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5 Ways to Go Green on the Go

Much has been said and done about the need to go green and adopt eco-friendly measures in our daily lives, and most of us do what we can to reduce, recycle and reuse. But what happens when we go on vacation? Do our green habits take a hike too? For most people, eco-friendly measures are ok as long as they’re going about their daily lives – they sort their trash religiously, they make it a point to take the stairs or walk instead of using the elevator or taking their car, and they try their best to reduce their water and power usage. However, when they leave their home, they fail to adopt the same habits, maybe because it’s harder to do so when you’re not on familiar ground.

The next time you take a road trip with your family or by yourself, don’t assume that it’s impossible to go green when you’re on the go; instead, follow these simple rules:

  • Plan your trip thoroughly: This helps you take the shortest routes and the ones with the least potholes and bumps, thus minimizing your fuel usage. You also save much more on gas when you know exactly how you’re going to reach your destination and ensure that there will be no backtracking or idly searching for routes.
  • Get your car checked thoroughly: Before you leave, get your tire pressure checked and ensure that your gas tank is full so you don’t have to make detours for gas. Also, get your air filter change just before a scheduled road trip so you can get a decent mileage and save on your gas expenditure.
  • Drive responsibly: Keeping to the speed limit is good not just because it keeps the cops off your back, but also because it is a good way to improve your car’s mileage and to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your engine. This saves not just the planet but also your bank balance in the long run.
  • Ensure that your home is safe and shut down: Before you leave, check to see that all the doors and windows are locked and set to your alarm, that all electrical and electronic appliances are off and the plugs are pulled out from their sockets, shut down your computer and any gadget you’ve left behind at home, and ensure that the gas is turned off in the kitchen and that there are no lights or lanterns or candles burning. Also check your plumbing to minimize water wastage through leaky faucets and toilets. If you have lawn sprinklers set off to go automatically, check to see that they work properly according to the timer and that water does not run unchecked when you’re not around.
  • Behave responsibly: I’ve seen many people who take great pains to keep their homes and surroundings clean, but when they’re on vacation, they don’t hesitate to litter and never pick up after themselves. Behave as you would at home – throw trash in trash cans, don’t leave lights and other electrical appliances on when you’re not using them, and remember to shut the faucets tightly and use water sparingly even when you’re in a hotel room.

Every small green effort counts towards helping our planet and raising people’s awareness about the need to change the way we live, so continue to adopt eco-friendly ways even when you’re away from home.

Top 10 Fictional Feminist Icons of All Time

There’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself and asserting your rights; in fact, if you don’t show emotional strength, you’re labeled a doormat and a pushover. There was a time however when women were required to be submissive; they were considered and treated as the weaker sex because of their fragile appearance and their emotional outbursts. Yet fiction triumphed over fact, and authors (most of them women) came out with leading female characters who showed strength of character, had steel woven into their fibers, and were resolute yet gentle. They were not card- toting suffragettes interested in pushing an agenda or promoting feminism just for the sake of it; rather, they were women who knew what they wanted and did not hesitate to go after their dreams irrespective of the hurdles in their path. Beloved and strong, here they are:

    1.      Scarlett O’Hara: She made immortal the line “Tomorrow is another day”, showing that no matter what troubles overwhelm you today, the morrow brings hope and resolution. She shot to fame and became a well-known figure when the movie of the book “Gone with the Wind” broke box office records all over the world. Scarlett is ideal for this list because she learns lessons the hard way – after losing all that she had to illness and war, she strives to hold on to her home no matter what.

    2.      Emma Woodhouse: It is said that Jane Austen modeled Emma on herself – never has such a resolute yet charming woman graced the English countryside and tried to play matchmaker to the people around her. After trying unsuccessfully to find a suitable husband for herself, she finally learns that love takes its own course.

    3.      Dagny Taggart: Ayn Rand’s creation was ambitious and successful, something no woman in the 1950s could claim to be. Dagny was vice president for a large corporation; she overcomes the problems created by her inept brother and a dominating bureaucracy to build an impressive railroad corporation that tasted success against all odds.

