Butterfly Gardening to Attract Monarchs

The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is an amazing insect, which is famous for its incredible migratory habits as well as being accredited for its great beauty. It brings pure joy to the heart to see it in flight as it glides through the air on its large black-veined orange-red wings or stops to sip nectar from a flower.

But sadly the Monarch's numbers have been dropping fast due to a combination of climate change, habitat destruction, the use of pesticides, and the lack of foodplants for its caterpillars, which can only eat species in the Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae). However, this means that gardeners in any country where Monarchs live can help conserve the species by growing these attractive plants in their gardens.

Monarch's migrate in spring all the way from Mexico and the Southern States of North America right up as far as Canada and then repeat this in a long return journey when they fly south to overwinter.

There are many species of Milkweed that grow grow in the cooler north and in the tropical heat of the south. Female Monarchs do not care what the type is just as long as it's an Asclepias it will do fine as somewhere to lay its eggs and feed its striped caterpillars.

The Showy Milkweed (A. speciosa) is a type that can be grown in the more northern States, and the Tropical or Scarlet Milkweed (A.currassavica) is a species that does well in the warm climates. Milkweed will grow well in large flowerpots or in large windowboxes if you have no access to a proper garden, and, of course, the foodplant can be grown in containers on a roof-garden or balcony.

Fortunately, in response to a growing awareness of the layout of this beautiful but endangered insect, millions of people are doing what they can to help and there are now very many websites that can easily be found by searching online that will provide Milkweed seeds. Some of these sites also supply small ready-germinated plants, and others have a wide variety of Milkweed species to choose from. There are even sites that supply seeds free of charge as long as you send a SASE.

Monarch caterpillars are very greedy and eat a lot of leaves. They will even consume the flowers and seed pods, although the plants will usually sprout again. The more Milkweed plants you grow the more caterpillars you will be able to support.

To watch the stages of the Monarch's lifecycle is a wonderful experience as you see the colorful striped caterpillars ever change into jade-green chrysalises before their final transformation into the glorious winged adult. Just before they hatch another real miracle happens because the red and black of the newly-formed wings get stronger and stronger in color and can be seen clearly through the transparent wing cases of the chrysalis.

To see this happen in your own garden brings a real sense of having done something positive to help one of Mother Nature's most beautiful …

Contemporary Kitchen Furniture – Points to Remember

When picking out contemporary kitchen furniture there are one or two things everyone should remember to avoid mistakes and an uneven finish to their new kitchen.

Firstly, do not assume you know exactly what contemporary means in relation to kitchen furniture. Do your homework and look at what's out there in terms of modern designs and ideas. You might be surprised at what constituents contemporary furniture and determined that it is not for you after all.

Always think about your kitchen when you're looking around showrooms. It's very easy to let a salesman tell you that particular furniture will look great in your contemporary kitchen, but if he has not seen your kitchen, how does he know? All kitchens are different in terms of light and space and will need different shapes and sizes of furniture to work effectively. Contemporary kitchen furniture is never one size fits all.

Sometimes the most important advice when it comes to picking out furniture for your kitchen is to remain consistent. If you go around picking out different bits and pieces without thinking about how they will go together, you can end up with a very disjointed and awkward looking kitchen.

Contemporary kitchen furniture needs to give off the impression of seamlessness and have clean lines in order to be authentic. This is not to say that your kitchen has a cold and sterile place to work in. You can add warmth and color to your kitchen by using the right materials and accessories.

These are just a few useful tips to help you ensure you get the contemporary kitchen that suits your needs. …

Twelve Design Tips For Small Spaces

1) DESIGN WITH INTENTION
A cluttered, haphazard space plan will pronounce just how small a space really is. Take stock of the larger pieces you love and place them in focal areas, allowing them to claim the attention they deserve. Do not be afraid of pieces with character – exploit them.

2) MIRRORS OPEN AN AREA UP
The reflection of a room at different angles helps draw attention to items in the room which might otherwise go undetected. The reflection from mirrored surfaces also gives the illusion of a more spacious interior. Hint: place big mirrors opposite one another to enlarge a small space.

3) LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND
Using many small sources of light adds a dramatic flair and will accentuate a room's depth. Light makes everything brighter which makes everything feel larger. Try to use at least three sources of light in a room to balance the light through the space. Keep the lighting warm & inviting.

4) CREATE PERSPECTIVE
In seeing one room from another you create a more entertaining and engaging space. Use of lateral accents such as stripes on a wall not only bringing the rooms together but also accentuate the volume of the room. Keep colors and transitions harmonious so that the areas flow together seamlessly.

