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Tips for easy Easter decorating

Easter Eggs in a bowlYou may not have a lot of time or money to spend on Easter Decorating ideas, or maybe you don’t have a knack for crafts.  That doesn’t mean you have to do without decorations.  You can inject some festive fun and color into any space in minutes with little effort or cash.  

Pick a bowl, any bowl
Grab a bowl and fill it with colored eggs.  You can use real Easter eggs or you can decorate plastic ones with glitter, string, ribbon, or stickers.  Add Easter grass to the bowl first if desired.  You can make your own grass by cutting colored plastic grocery bags or shredding colored paper scraps.  Cute Easter decorating that’s good for the environment!  If grass isn’t your thing but you want to line the bowl, try pretty fabric or a tea towel or linen napkin.  A filled bowl makes a great centerpiece for the dining table or the coffee table.  Baskets look terrific too if you have some on hand.

Sweetened surfaces
Clear glass canisters or even clean jars with lids take on new charm when filled with colored candies.  Decorate lids if desired.  Arrange different sizes of containers atop the surface you want to decorate.  You can use assorted candies for lots of dazzling color, or fill each container with one type or one color of Easter candy.  Mini marshmallows work as Easter decorations too and they are available in soft pastel colors.  If you don’t want to use food items, fill glass jars or vases with differing levels of water and add some food coloring.

It’s a wrap
Leftover wrapping paper in pastels or bright spring colors can be used in a variety of ways.  Cut into extra thin strips and make a tiny, delicate paper chain.  Wrap a small, flat box in pretty paper and use it beneath a center piece or serving bowl to add height and color.  Cut a length of wrapping paper to the appropriate size to make a festive Easter table runner.  Add lace or ribbon around the edges if desired.  Make matching placemats if you like.  Simply add construction paper or scrap paper to the back of the wrapping paper to make the mats more substantial.

All tied up
Got ribbon?  Then you can make your own Easter decorations.  Solid colored potholders and hand towels are far less expensive than decorator ones or maybe you already have some you can use.  The little handles on the potholders are perfect for tying on a bow to add a festive touch.  When you hang your towels, gather the center and tie with a pretty piece of ribbon.  You can use a square knot or make a bow. Tie a bow around a plain vase.  You can dress up many items instantly with just a bit of ribbon or thin lace.

These ideas should help you get started.  Have fun and be creative.  Before you know it, your home will look festive and you’ll be singing, “Easter’s on its way.”

Copyright © Lorraine on 2018

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Activities and games for a St Patrick's Day party for kids

St Patrick's Day sign with treasure and hatWhether you have Irish in your background or not, St. Patrick's Day can be a wonderful time for a celebration! Your kids will be the luckiest leprechauns on the block when you throw this fantastic party.

This new article will now cover some activities and games for your St. Patrick's Day kids party. For décor and food for your party refer to my previous article.

Activities and Games
A party is pointless without fun stuff to do. Here are a few things to create and games to play:

1. Leprechaun Hat
Set up a craft table where kids can make their own leprechaun hats. All you need is green, black and yellow construction paper;

  • Cut green paper in half until you have enough pieces for each child. Roll each piece into a cylinder and secure them with tape.
  • Place each cylinder on another piece of green paper and trace the circle. Draw another circle around the outside that is at least 2 inches bigger than the first.
  • Cut out the inner and outer circles to form rings.
  • Cut a 2-inch strip out of black paper for each hat.
  • Cut out a 3- by 2-inch rectangle out of yellow paper for each hat. Coat these with glitter spray.
  • Have the children glue a black strip onto the bottom of the cylinder. Glue the rectangle over that to make the buckle.
  • Turn the cylinder upside down and glue or tape the ring to the outside. Turn it over, and you have a leprechaun hat.
Depending on the ages of the children, you can have them cut their own pieces or do it for them.

2. Write a Limerick
Write the basics of a limerick on a piece of poster board;
  • A limerick is a poem with five lines. The first, second and fifth lines are the same length and rhyme, and the third and fourth lines are shorter and rhyme.
  • Ask the kids to create limericks of their own.
  • Get them started by suggesting they begin with "There once was ..." and supply them with groups of rhyming words.

