it’s off to the guitar store to see what we can find.

Cozy Up Your Home With An Electric Fireplace

Back in the day if you wanted to keep your house warm you absolutely needed a fireplace or a furnace of some sort. As technology progressed through the twentieth century however, household heating systems that utilized different sources of energy became the norm. While these more modern designs are certainly more efficient, user friendly, and all around effective, there is something about a fireplace that you lose in its absence. The subtle ambience of the flickering light on dark nights, for example. Or perhaps it’s just the gathering grounds for your family when it’s time to settle down for the evening.

We’re right there with you. Especially in the northern states, a home without a fireplace of some sort is lacking. Over the years many homes have turned to gas fireplaces as an alternative, and understandably so. They have an awful lot to offer and come pretty close to simulating the real thing. They’re not the only option you have these days though, as electric fireplaces have been really improving over the last several years.

It used to be that electric fireplaces were cheap and relatively tacky. It was a good idea in theory, but in execution the products that were available just seemed cheap and poor quality. If you’ve been paying attention though, you’ll have noticed that the design and functionality of electric fireplaces has gotten to a point of realism makes them worth considering. More to the point, by not relying on actual flames to operate they’ve broken out of the box and are now able to offer features that simply can’t be replicated with a gas fireplace or an old-school wood burning fireplace.

What an Electric Fireplace Can Bring to the Table

There are a few situations in which electric fireplaces stand apart from gas and wood-burning fireplaces. Primarily, these aspects boil down to ease of installation, ease of use, and customization.

From an installation standpoint, you can’t really beat an electric fireplace. The vast majority of the models available on the market simply plug into a standard 110V outlet in your home. You can get wall mounted units, which are not too dissimilar to a wall mounted television. You can opt for something built into an entertainment center so that the fireplace goes underneath your television. You can even get a free-standing unit that mimics the look and appeal of an old-fashioned wood stove. Of course, there are some more luxurious models that may take a little more work if you want to integrate them into your home, but for the most part the installation is pretty straight forward.

As far as ease of use goes, you simply can’t get any easier than an electric fireplace. Almost every single model on the market comes with a remote, and you can turn the unit on with a push of a button. The best part? Much like a gas fireplace you have complete control of the heat output. Say it’s a colder day, well you can crank up the heat. On the warmer days you can back off on the heat and still have the flames to look at. Where an electric fireplace beats a gas fireplace is that you can run the electric models completely without having any heat output whatsoever. Pretty cool huh?

Finally, where an electric fireplace really shines is in customization. Since you are not working with actual fire, you not held to the same limitations. Instead of logs, you can opt to have pebbles or glass rocks that resemble ice. Rather than being stuck with orange flames, many manufacturers give you the option of switching through a variety of colors from green to blue, you name it. This is certainly something you wouldn’t have been able to achieve without an electric fireplace, and it’s one way you can make your home stand apart from others in the pack.

Are electric fireplace the end all be all in home improvement? Well, yes and no. Some people will certainly miss the authentic feel of a real fire. You’ll also run into trouble using it in the case of power failure. All said though, there are certainly plenty of reasons why you might want to consider an electric fireplace, especially if you haven’t taken a close look at them lately.

Barbecue Made Easy: How To Cook In An Electric Smoker

Do you love juicy, smoked ribs or some delicious pulled pork? The secret for preparing delicious, smoked barbecues, whether dry or wet, is doing it at the ideal temperature. If you are using an electric smoker, all you need to do is to set the right temperature, and your smoker will do the rest. The best part of your barbecue experience is that you do not have to check the meat after every few minutes. Here is how to make delicious barbecues in an electric smoker.

Keep the meat moist

Moist meat adheres better to the smoke particles thereby resulting in a stronger smoky flavor. Smoky meat is also tender. Mix vinegar, apple juice, and Worcestershire sauce and apply it on the meat to keep it moist. Otherwise, you may use the mop sauce. You can use the spray bottle to cover the meat with the sauce or brush off the mixture on the surface of your meat.

If you rather not spray your meat every hour or two, you may consider brining it overnight. Brine adds moisture to your cut helping your meat to retain its natural juices.

Consider smoking at a low temperature

If you want to hasten your ribs, use high temperature. However, the meat is likely to be dry with less flavor. For tender meat, consider putting the meat at a low cooking temperature and smoking it for at least six hours. Low temperatures prevent the water vapor from escaping from your meat thereby enabling it to have a juicy, delicious flavor.

Choose your cut

If you are preparing pulled pork, avoid the lean cuts such as tenderloin. Instead, consider juicer parts such as pork belly, shoulder, and Boston butt. These options easily pull apart after they are smoked. As for the ribs, pick a rack that is pink and not frozen. It should also be trimmed off the excess fat.

Freeze your cut after marinating

You may use a variety of seasoning ingredients that include paprika, mustard powder, cumin, chili powder and the cut side of lemon among others. Once you have rubbed your meat with the seasoning, put them in your refrigerator overnight for some proper marinate. If you did not have the time to prepare the cuts overnight, let your marinated meat stay in the freezer at least two hours before you start smoking.

