Interior Design and Home Staging – The Benefits

Interior Design used to be the privelage of the elite. Your bank balance had to be large to afford to employ a Designer who could create your space. Things are very different now. With programmes like House Doctor people are becoming more and more aware of how to make the space they live in feel like their own little bit of luxury. Home Stagers are rarely qualified in Design, most have just have an eye for what looks good, so when an Interior Designer takes on both Interior Design and Home Staging then the results can be astounding.

Most Interior Designers look down on Home Staging, but that can be a costly mistake. Concept Design Studio in Maidstone have been amazed at the positive response they have received from utilising their Design Practice and incorporating Home Staging into the mix of Interior Design. Designer Saffiere says “It has been an interesting time here at Concept Design Studio, I have through Home Staging, been privileged to have helped many many clients who just need a push in the right direction, and never thought they could use the services of Interior Designer to reach their goal”

Home Staging can very easily be incorporated into the Design Practice. It takes up little of your time and can be a great assest to the business. It is remarkable how just a little bit of advice can assist a client and help them to go in the right direction.

Interior Design does not need to be so inaccessible and expensive, Interior Design should be available to everyone and the philosophy of Concept Design Studio in Maidstone is one that should be taken on by Interior Designers in the UK

Interior Design needs to move forward into this new market of ordinary people who want some advice from a professional but cannot afford to take on a whole project and all the costs involved

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Go Where Locals Go in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a crowd pleaser. Not only does it provide affordable entertainment for the masses, but also excellent multicultural cuisine, world-renovated museums and trendy shopping opportunities. Home to a major international airport, the city is easily accessible from most European destinations and many further afield. Guide books will give you a lot of useful information on what to do and see in Amsterdam, but here is what a local might tell you.

Getting around

Amsterdam has a reliable public transport network consisting of a metro, trams, buses and ferries. A single ticket will set you back € 2.60, and a 24 hour pass costs around € 7. Locals will argu, however, that the best way to get around is by bicycle. Cycle paths snake through the city getting users quickly from point A to B avoiding traffic jams. Look into renting a bicycle or find out if anyone you know in the city has a spare to lend you. Make sure the bike is equipped with front and back lights and do not attempt to cycle after a few too many local bees. Rules of the road apply to cyclists too, and police make regular appearances to ensure public safety.

Eating and drinking

Whatever your budget, in Amsterdam you will be able to save a variety of international meals. If you are looking to save some pennies, head to the De Pijp area for affordable food outlets serving up authentic fare from Surinam, a former Dutch colony, and other countries. From Monday to Saturday people flock to the area for the Albert Cuyp market selling foods, homeware, clothing and other useful goods. There are a few pop-up stalls offering fresh Flemish fries and local hit stroopwafels or syrup-filled waffles.

If you are planning to spend a bit more, you will find restaurants in most parts of town to suit any palette. De Pijp is again an increasingly popular choice, as is the Jordaan area closer to the Central Station. Neighborhood restaurants are tried and tested by locals who generally tend to avoid the city center for going out. Bazar is a favorite serving up Middle Eastern fare.

Pubs are everywhere but the city center is dominated by loud tourist traps, many centred on an Irish pub theme. For a freshly brewed beer and a low-key atmosphere off the beaten track, try Brouwerij t'IJ , an old mill converted into a brewery. Choose a snack to accompany your tipple. The cheese is made from milk produced by animals fed with the brewery's malt and hops.

Shopping

For a unique shopping experience, head to the area around The Nine Streets . Home to vintage and local designer boutiques as well as cute gift and homeware shops, you will be spoiled for choice.

Twice a month head to the north of Amsterdam for the IJ-Hallen flea market. Prized as the largest of its kind in The Netherlands, for an entrance fee of € 4, you can look seemingly endless (over 1500) stalls brimming with both the good and bad kinds of junk. The market is accessible by a free ferry from the Central Station that adds to the fun of the experience.

Accommodation

In Amsterdam, hotels and hostels are everywhere. Choose a central location but avoid the loudest streets around Dam Square and the Town Hall where you are not guaranteed a good night's sleep. With so much touring to do, do not underestimate the importance of quality rest and recuperation and choose a hotel in Amsterdam with a solid reputation.

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What is the Best Tile For Your Home Interior?

When we are talking about interior decor, flooring will be one of the most influencing factors in creating beauty and cozy interior design. Flooring is not just a matter of covering the floor with tile and beautifying it with carpet or rug. Choosing the right tile for your floor will be important in determining the appeal of your home interior decor. For this reason, you should know well the best tile to improve the beauty of your interior.

There are several types of tile that you can choose to improve the beauty of your house. You can find linoleum and vinyl, ceramic, mosaic, porcelain tiles and many more attractive tiles in many attractive colors as well. Usually, each tile fits well to some rooms in your house. Each of them also needs different maintenance to keep its beauty and quality.

Ceramic is the most common type used in interior decor. This type of tile is more expensive but more durable than linoleum and vinyl tiles. This tile is also easy to be installed in your floor. You can find that ceramic tile has a lot of attractive colors, but the most common color to be selected is white. You can use this tile to the floor of almost all part of your house. But when you are going to install this certain tile to your bathroom, make sure that you choose ceramic with rough surface. Ceramic with smooth surface usually suits to be slippery when it is wet, so choosing the rough-surface ceramic will be your best bathroom.

To get more natural look, you can choose hardwood or laminate tile. Laminate tile will be more affordable and easier to be installed than hardwood tile. Both of them will bring natural accent and beauty for your house that you will not get from other types of tile. However, you have to be ready with the higher cost and effort of their maintenance. You can use it for almost the whole part of your house, but it is not recommended to install this tile in your bathroom.

Then, you can also use mosaic tile. The different shape and size of each tile is the specialty and the beauty offered for your interior. It may have hexagonal, round, or any other geometric shape. Typically, this tile is chosen for aesthetic purpose for the floor. Nowadays, you can find a mosaic tiles in ready made form so you can easily arrange them to form any image or picture. It will be perfect addition for your kitchen and bathroom because it is slip resistant.

However, any types of tile will not beautify your interior if you do not match its color and design with your interior. So, considering the style of your interior decor is an important thing to do before choosing a certain type of tile.

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The Basics on Becoming an Online Merchant

Online selling is on the rise because of the changing shopping habits of today’s consumers, those under 30 years old who were either entering into their teens or have just graduated from college when the Internet bloomed in the mid-90’s.

