Fitting Sterling Silver Charms

Assembling charms can be confusing but that is only because there are several types of attachments. Some are made so that charms can be easily slipped on and off – you can then ring the changes with different colored charms and so on or wear your bracelet plain and simple if you like.

The kinds of attachments you will find are

a. Jump Rings

Jump rings are used to solder a charm to a bracelet and are a permanent and secure solution for fitting a charm but getting each charm added in this way can prove expensive as you may be charged for attaching in this way. This is especially the case if you want to add 10, 20 or more charms to your bracelet. Another disadvantage of this method is that it does not allow you to “ring the changes” which is part of the beauty of a charm bracelet.

b. Split Rings

A split ring is exactly like the spiral ring you find on a keyring (although obviously much smaller). You push the charm onto the ring and it opens so that you can thread the charm onto it then it closes so that the charm remains secure. They are quite fiddly to work with if you have small delicate jump rings, but they do mean you can fit charms yourself without having to go to a jeweller. Also as the metal is quite thin they are better with thin bracelets as stretching the split ring too much can cause it to remain open and less secure. You can help that by “tightening” the ring with a small pair of pliers.

c. No Solder Jump Rings

These are high quality jump rings which are cut in such a way that they can be opened and closed with pliers to give a neat close which is secure yet does not have to be soldered. This means that the charms can be moved at a later date – although it is not an easy option for changing your charms for a night out!

d. Lobster Catch

A lobster catch is the kind of fastening you find on necklaces where the ring is opened and closed by means of a small tag which is pulled to open the ring and released so that it springs back to form a closed and secure ring. These are the easiest attachments to be able to quickly change your bracelet.

If your charms do not come with attachments, then make sure that you buy the necessary pieces at the time of ordering to avoid the frustration of getting your charms in the mail and not being able to wear them. If you buy charms at a jewelry store ask for them to be fitted at the time you buy them.

Cutting and Splicing Cables: Properly and Easily

For convenience, many electronic systems come with plug-and-play cables and consequently, are already terminated with connectors to eliminate the need for solder. Many people find these pre-terminated cables to be very beneficial for saving time and producing a clean, professional installation. However, these same cables create a dilemma when the job requires routing through engine firewalls, car roofs, trim panels and for buildings, exterior walls.

Pre-terminated cables generally have a small diameter, but the connectors on the end can sometimes double or even quadruple the size of hole required to route cabling through a roof, firewall, etc. So installers are then faced with the age old dilemma, “Do I make an excessively large hole to compensate for the connectors?” or, “Do I cut the cable and hope that I can put it back together?”

For me, there is no dilemma at all and the choice is simple… cut and splice the cable! After all it’s easy, the appearance will be superior and in the case of exterior installations, will have a greater weatherproof integrity due to the smaller diameter hole.

It’s true that many people are adverse to cutting and splicing cables because they’re worried that it will be too difficult to match the inner wires or it will be point of failure. With a little bit of education on how to do it right and some inexpensive tools, these concerns vanish. For a successful splice, just follow the basic steps below:

Tools and supplies

If you’re MacGyver, in a pinch you can make do with a pocket knife and duct tape, but for real world and permanent installations… a few more tools are highly recommended. Having the right tools are relatively inexpensive these days and become critically important for the installation of safety devices such as LED lightbars, dash lights, sirens, etc. Recommended tools and supplies are:

– Wire strippers

– Snips or scissors (some strippers have built-in snips)

– Heat shrink tubes

– Heat gun for heat shrink (a cigarette lighter or other heat sources are also acceptable)

– Solder

– Soldering iron

– Helping Hands

– Multi-meter

– Rubber grommets (for automotive installations)

Step #1 Determine cut location and make the cut

Just before snipping the cable, give some thought as to where the most advantageous cut location will be. For instance, you may want to cut the cable in the middle to make cable routing fast or you may need to cut near the end of the cable due to additional routing points that have tight tolerances. Also, always make sure your chosen cut location gives you plenty of room to work with and to correct potential soldering mistakes. Generally, I recommend making the cut no closer than 4 inches to the end of the cable or strain relief point.

Step #2 Strip cable and wire insulation

For most cables, I recommend stripping cable insulation (main outer jacket) at least one inch to allow for easy soldering and re-insulting of the inner wires. Inner wires should be stripped just far enough to allow a good solder joint, usually one-quarter inch.

Step #3 Prep and tin wires

To prep each wire, I prefer to twist stranded wires so that they tighten and straighten. This makes the wires easier to work with and allows improved solder adhesion. Some cables such as communication or video cables may have an outer shield to minimize RF interference and perform double duty by serving as a ground. With exception to coaxial cables which should never be spliced, this shielding should be prepared as other wires with twisting to tighten up the strands.

Once the wires are prepped, put a bead of solder on your iron and run the wire through the bead. The end result should give each wire end silver in color coating.

Step #4 Apply heat shrink

Always apply all heat shrink before performing any soldering. For most cables you will need at least two sizes of heat shrink, a large piece to fit over the entire cable and smaller pieces to fit each individual wire. Heat shrink size is very forgiving but generally a proper size is heat shrink that fits over wire and cable with as little play as possible.

When applying heat shrink, make sure there is a gap between it and the future solder joint. Heat shrink that is too close to soldering heat will naturally shrink and afterwards may not allow proper placement.

