Courtesy of Barb Guiden & Paulanne Peters

LANDSCAPING MISTAKES TO AVOID Having a magazine worthy yard is something many strive for, but due to a number of circumstances many fall short. There are a few simple things that anyone can do to start on the path to a picture-perfect yard. First, use lawn ornaments sparingly. While those toads, gnomes or mushrooms are cute and add colour where you may not be able to plant a colourful flower, too many can become a distraction. Aim for a few bigger and bolder pieces or groupings of three to five similar smaller items as they will be a lot more appealing than an abundance of mis-matched pieces. Next, ensure you’re mowing the lawn correctly. Lowering the blade on your lawn mower won’t necessarily cut down on your lawn maintenance in the long run. By cutting the grass too low, you may actually cause it undue stress which could lead to weaker blades that are more susceptible to weeds, diseases and pests. The ideal length for most grasses is two to four inches. Finally, if you’re planting anything, be sure to read the tag which tells you what conditions (sun, shade, drainage, etc.) are ideal for that particular plant. Trees, shrubs, plants, flowers and vegetables all have different needs and you’ll be able to find something that will fit in the spaces in your yard. If you don’t want to commit to planting something in the ground, containers, baskets and the like are all options as well and can help you determine whether a certain plant would thrive in a particular area or not. MICROWAVE CLEANING HACK Avoiding turning the oven or stove on during the hottest days of the year often means cooking and reheating leftovers in a microwave. And unfortunately, that can lead to spills, splatters and other messes. A quick and easy way to clean the interior of your microwave is to place a cup of water in the center of the turntable (in a microwave safe dish) and heat it for two to five minutes. The steam will loosen bits of grease and debris which can easily be wiped away with a microfiber cloth. For harder to remove debris, add a tablespoon of vinegar, lemon juice or baking soda to the water before you microwave it.

WORKPLACE JOKES

Why did the employee get fired from the calendar factory? He took a day off.

Phil walks into his boss's office one day and says, "Sir, I'll be honest with you. I know the economy isn't great, but I've got three companies after me, and I'd like to ask for a raise, respectfully." After a few minutes of haggling, the boss finally agrees to give him a 5 percent raise, and he happily gets up to leave. "By the way," the boss asks as Phil leaves his office, "which three companies are after you?" Phil replies, "The electric company, water company, and phone company."

Why did the scarecrow win a Nobel prize? He was out standing in his field.

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