Think Outside the Cube: Designing a Space That Supports Culture, Community and Productivity

Your commercial building is a reflection of you and your business. As a home remodeling professional who has been in the business for 27 years, I have some advice on how to ensure you are always putting your best foot forward while improving productivity in the workplace.

Authentic style can’t be forced, but this is where commercial design comes in! When you are a commercial property or business owner, you put a lot of thought into how to increase your business’ profits, how to attract more customers, and make it a better environment for your employees to work in. And, commercial design and remodeling does just that, reinventing your workplace and creating a great looking, efficient space for employees, clients and customers alike. There are so many benefits to choosing a commercial design and build for your business and I’ve put together a few of my favorites.

First of all, it can help increase productivity. Do you need more room for specific amenities or products? Are you ready to integrate technology and a fresh new design into your commercial property? You can give your office or building not only a face lift but also upgraded technology. Make your meeting rooms smart meetings rooms with the ability to reserve them remotely. And, surprisingly enough, a fresh paint job can instantly update your offices and conference rooms. Simply adding new paint and updated décor will create a brighter, more productive place for your employees to meet and work in.

Second, it can create corporate culture and become a driving force that attracts and keeps employees. You may have heard the term “culture” a lot recently. People connect over shared experiences and stories. Convert to an open floor plan or add brand new amenities to increase interaction and overall day-to-day well-being. Many companies are choosing to add small gyms, café’s, recreation rooms or larger break to increase morale and thus increase productivity. Show your employees you believe in them and the work they are doing by investing in the business with additions or a remodel.

And overall, in the long run, a new commercial design or build could even help save you money on energy consumption. As doors, windows and lighting options become increasingly energy efficient; the ‘green’ possibilities are endless! You could not just save money on your power bill, but you are doing something good for the environment. Your employees and clients will appreciate it too!

These are just a few of the great reasons to choose a commercial remodel for your business. So, start gathering inspiration and ideas and call your local contracting experts to get your new design and build underway!

Eye Patching to Stop Negative Thinking

Eye patching is a very simple energy intervention to stop negative or obsessive thinking and mind chatter.1 Most negative thinking, which can have devastating results in a person’s life, is the result of habitual left-brain (L-mode) thinking that sees reality through distortions of the past. Yet influencing brain activity-temporarily shutting down L-mode and training the mind towards whole-brain thinking-is quite easily achieved.

Our thinking process arises as a synergy and integration of activity in the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Each hemisphere has a unique style of thinking and sees the world quite differently. The left hemisphere is the logical, rational, verbal, critical, time-bound thinking that processes sequentially, focuses on what it recognizes, breaks downs into smaller parts, looks at the details and differences, and attempts to simplify and conclude based on small bits of information. By contrast, the right hemisphere holds the intuitive, non-rational, non-verbal, present-moment, analogical, metaphoric, spatial, relative thinking that makes the leaps of insight, connects things, sees and encompasses the whole, synthesizes, holds the divergent and can transcend ordinary consciousness.

An interesting view is the left brain as the ego/materialistic ‘divide-and-conquer’ mind that enables us to dwell in the physical world, and the right brain as the higher/spiritual mind that keeps us connected to a higher reality operating in our lives. Both modes of thinking are equally important to effectively live fully as a human being. This view agrees with the understanding of the Yin/Yang Stepping Vessels (extraordinary meridians) as corresponding to the Ego principle in human development (these vessels are extraordinary meridians-the deeper energy pathways that correspond to the psyche-that end at the eyes). In healthy whole-brain thinking, a person is able to reconcile both the world of matter and the world of spirit.

Most people today have been subjected to education that greatly favours left-brain or L-mode thinking from very early on in life. L-mode thought processes are primarily habit-based. Ninety percent of what you thought yesterday, you will think today-and the content is largely the result of thought patterns established in childhood. These childhood thought patterns tend to focus on what’s wrong or potentially threatening, because they emerged from instinctive survival strategies that were triggered when, as children, we experienced trauma or felt threatened in any way. Thought patterns act as filters to sensory input from the external world. They cause deletion, distortion or generalization of this input with great loss of information. The result is an internal representation of reality that may not be a close match at all to what is really out there. These internal representations trigger thoughts and emotions, which create a person’s experience of reality, or their internal state of mind.

Not only does negative thinking make you feel terrible, but your internal mental and emotional state sets up an energy vibration in your body, which acts as your broadcast frequency, your call letters to the universe, and inasmuch, it determines what becomes manifested in your reality. Habitual negative thinking serves no good whatsoever. If you continue to see life as you’ve always seen it, you will continue to get from life what you’ve always been getting. Until you change your basic thought processes, life will not change for you. Therefore it is of critical importance to inhibit this destructive, habitual negative thinking.

Putting an eye patch on the right eye at any point during the negative thoughts instantly slows down left-brain activity2, making it impossible for the brain to keep the thoughts going and thus releasing the mind from its obsession. People with obsessive negative thinking-particularly those suffering from depression, chronic anxiety, compulsions/obsessions, or excessive mind chatter-benefit particularly from eye patch therapy to help stop negative habits of the mind.3

Another use of eye patching is to balance brain hemispheres and enhance whole-brain thinking. With one eye patched, one brain hemisphere lessens its activities (the one crossed to the patched eye), while the other must compensate by intensifying its activities (the one crossed to the uncovered eye). This imbalance creates a state wherein the person has two completely different concepts of the perceptual world. One concept is that being directly fed from the uncovered eye to the brain. The other concept is that being shared from the brain hemisphere with the intensified activity to the other brain hemisphere. With the covered eye opened beneath the patch, its associated brain hemisphere is still seeking outside input-this it now gets primarily from the other brain hemisphere. This latter condition strengthens the communication bridge between brain hemispheres (the corpus callosum), which eventually leads to whole brain thinking. In whole-brain thinking, the mind has quicker access to greater resources (both hemispheres). The overall effect is a reduction in perceptual distortions, the ability to see the essential from the inessential, and a higher emotional threshold.

The effects of regular patching can be very significant and far-reaching. Patching can provide the brain with a new perspective on life-it can change your mind about a situation on the spot, and over time, it can reframe your past, improve your health and relationships, enhance the resourcefulness of your thinking, increase your emotional threshold, and reprogram your subconscious mind to focus on what you want in life.

It is interesting to note that the corpus callosum was considered the site of the soul in the 18th century (Maurice Ptito).4 If we consider that our ego-sense (sense of individuality or I AM), which is unique to human beings, arises out of the union or the merging of the two pictures that are possible by our symmetry,5 the corpus callosum takes on a more critical role in our evolution. It is my sensing that a larger corpus callosum (or greater communication or merging of the two hemispheres) will enable a person to enter more deeply into the human experience, bringing greater spiritual capacities and insights to all senses and eventually merging heaven and earth within the experience of human individuality.