Another important practice is to install heat shrink on the ground wire even if originally there was no insulation at all. Even the best of solder joints produce minor imperfections and a sleeve of heat shrink over that joint will help reduce any chance of short-circuits with other wires.

Step #5 Solder joints

If you’ve tinned your wire ends, making the solder joints will be very easy and require only a small solder bead on the soldering iron. When making the joints, be sure to make smooth passes of the wires to help minimize jagged edges from forming. If any edges do form, simply use a pair of snips or side cutters to clip them off.

Step #6 Insulate joints with heat shrink

Once your satisfied with your solder joints, slide your prepositioned heat shrink up over the joints. When applying a heat source to the heat shrink, be sure to use the smallest amount of heat required to shrink your new insulation, too much heat can loosen or undo solder joints. The problem joints become invisible once heat shrink is applied. So again, use as little heat as possible.

Step #7 Test your splice and you’re done!

Before using your spliced cable or continuing to route it, it’s always a great idea to test it. An easy way to that is with a continuity tester found on most multi-meters. When in the continuity mode, simply place the test probes on each end of the cable. If your multi-meter has an audible alert, you should get a tone when the test probes touch cable ends, which indicates proper continuity.

To fully test your installation, you should also test for shorts. With the multi-meter still in the continuity mode, choose a cable end and place the test probes on various conductors. If your splice was done correctly, you should not hear any audible alert which indicates that no short circuits were found.

Things Don’t Appear As What You See

The light bulb at the staircase of my house was blown off for quite some time. I didn’t change it because I needed to get a ladder first to reach for the light.

Finally, I got myself a ladder the other day. I removed the burnt bulb from the   socket . But the bulb was broken into two. Thinking of showing the watt was all I needed to buy a new bulb, I kept only the glass portion of the bulb and I threw away the metal connector at the bottom.

When I reached the shop to get a new bulb, the shop owner asked me how big the connector was. I was stunned as I didn’t take note of the size of the metal connector. I told the shop owner that let me try with the small one first.

When I went home, I tried to install the bulb but the  socket  was too big for the new bulb.

Feeling frustrated, I went back to the shop and asked for an exchange. The shop owner re-assured me that the size must be correct this time as there were only two sizes for light bulb of my kind.

Here again, when I reached home, I climbed up the ladder and tried to fix the light. To my surprise again, the bulb is too big for my  socket . I said to myself this couldn’t be as the shop owner said one of the two sizes should fit my  socket . I had tried all the two.

The other reason I could think of was the shop owner was trying to be irresponsible with me. I was ready to get my refund if this was true. Feeling cheated.

For the third time, I went back to the shop again and told the owner that I couldn’t fix my light with all the two sizes he had.

He said it was impossible. And asked me to try again. I couldn’t believe that I took so long to fix a light bulb. “What a joke.” I told myself.

For the last time, I went home and try to fix the light again. True enough, the  socket  was too small for the new light bulb.

But this time I got an idea. I climbed higher to have a look into the  socket  and I found out the reason why I didn’t manage to fix the light bulb.

After having looked at the inner side of the  socket , I suddenly noticed that the real  socket  for the light bulb was residing in a bigger outer plastic  socket . Which means the ‘real’ size for the  socket  is smaller than it appears. All the while, I was thinking the size of the  socket  was a big as the outer plastic  socket .

Then only I realized that the light bulb that I should be using was the one with smaller size.

What an experience for changing a simple light bulb! But I learned something from this experience.

I have learned that things don’t appear as what and how we see them. A lot of things are perceived wrongly because of our ignorance and lack of wisdom.

It’s exactly what happened to me for the bulb changing experience. Thinking of the light bulb should be the larger size but in fact when I took the trouble to look deeper, it turned out to be otherwise.

Life is the same as well. Don’t look at things on the surface, look deeper. And you have more potential in you than what you think you have.

Opening the Third Eye

The concept of  opening  the Third Eye is really about stimulating the pineal gland in the base of the brain. It is believed by some to be a dormant organ that can be awakened to enable “telepathic” communication and an awareness of things not perceived by the natural senses.

In the physical body the eye views objects upside down. It sends the image of what it observes to the brain which interprets the image and makes it appear right side-up to us. But the human body has another physical eye which ‘sees’ things, whose function has long been recognized by humanity. It is called the ‘Third Eye’ and like an eye, needs to be “opened”. It is long thought to have mystical powers. Many consider it the Spiritual Third Eye, our Inner Vision.

When the pineal gland awakens one feels a pressure at the base of the brain. This pressure will often be experienced when connecting to higher frequency. A head injury can also activate the Third Eye (Pineal Gland). Development of psychic talents has been closely associated with this organ of higher vision.

To activate the ‘third eye’ and perceive higher dimensions, the pineal and pituitary glands must vibrate in unison, which is achieved through specific meditation and relaxation techniques. When the right relationship is established between personality, operating through the body, and the soul, operating through the pineal gland, a magnetic field is created. The negative and positive forces interact and become strong enough to create a phenomenon known as the ‘light in the head.’

The first step in directing the energies in your inner system to  opening  the third eye, is visualization exercises. By focusing your mind on the midway point between the pineal gland and the pituitary, a magnetic field is created around the pineal gland. Your creative imagination will then visualize something and the mind’s thoughts which are energy, will give life and direction to what you visualize.

