Five Outdoors Tools I Can’t Live Without

Keeping your home up-to-snuff from the outside is just as important as keeping it clean on the inside. It makes a great impression on anyone who comes to visit, and it’s sure to keep the neighbors happy as an added bonus. There are definitely tools required to get the job done though, and here are a few tools that I think are absolutely essential.

Wood Chipper

A life save both in the spring and the fall, a wood chipper makes it really easy to break down all of the debris in our yard into bite-sized pieces for the compost pile. From leaves to twigs and branches, I can now take just about anything my yard throws at me and turn it back into soil that I can use in my vegetable garden. It’s a major life upgrade two accounts. No more trips to the town dump, and free, rich soil for my plants.

Snow Blower

It might not be the first thing on your mind this time of year, but if you live in a region where the snow falls hard then you’d be remiss to live a life without a snow blower. Sure, you can do all of the shoveling by hand, but your back might have something to say about it when you’re done. BSBR makes it so easy to find a great snow blower at a great price though that there’s really no excuse for putting this one off until it’s too late.

Leaf Blower

I’m really not sure why, but I was very late to the game when it comes to purchase a leaf blower. Then my new maple tree dumped seemingly thousands of helicopters on my front lawn, and there just wasn’t any other practical way I could come up with to get rid of them. So finally I caved, and I can’t believe I didn’t do so sooner. Not only am I able to clean up my yard much more quickly than I could with a rake alone, but I’m also able to actually get it cleaner because the leaf blower does such a nice job.

Lawn Mower

Maintaining a good appearance at home starts with a well-groomed lawn. That’s why a lawn mower is just one of those tools that you can’t live without. If you get one that’s self-propelled it will do a lot of the physical labor for you. Always opt for a mulching blade and a removable bag so you can dump the clipping when you’re finished. Honda makes great engines if you’re looking for a brand recommendation.

Weed Whacker

Keeping your yard landscaped has a lot more to it than simply keeping the lawn mowed. The bulk of the remaining responsibilities can usually be taken care of with a weed whacker though. Clean up any untidy areas with ease, particularly around stonework and edges. I opted for an electric model when I bought my weed whacker, and I’m very glad I did. It’s clean, quiet, and almost fun to use.

What I’ve Learned from A Year With Fredo

I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly consider myself a dog person. I’ve had dogs all of my life, from the day I was born my parents had a cocker spaniel named Rascal who I can remember playing with when I was very young. When Rascal passed away we actually got two more dogs, an adorable pair of dachshunds named Penny and Jasmine that still live with my parents today, even though they’re quite late in their years.

Since I’ve moved out of my parents’ house and I live on my own I felt it was time to get my own dog to keep me company. I knew it would be a bit more responsibility than I was used to because my parents always did most of the heavy lifting. I felt up for the challenge and actually quite a bit excited by it, so I went on down to the local animal shelter and started getting to know some of the pups.

It wasn’t long before one dog, in particular, made my heart melt, and next thing I knew I was driving home with my new best friend Fredo (short for Alfredo) accompanying me in the passenger seat. Fredo is a bit of a mix. So much so in fact that the shelter wasn’t even sure what breeds he’s made up of. He’s still adorable nonetheless. He was about 2 years old when I adopted him, and I’m just coming up on a year of living with him.

Over the past year or so Fredo and I have been through a lot, and even though he wasn’t an incredibly young pup when he joined my family there was still a bit of training we had to get through. I wanted to discuss some of my biggest breakthroughs in case it’s helpful for any other first-time dog owners out there.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Crate

When Fredo first came into my house we did unfortunately run into a bit of a problem with potty training. It’s embarrassing, both for him and for me, but it’s the cold hard truth. I tried a lot of things that I read on the internet to see if any of them helped, but the silver bullet seemed to be crate training. I was admittedly against crate training at the outset, as I felt it was a bit cruel to leave Fredo locked up in a cage. It turns out that if you teach a dog correctly though they’ll actually love their crates. You want it to feel like a home for them, rather than a prison, and this more or less takes the right mindset. They learn to mind their own space, and as a result they’ll even learn to mind your space better as well.

