Garden Solutions Center Blogs
Take your passion for gardening to the next level with inspired posts.
Everything’s Comin’ up Roses
Everything will come up roses if you get them in the ground now. This is the ideal time to plant bareroot roses in cooler regions and northern areas of the country. Bareroot season is over for warmer zones and southern areas, but you can buy potted roses and plant them now.
Stain Removal Tips
Stains on your clothes can be very expensive. If you don’t remove them correctly you can set the stain and have to throw out the piece of clothing. Stain removal is a science that involves a little chemistry and some common sense. Hopefully these tips will help you keep your wardrobe looking great.
Try to remember what caused the stain. – knowing what stained your clothes is half the battle. If you know what the stain is then you choose the correct stain remover. One stain remover does not work for all stains.
Be prepared – Have an arsenal of things ready so you can deal with the stain as soon as they happen. Some basic items are club soda, hydrogen peroxide, an enzyme based stain remover and corn starch.
The corn starch will absorb all the moisture so you can treat the stain.
Hydrogen peroxide is perfect for removing blood and other red stains.
An enzyme stain remover works to remove organic stains such as food and urine.
Club soda is the perfect thing to use when you don’t know what’s in the stain.
Grease stains can be removed with a two-step process. Start by pouring rubbing alcohol or vodka over the greasy spot. Work the alcohol into the stained area with your fingers. Let it sit for a few minutes then rub it with a bar of soap. The oil will be broken down with the alcohol and the soap will lift it right out.
Never dry your clothes until you know the stain is really gone. I air dry everything that might have a stain. I check for the spot then put it back through the wash cycle. The heat from the dryer will permanently set the stain so letting it air dry will give you a second chance at removing the stain.
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Featured Read: Susan Mallery’s Evening Stars
From the Author: Too Much of a Good Thing
The difference between confident and cocky is a matter of degrees. So is the difference between kind and pushover, or hard-working and workaholic. Every positive aspect of a personality can become a negative if taken too far. What might be our greatest assets can become roadblocks to happiness and fulfillment. Think about this in terms of your own life. Which of your personal strengths is also a weakness?
Nina, the heroine of Evening Stars, is a nurturer. She’s one of the most giving people you’ll ever meet, but she has given so much to the people she loves that she has no time or energy left for herself. A lot of women do this. We sacrifice ourselves in our service to others.
Nina wanted to be a doctor, but she gave up her dreams of medical school—as well as the man she loved—so that her younger sister, Averil could afford college. By the time Averil graduated, Nina felt trapped by her obligation to help support their mom, Bonnie. Bonnie takes “fun” those few degrees too far. She’s always been irresponsible, leaving Nina to pick up the slack from a very young age.
When Averil returns to Blackberry Island to figure out why she’s discontent, something inside Nina snaps. She gave up her own dreams so Averil could pursue hers, and Averil dares to be unhappy? Averil has a wonderful husband she doesn’t appreciate, while Nina can’t even remember the last time she went on a date! But all that is about to change.…
Evening Stars is the story of fate conspiring to shake Nina out of her state of complacency. Averil’s return coincides with the return of Nina’s first love and the arrival of a charming younger fighter pilot who leaves no doubt of his feelings for Nina. After years of thinking about everyone except herself, she’s going to be forced to decide how she wants the rest of her life to look.
About the Author:
With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Her latest book is Evening Stars, an emotional story of two sisters who must learn how to let each other go in order to become closer than ever. Booklist says of Evening Stars, “Mallery pulls out all the stops in this highly enjoyable and insightful, funny
, and poignant look at self-sacrifice and romantic entanglement.”
Visit Susan online at www.SusanMallery.com.
Featured Read: Atonement by BJ Daniels
From the Author:
I see cowboys every day where I live in Montana. Recently I crossed paths with a young cowboy with the most wonderfully worn boots—complete with tarnished silver spurs. He was pulling a horse trailer with his muddy pickup, wore worn jeans and a denim jacket, and he had his black cowboy hat pulled low. I almost asked him if I could take a photo of him—he was such a perfect cowboy for one of my books.
He was the real thing—a working cowboy.
My character Dillon Lawson in ATONEMENT, my latest Beartooth, Montana, book, is that real-life cowboy. He has the qualities I look for when I write my books. He knows pickups and horses. He holds a door for a lady. He is always polite, soft-spoken and considerate.
