Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

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Tips and Tricks to Camping in the Rain

Memorial Day Weekend is almost upon us, which often means hitting the road to your favorite camping spot. While it may be the end of May, Nebraska’s weather has proven time and time again to be temperamental or a bit unstable, so Great Plains Communications has a few tips and tricks for camping in colder wet environments.

Create Sheltered Outdoor Living Space

The rain often comes in the evening, when you are looking to relax and eat dinner. Pack a few extra tarps that won’t only keep the ground dry but can be strung up between trees as a rain shelter. This way, everybody won’t have to cram into the tent or camper all night but instead, enjoy the sound of the rain and spring weather without getting soaked.

Warm Your Clothes to 98.6 Degrees

Tent camping can lead to cold clothes, sometimes damp from dew, and that is not what anybody wants to step into – especially after sleeping on the ground. Be your own clothing warmer and place your clothes for the next day in a small, breathable bag and put it inside at the base of your sleeping bag the night before. As you sleep, your body heat will warm them, and your sleeping bag will protect them from the dampness of morning.

Flip Your Water Bottle

As we have seen in the past weeks, temperatures across the state have varied in the most extreme way, which is exactly what it can do from daytime to night. Here is a trick to make sure you always have water at the ready even when the temperatures dip. Flip your water bottle over before going to sleep. Since water freezes from the top, when you flip the bottle back over to get a drink, any ice that has formed will fall to the bottom and water will remain on the top.

 

With rain and the spring season come bugs. We have looked to our cable channel, HGTV for a video on natural bug repellents to consider taking this weekend.

3 All-Natural Bug Repellents – HGTV

 

Great Plains Communications would like to wish everyone a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Internet Safety Topics to Discuss with Children this Summer

As the school year comes to an end, kids will have a lot more time on their hands. While there will be plenty of time spent outside, the Internet will also be a huge part of kids’ lives this summer. It is good to keep in mind some Internet safety topics to discuss with children to ensure their online experience is a positive one.

 

Internet usage guidelines

Rather than telling them all the things they can’t do, have a conversation with your child about how long they are allowed online and what type of sites are OK or not OK. While you make the ultimate decision, show that you are listening to their opinions. Also discuss how to behave towards others when chatting, gaming, emailing, or messaging.

 

The importance of privacy

While this depends on the age of the child, a simple rule for younger children could be that they should not give out their name, phone number or photo without a parent’s approval. Older children should be advised to be selective about what personal information they include on social networking and you should always know what social platforms your child is using. Snapchat for example has a location feature that can be set to show the user’s exact location on a map to any of their “friends.”

 

Meeting online “friends”

The Internet can be a positive place for children to interact with other young people and ultimately make new friends. By discussing it ahead of time, your child is more likely to recognize if they’re talking to someone they shouldn’t be. This is also a good way to keep the dialogue about Internet interaction between you and your children open.

 

Remember that the positive aspects of the Internet outweigh the negatives and that it is a wonderful educational and recreational resource. Let your child show you what they like to do online and discover it with them.

Congratulations to our Pick Your Prize Giveaway Winner!

Pictured: Shelley Mitchell of Imperial, NE with her husband, Doug Mitchell and their grandson, Karson.

Pictured: Shelley Mitchell of Imperial, NE with her husband, Doug Mitchell and their grandson, Karson.

Help us in congratulating our Pick Your Prize Social Media Giveaway winner, Shelley Mitchell of Imperial, NE! By sharing a gif showing her favorite thing about spring on our Facebook page, she was given the option to choose between a $200 Visa gift card or a 5-Burner Open Cart LP Gas Grill in Stainless Steel and Black with Side Burner. Shelley has chosen to receive the grill as her prize!

The Pick Your Prize Giveaway is part of our Pick Your Spring Savings promotion that is currently going on through May 17. While we were only able to have one winner for our social media giveaway, you can still receive up to a $100 bill credit by taking advantage of this promotion! Here is how to do it:

  • Sign up for NEW Internet service or upgrade your current speed and receive up to a $100 bill credit!
  • Bundle with TV, Phone or both and receive an ADDITIONAL $25 bill credit!
  • + FREE installation on all new services

To sign up for this great deal or to learn more, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483. And again, help us in congratulating Shelley Mitchell on winning our Pick Your Prize Giveaway!

2019 DIY Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Sometimes it is hard to think of a gift for mom. Want to do something other than the annual scarf, candle or necklace? Great Plains Communications has looked to our cable channels, the DIY Network and HGTV for some of our favorite DIY gift ideas she will love this Mother’s Day.

Turn a Cooler into a Storage Table

Jazz up the screened-in porch or patio with these deceptively cheap storage tables. All you have to do is buy a polystyrene cooler, some fabric mom will like and legs that easily screw into the foam.  Assembly is quick and something the kids could help with!

Colorful, Modern Headboard

While in the video they are making it for a kid’s room, there is no reason this headboard couldn’t be painted to match mom’s décor. As Rosa Armstrong explains in the video, you will just need to cut the wood pieces to fit the bed.

