The search for better broadband should start with existing local providers

NEW NTCA logo 4CRural connections

By Shirley Bloomfield, CEO
NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association

There is no question that broadband Internet service is the key to economic and community development, especially in rural America. However, there are differing opinions in Washington about the best way to continue building our nation’s connected infrastructure.

While I applaud President Obama’s recent attention on increasing every American’s access to robust and affordable broadband, it’s not clear that his focus on creating more government-run networks in marketplaces where private operators already exist is the best path toward bringing more jobs and opportunity to rural America.

If our leaders are looking for an excellent model for what can be accomplished, we believe they should turn to the experts who have decades of experience deploying and maintaining modern telecommunications infrastructure: community-based, independent telcos like yours.

Rural telecommunications providers are delivering advanced technology to their customers.

Rural telecommunications providers are delivering advanced technology to their customers.

Nationwide, there are over 1,000 technology providers like yours that serve over 4 million households in the most sparsely populated pockets of our country, deploying high-speed, high-quality broadband services. For decades, these providers have gone above and beyond to build the infrastructure that allows our country’s most rural markets to access the same technologies found in our largest cities — and they’ve done it all under the extremely difficult financial and physical conditions that come with deploying technologies in rural and remote communities.

Thanks to the hard work and commitment of companies such as your local provider, rural America now has access to affordable broadband in some of the most remote locations. But the sustainability of those networks is at risk, and other areas need broadband as well. Policymakers in search of answers to these communications challenges in rural America should turn first to those who have shown they can get the job done time and again, rather than casting about for the next new thing, creating regulatory uncertainty and putting at risk significant investments already made in existing networks through the prospect of redundant or wasteful overbuilding.

There’s already a great broadband success story out there in rural America, and it is being written by community-based telecom providers like yours. As our national broadband story progresses, we should strive to build upon proven initiatives and leverage existing efforts that are working, rather than pursue new uncharted pathways. As this debate plays out, you can be assured that you have a voice in Washington, as your provider joins with hundreds of others through NTCA as the unified voice of America’s rural broadband companies.

Tech Tips: Watch the Big Dance on a new HDTV!

Matt_3969Hi, I’m Matt Garrett. I work at the WK&T Technology Store in Mayfield. In this column, in each issue, you’ll learn about technology and read simple tips to get the most out of your electronics. For more tips or help with your devices, please come see me at the store. I’m always happy to help!

Each spring in Kentucky, you know where to find basketball fans — in front of their TVs watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Whether you’re cheering on the Wildcats, Cardinals, Racers or Vols, there’s no better way to watch March Madness than on a new, high-definition television.

When it comes to choosing a new television, buying the right one can seem like a daunting task. The choices for new HDTVs are practically limitless: There are LED and plasma screens, smart TVs, 4K resolution and curved televisions — just to name a few. Then you’ll have to choose the right size and the brand you like best while keeping the choice within your budget. But don’t worry if you already feel like it’s too much to handle. Just look at it like this: You’re going to spend countless hours with your new TV, so you want to make sure it’s the right one.

LED (light emitting diode) televisions offer bright screens with brilliant colors that are especially good for movies and gaming. Plasma screens are an older technology, which means they’ll be less expensive, and they offer a more cinematic-type picture. 4K TVs are the new kids on the block. They offer an incredibly high-quality picture — nearly four times better than a standard 1080p HDTV. However, most television and movie studios haven’t started filming in 4K yet, so you’ll be ready even if you have to wait a little while before it gets here.

Remember how 3D TVs were going to be the next big thing a few years ago? Curved TVs are the other latest television technology to cause a big buzz. Curved TVs allow you to experience a wider field of view and a greater picture quality. But, much like the 4K TVs, there are drawbacks to curved TVs. Curved TVs generally require the viewer to buy a larger-than-normal model to fully appreciate the new look, and curved TVs are already some of the most expensive currently available.

Whatever size and type of TV you get, consider making it a Smart TV. Smart TVs allow users to connect to their favorite streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Pandora and Spotify.

When it comes to the size of your new TV, measure the space you have available and keep in mind that the larger the television, the further you’ll need to sit from the screen to get the best view.

