Saturday, July 30, 2022

If You Owe Back Taxes, Follow These Steps To Protect Yourself And Your Finances

 back taxes

Few things are as frightening as opening the mailbox and finding a notice from the IRS, especially when you know you have a tax liability. The much-feared tax agency does not contact taxpayers just to say hello and receiving communication from them is normally no good news.

When your heart stops pounding and you get the courage to open the letter, you get another shock – in the form of a large amount of taxes due, one you cannot possibly afford to pay. So, what do you do, and how should you react?

The steps you take next could make all the difference, and here are some immediate actions you need to complete immediately.

Step #1 – Stop Panicking and Take Action

If you owe back taxes, our firm can help negotiate with the IRS and potentially settle your tax debt for less than you owe. Call us today. Our tax resolution specialists can navigate the IRS maze so that you have nothing to worry about. Contact – Ramon Ortega CPA.

If you think you don’t know, then you need to make a case for why you think the assessed taxes are wrong and back it up with proper documentation and proof. Sometimes, the letter you received from the IRS can be a result of a discrepancy, meaning there is a mismatch between what was reported on your return and the figures the tax agency received through other means. There could be many reasons for this discrepancy, and there could be an innocent and inexpensive explanation and resolution for your situation.

Getting a letter from the IRS is not fun at all, but it is not the end of the world either. Even if you owe the taxes the IRS says you do, you may be able to negotiate a lower settlement, sometimes a much lower one.

Step #2 – Find the Tax Return in Question

The communication you received from the IRS will reference a specific tax year, so it is important to find and review that return as quickly as possible. Hopefully you have retained records that include your recent tax returns, either in paper or electronic form. If not, you can request a copy of your transcript from the IRS or contact your tax preparer.

Once you have your tax return in hand, you can review it carefully, looking for the discrepancies in question and seeking out your own backup information. The problem could be something like a capital gain you forgot to report or a mis transposed number as you were entering your income information. Gather all the information and have it ready to bring to your appointment with the tax relief specialist.

Step #3 – Do Your Own Calculations

Now that you have your tax return and your backup documentation available, it is time to do some number crunching. This can be a long and frustrating process, so we guide our clients through this process when they work with us. The clock is ticking, and interest and penalties may continue to accumulate if you wait too long to respond them.

There should be a deadline listed on the form you received from the IRS, so check it and make sure you can respond before the due date. Do not forget to allow time for mailing and delivery, even if you plan to send the documents overnight.

Step #4 – Don’t Contact The IRS Directly, Contact Our Tax Relief Firm And Get The Protection You Need

The IRS is not on your side and their primary goal is to collect the taxes they believe you owe. The IRS has a number of programs in place to lower the amount owed, but for obvious reasons they do not like to talk about them.

By seeking the services of a qualified tax relief firm like ours, you will gain access to a world of knowledge, including insider information about programs that could save you thousands of dollars and get you back on track with the IRS. The sooner you contact our tax relief firm the better off you will be.

Dealing with the IRS is rarely a pleasant thing to do, but ignoring a tax due notice will not make it go away. Delaying will just make a bad situation even worse, so it is important to act quickly. The good news is that tax relief firms exist for this very purpose, so you can settle your debt without sacrificing the rest of your financial life.

Contact Our Firm Today: We help people find tax relief and sometimes settle their tax debt for a fraction of what is owed

Ramon Ortega CPA

Office in Weston, FL
1555 Bonaventure Blvd., Suite 1028
Weston, FL 33326
Weston 954-465-9315
Orlando 407-478-9262

Ramon Ortega CPA

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cleveland Puerto Rican Parade and Cultural Festival

 Cleveland Puerto Rican Parade and Cultural Festival

A parade celebration of Puerto Rican arts and culture has been observed by Cleveland's Puerto Ricans each summer since the late 60s. Its purpose has been to bring together the city's residents and to educate the community about the rich Puerto Rican culture.
The Puerto Rican Parade of Greater Cleveland carries a strong history of cultural awareness, pride, and education, led by a resilient community who's love for their homeland, spirit of freedom, justice, and unity have never wavered.  After over 50 years, when the Parade's founders first celebrated their Puerto Rican heritage in the City of Cleveland, we proudly continue this legacy and welcome all groups interested in participating in the Annual celebration to form contingents of walkers , floats, or vehicles and submit a participant application form so that all can share in the celebration of our culture and heritage.  This is an opportunity for organizations and groups to act in solidarity and in showing of a unified body while celebrating our community’s achievements and contributions to the Greater Cleveland area.

We are looking forward to your participation in the Annual Puerto Rican Parade of Greater Cleveland.

2022 Parade Route Map & Registration Information

The 52nd Annual Puerto Rican Parade of Greater Cleveland will kick off at 11am at the corner of Fulton Rd. and Trowbridge Ave and proceed northbound on Fulton Rd. (approximately 1.27km) making its way to Seymour Ave where vehicular traffic will be directed to disperse northbound on Fulton Road.

ONLY pedestrians will turn left onto Seymour Ave and proceed to Roberto Clemente Park where festival activities will be underway. Contingent staging will begin at 9am on designated streets under the direction of a Parade Coordinator who will forward specific staging instructions.

We welcome sponsors to become part of this iconic event and expand their business's brand awareness within our community.

Thousands of people attend the one mile-long community building caravan each year and the marketing reaches tens of thousands in the months before the event. Combined with the two-day festival full of entertainment and cultural activities, this iconic event provides an ideal backdrop for any brand to generate affinity and trust within the greater Cleveland community.

The Hispanic Police Officers' Association (HPOA), a 501c3 non-profit organization and the annual Parade Committee, made up of community volunteers, depend on the support of sponsors and donations to ensure this historic celebration continues to thrive and enrich the greater Cleveland community.

