How to Add a Contact Form to a Website

July 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Technology

how to add a contact form to a website If you’re not a coding genius, but want to put a clever contact form on your website, you have few options. Contact forms are almost always a good idea as they allow visitors to communicate with you and send you files and information as you please. A contact form doesn’t require the user to send a separate email or to pick up the phone and call – practically unheard of in this day of online usage.

Pay Someone

If you don’t know how to code a website to add a contact page or the template you’re using doesn’t have one, you can always pay someone to do a site redesign or to create a simple form to use on an existing page. Anytime you require a full-fledged custom service, however, you can expect to pay a pretty penny – especially if you want it done correctly the first time.

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Make One Yourself

You might be able to get by with a standard template and a few modifications. If your original site had some sort of contact form or contact information, modifications might be simple to make. You’ll need to dig into your files and pull out a “Coding for Dummies” book or online tutorial to see what changes you need to make, but you might be surprised at how quickly you can piece something together.

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Download a Contact Form

A third option is to let someone else do the work for you for far less than you’d have to pay for a custom design. A flash contact form is a simple image that pops up on a particular page of your website after you download it and get it set up correctly. You pay the asking price, get the files and get the form set up. Then it’s ready to go.

If you use this option, you can expand upon the basics, but trying out different kinds of contact forms. If you’re not sure what the best options are for your site, you can start with a basic form and then offer users a place to upload multiple attachments if it seems more practical down the road. You can also upgrade your contact form to the latest style time and time again without much of an additional expense.

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How to Attract Birds

July 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how do I attract birdsIf you’d like nothing better than to gaze out into your garden and see birds frolicking about, you’d do well to actively recruit them. Here’s how to attract birds to your garden.

Plant a Food Supply

If you want birds to stay in your garden without the help of bird feeders, you should plant a variety of shrubs, trees and flowers that actually provide food for birds year-round. Start with a good mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. Deciduous trees produce fruit and nuts while evergreens provide pinecones and berries. Both plant types offer a place for birds to nest and visit.

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Reduce Lawn

You’ll want to reduce the amount of space the lawn takes up in your yard. Bare expanses of grass have little or no attraction for birds. Build up your garden with a collection of plants in close quarters. Consider a path and arbor through a variety of blooms and fruit trees. Give the bird something to hide and nest in.

Provide Water

You’ll also want to provide your feathered friends with a source of water. A bird bath makes an attractive addition to a garden or you can install a small pond or fountain for appeal as well as a location for birds to drink and bathe.

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Bird Feeders

While waiting for your garden to grow, or if you’re simply unable to build the kind of garden to attract birds, you can also install a bird feeder in your backyard. Be sure the feeder is well stocked with birdseed on a daily basis and hung far enough away from the house and action that birds feel safe. Then, sit back and enjoy the birds that come by for a quick snack.

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How to Secure Your Home on a Budget

July 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to secure your home on a budgetHome security systems can be expensive. If you are working on a tight budget, but would like to be sure your home is as secure as possible without expensive alarms and cameras, you can. Here’s how to secure your home on a budget.

Secure Your Locks

The least expensive way to secure your property is to be sure the locks that are supposed to be keeping people out are up to par. Check all of your locks to be sure none are broken, and then invest in new locks for the front and back door. If you have a sliding door, be sure you have a bar to prevent the door from sliding open without your permission should the lock be jimmied.

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Backdoors are often less secure than front, and most intruders know this. Purchase a chain, deadbolt, or combination of locks for the backdoor as well as the front. This is your first measure of defense, and you want it to be a good one. Check your window locks and see about installing additional locks on these as well.

Set Up Surveillance

Notable cameras are off-putting to intruders as they don’t want their actions recorded. Fake security cameras are inexpensive and may provide an excellent deterrent. If you’d rather have the real thing, but can’t afford a full-blown security system, a simple webcam or nanny cam hooked up through your computer can record short bursts of activity for you to monitor while you’re away or at the end of the day. Just be sure you set up the camera in a location where it can “see” as much as possible.

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Install Lights

A motion activated floodlight in the backyard or along the driveway is another good deterrent to intruders. Someone sneaking up in the dark would suddenly become flooded with light making it hard to act nonchalant. Of course, the neighbor’s cat would also become flooded with light, so consider your wattage and sensitivity when installing these.

Decorative lights that illuminate the yard in both the front and the back can also provide a measure of security by eliminating the darkness that makes it easy for intruders to sneak through. These lights are also attractive, so you’d be killing two birds with one stone.

Be Vigilant

Once you have your locks, lights and cameras in place, you must be vigilant about maintaining them. Don’t get lazy and forget to lock up at night or sleep with a window open if you’re on the first floor. Locks and lights are terrific at helping to keep intruders out, but you must utilize the systems properly for them to work correctly. Be vigilant and be your home’s best protector.

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How to Clean Algae from a Birdbath

July 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to get rid of algae in a birdbathBirdbaths can be a beautiful addition to your backyard. They may be primarily decorative, or they can be functional little spa resorts for your feathered friends. However, bath time can be cut short for your backyard birds if their bathtub is filled with algae. An otherwise lovely garden ornament can become a nuisance when this problem persists. Don’t despair! It is possible to be rid of this pesky growth and return your birdbath to its pristine freshwater condition.

Consider the Wildlife

Before you take a chance harming the wildlife in your backyard by pouring a slug of bleach directly into your birdbath, think again! Never use algae-reducing chemicals in your birdbath since this can harm the animals that come in contact with it. While you are cleaning your birdbath, take precautions to protect the animals as well as yourself.