This is the generation who spend most of their time reading and sending Twitpics, shout-outs, reposts or jejespeak on their FB, Flickr, tumblr, and Blogspot pages, in their desire to be visible and look cool on the Internet (now broadband and a powerful tool for business) that has become collaboration-friendly, thanks to Web 2.0 technologies.

Fast forward to a cool question. Do you want to join the world of Internet retailing as a pure player to earn extra income out of the Net Geners whose disposable income will remain ‘awesome’ at least until 2020. Do I hear a resounding ‘yes’ out there? That means you’re getting into a winning ambit.

Online retailing poses the biggest opportunity for all Internet users to earn from the web. After all, you spend more than 4 hours before your computer screens doing any or all of these: researching, working, playing games, online chatting or instant messaging, Skyping.

Caveat: you will not immediately strike gold from your Internet selling but, initially it will give you an extra income and one that will grow in due course.

Consider this data from the March 2010 ITIF (Information Technology & Innovation Foundation) report.

For the last 10 years, among the world’s top 10 Internet firms are those that have been successfully selling products and services like Amazon, eBay, Expedia, TD Ameritrade (into trading services), and of course Yahoo, Google and AOL, which collectively earned $58-B in 2006. Countries leading in e-commerce are UK, US, Sweden and Denmark.

E-commerce is growing in Asia too, where total B2C sales in Japan, China, Korea and India are expected to reach $115-B this year. At 52% (in Asia), Japan has the highest percentage of online buyers, followed by Korea at 45%. China, the world’s second largest Internet population with its 210 million Internet users, is expected to see large growth in its online retail sales – $18 billion in 2010.

In other parts of Asia like the Philippines, about 90 percent of the 28-M Filipinos with access to the Internet visit social networking sites to chat, play games and promote business and civic events. Social media has become a ubiquitous tool in any business marketing campaign.

To cut your mark in online retailing:

number 1 – you must have products or services to sell

number 2 – study the basics like on-time deliveries and packaging (you don’t want the merchandise getting squashed or broken)

number 3 – you must know how to use new media.

It is wise to focus first on a small range of products and know where to source reliable suppliers. Your products or services must be sellable like mobile phones, gadgets, fashion and accessories, souvenirs, homeware, health and wellness, appliances, travel reservation, insurance.

You can earn from your hobbies and interests like bead stringing, cross-stitching, photography, handicrafts, gardening, carpentry, used or antique items.

The Internet gives you the global marketplace, hence there will be customers in Trinidad, Los Angeles, Glasgow, Shanghai, Puchong, Cebu who will like to have those items on your web store.

Here are basic tips on becoming a trusted online retailer in the net world.

Build your website. If you can’t, ask friends and kinfolk who can. It’s an integral part of running an online business. Or you can buy an e-commerce software that has a complete e-trading platform that integrates payment gateways and logistics system for local and international deliveries. This way, you don’t have to worry about setting up payment and distribution intermediary services on your own. It’s never too late to have your own website up and running and be one of the over 80 million dotcoms in the world. Going by their sheer numbers, you’re in great company.

Get yourself discovered through social sites. Your FB friends and Twitter followers will be excellent starting points for engaging with consumers. You can advertise on popular social sites or you can create a Facebook fan page or a Multiply product page. Be innovative in your spiels (but don’t overdo it) about the benefits of your products so that consumers can connect emotionally to them, notwithstanding your commercial agenda.

Attend trainings. Learning additional skills on creating compelling customer content, photo editing, viral videos, SEO, etc. will boost your confidence as a netpreneur and if you cleverly apply them, you’re on your way to building a good customer base.

It’s usually in the first year when it’s all about deciding what to sell, where to source your products, and generating awareness for your online store. You need to keep intact your enthusiasm for your business and your customers so that in the succeeding years, you can get ahead and stay ahead.

Now this is looking beyond 2020, Net Geners and their progeny – because of their online behavior – put premium on time and convenience which online retailing meets 100% spot-on.

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Where to Buy Cheap Wedding Reception Decorations

Many couples are trying to make their wedding budget stretch further. Saving money on wedding decorations is something many brides will consider. But you can still create an elegant atmosphere in your reception venue without spending very much money. Here are 5 places in the UK that you can get cheap wedding reception decorations.

Supermarket

This may come as a surprise to many people. No longer is it just bread and coffee that you find on the aisles in Asda and Tesco. The big stores have large homeware departments where you can get all sorts of items for less. I've bought big bags of tealights, tealight holders, candles and plenty of flower vases from them. With a little bit of imagination, you could make some very tasteful reception table centerpieces from these items. The only problem is the stock does change frequently. Once they've sold out a particular item, they may not get any more in stock.

Hobbycraft

You can get ribbons, artificial flowers, confetti and place name cards from this superstore. And you can also get all the supplies to make you own wedding invitations if you want. You can see if there is a store near you by going to hobbycraft.co.uk.

Confetti

Confetti are the big name in retailing when it comes to supplying wedding accessories and decorations. You can get just about anything including decorated balloons, wedding favors and gifts for the bridesmaids. You can shop online at confetti.co.uk or you can visit one of their bricks and mortar stores around the UK.

eBay

If you think that the stuff for sale of eBay is just a load of old junk, think again. There are lots of great wedding items for sale, much of it at bargain prices. There are plenty of small one-person businesses that operate with eBay as their shopfront. They can get those hard-to-find items that you do not often see in high street shops. Maybe you want some red rose petals, or ostrich feathers or silk tropical flowers. You do not have to look any further than Ebay.

Ikea

Do not forget this retail giant when you're planning your wedding. Go down to the Marketplace section and you will find artificial flowers, candles and votives. And with prices as low as a pound for vases, you can create your wedding flower centerpieces yourself. Worried that you'll have 12 vases at the end of your wedding? With such a low price you can afford to give your wedding reception decorations away to your guests, as a present.

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What Tools Do I Need For a BBQ?

Barbecues are an excellent method of cooking and also a good way of conducting a social occasion around food, when it is warm enough outside to do so. The secret of managing to host a good barbeque is to be really prepared, and that means having all of the tools that you could need to both cook and serve your food.