3. Treasure Hunt
Add some excitement to your party by letting the guests hunt for gold-covered chocolate coins. Hide them around your house or yard for children to find.

4. Hot Potato
Choose a small item or use a real baked potato for this classic party game. Play Irish music as the kids pass the potato around in a circle. The guest holding the potato when the music stops is out.

5. Corners
This game is a favorite at kids' birthday parties in Ireland. It's played by five children at a time;
  • One player stands in the center or the room while the other four each go to a different corner.
  • The player in the center yells, "Change corners!" and the children all try to go a different corner while the player in the center tries to get a corner.
  • If there are more than five children, the one who did not get a corner is out and the next child comes in to play.
6. Irish Bulldogs!
This game is played outdoors or in a large indoor play space;
  • Create two lines, one on each side of the space.
  • These can be drawn with chalk or made with rope or some other material.
  • All the children except one stand behind one of the lines facing the opposite end of the room.
  • The child in the center yells, "Irish bulldogs!" and the children try to run from one line to the other.
  • Any children tagged by the child in the middle join that child for the next round.
  • Then all the children in the middle yell, "Irish bulldogs!" and the game continues until only one child is left running back and forth.

7. Prizes
Offer some fun St. Paddy's Day prizes with some goofy contests. You might give away candy, a flag of Ireland or a bouquet of shamrocks. Here are some contest ideas.
  • Who is wearing the most green? Chances are that many of your guests are dressed in green, but who is wearing the most? The person who is the greenest from head to toe is the winner.
  • Who can do the best leprechaun dance? Put on some music and give each guest a chance to do a leprechaun dance. Vote or clap to decide which dance was the best.
  • Who knows Irish geography? Ask younger guests to find Ireland on a map of the world. Ask older guests to fill in a map of Ireland with anything they can.

Let these St. Patrick's Day party ideas spark your imagination when it comes to creating your own Irish bash. Your guests are sure to have a wonderful time, and you will be making memories with your children.

Copyright © Lorraine on 2018

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Common computer hardware failures

A view from inside of a computerComputers contain many electronic components (both large and small) that can fail. Computer hardware failures occur for different reasons, including faulty components, damage, and parts that wear out from use. However, some major elements are particularly prone to mishap: power supply, power supply fan, motherboard and electronic components, hard drive, and ports.

The power supply
The power supply is a critical part that provides electricity to the electronic circuits, hard drive, and all the PC's components. Without a (reliable) running power supply, the computer won't have the power to run. Power supplies often fail because of an electrical surge, either from the power company or a lightning strike.

The power supply fan
The power supply fan cools the inside of the computer when the components get hot from running. If the fan fails, the motherboard and electronic components will overheat. Most computer fans fail because they wear out after lots of use.

The motherboard
The motherboard, processor, and RAM are critical to the computer's ability to run and process information. However, the motherboard is vulnerable to power surges that can fry its electrical circuits, and it as well as the processor will burn up if the fan that keeps them from overheating stops working. Faulty components from the factory can cause the motherboard, processor, and RAM to fail too.

The hard drive
There are a few reasons that most hard drive failures occur. The hard drive starts spinning each time a PC powers on, and it must continue to do so; eventually, it wears out after years of use. A power outage (while the PC is on) also can damage a hard drive. Sometimes the factory may install a defective drive, which will cause the computer to run slowly, freeze up frequently, and crash.

The computer ports
Faulty computer ports are another common source of hardware failure. Just like any other part, ports can wear out after repeated use. However, most fail because the users damage them. You can harm the USB port if you unplug a jump drive without selecting the "safely remove" icon. Also, if you plug in an external device while the computer is on, you can fry that port's circuit and potentially ruin the motherboard.

Hardware failure prevention measures
Your PC needs all of its hardware to work correctly; if a critical piece fails, your computer's performance will suffer, or it might even crash. You can prevent damage from power surges by plugging your computer into a surge suppressor, and protect your hard drive from power outages by using a backup power supply. Also, you can prevent frying circuits by not plugging or unplugging external devices while the PC is running.

