Face Painting Safety – Do’s And Don’t’s

It’s not hard to understand why simple face painting is a fun project that many people enjoy getting into. You don’t even need any artistic inclinations – both amateurs and professionals can do it. It’s something children of all ages can also do and is an activity that people of all ages enjoy very much.

Whenever you involve kids in any activity, safety becomes a primary concern. In kids face painting, I have listed down some safety precautions that you need to take into consideration. In this article, I have chosen to put emphasis more on the “Do Not’s”, as these often tend to be overlooked.

DO choose art supplies carefully. There are a lot of so-called face make-up and paints out in the market today, but not all of them are safe. It may be comforting to see the “Non-Toxic” sign on the label, but don’t fall for it hook, line and sinker. Not everything labeled that way is safe for the skin, especially for very small kids.

DO NOT USE acrylic paint! This type of paint is not meant for the skin as it could contain very harmful chemicals and colorants that are normally used in craft painting.

DO NOT USE “washable” or watercolor markers! Like acrylics, these also have chemicals which can cause an allergic reaction on the skin or worse, respiratory distress (for kids who aren’t used to paint chemicals). A lot of people are allergic to craft paints, even though they only have a little amount accidentally spilled on their hand or other body parts. Imagine what it can do to a child.

DO NOT use metallic craft glitters for (as the name suggests) these are just used for arts and crafts, never for the skin painting or molding. The FDA has also mandated that glitters – often used with face paints – should be 0.008 microns in size or even smaller (very, very, very small indeed) as these would be the only ones safe for skin use.

DO make sure to buy FDA-approved face paints; these are the only ones that are safe to buy and safe to use on children.

DO make sure your that the children you will be painting on doesn’t have any allergies to the products that you’ll be using. The common make-up and face paints have ingredients that are similarly structured. So if you are a mother who has make-up at home, the simplest way to test for allergies is to smear some lipstick or gloss just below the child’s wrist. If it doesn’t break out in a small rash after 10 minutes, then you may proceed with face painting. If there is some redness and swelling, then you may need to postpone your session for the meantime.

DO NOT put paint on a face that has even the smallest of pimples. You should only paint on a face that is clear of acne. Remember that a painted face will eventually need to be cleaned. Rubbing on a sensitive part of the face may cause more soreness. Suggest painting on either the arm or another part of the skin that is blemish-free.

DO watch out for head lice. As a face-painter, it is your responsibility to check the child (your child or not) for head lice. To avoid a lice-epidemic in your work area, make sure that you (yes, you, the artist) tie your hair back (if you have long hair). If possible ask the child to pull back or put a band on their hair too. Wash your hands in between each child to avoid infecting the next child. Use alcohol or baby wipes to be sure.

DO thoroughly clean the brushes and the sponges that you use. Clean these materials with warm soap and water. Do not use alcohol as your cleaning agent to prevent bacteria from growing on your tools. It is good practice to throw away moderately used sponges to avoid bacterial and fungal contamination.

If you follow these safety protocols, rest assured that you and your child (or children) will have a happy, fun-filled face painting activity all the time.

Tiffany Lamps – A History and How They Are Still Made Today

Tiffany lamps were originally made by Louis Comfort Tiffany who was a painter working in the 19th century. He was admitted to the National Academy when he was 23 and was the youngest ever member. He started working with coloured glass in the 1870’s and made many stained glass windows for churches, often using flowers and plants in his designs.

Following on from this he teamed up with two other artist to found Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists, a company specialising in glass windows, a prime example of which can be seen in the White House. The company was dissolved in 1885 and he started the Tiffany Glass Company, alone this time. This later became the Tiffany Studios which made Tiffany lamps until the beginning of the 1930’s.

When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879 he was inspired to make glass lampshades, drawing on his experience with stained glass windows and incorporating the flower and plant designs he had used for them. He also used the same methods as he had used for the windows, making paper patterns of the design and using these to cut the glass pieces, edging the pieces with copper foil and soldering them together to construct the lampshades. He patented the Nautilus lampshade, a shell shaped design, and included this when he staged his first exhibition in 1899.

Today Tiffany lamps and lampshades are still made to Tiffany’s traditional methods. The lampshades are made from many pieces of coloured stained glass soldered together to make designs which include flowers, dragonflies, butterflies and also more abstract designs.

The traditional method takes many hours of careful work. First a wooden model of the required tiffany lampshade is carved, covered in glue, and paper or linen is laid over it. The design is then drawn on the paper/linen, the lines representing each small piece of coloured glass which will create the design, notation is added to specify the colour of each piece.

When the design is completed the paper/linen is taken off the model and cut along selected lines so it lays flat and becomes a two dimensional pattern. Each area is numbered to identify it, the design traced onto another piece of paper as a reference for later assembly of the lampshade, then the original is cut into all the separate pieces, which are used to cut the small pieces of coloured glass.

The design is then built up by applying adhesive wax to the wooden model and pressing each glass piece into it, following the reference plan. When the whole lampshade is assembled the glass pieces are removed individually, edged with copper foil and soldered back in place. The whole thing is then heated to melt the wax and allow the lampshade to be removed and the inner edges to be soldered. If required by the design metal trims are soldered to the to and/or bottom edges, before the lampshade is attached to a metal (often bronze) base.

Tiffany lamps are wonderful as accent pieces in a home, adding an elegance often lacking in modern designs. The jewel coloured stained glass throws brilliant shards of light onto walls and ceilings, and a Tiffany lamp will transform a dark corner into something magical.

What Attracts Women? Bad Boy Secrets Revealed

It’s no secret that women are attracted to bad boys. What attracts women to these guys? They are an obvious danger and a more exciting option, compared to the safe, reliable, “nice guy”. Women desire excitement, and a bad boy makes women feel excitement among many other (sometimes conflicting) emotions.

There are a few skills that you need to master, if you want to pull off this mentality:

Confidence building – Confidence, in general, is sexy, but the bad boy has confidence in spades. If your confidence levels are low, you should work on your self-confidence before attempting these techniques. Confidence is everything, when it comes to meeting women as well as in the rest of your life.

Pedestaling – Bad boys never, ever put women on a pedestal. This means do not treat a beautiful or intimidating woman any different than you treat any other woman. Never telegraph that you think someone is “extra special”. This will kill your game faster than anything.

Cocky comedy – Being cocky & funny is another way to show that you have the bad boy mentality. Just make sure to use a little more cocky than funny. Someone who is always funny, is generally not considered a threat to anyone. You should strive to make people laugh without losing your edge. Stay away from goofy humor.

Independence – Bad boys are naturally independent, and independence attracts women. Make sure to spend plenty of time doing what you want to do, and taking care of yourself. Don’t make yourself “too available”. Don’t be afraid to say, “I can’t see you tonight. I’m busy. Let’s get together this weekend.”

Push & pull – Bad boys are notorious for their ability to push women away and have women begging to come back. This doesn’t mean that you should be a jerk, but you should spend some time and energy on mastering the push / pull technique. This is one of the most powerful techniques that you can use to seduce a woman.

