AdvancedNetworX, Inc.: A New Network Integration Company Opens In Morrisville, NC

AdvancedNetworX, Inc., a network integration services company, announces a new business headquartered in Morrisville, NC focused on the delivery of advanced technology solutions to clients across North Carolina and into Virginia and South Carolina.

The President of AdvancedNetworX, Deborah Shaw, and the Vice President of Professional Services, Robert Roesch, rounded up the talented team, which includes four senior level engineers (all Cisco Certified Internetworking Experts or CCIEs), two sales professionals, and two operations professionals. “Our goal is to provide our clients with the senior level consulting and assistance they expect from larger Cisco partners, but with the agility and complete devotion to their satisfaction that comes from working with a smaller partner,” says Shaw.

“The talent of the engineering team that we have constructed is second to none for companies like ours in North Carolina,” says Roesch. “We intend to focus our business on a targeted set of high-level technologies and to provide services in those areas.”

The focus of AdvancedNetworX will be primarily around Advanced Technologies, including Routing and Switching, Unified Communications, Security, and Wireless. They will be working with clients across all verticals and sizes.

At AdvancedNetworX, your business IS our business. We work closely with you to determine the technology solution that best matches your needs. We then design, implement and support that solution, striving all the while to exceed your expectations.

Because the quality of your business depends on the quality of your network, security and voice services, count on AdvancedNetworX to be an extension of your team. We have the knowledge and experience to keep your company's network services at 100%.


For more information about AdvancedNetworX, Inc., visit their website at www.AdvancedNetworX.com

8 Tips to Help You Become a Networking Guru!

Effective business networking is the bringing together of like minded individuals who, through relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.

Keep in mind that networking is about being bona fide, building trust, and seeing how your relationship can genuinely help others.
1. Always figure out before you even walk into a room, what your specific goals are in attending each networking meeting. This helps you to pick groups or associations that will help you get what you are looking for.

2. Ask open-ended questions during your networking conversations, questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how. Try to avoid questions that require a simple yes or no response. By using this line of questioning you can open us the discussion and show listeners that you are interested.

3. Become a walking resource centre. When you become known as a strong resource, others remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you at their "top of mind".

4. Make sure you have your "elevator speech" prepared and know it like the back of your hand. An elevator speech is the commonly known as the response you would give in the amount of time it would take to reach the tenth floor in an elevator. Always rehearse your spiel and be genuine, so that you don't sound automated when you relay it to someone who asks what you do.

5. Always know what is going on in current affairs, if you don't feel comfortable just rolling into a spiel when you first meet someone, have a back up topic to break the ice until you do.

6. Never just throw your business card at someone the minute you meet them, you must get to know the person and their business as well as explaining your business before you even contemplate a business card exchange. Some people will find you rude, pushy and unprofessional which will in turn reflect badly on your business.

7. Always phone or email your new contacts and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them. If possible mention things that you discussed on a more personal note (i.e. I hope you enjoyed that movie you were going to see that night.) people will come to know you as someone who listens, remembers them and they will form a trust with you.

8. The most important thing to remember is to follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor their trust and your referrals will grow exponentially.

7 Traffic Techniques for Network Marketers

Network marketing is a numbers game. The more people you introduce to your opportunity, the more money you’ll make. To start generating a steady stream of traffic to your site, try these 7 creative techniques:


1. Write and Distribute Articles, Reports and Ebooks. Internet users are all interested in one thing – information. Use this to promote your business by creating high quality content and allowing others to reprint it for you. One great way to do this is to distribute a brandable ebook or special report. This is one that a website or list owner can change to include a reference to their website. This doesn’t mean that it looks like they are the publisher, it’s just a way for them to include information on where the ebook was downloaded from and (if applicable) to include their affiliate link for your products and services.

2. Participate in Newsgroups, Forums, and Mailing Lists. There are hundreds of forums online and you can find one for almost any topic imaginable. Most allow you to include a signature line that will be attached to every message. This is a chance for you to advertise your site. Visiting these forums to post thoughtful questions and offer your expertise will mean your signature is viewed by others and will bring you free, targeted traffic. Of course how much traffic you get depends on how often you post and whether your signature makes people want to visit your site. A good approach is to use an ad you’ve had success with elsewhere as your signature.

3. Join Networking Sites to Build your Personal Network. Networking sites are designed to make it easy for people to meet others in their industry and to advertise their products and service. Similar to offline networking events where lots of people come together for the sole purpose of meeting people, online networking sites work the same way.

4. Use Classified Sites and Traffic Exchanges. Classified ad sites and traffic exchanges have gotten a bad reputation, but they really do work if you know how to use them. If you’re promoting a product or service that advertisers can benefit from then they’re a great place to get traffic. Although not very many consumers visit this type of advertising sites, lots of website owners do in order to make sure their ad appears on the site. While there they can’t help but notice other ads and if one catches their attention you’re likely to get a visitor.

5. Run a Contest. People love the prospect of winning something – that’s why a contest can be a great traffic generator. The key is to choose a prize that will attract people from your target audience. If you make the grand prize a new laptop you’ll get entries from everyone who would like to win a new laptop (which is basically every computer user in the world!). Get more targeted traffic by choosing something that your target audience is interested in but wouldn’t mean much to other people. To start promoting your contest do a search in Google for “Contest Directories” and you’ll find lots of places to list your contest for free.

6. Include a Powerful Signature on all Outgoing Email. Every time you send a piece of mail you have the potential to get a visitor to your site. Simply create a “signature” that is automatically added to every outgoing message. Use the signature to briefly explain what you do, give your USP or slogan and add a hyperlink to your site. Once it’s set up you don’t have to think about it again!

7. Try Newsletter Classified Ads. There are lots of newsletter publishers who give classified ads to new subscribers. Although these don’t typically bring a huge response, they can generate some traffic if you offer something with a high perceived value but low price tag. They’re also a great way to test new ads to see which ones get the best response. Once you’ve found a winner use it in a PPC campaign, make it your new email signature, run it as a top sponsor newsletter ad or use it as your forum signature.

7 Step Plan To Get Going With Networking

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, feel like you have the gift of gab or just don’t know how to make small talk, networking know-how is very important for your business success. There is a notion in business that I believe most of us subscribe to that says “all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those they know, like and trust.” And the key to this is obviously being able to develop relationships.

Think of networking as the cultivation of mutually beneficial, win-win relationships. In order to be win-win, there must be GIVE and take (notice the emphasis on give). Networking shouldn’t be viewed as “events” where you go to sell your business. When effective networking is taking place, the parties involved actively share ideas, information, resources, etc.

Ok, so you know that you should be networking because it is one of the most cost-effective lead generation activities when used wisely, appropriately and professionally. But, maybe that seems easier said than done. Here’s a seven step plan to really get going with networking for your business.

1. Check out several groups to find the best chemistry and perceived value. Most groups will allow you to come and visit at least a couple of times before you have to join. Go and ask around to find out why others have joined and what value they get out of belonging.

Resist the urge to just go join the Chamber of Commerce simply because everyone tells you that’s what you need to do. If that’s not where your target group can be found, then you might just be wasting a considerable amount of time (and money).

I’m not telling you not to join the Chamber. Just be clear about what you’d like to get out of this or any other group. If it’s to find prospective clients or referral sources, then you need to be networking where those resources can be found.