When deciding how much you want to spend, remind yourself that discounted, off-brand TVs are cheap for a reason and may not last as long or have the features you want. Cheaper TVs can also be considered HD even if they only offer 720p resolution. To get the best picture, make sure the TV has 1080p resolution.

If you stick to a name you know and trust, you’ll likely be a lot happier with your choice. In order to stay on budget, remember that a TV with the latest technology will have a higher price, but a proven technology that’s a little older may be the best option to stick within your budget.

The WK&T Technology Store has HD televisions available from 22 inches to 70 inches — whichever one you choose will be the perfect model for you to watch your team make it all the way to the NCAA Championship.

Landline? You still need one in 2015

Today, mobility means everything. We want to check email, log onto Facebook, watch videos, get the news and generally stay connected no matter where we are. And that, of course, includes the ability to make phone calls. With mobile phones in practically everyone’s pocket, some people question the need for a traditional landline. But consider this:

  1. With a landline, you never have to worry about signal strength. Knowing you can get a call through, especially during an emergency, is more than a comfort.
  2. Speaking of emergencies, your landline sends your complete address information — including apartment number — when you dial 911. Cell phones use GPS-based information, which can be inaccurate.
  3. The clarity of a conversation on a landline (if you have a quality wired or cordless handset) is unmatched by any cell phone call.
  4. With the right plan, you’ll never run out of minutes with a landline.
  5. Your “home phone number” provides a way people can always reach you or leave a message. When everyone in the house has their own cell phone with separate numbers, the landline can serve as a central point of contact for the entire family.

Device of the month: Sharp 70-inch Smart TV (Model LE650u)

SharpTVThe Sharp LE650u is an incredible value for the money. It features better picture quality than many similar models of TVs, with accurate colors in both bright and dark rooms. This smart TV has multiple apps pre-installed, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora as well as a Web browser so you can access your favorite streaming services. Sharp was sure to include an easy-to-use remote control with several simple, handy shortcut buttons. If you’re in the market for a great TV at an unbeatable price, the LE650u is a solid value. The WK&T Technology Store has them on hand now.

You’ve got mail

With so many new apps and services to help keep us connected, email is still king in the business world

TelcoBadgeProof2From instant messaging applications such as Skype to social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, the past few years have brought us many new options for connecting electronically. And yet, when it comes to communicating in business, email remains the method of choice.

In the report “Technology’s Impact on Workers,” released by Pew Research Center at the end of last year, 61 percent of workers who use the Internet say that email is very important to doing their job.

“The high value of email comes despite the challenges of the past generation,” the report states, “including threats like spam and phishing and competitors like social media and texting.”

Email’s continued reign as the communications tool of choice has its benefits. The study found that 39 percent of workers believe that email, along with the Internet and cell phones, allows them more flexibility in the hours they work.

The downside to that flexibility, however, is that 35 percent — almost the same amount — say these tools have increased the amount of time they spend working.

BBB chart

Need a boost?

How to get better performance from your Wi-Fi network

74_tplink router internet with objectsWK&T’s fiber network delivers the high speeds and bandwidth you need to enjoy all the Internet has to offer. With a Wi-Fi network, you can extend broadband Internet service throughout your home and across all your devices, including smart TVs, smartphones, computers, tablets, gaming consoles and more.

“If you only have one device connected to the Internet, you’re really just scratching the surface of what broadband Internet can offer,” says Michael Lee, product and sales manager with WK&T. “Not only does a Wi-Fi network let you connect wirelessly to the Internet with your laptop or iPad, but it lets others in your home connect with their devices, too. It opens up a lot of possibilities.”

Weak Signal?

While a Wi-Fi network enhances the capabilities of your Internet connection, it’s important to remember that several factors can affect Wi-Fi signal strength and quality. These include:

  • Distance: Devices closer to the router will have stronger connections.
  • Age: Older devices may use technology that cannot take advantage of today’s faster Internet speeds.
  • Devices: Each device shares part of the total available bandwidth. Several connected devices means less bandwidth for each.
  • Other: Microwaves, cordless phones, fluorescent lights, Bluetooth devices and other electronic devices could interfere with your Wi-Fi signal.

Boosting your Wi-Fi

If your family often connects several devices to your Wi-Fi network at the same time, and your speeds are impacted, contact WK&T to discuss options for upgrading your Internet speeds to match the needs of your home.

