How to Grow Annuals

July 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to grow annual flowersPlanting annuals in season can bring color and vibrancy to your garden and make your landscaping the envy of the neighborhood. With just a little work, and after learning how to grow annuals, you can have a beautiful assortment of colorful flowers blooming in your own yard.

Seeds or Seedlings

First, you need to decide if you are going to grow your annuals from seed or plant established seedings. Buying established plants is more expensive than starting from seed, but it is also much easier and will give you your desired results quicker. Growing flowers from seed takes a little more skill and patience, but can be very rewarding when you have hundreds of flowers for the same cost of a dozen established ones.

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Choose Your Flowers

Annuals by definition are flowers that have a lifespan of one season only, as opposed to perennials, which bloom again and again year after year. If you choose to grow from seed, look carefully at the seed packets to find the plants that are right for you. Those with shorter germinations times are easier to grow than those with longer germination periods, and some seed packets will be marked as a beginner level plant.

If you are using established plants, find some that do not have roots growing out of the bottom of the container and do not have many flowers already on them. While ultimately you want flowers, you want plants that will first put their energy into establishing strong root systems. Plants that are already flowering are already putting more energy into that than into developing roots.

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Plant Your Flowers

Plant the annuals following the directions on the package, with one exception. For premium visual effect, plant them about twenty-five percent closer together than the label recommends. The recommended distance is for optimal plant health rather than best visual effect. Use fertilizer or other soil treatments depending on the needs of your soil and your plants. Pinch off any existing blooms to encourage a better root system. This will produce more flowers in the long run.

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How to Decorate Wall Space

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to decorate wall spaceThere is nothing more intimidating than a blank wall staring you in the face when you enter a room. A large expanse of wall space cries out for decoration, but a wall can be the hardest place to decorate. There is so much space and so many options; it’s hard to narrow down your choices. Here are a few ideas for how to decorate a wall.

Give it Some Color

The first step to cheerful wall decoration is to give your wall some color. Paint it or put on some wall paper. Even if you only paint the single wall, you will have provided an accent wall which may be enough decoration on its own to brighten up your room.

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Find a Large Piece

The next step for a large wall is to find a large decorative piece to grace it. The large piece may be something as simple as a framed poster, or it may be quirky colorful collection such as your framed montage of outhouse décor. If you’re on a budget, two sconces and a valance can frame smaller pieces of artwork, or find a mirror and repaint the frame to match your current furnishing.

Add Accents

Your next step is to add accents to the wall. These might be smaller pieces of framed artwork, sconces and candles, wall mounted light fixtures or decorative iron work. Plates on a plate rack also make an interesting wall decoration as does a well draped tapestry or rug.

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Window Décor

If your wall includes a window, be sure to spend some time considering window treatments. You might hang a simple curtain or sheers. Plantation shutters might have the right feel for the room or you could add molding around the window as the only source of decoration and leave the window uncovered. Decorate your walls to coordinate with your furniture and existing décor, but be sure to throw in enough of your own personality to make it especially yours.

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How To Decorate a Living Room

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to decorate a dining roomThe living room is the center of your home. The formal living room often sets the tone for the rest of the household, and the decorating style you select has bearing on every room in the house.

Find a Theme:

When you decorate a living room, you must first consider your preferred style. Are you a fan of country decorating with gingham and lace? Or perhaps you prefer classic styles with display tables and curios. Modern styles with bold lines and bright colors are increasingly common as are comfortable styles that use neutral colors and oversized furniture. Flip through decorating magazines or websites to see examples of what appeals to you.

Find a Focus:

The focus of your living room will be the starting point for decorating. The focus should be a large item that brings your personality to the room such as the fireplace mantle, picture above the fireplace, sofa, rug, or even an ottoman. Use that piece to find your color pattern and inspiration for the rest of the room.

