Turquoise beaded strands and tiles are whipping up a home design frenzy. Whether used in vintage, boho or modern looks, this gemstone that’s been prized since ancient Egyptian times is boasting renewed popularity and versatility. Dot or douse your home in turquoise stones and hues with this seductive collection.
(BPT) – Learning doesn’t only happen in a classroom. Each year, millions of American children participate in after-school programs that mix education with a healthy dose of fun. And while there’s always room for more programs that help kids love learning, the plethora of what’s already available can be overwhelming for parents trying to choose the right programs for their children.
“Multiple studies show that children who take part in quality after-school programs have better attendance, grades and behavior, and do better on tests compared to their peers who went home alone to an empty house,” says Dan O’Donnell, vice president of the Bricks 4 Kidz after-school program. “Parents can help their children get a jump-start on life, and learn to love learning, by enrolling them in high-quality after-school programs.”
It’s important for parents to assess after-school programs with a critical eye, and consider how successfully a program combines learning with fun and basic care. While many programs are effective at keeping kids safely occupied after school ends but before parents are done with work, not all emphasize educational material. Programs that stimulate a child’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects can be particularly valuable – possibly even inspiring an interest in a high-demand STEM career.
“We must prepare all students … to be proficient in STEM subjects,” the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) writes in a report to President Obama. “And we must inspire all students to learn STEM and, in the process, motivate many of them to pursue STEM careers.”
An after-school program with a STEM emphasis can fulfill both the need to educate children and inspire a lifelong love of STEM subjects, experts agree. Parents seeking a STEM program for their children should look for one that:
* Offers creative and engaging activities that are as fun and motivational as they are educational.
* Encourages curiosity and creativity, which are building blocks of independent thinking.
* Draws on the real-life expertise of people working in STEM fields. For example, engineers and architects designed Bricks 4 Kidz modules.
* Uses familiar, loved learning tools, like LEGO (R) bricks, to provide hands-on, interactive STEM lessons.
“It’s also important for a program’s lessons to be age-appropriate,” O’Donnell notes. “Children need STEM lessons at every age, which is why we offer programs for children ages 3 through 13. We use themed-based project kits to motivate children by reinforcing STEM principles, and at the same time boost self-esteem, improve fine motor-skills, and teach organization and how to follow directions. And we do it in such a way that kids have so much fun they don’t think of what they’re doing as work.”
To find a Bricks 4 Kidz program in your area, visit the interactive map at www.bricks4kidz.com/locations. You can learn more about the programs and search for a location by state or ZIP code.
“STEM education is most successful when students develop personal connections with the ideas and excitement of STEM fields,” according to the President’s Council report. “This can occur not only in the classroom, but also through individualized and group experiences outside the classroom ….”
Courtesy of BPT
All it takes is for cost of a barrel of oil to spike up, and once again everyone starts talking about renewable energy. Then just as fast as whatever it was that caused the price spike goes away, the conversation dies down. It really is all ridiculous too because the future is coming and it is renewable energy.
Now the fact is that the hardware for assembling your own renewable energy system became cost effective years ago and its growing even more as time moves on. That is that it the cost of putting together, say a solar system is about 30% less than the value of the power it produces over its service life.
The big problem though, is that while the power that comes off your power grid does cost more, it’s on an easy payment plan. You simply get your bill once a month, pay it, and that’s it. Simple and easy and this is what has so many people hooked. It’s just easier that way.
However, for you as a business person, there is the public relations aspect that you have to take into consideration. That is that it’s just good for business for you to be seen as a conservationist by your clients or customers and this trend in PR is only expected to grow.
By far the easiest type of system to set up is a photovoltaic solar system that uses solar panels. Now while they are quick to install and get online, they do none the less have a few shortcomings that you will have to contend with.
The first is that they only generate power in the daytime and electricity is expensive to store in batteries, but it can be done. The option that most people take though is to direct excess production back into the grid during the day, get credited for it and then draw it back out at night.
Now if your business is in an area where you have a steady supply of wind, then you need to know that a lot of progress has been made in wind turbines. New off the shelf, high tech turbines that can be generating energy for you in about the same time as it takes to set up solar panels.
The nice thing about wind turbines is that they operate 24 hours a day, just as long as the wind is blowing. Also if you have enough wind and buy a big enough turbine system, you can generate a very large amount of power.
One issue to consider with wind turbines though, is that they do tend to be a bit costly, and it’s not just the cost of the turbine that can run up your bill. It’s the tower, because good towers can be expensive and that particularly holds true for larger towers that you would mount a large turbine on.
