Diet Plan For Getting Shredded – Eating For Lean Muscle

Let’s face it; no one wants their hard earned muscle to be covered by layers of body fat. The flip side is you at least want to look like you work out, meaning you don’t want to just be thin; you want ripped muscles popping out. So you lift weights to build muscle and do a little cardio to burn fat (and for your heart), but the primary factor in getting shredded is your diet. In short, you need a lot of protein to build or at least maintain lean muscle but only enough fats and carbohydrates to be utilized as energy rather than being stored as fat. This can get a little tricky.

More than likely you’re already fully aware that protein and amino acids are key sources for building muscle. This concept holds true whether you’re going for more muscle mass or you’re going for ripped lean muscle. Often when one is trying to gain more muscle they eat too much of everything else though, thus they get bigger and stronger from the extra calorie intake but end up gaining unwanted body fat in the process. The body will only take what it needs in regards carbohydrates and fats, and the rest will be stored as fat. As stated above, you need to figure out exactly how much protein, carbohydrates and fats (and overall calories) your body needs to chisel away body fat while building a solid muscular physique.

I’ve personally never been on of fad or trend diets as the body needs protein, carbs and fats to build muscle, burn fat, and function properly. What we need to be concerned with are the amounts. It’s important to understand that no one formula is going to work the same for everyone as we all have different genetics and metabolisms. However, a good rule to follow is eating anywhere from 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. So if you weight 200 lbs, you want to take in anywhere from 200 to 300 grams of protein each day. You can find this same information in just about any fitness or bodybuilding publication. Most every expert agrees with having a sufficient amount of healthy fats from sources such as fish, flaxseed, and almonds.

Where much of the confusion and question comes in is with carbs. Again, no one diet is going to work the same for everyone. With that being said, start out by taking in the same amount of carbs as you do in grams of protein each day but take in more of those carbs in with your earlier meals or around your workout. This method will allow time for you to burn off what your body doesn’t use for energy. The types of carbs are important as well, which should go without saying. The better sources of carbs are foods such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grain wheat bread, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables.

Below is a sample chart of a meal plan with protein/carb ratios for someone who weights 200 lbs:

Meal 1:

40g Protein/55g Carbs

Meal 2:

40g Protein/55g Carbs

Meal 3:

40g Protein/40g Carbs

Meal 4:

40g Protein/40g Carbs

Meal 5:

40g Protein/30g Carbs

Meal 6:

40g Protein/20g Carbs

You should notice some changes in your body composition within a couple weeks, assuming that you’re training hard with weights and doing cardio on a regular basis (3-5 times a week). If you feel you’re not losing as much fat as expected or not seeing any changes then adjust the above meal plan by maybe cutting 5-10 grams of carbs out of each meal. If you feel you’re losing too much muscle but you’re satisfied with your definition, you can bump up the carbs a little. Remember, the types of carbs are imperative. This should at least give you a good starting point though for getting shredded.

Playing Rush Poker With Stephen Krex

Stephen Krex and Rush Poker is an interesting new spin for our beloved game at Full Tilt Poker. Basically it is the same as a regular poker game; except that as soon as you fold your hand, you are immediately dealt into a new hand, at a new table, with all new opponents.

What this means is that the speed of poker is greatly increased. It is a “rush.” This might be good if you are a winning player, because it means that you will get to see many more hands per hour. What is more important, however, is to focus in on the unique aspects of this game and make some strategic adjustments.

It’s Virtually Anonymous

This is a plus and a minus. If you are good at getting a handle and reading your opponents, your advantage is almost wiped out in Rush Poker. On the other hand, they will not get a read on you either.

Every hand that you play, you are against a table of new opponents. They have no idea how you play, and you have no idea how they play. What this means is that you generally want to play a solid plain vanilla poker game. It doesn’t matter if you’ve folded your last 30 hands in a row; when you open with AA, no one will know how tight you’re playing and won’t fear your bet any more than they would fear anyone else’s. No one can use hand tracking software to determine your playing style.

You won’t be able to tell the sharks from the fish, but most of your money will as usual, likely come from the fish who play sub-optimally. They’ll play cards out of position, overpay to draw cards, and call even when they’re beat. Pay close attention to your position!

Some Important Considerations

Stephen Krex says that it’s important to remember that players have the option of folding even before the action gets to them. If they are dealt a poor hand it is unlikely that they are going to sit through a round of betting just to try to make a move to try to win the pot. If you raise from early position and the small blind or a late position player calls, watch out. They probably have something.

It may make sense to call a raise in late position if someone right in front of you raised as many; are doing this with no cards to pick up the blinds. It depends, but that late position player will often just click the fold button so they can get the next hand immediately dealt to him.

This doesn’t apply to the big blind. The big blind doesn’t have the option to instant-fold because he already has a stake in the hand.

The Strategy

So far, Stephen have said that the best strategy in this game is to play tight fundamental poker and to raise in late position with a wider range to pick up the blinds. While this strategy is good and will allow you to win small amounts somewhat consistently, there may be a few adjustments you can make to increase your profit even more.

From playing a few thousand hands at these tables, it seems as if the vast majority of players play like a very tight nit. This means that you are able to loosen up your raising hands preflop. (NOT your calling hands, except for obvious steal attempts). If your raise gets called, you should be able to get away from your hand as the typical player in Rush Poker will have a real hand in this spot. The nice thing about blind stealing in Rush Poker is you get a new table of players every hand. So you don’t have to worry about the other players getting sick and tired of your constant stealing and calling or raising you.

