Apr 30, 2012

Floor Motives

Monday is the time for the splash of yellow. Let me share here wonderful primate motives on the floor of the Schmutzer Primate Center (Jakarta, Indonesia). Great artworks on the floor. 

Apr 28, 2012

White and Black Stripes

 No need to look at their heads, you can easily say what type of animals that have black  stripes on white like them.

Apr 26, 2012

Making a Child-Friendly Home

Making sure your house is friendly to children is not just about safety. You also have to make sure they can study comfortably, have easy access to any stationery or textbooks they may need, and have their own space in the house. Here is some food for thought when it comes to creating a happy household for kids.

Safety first

A parent’s nightmare is seeing their child hurt or injured, but it can happen in the blink of an eye and at any time. That is especially true if you haven’t taken the time to ensure their surroundings are safe, regardless of their age. Smaller children will require a different approach to safety than teenagers. Latches on cupboard doors, plastic plugs protecting unused powerpoints and limiting what they can climb on is just a start.

Then there are safety issues that can be addressed that affect the whole family. This can include loose pavers, slippery floors, damaged flooring and chipped or cracked items, such as tiles and mirrors. Every home should have a RCD as well that cuts the power in the case of an electrical emergency to prevent electrocution.

Remove temptation

This is not only a safety issue but also one that ensures your children have the best environment in which to study and learn. For small children it is as simple as not leaving sharp implements or other dangers within reach of little fingers. It can also mean moving breakables out of sight or out of reach.

For older children it can get a bit trickier. While they may not be able to break anything, there are temptations that come with experimentation and even rebelling. Just as you would with smaller children, keep medicines secure and also consider putting a lock on the liquor cabinet. You child may not be looking to drink alcohol just yet, but sometimes peer group pressure can be a trigger.

Temptation also comes in the form of distraction. If a child is supposed to be studying, don’t put them in the same room as their gaming console! You can guess which one they would pick if they had a choice.

Give them space

Older children in particular need their own space. It’s not because they don’t like you, it’s just because they are growing up and are becoming more independent. If they do retreat to their bedroom, don’t barge in every 10 minutes to see if they need anything or what they are up to – it will only cause friction.

One of the best ways to give them space while also being able to keep an eye on them is to create a kids’ zone. This can be a spare room, a lounge room or even the shed. It’s a place where they can listen to music, watch television, play games or just chill out. A couple of bean bags, some toys or posters, their electronic items of choice or even a writing desk are all that’s needed. Let them pick a colour scheme or how it is set up. It will give them a place they can call their own.

Be open and honest

Without doubt the best way to create a child-friendly home is to be the best family you can. You need to make sure your children also have your support, encouragement and are there when you need them. You also need to know when to give them some space. Be involved in their activities and interests and remain positive to ensure you create the happiest household possible.

Apr 25, 2012

Creating a Perfect Home

If you want to give a perfect home for your family, why it’s better hiring custom home builders to build your new home from scratch than choosing other options like buying one from the home owner or buying a production home? If your family’s health, secure, happiness and comfort are becoming your most concerns, building a custom home will ensure you more to achieve your goals.  


Can you differentiate between a house and a home? A house is a place where you and your family eat and sleep; while a home is a place where you and your family live together, love one another and experience life as a whole family. There are many ways that you can do to make a house a home; building a custom home that meets your family’s needs is a very important step to create a real home where each family member can enjoy living inside!


A home should be your most comfortable place in the world. Together with your beloved family; they set up how you make your important life choices, they develop your behaviors, your awareness and your self-believe. There’s no doubt, a perfect home is obviously a necessary part in the quest of a meaningful life.


Your beautiful house won’t be a perfect home if there aren’t connections between the family members and the less conducive home’s environment. A family will grow and develop together only if they can share opinions and value each other. A perfect home can become a strong base for family’s sharing life purposes while also facilitating every family member to reach their own goals.  


A home will give truly comfort if only you know how to develop your home into a resource of love, energy and hope. Your home should become a place where every family member can convey their minds; kids sit around grandparents to listen stories and teenagers can discuss their problems.


Only a home with the right environment that is able to be a perfect family home. Consult with your home builder to help you arranging and creating a home that allows you to conduct various family activities together. Visiting SchumacherHomes.com to get helpful ideas and inspirations is much recommended!

Apr 24, 2012

Tips for Making a House a Home

What exactly is the difference between a house and a home? Well, a house is somewhere you eat and sleep, while a home is somewhere you live, love and experience life. Decorating your house can help make it a home, but it takes more than beautiful furniture and flowers to really make you love it. Usually, the missing ingredient is time – the more time we spend in a home, the closer we grow to it.

Changing Your Decor
If you have just moved into a house, it is important to make your mark on it as soon as you can. Start doing little things if you cannot afford to renovate extensively. You can easily add some warm colours, family photos and comfy furniture to give it an instant homely feel.
Using Plants and Flowers
Using plants and flowers will bring a sense of cleanliness to a home. Plants are living organisms, and they will actually make your air cleaner. You can have flowers delivered on a regular basis to add a touch of colour to your home as well, if you like. Some people do opt for fake flowers and plants, because they do not need any maintenance. However, you will be aware of the difference, and nothing can replace the genuine article. If you grow and care for your houseplants, you can be proud of them and they will become part of your home.

