Month: October 2020

My 7-Step Search for a New Hobby and How to Find Hobby Ideas

When I was 15, after a sleep-over at my house, I watched my best friend prepare to head off to her weekly netball game. I watched her put on her runners, and I pondered the long, seemingly infinite afternoon ahead, wondering what on earth I was going to do with myself all day. I asked her what her plans were after netball; she said she was going to catch the bus out to where she kept her horse. At that moment, embarrassingly, she must have sensed my desperation. She told me I needed a hobby.

Recently, ashamedly, my boyfriend said something similar, as he packed his bags for a weekend golf trip, and (yes, I admit it) I was whining that I would miss him. Still, I told him I did have hobbies. For after all, a hobby is merely an activity or interest, done for pleasure or relaxation. I spoke of my interest in cooking and reading, but he implied that I wasn’t passionate enough about them to be hobbies. It was true that my enjoyment of reading didn’t take me on weekends away! I realised that I needed to find a way to turn my interests into passions.

And so began my search for a new hobby.


I identified my field of interest through formal tests.

You can do this online; there are a number of websites that offer free tests that can help narrow your search.

CNN has a good one

I got ‘Food’, and yes this is pretty apt! I often sit browsing recipe books at home, and love food, drink, cooking and eating out. But I agreed with my boyfriend; these weren’t hobbies. Yet.

I identified my reasons for wanting a new hobby

I knew this would further help me narrow my search. Did I need an activity to help me spend my time? (Yes). Did I want to make myself more interesting? (I suppose so). Did I want a creative outlet? (Yes, actually). Did I want to meet new people? (No – not because I’m a hermit, it’s just that this was not my motivation behind finding a hobby). Did I want a way to relax? (No again). Your reason(s) will likely influence your choice of hobby. If you are revealed as ‘creative’, but you’re looking for a hobby because you think it might be a way to meet single men, perhaps knitting is not the ideal hobby for you.

I found a list of hobby ideas by googling ‘list of hobbies’

and found this website I went through the list, one by one, making note of any in my ‘area’ (i.e. food), as identified in the quiz. For me, the options I identified included: homebrew making, cake decorating, cooking, eating out, kitchen chemistry and writing (i.e. food writing). I also took note of learning a language and bicycling, even though they weren’t in my ‘field’, as they simply appealed to me.

I researched my options for a

First, I googled each one, to find out a bit about them. Homebrew beer making, cooking, learning Spanish and long-distance biking all sounded great. I have always loved writing, and writing about food sounded ideal, so I put a few asterisks next to that one. I was very interested in kitchen chemistry, particularly as I’d watched a documentary on Heston Blumenthal recently. I found his book on but the reviews warned his recipes – though wonderful – were likely to be costly and time-consuming to make. Although I’d be interested in learning more about kitchen chemistry (and believe Blumenthal’s cookbook might be a good starting point), I couldn’t see myself pursuing this as a hobby. Likewise, although I have decorated a few cakes in my time, I couldn’t see myself doing it regularly enough to be called a ‘hobby’, and so I disregarded it. I already list ‘eating out’ as a hobby so I disregarded this one, too.

I researched my hobby options in my local areaI looked in my local phone directory and found out there is a homebrewing shop in my town, where you can buy all the equipment needed to brew your own beer. I also located a few bike clubs that meet regularly to go on long rides. In my local paper, I noticed an ad for French lessons (no Spanish, though, although I remain on the look-out). Those in smaller cities, like me, might find it difficult to find a group specialising in their area of interest, and if it’s something you’re really passionate about I’d recommend trying to form your own group, or even advertising for it. I’m considering putting an ad in the paper for a Spanish teacher. I found a local writers group, that meets monthly, and, having explained my search for a hobby, and my interest in writing, a friend put me on to this website. I found a local cooking school which sounds lovely. I must admit, I’m interested to further explore whether cooking really does contribute to happiness.

I started sampling my hobby options

I’ll be heading to my local homebrew store next weekend; I’m also booked in to join in a bike ride next Sunday morning. I’ve put my name down for Italian cooking lessons at the local cooking school. And, as you can see, I’ve started writing, and having identified ‘food’ as being a real interest area of mine, I plan to start writing about it in the near future. Although I believe each and every one of these could turn out to be my hobby, I also think that situational variables like the people in the groups I join might lead me to enjoying some more than others.

