Saturday, May 21, 2011

>Kitchen Lighting

>Importance of a well lit kitchen

Kitchen Lighting is often the most over-looked aspect while designing the kitchen. In fact, a well lit kitchen is paramount in order to create the right mood, cook faster and function more efficiently. Moreover, the kitchen just does not serve as a cooking area but in most cases also as a dining and entertaining room. A well lit kitchen also obviates the risk of accidents and a well lit kitchen is always welcoming. A few factors need to be taken into account when designing the kitchen lighting. Rather than just focusing on the fancy fixtures that blend well with the kitchen décor; it is equally important to take its functionality into account. So, first set yourself a reasonable budget before going ahead with the lighting plan.

Eliminate errors and analyze the kitchen size

It is never a good idea to just install a single glaring bulb in the middle of the ceiling. Too much or too little lighting in kitchen areas will result in an imbalance which may visually overpower certain areas and create shadows in other areas. There are essentially 3 types of kitchen lighting: Task Lighting, Ambient Lighting and Accent Lighting. A balanced blend of all three creates a well lit kitchen. Therefore, a careful analysis of the kitchen size is essential to determine the kind of fixtures and lighting required in different kitchen areas. Be subtle and make sure you don’t overdo it. A well lit kitchen need not necessarily be glaring bulbs all over. The key is to blend and mix the right type of lighting (Task, Ambient and Accent) at strategic areas to improve functionality and enhance the mood of the kitchen.

Carefully create a balanced blend and go for a layered look

Task Lighting
Task Lighting is a directed beam of light that illuminates the work areas of the kitchen. Each work area of the kitchen requires its own task lighting. Be it chopping vegetables, mixing and measuring ingredients; everything requires separate task lighting. Every designated area should ideally have its own task lighting. Under cabinets lights too are a great option to install task lighting as besides offering great functionality; it can significantly enhance and emphasize the features of the kitchen. While fluorescents prove to highly energy efficient, halogens produce a clear white glow. Proper task lighting can prevent kitchen accidents as well. The island tops and kitchen counters need to be well illuminated with task lighting.  On the other hand, a poorly lit counter may produce shadows and hinder or delay one’s activity.

Ambient Lighting:
As the term suggests, ambient lighting creates a welcoming ambience and creates the general feel and look of the room. It serves as a functional lighting and aids in maneuvering and moving around the kitchen safely. If the kitchen cabinets are built or placed half way through the ceiling; the extra space can serve as an ideal spot for ambient lighting. In most cases; the ambient lighting is most neglected and overlooked. This type of lighting should be well blended with other lighting.

Accent Lighting:
Accent Lighting is generally used to emphasize the architectural features of the kitchen as well as lend the ideal dimension and depth to a kitchen. The fixtures placed inside cabinets which have a glass front to illuminate the cabinet items like China and glassware may constitute Accent Lighting. Even over cabinet lighting or recess lighting accentuates the feel good factors of a kitchen. Track lighting can also be considered if the home owner has a small galley kitchen.

Installing dimmers is a significant factor that needs to be taken into account for kitchen lighting. With dimmers, the lights can be dimmed or undimmed according to the activity taking place in the kitchen or the time of the day. Moreover; dimmers create the right balance required in kitchen lighting. However; just installing one stray dimmer may not be enough. Separate dimmers for each lighting type would be ideal: Accent, Task and Ambient. The idea is to be able to adjust the lighting; as and when needed.

Research, Plan and then Implement
Planning ahead can save the homemaker a few dollars as well as get the right lighting effect within a stipulated budget. A lighting designer may also be very helpful in delivering the required effects as he would first carefully study the kitchen layout (such as natural light, ceiling height, finishing of the surface etc) and design the lighting accordingly. Also, do your homework and a good amount of research in advance. Information and ideas come in very handy when you most require it. Most importantly; don't over do. Be subtle; choose the right focal points and task areas and then mix well. This should lighten up the kitchen enough to get all your culinary tasks done in a jiffy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

>Audio Books

Audio Books – 10 Frequently Asked Questions – Part 1
My friends and colleagues consider me as the audio books expert. They tell their friends that they know an audio books expert and the outcome is that I keep getting dozens of audio books questions and inquiries each day. I have decided to gather the most frequently asked questions for everyone’s benefit.

Here are the top five frequently asked questions about audio books (and the answers of course):

1. Are there free audio books? How do I get them?
In one word: NO. In two words: Not exactly. Depends of the type of audio book you are looking for (downloadable audio book are cheaper than the other types), and the audio book title (new audio books cost more), you could find low cost audio books.

I believe that one should pay for each product or service he gets. Yet, you could find free audio books mostly by signing up for the free trials most of the online audio book services give you.

2. What is better – Audio books rental or audio books buying?
I personally prefer audio books rental. Mostly because of the price – I read a lot of audio books and it will simply cost too much to buy them all. However, audio books that I really like, Ones that I want to listen to time after time, I buy and keep them on my audio books library.

Yet, I have friends who are more possessive – they are not willing to rent audio books and they must hold a remarkable huge audio book library.

3. What do you suggest – downloadable audio books, audio books on CD or books on tape?
Well, that’s a tough question. Basically, I believe that the most worthy audio books format nowadays is downloadable audio books. You must own a media player (e.g. Ipod) to listen to it. Yet, it costs less than the others and has a better quality.

However, the widest collection of audio books could be found on the audio books on CD format. If you want to listen to old books you will find them only on CDs.

I do not recommend getting books on tape (also known as audio books on cassettes). They are expensive, low quality and not user friendly.

4. When can I read audio books?
The answer is - Anytime and anywhere. Here are a few examples: While cooking, cleaning the house, exercising, running, walking, driving, flying, before going to sleep, commuting, working etc.

5. Are audio books expensive?
Audio books are not expensive at all. In fact, Downloadable audio books are very cheap – they cost much less than real books and renting them is the most worthy deal. Audio books on CD cost about the same as real books and books on tape are the most expensive ones.

Audio Books – 10 Frequently Asked Questions – Part 2
The audio books era is already here. I keep hearing phrases like: Audio book rental, free audio books, audio book club, audio books on CD, online audio book rental services etc.

Here are the next five frequently asked questions about audio books (and the answers of course):

6. What kinds of audio books do you recommend to listen to?
Listen to audio books that you would read. Meaning, if you like thrillers, listen to thriller audio books, if you are looking for children books, get children audio books etc.

Yet, I suggest you get to know more other successful audio books kinds such as language tutorials and motivation audio books.

7. Are the old fashioned books going to disappear?
I don’t think so. In fact, I still prefer reading books before I’m going to sleep. The experience is a different one, and some people still prefer the old books. Yet, I believe that the reading habits of most of the world’s population will change in the next century thanks to audio books.

8. Can I find any book in an audio book format?
Unfortunately not any book could be found as an audio book. Yet, almost any new book and any bestseller from the last century are getting published as an audio book. Most of the old books could be found in the format of books on tape and the new ones as downloadable audio books and audio books on CD.

9. How can I listen to downloadable audio books?
You could listen to downloadable audio books using a media player on your desk top or your note book computer. However, most people use audio players like iPod to listen to downloadable audio books.

10. Where should I get my audio books?
The best place to get audio books from would be one of the online audio book services.

>About casino portals and gambling guides

>Understanding how a casino portal works is not something that is ready knowledge for most online gamblers.

Gambling guides and casino portals are sometimes misunderstood. Many people do not realize it is these gambling websites which are very much responsible for the good things that happen in the world of online gambling because they are the ears and voices of the gaming community. Many times online casinos have reversed their decision to take an action which is not player-friendly because of the outcries of guides and portal owners who are almost all what is called "affiliates" in the industry.

As important as it is to know the affiliate is responsible for many of the good things in online gambling it is equally important to understand that nothing is ever taken away from the player by the existence of the affiliate. Some people think that because the affiliate makes a commission that they are costing the player something but it couldn't be further from the truth. Affiliates are like an extra padding of insurance that the player will be treated right. Just like there are bad casinos and good, so are there bad affiliates and good. The bad ones are those who will promote any online casino willing to pay them, the good ones step in on behalf of their players whenever a casino mistreats them. That being said, whether an affiliate costs the player any extra money is a separate issue from what casinos an affiliate chooses to list on their site or if  they will step in on behalf of the player.

Affiliates are paid in several different ways which include a set amount for every visit sent to the casino website, a set amount for every player who signs up and plays for real money, a percentage of what that player loses, and there is even a payment model that depends largely on the player winning which is called "wagershare", a common practice in Las Vegas that happens with high rollers where someone who is a free-lance escort is paid in the same manner... which is a percentage on whatever amount is gambled. That is not on what is won or what is lost, but rather it is just like the way any casino, land or virtual, figures comp points. It is all figured on how many times you put money into the slot machine, or how many hands and at what stakes? in blackjack or one of the other table games. The more the player wins the more they are going to wager of course so this model is a favorite with most guides because they want to see the players win and its great when you can also profit from that excitement. In truth it all figures out to about the same whatever the model is based, although the residual incomes (the percentage of) are the fairest to all involved because the other models always end up with one side or the other coming out on the short end of the stick (that meaning the affiliate and the casino as this has no bearing on a player because if the affiliate wasn't to get paid what they do ... the money would go straight into the casino's advertising budget or their pocket but it doesn't go back to the player, just ask anybody who has ever signed up straight from a search engine, they get no more extras than anybody else, further is they have nobody to turn for help if they get cheated, whereas those who signed up through a guide can go back there and ask for intervention).

