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Archive for the ‘tips’ tag

March 27th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Spring Gardening Preparation

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If you like to garden, or want to start one, now’s the time to get ready for planting! (Did we mention that April is National Gardening Month?) As the ground thaws, soil needs to be prepared in order to create the best growing medium for your plants. Different types of plants require different kinds of care, including the timing of their planting, exposure to sunlight, supplemented nutrition, watering, spacing, and harvesting. Get your kids involved and let them help you however they can. Here are some basic guidelines for starting your spring planting.

  1. Determine your frost date. If you live in an area where you get a true winter, it’s important that you know your area’s frost date to avoid planting too soon. There are quite a few online resources to help you figure it out. Try Dave’s Garden…you just put in your zip code and it tells you your frost risks and timing.
  2. Choose your plants. Gather your bulbs and seeds and determine which ones need to be planted first. Some plants can survive colder temperatures.
  3. Section your garden. Plants should be grouped by type and care. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, etc. should have their own sections. Keep their “requirements” in mind when you create your sections…some need lots of direct sunlight, while others thrive in shady spots.
  4. Test your soil. You should first make sure the soil is ready to be prepared. Heavy soil that is still wet from snow and rain will not let your plants breathe. You can tell it’s ready when you pick it up, squeeze it into a ball with your hands, and then drop it, or poke it. If it crumbles into small particles, it is dry enough to be worked. If it breaks into large clumps or stays in form, it is still too moist. Not all soil is equal, so learning a bit about your native soil will help you understand when it’s ready.
  5. Prepare your soil. There are a lot of things you can do to improve the medium your plants grow in. Without going into too much detail, consider looking into the various soil-improvement methods, including pH testing, composting, fertilizing, tilling, mulching, etc. Hint: Used coffee grounds and egg shells make great fertilizers!
  6. Plant! When your soil is ready, plant your seeds and bulbs, take care of them and watch them grow! Garden maintenance can be tedious, but rewarding. Make sure you water and fertilize as needed, and don’t forget to pick those pesky weeds!

Do you have a garden and have tips to share? Post them and/or pictures of your garden on our Facebook page!

 

Photo Credit: www.ivillage.com

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March 25th, 2014 at 8:03 am

A Few Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Gadgets

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Are your phone and keyboard starting to look a little icky? Ever wish you could just run them through the wash? I’d rather not think  about just how dirty and germy our devices get. Ew. Obviously we can’t hose them down with bleach and disinfectant, so here’s a few safer ways to get and keep your gadgets a little bit cleaner.

The best tool for starters is a can of compressed air to clean out the crumbs between keys and blow off dust. Another option is to keep a small paintbrush handy to do the job. And for your screens, the simplest way to clean it is a lint free cloth slightly dampened with water (distilled if you have it). Q-tips dampened with a 50-50 mix of alcohol and distilled water gives you a little more cleaning power and help remove the sticky stuff.

Taking it to the next level, there are products available that are specific to some of these tasks. CyberClean  is a cool putty-like product that dirt, dust and germs stick to as you dab it on your device.

Some other products out there include a Roomba-like vacuum that rides over your device and picks up the dirt and germs. There are also various wipes, brushes, suction devices and cleaning solutions. Here’s Mashable’s rundown of some of the more interesting ones.

And to keep your iPhone or iPad clean every  time you store them, try the NueVue device cases that have built-in anti-microbial protection.

A clean device is a happy device. Regularly wiping and blowing out of debris is a good practice. But be careful with vacuum cleaners – they can suck the keys right off your keyboard. Ask my Fn key.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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May 17th, 2011 at 4:00 am

Do You Google Doc?

Have you tried Google Docs yet? If not you should give them a try. The suite of products offered in Google Docs is a free, easy and really useful alternative to Office.

Here’s how it works. If you’re a Gmail user, then just click on the Documents link at the top of your Gmail home page. If you’re not, then go here. You will need a Google account (not the same as a Gmail account, just a free account that lets you take advantage of all of the Google products) to sign in.

Once you’re in the Google Docs home page, you can create a document, spreadsheet, presentation or form using the Create New button. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Office products, it’s pretty easy to create your documents and use the tools and menu items to design and format them.

Keep in mind that for heavily formatted documents and complex spreadsheets and presentations, the Office products are still the best, but for everyday docs, Google Docs have a distinct advantage. Here’s why.

Any document that you create can be shared with others for collaboration or just viewing. I use this feature for working with colleagues and the ease of use is a real plus. These are also great when working in school and volunteer committees. No more attaching docs to emails, and worrying about revisions and saving under a different version and all that headache. Once you’ve given someone share privileges, they can edit the document freely and you can check out the changes by watching them work on it in real time, or checking the revision history to see what changes have been made. And if you are working on it together, you can conduct a chat to discuss the process. It is so easy and so efficient!

You can also upload your existing documents into your Google Docs space. Different options allow you to convert to the Google Docs format or keep in their native format. The beauty of using the Docs product is that your documents are now available online from any web enabled pc or tablet. So any device becomes your workstation.  That is powerful.

Goodbye flash drives. Welcome to the cloud.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

 

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