I will make my new hobby…my hobby!

Once I’ve found something I enjoy, I plan on becoming passionate about it. If I choose to brew my own beer, I vow to tend to this regularly; to join online brewing groups; to have regular ‘tastings’ with family and friends (if they agree to it!); to read books about it. I already know writing is an interest of mine, but I plan to write much more regularly than I have been. I also plan to link in with the local writing group when it next meets, and to learn more about food writing. Do like I have – if you’ve just taken up tennis, start watching professional tennis matches on tv, get tennis lessons, join tennis groups (in real-life and on sites like facebook). Talk to people about your hobby and let them know it’s your passion!

Already, my boyfriend (you remember him, he told me I needed to find a hobby) is complaining I’m spending too much time researching and not enough time with him (*sigh* it’s a balancing act).

Winter Gardening and Landscaping Ideas for the Sunbelt

Late November, December, and January are the months to get your Sunbelt garden going.

Wildflower Farms and Johnny’s Seeds are two companies that offer garden seeds specifically designed for the region that you live in. There is a Southwest Regional mix to plant for people who live in the Southwest, as well as a Southeast Regional Mix to plant for people who live in the Southeast. The planting season for some of the mixes is the last few weeks of December, however, the planting season for flowers is during the winter.

The birds will be back in your gardens, to bring life, color, and song to your yard. Planting flowers helps attract the birds, as does having a few bird feeders, or a fountain with water for the local birds. Deer, horses, dogs, even raccoons might also find themselves drawn to your bird feeder or drinking fountain, this might be an opportunity for photos.

Tomato gardens are a lot of fun to plant, especially when planted in combination with bug-repellent plants such as basil and marigolds. There are a few tiny tomato-colored berries that appeal to the lizards, that may be planted near the human-sized grape, cherry, plum, or beefsteak tomatoes. We also like to plant herbs such as rosemary, oregano and sage near the tomato plants. Staking or caging the tomato plants helps keep the area neat, and the marigolds certainly help to make the garden look pretty.

Small ponds for frogs and your local lizard population also attract birds, if you have a half-acre or more of property, this is a lovely way to landscape your yard, and is best done in the winter, when the weather is cool.

Bulbs can be planted for folks up north between October and December.Planting bulbs such as daffodils, iris, gladiolus, amaryllis and tiger lilly may be done, however, the planting season for everything in the Sunbelt is during the winter. Starting the plants indoors during the months of September and early October, when the weather is either too hot, or there is still a chance of a tropical storm, gives a person something to look forward to in winter – namely, planting the best garden in your neighborhood.

Doing this also gives a person an excuse to store a few gallons of water inside in plastic bottles, which are better when aged to allow the chlorine to evaporate for 24 hours or more. Leaving a few inches of air space at the top of the bottle will allow for shaking of the bottle, which aerates the water, and helps to remove more foreign chemicals from the water. This water may also be boiled or distilled at some future date in case of an emergency, and used by humans.

Those little store packets of seeds are great samplers to see what works in your yard. if everything grows well, buy more, or even if the plants don’t grow well, and you get a little return on your doorstep – plant more. Starting seeds indoors, letting them soak in a mixture of water and a spoonful of sugar, gives your plants a kick-start into growth.

Some plants, such as the California poppy, are easy to sow in your backyard. Be certain to obtain a small amount of beach sand to mix with the poppy seeds, in a 1 to 4 ratio. These plants will grow wild throughout any property that they are planted, and 1/4 pound of seed, plus 1 pound of sand is enough to plant about 625 square feet of garden. Just mark off a section of your property, remove the patches of grass for transplanting into weak patches of your lawn, and rake the soil. Then, scatter the seed over the garden area, in an even way.

Heliachrysthemum, is an excellent choice for planting for dried flower bouquets. Dried rushes, reeds, cattails from your trip to the seaside or lake, also look lively in the dead of winter. Baby’s breath and bachelor’s buttons are a few other flowers that dry well for flower bouquets, and these plants also look great while growing in your garden.

Bordering your yard with native plants, such as saw palmetto, sassafras, tomato, chicory; or joshua tree, christmas plant, straw flower; are good ways to keep the local wildlife fed, as well as a good learning experience for children. The plants go to seed quickly, and the seeds can be transported to a local park or community garden.