Wireless Collar Training Is Awesome

Obviously, when we’re out in public I’m required to keep Fredo on a leash, both for his safety and that of others. When we go for walks in the great outdoors however, it seems silly and unnecessary to keep him on a leash. I first stumbled upon wireless GPS trackers when I came across this guide: https://www.thepamperedpup.com/best-electric-wireless-dog-fence-reviews/gps-invisible-tracker/. They have been a huge help not only in keeping Fredo from running away when off his leash but also in honing in his obedience. As an added bonus, when I take Fido up to my parent’s camp I can let him run free with my mind at ease knowing that I can always track his location. Plus, when the time comes for him to come home, I can send him a signal and he knows that treats are waiting for him.

Get Book Learn’t

If I weren’t writing this article chronologically, I’d probably put this section first because it was without a doubt the most insightful. But alas, I must stick to the plan. There’s not substitute for learning from the experience of others who have been down your path before. I was referred to a great book called Don’t Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor, and it has been so insightful in building my relationship with Fredo. In fact, I think the teachings in this book extend far beyond dog training, even so much as to teaching better practices for interacting with other humans. Even if you’re not a book reader I’d highly recommend reading this one to get your dog training game in good shape.

Anyway, those are some of my biggest takeaways from spending a year with Fredo. Hopefully they’ll help you skip some of the time I wasted and the headaches I encountered along the way. What has worked well for you and your puppy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

When Your Children Should Start Learning Music

Music is one of the most universal art forms in human existence. It’s a way of expressing yourself purely through sound – no visual assistance, no colors, no shapes, nothing. Just pure emotion through sound. It’s a bit like a language, except their aren’t any words. Just feelings.

It’s something that lives inside all of us in some respects. We may not all be musically inclined, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like music in some way. Sure, some will be full-time music fanatics, while others might like to hear their favorite songs when they are cleaning up. There’s no doubt that there’s a range to the amount of interaction music has in our everyday lives. But it flows inside of us all nonetheless.

Full disclosure: I’m not a parent, and I’m not expecting to be any time soon. This rant is more coming from the place of a musician who would have really appreciated it if they had been taught music from an earlier age. A recent intimate discussion with a close friend prompted me to at least get my thoughts down about it, so if you’re a parent of a young one I wanted to make my case as to why it’s important to expose kids to musical creativity from a young age.

When you’re raising a child, at some point it’s going to make sense to expose that child to the experience of creating music at one point or another. They may take interest to it, or they may show indifference. You never know, but it’s a gift you should at least allow a child to experiment with from a rather early age in their lives.

There are tons of instruments that are well suited for children to pick up and start playing. Xylophones and recorders are the most often given to children, and these are great ways to start. They are relatively simple to play as far as instruments go, and they are robust enough that they can be manufactured in simple forms that even the youngest of children can play with.

I’d suggest that it’s a great idea to give your child exposure to music at as young of an age as possible. You can play them music essentially as soon as they’re born, and people often find that their children take to it quite well. Obviously you’ll want to be quite selective with what you play to them, with mostly calm and soothing sounds being a safe bet when the child is particularly young.

As far as giving your child access to musical instruments, I am also a firm believer that they can be introduced as soon as possible. If a child can play with toys, why not have them play with a musical instrument? Sure, before they have developed any skills it may just sound like they’re banging around and making a bunch of noise. If you’re intolerant, you may even get frustrated with this activity. Seriously though, what’s the worst that could happen? Just make sure to get a musical instrument that is designed to be child safe – something with minimal moving parts, no sharp edges, no small parts that they could potentially try to eat and get hurt. Really the same precautions you’d take in any circumstances when you’re giving a child a toy.

What do you have to lose? You never know, your child may absolutely love music as well as creating music, and introducing it to them at a young age will allow them to grow up with a solid handle on the language of music, much like children grown up with a strong foundation of their native language.