Contact Us Today for More Information

Communication & Corporate Social Responsibility


What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

In the past few years, the anti-corporate movement (including those opposed to globalization) has gained a bit of steam. What many people in the movement promote now is called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the idea that corporations should be responsible to all of society and the environment, as well as to shareholders.

It's a shame they've gained momentum. After all, without modern corporations we would all be poorer, and in particular, few of us could expect to retire comfortably. More than anything else, modern corporations exist to provide pension income. Sure, corporations used to be owned by a few, extremely rich people. But, with the widespread adoption of pension funds and mutual funds, corporations now belong mostly to working people.

While it's true the average working person has far, far less wealth than the average billionaire, there are many, many times more working people. That means company and government pension plans can invest vast sums of money into capital stock, making working class people the largest shareholders of many corporations.

What is Being Done

From a communication perspective, I'm interested in knowing why Corporate Social Responsibility gets such good media coverage and so much attention. I'm also interested in knowing what we, as communicators, can learn from them. For starters, the anti-corporate movement has a simple message: "Corporations have too much money and power; working people don't have enough," or some variation on that theme. On the other hand, my defense of corporations above is anything but simple, even though I'm pretty good at capturing ideas in words. Did your eyes glaze over as you read my description?

The 'anti' movement also enjoys the luxury of making a good (poor working people) versus bad (rich corporations) argument. That's a moral argument, one that adds spice to any news story. On the other hand, the 'pro' side works largely with rational discourse and the ideas of economists. Third, the protestors bring passion to the anti-corporate message. After all, this is a battle of good against evil, isn't it? Again, the defenders of modern corporations and globalization have to rely on the prosaic science of economists.

The Benefits of CSR

Fourth, the label 'Corporate Social Responsibility' also helps the anti-corporate movement. Not only does the name act as a unifying point for its advocates, but it also implies that CSR is a good thing. After all, who could be against 'social' and 'responsibility'? Now, despite their high media profile and ubiquitous presence, the advocates of CSR have a problem. They may be able to win the attention of reporters and editors, but they haven't had much clout with the real decision makers, the people who run companies, pension plans, and mutual funds.

And, the decision makers aren't likely to be swayed. They understand the role of corporations, and they know where their responsibilities lie. Even widespread public sympathy for CSR isn't likely to have much effect, since they report to shareholders, not to society as a whole. So, perhaps the final lesson we'll take from the anti-corporate movement today is that, sometimes, great communication can only take you so far by itself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Things To Know Before Buying A Home

 buying a home

If you are taking the next step in life and purchasing a home, chances are that you are feeling the pressure and the anxiety that goes along with this difficult decision. Those who buy homes are very anxious, eager to get any information they can about real estate. Before you buy a home, it always helps to learn all that you can.

The first thing you’ll need to do when buying a home is to find out just how much you can qualify for or afford to borrow. You should also make it a point to check your credit and know where you stand. If you have any problems, you should strive to correct them for you attempt to borrow money for a home. The higher credit rating you have, the lower your interest rates will be.

Get Preapproved Before you Start Looking

If you can, you should always attempt to get pre approved by a mortgage broker or lender, as this will show your commitment to the mortgage. Also make sure to look for any payment or prepayment options that can help you take a few years away from your mortgage. Once you have been pre approved for a mortgage and know where you stand with your monthly payments, you can start shopping for property.

When you shop for a home, you should only buy real estate that is perfect for you. Before you start looking, you should always make a list of everything you want your home to have, based on what you want and what you actually need. You should also make sure that you mark out any areas that you are willing to come to a compromise on, just in case you have to.

searching for a homeTo assist you with finding the perfect home, you should enlist the services of a reputable real estate agent. When you meet with your agent, you will go over how much you are willing to spend, and what type of home you are looking for. You’re agent will know where ideal properties are, and help you find the home that is best for you.

Your agent will supply you with a list of potential properties that meet your budget and your features. Once you get the list, you should drive by the homes and check out both the home and the neighborhood. You should consider the appearance and location of the home, safety, access to the freeway, schools nearby, commute time to work, local shopping, and even recreational activities.

Keep Looking - Your New Home is Out There

If you don’t find something that interests you the first time, you should keep looking until you find the home that is best for you. Your agent can help with tours of homes and such, even tell you information about neighborhoods that you aren’t familiar with. If you have chosen a good real estate agent, he will care about helping you find a home and go out of his way to ensure that you get exactly what you want.

To get the most from buying a home, you should always hire a real estate agent that you can trust. Your agent will go a long way in helping you buy a home, from finding properties to giving you pointers and tips along the way. Good real estate agents will care about your satisfaction, and will do all that they can to help you find the home of your dreams. You can always buy a home without a real estate agent, although it will take you longer and you won’t get the help and other amenities that a real estate agent will bring to the table.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Skin Care - The Importance of Prevention and Maintenance


When it comes to skin care, many people don’t think about it until they start to see the first signs of wrinkles, usually some time in their thirties. Although paying attention to skin care is beneficial at any age, it is important to learn the basics of good skin care as early as possible, and make it a routine. Many times, however, people just don’t know where to start. With all of the beauty products on the market, and all of the claims of their cleansing and anti-aging benefits, how can we figure out the best skin care regimens for ourselves? There have been many strides made in the field of skin care, and some of the new skin care products combined with some old, tried-and-true methods of care can help anyone keep their skin in the best shape possible.

