Mar 28, 2012

Creating an All Weather Entertaining Area

There are times when you don’t actually want a roof over your head all the time when outdoors so you can make the most of the weather. Fixed roofs can trap in heat and block out wind and light on days when it would be most enjoyable to sit outdoors and enjoy the surrounds of your own outdoor entertaining area. This is where a retractable sun shade, such as a roof that lets in or keeps out as much of the sun as you want, can be the ideal choice for people who want flexibility when it comes to their outdoor area.

What they do
A retractable roof creates a more functional and useable outdoor area. When in place they block out harsh UV light and provide protection from the elements, but on milder days they can be retracted to let you enjoy the weather. They are beneficial to the indoors of the home as well. They can prevent heat from the sun hitting your windows in the warmer months and heating up the home. Conversely, in winter when opened they allow the natural light to pour into the home and create warmth.

How they work
Retractable roofs are certainly not a ‘one size fits all’ proposition. They need to be custom-made for your particular area and fitted by experts. In many cases they are an excellent alternative to a pergola because of the added flexibility they offer. They can be moved into the ideal position by hand-cranking or using a motorised system. They don’t have to be opened or closed all the way either. They can be partially opened and adjusted regularly with minimum fuss to make the most of the weather. Many homeowners opt for two or more sections of retractable roofing that can be operated autonomously for the ultimate in climate control.

Make a statement
Installing a retractable roof is also a style statement. They come in a range of styles and finishes that can complement your existing décor or tie in with other parts of your home, such as the shade of your
security doors or the trim of your gutters. Some properties may even have permanent glass roofs in their outdoor entertaining zones and these retractable shades are the perfect way to prevent these areas from turning into a greenhouse. People are also more adventurous when it comes to the design of outdoor areas today and retractable sun shades are an ideal fit where something more unique is called for.

A practical alternative
It’s not just homeowners who make use of retractable roofs. Restaurants with alfresco areas are utilising this outdoor option as it gives them flexibility with guest seating. So no matter what the sky looks like, diners can be offered protection from the elements yet the area can be opened up to take advantage of the sun in the cooler months. Some schools, day care centres and even playgrounds make use of these retractable sun shades because of their flexibility.

So if you like the idea of an all weather outdoor entertaining area, you might be best to consider a retractable roof. It means that you can enjoy your entertainment area in comfort, all year round!

Mar 27, 2012

Home or Away – Where to Holiday

In the current economic climate, people are thinking twice about going on holiday. For many it is an unaffordable option at the moment, but there are ways in which you can access the holiday opportunities available to you without blowing all your earnings. Even if you do not want to, or cannot afford to, go abroad for a holiday, there are still plenty of ways to take a well-deserved break from work and the responsibilities of home without leaving the country. This article considers some of the sensible places to holiday and ways to make savings to reduce the costs:

Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia may be a fairly long way from Australia but flights are relatively cheap and the cost of living and enjoying yourself there is very low compared to other holiday destinations. A trip to one of the many fantastic
Malaysia resorts on offer will give you a chance to experience a new country with a very clean environment, at a relatively low cost. With many outside activities to take part in, this is a great way to stay healthy and experience a new culture.

Flights to Europe are outrageously expensive, but now is a good time to travel there. The high level of the Australian dollar against the pound and the euro means that you will get more bang for your buck. If you have been planning to go to Europe for some time, now is a great chance to take that opportunity. If you can afford the flights then it really is worth it and your holiday could consist of as many countries as you can handle in your time off!

A trip to Uluru is a way to make a holiday in Australia exciting without spending an obscene amount. Australia is a wonderfully bountiful country and Uluru is a mind-blowing reminder of the country’s history. Originally a sedimentary collection at the bottom of a giant ocean, Uluru spans 5 kilometres around and is phenomenal sight. It is also significant in Aboriginal culture and was believed by some Aboriginal tribes to have been a lake which rose up in protest against a battle being waged along its shores.

A trip to Melbourne will offer you wonderful new experiences of Australia. Melbourne is a remarkably modern city with lots of fantastic restaurants to choose from. Some of these require long booking notice so be sure to check this out before you go, if you want to eat in the top restaurants. A visit to Melbourne should also be combined with a
Great Ocean Road tour. The Great Ocean Road stretches along the most beautiful coastline in Australia and is also a symbol of remembrance for those who died fighting for Australia in the First World War.

There is little that needs to be said about Sydney, the world-famous Australian city. It is a vibrant and symbolic city which is viewed by many as the heart of Australia. There will never be a shortage of things to do in Sydney and you can fill your time with anything from trips to the zoo to out-of-town excursions into the surrounding mountains. 

Mar 25, 2012

Setting Up a Home Office

Creating a home office can be an excellent way to save on set up costs whilst also preparing yourself for a profitable business venture. It’s vitally important, however, that you make the right decisions at this early stage because your home office needs to be as professional as any office for anyone who visits. Long hours, waiting for deliveries and having to fix everything yourself are two common complaints from people who work from home, but all of these problems can be easily tackled from the start.

