Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Fourth of July and Trivia Answer!

We hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July this year!  Here is the answer to your trivia question.

Answer: Vermont
The other 10 were: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. The Colonies became the first 13 states. Vermont became the 14th on March 4, 1791.

Did you get it right?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Get Outside No Matter Where You Are

Do you want to get outside, but you are not sure where to do it? There are many ways to explore the outdoors even if you live in a city. Apartment Therapy has your list of ways to become "outdoorsy" no matter where you live.

1. Camping at home
Got a backyard? Then you've got the perfect bear-free zone in close bathroom distance for creating a fun camping spot for yourself or the whole family. Pitch a tent, drag your favorite blankets and mattresses outside, build a fire in a fire pit and enjoy a night of staring up at the stars (until you get tired of being outside and can slip back inside to sleep).

2. Forest bathing
In Japan, they have Shinrin-yoku, which translates to forest bathing. It basically means walking through a forest and immersing yourself in the aromatic smells of nature, even for a short time. If you happen to live near a forest, bathe away! But if not, find your own little spot of nature you can cell phone-free walk through, paying close attention to smells and textures. It could be a local park, a botanical garden or even your own backyard if you've planted lots of lovely flowers and other smell-good things in it.

3. Urban hiking
Grab a friend, pack a light bag, pick a within-walking-distance destination and do what I like to call urban hiking — a longer-than-usual jaunt through and past the same streets you drive past every day, going slower and pausing to take in sights, smells new scents and notice things around you. If you live in a hot environment, don't do this in the heat of day (in fact, don't do any of these activities at noon if you live in a hot zone). And though figuring out the best path to get to where you're going is part of the fun, remember that not every city in the world is super walker-friendly; be extra vigilant crossing streets and don't listen to music, rather paying attention to the sounds around you. And take these things with you.

4. Meetup for an outdoorsy thing at your own pace
We mentioned the website Meetup in the last exploring post (we swear they're not paying us!) but they are a great way to explore more of the outdoors in a way that you might find enjoyable, whether that's going kayaking with new friends or going on an outdoor photography excursion. Find the thing that makes you excited to be outside and do that.

5. Find a foraging class
Are you a foodie that prefers being in a kitchen than in the wilderness? Find a foraging class where you live or in a nearby bigger city. It's amazing the free plants to eat there are out there for the taking, and it'll make you view your surroundings in a whole new way.

6. Birding and bugging
You can find a bit of nature just outside your door, even if you live in a big urban city! Buy or borrow a bug or bird book, grab a magnifying glass or binoculars and marvel at the flora and fauna that exists even among the sidewalks and concrete. Just don't pick up anything you don't recognize and don't disturb any snoozing creatures!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Best Natural Cleaner For You

What natural cleaner do you have in your home? Apartment Therapy has some great natural cleaners that are budget friendly. The list below includes various cleaning items for areas in your home. There are even cleaning items that are good for your home and for yourself. Keep reading to learn more!

A cheap, effective cleaner that renders my bathroom unusable due to the danger of asphyxiating on dangerous chemical vapors or an effective, natural cleaner that costs so much that I have to downsize or take on roommates to afford it simply will not cut it. Fortunately there are other options! Here's a list of great, inexpensive cleaners that I use in my own home.

1. This Homemade Citrus Cleaner is amazing! It's a bit of an investment in time, but as it's made from discarded citrus peels and plain white vinegar it costs less than a dollar for the whole batch.

2. Barkeeper's Friend is only $2.00 a canister and has a dozen uses. It's the only thing that gets the stains off the bottoms of my le Creuset, so I'm definitely a big fan.

3. Bleach, another multi-tasker. Great for whitening laundry, removing stains, and sanitizing kids' and dogs' toys (diluted of course). I prefer the chlorine-free biodegradable Seventh Generation Bleach, it's only $4.49 a gallon and lasts forever!

4. CitraSolv Degreaser is essentially a highly concentrated version of our Homemade Citrus Cleaner, which makes it perfect for cleaning heavy grease stains on driveways and in garages, as well as removing permanent marker and oil based paint from spots where they don't belong. For someone without children it is surprising how often I need to clean up paint/marker/crayon from walls and furniture, I get a little enthusiastic with my projects!

5. Earthstone Kitchen Scrub Stones are like pumice stones for your oven. They're $3.95 for two stones, which will last through many cleanings of your oven, range, broiler, and even your Pyrex.

6. Now, you'll have to hear me out on this one. At about $18 a bottle, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap doesn't appear to be cheap, but the 32-ounce bottle goes a long way and can essentially clean anything in your home, including your very own body. Really, you can use it to wash the dishes, mop the floor, do the laundry, cleanse produce, and yes, wash your hair and shave your legs too. Plus it comes in eight great scents, including my favorite, unscented (I know, I'm pretty wild!).

7. Good old-fashioned 20 Mule Team Borax is cheap (under $4.00 a box), and performs one of my favorite tasks, cleaning the machines that are supposed to be doing the cleaning. It kills mold and gets rid of mildew smells that might lurk in the washing machine and freshens a less than fresh smelling dishwasher, plus in its more traditional function as a laundry aid it softens water and adds to the effectiveness of detergent.

