Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Control Your Life without Even Getting Up

Do you ever feel that, when you have a few days off from work, you could quite easily spend all of them planted on your sofa? Do you ever feel as if you’re being cheated of relaxation time when you have to get up and perform certain tasks, like turning on the lights or switching the central heating on? If you’re reading this and thinking this sums you up, then your life could be completely changed forever, after just a few clicks of a few buttons. This is because the technological advances of today have meant that TVs are no longer the only things found in our homes that are accessed through the use of a remote controller. Some of the devices and services found below will you upgrade your semi-detached suburban home into a semi-detached suburban automated home — judge for yourself if you’re ready to try them out.

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Firstly, if you have an Apple product (specifically an iOS device, i.e. an iPhone or an iPad), you can use them to control your lighting, television and heating systems from wherever you are in your home — if you have the right app. For instance, the Nest thermostat is one that can be controlled remotely from your iPhone if you invest in the thermostat itself (you can ever get it delivered to you) and then download the free accompanying app. Similarly, you can buy a Philips Hue set of bulbs, plug them into regular light sockets, download the app, and control your lighting to best suit your mood. But if using your phone to control things doesn’t appeal to you, and you’d rather it just be there for, well, phoning people, then there are a plethora of services and devices to choose from that provide their own controllers. You could, for instance, choose lighting for your house that is controlled by its own remote which connects to a GU10 LED colour changing spotlight and has a working range of 5 metres. That way, you’ll never have to get to grips with the latest smart phones, if that is something you’ve thus far managed to avoid quite successfully.

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And if wanting to do as little as possible to control the necessities in your home appeals to you, why not even abandon the remote controller and just use your voice? The Amazon Echo offers you the chance to control a host of things just by asking the device to do it: you can play music through it; ask it all the questions your daily crossword has you stumped on; and listen to audiobooks, news reports and travel and weather updates. Going hands-free has a number of other positives too: one of which is that it frees up space in your hands to do other things, like hold drinks.

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So, if you want to reclaim your right to do absolutely nothing on the weekend, then grabbing a control or even using voice recognition technology could be for you. Doing so would also make the home far more appealing to prospective buyers if you ever wanted to get your home ready for sale.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Adding Style to Your Garden

A garden is a sensory experience but all too often, when we style our gardens we forget this. This is the only guide you need to add not only style to your outdoor space, but colour and texture, and all without compromising on practicality and function.


Pool Colours Together

It may strike a style-note that is too formal for you but, if you want to avoid the clashing of colours and styles, then you need you bring some order to the garden. This doesn’t mean prim and proper privet hedges without a leaf out of place, but more creating order so that the eye can make sense of the garden. The above garden isn’t over formal, but has used different plants but similar colours. As well as green foliage, there are lime green trumpet flowers, delicious oranges complimented with deep purple. If you like rainbow colours, then use the same plant but in different colours and shades.

Choose Scented Plants


As we choose flowers, we tend to make our choice by colour but, for a stylish, sensory garden, opt for scented blooms.

Flowers give off their scents at different times, depending on the insects they are attempting to attract. The purple spikes of lavender are potent during the day to attract bees, and are perfect when planted at the edges of border because, as you sweep past, you will release even more of their pleasant, calming scent.

Night scented stock, as you would gather from the name, releases its scent in an evening and after dark, perfect for when you use your garden of an evening for relaxing or entertaining.

Timeless Garden Furniture


To get the best from you garden, you need to immerse yourself in it. And this means choosing stylish rattan gardenfurniture.

Rattan is robust, perfect for withstanding all kinds of weather and frequency of use. For an ultra-stylish and up-tothe-minute look, opt for relaxed seating for the garden.

There is a growing range of daybeds and other large, pod seating that simply invites you for a nap in the garden in the cool breeze and sunshine of summer.

If you enjoy al fresco dining, there are some exceptional ideas for dining tables and chairs.

Buy furniture with neutral coloured cushions – beige, cream or brown – and add colour and texture with a range of outdoor rugs and a rainbow of throws.

