Micro-greens are fast and fun to grow. Whether you are growing these for their nutritional value or just as a project with kids, it will be a great experience. I have been gardening to some extend for most of my life. I have tried soil …
Not that I’ll see it again anytime soon, being from Michigan, but I have a love/hate relationship with the ocean. It has the ability to make you feel connected to other parts of the world I’ve yet to explore, which is a wonderful feeling. It’s beautiful, soothing, and awe-inspiring, but we literally have zero control of its power, nor the sea creatures we can’t see, ripe tides, tidal waves…the thought alone of everything that could go wrong gives me anxiety.
All over Bali I couldn’t help but notice all the signs posted for tidal wave shelters, and they convinced me I was going to die there. Before we departed for the island, a volcano blew its top there, but the locals said it happened all the time. It was nothing to worry about, and I actually believed them! (Turns out, they were right not the worry.) I went as far as to walk the ocean floor with a fistful of fish food. The current of the sea was so strong, I was almost whisked away many times, but the guide always pulled me down by the handle of my oxygen helmet. With tropical fish closing in on me and the pressure of the current knocking me around, like a cat with a toy, the ocean waters made me feel like any moment could be my last. The thought occurred to me more than once to follow my oxygen line up to the boat, but I figured I might as well live before I die. At least I’d die doing something cool, I guess.
As countries begin to go into lockdown again with an even stronger version of covid developing, I’m reminded of those same helpless feelings. I won’t be traveling around free willy nilly, but I will continue to enjoy the quality time I get with my children. Everyone says, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.” Trust me, I’m not missing anything. How can I? I’m homeschooling, spending every hour with them. I’m not wishing to push the clock forward either. Sometimes the prospect of being stuck in one place feels like a lot, just like it did when I was walking on the ocean floor. Then I remember how much we’ve accomplished together and all the memories we never would’ve taken the time to make without this virus.
Here’s a list of things we’e done to pass the time indoors while keeping our sanity:
I made cucumber sandwiches and used cookie cutters to shape them into flowers and hearts, hung twinkly icicle lights, made tea, and a fruit tart, while playing high tea YouTube music in the background.
I wrote down all the games from my childhood I could think of and all the games we had in the basement, then threw them into a bowl. We all took turns pulling a game out of the bowl and we all had to participate. We didn’t keep score, but we did laugh a lot. We played Super Nintendo, N64, ghost in the graveyard, skunk in the barnyard, drunks and pedestrians, Sing Star, Monopoly, Life…the list goes on forever, or so it feels. We still haven’t finished. There was pizza, soda, and beer involved. It was a lot of fun.
My kids wanted a haircut, so I gave it to them. I was formally trained as a cosmetologist, so when they asked for highlights, lowlights, and dyed hair, I happily obliged. My little girl came out with purple lowlights and blonde highlights while my son received blue hair with frosted tips. Yeah, they’re young, but literally nobody will see them during lockdown, so who cares? I even learned how to cut my own hair and it turned out really good, thanks to Brad Mondo. Not that crafty? Explore makeup and skincare. Take care of yourself the best way you know how that makes you feel good.
Have the whole family vote on their top 10 favorite songs for an entire week and see how it shapes up! Britney Spears was number one in those days, and in my house, nothing has changed.
-Discover old music
My children eat up all the crap I used to listen to when I was their age, and I don’t blame them. The 90’s and 2000’s was a fantastic time for the music scene. Despite the fact I was made in the 80’s (but didn’t exactly experience the 80’s) there’s plenty of music video’s to introduce them to. I forgot how good some of them are! Gosh, I miss VH1 and MTV.
-Eat around the world
I joined a foodie group on Facebook that taught me I’m missing things my tastebuds were missing out on. From Nasi Goreng to the Ugandan Rolex, I’ve learned so much and stretched my culinary skills to another level. Aim for a new country every week. There’s plenty on the internet to discover. I even convinced my husband his opinion of sushi was wrong! If you can’t cook, there’s at least take out available to curb your appetite for new things.