Rush Poker is a unique and innovative game that those folks over at Full Tilt have developed. It may not be for everyone. I would say it benefits Full Tilt Poker the most since the more hands that are played the more of a rake they collect. That said, if you are an online poker fan, this is one game you definitely need to at least check out.

3 Reasons Your Office Needs Blinds

A fully pleated, heavy fabric curtain would look thoroughly out of place in an office block. Why is this? The answer is surprisingly simple. Not all window dressings were create equal, and office blinds are by far a more suitable solution for a place of business. While curtains might be used somewhere particularly trendy, or in somewhere which favours design, more often the simple shade is the best solution.

But why do you need any office blinds at all?

1) Keeping employee health as a first priority

Health and risk assessments are wildly important for each and every business to adhere to. While a complaint might not be made, if an employee injures themselves (either permanently or temporarily) whilst at work, you could be liable for a malpractice lawsuit. This isn’t something most businesses can afford to deal with, but even if you could, they’re definitely better avoided wherever possible.

“But how does this relate to office blinds?!” we hear you cry. Quite simply, if you don’t have blinds there is likely to be glare coming into the office through your windows. This will hit the monitors of some of your workforce which means they won’t be able to see the screens properly. This can lead to eye strain, headaches, and even the need to wear glasses. This will be an expense you will have to deal with, probably for more than one employee, and which would have been entirely avoidable with a few simple window dressings.

2) Lowering heating costs

Office blinds are a very simple way of improving climate control. In the summer they can be used to stop the sunlight glaring down on your staff and turning each and every window into mini greenhouse, while in the winter they can stop heat from escaping, which will mean you’ll have to use those radiators less than you might have without them. This can lower your costs, but also increase the comfort levels of your staff, which will help them to work better on a day to day basis. The more comfortable your staff are, the more productive they will be as well.

3) IT Issues

We’ve mentioned glare already but the other issue it can cause if you don’t have office blinds is that your employees will not be able to see their work, which means less work will get done. Proofreading is substantially trickier when you can’t see the screen, and so mistakes could easily crop up.

Create Long Term Advertising With Custom Auto Sun Shades

Custom auto sun shades placed in cars are mainly used for 2 reasons. The first reason that a person would use these car sunshades is to help reduce the heat in the vehicle. The second reason to use auto sun shades is to prevent people from seeing into the car or vehicle. This is especially useful when shopping and when items purchased are left in the car. The old saying out-of-sight, out-of-mind comes into play here.

Businesses like to offer car sunshades that are custom printed with their logo or message. Just think of the advertising value created from handing out a useful promotional car sun shade with a company’s logo message in exchange for the receiver to use and promote the message by placing the custom auto sun shade on the windshield of their car.

The types of companies that use car sun shades in their marketing and advertising planning are: car dealers, insurance companies, auto parts stores, companies whose parking areas are in high sunlight areas.

Non-profit groups and associations who look for unique fund-raising methods, also look to promote their association or event by selling custom printed promotional sunshades. A unique way to help offset the cost of the imprinting cost and purchase of the sunshades is to look for a sponsor. The sponsor’s logo can be added to the imprint onto the car sunshades in exchange for advertising dollars spent. This will reduce the cost to the fundraiser group thus increasing the expenses and increasing profits. These car sunshades will actually reduce the overall heat in the vehicle by a few degrees as well as reduce the heat of the seats and steering.

Another reason to consider vehicle sunshades is that they have a long advertising life and are considered a valuable item by car owners. Seek out a promotional products distributor for the sunshade options available where a logo can be imprinted onto.

Dying a Leather Couch

A customer contacted me the other day about his leather sofa. Ask anyone who has ever owned a leather couch: they are cozy and comfortable, and also conform to you as you sit on them over the years, as well as very expensive. But looking at that same couch every day for 20+ years? In that obscure shade of green? That can get pretty old. Leather furniture that was bought from a quality company can last through the decades. But what can you do if you’re tired of the color of your leather sofa?

Now there is a solution! Dye your couch! This process not only will salvage your treasured piece of furniture but will also get you many more years of use. Leather repair and leather custom dying will revitalize your furniture.

The process takes several hours to do it correctly, and you should always utilize a reputable company to take on the job. Certainly never use spray paint or any vendor offering to paint your couch! This will ruin the leather and the texture will never be the same. In fact it seals the pores of the leather and the supple feeling you now enjoy will never be there again.

The process to properly restore your couch and change it to a new, refreshing vibrant color takes several steps. First you must gently sand the entire surface of the sofa to open the pores of the leather. Then you will need to thoroughly clean the leather with special products designed to take off the silicon top coat. In fact, most household leather conditioners will add a slight layer of silicon every time you wipe them over your leather. Make sure you cleanse the furniture thoroughly to remove the silicon because it is a slick substance and the dye will not adhere properly to areas still covered with it. Wipe out the corners, crevices and cracks carefully because any crumbs, dust or dirt, even pet hair or dust bunnies will be visible when you dye. You wouldn’t want your revamped couch to have a dog hair or crumb sealed in with your leather, would you? The next step is to use a special prep that will remove any residual top coat and silicon, also open the pores further for maximum absorption of the new color. This step may lighten up the old color as well.

Now is the time to really give the couch a thorough inspection to look for any other areas that may need leather repairs. Is there any damage that may have occurred over the life of the furniture? Are there any scrapes, cuts or gouges? Any scratches or loose stitching? Make sure your your team of professionals address any areas needing leather repairs now, so that the new look of your furniture will not only be a fresh, different color, and the piece will look years younger.

