How to Start a Garden

1064287_43876726Its that time of the year again. Have you started your garden? I was looking at different sites to find out more about how to start a garden and found How to Start a Simple Garden – Even in an Apartment, from the simpledollar.com.

Growing your own food is a very rewardable way to save money and eat healthier. The Simple Dollar gives you 8 easy steps to help you achieve your goal of gardening. This is more for the beginner gardener than for the novice but good information none-the-less.

  1. Start small – very small. This is especially true if you live in an apartment and don’t have much space anyway.
  2. Focus on a very small number of different plants. What vegetable do you most enjoy?
  3. Choose a place with adequate sunlight – or get some natural light bulbs. If you have a window with room for potted plants nearby, this is the place to use.
  4. Research your plant and buy an appropriate pot. For example, I had one small cherry tomato plant in a single flower pot, and then a flat bottomed, larger pot full of cilantro.
  5. Use good soil. I reuse it for years, but the first batch you should get should be good stuff.
  6. Get a handful of worms. These can usually be had at a bait and tackle shop.
  7. Set a clear watering schedule. Find out how much water the plants need  and plan a clear watering schedule.
  8. Weeding. Surprisingly, weeding is almost nonexistent with such a situation, especially for the first year.

For the rest of the artice click here.

Sports’ Stimulus Package

Whether this new ‘stimulus’ package will help our economy re-correct itself remains to be seen. People and businesses everywhere have been affected by the economy’s downturn. Hopefully HackALife has helped you in cutting back and saving money in different areas of your life.

Golf has also taken a hit in the economy, particularly due to the loss of superstar Tiger Woods. Golf has seen a 60% drop in interest in the sport since Woods’ departure 8 months ago. But today, Woods returns. Check out EverydayQB for more info.

Even with the economy’s downturn, people with smart spending habits have survived. Here at HackALife, we will continue to provide you with tips and tricks to help you survive.

This nike commercial shows how much some golfers have enjoyed the absence of Tiger Woods. Hopefully some of our government’s attempts to restart the economy won’t cause the same kind of disappointment. Enjoy:

Health Benefits of Wine

I have often wondered about the health benefits of Wine. In most countries around the globe, a glass of wine is acceptable for dinner. Have you ever heard of the French Paradox? The French Paradox is the observation that the French suffer a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. The French dine on some of the richest foods in the world, yet the population as a whole is slim. Grapes and wine contain a natural antidote to MI and cancer, scientists report. This discovery could help explain the so-called “French paradox’ – the lower rates of heart disease and cancer in nations such as France, Italy, Spain.

In an article from MSN: Is wine good For you?Thanks to its alcohol content and non-alcoholic phytochemicals (natural occurring plant compounds), wine has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and slow the progression of neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. However, the amount of wine you drink matters tremendously. Drink more than what’s recommended, your health benefits are lost and your health risks go up.

It’s been well documented that moderate amounts of alcohol can raise your good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol) and thin your blood. This is thought to be one of the primary cardiovascular benefits from wine (red and white), as well as hard liquor and beer.

Non-alcoholic phytochemicals in wine, such as flavanoids and resveratrol, act as antioxidants and prevent molecules known as “free radicals” from causing cellular damage in the body.  Although some studies which have focused on the health benefits of resveratrol use much greater dosages than you’ll find in an average glass of wine, resveratrol has been shown to prevent blood clotting and plaque formation in arteries by altering lipid profiles and plasma viscosity. Findings from a recent study suggest that resveratrol can produce potent anti-thrombotic agents that can potentially improve cardiovascular health and lower the risk for coronary heart disease. In animal studies, resveratrol reduced tumor incidence by affecting one or more stages of cancer development.

All this information is good but there have been studies that show that binge drinking, causes coronary heart disease and other major health problems, so although one drink a day is good for you, when you over do it, it does the opposite and ends up causing damage.

Keep it healthy and don’t overdo it!

Say “I Love You” With A Song

Tomorrow’s the big day! Don’t forget guys. Most importantly, your significant other just wants to be with you! Find a romantic time tomorrow to dance. Here’s some of the top ten love songs of all time:

1. ELVIS PRESLEY-LOVE ME TENDER

2. BEN E. KING-STAND BY ME

3. WHITNEY HOUSTON-I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU

4. RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS -UNCHAINED MELODY

5. FRANK SINATRA -FLY ME TO THE MOON

6. AEROSMITH -I DON’T WANNA MISS A THING

7. FAITH HILL -BREATHE

8. PETER GABRIEL -IN YOUR EYES

9. NAT KING COLE/NATALIE COLE -UNFORGETTABLE

10. ELVIS PRESLEY-I CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOU

What is your and your sweetheart’s song? Let us know in the comments section. Happy Valentines Day!

