Category Archives: General

Play time in the kitchen

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The kitchen is the ideal place for little ones to have fun, explore and learn new things. While cooking up a storm and bustling your way through the kitchen you hardly have time to keep an eye on your child. This can be very concerning, but with a bit of ingenuity you can play, educate, and keep an eye on your little – all while cooking! Yes, this is possible.

 

Fun with pots and pans

Aside from eating yummy pasta, your little ones can also get crafty with pasta by making a necklace or bracelet, and it couldn’t be easier. All you need is a handful of different sizes of macaroni, thick string or thread, PVA glue, paint and glitter for extra sparkle to their pasta accessories.  By threading the pasta through the string, they develop their hand-eye-coordination.

 

Quick Tip: Put one end of the thread down to a piece of paper on the table using sticky tape, leaving enough string for your child to easily operate. Make sure that the pasta is at one end of the necklace or bracelet and that it does not keep slip off the end. After threading the pasta, the fun can continue by painting it or adding glitter to their creation. Once dry, un-stick from the paper mounted to the table and secure both ends of the string to the preferred length.

 

Make shakers

 

Rice, beans and pasta make great components for simple shakers. You won’t need much but an empty lidded container to add your mix in. Let your child measure and adequate amount with a spoon to scoop out enough mix to fill the container.  Simply put the lid on and then decorate the container using paint or stickers. This is fun for them and better for you, because they aren’t playing with kitchenware.

 

Let them decorate cake

 

Children love saying, “I made that!” Let them embark on the journey of decorating with icing. This is a no fuss, and less mess option that will leave them full of joy and pride. If you’re not baking your own cupcakes, then buy a batch of fairy cakes. Then go about mixing your icing sugar, remember to have a variety of colours, as this will appeal more to your little one. Add decorations like, jelly tots, silver balls, sugar strands and multi-coloured sprinkles to your cakes. They will have loads of fun when mixing in colour to make vivid hues of blue, pink, and green.

End off every fun activity with a great chat. Not only will it bring you closer with your child, but you will get to bond in new experiences which will open the door for greater communication.

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Tech to help you rearrange the home

We all want our homes to be better, but accomplishing that can be difficult. This is especially the case when we don’t use all the resources available to us – with modern technology and apps, it is perfectly possible to be able to have a proper handle on how to make our homes better. This can be done through merely re-arranging where current items are or finding out if we new items are required.

For example, consider something as complicated as a closet. We normally think these are just necessary items and can be put, basically, anywhere. Yet, when you use an app like Sketch Arm, you can figure out just how much proper planning can benefit.

Available on the iTunes store, the app is a tool for conceptual 3D design letting users create fully customized and personalised closet in a few minutes. As the site itself says: “Make a whole amazing design in just four simple steps and share it with your friends.”

As it states, you can:

“Place the closet in the room

Distribute the interior easily

Create and customize the doors

Check out the result in 3D”

The app has tutorial videos on its website and allows you to figure out precisely what to do with and to your closet spaces.

At the other end of the spectrum is Home Design 3D (Freemium). This is a lot more complicated, despite its functionality and free availability, on the Google Store. As the page says: “With Home Design 3D, designing and changing your home has never been so intuitive and quick […] Whether you want to redecorate, redesign or create…”

This gives users great versatility, but, as indicated, it obviously requires more time and effort and knowledge. Of course, no project on the home or office is easy – and being able to figure out how such a tool works could put the power in your hands, since you are best placed to know and keep your budget low. Relying too much on others could mean you end up paying more – either unnecessarily or for aspects that, if you did it yourself, you would find unnecessary.

When we were remodelling or renovating, we have to keep a close eye on how to arrange rooms. For example, if you’re working on  lounge suites, you don’t want to end up creating a space where your design falls flat.

This is why something like Virtual Plan 3D can give you, literally, a new dimension to work in to test out your home’s space. As the app pages indicates:

“run the application Virtual Plan 3D, point your smartphone to the plan present on the screen. The virtual plan and its interior design will appear on your smartphone.

“Alternatively, you can also print the available plans and point your smartphone on the printed plan.”

This provides you with more detail and info to work from.

And, in the end, that’s the point of all these and other apps. To give you more tools to do the things you want more efficiently.

Secret tips for your home chores

We all want ways to reduce the times doing menial tasks takes. Thus we should consider some ways to reduce the time it takes to do tasks, so that we can get on with those things we want to do. This is particularly the case with spending time with loved ones, with office jobs.

Consider, for example, the microwave. It is often the bane of many people’s existence to clean. But why not try a technique that can do wonders.  Take a cup of water, then bring it to boil in the microwave. Once it starts boiling, the steam should help loosen dried particles to make them easy to wipe away.

About.com aslo recommends using baking soda, too, in the microwave.

“Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with water in a microwave safe cup. Boil in the microwave for a few minutes. The insides of the microwave will be damp and easy to clean with a paper towel or dishcloth. This has the added benefit of removing odors that may be clinging to your microwave oven.”