After the furniture is fully prepared, the leather repairs are ready for execution. Professionals can quickly fill in minor scratches with a number of extremely successful methods. These methods of leather repair take mere minutes but will wipe YEARS off of your furniture!

Once the repairs to the leather are complete, the repairs will be sealed and the dying can begin. Your team should make sure the lighting is very natural so as the color is not distorted during the dying process. It is best to move your furniture to a garage or outdoor area so as to prevent the spread of dye in your home or to unintended pieces, as well as to get a more realistic and true look at your color as it is applied and as it is absorbed by the leather.

There are a few methods of dye application, and each will result in a different sort of finish for your furniture. It depends on the type of luster you are looking for, as well as how porous the leather is. One method is application by sponge. This is an excellent way to fill in larger creases in particularly worn leather, and also in hard to reach areas. Another method is to airbrush the dye over the furniture. This method will evenly and gently apply the dye across the leather furniture, and it is applied in light layers to evenly cover the surface. Make sure any crevices, corners and pipings are all dyed as well. Whichever way you choose, the result will be outstanding!

As the dye is applied, it is cured with heated air to make sure the dye sets properly and doesn’t get smudged or disturbed before it is cured, as well as to prevent debris in the air from sticking to it! Once the entire surface is dyed to your satisfaction, a special top coat is prepared to finalize the process. This is a type of clear coat that will form a protective layer over the leather and the beautifully dyed surface of your furniture. This top coat, when conditioned regularly and properly, will help keep the leather soft and supple, preventing dry rot, cracks and splits, as well as holding your color to stay true. The reason many pieces of leather furniture tend to discolor or darken in high traffic areas is because dirt seeps into the pores as the top coat is rubbed away from frequent use. Conditioning these furniture regularly with top notch products not only preserves the top coat but gives your leather life as well. It’s comparable to using lotion on your own skin, especially during harsh weather. Skin gets dry and can crack, split or be damaged more easily because it becomes brittle.

As long as you condition your newly repaired and dyed leather, you and your furniture should continue to enjoy a long, happy life together for many years to come!

I Love My Levi’s And I Will Not Change!

When I was a teenager, I became very attached to Levi’s jeans. Most of my friends wore Levi’s Red Tab jeans and we all thought we looked pretty darned cool! In those days Levi’s were made of heavy, dark blue denim that eventually faded to a very pleasant lighter indigo hue. The pungent odour of the blue dye was almost overwhelming until the first time they were washed. Those were tough jeans; unstoppable in almost any situation and resilient to every sort of soil or stains. We wore the boot-cut or regular-cut varieties because those were what all the hip young men of the day wanted to be seen in. I never stopped wearing my Levi’s jeans and they are still the jean-of-choice in my wardrobe today.

As a young man, I had not considered that my Levi’s might become a matter of contention in my family when I became a father.

My teenage children wanted “designer” jeans, created by a variety of high priced cloth-cutters with odd sounding names. Gone were Levi’s, GWG, and Lee jeans… In were Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and Tommy Bahama, all of whom made jeans that cost much more than my Levi’s. My kids made a point of letting me know that I was totally out of step and needed a complete denim makeover in order to move from fuddy-duddy to cool dad status. Sadly, I never made it to that lofty level of youthful social acceptance.

Much to the chagrin of my kids, I doggedly stuck with my Levi’s. I refused to change. I was determined to stay the course and wear my Levi’s in the face of humiliation and potential ridicule from every teenager and cool dad in the world. I was set in my ways and nothing short of a mugging at gun-point could force me into designer jeans.

Just as I failed as a cool dad, many managers and executives continue to fail as successful leaders today.

Too many leaders believe that the old ways are the right ways or the only ways. A lot of Boomer and Generation X leaders believe that we need to get back to basics; return to sanity, and bring back the good old days.

Guess what folks…The good old days are gone…They will never return!

Successful leaders in the twenty first century understand that in order to be successful they must drop many of the old ways and move to a new style of people-management. Change is difficult and the older we get, the more difficult it becomes for us to accept new things. That is human nature and it is not likely to change any time soon. However, if we stand in the way of the steam-roller of change, we will surely be flattened like the pavement of a highway leading to the oblivion of bankruptcy.

Young people eventually become old people and when that happens they take over the world.

Because we will have so many Boomers leaving the workforce during this decade, we will have a faster than usual transition to the new guard…As the holders of the purse-strings and the possessors of the thrones-of-power move to retirement, they will be replaced by younger people who will demand a new world order.

When the young power-brokers take over, gone will be command and control management and gone will be the hierarchical class structures that govern most North American businesses today. Gone will be the concept that the boss is always right and gone will be the idea that employees have to do what they are told unconditionally. The new-guard will wear tee shirts and designer jeans on Wall Street and because letter-writing will be a lost art, they will text their way to success. They will eliminate boring board meetings where a few grey-haired men decide the fate of thousands and they will distribute their company’s wealth in a more equitable, almost quasi-socialistic manner.

Ironically, the new-guard were trained as children by the same old-guard that is currently resisting the changes that are as inevitable as a morning sunrise.

We, the Boomers taught our children to be fair, to stand up for themselves, to take their rightful place in the world, to distrust corporations, to detest Governments, and to make the world a better place for everyone of every race, creed, colour, gender, religion, height, width, sexual bias, from any social circle and from either side of the tracks. We have changed our children’s perceptions of social order and they will soon run their corporations with the values that we so vehemently drummed into them.