Even if you do not have your own yard, a community garden is a good place to pool efforts for planting, while learning traditional methods of gardening. Your average garden consists of rows of plants that are 3 feet to 9 feet long, spaced 18 inches to 4 feet apart. Mulch, wood chips, grass clippings may be used to cover areas around your plant rows to help keep your garden weed free, as well as to help keep your plants moist.

Hummingbird feeders look great on your patio. Who said that hummingbird feeders have to be the plastic-looking ones? I have heard a few complaints over the years that the hummingbird feeders look nice, however the plastic cracks in the wind, or during a tropical squall. Making your own crafty hummingbird feeder protector, using your own personal style, makes your yard look different, and helps to protect your little investment.

Potted plants, terrariums, and patio gardening techniques such as mini plant beds for apartment dwellers are ways of bringing the garden home for someone who does not have a yard.

Weeding is an easy task for places such as driveways, sidewalks, and patios if you pour some leftover hot coffee carefully into the cracks where the unwanted plants are growing, then wait about a half-hour, and pull out the weed carefully from its roots.

The editor evidently wants to know a little bit about how I bend tree limbs or vines. Actually, this is not that difficult, as long as a person waits until after the rain has happened. Then, the tree branches are moist and are more flexible, however, the branches must still be bent carefully and very, extremely slowly. Only this year’s growth will bend into other branches. This will allow usually a ten degree to thirty degree change from the original growth pattern of the tree branches into the form you are working on having the tree grow into.

Another way of naturally curving and bending trees into shapes is by pairing the trees with some natural vines, such as ivy, grape, or morning glory, then, using the climbing vines as ways of tying the branches into position for further growth. This complex, and sometimes frustrating way of cultivating a memorable arbor sculpture is worth the effort, if you are successful.

I have been lucky enough to observe the workers at Nancy’s Topiary, a company located in the Saint Petersburg, Florida area, and have discovered a little bit about her company’s interesting moss sculptures, which adorn Walt Disney World as well as a few other notable botanical gardens. Basically, these are made of wire sculpture bases, filled with a mixture of peat moss and sphagnum moss, then covered with living moss.

Her company creates the living sculptures such as baskets, and wagons, as well as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and other Disney character figures that are growing tributes throughout the grounds of Disney World.

These wire sculpture bases are infrequently sold at garden centers, and are ideal for the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer (DIY), who is interested in learning how to make their own living plant sculptures.

There are also fabric “tape” seed rolls that are sold at some garden centers, these make gardening fast, easy, and foolproof. After your garden bed is already weeded, rolling the tape across a row, which is already filled with seed, plants and sometimes fertilizes sprouting garden plants These fabric seed rolls are a useful tool for some garden sculptures, such as balls and rings. It has been a while since I have been able to use recycled paper mash mixed with grass clippings in order to create a simple, living garden sculpture. The only structure that the sculpture has when the plants finish growing are the plant roots, and some twine, so, try to avoid using this plant sculpture as a toy.

Sources: Wildflower Farms Catalog, Wildflower Farms; Johnny’s Seeds Catalog, Johnny’s Seeds; Country Living Gardening Guide, Country Living; The Gardener’s Idea Book, Proven Winners; Suppliers to the Wildflower Gardens, Ladybird Johnson Gardens, website; Nancy’s Topiary, observation; Walt Disney World, visit to grounds

How to Become a freelance Translator: A Guide to Turning Language Skills into extra Income

Being able to speak and write two or more languages fluently is a real skill and one that can be turned into a lucrative additional or primary source of income. Before calling around for translation jobs, however, there are a few things to consider which I learned while working for Jinding Translation (金鼎翻译). Here is a quick guide to the most important.

Time Management for freelance Translators

For anyone considering doing freelance translation work in addition to a paid job, it is important to think about the reasons for doing this and how much time can be invested in finding and completing assignments. Is the goal to make a little extra money every month to help with bills? Or is this the first step towards a new career? A freelance existence can be quite unpredictable – this is exactly what attracts some people to it – and clients often pop up with jobs that had not been discussed at all until that day.

Questions worth answering are:

  • How many hours a week can you spend on your freelance work?
  • Are you prepared to work weekends or take on last-minute jobs?
  • Are you actively going to market yourself?