Remove the meat at least an hour before you start smoking it. For the best results, let the meat warm up to the room temperature. You can also apply seasoning at room temperature.

Preheat your smoker

Preheat your electric cooker up to 255 degrees Fahrenheit. Many smokers will come with a thermometer built in, but if not you may use the oven thermometer to determine if the environment inside the smoker has a uniform temperature. Place the thermometer on the grates where the meat will cook. Once the smoker reaches this temperature, brush the grates with vegetable oil and place your meat for smoking.

Midway through your smoking ( after about three hours), remove your meat from the smoker. Pour a little of the apple juice on it and wrap it with aluminum foil. The juice helps the meat get more flavor-filled and tender. Let your meat stay out for a few minutes before putting it back into the smoker.

Once your meat is ready, let it rest for about five to ten minutes before slicing it. During the time, the decreasing temperatures allow the natural juices to settle. You can then slice your meat and serve it with the rest of the dish. The meat should have a dark brown surface and should be very tender.

Storing barbecued meat

Store the leftover meat in an airtight bag and put it in the fridge. You should consume it in three days. Do not put it back into the smoker when reheating it. Instead, use a pan and cover the meat with a moist paper to keep the meat moist.

You can prepare delicious barbecued cuts on an electric smoker in no time. The smoker is easy to use and requires little attention when cooking. You also get perfect dark brown smoked meat. Try the electric smoker for your next barbecue. Bon appetit!

Designing a Cozy Living Room for Your Family

The living room is the hub of family life. Whether you’ve just finished child-proofing your home for your first brand-new little one or are a parenting pro seeking to reorganize your family’s lifestyle, a functional living room can be reimagined from a cookie-cutter sitcom backdrop to a space that inspires and shapes itself to your family life.

What can your living room become? Every project will shape itself to its own living-room dwellers. Try opening up a discussion and making reorganization a family project! And as you do, consider:

Conversational Seating

Too often, in our digital age, the living room has become defined by two things: a television, a coffee table, and a sofa facing them. But even if you value catching your shows or giving your children their gaming time, living rooms don’t have to exist in any such rigid formula. Sectional sofas or easily-moved chairs are a natural way to keep your living room from becoming an unintentional shrine to the television, while keeping it viewable with sufficient seating for family movie nights.

Storage in the Living Room

Yes, storage. What? That thing relegated to the hall, to tucked away cupboards? Not anymore! Living room storage should be all about creating the space your family finds most usable.

Do you do a lot of puzzles, or host family board game sessions? Whether it’s a regular habit, one you want to get back into the swing of, or a new tradition to start, family game night can be helped along by keeping your options close on hand in a central location. Consider glass-top tables with an easy-access shelf underneath. If that feels too cluttered for your lifestyle, that’s alright: many furniture companies make tables, chairs, ottomans and more with hidden storage.

What else should be stored in the living room? That depends on your family’s needs. If your children do their homework in the living room, consider creating an area with cubbies for school supplies, or wall-mounted in and out boxes for homework, permission slips, and papers. If you have pets, you’ll find great use out of an easy-to-reach bin for interactive toys—though maybe the bin should be easier to reach for humans than for their animal companions. Cedar chest and ottomans with built-in storage can be used to keep clean blankets, for huddling under on movie nights or hosting a last-minute guest.

Electrical Upgrades

The latest gaming consoles and theatrical surround sound aren’t designed for every budget. But that doesn’t mean that your living room can’t use an electrical pick-me-up. Consider replacing agitating LED or halogen bulbs, which flood our eyes with unhealthy amounts of blue light, with warm toned compact fluorescents. Look specifically for ones marketed as giving off warmer tones to avoid circadian cycle-breaking blue light—great in the workspace, less so in the living room!

Or maybe you want to invest in smaller, family budget-friendly speaker systems that can be connected to play music as well as game and television audio. Dimmable lights can help your family wind down after the sun has set, rather than a clear-cut “on”/”off” switch that can trick our brain into not producing enough melatonin and recognizing when it’s time to call it a night.

In a living room that feels like home and runs smoothly enough to cut down on family stress, it’s the little details that can count the most.

Keeping it Comfy-Cozy

You know those throw pillows you pass on your errands, or the candles you pause to envy should you browse through a little boutique? There’s a reason, beyond frivolity, that they stay on the market!

Consider starting with just one scent you like, one fluffy pillow or couch throw, or letting your kids pick (within reason!) one small item to make the living room feel more cozy and welcoming.

A Splash of Fun

What’s the living room for, if not living? Liven it up! Desk toys like newton’s cradles or magnetic building sets can make a perfect side table point of interest, and will do more than coffee table art books ever did to draw your children out of their rooms.

We’re not knocking the art books! Browse your local bookstores or cafés that patronize local artists and photographers to find those conversation starters you’ll love to flip through even alone. Does this book inspire your kids to ask about your favorite childhood band, or this one highlight gorgeous photography of your spouse’s home country? Family photo albums or travel albums can bring in an even more personal (and DIY!) twist to the coffee table book.