Unfortunately, if your computer has faulty hardware installed, then there is little you can do to prevent failures. You should however check to see if your computer is still under warranty, or a warranty protection plan. Even if your computer is outside of the warranty you may still be protected under consumer laws. By checking the consumer laws for your country you may find that you still have some protection if the components are expected by the manufacturer to have a greater average life than what your computer achieved.

Copyright © Darryl on 2018

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How to throw a St Patrick's Day party for kids

Cutting out Shamrock shapes for St Patrick's DayWhether you have Irish in your background or not, St. Patrick's Day can be a wonderful time for a celebration! Your kids will be the luckiest leprechauns on the block when you throw this fantastic party.

Every great party starts with dazzling décor, and setting up for St. Patrick's Day is easy. You can find decorations at party shops and discount stores, or you can make your own.

Go Green
The most important part of St. Paddy's Day is the color green. Use green balloons, green streamers and green table coverings. Wrap the front door and kitchen cabinets in green paper, and cover your furniture with green sheets.

Gold Details
Accent your green décor with gold. Sprinkle gold confetti over green table coverings, and choose gold plates and napkins. Place gold-covered chocolate coins as decoration on food buffets.

Trace shamrock shapes on poster board or paper, and cut them out to hang around the house. You can also write a message like "Happy St. Patrick's Day" on shamrocks, string them along a ribbon and hang them up in your home as a banner.

Food is the center of an enjoyable get-together, and a St. Patrick's Day party requires some Irish eats. You can go with traditional corned beef and cabbage served with Irish soda bread, but kids might be more impressed with these twists.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza
Turn corned beef into a kid-friendly food by putting it on a pizza. Put cabbage on some of the pizza for more adventurous eaters, and don't forget plain cheese pizza for kids who are picky.

Potato Skins
You can't have an Irish party without potatoes. Instead of traditional mashed, make potato skins that kids can load with toppings like sour cream and bacon bits.

Irish Punch and Leprechaun Juice
Fill a punch bowl with any lemon-lime flavored soda, and add generous scoops of green sherbet. You also can serve leprechaun juice, which is just another name for green Kool-Aid.

Hidden Treasure Cupcakes
Create cute cupcakes by adding green food coloring to a white batter. When the cupcakes are cool, use a plastic bag to pipe icing into the centers. Ice the tops of the cupcakes, and sprinkle them with edible gold flakes. Top each one with a gold-wrapped chocolate coin.

Irish Potatoes
If you enjoy making tasty treats, try creating some Irish potatoes. These delicious candies are made with coconut, cinnamon and cream cheese. If you don't want to make them yourself, you can always pick some up at a bakery or candy store.

Let these St. Patrick's Day party ideas spark your imagination when it comes to creating your own Irish bash. Your guests are sure to have a wonderful time, and you will be making memories with your children.

See also to my article on Activities and games for a St Patrick's Day party for kids.

Lorraine on 2018

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What are the health benefits of Zinc

Some foods that are sources of ZincZinc is a mineral that is needed by, basically, every single part of your body. We need to make sure we eat enough to get the amount needed or use supplements because the body is unable to produce zinc on its own.

A crucial role
Zinc plays a crucial role in the many processes of our bodies. This includes aiding in cell growth and support of the immune system, tissues and joints. Zinc also plays a role in helping with the sexual function or dysfunction that can occur, keeps hair healthy, and helps skin wounds heal.

Powerful antioxidant
One of the biggest benefits of zinc is its antioxidant properties. It helps with free radicals in the body and fights inflammation - two main causes of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. It is believed to aid in the fighting of cancer.

Zinc is a major player in the diabetes battle, as it helps balance hormones and this includes insulin. It helps the pancreas adequately store and release insulin. It also helps the enzymes that aid in digestion and allows insulin to bind to them so they convert to energy instead of fat.