    4.      Hester Prynne: Think Demi Moore in the movie “The Scarlet Letter” and you’ll know immediately who Hester Prynne is. Damned by society for adulterous behavior with an anonymous man and for bearing his child, she is ostracized and scorned by those around her. Yet she stoically bears all the emotional torture inflicted on her even as she protects the man who fathered her child, and manages to lead a relatively successful life even when her elderly husband who is presumed dead turns up and seeks revenge.

    5.      The Goddess Athena: Daughter of Zeus, Athena is the Greek goddess of war. She wields Zeus’ shield, the aegis and the ray. She has a city named after her, the capital of Greece, Athens. She is revered for her wisdom, reason and purity, all of which make her find place in this list.

    6.      Holly Golightly: Another character brought to life through the movies – played by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, Holly is a small-town girl who comes to New York and achieves fame and fortune at a relatively young age. She fears commitment however, and comes to the conclusion that she will never really own anything unless she has first given it up – words of wisdom in deed.

    7.      Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte had to hide the fact that she was a woman before she published this eponymous novel so that people would buy it. Jane Eyre was a novel well ahead of its times; it boasted a heroine who established her strength and courage at all points of her life – her childhood, education, proposal, and reunion with the love of her life are detailed from cover to cover.

    8.      Becky Sharp: She was created by William Makepeace Thackeray in his novel “Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero”; Becky embodied cunning, wittiness, cleverness even though she was poor and of average looks. The novel paints a clear picture of the relentless pursuit of vanity by human beings.

    9.      Antonia Shimerda: Another novel set in Britain and featuring a woman who stands out from the crowd, “My Antonia” tells the story of Tony or Antonia through the voice of the man who falls in love with her. She becomes a hired dancer after her father commits suicide, ends up pregnant with an illegitimate child, and yet copes with the hard times that ensue.

    10.  Ramona Quimby: She’s the heroine of a story that is loved by people of all ages – this young girl is based on Portland, Oregon, in modern times and lives with her parents and older sister. The novel tracks Ramona’s adventures, captures her free mind, and brings out her large heart through its pages.

Beauty By Way of Water and Paint: The Top 50 Watercolor Painters Blogs

Remember that row of plastic paint you used to decorate a sheet of paper in grade school? Well, forget it. Watercoloring has taken on a whole new meaning since then. Artists now have the capacity to create unique works of art using them from nature’s beauty to abstract pieces.

What sets watercolors apart from other mediums, such as oil painting, is that the paints are water soluble. However, it isn’t as easy to spot a watercolor painter’s blog on the internet as it is to distinguish one of their works from the others. To make it simpler, we have gathered the top 50 watercolor painter’s blogs below. They are authored by professionals, teachers, and even students of the art and are loaded with tips, art, and much more to satiate any watercoloring itch.

Top Watercolor Painters Blogs by a Male Artist

These men have loads of their own watercolor artwork to share on their blogs.

  1. 1. Brush Paper Water Get a celebration of watercolor on this blog. Chris is an artist living in San Francisco and is even a member of several watercolor organizations. Standouts of the blog include many real life works of art that include Car Culture.
  2. 2. Frank Eber He specializes in watercolor landscapes. Although nature often takes center stage, Frank also paints watercolors of cities, shores, and more. A rainstorm in the city was recently painted.
  3. 3. Thomas W. Schaller From Venice, California, Thomas is also an established architect and designer. Much of his work is impressive for being able to combine both with watercolors.
  4. 4. Steve Doherty He is the editor of “PleinAir” magazine. From Florida, his blog gives tips on both drawing and painting. Balancing skill and passion was recently discussed on the blog.
  5. 5. A Painting a Day Andy Smith doesn’t just title his blog haphazardly. He often lives up to it by posting one watercolor painting a day. With entries dating all the way back to 2007, make time for literally hundreds of entries.
  6. 6. A Painting a Week Although Francis does not always keep his promise blog wise, he does share many paintings in watercolor on the blog. He specializes in watercolor and pastel painting. With a goal of creating one painting per week, he does often share them on the blog.
  7. 7. David Tripp David is a blogger who lets his watercolors do the talking for him. Categories range from the abandoned to Zephyr. A recent painting was of a Missouri grill.
  8. 8. Woody’s Watercolor Blog Get “unequal measures of transcription, translation, and transgression” on this blog. Woody often shares unusual works of arts, as well as rants on the blog. A recent entry was on a photograph of the woods and the watercolor painting it inspired.