The third eye is an organ of the light body or energy body. When the third eye is opened it has access to the layers or dimensions of the soul. By the soul we mean the memories of the light or energy being within us. These memories contain the past, future and present dimensions of what is normally defined as time. The third eye is the gateway or portal to the dimensionality of space which may be described as space or time. You can enter through a portal to another dimension in order to travel. Many people have experienced this partially via dreams and visions.

Here is an exercise you can try.

Sit quietly clear your mind of diversions and clutter take a few slow deep breaths and start to focus on the screen in your mind.

Colours should start to come into view. Keep watching the colours relax and breathe deeply and slowly. The colours will now turn into a shape that you may or may not recognize.

If you do not see anything this could be because you are not relaxed or you are nervous. If this happens just go back and try again a little later in the day. Once you have connected with your third eye you will have a sense of floating in a sea of energy. When the third eye opens, the mind is flooded with light, insights, and inspiration. This is a very common meditation experience. It can happen gradually over time, or quite suddenly. If the third eye opens wide and it’s sudden, it usually occurs for a period of time, and then re-calibrates to a new aperture setting that is more open than before, but not wide open continuously.

Beginning mediators report all kinds of phenomenon, which aren’t really phenomenon, but rather the first  opening  of the inner senses: Visions, profound feelings and the smelling of scents that are not physically present.

Top Ten Public/Semi-Private Courses in Tennessee

We have spent a lot of time playing golf in Tennessee, and through our travels have found some great golf available in Tennessee. Here is our ranking for public or semi-private golf courses in Tennessee:

  1. Toqua Golf Course – Blessed with a great location, golfers can expect to use every club in their bag at Toqua. Front nine features some tight holes that you may want to stick with an iron off the tee, while back nine has some of the best views of the lake on holes 14 and 15. There isn’t a lot of undulation on the greens, but challenging approach shots provide enough difficulty making this our no. 1 course in Tennessee. Toqua can be lengthy from the tips with par 4s such as hole number 9 that will require you to make a great drive off the tee to have a chance to make the green in 2 shots. Hole number 3 par 3 from the tips reaches over 200 yards over a portion of the lake to a large green that can be hard to par if the flag is in the back right of the green.
  2. Sevierville Golf Club River Course – Sevierville now has 36 golf holes, and while their has been some changes to the course, we only see a unique course that presents golfers with challenges on every hole from tee to green. Adequately named, the River Course features water on 80% of its holes with elevated greens that fall off sharply to the water. Holes 3 through 5 are located on an island in the middle of the river, and many shots require accurate iron play across hazards. Holes 11 through 14 are similar to its sister Highlands Course, where hole 13 is a 185 yard shot to a drop-down green that can be difficult to hold if the flag is in the front.
  3. Heatherhurst Brae – One of the most intimidating starting holes with an approach shot over water to a green half-way surrounded by water. Heatherhurst is unique with Zoysia grass that is a pleasure to hit off and long par 3s that can play long even from the white tees. This course has it all from elevation changes with beautiful mountain scenery to water feature holes such as the long par 5 number 10 hole. Heatherhurst is impressive from start to finish with challenging greens, beautiful fairways, and great views of the Cumberland Plateau.
  4. River Islands Golf Club – Probably the most unique golf courses in Tennessee. Hole number 3 is a par 3 intimidating hole that has golfers hitting diagonally to a green across one of the 3 forks in the French Broad River. At this point you are on one of the islands in the river and don’t hit the mainland again til the 17th hole. Similar to Heatherhurst, River Islands has carpet-like fairways with Zoysia grass that are great to hit off, but be prepared because you need to hit well from tee to green to score well on this course. River Islands is a true links-style course that starts and ends at the clubhouse with some small greens that can be challenging to stick on your approach shot. This course is a definite must if visiting the Knoxville – Pigeon Forge area in Tennessee.
  5. Rarity Pointe Golf Course – In our opinion one of the toughest courses in Tennessee with dramatic elevation changes on several holes such as hole no. 2 par 4. The par 5 hole number 3 features elevated tee boxes that will have you driving out to a multi-tiered fairway with a lot of undulation. Rarity also has several long par 3s that are guarded by sand traps with beautifully contoured greens. The course is always in great shape and fairways are forgiving yet require great long iron play.
  6. Hermitage Golf Course President’s Reserve – Hermitage President’s Reserve offers challenge to all levels of golfers with holes that rest near Cumberland River and natural wetlands. One of the best golf courses in Nashville, President’s Reserve has a tremendous layout that will have you using all your clubs in the bag during the round. Recognized as one of the top 10 golf courses in Tennessee by Golf Digest.
  7. Bear Trace at Harrison Bay – One of the best tracks of land we have ever seen. Chickamauga Lake runs along the course allowing 12 holes to touch the water. Bear Trace has some heavily wooded areas, and even though the water can be seen from many of the holes, it really doesn’t come into play on many holes. Terrific views and great conditions will find you coming back here for many rounds.
  8. Kahite Golf Course – Links-style course with a unique par 6 on hole number 9. Fairly open course but can provide some challenge with its length from the tips as well as elevated greens that are well-guarded with 90 bunkers across the course. Kahite is always in great shape, tee boxes are perfect, and one of the best layouts you will find in East Tennessee.
  9. Cattails Golf Course – Lying in the shadows of scenic Bays Mountain, Cattails’ gently rolling terrain and memorable design has a wide variety of holes that include a moderate number of sand bunkers, six beautiful lakes and large putting surfaces. The par 71 golf course offers several risk-reward par 5s on the back nine, and boasts many picturesque holes that will challenge all levels of golfers. The course name is appropriate given the number cattail plants that reside along several holes with water on both the front and back nine.
  10. Gaylord Springs Golf Course – Gaylord Springs is a par 72 Scottish links course lining the Cumberland River with scenic bluffs carved from limestone. This is a challenging course that has hosted Champions Tour events and received many accolades for a superior quality course. The signature hole for the course is hole 4 that houses a century-old spring house, and there is plenty of challenge with water on several of its holes. Tree-lined fairways and risk-reward holes will offer enjoyable play at this 220 acre venue.