 There are also gambling guides and casino portals that straight out sell advertising space and some that were created by the casinos they list. But no matter what the type, at no time does the affiliate ever cost the player anything. Besides being excellent places from which to choose a casino, these establishments often offer tips to help the player in both their game play and in their approach to online gambling as it is different than real life, most noticeably in the time delay of payments.

>How to Repair Music Boxes and Other Mechanical Collectibles,

A Unique Interview on How to Repair Music Boxes and Other Mechanical Collectibles
Ballerina Music Boxes, inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, cylinder music boxes, and antique music boxes are delicate and beautiful. As most music box and antique collectors know, in order to preserve them, sometimes repair and restoration is needed.  For this special work, it is important to choose a company that is reputable and an expert in this area. With a little research, these companies usually can be found no matter what part of the world you are in. One such company and expert is Mr. Jim Weir.

Jim does all kinds of antique musical box repairs and restoration. His work includes comb repairs, releading and tuning, dampering, cylinder repairing, and organ bridge work. Jim also offers all manner of musical box work on disc and cylinder music boxes.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Jim about his musical box repair and restoration business, which, by the way, is operated out of Scotland. Let's discover more about Jim; his hopes, and get an in depth look as to what it is like to operate a music box repair and restoration business.

Jim started off with saying this about himself:

"What can I tell you about myself? Well, I'm 56 and have been working on musical boxes for the best part of 30 years. My wife and I live in Scotland with our two daughters; one's at school and one's at University. Depending on workload my wife and both daughters help with pinning cylinders; I guess it's a family business really?"

1. Could you describe your online and offline business operations, your services and/or products in detail?

"I've used the Internet to find workshop supplies, including the machine I use for grinding and finishing repined music box cylinders. Other than that, my business is primarily offline. Most of it comes to me from people who already know me, although I've recently started advertising in the MBSI Journal. I hardly ever buy and sell musical boxes; I have a good workshop but not a retail shop or display counter. I have checked out potential purchases for customers, telling them what level of repair work they are likely to get into before they buy a specific musical box, and where a customer is looking for a particular type of box I've sometimes been able to find one, but other than that my main business is repair work, everything from full restoration to part jobs, particularly comb and cylinder work. I've got a very good team of pinners (the people who put the new pins into the cylinders for me to finish) and after advertising in the MBSI Journal, I'm beginning to pick up new individual work from customers in the USA as well as my regular trade work."

2. What made you decide to start a business specializing in antique musical box repairs and restoration? What was your inspiration or motivation?

"I trained as a clock repairer. One day a customer brought in a 15.1/2" Polyphon and asked me to `fix it'. That's where it started."

3. What have been your major challenges/obstacles over the years? How did you overcome them? "

To reverse your question, I'm still trying to figure out how to overcome them. My worst problem, or `obstacle' if you like has been myself. Some of the work I've done has been fairly intense; taking it on as if it were some kind of personal challenge has not perhaps been the wisest thing to do. I'm largely self-taught, and I'm not a good teacher, or a particularly good pupil come to that."

4. What specific types of online or offline marketing tools are you using successfully?

"I'm not sure how successful it will be; it's early days yet but I've just started to advertise in the MBSI Journal. I've picked up a couple of jobs that way. I don't advertise anywhere else, and I don't use any online marketing tools."

5. Have you always envisioned yourselves doing what you are doing now? Has it always been a passion? What did you "want to be when you grew up?

"No I've not. When I was at school, I wanted to be a train driver. Musical box work has become a passion though; trying to get the best possible sound out of a musical box is part of what drives me."
A Unique Interview on How to Repair Music Boxes and Other Mechanical Collectibles, Part 2
Ballerina Music Boxes, inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, cylinder music boxes, and antique music boxes are delicate and beautiful. As most music box and antique collectors know, in order to preserve them, sometimes repair and restoration is needed.  For this special work, it is important to choose a company that is reputable and an expert in this area. This is the second part of an interview with music box and mechaical insturment repair and restoration expert, Mr. Jim Weir

Jim does all kinds of antique musical box repairs and restoration. His work includes comb repairs, releading and tuning, dampering, cylinder repairing, and organ bridge work. Jim also offers all manner of musical box work on disc and cylinder music boxes..Let's listen as he continues to give us an inside peek of this unique business.

6. What if your least favorite part of running your business? Your favorite part?

"Paperwork. Dealing with taxes and Customs (although I've got quite good dealing with Customs and Carriers). My favorite part? There is a satisfaction in finally getting a job finished; there's also a fair amount of satisfaction in finally getting paid."

7. What are some of your favorite music box and collectible pieces and why?

"A 26" consul model Stella. It belonged to the late Bruce Devine and literally arrived in pieces (it had been dropped from a crane while being loaded). Originally Bruce gave it to one of my trade customers, who passed it on to me. Then my trade customer ducked out of the deal, and I ended up working direct for Bruce. It was an `interesting' experience and quite a steep learning curve. At the end though, the box did sound good. Excellent tune arrangements."

8. Is there any interesting history associated with some of your pieces?

"I don't collect musical boxes; without being funny I genuinely cannot afford to. Some of the pieces I've worked on have had `history'; as an example the Stella referred to above. Another would be a rare long and short pin Forte-Piano box (maker unknown) I overhauled for a customer in France. It had a silver presentation plaque in the lid; as far as I could gather it was presented to a Mayor in 1847 for some kind of `service to the townspeople'. I'm not up on French politics, but the middle of the 19th century were turbulent times. One of the nicest stories is a box I fully restored for an old lady in Edinburgh. She was in her 70's. The box had been in her family since new, and she had last heard it play when she was a child."

9. What important advice or tips would you give to someone who would like to start a business such as yours either online or offline?

"I wouldn't. Things move faster now that we have the Internet. To get fully involved in this kind of work takes time, which the whole `I want it NOW' approach of the Internet doesn't favor. I was lucky in that I had a skill with clocks that I was able to sharpen and direct to music box work. If I had to give advice, I'd say by all means get involved with music boxes, or whatever else begins to drive you, but try to maintain a backup. The wisest thing? Learn that `quitting' is not necessarily a personal failure; it's recognizing that some choices can turn out to be wrong. There are maybe a few music box repairers who would be happier now if, 30 years ago, they'd sold their lathes, workshop tools etc. and taken up farming. Not me though, I hasten to add."

10. For those antique and music box collectors looking to find valuable and interesting pieces for their own collections, where would you suggest they go either online or offline? How about those who are just starting a collection?

"Take advice from your friends. Don't necessarily follow it, but give it some thought. Subscribe to music box sale catalogues, it's a good way to check what things actually sell for; they often give the hammer price of items from previous sales. Go to music box auctions if you can; not necessarily to buy anything but to observe, to get a feel not just for how much pieces sell for, but for what sells and what doesn't. Try to figure out why what looked like a nice box didn't sell. If you're really interested in buying a specific musical box, either from a dealer, private seller or at auction it can save you a lot of heartache if you get someone who knows what they're looking at to check the box over and advise you of likely repair costs before you buy it. A lot of repair costs can be itemized; if a potential customer emailed or wrote to me (even `phoned me) with a good description of a box needing repair, I would do my best to advise them as to how much the repairs could cost before they part up with maybe a lot of money to buy it. I don't charge for this and neither do most restorers; having given advice we all hope for the work if the customer goes on and buys the box. If the box is a particularly fine example, and likely to be expensive to buy, it's can be worth paying a restorers time for them to go and check it out at the sellers address. I've done this; a collector armed with an itemized potential repair cost of something he's interested in buying is in a very strong position when it comes to arguing the sale price with the seller".

Jim ends with saying this about his hopes for the future:

"To bring in more work and pay off the mortgage. Ok, there's a lot more to life than that but one way or another, the bills still have to be paid. Most of my work to now has come from dealers; what I'm hoping is that by advertising in the MBSI Journal, I'll attract more work direct from the public.  In theory I could put up my public prices, but in practice I cannot, at least not to customers in the USA. They already have to pay shipping costs, and the simple fact is that whether a musical box needs comb work, cylinder work or a full restoration, there's a top limit to how much most people will pay to have it worked on, irrespective of how long the work takes. People have to make choices; your car's broke, your washing machine leaks and the antique music box you inherited from your Grandmother squeaks. Which one do you spend your money on?  That's about it really; the sun's shining and it's time to get back to the workshop."

>5 Ways Nintendo can Climb to the Top

>5: Shifting Media Man
Nintendo needs to ditch mini-disks and cartridges and publish games on full size compact disks. It will help get rid of your “cute, fuzzy, little kid image.”

4: Deadline Driving for 8 Billion Red Coins
Don’t hype up a game until you’re sure you can release it on time. You get me all worked up about a game like Twilight Princess and then push it back, and back, and back until you’ve pushed back into another console! It gets old! Stop doing it. Finish the game then tell people about it six month before you release it. Problem solved.

3: Footrace with Sony the Quick
It’s a little late for this one Nintendo, but you need to beat Sony to the market if you can. Get your Revolution hardware out and in our hands and take our dollars as soon as possible because after we buy an X-Box 360, 4 controllers, and a hard drive we’re probably going to have enough money for just one Next Gen system. If you can beat Sony to the market and suck up $250 bucks plus the cost of controllers, games, and memory cards people won’t be willing to shell out the $600 bucks plus games and accessory money for Play Station III.

2. Nintendo's Image Lost
You need to fix your image, you have the 3-9 year old market cornered, and nobody can touch you, but now its time to graduate to the big leagues. If you want to survive and latch onto the adult audience I suggest buying a well-known franchise like Grand Theft Auto or create one and make it a Nintendo exclusive. Remind people Nintendo started the age of multiplayer console shooters with Goldeneye. 