2. When you find a group or two, join and go to all the meetings you can. Don’t go just once or twice expecting things to happen and then if they don’t quit. Building mutually beneficial, win-win relationships will take some time.

The contacts you make need to constantly see your face and hear your message. Continual contact with others over time will open up opportunities for you to go deeper and learn more about each others thoughts, ideas and capabilities in regards to your respective businesses.

Know, like, and trust generally only happens over time. Being regular and persistent will pay off.

3. Get involved - be visible. Do as much as you can to make yourself more visible within the organization. Volunteer to help with meetings, be on committees, or become a leader or board member.

Being involved does a couple of things for you and your business. First, you’ll get more opportunities to establish connections and get to know some of the contacts you’ve made even better. Secondly, the higher the visibility you have in the group, the less you’ll have to work to make new connections. Instead, as new people come into the group, they will likely seek you out because they view you as a leader within the organization.

4. Keep your circles of contacts informed. Don’t just assume that running in to someone once a month (or even once a week) will cause them to start doing business with you or sending it your way. You need to let them know what’s going on when you’re not at that particular group in order to inform and educate them.

Send them invitations to your events or open houses. Send them email or letters to share big news or success stories, especially anything of relevance to them or those in their networks of contacts. If you believe that you have valuable ideas, information and resources to share with others, then doesn’t this just make sense?

5. Work at GIVING referrals and sharing valuable information. That’s right, you need to be willing to GIVE before you get. That means you need to get to know other members and what makes a good prospect for them. What kinds of information might you have access to that could be useful to them?

You may initially think you don’t have much of value to share with others (besides your business and what you provide). Part of the key to getting good at giving is to not make assumptions. For example, don’t assume that some basic resource (e.g., a web site) that you’re aware of is familiar to someone you might be talking to just because they are the “expert” in that field. Be willing to ask if they know about the resource and ready to share if they don’t.

Want to get better at actually giving referrals? Here’s a simple question to ask someone you’re connecting with. “How am I going to know when I meet a really good prospect for you?”

Just the fact that you are willing to explore giving will elevate your know, like and trust factor.

6. Focus on Quality, not Quantity, Quantity, Quantity. It’s not necessarily about the number of connections you make, but about the quality of the ones you do make. Are they mutually beneficial, win-win relationships?

Quality connections will be identifiable because all involved parties will be actively sharing ideas, information, and resources. Yes, it is true that you need to spend some time and effort getting to know the other person(s) and what’s important to them. But, you also need to be clear and actively thinking about what information or resources you want and need.

Staying in touch with and following up with a smaller number of quality relationships will generally be much more productive than trying to follow up with a larger number of superficial contacts.

7. Be persistent, but be patient. The goal of a networking event shouldn’t necessarily be to come away with prospects every time you go out, but to come away with great connections. Networking usually takes time to get the relationships developed and nurtured.

Don’t approach networking as a scary proposition or a necessary evil for being in business. Take the pressure off yourself and really focus on how you might be able to connect with someone you meet. Focus on them first and look for ways to be useful to them. As you become known as a connector you’ll eventually be ready to reap what you sow.

10 Ways To Make More Money In Network Marketing

Network Marketing is an excellent way for the "average Joe or Jane" to make an extra income. This business concept has been around for decades, and it will not disappear any time soon. The reason for its popularity is simple... It Works! It does however, require lots of work and most importantly, dedication and persistance to get the job done. The best part is, once you are able to set up a solid network, your business becomes MUCH less time intensive. Almost like going on "autopilot". The key is to get there as fast as possible.

Here are just a couple of tips I have found to be helpful in maximizing your Network Marketing Business:

1. Use your products regularly. This is Number 1 for a reason, this is the most ignored part of ANY network marketing business. How do you expect your business to succeed if you will not even use your own products? It does seem silly to even have to bring this up, but there are many who are not using their own products, and wonder why they are not making any money. Make a commitment to use your products for a year, and see where your business goes.

2. Educate yourself constantly. This is very important! You must rid yourself of negative ideas, sometimes referred to as "stinkin thinkin". This can be done in a variety of ways. I recommend reading at least 15 minutes a day, but try to shoot for 30. Business and self-help books are a great way to start. Don't forget your Multi-level magazines, as they are full of tips and advice. Lastly, listen to cassette tapes on multi-level tips from top earners in your business.

3. Spend as much time as possible with your upline. Your upline should have only one goal in mind, To Help You Succeed! They are a vast source of knowledge and information. Mingle with top distributors in your group, or other groups, and ask how they made it. Most everyone should be more than happy to provide you with excellent tips and advice.

4. Present your products and marketing plan personally to at least one person daily. Remember above when I said you are going to have to work, well here it is. Now here is the key, the prospects to whom you present your plan, do not have to be yours personally. Show the plan for your downline, and not only will you create "security" by placing members in your downlines' downline, it will also give you a boost in your personal income! I can guarantee if you were to follow this rule for 6 months, you would create a downline with enough width and depth to create an income to sustain you and your family for life.

5. Care for your downline. An entire book can be written on this topic. Usually, it's the little things that show you really care. Try to maintain regular contact, and always praise your distributor's accomplishments. You can even offer incentives for specific achievements, such as money, travel, recognition, or other rewards, to help motivate your group.

6. Duplicate yourself by making distributors independent of you. This will help to multiply your time, thus making you and your group more effective. Always lead by example. Never stop recruiting, training and retailing. Remember the KISS formula - "Keep It Simple, Sweety" I know, I know, I changed the last word, but it maintains the meaning. This can be done my conducting simple, brief, yet dramatic presentations, and teaching your downline to do the same.

7. Create a large customer base. This is another largely ignored, yet very important, piece of your network marketing business. Many try so hard to build a huge downline, that they forget how much profit they could also make by selling their products to retail customers. Some people will just not want to become part of your downline, no matter how great a product/system you may have. This does not mean they will not be personally interested in your product. Try to make everyone your customer. Once you earn their trust, they will come to you more, and perhaps even join your downline later. Always "leave the door open", as people's needs do change.

8. Focus on your customers needs. You must give customers more than they expect, and always satisfy your customers complaints immediately. Try to listen 80% of the time, and talk only 20%. As stated above, your customers can be a huge source of future referrals and/or business. You must earn and maintain their trust. Once you have their trust, you can always ask for referrals, which leads to even more business and a larger downline.

9. Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals - and Write Them Down! You may have heard the expression, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Breaking up a larger goal into smaller easily attainable goals, is the key to success. You cannot just jump to the end, you have to make progress everyday. Writing them down is another largely ignored, important tip to help you succeed. A goal is just a "passing thought", or "wish" until you put it in writing. That is when it becomes concrete and real. It is also a great idea to keep a business journal of your daily activities, as it will help you to become more productive and time-conscious.

10. Get Out There And Do It Now! All of the knowledge in the world is useless and unprofitable, until you put the most important ingredient of them all in place. This "secret" ingredient should come as no surprise at all, but this is the #1 reason for failure at anything in life. It is ACTION! Remember, knowledge is useless without action.


Following these steps will almost give you immediate results. Thank you for reading this, and I truly hope this has provided you with valuable information to help you and your business grow and succeed.

Island Holidays: Salt Spray Getaways

There is just something about the ocean breeze and salt spray that makes a holiday on an island something you won't soon forget. Because islands can be found in every ocean and near every continent, island holidays can vary widely. You can lay on a beach or watch whales, study botany or shop native craft stalls. It's all up to you when you plan your island holidays.

