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    Fun White House Facts

    Photo of the White House in Washington D.C

    Here are some interesting facts about the White House.

    First President to live in the White House

    John Adams was our second president, but the first president to live in the White House. Before the capital was in New York City and then Philadelphia. George Washington lived in both New York and Philadelphia.

    Construction

    The original White House took eight years to construct and cost in today’s money $3.3 Million.

    Name it White

    People initially called it ‘President’s Palace’ or ‘President’s House.’ Where did the name White House come from? There are two different stories of where the name comes from. The first is after the war of 1812 and after British troops burned many government buildings in Washington D.C that the President’s house was painted white to hide the fact that it was burnt.

    The second story comes from Martha Washington, the nation’s first First Lady. Mrs. Washington’s home in Virginia was named White House Plantation.

    The name White House was not the official name until Theodore Roosevelt used “White House–Washington” on stationary.

    Open House

    English and Irish head government buildings were open to the public. The White House based accessibility on this and also allowed the public into the house during special events often for the inauguration. For President Andrew Jackson’s inauguration, a crowd of 20,000 people showed up. President Jackson stayed at a hotel instead of at the White House, and staff had to lure the crowd outside using bathtubs of alcoholic mixed drinks. When newly elected Grover Cleveland and sworn in in 1885, he stopped the practice by putting troops in front of the White House preventing people from coming in. I guess he didn’t want a party.

    Protection

    The White House is protected by the United States Secret Service and the United States Park Police. It is a national park after all.

     

    Photo of the White House in Washington D.C

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    Awesome Items for your Cat Under $20

    Cat dancing toy

    Your cat is awesome. We chose items to make your cat more awesome, or to deal with the not so awesome things a cat (defiantly not yours) may or may not do. The links to Amazon are affiliate links we get a small commission for a sale at no cost to you. This allows us to keep the website up without ads.

    Suction-cup Window Cat Bed

    sun cat bed suction cup window

    Who doesn’t like looking out at window. I know cats do. This cat bed can hold up to 50 pounds, or one big cat.

    See your cat enjoying life, take naps next to the window for less than $20.

     

    Pet Shark Bed

    Pet Shark Bed

    A bed that’s a shark? Yes!

    Get it for less than $11.

     

    Fur-removing Broom that works on Multi-Floors

    A broom to remove dog hair fur from carpets, hardwood floors, and clothes. Great for the car.

    Over 3,000 reviews and a Amazon’s Choice product. This timesaver has an adjustable pole for hard to each places. A broom for all the hair on carpets and a squeegee for any umm.. accidents.

    Get it and have clean floors for $20 or less.

     

    Cat Dance Toy

    Cat dancing toy

    This cat charmer that makes them dance. It is a Amazon’s Choice product with over 90% 5 star reviews. One thing to note is to make sure you don’t leave it with your cat, as some cats try to eat it and end up puking rainbows and not in a good way.

    You can get it for less than $8. Worth the cast to dance with your cat.

     

    Friends Forever Cat Toys Variety Pack, 20 pieces

    Friends Forever Cat Toys Variety Pack, 20 pieces

     

    Over 300 reviews with average review of 4.7 stars out of 5.

    Get it and shipped to you for less than $12. And play with your forever friend.

     

    PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy

    PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy

    A robot laser toy for your cat to play with. This toy has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon.

    Get it and shipped to you for $20 or less. And watch your cat play.

     

    I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats

    I Could Pee on This And Other Poems by Cats

    Ever wonder what your cat would tell you if they wrote poetry? Now you can.
    Over 1,700 reviews with average review of 4.6 stars out of 5.

    Available in eBook and Hardcover for $13 or less.

     

    Disclaimer:
    Some links in this post are affiliate links. We receive a small portion of sales made at no extra cost to the person making purchases. We do this to keep the content free and continue to produce valuable content. 

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    Natural vs. Synthetic Yarns

    Many colors of yarn

    Take a trip to your local big box craft store, or even a smaller, independently-owned LYS (local yarn shop), and you will find that there is an unbelievably wide range of yarns to choose from. It can be overwhelming! Color, thickness (also called “weight” in yarn lingo), and fiber type are all choices the crafter will need to make before purchasing yarn for their particular project. If a crafter has a pattern picked out, the pattern designer has most likely suggested a specific weight of thread so that the item turns out to be the size and shape intended. But the particular fiber type used is almost always up to the crafter. So, let’s dig into the different fiber types, the pros and cons, and how to choose which is right for you!