What to Charge for Translation Work

Yes, money is a dirty word but unfortunately one that can’t be avoided. Even translators who are just setting out should make sure they are paid fairly. One of the first decisions to make is how to charge for work: per word, per hour or per job. Sometimes this is determined by the client who, for example, may have a certain budget and will offer a fixed price so that there is no risk of going over budget. Mostly, however, translators charge per word (based on the word count of the original text), and this is also what clients expect.

If charging an hourly rate, work out how many words you think you can translate in an hour, making sure not to underestimate. Of course, this depends to some extent on the kind of material being translated – a children’s book will take less time than a technical user’s manual – but it is a good idea to have an average figure in mind in advance. It is also worth considering whether to charge a higher rate for last-minute or weekend jobs.

Look around the local area and find out what the going rate is for translation and price yourself competitively. Charge too much and potential clients may go elsewhere, but charge too little and you send out the message that you don’t value your own work.

How to Build a freelance Translator Portfolio

As a starting translator, it is imperative to build a portfolio of work as soon as possible, as clients will often ask about prior experience. This also helps build confidence in your abilities. Translations that cover a wide range of industries and subject matter will also increase your chances of getting more jobs in the future. Remember that there are other translators out there with more experience, so don’t be too choosy about the jobs you do initially (if necessary, do a couple of jobs for free for charities or organizations with limited funds). You can start cherry-picking once you have established a track record and client list.

Anyone with a qualification in or specialist knowledge of a certain topic or industry should certainly pursue translation opportunities in this area. Once you have a few general jobs under your belt, you can also decide whether to focus on translations in your area of expertise. While it may be possible to charge higher rates in a niche area, this is also limiting and the amount of work could be less.

Training and Education for Translators

A feel for language and the ability to turn a good phrase is more important than a qualification in translation. However, if translation could become a new career, it is worth finding out about local possibilities to gain a recognized translation certificate. This can add to your credibility.


Successful freelancers are also good networkers, so start building a network immediately. And remember that it takes much more effort to find a new client than it does to keep a happy existing client. By consistently submitting top-quality translations on deadline, it is very likely clients will keep coming back and pass your name on to their contacts.

Things You Can Do at the Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Summer time is just right around the corner! If your road trip or flight details gets you somewhere near Colorado Springs, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to plan a stopover at the Garden of the Gods. It is truly a magical place, making you wonder how the red giant rocks existed in a surrounding mountain area.

If you only have a few hours to spare, roaming around the park inside your car is enjoyable as well. You can still feast your eyes on the spectacular giant red rocks as you ride along. Then, there are designated parking areas if you want to go down from your car and take a few snaps near the red rocks. Do keep in mind though the massive “balanced rock,” for it is one of the highlights at this park.

On the other hand, if you are thinking of allotting the whole day spending time at the park, below is the list of activities you can do.

Watch a movie – the 14 minutes long movie that is. It is highly recommended for visitors to watch this movie first before exploring the park. Most of the guests who have been at the park said that you will better appreciate the Garden of the Gods if you have the proper knowledge of the park’s history. There is a fee though which costs $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children ages 5-12.

Photography – Clean those lenses. You read it right. Take advantage of the mystical sights. The scenic views at this park are amazingly breathtaking. Just imagine the gigantic red rock formations with the stunning mountain views in the background. Add up envisioning beautiful clouds in the expansive blue skies as well. So with that, make sure that your lenses are well cleaned and pack extra batteries or cameras for others, just in case you’ll get mesmerized taking hundreds of snaps!

Walking/Hiking – Wear comfortable shoes. Expect plenty of walks so make sure you have your old dependable shoes with you. Some of the hiking trails are quite long and doesn’t have enough shades. So it is advisable for you to bring drinking water and wear appropriate attire. Light clothing, sunglasses, hats or caps, and sun block will keep you cool and protected as well from the harmful sun rays. Don’t forget to get a free map, you’ll never know when it is handy.

Be reminded that there are free guided walks every 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily that lasts for about 30 minutes. It is a great way to learn more about the park’s flora and fauna as well as some interesting facts about Colorado.

Mountain Biking – Experience it, Colorado way. For those who have the passion of pedaling through the mountains, Colorado is said to be one of the country’s best. There are certain biking trails and paved bike lanes which you should be first familiar with. This is an important manner you should consider because these trails/lanes are shared with hikers and even those who are horseback riding. Again, there is a free map you can avail at the Visitor Center.

