Selasa, 06 Agustus 2013

Color scheme

Did some work on paint

It's alive , alive!!!!! Video time....

So the battery is charged and he started without problems :) . The carburators still need to be synchronized and tested if the jets are right..... Can't wait to testride this thing...

Senin, 05 Agustus 2013

Best week ever!

Good Monday to you all! Wow, it’s been a total whirlwind of a week! I’m not sure I’ve ever packed more into seven days in my life.

Bear with me as I share a little bit of it with you today – it’s been an wonderful, overwhelming, lovely week and it really couldn’t have gone much better!

First up – Haven 2013! For those of you who don’t know, Haven is a conference dedicated to DIY and decor bloggers specifically. It’s the first of it’s kind because we (the team) knew there was a need for it – and a few years ago we decided it was time to make it happen!

This was our second year and it was even better than the first!:

Haven confererence

This is about half the group – all together we had about 450 attendees (that includes sponsors) so it was much bigger than last year. I’m not sure we’ll go too much bigger because we love the feel of this size – we still want everyone to feel like they have a chance to meet most everyone.

It was just a great week, really. We were just so happy with how it all turned out and are all so thrilled and humbled by it all! There was a lot of learning – I have a HUGE to do list written down – but most of all it’s just so amazing to hang out with people who totally get what you do.

We goofed around plenty:

It’s hard not to with these ladies. I laughed, a LOT. ;)

But most of all, like always, I walked away having learned so much from just chatting with other bloggers throughout the week. I was so happy to see old friends:

Haven Conference

And meet plenty of new ones, even though I’ve “known” them for years:

blogging conference haven conference

As always, I didn’t get nearly enough pictures. I know took one with many of you and I’d love a copy! (Or we have a 2013 Flickr account going, so you can load them there!)

It was an honor to have been a part of it again this year and to work with some amazing women: Haven conference planning team

Our event planner, Kristin, isn’t in that pic but she is a rock star – there is NO way we could do this without her.

Next year’s conference is already booked for July in Atlanta! We’ll share details soon. :)

So I got home from the conference, slept for a few hours and then moved on to the next adventure…the NKOTB concert:

I know I’m a little teensy bit biased, but DANG, they put on a great show! I was exhausted just from attending.

This time they were joined by Boys to Men (they were fantastic!) and 98 Degrees and the place was packed!:

It is absolutely electric. And LOUD. Grown women can SCREAM.

My hubby’s cousin hooked us up with some incredible seats – six rows off the floor:

NKOTB tour

We had one of the best views there! Excuse my Farah hair by the way. I’m bringing the 70’s back. Apparently.

Yet again, I came home, got a few hours of sleep and then this morning we were up bright and early for a very special appointment.

Today we learned we’ll soon have a grandson. :) Yes, I’m going to be a grandma – my stepdaughter (23) is due in December and we found out this morning it’s a boy. It was very emotional and sweet and they had a room full of family and friends there to find out the big news. Our son is THRILLED. :)

We are just so happy she and the baby are healthy and doing well.  I haven’t mentioned it yet just because I kind of feel like this is their story to tell, not mine. I will of course share more as we get closer to the due date and will most likely share a few pics over time, but I want to respect their privacy and desires too.

I can’t wait to meet this sweet boy!!

So, yes, I think I will set some kind of record as the youngest grandma ever. Especially being 27 and all. Or something.

Well…there’s my week in a nutshell. See, a little crazy huh? But every bit of it makes me so incredibly thankful – I am so grateful for this life I live. I am a lucky woman. A lucky woman who is off to take a nap for six hours or so. ;)

Jumat, 02 Agustus 2013

July in review and no-spend August

Hello everybody, happy Friday to you! I hope you’ve had a great week – I’m still at the Haven Conference and having a blast! Well…I hope I am anyway. I wrote this before I left. ;)

I’ll be back next week with some more DIY, but for now I’m reviewing the big posts from July and I have a fun little announcement at the end that I’m getting excited about. :)

First up last month I shared how I tackled my first true floating shelves:

DIY floating shelves

These are great storage for some of the Bub’s Lego sets – I love having them on display but these also get them out of the way.

Next I shared the details on the powder room redo:

ikea hemnes vanity

I covered the sources and details for everything in the room, so if you had questions on anything it should be answered there!

I did a little organizing (and prettifying) in the dining room – those skinny little cabinets hold a TON of stuff:

dining room organization built ins

I’m so glad I decided to incorporate that closed storage in the built ins!