Updating Your Furniture
Having cold and utilitarian furniture can make a home look modern, but is it comfortable? If you have a family, look at family-friendly furniture that is hard-wearing and make sure you avoid any easily stained colours or material. Using wooden, rustic furniture will bring comfort and durable, family-proof functionality.

Making Your Home Comfortable
Your house may have an entertaining area that looks good, but to make your house a home you should create an entertaining area where people will actually want to spend time in and enjoy. A simple way to do this is by adding lots of pillows and replacing any really worn-out furniture.

Whatever you do within your home, it should follow your heart’s desire. You do not need to be up-to-date with all the current trends to make your home special. The most important thing to remember is that you need to be happy in it, as you will be the one living there.

Apr 23, 2012

A Poster

Happy Monday, have a great week ahead to all. I saw this poster on a museum's wall inside Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta, Indonesia.
 It said : Nature Belongs to All of Us, Stop Hunting Wild Animals and No Illegal Logging. I agree!

Apr 22, 2012

Tips for Moving Offices

 Moving an office is significantly more time-consuming and stressful than it is to move your home and family. That is because you have to consider all your employees, your office equipment and your customers, and on top of all that, maintain business as usual. It’s recommended that you start planning your office move at least three months ahead of time, so that the transition can be as smooth and painless as possible. The following are a few tips that will help you organise your office move.

Prepare the New Office

One sure-fire way of losing more precious business days than you planned for is by not having the new office completely ready. This is the major reason why it’s in your best interest to start early. If you new office needs to be renovated and redecorated, you will want to have it all done before you move your supplies over. This means having the walls painted and new flooring installed long before your set moving date.

Make a Plan

The major goal of your move is to make it cost-efficient, and the best way to do this is to be time-efficient. To save time, become familiar with your new office. Take measurements of the rooms, doorways and elevators to ensure there is space for your furniture and decorations. Bring your employees on-board with the plan by familiarising them with the dimensions of each of their personal spaces, so they know what to bring and what to get rid of. This means that on moving day, each employee will know exactly where they have to go, and can immediately begin setting up their work space.


It’s never too early to begin packing, and doing so will save you serious amounts of time and stress later on. If you or your employees find yourselves with some spare time throughout the day, then take the initiative and start boxing up supplies that you can do without in the final weeks before the move. This is also a great time to decide on office supplies you don’t need anymore, as the more you can get rid of, the less you will have to pack and haul with you.

Warn Your Customers

It’s important that you let your customers know in advance that your office will be moving. By getting the word out early, the chances are good that the largest amount of customers possible will be aware of the move before it even happens.

Final Moments

The days before the big move should be devoted to all the final packing of office equipment and personal supplies. For disconnecting and dismantling electronics, you may want to hire professional help, and always warn the movers about these fragile items. Items such as desks and filing cabinets don’t need to be emptied as long as you check all locks and latches. Desks, chairs, shelving units and boxes should be clearly labelled so that the movers will know where to put things, and so that the workers all end up with the same desk they had before.

Before the first load of supplies are brought over, do a quick check of the new office to make sure the electricity and water is working in the building. Also remember to pick up some pizza to reward your staff for working so hard!

Apr 21, 2012

Schmutzer Primate Center

-click to enlarge-
Located inside Ragunan Zoo (Jakarta, Indonesia). The right place to see and learn more about Primate.

Apr 20, 2012

Common Household Budget Problems

 While things like rent, mortgage, groceries, insurance and utility bills are regular things on our household budget, there are some things that we simply sometimes forget about! If you’re in the process of putting together a budget for your household or if you’ve got a budget but you are still mystified as to where your money is really going, here are some things you may want to include: 

Household Repairs

We often don’t think about it, but often things around the home can malfunction or break – especially in older homes. You might end up with an overflowing dishwasher or a broken window. It’s important to set aside money in your budget for unforeseeable repairs, especially if you’re not rolling in cash. If you decide to sell your home, a conveyancer may request that you fix or upgrade certain appliances or fixtures before settlement, so it’s good to have extra cash for this too. 


Clothes are a necessity for everyday living, but they’re often left out of our household budgets. When you consider work clothes, shirts, pants, jeans, skirts, dresses and shoes you begin to understand how buying clothes can significantly impact your finances. Make sure you budget for clothing and expenses, especially if you’ve got kids.

Transport and Petrol Costs   

Spending money on petrol each week? Or paying for a weekly bus or train ticket? Don’t forget to factor transport costs into your household budget, too. This may even reveal better ways of spending – could you spend $30 on the train each week, instead of $80 on petrol?

Car Repairs

On top of your car loan, registration and insurance, you should also set aside a bit of money for any car repairs. Car repairs are usually quite costly, ranging in the hundreds or even thousands. Having to fork out this amount of cash can be daunting. Ensure you save for car repairs to keep you out of any sticky money situations.