If we want our businesses to be strong and live into the future, we need to start changing our management styles now. We need to adapt to the new world order and allow our future leaders the freedom to bring their new ways into our companies. Many companies have already started this new way of doing business and have been very successful with it. They understand that corporate hierarchy, executive superiority and grey pin-striped suits are no longer necessary for success.

Forward thinking leaders understand that in the very near future most of their customers and employees will be members of the much-dreaded Generation “Y” and that they must change their ways of thinking, managing and leading now if they want their brands to live on into the future.

I am a Boomer, very near the end of my career. I still wear my Levi’s and I am still a proud fuddy-duddy. As much as very little has changed about me, I understand that the designer-jeans-wearing leaders of the future will be every bit as successful as the Levi’s wearing crew that I grew up with. I also accept that with or without my help, they will create a new social order that will be completely appropriate for its time. The future is inevitable and in my eyes, it looks bright!

I have officially stopped standing in the way of progress but I will never change my jeans!

All the Best

Wayne Kehl

Beginning Your Violin Tutorial – Meet Your Professional Violin Lessons Online!

What will you learn from a good violin tutorial? You won’t get a proper start unless you can identify all the parts of your instrument. You’re going to learn how to hold it and pluck it, and you should learn from the start to be very careful with your bow. Never touch the bow hair! It’s most likely made of about 150 horse-hairs. Less expensive bows are strung with synthetics such as nylon. Keep the bow in your case while you learn how to hold your violin comfortably.

Take the instrument out of its case and turn it around. There is much more to it than just the body, the neck, and the pegs. Your violin tutorial starts with learning the parts:

* Notice the chin rest at the bottom. You can play the violin by using that rest, or you can hold the violin like a guitar.

* The strings stretch from the scroll at the top, where they are tightened by the pegs coming out of the peg box. They run down the neck of the instrument and are held away from the instrument by a   bridge . The height of the  bridge  allows them to vibrate-in fact, the  bridge  vibrates too-whether you are playing with your bow (arco) or plucking the strings (pizzicato). Beyond the  bridge , the strings are fastened into the fine tuning buttons and then the tailpiece holds the strings south of the  bridge .

* The fingerboard rests on top of the neck, from the pegs to the top part of the violin body. Your finger placement can change the pitch of the strings.

* Three important parts of the violin are the sound post, which is inside; the F holes, the long swirly holes on either side of the strings, and the C bouts, the very thin metal strips on either side of the violin (giving it its characteristic shape). They affect the quality of the sound that your instrument will produce.

* Most people expect to tune the strings by the pegs, but the fine tuners at the top of the tail are also important.

Speaking about tuning, that’s what you need to do before you even begin your violin tutorial. If you don’t tune it every time, you won’t develop an ear for how it should really sound! Your retailer will tune it for you initially, and even if you bought it from a friend you can still ask someone at the local music store. If you visit the store a couple times buying rosin, a violin tutorial book, and so forth-most likely they’ll offer to tune it for free.

Next, you should learn proper  bridge  placement. Even if your violin comes with the  bridge  in place you should know how to work with it. It’s held in position only by the strings, and new violins come with the  bridge  uninstalled. Place the flat end of the  bridge  against the body of the violin and stand it up so that its notches match where the strings go. See the higher side of the  bridge ? It goes under the thicker strings.

Replacing Ford Max Air Door – AC Not Cool Enough

A Ford Explorer that has a full charge of refrigerant and is cooling, but is not quite cool enough may have a broken fresh air door. The fresh air door is also called a recirculate door, max air door or main air inlet door. The function of the door is to let fresh air in, or to recirculate the inside air. When the air conditioning control is set to the max position, the fresh air door seals off the outside air to recirculate the air in the passenger compartment. When the air is recirculated, cooler air temperatures can be obtained since the air is cooler to begin with, compared to the outside air.

Not Just Ford. Any vehicle with a broken recirculation door or actuator that moves this door can have this problem. However a broken blend door is a common problem with the Ford Explorer. This can be checked easily. First, listen for increased air flow when changing the the AC to max. If the air doesn’t sound louder in the max position, there’s a good chance the recirculate door is broken. Next open the glove box and look for movement of the recirculate door when switching from normal to max air.

Dash Removal. If the door is broken, dash removal is required to access and change the door assembly. Book time pays 6.9 hours not including check out time and evacuation and recharging. This job can be done by an experienced technician in about 45 minutes, with no need to evacuate and recharge the AC system. The dash is not completely removed, just unbolted and swung out to rest on the passenger seat to allow removal and replacement of the main air inlet door assembly.

Remove the Console. Remove the center console upper trim (one 7mm screw), unplugging the power outlet. There are two 10mm bolts securing the front of the console to the floorboard. Move the seats forward, from the back seat area remove two 10mm bolts from the sides of the console. Now the console is loose, place it to the side.

Unbolting the Dash. After disconnecting the battery, remove the trim panels from the sides of the dash and the defrost trim from the top. There are two bolts on each side and two on the top. Unbolt the steering coupler near the driver’s floorboard. There is one hidden 10mm bolt that is accessed from the outside.

Sneaking it Out. No need to remove the wipers and cowl trim. Gently pry the cowl trim up and leave it propped up about an inch and a half to allow access to the bolt. Have a magnet pick up tool handy in case the bolt falls out of the socket. Unbolt the wiring harness on the right side and unplug the antenna.

Swing It. Slowly swing the dash out with care not to put excessive force on the wiring. Once the dash is pulled back, remove the 8mm screws from the metal support bracket and the top of the door assembly. There are two 8mm screws that cannot be accessed, pull on the fresh air door assembly break it away from the evaporator case. Now remove the 8mm screws and remaining plastic, making sure no plastic pieces fall into the blower fan.