The Workspace
The workspace is the first and most crucial element of a home business start-up. Ideally you need to start with an empty room with a private entrance to your office (meaning you do not have to walk through the home to get to the office, or vice versa). This room should then be cleaned, repainted and remodelled wherever needed.

Choosing the right Sydney office chairs is important. Whilst you may think it’s comfortable to lie on your sofa to work, this is very bad for your back and will lead to lazy work habits. Whether you believe it will or not, working from a sofa will make you more tired and more easily distracted. Kit your home office out like any corporate office and put on a suit before starting work every day. This will get you in work mode and make your body realise that it isn’t still the weekend.

Choosing a PC
Moving from the corporate world to a home office might lead you to automatically jump for a desktop computer. Consider the many quality portable options first because you may well find yourself travelling a lot and this will make the process far easier.

Computer Support
Computer support is necessary in any company and when working from home you have to rely on yourself. This does not have to be a complete headache because help is available. For a ‘no fix, no fee’ charge of around $150 it is possible to get any software problems fixed. This may seem like a lot, and in most cases it is, so you would be better off investing in a computer support course for yourself instead.

Importantly, you will be entirely responsible for backing everything up. Invest in an external hardrive for this purpose and utilise cloud storage for all but the most sensitive and confidential information.

It is tempting to save costs by just using your home phone for work. This will unfortunately provide a very unprofessional image to customers and should be avoided. Your
phone systems will say a lot about your business so make sure you have a dedicated business line and a phone that calls can be redirected to when you are travelling between jobs.

Balance Books and Work Life
When you work for a company there will usually be someone working tirelessly to balance the accounts. This will need to be you in your own business and it’s crucial to stay on top of it all. Doing accounts once a week should ensure you are always aware and able to pay debts when needed.

Working at home poses a second more serious balancing issue, however. The working hours completed by a home worker are often longer and less ridged than they need to be. When working for yourself it is too easy to endlessly create work to fill time, even when you don’t want to and are trying not to. Draw a line at the end of each day and come back to complete it the next day, just as you would when working for another company. Lock the office and leave until the morning or you will end up staying all night.

As long as you can arrange and organise all of the above you should find setting up your own home office a fun and enjoyable experience. 

Related source: Home business ideas

Mar 24, 2012

Dry Leaves

Hanging Dry Leaves
Though your time has finished
the beauty is still in you

Mar 23, 2012

Steps to Getting Into Your Dream Home in Victoria

Planning to buy your dream home can be a daunting task, especially if you are looking for that perfect home in which you will spend the rest of your days. If you are planning on moving to your dream location in Victoria, whether you are coming from outside or within the state, there is a lot to do to get the ball rolling. Remember that to avoid stress you must be patient and follow all the steps, and you will be relaxing in your dream home before you know it.

Step 1 – Look at Your FinancesThis is the boring and tedious part, but it is essential to do before you can even think about buying a new home. Talking to your financial advisor and your bank about what assets you have and what kind of mortgage you can get will help put into perspective what you can afford. This is the stressful part because if you simply don't have the funds to afford what you want, you may have to put things on hold. It is worthwhile to take this part seriously; you don't want to settle for second best and regret it later.

Step 2 – Find the Perfect Location
When the finances are in order, you can start looking around in your preferred location. If you are moving to Victoria from out of state, why not have your next holiday in the area? This way you will get a feel for the lifestyle and will be able to check out properties in the area. Get in touch with a local real estate agent and build a good relationship so that they can forward ideas to you when you aren't there.

Step 3 – Getting the Perfect Home
Once you have found the perfect property, consider what house you want to have on it before you go putting in offers. From here, you may want to reassess your finances given the new circumstances. If there is a home on the property already, decide if it suits your needs and how much it would cost you to either renovate or knock down and rebuild it. If you choose to start from scratch, then contact some builders and have them discuss with you some plans given the specifications you want in your home. They can provide a ball-pack figure and help you choose from and adjust a pre-existing plan or
kit homes. Victoria has many skilled and reputable builders to choose from, so shop around and find one who will suit your needs best.

Step 4 – Sell Your Existing Home
Once you have put in an offer and had that offer accepted, only then is it a good time to sell your existing home. It may take a bit of organising to juggle the transition period so get your real estate agent to help organise the details while you work on the packing!

Step 5 – Move InYour dream home is no longer a dream – it's yours! After all the hard work you have put in up to this point, you are finally about to reap the rewards. All that is left to do is hire the interstate removalists to make sure your precious belongings make it safely from your old home to your new dream home.

Mar 22, 2012

Securing your Brisbane Home’s Windows from Break-Ins

Windows provide character and light to rooms in your Brisbane house. A house without windows would not be a welcoming or pleasant place at all, but the downside is that these holes can easily become holes in our home security. Everyone knows someone who has had their house burgled and often times this takes place through an unlocked or unsecure window. Brisbane security doors are usually installed with no questions asked, but how often do you wonder how secure your windows are from burglars?
To secure your home from burglars it is imperative to either secure your existing windows or replace your existing windows.