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Living Room Colors:

Once you have your focus, select a wall color and accenting colors for accessories and additional furniture. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but using a focus piece will help keep the room coordinated rather than matching. Paint the walls or use wall paper, then select window treatments, rugs and upholstery that coordinates with the rest of your selections.

Living Room Window Treatments:

Window treatments such as drapes, blinds and shutters give a room a polished look. Shutters can be a more beautiful alternative to basic blinds, and drapes or window hangings bring a room together.

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Living Room Furniture:

The furniture in the living room can be many things, but most often consists of a sofa and additional seating. Chairs, chaise lounges and love seats all find their way into living rooms as do rocking chairs, ottomans and foot stools. Desks and bookcases are common additions as are coffee and side tables. Buy furniture according to the size of your room and your particular decorating style. Minimalist styles will have little furniture while traditional styles will have much more.

Living Room Accessories:

Finally, once the colors, windows, and furniture is selected, you can focus your attention on finding accessories such as pictures, lamps, curios and houseplants to help bring a room to life. Don’t overwhelm your living room with accessories, but tasteful accent pieces scattered throughout the room make the room comfortable and personalized to your unique taste.

Living Room Arrangement:

Arrange your furniture according to the shape and traffic flow of a room. Many believe the arrangement of furniture can affect the tranquility of a home, and at the very least a misplaced table or sofa can be the cause of repeatedly stubbed toes and bashed knees. Leave plenty of room for navigation and ease of motion. Group chairs together for conversations and be sure to play up the focus of your room as it is the piece that brings everything together.

Once you have your focus, select a wall color and accenting colors for accessories and additional furniture. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but using a focus piece will help keep the room coordinated rather than matching. Paint the walls or use wall paper, then select window treatments, rugs and upholstery that coordinates with the rest of your selections.

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How to Treat Tendonitis

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to treat tendonitis Tendonitisis the slight tearing that occurs in the tendons that connect muscle to bone. By overextending or overusing muscles in a repetitive fashion the tendon can become strained and develop microscopic tears. Mild or routine cases of tendonitis can be treated at home with rather simple procedures. If you’ve tried these procedures and been unsuccessful or if you’ve been troubled by the same patch of tendonitis for over a year, consult your doctor as you’re likely suffering from an chronic condition.

Symptoms of Tendonitis

When your joint, such as shoulder or knee, feels stiff and achy following an activity or is inflamed in the general area of the joint, it is very likely you’re suffering from tendonitis. The pain usually becomes worse during and after an activity and might be worse the following day.

Treating Tendonitis

To treat tendonitis, you must focus on loosening the tendon, reducing the pain and eliminating the inflammation.

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Loosen the Tendon

Tendons are the stiff pieces of tissue at the end of a muscle that connect the muscle to bone. When the tendon is pulled too much, it can tear slightly. As the tears heal, scar tissue is formed which creates additional stiffness in the joint lasting anywhere from six weeks to six months. To avoid injuring the tendon again, you must work to make the scar tissue and tendon as supple as possible. The best ways to loosen the tendons is light stretching, massage and ultrasounds with your doctor’s assistance.

Reducing the Pain and Inflammation

To trick to reducing pain and inflammation is to avoid making the area more stiff. Ice, for example, will reduce pain and inflammation, but it will also make the joint stiff which might hurt the tendon more. A topical pain reliever with menthol, on the other hand, will relieve the pain and open the blood vessels helping to further loosen the area.

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Products with MSM, also known as Methyl Sulfonyl Methane, are especially effective at helping reduce inflammation and pain caused by tendonitis. You should avoid Cortisone injections as they will reduce inflammation but cause more scar tissue to be created making the injury worse over time.

Prevent Tendonitis

To prevent tendonitis, you should always stretch before exercise and avoid overtaxing your muscles and joints. Don’t overextend and be sure to warm up and cool down as part of your daily fitness routine.