Obviously you need an actually barbecue and charcoal to be able to cook your food, but other than that it is advisable to buy some actual barbecue tools to help you out. These differ from normal utensils as they should have a longer handle and definitely be heat proof (most have plastic ends, or plastic handles); This is necessary due to the fact that flames can shoot up from the barbecue and so a safe distance needs to be maintained. Please ensure you use the correct kind of equipment for the job.

Firstly you will need a good pair of tongs. These need to grip well and mean you can turn over items on the barbecue, to ensure that you cook them all of the way through. Please wash these between uses to make sure if you touched raw meat with them, that you can not spread salmonella or any other food poisoning bugs.

A spatula can also be used for this purpose, and for serving burgers and larger items. Make sure that your food does not get stuck to the grill by regularly inserting your spatula underneath them and occasionally turning. A fork is also a good tool for picking up sausages and other smaller items to serve. This will be two pronged and have a long handle.

Food at barbecues is often skewered, so make sure you get a good set of metal skewers made of stainless steel, or a similar material. Thread the meat onto these, or use them for items such as sweetcorn cobs, in order to give a bit of variety to your serving methods.

An often overlooked tool for a barbecue can be a good quality brush. This can be useful for adding marinade, or a good barbecue sauce, to any items you are cooking. Adding extra components such as this can often increase the food quality, making sure the meat does not burn, and has an extra flavor to it.

Look in outdoor shops, as well as homeware stores, to find sets of barbecue tools. You can often buy a complete matching set in one go, which is already pre-packaged, and may save you money compared to if you bought the components separately. Having a back up set is always useful too, as you never want to have to rely on normal kitchen equipment for barbecue cooking if your tools break, as this can be dangerous.

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The Jewish Menorah – A History

The menorah is a seven branched candelabra which has come to represent the Jewish People and Israel. Its origins directly derive from the Torah and its symbolism has proven to be long lasting.

Early coins and pottery containing images of the menorah and dating back to biblical times have been recovered from archaeological sites.

The first menorah was originally made for the tabernacle and later placed in the first and second temples. The Torah records how the great artist, Bezalel, fashioned the menorah in accordance to detailed Divine instructions. These instructions are recorded in Exodus 25:31-40, see excerpt below:

“31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made, even its base, and its shaft; its cups, its knops, and its flowers, shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of the sides thereof: three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candle-stick out of the other side thereof…”

Listed below are some of the facets of the menorah:

– (as stated above) it was hewn out of a single block of pure gold

– it weighed approximately 150 pounds and just under 5 ft in height

– it had seven branches; a middle branch and three branches extending from each side

– according to Maimonides and Rashi, the side-branches extended from the middle branch in a diagonal line, not in a semi-circular arc as most drawings depict

– extra pure olive oil was used in the cups – gently pressed, not crushed and just the first emerging drops were considered pure enough

– it was positioned beside the southern wall of the temple, opposite the ‘shulchan’, the table which held the twelve show-breads.

The daily maintenance and lighting of the menorah was a task allocated to the Kohanim (priests). Interestingly, although only the Kohanim were permitted to prepare the menorah, there were no restrictions as to who could light it.

It is written that one branch of the menorah miraculously stayed alight continuously. Synagogues today have a ‘ner tamid’ (everlasting light) situated opposite the ark, which contains the Torah scrolls. This reminds us of the significance of the menorah during temple times. In addition many synagogues also display a menorah, or an artistic impression of one, in painted decorations or on stained glass windows.

After the fall of the Second Temple, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded that the menorah was taken to Rome and carried along during the triumphant homecoming parade. A depiction of this event is preserved on the Arch of Titus that still stands today in Rome.

During the Jewish festival of Chanukah a menorah is lit on each of the eight nights. This menorah differs from the temple’s menorah in that it has nine branches instead of seven.

The location of the original menorah is unknown today but the symbolism lives on; the national emblem of the State of Israel is a menorah, flanked by two olive branches.

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Top 5 Fair Trade Gifts This Christmas – Not Just Coffee and Bananas

Yesterday, The Independent reported that takeaway coffee giant, Starbucks, was to begin sourcing 100 percent of its coffee fair-trade. In the past, this might have seemed a very bold move for such a large company (especially during a recession), although their move can be seen to highlight the increasing popularity of fair trade goods and the gradual social acceptance that buying fair trade benefits everyone . Christmas is fast approaching and the time for trying to come up with suitable gift ideas is already upon us. So beyond coffee and bananas, what are the best fair trade gifts currently on offer?

5. Stationery. I think it was Freud that said, 'Deep inside us all there is a portion of our heart devoted to stationery'. Actually, he did not. But who can dispute the rush felt when receiving a new notebook, set of pencils, or an eraser in the shape of a stegosaurus. Thankfully, fair trade stationery has hurt its way onto the market shelves, and the range of cards, notebooks, and address books is of a quality that truly beats the chain stores.

4. Toys. Giving at Christmas is what the season is all about, and when a child receives a gift they really love, their display of joy and subsequent hyperactivity is something to behold. Today, there is a wide range of fair trade kids stuff available, including traditional wooden toys, children's instruments, as well as brightly painted money boxes, puzzles and mobiles.

3. Accessories. I admit that this is quite a vague area of ​​gifts, 'How about I get you an accessory for Christmas?' But there has also been an upsurge in bits and bobs in the fair trade sector. These range from eco-friendly recycled bags made from newspaper to more durable seeming carriers made from hemp and silk. Batik and sequin purses are also proving very popular this season.

2. Homeware. Homeware is sometimes the most intriguing area of ​​fair trade products. From cutlery carved from coconut wood and plates made from cinnamon sticks set in wood, there are many ingenious designs available for people looking for a slightly more original gift this Christmas.

1. Jewelery. The high street has been looking to the east for jewelery designs for some time now. Today you can get authentic fair trade Indian earrings in a host of traditional colors such as turquoise, onyx, and black – as well as original teardrop, lantern and coral designs. There is also a significant diversity in types of jewelery and this certainly seems to be one of the fastest growing areas of fair trade production. Alongside earrings, there are also pendants, bracelets and necklaces available in abundance.

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The Year of Jubilee and Today’s Economic Recession

Did you know that economic recession is actually ordered in the Bible? Every 49 years the people of Israel were ordered to celebrate a year of Jubilee, where the land would lie fallow and all property would be returned to its original owner. This year and the following year there would be no new crops, so the people were required to prepare. Imagine: Every 50 years they Israelites knew there was going to be an economic recession.

