Sage: wise, exhibits signs of wisdom or intelligence.
Sapphires: stones of wisdom, prophecy, and royalty; brings protection, spiritual insight, and good fortune.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

How to Create Milestone Photos

You’ve seen the adorable, creative milestone photos of a mommy’s pregnancy or new baby’s monthly birthdays. That’s why you’re here, right? You want to know how they are made. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s so easy to make these milestone photos.
For new moms (or dads) to be, you want to document each week. How big the belly bump is growing, how big daddy’s sympathy belly has gotten, and of course how big the baby is at this point. When the pregnancy is over, you’ll be glad to have a record of weekly progress that you can look back on and one day show your little one.
Once the baby is born, you’ll take so many pictures you won’t know what to do with them all. Pick one to turn into a birth announcement that you can send out to all your friends and family on social media.
For the first few weeks, you can have fun jazzing up those baby photos to show how much you’re enamored with your perfect little creation
The months will fly by faster than you ever imagined, so be sure to create monthly milestone photos to show how much baby is growing and developing.
To get a perfect photo, you’ll want to have a soft, white or light colored blanket like this one to lay baby on for the photo each month. This will give you a nice, neutral background for the photo so that your artwork and text will show up well. When you take the photo, be sure to leave plenty of space on each side so that you’ll have room to add your artwork and text. It’s also a good idea to include a favorite stuffed animal (how cute is this little elephant) or toy (like a doll or a toy truck). The reason for this is that, as baby grows, the stuffed animal or toy will stay the same size. This will provide a point of reference and show just how much baby is growing each month. Once you’ve got your blanket in a safe, brightly lit place like a bed or the floor and you’ve laid baby down with their stuffed animal or toy, take lots of photos. I generally take around 50 with my iPhone 7, then go through them later and pick out my favorite (which is really, really hard) to turn into the milestone photo.
So, where does all the cool, cute artwork and text come from? That’s the real question here, right? Ok, I’ll let you in on my little secret. It’s an app and it’s free. Score! The app is called Baby Cam. It’s so easy to use. Just download it from the app store, upload the photo you want, and use their artwork with your text to create your masterpiece. You can share it straight from the app or save it to your photos to share and print out later. A great way to display your masterpieces is with a DIY accordion photo album. You can make one for your pregnancy photos, one for your baby’s birth photos, one for your baby’s monthly milestone photos, and anything else you create. I show you exactly what you need and how to make an accordion photo album here.
I hope you found this article useful and that you can now create your own milestone masterpieces. Please share with us in comments below what kind of milestone photos you did.

How to Make an Accordion Photo Album

Accordion photo albums are perfect for small events. You can customize them to any size you need and with as many photos as you need. They are perfect to display photos from a special event like a wedding, new baby, or birthday party, a vacation, an attraction like a theme park, or an adventure like a hike, a National Park, or sporting event.
These photo albums are completely versatile and you can customize them to suit your style, theme, or brand. Here's how to make one:
Supplies You’ll Need:
Thin canvas in your choice of size
Enough fabric to wrap two canvases
Poster board (see how to measure below)
Mod Podge or glue
How to measure fabric:
Take the size of your canvas and multiply by 4. For example, if your canvas is 5x7, your fabric needs to be at least 20x28 so that it is enough to cover both canvases, which will be the front cover and back cover of your album.

How to measure poster board:
Take the size of your canvas and multiply by the number of photos you want the album to have. For example, if your canvas is 5x7 and you want to have 12 photos in the album, multiply 5x7 by 12 and you will need a poster board strip of 60x84. One poster board is 22x28, so if you cut three 5-inch-wide strips and tape the long ends together, you will have a strip that is 5 inches wide and 84 inches long.