Courtesy of BPT
The real estate market has many homeowners staying in place and looking for ways to make their current abode the most comfortable it can be. Because they’re not selling, homeowners are looking at remodeling rooms, changing out decorating schemes and in some cases, even adding on to the home.
Courtesy of BPT
Boomers are opting to continue living where they’re already secure and happy – right at home. Sometimes with age comes a need for additional safety features in the home – but this generation doesn’t want to sacrifice ambiance or style while incorporating these devices. With small upgrades and remodels, it’s easy to weave safety products into the design of a room – without making it look institutional.
Safety is a top concern in the bathroom. There are many ways to make a master bath or guest bathroom socially sustainable for many enjoyable years. Here are some tips:
* Helpful handles – Grab bars near the toilet and in the bathing area can make older people feel more stable and secure in the bathroom. But too many grab bar styles look like they belong in a hospital – not a private home. TOTO Transitional Collection Series A grab bars in chrome, brushed nickel and polished nickel finishes with concealed hardware are designed to fit in with the beautiful aesthetics of a bathroom, adding safety without detracting from the look. Visit TOTOUSA.com to learn more.
* Slippery surfaces – Falling is a great concern for older individuals, so it’s a good idea to eliminate any tripping hazards or slippery surfaces where possible. For example, remove rugs that could shift and buckle, and install rubber grip flooring inside the shower or bath for better traction.
* An extra bit of height – Taller toilets are easier for baby boomers to use because the height helps with balance. A toilet upgrade incorporating low water usage, easy-to-clean finishes and a soft-close seat will help keep a bathroom in style. The TOTO Legato One-Piece High Efficiency Toilet is universal height and comes with a SanaGloss nano-scale ceramic glaze, which prevents matter and bacteria from sticking to the surfaces, resulting in less needed cleaning.
* Accessible storage – Bending over to dig for a beauty product stored way under the sink can be tricky at any age. Consider installing pull-out drawers in lavatory cabinets, or putting storage items in wall cabinets at a higher level to reduce the need to bend for trapped products.
* Spa-like shower – The shower is a place to relax, and baby boomers are more than ready to enjoy small luxuries such as a spa-like shower during the retirement years. One way to spruce up the shower is with the TOTO Transitional Series A Multi-Spray Showerhead, which rotates sprays between massage, mist, spray/massage and pause combos. Not only does this showerhead provide a wonderful shower experience, it also has a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute – helping to save on water usage and money.
Many baby boomers have plenty of good years left living comfortably in their own homes. With small upgrades using stylish and socially sustainable products, it’s possible to stay independent while sharing your home with individuals of all ages.
Courtesy of BPT
(BPT) – With hunting season gearing up in many parts of the country, a few important tips can help prevent injury and save lives. Good habits to safely handle and store firearms are easy to incorporate into your routine.
Even the most proficient sportsmen and hunting enthusiasts may need a refresher course on how to safely store their firearms. The National Rifle Association (NRA) advocates that guns should be stored so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons. Many safe storage devices for guns are available: safes, lock boxes, trigger and cable locks, and secure gun cabinets.
The NRA supports three additional tips on safe gun handling:
* Keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Remove the ammunition source, open the action, visually and physically inspect the chamber and magazine area, which should be clear of ammunition, and leave the action open.
* Keep a gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is a primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means the gun is pointed in a way that if it is discharged, it will not cause any injury or damage.
* Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot your firearm.
When holding a gun, rest your trigger finger outside the trigger guard, alongside the gun. Until you are ready to shoot, do not touch the trigger.
Today, gun owners can make safety even more rewarding. Stack-On Products Company, a leading manufacturer of security cabinets, safes and tool storage systems, is sponsoring “Keep ‘Em Safe – Locked and Unloaded,” a pledge to encourage firearms owners to safely store their guns. By taking the pledge, firearms owners will benefit the Shoot for a Cure charity, which raises funds for leukemia and multiple sclerosis research through clay sport shooting fund-raisers. Gun owners can visit Stack-On’s online pledge page, and when they complete the pledge form, Stack-On will make a monetary donation on behalf of their household – up to $20,000 total. Hunting celebrities Steve West of Steve’s Outdoor Adventures, Willie Robertson of Duck Commander, and Jason Aldean and Tombo Martin of Buck Commander have endorsed the campaign to help spread awareness of safe firearm storage.
For more information on the safe gun storage pledge program, visit www.stack-on.com or call (800) 323-9601.
If you’re unsure how to handle, use and store your guns safely, why not take a class? A number of organizations, including the NRA (www.nrainstructors.org) and many local police departments, offer free courses on safe gun handling.