1. To the Top of the Mountain
Last, but not least, you seriously need to get a better shell for your controller. I personally like it and think it's brilliant, but people aren't ready for it yet. You need to have a more traditional controller for your next gen system. I'm NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD GET RID OF THE MOTION SENSOR, but definitely scrap the remote control look.

>5 Tips On Improving Your Tricks

>A magician is an artist. Every trick is a masterpiece and every trick requires a lot of patience and time to learn. Here are some tips to help you improve your tricks.

Practice Makes Perfect

You’ve learned a new trick and have shown it to an audience and mesmerized them, should that stop there? No! A magician always practices his bag of tricks, no matter how much he has mastered them. Bungling up a trick in front of an audience is one of the most embarrassing situations a magician can ever encounter.

You should set some time to practice your magic. Two hours every day is more than enough to help you polish up skills you’ve learned. Remember that time spent in practicing is not time wasted.

Videotape Your Act

Videotaping your act will let you see how the audience perceives you. It is important that you look at your video camera as you do it and try to think of it as your audience. Watching how you perform will let you see simple mistakes you probably didn’t know you were making. It will help in your practice and in knowing if a trick is effective.

Ask for Help

Joining a group could help you improve your tricks. You could watch how they do it. You would also have the chance to show your tricks and receive feedbacks. Remember to ask for help if you think you need it and to heed advice when given.

It’s important to realize that there are better magicians than you and that others have more experience.

Utilize Your Free Time

Going away for the weekends? Perhaps you’re going on a camping trip or fishing. Why not bring your materials with you? There will be free time on your trips where you could practice your tricks or devise new ones.

The trick is to use your time wisely. Think of every free time as a chance to practice and you’ll see improvements on your tricks.

Learning another Trick

Don’t try learning another trick until you’ve mastered your current trick. You should treat it as a painting and practice your trick until it becomes your own masterpiece.

Ask for help if you need them and try your best to finish learning what you’ve started.

A magician will always find ways to learn new tricks. It is important that they realize that a trick is not something to be taken for granted. You need to practice, practice, and practice. That is one way to ensure success in this business.

>5 Desktop Computer Hardware Myths Exposed

>The big boys in the computer industry want you to continue thinking the way you are. The major desktop computer manufacturers thrive on consumers lack of knowledge and old ideas about desktop computers and computer hardware to drive sales of new desktop computers.

It works in their favor to keep these myths alive, because their business depends on it. So what are they?

Myth 1: You need top of the line computer hardware

Maybe some years ago this might have been true with older computer hardware, but times have changed. When computers were much slower than they are now, the latest version of any computer hardware increased speeds noticeably and allowed new possibilities from your desktop computer.

Those increases from computer hardware no longer yield such a huge increase in performance. With the basic uses of the desktop computer set and been in place for a while now, speed increases no longer result in real world benefits for most desktop computer users.

What was great computer hardware last year is still good enough now.

Myth 2: Computer hardware is the domain of Geeks

When personal computing was coming into its own, you really did need to be a Geek to know what was happening. For those old enough to remember, imagine life without Windows and hacking away at the command line, as used to be the case. Some still do, but I wouldn't want to do that again.

Desktop computers are such commonplace that the basics of computer hardware can be understood and researched with the minimum of hassle. The ball is on the consumers side of the court. You no longer need to be a geek, just a little knowledge that is now readily available.

Myth 3: A faster desktop computer will speed up the Internet

Possibly. If you are running 5-year-old computer hardware this might be the case. But the real reason for the increase in speed is usually not the computer.

Internet speed is related to your connection speed. If you have a dial up connection, it's going to be quite slow. When you upgrade your desktop computer and they throw in a cable internet, or DSL package the improved speed is from the faster connection, not the computer. Both cable and DSL can offer more than 10 times the speed of a dial-up connection. The computer has little to do with it.

Myth 4: To speed your computer up, upgrade!

New computer hardware is a very obvious way to speed things up. Even I have gone for new parts purely for this reason.

But it's definitely not the only way.

Various factors play into overall speed. On a purely physical level, upgrading memory is still a fantastic way to get things to move along a little faster. But apart from this the main things that slows things down on the programs and other stuff you have on the computer.

Over time, as more programs are put on and taken off and changed, things get left behind, and things get forgotten. When your computer starts, many things get loaded into memory and each one of those takes that little bit more of the computers resources. When you switch to a new program and don't remove the old one, the older one will still use resources.

Myth 5: Big brands are the best

Big brands essentially piece together a computer. They pick and choose the pieces to make a computer package. They also choose some software, give a warranty and then sell it to you.

Dell computer company has become well known for its customer service. This is the best part about Dell computers. The downside is there are limited choices. They pick what goes into the computer, which are often quite expensive parts. They are motivated by the suppliers to put more recent parts into their computers, keeping the prices at the same level and maintaining the "to get more, pay more," mentality.

You don't have the power of these big guys, but you have something more. Choice.

Your pick of parts for your desktop computer will allow you to put together something completely tailored to your needs. Put the money where you need it most, into the computer hardware that makes the biggest difference to you, and in the end getting a desktop computer you will fall in love with, rather than despise.

>3 Steps to Picking out Your Dream Paint.

>Moving into a new house can be quite an experience.  You are totally in a new zone, surrounded by new ceilings and floors near stairs in an entire new layout.  You want your home to look the best, so it's important to pick out the right kind of paint. Of course, in a single article, we can't show you absolutely everything that you need to know about moving into your new house, but we are going to try to give you some good tips on picking out a new house quality house paint.

1.  Match it.  By new house paint is arty difficult as it is in, and you definitely don't want to paint your house a second time. Make sure whatever kind of house paint that you buy matches up with your existing paint.  Maybe take a picture or find out exactly what kind of paint you have in your house right now so that when you go to the hardware store, you can show them exactly what you need.

2. Buy high-quality paint.  Take a look around at the different types of paint that are available for you to buy in the store.  You will quickly notice that paint varies in quality drastically and you generally get way you pay for.  Granted, you have to make sure that you're not getting ripped off and you really are getting a good deal, but if you are serious about making money on your house, try to buy the best type of paint that you can afford.

3.  Ask a professional.  It's okay if you don't know everything about home remodeling.  Some people do it for a living.  Builders, contractors, subcontractors and other home decorators might be able to give you some words of wisdom and help that you might not be able to get otherwise. Don't be afraid to ask.  Just ask them for a little help and you might be able to save yourself some time and headaches.

>A To Z Of Well-Known Magicians

>There are many well-known, skilled magicians that you might not know about because even though they're well known, they haven't reached magician cult status. Most people know about the magician David Copperfield, but there are many more magicians equally skilled. So, take a moment to learn about other wizards of magic and expand your knowledge about magicians.

Curtis Adams: A magician who appeared at the age of 16 in the Young Magicians Showcase featured on Fox Television. He was born on October 12, 1984 and was one of the youngest magicians to perform in Reno, Nevada casinos.

Criss Angel: The only three-time magician winner of the Merlin Award from the International Society of Magicians. Angel is a skilled magician who did stunts like lying on a bed of nails while a Hummer drove over him.

Ed Balducci: A street magician who died in 1988 at the age of 82. He is a magician known for his gimmick-free trick of visibly rising several inches from the ground with his back turned to his audience.

Derren Brown: A British magician who practiced traditional close-up magic in the 1990s. Brown's claim as a magician is his "mind-reading" act. Brown claims aliens abducted him.

Cardini: Richard "Cardini" Pitchford was a magician with almost 50 years of performing tricks and illusions. He's one of the world's most imitated magicians, but no one to date has ever been able to completely duplicate his tricks. He was a magician known for his sleight of hand. Items were forever appearing and disappearing from his hands. He died in 1973.

Tommy Cooper: A magician and comedian known who was a member of the Magic Circle until his death in 1984. He collapsed while doing a live magician act that became his last.

Paul Daniels: A currently retired British magician who in 1983 became the first magician to ever receive the prestigious Magician of the Year Award by the Hollywood Academy of Magical Arts.

S.W. Erndase: A magician and author whose real identity has never been figured out. Erndase is a magician who wrote a book in 1902 about card playing tricks.

Ching Ling Foo: The first Asian magician to achieve fame. He was a magician who did tricks like breathing fire and pulling a fifteen-foot pole from his mouth. He died in 1922.

Lennart Green: A magician known for his close-up card tricks. In 1991 this magician became the world champion of in close-up card magic.

Paul Harris: A magician known for pulling coins from mirrors. Many claim he is a magician with skills like a combination of Copperfield and Henning.

Scott Interrante: An American magician specializing in escape-artist tricks. He won awards from the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Ricky Jay: A magician listed in the Guinness Book of Records as throwing a playing card 190 feet at 90 miles per hour.

Fred Kaps: A Dutch magician who died in 1980. He is a magician known for making a saltshaker create an endless supply of salt.

Juan Tamariz: A Spanish magician who in 1971 founded a school that has trained generations of Spanish magicians.

Dia Vernon: This Canadian magician was born in 1894 as David Frederick Wingfield Verner. This magician, who died in 1992, is known for fooling Houdini with one of his card tricks.

Paul Zenon: A British street magician who also performed in the bars and pubs in the U.K. This magician has written three books about magic, the most recent published in 2005.

>3D Animation

>3D animation deals with electronically produced computer-generated 3D imagery used in motion graphics and digital special effects. In this case, the animator creates a design style or concept that tries to visually interpret and convey the required information using both new and traditional animation techniques.