Horseback Riding – Add a spark to your visit. If you are looking for a fascinating way of exploring the Garden of the Gods, horseback riding might be the answer. You can either bring your own horse and explore on your own or opt for the guided horseback rides tour. For the guided tour, you may contact the Academy Riding Stables at 719-633-5667.

Rock Climbing – Engage in some workout. It does sound scary for some to climb those high peaks but the looks on the faces of those who brave these high climbs are unbeatable. If you are a daring individual looking for a remarkable adventure, this activity might just be a good fit for you. But for the rock climbing enthusiasts, the park promises the “best climbing routes in one of the world’s most historic climbing venues”. So if you are in for adrenalin of fun, sign up for this activity.

Picnicking – Relax and fill your tummy. Of course, aside from all the strenuous activities the Garden of the Gods offer, rest should include in your itinerary. There are two picnic areas which are open for all the visitors to use. If you wish to have some barbeque, you are allowed to bring a propane grill. Just make sure to clean up afterwards and leave no traces of trash.

Segway Tour or Van and Jeep Tours – Pick whichever you like. If hiking, biking, or horseback riding is not your thing, you may go for a Segway Tour or Van and Jeep Tours to better appreciate the astonishing views at this park. Although keep in mind the limited availability of the Segway Tour. So make sure to book a reservation beforehand.

In different circumstances, the Van and Jeep Tours can be availed at the information desk in the Visitor and Nature Center. The price for this tour starts at $10.

These tours are great options for those who want to get hold of all the enlightening facts and whereabouts at the Garden of the Gods Park.

Junior Rangers Program – Learn more about this park. This is a great program for kids’ ages 7 to 12 with activities enhancing their knowledge about the Garden of the Gods Park. It requires a $3 fee which includes an activity booklet, a badge and a certificate. If you are interested to engage your kids in the program, just inquire at the information desk in the Visitor and Nature Center.

Visitor and Nature Center – Don’t miss out this spot. Never leave the park without even peeking what’s in store for you at this center. You can find interactive exhibits, do some souvenir shopping, and even dine in. There is also a stunning view waiting for you at the terrace, so got to have a group picture there! And if you are still hungry for more of its culture, you may consider booking the Native American Dance group to perform for your group while dining for a cost of $150. Yes, it is a little bit pricey for some but if you are eager to experience a unique amusement, it is not that bad at all.

Colorado is one of our family’s most favorite destinations in America. Exploring the beauty of nature is a never-ending passion for us. So if you share the same sentiments, go and uncover a one of a kind adventure at the Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You’ll never regret it. Plus the admission is free!

Address: 1805 N. 30th Colorado Springs, Colorado 80904

Park Hours: May 1 to October 31 from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm

November 1 to April 30 5:00 am to 9:00 pm

Visitor & Nature Center Hours: Winter months from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Summer Hours from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm

Contact Number: 719-634-6666


Organic Flower Gardening

The basic tenant behind organic gardening is really quite simple; feed the soil and the plants will thrive. In order to do this an effective organic flower gardener will need to obey 5 rules to obtain the healthy ecosystem goal:
*Enrich the soil with organic matter
*Choose plants according to growing conditions
*Use water and mulch optimally
*Use organic fertilizers
*Remain diligent over weeds, pests, and diseases, using organic remedies only as a last resort
When taken one at a time it’s really not as hard as it looks.

First things first; if you are new to organic gardening, the site of your flower bed is very important. Aside from the esthetic issues you’ll want to choose a site where no chemicals have been previously used. If you’ve used synthetic fertilizer or pesticides in the past for an existing garden bed, you might consider another site or using raised garden beds instead. In the event neither is a good option for you, it is still possible to employ organic gardening techniques in the existing bed, but it will be years before the chemicals leach out of the soil making it truly organic. Either way, it’s a good start towards a more healthy earth.

For many gardeners’ preparing garden soil is the least favorite job. It may be something less than glamorous, but for me playing in the dirt is where it’s at. If you’re new to organic gardening, or if the soil has been neglected through the winter months, roll up your sleeves ’cause this is going to take a while.

