Kitchen Decorating Ideas

More and more today, the kitchen is the most popular room in the house. No longer just the place where food is stored and prepared, it has become the focal point of home life. Kitchens used to be closed off from the rest of the house with walls and doors. Today, however, both in new homes and in remodeled older style homes, you can see into the kitchen from the living room, the family room, or both. Since the kitchen is constantly on view, kitchen decorating is an important part of home decor.

Some kitchens are treated as completely separate areas in plain view. Others are carefully decorated to blend in with adjoining spaces. In both cases, kitchen wall treatments are key to decorating this busy room. Paint continues to be a popular choice, but the range of "kitchen" colors has exploded. Cornflower blue, butter yellow, bright reds and vivid greens are commonly used as a base for French country or Tuscan kitchen decorating themes. Wallpaper options run the gamut from contemporary designs to Americana. In addition, slate, saltillo and ceramic tiles once used exclusively on floors are being used on walls to add texture and visual interest.

Part of decorating a kitchen is creating an organized space. Whether you have a specific decorating theme or not, you'll want to give some thought to which kitchen accessories stay on the countertop and which are hidden in cupboards and drawers. Many cooks find a tall cylindrical container to hold frequently used cooking utensils that keeps them from frantically rummaging through drawers. Appliances that get regular use, such as toasters and electric can openers are a good choice for countertop position, although most can be mounted under high cupboards.

Major appliance manufacturers recognize that their merchandise is a major visual element in any kitchen. Instead of just offering a choice between white, black, harvest gold or green, they produce an amazing range of "looks." From gleaming stainless steel, to retro 1950's look to standard white, you can choose refrigerators and stoves that blend with your kitchen decor. Some manufacturers can even help you match your appliances to your countertops for a seamless look.

As in any room in the house, it's the little touches that pull your kitchen's look together. Choose a "punch" color (usually contrasting to your walls) for window treatments and a throw rug. A tiled sink backsplash in this shade will add an extra bit of pizazz. Do not be afraid to add ornaments to the walls of your kitchen. Framed family photos, or even a collection of cookie cutters will add personality and warmth. …

Organization and Order – More Power to You

There it is again – the feeling like things are spinning out of control the moment you open your office door. Total chaos. Stacks of paper piling up on your desk, even on the floor. More stuff stacked up in the corners. The cabinets and drawers are overflowing. And along comes a sense of panic that makes you feel utterly helpless. Anxiety is creeping up on you and you feel completely overwhelmed. These negative sentiments go hand in hand and can become dangerous productivity and creativity killers when not deal with.

Many of my meeting planner friends struggle with this. They are experts in organizing people, but seem to have a hard time organizing their stuff! And they are not alone. One out of four surveyed Americans state that they would like to be more organized. If that's you, there is help coming your way! To conquer clutter and regain control – try organization and order.

To make this winning combination work for you, follow these three basic steps:

* 1. Get rid of everything you do not need Be serious in recycling, giving away, discarding, shredding everything that you do not really need any more or in the first place never really needed …

* 2. Create a place everything that you do need Every type of item should have a place where it lives. That way, when you need it, you know where to find it.

* 3. Always put everything back in its assigned place When you are done using an item, put it back in its assigned place.

Once you have organized your space this way, be tough on clutter flare-ups by applying the exact same three steps. It does require self-discipline, but sticking to this system is a worthwhile investment. With fresh energy flowing, you will feel on top of things again. Effectiveness and efficiency will increase. It will empower you, lift your mood, and may even affect your physical health positively. For an even greater power boost tackle your personal living space also and apply the above basic steps in your home, including kitchen and closets. There too, you can conquer clutter and regain control with organization and order. …

Using Your Slow Cooker to Bake

Do you know that you can actually bake in your slow cooker? A lot of people are not aware of this because they assume that only the oven can be used to bake the things that they want. There are some things that you can cook much easier with the use of your slow cooker than your oven. As much as possible, you would like to make things easy. You will also be using up less amount of energy with the use of your slow cooker.

Want to know some of the things that you can bake in your slow cooker? Read on.

1. Apple Cake

A lot of people think that anything that involves apples can surely be good. This recipe in particular can serve 8 – 10 people. Just make sure that you need a cake pan that can fit inside your slow cooker.