Securing Windows
· Replace all latches and bolts with key locks. Key locks are more secure because they will remain closed even if the burglar is able to reach their hand to the latch. It is important to always keep these latches secured and locked. It is also vital to keep the keys out of the locks because otherwise the practice is pointless. Remember to tell people in the house where the keys are so that they can use the windows to escape in the event of a fire.
· Strengthen sliding windows by blocking the track. Sliding windows and doors can often times be forced out of their runners and this is a common method of entering a property. This works by ‘jiggling’ the door or window out of its housing so it is important to stop this movement. This can be stopped by using screws in the top and bottom of the window frame, which just allow the window to pass. Alternatively, a piece of wood or metal placed in the runner’s path will prevent the door from moving.
· Basement windows and windows out of sight of the road are often neglected. Remember that burglars will target the less conspicuous windows first and foremost so those should receive your most immediate attention.
Brisbane blind installation will serve to create a level of privacy within your home. Having everything that you own on display from the window will only serve to tempt burglars into your home. The installation of blinds will help to discourage burglars because they will not be able to see if you are home or if there are goods worth stealing inside.

Replacing Windows
· Installing Crimsafe on your windows is one of the best ways to ensure continuous safety. Crimsafe is a mesh which covers the window from the outside, allowing you to leave your window open as much as you like. This is perfectly suited to the hot weather in Brisbane and will provide you with a constant piece of mind.
· Reinforced glass will help to protect your home from forced entry. Generally it is the locks that are broken rather than the glass, however. This makes it far more sensible to invest in completely new windows which have both reinforced glass and solid locks.
· Shutters are an excellent way to keep criminals out of your home. They both block the view into your property and create an almost impenetrable fence to keep burglars away. Shutters are one of the best deterrents for burglars because they completely lock down the property making it hard to escape as well as enter.

Mar 21, 2012

Kitchen Makeover Step by Step

If you’re a home-lover or an aspiring chef, the kitchen is probably one of your favourite spots in the whole house. Yet we can’t all have our ideal kitchen, with the latest LG fridges and state-of-the-art cookery facilities. Or can we?

If you’ve decided that it’s time to give your kitchen that much-needed makeover, but you don’t have the funds to renovate it fully, here are a few step-by-step upgrades that could help with your transformation.


When it comes to making over your kitchen, it’s important that you decide what type of look you want. Are you are a shiny, silver, modern type of person? Or do you prefer something more homely and country-style? Deciding on the style and design will determine many of your makeover choices.

Built-in Appliances

A good place to start is with your built-in appliances. If you have an older-style oven or stove that’s a little unreliable, could you invest in a newer model? This will make things easier for you in a practical sense and will also greatly enhance the look of your kitchen. Don’t forget you could upgrade your dishwasher too! Or install one if you haven’t got one. If you’re keen on creating a more modern look, go for stainless steel.

Built-in Accessories

If you’re set with appliances or if you don’t quite have the money yet, how about making over some of your built-in ‘accessories’, like range hoods, lights, taps and faucets? This is an inexpensive way of giving small ‘lifts’ to your kitchen. You can easily hire an
electrician or handyman to help you.

Other Appliances

If you’ve got the funds, could you transform you kitchen with a new fridge or microwave? Or how about simply a toaster and kettle? Upgrading these smaller appliances can make your kitchen feel much newer. If you don’t see the need to change these, you can also add to your kitchen collection; invest in a juicer, Breville-maker, coffee machine, blender or vegetable chopper to give some more ‘oomph’ to your appliances.


Is your furniture detracting from your entire kitchen? If so, it might be time for a change. Could you purchase newer furniture that’s within your budget? Or, if you’re going for a rustic look, could you purchase second-hand furniture and scrub it up with a bit of paint or polish? A brand-new wooden table can make a big difference to a kitchen. If your budget is really tight, how about simple changes, like a new tablecloth and some cushions? Or if you’ve got the space and the funds, could you consider getting a kitchen island and some bar stools?

Cupboards & Shelving

There’s nothing more annoying than a lack of cupboard and shelving space in a kitchen. If installing extra cupboards or shelving is not an option, could you divide cupboards horizontally to create extra shelves? How about installing some floating shelves on your walls, where you’ve got extra space?

If your cupboards are already big – do they need a makeover? Perhaps a paint job and some new handles? This can greatly change the design of your kitchen space and gives you the chance to design a whole new look and feel.

Painting & Flooring

Painting and re-flooring your kitchen are two of the biggest jobs when making it over, but they can make the most difference. Painting is easy and can allow you to create a lighter, brighter space or add some colour to your room.

If you’re keen to re-floor, options like polished concrete, hardwood or epoxy can help create a very modern look. Alternatively, bamboo, laminate, tiles or carpet could create a more ‘homely’ or country-style look.

Techno Gadgets

If your home is particularly modern (or even if it isn’t!) techno gadgets can make all the difference to your kitchen experience. Could you install a TV on the wall for when you’re watching cooking shows? Or even mount an iPad on the wall so you can look up recipes? How about a voice-timer instead of using the microwave? Depending on how tech-savvy you are, the possibilities are endless!