Important to the senses
The ability to taste, smell, and see is import and zinc plays a role in the support of these functions. Zinc can counter vision loss in the event of macular degeneration, research has shown. A deficiency of zinc can lead to dull taste buds and losing the ability to smell as well.

Fertility aid
A zinc deficiency can cause infertility, so making sure you get enough zinc if you want to get pregnant is vital.

Too much of a good thing
Like many things that are good for us, too much zinc can actually to damage to the immune system it helps to support. Those who take more than 100 milligrams daily for a long period of time are at risk. If you are deficient you may need the higher dosage but will need to monitor to avoid taking too much. The elderly are especially at risk of a zinc deficiency.

Zinc & other nutrients
Many times zinc and copper are combined, or else zinc can cause problems with the absorption of copper. You will also find zinc combined with calcium supplements to aid in the absorption of these minerals as well.

Zinc for good health
The benefits of zinc are so crucial to the body that everyone needs to make sure they are getting the proper intake. If you are eating the right foods you should already be getting enough zinc, alternatively by taking a zinc supplement you can help ensure you get all you need of this important mineral.

Copyright © Annette on 2017

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Is wind power a good energy source

Wind turbines on the hill topWith environmental concerns raging, the search for alternative energy is gaining momentum every day. Amongst the top contenders is wind power and plans for its expanded employment are growing as well. There are, however, those who have concerns about the relative merits of a power source that at first glance seems innocuous.

Those who are rallying against wind power have three primary arguments;

  • Firstly, there are potential health hazards
  • Secondly, there are the concerns for the environment and wildlife
  • Thirdly, there is the concern for damage to property values.
To anyone new to the debate, you would wonder what possible health hazards could exist. Surely the blades are high up and out of harms way. Opponents to wind power assert that genuine and less obvious concerns exist which need to be addressed and resolved before the implementation of this  power source grows more widespread.

Symptoms ranging from insomnia to night terrors have been reported by those living near wind farms, but a shortage of peer-reviewed studies is leaving only the reports of those claiming to be affected.

Those supporting wind power say simply that correlation does not imply causation.

The more obvious argument asserts that there will be damage to the environment and that bats and bird life are threatened. As sea floors are dug up to construct supports for massive offshore wind farms, opponents express concerns for the destruction of sea life and fishing grounds. Concerns exist for masses of migrating birds if farms should be in their flight path, creating the possibility of mass killings. Low pressure areas caused by the spinning blades are said to be the cause of death of bats who have delicate lungs.

Those supporting wind power contend that remedies have already resolved many of these issues and will resolve more. They also say that it is a relative issue. and current energy sources also demand a price in environmental impact.

As with any issue, money is always a factor. Those who are constructing wind farms or leasing land to be used for them expect to reap profits, but others expect to be effected in a more negative fashion. The controversy over these farms may contribute to a fall in property values of homes located nearby. On the other side of the debate, we hear that progress always comes with a price. An airport, a new highway or a ferry terminal all bring noise and traffic but we must adapt.

It would appear, based on trends around the world, that wind power is an inevitable part of our future. Wind power capacity and generation has been growing steadily around the world for decades. There is clearly a need for more study and for participation by the public in determining future regulation for wind power. Whether the power source becomes a source of clean renewable energy or another threat to the well being of our planet is up to us.

Copyright © Rohit on 2017

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Best free fitness and diet apps

A smart phone as a platform for fitnessIn modern society, it is easy to become decadent and forget that we have to be strong for ourselves and for future generations. That is why we need to show the new generations that we can live happy, healthy lives in this fast-paced world. Here are a few of the highest rated and most effective free fitness and diet iOS and Android applications to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Nike has been a pillar of the fitness community for years, so it only makes sense that they would invest in a free app to help people gain control of their bodies. The Nike+ Training Club is an iOS and Android app that consists of over one hundred different workouts for beginners and veterans. Each workout is complete with a video tutorial, so any user can effectively use Nike+ to the maximum potential.

Another iOS and Android app that can help is Fitnet. This app puts a smartphone's camera to good use by enabling the user to actually watch the exercise experience. It will alert the user to ways they can improve and also provide feedback so the user can have a personal experience that resembles using their own personal trainer.