Important Notes:

The patched eye must remain open underneath the patch. Closing the eye sends a different signal to the brain and will not have the same effect. When selecting an eye patch, make sure the patched eye can remain comfortably open.

Do not patch the eyes during times when depth perception is important (such as driving, operating dangerous equipment, cutting with knives, walking up/down stairs, etc.).

What you may experience from patching:3

o Spacey, disoriented feeling

o Nausea, headache

o Clarity or clouding of thought – usually clouding before clarity

o Lessening of mental clutter after a period of increased mental chatter

o Lessening of overall stress after a period of increased stress

Eye Patching to enhance whole-brain thinking

Work your way to patching each eye for 20 minutes, twice daily. You can continue many daily activities while patching (including reading).6 You may also anchor the sense of L-mode or R-mode activity in order to access these more easily as needed. (See Anchoring L-Mode and R-Mode States, below.)

1. Place the eye patch over one eye (either eye will do).

2. Experience the patch for 5 to 20 minutes or until you feel uncomfortable, whichever comes first.

3. Place the patch over the other eye for 5 to 20 minutes or until you feel uncomfortable, whichever comes first.

4. Practice daily until you are comfortable wearing the patch on each eye for about 20 minutes.

5. If you feel distressed, take the patch off and take some deep breaths, making sure to relax the tongue. The distress may be the result of something that is up for deeper healing that may need to be addressed in therapy.

Eye Patching to release negativity

Patch whenever stuck in a negative emotional state or during a conflict with someone7. Do it as often as your mind tries to take over with negative thinking.

· Place the patch over the eye that is associated with the left brain (usually the right eye).

· Keep the patch on until you feel calmer and less distressed or irritated (usually from 5 to 15 minutes). Notice any difference in your perception of the situation or circumstance.

· Follow with some slow deep breaths, making sure to relax the tongue.

Some conditions that seem to improve after eye patching 3

Obsessions
Chronic Intrusive Thoughts
Chronic Pain

Excessive Mind Chatter

Compulsions
Chronic Anxieties
Conflicts
Chronic Depression

Fixations
Chronic Frustrations
Chronic Anger, Rage
Chronic Substance Abuse

Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Grief & Sadness
Chronic Fears (phobias)
Chronic Over/Under Weight

Anchoring L-Mode and R-Mode States

Being able to stimulate left or right brain activity at will is a useful skill to acquire, especially as there will be circumstances when it’s not appropriate to patch the eyes. Any physical stimulus to the left side of your body will increase activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, and vice versa.8 Standing on your left leg, for example, stimulates R-mode activity, while standing on your right leg will stimulates L-mode. Similarly, a firm pinch to the left shoulder will encourage a larger right-brain contribution to the activity at hand, and vice versa. But the effect of ordinary body stimulus on hemispheric activity is generally subtle. One way to enhance this effect, however, is to anchor the L-mode and R-mode sensations achieved with eye patching. Anchoring is an NLP term, which refers to the setting of body triggers to elicit specific internal states.

You can easily create body anchors to elicit the desired brain mode (L-mode or R-mode) while doing the daily eye patching exercise. Choose a physical stimulus as anchor (e.g. standing on one leg or the other, pulling on one ear lobe or the other, etc.). Simply activate the chosen physical stimulus for about 30 seconds before switching the patch from one eye to the other to create and strengthen the anchor. For example, if you are patching the right eye to enhance R-mode (since L-mode is lessened), then before taking the patch off, stand on your left leg for 30 seconds (or pull at your left ear lobe for 30 seconds). Then when you want to create the sensation of right brain hemispheric activity without the eye patch, you can use your anchor of standing on your left leg. You would create an anchor to enhance L-mode similarly, by standing on your right leg for 30 seconds before taking the patch off your left eye (patching the left eye lessens R-mode activity and so enhances L-mode, and L-mode is crossed to the right side of the body).

1- Eye patching therapy was originally devised by Dr. Kaplan (Seeing Beyond 20/20; Beyond Words Publishing, 1987) as a way to improve eyesight through eye exercising. It was later discovered that the exercise had a calming effect on people and changed their perspective. Dr. Ranae Johnson, founder of the Rapid Eye Institute, recognized this benefit as due to the different modes of brain activity being activated, and adopted the technique as a ‘life skill’ for clients of Rapid Eye Therapy. Eyepatches may be purchased from the REI site at http://www.rapideyetechnology.com.

2 Eyes are crossed to the brain hemispheres. The right eye inputs to the left hemisphere and the left eye inputs to the right hemisphere. For most people, the left brain (accessed through the right eye) is the detailed, verbal, repetitive hemisphere. But some people are switched. A simple exercise to see which brain hemisphere runs in L-mode is to patch each eye and describe a room in your home. Which eye open leaves you feeling more irritable? That is the eye that should be patched to stop the destructive mind chatter

3 Handout by Joseph Bennette | 265 37th Ave Salem, OR | (503)-375-0146. Available in pdf format from his website ( new website address not known ) (retrieved in 2005)

5 Rudolf Steiner speaks of this in many lecture series. The lower the life form, the less the symmetry, and the less the symmetry can converge. For example, reptiles have eyes that diverge; mammals do not merge their symmetry in the limbs (will faculty). It is in the convergence that the higher ego sense of the human being arises.

6 For suggested activities during eye patching, visit Joseph Bennette’s website (see reference 3) under therapies. One interesting use is to learn speed-reading. The more you involve R-mode in reading, the less bound you are to internal verbalizing while you read, which creates an artificial speed barrier.

7 If it is not appropriate to patch (eg. in public or you don’t want the other person to know what you’re doing) then you would activate the right-side body anchor to enhance R-mode (or slow down L-mode). An alternative that may be available to you if you’ve practiced daily eye patching is to patch by intention, simply by imagining that you are covering your right eye. This is possible only if you’ve been doing regular patching, however.

8 http://www.cybersayer.com/eyesite/hemsphr.html (retrieved in 2005)

How to Write Better Songs

How is it that some songwriters reach the level of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash or Joni Mitchell while others languish completely unknown? It comes down to two things.

First, the best in the business understand that their paycheck depends largely upon their network. But what this article is about is the second aspect: pure songwriting ability. Everyone can learn the first, even if you’re an introvert (trust me, if I can do it, you can). But becoming an expert songwriter takes devotion bordering on insanity. Part 1 of this two part series covers three aspects you can start implementing into your songwriting today.