I shared more about our latest RV trip and the little cabin in the woods that we stayed in:

cabin in woods

Many of you asked the name of the cabins/RV park and it’s called Neshonoc Lakeside in LaCrosse Wisconsin. :)

Next up I showed you a FUN new DIY product – painters tape that comes in shapes!:

chevron painters tape

This is the first chevron in our house and it may be the last. We’ll see – I’m still not hooked. I do like this little touch of it though. It’s staying for awhile at least!

Next up I hope to use the wave version of the shape tape. ;)

I shared my plan for our mud room redo in this post, including some lovely inspiration pics:

white mud room wood floors


I was busy working on our master bedroom in July and I shared more about our new bed here and the how-to on the tufted headboard here:

DIY tufted headboard

I’ve made a few more changes in there since and I’m SO pleased with how the room is coming together! Our bed is still my favorite part. ;)

Last week I shared the ways I deal when cash is low. I’ve learned over the years it’s a horrible feeling and I’ve always had a few tried and true methods to keep my spirits up:

cleaning out the car I loved your thoughts too – there were some great ideas in the comments!

This week I shared how I’m not killing my hydrangeas anymore: how to grow hydrangeas

I’ve made a concentrated effort to learn more about them and it’s paid off!

So I’m excited about August! This month I’ve decided to do another “no spend” month. I first did this a couple summers ago and actually quite enjoyed it! I have so many projects that need to be finished up, so many spots that need decluttering, and I just enjoy trying to work with what we already have.

So this month I won’t spend any cash on DIY or decorating projects. I have one that we’ve scheduled that will probably happen, more on that later. But otherwise I hope to stick to only what we’ve got! I hope you’ll be inspired!

Take care all and have a great weekend! :)

*P.S. As soon as I get back from Haven we head out for the NKOTB concert.

AWW. yeah.

Can’t wait!!

Kamis, 01 Agustus 2013

Rabu, 31 Juli 2013

Staircase nook

Hey hey all! Well, it’s about that time! I’m off to Atlanta today to prepare for the Haven Conference that starts tomorrow. It’s been a year of planning and I can’t even believe it’s already here! SO excited to see everybody.

So I finished up a quick little project this week that I’ve been meaning to do for months. Or a year. A year and a few months.

We have a little ledge/nook/cut out spot in the basement staircase that has been sitting half way done for that year and a few months:

You may remember that I installed a wood wall on the main wall in the staircase about this time last year. I still LOVE that wall. So very much.

Before we had the basement finished the wall next to it going down the steps had a weird cement wall bump out thing. Instead of drywalling all the way up I asked them to make it a little ledge instead. They installed a wood piece that I was planning on painting later, hence the stain spatter I didn’t worry about:

But since then I’ve decided I wanted it stained instead. I’m kind of obsessed with the look of the dark wood against the gray blue walls (Marina Gray by Ben Moore) and white trim down there.

So I needed to sand off that stamp and the stain dots:

sanding before staining

It just took a few seconds and I was ready to go – then I taped everything off with my Frogtape really well. I find it’s hard to keep stain from going everywhere since it leaks easily and spatters all over the place. (It could be the operator, who knows.):

prepping for stain

After I wiped everything down well (and let it dry), I grabbed my dark walnut stain and went at it:

how to stain

Remember when you stain to work quickly and to keep the “wet edge” – if it dries at all during the process you’ll see where you left off. OH, and wear gloves!! Trust me – no matter how hard I try I always end up with stain on my hands.

I let it sit for a few minutes and wiped the excess off. I only usually do one coat – I find that’s plenty for the color I want.

While it dried I started hanging the frames I’ve had leaning there forever. Most of them are pics from the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade/NYC trip I showed you here, but there was one collage my stepdaughter gave us last Christmas (so sweet!) that I wanted to include too.

Here’s a little tip when hanging pics that have two hangers instead of one – just tie a piece of string or wire between the two:

hanging picture without a level

Then hang that on the the nail. SO much easier. I mean, sometimes what you’re hanging is heavy enough you’ll want two nails, but most of the time I find one is just fine. And this way you don’t have to worry about measuring, finding a level, all that stuff. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Like all of my gallery walls, I just kind of put stuff here and there – yes, that meant a few extra holes in the wall but they’re tiny. The wall will survive:

matching frames gallery wall

I was trying to use frames that I had on hand and I liked the (mostly) matching frames, so I didn’t go crazy trying to fill empty spaces. The “S” we’ve had for years and it perfectly filled one spot that was bugging me.