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How to Reduce Back Pain

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

 how to help with back painIf you are constantly troubled by back pain and muscles spasms, you need to make some changes to avoid damaging your back. It may be that your posture is terrible or you’re putting too much strain on your back muscles. Reducing back pain can make your life much easier and much more enjoyable – here’s how.

Stop Lifting

If your back is troubling you day after day, your first step is to stop making it worse by lifting incorrectly, twisting oddly and carrying heavy weights. If you normally carry your toddler, have him walk for a few days. If you’re carrying a baby, invest in a hip shelf that can help save your back. Groceries wearing you down? Try folding carts or take one bag at a time. By reducing the work your back muscles are doing, you will be well on your way to reducing pain.

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Build Muscle

If you’re plagued by constant back pain, it is likely that you don’t have enough muscle to properly support your midsection. You need to build muscle in both your back and your abdominals as these muscles properly support your back. Visit with a personal trainer or begin a series of crunches and other midsection toning exercises to start building muscle. You’ll find the muscle builds slowly, but you’ll immediately notice a difference in how you stand and possibly your energy level. Every little bit of muscle helps, so start crunching!

Stand Up Straight

Often posture is the number one cause of back pain. Do you slouch? Try and catch yourself slouching and force yourself to stand up straight. Hours spend seated behind computers can hurt your back as well, so invest in a ergonomic chair or at the very least an ergonomic chair pad to help support your back – then sit in it correctly with your feet on the floor.

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Stretch and Walk

Going for a walk while standing up straight and taking deep breathes can have a huge impact on back pain. Raise your arms over your head to stretch your back and, without hurting yourself, try and touch your toes. Lay on your back and draw your knees up to your chest to help stretch your back as well. Then hop up from the floor, and start walking. The exercise will relax all of your muscles and get the blood moving.

Apply Heat

If your back still needs a bit more TLC, apply a heating pad or sit against a heated massage chair. The heat will help to soften and relax the muscle making knots loosen and spasms cease. A hot tub or even a hot shower can help to relax the muscle as well, especially if your able to stand in the shower with the hot spray focused on the area in need.

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How to Handle Muscular Dystrophy

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to handle muscular dystrophyA diagnosis of muscular dystrophy can be devastating. There are many variations of the disease and none are good. While some are almost immediately life threatening, others attack muscles slowly over time giving patients an opportunity to handle the disease in hopes of a cure down the road. Here is how to handle muscular dystrophy.

Exercise

Muscular dystrophy is a disease that affects the muscles. By strengthening the muscles, the disease can be slowed in some patients. If you are diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, the first step is to plan an exercise routine with the guidance of your doctor and physical therapist.

Other kinds of exercise should be included in your routine including breathing and coughing exercises to aid with the respiratory system. Exercise should be undertaken very seriously as it can slow or even prevent abnormal positioning of the joints or curving of the spine.

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Drugs

For certain forms of muscular dystrophy, prescriptions drugs have been shown to be effective in slowing and helping patients handle the disease. There is no cure yet, although scientists are working to find one. If you have Duchenne muscular dystrophy, ask your doctor about corticosteroids to slow muscle destruction, and with myotonic muscular dystrophy, phenytoin, procainamide or quinine can treat delayed muscle relaxation.

Surgeries

For many patients with muscular dystrophy, surgery becomes necessary. If you are a good candidate, undergo surgery to help correct muscle shortening. Also talk to your doctor about a surgically implanted cardiac pacemaker if you suffer from Emery-Dreifuss or myotonic muscular dystrophy.

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Mobility Assistance

If your disease continues to progress despite your best preventative efforts find mobility assistance. Being about to move on your own is huge, and when you’ve lost freedom, there are large adjustments to be made. Locate a motorized wheelchair or even just a cane or walker to help get around when your muscles begin to prevent normal walking or become painful after walking distances.