    What do I even mean by fiber type? Well, I mean – what was the yarn before it was…yarn? The spun yarn is from either natural or synthetic materials. Natural materials include those derived from plants, such as cotton or bamboo, or those derived from animals, such as wool, alpaca, or silk. Synthetic materials, such as acrylic, are made from “synthetic polymers” in a lab and are produced with the use of chemicals. They mimic the texture and feel of natural fibers, but they are not found in nature.

    So now that you have a basic overview of the difference between synthetic and natural fibers let’s talk about the pros and cons of using each!

    Many colors of yarn

    I’ll start with the two significant benefits of synthetic materials.

    Less Expensive

    Synthetic materials are far and away less expensive than natural fibers. For novice crafters just starting out with a knitting or crocheting hobby, you may want to experiment with synthetic fibers first because they are less of a financial investment. If you mess up your first knitted scarf (which is very common), you may be less disappointed if you didn’t break the bank on that ball of yarn you got at Michael’s. (The counter-argument to that is that you may be more invested in making your project look good if you buy a beautiful, high-quality natural yarn…but I digress!).

    Washable and Durable

    Most synthetic fibers are machine washable (and some are even machine dryable!). This is a huge perk if you’re making an item for, say, a messy toddler. Does Sally spill juice on her acrylic hand-knit sweater? No problem – toss it in the wash, and it will probably look good as new!

    ***

    So what are the negatives of synthetic fibers?  Let’s talk about that for a minute…

    Environmental Impact

    It’s possible to find a negative environmental impact for most fibers produced in mass quantities (pesticides used on cotton plants, chemicals used to convert bamboo to fiber). However, synthetic fibers have some huge negatives in this category in addition to the chemicals used in their production.

    Acrylic yarn sheds when washed, like most fibers, but the difference is that what acrylic fiber drops is not biodegradable and has the potential to pollute our waterways. Microfibers are tiny particles of plastic (remember – acrylic is plastic!) that are so small that they can’t be caught by your washing machine filter, or filtered out in our sewer system, and most of these fibers end up in the ocean. These fibers are polluting our waterways and ending up in the bellies of fish (and that means they end up in our bellies too!). Many environmental scientists and environmentally-conscious retailers are looking into ways to reduce the number of microfibers that get into our waterways, but until a solution is discovered, when you wash that acrylic yarn it’s pretty likely you’re polluting the ocean.

    Doesn’t Fell or Look as Nice

    OK, so this next one is a personal preference, and not everyone will agree with me. As an experienced knitter of over ten years, I very much prefer the feel of natural fibers and find synthetics to feel less soft and almost “squeaky.” I have become a yarn snob over the years! To me, there is a reason why natural fibers are more expensive – it’s because they are higher quality, more luxurious, softer, warmer, and more beautiful. Gosh, can you tell I prefer natural fibers, or what!?

    ***

    So let’s focus on those natural fibers now. You’ve already heard some of the pros of these in the list above (feel and look beautiful, do not pollute the ocean, less dangerous chemicals in production for small-scale production and organic fibers), so what are the negatives?

    Animal Welfare

    Wool is one of the most popular natural fibers used in knitting and crocheting and has been used for thousands of year (at least!). Wool comes from sheep, and the animal does not have to be killed to remove the wool. The sheep are shorn typically in the spring, before the heat of summer.

    wool lamb sheep

    You may be thinking – well this doesn’t sound bad for the sheep? What could be the problem? Unfortunately, some controversial practices take place in the care of sheep, one of which is called mulesing. Mulesing is the surgical removal, often without anesthetic, of the skin around a sheep’s buttocks. This skin and the wool there can sometimes attract flies and lead to a disease called flystrike. It is debated as to which is more painful and uncomfortable for the animal – mulesing or flystrike – and whether there are less cruel methods of prevention. There is more information from both all points of view on this topic if you’re interested in looking into it more.

    Also, when wool is a commodity, more is always better! Mass production can lead to harmful conditions for the animals. Tight quarters, fast and painful shearing practices, and more. The way around this issue is to buy wool from small, independent farmers, or larger producers who pledge to consider animal welfare.

    ***

    I hope I’ve given you a good overview of the difference between synthetic and natural fibers and the pros and cons to each. Whatever you decide, I wish you well in your knitting or crocheting adventure!