Skin care from the inside out

One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that skin care is more than just keeping your skin clean and applying the right kinds of creams. The skin is an organ – the largest organ of the body - and all the organs of the body need good nutrition in order to function properly. With today’s fast food diets and busy lifestyles, where many peoples’ idea of a meal is grabbing a quick bite on the way in or out the door, it’s no wonder that there is a nutritional crisis going on. When it comes to skin care, proper nutrition should be the first thing that we think of. Eating healthy foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats like olive or canola oil can go a long way in helping the skin stay healthy and supple. A good quality vitamin and mineral supplement each day can help too, especially for busy people who don’t watch their diets as closely as they should. To be healthy, the skin needs the right balance of vitamins and minerals, especially the B vitamins, anti-oxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, and essential minerals like calcium and magnesium. Proper eating habits and vitamin and mineral supplementation should be considered the first and most essential beauty products and anti-aging products on our lists.

The Importance of Prevention in Skin Care

It is much harder for skin care beauty products and anti-aging products to work when we don’t work to prevent many skin care problems. Good nutrition is one way to do this, but we also need to do more. One of the most damaging elements to the skin is the sun. Not so long ago, people regarded a nice tan as a sign of healthy skin. Today, most of us know that too much exposure to the ultra-violet rays of the sun and even the so called “safe” UVA rays that come from tanning booths is extremely damaging, and dangerous, to the skin. UV and UVA rays cause premature aging of the skin, and can also cause other skin conditions such as rashes, inflammation, and skin cancer. A good quality sun block lotion is an essential beauty product to have on hand at all times – with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sun block should be worn all the time when you are outside – ultra violet rays are still present even on cloudy days – and should be reapplied whenever necessary. Hats work well for shielding our faces from the sun, as well as trying to always sit in the shade and not directly in the sun.


Keeping skin clean is essential for good skin care. A mild soap that doesn’t dry the skin can be good, and there are several beauty products on the market that focus on safe skin cleansing. Your skin should be cleansed before applying or reapplying any creams or lotions, and any make-up used on the face should be as clean as possible.

Creams and Lotions

Today there are a variety of creams and lotions on the market that are very helpful for skin care. Beauty products and anti-aging products for the skin have been developed over the years that can help the skin renew itself, that can prevent or reduce wrinkles, help prevent or reduce other signs of skin aging, and clear up acne and other debilitating skin conditions. Exfoliating skin creams help the skin slough off old skin cells and produce newer, more resilient skin cells. Certain moisturizers not only keep the skin supple, they can also help the skin rejuvenate itself, and can soften or plump lines and wrinkles, making them noticeably smoother and less apparent. There are creams and lotions for specific areas of the face and body, such as creams for the delicate area around the eyes, the thicker and rougher area of the elbow, or the vulnerable area of the neck. There are non-prescription and prescription creams that can be extremely helpful for clearing up acne and blackheads.

One of the best things that you can do is consult a dermatologist to figure out the best beauty regimen for your skin type. With all of the wonderful beauty products and anti-aging products on the market, as well as some knowledge about nutrition and preventative skin care, your skin can look its best for a very long time.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Aquatic Life You Can Expect to Find in the Caribbean


The Caribbean is an exciting place to go on vacation with its beaches, food, and warm hospitality. However, one of the biggest attractions in the Caribbean is underwater. From colorful reefs to rare sea creatures, the islands of the Caribbean are among the best in the world for diving, snorkeling, or simply viewing from a glass-bottomed boat. Here is some aquatic life you can expect to see in the Caribbean.

Coral Reefs

The coral reefs are fundamental to maintaining life underwater and are a blaze of color. Many aquatic creatures are dependent on them as a habitat. Whether a novice or an advanced diver, there are opportunities to view reefs and the underwater world. You can snorkel or dive to see some of the most brilliant natural coral formations on the planet. Look for fan coral, walls, and diverse shapes in the reefs themselves. The colors will take your breath away, but you should be aware that the ecosystem is fragile- so no touching. Among the best coral reefs in the Caribbean is the Soufriere Marine Reserve in St Lucia, Montego Bay, Jamaica, and the Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman.


Clownfish are among the most common aquatic creatures in the Caribbean and are frequently seen darting between coral and rocks. When snorkeling or observing from a glass-bottomed boat, you can also expect to see angelfish, squirrel fish, and jack mackerel. The varieties of fish are astounding- there's a lot more than clownfish and angelfish. Jamaica's southern coastline is renowned for its rich marine life. 


The very mention of a shark scares some people, but their reputation hides the fact that many are endangered species. If you go scuba diving in the Caribbean, you may be lucky to see a shark. Local diving guides know where the sharks hang out; however, they also know the best times to dive safely to observe these creatures. Some resorts offer shark feeding experiences, but you can also see them naturally, just hanging around a reef. Common varieties of sharks seen in the Caribbean include the Blacktip Reef Shark, Nurse Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks, and the Caribbean Reef Shark.


Turtles are famous in the Caribbean but are also endangered because of overfishing. There are many conservation projects across the Caribbean with places to see sea turtles, including the Grenadines, Jamaica, and Dominica. You might see a turtle when snorkeling or diving if you're lucky. Some resorts have excursions to see turtles around the breeding season. In addition, places like all-inclusive Montego Bay have many aquatic activities, including observing local wildlife.

Manta Rays

They look fearsome, and yet the rays are dramatically beautiful. The Caribbean is one of the best places to see manta rays as they glide across the ocean, even though they are very rare. Some stand-out sightings have been in the Mexican Caribbean, where there are conservation projects. Still, you'll find them in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Curacao as well. They are best seen while scuba diving, so consider taking a course before you go on vacation.


The Caribbean is also home to the barracuda, a fearsome fish that preys on others for food. These fish are fast-moving and are known for their striped appearance. For this reason, they are frequently seen around coral reefs, where game anglers target them. Some resorts have deep-sea fishing opportunities, especially in Antigua, where you can spend the day fishing for blue marlin, Mahi Mahi, and barracuda in season.