The 3D animator will have to be well-acquainted with 3D animation applications and software, film and video production techniques, production processes, digital special effects, art and design movements and methodology, typography, styles of performance and dramatization, film and broadcast genres, technical scripting, health and safety regulations for the film and broadcast industry, and an understanding of budgeting and scheduling processes.

The job of the 3D animator is to design and realize original concepts, character and content creation. The animator, therefore, is responsible for devising and communicating creative ideas and accurate technical information. They have to provide the client with detailed estimates of costs, and work within the budget and schedule.

Each assignment will have different demands. So it is imperative that the animator should have a good knowledge and experience of animation software and broadcast processes, as well as a broad knowledge of technical scripting and digital technology used in broadcasting. The designer must be able to respond with innovative concepts and practical solutions for each assignment. The assignments may be of any kind, from designing a spinning top to re-creating mythical weapons.

To succeed in 3D animation, one must have a thorough understanding of computer-generated processes and applications to be able to achieve creative responses to design briefs within the restrictions of budget and deadline. He/she will be required to possess a passion for design, good communication skills and a good understanding of broadcast, special effects and character animation. Last but not least, he or she must enjoy working as a team member under pressure.

In addition to being able to demonstrate high standards of computer-generated imagery and animation techniques you will need to have a good knowledge of art and design movements and imagery, creative problem solving and innovation, and the understanding of how to deliver design concepts and processes.

>5 Tips For A Memorable New Years Eve Party!

>5 Tips For Having A Memorable New Year's Eve Party!
by John Jaworski
"Happy New Year!"
That'll be the words on just about everyone's lips at midnight this December 31'st. Hopefully your guests will be talking about your New Years Eve party until next New Years Eve when you'll have a chance to top yourself! Here are few things you can do to ensure your party isn't a snoozer!
1. Make it original - New Years Eve is a Special Night!
New Years Eve is a really cool night. It's the one time of the year when we can leave behind the heartaches of last year and open up our dreams and aspirations into next year. We also look back on all the cool things we did, new friends we made, vacations we took and successes we had!

Make your party YOUR party! Add your flair to it. It's not difficult to do. Think back on what happened in your life last year that was memorable. Did you take an awesome vacation, maybe get married? Did you get a promotion at work or meet the love of your life? Now what does that memory conjure up? Warm tropical breezes or maybe the chill of the Antarctic? Does it make you feel romantic or even powerful? Base the theme of your party around one of those feelings.

If you remember the feeling of the tropical breeze on your face, make it a tropical theme. Remember Tropical can be either goofy and fun sort of cartoon-ish, or suave and sophisticated, sort of like a beach party in a James Bond Movie, you remember, tuxedos and martinis etc!

If it's been a romantic year for you, make it a romantic party, again it can be goofy and fun, with couples games that always seem to place one or the other in lets say... ahem...compromising positions! Or Sophisticated with Roses and wine tasting.

The most important thing is that you make it personal. You'll be surprised how what seems like your memory will be echoed by your guests!
2. Create a new Cocktail for your Party!
Just about everybody likes to try a new colorful cocktail. Recently I had a party and the menu was based on Cuban influences. Instead of serving Mojitos, I created a MoJohnny! It was limeade, with vanilla rum and a splash of seltzer. I then rimmed all of the glasses with some "Mojito Rimming Sugar". These babies were an incredible hit! I get requests for them all the time! You can find a link to the special rimming sugar at the weblink below!

Don't underestimate creating a signature drink for your party. If you watch the Apprentice, this past season Rebecca created the "Yahootini" for her High End Party with It's a fun way to add your signature to the party and tasty!
3. Give out a "Cool" Party Favor!
Everybody likes to take something home. Not only does it give them something to take with them as a keepsake (other than your good silverware) it also makes sure that every time they look at your "gift" or "party favor" they'll remember your New Years Eve party!
One of the newest never fail items is the light up ice cube. These are plastic non-toxic cubes that have an LED light inside. If you need a quantity of them you can even have the name of your party or company printed on the cube. They come in a bunch of colors so finding something to match your theme and cocktail should be easy. You can even get some that will blink, strobe or change color! See more about them at the link below too!

Glow Necklaces are always fun, personalized shot glasses are cool too. You can get a ton of things personalized these days. You can have wine bottles made with your label, golf balls with your name or logo, even playing cards with your picture on them! The sky is the limit, just remember to keep it close to your theme and have fun with it!
4. Create Theme Music for your Party
This is a lot easier than it sounds. These days just about every computer has the capability to "burn" a CD.

All you need to do is come up with a dozen or so songs that are special to you or the gang you invited for the party.

I'm a big fan of Jimmy Buffett so I would put on some of his music as well as other "tropical" sort of songs.

My wife has songs like the Weather Girls "It's Raining Men" that cause her girlfriends to jump up and down and scream as soon as it comes on! That would be a must for our party!

Everybody has songs that bring back memories. Now you just have to create a CD with all those special songs on it. If you don't own them, there are tons of places to purchase and download the songs. I'm a fan of Itunes myself!

If you are having a DJ play the music, ask him to slip them in every now and then wherever he thinks is appropriate. If your just letting your 5 disc CD player be the DJ, set it to random and it will grab a "favorite" song whenever it feels like it.

Here's another cool tweak on that idea! Burn a CD for each guest. What a cool party favor! Hey that's 2 ideas in 1!
5. Nothing Screams Happy New Year Like Confetti!
Don't you just think, "Happy New Year" every time you see confetti falling. It always reminds me of Times Square in New York City on New Years Eve. !

There are a number of ways to add confetti to your party. Confetti Flick Sticks are really cool party favors. You just give them a flick of the wrist and voila, an instant burst of confetti.

For bigger parties you can add Hand Held Confetti launchers. They'll do a similar effect to the flick sticks, just a lot bigger!

For large events you can even rent professional confetti cannons, again they all launch confetti, it just depends on how big a burst you need

Most importantly, have fun. Once the party has started, if you forget a side dish, or the DJ isn't playing the music "exactly" as you thought he would, relax. Michael Cerbelli "Entertainer Of The Year" of Total Entertainment in New York once told me his secret was "Never Let Them See You Run Across The Dance Floor"! Truer words were never spoken.
Most of the time whatever goes wrong will only be noticed by whoever planned the party. Period. If you try out one or two of the above tips, relax, enjoy yourself and have fun with your friends. You'll be certain to have a New Years Eve party that's a hot topic for weeks, and memorable!

>A Closer Look At Fine Collectibles

>When looking for a fine quality gift it is sometimes good to know a little of the history of the company; particularly when you are looking at collectibles.

Collectibles are a wonderful gift especially during the holiday season as many fine collectible companies have gifts that are designed for the season.
One of the oldest and most popular fine collectible companies is M.I. Hummel. Hummel figurines are created in Germany by master artists of W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik and based upon the creative and artistic vision of Sister Marie Innocentia Hummel who lived and worked in Germany during the first half of the 1900’s.

Hummel figurines are world renowned and appreciated for the simple beauty and subtle humor which people have enjoyed for almost a century. I know my mother and my grandmother both have many Hummel figurines, some dating back to the early 1940’s.

Admirers of Hummel figurines refer to them simply as “Hummels”. Each Hummel is painstakingly hand sculpted and then painted by hand to flawless detail. They make a fine gift and can be seen at AffordableQualityGifts.
Another of the older established fine collectible companies is Swarovski Crystal.
Swarovski Crystal has been making the absolute best precision cut crystal for over a hundred years. Swarovski Crystal, family owned company based in Austria is known worldwide for the innovation and sophistication they bring to the art form, as well as the highest standards of artistic expression.

One of the advantages of giving a gift like a Hummel or a piece of fine crystal is that it eliminates the possibility that someone else may give the same gift. There are so many different collectibles available, and in the case of the Hummel even those that are of the same theme will be slightly different because they are hand made.

Hummels and Swarovski Crystal make excellent gifts that will make the recipient feel like you really care.

>A Fun Teddy Bear Party - Some Simple Steps

>A fun teddy bear party is not a difficult thing to pull of with a little creativity and some things that you can find round your house! Here are some quick ideas for making the party "beary" fun!

Invitation ideas

Buy some inexpensive rubber stamps with bear images and let your little one make homemade invitations. Or cut a piece of cardstock into the shape of a bear and write your invitation on that. Free clipart can be found for this purpose in many places on the Internet. Make sure you include the request for all the guests to bring their own bear to the teddy bear party too!

Decoration ideas

When kids think of bears they usually think of honey and bees, so a big hit for decorations is LOTS of yellow and black balloons and streamers. If possible have various teddy bears all around the room as well to tie in the theme.

Menu ideas

When you're hosting a teddy bear party even your menu should be centered on teddy. Here is a cute way to turn Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches into a beary fun treat!

Spread your peanut butter and jelly onto eight whole-wheat hamburger buns. Now here's where the fun begins. Cut four of the eight buns in half. On a large tray or covered cookie sheet, arrange the buns into a shape of a teddy bear. For the tummy, put one whole bun and surround that with 4 half buns. Another whole bun becomes the head/face, with two half buns on the topsides of the head for the ears. Two whole buns become the legs and the final two half buns turn out off of the body to make arms. Garnish the face/head bun with raisin eyes and a strawberry slice mouth and you've got a bear! Use a separate tray for additional sandwiches and watch for all the smiles! Mix some honey and yogurt together for a great dip for cut fruit and your menu is complete!