Right Stuff. Instead of re-using the two 8mm screws at the hard to access attaching points near the firewall, apply Right Stuff sealant or a similar substance to secure the fresh air door assembly. Then re-attach the remaining 8mm screws that can be accessed. By using the right stuff securing method, much time is saved. Now re-install the dash and console and an eight hour job is completed in about 45 minutes!

Product Review – Trac Outdoor Boat Trailer Winches

Trac Outdoor boat winches are among some of the better boat winches on the market today. They are designed to fit on existing trailer mountings where a standards manual winch was placed by the trailer manufacturer. Reasonably priced to fit most budgets and ease of installation make this a great choice.

Trac Outdoor Small Craft Electric Winch: With a 2000# capacity, this small and affordable boat winch can handle most boats 18 ft. in length and smaller. This unit comes with a wired remote and operates on a 12v power source. As with all Trac winches, this is designed to bolt up to existing mountings on the trailer and comes with all hardware included.

Trac Outdoor Day Runner Electric Winch: Has a 2500# load rating and can be used on boats up to 20′ in length. This unit features a wireless remote and comes with all mounting hardware and separate operating fuse. Solid steel construction with an enamel coating and a 12v power source insures you never have to pull your boat by hand again.

Trac Outdoor Lite-Cruiser Electric Winch: 3500# capacity and the ability to handle almost 10,000 pounds of rolling weight. This unit is designed specifically for larger boats. With most of the same features as the Day Runner, this model makes a great choice if you are planning on upgrading in the near future. As with the other models, this unit operates off of a 12v power source and mounts to the existing post on the trailer.

With Trac, you’ll never have to manually trailer your boat again, reliability is a standard. These affordable options are just a few on the many fine winches offered by Trac. Shop around and compare, you’ll find that this is a great investment for your outdoor boating activities.

Coppersmith Metal Art

A Coppersmith is an artisan who works with cooper and because of the color of the metal, is also often known as a “redsmith.”

The basic technique of copper sculpting has not changed for hundreds of year. The shaping of the metal is done by   hammering  it into the desired shape. But copper is a brittle metal and if subjected to  hammer  force when cold, may easily crack or split. To prevent this from happening the copper is heated in a forge until it becomes malleable. Once it is soft, it can be shaped with no danger of cracking.

The heated metal is placed over specially shaped anvils and  hammered  into shape. The normal starting point for making small item like jugs and vases is to make a bucket shape and then, by using  hammers  of different sizes and head shapes, create the final object. Surface polishing is usually done with a smooth faced  hammer , although unpolished finishes carrying a rough  hammered  look are also very popular.

High quality copper metal art is made out of ingots of copper rather than thin sheets of the metal. This is far more difficult but allows for greater variation in the thickness of different facets of the finished pieces – for example a jug would normally have a thicker base that the sides. An easy way of knowing how the metal art was created is to look at the edges of the piece. Thick rounded edges indicate that the art was created from an ingot – items created with sheets of copper will have the thin flat edges of the original sheet metal.

Modern techniques allow copper smith metal art to be created in shapes of almost unlimited size. A modern copper smith may use multiple sheets or/or ingots to creates components of the sculpture which are then welded together using high tech methods like Tig welding.

The coppersmith has the option of giving his art work different types of finish. The natural color of copper, which varies form red to a chocolate brown or a bright finish with dark streaks. The nature of the basic finish is dependent on the forging process and even slight variations in the heat or the composition of the metal means that even two identical pieces heated in the same forge will have variations in their natural finish. Since this may affect the appearance of work created by the welding together of multiple pieces, the coppersmith may buff off the natural patina and create a bright polished effect that will be identical for all the pieces to be assembled.

Copper decorative art work often has brightly color or even semi precious stones embedded in it to enhance its appeal. The coppersmith also has the option of adding silver inlay work to the surfaces by first etching his design onto the surface and then dipping the pieces in an electrically charged vat containing sliver. The electrical charge fuses the silver and copper together. A final polish will remove any excess silver from the surface, leaving it behind only in the etched grooves.

How To Keep Memory Alive

There are a host of triggers that you can tap into to keep your loved one’s memory alive: special meals for holidays, a favorite cookie recipe or hiking trail to follow when you’re feeling blue. Although your loved one’s image is forever present in your mind, photographs capture a special moment or certain expression that elicits fond memories. While these recalls may overwhelm you with absence, they are also helping you in the healing process and to keep memory alive.

Keeping Memory Alive through Art

There are other creative ways to keep memories alive. An artistic tribute hung in your home not only brightens your wall space, but also gives you the impression that your loved one is smiling upon you and protecting your home. Artists can interpret or copy an image from a photograph, provide any expression or background, of your loved one’s favorite spot in the park or out front of the church, for example. With a memorial painting, you get to capture the essence of your loved one’s memory in a tribute that also serves your emotional needs.

A textile art quilt is a work of art that will honor the memory of your loved one with texture, imagery, color and keepsakes. You can choose to focus on his or her favorite color, hobby or location and build the quilt around a theme. If she was at home in the mountains and had a softer personality, you could sew the blue ridges into life in a mosaic of blues, purples and greens. You could pull old articles of clothing, a baby blanket, or even copied photos and work fabrics of your loved one’s history into this new textile tribute. One benefit of focusing on a textile project is that you evoke memories and keep them alive under a subtle haze of his or her scent from the clothing, and then finish with a new piece crafted from the old.