Beat the following in a bowl:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

You would need to stir in:

  • 2 cups of chilled chopped apples

You would need to sift:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

You would need to mix in all of these ingredients together with the chopped apples. You may also choose to place some pecan nuts with the mixture but if you are allergic to nuts or you are not that interested in nuts, you may choose not to. Place on the bread pan and make sure that you grease the tin foil that you will be placing on top of the pan. For 3 – 4 hours, bake on high temperature.

When it is fully baked, make sure that the pan will remain on the slow cooker for about 5 minutes before you will take out the pan that contains the baked apple cake. Cool it further then slice.

2. Chocolate Fudge Cake

The great thing about this cake is that you do not need any pan in order to cook it. You can cook it directly on the slow cooker.

In the bowl before you place the cake on the slow cooker, here are the things that you would need to mix:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

You would need to stir in the following:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

The next thing that you need to do is make sure that you will spread the mixture that you have created at the bottom of the slow cooker. You can then mix in the following:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

You would need to sprinkle this over the batter that you have placed on the bottom of the slow cooker. You need to boil about ¾ cup of water to pour over the batter. Remember that you would need to cover this and cook on high for …

Staging Foreclosure Homes for Sale

Foreclosure homes for sale have taken a hit in previous months with the scandal surrounding mortgage providers’ documentation issues. This resulted to buyers shying away from the market for fear of being embroiled in a property dispute. This has greatly affected legitimate sellers of foreclosure properties, who are already dealing with declining demand.

The challenges faced by sellers of foreclosure homes for sale should further infuse them to engage in increased efforts to conduct a successful home staging that will ensure a sale. While cleaning the home can a go a long way towards proper home staging, oftentimes this is not enough. The home should look equally good on the outside and the inside. The home is after all a reflection of its occupants and this is what buyers will have in mind when they shop for their home.

Appearance from the Curb

More popularly known as the curb appeal, your home should meet most buyers’ requirements when it comes to the look of the exterior of the property from the street. Foreclosure homes for sale should look neat and fresh at first glance. So, make sure the exterior painting is interesting and lively. Mow the lawn regularly and trim the bushes. Clear out the trash and put away unnecessary items, especially clotheslines, which can be an eyesore. Apply a fresh coat of paint on your fences, garage and garage doors as well as the main door.

Stepping Into a Peaceful Place

Buyers look for quiet comfort when they inspect the interior of foreclosure homes for sale that they are considering to buy. Keep in mind that buyers are keen on seeing the potential of a home or what it can become once they already own it. In other words, they want a blank canvass, so it may be advisable to paint the walls in neutral colors. More importantly, keep the home spic and span through constant cleaning and dusting. Hide personal items, especially children’s toys and other personal paraphernalia. Clean areas that are highly susceptible to dirt like the kitchen and bathrooms. Regularly replace the sheets and other linen as well as the curtains.…

Pest Control Advice (How to Kill Cockroaches)

If you live in a warm climate, you know that roaches can be everywhere and that they can enter your house at any time they want. And it is very disgusting to see cockroaches crawling on your wall, floor, and any part of your home. Cockroaches have been around longer than we have and so getting rid of them won’t be easy. You will need the assistance of a pest control professional in dealing this kind of problem.

There are simple rules which you can follow in dealing with the cockroaches. First thing you should know about cockroaches is that they breathe through their skin. Cockroaches need oxygen and they cannot breathe if their shells are covered. An easy way of killing them is by putting oil to their skin. You can use olive oil or any kind of oil would do just fine. All you need to do is spray them with water mixed with the oil. This method will suffocate the cockroaches.

Another thing that many people recommend is vinegar. Spraying vinegar will suffocate the roaches as well, according to experienced home owners. Vinegar is known to work not just in cockroaches but in spiders as well. Rubbing alcohol is also another suggested cockroach killer. Mixing rubbing alcohol in water and spraying them with the roaches will be effective. Any way in which you can put a cover on them so they can’t breathe would be an effective strategy.