Before you even go sticking that shiny new spade into the ground there are two things you want to do first. Check the texture of the soil and its PH. Soil texture is easy, grab a handful and squeeze. If it sticks together like dough it has too much clay. Harsh or gritty soil which holds no shape is high in sand. Smooth or powdery, shapeless soil is high in silt. Any of these conditions will interfere with nutrient absorption. If you don’t have mature compost handy, while you’re out grabbing a good PH test kit, you’ll be grabbing a few other things. For high clay you’ll want some contractors’ sand, for high sand or silt you’ll want clay. In all cases you’ll want mature compost

In a utopian gardening world all PH levels would be taken at the end of the growing season prior to winter to give nutrient additives sufficient time to work. In the real world of organic gardening sometimes you have to yield to Mother Nature and work with what you have. Should your PH level lean to either side of the neutral line there is good news. Most common varieties of annuals, bulbs and perennials will thrive in a range of PH levels from 6.0-7.2. Additionally PH levels can be coaxed into balance slowly with the use of compost, or worm composting. Remember you’re establishing an ecosystem so avoid making any extreme changes.

If you haven’t already started now is a good time to get moving on a compost pile. In the meantime you can purchase mature compost usually in 40 lb bags, or as liquid teas. When buying bagged you’ll want to look for loose granular compost free from chunks of wood or bark. Quality compost will be very dark brown to black, with an earthy aroma. If this is your first flower bed bagged compost will serve as both fertilizer and mulch, making it the better economic choice. Do some homework before you make any purchase to be sure you are buying from a reputable dealer, knowledgeable with regard to the contents of the bag.

There is no end to the number of “best methods” floating around out there for how to prepare an organic flower bed. The truth is the best method is whatever works for you. There is work to be done and how you choose to do it matters less. You need to get out there and get rid of the grass either by digging out the sod or through solarization (which takes months). You can replant the sod in bare spots around the yard or remove the topsoil and get the compost pile started with it. Once you’ve removed the grass you’re going to turn over a good six to eight inches of dirt, either through old fashioned elbow grease or with the aid of a rototiller. Get rid of the rocks while you’re at it.

You’re almost there but not quite. Now you’re going to haul the 40 lb bag of compost over to the site and spread a good 2-4 inch layer over the lose soil and mix it in. Like ideas on the best method approach, there are many ideas on what to do next. Some folks will tell you to make further amendments to the soil by adding additional fertilizer, humus, sulfur or lime. If you want to spend the additional funds go right ahead, or you could take those funds and go get a massage after all your hard work. Here’s the deal, mature compost has all the nutrients your soil needs, it just needs time. Let it sit out there for 6 weeks before planting and you won’t need additional fertilizer. As far as the humus goes, once the composts nutritional value has been leached out of it, it becomes humus. You’ll also see the PH of your soil come more into line over time. Your mother was right when she told you patience was a virtue. While you’re waiting turn the soil a few more times over the next few weeks and water the bed once or twice a week.

Regardless of whether you choose to plant from seed or to purchase plants from a nursery, you want them to be native and capable of thriving in the environment in its present state. Choose only the healthiest plants to get your garden off to the best start. Plants of questionable health could be an invitation for disease and pest problems. When purchasing plants its important not to get ahead of yourself. Plants should be put into the ground on the same day you buy them. Once the garden has been successfully planted you can use the compost as mulch to insulate the plants and help control moisture.

Having chosen healthy native plants was your first line of defense against disease and pests. Keeping up with the weeds is going to play an important role in this area also. Frequent weeding will close the door on many pests while providing a good opportunity to monitor plants for any signs of damage. There are some bugs you might want to invite from the very beginning. Lady bugs and ground beetles love those 100 calorie pest snacks. If you do find you have a problem you can’t make peace with always choose the least drastic measure of pest control, there are many organic pesticides available but even they come with some consequence.

All that’s left is to water and fertilize. Adding some compost every 1-2 weeks should be sufficient for fertilization. Always check the soil before watering to be sure it is truly warranted. Instead of soaking the whole bed, aim for individual plants. Now go enjoy all your hard work.


Making a Gardening Scrapbook

Materials Needed:

  • 3×5 small blank scrapbook
  • Black Card Stock (or any color will be fine)
  • Variety of pattern scrapbook papers (with some kind of gardening theme)
  • Gardening Themed buttons,beads,stickers, and more
  • Sticker Letters (optional)
  • Regular and Decorative Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Archival Pens, and Markers
  • Archival Glue Stick, Tape,or any adhesive

This is a great way to get rid of those scraps from your other scrapbook or card making projects, so start going through all of those scrap drawers or boxes, and let’s get crafting.