Mar 17, 2012

How to Beat the Aussie Sun at Home

If you’ve ever lived on the Australian coast or anywhere close, you’ll know the story- fabulous place, but the climate has its own ideas. Fierce sun, wind and sudden changes, usually when you least expect them. Australians love the coastal zone, but it’s always been a battle. The new approach is based on new technology like retractable awnings, sunscreen blinds, external blinds and other smart, tough ways of dealing with the coastal weather.

The secrets of the new screens and awnings are simple, but very effective. They’re a new type of blinds, made to deal with very tough conditions. They’ve become essentials for managing home environments, because they’re so reliable. They’ve made major inroads on the extremely fussy upmarket housing market, providing solutions to real problems very simply and very efficiently.

The truth is that the new blinds and screens are very different from their predecessors. If you remember the horrible, expensive and largely useless “blinds” of the past, you’ll also remember why people preferred the old Venetians. The old blinds were just plain old canvas. They didn’t manage light much at all. They also had very short product lives, and they didn’t last too long in the tough coastal environment. They were more like tents than anything else, and they did nothing or less to manage temperature.

The new blinds are designed to stop light and block heat. That’s very important, because the heat transfer from the old blinds was their greatest weakness. Heat would still build up inside, and the blinds actually blocked the trapped heat getting out, like insulation. If you’re getting direct heat from an Australian summer sun at full blast, that’s not a great result.

If the heat doesn’t get in the first place, you don’t have that problem. The new blinds block the light as well, preventing bleaching by the sun, which can save you a lot in fabric covers and carpets over time. In the coastal zone, the weather impact can be severe.

Environmental management with screens, blinds and awnings

The salt air is another factor, and the old blinds really weren’t designed to manage that. They were basically “eaten” by the salt. The new blinds are all-terrain things, and they do the job simply, with no fuss. They’re also fully customizable, so whether you’ve got a beachfront mansion or a bungalow, you can get the right mix of blinds tailor-made.

That’s turned out to be a win-win for consumers. They can get the sort of specialist treatment they need for their homes and get full protection from the beautiful but unpredictable environment. For new homes, the external blinds have become an essential. They can cover the big window spaces effortlessly, and there’s a range of adjustable options for managing lighting and getting the optimal benefits of big windows while managing the climate issues.

If you’re looking for the right mix of environmental management, design and a simple way of managing your coastal home’s many moods, these blinds, screens and awnings are the quick way. Check out what you can do, and you’ll love them.

Deer at a Palace

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A few of white-spotted deer that live at the huge front yard of Bogor Presidential Palace (Bogor, West Java, Indonesia). In fact, the total amount of those deer are more than two hundreds.
The Weekend in Black and White

Mar 16, 2012

Help Protect Your Home and Save Money

Your home is almost certainly your most valuable asset, so it is very important that you look after it properly. Allowing it to get damaged, fall into disrepair, or get burgled will only hinder the standard of your lifestyle, so it is important that you take steps to against these possibilities. It is, of course, important to get home insurance to protect your investment, but your aim should be never to need to claim against this policy.

Maintaining a home is an intensive job. It is one which will take up a large proportion of your time and it is absolutely necessary. Australia has a very harsh set of weather conditions. The intense heat is also joined by heavy rains in large quantities, so your home needs to be able to withstand the worst. It is important to regularly check the quality and condition of your building. The roof is perhaps the most important because any leaks could cause severe damage to your home. Check the tiles regularly and be sure to promptly replace any which are loose or damaged. Maintaining the paint on the outside of your home is also a great way to ensure that it is weather-protected. A good coat of paint should be applied every 2–3 years.

Storm Precautions
With unpredictable flooding in much of Australia, it seems wise to prepare your home against storm waters. This is not an easy task, but there are landscaping precautions you can make to help keep the water at bay. Walls will help to keep water out better than wooden fences, and integrating ditches into your landscaping could divert the path of any storm waters. Installing shutters on your windows and doors will also help you to keep the weather at bay.

Flood Preparation
If a storm does become a flood, you will need sand bags. Having a large stock in a cool, dry part of your garage will help you to deal with the worst if it does occur. It is also sensible to establish a safe room with supplies in it, so that you can survive for a period without suffering if you are left stranded. Remember that flood cover is often not included in your
home and contents insurance. If you live in a high-risk area, like a flood plain, it is worth looking at the possibilities for this type of cover.

Emergency Preparation
It is important to have a plan in place for every type of emergency. This is as much about protecting your family as it is about protecting your home. Consider what you will do if there is a fire, flood or other disaster and make sure that your family is well drilled in the processes.

It is prudent to take every precaution you can against intrusion into your home by burglars. This can be prevented through locks, Crimsafe screens and alarms. Also, remember that making your home appear occupied is one of the best ways to deter burglars, so be sure to manage your garden, your mail and your home’s outward appearance, even when you are away.

Mar 15, 2012

Your First Home – What Do You Really Want?

