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Archives for December 18, 2013

Christmas Tree Care

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Gardening Of Rose Flower: Winter Tips

Winter season has harsh cold winds and breezes. Plants and shrubs are also sensitive to winter season. The cold and dry winds cause damage to plants as well. Some plants are a lot more perceptive to winter season. Roses, tomatoes, hibiscus and various ornamental plants are examples of plants that are susceptible to cold.

Among all the plants, rose plants need extra care and protection from the winter cold. Rose is a very beautiful and dear plant to many of us. Rose plants can be found in almost every backyard garden.

Rose plants are delicate and can be easily damages by severe temperature and weather changes.

It is essential to protect your garden rose plants when winter sets in. Rose gardening in winter needs extra efforts compared to other seasons.

Gardening Of Rose Flower: Winter Tips

There are some useful tips for rose gardening in winters. These tips would definitely help you to maintain the rose plants in your garden.

Some handy tips for gardening of roses will definitely be of help.

Cover the plant – Winter winds often cause damage to the rose plants that come in between their direction of flow. At this time, to protect your roses from the dry and parched wind, cover it from the sides. Use a cardboard box or a plastic box to cover the rose plant. This will protect the rose plant from the harsh winds. Keep the top open for the plants to utilize sunlight.

Clean the area – Trees and plants tend to shed their leaves in winter season. The garden is filled with dry leaves and stems of trees and plants. Rose plants are very sensitive to infections and diseases. The dry leaves and stems tend to have insect colonies residing in them. Keep the area near the rose plant clean to avoid any infection or parasite development on the rose plant. Cleaning the garden will make the garden look tidy and organized as well.

Water – Rose plants become dry and dehydrated in winter season. Water the plant regularly to keep it fresh and hydrated. The roots of the plant would not need to hunt for water deep in the freezing ground if you keep the soil watered. As we all know water is the source of functioning for all organisms. Rose plants also need ample amount of water for growth and flowering.

Cover the base – In cold temperatures cover the base of the rose plant with soil and compost. This provides support and warmth to the plant. It is essential to make a good layer that covers the initial part of the stem. This is a good rose gardening tip but needs a little extra effort. If the winter gets more severe, further cover the stem using a mulch layer. You can also make an underground trench to bury the rose plant. Only the top leaves and buds are exposed when the rose plant is kept in a trench.

Indoor Gardening – The rose plant can be moved in the house if the winter cold becomes very severe for the plant to survive. The maintenance of the plant increases once shifted inside the house. The advantage of moving the rose plant indoor is that it would receive the necessary warmth and would be protected from the winter winds. Keep the rose plant at some place where there is ample amount of sunlight. You may keep it near a door or window. Make sure it is not exposed to direct winter winds.

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Garden tips and stocking stuffers



Video: Chris Olsen: Perfect stocking stuffers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — THV’s lifestyle guru Chris Olsen has some great tips for your garden and easy stocking stuffers.

Scat, Cat

If you have cats digging around in your garden and using your flowerbeds and pots as a litter box then no worries. There are several things you can do! Start by removing all the droppings-cats go where their noses tell them cats have gone before. Follow up with a commercial cat repellent, to cover any smells left behind. Don’t expect the repellent to perform like Hercules; you really do have to start by cleaning up.

One the odor problem is solved, make it hard for cats to dig by covering any open soil with landscape cloth or a very loose mulch such as pebbles or bark nuggets. This leaves newly planted soil as the only vulnerable area. Cover it with chicken wire until the new plants have achieved fair size and can be further protected with mulch, and you should have the little dears thoroughly thwarted.

Perfect Stocking Stuffers

Lotion Bars:

It’s that time of year for the Christmas festivities to begin! We’ve got the perfect hostess gift for you this season, homemade lotion bars. You will need just 4 ingredients: beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, and essential oil. A soap mold will be used to create the bars. If your mold holds 4 bars, then fill one of the bars with equal parts of the above ingredients. Using a double boiler, melt the beeswax first. Once it has melted which may take a bit, add the olive oil, coconut oil, and several drops of the essential oil of your choice; we used honey almond. Once all ingredients have melted and have been stirred together, pour into the soap molds. Allow to set and pop them out once they’re ready. Packaging can be just as nice as the gift. First, we wrapped the individual lotion bars in waxed paper. Next, we added crinkle paper into a clear cellophane bag. Add the lotion bar and close with colored wire. Continue adding wire and wrap each piece around a pencil to create a curled effect. This is a fun way to add a pop of color instead of the usual ribbon. Add wired Christmas balls or Christmas sprigs for a nice touch. For a gift tag, take fun scrapbook paper and cut out shapes. Hole punch the tag and add it to the wire. Now you have a fun and useful hostess gift to take to your next Christmas party!