The ledge has plenty of room for accessories, but for now I just left a couple candlesticks we had here before (they ended up on there because I was too lazy to take them all the way to the storage room):

matching frames gallery wall

They are fake candles and they operate on a timer, so it’s kind of cool to have that little glow as we walk down at night.

It was a quick project and I think it turned out pretty cute! I love how it looks with the planked wall:

wood planked wall

Next up in this space – touch up the wall and ceiling paint and install chunkier baseboards. Maybe I’ll tackle those in another year. Baby steps.

So are you loving gallery walls? I am and I don’t think they’re going anywhere soon. It’s such a personal, easy way to fill wall space! And remember you can find frames at Goodwill for super cheap and spray paint them. One color for all of them will unify frames no matter their design. 

Selasa, 30 Juli 2013

We can stop....

 Today I finished the rear brake set up. Thursday  I'm gonna hook up the wiring.

When Is It The Right Time To Change Management Jobs?

Since the economic decline of 2008 and 2009, many old jobs have been lost, while other new ones have been created. While the economy has improved a little of the last few years, many managers are still probably very cautious of making big career decisions. On one hand it may be best to stay where you are, but the alternative is to change management jobs and find a better role. In this article we will explore a few tips on what to do.
You Feel Like You Are No Longer Being Involved In Key Decisions
One of the most important parts of any change management job is that you have input in important decisions. This is because it will ultimately be down to you to deliver the results. If you feel that your department director and other bosses are no longer helping you be successful by not involving you in key decisions, then it is most likely time to step away from that role. You may be on the verge of being ousted, or it could be a sign that the leadership of the company is unsure about how to move the business forward. Either way, take it as a sign to change management jobs.
You Are Being Sidelined To Less Important Tasks
Do you feel as if your role is becoming less important to the overall success of the business? Did you used to have control of a key source of income for the firm, but now you are in control of something that isn't very important? It may be time to change management jobs. This is because moving you aside to a less important role suggests the company leadership does not think you are able to lead the most important part of the business. If the firm is also not doing to well in the current economic climate, then it may have to restructure in the future and make cuts to less important projects or products. Unfortunately this may mean you could be one of the first to go.
You Are Offered A New Opportunity For Self Development For Less Money
This can be a difficult decision. On the one hand taking a new role at a new business can help grow your career by giving you additional challenges which will help you moving forwards, however you would be earning less money for it. This could become frustrating, but if you have low overheads at home, then it should be considered. A short term drop in income might hold you back if you are looking to change management jobs, but if it can improve your career opportunities in one to two years time and may lead to better chances of a promotion, then go for it!
All in all, it's important to not just take in to account short term changes to your job and lifestyle, but also the long term. It would be a good idea to do some research into what skills are recommended for your career choice. This might be something you had only last looked at when you initially entered the job market, which could be several years ago. Nevertheless, it's always good to refresh your knowledge and expand your skill set to grow your career opportunities.

Shocking Employee Feedback

So, how am I doin? Former NY mayor Ed Koch popularized the question during his famous walks around town. What happens when you ask your employees for feedback about your performance? They tell you how wonderful you are but then when they get a survey or some other anonymous way of expressing their opinion, they surprise you with some negative, even shocking feedback. It's now clear that on some topics they are just not able to honestly discuss face-to-face. It can really hurt, especially when you feel you want people to be honest with you. But wishing does not make it so.
What is your next step? Your mind can conjure up all kinds of understandable reasons why they were not honest with you face-to-face. But their lack of honesty is a fact and you have got to decide how you will respond. Wasn't it easier when you were not "the boss"? You can ignore it and hope it doesn't cause you any trouble. You can criticize the survey and discredit the results. Or, you can design a strategy so that over time, being honest with you face-to-face is easier, less painful for them. If that is the way you decide to go, here are six strategies that always help to develop honest communication.
Admit your mistakes. Acknowledge that you make some mistakes that may at times put your employees in a difficult place. Apologize. This makes you more human and easier to approach with good news and bad.
Listen to your employees. Be sensitive to their communication both verbal and non-verbal. Sometimes they may say one thing one time but act in a very different way. This is an opportunity to let them know that you are paying attention... completely. You care about what their experience is and you want to make it as positive as possible. Demonstrate your willingness to change personally and also to change the conditions of work.
Solicit the opinion of your employees. Be strategic... don't start out by asking them their opinion on something that might be hard for them to answer. Make it easy for them to share their true opinion. Sometimes you can announce in advance what you would like to hear about. That way they can prepare what they want to say ahead of time.
Mine for negativity or varied opinion. When their opinions seem overwhelmingly unanimous, it's a good clue that not everyone is being honest. Push the issue. "Surely, some of you must have a different opinion."
Don't punish bad news or challenge it... or argue with it. In fact, when things go wrong, or when mistakes are made, it can be a real opportunity to change and learn. So, welcome and celebrate the reporting of bad news.
Finally, get to know people personally. When you know and like someone personally, it is easier to be understood. Begin every staff meeting with some personal sharing of some kind; everyone invited to participate including you. People are always in charge of how much personal information they share in the workplace, but encourage it. Over time, this sharing bonds a group together in remarkable ways. Positive personal relationships can be the breeding ground for honesty, so the next time that anonymous staff satisfaction survey comes around, there will not be any surprises.