Dolphins are among the most intelligent creatures on the planet and inhabit the waters around the Caribbean. You're most likely to see them on a boat trip or en route to a diving site as they sometimes follow the sound of others. Watching dolphins in their natural environment is a privilege and a memory to cherish. If you are swimming or jet skiing and see a dolphin, take care not to scare it away by getting too close. Simply observe this beautiful animal from a distance and enjoy the experience.

One of the top reasons for visiting the Caribbean is the aquatic wildlife and experiences. There's so many ways to experience it, like heading to an all-inclusive Montego Bay resort, with range of water sports and opportunities to see reefs. Or you can encounter the underwater world all over the Caribbean islands with dive boats and snorkeling for all levels of visitors. So, respect the wildlife and enjoy observing these creatures in their natural habitats for the experience of a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

8 Things Seniors Should Keep in Mind While Planning a Trip to Costa Rica

 costa rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful country and one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty and is a popular destination for travelers who want to explore the country's stunning landscapes. The country is also known as the happiest country in the world, making it an ideal place to visit with your family or friends. However, traveling can be difficult for seniors because they tend to need more assistance than younger people when going on trips. Costa Rica is a gorgeous place to visit, but you should be aware of some things before you go so that your trip goes smoothly and safely.

Consider Booking a Special Transportation Service

If you are a senior citizen, the sights, sounds, and smells of Costa Rica will be a delight. However, if you have any physical limitations or like more time to enjoy your destination, consider booking a special transportation service before leaving home.

There are many options available in Costa Rica for seniors. Some handicapped transportation service providers offer carefree day tours. It includes food and beverages so that all you have to do is sit back and let them take care of everything else. Others provide transportation around town with stops at popular tourist attractions so you can explore on your terms. You don't need to worry about getting lost or having to schedule extra time for travel between locations.

Plan for These Factors While Visiting Costa Rica

  • The weather can be unpredictable.
  • The language barrier is quite significant, so you will have to rely on your guide or hotel staff for the most part when traveling around the country.
  • Wildlife is everywhere in Costa Rica, from the ocean to mountains and forests, so you should watch for any signs of danger.
  • Stay away from animals that may be sick or aggressive.
  • And finally, the terrain is often steep and rocky because of all the volcanoes surrounding most parts of this Central American country. Therefore, make sure you're wearing proper footwear before heading out on a hike.

Make Reservations Ahead of Time to Ensure Right Accommodations

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, it is necessary to make reservations ahead of time. It will ensure a place to stay when you arrive at your destination. Early reservations can also help save money, as hotels often offer lower rates for reservations. Making reservations ahead of time can reduce the risk of space shortage at your chosen hotel in Costa Rica.

Climate in Costa Rica

The climate in Costa Rica varies by region. The highlands are colder than the lowlands, but it's still hot and humid throughout the country. The rainy season is from May to November, while the dry season is from December to April.

During your stay, be aware of what month you're in so that you can expect weather conditions accordingly. For example, if you plan on visiting a rainforest during your trip, then make sure it's during the wet season because that's when it will be most lush and green.

Do Consult Your Doctor

  • If you have any medical conditions, check with your doctor about special precautions you must take while traveling abroad.
  • Carry the right prescriptions.
  • Ensure you have enough medication for your trip.
  • Keep all the medication you need for the climate.
  • Put any emergency medications also in your bag.
  • If you travel with a companion or caretaker, it may be wise for that person to bring along documentation from your doctor. The doctor's prescription must state your ability to travel independently and do not need special assistance during the trip.

Search for an Experienced Trip Maker Who Can Arrange Tours for Seniors

When seniors plan a tour to Costa Rica, the company must be reliable. The company must have experience arranging trips for senior citizens and have good reviews from former customers.

There are several things seniors should look for when searching for a reliable company. First, ask about their previous clientele. If they have worked with many seniors in the past, then there's a good chance that your trip will go smoothly. Getting references from other people who have used them is also necessary so you can call them and ask about their experience with the business. If this seems too time-consuming, find out whether a particular travel agency has experience with senior tours by asking directly to its employees.

Check for the compensation in the agreement if something goes wrong on your vacation caused by an error made by your tour guide. They should cover everything while compensating you accordingly because they caused it all through their negligence or lack thereof.

Don't Forget to Enjoy

  • Hiking: Costa Rica is known for its hiking trails, so take advantage of these activities. It is recommendable that seniors avoid strenuous activities.
  • Wildlife watching: Costa Rica is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot everything from pumas to parrots to monkeys. While there are many different species to explore, you should be aware of the risks involved in hiking and wildlife watching before visiting this country.
  • Visit the colonial towns, theatres, museums, etc.

Do Your Research

If you're planning on traveling to Costa Rica, here are a few things seniors should remember. First and foremost, do your research before going out on tour. You don't want to be surprised by any unexpected costs or complications once you arrive at your destination. Make sure to research the best places to visit and the best hotels in which to stay while on vacation. Researching transportation services is also necessary because travel can be difficult if you don't know how to get around town efficiently while staying safe.

Researching medical services is another way seniors can prepare themselves for their trips. Knowing where one can get medical care is essential when traveling alone or with family members. In addition, you can encounter any chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Finally, seniors should take time researching activities that interest them, so they know what kind of activities will be available when exploring different areas of Costa Rica.

Proper Planning is Necessary for Seniors

It's important to note that Costa Rica has a lot of activities and attractions for seniors, but not all of them are free. Some require a small fee or additional purchase. For example, it will cost per person if you want to go on a ride at one of the amusement parks. Similarly, the zip line course in Monteverde National Park is also a paid service.

With proper planning and budgeting for these extra costs, seniors can avoid any annoying and problematic situation while exploring Costa Rica independently. It is possible for seniors who live abroad to visit this Central American country without breaking their bank accounts and have an amazing time doing so.