Courtesy of BPT
We can’t live without it. Water is the very source of life. That is why we are so strongly attracted to it. Maybe because we cannot live more than a few days without water, we want to have it close by. Most people would like to live next to it, whether in the form of a stream, river, lake or ocean.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough bodies of water to go around for everybody, even for those who can afford living near them. The price of beach front property reflects the fact that it is scarce and in high demand. Even for those fortunate enough to own such property, there is a major trade-off and a good share of disadvantages.
Who wouldn’t like to have a water garden on their property, or a flower and vegetable garden, or even a wonderful orchard with oranges, apples, plums, peaches, lemons and avocado? Maybe a corral with a horse or two. So much for thinking about a garden with most ocean front property. You’re lucky if you have enough land to be able to walk between the houses!
We can now see why water gardens with waterfalls and ponds are becoming so popular. If you can’t take your home to the water, just bring the water to your home!
Why is it so peaceful, yet still invigorating at the beach? Is it the sight or sound of the ocean waves, the smell of the salt water? You may be surprised to discover that the actual feelings of peace, relaxation, stress, and anxiety release has little to do with the sight or sounds or smell of the ocean. Extensive research has shown that moving water puts additional negative ions into the air. Breathing this supercharged air has an extremely positive effect on our body. The ocean creates the greatest quantity of negative ions of all moving water.
Therefore, it has the most beneficial effects on our moods while drawing the largest crowds. For the same reason, waterfalls create such pleasant and relaxing environments. You have probably noticed how wonderful the air smells and feels just prior to, during and after a rain storm – again negative ions.
For a fraction of the cost of ocean or lake front living, almost every homeowner can reap the benefits of a waterfall and pond in their back yard. Ranging from an atmosphere of intimacy to one of grandeur, it’s whatever the budget can endure. Virtually everyone can own a portion of the best that nature has to offer. There are as many different varieties, shapes and sizes of waterfalls as there are rocks. Consequently, with a pond design of your choice, no two ever look the same and they provide a natural individuality for each homeowner.
Waterfalls can cascade into koi ponds, a stream, swimming pool, spa or simply spill through a rock-covered grate into a subterranean catch basin, from where it gets pumped and re-circulated. This type of backyard pond design is great for someone with small children, since it eliminates the need for a hazardous pond. It’s also perfect for someone with a very small yard or for those looking for little or no maintenance.
The soil removed in excavating a pond can be utilized to create a mound or berm to provide elevation for a cascade. A waterfall can pass through terraced retaining walls on its way down to a pond at ground level. By passing through rather than over the top, it will give the impression that the waterfall always existed and the retaining wall was constructed later on either side.
A backyard pond not only provides allure and charm to your property, it is as though you own a part of nature. The pond’s occupants provide a never-ending and forever changing source of entertainment and education. From the antics of a pair of acrobatic turtles to the male crayfish, claws clashing and gnashing over the prize of a fair lady, each day becomes a new chapter in the life of your pond. Are you the type that might say, “I don’t ever want to own fish!” and then eventually end up with several, even giving them all names? I’ve seen this happen over and over again, because pond owners become personally attached to the inhabitants of their water garden pond as if they were family members or pets.
At night a well-designed backyard pond becomes a whole new adventure, especially if you have built-in lighting. The cascading, splashing water against the lights create an amazing symphony of light and sound. Dancing light reflected on the surrounding rocks, plants, fence or house becomes hypnotic and mesmerizing. Most people only experience this atmosphere at expensive hotels or resorts. Now you can own the same experience in your own back yard..
If you are considering a water feature as an investment in your property, may I add several words of caution. Down the road, these may save you the heartache, sorrow and aggravation of dirty, murky, green, smelly water, sick or dead fish, leaky pond or waterfall, or high maintenance and energy costs.
1. Take your time.
2. Plan it out.
3. Research the subject thoroughly.
4. Seek out an expert in the field. A few years of experience are important.
5. Make sure the expert is licensed and bonded.
6. Accept only concrete and steel rebar construction. Never use a pond liner. Proponents of pond liners will claim there is a 40 or 50 year warranty on the liner. Not true! It’s only true if you leave the pond liner in the box. It would work only in a perfect world – where there were no gophers, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, tree roots, sharp rocks, pebbles or other such objects. Once you have a hole, it is impossible to find. Even a pin-hole will allow 5 gallons of water per day to pass.