Bear Party - Activities and craft ideas

Crafts with a bear theme abound but here are some quick ideas for your teddy bear party. Make a paper bear chain (paper dolls) that the kids can color and decorate. Use paper plates to make paper bear masks. Bead a bear collar (necklace). Take a picture with all the kids and their own bears and decorate a simple scrapbook page to honor the occasion. Decorate teddy bear cookies with colored icing and various decorations.

Bear Party - Game ideas

Pin the honey pot on the teddy bear - if you have an artist in the family, draw a large teddy bear on poster board and cut out honey pots. Blindfold each child individually and see if they can put the honey pot into the teddy bear's hand.

Hot Teddy Bear - like hot potato only pass the teddy bear to the music. When the music stops, the person with the teddy bear is out.

Toss the honey pot - draw a large bear head with an open mouth on poster board and lay it on the floor. Using yellow beanbags as the "honey" each child throws the bag to see if it will land in the bear's mouth.

Take home gift ideas

Purchase yellow lunch bags (available at party stores) and decorate with bee stickers. Fill with gummy bears, teddy grahams, miniature stuffed teddy bears and fun bear jewelry. Or if you want to go all out, hire a stuffed animal party planner to come and have each child make their own stuffed animal as part of the party.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

>Homeschooling and college

>As children grow out of their little pants and are ready to begin
their teens, many parents wonder if they should continue with the
homeschooling program. They fear that colleges may not give equal
opportunities to a child educated at home.

Many fears of this kind were put to rest when 2 homeschooled boys
got admission into Harvard. Harvard does not require a high school
diploma for gaining admission to their degree program. Many
colleges are more interested in the knowledge and behavior of the
homeschooled children rather than their high school diplomas. In
fact, other things being similar many colleges prefer
homeschoolers because of the diversity and richness they bring to
their college life.

Admission requirements may vary. While some colleges require the
child to appear for the SAT, others may need a general equivalency
diploma. And some may not care for any tests at all. The criterion
may vary depending on the college that you wish to apply to. But,
college courses really do not require any high school background
or special training.

It is common to come across parents who frantically try to shift
out their homeschool children to high schools because they fear
unavailability of college admissions. But college admissions are
open to all educated individuals, regardless of whether they are
educated at home or at a public school.

>Field trips

>If you are going over a particular subject with the family and
feel that a field trip would be beneficial, then that's what you
should do - go for a trip. If you are attached to a support group,
you can plan to include other children too.

Here are some guidelines that will help you plan:
1) Collect the rates
2) Allowed ages
3) Special highlights
4) Size of the group
5) Timings
6) Eating facilities

Inform your support group of all these details well in advance so
that the necessary circulars may be sent out. On the appointed
day, arrange to meet with other parents and children in a
particular place. Plan the mode of travel and reach the place at
least 10 minutes in advance.

The field trip is not just fun. So, let your kids bring their
writing material. Allow them time to stare and admire. Do not
hurry them along. Collect data beforehand so that you can clear
doubts. Get help from a guide, if necessary. And most importantly,
have fun and enjoy the time you spend with your children.

>Homeschool burnout

>When a parent takes on the responsibility of educating his or her
child, homeschool burnout is one of the more common issues they
have to deal with. There are many reasons that lead to this
burnout: an illness, a new baby, added responsibility, change in
routine etc.

The symptoms of burnout vary from lack of patience to overeating
and crying without any apparent reasons. Surprisingly, a burnout
need not be such a bad thing. It is a wake-up call - an indicator
that things are not going well and that you need to reschedule.
Reversing or avoiding a burnout is possible if you get fair

Firstly, lower your expectations. Do not be a perfectionist. Take
the good days with the bad. Next, when something does not seem to
work, look for alternative methods. Flexibility is a key
factor. If tension starts mounting, take a break. When necessary,
change the style of teaching. For instance, small children love to
take on their spellings when they quiz an adult.

Avoid overkill. Do not pack too many activities for the sake of
socializing your child. A worn out mom means a grouchy kid and
that means no happiness. Get support from your spouse or a
neighbor or a support group. Don't try to achieve everything by
yourself. Homeschooling means 'happy schooling' - don't forget

>Grading in homeschooling

>Grading in homeschooling is done by the teacher-in-charge. In most
of the cases, this means mom! In this situation, grading can get a
bit tricky because it can be a little difficult to grade your own
child. There is no benchmark against which you can evaluate your
child's performance. In most cases, you also have no awareness of
how well other children are doing. So, obviously the traditional
method of grading is perhaps not the best method to follow.

When grading a child undergoing homeschooling, it is more
important to assess whether the child has understood the subject
that is being taught. Inherent in this is the fact that if the
child has not understood something, you will go over it again.
This will work in your child's favor in 2 ways. Firstly, the child
knows that if he or she fails to catch on, the topic will be
repeated till it is mastered. Secondly, the child also knows that
once the topic has been mastered, he or she will get full credit
for his hard work. Getting full reward for the hard work put in is
a great motivational factor, especially for kids.

When assessing your child's abilities, do not allow emotions to
overcrowd your rationale. Do not yield to the cries and tears of
your child if he or she resists certain topics or subjects. If
mastering these skills is necessary, then you as the teacher (and
not as the parent alone) have to go over the topic over and over
till it sinks in. When dealing with tougher concepts, the child
may get restless and may even show frustration or belligerence.
When the child is still young and unable to understand the
importance of his lessons, it is your responsibility to see to it
that the child develops the skill set necessary for future growth.

In case you belong to a state that requires yearly tests, this
will help you to judge your child's ability vis-à-vis his peers.
Even if it is not mandatory, you may want to test your child every
year. These tests will reveal the variations in the child's
learning pattern. It may show up unexpected areas of strength and
hitherto unknown areas of weakness. This enables you to structure
your teaching to cover the areas that are weak, and build upon the
areas that are strong.

In case your state requires a homeschool report card, keep a
record of the yearly development and scores of your child. Include
pertinent areas like punctuality, discipline etc in the report.
You may also need to keep a record of the number of working days
and attendance schedules.

While grading your child, make sure that you use as many external
tests as possible. There are several websites that deal with the
various age groups, and allow free downloading of question papers.
This is an excellent and cost-effective method to assess your
child. Homeschooling, if done in the proper manner, will boost the
child's confidence because he will be studying to satisfy his
natural curiosity. The scores therefore will reflect his true

Saturday, May 7, 2011

>Where Has Customer Service Gone?

>Whatever happened to the adage "The customer is king or queen"? or the customer is always right.  Not anymore. Company’s representatives seem to delight in arguing with and stone-walling customers and some even brag on their blogs about early morning and late evening calling just to upset customers to set them up for their day. 

What kind of individual gets kicks from this kind of behavior? Do they even think before they call the reaction of the customer they call and whom they might come in contact with that day? Is this kind of action possibly more legal liability just waiting to happen?

Road Rage is so common in our society now... what’s next- Telephone Tantrum? Will this also be a psychiatric diagnosis and a legally defendable offense? I would almost bet on it!

Credit card companies are the amongst some of the worst offenders and now, if one is a good, pay your bills on time and in full customer they don’t want you and in fact, are considering penalizing the "good customer" by charging them an annual fee to use their card.  Seriously?

It truly amazes and stuns me how deplorable customer service has become. It‘s such an oxymoron... customer and service don’t go together anymore; there is no service for the customer it is all about the company’s way to make money, more profit. Don’t companies care anymore about the way that they are perceived? The only power and voice the customer has left is not to be a company’s customer anymore and when that happens there will be no need for the bottom-line, making money/profit, customer service or the CEO; therefore no more company.

 I have always been a positive person and I try to look at both sides of every situation. Do I have suggestions and offer solutions. ABSOLUTELY! When I have had an excellent experience with customer service I tell them so and thank them as well as telling everyone that I come in contact with what a great company, service or product they have.   Lately, I have been silent... wonder why?

>The 7 Secrets Of Wow! Customer Service

>Your aim in giving your customers exceptional service is to make them say “Wow!” as soon as you disappear. You can do that if you make the following 7 tips part of your normal pattern of service.

1. Give Your Customers Plenty of Strokes. People love to be stroked. Just like domestic pets, we like it when we are fussed at, smiled at, and given gentle touches. Strokes can include any greeting, the use of people's names, and good wishes of the "Have-a-nice-day" kind. But the best stroke you can give others is your undivided attention.

2. Surprise Them With The Unexpected. British Airways airline discovered that passenger goodwill increases when staff do unexpected extras such as spontaneous conversations or invitations to visit the flight deck. These have to remain extras and not the norm if they are to retain their surprise value.

3. Attend To The Little Things. Paying attention to the little things which don't significantly affect the main service is a way of saying: "If we look after the little things, just think what we'll do with the big ones." Such detail includes sparkling washrooms that you could eat your meals from and customer notices that don't talk down to people.

4. Anticipate Customers’ Needs. In a survey of airport check-in staff, customers rated the best staff as those who anticipated their needs. These were staff who would routinely glance down the queue and anticipate the different needs customers had, from the grandmother needing help with her luggage to the business executive wanting a quick service.

5. Always Say “Yes”. Great customer carers never turn down a request for help. Even if they can't do it themselves, they'll know someone who can and put you onto them. They always use positive language. Even if the answer is "No, we're closed", it's expressed as "Yes, we can do that first thing tomorrow for you."

6. Treat Them The Same By Treating Them Differently. We hate to see others get better customer service than we do, for example in a restaurant. It makes us feel second-class and devalued. Equally, we don't want to be treated the same as everyone else if that means a standard, soulless response, as you sometimes get in a fast-food restaurant. The secret is to treat everyone the same by treating them differently.