5) DOORS ARE BARRIERS
Replacing them with light flowing curtains is an alternative. This not only creates interest, but it will allow you to insert a splash of color or personality. Dare to let your creativity shine through.

6) EVERY PIECE COUNTS
In a small space every item will be noticed and every item needs to function well. Consider a buffet that also acts as a room divider or an ottoman that serves as your cocktail table. Each piece should be carefully selected with function in mind.

7) FURNITURE WITH "READ THROUGH"
A ladder back or slat back chair versus a fully upholstered back allows light through, creating a room with a more open feeling. The same idea applies to Lucite or glass, which provide an unobstructed view and can open up the whole room.

8) CREATE YOUR OWN "VIEW"
Consider using a niche if you can not put in a window. A niche allows you to display art or a sculpture and can be perceived as a "view" and a point of interest. An architectural niche provides an empty frame beginning to be filled with your own "view".

9) ATTENTION TO DETAIL MAKES UP FOR LACK OF KITCHEN SPACE
Good design solutions may lie hidden in the architectural details & materials used in a kitchen. Glass or high-glazed ceramic tiles bounce light and will add color & pattern. Stainless steel appliances, glass cabinet door fronts & decorative hardware are excellent choices to create a lovely, detailed composition.

10) BIG ART CAN BE YOUR FRIEND
A misconception is that a small space can only use small art. This is simply not true! Oversized art can open up a room and help to create another "view", even if there …

Celebrities and Their Houses in the Cotswolds

Many celebrities have found the quiet charm of the Cotswolds alluring and have moved there to get away from it all. Now, tour operators are cashing in on this, providing bus tours that allow interested fans to see where these stars live and, sometimes, get a glimpse of the stars themselves.

Who Lives in the Cotswolds?

Many famous British stars have chosen to find a home in the Cotswolds instead of in the hustle and bustle of London. Most of these make this choice because they want to live somewhere stress-free, yet with close access to the city.

Kate Winslet, the star of Titanic, is one such person who has chosen this life. She and her husband live in Church Westcote in an 8-bedroom restored manor house. While the village is proud to have her there, do not expect to see her as she does not come into town much.

Kate Moss is another celeb who has found her peace in the Cotswolds open arms. In 2004, she purchased a $ 2 million Grade II farmhouse in a small Oxfordshire village. She loves to eat at The Swan in Southrop and at Jaflong Tandoori, an Indian restaurant in Lechlade.

Other celebrities who have found their peaceful homes in this area include Elizabeth Hurley, Stella McCartney, and even Prince Charles. And Winston Churchill was buried at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where he grew up.

How to See Celebrities

There are many different bus tours that will show you the homes of celebrities in the Cotswolds or you can use the internet to plan your own route. Of the guided tours, the Jillywood Experience is one of the most popular. Named after English author Jilly Cooper, whose home is one of the ones viewed on the tour, this is the quintessential celebrity spotting tour in the Cotswold area.

This tour leaves out of Gloucester and takes interested parties on a 70 mile jaunt through the countryside. Tour participants receive hints as to who each celebrity is when the coach passes a famous person's house, so you'll get to do more than just looking out the window. In fact, many people find that they enjoy the tour more than they think they will.

Whether you tour along or on a bus, remember to respect the privacy of the people whose homes you have come to see. While it's exciting to see a celebrity walking around in a small town, respect their privacy if you do happen upon them. Remember that the celebrities have their homes in the Cotswolds, which means they expect a little privacy and respect for their families, and they are people just like everyone else. …

Who Is The Fearless Ahok? (Part 2)

After working for seven months as a member of city council, Ahok got a lot of support from his people in Belitung. The people encouraged him to join as a candidate in East Belitung Regent election in 2005. Ahok maintained his campaign way, which was by serving the people. He also gave his personal mobile phone number to the people, the same number he used to communicate with his family. In this way he was able to understand and experience the situation and the necessities of the people. With his uncommon campaign way at that time, which was without political money, he became a Regent of East Belitung 2005-2010 with 37.13 percent of the votes.

Having experience as an entrepreneur and also a legislator who understood the financial system and the bureaucratic culture, in a short time as a Regent he was able to carry out free health care, free education up to high school level, and improved the public services. As a Regent, he was known as an anti-bribe person among political opponents, entrepreneurs, and the poor people. He cut the development cost involving contractors up to twenty percent. Therefore, he had much money to improve the people’s welfare.

The people throughout Bangka Belitung heard about Ahok’s work so that they wanted Ahok to be a Governor of Bangka Belitung province in 2007. Unfortunately, he could not win the election. He failed to become the Governor because of the data manipulation during the counting process. In 2009, Ahok became a candidate from Golkar party in legislative election. After struggling for a “hot” seat in the House of Representatives, finally Ahok became one of its members.

