10 Great Ideas For Displaying Those Family Photos

15 04 2013

2815818342_fcfbbdb45b_z

Image via Flickr creative commons from Travis Isaacs

When it comes to interior décor, you may have strict rules about the way you want your house to look. You hear conflicting information all of the time about how walls should be kept neutral to maximise space and light, and so as not to offend prospective buyers. On the other hand of course, bright colours can express your personality and at the end of the day, if you can’t express yourself in your own home, where can you? So where do you lie when it comes to displaying family photos? Are you the type to adorn every inch of the living room wall with photos showing the progress of your now grown-up children, from embarrassing baby snaps through to graduation? Or do you prefer to only display shots that have been taken professionally where everyone looks immaculate? Whatever your style or preference, here are ten great ideas for displaying those precious family photos.

Monochrome photos

If you want a look that screams classic chic and elegance, print your photos in black and white and display them in plain black frames on your walls. This look favours a minimalist approach so don’t overload the walls of your house.

Hanging out the washing

Perhaps you’re looking to display your photos in a vintage modern style? If that’s the case, hang your photos with clothes pegs on to a wire frame. Alternatively, hang a length of string on the wall over your bed and peg photos to the line, like washing.

Blown up big

Among the many hundreds of photos you have taken over the years, there’s bound to be a couple that stand out more than others. You can have your favourites blown up and placed on canvas – it makes a great gift and canvas prints can be used to decorate the wall in place of paintings and other artwork.

Covering a lampshade

Let your precious photo memories be the light of your life by covering a lampshade with them. Each time you turn on the lamp, your photos will be illuminated.

Good enough to eat your dinner from

It’s a growing trend nowadays to display your family photos on coasters or placemats. Yes it may sound a little odd to put your mug or a plate down over your baby’s face, but as these items are used by households on a daily basis, you’ll constantly be reminded of the memories.

Matchy matchy

Does everything in your home have to match? It doesn’t matter if you’re house proud, there’s a simply way to display family photos without losing any of the spotless look you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Print out all of your photos in the same size format and display them in identical frames. If you want to mix things up a little to look more creative, vary whether you place them vertically or horizontally to make them look almost like a puzzle.

On the stairwell

It’s common to display photos for all to see as they walk up and down the stairs. However, you could use this opportunity to hang your photos like a timeline, spanning from earlier years through to modern day, to make it more interesting.

Pinned on noticeboards

You may be the type of family who are always making lists and leaving reminder notes throughout the house. Invest in a cork board and pin your favourite photos to it alongside the reminders and to-do lists – that way, you’ll remember to make time for your family too

Photo montage

Popular among families who have too many photos to choose from, you could print many out at once in a small size and make a montage out of them. Display this proudly in the heart of the home; whether the kitchen or the living room – your children will have great fun trying to spot how many times their faces appear.

In unexpected places

If you’d rather keep your family photos private and you don’t want to make guests feel uncomfortable when they come to your home, you could stick them in unexpected places, such as on the inside of cupboard doors. That way, you know they’re there and you can display as many as you like.





How To Put Together An Interesting Menu For Your New Catering Business

13 04 2013

4162526549_8311349040_z

Image via Flickr creative commons from soyculto

Have you recently opened a café or restaurant? Or perhaps you’re planning to make your big break in the food industry and hope to become an award winning Michelin star chef? You may simply want to turn your passion for cooking in to your everyday job. Whatever your motivations for starting a catering business, one aspect that is really important to get right the first time around is the menu. People don’t go to a café just to soak up the atmosphere – they go for the tasty food and drink available. Read on to find out how to put together an interesting menu for your new catering business.

Choose a colour scheme to match the style of the establishment

If your restaurant is fancy and you’re serving up haute cuisine, you may wish to opt for dark colours on your menu to convey a sense of seriousness and professionalism. A casual restaurant calls for warm, muted colours that make it look inviting and enticing, while a restaurant aimed at younger clientele calls for a brightly coloured menu with a wackier theme. Making your menu match the style of your restaurant and age range of your expected clientele is a safe bet.

Order your menu logically

It may be obvious but make sure that the order in which you display the dishes you offer is logical. That means that any breakfast dishes must come first, followed by lunch and then the evening should be split into starters, main and desserts. It’s traditional to list drinks last with specialty drinks such as wine or cocktails being listed on a separate card.

