Making Grad Night One To Remember

There are some events in life that absolutely call for a major celebration. On the list of events that most people consider “major” are birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and of course, graduations. Graduations are especially huge events as they represent the culmination of years of dedication and hard work. A graduation is an event a whole family can rightly feel very proud of, which is why many families like to go all out to celebrate.

Making Graduation Truly Memorable

There are many ways to approach a graduation party, but given all that goes into the time before a graduation, the event can become overwhelming for the graduate’s parents. That’s why many families choose to call in a graduation party planner to help put together a wonderful event. A high quality party planner will know every detail required to put together a successful event, and how best to manage all the responsibilities in advance so that the day of the event goes smoothly.

As planning begins, parents should speak honestly with the party planner about what they envision for the gathering. Usually the event will involve the grad’s friends as well as their family. Some people choose to have an “open house” style party, with food and drinks and music playing as the guests mingle. At this type of event, many guests might want to toast the graduate, and some may want to share their thoughts on the enormity of the occasion. Depending on the size of the event venue, whether it’s a house or an event hall, it may be wise to bring in a microphone so that all the comments can be heard well.

As far as music, recorded music can be a good choice, or (budget allowing) a live band or classical performance group.

Ultimately, a graduation party should be one that allows the grad’s family to enjoy their pride in the grad’s accomplishment, and to share that pride with close family and friends.

7 Best Flavors of Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt is a delightful treat that can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere. If you’ve only ever purchased “traditional” flavors, however, you’re missing out on a whole world beyond chocolate and vanilla. Here are just seven different tastes that might become your new favorite.

frozen-yogurt

1. Genuine Tart

With a blend of everything from strawberries to oranges, this “tart” flavor is making waves across the nation for its sharp but cool bite. It’s perfect for hot summer days when you need something to boost you up and cool you off.

2. Chocolate Temptation

Chocolate temptation is more than just regular old chocolate. Offering a multi-blend of rich cocoa flavors, it’s an indulgent yogurt experience that will leave you licking the spoon until every last bite is gone.

3. Red Velvet

Red velvet frozen yogurt is a delicious blend of smooth and sweet. Tasting just like its namesake, it will bring to mind the thick, fluffy red velvet cupcakes that always stick so wonderfully to the roof of your mouth.

4. Espresso

Say goodbye to the mid-morning blues when you enjoy a snack of espresso yogurt. Not only will it deliver the taste of rich coffee beans without all of the added sugar and fat, but it will also encourage the production of healthy gut bacteria like all yogurts.

5. Toffee Bar

This tasty treat has so much flavor that it could double as a candy bar. As a matter of fact, it probably will remind you of all your favorite candy bars and their crunchy toffee centers. Go back to childhood with toffee-flavored yogurt!

6. Pineapple Express

Take a trip to the beach when you open a container of pineapple yogurt. It will instantly transport you to a place filled with white sand, blue skies and umbrella drinks, so you can enjoy a mini-vacation during your lunch break if only in your mind.

7. S’mores

If you like the taste of chocolate but don’t need six different versions of it in the same bowl, consider the “s’mores” flavor of frozen yogurt. It will bring to mind campfires and starry nights with its winning combination of chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers.

These are just a few frozen yogurt flavors that will rock your world. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of the cold stuff, one bite of these rich, luxurious blends and you’ll become a convert.

How To Turn Your Home Into The Perfect Party Venue

party lighting

Planning a big event for 2016? Instead of spending money on hiring a venue, why not consider decking out your home and garden for receiving your guests? As well as saving money, you’ll have complete control over the décor – and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to create a stylish, elegant yet cosy setting that fits your celebration to a T. Whether you’re planning an engagement party, birthday, anniversary or christening, these practical tips are a great place to start.
Continue reading How To Turn Your Home Into The Perfect Party Venue

Improve your netball passing skills

It goes without saying, but accurate passing is one of the most fundamental skills in netball. Passing, and receiving, is a coordination skill and needs to be constantly practised, even after you’ve mastered the basic skill. Accurate passing is only successful if receiving is also up to speed. Both skills should be practised together.

netball passing skills

Image Credit

Passing

Being able to pass in a controlled practice environment is very different from being able to pass under pressure in a variety of game situations. Doing game-simulated netball drills will help improve the accuracy and consistency of passing when the stakes are raised in real-life game situations. Accurate and consistent passing will help improve your fluidity as a team, increase your attacking speed, and ultimately win you games. When a team’s passing is poor, players tend to hold back waiting for passes, their game becomes very stop/start, and the chances of interception are increased.