In order to complete our list we weighted golf course layout 70% and conditions 30% to rank each golf course.

Painting Light


I teach students how to paint and draw light. I am also a lighting specialist. My fascination with light encompasses, not only the commercial, retailing aspect, but the artistic as well. Once drawing and painting skills are developed to the point where students can accurately put down what they see, creating light and shadow is studied and faithfully delineated subject matter emerges in a world of space and volume.


Basically, the depiction of light and shadow is accomplished by using dark and light colors in painting and tonal gradations in drawing. For a beginning student this often requires some visual skills.. First, I tell the student it is necessary to convert what they see to a two-dimensional vision that they can translate to a two-dimensional surface like a canvas or a sketchbook page.


Seeing objects two-dimensionally can be done in several ways. The easiest (and most time-tested) is to construct a grid in front of the subject matter–that could be actual objects, a photo or a picture. This can be done most simply by holding a pencil vertically and horizontally against the viewed objects, comparing their shapes to the vertical and horizontal lines of the pencil.

Another time-tested method is to literally construct a grid on plate glass or Plexiglas and place that grid in front of the objects. Now the viewed objects are intersected by many squares (depending on how large or small the squares in the grid are.) Each quadrant (square) of the grid can then be painted or drawn independently and upon completing the entire grid, the composition of objects is finished to compose an accurate picture of the objects.

Light and shadow are more easily discerned and created with this grid method. How objects are illuminated can be defined on paper or canvas by observing and re-creating light and shadow at play in each quadrant. In accomplishing this by shading and highlighting, illumination and therefore, volume is created, the illusion of the three-dimensional space is created, reborn on a two-dimensional surface.


Accuracy, as well as light and shadow were not always the motivation behind depicting artful images. Before the Renaissance, art works in Europe depicted objects ( figures, landscapes, buildings) in a flat space. There was no light and shadow. Figures were delineated and colored in a style much like a coloring book. These images translated well to stained glass windows and mosaics. Their simplicity of line and color contributed to the strength of the iconography, often of religious significance.


With the discovery of perspective, space and volume became important to artists as well as the depiction of light and shadow. Symbolic icons and images described by line gave way to depictions of illuminated space. In perspective, objects recede and advance in a two-dimensional space that is totally visually believable. To augment the receding and advancing figures with directional light and shadow completed the believability, creating a world the eye could explore as a simulated, illuminated three-dimensional environment.


Spiritual light, the vehicle of infinity was often expressed with the use of gold leaf in Medieval altarpieces. The warm, glowing, reflective surface behind religious figures imbued the work with a rich and reassuring statement-the glory of heaven and God’s power. A more earthly light replaced gold leaf in the Renaissance. Spiritual figures were bathed in sunlight and swathed in shadow. The light that illuminated the humble shepherds was the same light that shone on Jesus and his followers.


It is interesting to me that the journey a beginning drawing or painting student takes often replicates the historical transition from the Medieval use of line and color-in style to the Renaissance application of illuminated space and volume. And, with more advanced students, their journey often continues to repeat the contemporary return to line and color-in, the preference for depicting flat, shallow space and solid color.

I find this reassuring. The art world is wide open, brimming with many styles, images, materials and skills. For today’s artist, everything is available, to use towards a creative purpose. All of history as well as the latest technological/digital images are ready to be researched and developed.

Spotlight Lighting Uses And Benefits

One of the benefits to using spotlight lighting is the amount of light spotlights can give. Although spotlights direct their light to one spot only, they do work very well at illuminating that area. This is why the spotlight is a great light for task lighting. Another reason why you would want to use spotlights is because they are inexpensive and energy-efficient.

Here are some of the possible uses of spotlights:

1. Stair lighting

Aside from the obvious uses of spotlight lighting, you can also use them as stair lighting. At night, you will need a lighting fixture that will light up the staircase in an energy-efficient and cost-effective way. The spotlight sort of light is a good candidate. They do work well in illuminating a long staircase and can ensure safety. Using spotlights as stair lighting reduces the likelihood of accidents at night.

2. Task lighting

One of the best forms of task lighting you can have is a spotlight. The good news is, there are different kinds of spotlights today that fit in more modern or contemporary settings. Square downlights, for example, are very contemporary in design. Install them close to your vanity mirror so you can easily see what you are applying on your face when you are applying make-up or getting ready to shave in the morning or night.