Costa Rica is a beautiful place to visit, and there are many things that you should be aware of while visiting Costa Rica. You should make reservations ahead of time to ensure that you have the right accommodations during your stay in this country. Prepare yourself for the climate during certain times of the year before leaving for your trip.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Balcony Patio and Courtyard Gardening

 balcony gardening

People choose balcony, patio, and courtyard gardening for many different reasons. Some are moving from a large house to smaller accommodation, some don’t want the hassle of a large property, and some chose to live in rental property to avoid the high-cost of owning a home. Whatever the reason, this doesn’t mean we can’t garden. No space is too small for a small space garden. One plant in a container is a garden. In fact, ever more gardening options are available in terms of pots, half-barrels, window boxes, troughs, cast-iron planters, recycled materials – the list is unending with possibilities.

Planning a Small Space Garden

When planning your small space garden several steps are fundamental. The first consideration is to determine what purpose this space will serve. Do you want to grow vegetables, herbs, entertain family and friends, meditate, create a place of peace, healing, a memorial garden – the list is endless. Next, walk around your space and really look at what you have. Where are doors, sheds, permanent planters located? Is there any clutter? Clear out the clutter by asking yourself: ‘Do I love it? Have I used it in the past year?’ If it no longer serves you, turf it out, paint it or fix it, give it to somebody who needs it.

If possible, take a chair and sit down, move it around, and think about where the energy feels best for you. Wherever that is, place your seating such as a park bench, lounge, Muskoka chairs, dining furniture, swing, etc. Do you want a formal or informal setting? What features do you want? Features such as water, flowers, vegetables, herbs, wind chimes, wild life, colour, etc. add the finishing touches to your small space garden. Finally, make a plan particularly if you are going to use large features such as a half-barrel. Once filled with soil you will not want to be moving it.

Creating a Small Space Garden

Containers. Generally speaking natural materials such as wood, clay, stone, or cast iron in all their forms make better companions for plants. Remember that wet soil weighs a lot so if you garden on a balcony weight restrictions may apply. Containers made from lighter weight materials such as fiberglass are ideal for roof or balcony gardens. Styles of containers include hanging baskets, wirework stands and baskets, wood window boxes, sinks, troughs, galvanized buckets, old shoes or boots, bathtubs, old tires, and all manner of recycled objects.

Scale. Scale is extremely important in small space gardening. For example, small plants look more balanced in small containers, large plants in large containers. I especially like the effect of vines growing on trellis in half-barrels with smaller plants edging the container. In the half-barrels I use, I have grown many different vines but have found that the effect of scarlet runner pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) is really a knockout with their gorgeous red flowers and you can eat them too.


Which plants prefer which location? Choose plants according to the conditions suitable for their optimum growth. Plants such as begonia (Begonia x semperflorens), coleus (Coleus x hybridous), and Fuchsia (Fuchsia x hybrida) prefer shaded areas while geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum), marigolds (Tagetes erecta), and petunia (Petunia x hybrida) prefer full sun. Wind can be a major factor and damage fragile plants. Choose plants that are wind tolerant such as many of the grasses; the sound of the rustling of the grasses as the wind blows through them is very pleasing to the ear.

balcony gardenSoil. I buy pre-mixed potting soil from the garden centers or shopping malls. These are generally lighter in weight to carry, sterilized to prevent weed seeds from germinating, and contain a lot of peat moss that helps loosen the soil so that it doesn’t compact in pots. I also buy organic soil that doesn’t have artificial chemicals added as I dump my pots of used soil into the garden where I grow vegetables.

Watering. Check daily as container plants often dry out more quickly. This is especially true if you are using clay pots. Make sure pots have drainage holes, as roots sitting in water will rot. When there has been excessive rain or water, empty saucers that are full. If you garden on a balcony sit plants on something to catch the water so that it doesn’t run down on your neighbours.

Fertiliser. Due to frequent watering, container plants require fertiliser on a more consistent basis then plants in the ground do. Use organic fertilisers such as blood meal, bone meal, or fish emulsion, particularly if the soil is going to be added to the garden at the end of the season, as chemical fertilisers harm the wildlife.

Function. When you are creating your small space garden you are actually designing an outdoor room. Keep in mind that this can be colour co-ordinated to appear as an extension of your home. I move my indoor plants outside for the summer (which they love) and design these areas as garden rooms.

Focal point. Create a focal point such as a large pot, tall plant or tree, colour, or a water feature. Perennial vines such as Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) will grow in a large container and come back year after year. Create a sense of mystery by hiding a plant or ornament behind something else to give the pleasure of discovering it.


In a small space, use three colours such as pinks, blues, and whites; reds, oranges, and yellows; reds, whites, and blues; or reds, whites, and purples that provide continuity rather than too many colours which tend to be distracting. Cool colours make the space appear bigger and brighter while intense colours shrink spaces. A white and green colour theme called a ‘moon garden’ is more formal and particularly at night is spectacular. Many white flowers are fragrant at night as well.

Lighting. I especially like the small Xmas lights hidden in plants and interwoven throughout a trellis with climbing vines. Up lighting with small spotlights can focus attention on a particular area for evening entertaining.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

A Short History of Cigars and Tobacco



Origins of Cigars

Have you ever wondered where cigars were first produced? It is widely believed that cigars were first produced in Spain. But before cigars became all the rage in Europe, tobacco was needed to make them. Tobacco is indigenous to the Americas, where native peoples have produced it for hundreds of years. It is believed that the Maya of Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and parts of Central America cultivated tobacco, and even smoked it! Tobacco use spread to other tribes, both north and south. It is believed that its first use in the United States was probably among the tribe along the Mississippi. It wasn't until Christopher Columbus sailed his famous voyage to the Americas in 1492 that the rest of the world came to know tobacco.