He is loyal, trustworthy, smart and capable. He loves the land, feels a rush of emotion for the life he is grateful to be living and works hard to keep it. He can ride a horse, shoot a gun and wrestle a bear if he has to. He loves his family, would never let down a friend and strongly supports his community.
When it comes to women, he knows a good one when he sees her—and is hell-bent on not letting her get away.
But he also would never steal another man’s woman—especially his brother’s.
Unfortunately for Dillon in ATONEMENT, he is faced with just that dilemma when he meets Tessa Winters—the woman who is carrying his brother’s child. What makes their first meeting even more awkward is the fact that Dillon’s brother Ethan has been dead for more than a year.
ATONEMENT is about a cowboy who, while doing the right thing, falls in love with his brother’s woman and the baby she is carrying. Dillon suspects his brother Ethan, who has always found trouble, faked his death a year ago. Now he must find his brother before the very pregnant Tessa has her baby. At the same, he must keep her safe—and at arm’s length.
About the Author:
That first book, Odd Man Out, received a 4 ½-star review from Romantic Times magazine and went on to be nominated for Best Intrigue for that year. Since then she was won numerous awards including a career achievement award for romantic suspense and numerous nominations and awards for best book.
Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and two springer spaniels, Spot and Jem. When she isn’t writing, she snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis.
Trampoline Safety Tips for High Flying Fun
Backyard trampolines can provide hours of family fun. But they can also pose some risks if simple rules aren’t followed. Here are 7 simple rules that will keep you bouncing safely.
Make sure an adult is supervising
Because kids who are 15 and younger account for nearly two-thirds of all trampoline injuries*, parental supervision is a must.
No children under age 6
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends allowing only children older than 6 on a full-size trampoline.
A secure safety enclosure and shock-absorbing pads to cover metal springs and hooks are must-haves. Be sure to select an enclosure that fits your trampoline. Enclosures from Pure Global Brands come in all standard sizes.
Jumping off a trampoline is asking for injury. Always use a trampoline ladder when entering or exiting a trampoline. It’s equally important to remove the ladder when it’s not in use. A ladder left attached is an invitation for unsupervised play.
Say no to somersaults and flips
The CPSC warns against kids flipping and somersaulting on a backyard trampoline. These moves put your kids at a higher risk for head, neck and back injuries. Encourage safe games for kids of all ages to play, such as who can bounce the longest or simple games of volleying a large ball back and forth while bouncing.
Place the trampoline in a safe location
Never set up your trampoline on concrete, asphalt or under/near power lines or trees. Keep the trampoline away from the sides of the house, deck, pool and any other backyard structure. If possible, consider installing an in-ground trampoline.
Set time limits
Trampolines offer hours of exercise and bouncing fun. Keep kids of all ages safe by setting time limits. Young legs may seem to have boundless energy, but give those legs a break every hour, exercise a different muscle group and encourage another outdoor activity such as riding bikes, skipping rope or playing catch.
*According to Dr. Marie M. Lozon, director of Children’s Emergency Services at the University of Michigan
How to Teach Your Dog to Speak
Teaching your dog simple commands will help you bond with your four-legged friend. Once you’re past the basics like sit and stay, it’s time to get your pooch to speak and be quiet. Here are 6 steps to success.
Start every training session with positive energy. Your dog is led by your emotions, so be happy and excited; using a toy helps. Consider having a toy that’s solely dedicated to training, so your dog will make the association that it’s learning time.
Trying to teach your dog to be quiet by yelling at him or getting angry will NOT work. Like humans, dogs respond better to positive motivation, a consistent approach and incentives — which brings us to number two.
When your dog’s alert and excited, it’s time to add focus. This is where the treat comes in. Quickly flash the treat then hide it behind your back. This lets your dog know he will be expected to do something to earn the reward.
Speak the command
In a firm, but excited tone say “Speak!” When your dog responds with a bark, give him the treat and praise him “Good dog!” Make sure your dog associates the action with the treat and isn’t just barking out of excitement.
Repetition is key
Keep practicing until the behavior becomes instinctual and you can phase out the treat.
And now, “sshhh” or “quiet”
You can use either the “sshhh” or “quiet” voice command, just be consistent. Some people feel the “sshhh” sound is calming and therefore more effective. It’s good to pair the voice command with a hand signal, like an index finger over your nose. Timing is critical with this command, be sure to give the command right after he barks. Like the speak command, make sure your dog associates the command with the behavior, and be sure to have lots of treats on hand.