Top Watercolor Painters Blogs by a Female Artist

The ladies chime in with artwork of their own using watercolors.

  1. 9. Capturing Life With Brushstrokes Visit here for original watercolor paintings by Julie Hill. Although the promise of a daily painting isn’t always kept, the blog is very much worth the visit. She even offers “Little Moments,” which are 6 x 6 watercolor paintings.
  2. 10. Carol King She is a New York artist who works in watercolors, along with other forms of painting and decorative arts. In addition to sharing her work, she also includes rants about life in Brooklyn. She recently finished a sketchbook and writes all about it.
  3. 11. Leslie White She enjoys painting in watercolors as well as drawing in graphite. Subjects on the blog include drawings, figures, creative drawings, and even student art. Thoughts are included along with actual artwork.
  4. 12. Also on Facebook Why go to Facebook when you can check out Carol Carter’s art right from the blog? Along with watercoloring, she is also passionate about family and travel. Unusual pairings such as fruit and fish are worth a look.
  5. 13. Watercolour Artist Diary Tracy Hall is a watercolor artist who paints nature in great detail. Her choices include fine art miniatures, paintings, and even prints and cards. She was recently featured in a Florida exhibit and shares more.
  6. 14. Watercolors by Laura Trevey “Bright ideas, bold vision, and beautiful living” combine on this one blog. Scroll down the blog to get a peek at her virtual studio. One of the latest posts was on a Painting a Day challenge.
  7. 15. Kathy Los-Rathburn, Watercolors Paintings and a few words usually make up blog entries here. She also offers an art quote of the day that is inspirational. Those who wish to learn how to paint water lilies can find an instructional DVD just for them.
  8. 16. Walking in Watercolors Micah Neff is from Pennsylvania. She is an aspiring watercolor artist who can go a while between blog entries. However, she does get points for exploring watercolors through the eyes of a newer artist.

Top International Watercolor Painters Blogs

See how watercolor paintings come to life overseas in these blogs.

  1. 17. Watercolours for Life Jean is from the United Kingdom and has studied art in Asia, Dubai, and Europe. She has a passion for life, nature, and watercolors. Visit to see her latest work or get art related thoughts.
  2. 18. Stephen J. Quirke He does watercolor paintings from South Africa. Landscapes in various forms are often the subject of paintings. You can also see much of his other work on the main site.
  3. 19. Artwork From Hendaye Sonya is from the United Kingdom but currently lives in the French Basque Country. She teaches art at the local school and works in it herself. Paintings are in acrylics and watercolors.
  4. 20. Artists of India Get just what the blog promises with a visit here. Twenty artists in the country share all sorts of artwork, including watercolor. You can also get links to many other local artists.
  5. 21. Iain Stewart Watercolors Although currently living in Alabama, Iain is from Scotland. With a degree in architecture, he has been painting in watercolors for over 20 years. He recently finished a painting on the Williamsburg Bride.
  6. 22. Inspirations From Nature Sandeep Khedkar is from Pune, Maharashtra, India. He loves the combination of nature landscapes and transparent watercolors. The resulting paintings and accompanying verses are a small tribute to the inspirations and infinite colors nature shares.
  7. 23. David Burge He is from Perth, which is in Western Australia. In addition to painting, he also enjoys guitars, composition, and the exploration of ideas. One of his recent blog entries was on The Tate.
  8. 24. Keiko Tanabe Fine Art She is from Kyoto, Japan and is an award-winning watercolor artist. Her paintings have been juried into many exhibitions across North America and in Asia. The blog often features a painting and thoughts to accompany it.
  9. 25. Pintar a la Acuarela What does Picasso have to do with watercoloring? Check out this blog to find out. Noemi is from Spain and practices in the medium. Knowledge of Spanish or translator required.
  10. 26. Fernando Pena Similar to the above, he is also a watercolor artist that blogs in Spanish. However, you don’t need to know the language to appreciate his works of art. Click on Watercolors Painting to get items in English.