A fairly new app, Endomondo, begins with a test that shows the user's specific stage of fitness and then suggests forms of exercise that are appropriate. This app is specialized to create motivation. It is built to keep track of personal records and alerts the user when levels of fitness are achieved or exceeded. If personal records are inadequate, there is also a community connected to the app that one can compete against to get higher scores.

Many running apps exist, but few also take cycling into account. Strava Cycling and Running does both. Strava is not only focused on individual fitness, but it also strives to connect cyclists to others by adding unique challenges, such as a competition to see who can capture the best photo, which can be used to add motivation to a workout.

Fitness is an important part of a healthy life, but nutrition is equally important. MyFitnessPal can help count calories and log meals with minimal effort. This app can save time and help the user understand what they do right and wrong with their diet. This app would make a helpful addition to any of the other fitness apps listed.

Before a meal is recorded, the right food needs to be found and OpenTable can do just that. OpenTable can help the user find the right restaurant in the user's price range. Not only does the app help find the right place to eat, but it can also set reservations for those special nights.

Kitchen Stories
If going out to eat adds too little excitement, then the Kitchen Stories app can create an adventure in the kitchen. Kitchen Stories gives detailed instructions, alongside pictures, to help users craft any of the healthy meals listed. Detailed nutritional information will help the decision process, along with information on how difficult the recipe is and the time necessary to make it.

All of these iOS and Android apps can help start the journey to a healthier and brighter lifestyle, from fitness to food. These apps can help make each day an adventure and show new generations that a fit and healthy life is possible.

Copyright © Jonathan on 2017

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How to do push ups correctly

A man doing push upsWith proper form, push ups can be a great exercise for the chest, arms and core. With poor form, they can cause shoulder and elbow issues in some people. Here's the correct form for push ups that will reduce the stress on the joints and reduce the risk of injury.

Hand Position

  • Your hand position should not be high and wide. They should be roughly in line with your ribs so that your elbows are close to your body.
  • That is, if someone was standing above you and looking down while you did your push ups, your arms and body should create an arrow shape "->" not a "T" shape. This will reduce the stress on your shoulders.
  • Also avoid push ups where the hands are close together in front of the face or body, as this places undue stress on the elbows. The hands should be no closer than shoulder width apart.

Hand Rotation
  • Your hands should face forwards or be turned outwards slightly so that the index fingers are pointing to 11 and 1 o'clock.
  • Don't rotate the hands inwards, as this also over-stresses the elbow.

  • Keep your core tight and your body in a straight line, as if you were doing the plank.
  • Don't allow your hips to sag down, and don't create an "arch" shape by raising the hips. If you can't keep this straight plank position, it means your core is weak and you need to work on this.

Maintain good form
  • Be wary of doing too many push ups. If you can't do them with proper form, keeping the body straight, the arms tucked in and the hands facing forwards, you've reached failure. Just stop, rest, and start a new set in a few minutes.
  • Don't continue a set with poor form, or move the hands out to the "T" position just to knock out a few more reps. If you really want to continue, drop your knees to the ground and finish off the set from there.

Push ups are a highly versatile exercise that you can do no matter where you are, but just because you're not holding an iron plate doesn't mean there's no risk of injury. If you follow these guidelines, you'll go a long way toward keeping your shoulders and elbows healthy.

Copyright © Darryl on 2017

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Why choose a niche for your blog

A computer displaying a niche blogIf you're starting a blog and you intend to make money from it, you should choose a niche topic rather than a general one. Instead of starting a travel blog - a very saturated space -start a blog about travel in Indonesia, traveling to do a particular sport, or the local cuisine in different places. If you're even considering starting a multi-topic or generalist blog, stop! Read these arguments for niche blogs first.

Back in 2003 the blogging world was pretty much wide open, and you could start a blog on broader topics. But now these topics are already covered by respected people and brands. Why would someone go to your technology blog, started this year with two posts to its name, when they could go to TechCrunch? They wouldn't. You're too late to the party. Niche areas, however, have less competition, perhaps even none, depending on how niche you go.