If you could predict when an economic recession would occur, what would you do? Would you just step back and allow it to happen, or do you think that you would take steps to prepare yourself and your company to weather the storm? Do you think you might even study the trends and find a way to make that economic recession work for you? Maybe store away a little bit extra during those forty nine years so that you could see to the people who didn’t have the foresight to put away what they needed to get by those two years of famine?

That’s what we’re going to be discussing in the next couple of sections. What you need to do to help yourself ride out a recession without losing everything you’ve worked so hard for, and what you can do to make this recession work for you. Remember, recession is nothing new. Men and women have been surviving recessions for as long as there has been an economy to recede.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

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10 Signs That He Likes You

You met this great guy and you’ve been dating each other for some time. Not in an exclusive relationship, but you have been spending time together. Phone calls that lasted for more than an hour, flirty smiles are exchanged.

You feel good about him.

Now is the million dollar question that you want to find out.

Does he like you? Is he into you, or not?

How to know the answer? What are the tell-tale signs that he is into you?

Well, besides using your woman’s intuition which is not something I can describe here nor teach, I’ll do my best to “simplify” this complicated thing call “love”.

10 Signs That He Likes You

1. Watching the same movie twice

He’s seen the movie. Although he wasn’t very impressed with it, but because you haven’t catch it he suddenly changed his tune and said he really would like to watch it a second time.

And so by the way, if you haven’t seen it too, why not let’s go catch it together, he asked.

You know his intention is then not on the movie, but the company really.

So girls, do not expose his true intentions. It’s enough to know the underlying truth, be appreciative ok?

2. His car is playing songs that just sound too, familiar?

Because those are your favorites! You have merely casually mentioned to him once, and the next time he drives you, you’re in for a musical feast.

Is he always so attentive to everyone’s needs and preferences? Well, you observe how he interacts with others and you tell me.

3. He asks that question!

Well, he will try to be as casual and nonchalant about it as possible. But no matter how cool he acts, deep down inside he is burning and dying to know the answer to this question:

“So, are you single?”

If your answer is yes, then this will be the next one:

“No way. How can someone like you be single? You mean, you don’t have a boyfriend?”

Now watch his body language closely. If you notice he is feeling tensed up by now, and totally relieved when your answer is “No” then you get the message.

4. He asks for a follow-up date even before the date is over

Now if he isn’t interested in you, why would a man be so anxious to “book” your time for another date with him even when the date is only half-way through?

Unless you look like Jessica Alba, or you can give him a million-dollar job like Donald Trump. If you aren’t either one of the two or belong to either one of the category, then this can be a clue to his heart…

5. Your name is not foreign to his friends

If you do get a chance to meet up with his friends, which you know you can create such opportunities, you’ll get some nice juicy bits from them.

But this may not be very fool-proof, neither are all of these signs, but if his friends raise their eyebrows or grin sheepishly when he introduces you to them, then that means word has been around within that gang on someone in particular, which could very well be you.

6. He can’t remove his eyes from you

Ok, we know that’s not the kind of stare-through-your-clothes type, but rather a slightly more loving kind of gaze that speaks of admiration and liking.

If the eyes could speak, they may just pop this question on behalf of their owner “You are the most beautiful lady I’ve ever seen. Would you like to be more than friends?”

The best test? When a bombshell or super gorgeous babe sashays past, you need to alert him before he notices her. (Of course, this is really carrying it a little far ha ha…. what does it take to stop a man’s roving eyes? I can’t find the answer yet)

7. He prompts you

Every now and then, he will find a chance to ask you what type of guy you are attracted to and are looking for in a partner.

Unless he’s doing what I’m doing (which puts me in a really privileged position to ask ha ha), what business is it for him to know what kind of man you like if not for the fact that he is secretly plotting his way to become the most suitable candidate?

Don’t be surprised if he starts putting himself down or discrediting himself by saying things about him that don’t fit into the list you described. He is testing waters to see what your reaction would be, which will give him some clues on how you feel for him.

For example you listed “having a good sense of humor and making you laugh” as one of the traits which you will be attracted to, and he says “Oh, I’m a boring guy actually. I don’t know how to crack jokes or make girls laugh. I must be boring you then” be careful of what you reply him.

If you say “Ya, I don’t think you are the type of humorous person either” versus “Oh is that so? But I never find you boring at all. In fact, I feel we have lots of things to chat about” he will either be secretly weeping in sorrow or jumping in joy .

By saying things like that, he is kind of “forcing” you to give a respond, and either way you will be giving away clues on how you feel. So girls, if you fancy this guy too, you know what kind of answer you should give, right?

8. He is doing you favors

Yes, he doesn’t mind ferrying you around if he has a car. He will also volunteer to accompany you all the way to an out-of-the-way place to satisfy a sudden craving you have for a food delicacy that is sold there.

He wiil help you with your school work, express his interest in lending you a hand for errands you need to run, buy some things for your family etc.

If a man isn’t interested in developing something further than friendship with you, unless he is too bored with his life or he’s Mr Super Ultra Nice, then I wonder what could it be that prompts him to be everywhere when you need his help.

9. He’s very anxious about celebrating special occasions.

Like Valentine’s Day (if he asks you out on that day, I would really suspect his intention, wouldn’t you?) and your birthday.

He would long to celebrate this special day with you, and preferably alone.

10. He buys you gifts

Sending gifts on no apparent occasion and for no reason is the easiest way for a man to declare his interest in a girl without verbalizing it. By giving you something, he is testing to see how you react. Usually he will do this when he still isn’t sure of how you feel towards him, so at least he won’t feel rejected if you reject his gift.

At the same time, he is hoping to make you happy with that gift. And if you are happy, he will be too!

Summarizing the above, they may not be 100% fool-proof scientifically proven signs to show he’s into you. They came from pure experience and observation. I purposely didn’t include things like body language where he will check how he look before meeting you, pointing his leg and facing his body towards you etc because I just want to make this as non-scientific as possible.

So ladies, hope this gives you some clues to how this man who is appearing in front of you pretty often lately feels about you. Does he has only platonic friendship in mind, or something more?