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    Extinct Tiger Species might have been seen in Indonesia

    Javan Leopard in Indonesia

    In Ujung Kulon Indonesian National park a photo was taken of something people thought was extinct for more than 40 years. The Javan tiger has only been in books, bedtime stories, and legends, but a new photo might have captured it.

    Indonesia is currently the 4th most populated country in the world. And is the largest island country with over 13,000 islands. Each island can have it’s own culture, dialect or language, and can differ in  the main religion from a neighboring island.

    Flag of Indonesia
    Flag of Indonesia. Red top and white bottom.

    Javan tiger

    Ujung Kulon national park is located on the tip of one of the larger islands. It is a large forested area that is protected. Hopefully it has been protected enough for a thought to be extinct species of tiger to be living among the trees. 

    A new photo in the park captures a large cat walking. Because of the distance and quality it is not completely certain what species it is. Large cats are present on the island, however are still very rare.

    Javan Leopard

    One employee believes it is species of leopard, the Javan leopard. It is the last predator on the island and is critically endangered. Critically endangered is one step away from being extinct. There are only 250 mature adults in the world. Javan leopards are only found in Southeast Asia and two Zoos in Europe.

    Still walking

    The photo is either a species of extinct tiger or critically endangered leopard. No matter what animal is in the photo we can be glad that it is alive and active.

    Javan Leopard in Indonesia
    A Javan Leopard

    You can read more about this on the New York Time’s website.

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    The Gift: How I learned to Crochet

    Grandmother holding a grandchild

    This article was written by Kelly Valencia-Aiken. It is a personal story of how Kelly’s grandmother teaching of how to crochet.

    Enter Kelly.

    I am obsessed. Honestly, it’s more of an addiction. I may even need rehab. In fact, my friends and family should probably stage an intervention on my behalf. I think they would fail miserably, but they should still do it, just to be able to say they tried. I’ve been addicted for years, ever since I caught my grandmother in the act.

    I remember the first time I saw it happen. I just stared in wide-eyed wonder. What is this magical thing she’s doing? I would sit and watch her in complete silence as she created something from (almost) nothing. How did she know what move to make next? What would happen if she made a mistake? Was there anyone else who did this? Could I do it, too? It was as if the shiny metal object in her hand were a wand and the yarn on her lap an incantation, coming together to reveal something otherworldly. It was at the tender age of seven she introduced me to the dark arts…I mean, the art of crocheting.

    Ah, crocheting. Pretend you’re French when you say it and it seems almost as romantic as Paris, like a lover beckoning in the night. And ‘yarn’? Like honey on my lips is its sweet sound. I love the smell of it, the vibrancy of its colors, the textures, the possibilities. Anything imagined can be created with a simple crochet hook and a skein of yarn. From pillows to throws, clothing to stuffed animals, backpacks to hats, baskets to even jewelry – all of it can be made with such simple, humble tools when held in skillful hands.

    I remember the day my grandmother taught me her craft. I was so nervous! So excited! So unsure of myself, yet eager to try. I watched her closely as I fumbled to hold the crochet hook just right. The yarn kept tangling around my fingers. I didn’t even know how to tie a proper knot! (It was then I was educated there was more than one way to make a knot.) Finally, I got it just right. Then came the counting. Oh, to this day how I still hate the counting! I counted aloud until I reached the right number, then she showed me how to turn the piece and start a new row. I was enthralled, and at that moment, I knew I was hooked forever (pun intended).

    a person crocheting white yarn

    My first-ever crocheted masterpiece was a round potholder. It was quite the eyesore. The stitches were too tight, too loose, I had too few or too many stitches all in one spot…it was glorious. I was crocheting! I, too, could create magic alongside my grandma! I graduated from the simple potholder to a scarf. It wasn’t much better. It didn’t matter. Although my edges weren’t straight and my yarn changes were glaringly obvious, I loved every moment of it. Now, I had a connection to my grandma that was deeper than ever, a shared interest that bridged the generations and bonded us closer. It became a weekend tradition for my uncle to take my grandma and me to Michael’s to get us stocked up on yarn. At first, I wasn’t sure what to get. My purchases were small, simple, and unimaginative. Soon after, however, my uncle had to reduce our outings to every other weekend when my bill alone was in the hundreds! I felt like a baby eagle who had just discovered flight. I had been given a beautiful gift I couldn’t wait to explore.

