Deck the Halls

Imagine your yard the envy of your neighbors. You’ve spent hours decorating and you want everyone to enjoy the beauty that you have created. You want them to feel the Spirit of Christmas as they gaze upon your Winter Wonderland.

Spend some time looking at your yard and draw a sketch. You want to have a good plan to determine where your are going to string your lights.

If this is your first time decorating, start out small. Your door, windows, porch, a few trees or bushes make for a good focal points. Each year as you become more confident, branch out.

The week following Thanksgiving is a good time to put up your decorations. This allows for one holiday to end, and the next to begin. It also gives you time to wrap the gifts you bought on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, you will want them up at least a week before Christmas.

Here are some tips to make your decorating easier.

1) Stay safe. Make sure you are using outdoor lights. A sturdy ladder will help with the hard to reach places.

2) Hooks and clips save your exterior and make for easy installation and removal. You can purchase shingle tabs or parapet clips at any hardware store.

3) Don’t overload your sockets. Use extension cords with multiple plugs to help distribute the power usage.

4) Important —– Check the light strands to make sure they light up. Having to take down a

strand after you plug in, is sometimes difficult.

5) If you are decorating a tree, bush or pole, start from the bottom and work your way in a spiral motion up. For evergreens, start at the top and work your way down.

6) Get a timer. Set it to start at dusk and opt for the 6 hour shut off time.

Staying safe, using the proper equipment, making sure the lights work, and decorating to your abilities will make your holiday more enjoyable.

Here is one final tip, and probably the most important: HAVE FUN.

When everyone helping has fun, hopefully you will start a tradition that your family will continue for generations.Image,

Tacky or Subtle?

I have decided to write for holiday decorating companies. The companies that decorate the streets, a company, or the outside of a neighbor’s home. 

Like most people, I enjoy a beautifully decorated home during the holidays. I like when neighborhoods have decoration wars. 

The other day, I watched a show where they judged “The Tacky Lights Tour”. I can understand why it was called tacky. 

In my last post, I stated “Go Big”. That the less is more does not apply. After seeing some of these homes, I can say, I was wrong. 

Although, when I said “Go Big”, I meant with style. Some of these homes had no structure to their decoration. It truly was tacky. They had 4 or 5 themes going all at once. 

There was too much for the eye to process. You could spend hours looking and still not see everything these people had up around their homes. 

There were too many color schemes. The lights were everywhere. And in too many colors. Some blinking, some cascading. White mixed with color. It was an epileptic seizure waiting to happen. 

Frosty and Santa having cookies, milk, and carrots with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. The elves were wrapping the gifts from the Three Wise Men. And dancing penguins? 

In my opinion, the tackiest thing of all, those inflatable decorations. Most of the characters they have as these inflatable things, have nothing to do with Christmas. Its just some companies way of making money off of us during this time of year. 

Personally, my decorations are subtle and powerful. I am an old fashion decorator. Only lights, garland, and wreaths. 

I am not Clark Griswald, but I do put up a lot of lights. After all, the Festival of Lights is going on. 

There is one ornament I put in my yard that is not there year round. A few years ago, I picked up an old style street post. The bulb inside resembles a candle and even flickers like one. It fits the theme I use every year. 

I was decorating for Halloween when I realized I wanted to help companies that decorated houses with their businesses. There are only 2 other people on my street that decorate for Halloween and while I was putting mine up, I thought how great it would be if neighborhoods started to compete for best Halloween decorations. 

I have read, decorating for Halloween is becoming just as big as decorating for Christmas. Soon it will be for Valentine’s Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July too. This is why I want to write for these companies. Grab the market early. 

Running Partner

I don’t keep track of my time anymore. I have run since I was 8, and after the accidents, I can’t really run like I use to. 

Nevertheless, my friends still ask me why I run if I don’t keep track of it. As I explained in my last blog about running, I do it for the health benefits.

During the summer, I was at a benefit for my towns Fire Department, and a friend said something to me about wanting to run. I told her that if she wanted she could join me. 

A few weeks later, I was walking to my starting point, when someone came up behind me. I listen to music when I run, well because who wouldn’t. Anyway, it was the girl that mentioned something to me about wanting to run. 

She asked if she could join me. I asked if she had everything she needed to run. She said yes. 

I told her O.K., but we are going to start with a jog. 

I asked her when the last time she ran a mile was. Grade school was the answer I got.

The first thing I told her, was we were going to have to build endurance. We were going to start with breathing and keeping the feet moving. 

My first 3 tips: in through the nose, out through the mouth. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, just so long as you keep moving. Lean slightly forward. 

She asked about coming off the toes or heals. I told her, it didn’t matter, whichever is comfortable. I am a toe runner, but thats from years of running. 

We got maybe a quarter of a mile and she was panting pretty hard. I told her if she needed to, we could walk. We started walking, but we kept moving. 

2 weeks later, and she was running 2 miles non-stop, while having a conversation with me. 2 months later, we entered our first 5K together. She made her goal. 6 months later and she is still able to keep up with me. 