It is said that Columbus was not impressed by tobacco or its use among native peoples, but many sailors grew found of the strange plant. Soon it quickly caught on in Spain and Portugal. From there, it spread to France, where the French ambassador Jean Nicot lent his name to the scientific name for tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The origins of the word tobacco itself are still suspect, although many believe it is simply a corruption of the word Tobago, which is the name of a Caribbean island. Still others believe it comes from the word Tabasco, a region (and now state) in Mexico.

Early Tobacco Plantations

The first tobacco plantation in the United States was established in Virginia in 1612. More tobacco plantations followed in Maryland soon after. Although tobacco became a popular crop, it was only smoked in pipes. The cigar was not introduced to the United States until the late 18th century. Israel Putnam, an army general who had served in the Revolutionary War, is credited with introducing the cigar to the United States. He had traveled to Cuba after the Revolutionary War and returned with a box of Cuban cigars. Their popularity quickly spread, and soon enough cigar factories were established in the area of Harford, Connecticut, where General Putnam resided.

In Europe, cigar production and consumption did not achieve widespread popularity until after the Peninsula War in the early 19th century. British and French veterans returned to their homelands after years of serving in Spain with their tobacco pipes in tow. Among the rich and fashionable, the favored method of taking tobacco was the cigar. Cigar smoking remains a habit associated with the rich and discriminating of upper society.

Puerto Rican Cigars

The tradition of Puerto Rican Cigars reaches far into the past, where, hundreds of years ago on the Island of Enchantment, native Taino Indians cultivated the majestic tobacco leaf to produce a hand-rolled tube of cured tobacco, which they named sikar. The term Sikar was then taken immediately into the Spanish language as cigarro. Snuff was all the rage in Europe in the 1450s. With the arrival of cigarros, Puerto Rican tobacco became the ultimate luxury of the royalty in Europe for almost two hundred years! More than half the shipping tonnage between 1460 and 1660 contained cigars from Puerto Rico.

Although tobacco is cultivated in about 120 climatically diverse countries and as far north as latitude 50°, the finer, marketable tobacco products come from only a few select regions. The Caribbean is known as on if the finest!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

West Coast of the United States. What to visit in a week

 welcome to fabulous las vegas

If you are planning to travel to the United States and make your way along the West Coast, this is the post for you.

Many times, when we decide to take the plunge and book a big trip, we have everything well organised, knowing where to go at every moment of the day and what to do to make the most of every possible minute. However, there are also people who are acting on the fly, so maybe they need to have a bit of an idea of what to do on a route like this.

Los Angeles

Most travelers begin their route in the City of Dreams and Stars, Los Angeles, as it is located right at the start of the West Coast of the United States.

This city gives you the opportunity to do a thousand different things: stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, enjoy the breath-taking views from the famous Griffith Observatory, lose yourself amongst the shops on Rodeo Drive or take the famous star-studded mansion tour in Beverly Hills. If you are up for a real American event that the locals enjoy like nobody's business, you can try your hand at an NBA game.

The second day in Los Angeles could be spent swimming and sunbathing at the famous Venice Beach. When you get tired, the best plan is to rent a bike and cycle to the promenade, and then visit the Santa Monica Pier, where you can grab a bite to eat at one of its hundreds of restaurants. To end the day, how about an amusement park? In the area, you will find Pacific Park with plenty of rides and attractions where you can have fun like a little kid.

The Grand Canyon

Directly from Los Angeles, the next stop is the Grand Canyon. After driving part of Route 66, you will make your way to Colorado to discover the magnificent views that this rocky system has to offer. It is a great way to get a taste of Route 66 and experience what it is like for those who decide to take on the adventure.

One thing you should keep in mind is to get there around sunset for a unique experience. How cool would it be to watch the sunset from the Grand Canyon in Colorado?

Las Vegas

Now it is time to go from chilling and relaxing in Colorado to one the most famous city in the world: Las Vegas. The City that Never Sleeps will be waiting for you with open arms, and if you have enough time, you can try your luck at getting your picture taken with the sign at the entrance, although be warned that there will be a long queue.

A great activity is to visit the hotels that attract the most attention on the Las Vegas Strip. Some of them offer free shows, so you should not miss such an opportunity.

When the sun goes down, the fun begins. On Fremont Street there is the famous Golden Nugget casino, the one presided over by the neon-drawn cowboy. It is impossible to go to Las Vegas and not play one of the slot machines. You can even take your chances playing blackjack. You are sure to leave wanting more, and we understand that you can't spend every day you visit Las Vegas inside a casino, so VegasSlotsOnline gives you the chance to play real money slots and games such as poker, roulette, or slots. You do not have to worry about security, as you can be 200% sure that the protection they offer is excellent. Plus, you can play from your bed with your mobile phone and pay with a credit card, crypto, or e-wallet. Even from Las Vegas airport, although they also have their own slot machines inside!

San Francisco

To unwind after a few days in Las Vegas, what better place to visit than San Francisco? A great idea is to start your route from California, heading for Santa Barbara. Once there, you should enjoy the day and take a break. Perhaps a stroll along the beach would do you good or take a boat-bus tour.

The next day, get back on the adventure and head to Monterey. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities in the area if you decide to do this adventure with young children – they will appreciate it! Then head to Silicon Valley to discover the magic that surrounds this small tech town, and finally spend the night in San Francisco.