Learn about netball rules at http://www.netball.org/

The whole body is involved in the execution of a successful netball pass, not just the hands and arms. Shifting your weight behind the ball in the correct way will help with pass accuracy and reduce the chance of an intercept. Short passes are more accurate, and less likely to be intercepted. Passes should be no more than three metres. To make it easier to catch, passes should arrive at your teammate at chest height. Keep it simple. Passes from an unusual angle or performed with an out-stretched arm will be less accurate, less consistent and less powerful.

A team doesn’t have to be on a court to practice passing drills. Many can be carried out on grass, so lack of court time shouldn’t be an excuse for poor passing. Players should, however, be motivated and concentrating fully when carrying out drills for them to be effective. For ideas of drills which will improve the team’s passing accuracy, check out Sportplan netball drill videos.

Receiving

Protecting the ball from the opposition is most important. Receive the ball with both hands where possible or get both hands on the ball as quickly as possible after receiving the pass. Once safely received, bring the ball tight against the body. Balance is also important. Try to receive the ball in a position from which you can make a run, shoot or pass to another teammate as appropriate.

Grow Your Own: The Benefits of Polytunnels

Benefits of Polytunnels

Along with the economic recession and a rise in the number of people installing solar panels, growing your own fruit and vegetable has also risen in popularity. There are numerous benefits to this, including a reduction in your carbon footprint and organic produce free from pesticides. However, for a novice, it can be difficult to know how this process works, from planting seeds, to nurturing, growing and eventually harvesting.

While there are numerous guides that can take you through the basics, there are also different methods to enhance growth, such as a polytunnel. A polytunnel is one of the best items you can utilise when growing your own vegetables and here are some reasons why.

Commercial, Garden and Allotments

You have probably seen large scale polytunnels at commercial sites. If you are wondering what they are, they are essentially large polythene covered tunnels that function in the same way as a greenhouse. However, as they are made from plastic as opposed to glass, they are a cheaper alternative than traditional greenhouses.

Although they are commonly used for commercial purposes, polytunnels come in all shapes and sizes, meaning they are also a great option for gardens and allotments. Figures from Premier Polytunnels show that more people across the UK are buying them for personal use, from the Hebrides in Scotland down to Lands’ End in Cornwall.

Ideal Conditions

One of the largest benefits of purchasing and installing a polytunnel is the ability to control and create ideal growing conditions. If you place plants in the great outdoors they are exposed to the elements, which can inhibit growth as well as risk damage from a myriad of destructive insects. A polytunnel, on the other hand, allows you to manipulate and create the perfect growing conditions, so you can control temperature, moisture levels and keep bugs at bay.

Yearlong Growth

Along with ideal conditions, yearlong growth is another huge advantage. The environment within a polytunnel allows fruit and vegetables to grow throughout the seasons, even in Britain’s unpredictable climate. Normally seeds have to be sown within a specific time frame and then harvested within a small window, but a polytunnel sustains growth all year, so you can continually sow and harvest. However, it is advisable to choose more hardy crops during colder months, as they will thrive better as the temperature drops.

Wide Varieties

In a sheltered environment you can grow a wide variety of plants. Choose from seasonal root vegetables and salad items, to tropical and exotic fruits – again, consider the weather before planting. When you have grown your produce, you will probably find that large quantities of a single food source need to be harvested at once. To make sure none of it goes to waste, follow these instructions on how to prepare and freeze your home grown produce.

Disrupting the Way We Buy Produce

farmigoStraight from the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield, a new internet-based project to greatly expand the CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] movement into places where it hasn’t been before. It’s a project designed to connect community organizers – volunteers with a group of friends and neighbors who want to get in on farm fresh produce and other fresh foods – to buy in to local suppliers in the usual CSA manner and set up a drop-off point in their area for deliveries and for members to pick up their weekly food items. The company, farmigo, acts as the middleman to negotiate directly with growers, coordinate deliveries and scheduling, and handle the nitty gritty of the business end. It also maintains the web-based platform for people to manage their accounts, order food, and pay the fees. To support this effort, farmigo receives a 2% fee on food sold and collects this from the producers rather than from the customers.

The idea isn’t entirely new, as CSAs in some regions have already set up their local businesses through websites, and even pooled with other suppliers to make for convenient ordering of variety items and coordinate deliveries. Farmigo is pretty much the same type of thing, but on a much larger scale and including big city dwellers. The farmers, fishermen, butchers and bakers who offer products through the service still get to set their own terms and commitment periods. When you check into the website you can click on a map to receive a list of suppliers in your area with links and information on already established drop-off sites.

Farmigo also facilitates one-time ala carte purchases of things like eggs, flowers, meats, seafood, baked goods and other things that will be delivered to the drop-off point on your usual days, so the customer isn’t limited to whatever crops are being harvested at any given time on their CSA’s farm, but isn’t corralled into long-term purchase contracts with those other suppliers. This also saves the member/customer the trouble of driving around to several different drop-off points to get their food allotments. Some suppliers will even deliver to your home, depending on where you live and the nature of your orders.