North American islands include the Canadian east coast islands of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Island holidays to these areas will be filled with unspoiled natural beauty, cool, comfortable temperatures, and whale watching expeditions.

South of these regions is the little island of Bermuda off the eastern U.S. coast. Bermuda is surrounded with hundreds of square miles of reef formations, making snorkeling an interesting activity there. For the less adventurous, you can ride around in a glass bottom boat and view the beautiful undersea world.

Heading on south, we find the Carribean islands. These have long been popular spots for tourists. Here the beaches are white and sandy and the weather is very warm. Up in the interior of these islands, you can find a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, and many other spots make lovely island holidays. Each island has it's own unique flavor and feel.

Europe has islands of all types nearby which make great spots for island holidays. Visit the isles of Greece and you will see clear seas, quiet beaches, olive groves, and the simple life. Corfu is the choice of those who like up-to-date restaurants and shopping, while Lefkas is popular with wind-surfers and sailors. The Portuguese island of Madeira boasts beautiful weather and one of the lowest crime rates in the world. The Canary Islands, off the coast of Spain, are a popular tourist spot for Europeans.

A new trend in island holidays is eco-tourism. This is traveling in such a way that neither the earth nor the local people you are visiting is harmed in any way. People who are drawn to eco-tourism may enjoy bird-watching, hiking, and other island activities that do not leave an impact on the area.

Everybody dreams of taking island holidays. There are islands all over the world, each offering it's own cultural experience and natural wonders. Many spots for island holidays are still unspoiled and secluded, while others are lively and exciting. Island holidays offer a real diversion from your everyday life.







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Returning to the Simple Joys of Home and Hobby

In the past decades, many mothers have made the decision to pursue careers, but that trend seems to be changing. Home and hobby are calling to these women, who are willing to make financial and personal sacrifices in order to be the primary caregivers for their small children. Many women have returned to being keepers at home, and hobby skills can help them meet the financial challenges of being a one income family.

One hobby that helps the mother at home is cooking. Though it could be considered work, cooking and baking are fascinating hobbies. One can explore the cuisine of different countries or learn to create gourmet treats. Baking can yield wholesome whole grain products that nourish the family for a fraction of the cost of loaves bought at the store.

Another home and hobby skill that comes in handy is sewing on a sewing machine. Many homemakers are producing quilts that are works of art. These beautiful offerings can be made inexpensively by recycling unwanted fabrics into squares and other shapes and artistically arranging the pieces. Other sewing skills that are useful for the stay-at-home-mom are mending, altering, and creating clothing. When polled about favorite pastimes, women often rank sewing at the top.

Some moms and their husbands actively work on remodeling their home, and hobby carpentry skills come in handy. One income families hold down the cost of living by learning to "do it yourself," a term that is used so much it has been shortened into "diy." The Internet has made it possible to find information on making all sorts of repairs and renovations to homes, furnishings and other belongings.

Gardening is a hobby that not only gets the participant close to nature, but also can put high quality produce on the family table. Some families are even investing in hobby greenhouses or growing enough extra to sell a bit each week at farmers' markets. A good practical hobby like growing a garden gives a person a sense of accomplishment when they realize their efforts have created something useful and profitable.

The homemaking parent that has a sense of art can inexpensively create harmony and beauty around the house, raising everyone's standard of living. It doesn't have to involve spending any money. Perhaps she can arrange dried wild flowers beautifully or create simple hand-lettered wall mottoes that lift everyone's spirits.

Yes, home and hobby call to the women of today, suggesting a simpler way of life closer to those people and things that matter most. While the career women are truly making an important impact on today's world, the quiet return of many to home and hobby may result in more impact than any of us realizes.







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Holiday Crafts: Thanksgiving Decorations Kids Can Make

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday! What a spiritual renewal to take a day to reflect over the past year about just how good God has been to you and your family, to give you harvest and shelter, health and hope. To get the most out of this joyous occasion, make some holiday crafts with your children. These days, Thanksgiving often gets squeezed out by Hallowe'en's spooky decorations and the lights and gala of Christmas. With the following holiday crafts, your home can be decorated for this quieter but important celebration.

Turkeys are a natural choice for decorations. A familiar project at this time of year is for a child to trace around her hand and make the resulting drawing into a turkey. The thumb is the head and the fingers are the tail feathers all displayed. While many of the turkeys that are raised for food are now the domestic white variety, the turkeys eaten by the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving were the wild brown ones. The tail feathers on a wild turkey are brown, but they are iridescent. catching light and appearing to be multi-colored. This is why children color the tail feathers in bright colors.

The turkey's head has a wattle under the beak. This is a vertical flap of loose skin that is red colored. Be sure to draw this in order to make the hand turkey look like a turkey. Add skinny legs and bird feet. When done, the children can cut out the turkeys and hang them on the wall. It's really cute to make a whole flock of these turkeys in the sizes of all the hands in the family. The little hand shapes are particularly sweet.

Another nice turkey decoration to make when making Thanksgiving holiday crafts is a turkey door decoration. Make a brown construction paper body and head of a turkey. Now make a large number of colored feather shapes. Each family member writes on a feather something he or she is thankful for before attaching as part of the turkey's tail. Repeat until all the feathers are used, and hang the turkey on the front door to greet visitors with a message of gratitude. Make a sign to accompany the turkey that says "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!" or simply "Be thankful!" or "We're thankful for you!" or whatever you like.

Children love making construction paper chains. To further decorate the house for Thanksgiving, let them make a paper chain in fall colors as one of their holiday crafts. Using 9 by 12 inch construction paper, cut the paper in half across the long side and cut the halves into one inch thick six inch long strips. Use a stapler to attach the ends of the strip into a circle. Loop the next strip into the circle and staple it. Continue the process alternating colors of brown, red, yellow, and orange. When the chains are long, you can drap them along the ceiling or stair rail. If you don't make the door turkey, the children can write something they're thankful for on each strip of paper before adding it to the chain.

Thanksgiving is too nice a holiday to let the other more commercial holidays crowd it out. By making holiday crafts to decorate the home for Thanksgiving, you can keep this day special, too. The extended family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., will be pleased to see the holiday crafts the young ones have made to decorate the house and make it cheerful for their visit.







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Get a Hobby Kit and Learn Something New

If you are tired of the ho-hum of life and would like to branch out a little, maybe you should get a hobby kit. Many different hobbies have kits that can help a beginner learn about the hobby quickly and easily. It is not easy to teach yourself some hobbies, but with a hobby kit, you can learn from the kit.

For instance, if you have been wanting to learn how to do a needlecraft, such as cross stitch or crewel embroidery, there is no better way to start than with a kit. In a hobby kit, you will receive a piece of cloth with the design already stamped on, yarn or floss in the proper colors and possibly already cut to the proper lengths, and a needle. You may even get an embroidery hoop in the kit. When you buy a hobby kit, be sure to read on the package to see if any other materials or tools will be needed to do the hobby.

A hobby kit is also the best way to learn a hobby like building model cars. In a model car kit, you will get all the pieces you need and detailed instructions. In some kits, you might also receive paint, a brush, and glue, but read the label. You might have to provide these things separately.