Directions:
To make the front and back cover, lay the canvas on a piece of fabric and wrap it like a gift, with the seams overlapping on the underside of the canvas. Mod podge or glue the fabric edges to the underside of the canvas.
To make the accordion pages, take your strip of poster board and fold it, accordion style, to the dimensions needed. For example, if you want 5x7 and you have your 5-inch-wide strip of poster board, fold it every 7 inches. Fold forward, then backward, then forward, then backward – accordion style – until you reach the end.
To attach the accordion pages to the covers, mod podge or glue the first page to the underside of the front cover, which will hide the seams of the fabric. Then, mod podge or glue the last page to the underside of the back cover.
Allow to dry, then mod podge or glue your photos into the accordion.
Secure the album with a ribbon or rubber band.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hunting for Forrest Fenn’s Hidden Treasure

Have you ever hunted for hidden treasure? It’s crazy to think about – abandoning your real life, even if only for a short time, to go hunting for a hidden treasure, hoping to strike it rich and be able to afford to live the life of your dreams.
Western expansion in the United States was fueled by the Gold Rush. Spanish explorers settled the southwestern United States looking for the fabled seven cities of gold. Pirates in every sea on Earth conducted themselves shamefully trying to scavenge valuable items from ships. The world has had a lot of treasure seekers, only a small fraction of which actually strike it rich.
You would think that there is no treasure left to be found. Oh, but there is. Not just figuratively, either. Literally. Right here in the United States. You see, there’s an old man by the name of Forrest Fenn who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His story goes something like this. A military war veteran, an art dealer, and an aspiring archeologist, Forrest Fenn has led a long and interesting life. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer some ten years or so ago, he decided to do something unusual. He gathered up some of his most prized possessions – things such as gold nuggets, gemstones, and ancient artifacts – and hide them somewhere in the Rocky Mountains for anyone to find.
Of course, he says that there’s no chance that someone will just happen to find the treasure. That’s because Forrest Fenn wrote a very thought-out poem that will lead you directly to the treasure. Here it is:
Problem is, while the clues may be obvious to Forrest Fenn himself because he knows the location of the treasure, they’re completely ambiguous to everyone else. As of 2018, no one has found the treasure. How do we know that? Because Forrest Fenn says so. Whether he is relying on someone to come forward and claim the treasure once found, or he is periodically checking on it himself, or (as some have speculated) the treasure is actually just a “title” that must be taken to Forrest Fenn who will then hand over the actual treasure chest, is unknown and widely debated.
Without dissecting the poem (which has been done to exhaustion on other websites), Forrest Fenn has said that the first clue is “Where Warm Waters Halt” and that if someone can figure that location out, the other eight clues will flow and reveal the treasure.
We decided to give it a go after some friends of ours searched for the treasure last year. That’s how we learned about this hidden treasure. We agreed with them, and countless others, who believe that the treasure is hidden in the mountains north of Santa Fe (Forrest Fenn has said that it is more than 66,000 links, which translates to 8.25 miles, north of Santa Fe). We spent two days searching for the treasure and everyone we spoke to was definitely aware of the existence of said treasure. The first day, we hunted in Cimarron Canyon. We stopped at the Visitor Center in Eagle Nest, New Mexico first and the lady working there had an entire book of information relating to Forrest Fenn’s treasure. She also felt that the treasure was hidden in Cimarron Canyon. The waters there are cold (“where warm waters halt”) and designated “special trout waters”, for which Forrest Fenn is partial to fly fishing Brown trout (“home of Brown”). We hiked a trail alongside a shallow creek (“no paddle up your creek”) that supposedly had waterfalls (“heavy loads and waters high”), but we were unable to hike to the end (“the end is ever drawing nigh”) of the 3-mile trail because our little guy had grown tired and cranky of being in the carrier.
The second day, we hunted in the Jemez Mountains, which is one of the most hunted areas according to many website authorities on the Forrest Fenn treasure. There are lots of hot and warm springs in the area, any of which could be “warm waters”. We randomly chose one of them, drove down the canyon (“take it in the canyon down”) a bit (“not far, but too far to walk”), then hiked another trail alongside trout waters (“put in below the home of Brown”) that led to a beautiful waterfall (“heavy loads and waters high”), but as with countless other searchers, “the blaze” alluded us.
Alas, we did not find Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure. Maybe we were close? Maybe we were nowhere close at all? Many searchers report that, while they did not find the hidden treasure, the experience they had was a treasure in itself. That is a true statement. Forrest Fenn has said that his hope when hiding the treasure was to get families outdoors together, creating memories. That is happening. Our boys thought it was the coolest thing ever to be on a real-life treasure hunt with the potential to find a treasure worth over $1M. We definitely enjoyed our “thrill of the chase” and will continue to try to figure out the poem and find other locations to search one day if it’s still out there.

