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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Coolum – The Ideal Holiday Destination on the Sunshine Coast

Coolum is located on the Sunshine Coast, the once sleepy seaside holiday destination of only a few has sprung to life and is now becoming highly sent after by many as a holiday destination in its own right, away from the hustle and bustle of places like Noosa and Mooloolaba but still so close to everything the Sunshine Coast offers.

Where to start? The choice of eating establishments will be a difficult one with Coolum boasting a number of top restaurants and cafés that are perfect for a quick coffee, all day dining or a quiet drink at the end of the day. Enjoy browsing through the ever growing range of boutiques and homeware shops that call Coolum home. Coolum boasts a fully patrolled beach as well as offering wide open sandy beaches with arguably some of the best surfing on the Sunshine Coast. Coolum offers the most avid walkers a 16 kilometer boardwalk that hugs the coastline offering spectacular views and extends all the way to Sunshine Beach. Stop at the rocky headlands of Point Arkright and Point Perry to take in the stunning viewing platforms and views Over Coolum towards Noosa in the north and south to Mooloolaba. A great spot for a picnic! The iconic Mt Coolum offers a challenging climb with spectacular views once you reach the summit and well worth the effort.

Golf anyone? Coolum is also home to the beautiful Hyatt Regency golf course which is of course home to the Australian PGA Champoinship which begins the 9th of December this year. This stunning golf course offers stunning scenery with each hole being totally unique, with this course being rated one of Australia's top courses. Holidaying at Element at Coolum beach puts you close to not only the Hyatt Course but also Mt Coolum, Noosa Springs, Novotel Twin Waters and Pelican Waters.

For great Coolum accommodation look no further than Element on Coolum Beach.

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2012 – The Year of British Homeware?

It's 2012, and we're all enjoying the benefits of our 21st Century lifestyle. But despite what the old films, TV shows and books told us, the most influential place this year is not some distant planet. It's good old Blighty – and that's as true in your home as it is on the streets of London town.

Why is 2012 a Big Year for British Style?

From the catwalks of Milan to the boutiques of New York City, everyone knows that there are only two words in the world of fashion this year – Great, and Britain. But that British look does not just start with your outfit and hairstyle, as more and more people decide to turn to the Best of British homeware to celebrate the year's two big events.

Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee

The first big event of Britannia's 2012 celebratory calendar takes place at the very start of June, as the country and commonwealth gather to celebrate the reign of one of the nation's longest serving monarchs.

Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne since 1952, and to celebrate everyone's having a massive party. There'll be bunting aplenty as the country enjoys a special holiday. And if you want to get into the spirit of things, you can add a Royal Crown Glass cake stand to your homeware collection, and have your own Jubilee tea party!

The London 2012 Olympics

After the royal festivals have fallen down, London hosts Britain's first Olympic Games in over 60 years, which is sure to mean that all eyes are trained on the English capital all summer.

And to get into the spirit, people everywhere are grabbing their Union Jack (that's the British flag) cushion covers, proudly displaying their Big Ben book boxes, and bringing a bit of that British spirit right into their homes.

So whether you're planning on tea with the Queen, or cheering on Usain Bolt as he chases down the 100m world record at the London Olympic Stadium, lend your home a touch of British class and style with the very best of British homeware, décor and home accessories.

Where Can I See The Best of British Homeware?

Thanks to the wonders of your 21st Century lifestyle, you do not need to head down to London to see the best of British home accessories. You just need to fire up the internet and find a British-based homeware company that stores a wide range of quirky home accessories.

And then it's just a matter of enjoying yourself. The very best of British luck to you!

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All About the Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms ('tehillim' in Hebrew, meaning 'praise') consists of 150 songs which highlight the greatness of Gd. The Book of Psalms was thought by many to be attributed to King David, although many of them are now now accredited to earlier authors, including Moses. King David appears to have drawn on other sources and incorporated them within his work to form a unique and inspiring selection of versa.