Top Learning Watercolor Painters Blogs

If you want to learn how to create watercolor paintings of your own or improve on existing talent, check out these instructional blogs.

  1. 27. David Lobenberg Form Sacramento, he is a professor, workshop instructor, as well as a gallery and commission artist. With a specialty in both watercolor and acrylic paints, you can get the next best thing to taking a class from him on the blog. Mather Vernal Pool was the subject of a recent work.
  2. 28. Watercolor Mania Jane Freeman was born and raised in North Dakota but has lived in Minnesota for 30 years. She teaches watercolor workshops there and hopes to inspire others to the art. Latest work and daily life is often the subject of posts.
  3. 29. Debi Watson Watercolor In 1983, she bought some cheap paints and has been hooked over since. She is now a professional painter and teacher with nine years’ experience. Categories on the blog include inspiration, marketing, shows, and even painting lessons.
  4. 30. Create 38 Vinita Pappas is your source for watercolor painting instruction. You will find demonstration videos and more on the blog. She can go a while in between entries but is still worth a look.
  5. 31. Sterling Edwards He is an instructor who teaches courses across the United States and Canada. Upcoming workshops and student thoughts made up the latest posts. You can also see more of his work on the main site.
  6. 32. Tony van Hasselt Watercolor Workshops His motto is to “share the joy of painting and learning.” His site is contains books and videos, as well as links to watercolor workshops. Be sure not to miss painting tips with more.
  7. 33. Watercolor Works Debbie Johnson is a Florida watercolor artist. She both teaches classes and workshops and is represented by galleries in Florida and Michigan. Many different Florida natives are the subject of her paintings.
  8. 34. Watercolour Courses If the above aren’t enough for you, click here. This blog collects the best in watercolor courses and information from across the web to one place. For example, a YouTube video with a lesson was recently featured.

Top Specialty Watercolor Painters Blogs

These watercolor and art blogs focus on a specific aspect of it.

  1. 35. Land Sketch This blogger shares his water media sketchbook studies from the past decade. Nathan also links to his art and materials with more tips. One of the latest entries discussed textures.
  2. 36. Roland Lee Travel Sketchbook Stop here for a regular art journal from this Utah artist. His blog gives a glimpse into how he works and travels. A standout for featuring everything from sketches to finished studio paintings.
  3. 37. Karen Peikert She has always loved being creative and enjoy looking at the works of others. She grew up in Northern California and was surrounded by lakes and rivers, which are now the subject of her watercolors. Other items occasionally pop up in her works as well.
  4. 38. Aaron Lifferth’s Painting a Day His specialty is using Utrecht paints and watercolor brushes for no other reason than convenience in proximity. However, this is another of those blogs that don’t keep their own deadlines. You can still check out past works through entries though.
  5. 39. David McEown David’s specialty is the Canadian wilderness. With a degree from the Ontario College of Art, he travels from the North Pole to Antarctica to create his paintings. The main site has more.
  6. 40. A Passion for Watercolour English artist Ruth Harris specializes in flowers, landscapes, and others. Watercolor and fine art often combine to create subjects that are a must see. She stumbled into painting while her children were at school but has made it into something spectacular.
  7. 41. Doris Joa Stop by this blog to get free watercolor lessons. However, figurative art is the specialty here. In addition to watercolor, you can also get oil paintings.
  8. 42. Watercolorings Twenty years ago Kathy stopped painting due to work and family demands. However after moving, she rediscovered a passion for it. Visit her blog to get the world of watercolors from a student and born again artist.
  9. 43. Watercolors and Words After six years of watercolor classes, this blogger decided to explore the art on her own. RH Carpenter provides both in her blog. Paintings with watercolors and words of wisdom are usually the focus of posts.
  10. 44. Terry’s Ink and Watercolor See how the two combine on this blog. He is from California where his work often stands out for the pairing. You can also get tips for your own watercoloring.