Students and Politics – The Indian Scenario

The student community, being young and energetic, are a bundle of inflammable material, which at the touch of a spark ignites into a large uncontrollable fire like forest fire. They, being young have no patience, are lively and malleable.

In India, the trend of students actively participating in politics began in the early 20th century, when India was fighting for its freedom. The elders being busy with their bread earning, they actively encouraged the youngsters to enter the arena of politics. Besides, they were young and would be easily enthused to join the mass movement at the drop of a hat. Political parties at that time started enlisting the support of the young students who organized themselves happily, to help one party or the other. This trend started in the early years of 20th century and continued and even expanded up to date.

However, once independence was won, it was to be reconsidered if students should be allowed or couraged to enter politics. Some sections of society now started believing that students should stay away from politics and keep to their study schedules only. While the society kept debating on this issue, the politician took the younger generation as their work cum energy tanks and this participation of students in politics has come to stay.

The present scenario in India is thus a keen struggle of political parties engaged in enlisting support of students. This obviously results in the students getting sharply divided as if they were of this political party or that so much so, even the campus elections become tainted with a touch of politics.

There is of course nothing without advantages and disadvantages, so does this involvement of students in politics. There are both serious disadvantages and may be few advantages too of students being on the centre stage of politics. Disadvantages outnumber the advantages. Firstly, while the students, have primarily entered college for studies they get distracted from their prime objective and become entangled in the dirty game of politics. The energy and time they use or waster in masterminding political moves, could well be used to study. This entry of politics in the premises of educational institutions has caused many a damage to several students. Students have got rusticated owing to their active participation in politics, thus losing their hold on studies. Politics teaches students to put an end to all rules and regulations and become rowdy and violent.

This leads to closure of institutions which again take a toll of students’ study time. The very innocent and loving appearance of children gets lost and they become rude, arrogant and disobedient. When there is too much of hooliganism entering into educational institutions, even police is to be called sometimes and there is utter disorder in the campus and even bullets find their way among the students. The disadvantages of students entering politics are numerous and destructive.

When we study the advantages of this system, they do exist but, are very few and hardly significant. Children entering the arena of politics learn the art of public speaking. They learn to be assertive and impressive. This medium is a good stepping stone to the art of leadership. The important and real advantage is that students in these prime years of life gain a lot of knowledge of politics which gives them training to enter the arena as trained politicians.

After studying the pros and cons of students’ participation in politics, the disadvantages are more damaging than the gains acquired in the sequence. For, all the advantages students gain, can as well be achieved so in other ways also and there is no need for their entry into politics.

Students must stay away from politics and retain their interest in studies which alone can help them steer the ships of their lives.

9 Expert Tips on Making Roman Shades

1. Square the fabric

Nothing is worse than hanging your roman shade only to discover that your shade hangs lopsided… it twists… or just isn’t right. One of the main causes of this is that your fabric is not square. Make sure you use a T-Square or Right Angle tool when measuring and marking your fabric to cut. If your edges are square… then sewing your fabric to your lining is easier… and your roman shade will hang nicely.

2. Space your lift cords every 10″

Many people think that you only need 2 or 3 lift cords to operate a roman shade. Then when they go to raise the shade, the fabric swags in between the lift cords. That’s because there are not enough lift cords and they are not close enough together. You should space your lift cords about 10″ apart. This will guarantee that your roman shade does not swag in between cords.

3. Consider the hardware

Choosing the roman shade hardware is important. A basic installation of screw eyes and a cord cleat may be all you need. This is appropriate for lighter shades. One small upgrade of adding a cord lock will make operating your roman shade 10 times more enjoyable. A cord lock will have your roman shade operating like a blind. For heavier shade, replace the screw eyes with cord pulleys or cord idlers. These reduce the friction of the lift cord rubbing along the screw eyes… allowing for a smoother operation. For the ultimate, most professional result, consider a bead chain clutch system. These systems have a continuous loop bead chain that you pull… and your roman shade raises and lowers smoothly. Super nice!

4. Center the main panel when piecing

If your roman shade is wider than your fabric, you’ll need to piece your fabric. Be sure to place one full fabric width in the center of your shade. Then piece on each side the remaining width needed. This will make for a stronger roman shade, and you won’t have an unslightly seam in the middle of your shade.

5. Use a blind hem stitch

Try to avoid having too much stitching show on the front of your roman shade. Many times you just can’t avoid this. Try using a blind hem stitch to sew the bottom hem of your roman shade. Depending on how you sew the side seams, a blind hem stitch may be perfect to use here as well.

6. Use ribs

Adding roman shade ribs to your shade will help your shade pleat evenly and neatly as you raise it. Ribs are not required for making a roman shade, but they are a really nice to have. You can add ribs to your roman shade in a couple of ways. You can sew a casing at each row of rings and then insert the ribs. You can use an iron on rib tape that creates a casing at each row of rings without the extra sewing. And there is also a roman shade rib loop tape that you can sew across your shade instead of sewing on individual shade rings. This tape creates a casing and has loops to thread your lift cord.

7. End your lift cord with cord drops

Don’t forget about the lift cord that you pull to operate your shade. Condense them down to one lift cord with a cord condenser and then add a decorative cord drop at the end. You’ll enjoy looking at this small detail every time you go to raise or lower your roman shade.

8. Use roman shade orbs

Instead of tying your lift cord to the bottom rings of your roman shade, use a roman shade orb. These orbs are so easy to use and they save you a lot of time. You just slide one on at the end of each lift cord below the bottom rings… and you’re done! No more fussing with knots!

9. Sew with a long straight stitch

Make sure you extend the length of your straight stitch on your sewing machine to as long as it will go… before it becomes a basting stitch. A common problem when sewing roman shades is that the fabric will pinch or gather up. Sewing with a long stitch will help prevent this problem.

Secret Career Document – The Nine Magic Job Interview Hints (Get Hired Fast)!

What good does a great resume, a stellar cover letter or your Job Interview Secret Career Document do you, if you can’t cut it when it comes down to the real test – The Job Interview? This is when you really have to be on your game, where the most important decision is made, whether to hire you or not and where you better bring you bag of impressive tricks. But first let’s make sure you get all the basics down because let’s be real, if you mess up any of the following things it’s over before you even get a real chance to shine and show what you can bring to the company.

The 9 Most Important Job Interview Hints:

1. The day before the interview, call and confirm the time for your appointment. Yes, that’s right call them up, its professional and shows you’re responsible about your commitments. Be firm in your confirm, don’t ask something like “is my interview still on and what time was that again?” The night before make SURE you know where you are going, get MapQuest directions, and take a map of the city where you are going to be.

2. Plan for the unknown, such as getting lost, traffic jams, traffic accidents. Arrive early, better to sit there trying to look productive than arrive late and have NO chance at getting the interview. With an Interview it is always One strike and you are out.