1. Melody creation

A lot of songwriters like to start with a melody because that’s what comes first. Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” started with nothing but a melodic line to which he used the lyrics, “Scrambled eggs, oh you’ve got such lovely legs”. Like McCartney, if what you hear first are a series of notes, try simply using any non-sensible syllables to establish the melody.

If that melodic line doesn’t come, no worries. Melodies that make use of the pentatonic scale are among the most common throughout history. For example, in C, the 5 notes are:

C-D-E-G-A

Experiment with these five notes only and write down every snippet of an idea that catches your ear. From there, accompany the melody with common C chords to begin to flesh it out further.

2. How to convey emotional meaning with your lyrics

If you’re better are starting with lyrics, keep in mind that every listener has different life experiences and will interact with a song differently than the next. Your job is to connect with a specific person through feeling, whether it be emotional highs, lows and everything in between.

What is the feeling you’re trying to convey? Who else in your life also feels that way? In what ways have you shared in experiences with others where this feeling came rushing through? How did you describe it to each other afterward?

Songwriting can be intensely personal, but it’s important to realize that if you want others to connect to your song, the easiest way for them to do so is through shared feelings. By painting a picture of the very person you’re trying to connect with before writing a single line can help your lyrics flow more naturally.

Drug addiction is a common theme in a lot of popular songs. But listen to two very different songs about the same subject and you’ll also realize that depending on how you color the subject matter completely changes the feeling your listener will have:

Staind, “It’s Been Awhile”

Aimee Mann, “Wise Up”

3. Create a structure

Most, but not all songs use a variation of the following: intro, a verse (sometimes two) leading up to a chorus, a bridge, followed by another verse and chorus, and then an outro.

Intro – usually catchy instrumental section that grabs the listener’s attention

Verse – story-telling part of the song that builds an emotional connection with the listener

Chorus – the chorus is the part everyone recognizes; even if they can’t remember the words, people can usually hum the melody

Bridge – this is where everything gets shifted and causes the listener to sit up; many times associated with a mood change created by a chordal shift

Outro – quick tag at the end of the song that gives it a sense of resolution

Examples of this structure are: “California Girls” by The Beach Boys (1965), “Penny Lane” & “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles (1967) and “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix (1967).

Powerful Presentations

Powerful Presentations are not reserved for just listing and buyer appointments. Presentation skills should be utilized in any conversation you are having with consumers.

Today’s consumer has a new sophistication level and expects their real estate professional to be as forward thinking and savvy as they think they are. Presentations to the consumer must be powerful and straightforward without misrepresentations and your message clearly communicated. The consumer of today wants convenience combined with a new level of service for less, in addition to a number of other components that drive the bid to win customer care.

If you feel you are losing potential listings or buyers, then it’s time to make some alterations to your approach. Since we only get one chance to make a first impression, it’s important to avoid blowing it. Many agents deliver a communication style they feel is effective when it actually isn’t. Some agents feel they are showcasing an enhanced level of professionalism that should give the potential client confidence to work with them only to discover someone else has just listed their house. If this sounds familiar, then it’s probably time to work on your ability to actively listen and effectively communicate.

Meeting the needs of the consumer by providing the information they think they desire to understand the home buying and selling process can be tricky. Many consumers are not really sure what they want. So, when making your presentation, it becomes a platform for highlighting your value in a way the consumer is interested in building a relationship with you. Many potential clients want to know you care and showcasing your concern by sharing the information they really need to know is the best way to get there.

The consumer can typically see a phony baloney from a mile away. One of the best ways to build confidence is by being yourself and providing them with the facts of what lies ahead. Don’t hold back… tell them the truth and help them sort through it. If they want to list their house at an unreasonable price, discuss strategies to minimize the risk of hurting their marketability and ultimately themselves. Suggest they secure an appraisal so they get an expert opinion. Telling them the truth while leaving room open for alternate opinions is a great way for you to lead them while they maintain the control they need.

Let’s go through 8 key business boosting elements in preparing for a memorable presentation:

1. Have a Story and a Mission Statement. Letting others know why you do what you do as well as the Stories to illustrate your experiences in business and life brings your prospective client closer to you more quickly. It’s all about building that strong lifelong relationship. If you need help with ideas for your Story line, visit ted.com or Craig Worthmann’s video on “What’s Your Story”. Get them wired to listen to stories. Be contagious!

2. The Simile. Clear communication comes from a variety of skills. One of those skills in better understanding between you and your prospective client by using Simile’s. This helps others see what you are saying more clearly. For example… Q: How did you like the painting contractor selected to get your house ready for sale? A: He was like the Leonardo Da Vinci of Painters for his gifted quality and style. Similes help people understand what you do when using the words “like” or “as”.

3. Layout. People respond to color. When you make your decision on a PowerPoint or Google Slides or whatever means you select, be sure to use researched color. My favorite is always blue because research has shown it tends to be a good trust color. Some agents opt for an outline or checklist. Whatever keeps you on track and keeps the consumer engaged is great. You just want to make sure it’s your style and not someone else’s.

4. Questions. Asking questions and listening to the responses is a fabulous way to build that rapport. Too many agents are preparing their comeback instead of actively listening. Start asking questions from the time the interview is booked. You will learn a lot about how to craft your presentation so it is a home run.

5. Motivation. Find out what is motivating them to buy or sell. Do they really want to move, are they being forced because of their job, and specifically where their emotional state is on the topic. This knowledge will help you achieve better results through better understanding and handling of their emotions while securing their trust and confidence. You don’t want to walk in for a listing appointment with a happy face thinking about that big commission assuming they are happy when they are miserable about moving the kids again.

6. Active Listening. Understanding how the consumer thinks is a key ingredient to a successful presentation. You can find out how to communicate with your client just by listening to them. People want to be heard and most salespeople are on send rather than receive.

7. Less is more. One of the biggest issues with presentations is the overkill. Trying to cover too much ground or include things like graphs and technology that the consumer has no understanding or real interest in can be a deal killer. Plan your presentation by framing it properly and focus on your delivery.

8. In their shoes. In order to connect with different types of clients, real estate agents need to understand the different generations of people today to remain relevant. From Gen X to Millennials to Baby Boomers, you have to know who they are so adjustments can be made in your approach. The younger client uses tech devices to communicate. Many only want to receive texts or emails. In order to remain current and compliant, we need to learn new methods to understand how to work with everyone.

Get out there and practice your Powerful Presentations!