8. Up & Up Floor Sweeper Cloths are meant to be a replacement for a Target brand floor sweeper, but I tend to simply use them on their own to dust surfaces and occasionally to "foot mop" the floor. They're $3.59 for 16 cloths and perfect for times when you suddenly need to tidy up because someone is going to stop by. I also like to slip one in my suitcase when I travel so I can dust off my shoes during my trip, it's amazing how dingy a pair of black shoes can look when you've been wearing them several days straight!

9. Microfiber Towels ($9.88 for 18) are great for cleaning and polishing smooth surfaces. They're particularly good at achieving a streak-free finish on shiny surfaces like the glass front of your microwave or oven. Plus, they're reusable, which is good for your wallet and your conscience.

10. Magic Erasers are a guilty little secret of mine. I've been fascinated by them for years, ever since a college chemistry professor explained how the open-cell foam pads are created, it's cleaning and it's science! I hate that they're disposable, but I absolutely love how effectively they clean difficult stains without added cleaning agents. They're only $2.69 for a box of two, which is great as I only tend to use about one a year for cleaning scuff marks on the walls and floors!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Budget Furnishing Tips

You are out of school for the summer time to have some fun. This means that it is time for an old past time. Yard sales will be popping up throughout your town, and we have found some great purchases that can save you money in the future. Grab your friends and head to the yard sale to save your household money this summer. Apartment Therapy has some great ideas for your summer vacation.

1. Rugs. Rugs are notoriously difficult to sell secondhand, which is why you will see plenty of them around at yard sale time. Head out for a few Saturdays, you are bound to find a new rug for the kids' room for under $30. I found one recently, a 5x7 foot 100% wool rug for $5! It had been passed over by others because one small corner was a little frayed - a problem easily solved by tucking it under a crib.

2. Furniture: Do you need to furnish your apartment? Yard Sales are the perfect opportunity to find a cheap piece of furniture for your new home. 
3. Old Music: Have you always wanted an old record player or old music from your childhood you forgot about? This is the perfect place to find that old music for a decent price.
4. Entertainment: Yard Sales can be a great source of entertainment and a fun afternoon with friends. You never know what treasures you are going to find!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

We just wanted to wish the moms out there a Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Finals Study Tips

Are you prepping for finals? Here are some great tips on how to ace your finals! Read these over before you start making a schedule and prepping for the dreaded week of papers and exams. You can learn more at US Weekly.

1. Count your way forward. Many students, when starting to think about preparing for finals, look at the dates of their finals, then count their way back. "Biology final on Wednesday? That's two or three studying days needed. I guess I'll start hitting the books on Sunday." A far better idea is to count up from the day the study questions are handed out (or if your prof doesn't bother with such niceties, a week before the exam) to the day the exam will take place. "Seven days? Then I'll divide the course into sevenths and study two weeks' worth of lectures each day."

2. Shed some commitments. You'll find you have a lot easier time studying if you make extra time for it. Put off any unnecessary social obligations or family commitments. And, if you're working, try if at all possible to take 10 days off for final exam period (or at least trim your work schedule). Even a few strategically placed extra hours can make the difference between doing just OK on finals and doing a really great job.

Best-Kept Secret. If you can finish your term papers the week before the last week of classes, it'll free loads of extra time to study for finals.

3. "Triage" your study time. Some students think they should spend equal amounts of time preparing for each of their finals. Instead, proportion your study time to how hard the final is likely to be and how well you already know the material.

[Read how colleges are trying to take the stress out of exam time.]

4. Figure out what's covered. One of the most important things you need to be clear about is what materials are going to be tested on the final. Are readings and discussion sections included, or is the final going to focus almost exclusively on material from the lectures? Is the final going to concentrate on materials since the midterm or is it going to be a comprehensive or cumulative final? Knowing the extent—and the limits—of the exam will make it much easier to organize and structure your studying.

5. Decide if it's going to be a grand tour or lots of local attractions. Professors have two strategies in making up finals. Some profs design a single, big question or two; other professors give a series of more focused questions, each covering some single issue in the course. Before you start studying, make sure you've figured out your professor's test-construction strategy.

[Learn how to relax and ace your exams.]

6. Torture the samples. In the typical college course, there are many resources available that give you specific information about what questions will appear on the final. Sometimes, the professor or TA simply drops hints about what "would make for a good final exam question." But other times, the questions are right there in the open. A study guide, sample final, or set of review questions can often furnish questions amazingly close to the actual exam questions.

7. Study with a group only if it makes sense. Many students believe (mistakenly) that a study group always affords an advantage: more brain power plus peer pressure to crack the books. This works well when your study buddies are at least as smart as you. Exam time isn't charity time.

8. Cram with the professor (or TA). One of the best—and at some colleges, most under-used—resources is the review session. Here the professor (or sometimes the TA) will give you a window into the final. He or she might sum up the high points of the course, do sample questions or problems, give study tips, or sometimes just divulge about how he or she was thinking about the topics of the course. In any event, it's the single biggest help in studying for the final.