Strategic Way to Implement Virtual Change

In today's world when everything and everyone is on a virtual platform, it is important to look at the issue of change management as it relates to a virtual environment. Have you wondered why it is difficult to implement change for a client with a wide spread geographically placed team? Has it occurred to you that the challenge is intrinsic to the methodology in use for this process and also in the agent of change? Let us take some steps back and evaluate how we would implement change in a traditional setting;
1) First conduct an initial assessment
2) Analyze results and develop plan
3) Implement change
4) Evaluate implemented change
5) Post-change support and maintenance
With the aforementioned, change seems to be pretty straight forward with the vision of completeness. Now consider the same for a virtual team, it is almost impossible to do an assessment of the team on a clear cut platform to capture all aspects of the team and to draw up a concise report or data upon which to act.
It is non-mistaken that as a change agent, you would need to have some form of contact with team members to understand the kind of group dynamics that exists to ensure that efforts bring about needed results. However, when dealing with a virtual team, time should not be the deciding factor of evaluation of project success. This is because it will take time and initiative to get various team members to fully buy into the change process and also to fully engage all member participation.
In as much as we understand the distance between the parties to effect and affect change, there is a need to apply intuition and innovation in the methodology and strategy for virtual change. The question in your mind at this point is "How do I implement a virtual change process?"
One method that has always worked for me is survey. In this case the use of concise terminologies that are not ambiguous to the end party to ensure you capture their point of view regarding the change process. After which you can ask open-ended questions to which helps to build the empathy needed to fully understand the challenges of the affected parties.
Another method would be to hold a web based session using one of the internet platforms available with the key players and drivers of change in the organization. This will give everyone the opportunity to get to understand their role in the implementation process and build accountability. At this point, consistency and communication is the bridge between success and failure in implementing virtual change.
It may seem unachievable in the beginning, but the more you engage in change implementation processes the better it you master the art of working with people to effect change and attain results.