Winterize Your Home to Survive Winter Weather: The Ultimate Home Prep Checklist

Every winter, your home goes up against the roughest of weather. From relentless snow, to pounding hail storms to ever-lingering ice, the elements sure do put your home through the ringer. And according to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2014 alone, American homeowners who failed to winterize their homes lost a collective $2.4 billion dollars from damages caused by snow, ice, and freezing winter temperatures.

How, you ask? From all of the associated property damage. For example, the average claim for damage caused by a frozen pipe that’s burst is about $18,000. This cost often includes replacing or repairing the pipe itself, as well as the drenched floor and drywall. And collapsing trees – with weak or dead branches that can be snapped off by the howling wind, or from the weight of ice and snow – can cause anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 dollars in damage per tree when they come crashing into your house.

But the good news is that the winter doesn’t always have to have its way with your home and wallet. Preparing your home for winter weather can help prevent, avoid, and reduce these and other problems that could cost you thousands of dollars to repair. And the best way to see what needs fixing in your home is to perform a winter home fitness test.

There’s a long list of benefits that go along with winterizing your home. Real estate experts note that weatherization efforts, on average, lower homeowners’ energy consumption by 35%, as well as reduce their annual energy costs by 32%.

And as an added bonus, weatherization efforts also boast a strong ratio of savings from the home improvement investment. For example, for every $1.00 you spend on safeguarding your home from airflow and insulation issues, you’ll net a return of $1.80 in savings in your bank account.

On top of all the energy savings, preventing a small problem from becoming a huge issue will save you thousands. As our wise founding father Benjamin Franklin once quipped, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And here’s how you can make the most of your prevention efforts this winter.

4 Ways the Winter Elements Can Destroy Your Home

Contrary to popular belief, your home isn’t indestructible. It might feel that way when you’re sitting by the fire as the wind howls outside, but there’s probably a problem brewing at this very moment. So, let’s look at some of the common ways the elements damage your home

1) Ice Will Destroy Your Chimney

Go outside and take a good look at the mortar on your chimney. There’s no way it’s going to last as long as your roof, and over time, the rain will begin to find its way inside the cracks. As it freezes, you’ll find chunks of the mortar falling off. And now your flashing (that thin sheet or strip of water-resistant material that’s installed at roof intersections) won’t be able to save you because the water will get in and roll down your interior walls. If you’re really unlucky, you could end up with a mold problem you had no clue about.

2) Extremely Powerful Winds Are Determined to Damage Your Roof

If you live in an area where hurricanes, blizzards, and very strong winds commonly strike, then you know that they can be powerful enough to rip branches off trees and send them hurtling towards your roof. Once this happens, it can easily tear your roof apart until you have large holes where the rain and snow will find its way inside, causing all sorts of water damage. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to keep an eye on trees and cut off any old or broken branches. It’s one of the reasons why steel roofs are becoming ever more popular, as they’re capable of withstanding nearly anything the wind will throw at it.

3) Your Pipes Can Freeze and Burst

One of the most annoying ways the cold weather can damage your home is by causing your pipes to burst. It’s a much harder problem to fix, especially if you end up with additional issues like a flooded basement. Burst pipes are caused by the water inside your pipes freezing up until they expand so much that they crack. It’s common when your pipes run outside to garden taps or through uninsulated walls. You could always stop using your garden tap during winter, but it might not be practical, and this doesn’t solve every issue. The best thing you can do is add insulation to your pipes to stop them from getting too cold.

4) Piles of Heavy Snow Could Collapse Your Roof

Snow might look pretty when it’s lying on your roof, but if there is too much of it, then it becomes dangerous for a number of reasons. The most worrisome one is that the snow may slide off – like a mini avalanche – and fall on top of someone standing or walking below it. An old roof could also buckle under the pressure, which would cost a great deal to fix.

Even if the pile of snow on your roof isn’t heavy enough to damage the roof itself, your guttering might not be so lucky. With all that added weight, it could quickly come crashing down to the ground. To prevent this, you can clear your gutters of leaves and other tree debris ahead of time so the snow doesn’t build up as easily, and then you can remove any piles yourself with a rake if there is enough there to be deemed dangerous.

How to Prepare Your Home for Winter: The Space-by-Space Home Fitness Checklist

When was the last time you took a tour of your home and thought “how do I protect my house from winter weather”? It’s probably been years, and in all that time, it’s likely that a few important things have slipped through the cracks. But if enough melting snow starts seeping into those cracks, it’s going to cause far too much expensive damage to your refuge from Mother Nature’s cold shoulder.

Because winterizing your home entails a lot more than just making a quick trip to the nearest supermarket for some eggs, milk, and bread. You have to keep in mind that the blizzards, sleet, and the extreme cold can wreak havoc on your home’s structure and safety. And to ensure that your home is fit and properly prepared for the next blast of winter weather, use our Winter Home Fitness Checklist below to do a complete once-over of your property and fill those cracks. It’s a simple breakdown for how you can prepare and protect your home – both inside and out.

For Your Indoor Spaces

Adequately winterizing your home’s interior for the cold weather is crucial, as you’re going to be indoors most of the time. Here are a few important steps to keep yourself warm and protected. A few quick fixes around the home could alleviate many energy inefficiencies and reduce your monthly costs throughout winter and beyond.

Insulation: Check the insulation in your attic, basement, and garage. According to data collected by the National Association of Realtors, improving insulation alone can reduce your heating bills by 20%.

Pipes: Make sure all the pipes passing through these unheated places are adequately insulated. Ideally, they should be wrapped in electrical heating tape first, followed by foam insulation. Bursting of pipes from freezing is far more common than it needs to be, and it can give rise to some seriously expensive repairs.

Ceiling: Check for leaks in the ceiling and repair or replace any damaged or missing shingles

Heating: Examine your furnaces, heating vents, thermostats, oil tanks, wood stoves, and water heaters. Make sure they’re clean and in good, working condition. Buy a space heater to keep on hand as a good back-up on those extra chilly days

Filters: Replace dirty filters in your furnace and HVAC system every month or two. Dirty filters can, sometimes, lead to a fire. And if you use a propane or oil-powered furnace, be sure that you refuel it.

Vents: Keep your vents free of obstacles to allow the free-flow of air.

Smoke Detectors: Check for smoke and carbon monoxide leaks with the help of proper detectors, and replace old batteries as well.

Fireplace/Chimney: Examine the fire brick in the fireplace for open mortar joints. Should you see any, get them repaired immediately to prevent the possibility of a fire breaking out.

Weather Stripping: Check for weather stripping on all sides of the doors and the windows. If some it cracking or missing, apply new or additional weather stripping. You can also use rope caulk for this by simply pressing it into the areas where air leakage has been taking place. Air leaks can cause the cold air from the outside to come in and allow your warm air to escape, compromising your home’s efficiency by up to 30%. It is, therefore, crucial to avoid them.