3. Treat everyone in your path like gold, including the receptionist. Behave warmly, professionally and with enthusiasm. You never know who is going to cross your path on your way to the interview, the CEO may ride up the elevator with you or the interviewer coming back from lunch, you never know. Take every opportunity to shine!

4. When meeting the interviewer, give a firm handshake (not a death grip though), and offer a polite and enthusiastic greeting, and smile.

5. Your body language means everything! Do not slouch, yawn (this can be a nervous tic but you will come across looking uninterested), fold your arms in a defensive manner or give off any other signals that may turn the interviewer off right away.

6. Show your desire to participate, take notes during the interview and actively engage in the conversation with nods and smiles. Always make direct eye contact with the interviewer!

7. Do Not drift off in your thoughts and then make the interviewer repeat a question. Keep on task, which is giving the interview process your undivided attention. Even a small “drift” about thinking how you are doing in the interview or whether you think the interviewer likes you is enough to side track your line of thinking forcing you to say, “could you repeat the question, please.”

8. Answer with confidence, take the time to think before you speak. A small pause is fine and preferable to any ramblings that may come out of your mouth because you’re not sure what to say. Even using phrases such as “that is a great question”, may give your brain time to think of where it is going. And it is much better than Ummmmm!

9. Be proactive and if the interview appears to be going well, ask to tour the office, remember to introduce yourself to those you meet. You never know how a good impression will play out and help improve your chances of landing the job.

Bonus Tip: Finally, submit your Best Job Interview Weapon – the 30/60/90 Day Action Plan -your Secret Career Document! This will have the interviewer practically eating out of your hand they will be so impressed. More Job Offers are won with this piece of paper alone than anything else!

Brides: Picking Your Fine China

I spent a good part of my life working in ceramics; the major part working with fine china and crystal. A friend of mine suggested that I write an article to help brides choose their china.

It’s funny, but I seldom write about ceramics anymore. I wrote a couple of books on the subject and I was editor of Ceramic Industry Magazine so it’s not that I’m not well practiced in the subject. Writing is always an avocation with me and separate from my profession.

I wrote novels in my spare time. I did write one novel that was centered in a pottery in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. The novel is Bone China. Bone China is a complex detective story where the detective wonders what’s happening to missing people from a small Pennsylvania town. Are they being cremated in an abandoned ceramic factory and being used to make bone china? Nazis? That’s as close as I got to ceramics.

Well let’s get to the point. Let’s cover some of the factors you should consider when selecting your fine china. First, remember that porous china is not covered here. It is called semi-vitreous ware, queen’s ware, and such. Stoneware is not covered either.


Bone China

There are several kinds of fine china in which you will be interested. The first is Bone China.

Bone china is made from bone ash. Bone ash is made from the high-temperature calcinations of animal bones. Bone ash is a commodity. That means it comes from a number of different countries and the bones of many types of animals are used.

The bones used to make bone ash come from camels, horses, cows, hogs, llamas, and other critters.

The question here is: Does it matter to you?

If you are Jewish, it might.

I can only say this: When the bones are calcined all organic matter is destroyed. The bone ash becomes exactly like the natural mineral found in phosphate rock. You can’t tell the difference once it is in the ceramic.

I’ve been a consultant to Jewish Rabbis over the year. The consensus has always been that the high temperature purification of the bone ash makes it kosher. If you are concerned about this, talk to your rabbi.

Remember this: The bone ash used to make particular china may not have been made from hog bones. Most large china companies specify that the bone ash not contain hog bones. However, from my experience in the industry, most bone ash suppliers can not always guarantee that some hog bones might creep into their process.

Many Jewish brides have decided that bone china is kosher. I agree with them for one reason, most Rabbis agree with them.

How much bone ash should be in bone china? The classical formula is 50%. If the content is below 47% you might lose one of the most important properties of bone china. Bone china should be white, not off-white to any degree.

Bone ash contributes translucency to the composition. If you put your hand behind a bone china plate, you should see it vividly. The reason is that the refractive index of the phosphate compounds formed is the same as the glass formed in the ceramic. Since they are the same, light is not diffracted.

Just remember this. Bone china should be stark white and translucent. That means that there is very little ball clay in the composition. Fine English kaolin retains the whiteness of the body. Chinastone is a flint / feldspar mixture used by British bone china potteries for the same reason.

Bone china is made by the china process. This means that the body is fired to a high temperature until the body is completely dense or vitreous. This first firing is called the bisk fire or bisque fire. After the bisque fire, the ware is heated, glazed, and fired at a lower temperature. Decorations are applied by decalcomania, hand painting, embossing, etc. More on that later.

Non-bone Fine China

Most manufactures make an Ivory grade of china. Ivory is very popular and also very beautiful if the body is formulated correctly and the body matured completely during bisk firing.

The composition is what we ceramic engineers call “feldspathic.” That means the body contains the mineral feldspar. The concentration of feldspar is high to guarantee that the body will be vitreous. Canadian feldspar (nepheline syenite) is sometimes used to lower bisk firing temperatures.

English kaolin guarantees the desired degree of whiteness and translucency. Only small amounts of ball clay are used. The remaining ingredient is flint. For both fine china and bone china the body must be ground to fineness to develop the desired properties. Glazing and decorating are the same as for bone china.


All of this got started by the Chinese. The word “kaolin” (china clay) was derived from the name of a Chinese province. Maybe the province still exists under the same name for all I know. The classical composition is 50% kaolin, 25% flint (silica), and 25% feldspar.

European Porcelains are popular with brides. Some manufactures have been able to approach the whiteness and translucency of Chinese Porcelain. Note that bone china is the closest match to Chinese Porcelain.

Porcelain is made by the porcelain process. While the china process starts with a high bisk fire, the porcelain process starts with a low bisk fire. The ware is easily grazed because it is porous after bisk firing. No heating is required. The final glost fire is a high-temperature fire in contrast to the low-temperature glost fire in the china process. In the porcelain process, the body and glaze are matured together. This adds strength.

Because of the higher temperatures required to decorate porcelain, the result is not always as desirable as with fine china (often the best decorations) and bone china.

Parian China and Frit Porcelain

Low-temperature porcelains are made are very attractive. These are less popular than bone china, porcelain, and fine china for American brides.

Evaluating Your China or Porcelain

I don’t want to frustrate you with more technical details. Let me just list a few items to consider relating to the desirability and life of your china.

The Foot and Back

When ceramic engineers go out to dinner, the first thing they do is turn the plate over. Why? Well, first they can see who manufactured it. Some fine restaurants use fine china (includes bone china). Most others use Hotel China, an American invention designed specifically for restaurant service. What is suitable for restaurants is probably not suitable for your china cabinet.

Looking at the foot, and I suggest that you look at the foot first, see if it is glazed. If it is unglazed rub your finger carefully and slowly around the foot. Watch for sharp glaze projections as you do this. I don’t want you to cut your pretty finger.

Is the foot rough?

If it is rough, it should be buffed until it is smooth using a buffing stone. An unglazed foot will require that you keep doilies between the plates in your china cabinet so that the foot does not rub the glaze on other plates. You will have to be careful while washing the dishes and while clearing the plates from the table. You don’t want scratches on your glaze, do you?