-Learn a new language
With our adoption pending, we’ve been learning Tagalog. I love decoding all the different forms of communication. I’ve learned parts of French, Spanish, Italian, German, and now Tagalog. I’d love to be fluent in all of them, but I’m not. I’m closest in German, though. I had some friends (who were expats) that conversed with me and actually put my learning into practice, but they moved back to Germany and I haven’t been able to practice in person with anyone since, but I’ve retained what I’ve learned. Check out the free app Memrise!
–Reconnect with people you used to know
Social media has its perks. Remember that guy that was looking for a girlfriend that you shot down? It’s cringeworthy, but it’s also kind of sweet. He grew up to find himself and a wife. He’s got himself a cute little family anybody could envy. It warms the heart to see people living their dreams with people that fill them with so much joy. Cyber stalk people to share in their joy. All those people that still make you angry? Please don’t look them up. Nothing good will come of it.
-Make a photo album
Theres a million pictures on the cloud, google, amazon…whatever it is you use to back up those digital photos. It’s time to print them and organize them. I want to make a scrapbook, detailing certain memories of my children, and gift it to them-either when they graduate, or when they have their first child…I still haven’t decided. I also want to make a scrapbook of each vacation we’ve ever taken.
-Write that book
Got a childhood trauma? Write it into a fictional world with characters that are pieces of you. That’s all Starting Over is. There’s a lot of personal experience I wrote into that book nobody will ever fully grasp, but me. It’s the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done. I can’t recommend this enough. The best part? You don’t even have to show anybody, but if you do, the feedback you receive will be overwhelming with how much people relate to it. “That’s exactly what I needed to hear” will make all the grief worth the work and anxiety.
-Actually read the book
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the movie Great Expectations. I’ve read the shortened version in high school, but I’ve never read the original version. I’ve been reading it (for what feels like an eternity) but I’m glad that I am. I hate depending on other people to tell me about something, and that’s what the shortened versions feel like. It’s very different.
-Read with your kids
So far we’ve read Harry Potter, Matilda, Charlottes Web, Indian in the Cupboard, The Witches, Cirque du Freak, Little House on the Prairie, and the Babysitters Club. When we finish the books, we watch the movies to compare and contrast. Not only do you get to relive childhood storylines, but you get to experience them again as an adult and watch your children experience them with the same Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a different experience to read those childhood books as an adult. It takes you back to a simpler time.
-Brew some homemade wine or liquor
With all this time and nothing better to do, I brewed some limoncello in my basement. It took a lot of scrubbing, peeling, and waiting. But after 6 months, the result speaks for itself.
-Take care of your body
Run a mile a day. Walk it. Do some yoga. Find something that makes you want to move. 15-30 minutes a day of some kind of physical activity will make all the difference in the way you process stress. I promise you’ll feel so much better inside and out. Get off the electronics and do something with your body. Drink actual water. Not diet soda, tea, or wine, but actual water. Be the person you look up to.
-Discover a new genre
I recently discovered Food Wars on Hulu and it’s hilarious. It’s not at all appropriate for children, but it did inspire me to branch out. I never watched an anime cartoon in my life, but now I can’t discount it. I went as far as to order an anime cookbook and the results are sensational.
–Look up the lyrics you never understood
“It’s not fair to deny me, of the crossed-eyed bear that you gave to me!” Those can’t be the words. The sentence in-of itself doesn’t make any sense. Knowing Alanis, it’s probably something much deeper and meaningful. There’s no way she’s that upset over a stupid bear.
There’s plenty of ways to make the most of the time you have with your family. I withdrew my kids from their school and now I’m their teacher because the thought of distance learning made me want to tear my hair out. The funny thing is, all of their friends either switched to a different school or are now homeschooled. I was the first to take the plunge into uncertainty, and I wish I would’ve taken it sooner. As it turns out, fear holds you back from the things that give you life. Take the plunge. The uncertainty all of the anxiety imagination brings with it does NOT outweigh the fruits life will bring you. Sure, there will be moments of doubt, but you gotta push through that and define a new normal. Growing pains are the natural consequence of change. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can begin to let go of the things beyond your control. If you’re at all feeling inadequate, or not at peace with yourself, it’s because you’re not embracing what it is you need to change.
This is instructions on how to turn a cheap smoke detector into a water leak detector. I do not have picture of my setup but I did find this video which shows the setup pretty well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umkw15FETno . Next time I visit the grandparents I will take a picture and add it here.