Family Activities

If you’ve got kids, taking them on family outings can sometimes be expensive. It can cost up to $100 to take a family of four to the movies or even out to dinner. If you enjoy family activities, it’s a good idea to budget for them, so the expenses don’t eat away at your spending money.

Tax Return Costs

We hate tax time! But if you get your tax return or other finances done by an accountant, you’ll also need to pay for their services. Budgeting your tax return fees into your yearly budget means a little more peace of mind when it comes to tax time.

School Expenses

You’re probably great at saving money for school fees, school supplies, books and uniforms at the start of the year, but have you taken into account any ongoing school expenses? Are there numerous excursions or school camps coming up that you’ll need to pay for? What about fees for school photos? Make sure you find out about and include all of your child’s yearly school expenses.

Christmas and Birthdays

Christmas and birthdays are usually a fun time of year, but if you find yourself drowning in “present debt” every time they come around, it might help to budget better. Could you save $50 a month, for instance, as a Christmas or birthday fund? This will keep you prepared when it comes to present-buying and means that you won’t blow out your budget during the Christmas and birthday months.

Apr 19, 2012

Working with Dangerous Chemicals at Home

There is no doubt that working with chemicals can be a dangerous practice but preparation and understanding can help you to avoid any harm to humans. Chemicals are a useful part of a handyman’s arsenal and several will be found in most UTE tool boxes. They come in many forms and can be used as anything from vapours to lubricants so it is important to understand their dangers and how to manage them:

● Know your emergency procedure. If anything should go wrong then you need to be prepared. Learn how to clean up spills safely, where you can escape to, and also where the safety supplies are.
● Understand the chemical. Before using it, do research on what the chemical does and how it will behave. Be sure to learn the risks and how to deal with emergencies because you will not be able to read the label when it is too late.
● Wear appropriate clothing for the job at hand. Having the correct clothing is as important as having the correct
hand tools for a job and this is especially true with regards to chemical safety. Wear the appropriate goggles, face masks and overalls to keep yourself free from injury.
● Be prepared to clean any chemicals off safely. You should be prepared with access to a shower or neutralising agent where appropriate. Be prepared to properly clean yourself and to dispose of clothing where appropriate.
● Do not leave contaminants lying around. Any rags or clothes exposed to chemicals need to be disposed of rapidly to avoid accidental exposure.
● Never take food into a chemically active working area. Chemicals can easily get onto your food if they are in the same environment. Anything that you ingest should be kept well away from any potential exposure to chemicals.
● Wash thoroughly before eating after using chemicals. Even wearing the same clothes when eating your food poses a risk to your health so it is better to wash thoroughly and shower where necessary.
● Ensure there is proper ventilation in any area where chemicals are being used. Even if chemicals are not in vapour form they will likely release toxic chemicals into the air. Note that it is also possible for the area you are working on to release toxic gases when the chemical is used on its surface. Avoid inhaling these chemicals with the use of proper ventilation and a quality face mask.
● Use a buddy system to ensure that there is always a way to contact emergency services. If anything goes wrong it is vital that there is someone to seek assistance so never work with chemicals alone.
● Clean any spills immediately. It is important to keep every work area as clean as possible. Leaving a spill means that it may be spread around or may damage the surface. Avoid this by cleaning up quickly and safely.
● Ensure that chemical storage is adequate. Some chemicals will ignite if exposed to high temperatures and many may even explode. Be sure to store chemicals in the correct way so that you can avoid any catastrophic accidents.


Apr 18, 2012

Creating Your Party Supply Checklist

No matter how big or small the party, it can be very stressful to prepare for it. There are so many small details to remember and the needs of so many people to think about that you really do need to plan everything down to the last detail so that your party goes off without a hitch. For party-planning success, the key is to be organised and start early. The following tips will help to make sure that you have all the important things on your party-supply checklist.

Food and Drink

Having food and drinks that everyone will like is probably the biggest challenge to party planning, but is also the most important. You should start planning the menu well in advance, and then separate each element into what you can make ahead of time and what you will have to make on the day of the party. Remember that you will need appetisers, salads, a main dish, a few side dishes, dessert and finger foods just in case people get hungry again later. Drinks are much easier because they can be purchased well before the day of the event and kept in storage. You should have a good supply of alcoholic beverages including beer, wine, liquor and spirits, as well as a few good mixers. Don’t forget to get a good supply of non-alcoholic drinks such as soda, juice, water and sparkling water. For the evening, prepare an assortment of coffee and tea.

Serving Supplies

Almost as important as the food itself, the right serving supplies are absolutely necessary for a successful party. If you are organising a very large event, you may want to consider hiring a caterer, or at least some
catering equipment to make your life easier. To serve the food, you will need serving bowls, platters, ladles, trays and bread baskets, and for people to eat the food, you need a good supply of plates, bowls and cutlery. For drinks, you will need a variety of cups, mugs, pitchers, a coffee maker, cream and sugar holders, stirrers, straws, beer mugs, wine glasses, champagne glasses and tumblers.