You can also install them in your garage and use them as spot task lighting to illuminate the areas of the car you want to illuminate. Architects working on their drafts or students doing homework can also use these lights to focus on their work. It helps make working on the very difficult tasks that require good lighting a shade easier.

3. Kitchen lighting

Cooks know how important it is to have good lighting in the kitchen, especially near the stove. This will help them check the condition of what they are cooking. Under poor lighting, it might be difficult to check the food if it has been undercooked or alternatively burned. Spotlights can be placed close to the stove. Square downlights can also serve as accent lights and can be placed above the countertop or the island counter.

If you have a bar close to your dining room or kitchen, these spotlights will also come handy. Use square downlights to highlight or showcase your mini bar and your wine glasses. It works brilliantly, especially when you are entertaining.

4. Outdoor lighting

Outdoor parties can be difficult to pull off without proper lighting. If you have hosted outdoor parties before, you probably know how challenging it is to get proper lighting. Spotlights shine best when they are outdoors. They work well in illuminating the area. Try to create a make-shift dance stage using these spotlights. You can also use these lights to illuminate the outdoor cooking area.

5. Garden lights

As garden lights, these spotlights are indispensable. More than anything else, they do their work in preventing prowling burglars as night. A well-lit backyard or garden could ward off potential burglars.

You may want to get the best spotlights for your home. You have many options out in the market. Consider the space where you are going to integrate the spotlight first so you can have a clear idea of what sort of spotlight you are going to look for. Gone are the days when the only spotlights you can choose from are those utility ones often used for the stage. There are now designs intended for home use. You can choose from those designs to complement the overall design of the room.

Always opt for energy-efficient lights. Most homeowners use their spotlights overnight. If you intend to use these lights in the same manner and length of time, you would want to choose those with bulbs that do not consume a lot of energy. When installing this in outdoor spaces, make sure they are encased in protective covers so they can resist common wear-and-tear.

Spotlight lighting works for virtually all intents and purposes. You would want to wrap your creative mind on the possibility installing these square downlights. These lights really work for a variety of purposes such as stair lighting, task lighting or garage lighting. They also work effectively in a well-designed room since you can find a lot of spotlights with an increasing array of impressive decorations.

How to Set-Up and Use Filtration Kits

Proper air quality management is vital in hydroponics. Even if you have a small garden, ensure that your plants receive their required air supply. Plants utilize the carbon dioxide present in air to prepare their food. Inadequate air supply deprives your plants of nourishment and makes them droop and wilt. Improper air supply can also leave your plants vulnerable to many diseases.

Air quality management involves using well-designed and efficient equipment. The most common option is known as a filtration kit. The filtration kit is a combination of devices that promote air circulation and remove unpleasant odors.

Components of a Filtration Kit

The type of filtration kit you select will depend on the size of your garden and any budgetary constraints you might have. A basic filtration kit will consist of a blower or fan, a carbon filter, and some ducting. Each component serves a purpose as described below:

Fans: The fan promotes air exchange. There are many different types of fans available such as centrifugal fans and oscillating fans. They come in many sizes depending on your garden’s needs. If fans are not to your liking, you can use Active Air blowers instead.

Carbon filters: Carbon filters purify the air and keep it odor-free. Carbon filters contain activated charcoal, which acts like a sponge and absorbs contaminant particles and odor molecules. The Deau Passe filters function in tandem with the attached fan.

Ducting: Ducts perform the important function of bringing in fresh air and removing stale air. Ducts are usually made of metal and come in elbow, T, and Y shapes for added flexibility.

Installing a Filtration Kit

Before you install your filtration apparatus, you must decide where you want to put it. For maximum effectiveness, it is recommended that the filter be close to the ceiling. Stale air is warmer than fresh air and will naturally rise upwards. While fans may be   suspended  from the  ceiling , mounting it on a wall near the ceiling is a better option. Most fans come with wall mounting brackets for attachment to walls.

Carbon filters need not be directly attached to a fan. Maximum efficiency can be obtained by having a small length of ducting between the two, allowing them to work properly. Ducts are attached to appliances using duct clips, which attach the ducts firmly without causing any damage.

4 Benefits of Laminate Flooring in Your Home

As you look around your house, you may not feel satisfied with your current carpets or designs in your kitchen and bathroom areas. For a quick upgrade, discover how laminate flooring can make a massive difference and really give your house the boost it needs.


Compared to tile and wood, laminate flooring is extremely affordable for most budgets. If you’ve always wanted a wood-like effect in your living room and kitchen, then you know that this kind of luxury can cost upwards of $3 a square foot, depending on the type of lumber you use. If you go with this cost-effective alternative, however, you can get a design that looks surprisingly authentic for under a few dollars a square foot. You can use this type of floor to replicate ceramic tile as well to make your laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom really pop without spending a lot of money.


Another benefit to having laminate flooring in your home is that the possibilities are literally endless as far as design. If you want a checkerboard print in your dining area, then there is a style that fits you needs. If you want a modern tile design, that can be done as well in a variety of colors. If you want a natural wood design in a majority of your home, you can choose from many colors, grains, and styles that fit your decor best.

Ease of Installation

If you are looking for a great do-it-yourself project, laminate flooring is one that you can really enjoy. Your local home improvement store can show you installations that are easy for a person who doesn’t have a lot of experience. You can choose a self-securing style that doesn’t require gluing. All you have to do is measure the room you want to update, cut the material to fit, then set it down, either over a bare floor or existing tile, and you have excellent, long-lasting results in a short amount of time.