We now run 4 to 5 miles together.

When she feels like she can’t run, her husband tells her to go. It will make her feel better and put her in a better mood. 

I remember the first time she didn’t want to go. She texted me and told me she was tired and didn’t feel like going. I told her running would make her feel better and make her sleep better. She agreed.

When I arrived at her house, she asked if I had talked with her husband. I said no, why? She told me he said the same thing I did. I told her maybe he notices the differences too. 

That earned me a punch in the shoulder.

Seed to plant

My seed order has been placed. I didn’t need as many as I have ordered in the past, just some potatoes and brussels sprouts.

This year, I am going to start my broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage indoors, but I have the seeds for those already. Along with my tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, carrots, beans, peas, corn, radishes, squash, lettuces, spinach, and beets. 

Nothing beats the taste of vegetables from a fresh garden.

Yes, it is the middle of December, and Christmas is right around the corner, but a vegetable garden is a gift that gives all year round. 

I was harvesting vegetables from my garden as late as mid-November. The potatoes, onions, carrots, and after 3 years, my garlic. 

The best time to bring your crops in, is right before you are ready to eat them or to store them. This allows for the best flavor and most nutrients. 

I start most of my vegetables from seed. It is cheaper, its easier on the plant, and you can keep the pests away during this vital stage of their lives. 

Most plants should be started indoors. Beans, corn, peas, and many of your root vegetables are the exception.  

About 10 years ago, I purchased a compost tumbler. One of the smartest investments I have ever made. It took me a few years to figure out how to use it. Now that I have, I consistently get the black gold of gardening, fresh, nutrient rich compost.

I use the compost from the tumbler to start my seeds. I bring in 5 5-gallon buckets before I empty it out for the year. After 8 years of replenishing the ground with this compost, I find the plants take to the ground much easier if the soil is close to that which they are started in. 

Many plants need to be sown 8 to 12 weeks before transplant. Heavy rain, frost, and damaging winds can ruin a crop quickly. With the plants protected from the elements, it allows for a better survival rate.

I have 5 mini green houses set up in my basement. I use my basement, because it is a constant temperature and dark enough for me to manipulate the lighting. 

The good thing about the constant temperature is that it does not dry the soil out as easily as if it were outdoors. The grow lights are set on a timer to ensure the plants get the recommended amount of light needed for proper germination. 

I will probably start the planting process shortly after January 1st. Once they are seeded, I will have to water them about twice a week. Come mid-March, the hardening of the plants begins.

To write or not to write?

It seems a long time since I have written on writing. I think its because I have started to use this site for more than just writing about writing. I have decided to start writing within the niches I hope to write copy for. I even created a schedule for which days I will be blogging about which topics. 

Sunday — school
Monday — golf
Tuesday — writing
Wednesday — gardening
Thursday — misc
Friday — running/fitness
Saturday — holiday decorating

The writing group I am in approved of my decision to branch out from my mundane rituals. Its nice to know I have the support of so many people. They assured me I will find my voice faster if I put my work out there on a daily basis.

I have many reasons for writing this blog. To find my voice is just one. Conquering my fear of people reading my work, the fear of talking about myself, and getting my work recognized are a few more. The list is long. 

I have mentioned my voice over the last few posts. It is the sole purpose most of us write in the first place. We get tired of hearing that nagging repetitious drone in our head. Writing is one way to silence it. To relieve it of its concern. To give life to it. 

The hardest critic anyone has is themselves. Nothing we ever do is good enough. At least according to ourselves. I feel this way about my writing. It has always been a source of pride and disappointment to me. I feel pride in my work, because I know how to follow the rules. And disappointment, because no one has really taught me how to break them to improve. 

I would say my biggest fear is writing about myself. Having to put personal feelings in there. I believe this is closely linked with having people read it. Even when I am in a relationship, I find it hard to discuss some things. To write about and let people read them, well, that’s enough to make me piss myself. 

Not that I am anyway ashamed of who I am, I just find the thought of talking about myself counterintuitive and a little self righteous. Most people have their own concerns to worry about, why bother with someone else’s. Then it dawned on me, maybe to get some perspective in our own lives. 

I have my blog site attached to all of my sites, professional and personal. If I refer a potential client to a site, I know at least they will be able to find my blog page. When I write in my blog, it is nothing like what I do for work. There are some aspects of writing that cross over, but there are others that are completely different. 

Recognition is a key element in the kind of writing I would like to do to get paid. Well, all writing is about recognition. For copy, it would be nice to know that my writing speaks for itself. A client is talking with someone at a convention and the other person has heard that their company has increased revenue by 110%. They ask my client how, and he says, its my copywriter. Here, let me give you his email address. Boom, another client. 

They joys of the niches I want to write for, it that there are so many companies, I won’t have to worry about crossover or interfering with any business. Most of the companies that I want to write for are geological separate, so it won’t hinder anyone’s business. 

These are my concerns and hopes.

Happy writing everyone.