This year, I purchased my first new house. Ok, house may be a bit of an exaggeration. It’s a 2 bedroom apartment – but on the bright side, it is in a great spot, feels like home and offers every convenience I need. As a new home buyer, I tackled a lot of hurdles. First and foremost, agents, solicitors, banks – everyone can smell how green you are from a mile away. You look new, you look scared and nine times out of ten, you look like you have no idea what you’re doing. Buying is nerve-wracking. This is a ridiculous amount of money (especially where I’m from in Sydney), it is a very long commitment – and what if you decide next year that you don’t really like it, or your neighbours are horrible, or you get a job in another city?

Questions and doubts like these are all thoughts that plague your mind when you are buying your first home. You want to know you’re making the right decision and that you aren’t going to regret the decision later –take it from me! Given I now have a beautiful apartment which is lovely in theory, but also equates to monthly repayments, crazy strata levies, council tax…and restriction to holidays and travel – take it from me, you want to know you won’t regret it! So how can you be sure? Before you book your removalists, you need to work out what you really want – and stick to it!

1. Location
First of all, when you think you’ve found the place you’re going to buy, make sure the location is perfect. It needs to be convenient to your work and that of anyone buying with you. It also needs to be convenient to a variety of transport, as this is a twenty-to-thirty year commitment, so likely your jobs will change at least a few times during that period. Make sure you will remain happy with how far it is to shops, the city centre and other facilities, and know for certain you will always be happy with putting up with that distance.

2. Costs
A lot of us, when we find our ‘dream home’ don’t take a great deal to budge when it comes to extending our maximum spend threshold. We think, ‘ah, it’s only a little more’, and in our heads it seems easy to stretch the weekly wage that far. But it’s not, and your wage is not always predictable. Make sure the repayments are comfortable, not difficult at all. Also make sure you have enough savings that should you be terminated at work or leave, you can make repayments for at least a few months.

3. SizeYou need to decide what size home you want – and how much debt you want to go into! Are you after a flat or is a kit home more in your price range?

4. Additional costsIt is truly heart breaking when you move into your new place, thinking ‘I’m not wasting dead money on rent now’, and end up paying huge amounts in strata levies or other costs. Make sure you know that other costs are involved and if you’re happy with them especially if you are moving a long distance and need interstate removalists.

5. Adventure
Short and simple – if you don’t earn a lot of money, make sure travelling and holidays are out of your system for at least five years.

6. Home loans
Seems like a no-brainer, but read the small print. Make sure you understand how interest rates work, negotiate yours, and know you can make repayments comfortably still if the rate goes up by 2%.

Mar 13, 2012

Best Recipe Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining

All winter long, you dream about eating lots of tasty food, enjoying a cold beverage and hanging out on shaded patios enjoying the summer sun. By the time summer actually comes, make sure you throw a backyard party that everyone remembers by cooking up some delicious food. The following recipe ideas will have you covered for entrees, main courses, salads and desert, and will have your guests wanting more!

Feta and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
To get things started, the most important
party supplies you will need are pre-dinner snacks that will get your guests’ appetites ramped up, and feta and spinach stuffed mushrooms will do just the trick. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and set aside a lightly greased cooking tray. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and add 2 small cloves of chopped garlic, stirring for 15 seconds. Add a 10-ounce pack of spinach and some salt and pepper, and continue frying until the spinach is cooked. After the spinach has cooled slightly, add it to 4 ounces of crumbled feta, mix it all together and stuff mushrooms with the mix. Put the mushrooms on the baking sheet and into the oven for about 20-25 minutes, and enjoy!

Mango and Roasted Cashew Salad
Every hot summer barbeque needs a refreshing salad, and the mango with roasted cashew salad is sure to be a party pleaser. Start by combining a half-cup of sweet white wine to a quarter cup of light brown sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then add cubes from one large mango and a half-teaspoon of grated ginger to the wine mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours to let the flavours mingle. After, drain the liquid and mix and add a cup of roasted cashews, and garnish with mint.

Rotisserie Chicken
If you have a rotisserie, then this recipe will serve as a delicious classic that will have your guests’ mouths watering. First, get one 3-pound chicken and season the inside with a pinch of salt before placing onto the rotisserie, cooking for 10 minutes with the grill set on high. Meanwhile, mix together a quarter-cup of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of paprika and a quarter-teaspoon of black pepper. Turn the grill down to medium and baste the chicken with the butter mixture before closing the lid and cooking for 1 to 1 and a half hours. Baste the chicken continuously until its internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and then remove from the rotisserie. Let the chicken stand for 15 minutes before cutting and serving with either rice or potatoes.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches
This easy to make desert will make a nice complement to the dinner and the summer heat. All you have to do is sandwich a third of a cup of honey-vanilla ice cream between two thin butter wafer cookies, and place them on a baking sheet in the freezer. When it is time for desert, serve them with a bowl of fresh cherries.

There is nothing like a backyard barbeque with mates to celebrate the coming of summer Aussie-style, so try out some of these recipes and relax!