Garden Solutions Center Blogs
Take your passion for gardening to the next level with inspired posts.
Early Spring Flowers
For me there’s no better way to kick off the spring season than with the warmth of sunshine and colorful spring flowers. Whether you’re shaking off the doldrums of winter snow or dealing with a lackluster landscape, there’s something uplifting about a season that signals new life. Even while growing up in southern California where the winters are mild, I always looked forward to the parade of spring blooms that signaled the beginning of my favorite season.
I will be heading out to my local Kmart to pick up a few spring bloomers that do well in our Pacific Northwest climate. But before anything gets planted I always begin with a clean-up survey of the garden beds.
Start by removing thick winter mulch from flowers beds and pull any weeds before their roots become established. (Add the winter mulch and any disease-free plant debris to the compost pile.) Once the plants are in the ground and the soil has warmed up I bit, add a new layer of compost or aged manure to deter new weeds and nourish your plants.
Perhaps you may be breaking new ground by adding a flower bed. Once you remove any sod or weeds from the planting area, be sure to pick up a soil test kit at your local Kmart to test the fertility and pH of your soil. Knowing which fertilizers and amendments are needed will help ensure bigger and better blooms.
When it comes to spring, the age-old advice has always been to hold off on digging until the soil is ready to work. Here’s a quick test to help you know when it’s time: Squeeze a handful of soil and if it crumbles in your hands, then it’s time to dig in. Add a 1 to 2 inch layer of aged manure or a 2 to 4 inch layer of organic matter such as compost, shredded leaves, or grass clippings. This will not only improve soil texture, but as the organic matter decomposes it will also add nutrients and boost levels of beneficial microorganisms that make these nutrients more available to plants.
At planting time, give your flowering plants a good start by soaking the soil before putting them in the ground. When you’re ready to plant, loosen the root ball so that plant roots can easily spread out into the soil, then water new plantings again once they are in the ground. This will help plants settle in faster to their new space.
There’s no better time to add spring color to your garden than right now. Here’s a list of early bloomers to get you started.
Early spring flowering annuals: larkspur (Consolida ajacis), pansies (Viola cornuta, V x wittrockiana), pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), sky lupine (Lupinus nanus), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus), sweet william (Dianthus william).
Early spring flowering perennials: bleeding heart (Dicentra spectablis; D. hybrids), carpet bugle (Ajuga reptans), columbine (Aquilegia spp, A. hybrids), creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera), primrose (Primula spp.), speedwell (Veronica spp., some).
Early spring flowering shrubs: azalea/rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.), camellia (Camellia spp.), flowering quince (Chaenomeles), forsythia (Forsythia spp.; f. hybrids), heath (Erica spp., some), lilac (Syringa spp.), witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia).
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Julia London – The Trouble With Honor Q & A
1. If you had to pick a current movie actress to play the part of Honor Cabot, who would you envision playing the role?
- Hands down, Jennifer Lawrence. She has the right amount of irreverence and joie de vivre that Honor Cabot possesses.
2. What qualities does Honor have that are similar to the modern woman?
- Honor goes after what she wants and needs and is unapologetic for it. I think women were so marginalized in the early nineteenth century that trying to solve her family’s problems in unconventional ways was a very brave thing for her to do. Women are freer to do that now, but in some respects, it is still hard. We still struggle against expectations from our jobs, our families and our peers. In that regard, I think any of us could relate to Honor.
- Honor was quite the fashion plate. In the Regency era, she would steer away from the white muslin that was so popular and opt for vibrant colors and very tight bodices. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Today, I think she would be into shoes—expensive shoes—and very short skirts. She liked to draw attention to herself.
4. What is new in this series? How does it differ from your existing series?
- I think what’s new for me, as a writer, is writing about women who openly don’t care what society thinks as they strive for what they want. As they say, if they could buy their way out of their problems, they would, but they can’t work, their money comes from men and they are expected to do nothing more than bear children. The Cabot sisters are not above using the only thing they have at their disposal—their looks, their connections and their virtue—to provide for their family and protect their younger sisters.
In the past, I have written heroines who have a lot of spunk, but managed to make their way in a manner society deemed appropriate for them. In other words, my heroines in the past may have been unwittingly caught up in scandal, while the Cabot sisters knowingly create scandal.