The decorations for your party will vary depending on what kind of party you are throwing. Birthday parties will need balloons, ribbons, a banner and a piƱata, while fancy dinner parties will need decanters, flowers, candles and fancy linen and tablecloths.


There are always some extras that are necessary for making your party perfect, and they largely depend on what kind of party you are throwing. Your local
party hire store can help you out with extra furniture, such as tables, chairs, a bar or a marquee, which is especially useful if you’re planning something outdoors. Other items to consider during your planning include invitations, thank-you cards, party favours, coolers, music, lights and any supplies you will need for party games.

Throwing a party doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you are organised, start planning early, and make a detailed checklist. Then you are all ready to throw the best party ever!

Apr 17, 2012

Home Renovations: 5 People that Make It Happen

So you’ve caught those Better Homes and Gardens mags when you were shopping at Woolies and started eying off a kitchen. Then you took a second glance at some new timber flooring as you passed the flooring store. Then your youngest asked for their own room. And it was all over, the fall into renovation began!

Renovating is a great way to keep your location, your neighbourhood and the things you love about your home, but get the room, the makeover and the update you require. Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s a lot of work, and if you decide to do some of it yourself, it’s a lot more work. And stress. And drama. But if you do insist on cutting dollar corners and adhering to your budget by cutting corners on professionals, there are five people you should not overlook, as they truly are what will make or break this project!

1. The council
Some people, if they think they can get away with it, will skip the local council, in order to avoid fees and charges they just don’t want to pay. Well, while they may seem ridiculous on occasion and a waste of money, they are necessary, and it really isn’t worth the risk. The council is the first group of people that will make your renos happen, or have them pulled up short!

2. Builder
Seriously, don’t skimp on the builder and think you can do it yourself. If you love your home and want to make it beautiful and even more fitting for you and your family for coming years, this is one guy you definitely need. As well as helping you with plans and letting you know what’s realistic, they understand the entire process, can give you realistic expectations, and if you keep communication lines open and be specific, will be able to fit your budget.

3. Electrician
electrical services is another job people think they can do themselves, but be realistic, electricity is a health hazard, so do it right. Negotiate the best price with your chosen tradie, and watch how they complete the job quickly and efficiently – much more efficient than you stumbling around in the dark roof wondering which wire goes where.

4. Plumber
Has your toilet ever overflowed onto the bathroom floor? Want it to? If not, don’t bypass the professional plumber. Like the electrician, they are qualified for a reason, and will ensure everything is done correctly at the start, so you don’t have problems with your new renos, later.

5. Cabinet maker
Finally, if you’re going to put in a new kitchen especially if it’s not a kit kitchen – but even if it is, get a cabinet maker to do it. These guys are pedantic about fitting things in flush, not a millimetre out. Would you even notice if your kicks, benches tops or cupboards were a mil out? No? Well your plates will as they slide off and onto the floor!

At the end of the day, you can save a few bucks, but probably spend them later on fix its, or you can invest a little extra now, and get it right. While you may want to do your driveway yourself, or your garden, don’t overlook professionals when it comes to electricians in Sydney, plumbers, cabinet makers and builders.

Safety around the Home – Common Accidents to Look Out For

Accidents often occur around the home and they usually can be easily avoided. Children are particularly vulnerable and if you have small children it is important to child-proof your house. You can be alerted against more serious accidents, such as house fires, if you have the proper alarm systems, such as smoke alarms. With other types of accidents it is merely a case of being vigilant and having a good look around your home to see what is potentially dangerous.

If you have tiles or timber floor boards throughout your home you need to watch out for these surfaces becoming slippery when wet. When wet it is easy to slip and fall over and quite easily break a bone. Children, who often run through the house, are especially prone to slipping over. This is also the case if you have tiles outside, particularly around a pool. If you are going to have tiles outside choose those with a non-slip texture, like sand stone. Pay careful consideration to what you choose if you are going to be laying them around a pool area. Mop up any spills inside as soon as possible and put down a bathmat in the bathroom to soak up any water so you can avoid having a slippery floor.

Unfortunately many drowning deaths occur in family homes, most of these being children. If you have a swimming pool you run the risk of a drowning occurring, but very young children can also quite easily drown in a small amount of water in the pool. Children should never be left unsupervised while they are in or around water, which includes both swimming pools and when they are in the bath. It is important that they are not left alone and that someone is always watching them.

Stairs can be dangerous and can be a problem for older people and very young children. Be careful that there are no toys are other items left where someone can trip and fall down the stairs. You need to have a hand rail and if you have young children you should put a child-proof gate at the top of the stairs and at the bottom.

Many household items can be potential poisons. Laundry detergent, dish washing tablets, medications and other household cleaners are all dangerous if consumed. If you have young children all chemicals, household cleaners and medications should be put up in cupboards that are well out of reach or they should be locked away.