9. Leverage your notes (when allowed). Increasingly, professors are allowing students to bring their notes and books to the exam. Rather than the trick question, "gotcha!" kind of exam, these professors want to see how well you can express your ideas, given the data. Be sure your notes are in tip-top shape if you're given this chance.

10. Read the instructions—and make a plan. When you get to the exam and get your test sheet, take the time to carefully survey the format of the test. How many questions are you being asked to answer? Is there a choice? How much does each part count? Then make a (tentative) plan—right up front, before you start working—of how much time you're going to devote to each question.

4-Star Tip. Don't waste too much time outlining your answers, writing down formulas you've memorized, or (when given a choice) starting a question and then stopping and starting another question. You're being graded on the quality of your answer, not on notes to yourself or false starts.

11. Be sure to develop your answers fully. Many students don't realize that, on essay exams, part of what's being graded is how well you develop and explain your answer, not just how correct it is. Consider explaining your points in more detail so that someone unfamiliar with the answer would know, just from what you say, what the answer is.

12. Make it easy on the grader. In many courses, the professor or other person grading will have 70 finals to read in a space of two or three days, which means about 10 or 15 minutes per exam. You're more likely to get a good grade if you: make clear which question you're answering; begin to give your answer in the very first sentence of your essay; show all work in a problem-based exam; and, above all, write neatly.

13. Pace yourself. Two or three hours is a long time. Think of the final exam as a work session, divided into a number of sub-sessions. Take a few-minute break between each question or part. Approach each question separately from the rest.

14. Don't panic too soon. In three hours, confronted with a number of questions of varying degrees of difficulty, there are bound to be ups and downs—times you're feeling better, and worse, about how the test is going. Ignore such instantaneous feedback. Most tests are designed to have some harder questions, and in any case, such self evaluation is often wrong.

15. Stay 'til the bitter end. It's amazing to see, but many students leave before the exam is over. That's never a good thing to do, since there are always problems to be checked over or essays to be added to or proofread. Even making a single correction to a problem, or adding a single point to an essay (don't be afraid to pencil a paragraph into the margin or on top of the page), can spell the difference between a good grade and a not-so-good grade.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moving to the Big Ten

The University of Maryland is moving to the Big Ten Conference.  The University wants to celebrate this historic move with celebrations, events, and activities.  The move will officially take place on July 1st, 2014.  You can learn more here.

The University of Maryland today announced plans to commemorate the historic move to the Big Ten Conference. The "THINK B1G" plan includes a series of special events, campus celebrations, and promotional activities to mark the University's entry into the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2014.

"The move to the Big Ten Conference is a university-wide effort," said President Wallace D. Loh. "It's more than a change in athletic conference. Arts, academics, research – all will be enhanced by this transition."

"For our alumni, for our fans, for our students and for the entire university community, this is an exciting time to be a Terp," said director of athletics Kevin Anderson. "I could not be more excited to start competing in the Big Ten Conference."

Key components of the plan, which was developed by a university task force that represented all six divisions of the university plus athletics, include:
Annual Red-White Spring Football Game – This college football tradition will be played under the lights on Friday, April 11 at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, and will feature Big Ten Network t-shirt giveaways and post-game fireworks.
Fearless Ideas Events – A series of events for alumni and friends featuring special 'THINK B1G' programming. Events include Maryland in Manhattan, April 24; Fearless Ideas Rockville, May 1; and Fearless Ideas Arlington, May 8.
"From the Gridiron to the Battlefield: Progress in Understanding and Mitigating Brain Injury" – Taking advantage of UMD's position as the closest institution in the Big Ten to our nation's capital, a special Traumatic Brain Injury Research Forum will bring together University of Maryland researchers with the head of the CIC's Traumatic Brain Injury Research Collaboration.
16th Annual Maryland Day – This annual event draws over 100,000 alumni and friends to College Park to enjoy over 450 exhibits, events and performances. On Hornbake Plaza, there will be autograph sessions with the football and men's and women’s basketball teams, plus an interactive tent with the Big Ten Network, plus plenty of THINK B1G giveaways.

THINK B1G Campus Celebration – A two-day celebration marking the official joining of the Big Ten Conference, June 30-July 1. Includes a special event in Baltimore and a Big Ten Night at Nationals Park on June 30, and a campus celebration featuring food, giveaways and a special program featuring President Loh, Kevin Anderson, and other surprises on July 1.
Destination Maryland: THINK B1G – A new conference for influential high school guidance counselors from Big Ten markets is planned for summer 2014.
Campus-wide Launch Event – On first day of classes, September 2, a campus-wide celebration event featuring B1G games and giveaways.
Homecoming Weekend – Special inaugural season merchandise, commemorative memorabilia, new signage, a Homecoming Festival on McKeldin Mall, and much more is being planned for Homecoming Weekend, October 16-19, all around the 2014 theme – THINK B1G.

Special Unveiling of a new THINK B1G Ice Cream Flavor - A special commemorative B1G ice cream flavor will be ready for unveiling at the July 1 on-campus event, courtesy of the chefs in Dining Services.

In addition, a comprehensive two-month THINK B1G marketing campaign is planned to include outdoor billboards, campus signage, social media marketing, contests and giveaways
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