General topics are harder to monetize because your audience has a wider range of needs, wants and interests. Niche topics are better suited to monetization because it's easier to predict what your audience will buy. For example, say you want to run a seminar on overcoming procrastination. Would you get more sales if you had a personal development blog with 1,000 readers, or if you had a procrastination blog with 1,000 readers?

It should be very clear what your blog is about from every page. If you're covering gardening, dog grooming, and pottery, people will have to figure out what you're all about and why. They don't like that. A niche topic provides clarity and makes your site easier to brand. If you only cover dog grooming, people will think "Ah! I'm a dog person too! Subscribe!" In a way, this comes down to tribalism: we're drawn to people similar to ourselves. It should be easy for your reader to think "I'm like you."

Say you write an amazing viral post about French grammar, and you get a boatload of new subscribers. Then the next day you write one about Arabic conjugations because you're actually writing a general language learning blog. You might lose people because they already subscribe to six of those, they just needed extra French tips. A niche topic makes it easier to retain readers because you're less likely to post something that's irrelevant to them.

Hopefully, this has convinced you. But if not, and you still really, really want to write a blog about 17 different topics, at least try this experiment. Pick one of those topics, or a sub-topic of your main field, that's best suited for a monetized, niche blog and cover that topic on a separate site. Invest the same amount of time and money into both, and see for yourself which one does best.

Copyright © Gotter on 2017

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How to say farewell to a close friend

Girl waving goodbye to an airplaneFarewells can be difficult, especially when a close friend is moving to a different city. This can sometimes lead to avoidance -- people may end up not saying goodbye at all because they don't want to face the pain of it. However saying a proper farewell can make things easy for both of you, and give you chance to make proper arrangements to stay in touch. Here are some suggestions to help you say farewell. 

Of course, you need to see your friend off in style. This could certainly mean throwing a huge party and inviting everyone around, but it doesn't have to. What you do depends on your respective personalities and your relationship. Maybe the two of you would prefer a quiet evening, visiting your favorite places and talking about old times. However you do it, a leaving party can help you say what you want to say to each other and prepare you both for the next chapter.

Support your friend in their move
This will be difficult for your friend too, so do all you can to support them in their new life. See if they need help packing, and go over moving checklists online together to make sure all the necessary admin work is done. But most importantly, make sure you are there for them emotionally; they may have things that they need to say, so make sure you're available for that. You can help each other through a difficult time. 

Make a care package
As a leaving present, make a care package for your friend filled with thoughtful gifts for them. You could include reminders of your hometown, framed photographs of the two of you, and a goodbye card or letter. You could also throw in a stress ball or biscuits, since moving houses can be a stressful experience. Show your support by including something relating to their new town- for example if they are moving to New York, a model of the Statue of Liberty.

Arrange your first visit
When people move to different cities, it's very easy to lose contact and put off making trips to visit. You get busy with work, you need to arrange travel, or can't find someone to look after the cat. To avoid this, arrange your first visit before they leave. Arranges dates, times, and places, book the time off work and make travel arrangements. It will be easier to maintain your friendship over a long distance if you get into the right habits from the start. Besides, they will be adjusting to a new life too and will appreciate your visit. Bring the cat with you if you need to.

Stay in touch on social media
Saying farewell today isn't the same as it was 15 or so years ago. Back then you exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and you talked over the phone occasionally. Now things are different. By staying in touch on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you'll keep up to date on everything new in each others' lives. You'll see photos of their vacations, you'll celebrate their birthdays, and you'll know when their baby is due. You may not be in their presence, but you'll still be in their lives.

Accept your emotions
Saying farewell can trigger a huge range of emotions. There will be the sadness of knowing your friend is leaving, happiness as you reminisce on good times past, and everything in between. This is your mind's way of processing the experience. Whatever you feel, positive or negative, just accept your emotions and allow them to be there. See them as guests in your home -- they will come, stay for a while, and they will leave.