Mar 12, 2012

Lemon Tea

Lemon tea can refresh me when I feel sleepy during the day.


Mar 11, 2012

5 Tips for Planning a Wedding Reception at Home

When it comes to your wedding reception, there is really no place like home. If you or your family own property that is special for you and your fiancée, such as a lakeside house or a family country cottage, then you can really cherish your big night in a place that is extra meaningful. The following tips will help you get organised so that you can throw a party to be remembered right in your own backyard.

Stay on Level Ground 

Before you even begin to plan a wedding reception in your backyard, check to make sure the ground is level. Chairs, tables, the stage and the dance floor are all things that need to be on even ground. To test it, you can simply put a table and some chairs out to see for yourself, or you can hire a landscaper for a couple hours to do a more thorough check.

Tend to the Green Space
You will want to take care of this as early as possible, as plant life generally grows on it’s own terms. The success you have with your lawn and garden will depend greatly on what season you have your wedding in and how early you start planning. If you want a spring wedding, start talking to your landscaper in autumn about reseeding, replanting and sodding your lawn. The same goes for perennials: they need winter months to take hold, so the autumn before your big day should be when you do last minute planting. Annuals also need to be planted early enough that they have time to fill out, and be sure choose varieties that will be in bloom around the time of your wedding.

Hire Your Supplies 

Chances are good that if you are having a wedding reception in your backyard, you will need to hire your party supplies. Items such as tables, chairs, dinnerware, table linens and place settings are all little extras you will need. You will also need some larger structures such as pergolas or tents, a stage, a dance floor, a bar set-up and a portable bathroom depending on how many guests are attending. It is best to book these things well in advance so that you aren’t left in the lurch.

Set Up Boundaries
Having the wedding reception at your home is a recipe for having to play host all night long, and the next morning, too. Unless your house is a mansion and you have butlers, you won’t want wedding guests staying over night – especially since it is your first night as a married couple. Make it clear to people that the party is over at a specific time of night by either stating it on the wedding itinerary or by booking extra rooms at a nearby hotel.

Have Backup
Having a plan B that is just as good as your plan A is really important. If your house is too small for your guests, you should have a back-up venue available in the event of unexpected weather. Your plan B could also just be a few extra party tents that can withstand more punishment from the elements. Stifling heat can pose just as big a problem as rain, so have a few extra fans, shady areas, cool drinks or portable air conditioners available to keep all the party people happy.

And most of all, enjoy every moment, of this most important and special occasion. 

Mar 10, 2012

Small River on Old City Area

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Kali Baru, the small river that flows around the old city area of Jakarta, Indonesia. I captured it when I visited the area months ago.

How to Choose the Best Flower Arrangement for Your Home

There is a lot to consider when looking for the best floral arrangements for your home. Flowers as decorations are very effective at setting the mood of your choice in any room, so you will want to decide what that mood should be before you get your flowers. There are limitless combinations to the arrangements you can have, so it’s always good to play around with different varieties of flowers, vases and ways of presenting them. The following are some tips for choosing the best flower arrangement for your home.


Where you decide to place your flowers in your home can really change the tone of a room. Displaying them as a centrepiece on a kitchen or coffee table will immediately attract the attention of guests, whereas flowers on bookshelves or in sconces on the wall will make a great addition to your home’s ambiance without taking centre stage. Bouquets in the bedroom, as opposed to more public areas such as kitchens or living rooms, can help create a sense of intimacy and comfort. Of course, the mood also depends a lot on the type of flowers you choose for the arrangement.

Type of Flowers
You can choose different varieties of flowers depending on what feeling you want to create in your home. Sunny flowers such as daisies, tulips, carnations and sunflowers will make your space look bright, vivacious and inviting. For a more modern and classy look, you can choose orchids, lilies, baby’s breath or roses instead, or simply make an arrangement out of all white or light coloured flowers. You can also create warmth in the bedroom by choosing deep, rich colours of red, blue or purple, such as violets, lilacs, bluebells, irises, carnations or hydrangeas.


Your floral arrangements should change with the seasons. Different seasons set different moods and your interior decorating should complement these moods. In the winter and autumn, use rich-coloured flowers that are deep shades of red, orange and gold. This will bring the much-needed warmth into your home during the cooler seasons, and will create a cosy atmosphere that will make you want to snuggle up with some hot tea and a good book. In the spring and summer, use vibrant colours and light shades, and better yet, mix many colours together in one bouquet. Lots of yellows, pinks, oranges and pastels should be used. This will give bounce to the ambiance of your home and inject feelings of excitement, anticipation and new beginnings that these seasons embody.

Events and Holidays

Depending on the festivities, flowers can go a long way in setting the mood for any holiday or event that you are planning in your home. For formal events such as dinner parties, use elegant flowers such as calla lilies to set the mood. For a touch of style, you can use pretty much any flower standing alone in a classy vase. A single orchid bloom floating in water in a small crystal bowl will add a classy edge. Holidays such as Christmas always call for a festive touch when it comes to home decorating, and a beautiful poinsettia is sure to do the trick. 