The recitation of tehillim is common among both Christians and Jews. They can be recited collectively or individually and are read either as a form of thanksgiving or a request for help.

Many psalms begin with a description of despair or a cry for help and then conclude with hope and joy. Their longevity may be due to the fact that they describe situations which are still applicable today and which before continue to inspire and help us. The recitation of psalms provides comfort to many and attracts a feeling of wellbeing and spiritual fulfillment in those who incorporated them into their prayers.

The Book of Psalms is divided into five parts, corresponding to the Five Books of Moses. These five parts are then further subdivided into sections, to be read by Jews each day. There is set rota of tehillim to be said on each day of the Hebrew Month. Psalms are also incorporated into the standard daily prayers and festival services.

In Israel and in religious communities around the world, it is a common sight to see people reciting psalms during their day to day lives, particularly while traveling. It is traditional to read tehillim when a person is sick, hoping for children, trying to find a spouse or has any kind of problem. They are also read at the happiest and saddest occasions; during a marriage and following a death. It is believed that psalms are an effective form of prayer that can bring peace and healing for those at critical points in their lives but which can also bring comfort to the souls of the deceased.

The most popular chapter to be read, especially in cases of danger or illness, is Chapter 20. This is relatively short, and can be read for an entire list of people, if required. The person reciting the psalm would add the name of the person or people they are praying for. Their Hebrew name is used, but unusually it is shared with their mother's Hebrew name and not their father's. The word "ben" (son of) for a man or "bat" (daughter of) for a woman is placed between the person and their mother's name; ie. Sara bat Rivkah or Yosef ben Rivkah. If the person being prayed for is not Jewish then we use their English name and 'son / daughter of' and then say their father's name (as non Jewish descent is via the father).

For the conductor, a song of David.
May the Lord answer you on a day of distress; may the name of the Gd of Jacob fortify you.
May He send your aid from His sanctuary, and may He support you from Zion.
May He remember all your meal offerings and may He accept your fat burnt offerings forever.
May He give you as your heart [desires], and may He fulfill all your counsel.
Let us sing praises for your salvation, and let us assemble in the name of our Gd; may the Lord fulfill all your requests.
Now I know that the Lord saved His anointed; He answered him from His holy heavens; with the mighty acts of salvation from His right hand.
These trust in chariots and these in horses, but we-we mention the name of the Lord our Gd.
They kneel and fall, but we rise and gain strength.
O Lord, save [us]; may the King answer us on the day we call.

Another tradition is to recite daily the chapter that corresponds to the year of your life. For example a 30 year old should recite Chapter 31 as they are in their 31st year. Another custom is to recite a verse beginning and ending with the same letters as one's name each day. Likewise, when praying for a sick person, in addition to Chapter 20, some also recites verses of Tehillim that begin with the same letter as their name.

Psalms are a popular and cherished form of prayer which give comfort to many. The range of events described encapsulate the human experience, past and present and are there before something which is relevant to our lives today. The role and sanctity of Gd within all of these situations underlines the very nature of our relationship with Gd. They underpin the centrality of Gd within our lives and are a vehicle to communicate both our needs, anguish, faith and appreciation.

Their incorporation into our daily prayers, as well as the allocation of specific psalms for any given situation, give them a unique place and a special affection in our daily lives.

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Make Cooking a Fun Task For Your Clients by Offering Personalized Aprons

There are many times when you will find that wearing an apron can save your clothes from being stained. While you will find numerous examples of these aprons in department shops and homeware shops being able to wear personalized aprons means that you have an apron which is owned by no-one else in the world. You will of course need to understand that such an apron can not be bought in your regular shop, instead you will need top purchase this item from specialty shops. One of the best ways that you can find these specialty shops and buy without any need for traveling is to go online.

Here the numerous online shops that you will find will be able to help you to find the perfect apron to fit your tastes and personality. The online shops where you will be able to look at these personalized aprons will provide you with sample ideas that you can consider. Some online shops will have a wide selection of aprons which are suitable not only for adults but also for the mini chef in your family. These adorable children's aprons are made from sturdy material which is stain resistant – a must when you consider the mess that children seem to love making – and will not get damaged easily.