7. Use Tact With Tact. Tact means using adroitness in handling other people's feelings. In awkward or embarrassing moments, tact saves everyone's blushes. It's something your customers will notice but that you should aim to go unnoticed.

Practise these 7 responses until they are as familiar to you as breathing, and you are guaranteed to have customers queueing up for your attention.

>The Golden Rule of Customer Service

>“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” Don’t worry; I’m not trying to take you to Sunday school under the pretense of a business article! However, in one form or another we have learned this rule for as long as we can remember. Many people try their best to apply this rule in their everyday lives. But, how many of us try to follow such a simple principle when it comes to business?

If you think about it, it could single handedly be the most important rule to follow in business. After unpleasant sales encounters, most customers are not most upset with the product or service that they purchased. Sure that may have been the root of the problem. But, most people understand that we don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes things don’t work!

The reason most people leave these situations upset is because of the way that they’ve been treated. They feel that they have spent the money for your product or service that for one reason or another did not perform properly. This upsets them, but what really angers them is that they feel that no one cares.

We’ve all had negative customer service experiences. Those of us in sales have most likely been on both sides of such exchanges.

When we’re in the salesperson role, we may be running ragged from an extremely busy day. We may have issues going on in our personal life. We might simply have gotten up in a bad mood that morning. There’s nothing innately wrong with any of those things. However, it is our job to find a way to put all of those things aside to help the people we’re paid to assist. This is why I feel that sales people should really be required to take Acting 101! Ideally, we would always be able to genuinely be interested in listening to our customers and helping them find the solutions that work best for them. But, we all know that that’s pretty much impossible everyday, absent a fairly large prescription of Prozac! Salespeople are just that, people. We’re not always going to be at the top of our game, but we must be able to “act” as if we are. Convincingly, act as if we are!

On the other hand, being that salespeople are people, we are constantly faced with these situations in which we are the customer. Undoubtedly, you have run into a few salespeople who have irritated you or who may not be quite as helpful as you’d like.

Now, obviously, we will never be able to be perfect in all of our customer interactions. However, if we were to try and keep the good old “Golden Rule” in our consciousness at all times when dealing with customers, I think we’d find our jobs more enjoyable, our customers happier and yes, even our profits growing!

>Baby’s Naptime

>If you baby is not napping well during her first few months of life, you may want to try to cut back on the time she is awake by 15 minute increments.  If she is getting overstimulated, then she will fight sleep and be difficult to get to nap.  The way to prevent this is to watch her “sleepy” cues to make sure that you put her down when she is beginning to get sleepy. 

Some parents believe that letting their child cry will harm him or her.  Fifteen or twenty minutes of crying will not harm your child physically or mentally.  Babies will learn to self-soothe and fall asleep by themselves, but only if you let her.  It is very important that babies learn to fall asleep by themselves so that they can self-soothe if they awake in the middle of the night.  Otherwise, you may have a child that will not sleep through the night for years. 

Regular sleep patterns are intermeshed with regular eating patterns, so let us look at the stages of a baby’s life: 

* Newborn:  Your newborn will sleep anywhere from 16 to 20 hours a day, including the naps that he takes between feedings.  When your baby has been fed, let him stay awake for a short while and then put him down before he becomes overstimulated. 

* Two months:  At two months and older, your child should be allowed to try to self-soothe during their naptimes and bedtime.  Crying is normal when you put your baby down, but it is okay.  If he cries for longer than 10-15 minutes, then go in and check on him.  Don’t get him up, but pat his bottom or lightly rub his back until he calms down. 

* 3-6 months:  At around 3-6 months, your baby will stop taking one of his naps.  Usually it is the third nap or late afternoon nap that they do not need as much.  He may be a little fussy and may want to take a little nap, but you need to try to keep him up if you want him to go to bed at a decent time and sleep soundly through the night. 

* 16+ months:  When your child is between 16-20 months, they usually quit taking the morning nap in favor of a longer nap in the afternoons.  Babies this age usually sleep between 10-12 hours a night and take a 2-3 hour afternoon nap. 

Ground Rules about Naps
1. You decide when the nap starts and ends, not the baby. 
2. When your baby is older than 4 months old, she will wake up crying if she hasn’t slept enough.  She might have a dirty diaper, be in a position that is not comfortable, or cold/hot. Fix the problem and encourage her to go back to sleep.  Babies that have enough rest wake up happy, talking, and in a good mood. 

>Baby Crying 101

>Communication - that's what a baby's crying is for. This sweet thing that suddenly turn into a fit of tears is just craving for your sweeter attention. All cultures in the world nod to this pattern all infants are accustomed to. 

A baby cries the most during his or her first three months. Though the amount of crying steadily increase, the crying time period may vary from an hour to most of the day and this could still be considered within normal range. Like, whoah, right? Babies are also known as howling tear factories.

Some thought that a baby cries more during the afternoon accounting it to the anxiousness of the mother or the stressed mood of the father after going home from work. But the most accepted assumption now is that babies have this automatic screening ability they use to shut off all the noise that may stimulate some response from them so they could get enough rest. But in the long run, this filter weakens and totally disappears during the approximate age of six weeks. This, then, make a baby very sensitive to the external factors such as noise, movements, etc. And these generally elicit a reaction from a baby and how best could he or she respond but only through crying.

There are many reasons why a baby succumbs to crying. Deciphering these reasons is the major feat a parent must surmount. Here are some of the things your sweetsome baby is making you understand through crying.

Hunger. Yes, your attention-hungry baby is craving to let you know that his tummy is grumbling. This is the most common reason for a baby to cry, especially, during his early months. The pattern of the hunger howl could be characterized as being persistent, demanding and almost rhythmical. But that rhythm is not at any rate close to becoming musical, of course.

Boredom. What can I say? Aren't these babies just plain spoiled? Crying because of boredom, errr, I'd find that a bit more twisted or weird if it's with an adult that is. But babies are really built like this. Crying is their way of telling you, "Hey get me a life here!" Aside from attention and food, consequently, babies need a lot of stimulation. And when they don't get this, there you get your waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!! The trick is to pick the baby up and play with him. This move may be frowned upon by some because of its amounting to spoiling the baby. But it is important to know that stimulation is also one of the major necessities of an infant and it won't hurt to provide him with some while in his growing age. This boredom cry is said to be also rhythmical and full of sobs and moans.

Discomfort. Pain is another precursor of the baby's crying. Who won't cry when in pain, right? Babies are not Major Paynes to endure the most excruciating discomfort they could undergo. They are little, vulnerable beings that need to be attended to when injured or when in an inconvenient situation. This cry could be more persistent, louder and more demanding. Shrieking and screaming, those are words that better describe the crying pattern roused by pain.

Another cause may be disturbance; surely, howling will proceed just when they're about to sleep or are already fast asleep and suddenly gets surprised by some noise, or movement. An illness that causes discomfort to a baby may also be the reason for a baby's bursting into fit of tears.

>What You Should Know About Organic Baby Foods?

>It’s not everyday that you will come across a revolution in the making, but there you have it. From being nearly organically-ignorant twenty years ago, to being semi-organically-ignorant fifteen to ten years ago, the human race is now making direct contact with its grassroots and going back to being healthy and eating healthy. And not surprisingly this has also spread to such an extent that we now have organic baby food as well.

We have been privy to witness a revolution, a significant change in our history that ultimately comes down to whether we care about what we put in our bodies or not. Almost with the turn of the new millennium, more and more people started joining this revolution, and it wasn’t long before we could see organic foods coming out of their specialty and health food stores and moving to the normal everyday grocery and convenience stores.

And it definitely wasn’t long before new parents started making the transition for their babies as well. After all, if they were trying to eat organic, why not go the same route for their baby? The problem that many parents encountered in the beginnings years of the organic baby food revolution was the utter lack of premade organic baby food.

This meant that they either had to either make their own homemade organic baby food, or they had to give up on the idea, and allow their young babies to happily eat away at second hand toxins, pesticides, antibiotics, and genetically modified foods. Naturally enough this didn’t sit well with too many parents, but it is sad to say that this isn’t what turned the tide favorably in the organic baby food revolution.

No, this took some time, and more research still before mass production of organic baby food hit the markets in any significant numbers. Worse still, the price of getting organic baby food was just as bad as getting organic foods for yourself, and for your normal everyday family this was simply not an affordable alternative.

Although there is a growing trend towards buying organic baby food the problem still exists in that it is still not as readily available as it could be, and it still costs an arm and a leg to keep your baby in organic baby food.

Luckily with the tides turning more and more towards organic grassroots, there has also been a resurgence (a very small one for the moment) of making your own organic baby food. It’s not very difficult and in the long run, a few minutes spent in preparing your baby’s food in a healthy manner with organic foods can only be of benefit to your baby in the future.

>What You Should Know About Organic Food Market?

>Although it took some time for organic foods per se to truly catch the attention of the general populace, the organic food market these days is a thriving industry and one that can only become bigger as the years progress and more and more people turn away from chemical enriched foods.

Of course not everyone cares about exactly what they eat or how it was produced, if they did we wouldn’t have had a need for a separate “organic food market”, would we? The fact remains however that some people do care, and although the number isn’t yet overwhelming, it is growing annually at healthy percentage.

This in turn paves the way to open up the organic food market even more. And this means that the prices of organic foods also come down, which is a heaven-sent opportunity really to garner more and more people to the side of organic foods.

Why? Simply because as the prices come down to something manageable, and the whole fad of being healthy, living healthy and eating healthy builds up slowly, more people will turn more willingly towards the organic food market than they might otherwise have done if the price tags on organic foods remained high. 