Visually section your menu

Break up the different food categories using large and simple headings. Alternatively, list each category of dishes on a separate page. As well as main sections such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, you may require subsections too, such as fish, poultry, vegetarian, pasta, salads.

Make it visually appealing

Add images to your menu to make it visually appealing and show the customers what they can expect from the food you serve. Try not to include too many pictures as they can make a menu seem less elegant. However, if you offer a truly show-stopping dessert, be sure to include it on the dessert section of your menu to entice customers to leave room for pudding.

Price carefully

You want to make sure you take home a profit but you also have to be careful not to overprice your food, or you’ll lose out on customers. A good way to gauge your pricing is to estimate based on food cost and portion control. You could also check out the competition, and if you do happen to have seemingly too high prices, you can use it as an excuse to put on a special happy hour offer on drinks.

Specialty Menus

When the time comes for seasonal holidays, make sure you show your customers that you have their best interests at heart by planning a specialty menu for the occasion. Mother’s Day is a great time to use a specialty menu in addition to your regular menu. You’ll find that many households want to give Mum the day off from cooking a big meal on Mother’s Day. You could even increase customer numbers by giving each Mum her meal for free.

Menu covers

Think about the style of restaurant you’re opening. Will it attract customers with younger kids? In which case, it may be wise to cover your menu so that it is water resistant and can be cleaned easily if any food items drop on it. Protect the edges so that there is no risk of the cover getting torn off and child proof your menus by ensuring they are not sharp cornered.

Make it really easy for customers to order food in your restaurant by placing your selection of menus in a menu holder on each table. UKPoS menu holders are a useful way to store your menus so that your customers have access to all of the food and drink options available in your establishment.





The history of the iPad and which model does what

11 04 2013

4667604054_2dac38ebaf_z

Image via Flickr creative commons from Yutaka Tsunato

Over the past few years, tablet computers have become increasingly popular pieces of gadgetry that more and more people are now turning to when they want to watch films, access the internet, read their emails or play games on the go.

Although there are many different types of tablets, with the world’s technology giants all vying for dominance in the market, many people consider the iPad to be the market leader. After all, this is the one everybody wants, it’s probably the coolest tablet around and, like the iPhone, the iPad is instantly recognisable.

But how has the tablet developed over the years and which model does what?

iPad (1st generation)

The very first iPad was launched on April 3rd 2010 and was an instant hit. Although the model has now been discontinued, no doubt many people around the world are still getting a great deal of joy and entertainment from their original model.

With an impressive spec and positive reviews from critics and magazines, it is easy to see why the iPad was the first tablet on the scene actually worth owning. At the time, the Apple A4 chip was very powerful and it had a sharp 1,024 x 768 pixels at 132 ppi display. The only thing missing was a camera.

iPad 2

The absence of a camera was rectified with the launch of the iPad 2, on March 11th 2011. Once again, reviews were positive and according to TechRadar, the iPad 2 offers a “user experience, high-end finish and cult-like popularity that is the envy of all other manufacturers”.

The chip was upgraded to an A5, the memory was increased to 512 MB and it ran on the new iOS 6.1 operating system. Already, the iPad 2 had become a game-changer and was offering a glimpse of the powerful tablet technology that was still to come from Apple. The fact it’s still available is perhaps testament to this.

iPad (3rd generation)

Next, came the iPad 3rd generation, which was launched on March 16th 2012. The main difference was the screen and, more specifically, the number of pixels it contained. The 3rd generation iPad boasted 3.1 million pixels, making 264 pixels per inch, which was nearly four times as many as the iPad 2.

Although in terms of new features the 3rd gen iPad didn’t have much to offer, a new A5X chip, a better camera and improved battery life were enough to keep people happy. As Pocket-Lint explained, it was the screen that really made this device.

iPad (4th generation)

On November 2nd 2012, Apple launched the iPad 4th generation, while a 128 GB version of the same product was released on February 5th 2013. The incredible retina display, the Apple A6X chip and the 1.4 CHz dual-core Apple Swift processor blew previous models out of the water and suddenly, this became the iPad everyone wanted.

The advanced technology and crystal-clear screen mean theSnugg UK ipad 4 cases and other protective covers are becoming essential purchases for many tablet owners.

iPad Mini

And then came the iPad Mini. Just when people thought Apple was perhaps beginning to run out of ideas, it reinvented the tablet and created a gadget for those looking for the ultimate in space-saving technology.