There are also stores where you will find a good selection of text you can choose to have emblazoned on these aprons. For instance for the humorous chef in your family you can choose to have personalized aprons with sayings like Cooking My Way to the Top One Dish at A Time. Other sayings that you will see include ones like Love Me Love My Cooking. Other interesting sayings you will find on these custom designed aprons will have your name – or the person you are giving the apron as a gift to – and a perky word saying things like "You are in Gordon's Cooking Domain".

As you see with these personalized aprons you can make cooking a fun task and state your humor at the same time. Of course these are not the only types of aprons that you will be able to find on the internet. There are some online shops where you can provide a design or a photograph as the background image for the apron. The material these aprons will be constructed from will be both water and heat resistant. You will also have the choice of adding text or leaving the image to speak for the apron instead.

While at first shopping for one of these personalized aprons may sound daunting when you take the time to consider the person you are buying this apron for you will find that your shopping has gotten easier as you are now looking for an apron which will appeal to their tastes. The main thing to remember when you are looking to buying these customized aprons is that you should take some time and care to make your gift a special one that will be worn with pride always. With these gorgeous aprons let your imagination run wild as you whip up a fabulous meal and show off your culinary skills all the while wearing one of these distinct aprons.

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Milan, Fashion Capital of Italy!

Milan is the business, fashion and design capital of Italy, with numerous fashion and trade fairs in the Rho` district of the city (formerly held in the Fiera district). It is also Italy's second largest and richest city. The city is split into 9 zones and full of beautiful architecture, lively nightlife and many museums and exhibitions. As Milan is based in the very north of Italy, Switzerland is only a short distance by train, so worth a day trip if visiting the city. The stunning scenery of Lake Como and Lake Lecco is also worth a day trip and again a very short journey by train.

Centro Storico (the historical center) is full of life, with many things to see and do. In this area you will find the huge Piazza Duomo and Duomo Cathedral, (see above photo) the castle Castello Sforzesco, the world renovated opera house La Scala, and stunning shopping gallery, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (see below photo). Also, just a few minutes walk away from Piazza Duomo, are Via della Spiga, and Via Montenapoleone, two of the most famous influential fashion streets possibly in the whole world. These streets are richly concentrated with fashion designers, jewelers and furriers. Every designer imaginable has a shop or two in these streets: Armani, Iceberg, Luois Vitton, Dior, Bottega Veneta, to name just a small handful. When Milan holds fashion trade fairs at numerous times of the year, these streets can be seen full of people from the fashion industry (designers, manufacturers, buyers etc) both day and night, visiting the shops and shop windows observing what new fashions' are in ', getting new ideas and looking at the impressive window displays ..

Navigli is a lively and fashionable (canal) district (the Navigli Canal runs through Milan), where you will find many bars, cafés, live jazz concerts and antique shops. (photo below of Navigli district by night)

Brera, is a very fashionable district not far from the center, which used to be known as the 'artists' quarter', and very bohemian in it's day, owned and frequented by poets and artists. It remains a very 'in' area today, and is a very exclusive and fashionable district, with boutique shops, 'sophisticated bohemian' homeware shops, bookshops, restaurants, and bars. This area is also where you can find the famous Pinacoteca di Brera, one of milan's most fashionable art galleries, exhibiting works from many well known artists, including Rubens and Canaletto. This art gallery is housed in the 18th century palace Palazzo Brera. This area is also home to the very exclusive fashionable 10 Corso Como, which can be found along equally fashionable Corso Como (many bars and restaurants frequented by the rich and beautiful). 10 Corso Como is a shop, restaurant and bar housed in a beautiful courtyard lit up with candles and fairy lights at night, and definitely somewhere to go if you want to impress anyone, such as business clients for a meal, or maybe a romantic date … the shop sells and exhibits luxury high fashion designer wear, jewellry, shoes and other various items. It remains open most nights with the bar and restaurants, and you are offered complimentary glasses of champagne while you browse. Brera also houses some of Milan's famous nightclubs, frequented by models, footballers and the 'in' party crowd. Corso Como is an ideal place to go out at night time; you can start early with an aperitivo, move on to a restaurant, then nightclub. It is the perfect location to stay, although may be a little expensive!