DIY Succulent Sphere

Succulents are beautiful and low maintenance. Rather than buying her an ordinary succulent garden, create this gorgeous sphere that will be a statement piece to any yard or porch.

DIY Outdoor Movie Screen

Rather than a physical gift, how about you create an experience for mom? With this easy set-up, you will have your very own outdoor movie theater for a fun night under the stars the whole family can enjoy and remember.

Pick Your Prize Social Giveaway

Out with the old and in with the new Internet speeds this spring! Great Plains Communications understands that the Internet isn’t just for entertainment but is a necessity in the home, and different households have different and changing bandwidth needs. That is why we are customizing our spring promotion to your family.

Pick your spring savings!

  • Sign up for NEW Internet service or upgrade your current speed and receive up to a $100 bill credit!
  • Bundle with TV, Phone or both and receive an ADDITIONAL $25 bill credit!
  • + FREE installation on all new services

We want you to pick the speed and deal that best fits your family’s needs. If you aren’t sure what speed your family needs, check out our speed tool. And don’t miss our social media Pick Your Prize giveaway on our Facebook page. The winner will get to choose between a $200 Visa Gift Card or a 5-Burner Open Cart LP Gas Grill in Stainless Steel and Black with Side Burner!

How to Enter:

  • Like our Facebook Page
  • Like the post with the “Pick Your Prize Giveaway” graphic
  • In the comment section of the post, leave a gif or emoji that shows your favorite thing about spring

The giveaway will end Monday, May 13 and the winner will be announced here on our blog Tuesday, May 14.

If you would like to sign up or learn more about the spring promotion, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

2019 Cinco de Mayo Party Recipes

Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May), is a celebration of when the Mexican army was victorious over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War. What has become a significant holiday in the United States, according to the History Channel, Cinco de Mayo has never been much more than a minor holiday in Mexico – while some areas of Mexico don’t recognize it at all. Rather than focusing on the original meaning around a military victory, the United States has turned celebrating the day by recognizing Mexican culture and heritage through parades, music and street festivals.

Great Plains Communications would like to help you celebrate this weekend by sharing some of our favorite recipes from our cable channel, The Food Network.

Mexican Tortilla Pizzas with Chorizo

These tortilla pizzas are great for a party because they are easy and customizable. You could prepare the tortillas and leave different toppings out for your guests to pick and choose what they love best. Planning to have the party outside, you could even try grilling the tortillas rather than baking them!

Potato Poblano Gratin

This is not your traditional potato gratin, but one with a light heat and smoke from the roasted poblanos mixed throughout, accompanied perfectly by little pops of sweetness from the corn. A few simple steps of layering the potatoes and cheese with the poblanos and corn will leave you with this rich and decadent side dish your family and friends will love.

Queso Fundido con Chorizo

Looking for a quick appetizer for your Cinco de Mayo get-together? This queso fundido is cheesy, tangy from the Mexican-style lager and a little spicy from the chorizo. It is truly a crowd pleaser and goes well with a drink in hand.

Easy One-Pot Pork Carnitas

These carnitas make entertaining easy. With one pork roast, you can feed a whole party. The citrus notes from the orange peel permeate the pork adding a light flavor against the earthiness of the bay leaf. And don’t skip the last step of crisping up the pork, because it is that texture against the smooth avocado and fresh onion toppings that makes the whole dish come together.

2019 Grant Winners and Outstanding Teacher of the Year

Each year, Great Plains Communications is proud and honored for the chance to support our communities through our “Commitment to Our Schools” program. This year we were able to present five grants, totaling just under $20,000. We would like to take this time to again congratulate all of our 2019 grant recipients as well as our 2019 Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

Broken Bow Public Schools – $2,000 Grant

The grant will be used to support the development of a modern Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lab. The lab includes a vinyl cutter, Makey-Makeys, circuit boards, a button maker, Dash and Dot robots, several agricultural related kits, and more. Funding from Great Plains Communications will be used to help obtain a 3D printer that will be available to all middle and high school students throughout the school day and will become a part of the curriculum for their newly formed STEM club.

 

Cody-Kilgore Elementary School – $4,500 Grant

cody kilgore

The school plans to use the money to support the implementation of a mobile Chromebook lab for the lower elementary students. As a Google school, Cody-Kilgore students in grades 4-12 are 1:1 utilizing Chromebooks. The lab will help the younger students familiarize themselves with the devices and technology, better preparing them for advanced grade levels.

 

Creighton Community Public Schools – $5,000 Grant

The funds will be used to purchase technology equipment for the development of a Radio and Television studio. The studio will not only provide students with first-hand experience with radio and television technology, but it will also serve as a vehicle to deliver school news to the community.

 

Perkins County Elementary School – $2,500 Grant

The grant will be used to support the development of an Aquaponics Lab. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) that grows fish and plants together in one combined system. Amanda Wood, Science Teacher at Perkins County Elementary shared her beliefs that children need to be exposed to the amazing areas of science at an early age to ignite their passion to seek and understand more of the world around them.