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Gather Your Materials

To clean your birdbath, you will need a garden hose attached to a water source, scrub brushes, bleach, latex gloves, and a bucket. Be sure to gather your materials before you begin so you can work more efficiently and quickly return your birdbath to working order.

Light Cleaning

Start by emptying the dirty water from your birdbath. You can do this by simply tipping your birdbath slightly until the dirty water drains over the side. Next, you’ll want to rinse any loose debris from the bowl of your birdbath by spraying it with your hose. Put a little more effort into your duty by going after that algae with the scrub brush.

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Bring Out the Big Guns

Now that the easy algae is gone and the really determined stuff is still hanging on, it’s time to get tough. Make a bleach solution in your bucket by mixing three-fourths a cup of liquid bleach with a gallon of water. Again, be sure you are doing this somewhere where animals will not come in contact with the bleach. Also, protect yourself by wearing gloves, old clothes, and working in a well-ventilated area. Pour a little of the bleach solution into the birdbath and go after the remaining algae. When the water is soiled, repeat until you are satisfied with the state of your birdbath.

Out of Order

Now that the job seems like it is done, don’t endanger the birds by immediately putting the birdbath back into service. After you take the birdbath out of the yard, fill the birdbath with another round of bleach solution and cover it with wood or plastic. Allow the solution to work its magic for about fifteen minutes. Rinse thoroughly until no trace of bleach remains, then fill with fresh water and put your birdbath back to work.

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How to Decorate a Patio

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to decorate a patioA patio can be a lovely extension of your home, or it can be a big bare slab of concrete. The difference is just in the decoration. With a few simple touches or even a sizable investment, you can make an outdoor living area that will be a joy to spend time in or entertain on.

Consider Your Budget

The main thing to consider when beginning this process is your budget. How much do you have to spend on this project? Can you afford a makeover or are you just in the market for a few inexpensive touch-ups? If you have the money, you can hire a landscaper to surround your patio with lush vegetation, some shady trees, or some cheery floral annuals.

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Or, you can invest in some durable patio furniture like a table with an umbrella and matching chairs, an outdoor bar, or outdoor fireplace or chiminea. Perhaps you want to take your culinary flair outside and you choose to invest in an outdoor kitchen or gas grill. Don’t be discouraged if these ideas are out of your budget. A few less extravagant purchases can make a difference, too. Once you have an idea of what you can afford, you will be better prepared to make a plan to decorate your patio.

Choose a Theme

Some people choose to have a central theme with their patio decorations. From garden gnomes to birdhouses to dragonfly décor, a theme can bring your decorations together for a more well-thought-out effect. Without a theme, you can still decorate tastefully, or you may end up with a motley assortment of uncoordinated items.

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Go Shopping

Once you have a budget and a theme, it’s time to start shopping. You may want to look for decorative pots in which to grow some herbs, flowers, or greenery. Perhaps the relaxing sound of running water sounds good to you and you want to shop for a little fountain. There are a large assortment of figurines and ceramic or metal decorations to adorn your garden. Don’t forget to find a centerpiece for your patio table! From candles to outdoor wall hangings, you have limitless options to express your style and transform your patio into a showcase for your creativity.

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How to Build a Birdhouse

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to build a bird houseA perfect activity to bring children together with their parents or grandparents, or a relaxing way to connect with nature, building a birdhouse can be easy! Whether you plan to use your finished product as an indoor decoration, a garden garnish, or a functional home for your winged backyard friends, your birdhouse will show your craftsmanship and remind you of the fun time you had making it.

Make a Plan

First, decide whether your birdhouse will be purely functional or decorative. While colorful and decorative birdhouses are a joy to look at, birds prefer to make their homes in more natural, plain and weathered unpainted houses. If you are serious about attracting birds to your finished product, do some research on the types of birds you are interested in. Otherwise, you might consider the size and color you want your birdhouse to be.

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Gather Materials

Once you have a plan, gather your materials. You will need enough wood for the floor, four walls, and roof of your birdhouse. In addition to wood, you’ll need galvanized screws, nails, sandpaper, wood glue, paint, polyurethane finish, and a dowel to serve as a perch at the door of your little house. In addition to your materials, you’ll need tools. While constructing your birdhouse will be easier with the assistance of power tools, many people find satisfaction in using hand tools to put a more personal touch into their creation. Whether powered by electricity or human labor, you’ll need a saw (either hand, band, table, or scroll), a drill, a hammer, a tape measure, a carpenter square, a screwdriver, and a paintbrush. Gather your materials before you begin construction to ensure you have everything you need.

Safety First

While it’s important for everyone attempting this crafty endeavor to consider safety, those working with children need to be especially aware of the safety precautions. This is a great opportunity to discuss the importance of tool safety with your children or grandchildren. Work in a well ventilated area, and be sure to wear protective equipment such as gloves, goggles or safety glasses, and closed-toe shoes. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing. Be particularly conscious of safety around the power tools and/or handsaw. With a few precautions, this activity will be safe and enjoyable for everyone.

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Cut & Assemble

Once you have your plan, your materials, and your wits about you, begin construction. First, measure your wood and use your carpenter square to ensure right angles. Mark your birdhouse’s dimensions on the wood. Be sure to measure twice so you only have to cut once. Once everything is measured out, cut your pieces. Before attaching any of the pieces together, go ahead and cut the hole for the bird entrance and the little perch just beneath it. Use the wood glue and nails to assemble the pieces. Don’t forget to leave the bottom unglued for easy removal for cleaning between seasons. Sand the birdhouse, then decorate according to your predetermined plan. Congratulations! You’ve built a birdhouse!

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