The display measures 7.9 inches instead of 9.7 and it is (obviously) smaller than its predecessors, meaning it fits neatly into any handbag or briefcase without the carrier even knowing it’s there.

As you can see, the development of the iPad is clear and there will undoubtedly be many more changes over the next few years as technology becomes increasingly advanced. But for now, the iPad 4th generation and the iPad Mini are both pretty impressive.





2013’s Signature Hair Styles

9 04 2013

8527613723_0ed59fe44d_z

Image via Flickr creative commons from Cour10e Fox

We’re a few months into the year now; winter has come and gone (finally), and we’re starting to see the opening credits of spring. With that, everything changes; the flowers start to grow, baby animals are born, fashions change and people start to overhaul their look for the new season. If you’re thinking about getting your hair cut this year, you may be considering a brand new style. Perhaps you’ve been worried in the past about changing your look but fear not, because we’re going to take a look at 2013s signature hair styles. So if you feel in the mood, you can be daring and go for the chop this year.

Let’s take a look at the various hairstyles that female celebrities are sporting right now:

Top-knot

Favoured by the likes of Beyonce, the top-knot is the perfect no nonsense do that’s perfect for busy ladies but still looks super stylish. And the best part is that it works just as well for a casual daytime look as it does for an elegant evening outfit. Here’s how to achieve the same look at home:

–          It’s vital that your hair is in good condition so apply a small amount of shine serum through your hair to give it a smoother and shinier appearance.

–          Tilt your head towards the floor and gather all of your hear into a ponytail at the top of your head, before securing with a hair tie.

–          Take the end of the ponytail and twist it around in order to create a bun. The firmer you twist, the sleeker the style will be. Use hair grips in the same shade as your hair colour to secure any wispy bits.

–          Spritz on some hairspray to control flyaways and smooth down any frizz with your hands.

Wild Ringlets

“Carrie Diaries” Star Anna Sophia Robb teaches us to love what we’re born with. So if your hair is naturally curly, embrace your style. Here’s how to get the most out of your curls:

–          Wash and condition your hair with a moisture intense, curl-enhancing formula, then gently squeeze the water out, rather than towel rubbing to prevent frizz.

–          Apply a small amount of curl cream whilst hair is still damp and twist sections of hair in your fingers to help define the ringlets.

–          It’s normal if you’re curly-haired to have some sections that aren’t as curly as others. If that’s the case for you, once your hair is totally dry, use a small barrel curling iron to create tight ringlets in straighter sections of your hair. You may also wish to curl the sections framing your face to add more definition.

–          Finally, spritz a little hairspray over your do to hold it in place all day long.

A newspaper article heralds the arrival of the ‘Karlie’, also known as the chop. Model Karlie Kloss decided to chop off around seven inches of her famous hairstyle in a bid to undergo a style overhaul. In a January issue of Vogue, it was declared the “cut of the moment” as the new hairstyle is sexy, swingy and really easy to wear. The great thing about this style is that it’s long enough to pull back if you’re having a bad hair day, and short enough to require very little maintenance on a daily basis. If you’re planning to go to the hairdressers anytime soon, this is the look to go for ladies.

Gentlemen, don’t think we’re leaving you out of the picture either, because we’ve got some great hairstyle tips for you too. You have to remember that your hairstyle has the ability to make or break your look, so it’s vital that you choose a great style to suit you.

The majority of men get stuck in a rut when it comes to their hair, always asking for the same “number two all over” that they’ve been requesting since they were teenagers. So do something different with your hair this year and see how many compliments you could get.

Long clipped sides with a textured top

If you’re used to having short hair but want something to play with, ask the barber for a style with long clipped sides that’s textured on top. It’ll give you loads more options when it comes to styling your hair and it doesn’t matter if you end up leaving it a week too long before you go back to the barbers as the style is supposed to look a bit more grown out.

Ask your barber to graduate the length on top from short to long from the crown to the fringe. This will make it easier for you to style at home. You can wear this style either pushed forward or slicked back off your face.

Be daring and try a new hair style this year – you’ll be surprised how different you’ll look.





Behind The Scenes At The Oscars – What Goes Into Running A Major Awards Ceremony?