Most fine china and bone china has an unglazed foot. The foot is polished at the factory before you get it, but make sure you check every piece.

If the foot is glazed, look for pin marks on the under surface of the glaze. Such ware can not be fired on the foot because it will stick to the kiln setters. The pin marks may be hardly noticeable. Some manufacturers set the ware on tiny ceramic spheres rather than on pins. The marks are hardly noticeable. If there are pin marks, make sure they have been polished to remove rough edges.

Look at the manufacturers mark on the bottom of the plate. Is it centered? Can you easily read it? Does it have the name of the pattern? Now decide if you care about such features. Take one last look at the back of the plate. Are there any glaze flaws? Does the glaze application look uniform on the back of the plate? Are there any pits, inclusions, or blemishes? Any rough spots?

The Front of the Plate

Turn the plate over and rub your finger around the rim. Is it as smooth as silk or is it rough? Any thin spots? Look at the surface of the glaze for any pits or impurities. Remember that different manufacturers have different inspection standards. A very small pit might be considered allowable. One manufacturer might have a standard that says no pits except a tiny one on the back of the plate.

Most fine china and bone china manufacturers use lead glazes. The reason is the brilliance of the glaze. Is the lead a health problem? Not under normal circumstances. Most people only use their fine china nine (9) times each year. It could be a problem is you give your child his or her orange juice in a fine china cup every day. Don’t do that.

So, is the glaze brilliant and free of defects?

The Decorations

Although manufacturers have reduced the number of decorating firing by combining functions, traditionally there are three decorating firings. The first decorating firing is called the “decal fire” and that is when decals are placed according to design. Decals come as screen printed or lithographic. The color in screen printed decals is thicker and often more intense than in lithographic decals.

The enamel or heavy color is placed next in the “enamel fire.” Now days, enamel may be placed on the decal and combined in a single firing.

The last firing is the “precious metal” firing or “geld firing.” Gold or platinum is applied to the rim and certain areas of the design. This too is sometimes applied to the decal and omits all but one firing.

Here are some decoration considerations. Are the decorations positioned properly on the plate? Rub your finger over them. Are they sitting on top of the glaze or are they buried deep into it? Decals should sink into the glaze so that they do not wear off. They should not sink so far that they are no longer attractive. Hard gold is gold that will not buff that has sunk too far into the glaze. Soft gold is gold that is sitting on top of the glaze and is easily rubbed off. Watch for soft gold on porcelain. The glaze is very hard and it is hard to get decorations and precious metal to sink into the glaze. (“Hard” in this sense means not very fusible during deco fire.)

Service Problems for Fine China

Fine china faces your eating utensils, your dish washer, and storage.

Yes, fine china can be damaged in your china cabinet if the foot of one plate rubs on the surface of another plate which scratches the glaze. Once scratched, it is scratched. Glaze hardness is highest in high-temperature porcelain and lowest in low-glost-fire fine china. Bone china is in between. Bone china is a good choice for beauty and durability.

Knife marking is the worst from the utensils. The marks can actually be cuts in the glaze and can’t be removed. They also can be metal rubbed from utensils which can often be removed by SoftScrub®. Here, I suggest that you do not use extremely hard steak knives in fine china service.

Cups and Other Shapes

Look at the handles of the cups. I said, “cups,” not “cup.” You must look at several to tell the quality.

If the cup handle is formed with the cup by slip casting, it should look perfect.

If the cup handle is stuck to the cup after the main body of the cup is formed, it may not be perfect. Stuck handles sometimes fall off in service. This is a manufacturer’s nightmare.

The problem is that a plastic formed handle does not “fit well” (during shrinkage) on a plastic formed cup.

There is not as much of a problem with cast handles being placed on a plastic formed cup. (The problem is technical and I’ll not explain it here. E-mail me if you really want to know.)

Look at the join where the handle meets the cup. Does it look neat and clean? Is there excessive glaze buildup where they join? You don’t want anything ugly do you?

Check the bowls and see if they will stack. If they will not stack, I have a suggestion: run! (Well, if you can put up with the bowls not stacking and you just love the design, go ahead and buy them.)

Teapots should have their handles checked as with cups. Check the knobs on the lids of teapots and casseroles. Do you think they will stay on? Are they attractively applied?

The Guarantee

Read the guarantee carefully. (Well, have someone read it.) Ask how long replacement for your pattern is guaranteed. You don’t want to have to go to Replacements Inc. (http://www.replacements.com/index.htm?s1=kx&896&), if you don’t have to.

Yes, you can e-mail me with questions.

Oh! Congratulations!

The End

Bride, china, how to choose china, bone china, porcelain, china care, china defects, fine china, parian, frit porcelain, processing, storage

10 Commandments For Kitchen Safety

“Nonna, can I please wash the dishes?” pleaded Ally, my eight-year-old granddaughter. Ally is like most kids, she loves to help in the kitchen. Although she’s eager to wash dishes , I’ll guarantee, that in four or five years the sight of dirty dishes won’t be so exciting. Today, helping to wash dishes is fun, as she’s learning how things work. She’s learning to appreciate whole foods and what makes a nutritious meal by helping in the kitchen.

Involving kids with meal preparation gives them an opportunity to have multi-sensory experiences with various foods. This is especially valuable when introducing new food items or when changing the family’s diet from processed foods to whole foods. In fact, multi-sensory learning is foundational when transforming a picky eater to a healthy eater.

So how do you avoid common kitchen hazards, especially for children? As valuable as tactile experiences are for appreciation of nutritious foods, when children are helping you in the kitchen, it takes only one unguarded moment for an accident to occur. Injuries and potential food poisoning are less likely if you adhere to the following sage advice.

1. Always wash hands with soap and water before handling food.

This applies to everyone working in the kitchen. Germs can spread easily if hands aren’t properly cleaned. Wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds. Rubbing the hands together under water is as important as the soap is for cleanliness. With kids, make a game of it. Sing the alphabet song while washing hands. Make it educational by counting off the twenty seconds with your child while washing her hands. When your youngster can count to twenty by herself; count backwards from twenty to one.

2. Use a sturdy step stool for your child to comfortably reach the counter.

Children love to help and their involvement in the kitchen is vital for food appreciation. Purchase a sturdy step stool to prevent falls and injuries.

3. Never allow children to eat uncooked eggs.

Kids love to lick the batter off the spoon when making cookies. But salmonella from uncooked eggs is a real concern. Explain that it’s better to taste the cookie after it’s baked, so you won’t get sick.

4. Caution kids about the hazard of a hot stove and oven.

Always be alert when a small child is around hot surfaces. So many accidents are preventable. Burns from scalding water and hot ovens are two of them. Keep cords to cooking appliances out of harms way. Always keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. To extinguish small fires, throw baking soda over flames. If grease in a pan begins to flame, cover the pan to cut off the oxygen supply. Turn off the heat.