Mar 8, 2012

How Professional Cleaning Saves You Times and Money

Using a professional to clean your carpets can prolong their life and keep them looking like new for longer. Carpet cleaning by an expert is also sure to save you time and money as they have the right tools and knowledge to keep your carpets fresh, stain-free and in top condition. It is also important to have your carpets cleaned regularly if family members suffer from allergies.

Expert tools and knowledge
While your average household vacuum does a good job at picking up obvious dirt and debris,
professional cleaning gets deep into the carpet to remove the grime you can’t see. Expert cleaners use specialised equipment to get deep into the pile and pick up all the dirt and dust a standard vacuum can’t. A professional carpet cleaner will start by vacuuming your carpets to remove surface dirt and debris before using a specialised cleaner to get that deep-down dirt. This can be either dry or wet cleaning and both are designed to draw out the dirt from deep within the pile. This is why professional cleaning is also perfect for all families who suffer from allergies. A professional clean removes the triggers of hayfever, such as dust and pollen, to help keep the sneezes at bay.

Say good bye to stains
Not only are stains unsightly, but the longer they are left unchecked the faster your carpet will deteriorate. Even the best quality carpet will suffer in the long term from stains. Although you may do a thorough job yourself removing that unsightly red wine stain or the ground-in dirt left behind by the family pet, the results professional cleaning achieve often need to be seen to be believed. Treating the stains with high quality cleaning products at the same time as having them professionally cleaned will achieve optimum results. It’s a good idea to have major stains treated by a professional sooner rather than later to ensure the longevity of your carpet.

A fresh, clean smell
Professional cleaning does more than remove the dirt and make your carpets look their best. It also removes odours that can be trapped in the fibres that are virtually impossible to remove using a standard vacuum. If you have pets or a smoker who lives in the house, regular carpet cleaning will help eliminate odours at the same time as removing the dirt. It is not just the removal of dirt and odours that professional carpet cleaners can carry out. Carpets can also be restored using a special process or protected by using a sealing process. Many professionals can also clean your rugs, lounges and sofas too.

How often should carpets be professionally cleaned?
To keep your carpets looking their best and to prolong their life, they should be professionally cleaned at least once a year. But the older your carpet gets, the more often it should be cleaned to ensure it lasts for as long as possible. High traffic areas will require cleaning more than once a year, as will carpets that are exposed to odours, such as pets and cigarette smoke. For families with allergies, it is worth doing a couple of times a year. In the end it comes down to how much you use your carpet – the more often it is exposed to dirt, stains and odours, the more frequently it should be professionally cleaned.

If your carpet is looking a little worse for wear and is in need of a little TLC why not get the professionals in? You’ll be amazed by the results.

Mar 6, 2012

17 Steps to Home Fire Emergency Survival

General Fire Preparations

1. Install at least one fire alarm on every floor. Isolated areas such as garages and sheds should also have alarm systems installed to alert you of any danger on your property.
2. Plan at least two escape routes from every room with your family. Make sure everyone is aware of how they can escape from any room if there is a fire which prevents them leaving via the main entrance.
3. Check that all family members are able to open escape routes such as windows and doors. It is also important to check that everyone can fit through specified escape routes.
4. Keep a whistle and torch in every room so that you can easily alert other family members and navigate if the power goes out.
5. Choose a place where you can safely meet after escaping from the house.

Educate your family

It is important to teach your family several survival tips with regards to fire:
6. Always sleep with the bedroom doors closed because this will keep smoke and heat out, providing a greater time frame in which to escape.
7. Teach everyone how to raise the alarm. This could be with a whistle, with a bell, or with a simple shout of ‘FIRE’!
8. Wasting time by getting dressed, looking for pets, or collecting valuables could cost your life. It is essential to get out immediately and worry about everything else afterwards.
9. Stay low at all times to avoid the inhalation of smoke. Three breaths of toxic smoke is enough to render an adult unconscious and that will make you incapable of escape. It is important to roll out of bed and then crawl to the nearest exits. Teach family members to cover their mouths effectively.

Practice makes perfect

10. Get your family to practice escaping the house blindfolded. In the event of a real fire it is unlikely that visibility will be much better than this because of the smoke, so it is important to practice in uncomfortable conditions.
11. Practice keeping your head low when leaving the building. Crawling is uncomfortable but it can save your life in an emergency.
12. Feel doors before opening them. If a door is hot then it is unsafe to open it. Test this by touching the wood, not the metal handle.
13. Learn the process of ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’. This will enable you to put out any fires on your body and clothing.
Additional Measures
14. Work out where you can call the emergency services from in the event of a fire. It is safer to do this once you are outside of your home and safe.
15. Consider who needs to know that your house is on fire. Notifying the neighbours of the fire as soon as you are out of the house could potentially save their lives too so be sure to alert them if they aren’t already alerted by your alarms.
16. Be careful when you are cooking. Cooking should never be left unattended, even for a minute.
17. Be careful when smoking. Smoking when you are tired, sitting down or lying down could potentially cause a fire. Think about your state and make sure you look after your ash and embers. 