Accessories Speak Volumes


Accessories in general, are the perfect addition to any garden. They can be used to attract attention to a certain part of the garden, perfect for when you want to create a focal point.

There are any number of must-have accessories;

• Storm lanterns – glass storm lanterns with gently-flickering candles set a romantic mood in the garden. Choose from clear glass, or opt for coloured lanterns if you want to add colour. Bundle them together in groups of three or five for maximum impact.

• Lighting – adding lighting to your garden means you can enjoy it when the sun goes down, enjoying the night scented blooms mentioned earlier. Solar powered lights are so much better these days, and well-worth the investment. Choose soft glowing lighting that accents an area.

• Add warmth with a fire pit – a flickering flame of a fire pit is simply hypnotic, and perfect for the relaxed style of garden.

Consider Hard-Landscaping Additions


If you have the budget, there is no doubt that hard landscaped features add a certain flair to any garden;

• Patio and pergola – not the grey, concrete patios of the 1970s but the modern, concrete patio that can be made to look like any other material you can think. Concrete can be stamped and dyed in a variety of patterns and colours.

• Cabins and summerhouses – enjoying your garden can be something you do in all weathers. Enjoy the pitter-patter of rain drops in the summerhouse, and the warmth of the sunshine. • Pathways – they can strike you are formal, but sometimes, a pathway is the perfect feature, leading the eye down into the depth of the garden.

• Sculptures – if there is one stylish addition that will really set your garden apart, it is the addition of a well-chosen piece of sculpture. Opt for the super-modern or the traditional, whichever sits well within your garden.

Styling your garden is not difficult. Set a realistic budget, draw up plans on paper but always bear in mind how you use your garden – for example, is it a private retreat or a place to entertain regularly?

What will you add to your garden to turn into a stylish outdoor space?

Plans Fallen Through? Try These Last-minute Kids Activities


Things don't always go to plan, even if you make an effort to be as prepared as possible. Your plans can fall through or something can stop you from going ahead with them. If it was just you affected, you might not be too bothered. But when there are kids involved, you don't want to let them down. Plus, you don't want to have bored children on your hands. If a plan doesn't work out at the last minute, you can still come up with something to do to keep everyone happy. Whether you stay in or go out, you can quickly create some fun times.

Put a Movie On

If your plans have been scuppered by unfavorable weather, staying in is often your only choice. But even if everyone is cooped up inside, you can still ensure that they're happy. Putting on a movie is one of the easiest ways to entertain everyone, especially if you can quickly knock up some snacks to go with it. Using Showbox or a similar app, you can search through many movies. When you've got access to movies online, you won't have to choose from the ones you own. Although, kids do often want to watch their favorite for the millionth time!


Set Up a Craft Activity

If you have some art supplies in your house, you can easily set up something crafty to do. Whether you have crayons and paints or glue and scissors, you can quickly come up with an activity for the kids to do. Even if you don't have any convenient supplies to hand, why not dig through your recycling box? You can use cardboard tubes, empty milk cartons, and all kinds of materials to build things. You could also try doing some baking. Lots of kids love getting involved with breaking eggs, mixing batter and decorating too.

Have a Backyard Adventure

If you would rather get outside, you don't have to go far. You can have fun in your own backyard, which means you don't have to get everyone ready to go out. If you have a tent, you could set it up, or you could make one using whatever you have available. You can go looking for bugs or set up a scavenger hunt for everyone to do. You can also create an imaginary adventure, like a bear hunt or a dragon-slaying adventure.


Last-minute Outings

Sometimes, you need to get away from home to keep your sanity. Even if you have to find something to do at the last minute, you should be able to find somewhere fun to go. Some places might require you to book in advance, but there are plenty of other places to visit. If you have a park nearby, there definitely won't be any problems with getting in. You could go and see a movie, have lunch somewhere fun, visit a museum, or look for a soft play center.

If your plans fall through at the last minute, don't worry. You can avoid being stuck with bored kids by thinking on your feet.