If you experience loss of signal in rooms located upstairs or on the opposite side of your home from your router, you may want to consider purchasing a network extender to boost the power of your Wi-Fi network. These small, affordable devices plug into a normal electrical outlet. Once connected to your Wi-Fi network, they extend the reach of your network to more rooms in your home, or even to your patio or deck.

An Option for Extending

TPlinkThere are many options available, but an inexpensive, well-reviewed choice is the TP-LINK TL-WA850RE ($30, Amazon.com). It has one-touch setup with most routers, a signal indicator to let you check performance and an Ethernet port to make wired devices wireless. Similar devices are available at WK&T’s Technology Store as well as most electronics stores.

Email overload? Manage your inbox with these simple tips

With so much importance placed on email in today’s business world, managing your messages can be overwhelming. You can benefit from this communications tool without letting it wreck your day by putting a few simple principles into action.

Set an email schedule. If you make yourself available for email all day long, you leave yourself open to constant distraction. Set a schedule of specific times during the day when you will check email. You may have to adjust it to find the schedule that’s right for you, but try starting with once before lunch and again early afternoon. You will feel more freedom than when you are drawn in by every email that lands in your inbox.

Turn off notifications. You can’t stay focused on any one task if your computer provides a pop-up notification every time an email comes in. Turn off that productivity-killing feature. In fact, shut down your email app altogether and only launch it when you are ready to focus on email.

Organize your inbox. Most email apps allow you to set up folders, filters and rules to bring order to your email madness. It may take a few weeks of adjusting to find the approach that best fits you, but the result will be a more organized workspace. Your mail will be in intuitive categories so that you’ll be able to deal with the most important messages first.

Keep it brief. When you send an exhaustive email with hundreds of words and multiple questions and points, you invite an equally exhaustive response that you’ll have to wade through.

Consider alternatives. Email is not for every conversation. In fact, it’s a terrible way to manage a project. Post messages pertaining to a specific project inside tools such as Basecamp or Trello. Having all related conversations in the same place with related notes and action items will help you track progress.

Is email an important part of your business? Do you have any tips for managing email to work more efficiently? Tell us your story at www.BroadbandBuildsBusiness.com.

Code for success

Fiber helps Ag Connections software company grow

By Patrick Smith

Two renovated tobacco barns with nary a sign out front is not where you would normally look for a thriving tech company.

But for 17 years, Ag Connections has been making a name for itself in the farming world from its headquarters 12 miles southwest of Murray.

The software company, which is settled in two nondescript buildings, keeps 36 people bustling with responsibilities that help this technology firm continue to grow, despite its unlikely location.

Ag Connections co-owner Rick Murdock is helping his company succeed with innovative software for large and small farms.

Ag Connections co-owner Rick Murdock is helping his company
succeed with innovative software for large and small farms.

“This business would not be here without the fiber connection from WK&T,” says Rick Murdock, co-owner of Ag Connections. “Our employees drive 10 miles from home to get to work. The biggest traffic problem they have to worry about is deer along their drive. But right here in Calloway County, we’re working on some cutting-edge stuff.”

Silicon Valley, not Calloway County, has long been the central hub for technology jobs. From the birth of Apple Computer, the height of the dot-com era and today’s fast-paced mobile application development, California has been home to the some of the largest technology firms in the world. But a high-speed fiber Internet connection from providers like WK&T is changing the landscape of where technical jobs can be located.

“These technical jobs can be done from anywhere now,” says Murdock.

That’s fundamental to Ag Connections’ growth. It allows the software company to hire highly skilled employees for technical work right in their hometown. “Our employees grew up here,” he adds. “This is home, and this is where they go to church. They want to be here, and it makes us a stronger company.”

Humble beginnings, extraordinary product

Murdock first met his future business partner and Ag Connections co-owner, Pete Clark, while they both worked in agriculture retail stores. Eventually both Murdock and Clark saw the need for a record-keeping software program that’s specifically tailored to agriculture needs. In 1998, they quit their jobs, mortgaged their homes, hired a software developer and started Ag Connections.

Ag Connections developers, left to right, Mack Harris, Corey Perkins and Brandon Sharp talk about a program they’re working on while co-owner Rick Murdock provides input.

Ag Connections developers, left to right, Mack Harris, Corey Perkins and Brandon Sharp talk about a program they’re working on while co-owner Rick Murdock provides input.