Normally this route is usually done in about two weeks, but as you have seen, it is not impossible to do it in one. Would you add any other destination to the itinerary?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Popular Summer Vacation Destinations for Golfers

 myrtle beach golf resort

Each year, a large number of individuals take a summer trip. These trips may involve a summer vacation with the family, a romantic trip with your partner, or a trip with friends. No matter who you vacation with, selecting a summer vacation destination can be difficult. It is sometimes hard to find a destination that offers activities that everyone will enjoy. If you are an avid golfer, you may want to consider vacationing at a golf resort.

Golf resorts are found all around the world. If you are looking for a golf resort in the United States, you have a large number of destinations to choose from. In many states, golf resorts are only open for the spring and summer months. A number of golf resorts can be found in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, and Texas.

What Else to do at Golf Resorts

While the main focus of a golf resort is golf, there are a large number of additional activities that can be found at a golf resort. These additional activities may be important when you are vacationing with your family. If they do not enjoy the sport of golf, you will want to make sure that additional activities are available onsite or at another nearby location. If this is the case, you may want to examine local amusement parks or beaches.

beach golf resortIf you are interested in staying at a golf resort that has nearby beaches, you will want to examine Myrtle Beach golf resorts. Myrtlewood Golf Resort and Villas is located near Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. This golf resort, which is a short drive to the beach, is ideal for golfers that are vacationing with their family. In addition to Myrtlewood, you can find a number of other golf resorts that are located in close proximity to a beach by searching for golf resorts along the coast.

California Golf Resorts

In addition to searching for nearby activities for the whole family, you may want to research and book a stay at a golf resort that has the whole family in mind. The Marriott Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, located in California is just one of the many examples of golf resorts that are tailored to the whole family. The Marriot Rancho Las Palmas Resort offers tennis courts, swimming pools, a large water slide, kid’s camps, and onsite spas.

When it comes to selecting a golf resort as your summer vacation destination, you will want to examine the cost of vacationing there. The cost of your stay should be just as important as the onsite or nearby activities and the location of the resort. If you are traveling with your family or another individual who will not golf, you should search for golf courses that offer discounts to non-golfers.

For many individuals the purpose of a golf resorts is to relax and golf. The cost of a golf resort stay includes the use of onsite golf courses. The use of golf courses may include golfing, private lessons, and golf cart use. If someone in your vacationing party will not be golfing, they should not have to pay to use the golf services. Many of the golf courses, located in the Untied States, will not charge full price for non-golfers.

Vacationing at a Golf Resort

If you are interested in vacationing at a golf resort, but you are on a budget, there are a number of ways that you can save money. You can search for online golf resort coupons or you can search for golf resort packages. These packages can be found online through a number of different discount travel websites. In addition to using the internet, your local travel agent may be able to obtain exclusive discounts for you.

If you want to spend hours or even days golfing then a golf resort vacation may be just what you need. Whether you are vacationing alone, with your family, or with friends, you can all find activities and excitement at one of the many golf resorts located in the United States.

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Sunday, July 10, 2022

Travel to Cancun: The Ultimate All-Inclusive Vacation Destination

playa mujeres

Cancun is Mexico's premier resort destination, far outshining the role that Acapulco had once played for North America's top holiday vacation nation. If images of white sand beaches, clear blue water, jet skiing, scuba diving and lounging by the pool aren't enough of a draw, add to that image sensational nightclubs with larger than life shows and a plethora of ancient Mayan ruins and you have a sense of what the Cancun experience is all about.

Jutting into the Caribbean Sea, Cancun rests at the very tip of the Yucatan Peninsula on land that was commonly used as refuge for seafaring pirates. The resort town was built in the mid 1970s in close proximity to, and in some cases on top of, prized ancient Mayan ruins. The main drag is a string of beautiful Art Deco and high-rise hotels followed by a series of nightclubs ranging from exclusively posh or fantasy-like industrial to warmer more intimate discotequas with their own local groovy flavor. Regular 24 hour taxi service to and from anywhere in town makes choosing your accommodations almost as simple as booking your flight on Fares!

Beaches, Beaches, Beaches

Let's talk about the beaches in Cancun. With white sand running through your toes, warm, crystal blue waters and waves that crash just gently enough to make calming background pink noise, it doesn't get much better than this. Some of the best beaches in the area are Playa Delfines, Playa Chac Mool and Playa Norte. And if you are concerned about sargassum seaweed, the best place to visit is Atelier Estudio Playa Mujeres resort complex, in the north area of Cancun.

Ruins, Not Ruined

Although simple mention of Cancun alone evokes thoughts of extravagant parties and spring break benders, make sure to take it easy enough so that you may enjoy a day trip to the surrounding Mayan ruins with a clear mind and an appreciative attitude. The most famous ruins are at Chichen Itza in the center of the peninsula. Inhabited from 445 BC to 1204 AD, then mysteriously abandoned, these ruins are centered about a pyramid with steps that culminate at giant serpent heads. Visit during either of the equinoxes and the shadows will appear as though a giant snake is descending the pyramid. Closer to Cancun, Tulum is also a popular Mayan destination that overlooks the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. The Temple of the Frescoes has an ornamentally painted interior and the Temple of the Descending God is adorned with remarkably intricate bas-relief carvings. There are at least ten other major archeological sites accessible from Cancun by tour operators, and a few recently discovered minor ruins in the hotels' very own midst.

Cancun, and Then Some

If beach bumming, water sports and overall paradise make you a bit restless, there are more than enough excursions to engage in once you find yourself on the sandy white beaches of Cancun. On a daily basis, seasoned guides lead eager hikers into the jungle to discover where the wild things live. Also, horseback rides are available along the coast and up into the mainland. A short ferry or plane ride away is Cozumel, Mexico's largest Caribbean island and one of the world's hottest spots for scuba diving, not to mention you can find a few private companies who offer swimming with dolphins. If true escape is what you're looking for, Isla de Mujeres is your answer. Fifteen minutes from Cancun by boat, this small tropical asylum is a peaceful retreat from resort life on the mainland. Cycling is very popular around the island, as well as snorkeling and chatting up the occasional pirate that passes through. Take a peek at the mysterious stone statuettes of semi-clothed women left by the Mayas.