If you'd like to learn more, here are some of the websites of authority on Forrest Fenn's treasure:

Now that you know about Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, will you go hunt for it? Where do you think it is located?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Hummingbirds are such mystical little creatures, aren't they? It's always exciting to see one (or more) enjoying the hummingbird feeder in your garden. They are the smallest and one of the most popular birds in the world. Hummingbirds represent beauty, grace, peace, love, and happiness. Not to mention their super-quick figure-8 wing movement forms the infinity symbol.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden
Hummingbirds have always shown up for me in odd places. Once, I was stopped at a red light and a hummingbird flew up to my windshield and hovered there, looking in at me. Another time, I was walking to a museum in downtown San Diego when a hummingbird flew in front of me and hovered about a foot above my head, looking at me. I've seen hummingbirds in the wild, feeding on wildflowers in the mountains many times. I was hiking on a trail through the forest once and I could hear several hummingbirds buzzing around the trees on both sides of me, chirping in their familiar voice as if talking to each other. I call my dad "the hummingbird whisperer" because he has so many hummingbirds migrate through his property every year. I was sitting on his back porch one time watching the hummingbirds come and go when one ran right into my nose.

Types of Hummingbirds in the United States

Did you know that hummingbirds are only found in the Western hemisphere? Of the 338 hummingbird species known, only 26 of them have been seen north of Mexico, but only 15 are found in the United States every year, mostly along the border with Mexico.

Only a fraction hummingbird species are found in the United States.

Hummingbird Behavior

Hummingbirds migrate every year. They winter in Mexico and Central America. In Spring, they begin their migration north into the United States where they nest for the summer. In Fall, they return to their winter homes in Central America and Mexico. Some hummingbirds reside year-round in the southwestern United States, near the border with Mexico.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are looking for food. They feed on tiny insects and nectar. The best way to attract hummingbirds to your garden are to hang hummingbird feeders and plant flowers that hummingbirds are attracted to, like nectar-producing red, orange, pink, yellow, and purple flowers.
Hummingbirds need to eat every 10 minutes. Make sure you feed them the right stuff.

As my family travels now, I put out a hummingbird feeder anytime I think there may be some present. I feel like they know I'm coming and they wait for me to put out my feeder. For example, one time when we had just arrived in Colorado Springs, we were setting up our RV when my hubby went outside to do something and yelled at me to put out the hummingbird feeder. A hummingbird had approached him and hovered 6 inches in front of his face, he said! I quickly made a batch of nectar and obliged. I love hummingbirds and I call them my guardian angels. I feel like they fly ahead of me and take care of everything so I never have to worry about anything. I know everything is going to work out because my guardian angels are always hard at work. The least I can do is feed them.

How to Feed Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds have an extremely high metabolism and need to refuel every 10 minutes or so. There are countless hummingbird feeders on the market, but there's no reason to buy a fancy one. A simple feeder will attract just as many hummingbirds as a fancy one, as long as you prepare the nectar correctly. There is absolutely no reason to buy hummingbird nectar from a store. As a matter of fact, you shouldn't buy or prepare any kind of nectar that has red (or any) dye. Dye is harmful to hummingbirds and can cause death. The only nectar recipe that should be used is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe (Mama T's Hummingbird Sweet Tea)

This is the go-to recipe that all hummingbird lovers use for their nectar. My dad gave the recipe to me and now I'm giving it to you. It's super simple, just water and sugar, absolutely no food coloring. The hummingbirds love this recipe so much. I call it Mama T's Hummingbird Sweet Tea (yes, I'm southern).