7 04 2013

4574380722_d270077294_z

Image via Flickr Creative Commons from Gulltagen

Receiving an award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is something that the majority of actors aspire to, secretly or otherwise, but in reality few actually achieve. For example, since directing Robert De Niro in Raging Bull back in 1981, Martin Scorsese has gone on to be nominated for a total of eight Oscars. However, it was only in 2007 that he finally got to walk onto the stage and collect his very own golden statuette.

Decades of history

Millions of people tune in to watch the awards ceremony on television every year, but have you ever sat there wondering what goes into creating what is arguably the biggest star-studded red event of the year? You have to go right back to 1929 to find out what happened at the very first Academy Awards ceremony. The event was held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and was attended by just 270 people – most of them members of the Academy. Fast forward more than 80 years to 2013 and the event has changed massively and is now regarded as the biggest event in the film industry’s calendar.

Serious planning

Organising an Oscars ceremony does not happen overnight. A huge variety of people are involved in the planning process for the annual event. And while the Academy is best known for putting on the Oscars once a year, the organisation actually runs a year-round programme of events including educational and research projects.

Finding a suitable personality to host the event is one of the biggest jobs, and the selection will be confirmed well ahead of the evening itself. Rigging the lighting setup at the venue will only happen days before, but that’s not to say it is any less important. From organising invitations and selecting from various awards ceremony themes, to managing the television crews, there are 101 things that are required to work harmoniously in order for the event to progress smoothly.

From strops to seat fillers

Some Hollywood stars are known for their tantrums, and one of the biggest jobs that organisers of large events like the Oscars have is working out who’s going to sit next to whom. No one wants a scene on the night where an actor is seated next to his ex-wife and her new partner. Organisers also appoint seat fillers to come and take the place of stars who have left their seat to go out and get some air. Around 100 people are hired to seamlessly slip into vacant chairs so the television cameras don’t pick up a huge number of empty seats during a particularly long and boring speech!

The show must go on

Back in 2003, organisers of the Oscars ceremony realised they would have to contend with bigger problems than stars throwing strops because of who they’d been seated next to. The complexion of the show changed completely once the US invaded Iraq. The 75th ceremony went ahead, but it was a somewhat subdued affair, with attendees forced to pass through a thick ring of security, which included metal detectors, in order to reach the Kodak Theatre. People demonstrating against the war were just feet away from the event in the surrounding streets.





The tools every gardener should own and how to use them

5 04 2013

8025025701_32f7d9c52c_z

Image via Flickr creative commons from dottieg2007

Everyone who loves their garden also has a set of favourite tools with which they prefer to maintain it. Much of this selection will depend on the use to which they choose to put their available space, but nevertheless anyone with the responsibility to maintain a garden, and a desire to make it look as attractive and be as productive as possible will have a list of tools which they feel they can’t do without.

All lists of must-have gardening tools are likely to vary, but Mother Nature Network, a forum for people who aspire to making the best possible use of the garden space they have available, has produced a list which gives a pointer to anyone looking to equip their garden tool box, which includes the following suggestions:

Scissors. These need not be any specialist product, but have many uses, including to dead-head flowers, cut herbs, harvest small vegetables, and of course, open all those bags of compost or potting soil which any serious gardener will use several of.

A weeding tool. These slender tools with long, pointed prongs are designed to reach easily far down into the soil and dig out the most deeply embedded roots of those pesky weeds.

A soil knife. A Japanese innovation, this implement has one flat, sharp edge and one serrated side. For the many instances in which a gardener needs to be able to cleanly cut through plant stems, for transplanting for example, cutting through dense earth, and cutting stubborn weed branches down to size, this is very useful.

Pruning shears. The fact that these implements can be easily carried in a pocket is one of their big benefits, but as many variants have tough, rubberised handles this is a great help for getting purchase when cutting through tough and stubborn branches and stems.

A water hose. With many countries suffering from declining rainfall, it’s important for gardeners to have a means of using the water from their domestic supply – or better still, their rainwater butt – to help give their garden the nutrition it needs.

A spade. A small spade with a long, narrow blade will get into most areas. It will also be easier to use in the hard clay soils which predominate in many areas.

A rake (or two). A large fan rake might save time, and be best for clearing large areas of leaves and other debris, but a more compact version will be easier to store. A flat-headed rake can also be turned over to be used to smooth out soil and blend it with what’s already in the bed.