Laminate flooring is very durable, and it’s made to withstand foot traffic, stains, or even scratches. The only thing you have to worry about is tearing or poking holes in your surfaces, which is caused by moving furniture or dropping sharp items. With a little bit of care, however, you can keep your new floors looking amazing, and you don’t have to worry about using special chemicals or tools to clean in areas that get dirty. Common household cleaners work like a charm and don’t destroy either the material or the vibrant colors. If you do tear or rip your surfaces, your home improvement store experts can give you advice about prevention and fixing any damage.

Your home is important to you, and feeling great about where you live is important. When you choose this kind of material for your home, you can feel great about how everything looks and feels. This kind of project is quick, affordable, and easy to install. It looks wonderful, and you can love the results right away.

How to Replace the Water Pump on a Jeep Cherokee

A leaking water pump can quickly damage the otherwise very reliable Jeep Cherokee Engine. The water pump can be changed by a home mechanic with some patience and ordinary hand tools.

When the Jeep Cherokee water pump seal fails, it will leak from the weep hole in the bottom of the pump. Since this hole is behind the pulley, it is often hard to see where the fluid is coming from. Often a water pump leak will be misdiagnosed as a leaking hose as the fluid runs down and drips off the bottom of the hose.

Begin by letting the Jeep cool. Remove the radiator cap and make sure there is no pressure in the system.

Remove the electric fan. It unbolts from the header at the top and the bottom sits in two tabs at the bottom of the radiator.

Place a pan under the Jeep to catch the anti freeze and remove the lower radiator hose. Let the system drain. Next, remove the heater hose from the tube attached to the water pump. Be careful with the tube as you will have to reuse it.

Break loose the four bolts that hold the pulley to the water pump but do not remove them. If the tension on the belt does not hold the pulley from turning, use a square section screwdriver between two bolts to hold it while breaking loose each bolt.

Remove the tension of the belt at the power steering pump. On the earlier versions, the whole power steering pump moves. On later ones, there is a separate adjuster pulley. Move the belt out of the way.

Finish removing the bolts and remove the pulley. Now you can access the four pump mounting bolts. These have half inch heads, not 13mm and one bolt is longer than the others.

Remove the two bolts that hold the power steering pump bracket. These are 15mm on some and 9/16 on others.

Now pry the pump away from the block. If this is an original water pump, there will be a pry tab on the top of the pump by the metal pipe. Many aftermarket pumps do not have this pry tab.

Twist the pump out from under the power steering pump bracket and carefully remove it from the Jeep. Place the pump in a vise and remove the metal pipe noting its orientation.

Put some thread sealer on the threads and install the pipe in the new water pump. Turn it until it is aligned the same as the old one was. It should stick straight back from the impeller.

Use some sticky gasket sealer like permatex to hold the gasket on the water pump. Clean the front surface of the block down to bare metal. This is probably the most time consuming part of the whole job. Use a scraper and some chemical gasket remover if needed. The block is cast iron, so you can be aggressive when scraping.

Twist the new pump into place under the power steering pump bracket and seat it into place. Install the four mounting bolts that secure it to the block. Tighten them evenly.

Install the two bolts that hold the pump to the power steering bracket. Install the pulley using a screwdriver to hold the bolts while you tighten them. Make sure the pulley seats squarely on the flange and does not wobble when you spin it round.

Install the belt and set it to the proper tension. Reinstall the lower radiator hose and tighten the clamp. Leave the upper hose off for the moment.

Fill the system with a mixture of antifreeze and water appropriate for your climate. I use 50/50. Fill until the fluid comes out the heater hose or the metal line. Reinstall the hose and continue to fill the system. Most Jeeps hold about two gallons when the water pump is removed.

Check for leaks and then install the electric fan. Tilt it into place and engage the lower tabs. Then install the two bots at the top. Connect the control wire.

Start the engine and check the belt tension and check for leaks. Recheck the coolant level after the engine has been heat cycled.

Build Lean Muscle Mass – 5 Ways to Stay Ripped Even While Bulking!

When you’re looking to build lean muscle mass, 99% of the time especially if your genetics aren’t favourable, you should expect at least a slight increase in body fat because you should be eating more than your calorie requirement for daily maintenance.

However, if you don’t want to waste all of your hard earned muscle in a cutting down phase (and who wants to do that? Yuck, cardio!) you’d do well to limit the fat you put on during a muscle building phase.

Not to mention the benefit to your appearance by looking leaner all year round! So what can we do to keep the dreaded fat at bay?

Here are some tips I’d like to share with you:

1) Eat slow release, starchy carbs

Apart from post-workout, at all other times of the day you should be consuming low GI carbohydrates. These release energy slowly which means that your body will not release huge amounts of insulin (which shuttles nutrients into fat cells!).

At the same time you’ll feel fuller for longer and have more energy on slow release carbs which will also curb cravings and prevent over-eating of junk food. Helping to keep the fat off!

2) If, and ONLY IF, you are putting on too much – add cardio.

Yep, the dreaded cardio word. I personally avoid all forms of cardio while I’m bulking up because it robs me of the extra calories I need to build lean muscle mass.

