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8 home security hacks recommended by police

(BPT) - Did you know that many police departments have a community affairs officer whose primary goal is to build a strong working relationship with the community? That means you have access to a trained safety expert who wants to give you ideas to keep your home and neighborhood safe. Read on for eight simple home security hacks from a recent home safety evaluation conducted by a police officer. 1. Change the locks When was the last time you changed the locks? How many previous owners have there been and how many keys have been given out to neighbors, friends, family or delivery people? You never know who has a second copy, and for less than $100 at Home Depot, you can change your locks imm...
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  211 Hits

Knowledge is Power

(BPT) - Technology has rapidly changed the way we live over the past 30 years. Where people once turned strictly to their televisions to watch their favorite shows or play video games, people can now access their favorite entertainment, anytime and anywhere - thanks to smart devices and a WiFi connection. This new level of connectivity goes well beyond easier access to entertainment. For example, can you log onto a computer and get a real-time look at your energy use through your utility? If so, your home has a smart-meter - a powerful tool to help you better understand this newly connected world. Smart meters are part of an emerging set of smart grid technologies that are transforming how e...
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5 easy tips for combating the environment's effects on skin 

(BPT) - Properly taking care of your skin each day - and countering the possible effects of pollution - is quick, affordable and easy to do. So why do so many Americans forgo that step in their daily routines? A recent survey by CeraVe found 48 percent of American adults often worry about their skin, yet 36 percent have no regular skincare routine. Only 36 percent regularly use cleanser, and 33 percent say they're confused about how to choose effective products and methods. Unfortunately, everyday pollution and UV rays can easily wreak havoc on your skin, so it's essential to develop a proper skincare routine to combat these effects. In a given year, Americans are subject to some 83 million ...
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The Impossible Dream of Julian Pie


This week, we took a short day-trip over to San Diego County to visit the town of Julian. We haven’t been there in ages and wanted to see if anything had changed. The last time we came, over ten years ago, we stayed to watch a wonderful theater production of The Man of La Mancha. Other than a few price increases, the California historical landmark has stayed the same. It’s an old west town known for picking apples. They also sell apple juice, hard cider and the secret reason for our trip—yes—delicious pies. Downtown Julian  There are antique shops, crafts and specialty foods for sale on Main street and plenty of hiking opportunities for the entire family. I think that's the fire-station  We ...
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  160 Hits

Take your chances...


The farmer has replanted wheat (I presume) in the field he recently harvested. These seagulls followed the tractor as it disgorged seeds and gobbled up as much as they could, pure highway robbery but they succeeded! Take your chances while you can because life and time wait for no one. PS That doesn't mean steal. The farmer provides extra seed just for the birds but that is his choice. Photo copyright SvD. And can you help? I came across this carcass in the field on Sunday morning. I cannot identify it from my various bird books. The down on its chest was thick and luxurious. The marking seems quite distinctive. The carcass measured around a foot long without the head which clearly is not th...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  316 Hits

Relationship Rebuilding After Infidelity


The damage from infidelity is enough to make anyone want to run away from the broken pieces, or, run straight at the offender with biting insults, copious tears and possibly flying fists (or whatever else may be available). But what about the other? This is one woman’s candid recounting of “life after” and what that looked liked when this couple chose to remain married. Hint: Not one bit of easy and absolutely no quick fixes. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————— I did not stay in my marriage. I am still married. How can that be true? The answer lies in the term “stay.” A simple word, but a deceptive one. After my husband’s affair, we decided to try to mend our relationship....
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  315 Hits

Want better workplace results?

(BPT) - From standing desks and team-building events to onsite services and remote work opportunities, companies have adapted over the years to adopt new solutions that will grow their company, improve employee retention and increase productivity.   However, while all of these initiatives have their benefits, John Scott, senior workplace design strategy expert for Haworth, points out many companies are missing one key solution - an opportunity that exists all around them. The chance to enjoy the fresh air and take their work outside.   "With so many design trends to focus on, the one that almost always gets overlooked is utilizing the outdoors to work and collaborate," Scott says, adding tha...
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  267 Hits

Bakery Rebellion


Are you on the Ketogenic diet? The gluten free diet? Going Vegan? Vegetarian not Vegan. (Learn the difference or you will be embarrassed.) Low Carb? Mediterranean? Low fat? High Protein? Atkins? Raw Food? South Beach? Paleo? Grapefruit diet? Cabbage Soup? Sirtfood? Carnivore diet? Eggs and wine diet? Apple Cider Vinegar diet? Cake cleanse? Smoothie detox? No. No, and no. Eating is harder to figure out then gender identity. But my new trans- ition lenses help me see things clearer. With over one hundred newly recognized genders this year, there will be people celebrating. Hooray! They will probably have cake!   I made this delicious walnut cake last week. Walnuts are very good for you. 😋  May...
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  228 Hits

Ripeness is all.


Folklore tells us that Summer ends as the elderberries ripen. Indeed, the nights are cooler and the morning dew has returned. The damp underfoot on my morning walks is a true indicator that Autumn is here. Early Autumn is a time of plenty, ripened fruits must be picked now before the damp and cold wind rot them. I used to be a serious jam and chutney maker converting the spoils of my gardening addiction. For those of you who do make your own preserves, remember to pick fruit on a dry day, early in the morning and away from busy roads. Now is also a good time to collect wild herbs to make herb liqueur (collect the leaves of whatever you can find, except the poisonous ones obviously, soak them...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  230 Hits

Butterfly Shadows


I stopped under a moving shadow of a Monarch butterfly. She fluttered around a tree and flit above a house. My eyes darted left and right hoping to catch a glimpse of orange. Her fire a smudged blur in my memory. Original link
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  167 Hits

Slugs in love...