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Differences Between Damask, Brocade, and Jacquard

Often times, uneducated individuals use the terms damask, brocade, and Jacquard interchangeably with one another. It can often confuse those who are unfamiliar with the world of fabrics. Jacquard is a decorative or woven pattern that is created by using a Jacquard attachment on a loom. The attachment resembles the punch card on a piano. It is purported to offer better versatility and fabric control for the operator of the loom. The Jacquard technique can be applied to a variety of fabrics, and it is commonly used on brocade and damask fabrics. It is commonly used in a variety of apparel and home goods, from tablecloths to bedding.

Brocade is defined as a lavishly decorated, shuttle woven fabric. It is primarily woven from silk; although, it is possible to find brocade constructed from a blend of silk and synthetic fibers. Often, it will be embroidered with gold or silver thread. Brocade can trace its origins back to India, where weaving is a traditional art form. It is typically woven on a loom, and it may or may not be woven using the Jacquard technique. It is also characterized by the manner in which the brocaded or broached parts of the fabric hang in loose groups or are clipped away. Although the scenes and patterns on brocade appear to have been embroidered, the scenes are actually woven into the fabric using advanced weaving techniques that involve manipulating the weft and weave of the fabric. The most common types of scenes depicted on brocade fabric are those of floral prints.

Damask, similarly to brocade, is a fabric that features woven scenes of floral patterns, intricate geometric designs, or simple scenes of domestic life. It may be woven of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibers. However, it is most commonly created from silk. It is primarily different from brocade in the fact that its woven fabric pattern is reversible, while that of brocade is not. Similarly, shorter weft patterns in damask allow for more subtle effects in the fabric to be created as it plays off of shadow and light. Damask weaves also contain a higher thread count than that of brocade. Double damask weaves are the highest quality of damask produced; however, it is also the most expensive.

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How To Read Jewelry Marks

The number markings on precious gold jewelry are a bit of confusion to lots of people. We are generally used to seeing a karat or silver mark like this: 10K, 14K, 18K, Sterling, etc. The numbers mean the same thing.

For 14k the number is technically 583 but most manufacturers adopted the European way and make 14k gold a tiny bit over 14k, so the mark is 585 in most 14k jewelry. 18K is marked 750. If the mark is valid and there is a makers mark also in the jewelry, the number means these items are 18k gold.

Here is where the numbers come from. Pure gold is called 24 karat. For 18k gold, there are 18 parts of pure gold mixed with other metals to make the metal suitable for use in jewelry. 24k is too soft alone to stand up or to hold stones well. 18 parts pure gold divided by 24, or 18/24 equals 750. That is where the number comes from. The jewelry is 75% pure gold, 750 parts gold with 250 parts other metals out of “1000” parts. It is easier to think of it as a percent which is pure gold in the recipe.

Sterling silver is marked 925. Sterling is 92.5% pure silver and the rest is other metal, generally copper.

What does it mean if the ring marked 14K PR? The 14K simply means it is 14K (Karat) gold and because of the K means it would have been made in either South East Asia or The United States. The PR marks are just the Maker or Store ID or even a design mark, and have no relevance to the Value.

The basic decimal formula to work out the quality of gold content is quite simple, as they are all measured in ‘Parts per Thousand.’ This means that 9ct gold is calculated like this: 9 (for 9ct) is divided by pure gold (24) and then multiplied by 1000 (for pure gold as a decimal). ie: 9/24*1000=375 That 375 is the decimal quality for 9ct gold and is sometimes shown with a decimal point in front – .375

The old Victorian standard of 15ct gold is calculated the same way – 15/24*1000 = 625 (Not quite the numbers you have on your jewelry. Dental gold is 16ct or 666 recurring. But you can also reverse this formula by starting with the decimal and working back. ie: 375/1000*24 = 9

In your case we can use 698/1000*24 = almost 17ct

I have a platinum engagement ring and found a wedding ring that I really like but the band is made of palladium. Is it safe to wear these two metals together without one damaging the other?

It will wear the softer metal OVER TIME but that could take many years. My Grandmothers wedding ring eventually wore away the band of her engagement ring but it took over 20 years to do.

Platinum and Palladium and quite good together but I would take the advice of your local friendly jeweler and have them check both rings. Sometimes the Platinum may be a lower grade in order to make it harder – so have that checked.

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Agoraphobia Is Not the Opposite of Claustrophobia

Agoraphobia isn’t the opposite of claustrophobia – but a lot of people think it is. In fact I used to think exactly that. I used to think exactly that even when I was suffering from agoraphobia. I was even offered the opportunity to join an agoraphobics group, but I said no because I wasn’t afraid of open spaces. I quite liked open spaces as long as no one else was anywhere near me. In fact if there was no other human being in sight, then that was OK as far as I was concerned. But that was all a very long time ago.

The translation of agoraphobia is ‘fear of the market place’, not, as many people think, fear of open spaces. The essence of the market place is people and human interaction. This is what is fearful. Places that agoraphobes typically avoid, or have problems with, are supermarkets, theatres, cinemas, crowds, parties. Places where a rapid exit might be difficult.

The fear is usually of showing oneself up in some way in the eyes of others. Typically agoraphobes worry about things like: vomiting (usually as a result of severe anxiety); fainting; having a panic attack; or suffering from a genuine health emergency like a heart attack. The concern is usually one of embarrassment – perhaps fainting and finding oneself on a supermarket floor gazing up into a circle of concerned faces who will insist on making a fuss and calling an ambulance.

Many agoraphobes manage to get by with a trusted helper who accompanies them when they need to go shopping or out socialising. This person is there to rescue them and take them home should anything bad, like a panic attack occur. But when that helper is not available life is very restricted.

If medical help is obtained the most likely result is medication with tranquillisers and anti-depressants. Neither of which actually solve the problem, they just enable a minimum level of functionality. The problem remains, like a monster in the wardrobe, waiting to show its scary face as soon as you turn off the lights,  or look the other way. So you are trapped. The medication keeps the monster locked in the wardrobe, but doesn’t get rid of it. Stop the medication and the monster is free once more.

Life as an agoraphobe is no fun at all.

So if you are agoraphobic and reading this I want to reassure you about a few things:

  • This is not a disease, but you can ‘heal’ it.
  • There is nothing physically wrong with you.
  • Your brain is as normal as anyone else’s.
  • The cause is the way you think.
  • The cure is changing the way you think.

Changing the way you think is not easy, but it is a lot easier than living the isolated, fearful, life of an agoraphobe.