Top Watercolor Painters Blogs by a Group

Check out these watercolor blogs as artists join together.

  1. 45. Daily Painters International Stop here for one of the most extensive online galleries on the web. Choose from just the watercolors or many other types of art. They also have an Artist Challenge that anyone can enter.
  2. 46. Watercolor Artist Blog A group of hopeful artists share their work on this one blog. Everything from flowers to 18 wheelers are taken on through watercolors. You can also get the option to chat with the painters.
  3. 47. Daily Watercolors Stop here for a passionate group of watercolor artists who share their creations online. Self-portraits, sunflowers, and many other subjects are focused on. Asian Lilies was the most recent.
  4. 48. Art Plantae Today Jane LaFazio works with paper, paint, and fabric. She uses her blog to connect artists, naturalists and educators. She recently offered to answer reader’s questions on art, marketing, and more.
  5. 49. Skine Art A group of artists share their work on this blog. Choose from just the watercolors, or simply check out the most recent. You can also sort work by your favorite artist.
  6. 50. Artists Network Tips for watercolor art and artists are featured here. You can choose from articles, the community, competitions, and more. There are also many member blogs to choose from.

No matter how tough that blank canvas is to crack, there is loads of inspiration to be found in the above top 50 watercolor painter’s blogs. To see and share art with other artists online, try a site like Deviant Art. The Etsy Shop also remains a top choice for all sorts of artists who want to sell their work.

The Link between Diabetes and Depression

Diabetes and depression share much more than just the same starting alphabet; in fact, there is now conclusive evidence to prove that depression leads to diabetes and vice versa. For those who live with either diabetes or depression, this fact is a double whammy because they’re both dangerous and debilitating conditions.

A research conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore revealed the following facts about and linkages between Type II diabetes and depression:

  • If you have Type II diabetes, you have a higher probability (42 percent) of suffering from symptoms of depression as well, like feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and loss of appetite.
  • If you suffer from depression, your risk of diabetes increases.
  • Diabetics who are depressed are at a greater risk (36 percent) for diabetes-related complications like kidney failure, cardiac disease and stroke.
  • Diabetics with depression are more likely to be treated with insulin.
  • Women diabetics are more prone to depression.
  • Diabetics who smoke regularly have a higher incidence of depression.
  • If you’re a diabetic who’s overweight, you’re more likely to be depressed as well.

There are a few general things that you could do to ward off both diabetes and depression, and if you have one, to keep the other at bay:

  • Exercise regularly – Walking for an hour a day is enough – it’s not too hard and you don’t need to exert yourself too much. Exercise is good for your body and mind – it boosts your physical and mental health.
  • Eat healthy food – Include foods that are rich in fiber and vitamins like fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrain bread and pasta in your diet. Cut out the white stuff – salt, sugar and processed flour are your enemies when you’re a diabetic. And eat small meals every few hours so your blood sugar levels don’t fluctuate wildly.
  • Don’t let stress get to you: We all face some measure of stress at work and in our personal lives. But if you let stress get to you, you risk diabetes, heart disease and many other ailments. So learn how to relax and rejuvenate yourself and remove stress from your life.
  • Get enough sleep: A sound sleep (one that is not induced by drugs or alcohol) is your body’s way of repairing and rejuvenating itself. So ensure that you get at least six to eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Stop smoking: Smoking not only ruins your lungs and increases your cancer risk, it also boosts your chances of heart disease and worsens your diabetes. Also, limit your drinking to a glass or two on social occasions.
  • Lose weight: If you’re overweight or obese, it’s imperative that you reduce your weight with a sensible combination of exercise and diet.