A hoe. Ideal for tidying up and clearing the remains of roots from the edges of flower and vegetable beds, these help to get right into the extremities of the cultivatable area to remove any obstacles to the successful growth of plants, shrubs and veg.

Finally, given that most gardeners will be going outdoors when the weather is warm, having a comfortable hat to wear is a wise move, as it will stop you from having to cut short your gardening stint through the effects of the heat and exhaustion.

This website suggests that people choosing their gardening implements should divide their choices into long-handled tools, to help them reduce the amount of labour they need to expend on their outdoor work, watering tools, and hand tools. In the last of these categories it includes some items which might not usually be considered, such as a bypass pruner – a tool which enables the cutting of branches of delicate plants, fruits and vegetables without damaging the stems.

The title of this article is one of those which gives rise to choices which can be subjective. But the products listed above are listed on a number of authoritative gardening websites, so there is a wide consensus over their importance.





Off-road Riding, How To Stay Safe

3 04 2013

3224541116_2d7cf30d69_z

Image from flickr creative commons via chaunceydavis818

Off-road riding is a fun and exhilarating sport but when practised without caution, there is the potential for a lot to go wrong and injury to happen. For that reason, it’s really important that you take heed of safety warnings and advice each time you take your bike off-road. That’s why I’ve come up with this handy guide on how to stay safe when taking your bicycle off-road. We’ll take a look at essential safety equipment that every cyclist should wear, before further discussing the merits of riding and how you can get involved in the sport.

When cycling off-road, it’s vital that you wear safety equipment such as a full-face helmet, cycling gloves and elbow and knee pads. It is also recommended that both trousers and a long sleeved top are worn for added protection. So why am I telling you all of this? No it’s not to be boring. Safety is of utmost importance, particularly when you’re involved in a dangerous sport such as off-road biking. A helmet is possibly the most important piece of safety equipment to wear as it will protect your head should you fall off your bike. The last thing you want is to injure your head as it can have lasting and potentially severe consequences. As for elbow and knee pads, it goes without saying that if you can protect yourself from nasty scrapes and cuts, you might as well; it’s not like you’re losing out on anything by wearing them.

The most popular form of off-road biking is with a BMX. These bikes are ideal for doing tricks and cool manoeuvres as they’re built with that purpose in mind. The sport was first popularised in Britain during the 1980s and was practised in skate parks and on dirt roads. However, it has come a long way from there and was introduced into the Olympic games in 2012. After the Games finished, the 400m BMX track was opened to the general public as part of the Velopark in the Olympic Park.

So why is BMX so good for you? As with any sport, it gets your adrenalin pumping and your heart racing which means that it burns calories. In fact, the effort of riding a BMX bike at speed for just an hour can burn approximately 610 calories. The sport is known for increasing endurance, developing physical coordination and improving muscle strength, as well as helping with weight loss.

Pedalling a BMX bike helps to strengthen and tone various leg muscles, while muscle mass in the biceps and triceps is increased when lifting the handlebars to perform tricks. It doesn’t just have physical merits however; whether practising to compete in races or performing tricks, BMX biking gives the rider boosted self-discipline, motivation, self-esteem and confidence.

Not only that, but group training sessions can encourage younger cyclists to develop and improve communication skills and learn how to work well as a team.

If you’re thinking about learning BMX biking as a beginner, you’ll need to master the basics first before you are able to compete amongst the more advanced riders. There are many YouTube videos with tips and advice for mastering the basics and they can teach you how to perform some of the simpler tricks to get you started.

Once you start to become a little more advanced and confident with the tricks, you may wish to set yourself a bit of a challenge. Tom Allen spent several years travelling through some 30 plus countries with his mountain bike, so he’s more than qualified to dish out advice. He offers 10 tips for those wanting to complete their first off-road cycling trip. As well as giving the cyclist practical and helpful advice, he also reminds people to have fun too. My particular favourite is the final tip which he entitles ‘enjoy’, as I think it serves as a good reminder that you should be able to have enjoyment and pleasure from a sport as well as pushing yourself to the limits.

For those wanting to take part in BMX biking competitions, there are several events that take place up and down the UK as well as in various countries around the world. A low-cost way to be able to take part in so many competitions is to buy cheap tents to stay in, saving you a fortune on expensive accommodation. What’s more, you’ll be able to get in some handy last-minute practise on nearby trails.