While in the House, he worked on the commission II. Friends and foes knew him as a simple person, talkative, and easily accessible by the public. He created a new standard for other members of the House of Representatives in anti-corruption, transparency and professionalism. He was a pioneer in the House in reporting working activities such as the process of discussing law and various working visits. All reports could be accessed through his website. His expert staffs did not only provide the data or the materials for making a law, but also actively collected information about the people needs. He also struggled for improving the recruitment system of regional heads. He wanted to prevent corruption in the election and also gave the opportunity for idealistic individuals to be the regional heads.…

How to Create Your Own Decorative Wall Mirrors

The look of our home reflects our personality. This is one of the reasons why homeowners take the time to beautify their homes. One of the most effective ways to enhance the rooms in our homes is by adding decorative wall mirrors.

You may be able to find various kinds of decorative wall mirrors on the different home improvement and hardware stores. Designs may vary from antique to modern, from embellished to minimalist. Since decorative wall mirrors can be very expensive, it is a good idea to make one on your own. You can decorate the one you already have with these ideas.

  1. You can try painting the frame of your mirror. This is an inexpensive way to add a touch-up to an old mirror. You can pick a color that will complete the look of the room or create artsy designs with the play of different patterns. This is quite easy since no sanding and primer is required. Be sure to tape the sides of the mirror that you do not want to be painted.
  2. Adorn your mirror with textured items like seashells. You can pick items that would match with the theme of your room. A rustic room for example would look great with cedar chips. Attach the items on the frame with the use of glue.
  3. Use tassels to give it a soft look. Purchase tassels that would look good with other furniture. You can stick the tassels around the frame with hot glue.
  4. Self-adhesive stones will make a lame frame look beautiful. You may opt to decorate only the corners or you may even place them on the center of the mirror.
  5. Make your own tailed-mosaic mirror. Try mixing different shapes and sizes of mosaic tiles. You can buy mosaic tiles from home improvement stores or you can simply use pieces of broken ceramics. You can attach the mosaic tiles with the use of strong glue.

Multi-Purpose Woodworking System for Home-Improvement Can Save Thousand

The Shopsmith Mark V is an incredible machine; it has the five most needed woodworking tools in one compact system. A Table Saw, a Lathe, a Drill Press, a Disc Sander and a Horizontal Drilling Machine. If you are planning costly home-improvements and would like to save money by doing it yourself I would highly recommend this unique and versatile tool.

I have used it to make many home-improvements over the years including custom kitchen cabinets and decorative molding. I have also used it to build a 200 square foot deck with beautiful spindles and railing that I turned on the Lathe. I bought my Shopsmith in 1995 and it has never let me down, I have made furniture and even a complete dining room set and not to mention many other pieces of furniture for my bedroom including a low-boy dresser and sofa table. Take a look at a couple of my projects below.

Another thing that I love about my Shopsmith is that it only takes up about as much space as a bicycle in my garage. If I wanted to do the same operations on my Shopsmith with other stand-alone tools I would need my own two car garage to accommodate them. The tool is made in the United States and is of top quality, mine is already 12 years old and still is solid as a rock, I've only had it once to clean some sawdust and oil it. I have deal with their customer service several times when buying accessories for my machine (which there are thousands available) and they are very pleasant and helpful, they will even call you after you purchase one of them and walk you through how to un-pack and assemble it which only takes about 10 minutes.

Once again I would highly suggest that you at least take a look at this machine if you are interested in saving money on home-improvements.

You can see the Shopsmith Tool in action here at their website by requesting a DVD

My recently finished low-boy and sofa table made on the Shopsmith …

General Home Improvement Information

When you think of home improvement things like new windows or finishing your foundation comes to mind first. This is the time of the year when pre-seasoning air conditioning sales start and that is home improvement as well.

How about the outside of your home? What kind of shape is it in? Let's take a look at how you can improve your home by improving how it looks on the outside. You may call it spring cleaning the outside of your home.

– You should get started by taking a look at the general appearance. You've heard the Jeff Foxworthy joke; "you might be a redneck if your green refrigerator in the front yard has an extension cord running across the yard up to the house."

How about moving it to the backyard, or better yet putting it on the porch or something. This goes for anything that makes the outside of your home look trashy.

– Pick up the trash; rake up the leaves that have built up in the corners of the yard and around the house. Make it look clean.

– What kind of shape is your yard in? You can power rake the grass. Then aureate it. Lastly put down some quality fertilizer to green it up and kill crab grass and other weeds. You may have to spend a little time pulling a few weeds. If you keep on them you can always have a yard full of nice grass and no weeds.