This in turn will spur more farmers to go organic than otherwise would have, if there was only a small consumer base for the organic food market. And this in turn, will help to bring more organic food to the consumer.

It’s definitely a cycle and not a vicious one unless of course you’re a farmer who prefers the use of chemical pesticides over natural ones, artificial fertilizers over natural fertilizers, and who doesn’t mind that they are using genetically modified plants and seed stock as their crops.

It is also interesting to note that the organic food market doesn’t only encompass produce in the form of fruits and vegetables, but it only encompasses such things as dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, and processed foods as well.

This means that the production of organic foods is down not only to produce farmers, but also to livestock farmers and plants that generate processed foods. In fact, the spread of the organic food market doesn’t stop there. It goes on to encompass health food stores as well as grocery stores interested in selling organic foods, and specialty stores that deal only in organically grown, cultivated or managed foods.

And to truly understand how wide open the organic food market really is, all you need to is to look into pet stores and the items they are selling. Organic foods it seems, has spilled over into this area as well, and health conscious pet owners can now find organic pet foods littering the pet stores as well!

>What Foods Hold The Most Weight Loss Protection?

>Obesity is one of the number one health concerns in today’s society.  The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 60 million Americans, or 30% of the adult population, are obese.  The term obese refers to people who weigh over 30 pounds more than their ideal weight, or who have a Body Mass Index of 30 or more.

 One of the national health objectives in the US is to reduce the incidence of obesity to less than 15% of the adult population by 2010; however, current statistics indicate that the problem is still on the rise. In addition, the percentage of young people in America who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. 

Over 9 million children and teens between the ages of 6 and 19 are considered overweight. This equates to 16 % of the population.

There’s no question that losing weight is not easy. And, it’s also clear that we’ve changed our lifestyles in ways that are making it easier for us to become obese. Some of the biggest culprits in the battle of the bulge are the following.

•    Busy Schedules – The average family has a much more demanding schedule than in years past. Because of this, mealtimes often go by the wayside, and we choose lots of fast food. Our stress levels may also lead to emotional eating, where we have no concept of how many calories we’ve consumed. These factors combined have made our diets poor and our concept of a normal meal skewed.
•    Sedentary Lifestyles – Today many people spend lots of time sitting down between our desk jobs and our love of watching television and playing computer and video games. For many of us, regular exercise is simply no longer a part of our daily life.

•    Large food portions – Most restaurant portions are 2-3 times the size that makes up a reasonable meal. From this we’ve gained a distorted image of the size portions we should be eating, and we’re consuming far too many calories in a day. 

•    Poor nutrition – Processed foods are a staple in the American diet. In addition, we eat lots of red meat and products made with white flour. These overly processed and high fat foods make it easy to gain weight. They also lead to heart disease and high cholesterol.

So, what do we do to overcome our weight problems? Well, as with many things, there are no magic bullets. To lose weight, we have to expend more calories than we consume. It’s just that simple.

Losing weight is simple, but it’s not easy, particularly since much of the food we’re presented with every day is not conducive to weight loss. So, if you want to lose weight and keep it off for good, you need to make a commitment to making long term changes in your life.

Starving yourself is not the answer; making changes you can live with is the way to go.

First, take a look at what you eat. If you’re guilty of eating lots of processed foods, red meat, sugar and white flour, make changes in what you eat.

Substitute chicken and fish for red meat most days of the week.
Cook your own meals using fresh ingredients; don’t rely on processed foods that are loaded with preservatives.

Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables

Choose whole grain products over those made with white flour
Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.

These changes alone should help you lose weight. However, for many people it will also be necessary to look at how much you eat. Portion control is very important, because very large portions of even healthy food can mean that you’re consuming too many calories.

The second half of the weight loss equation has to do with exercise. Not only will exercise help you burn more calories each day, but it will also help you build muscle. Muscle is important because even when resting, muscle mass burns more calories than fat. So, if you have a lot of lean muscle, you’ll burn more calories in a day, without even trying.

Aim for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times a week. Walking is a great way to get your cardiovascular exercise, and it will help build muscle in the lower body, too. Just be sure that you’re walking at a pace that will make you sweat. Raising your heart rate during your cardiovascular workout is important for keeping your heart healthy.

In addition to your cardiovascular workout, get in some strength training three times a week for about 20 minutes each session. You don’t need to become a body builder, but adding some lean muscle will speed up your metabolism and make your body look thinner and leaner.

Finally, take a look at adding some “functional foods” to your diet. Functional foods are those that have benefits to the body above and beyond their basic nutritional qualities. Foods that would be considered functional foods for weight loss would be those that make us feel full and satisfied for longer, and those that have the potential to increase our metabolism.

For example, you may have heard of negative calorie foods. These are foods that contain fewer calories than your body uses to digest them. Some examples of negative calorie food include raw carrots, celery, asparagus, apple, beet, berries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chili, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, grapefruit, lemon, mango, onion, orange, papaya, pineapple, spinach, turnip, and zucchini.

There are likely other functional foods for weight loss. Foods that are believed to be functional for weight loss include low fat milk, nuts and tea. A study reported by the UK Tea Council discusses certain foods and their potential to be functional weight loss foods.

Studies have shown that people who drink 24 ounces or more of milk each day tend to weigh less than people who don’t drink milk. So, it appears that adding 24 ounces of milk to your diet each day might be a good way to lose some weight, and help keep it off.

Nuts have gained a lot of attention because of two important properties. The first is that nuts are very satisfying. Nuts can help you feel full for longer, helping to ensure that you eat fewer calories in a day.

Secondly, nuts are a good source of healthy fats. These are the fats that help raise your HDL cholesterol level. HDL cholesterol is what is known as “good cholesterol” because it has the power to carry molecules of LDL cholesterol “bad cholesterol” to the liver, where it can be removed from the body.

A final food that is likely functional to weight loss is green tea. Green tea has been shown to help regulate blood sugar naturally, which may help us store fewer calories as fat. Secondly, green tea has been shown to promote thermogenesis; heat that burns body fat.

Green tea is extremely low in calories, and very healthy overall. So, if it can also help us lose weight, it may just qualify as a “super food”. There have been numerous studies linking green tea with preventing disease and protecting health.

So, if you’re battling the bulge, get some exercise and make some changes in your diet. And, make sure that one of those changes is adding some “functional foods”, so that losing weight can be easier than ever!

>Tell Me All About Options For Wedding Cakes

>It is time for the wedding; now for any traditional wedding it’s a black tuxedo for him, a white gown for her, a multi-layered cake to accommodate for the guests, and floral bouquets to tie it all together. For some brides, they seek for something more than the textbook wedding.

With minor adjustments, their special day could be more original than the usual wedding- plus be one that their guests would remember. One of the most popular ways to tweak weddings is with the cake. With wedding cakes, there are about as many different possibilities as there are brides.  Isn’t that really what makes a wedding special!

If you really want to push the envelope, why not try a cupcake wedding cake? This option provides a cake which is convenient, versatile, can differ in colors and flavors, and these days it’s not as difficult to find as it may sound. Although it is a new idea on the traditional need for cake, most bakers these days do offer wedding cake cupcakes as a creative and unexpected alternative.

If a wedding cake cupcake doesn’t quite strike your fancy, then why not go for a wedding donut cake? This original cake is a group of doughnuts which are individually frosted and offer an assortment of flavors. Each doughnut is arranged in a festive manner- usually meant to resemble a cake. For a couple who wants something a little different from the traditional wedding cake can forgo the doughnut wedding cake. Not only is it good and original but some people also just prefer doughnuts to cake.

Another choice to spice up your wedding is to build the traditional cake around a water fountain. This romantic aspect of your special day will give people something to talk about for years to come. The trickling water sounds and the added light will give your wedding a feel and presentation unlike any other.

Something else to remember is that all cakes don't have to be white with buttercream frosting. Nearly any flavor is a possibility from white to yellow to chocolate, cheesecake to pumpkin, carrot to red velvet.

It is also just fine to use different flavors of cake for each layer of cake.  Frosting can also be a different flavor besides the usual buttercream. You can have any flavor of frosting and any color too. Some brides like to choose a frosting color to match the bridesmaid’s dresses, to match the season and setting, or to compliment the color of the cake.

Choosing your cake is not always going to be a black or white decision. Although, light colors like ivory and white still hold the standard, with the help of a pastry chef nearly any color that you can imagine can be created. Picture a dark frosting with an abundance of wonderfully colored flowers or leaves scattered all around the cake. Color can add excitement, imagination, texture, and interest to the cake. The best thing is that the possibilities are practically endless.

So now you’ve discovered that for your wedding cake, you have options. You can play with the color, the flavor, what it is created by, and now you can also play with the shape. Typically, wedding cakes are round, stacked layers that get smaller towards the top to create a circular pyramid of cake.

Now just because this has been the standard for so long doesn’t mean that you can’t alter the tradition to fit your personal desires. Cakes can be constructed in any shape and can also be stacked at any angle.

Some cakes have staggered layers, like a brick pattern, some stack identical layers straight up, like a tower, and some cakes are made with layers that have been cut at an angle to give the appearance that the cake is about to topple over! Cakes can be made to resemble a beautifully wrapped present, an animal, a tree, flower, building, people, letters or any other combination of shapes and angles.

When the wedding day comes, the bride and groom should have a cake which is exactly what they want; whether it is a convenient cupcake cake, an unorthodox doughnut cake, or a combination of the right colors and shapes to create a cake which resembles them in every possible way by the help of an experienced pastry chef.