Decorating the Front and Back Covers of your Gardening Scrapbook:

If you small scrapbook has a spiral hinged you will need to first remove the front and back cover, by carefully separating the spiral to remove these two pieces. Next you will want to pick out from your scrapbook papers your main color, this will be for your front and back covers only. Measure this paper a little larger then the front cover, so the edges can be folded over the edges. Glue this colored paper to the front of the cover, now with your regular scissors, cut a small slit on all four corners, this will make it so you can fold over the flaps and glue them to the back side of the front cover. Choose a pattern paper or the same colored paper, and cut it slightly smaller then the inside of the cover, you can use your decorative scissors to do this, and glue this paper to the inside of the cover, doing this will help cover up the flaps on the inside. You will need to repeat these steps for the back cover as well. Next take one of your floral paper scraps and place this over the end where the spirals go, and over lapping to the back side. Then using either your scissors or and craft knife, carefully poke the holes where the spiral will go back into, please do not skip this step. Repeat this step for the back cover as well.

Now is the time to get creative, go through your papers, buttons, threads (fibers), and beads, and choose your favorites for the front of the cover. For example, you might choose to use, a blue marbled paper, and with my regular scissors cut it into a tag shape. Next, you might tare off the end to revel the white inside of the paper, to get this effect you need to tare the paper, towards you. Then string a black thread (fiber) through the hole, knotting it into place. You can use any found, images of flowers flowers on them, just make sure they are archival safe, To give this image a warn look, simply carefully tare around the image, glued this to the center of the blue marble tag, slightly off center, more pleasing to the eyes.

Now, you can used some of the left over letter stickers, from other projects, and gave this book a title, (ex. Marla’s Garden), and date. You can use some stickers that look like flowers, but maybe they have letters in the center that you did like, then simply go through your button collection, and find two buttons, that will fit the center of the flower. Place a cute dragonfly sticker on the front cover headed towards the wheel barrel with flowers. To add that special touch I took my black archival pen, and traced around each object, and wrote words, like artistic,butterflies,flowers, etc… just to let people know just what may be inside of this book this was done to just the front cover of this gardening scrapbook. Just be creative that is what this project is all about. For the back cover you can add small decorations, and a journal tag, with your name and the date that you created this scrapbook. Now that you have your front cover and the back cover all decorated you will need to reassemble the book, the same way you took it apart. Just make sure that the covers are not upside down, or facing in the wrong direction.

Now on the first page of the gardening scrapbook, you can use this to tell your views more of what they will find in this scrapbook. Let them know they will find photo’s of your garden, tips on what worked and didn’t work, and your ideas for the next gardening season. Remember to sign your name and date the page, s when your grandchildren look through this gardening scrapbook, they will know who wrote it and when. You may also decorated this page with a little sunflower sticker, and a flat flower button, to the lower right hand corner.

Let’s Design Your First Pages:

Next Marla, will show you how to design a double page layout, in your gardening scrapbook. A double page layout, is when you use the back side of one page, and the front of the other in order to tell your story. This is a simple design your pages, no fancy tricks were used, while designing this layout.

First you will need to get you black card stock and cut this slightly smaller than the page, you will do this for each page of the layout. On the backside of the front page, glue the piece of black card stock. Now pick out some decorative scrapbook papers, from your supply, these will be used for your journal tags. To make this step easier, write your information on the tags, and then cut them into smaller squares, and rectangles using your decorative or regular scissors. Example of what to do with these journal squares, are stamping and image of a butterfly and coloring it in, or write the name of the flower, when you purchased it, or if it was a gift. Also include on if you liked this plant and if not why. These little journal tags are great for placing the date on, and so on. You will glue at least two of these journal tags, to the black card stock covering the backside of the front page.

Next, choose two of your favorite photo’s taken, from your garden, and include some of your garden art pieces as well. You can cut around your photo’s, using either your regular or decorative scissors, making sure to cut around the flower bloom, or garden art, to better enhance the image we are focusing on. You don’t have to use the whole photo, this will take up to much room on the page. Glue these at a slight angle on the second piece of black cards stock we cut out earlier. Do not glue to the scrapbook yet, we still have a few more things to do first.