When choosing Christmas or birthday gifts for a young person, consider a hobby kit, such as a candle-making kit or a rock tumbling kit. In the fall, the stores are full of kits that could start a kid on a hobby that would last throughout his life. You can find small weaving loom kits, glycerine soap making kits, bead craft kits, wood-burning kits, and art kits. There is a line of colorful books put out by the Klutz company that each gives instruction in a hobby and has a packet of materials for learning the hobby. Some of the topics Klutz books cover are polymer clay modeling, hair styling, and pompon creations. They are all cleverly written and lots of fun.

Another hobby that can be learned from a kit is starting garden seedlings, especially herbs. A seed starting kit typically contains a pot, a small trowel, seeds, fertilizer, and a greenhouse dome or cover. Potting soil may need to be purchased separately.

When choosing a hobby kit, be careful to get one that is appropriate for the recipient. Sometimes a hobby kit is quite challenging. An example of a difficult project is an electronics kit for wiring one's own radio. If a kit is a gift for a child and it is too hard, it will wind up gathering dust on some shelf. In fact, it might gather dust even if you buy it for yourself! Consider getting a smaller project that you can finish in a short time so you can get a feel for the hobby. The next hobby kit you buy can be harder if you find that you enjoy the hobby and have a real desire to learn more about it.







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Bored? Look at These Hobby Ideas!

Have you ever played one too many computer game or watched one too many old rerun? You just can't get into another mystery and you just feel flat? Maybe you are suffering from boredom, that familiar accomaniment to our automated, precooked lifestyles. If so, you need to check out these hobby ideas. Hobbies have been found to be therapeutic as they relieve stress and get the mind active. In this article, you'll find hobby ideas for every sort of person, from the intellectual to the athlete, from the homemaker to the attorney.

Many times we are bored because we have become too inactive. If this is your problem, you might like a sports hobby. Have you ever tried tennis? How about golf? Many people simply love bowling until it becomes an important part of their lives. Sports hobbies get you out of the house and often are a way to make friends with others. Then again, some active hobbies can be enjoyed in our own homes, such as weight lifting and doing aerobic dance to a video.

Speaking of aerobic dance, dancing is another great pastime. When you think of hobby ideas, don't forget the many forms of dance. Square dancing is fun for people who like getting together with groups, while ballet and modern dance appeal to the more contemplative souls. And while we're on contemplation, you might enjoy doing yoga stretches as a hobby.

Maybe we're feeling bored and listless because we've been cooped up in the house too long. If that's the problem, here are a few hobby ideas to get you out in the fresh air. Have you ever thought of taking up canoeing, hiking, or trapping? How about getting involved with an environmental group? In many states, you can form groups to clean riverbanks and monitor water quality, and the state will provide perks such as t-shirts, work gloves, and first-aid kits. Or maybe you'd like studying the flora and fauna of your region. It can be great fun to stroll through the woods and fields with a field guide, learning to identify each wildflower, insect, tree, and bird.

There are almost as many hobby ideas as there are bored people in the world, because everyone puts their own spin on their favorite hobbies. Maybe you'd enjoy decorating your house with antiques, or learning to bake specialty breads from around the World. Maybe you'd like to take part in a little theatre production, or learn to play guitar. What about the fine arts of weaving tapestries or painting with oils? Candle making, soap making, and many other old-time crafts are being enjoyed again. Truly, with all these hobby ideas, there is no reason to stay bored for long!







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A Hobby Greenhouse Will Get You Growing!

For people who would like to do more gardening but live in a short growing season area, a hobby greenhouse is the answer. A hobby greenhouse is not large enough to produce vegetables or flowers on a commercial basis. It will, however, give you a place for a tomato plant or two and some fresh greens even if you live in the northern regions. Greenhouse enthusiasts even have their own association, called the Hobby Greenhouse Association, which publishes a quarterly magazine. The organization also sponsers events and helps individuals connect to get help with the aspect of gardening that they are interested in, whether it's growing cacti or saving seeds.

If you are in the market for a hobby greenhouse, there are several types on the market. The smallest type is not large enough to walk into and must be accessed from the outside. It resembles an old-fashioned phone booth made all of glass and outfitted with shelves. This type is designed to fit as many plants as possible in as small a place as possible. The shelves are made of glass to allow as much light as possible to reach plants on the lower shelves. Another inexpensive version of this sort of hobby greenhouse is shelving covered with a zippered tent of clear plastic. This sort of arrangement is great for the small-scale hobby gardener wanting a place to keep her flowers or houseplant starts.

There are a variety of designs of hobby greenhouse that are large enough to walk into but made entirely of clear glass or plastic. They are often about the same size as a small storage building. Some independent builders have started making these to sell locally. Among national brands, one of the nicest is called the "Solar Prism." It is called this because of it's unique construction. This hobby greenhouse is made of a single piece of durable clear plastic which is designed to work like tiny prisms side by side. They trap the rays of the sun and shoot them back into the greenhouse at all angles. For this reason, these little greenhouses are said to glow when the weather is cloudy.

Better hobby greenhouses are equipped with automatic sensors that open vents which allow ventilation and keep the interior temperatures from getting too high. These are a great labor saver, but can get expensive. Another benefit sometimes found in nicer greenhouses is a built in irrigation or misting system. Members of the Hobby Greenhouse Association, or HGA, have invented many interesting designs of greenhouses.

If gardening is your hobby, greenhouse growing will interest you. With a greenhouse, you can have the earliest tomatoes and salad greens all year. You can also start seedlings for the main garden early in the spring when outdoor temperatures would kill them. A hobby greenhouse can be a good investment.





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Handicraft Gift Idea: Make an Apron

If you are looking for a handicraft gift idea to make for someone special, perhaps that person would like an apron. When we think of aprons, we often think of mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen, but men can often benefit from having an apron as well. They often enjoy barbecuing, for one thing. They also can use an apron in the workshop. Children, too, can use an apron for many of their activities, such as arts and crafts. Here are simple instructions for making a handicraft gift of an apron that can be adapted for anyone.

Start with a piece of sturdy fabric suitable for the individual for whom you are making the handicraft gift. The fabric needs to be wide enough to wrap 1/2 to 3/4 of the way around them and long enough to cover them from collar bone to just above the knee. For a large adult, 25 to 30 inches wide by 36 to 40 inches long should be about right. A slimmer adult can use a narrower apron, but if they will be wiping their hands on the sides of it, they might appreciate the extra width. An apron for a child of 10 could start with a piece of fabric about 18 inches wide by 25-30 inches long.

The best types of fabric to use are sturdy cottons, such as medium weight denim or twill. Soft cottons such as broadcloth or muslin are all right in the kitchen, but will not last long, and would not hold up in the garden or workshop at all. Other materials you'll need are thread and a sewing machine. You will also need enough extra fabric to make a strap to go around the neck, ties for the back, and pockets.

When designing the handicraft gift, you can be as creative as you like with pockets. Every apron is more useful with pockets. A person who cleans houses, for instance, can use pockets for odds and ends they pick up as well as for their spray bottles, sponges, and scrub brushes.

To make the apron, fold the piece of fabric lengthwise. This will allow you to cut the shape with one cut, making the two sides symmetrical. What you will be shaping when you make the cut will be the bib section of the apron. The bib for an adult sized apron will need to be about 9 inches wide. Measure from the fold about 5-1/2 inches. This is half the width of the bib plus an inch to fold under twice to form a hem. The piece you will cut off the side to shape the bib will be a half bullet shape with the tip of the bullet being where the ties will be attached. The length of the half bullet shape should be about a foot, and the width will be from the spot you marked 5-1/2 inches from the fold to the outside edge of the fabric. When these pieces are cut off, the result should be an apron shaped piece of fabric.

