Give the Gift of Education this Holiday Season

I recieved an email from Mama Lucy Kamptoni this week . She was excited to share that out of more than 100 schools in the Arusha district, Shepherds Junior school scored 2nd in class 4 national exams, only 2 points behind the top school.

This year’s TweetsGiving, a global gratitude event sponsored by Epic Change, benefitted Mama Lucy’s school in Arusha, Tanzania. Shepherds Junior currently serves about 350 students. During this holiday season you can help the school offer the opportunity for a great education to even more children.

Choosing one of the gifts below will help a child attended the shool. Your generosity will benefit children who have lost their parents or come from families that cannot afford basic needs.

Each of these items will help a child recieve a good education for a full year:

  • $25 – School Uniform
  • $50 – School Supplies
  • $100 – Daily Porridge and Lunch (annual meals)
  • $250 – A Good Education (annual tuition)
  • $500 – A Loving Home for a Child (annual boarding)

All of these gifts are avialable in the Epic Change Gift Shop.

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Take Along Convenience and Comfort with Outdora Picnic Baskets

Picnic Basket

Picnic Basket

Just before my wife and I were married someone was kind enough to gift us a picnic basket at our wedding shower. It has proved to be an appreciated and much used gift. Not only is it ideal for picnics, it has gone with us on several out-of-town excursions and served us on a couple of trips to the mountains.

Picnic baskets are a convenient and enjoyable way to get out of the house from time to time. I love sharing a lunch with my family at a local park or at a road-side attraction.

Outdora encourages us to take the convenience and comfort of indoor dining into the great outdoors. Their line of picnic baskets, backpacks, shoulder totes, picnic blankets, coolers and wine carriers aims to provide all the essentials to enjoy food, fun and fresh air.

The classic style of Outdora’s gourmet picnic baskets brings an elegant aspect to outdoor fun. There’s picnic baskets for two people or for four in natural wicker finish and silver. Attractive cloth lined baskets are available. Certain baskets feature straps for retaining plates and utensils.

Insulated picnic totes and coolers offer a more modern look. They’re perfect for keeping sandwiches and fruits cool. Picnic shoulder packs and totes are a convenient means to carry picnic items, games, books or art supplies to a favorite outdoor spot.

Wine carriers and coffee totes can be taken alone or as a complement to a basket. These durable carriers come in a variety of colors of styles. Outdora even offers wine glasses and corkscrews.

Whether you want to make a day-trip with the family, go camping with friends or stir up a little romance with that special someone, Outdora has the right picnic basket for the task. Their prices are reasonable, and their high-end picnic gear features superior craftsmanship and lifetime guarantees.

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This is a sponsored post. Image used with permission.

Three Ways Good SEO Ensures Readers Find Your Blog

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a set of tools and techniques for increasing a blog’s likelihood of being noticed by search engines such as Google, Yahoo, etc. Effective SEO helps search engines categorize and index blogs with accuracy and speed.

SEO must be used accurately. There’s a happy medium between coming across spammy and writing content no one will ever see. Good SEO ensures readers will find your blog. Here are three ways to use Search Engine Optimization to your advantage:

1. Write interesting and concise post titles using keywords.

Search engines pay special attention to blog post titles. Titles should clearly state what the post is about both to be useful to readers and to grab the attention of search engines.

Cute post titles might catch a reader’s eye, but often don’t get the post read. When busy or pressed for time (and who isn’t?) potential readers don’t have the leisure to click through to posts with cute titles without a good sense of the usefulness of the post.

Tip: People love “top ten” lists.

2. Write keyword-rich content.

Use keywords in every blog post, but always write with your readers in mind. Keywords should not be overused. Not only does it make for poorly written copy, it can also get a blog labeled as spam by search engines and destroy your credibility.

Search engines lend more weight to the leading words in a post. Placing keywords near the beginning of a post makes it more likely to rank well. It also gives readers a strong sense of what the post is about. The first couple of paragraphs are essential to holding readers’ interest.

3. Use keywords in anchor text.

Linking out from a blog not only provides readers with additional information but builds relationships with fellow bloggers. Most times it’s obvious where to place the link — names of individuals or organizations for example. Sometimes an action word makes a good fit for the anchor text. Whenever possible, keywords should be used. A keyword linked to a well-written post on another site gets brownie points with search engines.

These three ways to use SEO may be kinda obvious or already known to some of us, but they can be a good starting point for those new to blogging. The main things is to always keep the reader’s needs foremost while writing posts that are engaging and useful.

