Thursday, September 29, 2016

Three fun weekend hobbies you should consider!

Weekends can be an excellent time for relaxing and having fun, but sometimes it really feels like that time has passed in a haze, and that not much has been achieved. That is where a hobby can really come into play. When you consider that according to the Office Of National Statistics, in 2009 and 10, almost 9 in 10 (89%) adults aged 16 and over in England watched television in their spare time- which is all time that can be spent in a much more productive and fun way. You spend your weekdays slumping on your sofa after work, do not do the same during your time off too!

So how should you spend that time? Here are a few ideas to get you started: 


Gardening is a really relaxing way to spend your time, and it is beneficial for your health too. Not only will it get you outside, in the fresh air, soaking up the sun, it will also help to lower your blood pressure, increase your brain activity, and keep you much happier. Not only that, but gardening is something that can be enjoyed by everyone- no matter what your age or lifestyle is. There is absolutely no reason that you cannot give it a go. 

Sometimes it is nice to slow down and take stock of life, and gardening is an excellent way to do that. 


Knitting is another activity that is often overlooked for a hobby, but can be a whole lot of fun. This is a hobby that you can take up alone, or in a group. There are often knitting groups in all areas, so you should be able to find one that is not too far away from where you live, helping you to widen your social circle at the same time. 

Not only is knitting also good for your mental and physical health, it can give you an amazing sense of pride when you have created something for yourself or one of your friends or family members. It is inexpensive too, for example the knit pro knitting needles offered by The Aussie Co are just one range that is very reasonably priced. This particular company offers a large range of knitting needles in various materials, and in different styles too ensuring that your needs will be met. 


People are often intimidated by the prospect of taking up photography- even if it is something that they really want to do. But all you need to do to get started is a camera and some enthusiasm. Curb your fears by reminding yourself that you are only doing this as a hobby, and the pictures you take only need to be for you.

Depending on your budget, you can experiment with all kinds of different cameras, accessories, and photography styles. By starting this new hobby, you never know what you are going to unleash inside yourself. You will find your creative spark, and it might make you see the world a whole lot differently.

So now that you have seen other ways in which you can be spending your precious days off work, so why not get started now and see what a different it will make to you. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to pick blinds and shades the right way!

This post is provided by Steffen Ploeger.

“What’s in a name?” is an oft-quoted line penned by none other than literary master William Shakespeare himself. And while this simple phrase can lead one to examine the importance of an item’s name relative to its quality, it is dubious to think that it was coined with window coverings in mind- and yet, perhaps it could have. 

Many homeowners tend to use the terms window blinds and window shades interchangeably, in spite of the fact that there is a veritable world of difference between the two. Are they both window coverings? Indeed. But they are both so much more than that.

How do Window Blinds and Window Shades Differ?

First of all, let us talk materials. Traditionally, blinds have been produced using rigid materials such as wood, metal, plastic, or a composite material. Shades, for their part, are made from a variety of different fabrics, which not only gives them a softer and warmer aesthetic compared to blinds, it also means that they perform differently than them as well. Knowing how both blinds and shades work can go a long way in helping you to choose the right product for your home.


Because blinds come in such a wide variety of materials, they can be a very versatile solution in regards to the number of options you have at your disposal. That being said, the materials mentioned above tend to result in a “harder” look, so naturally, there must be some thought as whether or not a set of blinds’ rigid lines will augment or detract from the style of the room. 

When it comes to light permeability, blinds can be adjusted to let just the right amount of light in. When closed, the opaque nature of the material they are made from makes them excellent at preventing unwanted light (and therefore heat) from entering your home or office. 

Open blinds tend to provide a perfect surface for collecting dust. Thankfully, keeping them clean is a relatively easy- a weekly dusting ought to do just fine. 

Food for thought:

If you are going with wooden blinds, make sure that they go well with your home’s exterior. While this is purely a cosmetic consideration, you would not be doing yourself any favors by making your home look less inviting to guests. 

Condo owners: Remember to check your condo agreement as it pertains to window coverings. Many of them do not let you deviate from white as a color, so it may impact your buying decision.

In rooms that do not get a lot of natural light, choose a wider slat if you are going with a set of blinds because the wider the slat, the more light will enter the room.

If absolute privacy is required, choose a set of routeless blinds or blackout shades.


Window shades tend to give homeowners a bit more flexibility in terms of light filtering; in addition to obviously being adjustable, window shades can range drastically in the opaqueness of the material. Thicker materials can even outperform blinds in reducing the amount of light enters the room. 

Shades can also be used to diffuse sunlight, acting as a filter that can allow light in, while blocking heat. Shear materials can still provide a level of privacy without cutting off the occupants of your home from the outdoors the way blinds can.