St.Ambrogio is the city's patron saint, and the Basilica of St.Ambrogio in the heart of the city, is one of the oldest churches in Milan. Every year from the 7th to 9th December it's the patron saint's day, and there is a lot of celebrating and events to be found through the city. There are many different stalls, including food stalls, music etc in Piazza Sant'Ambrogio and the surrounding area. It is the city's most traditional festival, and a nice way to get you in the festivals spirit, at the start of the Christmas period!

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Cat Training Tips – How Long Can a Cat Be Left Alone?

Cat training is not as easy as teaching a dog to sit, stay or heel but it can be rewarding. Some of the most basic things to teach your pet cat are to use the toilet as well as to stay home alone and behave. To do this, every cat owner should know is that cats learn by experience.

It is important to understand how cats learn in order to be successful in your cat training exercise. Our beloved pet cats don’t understand English nor can they read books and fine print. It is only on how they experience a situation that they learn how to do it right. Just the same, if the experience was unpleasant to them, it is certain that they will do all they can to avoid it.

As a tip, the only way that your cat will take in what you’ll teach them is to make the training as exceedingly rewarding and pleasurable as you can. One mistake of most cat owners is that they reward their cat for their obnoxious behavior – somehow thinking it’s the only way for them to stop raking into the furniture or to stop misbehaving. This also goes for those cat owners who, after being pounced at by their cat at 5 in the morning, stand up to feed their cat, play with him or let him go outside. In the cats mind, this behavior can get him what he wants so it will keep doing this rambunctious behavior every 5 in the morning of your whole life together.

The most important question for cat owners, perhaps, is how long can a cat be left alone? The more appropriate extension to this question is “how long can a cat be left alone before he destroys the entire furniture and wallpaper?” In this case, it is important to understand that cats are very social animals. They possess more complex emotional needs. They intensely bond with human beings and they have that constant need for human companionship to truly thrive.

When isolated, cats can be incredibly resilient and adaptable. This also depends on how accustomed they are to being around people. If they’re used to having people around most of the time, the sudden change can really affect them emotionally. However, if it’s only for a matter of a few hours, they’ll surely be able to adapt to it.

A good cat training technique if you need to leave your cat alone when you go to work or to do some errands is to set the terms of interaction. Spend time with him as much as you can but also set a time that he can be alone. This way, your cat will learn to get used to being by himself.

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Eco-Friendly Gift Options for Christmas!

Going 'green' is the need of the hour and nowdays people have started acknowledging this fact. As the festive season is round the corner, many have opted to spread the holiday merriment the Eco-friendly way. Are you one of those?
Well, if not … Here is an article to help you choose from a wide range of extravagant gifts that would put a smile on to your loved ones face as well as support the environment in many ways. Ready for a change this year? Read on …

Option 1: Incense sticks-

A season of joy and cheer await you, a gathering of close family and friends look forward to embrace you. So, why not elevate the entire festive spirit by gifting organic incense sticks to your beloved kin? Fill their homes with the aroma of raw nature this Christmas by giving them a basket of incense sticks varying from Ayurvedic incense, deity incense, healing incense, incense powder blends and incense holders and accessories to place these celestial aromas. Aromatherapy products work as great gifts to live up to the spirit of Christmas.

Option 2: Gift Kits-

Spread the festive joy and gift your family a kit of soothing fragrances to ensure their lives are filled with scents of love. This Christmas, fill their hearts with the joy and relaxation of rejuvenating sweetness. Opt for a gift basket full of aromatherapy candles, essential oils and other diffusers that could help calm themselves from the unbalanced and chaotic routine life puts one through.