With years of farming and sales experience, both Murdock and Clark found themselves well-suited to market their product to farmers. The Ag Connections software, which growers pay a yearly license fee to use, provides farmers with production record keeping, cost analysis, regulatory compliance records and data sharing within their system. The computer program, which can be accessed on Web browsers and mobile devices, gives farmers the ability to truly know their costs, keep track of their inventory and minimize mistakes.

“Farmers can make the decision whether or not to harvest a crop,” says Clark. “Because of those detailed records from our software, they know that their yields may not be high enough and it may be more cost-effective to leave it in the ground. Otherwise they’d lose money.”

Over time, Ag Connections has grown its customer base by listening to farmers and understanding agriculture. Murdock and Clark started by spending more than 180 days a year on the road, growing the business. Today, they serve more than 3,000 farming operations nationally and internationally, with the software keeping track of more than 11 million acres of farmland.

“We give growers the tools to click on any field they’ve got and see all of the crop history,” says Murdock. “They can see what each item costs and what it costs per acre. They know the day it was planted, the total units used and total units harvested. And finally, they know the average costs per acre, the total gross dollars and operating profit. It’s crucial information for growers to be successful.”

Happy coders

While most might expect to have to move to a larger city for software programming jobs, Ag Connections provides an opportunity for developers to find high-paying jobs near home.

“We get the best employees because they’re the ones that want to live here,” says Murdock. “We’ve never had any difficulty finding qualified workers.”

Ag Connections support specialists, left to right, Chaney Starks, Andrew Gullixson and Kelsey Dublin help a customer on the phone who had a question about using the software.

Ag Connections support specialists, left to right, Chaney Starks, Andrew Gullixson and Kelsey Dublin help a customer on the phone who had a question about using the software.

And unlike larger operations, Ag Connections provides its employees the freedom to work on projects in their own unique style. While some operations may have guidelines that must be followed, Ag Connections isn’t locked into a set formula.

“Some of the things we do they haven’t written the books on yet,” says software developer Mack Harris. “A lot of times these guys know what they want to do, but the technology might not be there yet. They let us spend the time to solve the problem right.”

The developers also listen to the customers. If a farmer finds a problem in the system, programmers can make the change almost immediately. “Agriculture is just now starting to see how data collection and computers are helping farmers out, and it really feels like we’re shaping the direction of farming right now,” says software developer Kody Myers. “There’s a lot of pride in that, and it really feels like, even here in a little tobacco barn, we’re making a change — it’s indirect, but over time we talk to a grower and we see the effect that our work is having on farming.”

The power of partnerships

Murdock is quick to point out that Ag Connections’ success couldn’t have happened without community support. Ag Connections depends on Murray State University for qualified developers and employees. He also counts the help of The Murray Bank and WK&T as vital allies to his company’s success.

Ag Connections’ Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system, provided by WK&T, allows them to transfer calls to sales representatives and employees regardless of whether they’re in the office or out in the field. “It’s given us great flexibility,” says Murdock. “It’s essentially created a virtual office, and calls can be forwarded straight to a cell phone.”

The VoIP combined with fiber has also given Ag Connections the flexibility to provide better customer support and training. Rather than travel to a grower’s to help them with their system, with a fiber connection, support specialists are now able to essentially take over a growers computer and walk them through the issue.

But these partnerships are bigger than just customer support. Partnerships like the one between Ag Connections and WK&T have given people the opportunity to find great jobs locally — jobs that could have easily moved to Paducah or Nashville, but Ag Connections’ success is helping the community prosper.

“Without the bandwidth from WK&T, we would have had to move off that country road a long time ago,” says Murdock.

A nation divided: 150 years later

Relive history on a tour of these prominent Civil War battlefields

By Robert Thatcher

This year, the country will conclude its 150th anniversary remembrance of the Civil War. But don’t worry if you missed the reenactments and fanfare over the past four years. Take this trip on US Highway 41 from Kentucky through Middle Tennessee to find plenty of history while tracing pivotal battles in America’s most costly war.

Stop #1 – Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Where Ulysses Grant became a household name

Fort Donelson National Battlefield, on the banks of the Cumberland River just south of the Kentucky border, is a natural starting point for a drive through Middle Tennessee. It’s also a good beginning militarily.