– Touch up paint in areas of the house that look worn. How long has it been since you painted your home? Maybe it is time to do that or hire someone to do it for you.

You can paint a fence and really spruce up the outside. On natural wood power wash it and stain it a natural color to save the wear and tear on the fence and make it look new.

– If your car has been leaking oil on the driveway get some good concrete cleaner and clean it up. You should put a board or cardboard down under where you park your car.

– Plant some flowers around the driveway or in your yard to give it some color. You can buy a few planters and put multi colors and different types of flowers in them and put them by the front door on the porch as well.

Spring-cleaning can be moved from the inside of your home to the outside. Doing a few easy home improvements does not have to cost an arm and a leg and can really make your home look sharp. …

Getting Ready For Cabinet Installation – 5 Tips To Prepare Your Kitchen

If you are planning a cabinet installation in your kitchen, it is important that you have the area prepared. There are a few things you need to have completed before the workers come in to set up your new cupboards. Let's take a look at some of the steps you can take to prepare your kitchen.

Prepare The Area

The first thing you want to do before the cabinet installation is to remove the old cabinetry. Make sure you clean the floors and surrounding areas, removing dust and debris from the kitchen. If there is any damaged flooring under the space, this is the time to repair it. You can also touch up paint, install a backsplash, or add any other decorative touches you desire.

Make Sure The Floors Are Even

Next, check to see if your floors are even. You can do this by using a traditional level, but most installers recommend that you use a laser level to ensure the floors are completely even. Level floors are important because there may be gaps benefit some areas of the new cupboards if the sections of the floor are too low. On the other hand, you may not be able to fit them in properly if the floor slopes unevenly.

Make Sure The Walls Are Even

Walls have a tendency to sag over time, which can affect your cabinetry. Some cupboards have diagonal notches that require the walls be even and straight. You may have to add filler pieces to certain areas to even the walls before your new fixtures are put in.

Install Flooring If Necessary

If you are installing new flooring with your cabinet installation, you should do that before the cupboards arrive. This will save you from making odd cuts or dealing with other difficulties that arise when measuring the flooring around counters. This also allows you to have fresh flooring under your new cabinetry and appliances.

Install Appliance Outlets

If they have not already been installed, be sure to install all of the envelopes for your appliances before your cabinet installation. The company that sets up your new cupboards should provide you with a blueprint of the project so you will be able to see where these outlets belong. Be sure to contact an electrician or someone with expertise in outlet wiring to help you with this.

Cabinet installation can be a daunting process, but preparing ahead of time can prevent many headaches. Finally, make sure you have contingency plans, because you will likely be without use of the kitchen for a week or more. …

Finding a Quality Home Improvement Company Less Costly Than Professional Painters

Homeowners are constantly looking for deals and ways to save a few bucks whenever they can. Saving money on home improvement projects is a priority for many homeowners, as many contractors demand a high price. College Works Painting and Student Works, which are separate companies offer affordable painting from motivated and ambitious college students without sacrificing any of the quality ,homeowners expect from professional painters.

Companies like these train all of their college painters to ensure that each student provides their clients with high quality work held to the utmost standards. Students are put through extensive training that teaches them the ins and outs of exterior house painting and gives them the experience necessary to get a firm grasp on the craft. Students are sometimes trained during the company’s Charity Paints program that gives some families a much needed paint job while giving their painters adequate experience.

Homeowners hire painting contractors because they expect the very best from their painters. If they expected any less, they may choose to do the work themselves. Companies understand this and does everything necessary to properly train their painters and give them the motivation they need to do their best work for every client. Homeowners are rewarded with a high quality paint job at a cost below most painting contractors in the community.

Not only are homeowners getting an excellently painted house, they are also helping these student painters earn money for college. College students often turn to associated college companies as a way to earn some extra money for school. They are also given the chance to develop skills necessary for their future careers. The students know the importance of the opportunity they are given and are instilled with the motivation to give each client a satisfying experience.

Homeowners may find some painting contractors apathetic towards their work and the projects they are working on. This may be a sign that the contractor will not put all of their effort into their house. Homeowners will not find this with the companies mentioned above. They will only find ambitious young men and women looking to provide clients with the best paint job possible. They may not end up being professional painting contractors upon graduating from their college or university, but while they are working with the company, they provide the work of professionals.

Creating a positive environment that spills over onto every job site, the company is proud to employ some of the most motivated and talented young college students in the community. Homeowners should feel confident that by hiring these students they will be given a professionally painted house at a price less costly than most contractors.…