You really have to address the issue why these roaches are hard to find and look for ways to eliminate their food source, shelter, and other ways that they can survive. Seal any food source in your home properly. Make sure you clean the kitchen, the floors, and all areas which would be potential for roach infestation. Also make sure that there’s no water or moist area waiting for them.

These methods are very common and you can adopt them on a daily basis. But if you have tried all these tricks and still found roaches crawling in your house, then it would be high time to call your local pest control company for quality assistance.…

Precautionary Factors to Remember in Home Construction

Building or constructing a house calls on all your abilities and skills in planning, budgeting and executing the task in hand. Although you may not be physically involved in the actual building up, as the home owner you have the responsibility of building a safe, secure and healthy home with all the factors considered.

There are several areas in home construction that need attention from the roof to the flooring literally and everything in between. A building contractor or expert can provide advice on the basic necessities that include all matters concerning:

• Building engineering like rooftop, walls, ceilings, floors etc.

• Plumbing

• Electrical works

• Heating, cooling and ventilation

• Woodwork

• Masonry

• Water proofing

• Damage proofing or earthquake proofing

These form the basic concepts of home construction; it makes a world of difference getting them right the first time because constant corrections, repairs, renovations and alterations can weaken the structure of a house rendering it unsafe and unworthy.

Apart from the concept of a solid home construction, there are many precautions that are useful to consider that will ultimately provide healthy living. Some of the important factors that go into a ‘precaution list’ as far as a home is concerned are:

1. Building in a clean location – Choosing the right site for building a home is top priority. A home should be built in a clean area where the air is of good quality and the vicinity is free from pollution.

2. Doing soil testing for strength and presence of pests is very essential. Every home needs a prior anti-pest treatment to prevent insects and pests from invading living spaces.

3. Remembering basic elements of physics – The shape of a house matters a great deal in construction; unnecessary nooks, corners and angles are not only a hindrance but also negatives as far as energy efficiency is concerned.

4. Giving adequate attention to structural elements – Proper laying of foundations and concrete in roofing and flooring and giving it adequate time to harden and strengthen are very essential to prevent cracks, seepage and other harmful effects.

5. Installing proper plumbing and adequate drainage – Pipelines and sewer lines must be given a lot of planning to prevent backflows and flooding. Access to pipelines must be easy to get hold of to carry out repairs and maintenance if necessary.

6. Controlling infiltration – A proper mechanical ventilation system minimizes the extent of uncontrolled infiltration serving to improve the quality of indoor air and prevent exposure to outdoor chemicals and toxins. Using multiple approaches like heat recovery ventilation, central exhaust and other fresh air circulatory approaches have advantages.

7. Use of solid wood or metal for fittings – Readymade bathroom and kitchen cabinets are made of wood and wood products and coated with glues and substances that have high formaldehyde content. Wooden or metal cabinets and fixtures that are custom made provide better and safer alternatives.

8. Using water based adhesives and paints – Water based …

The Real Reason Counting Calories Doesn’t Work

Most people have the right idea when they want to lose weight that they should track their calorie intake. It’s true that calories do matter when it comes to weight loss but counting calories has some serious errors. These errors are typically what breaks a diet and leaves the dieter frustrated and back at square one.

Many nutrition labels are inaccurate when it comes to the calories listed. The tallies are oftentimes wrong. We know that one gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, one gram of protein contains 4 calories, and one gram of fat contains 9 calories. Next time you see a nutrition label, pull out your calculator and do a little check for yourself. You will notice the number you get from your calculations is not the same as that of the nutrition label. There could be a difference of enough calories on a consistent basis (that you’re consuming) that is preventing your weight loss results because the true calories are unaccounted for.

Another big error occurs when you track your calories using only a volume measurement. Here are some examples:

– A regular bag of quick oats says a serving size is “1/2 cup (40 grams)”. Most people will measure out a 1/2 cup serving and count the calories of a 1/2 cup serving and go about their day. The problem is that a 40 gram serving when weighed on a scale is actually less than 1/2 a cup measurement. A 1/2 cup measurement of quick oats is somewhere around 54 to 56 grams which is a difference of around 60 calories that are unaccounted for. If you have 1/2 a cup per day, at the end of the week this is an extra 420 calories. Those 420 calories can be preventing you from losing weight or slowing down your progress.