Anyone where you need to watch small children. As well as being burnt on heaters or because of open fire places, children can also be burned by hot water. Hot drinks should always be put well out of reach of young children and you should set the temperature on your hot water system to a cooler temperature. You should not have boiling hot water coming out of your taps. You need to have proper guards for heaters and also a fire guard for any open fire place.



Apr 16, 2012

Instant Turmeric

Have you ever tried this healthy drink? Just mix one spoonful of it with a glass of hot water; then it’s ready to drink. This product is already added with white sugar. For me it’s too sweet one, therefore I don’t drink it often.

According to vegetarian-nutrition.info, the yellow-orange color of turmeric is derived from curcumin, a bright yellow, phenolic pigment. Curcumin is an antioxidant which is considerably more powerful than vitamin E. It has anti-mutagenic activity, as well as the ability to inhibit the growth of certain cancers. The latest research shows that turmeric can suppress the development of stomach, breast, colon, lung and skin tumors.


Expanding Beyond Your First Home

There is nothing more exciting than getting your first home. You may find, however, that once everything is settled and things keep going well, the time may have come to move beyond your initial purchase and expand. There are lots of ways that you can grow, though it all depends on why you want or need to do it. The following ideas are just some of the things that you can do.

Get a Granny Flat

One of the best ways to expand beyond your home is to just go straight out into the yard and have a granny flat put in. A granny flat can be a fantastic investment, as it will significantly increase the value of your home, and can provide the extra space needed for your small business or for when relatives come to visit. You can also rent out your granny flat to bring in a handy extra income, and with your unit just out back it will be easy to keep up on any maintenance. Be sure to check with your local council or a
property lawyer to ensure that you are legally entitled to a second structure on your land.

Get an Extension

An extension on your home can be the perfect way to get more out of a good thing. Whether you go out, up or down with your additions, your extension will enable you to get more out of your home while also increasing its value. So if you love your home too much to move into a bigger one, making your current one bigger can provide the perfect solution.

Investing in Land

Buying land can be an awesome way to diversify your investment portfolio, as well as presenting a huge amount of opportunity. Even if you can’t afford to build anything on it or do anything with it just yet, securing land is that all-important first step, and if you have purchased wisely, it will likely continue to increase in value – even while it just sits there.


Even though you may love your home, some places just aren’t meant to be forever. If you can, moving into a new place while maintaining ownership of your first home will allow you to rent it out and help you finance the costs associated with your new place. This kind of ‘flipping’ has turned some young people into millionaires extremely quickly, though it is much easier if you have a few trade skills and access to some good
conveyancing services.

Buy the Place Next Door

If you love everything about the place that you live but you would like it to be a little larger, consider purchasing your neighbour’s place and joining them together. Your new mega-property will still have that prime location, and your home will be even more amazing.

Extending beyond your home can be a fantastic way to branch out with your investing, while still basing everything on your home’s core success. Making that first big step beyond your first home can be a little nerve-wracking, so keep any moves you make simple and well thought out, and you are sure to be in for even more future expansions.

Designing the Right Pergola for Your Home

Creating the perfect outdoor area should start from the top – and that means installing a pergola that will set the scene for everything that follows. Modern pergolas come in all shapes, sizes, colours and a range of materials, meaning the right design is easily incorporated into your home. Pergolas are a key asset to your home and add value, functionality and practicality. Speaking to an expert who can advise on the best options for your outdoor area is the sensible move.

Be Prepared
Whether it is a new home in need of a pergola or an older home in need of a revamp, it is important to have an idea what you want and what works best. Before you seek out quotes, measure the area where the pergola is to be erected and make a note of any problems you foresee, such as the surface underfoot, proximity to sheds and other buildings, or where it is likely to attach to the walls of your home.

It’s important to find the right place for the pergola. Most new homes are built with an obvious location for an outdoor area already taken into consideration. The best location will provide ease of access to the inside of the home – access straight to the kitchen is ideal. A north-facing orientation is also a good idea, to make the most of our climate.

Types of PergolasModern pergolas come in three main configurations – gabled (or pitched roof), flat roof or domed. As a general rule, flat roofs are cheaper and more straight-forward to install. They are a simple and easy option and can be made to fit virtually any area. Gabled pergolas give greater flexibility when it comes to style. They are also cooler because the higher roof allows the heat that gathers underneath to rise and the design encourages better airflow. Domed roofs add that extra ‘wow’ factor and are generally the most expensive. Once again, they can be designed to fit any space and they can be an impressive feature all by themselves.

Choice of MaterialsSteel and aluminium construction has taken over from timber-framed pergolas as it offers great flexibility and protection from the elements. Timber pergolas will need more maintenance (such as painting) than steel construction and can warp or crack under certain conditions. When it comes to the roof, Colorbond and polycarbonate sheeting are the most popular choices. Polycarbonate can come in clear sheets to let light into the outdoor area, while Colorbond comes in colours that will complement the rest of your home.