The basic concept is to take advantage of two things. 1) each smoke detector has a button you push to test that it works. 2) water works well, especially over short distances as a conductor of electricity. As the video shows you take two wires and solder them to the two connectors for the smoke detector test button. At the other end you keep the wires close together but not touching. You will secure these where you expect water to collect.
In my case I put the wires close together inside the crock in the basement. In order to determine where to put them, just watch how full the crock gets before pumping and put the wires just above that line. Within minutes of the pump failing the water will rise up and connect the wires creating a circuit. This will make the smoke detector test button trigger and the alarm will sound. For our grandparents house their crock is hidden under the stairs in the basement and so we ran the wire to the upstairs. The smoke detector is mounted upstairs. When their pump fails it triggers the smoke alarm. They have told me this has saved them several times from flooding. The great thing is that the smoke detector has a battery and so when the power goes out and the sump pump stops working it will still go off. If you do not have a sump pump maybe your sewer drains back up. In this case put the wires close together inside the drain. If water starts to come up or if a leak in the basement runs to this drain your alarm will go off.
Now this is only one use for this type of alarm. It can be setup anywhere water could leak. If you feel like spending more money you can get a wifi sensor and have it notify you if there is a leak. Of course if you power goes out wifi will also not work. As you can see here, sometimes the simplest solution is best.
For those of you who are just getting started with a website or maybe even those who are seeking to improve their existing website, I hope you find this post helpful. I want to cover some basic elements that I think every website owner should consider. I know when you first start out you probably have two primary thoughts on your mind. First, how do I get my content out there on the internet in an efficient, searchable manner. Second, how do I accomplish this with little time, money and technical knowledge. If this describes you then I invite you to read on. If not I am sure you have better ways to spend your time.
My first obstacle was determining requirements (What was my wife actually looking to do with the website). I am not sure if you can tell but this website is built with WordPress. I will state right now that this is not what Liv asked for. I feel she was very skeptical and maybe … ok probably mad at me for that fact that it looked like I was not listening to her when she told me what she wanted. She wanted a CUSTOM website. Complete freedom to create anything she could imagine. I think for an author who has just spent their entire lives creating something from nothing this seems very attractive. From a developer’s perspective, I will tell you this goes against best practices. Do not re-invent the wheel. I am sure you have heard that before. When you use an existing product it comes with a lot of functionality. It has been tested. New functionality many times will come from a whole team of developers. When you create your site from scratch every feature you want needs to be created, tested and supported by you. It is better to use existing software according to your needs and customize only where needed, as a last resort. I could have chosen Drupal, Joomla, or any number of other solutions (feel free to browse these as options). I chose WordPress for its ease of use and number of free plugins. It supports multiple languages and should have the basic features needed for a small website including email, forms, blogs, etc without needing to pay for a single plugin. The core software is free to use. I will warn you though that whether WordPress is great or a thorn in your side all depends on how it is setup and what plugins you choose. Mostly I went for very intentional design but simplicity so far. Ok, so lets start to jump into technical setup.
HOSTING: When deciding where your site will be hosted I find this depends greatly on what you will use to develop you website. Depending on whether you choose a content management system like I did or whether you choose a more basic website with static pages will determine where to host you site. It also depends on what features you want to support and how much you want to spend. I assume for most authors almost all hosting sites will provide you with the essential elements you need and that cost will be the main difference between each. So lets jump into what you need. I assume you will want your own domain name, such as beltanabookburrow.com. This will distinguish your side from others. A domain will normally be a once a year cost between $5-$20 on average depending on popularity of the name you choose and the .com, .org, etc ending. Some hosting sites will charge you a certain amount per month no matter how many people visit your site while others like AWS may be usage based and charge based on how many people are visiting. I cannot make any specific recommendations here without knowing an individual’s requirements for their site. My best recommendation is to continue reading and to do some cost estimations based on everything you want to have on your site, both now and a few years down the line. If you compare hosting sites make sure you are comparing including all of the features you want included. For specific questions fee free to tell me a little bit about what you are looking for and possible options you have looked at. Contact Page choose hubs in the dropdown!