5. Point pot and pan handles toward the back or center of the stove.

This is such an easy habit to start. This simple step prevents lively children (and adults) from coming in contact with a handle sticking out from the stove and spilling its scalding contents. Even though my kids are grown, I still point handles to the back or center of the stove. Just so I won’t accidentally burn myself!

6. Keep kitchen work surfaces clean.

Many times the “flu” that goes through your family is actually food poisoning. You can negate this by thoroughly washing kitchen surfaces. Use surface cleaners with bleach to disinfect countertops and other work areas. Or add a half teaspoon of bleach to a spray bottle filled with water and spray on countertops to disinfect. Keep purses and other items off prep surfaces as they carry bacteria. Make sure you also disinfect kitchen faucet handles when you scour the sink.

7. Avoid cross contamination of foods.

Never put cooked meat on a plate which once held the uncooked meat. Wash knives and cutting boards between use on meat, dairy, and produce.

8. Wash dish towels and replace sponges often.

Purchase seven dish towels. That way you’ll have a clean towel for each day of the week. A sponge is perfect breading grounds for bacteria. Squeeze dry after use and allow to air dry. Replace sponges once a week. During the week, disinfect your sponge by rinsing it, squeeze dry, then nuke it for two minutes in your microwave.

9. Always wash fruit and vegetables.

Wash vegetables and fruit before placing them in the refrigerator. That way they’ve been pre-cleaned making meal prep easier. The kids can grab a healthful snack without worry of harmful bacteria lurking on the surface. Also, Bacteria on food rapidly multiplies, when left at a temperature between 45 F and 140 F. Avoid this danger zone as much as possible by quickly refrigerating cooked foods. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers immediately after dinner to prevent bacteria from forming in the food.

10. Take precaution with knives.

Obviously, sharp objects are a hazard for small children. Keep all knives out of reach of children. Toddlers and preschoolers love to spread softened butter, cream cheese, and nut butters. Small hands can safely use plasticware, the kind purchased for picnics and barbecues.

Dutch Ovens: Legs Or No Legs

Have you ever noticed how some cast iron dutch ovens have little legs on the bottom of them and how others don’t? Ever wonder what purpose those little legs serve? Well, believe it or not, those little legs make the difference of how you are going to cook with your cast iron dutch oven.

For those new to cast iron dutch ovens, there are two types of ovens you can buy, ones with three legs and ones with a flat bottom and no legs. Cast iron dutch ovens without legs are best used for indoor cooking because you can use them on your stove top or inside the oven. You can cook some very delicious recipes in these types of ovens, such as roasted chicken and rice, roast beef and potatoes, and the always popular soups and stews. However, flat bottom dutch ovens can be used over a campfire but only if they are hanging from a tripod.

But now, what about those cast iron dutch ovens with the three legs, what are they for and how do I cook with those types of ovens? Well, first things first, these ovens are created and best used for cooking over campfires, or to be more precise, in campfires. The purpose of those three little legs is to create space between the bottom of the oven and the hot coals it is sitting over. That space between the bottom of the oven and the coals is to help create a space for air flow to reach the coals. When using an oven with legs, you will either want to make a separate fire pit for the oven to be placed in or let your original campfire burn down to coals so you have enough room between the bottom of the oven and the coals so air can circulate over the coals. Now, you can use a flat bottom dutch oven over a camp fire but you will need to place it on some rocks so you don’t burn the bottom of the food inside, depending on what you are cooking. But sometimes finding a rock is easier said than done, which is why if you truly are a cast iron dutch oven lover and an avid camper, an oven with three legs works the best.

Just like indoor ovens, there are a ton of delicious recipes you can make with your outdoor oven. The next time you go camping, no longer will hot dogs and hamburgers be the meals of choice. With your new cast iron dutch oven, a world of meal possibilities become available to you. You will be able to cook everything from scrambled eggs for breakfast to a delicious pot roast for dinner. And don’t forget about dessert, you can make desserts like apple cobbler. I’ve even read that you can make a deep dish pizza with your dutch oven!

Why Is the Samsonite F’Lite Luggage Collection the Best Choice For You?

If you are planning to travel often and if you need a strong, durable and modern case for the best price, choosing the one from the Samsonite F’Lite luggage collection is the right choice for you.

Samsonite is a company that has become a global brand in manufacturing all kinds of luggage, backpacks, computer cases and more for business and leisure travel. With its hundred years of experience, Samsonite today, offers products which are excellent mix of style, quality and reliability. Each Samsonite case, at fully loaded capacity passes six different tests (handle, drop, wheel, zipper, locks and tumble test), before it goes to the market.

Samsonite offers a global warranty to their products which is 3-10 years depending on the model and has a worldwide network of service support, so you can repair your luggage in any service center in the world. Samsonite F’Lite luggage collection is one of the brand’s most popular collection.

It is a hardside collection available in various models, sizes and colors which can meet the needs of every traveler.


  • Is made of 100% durable polypropylene. It is a kind of plastic that is very tough, lightweight, flexible and resistant to moisture. Hardside shell with gasket tongue-in-groove closure protects your things from dirt and moisture.
  • Has retractable mono or dual tube handle with different heights setting which makes managing easier.
  • Has three-digit TSA lock. Combination locks make travel more secure. You just set your own numeric code and lock the case. So when you get to destination you just re-enter that code.
  • Has functional interior with elastic strap for holding the things in place and divider panel with zipper pocket with which you can divide the contents of the case.
  • Has three latches for secure closure on the top, front and bottom of each case.

Collection is available in three different models:

F’Lite GT – It is a series of taught, stable cases with mono-tube handle. Model is offered in Upright and Spinner version. Upright is a version with two large and sturdy fixed wheels and it is recommended to use at long distances and rougher terrain. Spinner is a version with four multi-directional wheels which gives you great mobility and it is suitable for use in the airports and at small distances.

F’Lite Comfort – It is a series of light, functional cases in contemporary colors. This model is also available in Upright and Spinner version.

F’Lite Young – It is a series of cases, which offers optimal protection and dynamic looks for a good price. It is suitable for people who want to be fashionable. Model is also produced in Upright and Spinner version.

With this luggage collection, Samsonite continues to be your reliable travel partner.

Is Racism Still an Issue in North Idaho?

With Ruby Ridge to the north of Sandpoint and the former Aryan Nations to the south, visitors often quiz locals about the perception of racism and extremism in North Idaho. Panhandle citizens are at times surprised by the questions. To many that live in artistic, eclectic North Idaho, the questions seem out of place with the area they have come to know as tolerant and neighborly. Most intolerant areas drive visitors and new inhabitants away; Sandpoint and North Idaho attracts with a booming tourist industry and fast-paced growth, and its reputation for accepting one and all.

North Idaho has long been a magnet for spirited people with vastly varying lifestyles and views. Long before the current influx of people and tourists came the hippies. Artist Ed Keinholz made Hope, Idaho his home in 1978, and soon afterward North Idaho became known as an artist colony. While the state has consistently voted Republican in national presidential elections, North Idaho has more mixed political leanings. Obama signs are everywhere. Perhaps only Moscow, with its collegiate influences, has the same political outlooks.