1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Mix in a microwave safe dish.
Microwave for 4 minutes.
Stir to mix well, ensuring all sugar is completely dissolved.
Allow to cool completely.
Pour into clean hummingbird feeder.
Hang outdoors and enjoy watching your hummingbirds!
Hummingbird feeders can get dirty quick, whether you see it or not. Be sure you clean your feeder every few days.

How to Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every two days and refilled with fresh hummingbird nectar. The feeders can become dirty with bacteria and the nectar can spoil, especially in intense heat. To clean your feeder, just soak in a cleaning solution and scrub well. For your cleaning solution, you can use chlorine bleach, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. Only use one, do not mix these ingredients! If you use bleach or vinegar, be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove any off-putting scent or nectar contamination. If you use hydrogen peroxide, you don't have to rinse as thoroughly since it breaks down into water and oxygen. For scrubbing the feeder, be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. You can use baby bottle brushes, pipe cleaners, clean toothbrushes, or clean mascara brushes. Once clean, allow to air dry before refilling with nectar.

In the fall, when you stop seeing your daily hummingbird visitors, you can remove the feeders, clean them well, allow them to air dry, and store them in a safe place until next Spring.

All about hummingbirds - fun facts, anatomy, species, migration, diet, attractions, flowers, types of feeders, threats, how you can help.

Do you hang hummingbird feeders in your garden? Do you make your own nectar? How many hummingbirds do you see in a typical day? What types of hummingbirds do you see in your area?

Saturday, April 28, 2018

How to Enjoy Your Next Family Vacation

A family vacation sounds like Heaven but often feels like Hell. One simple change in the way you plan your next family vacation will make ALL the difference. This change will make you and your family enjoy your next family vacation, instead of needing a vacation from your vacation.
How to Enjoy Your Next Family Vacation
You save for months, if not years. You plan out every detail of your dream vacation with your family. The places you'll go, the things you'll do, the memories you'll make. It's going to be so perfect. Everybody's going to have so much fun and be so happy. We'll be closer as a family for doing this.
Vacations are meant to bring families closer.
Then the time comes. The day arrives when it's time to leave for vacation. Your son has lost his shoes, seriously, how do you lose your shoes? Your daughter is crying because she wants to take her favorite doll and can't find her. You're running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make sure everyone has everything they'll need on vacation so that it can be...well, perfect! Meanwhile, your hubby's in the kitchen having his coffee, watching TV, not worrying about a thing. Are you serious?
Load the luggage in the car and lets hit the road.
You finally get out the door, load everyone and all your luggage in the car, and head for the hotel. Oh, when you get there, it'll be heavenly. Right? Surely it will be, right? I mean, in an effort to make your savings stretch as far as possible, you had to go cheap on the hotel - one room, two queen beds, one bathroom, no kitchen, but they do offer a free breakfast of sugar and carbs, so you'll be fine, right? Four people crammed in one room, all needing to use the bathroom while one person takes their time in the shower, that's nothing to worry about.
Fast food will kill your budget and diet on a family vacation.
All the money you saved by booking a cheap hotel will be used eating fast food. You have nowhere to cook your own meals, except maybe in the microwave if your hotel room even has one. So, there goes your budget and your diet and your sanity. That perfect family vacation isn't looking so perfect anymore, is it?
This tip will change the way you vacation and save you tons of money.
There is one change you can make when planning your next family vacation that will make all the difference in the world. It will take your vacation from ready-to-get-it-over-with to never-wanting-it-to-end. It'll even SAVE you money, a lot of money! Not to mention your sanity. This method is proven because my family has been doing this for years.
Renting a house, condo, or townhome is the best way to save money on vacation.
You ready for it? It's so simple and makes so much sense, but you may still need some convincing because it may be out of your comfort zone just a little bit. All you need to do for your next family vacation is to rent a house instead of booking a hotel. See, I told you it's simple, but it's something most people never consider. And it's so easy, you can do it right from your computer just like booking a hotel. And did I mention that it's cheaper than a hotel? Let me explain.
Renting a home on vacation allows you to have a more authentic experience.
People own homes and rent them out. That's how they make their living. These are usually not their primary residence, they may not even live nearby. These are usually rental homes, bought for the sole purpose of renting them out. Yes, even short term (i.e., only a few days). You can rent their home by booking it online. They don't show up on the normal 3rd party travel websites, which only list hotels. These houses can be found on websites like AirBnB, VRBO, and FlipKey. You can price compare because often, the same houses will show up on the different websites. We feel that we usually find the best prices on AirBnB, and if you use our link to book your next stay, you'll get a $20 credit when you use our affiliate link!
There are several websites that allow you to book your vacation home rental.

