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Creative Birthday Ideas for Your Best Friend

You only have one best friend in life, and when it comes to their birthday, you can afford to go crazy and provide something unique. After all, if you don't make time for your best friend, who will you make time for? This year, don't settle for another card or an impersonal gift certificate. Think outside of the box and come up with a present for your best pal that she'll never forget. Here are a few creative, unique ideas to help you get started.

1) Help Them See Into the Future

Talking to a psychic is a fun experience that everyone should have at some point. For your single friend, set her up with a love tarot reading from a trusted psychic like the ones found at Psychic Readings 123. You might just help her find the love of her life. If she's not single, you can still get great love and career advice from a psychic, and you'll both have fun with the reading.

2) Go For an Extended Soak

For a truly unique experience, set your friend up with a soak in a sensory deprivation tank. These salt-water tanks allow people to float and rest in water for the ultimate in relaxation. If this is not available in your area, find a location where you can both soak in a hot tub. Often health spas and saunas will have these facilities available.

3) Take a Hike

Do a little research and planning and you can surprise your friend with a day to remember. National parks are available in every state, and they are an affordable way to get back to nature. Pack a picnic with foods and drinks that you know your best friend loves. This way, when you start to get tired with hiking and admiring the beautiful scenery, you can take a break and enjoy something delicious. Be sure to also pack a tempting dessert!

4) Go on an Adventure

Celebrate your best friend's birthday in style with an adventurous tour in your area. If you live near a river, look into whitewater rafting or kayaking. If your best friend doesn't mind heights, consider bungee jumping, sky diving, or hang gliding. You can't go wrong with a trip to an amusement park, either. With a little planning and work, you can give your friend the best birthday ever.

Luxury Homes In Chicago, Illinois

Just a short drive from the Chicago metropolitan area is one of the most exciting luxury homes for sale in crystal lake, illinois. This beautiful chalet-style home is situated on 14.63 acres, with access to 8 acres of wooded area that includes 6 acres of lush green lawn for sports and a swimming pond and a waterfall. A golf course is located just across the street from the front of this incredible property, and the area surrounding it all is protected land. Yes, this kind of lush country estate living is available within 5.7 miles of the Chicago Commuter Train Station and 50 miles from the Chicago Board of Trade. Yes, all this, within a short commute to the vibrant center of one of the United States’ greatest cities, Chicago, Illinois.

An Incredible Main House

This property is called The Lazy Willow, and this French Chateau style historic home 
with five bedrooms, six baths and four fireplaces is as exquisite as it sounds. The home offers 5400 square feet of living space, plus an additional 1300 square feet of space that can be developed for expansion. This restful and lovely home also has a spa room and two screened-in porches that make relaxing here a breeze. The property also boasts two outside decks with views of a waterfall overlooking the yard and a 200 acre conservation area. A three-car parking area is also available outside.

Meeting Room Available for Conferences

The upstairs area of Lazy Willow has a 1600 square foot space that is a combination meeting room and recreation area. This room has a kitchenette and a bathroom, which makes it a very welcoming area for a group retreat or conference. The downstairs area has a 1600 square foot shop and a two car garage. 

There are two other bonus areas on this property. These include a 1933 log cabin that’s been converted into a storage area. Another shed has also been converted into a garage and storage area.

The Lazy Willow retreat is an utterly unique property that offers all the advantages of a country retreat, while still being accessible to the many attractions of the exciting Chicago area. This is a truly one of a kind property that must be seen to be believed, so call for an appointment today. 

The Best Home Renovation If You're Planning to Sell

It's natural to want to make your home looks its best when you're planning to sell. However, some home improvements will bring a better ROI than others. If you''re looking for the most cost-effective ways to add appeal to your home - and possibly increase your sales price - read on for home improvements that are worth the effort. 