Option 3: Tea & Dinner Sets-

It's Christmas and everyone is bound to have guests pouring in and out. So, why not opt ​​for a ceramic tea and dinner set, which is hand crafted with loads of love and care. Without a doubt, these sets make a very unique and beautiful gift, especially on Christmas Eve! Do not you think so?

Option 4: Vedic Homeware-

Scanning through organic, Eco-friendly gift options could lead you into a rather confused state of mind. Therefore, keep yourself away from the clutter and make your loved one's day by presenting them with a rare yet ethnic Vedic home ware artifact. Introduce them too to the world of pure and natural living by gifting them something as thoughtful as an authentic Vedic Homeware.

Option 5: Baby Bamboo Wear-

Every family get together is incomplete without toddlers crawling around the place. So, why leave the little ones out? Gift the apple of your eye, a comforting and soft organic bamboo clothing, which is a 'must have' in the list of baby care products you plan to shop for this season. This will keep them cozy, warm and away from the harsh chemicals that could affect their tender skin.

People of all ages love the idea of ​​getting presents, especially during the joyful days of Christmas! Be your family's Eco-friendly Santa this year by purchasing only organic and green gifts this festive season.

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Decorating Frenzy – The World’s Best Home Decor Expos

Are you a home décor fanatic? A person who can’t help but spend their time decorating and looking around for new bric-a-brac to fill your home? You get distracted in IKEA, wander into antique shops and don’t leave for hours, and are constantly arguing with the hubby about whether you can afford another remodeling. True? Well, perhaps you want to splurge and check out some of these expos, both in your own backyard and across the globe.

Washington Home and Garden Show

A renovators dream. This annual show takes place in March in the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre – in fact, it’s right near the city museum in downtown DC. Here 700 exhibitors show off their wares, so you can’t say you’re want for choice. Children aged five and under get in free, and it’s only $12 for an adult. Be sure to check out the innovative ‘Annapolis Lighting White Room’ where people stick colourful stickers all over a white room and its white furniture. It’ll be a sensuous piece of art by the end of it.

Home Base Expo, Perth

This expo is based in Perth, Australia, this expo is open seven days a week all year around. That’s right. You don’t have to wait until a particular season to get your fix of building, renovating, decorating, landscaping, interior design and architectural innovation. You can buy so many products from the 350 displays, and may find yourself feeling a little bit inspired. They also offer 6 week courses and half day seminars for anyone who wants a little bit of advice from an independent practitioner.

Home Décor Expo, Poznan

Come to Poland for this European design expo. Participants come from loads of countries – Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Frances, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary and Ireland – and know their stuff. There’s stuff for the person who wants to renovate their kitchen, their bathroom, or their backyard. This is about gorgeous interior design, from experts who know what’s important when putting together your perfect home.

Décor Expo, Algier

Algeria is your next stop – a small African country who offers their homeware exhibition in November. It’s got a stack of international furniture, decoration, home textile, housewares and electrical appliances up for grabs for the thrifty home décor shopper with a more exotic eye.

Home Dec, Asia

This exhibition visits many parts of Malaysia over the course of July, September and October. This requires less travel than a trip to the US or Europe, but offers just as many sights on the side. Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia are the first stops on this exhibition’s tour, and then you’ll move on to Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

Now that you’ve gotten yourself into the expo state of mind, you’ve got to get prepared! Pack a nice lunch or bring some money for some snacks. You won’t regret your day marveling at one of these great expos… and hey, maybe you could do a little bit of sightseeing on the side?

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Discover Hidden Profits in Using Decorative Concrete Molds

Are you looking for extra income to add to your pocketbook? Have you ever thought about Concrete molding?

In today's market we are seeing a trend as homeowners are spending money on their homes and purchasing quality items such as concrete benches, birdbaths, fountains, and sculptures. If they can not afford to travel and are spending more time at home then they figure why fix up the prizes and enjoy it.