When you think about the totality of the change you need to make, it seems an insurmountable task.

When you think about the single next step you need to take – it becomes not only possible, but relatively easy.

The first steps are the most difficult. Every step after those first few become easier. They become easier because you have the memory of success and knowledge that what you are doing is already making a positive difference to your life.

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How to Find the Best Deals on Technology

The modern world is driven by technology to an ever-increasing level, and with the growth of the technology market the choice is expanding as manufacturers introduce new models and refine their ranges all the time. The rise in popularity of the digital camera is a good measure of the market, with manufacturers abounding and many different levels of ability, features and price available.

Digital cameras have now taken over the photographic market, but finding the right one for you should not be a problem. If you know how much you have to spend, and what you require from your camera, a search on the internet should provide you with plenty of alternative websites offering digital cameras across a wide price range.

What to look for in a camera

Look for the greatest number of pixels the camera takes hosts in – this determines the basic quality – and also take into account the various anti shake mechanisms available on digital cameras these days, and you will be sure to find a camera to meet your needs.

The same is true of video cameras, the digital variety of which is now the market leader and has evolved from the old cine camera and VHS versions of before. Again, there are numerous sites that will come to the fore with a simple web search, and again the variety and specification available is wide ranging.

Lookout for a good size memory – a 30gb hard drive will provide you with a number of hours recording, anything above even more – and for universal docking to transfer your films to your computer.

One time use ideal for holidays

The one time use camera, if you are not looking for an instrument that will last a long time, is popular with holidaymakers and people on daytrips, and is affordable and easy to use. These are available across the internet at a variety of prices, and the primary choice should be made around ease of use and availability of film. Of course, the finished film needs to be given to a developer to produce your photographs, but the ease and simplicity of shooting a series of pictures and not needing to worry about the attractiveness of your camera to thieves, or losing the camera in a busy place, makes a one time use camera a good choice for holidays.

Home entertainment – audio and video

Home entertainment systems are also a sensible buy in the web, with audio and video both broadly available at good prices and with a choice that is almost unending.

In addition to television, home cinema systems are all the rage at the moment and enable you to watch movies with surround sound, and the home entertainment system market also includes DVD, CD, computer and audio devices devised for your pleasure.

If you wish, you can customize your laptop, mobile, I-pod and more with skins, colorful and attractive designs available on websites to make your device stand out from the crowd, and you the envy of your friends and family, too. Some suppliers offer you the opportunity to create your own skin, hence taking the individuality to another level entirely.

Shopping on the web offers convenience, not just in getting the best deal from the widest choice, but also in knowing your purchase will be delivered to your door shortly after you have completed the purchase. Remember to look for reputable, reliable and safe suppliers with what to make your purchase, and you can be sure you have found the best way of buying your items available.

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How to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

Eco-friendly is becoming the buzz word for most people. Most of us are becoming more aware of our environment and are doing what we can to contribute to being environmentally friendly.

Here are a few tips on how to become more eco-conscious in your home and implement a few green touches to help the environmental cause.

Insulate Your Home

Insulating your home is one of the most important things you can do to be eco-friendly. So much energy is wasted through poorly insulated homes and the more energy that escapes your property and there before you waste, the more you have to use. Not only that, heat loss costs a lot of money unnecessarily.

By using insulation in your walls and loft you can cut heat loss dramatically and conserve energy.

Seal Out Drafts

As well as insulation, you can make your home airtight against draughts and heat loss. Seal draughty gaps in windows and doors, and also use a draft excluder to prevent drafts coming into rooms. Double-glazed and recent standard, triple-glazed windows in new build homes will keep the heat in and exclude any drafts. If you have an older property, you can easily use sealants available in DIY stores to seal up any drafty gaps and voids.

Buy Sustainable Products

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. Furniture, flooring and eco-friendly materials such as natural cotton and linens should all be supplied sustainably. Sustainability means that the raw materials used for household products and items are supplied from a sustainable source that can be re-grown and does not damage the environment. Sustainable sources will also have economic and social benefits such as providing income for communities in developing countries, for instance Fairtrade products. When you buy household products, make sure you know if they come from sustainable sources. Good homeware and furniture stores will have a sustainability policy and will know exactly where their supplies come from.

Lighting

Electricity and lights should be conserved as much as possible, so use environmentally friendly light-bulbs that consume less electricity and also last longer. LED lighting is also the most environmentally friendly because it is a very bright light and uses less electricity than standard bulbs. Make sure that you recycle your light bulbs safely.

Recycling

According to the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs in the UK (DEFRA), 290 million tonnes of waste is generated in England each year. Dealing with household waste contributions to climate change and also adds to the problem of landfill disposal sites that are damaging to the environment. Recycling is becoming increasingly important and producing so much waste is simply unsustainable. Over 40% of household waste was recycled in England during 2011-2012. Recycling collection and waste recycling centers are abundant and most household waste can be recycled. All types of materials and packaging can be recycled including paper, card, tins, aluminum, plastic, ink cartridges, electrical goods and garden waste.

Composting

Another form of recycling is composting household food. You can produce your own free, rich organic compost by composting vegetable peelings, egg boxes, egg shells, card, newspaper, leaves and grass clippings. Avoid composting meat because it will attract pests.

Eco-Friendly Food

Growing your own fruit and vegetables has really taken off and saves air miles and the impact on the environment. Even if you have a small space to grow your own, it is surprising how many crops you can produce. You can also grow vegetables in pots, containers and hanging baskets.

If you can not grow your own, then why not use local farmers' markets which will support your local producers and economy, and saves on the air miles.

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Top 5 Tips When Purchasing a BBQ

This season of winter sales is a great time to buy your new BBQ. You will be able to get some great deals online and in stores. Here are my top 5 buyers tips to consider to find the perfect BBQ for you.

1. BBQ size matters! Think about how much space you have in your garden, backyard or garage. The last thing you want to do is return home with a BBQ that swamps the space at the back of your house or apartment. If you can afford a larger BBQ, and you want it to be 'parked' outside, make sure that you get a suitable cover for your BBQ so that it does not take too much of a bashing from the elements!

2.Think about easy storage and mobility. If you are looking for a larger BBQ for entertaining and for cooking up big BBQ feasts, make sure you can easily move the BBQ around. I have seen so many BBQ's on the market with small wheels that definitely wont move the heavy BBQ. At best I have seen friends struggling to 'wheel' their BBQ back to the garage in a way that resembles dragging, taking half of the garden with them in the process! Make sure you opt for a BBQ that has 2 large wheels on one side of the BBQ, so that you can tilt and wheel it into position.