A fresh coat of paint inside and out can instantly transform your home for relatively little cost. Paint effects and faux finishes are also good ways to camouflage cosmetic defects, but try to keep it simple. However, you should never try to use paint to cover serious flaws. You can get a color consultation from an interior designer or professional home stager to find the best colors to positively influence potential buyers in a subtle way. 


You don't need to go all out and add a huge fountain or plan an elaborate outdoor room to use landscaping to your advantage. A green, well-maintained lawn, trimmed shrubbery in a few strategic places and flower borders are nice ways to add curb appeal without going into debt. 

Flooring and Floor Coverings

If your floors are old and slightly damaged or worn, either replace them or install carpeting. Wood floors are big sellers, so if you already have them installed, get a professional to refinish them; studies show that it costs an average of $2,500 to refinish wood floors, and it will yield a 100% ROI. New tile flooring is always a high point in the bathroom or kitchen.

Updated Kitchens and Baths

Unless your kitchen or bath are remnants from the 1960s or they're in extraordinarily bad condition, a full remodel usually isn't necessary. Make small changes, like installing an island and granite countertops in the kitchen or changing your bath facilities for attractive, water-saving features. These fixes cost little, and you'll usually recoup the entire cost on resale. 


You should never add a garage or rooms to your home; the expense will only net maybe 40% of your initial investment. However, major things like a new roof or heating system will return 100% of your cost or more. A swimming pool or Jacuzzi is nice if you already have them installed and they're in good condition, but never install one as a sales incentive.

The key to making a smart investment is not to do one big, costly improvement, but to update specific features in your home for added appeal overall. Builders and real estate professionals are in the best position to show you ways to add value to your home. You can get details now by contacting a local professional in your area to arrange a consultation. Anything you can do to make buyers happy and facilitate a faster sale without overextending yourself or your bank account is a win-win for all.

10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism

Craft activities are fun for everyone, but for children on the autism spectrum, the opportunity to explore color, shape, and sensory experiences can stimulate attention, foster calm, and create loads of fun! Here are 10 activities that teachers and parents love to do with their special needs children.
1. Create a Shredded Flower Bouquet. Who knew shredded paper could be so beautiful? This creative activity involves ripping and shredding paper to create a colorful composition that makes for a great gift or decoration. Kids with special needs will especially love the sensory experience of handling paper and manipulating colors and shapes! Go
2. Underwater I Spy Alphabet Bottle. Sparkly, glittery water is sure to attract curious eyes! This alphabet bottle is fun to make and a great activity to keep your child engaged and focused. The craft helps kids recognize letters in a creative way while enjoying the beautiful shine and sparkle of floating sequins! Go
3. Paint with Ice. Kids love to swirl the melting paint over paper, creating beautiful designs. They'll practice their color recognition and observation skills while observing paint go from a liquid state to a solid state, then back to liquid again!Go
4. Explore the Senses with a Sensory Table. A sensory table is a place designed for squishing, sifting, sorting, digging and pouring! Children will relish the opportunity to get messy, discover, and play freely with engaging their sense of touch, hearing sight. Go
5. Practice Paint Chip Storytelling. Telling a story is like painting a picture, using words instead of paint. In this imaginative activity, your child uses paint chips and words to tell a story! Alter the activity according to the level of your child, and you can spark his imagination and narrative abilities while having a colorful good time! Go
6. Play the Matching Halves Game. This matching activity is a great way to introduce children to the concept of puzzles, and to satisfy many special needs kids who crave order and simplicity. Each craft stick will have only half a shape: find the stick with the missing half and place the sticks side by side to complete each one! Go
7. Sculpt Clay Snowflakes. You don't have to brave the chill to enjoy the beauty of winter. Make sparkly snowflake sculptures and experience winter from the comfort and warmth of your home! Sculpting clay is a great way to boost fine motor skills, and kids with special needs will love the sensory experience of squishing, pulling and kneading as they work. Go
8. Set Up a Smelling Station. With the help of some small containers, rubber bands, scraps of fabric and lots and lots of fragrant ingredients, your child can create a whole collection of smells to tease his nose. Smell is one of the five senses, and kids will love learning about what role it plays while exploring the breathing and relaxation associated with good scents. Go
9. Oobleck Science: Solid or Liquid? Can something be solid and liquid at the same time? Experiment with this classic science activity that introduces kids to the mysteries of states of matter. Children will love the sensory experience of squeezing and splashing that comes with this gooey scientific investigation! Go
10. Make Number Rubbings. Kids love using crayons for just about everything. Put this art streak to good use by introducing them to “rubbings.” They'll work the small muscles in their hands and improve eye-hand coordination. Plus, they'll experiment with different surfaces while practicing shapes and numbers. Go