– Beeswax
– Olive oil
– Coconut oil
– Essential oil
– Soap mold
– Cellophane bag
– Crinkle paper
– Colored wire
– Scrapbook paper/ hole punch

Bath Salt:

Pamper yourself and the hostess of your next Christmas party by creating bath salts! All you need is sea salt, essential oil of your choice, and a pretty glass container with lid. Simply scoop the sea salt into the glass container. Add a few drops of the essential oil, secure the lid, shake, and enjoy! That’s it! Add Christmas ribbon or fresh greenery for a nice compliment to the bath salts.


– Sea salt
– Essential oil
– Pretty glass container with lid
– Christmas ribbon/ fresh greenery


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Leading Italian and Greek Terracotta Distributor, Eye of the Day Garden Design …

Leading Italian and Greek Terracotta Distributor, Eye of the Day Garden Design Center, Announces Its Deeply Discounted fermob Furniture and Eligibility for a Three-Piece

PRWEB.COM Newswire

Carpinteria, CA (PRWEB) December 17, 2013

To all outdoor holiday shopping enthusiasts, it’s time to mark your calendars for Eye of the Day Garden Design Center’s latest discounted extravaganza: 20% off of fermob furniture, a French outdoor garden furniture manufacturer that’s known for its luxe, high-end line that boasts both aesthetics and functionality.

The discount is valid for all fermob outdoor lounge furniture in-store, and it ends on December 24. Additionally, for those who spend $150 or more in-store, they are qualified to enter into a drawing for a three-piece bistro set that features a yellow table and two matching chairs, an approximate $650 value. The drawing for this set will take place on December 23, and one lucky winner will walk away with the perfect holiday gift for gardening – and lounging – hobbyists.

Example quote: “We’re always supported by our loyal customers, and SoCal is our home,” said owner Brent Freitas. “Without the support of our community, we wouldn’t be able to thrive and expand to Napa like we have planned for the start of 2014. So, I want to give a big thank-you to our customers and give someone a holiday gift that they can keep for themselves or gift to a loved one. What’s better than sitting outside, taking in the sights and sounds of nature? Get away from the TV and get back to old times, when good old fresh air was the way to wind down after a long day.”

Eye of the Day has been featured on major gardening sites, like, and Freitas was recently showcased as a gardening accessory expert on, in the article “Turn Up the Heat in Your Patio or Yard,” by Sarah Kinbar. The gardening guru has also worked with Tommy Bahama and Ralph Lauren to outfit the fashionable clothing lines with luxe gardening accessories, and Eye of the Day knows how to please any client – ranging from the private consumer to the landscape architect to the international clothing store brand.

Interested customers can visit Eye of the Day’s in-store site, located at 4620 Carpinteria Avenue, and store hours are from Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Driving directions can be found on, or customers can call 1 (800) 566-6500.

About Eye of the Day Garden Design Center

Eye of the Day Garden Design Center is a retail showroom that features more than an acre of high quality garden landscape products, including Italian terracotta pottery and fountains, Greek terracotta pottery, French Anduze pottery, and garden product manufacturers from America’s premier concrete garden pottery and decoration manufacturers. Eye of the Day is a leading importer and distributor of fine European garden pottery, and caters to private consumers, as well as landscape design and architecture firms from around the world.

To see what Eye of the Day Garden Design Center can do for your business, visit

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Hershey Gardens offers garden design competition for high school students

Hershey Gardens and Ames True Temper have created the Garden Design Scholarship Competition for students in grades 10-12 who are homeschooled or enrolled in a public, private or vocational-technical schools in Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder or York counties.


The Garden Design Scholarship Competition is being offered in an effort to provide an educational and career development competitive exercise for students who are interested in gardening, horticulture, landscape architecture, the arts and the development of public gardens as a community resource.

The first place team will receive $1,200 and will work with Hershey Gardens staff to install their design at Hershey Gardens.

Each member of the winning design team also will receive a one-year membership to Hershey Gardens.

Designs can be submitted by one student or teams of up to four students. Second- and third-place awards also will be given.

The deadline to register is Jan. 17.

Designs must be received by March 14.

For more information, go to or call 717-508-5968.

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US banks pruning branches, but Nebraska, Iowa bucking trend – Omaha World

In 2007, bank branches seemed destined for a bright new future, full of techno wonders that would delight, inspire and make a trip to the teller window as breezy as a Jetson family jaunt in the aerocar with the top down.