Now decorate the apron with pockets and any other decorations you desire. After this it is time to fold under the edges all around and stitch down with sturdy stitching for a nice hem all around the handicraft gift. Cut two pieces of fabric a yard long by two inches wide. Fold lengthwise and fold raw edges to the inside. Press and stitch down along the length to make the ties. Attach the ties at the waist of the apron handicraft gift. (If these ties seem a little long, it is because a lot of people like to bring the ties to the front and tie them there.) Cut another piece of fabric 18 to 20 inches long by 5 inches wide fold in half lengthwise and press. Press again with the raw edges of the long side tucked under 1/2 inch. Stitch down the open side. Attach this piece to the sides of the top of the bib, sewing it to the back of the bib and topstitching on the front side of the bib. Be careful not to twist it when you attach it.

People who work hard at homemaking, barbecuing and in the workshop will appreciate a handicraft gift of a sturdy apron. Mostly they will appreciate the effort and design you have put into making a handicraft gift that they can use.





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Golf Holidays to Get Away From It All

If you have been working too hard for too long and just need to get away and play some golf, you will want to check out golf holidays package vacations from your travel agent. These travel arrangements are often referred to as "stay and play" plans because you stay at a certain hotel and receive rights to play at a certain golf course while you are there. When making these arrangements, make sure there are not special requirements that will make playing inconvenient or impossible for you. Some of these plans require you to limit your arrival dates and departure dates or have other unacceptable limits so read the fine print.

You can take golf holidays to all sorts of locations depending on your personality and desires. For instance, you can choose to golf in a course located near or in a major city, taking in museums or theatres when not golfing. Or you might choose to visit a golf course in an area of rugged natural beauty such as the mountains. While there, you might take a day to fish instead of golf. Whatever your needs, you can find golf holidays packages to meet your needs.

Are you going to take your own golf clubs with you when you travel on golf holidays? You probably would prefer to use them rather than the clubs that can be rented at the course to which you are travelling. If you choose to take them with you, you will need to think about the arrangements a bit. For instance, do you have a really high quality golf club bag which will protect those expensive golf clubs. If not, you'd better get one. You won't be able to carry your clubs on if you are flying, so you'll need a bag that can take airport luggage handling and still protect your clubs. So get a good one.

When picking a destination for golf holidays, pick the course you wish to play on first, and then find out about lodging at hotels, resorts, or stay and play package plans. Make sure the tee times that are set for you when choosing a stay and play package are going to work for you. People who are staying at a golf course's own resort generally get first serve when choosing tee times. If it's really important to you to get the tee time you desire, it may be worth it to you to stay at the resort instead of a less expensive hotel. Either way, you are sure to find refreshment and restoration when taking golf holidays.







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Family Holidays: Tips for Peace and Harmony

What do you like to do on family holidays? Go to the beach or spend a week in the country? Maybe you like camping or visiting relatives. Whatever you enjoy, family holidays are a chance for everyone in the family to get reacquainted and spend quality time together. It's a chance for parents to really talk with their teens and find out what's going on in their lives. It's important to keep the communication lines open, and a family holiday is a good time to do that. Having a good relationship with their parents is one of the most important factors in keeping teens out of trouble.

Studies have shown that when families take holidays together, they are more likely to eat together and are less likely to argue. They do not watch as much television because they are involved in doing things together. Kids even report that their parents seem to act differently while on holiday.

While family holidays are a good time to connect with your kids, communication problems that are already there will not automatically disappear. Especially with teenagers it is important to listen and be flexible. Find out what the kids would like to do and eat and plan accordingly. While even teenagers need boundaries, it is important for parents to try to avoid needless confrontation. Explain why you make the decisions you do and show them positive attention.

Kids will appreciate being included in travel plans. There's a good chance they will choose a theme park or the beach if those are among the options. Sometimes it works well for a teenager to take a special friend along on family holidays. While this might increase the parents' load, the teen is likely to really appreciate it. Also, sometimes it works well for kids to go on holidays with their grandparents instead of their parents. Sometimes there is a special relationship here that can help kids open up and communicate about their concerns.

While on family holidays, if teens are uncooperative or behave improperly, try to deal with the problem in private. Teens are very aware of embarrassmant and it is needlessly mean to exploit this sensitivity. In fact, you might explain to the kids how their behavior embarrasses you, and they in turn might work harder at getting along and acting appropriately.

Kids will be happier on family vacations if they have snacks, drinks, and entertainment. Few kids enjoy a long ride in the car! Try to provide individual CD players or hand-held video games, and don't forget to take plenty of bathroom stops. Sometimes kids enjoy the ride more if they can help you follow the map. This is an educational activity for them as well. By following these suggestions, your family holidays can make a happy memory.






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Cruise Holiday Tips for Smooth Sailing

Is anything more luxurious than taking a cruise holiday? Traveling to exotic locations on a luxury ship, catching sunrays, and breathing the salty breezes can renew and replenish anyone, no matter how shopworn from the cares of work. However, a cruise holiday requires planning in order to be the best it can be. Check out these tips to have a cruise experience you will remember.

So where do you start when planning a cruise holiday? First, what is your budget like? Do you need to hold down expenses? Then here are a few tips for economizing on your cruise holiday.

When scheduling your cruise holiday, you should be aware that there are off season and on season dates, and that you want to schedule your trip in the off season to get the best deal. What you may not know, however, is that cruise lines actually change prices a number of times throughout the year. Ask and find out when their absolute lowest season prices are. In addition, keep your plans somewhat flexible so that you can change ships at the last minute. Sometimes a ship is not filled to capacity, so the cruise line will sell the last few tickets at a real bargain. It is always to their advantage to sail filled to capacity because people on holiday spend money on souvenirs, drinks, etc. Use this knowledge to get a really great deal.

Where you cruise to on your holiday can make a big difference in your cost as well. If you pick a popular spot, you can travel cheaper than if you choose a less popular spot. Another consideration is whether you really care about those ports of call. If you just want to stay on the ocean liner and enjoy the luxuries, book a cruise that doesn't stop anywhere. These "cruises to nowhere" are just as luxurious as the others but cost less.

To be safe on a cruise holiday, don't take a lot of expensive equipment or jewelry with you. Make sure your passport, health insurance, and other papers are up to date. Be sure to ask about laws you may inadvertently be breaking when you get off the shore you are accustomed to. Laws in ports and even in the water can vary, and you sure don't want a big hassle with a foreign law enforcement agency.

To travel lighter, find out about equipment that will be available on the ship. For instance, if the cruise line provides irons or hair dryers, you won't need to pack yours. Also pack your own sample size shampoo, toothpaste, and other toiletries because these items will cost more in the gift shop. You should have access to laundry facilities on your cruise holiday, so you don't have to take a huge amount of clothing. Pick a wrinkle proof lightweight outfit for every two or three days and pick separates in colors that coordinate so you can get different looks. Be sure to pack a formal and or semi-formal outfit if you will be taking part in these sort of activities on your cruise holiday.










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Creative Handicraft: Potholder from Scrap Fabrics

If you need a gift for a special person, or just need some time to unwind, make a creative handicraft. Crafting is therapeutic when you are feeling stressed, and it also can yield a useful or decorative item. Everyone has some measure of creativity, and with modern kits and patterns, a creative handicraft does not have to end in frustration.