Writing Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, are a staple in the manufacturing world. It's not just factories either; pretty much everywhere you go there are formal instructions available. SOPs are a way to communicate the best way to perform a task. Having a single optimum instruction can improve the quality of products and services as well as reduce cost and time. You may therefore think that SOPs are embraced by most businesses. From my experience however it appears that they are left to languish. This does not need to be the case, and by using teams of two to write and maintain SOPs you can realise greater benefits from your instructions.
Firstly, you need to consider who your team of two will be. Please make it someone who is going to use the instructions. Many businesses use one team to write the instructions and a different team to execute the instructions. In some cases this may because of the technical knowledge required to define the optimum sequence of the steps. Having someone in the background to verify the steps from a technical perspective can help negate this issue. The real power of engaging with the people who perform the tasks is exactly that - engaging. There are many benefits to helping your staff to engage more with the business, but defining the best way to perform their tasks is a great way to do it. If the people who perform the task write the SOP then there will be a better chance that the process is adhered to (providing it is technically correct of course).
Next, having two perspectives can bring with it greater insight. When you get one person to write the SOP you get one point of view. There may be a number of different ways to complete a task and the question then becomes 'what is the best way?' Of course if the SOP becomes a contentious issue it might be necessary to go back to the entire team with the various proposals for the best process, but it rarely gets this far in most cases. Having two people combine their skills and knowledge into one instructional document therefore can help you define the best possible sequence of steps. In your quest to develop processes that are as good as they can be this is a great opportunity.
Thirdly, when you have a small team (of two) writing your SOPs there is another opportunity with regards to day to day working. SOPs are great as long as they are being followed. When they sit on a shelf and aren't being acted upon then their worth is minimal. People seem to have a natural tendency to adjust and deviate from the original process steps over time. Whether this is due to an increased workload and people are trying to find a shorter route, or whether there is a lack of understanding, deviation needs to be controlled. Making SOPs part of the working day is one of the 'close out' tasks of creating SOPs. The team you choose to write the SOPs need to be conscious of integrating SOPs with working life. Making them accessible and part of the day to day working (standard meetings, timetables etc...) is vital to make the instructions work.
Standard Operating Procedures can be wonderful tools or a burdensome admin task. Getting a team of two to inject reality and optimisation into your instructions can give them a boost. Helping your team to follow a single best way of working can bring tangible results to your business and should not be underestimated. Getting the instructions to become part of the day to day and not rot on a shelf (or hard drive) is paramount if you want results. Engaging with your team via this practical writing approach can make a real difference and I urge you to review the state of SOPs today.
Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who delivers business improvement projects for businesses that need higher productivity, improved profits and less chaos!

Four Things To Consider When Looking To Rent Office Space For Your Business

For business owners, running a company means always having a long list of goals and achievements in mind. What's a top priority for many savvy entrepreneurs? Growing the business. For executives in any industry, having a healthy organization that consistently grows in market share is one of the best ways to ensure long-term, sustainable health.
While corporate growth is never a bad thing, it's important to note that it does come with a few byproducts that warrant consideration. Things such as adding staff to manage more clients and even expanded core competencies to ensure customer satisfaction usually come into play as a business broadens its reach. What's another important factor to consider as a company extends its operational empire? Office space.
Understanding The Key To Successfully Sourcing The Right Office Space For Your Company
Whether moving out of a home office space, or looking to move from one corporate building to another, finding the right leasing options for any company can play a key role in the ultimate success of an organization. If you're currently considering sourcing new office space options for your thriving company, it's important to keep these four critical factors in mind to ensure that your company's new home feels like a perfect fit.
Set your budget: Leasing office space should be much like purchasing a home or renting an apartment -- you need to have a firm grasp on what you can afford before moving forward with the search. Analyze your cash flow to determine how much more you can comfortably spend on your corporate leasing upgrade while still having the liquidity to conduct business as usual.
Square footage: All too often, corporate leaders of growing organizations assume that their expanding companies will continue to do so indefinitely. The result? They lease office space that eventually proves to be far too big for their needs. Carefully strategize your expected growth over the length of your proposed lease to find a place that suits your needs now and gives you needed room to grow without costing you too much in potentially wasted square footage.
Think location: Every business region has a corporate location hub where businesses thrive. Where's yours? Once you have an answer to this question, this is the area you localize your search to ensure that your business has easy access to clients, major highways and an extensive range of other features and perks.
Shop around: Don't just settle for the first leasing option you find to simply be done with the search process. Yes, walking through multiple buildings can take up time and feel overwhelming; however, the payoff is more than worth it. Being able to compare floor plans, building amenities, lease plans and other benefits is the only way for you to make an informed final decision that truly enhances your organization's operational abilities.
Keeping these four important considerations in mind when sourcing viable office space for your company can help ensure a seamless move that effectively helps you broaden your business empire!
DynaCom, a leading provider of superior Naperville office space, offers business owners floor plans with a wide range of features, benefits and amenities for a perfect corporate fit. If you're looking for a new business home, DynaCom can help. Visit to see current listings today!

If You're The Independent Contractor Are You Liable - Or Are They Liable?