Two TipsIt’s important to consider safety and local laws if your patio adjoins a swimming pool. Pool suppliers should be familiar with the laws surrounding this. Look for someone who can install approved fencing to make your outdoor area as safe as possible. In many States pool fencing is a legal requirement, so check with your local authority. Here’s another tip – if you are installing a patio, put in your fencing before laying paving bricks to save hassles. It’s easier to cut the pavers to fit around the support poles once they are in the ground.

Apr 14, 2012

Birds in Silhouettes

One photo from my archive. Captured last year on a tall-weed field in front of my aunt's home.

Using Staff for In-House Training

Every organization needs to have well-trained staff and, for non-profits, volunteers. The benefits and cost-savings of having competent people who know what they are doing are enormous, but training can be expensive, especially if you have a lot of employees and volunteers. What can you do to minimize the expense of training without sacrificing quality? There are many things you can do to save money in this area and, at the same time, show your staff and volunteers that you value them. Here are some easy ways:

Offer In-House Training

Instead of out-sourcing your training needs, why not utilize the in-house expertise of your existing personnel? After all, who knows better about your organization, what is needed, and how to do it, than the people who are currently doing it? It is also much cheaper than hiring a facilitator or outside trainer. So if you’ve got a number of new staff that need
customer service training, why not ask a current employee who has demonstrated competency in that area to give the training? It doesn’t matter if they have never trained anyone before; there are a lot of resources out there to help them figure it out. People love to be challenged and expand their current skill sets, and it is another way for you to show your staff that you trust them and want to see them develop their talents in new directions.

Build Training Expertise within Your Organization
As mentioned above, there are mountains of
educational resources that you can access in order to start building expertise in training within your organization; best of all, there are many free resources available! If you’ve got senior employees who have been with you for a long time, ask them to develop a training program for new hires and volunteers. Taking ownership of your own staff training by creating expertise and knowledge in this area also allows you to better control the direction of your organization. You will be able to tailor the training to the growing needs of your business.

Appreciation and Acknowledgement
Appreciating the hard work of your staff in training their peers doesn’t have to come in a monetary form: most people love to help others out and share their knowledge. It is more important to properly and publicly appreciate them for their knowledge, skills and willingness to share them with the rest of the organization. An added bonus is that you will simultaneously increase the morale of your staff and foster more loyalty, as they will feel truly appreciated and respected.


Apr 13, 2012

Tips for a Cheaper, Cooler Home

If you are wasting money by cooling your home with your air conditioner, there are ways to make it more economical. To start with, you need to check your air conditioner to make sure it is working efficiently. Also think about when you actually run the air conditioner, as well as that more than just the security doors are shut.

There are a few main issues that cause you to spend too much to cool your home:
● The condition of your air-conditioning system.
● The timing of your air-conditioning system.
● Keeping out the heat.
● Airing your home at night.

Cleaning Your Air Conditioner
The condition of your air conditioner will not only affect how cold the air is in your home but also the quality of that air. An unclean filter can not only make the air smell musty but can also carry bacteria that cause illness. Make sure you clean out the filter regularly as this will also allow easier airflow.

The next thing you really need to do is get your air-conditioning system serviced. While this will cost you some money, it will also save you some in the long run. A proper technician can help sort out re-gassing your system as well as fixing any small or major problems.

Running Your Cooling System Earlier
If you want to have a nice cool house without the massive costs, it pays to start your air-conditioning earlier. You see, if you cool your house down in the morning (when it is already cool) then the air-conditioning does not have to work too hard to keep it at that temperature. But if you only turn your air conditioner on when it gets really hot, you will end up paying more because your system then has to work overtime to bring the temperature down. Make sure you set your air conditioner to cool to a certain temperature – setting it to just two degrees higher than usual can save you a lot of money.

Closing Blinds and ShuttersShutters and blinds are the best way to keep heat out of your home in warm weather. Keeping a dark house in summer is the best way to keep it cool although you will be sacrificing some breezes. If you have the air conditioner on it won’t really matter too much anyway.

While outdoor shutters are great at blocking the sun and heat, their metal construction can sometimes be a bit warm. This is where a double-insulating effect of some heavy curtains will help you a lot. Make sure the curtains are nice and dark so they can block light getting through and heating your home.

Airing Your Home
It is also important if you are running the air conditioner all day to air your home when you get the chance. Do this during cooler periods, such as at night, and this will get your home ready for any hot weather the next day.

10 Extra Safety Features for Your Home

We all want to live in a safe home, and it is surprising how a few small changes can help your sense of security. Not all of the security changes listed below cost a fortune and, in fact, quite a few are very affordable. Here are 10 simple safety features to add to your home:

1. Roller Blinds
This addition to your home not only keeps it secure from break-ins, but can also keep your house cool and dark. Most
roller blinds these days are controlled either by remote or by a simple switch. This is not a small investment, but it is certainly one of the nicer ways to secure your windows.

2. Security Fencing
Security fencing doesn’t need to be ugly. Getting a good solid Colorbond fence will quickly improve your security. Don’t forget that you can also improve the safety of your home with additions like new pool fencing. Pools cost a lot to maintain, when you consider all of the extra maintenance costs, like
pool cleaners, but you should never skimp on safety!