After all, it was an era that encouraged bankers to dream. The U.S. economy was full-speed ahead, and profits were fat and quarterly, thanks to the conceit that every American, no matter how feckless, needed to have a mortgage.

While the mortgage bankers were getting all the attention, and bonuses, the folks in charge of the retail side turned their attention to the humble branch. What was needed was deposits, to satisfy all the loan requests. One strategy, said Tony Plath, a banking professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was to compete with other banks based on the amenities offered in branches, where most people opened new accounts.

Many proposals made the rounds to amp up the headline factor. Waterfalls started appearing in some branches, along with fancy outdoor landscaping, coffee bars and Internet kiosks.

Push the fast-forward button from 2007 and things are much different. The financial crash of 2008 — mostly caused by bank speculation in the future cash flows of home mortgages extended to people with fictitious incomes and poor credit records — eliminated bank expansion plans and capital expenditures.

Ideas that seemed fabulous at the time were terminated as reinforcing the idea that banks made so much money in the lush years that they could waste some of it on trifles.

“The waterfalls, coffee bars and popcorn machines went out the window,” Plath said. “Things would never be the same for bank branches.”

Branches continued to be magnets for deposits, and still are to some degree, he said, but that is waning.

U.S. banks have closed about 800 branches in the past six months. Huge national chains such as Bank of America and Citigroup have been the leaders, as they struggle to get expenses in order after years of losses, TARP paybacks and bad loans.

Overall, U.S. banks have been dropping about 1,000 branches a year for the past few years; the total now stands at about 96,000.

It is a bit different in Nebraska. There were about 1,000 branches in 2004, and there were about 1,100 at last count, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It is the same with many other states with low populations and only a few large cities, such as Iowa, Missouri and South Dakota.

Nebraska banks didn’t suffer as much during the recession, and the state has many one-branch banks.

“We are still building branches,” said Rolland Johannsen, head of First National Bank of Omaha’s retail banking group. “They are mostly on a fill-in basis” or covering a geographic area that has achieved unexpected growth. First National still plans to provide amenities such as coffee bars and wireless Internet access.

And Johannsen doesn’t think branches are done for. “I have been in banking for 35 years, and for 35 years I have been hearing about the end of the branch.”

If there is a trend working against the bank branch, it can be found in cyberspace, in mobile and Internet apps. Internet banking at the dawn of the 21st century got one generation used to not having to visit branches. Now another generation has come of age in an era of mobile banking via smartphone and tablet.

Consultants at professional services firm Accenture said in an analysis last month that bank customer surveys found a 50 percent increase in mobile banking activity over the 12-month period; double- and triple-digit growth in online sales of traditional banking products amid falling sales in branches; and a strong trend of customers looking for suppliers other than their main bank for new financial services.

Most sobering for retail bankers, according to the Accenture analysis, is the growth in sales of those things that people once considered so confidential, important and complicated that only a long visit in a bank office would suffice:

Sales of mortgages via the Internet increased 75 percent while sales at branches fell 16 percent.

Online sales of auto loans nearly doubled while branch sales dropped nearly 10 percent.

Online sales also increased in checking, savings, personal and home equity loans and money market funds.

All of which is good for banks. Such sales require fewer people, less expense, more profit, more revenue from a standardized platform, and what manufacturers call throughput. Nationally, some of the largest banks have been responding as if such developments will take root.

Whether they’ll replace branches, however, still is an open question to some. None of the previous technologies supposedly wielding the executioner’s sword — the Touch Tone telephone, the ATM, the computer — significantly dented the branch count, First National’s Johannsen said.

“Customers found these technologies useful and convenient, and they relied on them to a degree, but they in no way replaced the branch; people just added these to their normal banking behavior,” he said. “Mobile may be different. We will have to wait and see.”

Bruce Paitz, a vice president at Lincoln-based Pinnacle Bank, recognizes the mixed message banks sometimes send with their investments in mobile and Internet banking which, at their core, are to encourage people to avoid the expensive-to-maintain branches.

“Here we go and invest all this money in the branch network, then we go and invest all this money in applications whose message is ‘avoid the branch network,’ ” Paitz said. “But the fact is, customers are embracing these technologies faster than could have been imagined.”

Things are moving fast indeed. Already deep into mobile and Internet banking, next on the block for Pinnacle, Paitz said, is tablet-computer banking. That comes in recognition of the mini-computers many people are carrying around, with screens bigger than a smartphone but more compact than a notebook. And each remote technology — mobile phone, Internet, tablet — requires its own software package, as the screens and displays of each device differ.