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New Zealand Book Council: Going West

The mission of the not-for-profit New Zealand Book Council is to promote literacy, with special emphasis placed on the writers and writings of New Zealand. Their diverse programs educate and entertain children and adults throughout the country.

The following short film, which uses paper cut animation of Maurice Gee’s novel Going West, was launched mid-November and has since breached the top ten videos on the Viral Video Chart compiled by Unruly Media. (It has fallen to number 11 at the time I am writing this post.)

Everything in the film is made by hand. Scalpel blades, paper, and eight months of hard work and patience combine to create this intriguing film.

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Beautiful Outdoor Patio Furniture from Outdora

Patio Dining Set

Patio Dining Set

I’ve been talking a lot about the great items Outdora offers for outdoor spaces like yards, lawns and camp sites. I’ve been going on about fire pits, barbeque grills, garden bells and the like, but what good is a beautiful space without outdoor patio furniture from which to enjoy it?

Outdora features outdoor garden and patio furniture sets designed for every home and setting. They have furniture for the poolside, durable year-round sets and stylish outdoor dining furniture. Their wide assortment of outdoor furniture is available in aluminum, wrought iron, high-density plastic, wood or wicker.

While aluminum and plastic can be attractive as well as durable and wicker exudes a certain comfortable style, I prefer wood or wrought iron sets. Outdora’s wooden outdoor furniture includes adirondacks, potting benches, tables and rocking chairs in a variety of gorgeous woods and stains. Their rust-free, whether-resistant wrought iron dining chairs, lounge chairs, loveseats, sofas, ottomans and more create beautiful dining arrangements on any patio.

The aluminum sets are highly attractive, putting to shame the aluminum furniture seen in most yards. They are of a heavy-duty yet lightweight construction that stands up to the elements. Outdora’s aluminum patio furniture sets come in traditional and modern styles.

The high-density plastic patio furniture also looks nice. It features fade-resistant bright colors which never need repainting. It is designed with comfort in mind and has the look of wide wooden planks.

If you’re looking for a specific piece of furniture and not a whole outdoor patio set, Outdora can help with that too. They also offer patio table tops — available in square, round, and oval shapes — ready to suit the changing seasons. Protective furniture covers made from rugged, high-grade vinyl keep outdoor dining furniture clean and dry.

Outdora’s outdoor patio furniture collections feature comfort and style for any outdoor space. Visit their site to find the ideal patio furniture sets for your home or camp site.

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This is a sponsored post. Image used with permission.

Video SparkNote: 1984 by George Orwell

While growing up I held the impression that SparkNotes were something to be avoided, a scheme for cheaters who didn’t read their assignments. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I finally read a guide out of curiosity. It discussed George Orwell’s 1984.

I wish I had known before the value of these little books. I now purchase guides for all of my favorite literary classics. (SparkNotes covers a lot of other subjects also.)

Recently I came across VideoSparkNotes’s Channel on YouTube. Right at the top of the page is an animated video covering 1984. It contains a plot summary, an analysis, and a discussion of the major characters and themes from the classic novel. It’s worth a look for its incredible animation alone.

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Address Plaques Add Style, Value to the Home

Address Plaque

Address Plaque

I’m spending some time with my family in San Angelo this week. One my favorite things to do while there is drive around and look at the older, more stately homes in town. It’s fun to imagine what sort of people may live in these houses. Perhaps western author Elmer Kelton, a long time resident of San Angelo, did the same during his lifetime.

Many of these houses employ a simple address plaque to accentuate their beauty. Some plaques appear on the buildings themselves, while lawn address plaques are staked in the yards or posted on fences.

Outdora’s selection of address plaques includes wall mounted plaques, lawn markers and decorative plaques. They carry Qualarc Address Plaques, Whitehall Address Plaques and Montague Metal Address Plaques — including commemorative, illuminated, and reflective plaques.

Such markers — especially the illuminated and reflective ones — make it easy for family, friends and service people to find your home. In my former day job as a delivery driver I greatly appreciated address plaques hung on back fences. Commemorative plaques honor weddings and anniversaries, the passing of loved ones or other important dates. Decorative plaques are ideal for theme parties, holidays or the changing seasons.

Maintainance-free address plaques from Outdora are not only decorative but practical. All of their hardy, long-lasting address plaques are made from either rust-free recycled aluminum or natural stone. You can choose to have an address and/or a family name on the signs. They come in a variety of interesting shapes and attractive colors.

You might even select a literary or a western theme if you are a fan of Elmer Kelton’s writings. Maybe something reflecting your community, state or region would be appropriate. Whatever your address plaque needs, Outdora delivers variety, affordability and value.

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This is a sponsored post. Image used with permission.