Fans: Make sure that your fans are spinning in the right direction. During the summer, ceiling fans run counterclockwise to create cool breezes. Turning blades in reverse displaces hot air as it travels upward to the ceiling, sending that hot air back into the room – making the space more comfortable for those nearby and reducing heating bills by up to 10 percent. So circulate smarter and save!

Water Heater: While most water heaters are set to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the can actually operate at 120 degrees without a perceptible change in performance. Stepping down into your basement or into the maintenance closet to adjust your furnace will just take a few minutes, but the positive impacts will last until next spring. Covering your water heater in a special insulating wrap will also keep it working more efficiently.

For Your Outdoor Spaces

The outside of your home will be taking the main brunt of the winter weather. So make sure you give it the TLC it needs to make it through to the spring. Many of these solutions are simple, affordable, DIY projects that you can often complete in under an hour.

Windows: Dual-pane windows are not only safer, but they’re also really good at insulating your home. The double layer of glass between you and the world outside is filled with argon gas, which will greatly help with the insulation properties of your windows. You could also have the UV coating on your windows which lowers the chance of fading for any artwork and furniture inside your home. You could also have ones with safety film on, which keeps them from shattering into pieces in case of impact.

Roof: Check your roof for cracks or other openings. Make sure you replace any missing shingles and install weather stripping on the roof opening(s) to deter melted snow from seeping into your home.

Pipes: Turn off the water supply to all your exterior faucets, and drain out excess water from plumbing lines, underground sprinklers, garden hoses, and pipelines by opening up the exterior faucet. Doing so should help keep the pipes from freezing and bursting.

Gutters: The gutters and the spouts should be devoid of leaves, grime, and other debris. The deposits of wet leaves in the gutters adds substantial weight and volume to them in winter, which increases the risk of damage. Clean out the gutters to reduce the risk of ice dams as well.

Chimney/Fireplace: Make sure the chimney’s flue and draft is functioning properly and fully operational. It needs to easily and securely open and close, and then drawing up the smoke as well. Apart from that, keep your chimney clear of bird, rodent, and other animal nests.

Patio Furniture: Since you won’t be using it much in the winter, keep your patio furniture covered and protected.

Deck: Apply an extra coat of sealer on your deck so the sitting winter water doesn’t warp it.

Pool and Fountain: Drain your pool and water fountains, and unplug their pumps as well.

Doors and Shutters: Repair any loose shutters or doors to minimize possible damage from wind. And be sure to apply weather-stripping around these as well.

Walkways and Driveways: Spread anti-slip gravel out all over your walkways and driveways. This will help prevent slips, skids, and falls when the snow comes down. Also, make sure you’ve got shovels and rock salt on hand for when the next snow storm strikes.

How to Win the Winter Weather War: Prevention

There are thousands of things that could potentially go wrong with your home in the winter, and we’ve only touched on the most common ones today. However, far too many people wait until something goes wrong before they fix a problem affecting their homes, and this almost always ends up costing them a lot more money. That’s because it’s cheaper to prevent anything bad from happening in the first place.

So if you can take care of potential home issues before something gets damaged and take the time to winterize your home, then your wise prevention will save you a lot of hassle and keep you from having huge bills to pay. Remember, your home is your castle, and it’s smart to start treating it as such. So make the smarter move and devote the time it takes to properly prepare your home for whatever wicked winter weather may come your way. Because, after all, it’s always smarter to over-prepare than to be left out in the cold.

A Stair Lift is a Viable Solution For Baby Boomers No Longer Able to Easily Ascend the Stairs

I was recently reading an account written by Wharton-educated Economist, Paul Zane Pilzner, about an acquaintance he had made with a successful young man in the stairlift industry. In fact, this young man has one of the nation's leading stair lift companies.

When I read the article, I was surprised to see a 20-something involved in an industry that I normally do not think of as "cool."

As it turned out, this young man joined the stairlift industry not because of any inherent social trendiness, but because he saw an economic trend that he thought would be beneficial to the industry. Namely, he saw a rash of aging baby boomers who would want to stay in their own homes as long as possible, even if they became physically disabled as they aged.

That's just the type of problem stairlifts are designed to solve. They are an inexpensive alternative to an in-home elevator that can lift people, separated in a chair, along a track attached to the side of their staircases.

It's a brilliant idea and well-timed.

Other alternatives to moving into a nursing home when you become unable to handle stairs are: buying a 1-level house or condo, buying a home with the "master on the main" so you're not frequently going up and down stairs, and Remodeling your home to include an elevator, ramps, or exterior access to rooms that would otherwise be unavailable to you.

When compared with these choices, installing a stair lift can be an easy and affordable alternative.

Types of Restaurants and Their Characteristics

A restaurant is a place where food & beverages are sold & served to customers. There are different types of restaurants that have evolved to meet the dynamic demands of consumers. The following are some well-known types of restaurants & their special characteristics:

Bistro: it is a small restaurant that serves simple, moderately priced meals & wine. Braised meets are typical dishes that are provided in a bistro. It may not have printed menus.

Brasserie: formal restaurant which serves drinks, single dishes & other meals. The waiters are in traditional uniform of long apron & waistcoats.

Coffee shop: mainly serves snacks & beverages 24 hours a day; however it may serve all the three meals. This concept has come from the USA. A ‘cover’ is a term referring to a place setting with necessary cutlery, crockery & glassware required at the beginning of the service for one person. Though the main feature is 24-hour operation, some coffee shops may close early, depending on their location.

Specialty Restaurant: it serves specialty dishes which are its strength & contribute to the brand image. It operates during luncheon & dinner hours, between noon & 3 PM & between 7 PM & 11 PM. The ambience & décor of the restaurant reflect the theme of the specialty restaurant. The dishes of a particular region of a country or a particular set of people are also termed as ethnic cuisine.

Fine Dining Restaurant: this kind of restaurant primarily caters to the requirement of the affluent market segment which wants to experience fine dining. The restaurant may either offer dishes of one particular region or country or exotic dishes from various cuisines, wines, spirits & digestives. It opens mostly during dinner time. The ambience & décor of the restaurant will be elegant & rich. The wait staff employed is skilled & has a sound knowledge of the dishes served. The restaurant employs sommeliers to serve wines & other alcoholic beverages.

Popular Restaurant: this type of restaurant is informal, yet hygienically kept & it is located in a busy area such as bus stands, railway stations, shopping area & so on, catering to the requirements of the middle class & the customers who are in a hurry. The menu may either be displayed on a board at a prominent place or printed & laminated. It operates from 7 AM to 11 PM. The food is plated in the kitchen & carried to the table on a tray & served. The service standards are low & informal. Space is utilized to the maximum to accommodate more covers. The seat turnover is very high but the average revenue per cover is low.