Dover Hotel

Dover Hotel

“Almost everything that happened in the state is a sequel to what happened here,” says Doug Richardson, Fort Donelson’s chief of interpretation.

Rivers were arteries of commerce for the South, and the Confederates built Fort Donelson to protect the Cumberland and upstream cities like Clarksville and Nashville

But on Feb. 12, 1862, a little-known Union brigadier general named Ulysses S. Grant set his sights on Fort Donelson. He was confident of victory after his gunboats easily took nearby Fort Henry on the Tennessee River.

Donelson was not so easy. Well-positioned Confederate guns brought victory, setting up a successful “break out” through Union lines. But the victory was short-lived, as the Confederates unwittingly helped Grant by pulling troops back to their original positions. Grant retook the lost ground, and the 12,000-man garrison surrendered unconditionally. The battle made Grant a star and was a catastrophe for the South.

Touring Fort Donelson

The park preserves more than 20 percent of the original battlefield, with several square miles of earthwork fortifications. Don’t miss these highlights:

  • Stand at the gun batteries where Confederate gunners battered Grant’s gunboats.
  • Visit the Dover Hotel where Ulysses S. Grant demanded “unconditional surrender” from his old West Point friend, Confederate Simon Buckner.
  • Pause at Fort Donelson National Cemetery for a reminder of the sacrifices that Americans have made from the Civil War to the present day.
  • While absorbing the history, you may also encounter two notable park residents. “We’ve got two resident bald eagles who live down at the river,” Richardson says. “Our eagles are about as famous as our generals.”

Stop #2 – Stones River National Battlefield
The Fight for the Confederate Heartland

We could follow General Grant to the Mississippi line and Shiloh, where his Army of the Tennessee headed after Donelson, but there’s good reason to drive to Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro.

“When Fort Donelson falls, the Confederates have to give up Nashville,” explains Park Ranger Jim Lewis. “And Nashville becomes the base for the Union Army to launch the campaigns which will lead to Stones River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga.”

For many, Stones River is a quiet retreat from bustling Murfreesboro. But the 6,100 gravestones across from the visitor center are a sober reminder of what took place there. Of the 81,000 who fought here, 23,000 were killed, wounded or went missing in action — the highest percentage of casualties of any Civil War battle.

Early success, then retreat

Cemetery at Stones River

Cemetery at Stones River

On New Year’s Eve 1862, the Southern army under Braxton Bragg attacked first, catching William Rosecrans’ Union troops at breakfast and driving them north. Then on Jan. 2, the Confederates launched another attack along the east bank of the Stones River to drive Union troops off of a high hill.

“In the process of pursuing, those Confederates will come under the fire of 57 Union cannons along the other side of the river and will lose about 1,800 men in 45 minutes,” Lewis says. “That’s a pretty bloody exclamation point.”

The Confederates then retreated.

Touring Stones River

Stones River offers a 12-stop auto tour, including these sights:

  • Walk around The Slaughter Pen, a rock outcropping where Union troops made a stubborn stand.
  • Pay respect at the Hazen Brigade Monument, one of the oldest war monuments in the country.
  • Be awed by Fort Rosecrans, the largest earthworks fortification in North America.

Stop #3 – Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
The Death Knell of the Confederacy

We’ve followed the Union push to Nashville and Murfreesboro. The next stop is Chattanooga. Actually, we’ll go south of the city to Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Re-enactments, like this one near Chickamauga, Ga., can bring history to life, but battlefields throughout the Southeast are interesting places to visit anytime.

Re-enactments, like this one near Chickamauga, Ga., can bring history to life, but battlefields throughout the Southeast are interesting places to visit anytime.

Driving to the park, you’ll cross the mountains that convinced General Rosecrans not to advance directly on Chattanooga. He moved southwest of the city to block supply lines, forcing Confederate troops into Georgia as well. But Chattanooga was the Union goal.

“Chattanooga is a doorway through the southern barrier of the Appalachians,” says Park Historian Jim Ogden.

Driving through the dense woods of the 5,300-acre park, you can see why confusion reigned in the war’s second-bloodiest battle. About 35,000 men were killed, wounded, missing or captured in fighting from Sept. 19-20, 1863. Strategic mistakes led to a Union retreat. The Union troops retreated to Chattanooga, where they withstood a two-month siege before ultimately breaking through in the battle of Chattanooga.