Keep the Memory Alive in a Special Book or Box of Keepsakes

Collect letters, quotations, notes, pictures, and lists to flip through any time you’re feeling blue. Assembling all of the materials in itself can be a cathartic albeit challenging process, and a great go-to resource for when you are feeling the need to indulge your achy heart. Unlike a painting, this memory book honors a tangible living memory of your loved one.

Wear Your Living Memory as a Work of Art

Many people love memorial jewelry for keeping the memory alive. This practice dates back to Victorian times, when a mourning pendant was worn by the widow for one year after the death of a spouse Today, a pendant can be crafted with a lock of hair or cremation ash, and personalized to swirl your loved one’s favorite colors with your own. You can wear the jewelry close to your heart or around your rearview mirror like a protective token.

Although it is quite painful and often seems counterintuitive to strive to keep the memory alive, your loved one is a part of you. Shoving his or her memory aside will only bury your own grief rather than helping you process it. Creating a beautiful tribute will help you move from a space of bereavement to acceptance and inner peace.

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off When You Hire a Painter

I bet the reason you are reading this is you are considering hiring a professional painting contractor to paint your home. Whether you are going to have the interior or exterior painted there are several key factors to consider as you make this decision. Let’s face it, your home is an important asset. Not only do you want it to look great but you want to protect the value by having high quality workmanship and the best products for the job decision.

Check List for Finding a Good Painter:

1) Check to make sure that they have a (Current & Update to date) contractors’ license for the state. For example in California – you may check the Contractors Licensing State Board CLSB License Check the Contractor Name and see their license status you may also check with the City where you live for a valid business license.

2) Get two or more references of past customers that have used their service, talk with these folks and ask very detailed questions of each reference.

3) Ask the contractor how long they have been in business and make sure they have done the same type of work you need often & what percent of their work it represents. You need a painter who’s done this before & not just once or twice.

4) Get at least two other written bids/quotes from different painting companies to make sure that they are not totally ripping you off on the price make sure the quotes are apples to apples – paint and other materials vary and you need to know what’s included!

5) Find a painter who is willing to give you pricing for small jobs over the phone.

6) Get flat rate estimates so you know the total you will pay BEFORE you reach an agreement and sign a contract with the painting company. You want turnkey pricing not hourly rates.

The best place to start asking about painters in your local area is neighbors, family and friends, because they will tell you the truth and answer your questions quickly. Other good sources of referrals include contractors in a different trade, real estate agents, property management companies, and your local paint supply store or hardware/building supply just remember they sell to all of the contractors and may know the reputation of those you are considering.

When asking for referrals, be sure to check the type of jobs the painter was called into accomplish and compare that to the type of painting work that you have in mind for your house. Also, determine if the painter specializes in residential or commercial work.

Examples of Questions We’d Ask

1. Would you hire this company again to paint your house?

If their response is “no”, then stop…and ask why? Is this a good reason or irrational nor logical.

2. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest), how happy were you with the quality of work performed by this painting contractor?

Everyone has an opinion of quality workmanship, so you may want to see the work for yourself to make sure your perception matches with your friends.

Look closely at Cut-In areas around doorways, windows and trim. Are the lines straight and was caulking applied to seal the joints.

3. Did the painting contractor protect unpainted surfaces, furniture, floors, or other such areas in their home?

For exteriors, this includes concrete, roofing, and plantings. For interiors, moving and protecting furniture is a major concern. Make sure not to forget about the flooring because you may live to regret it! If a painter is sloppy with one customer, chances are, they will be sloppy in your home. If you are left to clean up after your painter even once or EACH and every DAY, this will cost you a lot more money and aggravation after you’ve already put in a long hard day yourself at work. You may want to visit a site where work is currently in progress to see how the painter conducts his business.

4. Were they courteous and polite to you, their customer (and your neighbors)?

This is a very important consideration because who wants to pay money and be disrespected in the process? If the answer is “no” then do NOT go any further, because you don’t want to work with this company. The entire experience, from beginning to end, needs to be as stress free and painless as possible. If the house painter(s) enjoys their job, the quality of their work and attention to detail is better. The painter’s attitude can and will affect the entire paint job. Most people will treat you best when they are trying to land the job. If they are rude early on, things will only get worse if problems and stress arise.

5. Does your contractor offer a clearly worded, written warranty (Satisfaction Guarantee) included in the price and the written proposal?

If a warranty is included, find out if it has a reasonable amount of time before it expires. Two to Three (2-3) years is usually enough time to protect you in the event that something major goes wrong with the results of the paint job. Verbally stating a warranty is NOT enough. Any guaranty worth having is in writing. So, Get it in writing! Get it in writing! Get it in writing!

Reason and reality check guarantees have their limitations! A good painter is always glad to stand behind his warranty, no Questions asked. Good painters use quality materials, hire excellent workers, know their level of expertise (and limitations); they won’t promise you things beyond their level of expertise. If a painter won’t offer you a written two to three-year warranty, you may want to look one who does.

How to Hire a Painter

Remember the last time you made a decision to purchase a car, or some other high value item. Because it was a large amount of money at risk, chances are you didn’t go to the yellow pages, choose a dealership at random, and buy a car from the first lot you visited. Unfortunately, though, the yellow pages method describes the way homeowners conduct their search when it comes time to find a good quality painting company. They call and hire the first painter they come across and then totally REGRET the decision for the next 10 years. Why put yourself through that kind of grief? It is fairly easy to follow a simple process like the one outlined here, and come to think of it, you found this article online or someone who gave it to you found it on the internet. You know, the internet is a great information resource and It makes the research, comparison-shopping, and insisting on written terms to protect yourself in the event of a major problem(s) even easier and much less time consuming than letting your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages.