3. Motion Sensor Lighting
This is one of the cheapest ways to increase the security of your home. A motion-activated light is enough to deter many night-time criminals looking for a quiet place to break in to.

4. Window Locks
Yes, your window probably has a simple latch to keep it closed. However, to make your home really secure, you need to add inexpensive key locks to your windows as well.

5. Security Doors
Standard screen doors are not enough to keep people out of your home. A security door should be able to withstand some impact and not be pulled off the door frame very easily.

6. Security Window Screens
As with security doors, you need security screens for your windows. If you have standard fly-screens, it is simple for a criminal to pull them off and get into your house. They also act as a visual deterrent.

7. Monitored Alarm Systems
If you are not happy with a basic alarm and other visual deterrents around your home then a monitored alarm system may be for you. These systems are monitored closely by a professional security team, which means that either security guards or the police will be called to the scene if the alarm is activated.

8. Fire Alarm Systems
While we all think of home security as being about stopping break-ins, we also need to improve the fire safety of a home. While a standard smoke alarm is better than nothing, you really need more than one, in different locations around the house. Why not install a proper fire alarm system with a wider array of monitoring points around your home?

9. Fire Control Systems
To further improve the fire safety of your home, you can install fire control systems. These could be something as simple as a set of extinguishers or as comprehensive as a proper indoor fire sprinkler system. It all depends on how much you are willing to pay and how extensive you wish your fire control system to be.

10. Video Surveillance
If you wish to feel extra secure, video surveillance is the answer. The beauty of surveillance in the modern age is that you can go with something as simple as a webcam right through to multiple camera security systems. A video system monitoring your home would also provide you with evidence if someone were to break-in, or make an attempt to do so.

Apr 12, 2012

Organising a Family Reunion

There is no better way to catch up with relatives and strengthen the branches on your family tree quite like a family reunion. Planning the reunion, however, is no small task. Organising a time when all of your family members are going to be available, finding a place that everyone can get to, and providing the kind of entertainment that will please all ages, can be extremely difficult. When it’s all said and done, having put on a successful family reunion is a very rewarding experience. Here are some tips to make it a party that your family will talk about for years.

Garner Support

Before you start the planning process, contact all your relatives to get a clear sense of popular opinion. Do your family members want a reunion? Is there anyone willing to help you plan? Does anyone want to host it at their house? Opening a dialogue with family members will also give you a sense of when people can attend, how many will attend, where people are willing to travel to and what kinds of activities people like. Once you have established initial contact, it will be easier for you to maintain the interest of family members throughout the planning process.

Selecting the Type of Reunion

Most reunions can be broken down into two basic types: one-day events such as a picnic or barbeque, and multi-day events that last for a weekend or more. If most of your relatives reside in the same general area, then more frequent one-day events will be easier for you to plan. If you are going to have relatives travelling from far-away places to attend the reunion, however, plan something more elaborate to make the trip worthwhile for them.

Choosing a Time and Location

Where and when you decide to hold the family reunion will depend on the opinions you collected earlier. The location and date you choose should be the ones that work for the majority of relatives. Popular locations include where largest number family members reside, the original family hometown, or simply the location that will be easiest for you to work with.

Make It Official

Once you have selected the time and place, make it official by sending out invitations, emails or even making a group on Facebook. The earlier you do this, the better, as your family members can get the necessary time off work and start making their travel plans.

Plan Away!

Now you have your guest list as well as an official date and time for your family reunion, it’s time to get started on the details. Make a list of all the things you will need to take care of in the lead-up to the big day, such as contacting the caterer and hiring all the necessary party supplies. Start thinking about what activities and games will be fun for people, and get to work planning the fine details. Consider what extras you will need such as streamers, flowers or specially made t-shirts for everyone who attends.

Family reunions are a really fun way to catch up with family members that you don’t see very often, so even though organising one is very time-consuming, it will be worth it to see your whole family together again. 

Apr 11, 2012

Butterfly Boudoir

The latest trend is butterflies and it’s not just about the odd picture here and there, it is embracing the winged beauty and there is no better place than in the bedroom. The gorgeous colours and the designs on fabrics and wallpaper are hitting the stores and there is something for everybody, providing you like butterflies.

If you are unsure of how to use this trend in the bedroom, you’ll soon find inspiration all around now spring is upon us. A feature wall in the bedroom with butterfly motifs is an easy way to incorporate the trend, or you could simply update bedroom wardrobes with a few easy peel butterfly stickers, not the children’s stickers though. Grown-up stickers are bold, bright and classy; these would look great on white bedroom furniture.

Your tastes maybe less is more, you’ll find cushions adorned with majestic butterflies, ideal to sit upon the bed and they add a touch of glamour with up to the minute interior design. There are rugs with a simple motif or rugs with a flurry of colour to bring your bedroom into the season. However there is one bedroom you can go overboard on, a little girl’s bedroom.