– All natural peanut butter has a label that reads one serving is “1 tbsp (16 grams)”. Most people take either a regular dinner spoon and scoop out their serving or they take a true tablespoon and measure the peanut butter by volume. If you are not leveling off your volume measurement, it’s likely you’re taking more peanut butter and calories in than you’re accounting for. It’s easy to take a spoonful of 32 grams instead of what the nutrition label reads as 16 grams. This could be a difference of

nearly 100 calories that are unaccounted for. If you do this daily, by the end of the week that is almost 700 calories you’re eating which is more than what you thought. This extra 700 calories can completely stall weight loss.

Trying to “eye-ball” or estimate too often can prevent weight loss. It has been shown that people do a very poor job at estimating calories. When you are consistently estimating, it’s simply that, an estimate, it’s not accurate. It’s possible for a small brownie to contain upwards of 600 calories depending on the ingredients in it. Most people might estimate a brownie as only …

50 Cheap Valentine's Day Gifts to Romance Your Sweetheart (without Looking Cheap)

  1. Create an indoor picnic with available props, ie, picnic tablecloth, paper goods. Share finger foods and favorite trees along with a glass of wine. Spice up "dessert." Enjoy your picnic on the living room floor or in bed. Play card games, board games, or make up your own.
  2. Decorate a unique-looking jar or box with craft items. Write numerous love notes on small pieces of paper and fill the jar with them. Present the jar to your sweetheart.
  3. There are many local and national Valentine's Day giveaway contests with great prizes. Enter as many as you can and maybe you'll get lucky.
  4. For young couples with kids, get them involved in an all-family fun Valentine's Day dinner at home. Mom can prepare a dessert for two and light the candles while dad puts the kids to bed.
  5. Since Valentine's Day is on a Saturday, celebrate with a day full of low-cost activities you both enjoy doing (depending upon your location and weather). Do something with your significant other that he / she rarely has time to do, but loves.
  6. Take a 2-hour, one-time salsa or tango dancing lesson together. Or, identify some other interest you share and find a place to give you one-time extended lesson on Valentine's Day.
  7. Gals … Make the entire day full of his favorites: the breakfast of his dreams, the dinner of his dreams, TV that is his favorite, his music, etc. Do not say anything about it, surprise him all day long.
  8. Take the person you love to experience something spectacular in nature: a sunset, a sunrise, the calm of the beach, share an evening walk gazing at the moon.
  9. Create a framed group of photos that put your relationship in chronological order of events, by months or years (depending on how long you've been together).
  10. Create a CD with songs that make you think of your sweetheart, and give it to him / her.
  11. Choose specialty foods, such as wine, cheese, fresh bread / dessert from a favorite bakery. Enjoy in front of your warm, toasty fireplace.
  12. Create an at-home spa day for your mate. Deliver the gift in a basket filled with inexpensive candles, bubble bath, rose petals, facial mask and scrub. Then give your mate time to enjoy it. When he / she is done, heat up towels in the dryer for drying off.
  13. Give each other long-lingering back rubs or head-to-toe body massages. Invest in luxurious lotion or oils.
  14. Create a favorite drink together. Try all kinds of ingredients. Enjoy taste-testing. Be sure to record the ingredients, so you can make the "your" drink again on Valentine's Day year after year.
  15. Watch an old movie at home together, with popcorn and soft drinks and candy – movie-theater style.
  16. Share a scrumptious dessert and latté at a local patisserie or bakery.
  17. Pick a few household chores your Valentine usually does and surprise them by doing it before they get a chance, ie, making the bed. It does not sound romantic, but