There Are No Dumb Questions (Unless they go unasked and unanswered)

How will the painter prepare the surfaces for painting?

All bare surfaces require a primer; previously painted surfaces usually do not require primer. However, they do usually require an appropriate level of cleaning, patching, sanding, and taping PRIOR to beginning the process of painting. Interior or exterior doesn’t matter; proper surface preparation always leads to better, more pleasing results.

Do they prime before caulking and painting?

Again, all bare surfaces require a primer; previously painted surfaces usually do not require primer.

What areas will require caulk?

One of the most common causes of paint failure is due to moisture from water getting behind the paint. For that reason caulking all joints, seams, gaps, and cracks in the surface is a must to

ensure a tight seal.

What kind of paint will be used? Why they recommend that type/brand? What are the options? Benefits & drawbacks of each option?

Good quality paint will be recommended by good quality painters, you probably don’t need the most expensive paint they are suggesting, but ask them for documentation of any special manufacturer’s warranty info and product data. More extreme conditions, heat, cold moisture and other environmental factors should be considered, the most severe conditions my require more costly coating.

Who are their references?

Ask for references and don’t be afraid to go see their work. Many painters have photo albums to show case their work. Get at least two or three references of satisfied customers from the painting contractor and then the easiest way to see his work is to ask them to provide some BEFORE and AFTER pictures of the houses that the represent these satisfied customers.

Find out whether the workers are employees or independent contractors.

Direct employees who have years of service with the contractor show loyalty and a consistent track record with one employer. If the workers are independent contractors, ask how long they have worked for the contractor. In both cases the contractor’s knowledge of the quality of work and the work history of the workers is a key factor being a good place to work also creates the atmosphere for productive good workmanship by the workers.

Who will supervise the work, make sure you have been introduced and that you are comfortable with the supervisor. Will the owner of company manager be available? How often will the boss check up on the workers and the progress/quality of the job?

When you know who is overseeing the work, you will be able to address quality issues directly with the supervisor of your particular job. Make sure to communicate your expectations that the workers will be supervised; this sets the tone for the Company to deliver a high quality of work on your project.

Always Get a Written Quote

Invite three painters to look at the job and ask each for a quote in writing. In the quote, also ask them to specify the amount of time it will take to complete the work. It is absolutely unacceptable for you to try to live in a house that is covered with drape cloths for two weeks because they simply won’t finish the work within the time you expected them to be 100% finished. Also, make sure that the painters providing you a quote are all quoting on the EXACT SAME specifications – areas or rooms to be painted, number of coats to be used, and so forth. ONLY an apples-to-apples comparison will have meaning when you attempt to make a decision on which painter to hire to paint your house.

Execute a Contract

Execute a Contract specifying in writing the scope of work to be done at your house, the total cost of the final bill, the payment schedule (ABSOLUTELY NEVER PAY ANY PAINTING CONTRACTOR 100% OF THE MONEY UPFRONT), start date, and estimated completion date.

If your request is to paint the exterior of your house, then weather may play a factor on the completion date. Make sure that the contract includes the paint brands; name the exact color(s) to be used in each room or location of your house, as well as the number of coats to be painted. (a diagram or drawing of the areas which specifies what goes where is a great way to check signals – especially when there are multiple colors/textures/ etc.) Make sure that the contractor specifies that the painter is responsible for cleanup (the removal of ALL paint from all surfaces, windows and floors) and for any damages that he or his employees/agents cause to your property. Get a certificate of insurance from the painter’s insurance broker which names you as an “additional named insured” and which shows that the painter carries adequate amounts of liability, automobile and worker’s compensation coverage.

As an Added Bonus – Get a written LIEN WAVER, signed off by the contractor, after the work is completely 100% done and you have paid 100% of the agreed upon amount. With a Lien Waiver signed, all parties agree that the work was completed and paid in accordance to the contract agreement. This provides you with some level of protection against a potential BOGUS lien recorded on the title your home in the future filed by a sub-contractor or paint dealer claiming the contractor didn’t pay them. Just imagine, selling your home and then getting this nasty SHOCK. It’s happened to people before, and now it does not have to happen to you.

What Else to Look For in a Qualified Painter

There are a number of qualifications which can set a professional painter apart from someone who will do shoddy work, over charge you, waste your time or just plain vanish into thin air mid job.

We may cover some things twice here but this is the list we use when hiring for our needs.

· Insurance — Be sure that the prospective painting contractor you are considering hiring is fully insured; having both workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Your prospective painter should be able to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance or a copy of his/her insurance policy for your records.

· Better Business Bureau — Contact your local Better Business Bureau (or go to their website) to see if any complaints have been filed against the company you are considering hiring. If there are complaints, the Better Business Bureau should be able to tell you if the complaints have they been resolved by the company or not.

· Safety Commitment -Accidents can happen with almost any home improvement project. So ask your prospective painting contractor what steps they will take to prevent injuries and property damage during the time that they are on your property doing their work.

· References – Satisfied customers and a place where you can check out their work for yourself.

Again, if a painter is good at their work, they will be able to answer these questions with ease and confidence. They should have a strong attention to detail and be cognizant of safety while working at your home.

· Clean Up — Ask the painter how he or she intends to leave the work areas of your house at the end of each day AND upon full completion of the job. You don’t want to be cleaning up for hours after they’ve left your home. It’s so much easier to just work with someone who will respect your home and your family.