If you have a sewing machine, you can learn to make a creative handicraft that will be a useful and welcome gift. Potholders are a great beginning sewing project that can be made from scrap material or unwanted clothing and a bit of double-fold bias tape. Here are the simple instructions for this creative handicraft.

First cut two 8-inch (21 cm.) squares of fabric to be the front and back of the potholder. Choose coordinating fabrics that match your kitchen for these pieces. To make it easier, you can make an 8-inch square pattern from a piece of cardboard to use as a pattern. Cut more 8-inch squares of any old fabric to stack for the filling. You want the stack of fabric squares to be thick enough to protect you from a hot pot, but thin enough to be flexible and able to be sewn through.

Stack all layers so that the outer layers are facing to the outside and the filler layers are inside. You can put a couple of large straight pins through all layers to keep them together. Now sew right across the middle of the stack. Sew across the middle again, perpendicular to the first stitching. You will have divided the square into 4 squares. Sew across the stack again from corner to corner, and again from the other corner to corner. The layers should be joined and sturdy now.

To bind off the raw edges of your creative handicraft, trim with scissors so that all the layers are again even at the edges. Open out one folded edge of the bias tape. The wider bias tape might seem to be easier to use, but the narrow type makes a neater finished product. Starting at one corner, line up the edges of the tape with the edges of the potholder, and start stitching through all layers along the first fold line, which will be about 1/4 inch from the edge. Stitch neatly and slowly, attaching the opened tape all around the edge until you reach the beginning corner. Cut the bias tape off, leaving 3 inches, (7 cm.) to make into a hanging loop.

Fold the bias tape over the raw edge so that the middle fold lines up with the outside of the potholder and the other fold is hiding the raw edge of the bias tape. Now, for best results, hand sew the binding down, forming a loop on your creative handicraft when you get to the end.

This potholder is just one example of a creative handicraft you can create if you have a sewing machine. When it is finished, you will have a useful item made from all recycled materials. Feel free to give this creative handicraft away or keep it for yourself.




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Craft Idea for a Group: Make a Mural

Most craft ideas are geared to individuals, whether kids or adults. Sometimes you'd like to have a craft idea that works for a group of kids working together. Making a mural together is an idea that works for a group. By working together, you are creating something to decorate a shared area. Individual crafts can be displayed, but one unique item is often more effective than a group of items that are almost identical. In addition, sometimes kids' crafts, like it or not, just become clutter when they are taken home, and it isn't long before Mom throws it out. This craft idea of making a group mural can be displayed for several weeks and will not become clutter in anyone's home.

The basic materials for a kids' group mural is freezer paper. Freezer paper is about 18 inches wide, and it is very tough. One side is plastic coated. That is the side that is designed to be placed against the food. You will have better luck drawing on and gluing things onto the other side. Class or group murals can feature a number of different design elements. You can mix up some finger paint and let the children make hand prints (or even foot prints!) on the paper. You can let them scour old cast-off magazines and color catalogs for pictures they like and let them cut the pictures out and glue them on. They can add scribbles, designs, signatures, slogans, or pictures using markers, crayons, or gel pens. They can attach stickers to the mural as well. This craft idea is very flexible!

For making the mural, choose a topic that relates to the group in some way. If the group are girl scouts, for instance, and have been learning to camp, the mural can feature pictures of items related to camping. If you've been learning about dinosaurs, you can use them as a theme. If you want a really messy project that makes a cute mural for fall, mix up finger paint in fall colors. The children can each make a tree by first laying their forearm in brown paint. Then they lay their arm on the paper to make the trunk of the tree. They should spread out their fingers so their arm print has five short branches at the top. To make the leaves, the children make fingerprints all around the top of the tree using paints in other fall colors. If you add a few drops of dishwashing detergent to finger paint when mixing it up, it will be easier to clean off the children's arms. Do make sure they have old clothes or smocks for this craft idea.

Little preschoolers will like making a mural with an animal theme. You should probably find and cut out animal magazine pictures to start with, and then let the children choose the ones they like for gluing down. Glue sticks are neat to use with small children. They will paste some of the pictures upside down. Expect it and do not scold them. It is the process that is important in this craft idea. The children can also use animal cookie cutters dipped in finger paint to stamp animals on the mural, too. You may need to tape the paper to the table so it doesn't slide around while the children work.

An elaborate form of this craft idea that adults often make is a quilt around a theme. Each person in the group creates a quilt square to represent some aspect of what the group stands for. These quilt squares can be colored with fabric pens or crafted of patchwork or applique. Again, the craft idea is to build group solidarity and not to highlight one artist's skills over another. When the quilt top is completed, it can be a group project to tie it or quilt it. It can be hung in a special central location or given to an appreciated leader or member.




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How to Come up With a Craft Idea for Kid Programs

Are you a camp director or Sunday School teacher looking for a craft idea for kid enrichment? Maybe you feel like you are just not the creative type, and you struggle with coming up with craft projects. It is true that some people just have a knack for finding or even inventing craft ideas, but your creativity can be improved. There are ways to make it easier to find a craft idea for kid needs.

First, lay aside any perfectionism. Locking yourself into thinking there is only one right way to do something makes every decision harder. Regardless of the kid program you are helping with, there are always many suitable craft ideas out there. Don't worry about picking the wrong one! If you've taken into consideration the age and skill levels of the kids involved, your choice will be adequate.

Next, consider your budget. When choosing a craft idea for kid programs, you need to be aware that some of them are expensive. Prepackaged kits to make a fun foam picture frame or a craft stick cross are affordable for a few kids, but if you are needing to do a craft with a lot of kids, these kits might cost too much. It's often easy to do almost exactly the same project by just looking at the craft kit components and buying the same materials in bulk at the discount store. You may have to do some preparation, like cutting out shapes ahead of time, or at least making cardboard patterns for the kids to use in cutting out their own. The savings will be worth it, however.

Another consideration is this: in spite of years of indoctrination from women's libbers, the fact remains that boys and girls like different sorts of crafts! If the craft seems a little girly, don't use it at boys' camp. Stick with lace-up leather billfolds, Indian artifacts, dinosaur art, and similar projects. Girls will like beads and anything that's pink or purple. For a craft idea for kid camp where there are kids of both sexes, keep it on the boyish side and provide some pink materials to keep the girls happy.

An aspect of creativity that the non-creative types don't realize is that ideas spring from other ideas. That is, if you look over a book or website of craft ideas, maybe none of them will appeal to you, but if you let them, they will spark an idea for a similar project. Use what you can and change what you must in the craft directions. For instance, the craft may have a slogan to be written across the front. If you need to change the slogan to fit your own needs, it's perfectly OK. For instance, the pictured project might say "Girls rock!" You can change that to "He is the Rock!" if that meets your VBS needs better.

A final suggestion is to realize that you don't have to change the instructions or create something new to have a good craft idea for kid use. Feel free to follow the instructions to the letter if that works better for you. The kids will have a great time either way. Just pick a craft idea, for kid creativity beats adult creativity everytime! The kids will make it creative, even if you have doubts about your own ability in this area.






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If You're Collecting, Ebay Selling is for You!

If you or someone you know is interested in collecting, Ebay selling is something you need to get familiar with! Ebay is a huge Internet site that allows people to sell or buy at auction almost anything you can think of. There are very few restrictions on what you can buy or sell. Are you fond of antique toasters? Bicycles? Vintage rhinestone jewelry? Stuffed toys? Elvis memorabilia? Whatever you are collecting, Ebay selling will probably have what you want.