When it comes to cleaning window shades, it is generally acceptable to vacuum the material. For people with mobility issues, this task can become arduous, requiring them instead to hire a professional cleaning company to do it for them. And while they may not have to be cleaned as frequently as a set of blinds, professional cleaning does add to the cost of ownership, so that too must be taken into account.

One nice feature that certain window shades offer is “top down bottom up”. This allows you to keep the top portion of your window unblocked so you can still allow nature light to enter while discouraging the prying eyes of neighbors.

Common Features Between Blinds and Shades

As different as they may be, window blinds and shades do share some qualities. Both have motorized options available which tends to address at least two homeowner concerns- doing away with unsightly cords and rods, and eliminating a potential choking hazard in homes with young children.

Additionally, both types of window coverings can help you to save money on heating and cooling costs- though to varying degrees. Aluminum blinds for example (when closed) will reflect solar radiation, keeping your home cool. Honeycomb shades on the other hand offer insulated properties- meaning in addition to keeping the sun’s heat out of your home in the summer months, they can also help to prevent heat loss in the winter. 

In summary, consult the list below to help you determine which window coverings are right for you:


Light permeability


Style/Appearance (both indoor and outdoor)

Upkeep (ease of)

Material (does it jive with the rest of the room)

Home heating and cooling impact

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What to look out for when hiring a maid service in Houston!

This post is provided by Yunas.

Living and working in Houston is incredible. Whichever sector you are involved in, getting home to a heap of dirty dishes, clothes and surfaces can be a terrible thing to find. Imagine coming back to a clean and inviting home. Wouldn't it be wonderful for the body and the mind? What you need is to get in touch with an organization that provides maid service in Houston. Now you do not have to worry about having visitors popping in any time. 

There are a number of companies providing maid services but how do you find the best maid service in Houston? We highlight what you should check out for before settling on a maid service provider. 


It is important to note that not everyone can clean. Cleaning is one thing but getting the right results is another. Work with a professionally trained team of experts if you are looking to have your expectations met. In any line of profession, normally the professionals have the needs of their clients at heart. While looking up for a maid service cleaner, be certain to get a provider who is up to the task of ensuring he or she keeps your home sparkling clean. 

Green Products

Cleaning products contain a lot of chemicals which in one way or another may harm you. Using eco-friendly products will go a long way towards ensuring that your well-being is in check. A good maid service provider is one that not only ensures your house is clean but also one that uses green products leaving your home smelling great and with no harmful toxic chemicals. 

Cost Friendly

In the hunt for the best maid service in Houston, you most certainly meet various providers with different packages. Unfortunately, some are normally after the money rather than customer satisfaction. Remember cheap is not always best. Always scrutinize your findings before settling for one whose services will match up with the value being paid for. 

Insured Technicians

Go for a provider who has fully insured his or her employees. This is because you never know what might crop up during the line of duty. Not working with an insured individual will most definitely cost you a lot of money and your precious time. If anything, you are looking to spread your risks rather than amass a pool of them.


Availability is an important aspect in this field. In the event of impromptu visitors, you should be in a position to get hold of your service provider. Like any other business, communication is of the essence. 

Houston is the place to find anything and everything, even the best maid service providers. Good luck in your pursuit! 

*I have received compensation for the publication of this post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Turning an extra bedroom into an at-home office or study!

This post is provided by Melissa Frank.

Whether the kids have moved out leaving you with some extra bedroom space, or you have always had that one room that is sat unused (besides housing the occasional guest,) turning an extra space into a usable home office or study is always worth the investment. 

The Color Palette

Take color very seriously as you redesign your guest bedroom into the office or study of your dreams. If you are looking to craft a space that is all about reflective calm, stick to cool grays, blues, and greens. If you need a home office that is going to spark those creative fires, consider a brighter color, like orange or red. Do not underestimate the power of a good coat (or two) of paint. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to transform a new space, and sometimes the shift in color can help inspire the rest of your design structure and plan.


Whether you plan to use the space for serious work or pleasure reading, you will need the right lighting. Use varied levels of light to best fit your needs no matter the time of day. A floor lamp in the corner could provide the perfect ambiance for curling up with an old book, while the right overhead lighting can help you remain focused on the documents you have drawn up for a new client. Check out the lighting options at a site like


The furniture in your new home office or study should be all about comfort. It is also important to consider your aims for the room. Are you creating a space where you can read the morning paper in peace or catch up on all of your favorite literature? Perhaps you are looking to create a functional home office that ups your productivity levels. If it is the former, it is important to look for tailored but plush recliner-style chairs that will keep you cozy and snug while you take in your favorite literature. If it is the latter, look for an ergonomic office chair that will keep your back aligned and your feet firmly planted on the ground while you work away. This will not only improve your posture, but also render you able to focus longer. 