Blood and Fire: An Astrological Perspective on the Salvation Army, Part 1

The mere name “Salvation Army” evokes powerful images of aid in times of crisis, charity in times of need, mercy and transformation in the hours of one’s personal deepest, darkest hour. The Salvation Army’s role in social reform during the latter half of the 19th century cannot be underestimated. William Booth, the Salvation Army’s self styled General, who stood in a point of history when suffering was both overwhelming and unnecessary, saw the world in need of radical change Like Petrarch some 400 years before him, Booth was adamant he would make a difference. Together with his wife Catherine, their eight children and the support of close friends, William Booth set out to bring salvation to the lives of the hopelessly poor, the destitute, the homeless and the hungry. From humble beginnings in London’s east end, today the Salvation Army operates in 111 countries, utilising 175 languages and has a well established reputation for being the first organization to arrive in the aftermath of disaster, providing clothes, food, shelter and healing words. At the time of writing, the Salvation Army continues its work in Iraq where it provides food, clothing and shelter to a land ripped apart by war. “The people of Iraq love the Salvation Army because it brings the message of the love of God to the Iraqi people,” said a Shia Muslim spokesperson, demonstrating the Salvation Army’s well deserved reputation for transcending all barriers to bring comfort to the suffering.

The Salvation Army uses a flag with an eight sided, yellow star on a red background with a blue border. Originally, the star was meant to be the sun but the Booth’s changed it to a star as it offended a branch of the Zoroastrian’s when the Salvation Army was first in India. Astrologers would recognise a double grand cross in the star and an emphasis on the fourth and eighth harmonic. John Addey wrote about 8th harmonic: “The numbers four and eight have a special reference to outward events and conditions.” We regard squares in a chart as indicating conflict. The Salvation Army so embroiled itself in conflict that its joint founders, William and Catherine, manifested a child (Kate-see her chart) who had the Salvation Army symbol in her chart shaping–which seems nothing short of miraculous and a testament to the struggles the family faced in their war on sin and poverty.

The Booths achieved so much in their lives together that it is overwhelmingly tempting to uncover their motivation to change the course of history. What makes ordinary people extraordinary? What makes a hero take risks, not just as opportunity arises or once in a lifetime, but over and over again? What, astrologically, can account for such phenomenal success in the extreme adversity the Booths faced nearly every day of their early ministry?

The man who would be the Salvation Army’s Founding Father and first General was born on 10 April 1829 in Nottingham. His own father, Samuel, was a man dogged by financial disaster …

Thanksgiving is a Great Family Holiday

Pre-boomers were taught the first Thanksgivings was a day of gratitude expressed by the early settlers nearly 400 years ago in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims thanked God for delivering them to the new world where they could live free of religious persecution, for surviving the first year, and for the harvest to sustain them in the winter months ahead. We also learned that they shared their food with the local Native Americans.

This national holiday has become a secular celebration of parades, football games, and overeating with the next day marking the official start of the Christmas shopping season, overshadowing its true roots. However, most pre-boomers have seen and remember Norman Rockwell's series of Thanksgiving paintings which appeared in "The Saturday Evening Post" during the war years of the 1940s. The warm feelings we get when exposed to those magazine covers remains with us to this day.

The Thanksgivings of my childhood remain viable in my mind. As a young child it was the Gimbel's Parade in downtown Philadelphia. Later the football games took up the morning. Then it was home from college for the long weekend. And later it was the quick train rides from Manhattan to get there in time for the mid-afternoon dinner. Then, many years past before the family got together again. The kids had grown and the first grandchild had arrived before my parents finally moved to the West Coast, after years of prodding. So they were able to enjoy the day each year with all of us and we with them before they passed on a few years back. For this I am most grateful.

I have fond memories of Thanksgivings past and am fortunate to have family close by, so we can enjoy this day together each year. In fact, recently the family took a cruise over the holiday: grandparents, adult children and their spouses as well as the grandkids. It was different and lots of fun, but I missed the "home cooking."

No matter were you or who you're with this Thanksgiving, try to recall those magical days gone by when you woke to the alluring aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven. Be quiet and you can almost here your mom and maybe grandma and your aunts talking as they worked for hours to prepare this family feast. And, even though you were shooed out of the kitchen, you managed to catch a glimpse of the vast array of food to be served and knew this day would be good.

Of course, we ate leftovers for days to come: turkey platters, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey ala king, turkey hash and turkey croquettes. Nobody ate turkey burgers back then or we would have had them too. Even though we grew tired of a week of turkey, everyone looked forward to having another feast at Christmas. Thankfully this meal was at another family member's home, so we were spared the endless days of leftovers.

This Thanksgiving it's appropriate to reminisce about …