Cancun is clearly an easy number one choice for any beach vacation. Families, singles, couples and teens should feel at ease and at home in this Yucatan dreamland that Mexico has made into an all-encompassing, all-inclusive care free environment with the vacationer's desires right at their fingertips! Look no further for the perfect escape, because you've found it when you travel to Cancun.

Friday, July 8, 2022

How to Explore Puerto Rico Like a Local

 A place to start if you want to explore Puerto Rico like a local

Rum and sandy beaches, crowded nightlife, and amazing breakfasts... Puerto Rico is a whole package you won't regret spending your vacation on. However, if you want to get to know all the magic of Isla del Encanto, you'll want to do it like locals. Here's how to explore Puerto Rico like a local and truly experience its spirit.

Find beaches with no name

The coastline of Puerto Rico is dotted with stunning beaches with powdery white sand and turquoise sea. Even though there are some fantastic ones in Vieques (another island part of Puerto Rico), you're not going to see any locals there. If you want a local-like experience, just pull over on the side of the road to an unnamed beach and jump into the sea. If you're fortunate, one of the stands here will also sell coconut-flavored arepas.

[caption id="attachment_14542" align="alignnone" width="640"]An abandoned beach An accidentally found beach hides the most interesting treasures[/caption]

Icacos Island is full of them

Icacos Island, located in the vicinity of Fajardo, has the feel of a lonely island. A perfect place to leave your worries behind. Because there are no facilities, umbrellas, food, or any other beach amenities, you will need to carry all of your own beach gear with you. The boat will drop you down on the leeward side, which is known for its tranquil waters and excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. The reef in this area is rich in marine life, including fish, rays, and even turtles.

Go on a treasure hunt in Balneario de Boqueron

Balneario de Boqueron was a shelter for pirates in the past, but today it is a haven for beachgoers and local endangered species. Allegedly, the pirates concealed their riches in the surrounding caves. A good excuse to go treasure hunting, right? According to the experience of experts from Verified Movers, this legend makes many passionate treasure hunters move here. Also, it should be no surprise that this beach in the southeast of Puerto Rico has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award. It's one of the world's cleanest and most environmentally friendly beaches!

Paddle along the Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques in a kayak

This is the bay with the greatest amount of bioluminescence in the world. Because it is very hard to capture in a photograph (and anything that can be seen online has been heavily edited), it is something you must experience firsthand. Just watching this miracle with your loved one is one of the most romantic things you can do here. When there is movement in the water, the microbes light up like stars that shine in the dark. It's like magic. You'll keep waiting for mermaids (or pirates) to appear out of nowhere.

Don't miss out on the nightlife

Puerto Ricans are passionate people. Therefore, expressing passion through dance is the most natural thing for locals here. That's why the nightlife in Puerto Rico is something you don't want to miss. Brava is the place to go to a party all night. If you leave your house sooner than two in the morning, you're simply not doing it right. After having a good time at the party, go to the beach to watch the dawn.

Besides Brava, check out these places:

  • La Placita de Santurce
  • La Barrita del Lado
  • Tamboo Bar
[caption id="attachment_14545" align="alignnone" width="640"]A person on the beach Watching the dawn after a night of passionate salsa is the experience out of this world[/caption]

To explore Puerto Rico like a local - prepare your tastebuds

The same way Puerto Ricans are passionate about music and dance, they are also passionate about their food. There are so many different foods you need to try in Puerto Rico! If you want a truly wholesome experience, make sure to:

  • Visit El Mesón Sandwiches for breakfast after a night out.
  • Check out Los Kioskos de Luquillo.
  • Take a bite of Puerto Rican avocado. It is not like the avocado we have in these parts of the world. The skin's texture is more refined and has a beautiful green color. The flavor is mild and nearly juicy.
  • Try Mofongo. This is the most Puerto Rican meal your tastebuds will meet.

Take a sip of marvelous Piña Colada and Pitorro

Pitorro was traditionally distilled at home using sugarcane or molasses. ''Puerto Rican moonshine'' contains additional components such as sliced fruit, coffee, or hazelnuts. It's a robust beverage that will get your body temperature up. Trying it is a good way to immerse yourself in this rich and beautiful culture. Also, Piña Colada is invented in Puerto Rico, so it's no surprise you'll find the best of the best right here.

[caption id="attachment_14543" align="alignnone" width="640"]A bartender and a cocktail Puerto Rican bartenders make the most amazing cocktails[/caption]

Don't miss the rum

Since Isla del Encanto is a world leader in rum production, you don't want to miss being enchanted with the finest dimes of this beverage. The favorite drink of pirates will be your favorite drink too here. Check out Sangria - one of the local special drinks with rum and acai as the main ingredients.

Beware - you might become a local

All the treasures the Island of Enchantment offers might enchant you so much you'll want to move here. The decision is easy to make when you meet all this beauty, but collecting documentation for moving overseas - not so much. So, it might be best to contact experienced professional movers to help you handle the paperwork. That way, you'll be able to enjoy the wonders of your new home and explore Puerto Rico like a local as soon as possible.

Bottom line

Living on this beautiful archipelago seems like living a dream sometimes. When you explore Puerto Rico like a local, you can live the dream, too, at least for a brief moment. Besides trying out the things on this list, make sure to become friends with as many locals as possible. Because truly experiencing the place is never about entities or beautiful views. It's about meeting people and sharing cultures through true, genuine interaction. Besides, a good Puerto Rican friend might uncover even more valuable local gems that will enchant you fully on Isla del Encanto.