PASSWORDS: Throughout the process of setting up a website please ensure you have a strong password. If you cannot remember all of the passwords then consider a password manager such as keepass. You can use a very long phrase to secure all of your password. Then for each site you can use a strong password. If you choose to use a common word or a simple password this opens your site up to hacking. Just remember that the cost of having an easy to remember password may just mean you website getting stolen or destroyed after years of work on it.
SSL CERTIFICATE: to secure your domain traffic. This is one I find many beginners skipping but it is probably the most important security point starting out after strong passwords. Let me explain. SSL, identified by that lock symbol before the url, encrypts every request you make to the server and back. Lets have a practical example. You are on a public wifi or even at home using your phone or laptop. When you navigate to a website without ssl and enter in a userid and password or any information this information, it is sent through the air to the router. This is not like traffic down a rode or a laser pointer. When the signal goes to the router it is just like your cell phone. The signal goes in every direction, in this case for 100 – 300 ft on average. If the router is within this distance it reads the information and communicates it to the server and then sends the response back, which is also transmitted through the air in every direction. If you do not have SSL encryption, this information is sent through the air in plain text. Anyone with a cell phone or laptop within range can listen to these data packets and view what you send in them. If you choose not to use SSL on your site you might as well save all of your important information on a thumb drive and leave it at McDonalds. User ids, passwords, personal information, etc. Every time you login to administer your website and enter your userid and password some can listen to the traffic and gain your credentials. This is a very common way identities are stolen. Please protect your users and have SSL enabled. If you choose wisely, the hosting site will have no charge or a one time charge for this feature. Again, if you need help here feel free to reach out and I can point you in the correct direction. Contact Page choose hubs in the dropdown!
EMAIL: Do you want your own email address at your website such as email@example.com? If so your hosting site will need to support this and to work fully your domain will need to have an MX (Mail eXchange record) so that emails coming to your domain make it to you. This depends greatly again on your hosting site what will need to be done. Some are simple while others are very complex. If you already have a personal email address and do not want to check both it is also possible to forward emails to your personal email or at least receive a notification when mail arrives to your website.
FORMS: Forms are commonly used as a means for users to contact you. This can also be a sign up form for subscriptions. Basically any time you want to collect information from your users you can consider forms. I would recommend using CAPTCHA on each form to prevent automated bots from filling out your forms and spamming your site. Of course, some more advanced bots may still be able to get past this. If Spam is an issue on your site please reach out and provide a description and I can try to provide some suggestions.
BLOGS: Many authors want to have their own blog. Do you want to provide posts only or also have feedback to your posts. If you have users leaving feedback, I would recommend selecting a site that allows you to review each comment before it becomes public. Remember, you are responsible for both the content you post on your site and what other people post on your site.
BACKUP: Why spend years building content and then lose it. If your site is ever hacked can you recover from this. Depending on your hosting situation, the hosting site may do backups for you. Do you know if backups are available and most importantly how to actually restore your system if it is damaged or destroyed? WordPress has many backup plugins available but most of these store the backup on the same server that WordPress works on. I would recommend storing your backups on a separate system so that if anything happens and the server crashes or is hacked you can recover from it. Many times backups can be scheduled weekly or month, etc. If this is something you don’t want to be responsible for make sure your hosting includes everything you need.
PERFORMANCE: I put this last since it starts getting very technical. Some topics to research which will be specific based on the Content Management System you choose are listed here. Caching, CDN (Content Delivery Network), Lazy Loading, Latency, etc. I will admit, even with my choice of WordPress there are always Pros and Cons. One of the biggest cons is that WordPress is based on PHP which is server side processing. With a traditional HTML webpage each page request is just delivering a static webpage to the user’s browser and is interpreted there. The downside is that the content is very specific and not dynamic. The positive is that website loading tends to be very fast. With PHP each request requires processing on the server and then content is delivered to the user’s browser and interpreted there. This server side processing takes longer but it mean many more options are available for the website pages. Here I chose functionality at the cost of performance. However, to mitigate this I have utilized caching as well as a CDN. Content that has not changed can be delivered from the cache and the server does not need to do unnecessary processing. For basic website performance reporting you can use this link.
Again, if you have questions or would like me to go into more details on a certain topic you are wondering about feel free to reach out. Contact Page choose hubs in the dropdown!