5. What are you most excited about in joining the Harlequin team?
- Harlequin has spent decades creating fiction for women, by women. I am so excited to be writing for a house that is in the forefront of page-turning fiction that speaks to all of us. It’s an exciting organization with great ideas and successes as we all move forward in the changing world of how books are delivered to the reader. And they are so very supportive of me, it feels like family.
Pick up your copy of The Trouble with Honor at select Kmart stores or purchase online now!
Plan Fun Family Activities for Quality Time Together
Most of us lead fairly hectic lives, but being busy is no excuse for missing out on family fun. Sure, you juggle a job, errands and housework. Your kids have school and extracurricular activities. Despite those obligations, scheduling activities for you all to do together is essential.
Childhood goes by far too fast, and you need to take every opportunity to create lasting, loving memories.
Fortunately, setting the stage for special moments is never impossible, even during the busiest weeks. Here are three creative ideas for planning fun activities everyone in your family can enjoy.
Build a fort
All you need to turn any room into a fantasy zone ruled by a princess or defended by a knight are a few chairs and some old blankets or bedsheets. After draping the chairs, use couch cushions to create tunnels and private spaces. Switch off all the lamps and use only flashlights in the fort to make the experience even more exciting.
Stage a theme night for watching movies
Pick a film you and your kids like equally and make it an unforgettable event by pairing the film with themed treats, crafts or costumes. Serve heaping plates of spaghetti and meatballs while showing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Or prepare yogurt parfaits to accompany Shrek. As Donkey says, “Parfaits are delicious!” Use your imagination, and ask your kids for ideas of their own; the possibilities are limitless.
Complete an art project
Purchase a pack of large poster boards and give your kids some markers or finger paints. The rest is up to them. They could draw a family portrait or a bunch of silly monsters. Encourage them to draw things they like, such as their favorite foods, television characters or animals. Join them by making your own pictures. If you want a little less mess, stickers are a nice option. When you’re done, display your family’s masterpieces where everyone can see them.
Implementing any of these suggestions can turn an average night into a great one. Set aside a little time for one or all this week. You’ll be sure to produce pleasant memories, big smiles and loads of laughs.
Start Early, Be Consistent When Training a New Puppy
Some experts say you should not start training a puppy until the dog is between 4 and 6 months old. Others say it is never too early to start training a puppy, with some claiming the first two weeks of a dog’s life are the most crucial for instilling proper behaviors and the ability to learn new skills. Most agree dog training can never begin too late. Early training does appear to work best because everyone is so enthusiastic. At worst, proper training ensures the puppy has fun getting to know its new pack. Plus, waiting too long makes puppy training more difficult because negative behaviors can become ingrained in both owners and dogs very quickly.
Stick to a schedule Before you decide to bring a puppy into your home, commit to putting in the time and effort necessary to train the dog to be a good pet. Draw up a detailed schedule for when and who will take care of the puppy at which times or what days, along with a timeline for when to teach new behaviors and skills. Walks, feedings and playtime should all be scheduled.
Gear up Make sure you have all the equipment you need to control, feed, house, entertain and train a puppy before you bring one into your house. At a minimum, you need an adjustable collar, leash, dog bed, food, feeding bowls and toys. Introducing a new dog to items it recognizes as its own helps the puppy feel at home while also protecting some your items from damage.
Never be cruel Training sessions should be fun for owners and puppies. A puppy learns more, and more quickly, when enjoying itself than it does when being treated harshly. Always be kind and encouraging; never yell at or insult your puppy. Shower it with affection regardless of how it performs in the early weeks. Your new pet has recently been removed from its mother and littermates, and it may be feeling very lonely. In essence, your puppy is vulnerable emotionally, and you do not want to cause it more distress.
Don’t let bad behaviors become habits Immediately redirect, rather than punish, energy put into negative behaviors that puppies are prone to, such as jumping on people. When such things occur, distract the dog by calling its name, offering it a toy or even just making a loud noise by stomping your foot. Deterring behaviors you do not want from the earliest age saves a lot of trouble later.
Be patient Exercising patience is the key to successfully training a puppy. Do not get frustrated if your puppy does not pick up on lessons as fast as you would like. Just like humans, different breeds and different puppies learn at different speeds. The time you put in during those first few weeks will pay off in years of calm and quality companionship.