Now, we will be stringing some beads, these beads need to be mostly flat, so you will be able to close your book later. The simple way of stringing beads is, to leave at least a five inch tail and make your first knot, making sure it is large enough for the bead to not slide off. Place your first bead on the string, then make another large knot just above this bead, this will hold your bead in place. Do this for five more beads, and leave another 5 inch tail. Now lay this bead work over the front of your scrapbook page, run it in the middle with a slight bend, using archival tape, tape the tails to the backside of the black card stock. Now we can glue the black card stock page that we just decorated, to the front of the page that is facing up in the scrapbook. To better hold your beads in place put a small dot of glue on the backside of each one. Now using your left over journal tags, write the name of the flowers on one, the date on one, and then name of the garden art on the other. Glue these on to this page, in between the photo’s and beads.

Finishing Up:

Now that you have two pages finished in your gardening scrapbook, you will need to clean up your work area, and then start planning your next pages. Continue filling up this little book with all of your beautiful blooms, tips, art, and more, so next year you will know where to start improving your garden. Remember to keep the gardening scrapbooks going so you will be able to look through them in the dead of winter, and relive the wonders that grow in your yard.

Italian Driving Rules: A Few Things to Know Before Hitting the Open Roads of Italia

Whilst on holiday in Italy, some opt to rent a car and motor through the country, exploring all it has to offer. Since this usually requires an international driver’s license or some other special permission, public transport or tour busses are usually the way to go when touring with a large group. While the bus might be a more practical option, it is not the most serene.

On a recent high school tour through Italy, bus trips were plentiful and an EF Tour guide gave some firsthand insight to some of the regulations garnering automobile transport in Italy. Whether by bus or automobile, before one takes to the Italian roads there are a few things to be aware of.

While Paris has the highest accident rate in the world, according to Roman tour guide, Matteo,but Italy has the worst drivers in the world. Though law makers have attempted to curb speeding, the system is hardly efficient.

For example, as you pass from the country roads into the outskirts of Florence, there is a “speed box” that clocks the speed of cars as they pass along the road. The box takes a picture of the car and license plate and if one is caught traveling down that road faster than 28 mph, a ticket is mailed to the driver’s house about 3 to 4 months after the date of the offense. If one doubts that they are indeed the offender, they can make an appointment with the police station to obtain the photo of their license plate and speeding car.

Because of this rather complicated system people usually opt to pay the fine since most don’t remember what road they passed through several months prior. This procedure earns the Italian government sizable revenue but the number of offenders has not decreased.

Italy is also making an attempt to curb air pollution given off from automobiles therefore busses are only allowed to drive a limited amount of hours per day. Each bus is equipped with a disk that records information for the police to check at will. At any point in time, a bus can be pulled over, even if the bus was not breaking a law. Cops check the disk to see if the bus has gone above 62 mph at any time on their day’s journey, or if the busses have been driving too many hours that day. The disks don’t clock actual mileage though, they clock the time the bus has been running, so if a bus is stuck in traffic the time spent unmoving is counted against the driver’s time.

Engines on tour busses must be turned off while waiting to pick up passengers otherwise they will accumulate too much time on their disk. While this sounds like a great way to cut auto emissions, tour groups looking to escape the 100 degree heat after a summer walk through Pompeii, step foot on a steamy bus that can not be turned on until all passengers are fully loaded an accounted for. An attempt to purify the air makes for unhappy bus drivers and visitors.

Weekend drivers can take pleasure in knowing that their trips won’t be spoiled by trucking accidents. In Italy, as trucks are only allowed to drive on roads Monday through Friday. This has slightly improved road conditions in that traffic is somewhat reduced on weekends. However, since many opt to take small road trips on the weekends, one now has to battle the oodles of other drivers that have the same idea as they had therefore the traffic is still held up, but for different reasons.

Before hitting the open roads of Italy one must carefully plan their means of transport. Renting a car is often an appealing option, though be sure you are aware of all the rules and permissions needed. Bus transport is an economic option as well, though being packed on a bus in 100 plus degree heat in the summer is about as enjoyable as it sounds. And while many tourists might not be used to the rules garnering roadway travel, the Italian government is taking steps to ensure the safety of the roads as well as the cleanliness of the environment, even if it seems to hinder the driving experience.