Realize that this is not the end
Although goodbyes are a part of life, they generally don't feel too "good." Even so, you should not try to avoid them because they can help you deal with the separation more easily. It will take some time to adjust to your new situation, so allow yourself this time. But be sure to remind yourself that this is not a permanent separation. Many strong friendships are maintained over long distances and you can do it too.

Copyright © Warren on 2017

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New Year's party Ideas

Fireworks at New Year's eveDon’t host another New Year’s Eve Party without these tips for a fun and safe celebration.  Learn about easy food and decoration ideas that require minimal planning.  Explore inexpensive entertainment options using photos of friends and the internet.

Hosting a New Year’s Eve Party
It’s never too early to start planning an unforgettable New Year’s Eve Party.  Whether hosting a full dinner party or appetizers followed by drinks, guests will appreciate the effort you put into hosting.  After a full season of holiday dinners with family, friends are ready to get together and let loose with less stress.  Keep this in mind when planning the party and don’t ask guests to bring anything unless they insist.
While there is nothing wrong with using Evite or social media for announcing your party, hand-written invitations are always a classy touch.  In addition to the date, place and time, include whether you have space for friends to crash for the night.  Offering your place to crash is your best bet for keeping your friends safe on New Year’s Eve.

Food and Drinks
Serve drinks and champagne in unbreakable, disposable plastic glasses and flutes.  Offer non-alcoholic drinks and gifts for designated drivers to take home and enjoy later.  If serving a large dinner, offer small, simple finger foods that do not need heating, such as pretzels and chips.  For parties that involve appetizers only, make mozzarella cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers and pizza rolls in the oven.

It is not necessary to spend a large amount of money on decorating for a New Year’s Eve party.  Reuse shiny silver or gold garlands from other holiday celebrations.  Use simple white tea light candles in glass votives or on small glass plates.  Have guests help decorate.  Print out a banner online, hang it up, and ask guests to write their New Year’s resolution on it as they arrive at the party.

Ring in the New Year without breaking the bank on entertainment.  Instead of hiring a DJ, set your satellite television to a music channel, plug in an iPod, or stream music online for the right party atmosphere.  Show a slide show of photos of friends and their accomplishments that year.  If you are lacking time or technical skills, ask friends to bring several photos each and display them where you are serving snacks and drinks.  

Copyright © Lorraine on 2017

Related Links: Find below further links on topics related to New Year's celebrations;
More New Year's party ideas
Hosting a New Year's party on a budget
Free New Years invitation templates
New Year's decoration ideas

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The importance of Crafting in North America

Man using a pottery wheelThe history
In the early 1800s in North America, people had to make their furniture and the decorations they placed in their homes with their hands. When the Industrial Revolution was in its prime at the end of the 19th century, craft-making and handmade items began to dwindle. But at the beginning of the 1900s, well-crafted furniture, decor, and architecture became relevant again and was inspired by the school of art known as Arts and Crafts.

During World War II and the Great Depression, workers were paid to create murals and other crafts to keep their families fed, and in the 1950s, pottery and ceramics were made by many artists, while women sewed their families' clothing, crocheted, knitted, and embroidered.

In the '60s and '70s, macrame', tie dye, and weaving projects were all the rage. Keri Cunningham, director of marketing for the Craft and Hobby Association in 2011 said the one idea that ties all types of arts and crafts together is that:

  • Quote:  "People are creating personalized things rather than going out and spending money on the same items. When life is crazy, it's good to take time to do something that relaxes them."

The benefits
Currently, crafting is one of the most popular ways to slow down the extremely fast pace many individuals around the world are experiencing. Neuroscientists are beginning to understand that crafting has some of the same benefits as following a meditation schedule. According to CNN's Jacque Wilson, crafting has the power to help individuals with anxiety disorders, depression, and even chronic pain. The acting of creating may increase levels of happiness and protect the brain from damage that comes with the aging process.

Whether it is to calm the mind, learn new skills, or create for the sake of creation, craft in North America is more popular than it has ever been. Makers museums aimed at preserving and displaying made object artifacts and handcraft's history are common in North America. Schools of Crafts also pepper the U.S. and Canada, along with the addition of craft workshops and courses to many North American traditional colleges and universities.