So where do they go to find these items? Not far or maybe too far. Decorative concrete is not something that can be easily shipped around in bulk cheaply. So for large hardware, homeware, and garden shops that carry some items it is usually cheaply made and of poor quality Yet the consumers still spend $ 100 to $ 500 for these items. Next they look to local at local nurseries and craft shops and since no one local to you is making them they can not find any. Trust me once you start making your concrete garden art word will spread fast.

Why Should I get into the Concrete Mold business?

– High profit margins, take $ 5 worth of concrete mix and can create approximately $ 300 retail value of stock
– You can work from home right out of that garage or shed. Rent is very cheap here and as you grow you can expand to larger spaces
– You can work at your own pace and spend a few nights or weekends filling your orders or building up some stock
– You can start with a minimal invest of a few hundred dollars on molds and equipment
– Materials are cheap and easy to find at your local hardware store:
– Portland cement 80lb bag – $ 20
– 3 bags of sand – $ 15 (better to buy in bulk)
– Bag of stones – $ 5 (better to buy in bulk)
– Water – free
– Use your own yard as a display garden to show your creations
– Immediate market of neighbors friends, and family
– It can be fun and involve the entire family

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Bargain Decorating and Furniture Buying Tips

NINE STEPS TO CREDIT CRUNCH DECORATING.

Stylish ways to shop smart during the credit crunch.

1. SALE SHOPS
Check out your nearest HomeSense, the homeware sister to TKMaxx. Also investigate Trade Secrets and National Brands with lines from Laura Ashley, House of Fraser, John Lewis and M & S.

2. ONLINE OFFERS
Annoyed but intrigued by all those 20% off offers that keep being forwarded to your inbox? Sign up to vouchercodes.co.uk, and access them all from one manageable website. Also try secretsales.com – an online sale club with discounts of up to 80% – moneysavingexpert.com, and moneysupermarket.com.

3. USE SHOPBOTS
Price comparison sites sift through retail sites to find the cheapest – but use at least three – from kelkoo.co.uk, pricerunner.co.uk, pricegrabber.co.uk and shopping.com – as not all retailers have relationships with all of them. '

4. GET A STORECARD
… but do not use it. Many lure you in with a massive discount on your first purchase, which is great if you are furnishing a home. Take out the card, use the discount, access the privilege club, then pay the bill and cut the card up.

5. FREE AND EASY
Check out freecycle.org and pick up other people's unwanted items. Great if you want old furniture to customize.

6. BE CHEEKY
Many sales personnel will go to great lengths to land a sale so do not be afraid to ask for a discount. Or offer to pay in cash, which saves them on credit card commission.

7. FACTORY SHOPS AND OUTLETS
Some of our favorites include Arthur Price, the Fired Earth Outlet, Christopher Wray Lighting, OKA Discount Shop, Portmerion, Sanderson Clearance, Waterford Crystal, Wedgewood and Wesley Barrell. Go to their websites to join the mailing list of your favorites and you'll get prior notice about special sales and exclusive discounts.

8. OUTLET VILLAGES
With manufacturers increasingly producing merchandise specifically to sell through outlets, they no longer have that 'last-season's reject' vibe. One of the smartest is Bicester Village with the likes of Cath Kidston, the White Company, Bodum, Descamps, Molton Brown, Calvin Klein and Paul Smith at bargain prices. Also try York Designer Outlet, Cheshire Oaks, Ashford and Gunwharf Quays.

9. HIGH DESIGN ON THE HIGH STREET
Savvy shoppers will already know to head to Habitat, who have enlisted the talent of top names such as Paola Navone, David Adjaye, Daisy de Villneuve, Christian Lacroix and Celia Birtwell to add to their already impressive collection. Graham & Brown have produced wallpaper ranges with Basso and Brooke, Barbara Hulaniki and Marcel Wanders, whilst Debenhams have long had collaborations with a Matthew Williamson, Julien Macdonald and John Rocha. House of Fraser stock both Jaeger and Ghost bed linen and Orla Kiely's new collection for Heals launched last autumn. Designer style at high street prices – what's not to like?