Online Tools for Helping you Reach your Finanacial Goals

1. Cardtrack.comGet rid of credit card debt.

CardTrak has provided millions of consumers with timely information on credit cards and other payment cards via printed survey lists, newsletters, the national news media and the Internet. Use the calculator & Tools to determine how long it will take to pay off credit card debt.

2. Bankrate.comPay down your mortgage.

Compare rates, check out high-yielding CDs, and What to know before you refinance. Crunch numbers before choosing a new mortgage to find out the best option for you. Use their calculators to finesse your monthly budget, compare costs and plan for your future.

3. Savingforcollege.comSave for your child’s college education.

Calculate college costs, Compare 529 Plans, and Financial Aid basics. A site geared toward helping you save for your child’s education. Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst for one-year investment performance and for three-year investment performance.

“Our challenges will be met”

As I watched the Presidential Inauguration this morning, I was encouraged and challenged by the words of our new President, that those who have gone before us, the ones who have shaped and brought our nation to where it is today, are, “the risk-takers, the doers, the maker of things…who have carried us up the long rugged pass toward prosperity and freedom.” It is the men and women of our great country, the farmers, the workers, the people of our cities and towns, that have made this nation great.

We have lived, breathed and grown up on the promise that we have been given, “the God given promise that all our equal, all our free and all deserve the chance to purse their full measure of happiness.” Hack-A-Life is about finding ways to make your life better, to make choices and decisions that give you the opportunity to pursue your measure of happiness and to better our world through choices and decisions. These decisions and choices that we make are not without risk. But as President Obama has said, “the risk-takers, the doers, the maker of things…who have carried us up the long rugged pass toward prosperity and freedom”.

A willingness to take a risk, to put faith in the goodness of people and to be ‘the maker of things’, ones that spur on towards improving our world will be the trademark of this nation. We will ‘outlast’ and outwork other nations, we will adapt and change, we will improve and invent, overcome and thrive.

Our commitment as a nation to make wise choices in our lifestyles, with our money, with our time and in our families will be the standard by which this next phase of our nation will be determined. But if we aspire to change, if we hope for progress, we must look for, “a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves….it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all”. What will be the legacy, not only of President Obama, but of this great nation?

What I Learned At Disneyland–New Year’s Style

This past week I was in California for a family wedding and we took the opportunity to visit the happiest place on Earth on one of the happiest days of the year…New Year’s Eve. It was an amazing experience with all of the rides and streets of Disneyland still decorated in their Christmas attire and the mood and excitement of all of the people there to celebrate was hopeful and anxious to begin a new year, a year full of new hopes, new dreams and new adventures.

Since we were only spending one day at Disneyland, we decided to get everything we could out of the day. We arrived at the park at 7:30AM and didn’t leave until the NEXT YEAR…midnight on January 1st! We spent approximately 17 hours in Disneyland and got the most out of everything that Disneyland AND California Adventures had to offer. I learned a lot of things during those 17 hours that will help me this New Year…here’s a list of a few.

1. 17 Hours is a long time to do anything: We raced through our morning, getting onto all the big rides while the lines were short. About four in the afternoon, we had done all the rides we could and we needed a nap. We managed to last the night, but I realized we could’ve paced ourselves a little better. Resolution Lesson: PACE YOURSELF! Resolutions are meant to be lasting changes to your lifestyle. Start small and simple and don’t put too high of expectations or commitments on yourself that you wear out too fast.

2. Have A Plan: We had a great strategy at Disneyland and we worked well together to accomplish our plan. While there were bumps and adjustments that we needed to make, we were able to respond well and continue to enjoy ourselves. Our plan was an important framework within which we then operated and enjoyed our day. Resolution Lesson: Have a plan this year for some goals or things you want to accomplish. It doesn’t have to be a day by day schedule or a high, lofty and constricting goal, but think about things you want to experience or do this year and lay out steps to accomplish that goal.