    And what a true gift it has been, indeed, to crochet. In fact, I have crocheted for almost twenty-seven years. While other little girls were busy fawning over popular boy bands and practicing their makeup skills, I was honing a talent I enjoyed and discovering just what I could do with it. You see, I recognized immediately why my grandmother crocheted. It was a gift she had been given that was meant to be given away. For years, I would watch her make an exorbitant number of hats and afghans. They would be placed in bags or boxes and stored away in a closet somewhere. It was provision meant for another day. A decade later, she and I donated all of our creations to an orphanage in Mexico when my family went there on a mission trip. She alone had enough blankets and hats to meet the needs of each of the orphans there in the distribution line that day.

    In January of 2017, I sat down one evening with the desire to crochet, as I had done so many times before. I didn’t want to create something without purpose, however, and I didn’t want it collecting dust on my shelves and taking up much-coveted storage space. No one I knew was having a baby, and everyone I knew already had at least a hat, scarf, and blanket made by yours truly. What can I make? Who will benefit from it? Suddenly, a thought came to mind. I remembered how I had made blankets for the orphanage in Mexico and realized I knew of an orphanage sponsored by my church that could likely benefit from a few donated items. After emailing and receiving information on what was needed, I knew I didn’t have enough yarn to meet the need. I put out ads on Craigslist and Facebook looking for donated supplies. I made as many crocheted items as I could and trusted my ads would be answered with provision to bless the orphans.

    It was answered, all right! I had emails from several people nearby wanting to contribute to my cause. With the abundance of bins, bags, and even suitcases full of goods given to me, I recognized I needed someone to help me. I recruited my friend, Jess, and we both saw the need to form a nonprofit. Zenith Outreach and Enterprise Nonprofit Corporation was born as a family-run nonprofit where one hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to areas and people groups who need our help. We were on our way to making supplies for over one hundred orphans and over twenty-five widows in Guatemala. The only problem we ran into was what had been donated. Instead of crates full of yarn, there were boxes full of fabric! Sensing a change was underway, we went with the flow and determined to teach ourselves how to sew. In no time at all, an incredibly generous benefactor from several states away heard of our undertaking. Dianna stepped in and graciously provided the machinery and sewing notions we so desperately needed to be able to fulfill our mission. She became an invaluable source of help for sewing and a very dear friend to me in the process.

    Although both women, my grandmother, Emma, and friend, Dianna, have passed on, it was the gifts they both imparted to me, a love for crocheting and a love for sewing, that live on and continue to bless and inspire others to use their gifts to benefit the world around them. If my grandma had not taught me how to crochet, I never would’ve met Dianna, who helped me learn to sew. Were it not for these two precious women, the orphanage for which we were privileged to provide much-needed items would still be waiting for someone to step in with arms of love wide open. It’s true when it’s said that you never know what a little yarn and a crochet hook can make. In my case, it made a difference.

    Grandmother holding a grandchild

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    6 Yarn Types to Create a Masterpiece

    knitting with yarn

    Knitting can be quite an enjoyable pastime. If you have the right yarn, it can make for some high quality clothing that is great for seasonal occasions, for fashion, and knitting itself makes for a wonderful hobby. Here are six yarn types that you can use to create fashionable works of art.

    Sheep Wool

    The same fibers that come from sheep, can be used to create wonderfully comfortable clothing and is easy to get with its low price. It’s great for winter clothing with its resistance to moisture and durability. Wool is also a great material for summer clothing as a breathable, moisture wicking material. Wool is naturally creamy white, making it easy to dye into a range of colors. It’s also often mixed with a blend of other fibers to improve durability.

    Cashmere

    Cashmere is a luxury yarn. It is of superb quality that actually becomes softer with wear. It has phenomenal insulation that makes it great for winter accessories and cardigans. The beautiful look is associated with a fine cloudlike halo and is often blended with other materials to make it more affordable. With a fabric this valuable, make sure to always dry clean and never machine wash.

    Polyester

    After being blended with natural fibers, polyester yields easy-care yarns. Polyester has good draping, along with breathability and wicking properties making it great for any time of the year. It is machine washable and is a great synthetic fiber.