The questions persist in spite of local views. National coverage is beginning to show North Idaho in a different light, but Ruby Ridge is revisited in documentaries and news coverage year after year. Controversy continues over the handling by the ATF with the arrest of Randy Weaver in 1992. Randy Weaver moved from Iowa with his family to northern Idaho during the 1980s in order to “home-school his children and escape what he and his wife Vicki saw as a corrupted world.” This is a common theme for many moving to the area. Like many who move here, they were looking for an area far-removed from their neighbors to teach their children the lessons they felt important. This is often a goal for many teaching racist ideals.

Idaho can be remote. Some estimates place up to 75 percent of the land in North Idaho in federal or state hands. The U.S. Census published only 15.6 people inhabit each square mile in Idaho, compared to the national average of 79.6. Bonner County has slightly more with 21 people per sq. mile, but Boundary County with only 8 has one of the lowest numbers in the state. Extremists look for such counts when choosing an area to relocate to.

Add to that demographic the homogenous make-up of North Idaho. With a population over 95 percent white, racists have found the area alluring in the past. Many residents say that prejudice does not even come into their minds. Jed Sigman, owner of Advance Childcare, one of Bonner County’s largest daycares, says, “We aren’t like the south where prejudice is a part of daily life. We didn’t grow up even seeing blacks or Hispanics. The thought of hating a person for their skin color just didn’t even occur to us.”

When asked about the Aryan Nations in the Coeur d’Alene area, Sandpoint resident Jaime Grainger stated bluntly, “We kicked those bums out years ago.” The Aryan Nations compound was effectively put out of business in Hayden, Idaho in 2000 when the Southern Poverty Law Center won a $6.3 million judgment against the group. They still operate, but not as openly as a decade ago. The founder of the Aryan Nations, Richard Butler, moved to Idaho from California, but it has been reported that his followers have relocated to Pennsylvania?

Many do move here, sans prejudice, to live a more natural life with greater privacy. Idahoans pride themselves on the values of privacy and personal freedom. In an unusual coalition, state GOP members and the ACLU joined forces to modify or defeat the Patriot Act, which many here feel intrude on their ideals of personal privacy. In Congress, Republican Governor Butch Otter was mostly conservative, but showed slight libertarian leanings, as reflected in his opposition to the Patriot Act. Other state Republicans shared this view. The Idaho GOP platform plank in 2004 made the issue clear: “The Patriot Act is necessary to facilitate the cooperation between law enforcement agencies. We support appropriate amendments to limit the incursion upon personal freedoms, rights, and liberties of American citizens.”Other Idaho Republicans have also been vocal in their opposition to the Patriot Act.

The reasons are varied, but among other arguments, Idaho enjoys gun laws that allow carry permits, and hunting is one of the big draws to the state. The fear among many gun owners in Idaho is that the Patriot Act will lead to a lessening of gun ownership rights.

Guns are important here. Guns are the reason Randy Weaver was targeted by the ATF. After selling two sawed-off shotguns to a government informant, the ATF attempted to arrest Weaver. Weaver maintained the shotguns were not illegal, and in the ensuing standoff, both Weaver’s son and wife were killed. With strong views of personal liberties and privacy prevalent in the area, many local residents feel the government was the real villain at Ruby Ridge, and local opinions have been broadcast over the national airwaves for years. With such opinions part of the myth presented to the rest of America, the nation gets a picture that North Idaho is not a tolerant region. However, the subsequent investigation showed the ATF in a poor light. This, combined with other national fiascos in Waco and other areas, has ameliorated opinions.

Randy Weaver was not a native Idahoan. As the population grows, natives are becoming a smaller majority. While most of North Idaho welcomes visitors and newcomers, many find the changes distasteful. Some of the loudest against change are not originally from Idaho. There are many groups against various points of growth in North Idaho. NICAN, a group that opposes the proposed Sand Creek Byway, has over 250 members, many who came to North Idaho from other states. This is patently distasteful to some that grew up locally. One home-grown inhabitant of Sagle, Idaho complained, “It’s not that I don’t want them to be politically active, I just would like to see people from here be the ones that make the decisions. I don’t like it that they bring their attitudes from California or Oregon and try to make us just like the place they wanted to get away from.”

Other long-time residents remember wistfully how idyllic the area was just ten or fifteen years ago. Jeane Fontaine, owner of Packages Plus in Sandpoint remembers wistfully, “It sure was great here ten or fifteen years ago. I mean, growth is good, but Sandpoint was such a nice small town. It’s still pretty nice, but it was paradise then.”

The influx of former policemen like Mark Furman retiring to the area is also pointed out as a sign that the area is racist. “Absurd!” said one former LA County Sheriff. “We came here to get away from racism and crime. After twenty years working in Los Angeles, where you see racism every day, we wanted to find a haven where we would never see it again.”

How is racism handled in our schools?

One school in Twin Falls uses this lesson for elementary age children. To teach how racism feels to those that suffer from prejudice and segregation, approximately 200 fifth graders at Summit Elementary School in Twin Falls, Idaho are randomly assigned the color green or yellow. Not allowed to speak to classmates of another color, the point is further reinforced by segregating bathrooms. For the first time in 16 years, in February 2008, a parent complained.

How does the clergy handle racism in North Idaho?

Literally dozens of articles on the web have recently accused Planned Parenthood of Idaho of blatant racism, though to believe everything posted on Google takes a leap of faith. Earlier this year, when a southern Idaho radio talk show broadcast inflammatory racist comments, dozens of blogs sprang up to denounce the show and speaker. Typical of one such blog, the blogger wrote, “racist comments have no place on public airwaves and no place in our communities.”

Recent years indicates a decline in hate crimes in Idaho. The Idaho State Police published in 2003 that there were 20 such incidents, down 54 percent from the previous year, and in 2005 hate crimes totaled 27 incidents, 20 in 2006, and 38 in 2007. These hate crimes do not limit themselves to acts against blacks or Hispanics. In 2007, an American Indian girl was beaten by an adult woman who shouted “white power,” then the girl was subsequently harassed for the next several days by the woman’s sons. According to statistics, hate crimes directed at Native Americans are as prevalent as against any other group in Idaho.

Skin color does often prompt attacks, however, with comparatively low numbers reported, many back up the premise that prejudice in North Idaho is not readily apparent. One blogger writes, “I’m olive-skinned rather than brown-skinned. I’ve lived in North Idaho (if you toss Lewiston into that mix) for 25 years. I’ve experienced only one touch of prejudice in all that time — from a clueless dentist in Lewiston (1983) who kept making reference to my ‘Italian’ heritage.”

Other states with similar populations have similar numbers, and some states with smaller populations, such as Vermont with a reputation for liberalism and tolerance, have higher incidences of hate crimes. North Idaho has comparatively few hate crimes. In 2006, one incident was reported in Boundary County, two in Kootenai, and none in Bonner County. Most were reported in southern Idaho.