During busy lunch hours, these restaurants serve business lunch, mini-lunch, & thali meals in a separate area to speed up service.

Dhaba: it is a roadside food stall found on national & state highways, mainly catering to the requirements of heavy vehicle crew. It specializes in ounjabi cuisine & tandoor cooking, serving very limited dishes, which are freshly prepared. The service is very informal & there is hardly any cutlery used. The dishes served here are inexpensive & taste like home-made food.

Fast food joint: the fast food concept was first introduced in the USA & now it has become popular around the world. It is characterized by the speed of service & the affordable price of the menu items. Changes in eating habits, non-availability of time to wait at the table & eat, increase in the number of working women, advancement in food processing technology, growth of teenage market, & so on, have contributed to the success of fast food operations. It is located in very busy area.

Rotisserie: this type of restaurant specializes in grilled or roast meat, poultry, & fish, which are prepared in front of the guests.

Barbeque restaurant: the marinated pieces of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, paneer, & so on, are inserted into skewers & cooked over live charcoal or electric griller. It is generally located near a swimming pool, roof top, lawn, sea side, & so on, & is open during evening hours.

Night club: it operates during the night & offers dinner, dance, & live entertainment. Cabarets or floor shows are the main attraction of the night club. Guests are required to wear formal wear.

Night clubs levy an entry fee.

Discotheque: it operates during night hours. It provides a dance floor for guest to dance on. Special sound & lightning effect is created for an appropriate ambience. Drinks, especially beer, & snacks are made available during the operations. The service is very informal. It is patronized mostly by the youth & couples. The entry is limited to a certain number of guests according to the floor/room capacity & an entry fee is levied.

Ice Cream parlor: it serves different kinds of ice creams-sundae, coupe, bombe, cassata, & so on. These ice creams are stored in ice cream containers & are kept in refrigerated displays with see through glass. The parlors may either be a franchisee or an independent one making its own varieties of ice creams. The seating arrangements & service are very informal. Guests may either eat in the premises or have it packed & carry.

Cafe: this is a restaurant of French origin, mainly serving coffee & snacks. The French colonies in India, but served Indian snacks such as vada, samosas, bonda, & so on, along with coffee & pastries. The customers are served at the table following the American style which increases the seat turnover, but the average revenue per cover is low due to the lower pricing of dishes.

Cafeteria: the traditional cafeteria system consists of a straight line of counters containing a variety of hot & cold dishes. The cashier who is at the end of the counter makes bills for the items selected & collects payment. This form is widely followed in institutional & industry catering establishments.

In modern ‘ free flow cafeteria’ system, the counters are segregated according to the type of dishes offered-hot or cold, appetizers, soups, breads, sandwiches, entrees, salads, pastas & so on. In most cafeteria-style operations in India, guests make payment at the counter beforehand for items they want to eat & collect them against the bill at the appropriate counters. Cafeterias are situated in railway stations, cinema halls, shopping complexes, college premises, office premises, & so on, where the guest expects quick service.

Food Court: it refers to a number of independent food stalls, each serving items of food. The customers order the food items they want to have & consume them at a common dining area. The types of dishes offered represent local cuisine & dishes that are popular globally. Food courts are found in big shopping complexes, entertainment complexes, amusement parks, airports, & so on where there is a heavy traffic of customers.

Kiosk: it is small permanent or temporary structure on a sidewalk from which items such as coffee, tea, chocolates, pastries, savories & so on, may be sold. Most kiosks do not have seating provision.

Drive-in: customers drive in, park their vehicles at a parking lot, & remain seated in their vehicles. The waiters go to the customers with menu cards, collect orders, & deliver the food items on specially designed trays & the customers remain parked while they eat.

Oyster Bar: it is a restaurant that specializes in the serving of fresh oysters. The oysters are opened or shelled behind the counter, within the sight of guests. Fresh oysters are served on a bed of crushed ice with oyster cruet, brown bread, & butter.

Pub: it mainly serves various kinds of beer, especially draught beer, & snacks.

Bars: it offers all kinds of spirits such as whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, brandy, tequila, wines, & beers. Hotels & restaurants have an additional bar in the food service area/restaurant to dispense wines, beers, & spirits during the service, called a dispense bar.

Carvery: it is restaurant serving roast meat & poultry, which are carved at the carving counter by a carver in the presence of guests. Table d’hôte menu of three or four courses with roast meat or poultry as the main course is offered.

Appliance Repair Service – The Basic Idea

There are different types of appliances that are used in our daily life. The appliances go out of order and they are to be repaired from time to time. If it is within the warranty period, then there is nothing to worry. The company either replaces the spare parts or gives free service, if the appliance goes out of order. Maintenance of home appliance or appliance repair service is necessary as there is always a requirement to repair the appliance, at times of need, when it goes out of order or it will not working.

Before knowing about the appliance repair services, one must have an idea about the appliance. What is this appliance all about? Yes, it is a device that is used to perform certain tasks. They are used to perform home activities like cooking, slicing, cutting, mixing, washing, drying, heating as well as cooling. They are available in a wide number of places i.e. our home, business offices, employee desks, conference rooms, etc. Their existence is not restricted at home, but in the workplace also. Those appliances are very much attached with our daily life.

Next comes the fact of repairing. Repairing actually means to pair something together so that it becomes a whole item once again. Whether it is a refrigerator repairing or low cost dryer repair service, repairing the appliance means to rectify the technical problem so that it becomes working once again. Repairing the appliances mean to rectify the error that reduces the performance of the machine and make it up and running.

The last but not the least is the term ‘service’. What is this all about? To service something is to do a favor or meet the needs of the clients. People doing the servicing are skilled in their profession and they know how to satisfy the client. They are expert in doing so. People, who are mechanics, service the clients by fixing their vehicles, installing as well as inspecting the car parts. The nature of the service varies and that changes according to the nature of the industry.

Servicing does not mean to fulfill the need of someone, but it is also the delivery of certain skill that is required by the client. Hence, as a matter of fact, an appliance repair service is necessary to fix the devices and rectify the errors both at the workplace as well at home that has gone out of order.

Using and Cleaning Soda Siphons

Some people buy soda siphons without even studying first how to use or clean them. They just know that they need to buy this device for their soda-making projects, but they only try to figure out its usage and maintenance once they already have the tool in their hands. But, even if the product comes with an instructional manual, it is still better to study about it prior to buying it so that you know if it is user friendly for you or if you can manage its maintenance requirements. Below are some pieces of information on this particular subject.