Ebay is essential to know about if you are enthusiastic about your collecting. For instance, if you collect a particular type of antique or vintage dishes, such as Fiesta, you can search Ebay for exactly the piece you need to complete your set. In addition to finding the exact item you are looking for, there is a possibility you'll get it for a great price as well. That tangerine colored pitcher might be yours for a song. You just have to look.

Collecting is one thing, but what about when the collector gets more items than he or she can store? What if they inadvertently collected duplicates of the same item. Or what if you just have stuff you don't want anymore? That's where Ebay selling can help. You can list your item on Ebay, and another collector can find it and make a bid. Ebay is a great way to recycle unwanted used items and make a few dollars as well as helping you with your collecting. Ebay selling is not hard to learn, either.

For just about every item you can name, someone somewhere collects it, and they are probably searching Ebay for what they want. So whatever you are collecting, Ebay selling can help you generate the money needed to add items to your own collection while getting rid of things you don't need. In addition, you can be gratified to know that the item you didn't want, like the bikes your kids have outgrown, or your vintage clock, was exactly what some other collector was seeking.

Just like collecting, Ebay selling can get almost addictive. It's a fun hobby that many people are discovering. So where do you go if there's something special you are collecting? Ebay! Selling, you'll find, is almost as fun as collecting, so be sure to try it, too. Remember, too, that Ebay can not only help you complete your collections. It can also be a source for the things you need for other hobbies, interests, and needs in your life.





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Clay Pot Crafts: Make a Bell for the Porch

Clay pot crafts are a cute way to make home decorations. In clay pot crafts, clay flower pots can be crafted into a variety of decorative things that appeal to gardeners. Usually, the crafter begins with new pots. The pots are often decorated with paint as well as being tied together with rope or cord to create things.

Pots for clay pot crafts can be purchased in many different sizes, from tiny ones not more than 2 inches in diameter, to huge ones over a foot across. For a beginning project, start with smaller pots. The beginner should also choose clay pot crafts that don't use too many pots in too elaborate a design.

An example of a good craft for someone new at clay pot crafts is to make a bell from two clay pots. Buy one pot that is about five or six inches in diameter, and another that is very small. You will use the small one as the clapper for the bell. You will also need some decorative cord, two large wooden beads, and paint in desired colors. You may also wish to purchase some glue-on jewels to decorate the bell. The bell makes a nice decoration for a front porch.

Cut the cord two feet (60 cm.) long. Fold the end over 3 inches (8 cm.) and tie in an overhand knot, making a loop. This loop is for hanging the bell from a hook or a nail. Now turn the larger clay pot upside-down. Pass the loose end of the cord down through the hole in the pot. Lay the pot on its side and slide one of the large wooden beads up the cord until it is about 10 inches (25 cm.) from the loose end. Now tie the cord around the bead so that the bead cannot slip from its position on the cord. If you have done this correctly, you can lift the pot by the loop. In clay pot crafts, the beads must be large enough to stop the cord from going through the hole in the bottom of the pot.

On the loose end of the cord, you are going to attach the small pot in the same way. Slide the small pot up the cord to make it easier to tie the other large wooden bead on the end of the cord. Now when you lift the entire arrangement by the loop, the smaller pot should hang freely inside the larger pot, making a pleasant sound when it claps against the larger pot.

Decorate the outside of the larger pot with paint as desired. You may like to paint it in black and white patches for a Holstein cow theme. You may also like to decorate the top of the bell with silk or dried flowers and greenery and a ribbon bow.

For a variation on this craft, make three of the bells and hang them from a horizontal piece of driftwood or other interesting piece of natural wood. When making hanging clay pot crafts, always make sure the beads are large enough and are tied tightly in place, because the clay pots will break if they fall to the ground.

Other clay pot crafts include making a large doll or scarecrow of nested pots strung together and painted. The doll can sit on a chair or a step of the front porch. Paint his face to look like a scarecrow, a jack-o-lantern, a gnome, or a child. Clay pot crafts are especially suited to being displayed outside.





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Civil War Bullet Collecting: A Hobby that Honors the Past

Did you know that during the Civil War, more than 1000 different types of bullets were used? This is one reason Civil War bullet collecting has become a popular hobby. Another reason is that the time of the Civil War saw changes taking place in the development of firearms and ammunition. The old round musketballs of the Revolution were being replaced with bullets in the shape we are accustomed to. While musketballs are found on Civil War battlefields, the most common type of bullet used was the .58-caliber bullet with three rings around the base. Many bullets found are splattered out of shape. If you've always been fascinated by the Civil War and firearms, Civil War bullet collecting is a hobby you will enjoy.

With the advent of Internet buying and selling, Civil War bullets have become more collectible, and the prices have gone up quickly. Not only this, sometimes sellers are not informed and ask more than the bullet is worth. For these reasons, if you are just starting out in Civil War bullet collecting, you will want to buy a good price guide. You can even find a price guide online if that works better for you.

Many Civil War bullet collectors also collect bullet molds and other relics from the Civil War era. A real enthusiast might even investigate the possiblility of becoming a Civil War reenactor, acting out battles with others in towns and fields across the Southeast.

Civil War bullets can be collected by buying from other collectors, or you can begin by going directly to the battlefields to dig and search. A metal detector will make Civil War bullet collecting easier. You may also find buttons from uniforms, bullet molds, belt buckles, and other metal items from the battle. Some of the bullets may be buried quite deep. You will need to wear a headset and pay close attention to the changes in tone in your metal detector. Hunting Civil War relics is prohibited on protected battlefields, but there are still old homesites where battles were fought. Be sure to get permission from the owner and fill any holes you dig.

Some people have the idea that hunting for bullets with a metal detector indicates a lack of respect for the soldiers who died there. They get this idea because sometimes bullet hunters find bones along with the bullet. The fact is, however, that many of the bullet hunters who have found bullets this way have chronicled and mapped out there finds, resulting in many of the facts that we now know about the Civil War.

The Civil War fascinates Americans because of everything it stands for. While everyone agrees that slavery is a terrible blot on the history of the U.S., there are some people who still discuss the issue of states' rights versus a strong central government. Civil War bullet collecting is an iteresting hobby, though somewhat sobering at times when considering the great number of casualties. The memory of brother fighting against brother out in the cornfields and pastures will never go away. Civil War bullet collecting is one way to commemorate this monumental historical event.

Christmas Craft: Bead and Pipe Cleaner Ornaments

Christmas ornaments made from ordinary pipe cleaners and inexpensive acrylic beads are very pretty and easy to make. They look quite impressive yet are easy enough for small children to make. This is one Christmas craft idea to use again and again. Older people will enjoy making this Christmas craft, too, which can be varied to make a number of different sparkling ornaments for your Christmas tree.

To make the bead and pipe cleaner ornaments, you need common pipe cleaners in desired colors and acrylic beads. Two types of beads are particularly effective when strung on pipe cleaners. One type are called sunburst beads, but are also known as paddlewheel beads, snowflake beads, or starburst beads. These beads have six faceted paddles spaced equally around a center that contains the hole for stringing. When several of these sunburst beads are strung consecutively, they fit against each other in an interlocking pattern.