Explaining Variables and Terms Study Guide

Find practice problems and solutions for these concepts at Explaining Variables and Terms

Practice Problems.

The human mind has never invented a labor-saving machine equal to algebra. —Author Unknown

In this section, you'll learn the language of algebra, how to define variables and terms, and a short review of integers.

Math topics always seem to have scary sounding names: trigonometry, combinatorics, calculus, Euclidean plane geometry —and algebra. What is algebra? Algebra is the representation of quantities and relationships using symbols. More simply, algebra uses letters to hold the place of numbers. That does not sound so bad. Why do we use these letters? Why not just use numbers? Because in some situations, we do not always have all the numbers we need.

Let's say you have 2 apples and you buy 3 more. You now have 5 apples, and we can show that addition by writing the sentence 2 + 3 = 5. All of the values in the sentence are numbers, so it is easy to see how you went from 2 apples to 5 apples.

Now, let's say you have a beaker filled with 134 milliliters of water. After pouring more water into the beaker, you look closely and see that you now have 212 milliliters of water. How much water was added to the beaker? Before you perform any mathematical operation, that quantity of water is unknown.


If we do not know the value of a quantity in a problem, that value is an unknown.

We can write a sentence to show what happened to the volume of water n the beaker even though we don't know how much water was added. A symbol can hold the place of the quantity of water that was added. Although we could use any symbol to represent this quantity, we usually use letters, and the most commonly used letter in algebra is x.

There is no clear reason why x came to be used most often to represent unknowns. RenĂ© Descartes, a French mathematician, was one of the first to use x, y, and z to represent unknown quantities—back in 1637! While many have tried to determine why he used these letters, no one knows for certain.

The beaker had 134 milliliters of water in it when x milliliters were added to it. Read that sentence again. We describe the unknown quantity in the same way we would a real number. When a symbol, such as x, takes the place of a number, it is called a variable. We can perform the same operations on variables that we perform on real numbers. After x milliliters are added to the beaker, the beaker contains 212 milliliters. We can write this addition sentence as 134 + x = 212. Later in this book, we will learn how to solve for the value of x and other variables.

In the sentence 134 + x = 212, 134 and 212 are numbers and x is a variable. Because the variable x holds the place of a number, we can perform the same operations on it that we would perform on a number.

We can add 4 to the variable x by writing x + 4. We can subtract 4 from x by writing x – 4. Multiplication we show a little bit differently. Because the letter x looks like the multiplication symbol (×), we show multiplication by placing the number that multiplies the variable right next to the variable, with no space. To show 4 multiplied by x, we write 4x. There is no operation symbol between 4 and x, and that tells us to multiply 4 and x. Multiplication is sometimes shown by two adjacent sets of parentheses. Another way to show 4 multiplied by x is (4)(x).

Division is most often written as a fraction. x divided by 4 is . This could also be written as or x ÷4, but these notations are less common.
Algebra Vocabulary

A sentence, whether it contains variables or not, is made up of terms. A term is a variable, constant, or product of both, with or without exponents, and is usually separated from another term by addition, subtraction, or an equal sign. While a variable can have different values in different situations, a constant is a term that never changes value. Real numbers are constants. The sentence x + 4 = 5 contains 3 terms: x, 4, and 5.x is a variable, and 4 and 5 are constants.