5 Tips to Manage Toddlers

A baby is a bundle of joy; you feel an immense sense of satisfaction and happiness when you hold one in your arms, watch them smile, and nurture them through the years. But then along the way comes the terrible twos and threes, the age when your kids are able to run around the house and develop minds of their own. Some toddlers are angelic no doubt, but then, these rare specimens always belong to people you know and not you. If you’re a mom who’s child is on the verge of toddling into their toddler years, here are a few tips that will come in handy.

  • Activity: Some kids are shy and keep to themselves and their books. They’re easily manageable because they don’t trouble you too much and are happy with their toys and paraphernalia. But more often than not, your toddler will be active or even overactive, so you must find ways of managing their energy. Spend time with them outdoors where they can run and play and exhaust themselves. Cooped up kids get cranky and throw tantrums.
  • Food: Toddlers are not known for eating everything you feed them. So you may have to cajole or con them into eating their vegetables and drinking their milk. By the time they’re three, they should be eating on their own. They may be slow and messy at first, but unless you persist with this strategy, they’re never going to learn to eat on their own and will need you around at every mealtime.
  • Behavior: Most children misbehave as a way to seek attention; they feel that the adults are all preoccupied with their own stuff and that the only way to get them to notice them is to do something that they shouldn’t be doing. So if your toddler has been misbehaving a lot, spend more time doing things with them. You’re bound to see a change in their behavior soon. Also, don’t bargain with them and promise them treats if they’re good – this could backfire on you because they misbehave just so you will give them something they want.
  • Relationship with other children: If your child has no siblings, he/she may be spoilt and not know how to interact with other children. They don’t know the meaning of sharing and are possessive about all their toys. If your child has no playmates, it’s best to take them to places where they can mingle with other kids their age, like parks and playgroups. This allows them to learn how to interact with people before they join kindergarten.
  • Sleep: While you may think that sleep is most important for your toddler, he/she may have other ideas. For them, bedtime or naptime is playtime lost, and this is why most toddlers resent being put to bed. The best way to get them to go to bed quietly and without a fuss is to establish a routine that they like – read to them, get them to put on nightclothes that they’re fond of, sing to them, and so on. When you start the routine, they know what’s coming and accept it without a fuss.

The toddler years create wonderful memories for parents, memories that must not be tarnished by frustrated parents and sulky children. When you know how to manage your toddler, you avoid such a situation.

Women – Here Are More Reasons to Exercise

Weight is often more of an issue with women, because it’s the fairer sex that is more obsessed with the way they look. And this is primarily the reason why most women exercise – because they want slim bodies that fit in nice clothes and because they want to look and feel good. Health is not the issue that’s uppermost in their mind, but with all the exercise they do and the salads they eat, they gain it as an added advantage.

Now there are even more reasons to adopt the methods followed by these women who exercise and eat very little because they want to stay in shape:

  • To prevent becoming a victim of breast cancer: Researchers at Harvard University have found that women can avoid breast cancer if they exercise more and eat less. Although we know that routine tests, mammograms and early screenings can help catch the disease earlier and improve your chance of success when it is treated, the simple acts of exercising more and eating less could actually prevent this deadly form of cancer that plagues most women. Cancer specialists say that it is not just your genes that determine your chances of getting cancer, it’s your lifestyle as well. So if you’re a woman in your mid twenties or older, it’s time to pull up your socks, start exercising more, eating less, and quitting smoking.  Breast cancer has been linked to estrogen levels – the higher your estrogen, the higher your risk for this disease. Women who have more estrogen tend to be more obese, so to decrease your overall risk, you need to cut down on your estrogen production by eating less and working out more.
  • To maintain your weight: You may not think you’re overweight now, but if you’re middle-aged and don’t watch what you eat, you could gain as much as six pounds in just a couple of years. To prevent this, you must exercise for an hour or more today. The good news however, is that you don’t have to do anything intense – just an hour’s walk will do the trick.
  • To prevent post-partum depression: A study conducted at the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, has found that women who exercised after giving birth were found to be at lower risk for post-natal depression. Mothers who are at risk for this disease can improve the quality of their life and care for their children much better if they took to exercise as soon as their doctors give them the green signal.

So women, if you haven’t exercised before, here are three more reasons to start doing so now.