With the perfect cake on their perfect day, the ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s will be pouring in by impressed guests and the wedding will be one not soon forgotten.

>What Should You Know About Food Guide Pyramid?

>You’ve heard about it when you were in school, but you really didn’t pay too much attention to it. There’s been some talk about it recently but again you just didn’t have the time to give your full attention to it. Now however, you have enough time on your hands, and besides your kids need help with their schoolwork so you’ll need to learn all about it. What am I talking about? The Food Guide Pyramid of course.

Sometime late in the early mists of science some genius or early nutritionist stumbled across the magical fact that humans needed food to live. This same person also deduced quite rightly that some foods were more important than others. And taking things one step further, this genius saw that even from amongst these categories the foods would again be divided into sections where some of these foods should only be taken in smaller quantities.

At a guess this person probably came up with a complex table or matrix from which to describe the proper daily intake of food for a person in the course of one day. But as will happen, through some method we have instead ended up not with a table or matrix but with the Food Guide Pyramid that graces all doctors’ offices these days.

Well, now you know what the food guide pyramid is, but do you know exactly what it does, and how it works? In the earlier days as little back as five years ago, the food guide pyramid was set in an orderly manner, with the foods that should be consumed most placed on the bottom, and the foods that should be eaten the least placed on the tip of the food guide pyramid.

As of 2005 however, the food guide pyramid as we know it was changed forever, and a new one was built to take its place. Essentially this new food guide pyramid tells you the same story, but it now has added components to be able to help you better understand diet and your health.

This new food guide pyramid actually has a person climbing stairs up the side of the pyramid to show that regular exercise also needs to be included in your overall healthy eating habits. And instead of the horizontal lines that we are so used to seeing, the divisions now radiate down from the tip of the food guide pyramid. What this tells us is that although some food groups are better for us than others, some foods even within a group should only be taken in moderation.

You’ll also notice that this new food guide pyramid sports a dazzling array of rainbow colors as its divisional stripes, and that’s just to make the sections easier to differentiate. With six colored divisions you’ll go through Orange (Grains), Green (Vegetables), Red (Fruits), Yellow (Fats), Blue (Dairy), and Purple (Meats, Beans, Fish). Take a walk through this new food guide pyramid – you might be pleasantly surprised what you find inside.

>What Is Organic Foods?

>While most of us have heard about organic foods we may not have that much of an idea about what this term means. So where can you get this information without getting bogged down by the technical jargon. There are a number of different places like dictionaries, encyclopedias, television shows and even the internet. The main item to remember when you are looking for organic food definition is in many cases the standard answer.

The first thing to understand about organic food definition only covers the tip of the iceberg as the saying goes. Well the basics of organic food is quite simply food that is grown without any sort of man made substances being poured over it, around it and even inserted under it. The condition for the growing of the organic matter has to be composed of 100% natural environment. 

Now that we have covered the organic food definition is short we should take a closer look at this subject. For any food to be classified as being an organic food it needs to be free from all genetically modified internal cell structures. The plant must be like the ones that you see growing in the wild – but ones that we can eat without getting poisoned – and their inner cell structure should not have been tampered with.

Next the land that you are choosing to plant these 100% organic plants should be absolutely free from all traces of chemicals. To allow the land time to recover from the abuse of these harmful products like chemicals and pesticides you should uproot any chemically treated plants. Then you will need to leave the land alone for about 2 to 4 years.

This time period will allow the land to recover from the various chemicals which were heaped on it. Once you are sure that the land is ready for planting begin by fertilizing the land with organic fertilizers. These fertilizers will help prepare the land for plants. The first phase of organic food definition includes the preparation of the land where the food is to be grown.

Now you can plant your organic plant into the soil. Using only techniques which are healthy for your garden or land you should make sure that friendly bugs and plants are used to protect your garden’s harvest from plant hungry insects.

The entire combination package of chemical free land, organically produced plants and environmentally safe pesticides – read spiders and ladybugs here – along with protective, sweet smelling (to us that is) plants is what is ultimately meant by the organic food definition.

>What Is So Special About Mongolian Barbecue?

>A Mongolian barbecue usually comprises raw seafood, thinly sliced meats, selected vegetables and enjoyed with rice. Mongolian barbecue is normally prepared on a flat metal surface.

To make the best Mongolian barbecue slice meat across the grain in 2-3 inch strips. Arrange meat and vegetable separately on platters. Prepare the sauce. Simmer soy sauce and garlic for few minutes in a saucepan. Strain and cool it. Add wine, sugar, ginger root, 2 cups of scallions or leeks, 2 cups of Chinese parsley. Refresh the sauce with some more scallions or leeks and parsley.

Assemble the barbecue and place the cooking appliance in the center table. Heat and grease the cooking surface. Scrape off the charred food bits and re-oil the cooking surface and resume cooking. Guests can put vegetables and meat on plates and place small portions on the cooking surface and spoon some of the sauce over the grilling food. Flip the food after one minute on the grill with chopsticks. Cook to the guest's desired doneness.

The favorite Mongolian Barbecues

Roasted lamb is the traditional Mongolian delicacy prepared in the honor of special guests. The local food of Mongolia is a blend of Mongolian and Chinese tastes. There is the influence of Muslim food and wide use of lamb in their dishes. Inner Mongolia raises a lot of cattle and their diet has a lot of dairy products.

Roasted lamb and cooked mutton are the signature dishes of Mongolian cuisine at celebrations like weddings and birthdays. It is customary for Mongolians to cut off a piece of meat from fatty tail of animal to first taste and let festivities begin. Another special feature of Mongolians is that they drink sour goat milk and not fresh cow milk.

Grilling the best Mongolian Barbecue

The Mongolian grilled lamb lettuce recipe may be of interest to you. You can start by placing all lamb ingredients in a flameproof dish to boil and simmer. Cover and cook for 2 hours. Pre-heat the grill to high heat. Grill the lamb until the skin is crispy. Warm the remaining sauce for 10-15 minutes and make it thick. Let the cooked lamb cool in air for 15 minutes. Remove bone and shred it and arrange on a serving plate. To serve take some spicy hot sauce, some cucumber, spring onions and lamb and roll up into a parcel.

The Mongolian national meals are Buuz, Khuushuur and Bansh, made with minced meat. The meat can be of anything from mutton, to beef, to camel, to horse or gazelle, seasoned with garlic or onion, covered with flour and steamed in boiling water, fried in oil and boiled in water. They consume large quantities of meat. This is to stave off the cold and long winters. Mongolians are basically nomadic herders and so dependence on animal product is natural. They rely less on seasonable foods like vegetables and fruits. Meat and dairy products, when sour in summer, is believed to clean the stomach.

>The History Of Italian Food

>While some of the most popular dishes associated with the Italian culture include a tempting slice of pizza and a heaping plate of pasta, there is much more to the world of Italian cooking. Throughout the many regions in Italy, the distinctive cuisine of the Italians shines through in a wide-range of eating habits, styles of cooking, and selection of local ingredients. The changing of the times has also influenced Italian food, as the meals served in the pre-Roman era possess both similarities and differences in the cuisine of today.

The culinary history of Italy established a reputation more than 2,000 years ago, which includes an illustrious movement during the Roman Empire. Culturally, food preparation was quite important in the past where flashes of significance have been captured in the only surviving cookbook (Apicius), which dates back to the first century BC.

The spread of Italian food diversity began after the fall of the Roman Empire when individual city states began to uphold separate identities and traditions. Each region began to display its own unique way of cooking, right down to the formation of a meatball to the characteristic cheeses and wine produced in a locale. The north developed Tuscan beef, while black truffles were very popular in Marches. Provolone and mozzarella cheeses developed in the south, as well as a host of interesting citrus fruits.

Diverse types of bread, variations in pasta, and varying food preparation techniques also differed according to region. The southern regions of Italy embrace hard-boiled spaghetti, while the north often prefers a soft egg noodle. Milan is known for their risotto, while Bologna has a deep history regarding tortellini, and Naples is famous for their pizzas.

Over the years, Italian cuisine has greatly evolved in part because of a wealth of outside influences that have added to its characteristic flavor and appeal. In the beginning, ancient Greek cookery became an integrated part of Italian cuisine. Eventually, a wealth of imports found their way into the kitchens of early Italians, who sent Roman ships to collect a variety of important foods, including wheat, wine, exotic ingredients, and fine spices from around the world. Some ships even traveled to faraway locations, such as China, to bring back edible resources that catapulted the depth and variety of Italian cooking styles.

Coastal regions are known for their developments in delicious fish and seafood dishes. For example, the island of Sardinia supplies a more traditional and simple style of cuisine, which often incorporated delicacies, associated with the sea. Swordfish, lobster, anchovies, sardines, and other Mediterranean treats represent Italian cooking of the area. In Sicily (another island region), a great deal of the cooking drew heavily from North African influences. An Arab influence also affected cuisine on the island and within the rest of the south, especially with the introduction of various spices and sweets, such as the Sicilian ice cream cake called cassata.

As for one of the most popular Italian dishes, while the history books often state that pasta was a product of the Chinese brought back by Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, it was actually a rediscovery of a food item eaten during Etruscan and Roman times. It is believed that the first pasta in Italy was made similar to the noodles of today – from the same durum wheat – which was cooked in ovens instead of boiled in water.

Today, the differences in Italian cooking still show through in the distinctions between the north and the south. Each region still carries their own traditions in cooking that reflects deep history and culture with a never ending supply of main courses, appetizers, and desserts that continuously tempts the taste buds.

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