The sentence 3x – 5 = 11 also contains 3 terms: 3x –5, and 11.3x is a single term, because 3 and x are multiplied, not added or subtracted. In the same way, – = 2 also has only three terms, because is a single term.

The numerical multiplier, or factor, of a term is called a coefficient. In the term 3x, 3 is the coefficient of x, because 3 multiplies x. In the term 9y, the coefficient of y is 9. In multiplication, the order in which one value multiplies another does not matter: 4×5and 5×4 both equal 20. The order in which 3 and x are multiplied does not matter, either, but we typically place the constant in front of the variable. The constant is considered the coefficient, and the variable is considered the base. Because the coefficient is one factor of the term, the base is the other factor. If a variable appears to have no coefficient, then it has a coefficient of 1: 1x = x.


Division can be rewritten as multiplication. x divided by 5 is the same as x multiplied by The coefficient of x in the term is because can be written as

In algebra, the base of a term is often raised to an exponent. An exponent is a constant or variable that tells you how many times a base must be multiplied by itself. Exponents are small numbers (superscripts) that appear above and to the right of a base. The term x2 is equal to x multiplied by x. The term y6 means (y)(y)(y)(y)(y)(y). If a variable appears to have no exponent, then it has an exponent of 1: x1 = x.

Like and Unlike Terms

If two terms have the same base raised to the same exponent, then the two terms are called like terms. For instance, 2a2 and –6a2 are like terms, because both have a base of a with an exponent of 2. Even though the terms have different coefficients, they are still like terms. If two terms have different bases, or identical bases raised to different exponents, then the two terms are unlike terms. 7m and 7n are unlike because they have different bases. 7m4 and 7m5 are also unlike terms. Even though they have the same base, the exponents of the bases are different. In the next lesson, we will see why recognizing terms as like or unlike is so important.

By: LearningExpress Editors - LearningExpress, LLC -

Pets in Tokyo!

Just want to share something about my vacation in Tokyo, Japan before. It was on early of July 2007 when I arrived in Tokyo. I was really amazed on what I see. Tall building, trains, Japanese people, the culture, food, the climate and everything. It was actually my first encounter on the said country and prior that that vacation I've never experience to go to other countries which is one of the very reason why I was amazed of the place.

One scenario that really captures my attention was the fact that most elderly Japanese womens and even mens loves to bring their homed pets while buying foods or just strolling the city. One good thing I love was the fact that they loved to buy toys for cats specially those womens whom I think is really old enough and its the only companion they had at home. Another thing was they loved to go to a pet smart department store where they can buy anything for their pets. Aside from that, they also love to buy a terrarium where they can use it to display at home. That's how they use to live their simple life.

Though it was not the exact scenarios that happened but based on my observations thats the usual thing they do. And you know what? Japanese people are very respectful. If I could have a chance to go back to Tokyo, Japan I'll definitely take the chance and I will always well.

Event Promotional Tips!

Do you have an upcoming event that needs a custom flags design for promotion purposes? Do you need an assistance on promoting your products and services through flags that can be segrated on several locations? Well, if you do then better grab the chance now to browse the web and look for a reliable provider of the said service. Make sure that they can provide you the best package that will stand out among other suppliers.

But for those of you who are in hurry and don't have enouh time of waiting for the automotive flags that will be use on upcoming events I highly recommend you to visit the site of Discount Custom & Speciality Flags 'cause they are the one you been looking for!

They had a huge choices of pennant strings, flagpoles, logos and some other related items which you think would be a great help on your end. So, if you guys needs it badly then better grab the opportunity now and take the difference. All you have to do is visit their site and place your order right away! Rest assures that your ordered item will be delivered right into your door steps or in your desired delivery location.