The Benefits of Renting a House Instead of Booking a Hotel

Really? You need convincing? Okay, here goes:

1. You can rent any size house your family and budget need. We usually look for a minimum of 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The master bedroom needs to have a king size bed and a crib, or we can take our portable crib for the baby. The 2nd bedroom needs to have two twin beds for our two boys. We want 2 bathrooms for obvious reasons, and we want a full kitchen. We can usually find this easily, even if its a condo or townhome, that's fine too. Oftentimes, there's even access to a pool and maybe a fitness center, too! It's always cheaper than a hotel - usually between $60 and $125 per night. Even in Hawaii! Yep, we rented condos in Hawaii for WAY cheaper than any of the hotels!

2. You can cook your own meals or prepare your meals and take them with you. This alone will literally save you hundreds of dollars, and tons of time that you would've been waiting in line to order and sitting down eating. Picnic on the beach/mountain/park anyone? That just took the family vacation memory bank up a notch. One of my husband's favorite memories of Maui was having breakfast outside on our lanai every morning, hearing the waves crashing on the beach across the street.

3. You can enjoy your vacation without hearing everyone else's vacation. Hotels are noisy and busy. Do you really want to hear doors slamming or drunk people yelling in the middle of the night? Do you really want your kids to swim in a pool with hundreds of strangers? Ew. When you rent a home, you have the whole place to yourself. You don't have to deal with other occupants at all, except your own family members. And if you do have access to a pool or fitness center, it's way less busy than a hotel because it's either a private pool that belongs to the home or a community pool that is shared with residents, who, oddly enough, rarely use it. Every time we rented a house with access to a pool, we had it all to ourselves. That's Heaven.

4. If you have other family joining you, you can rent a bigger place and split the cost. This will save everyone hundreds of dollars and give you all quality family time together. When we attended a high school graduation in Tucson, it was my family of 5, my mom and dad, and my sister's family of 4. Instead of booking three hotel rooms, which would've cost a total of $300 per night, we rented a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo with access to two pools for $160 per night! We enjoyed spending time together, our kids played constantly, we went swimming everyday, and we cooked our own meals. Definitely a memory maker for sure!
Lots of vacation home rentals have access to a pool.

Tips When Booking a Home for Rent

- Put in the dates you need so that the correct availability will be shown to you.
- Be sure to select "entire home/place" because some rentals are "rooms" or "suites" only.
- You can use the "filters" to select how many bedrooms/bathrooms and if you want a pool.
- Review the cancellation policy. I prefer "flexible" because plans can change without notice.
- Read the reviews and the owner's contact policy. Some owners are on-site, some are not even in the same state. Some want to be your friends while some wait for you to contact them. It's just a matter of what you prefer.

Are you going to rent a home instead of booking a hotel on your next family vacation? Have you rented a home through one of the websites I listed?

Friday, April 27, 2018

How to Donate Your Hair to Make Wigs for Kids

So you’re thinking about cutting your hair? Did you know that if you have long hair, you can donate it? That’s right, you can donate your hair! It will be used to make wigs for people who have lost their hair as a result of medical trauma or cancer treatment.  What a great thing to do with the hair you don’t want anymore! Much better than sweeping all that hair into a pile and throwing it in the trash, right?
How to Donate Hair to Make Wigs for Kids
Things you need to know before donating your hair