3. How much cooking space do you need? There are plenty of different BBQ's on the market with different cooking options. You can get 1 to 6 gas burners on gas BBQ's (sometimes more), and medium to large grills for coal BBQ's. You can even occasionally find gas BBQ combo's with separate gas burners on the side for cooking up your pot stews, rice and other hot sides. Make sure you consider what you need rather than what you think you will use as you might be throwing good money away on an option that you are not going to use. I personally like to opt for a large grill charcoal BBQ so that I can cook up a storm, and if there are any other sides to cook, I do not mind putting those extras on the stove in the kitchen. I rarely need to use the kitchen however as I will throw almost anything on the bbq!

4. Think about durability. Although you may think that opting for a small, cheap kettle BBQ is a good idea for cost effectiveness in the short term, they will usually not last for more than a couple of years, and the frame and parts rust very easily. Look for an option that gives you the space for cooking that you need, coupled with a solid frame that will last well and provide you for many happy BBQ years.

5. Design needs. Consider wherever you want extra space and shelving for storing cooked and uncooked foods whilst you prepare your feast. I always think it is a good idea to have at least two flat surfaces on your BBQ to put food, BBQ tools and plates, condiments, etc. Otherwise you will probably end up needing an extra food trolley at an extra cost anyway!

Enjoy looking for the perfect BBQ this season. Winter is often the best time of year to buy the perfect BBQ as you can get your hands on relatively cheap discontinued lines in larger homeware stores. Happy Shopping!

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Is a Celebrity Lurking in Your Kitchen?

The world's obsession with celebrity is as strong as ever. In fact it's growing with more and more celebrity endorsed products on the market. These include beauty products, homeware, designer diffusion clothing lines and now … kitchenware.

Ever since Fanny Craddock, the UK's first TV chef, appeared in the 1960s, dressed in a ballgown whipping up meringues, we have religiously followed celebrity chefs. She was followed by Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David and then the nation's most enduring kitchen darling, Delia Smith. Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s we were restricted to buying celebrity cookbooks to enjoy a bit of their magic. But now things have moved on.

Celebrity chef status, in the UK at least, is up there with film and rock stars. And we all want a piece of their kitchen charisma. Well now you can improve your skills and the look of your kitchen with not only their recipe books but their cooking equipment as well.

So what's available?

Celebrity cookware ranges are offered by any number of TV chefs. Nigella Lawson has teamed up with Sebastian Conran of the Conran design dynasty to produce the Nigella Lawson Living Kitchen range. It is practical, helpful and elegant and will certainly enhance the look of your kitchen. The range includes tableware such as cups, saucers and mugs but also really useful cooking aids – mixing bowls, measuring spoons, cookie cutters and a pestle and mortar, and storage – including a large bread bin and a salt pig.

At 33, Marco Pierre White was the youngest Briton to be awarded three Michelin stars. He even trained Gordon Ramsay. He has produced a range of cookware with Beka cookware, called White Heat. Unlike Nigella he offers the essential cooking basics – saucepans, frying pans, casseroles, grill pans and woks. His range is beautiful – some of it copper and other pieces anodised steel. This is certainly kitchenware to show off with.

And guess what? The UK's current culinary genius Gordon Ramsay has his own range of copper cookware – pots and pans, or alternatively a stainless steel range. He also has a range of ceramic oven to tableware – casseroles, pie dishes and roasting dishes. His cookware is produced by Royal Doulton. It is part of Ramsay's culinary empire, with countless Michelin stars to his name and, at the last count, eighteen restaurants in the UK and worldwide.

Ken Hom is the king of Chinese cooking. He began working in his uncle's restaurant at the age of eleven and has had an illustrious celebrity chef career. Not surprisingly his range focuses on woks and Chinese cooking accessories, such as cleavers, bamboo steamers, sizzling dishes and of course chopsticks.

Jamie Oliver's rise to fame has been dazzling. He now runs several restaurants, trains disadvantaged young people to work in catering and has even campaigned for better school food for our children, with reasonable success. His range is made by Tefal who has focused on his love of Italian cooking and also on his baking skills, producing a large range of silicone bakeware which does away with the need for baking parchment and greasing.

Jamie has also produced a range of tableware with Royal Worcester which is white, modern and practical. It can be transferred from microwave to table and can even be used in the freezer or oven, making it really versatile. Additionally he has, at the last count, twenty two mugs which build on his "cheeky chappie" image with logos such as "Super Mum," "Top Tottie," "Big Fella" and "Boy Racer."

Celebrity endorsement is big business in consumer goods. And with kitchens being the hub of the home and people spending huge amounts on renovating them the finishing touches are increasingly important. The right pot or chopping board sets the tone and embellishes both the kitchen and your cooking. In kitchenware, as with many things, celebrity sells.

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What Are Retro Home Accessories?

In essence, retro does not sound particularly attractive on paper. Defined as "culturally outdated" or "aged", retro has in fact become one of the main trends in home interiors.

To be truly retro, a piece should be at least 20 years old – not exactly long ago but agreed enough to be stylish. However, many modern home accessories are now specifically designed to give that retro appearance, without the expensive price tag truly retro accessories can now command.

Many people consider retro to mean fashion and art from the 1960s and 1970s and certainly, these decades are very popular with regards to home interiors. "Pod" chairs which resemble a hollowed out egg, wicker seating and lava lamps are great examples of retro style from this period.

Online businesses have sprung up across the globe, specializing in this particular genre, which is symbolic of the size of the market and level of demand.

Misso home accessories in particular have a strong retro theme, with black, green and white being the principal colors. Originating not from London but from the Philippines, pieces are created by adding glass fibers to hand crafted strips of vine before finishing the whole thing off with a black and white resin.

Eastern Europe too has established a strong market in retro style homeware accessories. Producing some beautiful glassware, craftspeople use a centuries old tradition to forge some exquisite shapes, reminiscent of the 1970s. Hand blown and hand decorated, the curves and swirls are extremely feminine and extremely unique.

The retro style is looked upon by some as being a less than stylish trend and, it has to be said that some of the fashions in decades went by have left a lot to be desired! However, it should not be considered a cheap alternative to older antiques – some retro pieces can be very expensive indeed.