Two slugs locked in love's embrace and forming a perfect circle, symbol of infinity. This morning on my walk. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  561 Hits

Memento mori.


My wonderful friend, Gwen, died today and I shall miss her terribly. Over more than twenty years, we laughed riotously, drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of good food and consumed vast quantities of whisky, cognac and anything 40% proof after dozens of suppers shared as we put the world right. There is an expression that one will die peacefully if one has lived a good life. Gwen did exactly that surrounded by those who loved her. Farewell, witty, sarcastic, beautiful and special Gwen. I shall never forget you. Hedgerow Sparrow last Saturday morning flew into my glass door. I put him in the greenhouse to wake up but he never did. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  566 Hits

Food is fuel......yee ha!


I walked four miles today and I was in the office from 9 to 5.30. There are some days when cooking makes me cringe but if it's so easy I could do it with my eyes closed, I might be tempted. This recipe is inspired by the great outdoors and cowboy films. You fry your bacon, you add your beans. Simple. Now let's watch that sunset together. Cowboy Beans (with cherry tomatoes for colour). Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  334 Hits

Take a Gamble on My New Romantic Adventure!


It’s finally here!! My second book about Penny, and though it’s a standalone sequel, Penniless Souls is the second half of a two-part journey called the Lost Compass Love Series . Follow Penny and John through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas, Nevada where old dreams and dark nightmares intertwine, colliding with the bitter truth. Is Penny up to the challenge? Is she willing to bet her last cent?  Here’s a snippet from Chapter One:   “Can you trust me?” Quietly, she nodded and placed her head back on his shoulder.   “I have so far,” she mumbled without conviction. It felt like a white flag of surrender.  The type of submission that reminded her of submissive women in advertising campaigns of t...
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  252 Hits

Spaetzles to Heaven


I'm not German neither am I an expert on German cuisine but my love of spaetzles came to me from my ex-husband whose first wife was German. Spaetzles are a type of quick noodle made with flour, nutmeg and eggs. I use a flat cheese grater to pour the batter into simmering unsalted water- all Germans are politely asked to forgive me for improvising with a cheese grater. Once cooked, the spaetzles are tossed in bacon fat, butter and sauerkraut and topped with crispy lardons and breadcrumbs. Delicious! My supper tonight. I will walk off all this scrumptious fat when I trot my usual 40-50kms per week. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  302 Hits

A Plethora of Roosters or a Peep of Chickens?


Not a flight of swallows or a murder of crows--not a siege of herons or a gaggle of geese.... Nor an exaltation of larks or a dole of doves but perhaps a plethora of roosters.... A month ago, we had a few roosters decorating our kitchen. I have this idea that the rooster is an image of forgiveness. So much so, that I wrote a short book about it, called The Fifth Commandment. In my short novella, rooster symbolism abounds. If you haven’t read it, then please click here. Originally, we had one big rooster on the top shelf that my husband painted, and two old ones on the second shelf.   Both of the smaller ones were gifts. Then, at the end of July, my artistic friend Melodie gave me a gray, woo...
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  236 Hits

How to Live.


When I see people buying ready-made meals in the supermarket I want to scream. Cooking is easy and if you want to stay healthy, learning to cook is an absolute necessity. I work full time and I cook every day. Why? Because I love the ritual involved plus I need to know what I am eating. I make my own bread because I loathe supermarket bread. The way I live is not extraordinary, it's how I grew up. Tonight I was inspired to make apple sauce from the orchard outside my kitchen window (the dry summer has forced the apples to ripen months early). And pork and apple sauce are a match made in Heaven. This meal took less than an hour. Broad beans in a parsley sauce, pork chop with a homemade apple ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  297 Hits

Althorp and the mystery of Diana's resting place.


Althorp, the Spencer family home, makes for an interesting day out. I recently visited but I doubt very much that Diana is buried on the island on the lake. Why? The lake is some distance away from the house and it seems a cold and lonely place to be buried. I'm more inclined to believe the local rumour that Diana is buried in the family vault in the nearby St Mary The Virgin church at Great Brington. Her father is buried there as well and it would make perfect sense for Diana to be with her dad. I have no proof, of course. I can only say what I feel. The Spencer crypt below: The crypt is behind  these blue railings which are fitted with an alarm. The spot (near the window) inside the Spence...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  785 Hits

Still Grinning About July


The month of July began with a bang. We had the absolute cutest family members visit us during the week of the Fourth of July. They chased Pinky and Fiona and then jumped in the pool. It was non-stop fun and laughter. We even went hiking in the Santa Rosas, played Jenga and took the dogs for walks. One day, we visited an antique shop and a French soap maker in Old Town Temecula. This was immediately followed with unlimited supplies of soft-serve with toppings. Pinky and me. I laughed my head off! Chalk drawings on pavement, chess championships and a colossal number of crayons kept everyone entertained. Pinky and Fiona received extra belly rubs and forbidden, under the table snacks. Seems eve...
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  207 Hits

Huge skies, endless vistas.


In screenwriting they call it POV when the audience sees something from a specific angle. This shot is perhaps more reminiscent of a cowboy on horseback but it is, in fact, on my daily walk. Tonight as I took this shot, I could swear I saw a face in the clouds. An anguished face looking backwards. Photo copyright SvD. Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  328 Hits