Visit our decorating archive for more modern decorating ideas.

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Brighten Up Your Home With Unique French Home Accessories

Add some color to your everyday life with stunning hand-painted French tableware. Hand made in the Provence region of France, beautiful ceramic kitchen accessories can liven up all of your meals and are ideal for anything from a quick breakfast to special dinner parties with friends.

A touch of class can be added to even a simple meal with these unique home accessories. Your morning coffee can be brightened up by the vibrant designs on the kitchen accessories such as the coffee cups and crockery, whilst your garden can achieve that Provencal look with French garden pots and planters.

A ceramic teapot makes for a great conversation starter when friends come over for a cup of tea. Even simple everyday tasks like pouring a glass of water can be made more exciting with colored water jugs. You can feel like you are on holiday in the Provence all year round.

Hand-painted ceramics are wonderful as unusual and original gifts for friends and family or even just as home accessories for you. French pottery can provide the starting point for wonderful decorating ideas and can also be used as the focal point point of a room.

The designs are unique and eye-catching and can be an inspiration for home decoration and can be used as a color chart for home decoration inspiration for the whole house! The vivid colors and attractive designs on these unique decorations can cheer up even the greiest of days.

These gorgeous designs have been meticulously hand-painted on a range of kitchenware such as tagine pots, eggcups and wine coolers. There are French ceramics for every homeware need that you may have. A wonderful feature is that most items are dishwasher and microwave friendly, a rarity in hand-painted homeware.

Each region of the Provence has their own style of decoration which makes it so much fun to travel around and compare. There are wonderful potteries in the Drome Valley with family potteries where the husband produces great hand made ceramics while his wife hand paints them. off to the kiln and out comes the most gorgeous products of French home accessories and oven to table ware.

In the South the colors become a little brighter. There is a village North of Cannes with deep reds, blues and yellow that reminds one of honey. But again, the hand made and hand painted pottery items are all wonderful decorations for any kitchen and dinner table.

Enjoy traveling and taking in the different types of French home accessory making!

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How To Make Your House a Home With Cast Iron Homeware

There are so many wonderful options that you can definitely find something that you'll love to add to your home. It does not matter whether you are decorating a bathroom, bedroom, living room, or hallway, you are sure to find some amazing solutions.

Do you love candles? If so, you can find some beautiful cast iron homeware that you're sure to enjoy. There are many beautiful tea light holders, table decorations with candles, and even some great large stand candles that will look amazing in any room. Even wall sconces are available that will compliment any wall in your home.

You'll also find that there are beautiful options for the bathroom. You'll find great iron homeware like toilet fixtures, toilet roll holders, and more. Pretty wall shelf can be used in your bathroom or you may want one of the love towel rails that add function and decor to your bathroom. A beautiful iron washbowl stand will be a whimsical addition to the bathroom, or make it easier to store items in the bathroom with a two basket tidy for the shower area or a nice six shelf rack where you can display pretty decorations or use it to store towels and other bathroom supplies.

Cast iron homeware offers lovely options for your entryway too. You'll find beautiful umbrella stands where you can store your umbrellas when you enter the home. They look beautiful as well. Iron coat racks are available, where you can stash your coat and other items. There are even key racks where you can hang up your keys when you enter the home so you do not lose them somewhere.

Many bookends are available as well. Choose your favorite animal, such as a horse, cockerel, or even a cute little Scottie dog. These book ends are perfect for your library or anywhere that you have books on display. Some people even use them as beautiful door stops.

These are just a few of the cast iron homeware options that you have available. Make sure that you consider your home decor styles before making your choice. This way you purchase items that you can fit in with your current decor. Remember that cast iron options are long lasting. While they may cost a bit more, these are homeware decorations that will last you a lifetime.