Stay Positive

Finally, the most important step of all is to remain positive. There are ongoing explorations into possible treatments and new procedures. Work hard at keeping your muscles as healthy as possible, and work just as hard to keep your brain and mind in working condition. Focus on the joys of life and try to remember that life is about more than the effects of a disease, even if it’s hard at times.

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How to Deal with Thinning Hair

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to deal with balding hairWhen your hair starts to thin, there are emotional impacts. Nobody likes the idea of balding, but there are ways to deal with the thinning hair that can make it less noticeable or even replace the hair that has gone missing.

Hair Replacement

When your hair begins to fall out, or if it already has, the only way to guarantee that hair will grow in the bald spots is to have it replaced. Hair replacement takes plugs of hair from other areas on your head or body and surgically implants them into the bald areas. Hair replacement surgery has a long history with a good track record of success.

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Topical Treatments

Another option, preferred by many men for its lower cost, is to use a topical treatment. Creams, lotions, shampoos and other treatment products that claim to stop hair loss and encourage hair growth have been tested by the FDA and may work only on certain types of baldness. These products are worth a try, however.

Lifestyle

Another option to stop thinning hair is to increase your exercise and resolve any unhealthy issues in your diet. By keeping a healthy lifestyle and reducing stress, you may be able to slow the loss of hair over time.

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Shave Your Head

If you want to hide baldness completely, you can always shave your head. Bald heads are becoming more mainstream, and many elect to shave their heads for style rather than necessity. If you like an urban look, use a razor to take off the hair that’s left. Be ready for a dramatic change, but you might actually like it.

Cut Your Hair

If you can’t fathom the thought of shaving all your hair off, you should strongly consider cutting it. Thin hair looks even thinner when the strands are long and you can see scalp between them. By cutting your hair very short, it will appear thicker and disguise much of the thinning.

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How To Understand Your COBRA Rights

July 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Business & Finance

how to get cobra health insuranceCOBRA, or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, gives you the right to continued group insurance under most circumstances for a limited time. COBRA benefits are usually more expensive than the group rates you paid while employed as your former employer is no longer footing part of the bill, but in many cases is less expensive than independent insurance. For some situations, it might be the only method to keep insurance for situations like ongoing treatment and pregnancy.

What is COBRA?

The Untied States Government passed the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act in 1986 to extend health care coverage that might otherwise be terminated. It gives you options when it comes to healthcare.

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Who Qualifies?

There are many situations that qualify you, your spouse or your dependents for COBRA benefits. In most cases, unless you were fired for gross misconduct, you, your spouse and dependents all qualify. Other circumstances also allow for benefits including death, divorce, qualification for Medicare, reduction in working hours and if a child outgrows dependent status.

Why COBRA?

If you were laid off or chose to leave a job, but don’t have another one with benefits already lined up, COBRA might be a nice way to bridge the gap without having to find other insurance. Benefits can last for one to three years and once you are approved, you can continue with the same methods of treatment you’ve been using up to that point. This is especially important for those with ongoing treatments for long term diseases, conditions and pregnancy where finding other insurance with the same coverage might be almost impossible.

COBRA benefits are often a bit less expensive than a similar plan through independent insurance.

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What Do I Do?

When you leave a position or come into another situation which entitles you to COBRA benefits, you will receive a letter from your former employer within 14 days. You then can apply for benefits and your specific situation determines approval. Generally you have up to 60 days to apply, and coverage begins on the first day you would normally have had coverage – even if you elect the plan 60 days after that time.

For additional information, the United States Government has a list of FAQ available here.

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How To Get Insurance with Current Medical Condition

July 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Business & Finance

how to get insurance coverage for an existing conditionFor years it was almost impossible to find insurance that adequately covered preexisting conditions. This is no longer the case in the United States following the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which passed in 1997. Getting insurance with a current medical condition maybe easier than you think – in the United States at least.