 

Riverside Public Schools – $5,000 Grant

The school is currently in the beginning stages of developing a STEM lab and plans to use the Great Plains Communications funds to purchase equipment such as a 3D printer and filaments, Dash and Dot robots and accessories. These devices will provide Riverside students with hands-on opportunities to create solutions to real-world problems and will provide an alternative to traditional learning protocols.

Along with the grant, Riverside Public Schools teacher, Julie Rankin was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Teacher of the Year accompanied by a check for $5,000. Throughout her career, which began in 1993, Rankin has shown tireless dedication as a teacher of multiple academic subjects for 5th and 6th-grade students for Spalding Public and Riverside Public Schools. When asked to describe the rewards she finds in teaching, Ms. Rankin answered, “One of the greatest rewards is teaching students to believe in themselves and the ability to persevere when things become difficult. Seeing the excitement on their faces when they finally understand a difficult concept or task is priceless to me. I absolutely love finding ways to teach a child new things.”

Help us in congratulation all of our grant winners, as well as Julie Rankin, our 2019 Outstanding Teacher of the Year!

Don’t Forget to Call Before You Dig

With warmer weather, the ground is finally thawing and that means outside projects will begin. Before your shovel hits the dirt, Great Plains Communications wants to remind everyone of the Digger’s Hotline and calling before you dig.

Keep in mind, the projects we are referring to are more than just planting new tomatoes in the garden or putting in some flowers along your driveway. If you are planning to dig more than 6 inches into the ground, you should start off by calling 811. These projects could be the install of a new fence, putting in an underground pool or planting a new tree.

The Digger’s Hotline keeps track of the many electrical wires, Internet Cable, sewer lines and other wires that run underneath your city. Pipes and wires can run underneath streets, businesses, parks and your home without your knowledge. While we here at Great Plains Communications traditionally bury our Internet, Cable and Phone wires at least 6 ft. underground, some wires may be buried as shallow as 6 in.

In addition to the 811-phone number, the Digger’s Hotline also has a website you can visit at http://www.ne1call.com/. There you can find information on digging projects, upcoming events, new laws and even registration for a Damage Prevention Class.

Remember that it is your duty to call before starting a project, and if you do damage to any pipes or wires, you may be liable. Protect yourself and your neighbors and call 811 first!

Tips to Waste Less

Yesterday was Earth Day, and Great Plains Communications wants to help provide tips that you can use all year round to better our environment. We have looked to a few of our cable channels for some of our favorite ideas, including turning old t-shirts into reusable grocery bags and how to check your soil’s clay/sand ratio.

How to Improve Your Garden Soil – HGTV

A great garden, no matter if it is vegetables, flowers, etc. starts with great soil. If you have noticed that plants don’t seem to live very long in your yard or if you are just curious, try this trick for checking the sand, clay ratio of your soil.

 

Don’t Throw Those Out – Food Network

According to the USDA, “food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.” Here are just a few easy and delicious recipes to keep in mind before throwing out those carrot tops, broccoli stems, etc.

 

How to Make a T-Shirt Bag – DIY Network

As we know, plastics are filling up our landfills, with some taking up to 1,000 years to decompose. Ditch the plastic shopping bag and grab some of those extra t-shirts that either don’t fit or have been stuffed in the back of your dresser for 10 years. There are just a few steps to turn that old shirt into a cute and reusable bag.

 

How to Make Dryer Sheets – DIY Network

While you are looking for old t-shirts to make your grocery bags, grab one more to create these simple and eco-friendly dryer sheets. Forget trying to read the list of chemicals used in dryer sheets, hoping it won’t irritate your skin. This DIY version has fewer ingredients than fingers on your right hand, plus they are reusable and customizable!

Tech Tip: iPhone Features Hiding in Plain Sight

There are many cool features that come with owning an iPhone and with constant upgrades, it can be hard to keep track of all of them. While some new features are obvious, some are hidden. Great Plains Communications wants to give you a guide to some of our favorite not-so-obvious iPhone features you may have missed.

  1. Add Someone to an iPhone Note

Did you know you can add people to your notes? Improve grocery shopping

What to do:

  • Open your Notes app and select the note you would like to share
  • Select the icon in the top right (highlighted below)
  • Choose how you want to share the note (message, email, etc.)
  • Decide who you want to share it with (as many as you want) and include a message

From there, your friend or friends will be able to view and edit the note in real time.

  1. Close All Safari Tabs at Once

We are all guilty of forgetting to close our tabs, including the last celebrity you googled, that roast chicken recipe you made last week – next thing you know you have upward of 30 tabs open. Instead of sitting there sliding each tab up to close one-by-one, use this hack to close them all at once.

What to do:

  • Open the Safari app
  • Hold down the tab icon in the lower right-hand corner (highlighted below) until a window pops up giving you the option to close all tabs

DONE!

  1. Use the Magnifier Tool

Have you been at a restaurant and forgot your glasses? Forget shoving the menu against your face to find your order and turn on the magnifier tool on your iPhone.

What to do:

  • Open your Settings and go to General
  • Click Accessibility
  • Open Magnifier and toggle it to “on.”

To access the tool:

If you have an iPhone X or later version – triple tap the button on the right-hand side of your phone.

If you have an iPhone that includes a Home button, tap it three times.

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