7. Do not use submersible pumps. They are inefficient and expensive to operate and are difficult to maintain. Debris collects in them, requiring frequent cleaning. Submersibles can leak oil that may kill the pond inhabitants or, worse, short out and create a shock hazard.
8. Use a biological filter to help eliminate nitrates and nitrites from the water. (I recommend a pressurized back-flushable filter, not a gravity flow.)
9. Install a skimmer for removal of surface leaves and debris.
10. Use two anti-vortex drains on the bottom of the pond for suction line to prevent whirlpools and fish or turtles from being sucked into the drain.
11. Make sure your pond is a minimum of three feet deep to regulate water temperature in the summer months and to discourage herons and raccoons from dining out.
12. Build caves and ledges for turtles and fish to hide in.
13. Install an ultraviolet light to kill bacteria that cause smells and pathogens that kill fish and algae spores that create green water.
14. Do not use mechanical auto-fill valves; only use an electronic one like the AquaFill System. It does not stick or malfunction – thus preventing pond overflow and dead fish from chlorine poisoning.
15. Use plenty of water plants in the falls and pond. They provide extra oxygen and food for the fish and act as natural filters, utilizing the nitrate nitrogen in the water.
16. Use a high-efficiency, out-of-pond pump that conserves energy. By operating it 24 hours a day, a high-quality biofilter (such as one made by Aqua Ultra Violet) will receive a continuous flow of oxygenated water, which the anaerobic bacteria require in order to live. The bacteria are essential for breaking down hydrocarbons, nitrates and nitrites in the water.
17. Make sure you have proper drainage around the pond and waterfall so run-off from the rain storms does not enter the pond and contaminate it with silt, fertilizer, pesticides, etc.
18. Learn basic pond maintenance. (An ounce of prevention is worth a [pond] cure.)
When I say “everyone should have a waterfall,” I’m not simply promoting my life’s passion. Considering how much enjoyment a water garden and waterfall can give you, dollar for dollar, cubic foot for cubic foot, hour for hour, it is your best buy for many long, healthy and happy years to come.
From my experience with hundreds of pond owners in San Diego, I have discovered that the money spent on a well designed garden pond and waterfall will surely bring you more long term pleasure and joy than anything you ever purchased in your life.
Living is not truly living without water.
by: Douglas Hoover
(BPT) – With a graduation cap in one hand and a newly-inked degree in the other, many grads are hitting the online pavement looking for their first post-college job. But how do you set yourself apart from the masses and quickly land your dream job?
According to a recent survey, 83 percent of millennials say having tech skills makes it easier to get a job. But to hiring managers, there’s a difference between listing tech expertise on your resume and demonstrating that you’re genuinely tech-savvy.
“A resume and cover letter are often the first point of reference hiring managers have in learning about a candidate – it helps us imagine how an individual would fit into an open role or with the company at large. Technology is infused in so many jobs now – it’s obvious if it’s missing, even in the first few sentences,” says Kerry Olin, general manager of Human Resources, Microsoft.
Follow these tips to ensure your resume and cover letter make it to the top of the pile and that you’re presenting yourself and your skills in the best way possible:
1. Make it personal
Not only should you tailor your resume to the specific job, it’s also a key opportunity to highlight how your skills relate to the role. For example, if the job requirements include strong communication skills, note your ability to effectively work across media from in-person meetings, to email, to social media.
2. Catch their eye
Create visually appealing and professional documents with Microsoft Word resume and cover letter templates from Office.com. There are even templates to help you with your follow-up thank you note.
3. Make it interesting
Use action verbs and interesting descriptors to show results. For example, “actively engaged customers and prospects via social media to increase readership and participation” says a lot more than “managed company social handles.”
4. Take it for a test drive
Get friends, family, fellow alumni and others to read your application, resume or cover letter, and ask them what they take away. You can use a cloud share such as SkyDrive to get feedback and tips anytime and from anywhere. As a bonus, it streamlines version control by doing it all in one document.
5. Audit your social footprint
Hiring managers can find a bevy of information from a single online search. And search they do. Take time to ensure your online profile – Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, et al – represents you in a way that won’t be embarrassing. Better yet, leverage these tools to highlight professional events you attend, publicize awards or participation in industry outlets and share examples of your work.
Bottom line, technology can make or break your first impression when job hunting. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure you’re presenting your best, most tech-savvy self can mean the difference between continuing to pound the pavement and landing an interview for your dream job.
Courtesy of BPT
Upgrading your home’s exterior lighting is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal and resell value. And a well-lit front lawn can also deter would-be burglars. Most of the outdoor lighting of one’s home adds a welcoming touch for family and guests. Here you can learn about outdoor lighting trends, common lighting problems and their solutions, and things to consider when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures.