· Accidents Will Happen — How they’ll handle any unforeseen disruptions during the project, such as, them having to leave your job site and not return for several hours, days or weeks.

TIPS

* Small business painters will sometimes be much more affordable because their overhead can be much lower, in general.

* If it’s a big job, ask a number of painters and discard the cheapest and most expensive proposals because they are probably wrong. The cheapest will have under-estimated and may sting you for it later and the most expensive doesn’t really want your business, probably because they are already at full capacity and not able to take on the work.

Chandeliers

Lighting fixtures are usually the most overlooked aspect of interior decoration. More often than not, you have hideous-looking light brackets that do not at all coordinate with the overall décor. And, as with wall mounted light fixtures, the wrong type of  chandelier  at the wrong place can spell doom for the entire look of the house.

 Chandeliers  have this grand, opulent look about them that make them very tempting purchases. Your fingers may have itched to grab a  chandelier  that you spotted in the shop window, and perhaps you eventually purchased it without even thinking whether it was at all suitable for your house. That’s the root of all the trouble.

 Chandeliers  are usually large pieces, and if your living quarters are small, the  chandelier  will end up overshadowing every other bit of furniture, marring the entire look of the room. On the other hand, if you have a large room, with heavy bits of furniture, a small  chandelier  would be lost in the maze. And it is, after all, actually meant to be a showpiece.

 Chandeliers  are of various types–wrought iron, crystal, antler–and each complements a different sort of décor. So you cannot have an ornate  chandelier  in a room that sports a minimalist look. Similarly, a rustic  chandelier  would look totally out of place in a modern, swanky apartment.

When buying a  chandelier , it also important to bear in mind that they require quite a bit of pampering. These are objects that gather dust easily. So if you do not intend to spend time dusting, you might rethink the purchase. A  chandelier  covered in dirt and grime looks positively ugly.

It may be only one showpiece amidst a host of others, but the  chandelier  alone has the potential to make or break the décor of a room.

Designer Bags – Kate Spade

All women, but often moms, want to be decked out in the most current trendy outfit. Moms often feel dumpy, tired, and unattractive, so having some special designer items to feel more a part of life outside mom-dom will help encourage and inspire mom. Kate Spade bags can do just that and are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes, colors and styles. They tend to be made of very clean and tailored lines, and often are elegant. Simplicity, or really simple elegance, seems to be theme with a Kate Spade bag.

In addition to her handbags, purses, clutches, shoes, and luggage, K. Spade also designs diaper bags. The diaper bags are made with the same look as the rest of her line of bags. Simple elegance can even apply to a diaper bag. The diaper bags come in several colors, sizes and styles as well, making them a great choice for a mom. A K. Spade bag has all the compartments necessary to carry diapers, bottles, wipes, toys, pacifiers, extra clothes, and more. It’s plenty big for all your baby’s needs, and chic enough for you to carry anywhere.

Most all of K. Spade’s bags come in subtle colors like black and brown, but she does also use pink, orange, green, and blue often. Usually, diaper bags now have pockets for all of mom’s needs, things she would have normally carried in a purse, and K.S. bags are no exception. All her bags are durable, usually leather or high quality fabric, which is intended to last for years, even with the punishment diaper bags often receive. Kate Spade bags are a great option for moms, and make a great gift for any mom. One for the car and a smaller one to carry is a great way to make sure everything is with you when you go out with baby.

What Is a Pizza Shovel Anyway?

Many people who are not familiar with this product may ask, what the heck is a pizza shovel? Is it used to scrape up a pizza that fell out of a delivery truck? Yes that sounds kind of nasty, but sometimes when you get a pizza delivered to your home you just never know. In truth, it is a product far better than that, and one that anyone who likes a good oven baked pizza should have in their kitchen arsenal.

If you have ever made a pizza from scratch, or purchased one of those take and bake pizzas then you can understand the concept. Sure, putting the pizza in the oven is not a big deal, the problem is taking it out of the oven. Once that pie gets hot and bubbly, it can be a pain, literally, getting it out without burning yourself, or dropping it on the door of the oven or worse yet, the floor. Those take and bake places always seem to put their pizzas on flimsy paper trays, ones you can’t handle very well, with or without oven mittens.

So what is one supposed to do to get their nice and bubbly pizza out of a hot oven? This is where the pizza shovel comes in. They are available in a variety of different sizes, from small to large, round and square, and they have a long handle at one end, and a flat surface on the other, like a flat shovel. If you have ever been in a real brick and mortal pizza parlor, one with the old school brick ovens, or seen one in the movies or on the television, you know what it is. The pizza master takes his or her shovel and slides it in under the ready pizza, and yanks it out in one smooth motion.

You can do this at home, because they come in sizes that you can use yourself. You can purchase them online, or at a kitchen specialty shop. Some of them come with a pizza stone, which keeps your pizza on a flat surface, and keeps the crust hot. Because it is a stone, you can cut the pizza six ways to Sunday and not mess up your counter tops. Because the stone holds the heat, you can enjoy your pizza slice, and come back for more without it getting cold.

Some shovels have shorter, wooden handles, and these can sell for just around 45 dollars, depending on where you buy it. These handles are short, so if you don’t want to risk getting burned, no worries, there are others that have handles up to a meter in length. They are made from stainless steel, and are one piece models, with tubular steel handles. In many cases, you can find them for well under one hundred dollars, depending one the size of the shovel end, and whether it is round or square.

There are some things you need to consider when purchasing a pizza shovel, one of them is certainly price. While you may find some for cheap, you get what you pay for, and these shovels may not last through the test of time, and may be made from materials that are cheap and not well put together.