In 2006, after 29 years of debate, neighboring Washington adopted a law barring discrimination in the workplace and in public accommodations based on sexual orientation. Idaho has still not adopted such a law.

As recently as February 2007, guest columnist Ryan West penned an article in the University of Idaho newspaper, The Argonaut, titled: Racism a reality in most of North Idaho. While still in high school in North Idaho, Ryan remembers “hearing the words “n–r” and “f–t” used in every other sentence by male and female students.” He also writes, “I know that some people will read this and think ‘Well I grew up around there, and I never experienced that type of behavior.’ That’s fine. They’re either fortunate or oblivious.”

White supremacists literature is still mailed out to North Idaho residents from time to time, though less frequently than in years past. The last mass mailing in Bonner went out to 6,000 residents in 1999. Though the mailings now are less in number and not as often, locals still receive them.

As the more tolerant attitudes become part and parcel of local living, those with extremist views have become less vocal espousing their opinions. There is no way to know how many people are truly racist in North Idaho. However, controversies such as local growth and the Sand Creek Byway have brought very derogatory attacks and even lawsuits. If lack of tolerance for other’s views is the indicator, then perhaps irrational suspicions are part of North Idaho lore. On the other hand, one reason racism and extremism becomes part of any community is that people are silent against intolerance. North Idaho has healthy debate over many subjects. Education is ongoing, and people do speak out against injustice.

Racism seems to be slowly dying in the rest of the nation, and North Idaho is no different. While it may exist here, one rarely hears the ‘n’ word spoken in public. Most people I know would stand up against any person brave enough to rant racist views in open forum. Perhaps my circle just does not come into contact with that circle often enough to know if racism is truly a problem in North Idaho.

Is racism alive in North Idaho? Perhaps, but, as visitors often remind us, it is not accepted by the rest of the nation, and should not be tolerated by we who live in North Idaho, even if we are believers in personal privacy and liberties. With the presidential election having the first viable female and black presidential candidates, certainly few would say that times have not changed greatly. Racism is alive in America, and certainly has reared its ugly head in North Idaho, but it has been fought both through governmental processes and in the court of public opinion.

North Idaho is a paradise as much for its people as for its natural beauty. Prejudice and racism detract from the soul of the people who live in North Idaho. Perhaps these attitudes are on the wane, but without constant vigilance against those that advocate hate, it will continue to be part of the myth of North Idaho.

Planning an Outdoor Survival Trip

If you are planning to go on an outdoor survival trip, be sure you are physically and mentally able and prepared for such a daring and risky adventure.

We suggest you take the time to gather some notes and plan your trip way in advance. All though this will be an awesome experience, and a lot of fun, it could be very dangerous and potentially life threatening if not prepared for it. There is a big difference between hiking or camping then going on a real live survival trip. A survival trip means your only taking accentual items to live off of. A survival trip is not for the beginning hiker or camper, but for the experience outdoor enthusiast, an outdoor person that has done a lot of hiking, camping, fishing or hunting in the wilderness, or has had some kind of military experience in the wilderness. One thing for sure, is to never try to do something like this on your own, always have a partner or two to go with you.

Depending on what kind of trip your going to take, you need to give it a lot of thought. Do you have all the right outdoor gear that your going to need to survive? Are you going to take a trip for a week, a month or several months? Are you going to the mountains or a desert? Are you taking a trip in the wilderness or just in the back woods?

There are many different types or ways of taking a survival trip. Like, you could take a trip threw the swamps of Louisiana, or a wilderness trip threw the hills of Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. No matter where you decide to go, it takes a lot of planning and preparation. By all rights, it would be wise to plan many months ahead.

What kind of outdoor gear and how much are you going to take? What route are you going to take? What time of the year do you want to go? Is it going to be extremely cold or unbearably hot? Is it going to be hot in the daytime and cold at night? Are there going to be any rivers to cross or canyons to scale? Are you going to be able to get in touch of the outside world, if there was an emergency? I could go on and on about things that could go wrong, and that’s why it takes a lot of planning.

If you are an experienced outdoor enthusiast and have quite a bit of knowledge in hiking and camping, but have never been in, or done a real life survival trip, I believe you would like to take your first trip to the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States.

The Appalachian Trail is a marked trail for hikers and campers. It is approximately 2,200 miles long and runs from the state of Georgia all the way to Maine. It is the longest continuous marked trail in the United States. The Appalachians offer some of the most beautiful sites of landscape that America has. There is some pretty big rivers that you are going to have to cross too. These rivers also provide some mighty fine fishing also. Even though it is a marked trail for hikers and campers, it still offers an awesome challenge to under take and would be a great achievement for anyone that has never done a real life survival trip.

To just get out and hike this whole trail from south to north or vice verses, would take you about 6 to 7 months if you wanted to do the whole trip at one time. There are plenty of small towns to get to off the trail if you needed to stock up on supplies, but that is just like taking a long hiking trip instead of a real life survival trip.

A survival trip consists of getting off the beaten path and actually live off the land, another words, do it the hard way. Yes, this is just like taking a hiking trip, but if you take and live it the hard way and do things that are unnatural like starting your campfire with two sticks or getting your water from little ponds and creeks and having to boil your water to purify it, and eating things like worms or grub worms, eating berries and mushrooms and so forth, then your doing it the hard way. Finding or building a shelter from mother nature instead of pitching a tent is a great experience. Making and setting snares to catch animals like rabbit, squirrel or wild pigs so you can eat is a great experience. Finding certain plants that hold water that you could drink is another good experience.

Make sure that when you do plan a trip, study up and get information on the area you will be going in. You need to know what type of edible plants there are. What kind of animals inhabit there? Are there animals of prey, like bear or mountain lion, or even wolves? Are there snakes, and how many different species, and are they venomous or not? What kind of insects or spiders are there, and are they venomous?

Doing things like this is all part of survival, and this is a good learning and training experience. You may never know when something bad could happen, so you need to be prepared for the worse. Remember, this is only a practice survival trip and not a real one, but if you don’t plan it well, it could go awfully wrong for you and turn in to a real life survival situation.

For more information on the Appalachian mountains, look it up on the web or call just about any of the eastern states of commerce for literature and maps.

You can find more outdoor survival articles of mine and other well known authors at many other article directories sites. Gather all the information you can get before taking on such a wonderful adventure.

Grand Designs Church Redevelopment Led To Divorce And Two Heart Attacks

A gentleman, who appeared on Grand Designs when his church renovation was featured, has had two heart attacks and divorced since commencing the build, but he insists that it was all worth it. Dean Marks felt that the upset in his personal life was a small price to pay for the completion of his dream home. The dilapidated 18th century St Martin’s Church in Tipton, West Midlands is now a modern residential home and the presenter Kevin McCloud has called his efforts in achieving his dream “inspiring”.