Exactly how will you stand in terms of the topic associated with liability, as an independent contractor? It is a subject which does not get as much recognition as it really should from professionals, nevertheless it really is an element that could very well be a problem if they fail to protect themselves in the outset, or look closely at the wording and terminology of any kind of agreement they sign.
In English law there is something called "vicarious liability" specifically where specific standards have to be satisfied in establishing whether an individual organisation is really liable for damages or otherwise. Basically it's been determined that personnel of an organisation may be included in their own employer's liability, as they were carrying out work "under the direction" of the employer when performing the assignments, if this should lead to an accident of some sort.
Typically the part that has particular significance to the 3rd party contractor is usually that terminology alone is not going to necessarily provide protection. As an example, although you may call yourself some sort of freelance contractor and you have signed a legal contract saying so together with another company, the legal court could find differently in some instances.
Within the case generally known as Ferguson versus John Dawson and Partners [Contractors] Limited, 1976, it was subsequently revealed that a certain point of control was there concerning the agency and the actual freelance contractor. Quite simply, specific factors represented the relationship was definitely one of employee - employer, instead of what was initially indicated.
All of it comes down to control. Accountability may be enforced if an employer dictates precisely what work has to be accomplished and precisely how it must be done. If particularly explicit instructions are given through the organisation itself to the freelance contractor this tends to symbolise a clear causal link should any incident lead to harm on the whole.
As a result, pay very close attention to the actual fine print imposed by the company you sign into any contract to serve. If perhaps it seems very micro-managerial in essence then it could be considered as, basically, an employee - employer association.
Hunt for the best independent contractor services that you can secure and additionally ask these folks for their respective advice pertaining to the actual terminology and wording as part of your long term contracts. You have to be very straightforward about the arrangement from the standpoint associated with liability, to be able to get the proper sort of insurance protection and to govern yourself correctly. Similarly, you ought to be sure the enterprise you do business with is entirely sure on their position. You could point out that it is all fine and dandy to be "covered" by their insurance policies in case there is a mistake of some sort, but this sort of uncertainty or confusion may lead to major problems down the line and may also result in a breaking down of any relationship between both of you. This is why it's best to pay especially close attention to virtually all elements of any agreement you enter into and to be clear on your role as well as potential events in the foreseeable future.
Legislation is a fluid thing and generally there are repeated tests of an employer - employee connection and the actual standing associated with the independent contractor. As a result, only work with businesses that present you with independent contractor services in which they stay in touch with these "potential tests" and understand how regulations might or might not be in process of change.

In The Matter Of Taxes, Be Sure That It's Fair And Reasonable

In a democratic nation we must always champion our own legislative systems. We might dislike the way that politicians behave on many occasions and even wonder how any kind of business gets done within the halls of Parliament at any time. But we must believe in the longer term that our practices and systems are actually a considerably better alternative to the ones from various other nations around the world. After all, we've seen the way in which unrest inside all the Middle East keeps causing considerable disruption and it is realistic to say that there are far fewer opportunities in most of those countries to engage any sort of freedom of choice.
It really is true to suggest that while we regularly feel that we are "overtaxed" in the UK, we all do have the opportunity to shape our own futures to a major degree and also to work on our own should we desire to. Absolutely nothing is like having that freedom to build your very own operation if you're a completely independent contractor, answering at least in basic principle, just to yourself while you aim to earn an income and take care of your future. We shouldn't forget that in lots of nations where they are going through upheaval along with considerable restrictions upon liberty, typically the tax obligation even so is out there. Certainly it's a whole lot easier to accept it whenever you pay tax, knowing that you have far more liberty on the whole when compared with most of these other places.
Living in Britain as some kind of freelance contractor however it is really incredible how often you actually hear stories that "terrible things are afoot" from people who hope to limit as opposed to broaden freedom of choice. Much too frequently we see instances where people look to try and clamp down on any increasing surge inside the ranks belonging to the 3rd party contractor across the country.
One of the "approaches" utilised by these individuals is generally a charge involving tax evasion. One way or the other, they would bring us to imagine, that private contractors aren't forking over nearly as much income tax as they ought to. However this is not verified by figures. Quite aside from what might be referred to as a growth in the volume of suspected tax evasion instances within the country, we are actually seeing a decline. The HMRC has in fact made available statistics that demonstrate that the volume of suspected tax evasion scenarios investigated by their own teams dropped by 16% between tax year 2011/2012 to 2012/2013. Now this translated into a decrease of almost 600 incidents to a modern-day low of just 2888.
I'm sure we're all agreed that even two thousand eight hundred and eighty eight is simply too many, although we need to get this in perspective because it is a strong point to put forward when we're faced with a crazy assertion that - in some manner - private contractors promote taxation problems.
Obviously the best umbrella companies work far above any kind of suspicion involved with tax evasion and will not connect with buyers who do business marginally in this respect. That's why the best umbrella companies have no issues in relation to standing up against virtually any opposition, decisively defending the sector while making it clear that all those talks about tax evasion in this particular sector are just overkill.
John Jennings, periodic freelance copy writer for Payrize is broadly celebrated as an influential supporter of innovative independent contractor services and is also routinely pursued for his own incredible ideas about the very best umbrella companies. To continue reading =>

Senin, 29 Juli 2013

Growing hydrangeas (not killing them)

Hey heyyyy! How was your weekend? Have I mentioned how wonderful our weather has been? One or 50 times? Yeah. It’s been awesome. 51.