I also have a fast metabolism so I do not want to make it faster by adding cardio but if you’re putting on too much fat you can either restrict calories, add cardio or do a bit of both.

Be sure to keep cardio light and monitor your muscle mass so that you are still gaining muscle rather than losing it.

3) Monitor your progress and calories

Monitor these 2 things so that you can correlate any information. For example, if you put on fat this week, was it because your calories were slightly higher this week?

To remedy this, you can look at cutting back the calories but continue to monitor your muscle measurements to ensure you’re still gaining and not losing lean muscle mass.

Or the problem may not be the total calorie count, but what those calories are made up of…

4) What are your calories made up of?

If most of your calories are sugary foods and/or contain high saturated fat, then of course you’ll put on fat!

Generally your protein should consist of lean animal proteins, skimmed milk, egg whites – Sources low in saturated fats basically

Your carbs should be starchy, slow release carbs as mentioned in my first point. Wholemeal bread, brown rice, sweet potato, whole wheat pasta etc.

DO NOT cut out fats completely! You just want to limit saturated fats (solid at room temperature like butter, fat on meat, cheese etc) and consume predominantly unsaturated fats from fish, seeds, olives, avocado’s as a few examples.

5) Stay hydrated!

Sounds silly that this would help with keeping fat off your body but most of the time hunger is actually thirst! Quench your thirst with water and you’re less likely to overeat and get cravings.

As a side benefit, the more water you drink, the less your body retains meaning you will look harder and tighter instead of looking like a softie!

Barrel Lifting Workout

Barrel lifting is just a brutal hard core workout. You don’t get any tougher. Everybody should at least work through one course of barrel lifting in their lifetime, because as an odd object it teaches you all of those things that are so important for real strength. Balance, coordination, the body as one piece, lifting things that weren’t meant to be lifted. This work out you’re just going to do the clean and press with a barrel you can handle for reps.

I like to use a keg because it’s a good size to work with and allows you to do a lot of movements that give you that odd object type of strength without being so unwieldy or large that you can’t get your arms around it. This workout I want you to do one set of each type of clean and press for as many reps as you can in one minute, then rest one minute and go one to the next type of clean and press.

Here are the variations: (Remember to use good body mechanics is as much is as possible. Bend the legs, tighten the abs and back, pressurize your air and lift. Also do this outside or somewhere you can drop the weight.)

1. Parallel grip. Grab the keg by the chins with both hands on the same side. Clean it to the shoulders and press it. This is the toughest way to do it and why we put it first. It’s extremely hard to balance.

2. Double under grip. Grab the keg by the chins with both hands under the bottom. Clean it to the shoulders, then readjust the hands to either a split grip or a parallel grip and press.

3. Split grip. Grab the keg with one hand under the bottom and one hand on the top chin. This is the most efficient way to lift a keg and it will balance best especially if it’s only partially filled with water. Bring it to the shoulders and press. It will be over the head, but at a tilted angle. This helps it balance.

4. Knee kick. Grab it which ever way you like. Bring it up and as you begin to get it to the shoulders shove one leg under it and help kick it up with your knee as if you were going to kick a pair of dumbbells up to bench press them. Then set your grip and press.

5. Seated clean and press. Grab a bench that’s relatively high or something you can sit on that takes your legs out of the movement. Then grab the barrel with a split grip and clean and press it. This makes the movement solely arm and shoulder dependent from moving the weight. It’s also very heavy on the abs to stabilize as you press.

6. Crooked arm under. Tilt the barrel over, wrap one arm underneath as if you were holding a baby, grab the bottom by the chin with the other hand. Clean to shoulder, readjust your grip and press.

7. Clean the barrel one time any way you like. Then dependent on if you’ve been strict pressing or push pressing in the first six sets do the opposite on this set and then get as many reps as you can.

This ought to keep you busy and really work your shoulders, grip and everything else from head to toe. For even more be sure to check out my Barrel Lifting DVD.

3 Things to Look For in a Jogging Stroller

People who jog love to be one with nature. Those that are around trees and woods that is. People in the city may love to be one with the buildings. That and you see some interesting stuff going on in the city while pushing your jogging stroller.

There are 3 things to look for when you going to buy a jogging stroller.


Here we are talking about the childs safety. When you put your kid in the jogging stroller, you want them to stay put. The stroller should have a harness apparatus that children can not get undone. You do not want to be pushing your jogging stroller along and have your child take a tumble out of it. This can result in minor scrapes and bruises and possibly worse.

You also want to make sure that it has a sun shade. I’m sure your spouse will be very upset if you bring back little Timmy with a sunburn on his face. There should also be something that encloses the part that your child is riding in. Rain and dirt blowing in the childs face is no fun. You will be dealing with a crying child. This making your jog not so fun.


Lets be honest here. If the jogger stroller is pain in the you know what to use, you are not going to use it. You will lose out on all those precious hours that could have been spent with your kid. Get a baby jogger stroller that folds up fairly easy. Some have one hand folding. You want to be able to store this joggers stroller in the closet or up against the wall in your garage. It will also make it easier to transport in your car to.

You might want to look for a jogging stroller that has quick release wheels. Being able to take the wheels off will allow you to store and transport the baby stroller jogger a lot easier.