Mr Marks wanted to convert the Grade II listed former church and turn it into a luxury home for him and his family, but the stress of the project led to him and his wife divorcing and suffered two heart attacks. He felt that the project exhausted him so much that this was the likelihood of both heart attacks. Mr Marks also had to endure a few operations to repair bone and ligament damage to his shoulder all caused through the work involved and is battling testicular cancer. He also had the added stress of having to install CCTV cameras around the building whilst work was being carried out due to repeated attacks from thieves and vandals.

Mr Marks bought the church 1999 for £12,750 but it is now worth an amazing £1.3million. Mr Marks has no regrets about the personal traumas suffered as he has completed his dream home. Mr Marks used to live in a three bedroom semi-detached home in Halesowen and even though he did not class himself as being obsessed with the build, but he did concentrate a great deal on getting his ambition achieved.

Once he had bought the church he spent four and half years trying to persuade Sandwell Council to grant planning permission to renovate it. He finally achieved this in 2005 and was able to begin work. He installed 11 miles of cabling for the electrics and over three and a half miles of pipes for the heating. However the renovation bill came to a grand total of just £110,000. The house boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, gym, library and even an indoor swimming pool. He used the old church pews left in the church and created units in the kitchen and has also incorporated the original stained glass windows into the design. The top of the property has a glass observatory which allows views of Lichfield Cathedral, over 14 miles away, if it is a clear day.

The producers of the show asked Mr Marks twice if he would appear on the programme. The first time he refused because he did not want to feel intruded upon. The second time they asked he accepted as he felt that they would give him more motivation towards the build. Filming took place over 21 months and aired in April 2007, this was when he had his first attack. Later that year Mr Marks was runner up in Grand Designs national awards and speaks regularly at their Live shows at the NEC in Birmingham.

It just goes to show that if you have dream then with enough motivation you can achieve it. Even if there is some challenges along the way. The equity in the home though is quite astounding.

Common Mistakes When Building a Patio

When it comes to building a patio, there are right and wrong ways to get the job done. When the right ideas, plans, and designs are used so installation is done properly, the result is a beautiful space that adds value to the property and creates more functional space for family and friends. On the other hand, if installation of a new concrete patio were done wrong, not only would it look bad but also there would be potential for damage that could pose risk for injury.

In this article, we wanted to provide important information pertaining to common mistakes made when having a new patio built. With this information, you would know what things to avoid so whether having a professional handle the installation or choosing the installation on your own, the finished patio would be perfect. After all, you want a space that is not just safe and functional, but a patio that would also enhance the overall appearance of the home.

The process to build a patio is not overly complicated but there are certain things that must be done correctly. One of the first mistakes often seen in building an outdoor concrete patio is installing the pavers on top of wet ground. Pavers are an important element of patio designs, designed to bear tremendous weight. When installed properly, pavers would last for years without any problem but when installed on wet ground, they will quickly loosen and eventually break. Obviously, pavers should always be placed on dry ground but if a mistake were made, the wet spaces could be filled with dry soil to prevent additional problems.

Another problem when laying patios is that the gap between brick or tiles is too great. When it comes to the installation of bricks and tiles, it is essential that each piece were packed into place tightly. That way, as they are walked on you know they would stay put for many years to come. The biggest problem is that if a single brick or tiles were to loosen, the entire patio’s integrity would be compromised. Additionally, even with perfect designs, if pavers have gaps on a slope, this too would alter the integrity of the patio.

Next, whenever you or the professional lay the patio material, the plan has to incorporate proper drainage. Because patios are outside where they are exposed to the elements, unless there is proper drainage then water would pool on the surface that would eventually weaken the foundation. However, if pavers were used to provide the proper amount of inclination, there would be adequate runoff without making the surface feel slanted.

Two other mistakes seen when building a patio is filling material not being used right and the edges not finished properly. First, it is imperative that the right type and amount of bonding or adhesive material be placed between the pavers to extend the life of the patio. Even if it looks like the pavers are tightly packed, filling material is still needed. Then for the edges, if not finished properly they will begin to wear down and break off. Obviously, this would affect the appearance of the patio but also cause serious problem with the strength of the structure.

Router Simulator For Cisco Lab Scenarios

I have recently been investigating router simulators and have found several on the internet with free demos. After reviewing them I have narrowed down the available packages to four manufactures. The following is my opinion of each of these.


Dynamips is available for free and runs on Linux, Mac OS X or Windows and can simulate the hardware of the Cisco series routing platforms by directly booting actual Cisco IOS software image into the emulator. It allows users to build complex network topologies to test the functionality of IOS on a desktop PC, without the need of an actual physical Cisco device. Dynamips currently supports different networking medium such as Ethernet, Serial link, ATM, and POS interfaces for the Cisco 1700, 2600, 3600, 3700, 7200 and Juniper router hardware platforms as well as Cisco PIX and ASA security platforms.

Even though there are switching platforms included in the application, there is no configuration on them but simple port vlans. There is no VTP, STP or ether-channel configuration and of course no layer 3 switching.

Once installed you must install an appropriate Cisco IOS for every routers and security platforms you wish to use. The switches require no IOS as they have no configuration capabilities. A frame-relay switch is included and be configured with a number of virtual circuits and DLCIs. Dynamips does not support ISDN.

This product is easy to install and use as long as you have access to the Cisco IOS for the devices, and even though it has no labs or tutorials included the price is right. I would recommend this product for anyone studying for the CCNA or routing portion of the CCNP. The inclusion of the PIX, ASA, and IDS security devices give it the added capability for security labs. I would not recommend it for those studying for the CCIE due to the lack of switch configuration.


The Boson simulator NETSIM is available in three variations. The CCENT (99.00), CCNA (179.00), and CCNP (349.00). Each comes with additional functionality as the price increases.

Netsim will simulate 47 different Cisco devices. Cisco 800, 1000, 1600, 1700, 2500, 2600, 2811, 3600 routers; 1900, 2900, 3500 switches and 7960 IP Phone. It also supports a several networking medium such as Ethernet, Serial, ISDN and Frame-Relay. As well as Simulates network traffic with virtual packet technology and SDM emulation.

Netsim provides more switch configuration than any other simulator on the market today, but still cannot match that of hardware as switches use ASIC design to do the switching and software has not been capable of completely emulating yet.

Netsim includes an extensive collection of CCNA and CCNP labs, tutorials and can support up to 233 IOS commands depending on which version of the software you purchase. Although it has no provision for security labs it does have limited VOIP capability.

Netsim is easy to install and requires no additional software or IOS to use. Although it is pricey I would recommend it to anyone studying for the CCNA or CCNP.

SemSim, Cert Exams and Others:

SemSim, Cert Exams and a number of other simulator available are inexpensive usually about 30 to 40 dollars and most do have labs and tutorials included as well as practices exams in some cases. This said it is my opinion that they lack functionality and ease of use. Myself I would opt for the Dynamips product over these products. It may not have the labs but the price is right.

Any product you get will provide additional hands on training but should not be you only training media. You should always purchase good books such as Cisco press and practices exams to supplement you training materials. Remember when you take the test you will not be asked to configure a lab at least not till you are ready for the CCIE.