I’ve been spending SO much more time outside this summer, I’ve truly enjoyed this season. I’ve been planting a bunch of new things, transplanting some, just enjoying our outdoor space and the flowers.

I wrote last summer about my pathetic hydrangeas and how I was the pretty much the worst hydrangea parent EVER. They hated me. I’ve learned a ton about them since and figured I’d share my new knowledge. (So many great tips in the comments of that post!)

Mine still have a long way to go, but I as long as we don’t have a scorching summer next year, I think they’ll do even better. It’s SO exciting to see them actually grow and bloom this summer! Seriously a thrill after I’ve worked so hard to help them along.

They were sad and pathetic last year, really. The biggest surprise I got a few weeks ago were the start of blooms on my limelight hydrangea. I’ve had it three years people – not one bloom till now. Here is was last summer and now:

how to grow hydrangea limelight hydrangea

It’s now FILLED with beautiful white blooms! They’re all only about half way done too, so in a week or two it will be full of puffy white flowers:

limelight hydrangea

So here’s the first piece of advice – the sleep, creep, leap saying is true. Most plants I have planted follow this – the first year they don’t do much, the second the come along a little bit and the third they leap! I got this guy on clearance at the end of the season two summers ago and last year you can see that it grew, but didn’t do much else.

The third year (this year), it has doubled in size and is full of blooms. I think with hydrangeas you just need to have patience. Which is hard when you buy one full of blooms and then it poops out on you.

Here’s another biggie – you will see hydrangeas everywhere in full sun all the time – I see them at restaurants, stores, churches, drive throughs – everywhere. But mine did horribly in full sun: 

full sun hydrangeafull sun hydrangeafull sun hydrangea 

I showed you these last summer – I’d had them for two or three years at that point? Not one had ever bloomed, they all barely grew, it was just sad. Sad sad SAD.

Now those three look like this:

how to grow hydrangeas

The one on the left has grown a TON from where it was (it was the smallest one) but it’s still not blooming. The other two have done great! They just don’t have a ton of blooms right now because I cut so many of them a few weeks ago. ;)

These are the mophead variety, and they have really strong, beautiful leaves too:

mophead hydrangeagrowing hydrangeas

The leaves on that pink plant are especially hardy, dark and pretty.

Tip two – they do best in morning sun and afternoon shade (or dappled shade). Mine in afternoon shade (these above) do even better than those in the back that get the dappled shade. If you are having problems getting yours to grow – try moving them to a spot where they’ll get some rest from the heat in the afternoon.

I found some PeeGee trees on clearance a couple years ago and was so excited – they are basically a hydrangea tree. The year I planted them they did great for the rest of that season, but last year they looked like butt, like the rest of mine:

Pee Gee hydrangea

Now, they are amazing!!:

Pee Gee hydrangea blooming

They are both blooming and full and doing great.

Here’s the thing (tip three) – hydrangeas need MEGA water. I mean, it’s in their name. :) Last summer was the complete and total opposite of this one here in Indiana – super hot, drought conditions – it sucked. This year we had a really wet early summer and it’s helped tremendously.

I just watch my plants – if they start to wilt at all I know they need water. They need a lot of it, but watch how you water them too. I’ve got one mophead that has a fungus on the leaves (it hit one of my peonies too) because we’ve gotten so much rain. If you can, water them at the base of the plant (not with a sprinkler) so the water goes right to the roots and doesn’t sit on the leaves. (The fungus will not really hurt the plant so I’m cutting off those leaves and letting it be. If it had happened earlier in the season I would have used something on it.)

The Pee Gee tree is a paniculata hydrangea, like the limelight I first showed you. These two have the more cone shaped flowers:

pee gee hydrangea bloom

I much prefer the big round blooms, but these are beautiful too. They turn the most beautiful pink/green in the early fall – they are just gorgeous! I used them in this post a couple years ago: pee gee hydrangea fall

Aren’t they pretty?