    Rayon

    Rayon was the first fabric to be entirely man-made. Despite this, it can very well imitate the properties of other natural fibers and has a silky smooth, shiny, and saturated color as well as an incredible drape. This yarn is absolutely great for summer knitwear. It is comfortable, cool, and conducts heat from the body. When purchasing a rayon product at the store, be sure to check the tag. This product may, or may not, be machine washable.

    Many colors of yarn

    Silk

    Silk is very well known for its cool, smooth texture across the skin. Being a more expensive fiber, it’s easiest to find in fine piles and is susceptible to static cleaning and catching. If you keep experiencing this problem, then choose a variety of yarns spun tightly for a higher ply. Silk is great for knitting lace, and is often blended to into fibers to add luxurious softness. This material must be hand washed in order to clean.

    Nylon

    Nylon can be very easily compared to silk. As an alternative to that expensive yarn type, it’s shiny and smooth, easy to launder, and is cool to the touch. It is also very durable against wear and tear, and unlike silk, this is completely machine washable.

    The Best

    Whatever yarn you use, and however you blend them together, make sure to have fun while doing it. Knitting by hand is an art form that is slowly going away. Picking your own colors, and your own yarn types means that you can make your own fashionable accessories the way YOU want to make them  and keeps this art form alive.

    This article was written by Josh Adams

    knitting with yarn

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    What are Tarot cards? How does a Tarot reading work?

    tarot cards, tarot reading

    I always find it interesting when people consider the tarot cards or a tarot reading a part of the “occult”, witchery, or weird, wrong, dark, etc. I have never been intimidated by them and see them as a tool for people to use symbolism and energy to “see” or “validate” thoughts or things that might be transpiring with the person who is receiving the reading.

    Tarot

    What is tarot? There are 78 tarot cards. 24 major arcana that represent larger things going on in your life, connected to the bigger picture. The numbered cards, 1-10 is daily life and also represent different parts of the hero’s journey. There are 4 sections, wands, pentacles, cups, and swords. Each one represents different things, like wands represent work and social life. Swords considers trifles and looking at both sides of something, splitting hairs, introspect. Pentacles represent health and money, and cups represent love, relationship, and spirituality. Some cards will be upright and some may be reversed, which can represent either the opposite of the original card upright or difficulty in obtaining the upright due to an obstacle of sorts.

    The cards that the playing cards we use today came from the tarot deck. They were used so many years ago, but only used for royalty. They were used regardless of religion. Nowadays, they can be used for fun, for dark use, or for gaining insight. I personally feel it helps validate people, where they are at, what they are thinking about and what might their next steps be. When I give a reading, I make sure the person is comfortable with receiving the reading. If there is some kind of fear surrounding the cards or the idea that the person can be “read” from the cards, I explain that if people receive something like the DEATH card, what it means is that something is coming to an end and that from the ashes of whatever finished or ended will rise a new day. It doesn’t mean you will DIE. People who provide dramatic readings are not doing it for the good of the person, they are doing it for the drama and money.

    tarot reading, tarot cards

    Tarot Reading

    Be careful whom you choose to do your reading, or be prepared to take it lightly. There is an intention that needs to be present when the reading is given if you really want to glean something from it. It needs to come from both sides. Curiosity should be the driver. I usually provide light, 3 card draws, which provides a bit about the person’s past, their present state and their near future. When providing the reading, I make sure I am clear of any distractions or other energies, other than the intent of the general forecast of that person in front of me.

    You might just want to question the tarot reader what cards they use, how long they have been reading and what their favorite layout is. The most used cards are the universal tarot set. I choose not to use those cards because it makes it easy for anyone who knows the cards to put their own spin on it, and this energy for the reading should be pure with no interpretation. The cards are a guide, not the end all be all. Keep that in mind when receiving a reading. The person providing the reading is good when they don’t rely solely on the cards for the reading. If they only go based strictly on the cards, the energy that is present is not being utilized, there is only someone putting their spin on it.

    Energy

    Energy is in everything and it makes up our very being, the earth, stars, universe and non-space. It comes forth in all ways, not just a card reading. It is used for healing, for weaponry, for movement and for life itself. The energy used in a reading is no different than the energies described for other uses. A good tarot card reader will fully admit they have very little to do with how the cards lay out or the reading itself, they will state that it is the energy the person is putting out, and they will have cleared their own energy and the energy of those that had received readings in the past from the cards.

    This article was written by April Hartmeister. She wrote another post about handmade jewelry.

    You can find more about April on her website: April’s Design

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