Mar 5, 2012

Connecting Your Garage to Your Home

If you already have a garage connected to your home but no entry way from your home into the garage then there are options to have a door installed. It is no good having a garage door remote if you cannot just jump out of the car and go directly into your home. Having a door direct to your garage also makes it a great way to expand your entertaining areas.

Consider the following before installing a new door from your garage to your home:
• Where do you want the door to be?
• Is your garage and/or home large enough to accommodate a new entryway?
• Will it affect the structural integrity of your walls?
• What type of door do you want? Sliding, traditional, by-fold?
• Can you do it yourself or is it a job for a qualified builder?

Where Do You Want the Door? 
A door from your garage to your home needs to be conveniently located. Ideally, it should be on the driver's side of the car but if your garage is large it can be located elsewhere. Knowing where you want the door may mean other structural improvements are necessary as well. If you garage is lower than the floor of your home you will need to find room to add steps into the home. You will also need to make sure you are not affecting the room needed for any garage door openers.

Is it Large Enough?
One reason your garage may not already have a door directly into your home is that it is too small. It may also mean that you do not have proper access from the garage to the home (such as a free standing garage). You need to leave enough room for people (the driver at least) to exit the vehicle and walk through the door. You do not want to add a door if you have to squeeze past the car or other objects just to get inside.

Structural Integrity
If you are unsure of the structural integrity of your walls then you definitely have to ask a professional. Adding new doors anywhere in your house could mean the removal of structural beams. However, if you are looking at installing a small door then you can probably get away with installing it between main supports.

To find out where your beams are you should go to a hardware store and buy a stud finder. These little electronic devices are basically small metal detectors which beep over a metal stud or nail. Mark off where the studs are and this will usually indicate where a beam is passing behind your wall.

What Type of Door? 
The type of door will usually be determined by the size and layout of your garage. The most common door from a garage into a home is a sliding door. This is because it saves space and avoids the problems of traditional swinging doors needing space to open and close.

Professional or DIY? 
If you want to install a door from your garage to your home then you will need a bit more than DIY experience. As mentioned above, you will need to find where your beams are located and also understand where your load bearing beams are situated. It is best to at least consult with a professional builder or engineer before you go taking a sledgehammer to the wall!

Mar 3, 2012

The Suramadu Bridge

-click to enlarge-

The Suramadu Bridge (Surabaya-Madura Bridge) is a bridge with three cable-stayed sections constructed between Surabaya on the island of Java and the town of Bangkalan on the island of Madura in Indonesia. Opened on June 10, 2009, the 5.4-km bridge is the longest in Indonesia and the first bridge to cross the Madura Strait (source:Wikipedia).

Mar 1, 2012

How to Buy a Home for Your Retirement

Buying an investment property for your retirement is a basically good move. You need to make certain that investment delivers what you want, when you want it. The most efficient form of property investment for retirement purposes is to plan ahead, and have your property paid off and ready to use as you wish, preferably long before retirement.

Retirement goals and property investment issues
These are the core goals for retirement property investing:

· Financial security-The real cost of retirement is actually an equation- Capital and income less costs. New Australian market research has discovered that those who’ve paid off their properties have far better cashflow. This is a natural development of reduced financial commitments and a simplified income/outlay dynamic.

· Lifestyle- It follows from the better cashflow effect that retirement lifestyle is much better. Retirees don’t want or need any risk of additional costs, and naturally want to be able to maintain lifestyle quality.

Seems straightforward, doesn’t it, but there are potential traps that can sabotage even these very basic requirements.Property investment needs to be seen as a risk management exercise for retirees. The idea is to avoid problems during the purchase process.

These are the issues:

· Financial over-commitment- This is a potential killer. Best practice is to buy for retirement early, to minimize outlays. Over time, circumstances can make financial commitments complex. The degree of difficulty equates to the amount of outlay, in terms of buying any
investment property.

· Market value- There’s a good side and a potential bad side to the property market for retirees. A rising market can undeniably generate good returns on investment over time, and even an opportunity to upgrade. A static market or downward market can remove the opportunity, and leave you with a “stuck” investment.

· Interest rates-This is a cumulative effect which can reduce retirement capital over time. Interest rates can rise, adding to the outlay while the actual ROI is flat, so getting out of an underperforming or costly investment by selling can be a loss-making scenario in a tougher long term buying environment.

Safety first- Getting what you want and avoiding risksBefore you do anything at all about buying a property for retirement-

1. Get professional property investment advice-Just do it. The more you know about your investment options and the better your sources of information, the simpler it is to invest safely and wisely. You may be astonished at the quality of information available from these sources.

2. Get financial advice- There are multiple options available for retirement investment, including many with definite tax benefits. You need to know exactly what you’re looking at financially with investment properties, so make sure you’ve got the money issues well under control.

3. Be patient- Good property deals don’t just happen. You need to know how to find them and check them out, and how to take advantage of them quickly when you find them.

The good news

You’ll definitely find what you want, with the right advice and good planning. You won’t need to worry for a second. Just make sure you do things properly.


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