Remain Organized

Although a home office can be the perfect way to still get your hours in without actually heading into the office, working from home can be very distracting. Add clutter to that distraction and you have a recipe for disaster. Cutting down on distraction means getting rid of clutter and staying as organized as possible. Keep work space as clear as possible, filling drawers with organizers to keep all those knick knacks in line, and use vertical shelving to take up as little floor space as possible. Keeping organized will also ensure little hands do not get into anything they are supposed to- after all, working at home means your kids may have access to all of those important documents that should be kept hidden. If you have kids or pets, it is especially important to keep cords contained and tucked away to avoid any dangerous situations. 

The Décor

Do not forget the accents in your new space. Whether you are looking to put in a few extra work hours in on the weekends or utilize your transformed space as a relaxing hangout space, decorations are important and provide the personality that makes any room feel more inviting. If you are looking to incorporate warmth, consider a unique bookshelf filled with all of your favorite titles. If you are looking to craft an at-home office, keep the clutter to a minimum. Seek out statement art pieces that will spur your creativity, and keep decorative objects small and refined. Sites like offer modern, refined décor items that serve practical purposes, and look great simultaneously. 

Transforming an old guest bedroom into an updated study or home office is probably a lot easier than you think. Keep these tips in mind and turn that extra space into something you will get plenty of use from as the years go on. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Top 5 Household Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid!

This article is provided by Debra Lewis.

Cleaning your home is one of life's necessary evils. Your house reflects the lifestyle of you and your family, so you want it to look nice. You never know when unexpected guests might arrive, after all. The problem is that your home is huge, while your desire to clean it is not. That is why you may forget to take care of an important chore from time to time. Here are the top five household cleaning mistakes to avoid.

Unclean Doorknobs

You want to prevent household germs from spreading. That is one of the main reasons you clean. The catch is that if you forget to sanitize your most infected areas, you should not bother with cleaning at all. That is why you have to clean your doorknobs.

Think about the people who use your bathroom. Do all of them wash their hands every single time? If anybody forgets just once, they transfer bacteria to the doorknob when they touch it to open the door. Then, that infestation spreads each time someone else touches the knob. The same is true of your front door. People do all kinds of filthy stuff outside, and they do not wash their hands before entering the home. That is why you should strive to wash your doorknobs on a monthly basis. Fortunately, companies like Amway have great surface cleaners that will not only make things look nice, but will eliminate most bacteria.

The Wrong Dust Cleaner

Odds are good that someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma. That makes dust their mortal enemy. It is one of the worst triggers of asthma attacks and sinus issues. You should dust often, but you have to do it right. Too many people use furniture polish as the cleaning agent in the dusting process. That is because such products smell great and add a glossy sheen.

The problem is that they do as much harm as good. Most brands of furniture polish include a large amount of oil, and that is an ingredient that streaks. Using the polish when you dust will cause smears and highlight fingerprints. It will undo a lot of your hard work, demoralizing you about the wasted effort. Instead, simply use a cloth slightly dampened with water, or a product made especially for dusting.

Lack Of Rubber Gloves

Some people hate rubber gloves because of how they feel. Others find them difficult to wear due to their tightness. Plus, there is a loss of sensation when anyone wears gloves. Despite all the aggravation, you must wear gloves any time you clean. That is because the products you use to sanitize your home all include chemicals that can damage your skin. Many of them not only permeate your skin but sink into the bloodstream. You do not want that. Always wear rubber gloves when you use chemicals.

Infrequent Sheet Changes

Presuming you get the recommended eight hours of sleep, you spend a third of the day in bed. Without getting specific about the body, a lot of stuff happens in the bedroom that lessens the cleanliness of the area. Dead skin cells alone make your bed gross after a short time. If you are only changing your sheets monthly, you are rolling in bacteria every night. That is why microbiologists suggest you should change your sheets weekly. It is the healthy thing to do.

Not Cleaning Your Microwave

When something drops on the floor and sits there for hours, do you pick it up and eat it? Of course not. But you are effectively doing something much worse if you fail to clean your microwave consistently. The way you use your microwave explains why.

Every time you want to microwave something, you stick it in the machine, remove it, and eat it. You probably do not even hesitate. Before you repeat this next time, take a moment to look at the inside of your microwave. You will feel a wave of revulsion as you realize you have been putting all that in your mouth. The bacteria inside your microwave eventually dissolve and settle in your food, which is truly disgusting. You will want to clean your microwave regularly to avoid such nauseating meals.