Current Medical Conditions

According to HIPAA, a preexisting, or current, medical condition is anything that has been treated in the last six months. This does not include pregnancy or new babies. Those are not considered preexisting conditions at all and can not be subjected to wait periods. The only limitation an insurance agency can put on you (and your preexisting condition) is a twelve month waiting period before coverage for that treatment begins.

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The Waiting Game

HIPPA also allows for your prior health insurance to be credited toward the twelve month waiting period provided you didn’t lapse in insurance for more than 62 days. This means that if you were diagnosed with an illness one year ago, but remained insured for that year, you no longer qualify for a waiting period and can begin new coverage immediately. An insurance company can not make you wait for treatment or deny you coverage based on that condition. This is true when going from one group plan to another, but things do become more complicated when a large insurance plan is not involved.

COBRA

If you are leaving a job for any reason but being fired, you can use your COBRA rights to continue your current benefits until you find a new job, preferably one with group coverage. COBRA will offer you the same insurance you had at your prior position, even if you are laid off, so your treatments should be covered for up to three years. During that time, you can find a new position or with the conclusion of treatments, lose your preexisting condition status.

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No Coverage

If you are entering a group policy without insurance for the prior 62 days, you may be put on a twelve month waiting period – at least for the specific condition. This may also be true if you are seeking independent insurance not bound by group policies or limitations. If this is your case, consider taking the following steps to find coverage:

  • Get a clause in an insurance plan excluding the specific medical condition, but allowing for coverage of any other sort.
  • See what plans your state offers for those who can not get medical insurance.
  • Look into plans and treatment options at county or state run facilities.
  • Find a group of other independents to join that have a medical plan. (i.e. Realtors, artists, etc…)
  • Get a catastrophic plan which doesn’t cover doctor’s visits, but does cover emergency care and hospital bills.
  • Speak with a Health Benefits Counselor about your best options.
  • Appeal the refusal – especially if there are additional state laws protecting citizens with poor health, obesity, etc…
  • Wait it out. Find a way to make ends meet until the waiting period is up, and then never let your insurance lapse more than 62 days.

For additional information on insurance outside the United States, visit:

http://www.global-health-insurance.com/pre_existing_conditions.php

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How to Get Insurance for IVF Treatments

July 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Business & Finance

how to get insurance for in-vitro fertilizationIn vitro fertilization (IVF) is a final resort for many couples who struggle with infertility. As infertility becomes more widely discussed and more options present themselves to couples, insurance companies have begun to offer IVF coverage. That coverage varies by company and by guidelines and laws set forth by the actual state. In many areas legislation is still being developed, but IVF insurance is becoming more common and easier to obtain.

Find Your State’s Guidelines

The first step in determining if you can get IVF coverage is to see what your state requires from insurance companies. States have different requirements, if they have any at all. For example in Texas, insurance companies must offer it, but not necessarily include IVF with maternity care. To qualify for IVF insurance, you must have struggled with documented infertility for five or more years.

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In Arkansas, by comparison, you simply must try other fertility methods first, but there is no timeline on infertility to qualify. However, in Arkansas, HMOs are exempt from laws requiring IVF offerings. To find what your state covers, contact your state’s Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

Review Your Current Plan

Read the fine print of your current plan to see if IVF is already included or if it is available. Call the company to discuss the possibly and see what the conditions would be to be approved for coverage. Speak with as many people as possible about your options to be sure you fully understand the program, if it is available, and what you can do to qualify.

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Apply for IVF Insurance

If you are not already covered through your maternity program and IVF insurance is available, apply for separate IVF insurance from the same family of companies. This would be a rider on your current policy.

Seek Out Alternatives

If you are not approved or your state does not require companies to offer IVF coverage, seek out alternatives. IVF is expensive, and even a small plan can help cut costs tremendously. There are many companies that offer insurance coverage of IVF treatments. Do your research and apply for reputable programs. IVF insurance is worth the effort – not only does it give you peace of mind, but leaves a bit of money in your pocket as well.

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