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Simple Home Interior Design Tips For Everyone

The way our home looks says a lot about who we are and even more about our personalities, that’s why the way in which we arrange our home interiors are very important in how we live our lives. We live in a fast moving world where we are bombarded with what we should wear, eat and put in our homes but rarely do we have the time to give thought to the facts that maybe how we arrange our rooms just might have an effect on or moods, creativity, energy levels and who knows what else. Maybe it’s time to take a serious look at ourselves and our home interiors.

There are a few simple ways in which we can spruce up our home life and our home interior design by focusing on some points that are very important:

• Harmony – All the rooms in our home need to have a strong sense of harmony to them.

• Focus Points – Rooms that have a center focus point that draws your attention will flow better. Things like your art displays, an architectural wall piece or even figurines are good suggestions.

• Balance – This is successfully done by balancing the rooms’ visual weight and subtly spreading it out to the other parts of the room.

• Color – This should be an obvious one. Using positive colors can shift energies around and make the world of difference. A candle or two can be used to dramatic effect.

• Proportion and Scale – Use only furniture and items that complement the total size of the room, not dwarf it or throw it out of proportion.

• Rhythm – Create the illusion of visual stimulation through movement by arranging your room in such a way that the viewer’s eye keeps moving around from point to point. This should not be confused with scattering things all around.

Home interior decor and design is often a highly sensitive subject as many people feel that they really know what they are doing but the result is quite the contrary. Items that you already own like candles and figurines can be easily re-arranged and placed on shelves and corners to create impressive dramatic effects and also improve lighting in areas that are often neglected due to obstructions or whichever.

The correct use of lighting in the home has the potential to literally transform any old lounge or study into a vibrant and stimulating room, just try it and see. Experimentation is the key and you won’t know if you don’t try.

If you want to try and mimic popular styles then consider looking at some alternative ideas for home interiors inspiration. Some of the most popular home interior designs would include; Asian, Arty interior, Gothic, Traditional, Mediterranean, Tropical and of course Modern interior designs.

A quick look into some of these styles mentioned will transform your home interiors and open up many doors of possibilities for re-inventing your home and injecting it with fresh life.

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Modern Home Decor

Modern homes come with a variety of designs that can be modified according to the wish of the owners and indeed they are something that is in much demand. There are a lot of contemporary decor items that can be bought to furnish your house. Modern homes also can be built with the latest types of contemporary furnishing, which extenuates the look of the homes. Such houses come with some great choices of furnishing that you can make along with the fixtures that you can guy for decking up your home.

Most of these homes are made in accordance with older designs but architects today tend to experiment with the older styles and come up with new styles. Hereby such homes come to become more modern and this is something that is preferred by the people in the USA. Thereby leading to the fact that modern homes have some signature designs and one can actually chose from one of them when they are looking for homes for themselves. Modern homes therefore come in several types.

There are a large number of small houses that can conform to the latest trends in architecture and they come with great designs and locations. Some homes are located slightly away from the city and are meant for the peace and comfort of the people who buy such homes. In USA there are special designed homes away from the main cities near the wilderness areas near rivers. These homes are in vogue amongst the buyers. Such homes, which are designed according to modern techniques usually, are quite large and airy and come with floor to ceiling windows with either clear or tinted glass according to the choice of the homeowners. Modern homes come in various forms and design and are an expression of the builder or the homeowner's signature.

One-storied homes are also equally well decked up usually in the latest styles of appliances in kitchens, the designs for which are typically made in the modular style. This means that kitchens come with the latest appliances and are designed to make things easier for the person who is using it. Mostly the homes are made without any kind of accordance to traditional styles and often include experimental designs that are tailor made for the people who own the home. Modern homes come with great back and front year spaces. Outdoor patios usually decked with great flowing curtains with chairs across the space. Such homes usually come with a hot tub in the front and you can also have a great large pool at the back. This gives the homeowners that extra perk when they live in such homes.

Depending on where your home is, you can also have some special plants in the front such that you can actually create a tropical look in the front when you are near the Jacuzzi or the hot tub. Modern homes are therefore a hub of luxury and you should get a home with such architecture if you want to live the high life.

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