3. Life Can Be Really Fun: Even with the stress and fatigue we felt as the New Year came closer and closer, we still danced and had a fun time. The atmosphere at Disneyland was electric. People were dancing down Main Street, crowd attendants were doing disco with their safety lights and everyone was having a good time, despite the fact we were being herded like cattle around the park. Resolution Lesson: Don’t forget to take time to have fun this year with family and friends. Life is too short to be lived with a furrowed brow. As many problems as there are in the world and potentially in your life, sometimes laughter, dancing and time goofing off can be a great remedy for that stress.

4. You’re Never Too Old To Dream:Disnyeland is a magical place for all ages, stirring emotions and igniting hopes that things will get better. The only way things improve and get better is by taking action, and action starts with a dream, a vision. Its okay to shoot for the stars. Its okay to dream. Resolution Lesson: SHOOT FOR THE STARS when its comes to your hope for your life and your family. Work towards your goals long enough and THEY WILL become reality!

Have Yourself A Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Hackalife! We hope you are with friends and family during this time and are safe and at peace during this holiday season.

Hopefully our Christmas posts have helped you during this holiday season. Let us know how we are doing and how we can improve in give you useful ideas, tips and tricks to making life cheaper and easier. Email us at deanna@hackalife.com or leave comments on one of our posts.

As you’re with family and friends this Christmas, no party or celebration is complete without some great Christmas songs. There’s nothing like some of those old time Christmas songs and performers to set the holiday mood. Even as I write we’re watching one of those old time classics, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Here’s a list of some of those most popular Christmas classics on the radio, from AJC:

1- “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” Burl Ives 1963

2- “Jingle Bell Rock” Bobby Helms 1957

3- “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” Brenda Lee 1958

4- “The Christmas Song” Nat King Cole 1946

5- “White Christmas” Bing Crosby 1942

6- “Happy Xmas/War Is Over” John Lennon 1971

7- “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Andy Williams 1963

8- “Please Come Home For Christmas” The Eagles 1978

9- “Feliz Navidad” Jose Feliciano 1970

10- “All I Want For Christmas Is You” Mariah Carey 1994

Keep an eye out for some exciting new things from Hackalife. We’ll be doing some give-aways, new and interesting material and some great product reviews! Merry Christmas!

5 Things To Do When You’re Snowed In

It’s definitely winter here in our part of the woods. We’ve had snow for the last week and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. Combine some ice and freezing rain and we’ve been stuck inside our home for the last few days. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t getting a little stir crazy! Stressed out about weather, travel, buying chains, scrapping off ice, incessant boredom, etc. is something that a lot of people face during the holidays.

Isn’t it ironic that during one of the most ‘happiest seasons of all’ there can be so much frustration at airports and on highways? Is it simply a state of mind or do external forces control moods and anxiety levels?

Its probably a little bit of both, but since we’re not going anywhere, here are 5 things you could do to lighten the holiday mood and make the most out of the rough weather:

1. Count the snowflakes: Sure to bring hours of entertainment and promote keen eye sight as well as help your kids with math. Make sure to differentiate between snow, hail, sleet, freezing rain, ice or just rain. Check out the National Snow and Ice Data Center for frequently asked snow questions.

2. Clean your entire house, two or three times: Take the extra opportunity inside to deep clean your house. A great holiday tradition, scrubbing toilets and sinks can bring your family a tremendous amount of holiday joy!

3. Play every board game in your house until you’re bored yourself: As fun as chess and parcheesi can be, they have their limits.

4. Keep an eye out for Santa Claus: He may have to get an early start this year with all of the traffic delays and weather cancellations. Check out KGW for traffic and flight delays in Oregon.

5. Eat all the food in your house!: Since you’re sitting around with nothing to do, why not eat? Its what I do! Hours of entertainment with lots of rewards! Extra pounds to keep you warm during the crazy weather.

Let us know if you’ve got some ideas…because we’re running out of things to do!

A White Christmas?

One of our Christmas traditions is to snuggle up next to the fire, grab some hot chocolate and watch one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made: White Christmas. We laugh, we cry, we sing along…it is a Christmas memory that will forever be a part of our holiday tradition.

Having those special holiday traditions are wonderful and meaningful for kids as they are growing up. Going through college and ‘growing up’ I still get excited when thinking about Christmas time and the wonderful events and memories that are made each year.

This year is extremely special, not only because we were out of the country last year during Christmas time, but because we actually have a chance at a White Christmas!!! The snow is falling consistently in our neck of the woods and I can’t wait until next Thursday for the chance at a White Christmas.

But more than that is the nostalgic and warm feeling of knowing I’ll be with family and friends that I love and care about that we can make special memories together as we celebrate. What are some of your Christmas holiday traditions?