If remote technologies such as tablets don’t reduce branch visits, banks are at least hoping they can handle branch traffic in a fraction of the space — space which of course requires lighting, heating, cooling, insuring and securing.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Co., the fourth-largest bank in the nation and second in Nebraska deposit-share, is experimenting with branches as small as 1,000 square feet, or 80 percent smaller than the average of 5,000 square feet, said Kirk Kellner, the company’s regional president overseeing the Cornhusker State.

Such branches have so-called “smart ATMs” capable of taking deposits, dispensing one-dollar and five-dollar bills, and lobby-based bankers equipped with tablet computers, but far fewer tellers and far less back-office space for paperwork and office tasks.

“We are trying those out in Washington, D.C.,” Kellner said. “They very well might end up elsewhere.”

Some of the latest ATMs are even connected via video feed to a customer service center, where a teller appearing on the monitor will assist with questions, deposits, withdrawals and other routine matters.

Plath, the banking professor, said smartphone, tablet, mobile and small branches sum up the future of banking. The full service branch of the past? Forget it, he said; they are nothing but expensive, and not of interest to anyone but people about age 50 and older.

Switching to small branches with nothing but a banker or two to sell loans and investments and a smart ATM hooked up by video link to a customer call center for routine transactions is the new banker dream, he said.

“Believe me, banks say it all the time in their internal meetings, they just don’t say it in the media,” said Plath, who was a banker himself before entering academia. “They don’t want to tick off their older customers.”

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Waltham Voices: Ideas for holiday gifts for seniors

I had lunch recently with a group of women in their 60s and the conversation turned to holiday gifts and which ones we liked and those we didn’t.

Most agreed since they were downsizing their possessions that they didn’t want any more items such as vases, mugs, jewelry, books or clothes. Their favorite gifts were homemade baskets customized to their tastes such as knitting materials, favorite foods, art supplies, stamps, cards, packing materials, puzzles or puzzle books, scented and other types of candles, or bath products. New family photos were appreciated especially if they were framed. Memory books with or without photos were welcomed. 

When asked what their favorite gifts of all time were the responses included a case of wine, a weekend trip to a luxurious inn, a spa membership, a lifetime subscription to the New Yorker, gift cards, a Bose radio, a juicer, a Smartphone, a tablet, Cashmere scarves or sweaters, and tickets to a concert or play. And no one ever was offended, especially in leaner years, about receiving a gift of cash.

We then talked about gifts that we give to our parents and other relatives and neighbors who were in their 80s and 90s. Gifts of time were especially appreciated by this group. A granddaughter volunteered to come over weekly to change beds and cook dinner. Gifts to elderly neighbors included shoveling, lawn upkeep, taking out their garbage, cooking them dinner, or asking them to dinner. Most of us volunteered to take older family members who no longer drive to medical appointments or errands. Gifts to parents living in other states included: arranging for professional landscaping, paying for a year’s worth of haircuts, hiring people to shovel snow and walk pets. One mother in-law raved about a gourmet gift basket she received each month, and another was delighted with having her monthly utility bills paid.

Most of us also gave gifts that were practical, and increased both safety and mobility. Examples of these were: a wall clock or phone with bold, easy-to-read numbers, life lines, magnifying glasses, amplifying devices, and floor lamps that gave off high intensity light. Air conditioners, fans and safe mobile space heaters were also popular gifts. Warm clothing, shawls especially those with pockets, heated blankets, no-skid slippers, warm socks and sturdy pens that were easier to hold in arthritic hands were also popular choices. 

If you are in doubt about giving a suitable gift, ask. Some of us were surprised when we did. One woman asked for fancy teas and chocolate she couldn’t afford, another said she would be thrilled if her daughter would pick up her and her friends to take them to bingo and bridge games, a man wanted new sets of dominos, dice and playing cards, a baker wanted better cookie sheets and muffin tins, as well as assorted types of sugar. One of us cringed when she went into her uncle’s bathroom, so she spent an hour one day at Bed Bath Beyond and another hour putting up a new shower curtain, replacing worn out towels, and added a coordinated rug and waste basket, some bars of soap and lotions. We asked, how did he respond? He practically cried, she said. He grew up during the Depression and wasn’t used to updating his household items. She was glad she paid attention to her observations.

Ask yourself if a gift is age appropriate, is well thought out, or can fulfill a wish or need of someone. These are the gifts that will be appreciated and remembered.

Ann Murphy Fletcher is a Waltham resident.

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North Lebanon says farewell to longtime Supervisor Ken Artz

North Lebanon Township Supervisor Ken Artz marked the end of a 24-year stint as a supervisor at the board’s meeting this week.