Whatever your personal thoughts on the retro trend, it can not be denied that demand for this particular genre is extremely strong and is continuing to grow as new generations buy their own homes. No longer solely the "cool" choice for students, it has developed as a valid style of its own. Featured in glossy home interiors magazines across the world, demand has certainly made these pieces more valuable, so dig out those pieces which have sat in the back of the cupboard for so long. You may be surprised at their value!

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Furnishing A New Home

One of the delights of raising a family is building or moving to a new house. And prior to occupying the house, one of the most exciting things to do is determining what homewares to purchase to furnish it. There are some things that need to be considered when deciding what pieces of furniture and fixture would be suitable for the place that they'd soon be calling home. All the members of the family, unless they are babies, have to be communicated as to what's going to be bought and installed in the house. From the bedroom to the kitchen, all spaces of the house should have their share of furnishings.

If the family's on a tight budget, not all areas would be immediately filled with all the necessities. They can begin with the most important areas of the house which are the bedroom, the kitchen and the toilet. These are the spaces that need to be furnished first as they are what the family would immediately use so their way of life can continue. Right on the very first day they move to the house, they have to sleep, eat and wash themselves up. The first batch of homewares that would be purchased then should be those that would be placed in those essential areas.

For the kitchen, the list should start with things needed for cooking and serving food like cookware, serving ware and utensils. The first few appliances to be bought are the range and refrigerator, which would complete the kitchen 'work triangle' along with the sink. Cooking food is definitely something that would be necessary the minute the family moves in. For the toilet, the initial fixtures to be installed are the water closet, lavatory and shower. It would really be hard to contemplate the initial days of the family in the new house with no equipment to use for cleaning themselves up.

Relocating to a new address can be very tiring so the family has to have a good rest at the end of that day. The most essential things to buy then would be sleeping provisions like beds including blankets, pillows and sheets. The consideration that takes major importance is the family's comfort. All the other items can just follow once they have the budget for it.

Relocating to a different house, whether it's old or new, can be very exciting for all the family members.Make sure that the necessary homewares are there before moving in to ensure everyone's comfort and convenience in their new home.

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British Gifts for Friends or Family Abroad

Do you have friends or family abroad who you'd like to send a wee Christmas treat to? These days, most of us have someone who's left the country for work or an adventure. Surprise them with a British gift to remind them of home. Who knows, that might entice them to come back for good!

Clothing

Buy local by supporting up and coming young designers. Visit graduate shows and keep up to date with fashion blogs. In the run up to Christmas, there could also be gift fairs and markets going on around town where many of these rising stars are likely to exhibit their crafts.

Alternatively, opt for traditional British fashions in fabrics such as tweed, cashmere and tartan. Country clothing and wellies are also great as presents. The selection in the UK is larger than elsewhere as outdoor clothing is worn more regularly, as opposed to places like mainland Europe where, often, fashion wins over practicality.

Homeware

Kitchen shops in the UK are among the best with their impressive selections of tools and gadgets to make cooking so much easier. See what's new in the world of kitchen aids and get an innovative device that might not have reached foreign markets yet.

As cuisines vary, some items may never be available to buy all over the world. For example, the very simple poached egg is only common in some parts of the world so egg poachers might not be available for purchase in countries where this is a less popular way of preparing an egg!

Food

One of the easiest ways of ensuring a truly British gift is by sending food. You just have to remember that some countries have strict customs regulations so do not ignore these, otherwise you risk leaving your friends or family abroad gift-less this Christmas. These apply to countries outwith the European Union. Consult Post Office regulations for details.

A great place to stock up on local produce is your nearest farmers' market. Here you'll be able to purchase authentic British goods from farmers and local businesses, supporting your community. It's almost guaranteed that these items are not available to buy in foreign countries.

Traditional British goodies include shortbread, malt loaf, cheddar, pies, tea, chocolate oranges, boiled sweets, oatcakes, chutneys, salt and vinegar crisps, haggis and more.

Struggling for time to buy individual gifts? A quick and easy option is ordering hampers . These can be ordered online and delivered directly to the recipient. Hampers are often themed so could feature a specific type of product, such as sweets, products of Scottish origin, or family-friendly items.

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Why Stocking Slate Products Is a Must For Retailers

If you’re a retailer in the Homeware or related markets, there are good commercial reasons why stocking a range of Slate Products is a must for the coming season. In this article we take a look at what is out there and why you should stock Slate Products.

Slate goods are available in a wide range of styles, from the practical to the decorative and are suited to a wide range of retail outlets. Whether you are a homeware stockist, a gift shop or a food retailer there is something in the range of products that will enhance your customer offering and work well as an upsell to your clientele.

In addition, if you operate a restaurant or café and want something different for placemats, coasters, serving platters or plates, then slate is an ideal alternative to the more usual table settings.

Slate products are natural, hard wearing, food safe and provide the ideal backdrop for you to showcase your food and table layout.The tableware range includes as you would expect, placemats, coasters, serving platters, cheeseboards, and cake stands. But in addition to this, you can also find candle holders, dip bowls, salt and pepper mills and table centres, all of which beautifully enhance the overall look of the table layout.

They can be found in a range of sizes and colours to suit a wide range of décor styles. Slate platters for the most part lend themselves to showcasing food that is artistically displayed such as nouvelle cuisine or sushi and desserts look particularly attractive when set off by the dark background that slate provides.

If you operate a specialist food outlet whether it be a cheese shop, delicatessen, wine shop, farm shop or even a butchers, slate products make an ideal accompaniment to your range of produce. They can be used to showcase your foods or sold as an additional item to increase your profits.

Slate can also be personalised with the name of your restaurant, business or with any message that you wish to convey to your customers.

Slate items sell particularly well as gifts for both the home and outdoors. Here again the range is extensive, Memo Boards, plaques, photo frames, house signs, name plates and clocks are all available and can be customised to suit your customers individual tastes. Again they can be incorporated into your individual company theme as required.

Whilst some products are evergreen and will sell well at all times of the year, others will lend themselves to seasonal promotions. Items can be tailored to suit

Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Spring (garden accessories), Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries etc, the list is quite extensive.

Whilst Slate Products have been around for years, sales have increased year on year in recent times, proving that interest in these products is very much in vogue at this time.

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