Using it for the first time

It does not matter whether you bought a brand new or secondhand soda siphon or soda charger. You always need to rinse out the soda siphon with warm water before using it for the first time. Of course, it is always recommended that you rely on the brand new product so you don’t have to worry about poor quality. Secondhand soda siphons may already be worn out inside without you knowing about it and it would only take you a few uses before you find out about the defect of the device so you had better stick with brand new.

Filling

Press the lever of the siphon to ensure that it is empty and that there is no gas pressure inside. Then, work to unscrew the top part to take out the tube. See to it that the plastic sleeve stays intact in the soda siphon body, as this provides air space necessary for the normal functioning of the device. After that, fill it up to the top with cold water. Add a soda table or bicarbonate into the water. Put back the siphon tube. Screw the head back firmly onto the top part of the siphon.

Charging

Put the bulb into the bulb holder. Make sure that bulb neck is facing towards the open end part of the holder. Lift up the cover on the head to expose the charging thread and screw the holder until you feel it’s tight. The bulb should be correctly aligned to the holder. Shake the siphon for 15 seconds. This allows the gas to be dissolved in the water.

Cleaning

Before cleaning the siphon, make sure that it is completely empty. To do that, depress the lever before you remove the siphon head. Take out the plastic sleeve from the siphon. Rinse out the device with water.

Practical Tips

It is always best to use cold water. The colder the water is, the better.

It’s all right to put the soda siphon in the refrigerator after filling and charging.

To make the sparkle last longer, press the lever gently. This allows control of the flow of the soda to the glass’s bottom part.

Buy your soda siphon and soda chargers online. They’re much cheaper. Just see to it that you are able to find a good and reputable online store that sells high quality soda siphon and chargers for a reasonable price.

Exercises That Get Rid of Love Handles

Ah, the search for the Holy Grail, or in this case, what are the exercises that get rid of love handles. You know – the love handles; Those oh so grabbable rolls of blubber surrounding our guts. For some, it's not bad. I was watching the Rock DVD that just came out – an anthology chronicling his career and some of his best matches – and he looked great. But he had a little bit of blubber rolling over his tights. But, no biggie, because he looked great.

We're talking the full monty here, so to speak. We're talking about oversized muffin tops and monster truck, spare tire with it all complimented by a hanging gut. Which brings us back to what exercises to do if we're to lose those lovely love handles.

And if you were to watch one minute of late night infomercials, then you would think the answers would be self identical. I mean the plethora of hard bodies swiveling, rotating, rocking, and grinding their way to sweating, glistening bodies that would make the gods envious are pretty good evidence right? The answer being that you need to spend 50 to 200 bucks buying whatever that gadget is.

After all, that gal, and that guy, swiveling back and forth on that round thing which evidently is suppose to be a treadmill for you abs make a pretty compelling case.

But no …

The fact of the matter is those folks on late night infomercials run a border line scam that seek to capitalize and profit from you at your most vulnurable – late at night, by yourself, and feeling the rolls of blubber around you as you watch ungodly, Sexy people sweat.

Because fundamentally, there is no one exercise or group of exercises that are best at getting rid of love handles.

Dieting strips the fat from your body is the hard truth. Dieting is not sexy and there are no glistening bodies to look at. Yet, it is your diet and your ability to achieve daily caloric flaws that will determine whether you lose that spare tire or not.

Take a look at that reality show, Survivor, and tell me what you observe about midway through the season. You should notice all the remaining contestants are showing abs and none of them have muffin tops. They are all looking lean. And there is no secret ab rolling / swiveling / rocking thingamig in the back somewhere for them to use.

So, you have six pack abs. It may not be hard, protruding blocks of muscle like baby back ribs under that belly fat, but you already have six pack abs waiting to come back. That's the good news.

What you need is a good, sound healthy diet. But you need to achieve a caloric deficiency, daily. Here are some guidelines:

  • Drink water – lots of it. I'm talking about a minimum of 8 oz per hour, adjusted to your schedule.
  • Eat whole fruit. You need to skip juices (unless you're juicing your own) and skip all the calories that come with it. Eat whole fruits and veggies instead.
  • Stop when you are no longer hungry. This is a hard one because we are condition to eat until we are full. That is not what you want, but you want to eat until you are no longer hungry.
  • Cook your meals. If you're not a good cook, learn – it's fun and you get to control what you eat.
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup, and simple sugars in general.

So, those are some of what you need to consider as you plot your dieting strategy.

But back to the exercise part again …

While there are no exercises that will burn the fat off your sides, there are exercises that will strengthen you abs and obliques underneath. Because you need a 2 prong approach. You diet to burn the fat and exercise to strengthen the muscles underneath.

To do that, I suggest you do the following exercises:

  • Bent Leg Raises on Parallel Bars supersetted with Hanging Side to Side Knee-ups
  • Tri-Set of Plank with Left Side Plank with Reach then Right Side Plank with Reach
  • For the first two exercises, you should do 3 to 4 sets of max repetitions with no rest between exercises and about 30 seconds between supersets.
  • For the planks, work up to 60 seconds on the plank, then elevate your feet. For the side plank with reach, do about 10 slow, controlled repetitions per set. You can repeat for a second circuit, or not.

There you have it – my conclusion is anyone suggesting that an exercise is best for losing fat is misleading you at best. Diet will strip the fat and while there are no exercises that get rid of love handles; There are exercises that strengthen the muscles underneath.

Insurance Health Plan

How can one find a suitable Health Plan?

Most people find the best choice in a health care plan comes form their employer. The majority of employers offer some type of group health care plan to their employees at a low rate. Employer health care is probably the most affordable and offers the best coverage for the price. To find out about an employers health care plan all an employee needs to do is contact the human resource department.

Referrals are another good way to find a good health care plan. If a person knows someone who has a specific plan and that person is very satisfied, then it is probably a good thing to look into. By using a referral a person will be able to get a lot of information about he health care plan from someone who knows first hand.

Finding a health care plan is something everyone needs to do at some point. Health care is essential to keeping healthy. By using one of these three methods for finding a health care plan a person is sure to make the process easy and smooth.

Every state has a department of insurance that monitors all types of insurance. They can offer information and assistance to a person trying to fid a health care plan. They provide information about different companies and their coverage options. A person can learn basic information too that will help them determine the type of health care plan they need.

When it comes to finding a health care plan there are many places a person can look. Usually a person goes to one of three sources to find their health care plan. A person can go the their state’s department of insurance, to their employer or seek a referral from someone they know. By using one of these three methods they are sure to find a health care plan that will work for them.