“Thank you for 24 years of dedication to the township,” Supervisor Ed Brensinger said. “You’ve been a great leader and role model for those who have worked with you and for you during those years. The township is a better place, and you had a lot to do with that.”

Chairman Dick Miller also said he had enjoyed working with Artz and noted Artz’s propensity for suggesting valuable ideas.

For his goodbye speech, Artz thanked his fellow supervisors, as well as township manager Cheri Grumbine, township solicitor Fred Wolf and police Chief Harold Easter for their support during his tenure.

The seat held by Artz, who did not seek re-election this year, will be filled by Bruce Sattazahn.

In other business:

• In response to a request by Tom McCarthy, representing the Briar Lake Homeowners Association, for the township to vacate its rights to future use of a 50-foot right-of-way off Walnut Crest Drive, Wolf said the North Lebanon Municipal Authority wishes to retain the right-of-way for future sewer service.

The authority, according to Wolf, does not have a problem with the homeowners planting grass but would not approve of planting trees or shrubs with large root systems.

He advised the homeowners to present a landscaping plan, which he will review with authority members. Once that plan is approved by all parties, Wolf will draft an agreement for signatures.

• The supervisors adopted a resolution authorizing the township to apply for a grant through the Lebanon County Commission for the Marcellus Shale Grant Fund for construction of a new baseball field and stormwater improvements at the township’s municipal building. The maximum available through the grant is $25,000.

• The supervisors approved the transfer of $117,870 — the amount of the recent reduction in the required letter of credit for the Lenni Lenape Park construction — into the township’s capital improvement fund to be used as payment on the township’s building expansion loan.

• Glenn Lebanon Fire Co. Chief Brian Vragovich reported the township’s fire companies answered 32 emergency calls and participated in 11 training exercises in November, with 443 personnel hours recorded.

• Easter reported there were 544 police-citizen contacts in November, with 8,830 miles driven on patrol.

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Council OKs plan for downtown student apartments

The most underused and least dense block in downtown Lincoln will become an apartment complex for almost 600 students after unanimous City Council approval Monday.

The proposed complex, to be built on a parking lot south of the Gold’s Building, will also have first-floor retail that could include a specialty grocery store.

The developer plans to spend at least $46.5 million on the six-story building and the city would use about $8.1 million in tax increment financing for amenities that will help the public either directly or indirectly.

The developer, a partnership that includes a company that has built and operated student apartments across the country, is hoping to attract a specialty grocery store for about half the 45,000 square feet of retail space, said David Landis, director of the city’s Urban Development Department during a Monday night hearing on the redevelopment agreement with the city.

That’s enough space for a Trader Joe-type of business, said Carl Groesbeck, with Argent Group out of Chicago.

Argent and CA, which used to be called Campus Acquisitions, have formed a limited liability joint venture to develop the downtown block, between M and N streets and 10th and 11th streets. 

CA, also based in Chicago, has been successful in attracting small-scale grocery stores that work well with a student population, Groesbeck told the council. 

Campus Acquisitions has invested about $2 billion in buildings like this, including complexes at the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan and Purdue University, said Landis.

The multi-use building would include 200 two- to five-bedroom units that would have enough room for about 585 students. It would also include a second-story outdoor pool and indoor/outdoor exercise area. 

This developer is not asking the city for parking, like many other downtown developers have, said Landis.

They will be digging down in the rubble of an old building under the parking lot for pillars that will be used for the foundation of the building. That lower level will provide most of the 335 parking spots for the building, Landis said.

The developer would like to use a portion of the TIF financing for energy efficiency elements from solar panels to solar shades, according to the redevelopment agreement with the city.

The developer would be using LEED standards but not getting LEED certification, which costs $50,000, Landis said.

The developer is looking at a number of ways to have energy conservation and responsible green development, including harvesting rainwater for landscaping, said Groesbeck. They will also be using quality material on the outside and enclosing truck docks. 

“In general we have tried to be conscious of the environment and are hoping to add to it tremendously with this project,” he said.

“When you compare it to what we have now it will be a vast improvement,” said Landis.

The city plans to reserve about $811,000 in TIF funds  for projects in the city right-of-way near that block.

It might be used for protected bike lanes, for rain gardens, for the bus terminal, Landis said.  

The City Council would not vote on these specific projects, Landis said, in response to a question from Councilman Jon Camp about council control over the city projects.

TIF bonds are used for improvements that have some public benefit from widening streets to energy conservation.

The city then uses property tax revenue from growth in the property value due to the redevelopment to pay off bonds over a 15-year period.

The council approved changes in the comprehensive plan and the redevelopment agreement Monday night.

A vote to approve the TIF bond is scheduled for the council’s next meeting Jan. 6.

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