The other type of bead that is also effective for this Christmas craft is called the tri bead or propeller bead. It has three rounded bumps arranged around the stringing hole. Like the sunburst beads, the tri beads interlock when strung consecutively. For the most sparkly and attractive Christmas ornaments, get tri beads and/or sunburst beads in translucent colors of red, green, and clear. The tri beads can also be found in metallic gold and silver which can be used in this Christmas craft as well.

Pipe cleaners can be found in silver and gold tinsel as well as chenille of all colors. For the Christmas craft, the best colors to use are the metallics and Christmas colors. The beads cover the pipe cleaners, but the ends will need to be twisted together and made into hangers, so they show.

Anyone, even small children, can string these beads on pipe cleaners. Bend up the end of the pipe cleaner so the beads don't fall off. The pipe cleaner works like a needle, making a needle unnecessary. For best results, show the children how to alternate colors when stringing, or start a pattern of three colors. When the beads are strung on the pipe cleaners, they can be bent into different Christmas shapes. For instance, string red and clear beads alternately, then bend down one end of the pipe cleaner for a candy cane shape. Or alternate red and green beads and form a circle for a wreath. Use red pipe cleaner to form a small bow to decorate the wreath. Form a hanger for the Christmas craft or simply slip the circle over a branch of the tree.

If you experiment with clear beads and silver pipe cleaners, you can make some beautiful snowflake or star ornaments. Snowflake designs can be twisted of silver pipe cleaner only, without the beads for a simple but pretty decoration.

Bead and pipe cleaner ornaments are a Christmas craft you will find yourself using every year. Children and their parents will both appreciate this simple yet pretty Christmas craft.

Beach Holidays for Fun in the Sun

Everyone loves beach holidays! The little ones can dig in the sand and splash in the lapping waves. The older ones can swim, get a tan, or just relax. The inquisitive types can explore for sea life, tide pools, and drift wood. The warm breezes and natural beauty are invigorating and restorative. Any trip, however, can cause discomfort if you do not plan well. Here are things you can do to make your beach holidays easier, safer, and more meaningful.

In many parts of the world, people head for their beach holidays in the family car. When planning a trip, it's always a good idea to give the car a good cleaning out first. This will give you more room for your luggage. Stock you glovebox, too, with a few first aid and comfort items, such as sunblock, acetominiphen for headaches, a roll of antacids, a few cough drops, and a few bandaids. Don't forget a couple of scrunchies or pony-tailers for long hair. Get the tires checked and replace any that are likely to go flat. Get an oil change if it's getting close. Road trips are not much fun when they include breakdowns. And whatever you do, make sure you have a map and a place to keep it handy.

Travelling with kids is always a challenge. They may be particularly excited and impatient when they know they are going on beach holidays. Make sure they have cool water bottles and healthy snacks to munch. Try a simple car game to make the time pass. Many kids like looking for letters of the alphabet on signs. If several people get involved it can be quite fun.

With beach holidays particularly, there is always a need to provide for skin safety. Be particularly careful about being in the sun for long stretches of time between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Use a sunblock with a high SPF rating and replace it after getting wet or drying off with your towel. The towel you choose can make a difference too. Thick towels get heavy and tend to trap a lot of sand. You may find you like thin towels at the beach. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and some sort of foot protection to keep your feet from being burned on the hot sand.

With a little preparation your beach holidays can be enjoyable and problem-free. When you arrive home you will be relaxed, refreshed, and ready for work. Take a minute to unpack and get your laundry going. It won't belong until the kids will be shouting, "When can we go on beach holidays again?"

Arts and Crafts Idea: Foam Sheet Glasses Case

Are you a camp director, teacher, or homeschool mom looking for a new arts and crafts idea for your kids? Or maybe you are a recreation director at a senior center or nursing home and could use a new project. Either way, this arts and crafts idea will be interesting and fun for all. This glass case can be used, given as a gift, or converted into a necklace purse.

To make the glasses case, you will need the following simple materials: a square of craft foam, plastic or large blunt needles, lanyard lace or thick yarn. Cut two rectangles from the foam, each 3-1/2 inches (9 cm.) by 6 inches (15 cm.). With a hole punch, make holes on three sides of each rectangle, leaving one short side unpunched. Make the holes 1/2 inch apart and allow at least 1/4 inch between the hole and the edge of the craft foam. The holes need to line up so that the two pieces can be laced together. If you are preparing the craft for small children, you should make the holes yourself. Otherwise, the crafters can do this step if you have enough pairs of hole punches.

At this point the crafters can cut decorative shapes from other colors of craft foam, or you can buy sets of ready-cut foam shapes. If you are doing the craft at a special event, like vacation Bible school, choose shapes that echo the theme of the event. For instance, if the Bible school or camp has a cowboy theme, find shapes that fit well, such as boots, cowboy hats, and stars. Let the kids choose the shapes they like and glue on as desired. You might also like to provide beads or sequins to glue on as well, especially if the crafters are a little older.

The next step in this arts and crafts idea is to thread the plastic needle with the yarn or lanyard lace. Yarn might be a little easier to handle, but lanyard lace is shiny and attractive. In a pinch, some teachers of small children use a bobby pin as a needle. It is certainly a safe alternative. Simply loop the yarn through the opening and use the open end of the bobby pin as if it were the point of the needle. The children can now begin to lace the front and back of the glasses case together.

To turn this arts and crafts idea into a necklace purse, simply attach a piece of lanyard lace to each corner making a long handle. Kids will enjoy using this case as a place to store secret notes and small objects. If they'd rather, they can give the glasses case to a parent, grandparent, or friend who wears glasses. Either way, this arts and crafts idea will be interesting for all.

Start an Art Collectible Hobby and Beautify Your Home

Collecting is a fun hobby, and one of the most interesting things to collect are art collectibles. Many different items can be painted with artwork and become an art collectible. Hobby enthusiasts collect such things as saw blades, and wooden eggs which have had artwork painted on. People even collect designer rugs as art. Another art collectible hobby is collecting limited edition plates, thimbles, Christmas ornaments, and figurines produced by such companies as Bradford Exchange. And of course, many people collect fine art paintings.

The person with an art collectible hobby will probably find his or her own favorite artists whose works they appreciate. They can choose to focus on one particular artist, either past or present, or they can choose from the works of many artists. On the other hand, they may collect art and art objects around a theme they enjoy, such as cigars, wild animals, or piano music.

One may think of an art collector as a rich person who has the money to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an original Van Gogh. A person of more modest means can collect art too, however. Post cards are a good place to start. Most art museum gift shops offer high quality, glossy postcards printed with some of their more notable acquisitions. By buying those cards one really appreciates, anyone can have an art collection.

Ebay is a good source of art collectibles whatever type of art or collectible you fancy. In fact, if you are just starting out, the choices and options can be overwhelming! Just remember that you can sell your own belongings as well as buying those of others. This should make the impact on the budget a little less powerful. Other ideas for inexpensively collecting art collectibles are scouring flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales. You never know what treasure someone else may be getting rid of.

One nice thing about art collectibles is that artists can be found in every part of the world. The art collector should scout the local art shows, museums, and artist's hangouts to find out just what sort of talent can be had less expensively and close to home. Because of the local flavor of some artwork, art collectibles make good travel souvenirs. For instance, the artist Linda Barnicott specializes in paintings of scenes, buildings, and landmarks found around Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Similarly, collectors can find local artist almost everywhere.

An art collectible hobby will keep you interested in life and give you a home filled with art masterpieces as well. If you enjoy pretty and interesting things around you, consider starting an art collectible hobby today.
 
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