Crafting for money
The handmade, upcycling, DIY, vintage, and restoration community continues to grow regarding festivals for selling crafts, handmade and crafted retail stores, and online selling. The online locations dedicated to selling handmade crafts have become a phenomenon and include such sites as:
Many crafters create their art to decorate their homes, give as gifts, save on remodeling, or to add to holiday festivities. The motivation, whether it's saving money or making money, has emboldened others to take up crafting as well. Many have turned to "making" as a relief from computers and cell phones and also as a chance to meet others who also like the idea of creating with their hands.

Copyright © Sarah on 2017

Related Links: Find below further links on topics related to Arts and Crafts;
An article on the health benefits of crafting
Arts and Crafts topics on

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The history of Santa Claus

Santa Claus being watched by a happy childThe jolly and white bearded figure in the red fur coat slipping down the chimney and riding his sleigh is one we are all familiar with, although he has actually only looked like that for little over a century. However, whether you know him as Father Christmas, Santa Claus or St. Nick, he has actually been around for a lot longer than that.

St. Nicholas
The story of Santa can be traced back to a 4th-century bishop, St. Nicholas, who lived in what is today Turkey. Due to a large inheritance from his parents, he was extremely wealthy for much of his life and chose to share that wealth with the poor. Whether he started the custom of hanging up stockings is not certain, although one story has it that he anonymously left a bag of money in the house of three poor sisters while they were sleeping. In parts of Europe during the Middle Ages, children were given gifts in his memory, usually on December 6, supposedly the day he died.

St. Nick.
Saint Nicholas remained an important figure in parts of Europe, especially the Netherlands, where he was known as Sint Nikolaas. Dutch immigrants to America brought the name and the stories with them, and Sint Nikolaas inevitably became St. Nick. However, Christmas celebrations in 18th-century America were very different from today, consisting largely of rowdy and alcohol fueled gatherings. In some areas, such as New England, the celebration was largely ignored.

Father Christmas
The name Father Christmas has origins in 16th-century England, where he was generally seen as someone who embodied the good food, revelry and overall spirit of the Christmas period. Father Christmas gradually came to be associated with Christmas Day on December 25, as Protestant England no longer observed St. Nicholas Day or the other saints' days. During the 19th century, he was depicted as wearing a green fur lined coat and spreading good cheer throughout the land.

The Santa image evolves
The image that we have today of Santa Claus can be traced back to several poets, writers and illustrators during the early 19th century who decided that Santa should have a whole new look. An 1809 book by Washington Irving depicted him flying through the sky delivering gifts in a flying wagon, while an 1821 poem by an unknown author added a reindeer pulling the cart. And the following year, a poem by Clement Moore called 'The Night Before Christmas' was published, which helped to create the Santa image we have today - a fat, jolly man in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.

The merging of Father Christmas and Santa Claus
Some of the earliest drawings of the modern Santa were published in the 1860s and '70s in the American magazine Harper's Weekly. The artist Thomas Nast was commissioned to draw Santa every year for 20 years, and he gradually changed the figure over time, making him fatter and jollier, and adding his distinctive red outfit. The English Father Christmas and the American Santa Claus gradually came to be regarded as the same person.

The modern Santa
By the late 19th century, Santa had acquired most of the trappings that we associate with him today, including a workshop at the North Pole. The introduction of Christmas cards helped to reinforce this image, and the modern image of Santa then spread back to Europe where he was known by different names in different countries; Pere Noel in France, Father Christmas in the UK, and Grandfather Frost in parts of eastern Europe.

Santa may not be real, but you can still visit his workshop at the Arctic Circle in Finland, year round. And of course, millions of excited children all over the world would beg to differ when they wake up on Christmas morning to a full stocking.

Copyright © Henry on 2017

Related Links: Find below further links on topics related to Santa Claus and Christmas;
Information on Saint Nicholas
Information on Thomas Nast the person responsible for the modern image of Santa
More information on Santa Claus
Information on Santa's workshop

Find more Christmas articles in our holiday section

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