Those of us who do our own organic gardening, participate in local tailgate farmer’s markets, trade with our neighbors for crops we aren’t growing ourselves, and who have turned the art of wholesome organic foods, fresh air and hard work into a regular way of [homesteading!] life, of course recognize the value of any system designed to facilitate wider participation, cheaper prices to the customer and better premiums for the growers. As CSAs and the local food movements grow, more and more people will participate, everyone will be a bit healthier, and groups of neighbors working quarter-acre or less sized organic gardens can get together and plan who grows what, pool the results together, and create their own supplier CSA group!

Because I am lucky enough to have spent the past 20 years on my little mountain homestead growing food and “fitting in” with a local culture that was here long before I was, there would be great interest in a community organizer to make the contacts with various farmers producing a single crop or two of staples like corn and wheat and oats, things many CSAs don’t produce in bulk, but which most people consume regularly as part of their normal diets. Whole and milled grains, dried beans, cornmeal (grits, hominy, whatever) in bulk would be a sure seller. Value-addeds for those non-subscription purchases, such as compotes and jam, ciders and juice made from locally grown fruit. Pickles, hot sauces, vinegars, sun-dried tomatoes and other dried foods… the possibilities are practically endless. Not to mention those free-range eggs and honey for those who keep bees – which will hopefully be me by this time next year.

The primary requirement for suppliers is that their products be grown naturally/organically. USDA organic certification is not required, but this means no GMOs, no petrochemical fertilizers or pesticides, etc. Most small farmers and backyard gardeners don’t use such things anyway, as the whole chemically-based food production system was invented for big Agribiz where the economies of scale (like 5 square miles’ worth of corn) and government subsidies disguises the true cost of the foods produced. There are farmers in my area who have rotated 40 acres in beans, corn and wheat all their lives and never managed to destroy the productivity of their land with chemical adulterants they’ve never actually needed.

I don’t know if something like farmigo would make much of a dent in my region, where local farmers and producers have been participating in CSAs since somebody first thought them up, and where local farmer’s markets are easy to find any day of the week in cities, towns and villages throughout the countryside. But this type of modern organizing and management would be a good thing even here, so there is much to learn. The more people who abandon our American Industrial Food System the better, and again with enough organized coordination those economies of scale can ultimately lower the price of good, wholesome food so that more and more people can avail themselves of it. Win-win situation, so do check around and ‘borrow’ some ideas from those who are pioneering the food wilderness.

How to Survive Until Real Spring

Dig Out an Old Project, see if you can finish it…

winter_clothing

Sigh. I hate early spring. The weather goes from gorgeous and warm to bleak and icy in no time flat, and one dare not plant out anything that can’t take at least a couple of inches of ice on top. One day this week we had a 50+º swing between 73º at 2 pm and 22º before midnight. That’s what my Mama always called “pneumonia weather.”

The wood pile is down to dregs too, this having been one of the coldest winters in the entirety of our 22 years on this homestead. Though the first spring we spent here we got the “Blizzard of ’93,” which is still a big topic of conversation down at the auto parts store. 3 feet of windblown white stuff and sub-freezing temperatures, electricity out for 9 days. ‘They’ finally came by in a National Guard Huey helicopter to see if we were still alive, spotted the wood smoke and decided we were fine. It started on March 13…

So. Got the new seed catalogues in January. Ordered and received the new season’s seed bounty in February, started some things still in flats. The local organic super supplier – Painter’s Greenhouse – opened on March 1. Now I get almost daily warnings from them via email telling me to either NOT plant anything I bought out yet, or cover it with plastic because it’s gonna freeze. ARGH!

Thus It was that I re-started a project I’d begun 4 years ago – a bed quilt. I’m one of those people who knows how to sew, to crochet, to knit, etc., but hardly ever actually finish anything I start. But this Christmas it was so cold that we taped up the back door and hung a blanket over it to keep out the cold, and our daughter the decorator replaced that blanket with the quilt top I’d made all those years ago out of three color-coordinated sheets I bought by the pound at the mill outlet in Swannanoa. I’d managed to get it big enough, then realized that the pattern would be much better if I cut it into quarters and rearranged things. That being far too much trouble at the time, I folded it nicely and stashed it in a corner shelf of the blanket bin in the basement, for if I ever got ambitious.

And that is where daughter found it. She decided it looked a whole lot better than the wool army blanket we’d put over the door, which is next to the living room corner where we always put the tree. More Christmas-y. Thus I got to look at the darned thing all of January, and by February I’d decided to go ahead and quarter it and start over again. Maybe finish it this time.