First and foremost, it’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to the placement of your outdoor lights. Just as you would not place several lighting fixtures like table lamps or wall sconces in a single area of your living room, you don’t want to place exterior fixtures too close together either. This is a common problem when integrating pathlights into your outdoor lighting solution. Too many pathlights, too close together can make your walkway look more like the runway at an airport. Instead of placing the lights directly opposite one another on either end, try a staggered approach. The light will flow less harshly.
Another common mistake in selecting outdoor lights is in finding the proper lighting direction, or limiting “light pollution”. Outdoor lights should not obstruct one’s vision or interfere with one being able to see the entire landscape of a yard or area clearly. On a similar note, the lights should not shine directly into the road or a neighboring yard either. To avoid such issues, look for spotlights with glare guards.
Just as it would be boring to find the same exact lamp in every room of one’s home, it’s boring to see the same outdoor lighting fixture repeated throughout the yard. It can make the home appear institutional as opposed to personal. Use a wide variety of fixtures to light your yard; it will enhance the character and charm of your home.
Be sure to balance your home’s exterior lighting. Another common mistake in outdoor lighting placement, is to inadvertently divide the yard by placing too many lights in one area and too little in another. You want to evenly distribute light throughout the canvas of your home. You don’t want your yard looking like a parking lot.
Finally, like most things in home décor, less is more. Outdoor lighting should call attention to the beautiful and unique features of your home. It should not be intrusive. Proper outdoor lighting calls attention to various parts of your home’s exterior, not the entire surface area. Over illumination is never attractive indoor or outdoor.
by: Melinda Cayetano
Would you say your overall design style is sleek and chic? Do you enjoy the true architecture of a space with its linear simplicity rather than an overly adorned and accessorized space? If you’d like to translate your modern vision into your Master Bath here are a few design ideas to help get you started.
1. Cabinetry – When it comes time to selecting the design of your cabinetry lean toward clean, crisp and streamlined furniture. To create a lighter and sleek bathroom environment consider cantilevered cabinetry secured to the wall creating a minimal look to the vanity piece. Create some drama with strip lighting added to the bottom side of the cabinet which will cast a warm glow to the floor below. Provide additional built in wall-to-wall storage elsewhere in the bathroom to compensate for the reduced storage in the vanity area. Deep dark rich woods evoke a sense of warmth to the clean lines of contemporary design.
2. Fixtures – Crisp clean and sleek white fixtures speak to the contemporary/modern design. If space allows introduce one of the hottest trends – a free-standing bathtub. They are available in all shapes and sizes, and nothing creates a more dramatic focal point in the bathroom than an exquisite free-standing tub. Simply position it in front of a spectacular picture window with a breathtaking view as the backdrop.
3. Surfaces and Materials – Utilize solid surfaces for countertops, whether quartz, limestone, granite, concrete or glass to give it a clean contemporary look. Keep the edges simple and square for easy maintenance and sophisticated style. Always introduce an interesting backsplash material in contrast to the counter top color and material. Whatever the surface I like to apply it on all walls from floor to ceiling. It creates instant architecture and adds great detail and drama to the space. Glass tile, mosaic, stone or ceramic details are just a few of the highly decorative backsplash products out on the market today that create a sense of modern style. Keep geometry in mind when selecting the material for your contemporary backsplash. Consider tile shapes that are rectangular, oversized, or small mosaics to create detail in the pattern of the application. If the tile is oversized and rectilinear install it in a brick pattern. If it’s shape is longer and thinner then stacking the tile creates a very interesting modern vibe. Stay away from the common square tile in any size.
4. Luxurious Shower – Create a steam shower with multiple rain heads, and body sprays. If your budget allows, add chromatherapy and aromatherapy to your master bath wish list as well. These fittings represent the epitome of modern luxury design. Don’t forget a built in bench and access panel to hide the steam system. Design a full seamless glass enclosure from floor to ceiling and finish the interior with complimentary mosaics or stone tile to set it apart from the rest of the space. This glass enclosure creates a more visually open space within the overall space.
5. Accessories – Remember to keep clutter and display to a minimum. – Accessorize with towels in a bright color for punch or stainless steel and woods. Keep everything to a minimum and clutter free. Select chrome, nickel or silver toned drawer/door pulls, towel bars, towel hooks and paper holders for sparkle. Frame vanity mirrors in woods or silver tones in similar finishes to the other accessories adorning your modern bath.
Draw the bath and enjoy the modern luxuries of your new space.
by: Lori Gilder