Doing the right chores will go a long way toward sanitizing your home. Avoid the five mistakes above to reduce the amount of bacteria in your home while feeling better about its cleanliness.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Give your office a modern start-up culture vibe!

This post is provided by Michael Hendsbee.

The impact the ‘start-up’ movement has had on companies across the globe is undeniable. Emulating a start-ups' eclectic and unconventional sense of style is one thing- but i is equally undeniable that non-start-ups are taking a page out of the start-ups' book when it comes to considering how office design will improve their business and how a change in style can, in many ways, communicate their corporate values. 

A meeting space is much more practical than a conventional boardroom especially if you can incorporate minimalist elements into the design. Minimalist style offers increased legroom while taking up less office space than a typical meeting area. 

Unlike a conventional board-meeting table, the Bungee does not overpower a room and its metal frame and wood top is a welcome blend of contemporary and modern elements. Where the Bungee earns its points as a useful piece of office furniture however is in its adaptive design. The top is comprised of nine sections that can be re-configured in many different shapes and groupings that can satisfy a number of uses. This setting uses a patented bungee system to group different segments in place. 

Workspace Lounges Foster Creativity

Break rooms should act as an oasis for employees. Natural light and open spaces provide an inviting area where employees and managers can converse and collaborate in a more casual setting. Comfortable furniture and warm accents lessen the appearance of a work environment and create a setting reminiscent of a home away from home. Bright colours, trendy lighting, and minimalistic furniture inspire creativity.

Fun and Games

Conventionally, businesses have attempted to minimize distractions in the workplace. Start-ups on the other hand, embrace them. Bringing a little fun into the workplace provides an outlet for employees to reduce stress levels and create an excellent opportunity for team building exercises. Many companies have used these types of setting to recruit and retain top talent.

Incorporating the Outdoors into the Office Setting

While many companies have started setting up shop in unconventional spaces, infusing the work area with greenery allows employees to feel connected to the outdoors even if long hours prevent them from leaving the office.

Walls Without Walls- Transparency and Natural Light

Start-ups have always been a showroom for unique office furniture and unusual office design. Transparent walls provide employees with their own space while keeping them feeling as part of a larger team. This particular design, hailing from a firm in Berlin, features clean lines, and low-profile workstations and contemporary office chairs for an inviting and futuristic look.

Start-ups may have been the launch pad for unconventional office workstations, but their approach to creating work environments has taken root in corporations around the globe; ensuring office spaces everywhere will continue to evolve.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dark Walnut floors: Look rich without costing a fortune!

This post is provided by Nexus Flooring.

Aristocratic, distinctive and elegant are some of the words which come to mind as soon as you see walnut wood. The deep rich color, the soothing texture and the mesmerizing gradients can really add character to your home.

Sourced in the US, walnut has been used as a flooring option for centuries (think Gone with the Wind), and this stunning variety of rich and dark colored wood is available in two formats: highly regular and complex grains. The added beauty of walnut (for those of us who have to consider our pockets), is that whilst it looks very lush, rich and expensive, it is actually one of the most affordable wood flooring options currently on the market.

Nexus Flooring is the hub for all types of engineered oak flooring including the very best walnut options, but as with all wood flooring options, you need to go through a checklist to make sure you are making the right decision when choosing your walnut floors:


Walnut flooring is a great option for offices and homes alike and one of the benefits of using engineered wood flooring is its toughness and ability to withstand heat and moisture fluctuations, so it would not suffer in areas like the kitchen. However, this variety of wood is a little softer than engineered oak, so it is not the best solution for areas of really high footfall.


The beauty of walnut is it dark rich coloring and the various shades of the panels, which allow you to get quite creative with your engineered dark walnut floor. You do not really need to be an expert to be able to mix and match the right color combinations with your floor designs, but it is an option that gives you a lot of flexibility with the looks you can create- from the smooth classic, to the very contemporary. 

What Finish?

Another top tip from our experts at Nexus is to always choose a pre-finished wood option with a UV filter. A UV filter is the final finishing touch for your wooden floors, since it protects the dark floor from losing its shine and color gradients, even after years of wear and tear. It acts like a sunscreen for your floors, helping them stay in their original colors throughout their life span, and even if you have not selected the UV filter on other floors, it is actually something that can be added after installation- so it is never too late.

The Final Word…Creating The Perfect Balance

Interior designers usually prefer walnut flooring over any other types of flooring options. In order to balance out the colors and make your interiors more appealing, it is advisable to use light colored furniture in your premises. The lighter the shades, the darker the flooring would appear. Just imagine the hues of your interiors and the contrasting floors, so that you have the perfect balance of colors in your house or office.