English Furniture Design of the Early Sixteenth Century

A brief examination of English furniture from the early sixteenth century based on pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The result of this wave of fashion on the domestic furniture of England was to impart to it the elegance of Italian art combined with a national sturdiness of character seemingly inseparable from English art at all periods. As the reign of Queen Elizabeth extended from the year 1558 to the year 1603, it is usual to speak of architecture and furniture of the latter half of the sixteenth century as Elizabethan.

A favourite design in Elizabethan woodwork is the interlaced strapwork, which was derived from similar designs employed by the contemporary stone carver, and is found on Flemish woodwork of the same period. The panel of a sixteenth-century Flemish virginal, carved in walnut, illustrated, shows this form of decoration.

Grotesque terminal figures, half-human, half-monster, supported the front of the buffets, or were the supporting terminals of cornices. This feature is an adaptation from the Caryatides, the supporting figures used instead of columns in architecture, which in Renaissance days extended to woodwork. Table-legs and bed-posts swelled into heavy, acorn-shaped supports of massive dimensions. Cabinets were sometimes inlaid, as was also the room panelling, but it cannot be said that at this period the art of marquetry had arrived at a great state of perfection in this country.

It is noticeable that in the rare pieces that are inlaid in the Late Tudor and Early Jacobean period the inlay itself is a sixteenth of an inch thick, whereas in later inlays of more modern days the inlay is thinner and flimsier. In the Flemish examples ivory was often used, and holly and sycamore and box seem to have been the favourite woods selected for inlay.

Take, for example, the mirror with the frame of carved oak, with scroll outline and narrow bands inlaid with small squares of wood, alternately light and dark. This inlay is very coarsely done, and unworthy tocompare with Italian marquetry of contemporary date, or of an earlier period. The uprights and feet of the frame, it will be noticed, are baluster-shaped. The glass mirror is of nineteenth-century manufacture.

The date carved upon the frame is 1603, the first year of the reign of James I., and it is stated to have come from Derby Old Hall.

The Court cupboard, also of the same date, begins to show the coming style of Jacobean ornamentation in the turning in the upright pillars and supports and the square baluster termination. The massive carving and elaborate richness of the early Elizabethan period have given place to a more restrained decoration. Between the drawers is the design of a tulip in marquetry, and narrow bands of inlay are used to decorate the piece. In place of the chimerical monsters we have a portrait in wood of a lady, for which Arabella Stuart might have sat as model.

The days were approaching when furniture was designed for use, and ornament was put aside if it interfered with the structural utility of the piece. The wrought-iron handle to the drawer should be noted, and in connection with the observation brought to bear by the beginner on genuine specimens in the Victoria and Albert Museum and other collections, it is well not to let any detail escape minute attention. Hinges and lock emblems and handles to drawers must not be neglected in order to acquire a sound working knowledge of the peculiarities of the different periods.

Easy Tips to Clean Bathroom Tiles

Bathroom is very important to our daily life. A clean bathroom which is well designed can essentially make or break the sale of the home. Basically, using tile in the bathroom can be very economical practice since it is very durable and easy to clean. However, the tiles which are left untouched for a length of time will accumulate the mineral and soap deposits as well as grout stains in which the mildew and the mold have grown. Cleaning your bathroom tiles can become a project which requires a good bit of elbow grease as well as some good cleaners. Just check out the following tips to clean bathroom tiles.

Considering the severity of dirt and mold, you can simply start with a spray on the bathroom cleaner with a kitchen scrub sponge. After that, you need to wet the tiles and spray on the cleaner, and you should work from the top to the bottom.

Moreover, you need to scrub the whole area that focusing on the surface of the tiles and not the grout yet. Then, you should scrub in the circular motions that putting a good bit of pressure on the tiles. You have to scrub in the straight lines, back and forth on the edges of the tiles. After that, you need to rinse with warm water.

Furthermore, if you find that the deposits are still clouding the surface of the tiles, you can try to determine the residual which is iron content in water, hard water, or soap residue. The high iron water can leave a brown stain. The hard water can leave a green stain while most of the soaps can leave a milky film.

You can simply start with a scrubbing of white vinegar. Your scrubbing task is over if the tiles result in being clean and shiny. You can also find bathroom cleaners that designed to remove rust or iron deposits. You can try to use them on the next cleaning project.

Having Fun With Your New Marshmallow Gun

Marshmallows are confectionaries made from sugar, starch, gelatin, and corn syrup. They are a big hit with children and adults alike. Originally from Egypt and considered a delicacy, marshmallows were made from the sap of the mallow plant, and since these plants grow in marshes, it has since been called marshmallows. From being handmade, the process turned mechanical using a starch mogul, where the molds were made from corn starch. This method was later replaced by the extrusion process where the marshmallows came out of an extruder machine. This is the current method of manufacture. Mallow sap was eventually replaced by gelatin, which was combined with sugar, corn starch and syrup to give the fluffy texture.

This yummy, fluffy candy was introduced in America in the 1900s and grew very popular in the 1950s. Today USA is the largest consumer of marshmallows, buying more than 90 million pounds per year!! Toasted marshmallows are very popular during Christmas time. In fact, the sales of marshmallows are maximum between October and December. During that time and the rest of the year too, they make their way into children’s parties and holiday fun.

The kids are bored during school holidays and parents at their wits’ end, get creative in keeping their children occupied! Who has not played with a marshmallow gun?! As children, we made use of a plastic cup whose bottom was sawed off. A large balloon’s rim was tied into a knot, which was your gun’s trigger. The other end of the balloon was snipped off, and the edge of the small hole stretched over the bottom end of the cup to cover it. The cup with a marshmallow in it and a few in our pocket, we would head out for battle! Spying the first victim, I would aim the mouth of the cup at her, and pull back the balloon for a good stretch and let go! Wham! Hit! Delighted peals of laughter would follow…

One can get creative with these sorts of marshmallow shooters. The cups can be conveniently fashioned into snowmen, elves or other happy (or fierce) faces with colorful balloon caps! The striped and spotted balloons make better caps too.

The Marshmallow shooter kit

Now you get a DIY marshmallow shooter kit. This kit has a few pipes, elbows and end cap required to assemble a marshmallow shooter in a moment. It is so easy that a child can do it and use it to shoot marshmallows. The satisfaction of using something made by the child herself will add to the excitement of the game.

These are wonderful ideas for gifting or even an activity session for children. PVC ½ inch pipes can be cut to the different lengths. A minimum of two PVC elbows, one T (all ½ inch) and an end cap for each marshmallow gun, a blast of spray paint to jazz it up and the kids are all set to have their wars with marshmallow ammo!