Lets be honest here again. If you are not comfortable pushing this baby jogger stroller, it is not going to leave the closet or garage. If you child is not comfortable sitting and riding in the jogger stroller, your not going to take him or her with you.

For your comfort, look for a jogging stroller that has an adjustable handle. You will be able to position the handle where it feels good to you. the handle or handles should also have some kind of padding. This will help with hand fatigue.

The seat for your child should be padded. If the kid is uncomfortable, your jog will not be an enjoyable one with a screaming kid. Also the seat should be able to recline. If the kid wants to take a little siesta while you jog, its head should be reclined. This will keep it from flopping back and forth. You do not want a chlid with a sore neck now do you.

There you have the 3 things to look for in a jogging stroller. There are other things to look for to, but that is for another article.

Camping in the Rainy and Nasty Weather

What do you do when you get a rainy day and you are out camping? Do you all sit around the fire under a tent or   awning ? Or do you get out and ride anyway.

I do not like to ride in the rain. I have had too, when we were looking for a lost animal or it started raining when we out on the trail. But if it is raining before we go I will not ride in the rain. I don’t think the horses like it and I know I don’t.

We carry one of those portable screened rooms to set up and use it for having guests come in. We will play music or games and lots of times just talk and tell stories. There are always stories of fun and not so fun things happening on a horse.

Just awhile ago our neighbor came up and asked us to help find her horse, it got out and she could not find it. We got ready and went out to look for the horse. We had been out about a half-hour and it started to pour down hard. We got soaked to the bone. We were out about an hour in the rain and cold but we found her horse and got it home safe. This is an unusual event.

On another occasion, it had been raining and the ground had puddles all around. We started out on a trail and my horse got her foot caught in a vine. It startled her and she reared up, I slid off her back and onto my back in the mud puddle. I did not get hurt just wet.

The rain on the leather makes a mess. Bruce has to put conditioner on it when it gets dry and it just makes a mess. Naturally he has to treat the leather every now and then as usual to keep the leather supple. But getting it wet in the rain is not usual.

Normally, on rainy days we will play card games or board games to pass the time away. You can come up with a lot of things to do in camp when it’s raining. If you have a dry place to stay you can play musical instruments. I play the banjo and a friend of mine plays the guitar so we make good bluegrass music.

It is a lot more fun if you are in a place where others are camping. You can all get together and have a pot luck dinner and sing songs around the campfire.

Can-Am ATVs Cover a Wide Range of Uses

Time was, when you wanted to get off the pavement onto something rough you had one option: a Jeep. Anything other than that and it was all about the adventure of taking inappropriate equipment to out-of-the-way places. But the past is long dead and gone and today companies like Can-Am offer a wide range of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) tailored to meet just about any style of riding you prefer.

Take the Renegade, for example. With aggressive styling and suspension and handling to match, the Renegade is anything but sedate. Available in three models ranging from 82 horse power and 40 horse power, these babies will get you where you want to go, with fun along the way guaranteed. Are you into ice racing? Drill some screws into these knobbies and you’re instantly competitive. On the other hand, if cross-country is your passion, consider the Renegade X XC.

Or maybe your thing is heading into the back country, with camping and hunting or fishing gear. You’re probably going to want to look at the Outlander. Once you’ve strapped your gear on the back and front and your partner has climbed on behind you, you’re ready for adventure. Distant lakes and hunting grounds that beckoned but were a long day’s hike away are now easily accessible in a lot less time with far less effort. Sometimes getting there is most of the fun; other times you just want to get there because once you’re there, that’s when the fun begins. Not that cruising up the mountain with ease doesn’t offer its own brand of fun.

Of course, the Outlander also comes in a variety of models. The Outlander MAX offers four engine options, from 32 to 71 horse power. Passenger seats go off or on in seconds offering your choice of more carrying capacity or more people. Then you’ve got the Outlander MAX XT, the MAX XT-P, and the MAX Limited. The MAX Limited is the top of the line model, and Can-Am calls it “the most luxurious ATV available.” Other bragging points, according to Can-Am:

• New Tri-mode Dynamic Power Steering for intuitive control.

• Air Control Suspension for customizable comfort on the fly.

• Removable Garmin GPS for exploring on four wheels or two feet.

• The Convertible Rack/Seat System offers the best two-up capability to bring along a passenger, and it can also be used for storage on solo rides.

What about when things get messy? You go off road and sooner or later it’s going to rain, turning dirt to mud. Can-Am has an Outlander for that. It’s the Outlander X mr. The “mr” stands for mud-riding. One look at the tires will tell you this is not just a dirt machine, it’s intended for some serious slogging.

Maybe there’s a young rider in your family. Can-Am has an ATV for that. The DS comes in three models, the DS 90, the DS 70, and the DS X. With the DS 90 right-sized for kids 10 and older, and the DS 70 designed for younger ones from 6 up, this ATV is simple with just forward, neutral, and reverse. For a more radical (read “fun”) take on the design, you can opt for the DS X.

Moving up in age a little further, the DS 250 is aimed at riders 14 and up. Again, shifting not an issue with the continuously variable transmission. And then, for a sport quad, there is the DS 450. Racing is in the blood with this one.

Yep, doing some dirt is not at all what it once way. Now it’s a way for the whole family to get out and have a great time, together. And with Can-Am’s line-up of ATVs, you’ll be having fun in style.