There are a few requirements when donating your hair to ensure that it is able to be turned into a wig.
The health of your hair matters when donating your hair to make wigs for kids.
The health of your hair matters. If you want to donate your hair, you have to take very good care of it to keep it healthy enough to withstand the rigorous process of turning your hair into a wig. Normally, this means that to donate your hair, it must be as natural as possible. Your hair must be free of chemical processing or coloring and generally be very healthy.
The length of your hair matters when donating your hair to make wigs for kids.
The length of your hair matters. It takes a lot of hair to make one wig, and not all hair is usable, so it’s important to donate as much hair as possible for better chances of it getting turned into a wig for someone who would love to have it. Depending on which charity you donate your hair to, the length your hair is required to be varies. It can range from as little as 7 inches up to more than 12 inches.
How you present your hair matters when donating your hair to make wigs for kids.
How you present your donated hair matters. If you know that you’re going to donate your hair, be sure to let your hairstylist know so they can wash and style your hair the right way before cutting it. You can’t just sweep up all your hair off the floor and put it in an envelope, that would be a mess. Most hairstylists have done this before and know exactly what to do. This usually means putting your hair in a ponytail and braiding it. If you have thin hair, one ponytail is fine. If you have thick hair, you may need to put your hair in two or more ponytails. Braiding the ponytails and securing each end with a ponytail holder will help to keep the hair intact once it is cut. This will make it much easier to place into a bag then into the envelope to mail it in. The donated hair must be completely dry before mailing.

Fun Facts

All ages can donate hair as long as the above requirements are met.

If you can’t donate your hair, you can donate funds to help with the expenses of making wigs.

You can earn a Girl Scout Patch by donating your hair. You can apply here: https://www.wigsforkids.org/hair-donation-girl-scout-patch/

Other ways you can help

You can host a Cut-A-Thon to collect hair donations from several individuals.

You can collect monetary pledges from family and friends for every inch you cut and donate it to sponsor the making of a wig.
Have a haircutting party so several people can donate their hair at the same time.

Where to send your donated hair

Ok, so your hair is cut. Now what? There are many charities that accept donated hair. How do you know which one to send your hair to? You’ll need to do some research on each charity to ensure that their values align with yours. You may want to choose a local charity so that you know your hair is being made into a wig for someone in your area. You may want to choose a charity that focuses on making wigs for children only. You may want to choose a charity that provides the wigs to their patients at no charge. You can do an online search to research all of these charities and decide which one you want to donate to.

Here are a few of the more well-known wig charities:

1. Wigs for Kids – accepts hair donations of at least 12” long. They require an application and allow recipients to customize they style of wig they want. They charge nothing for their wigs. You can see their requirements and get their contact information here: https://www.wigsforkids.org/donate-your-hair/

2. Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan – accepts hair donations from all ages, from around the world. Hair length can be as short as 7” long because they create wigs for boys as well. They help everyone, turn no one away, and charge nothing for their wigs. You can see their requirements, download their hair donation form, view salon supporters in your area, and get their contact information here: http://www.wigs4kids.org/donate-hair.html

3. Pantene Beautiful Lengths – accepts hair donations of at least 8” long to create wigs for women at no charge. You can see their requirements and get their contact information here: https://pantene.com/en-us/brandexperience/make-the-cut

4. Locks of Love – accepts hair donations of at least 10” long. They accept colored, permed, gray, and short hair. If it cannot be made into a wig, the hair will be sold, which helps reduce the cost of making wigs. Locks of Love requires an application and board approval before granting anyone a wig. They also charge for their wigs. You can see their requirements and get their contact information here: http://www.locksoflove.org/get-involved/

4. Great Clips Hair Salons provide free haircuts for people donating their hair. Contact your nearest Great Clips salon to confirm participation in the Wigs for Kids donation program. https://www.greatclips.com/about-us/giving/wigs-for-kids
Have you donated your hair? I want to hear from you! Comment below or email me before and after photos!
Now that you’re all set to cut and donate your hair for such a great cause, I want to hear from you! Comment below if you’ve ever cut and donated your hair. When did you cut it? How many inches of hair did you donate? Which charity did you donate it to? I’d love to see your before and after pictures. If you can’t attach them in comments, email them to me and I’ll include them in this article!
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