You can use stencils and ask your child to help decorate their room, using colours of their choice to paint the butterflies. The stencils could be used on the walls or wardrobes or you could buy some fabric paint and plain bed linen and give a totally individual look to your child’s room. The possibilities are endless, even wall art can add an impact to a room and give the appearance of a total revamp. Simply using an old picture frame or buying one for the purpose, you can cut out images of butterflies from magazines and create a collage or ask your child to paint a piece of art to go in the frame. Make sure they sign it; it may be valuable one day.

The butterfly trend is fun and creates the image of spring and summer all rolled into one, what better way to wake up in the morning when your bedroom and bedroom furniture make you smile.


Finding Accommodation for Overseas Visitors

Having guests come to visit from overseas can be a lot of fun, though it can prove to be a stress, if it means having a house full of people for too long. That’s why getting your guests their own digs can be the best idea – apart from making it a more manageable visit for you, it will allow them the freedom to have a bit of time alone as well. The following are some suggestions for accommodating your visiting overseas guests:
Serviced ApartmentIf your guests will be staying for more than a couple of days, they may want a way to be able to do their own cooking and so on. If this is the case,
serviced apartments would be the way to go. Your guests will still be able to spend lots of time hanging out with you, and they will be able to retreat to their own pad to relax and have some time alone.

HostelThis can be a fantastic option, as younger guests are likely to be happy staying in the dorms, while you can also book a private room for older guests or those who would prefer the privacy. The hostel will provide any and all of the information your guest may need for their time in the city, and they are sure to make a few friends while they are moving through the hostel.

B&BIf your guests like a little more luxury and comfort in their accommodation, check them into a local bed and breakfast. This will provide them with all of the comforts of a regular house, without them feeling like they are imposing on your home and personal space.

House SittingKeep an ear out for other friends who may be going away on holiday around the time that your guest arrives – if you are lucky, you may be able to line your guest up with a house sit through your friends. This is the best scenario for anyone trying to house guests, as there is nothing better than having your own home for your stay. It will also help the absent homeowners, as they won’t have to worry about their home sitting empty and vulnerable while they are away.

Granny FlatsIf you are lucky enough to have a granny flat on your property, this is an amazing convenience for when you have visitors. Your guests won’t feel like they are imposing if they aren’t even in your house. You will all have your much needed space, but you will still be close.

Don’t stress out too much over your guest’s
accommodation, as they are here to see you, and will be more than happy with whatever accommodation you are able to provide for them. A place that is safe and comfortable is the main thing, and the closer it is to your place, the better!

Apr 10, 2012

Free Dating Websites

In these troubled financial times, you’d have to be a few raisins short of a fruitcake to pay good money for something you can get for free. Yet sadly when it comes to online dating there are thousands of people forking out large sums of their hard earned cash each month because some dating website has told them that it’s developed some clever algorithm that practically guarantees they’ll find love.

Unfortunately what these poor love seekers often don’t realise is that it’s in the interest of subscription dating sites to actually prevent their users from finding the partner of their dreams – after all, happy couples don’t tend to spend large sums of money on dating sites each month (and if they do then they’ve obviously got a pretty unconventional relationship).

The simple fact that subscription based dating companies don’t want you to know is that there’s now a large selection of free dating websites that offer pretty much all the features and benefits of subscription dating services for none of the cost.

The great advantage of free dating sites is that there really is nothing to lose – even if you pick one of the lesser free sites on the market and you fail to meet anyone even vaguely close to your image of the perfect partner, the only thing you will have lost will be a bit of time. But choose the right free dating website and you’ll quickly find yourself reaping the benefits with no disadvantages.

One of the better free dating website out there is Mamboo.com, because it offers a wide range of functions and features that allow you to use it in a flexible manner that suits you. When you sign up to Mamboo you won’t be asked to fill in endless questionnaires or undergo any matching procedures, because the site operates on the idea that you know what you’re looking for in a partner much better than it does. Instead, Mamboo users can search through the half a million plus user profiles on the site and use filters such as location, age and appearance to find people in their area with similar interests.

Signing up initially is easy, especially if you’ve got a Facebook account, and the site only asks for a few details such as date of birth and location before you log in. That’s not to say that your profile on Mamboo needs to be limited, indeed the site offers one of the most feature rich interfaces on the market – you can add pictures to your profile, write a blog or online diary that other users can read or join one of the many groups the website offers for people with specific interests. The site also offers users the ability to text and video chat with other users, a facility that not only makes meeting for that first date a little less daunting, but also lets you know that the user you’re talking to is real and active, not some computer generated or dormant account.

The range of features and numbers of people using free dating websites now means that there’s simply no need to pay to find love anymore, but if you are one of those people who still insist on paying to use a dating service, you might also be interested to know that I’ve got a friend in Nigeria who’s recently won the lottery and needs someone to help him claim the money.…

About the Author:
The above article is composed and edited by Shirley Jones. She is associated with many dating online communities including Online Dating services as their freelance writer and adviser. In her free time she writes articles related to
free dating websites, online dating etc.

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