I have about ten hydrangea plants out back now, and this one was my most recent addition:

pink hydrangea mophead

I shared it on Instagram – it was in full bloom when I got it and looked amazing! This plant was HUGE (I got it at a local nursery) and was $30 something dollars – you can find them half that size for the same price, so make sure to go big!

Those flowers are now done and are turning brown but the plant is doing great:

pee gee hydrangea

You can see my two PeeGee trees better here – they start to droop a bit as the blooms get bigger. (The one on the left is ahead of the other one by about a week.)

That brings me to another tip (number four?) – plant them in early summer or late fall if at all possible. It’s a lot of upkeep to keep them healthy and hydrated if you plant in the heat of mid-summer. I think the best time would be early summer so you can enjoy the blooms all season, but you can get some killer deals on them later in the fall, so it’s a hard call. I also think if you plant in the early summer you’ll have a better chance at a healthy, blooming plant the next year, since it has more time to get settled.

That huge mophead above was blooming pink when I bought it and the guy at the nursery said they will turn blue in our soil unless I changed the acidity. I have others that are blooming pink so I don’t know if it’s just this type? I was happy with that though because I have white, purple and pink and wanted blue:

blue hydrangea

He was right! ;) The new blooms are blue.

Behind that one is a climbing hydrangea I planted last year:

climbing hydrangea

Again, the plant is doing great, but not a bloom in sight. It’s not going to bloom this year at all, I can tell. I’m moving that one to a different spot soon so we’ll see how it does there.

Around the corner from those are a few more – mostly mopheads and one surprise lacecap:

lacecap hydrangealacecap hydrangea 

This is why you want them to be blooming when you buy. The lacecaps are more delicate – they have little bitty flowers that grow in the middle of the more traditional looking blooms. They are beautiful, but I just prefer the bigger fluffy ones. I am excited to see how these look when they are all blooming though!

Here’s my final big tip – I don’t prune my hydrangeas and they have done great this year. I mentioned earlier this year that I had pruned them and I misspoke a bit – I just (mostly) took all the dead wood off.

This can be tricky because sometimes it’s hard to tell between the normal and dead wood. Most hydrangeas bloom on dead wood – so you want to keep those ugly sticks like mine had last summer:

hydrangea grow on old wood

But I think it helped mine a ton to pull the dead wood out – they just shot up when I did that. I don’t know if it was just coincidence with the timing, but it seemed to help. I just pulled the dead stalks out of the plant – it will give easily if it’s dead. If it doesn’t, leave it.

I did trim down the Pee Gees just a bit though – just some of the tips that were total toast. And it seemed to work! I did this in May of this year – I’ve heard that’s a good time to do it if you’re going to. So I won’t cut them down this winter, and at best I’ll do a tiny bit of pruning next May, but that’s it. Otherwise I’ll leave them alone.

So that’s about it – I’ve learned a lot over the past year! I was determined because hydrangea are one of my all time favorites and I LOVE having them to cut and bring inside:

pink white hydrangea  mophead hydrangea pink white purple hydrangea in wood box dresser as entertainment center

Mine still have a long way to go – most are still tiny compared to a mature plant. But they are doing SO much better than the past. I think I’ve finally figured out how not kill them! Bonus!

Here’s a few other tips:

- If your climate is too warm for hydrangeas, consider the Pee Gee tree. It loves full sun so it should do better for you.

- You can change the color of your blooms with some stuff from the nursery or hardware store, or there are DIY methods too. (I’ve heard nails, pennies, etc.) The color of your blooms depends on the acidity of your soil. (Other than the white ones – those can’t be changed.)

- It seems like they are high maintenance, but once established hydrangeas are easy to take care of – they just need WATER.

- You know those planted hydrangeas you find in the spring/early summer at grocery stores? Yeah, they aren’t really meant to be planted. I had no idea! Go here to read more about that. I still think my one plant that isn’t blooming may be one I got from the grocery that I planted years ago. If it doesn’t bloom next year I’ll replace it.

I hope that helps any of you who have struggled with growing this beautiful plant! Again, I’m no expert but I’m getting there. ;) I think the change I made that made the biggest difference was where I planted them – the afternoon shade is key, at least at our house.

Are you a hydrangea lover? Any great tips I’ve missed? Have you tried and failed at these?


**For more on that DIY wood trough with the flowers in our family room go here!