“This allowed the Union drive across Georgia in 1864, from Chattanooga to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Savannah,” Ogden notes.

Touring Chickamauga

Start at the visitor center on Lafayette Road. After touring the park, drive 17 miles to Lookout Mountain Battlefield for views from 1,500 feet above Chattanooga. Other key sites:

  • Stand on Snodgrass Hill where George Thomas became “The Rock of Chickamauga.”
  • Get a general’s view from Orchard Knob, Grant’s command post, and the Bragg Reservation, Confederate headquarters on Missionary Ridge.
  • Watch the conflict electronically at the Battles for Chattanooga Museum on Lookout Mountain.

Chattanooga was a major blow for the Confederacy. But there’s much more to see on the campaign South – Tunnel Hill, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain all the way to Savannah and then into South Carolina. The war continued on and your trip can too. Visit nps.gov/civilwar for more sites from the War Between the States.

Tech-Savvy Traveler: Charting your course

Point Park Cannon

Point Park Cannon

Robert E. Lee is regarded by many as the most clever battle tactician of the Civil War. Imagine what he could have done with a GPS! Nowadays, it’s easy to come up with a battle plan and map out the route for you and your troops on your next vacation. Apps like Google Earth provide directions for tourists with aerial or street views of those historic sites from Gettysburg to Charleston. For those battling interstate traffic, Road Ninja is an app that will help you find fuel, food and shelter for the evening, keeping your small army on the move.

Perfectly Imperfect

For the everyday home

A Q&A with Shaunna West, a blogger from Troy, Alabama, who writes about everything from painting furniture to decorating to homeschooling. 

Shaunna West

Shaunna West

What will readers find at your blog?
Shaunna West: Perfectly Imperfect is a window into our lives. You’ll find DIY projects, furniture makeovers, before-and-after room makeovers, shop talk, topics on running a creative business and even a few family posts.

Why did you become a blogger, and how has blogging changed your life?
SW: I have been writing since I was a little girl, and in 2009, I needed to write. I began sharing my furniture-painting techniques and the process of our attic renovation, and soon, the blog became a business and a place for people to seek inspiration for their everyday homes. The community and readers at Perfectly Imperfect took me completely by surprise. There is a world of people interested in the same things you are, and if you’re lucky, you’ll even develop relationships with these incredible people. The Internet can be used for such good, and its reach is incredible. I’m grateful for PI, for my readers and for their willingness to listen to what I have to say.

What are some big trends in decorating this spring and summer?
SW: Any time you gear into spring and summer, people are going to be looking to brighten and lighten their homes. There are lots of beautiful metallics out there and lots of blues and golds and greens as far as colors. Anything you can do to try and make your home feel fresh and clean. Spring is the time when we all begin to organize and begin to purge and pare down and only have what’s necessary in the home. Homes should be functional and efficient as well as beautiful.

Check out her blog: www.PerfectlyImperfectBlog.com

Shaunna’s tips for changing your home on a budget

living roomKeep in mind that your home is your sanctuary away from the busyness of the world. Take the time to create spaces you enjoy and that create rest for you and your family.

If you’re feeling like your home has become dark and dreary, give the walls a fresh coat of paint in lighter neutrals. It will instantly brighten your space. My favorites are Benjamin Moore White Diamond, Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, Sherwin Williams Crushed Ice and Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray.

Save and invest in key pieces like your sofa and armchairs, and shop flea markets and antique malls for small end tables and dressers. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll save when you allow time for your space to come together.
Paint everything in sight. Seriously, paint is the cheapest and fastest way to transform your home. Have a coffee table you love, but hate how beaten up it is? Paint it, and you will have a new piece of furniture in a few hours.

Whatever your interest, there is likely an online community of people who share that interest with you. Our “Featured Blogger” series introduces you to people who write websites about a variety of topics. In the May/June issue, we’ll focus on marriage and relationships.

Other home/DIY blogs you might like:

www.TheLetteredCottage.net
Layla shares her love of cottage style with readers.

www.BeneathMyHeart.net
Tracey describes herself striving to create beauty in her heart and in her home.

www.thistlewoodfarms.com
KariAnne shares her transition from the big city to a slower-paced, happier life.