Many of us hate having to deal with comforters and duvet covers; but there’s a quick and easy solution from Real Simple magazine’s Sarah Humphreys.

“Stuffing that comforter back in the duvet cover after washing bedding is one of life’s more frustrating moments, but it doesn’t have to be when you follow these steps:

  1. Turn the duvet cover inside out. Lay it on top of your bed with the cover’s opening facing away from where you stand.
  1. Place your comforter on top of the duvet. Make sure all of the corners are aligned. If you have corner ties, tie them together.
  1. Stand opposite of the opening. Begin to roll the comforter and duvet together like a burrito.
  1. Once everything is rolled up, grab one end of the roll and, using the enclosure of the duvet cover, stuff the comforter roll inside, similar to a sandwich bag.
  1. Button or zip the duvet cover closed. Position the burrito/roll on the bed so that the enclosure is aligned with the bottom of the bed.
  1. Begin unrolling and you are done!”

Consider too the tedium of laundry. One key piece of advice is to reduce it. As FastCompany’s Laura Vanderkam writes:

“I’m not advocating bad hygiene. But playing offense on the laundry is often more smart than smelly. Towels can be re-used, jeans and pajamas can be re-worn, kids can wear sandals (without socks) in the summer. Exercise clothes may not smell proportionally worse after two workouts than after one, but re-wearing them during a solo jog will cut your laundry burden a lot.”

Using these simple exercises, we can and should do better in our homes and chores.

The latest in security

Progress has meant we have upgraded much of our technology and systems to be able to do jobs more efficiently. Of course, part of this has meant those who want to steal from us have found efficient ways to do so. It’s important then to know just what is happening in the security world to help stay one step ahead of those who would commit crimes against us. This is especially true for us as homeowners.

Consider, for example, the use of fingerprint technology to access logins for specific users. It seems perfect: you have your hands on you and, instead of entering a password to identify it’s you, you just put your hand on the device. This has been particularly prominent in recent cellphones, especially iPhones. But, as TechTimes points out, this has been a system that many have duped.

“Newer iPhone models feature a fingerprint sensor for security — and a high-quality camera capable of taking a photo that can fool that fingerprint sensor.”

But knowing of this, security experts have attempted to counter it.

‘The new fingerprint sensor, described in the journal Applied Physics Letters, contains a tiny ultrasound imager. This allows the sensor not only to capture more details about the distinctive designs on the surface of your fingertips, but also to collect information about tissues below the surface.

‘”Existing smartphones use capacitive fingerprint sensors that measure a 2D image of the finger surface,” said senior study author David Horsley of the University of California, Davis to Tech Times. “The ultrasound image may allow discriminating between a live finger and a printed fingerprint — a vulnerability of capacitive sensors.”’

Many people know “ultrasound” but aren’t quite aware what that means. In this instance, ultrasound imaging works by bouncing ultrasound pixels off certain body parts — here, it’s the tip of a finger. These pixels then get reflected back to a sensor, and this allows it to construct an accurate 3D image – this image is not only the surface of the skin, but the tissue beneath it.

All of this rings true for what we decide to monitor in central places like a security control room. Considering cameras can achieve that for phones, we have to note what cameras designed for security can achieve. As CNET notes, you need all sorts of functions for cameras to have the perfect set of features: Motion-sensors, light activated, sharpness, clarity, storage and many others are essential to creating a system of security that is reliable and efficient.

Cameras are only one part of the system, of course, but we need every part up to scratch in order for the whole system to be regarded as functional. Though most homes won’t use such sophisticated tech, it is important to be aware of how technology is progressing in security.

Security tips for your home

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Your home is your private fortress. We know how much love you have given it so it’s understandable you want to protect it from outside forces.

Maximise your home security with these tips.

Have an intruder’s perspective

Don’t look at your home only from your point of view. Check out your home from the perspective of an intruder. Do you see any weak points that to an intruder would look promising? What about dark places to hide in the garden?

Speak to your neighbours

Security is not a solo effort. Your best defense against criminals is to have the whole neighbourhood on the lookout. This means actually getting to know your neighbours. Speak to them and encourage them to let you and others know if they see suspicious activity. Exchange numbers so that you can communicate with one another.

Prevent lock bumping

Lock bumping is a form of lock picking. Never heard of it before? It is more common than you think. Lock bumping uses a specially-crafted key that has been ground down to form small peaks, which is inserted into the lock then struck with a heavy object, with the force unlocking the door. The simplest way to defend yourself against this is to upgrade your locks. Go to your local locksmith, like locksmiths in Johannesburg South, and inquire about locks with anti-bumping measures built in.

Let there be light

Burglars are more likely to hit a house that is shrouded in shadows with plenty hiding places. Make it more difficult for them by installing exterior lights.

Install security cameras.

Installing security cameras might seem like an extreme measure, but installation is fairly easy and not a lot of maintenance is required. You will have footage on record should anything happen and you need to get to the bottom of the situation. More than that though is the fact that surveillance cameras act as a deterrent.

Ditch the bad habits

Sometimes one of the biggest threats to your home’s security could be you. Many of us are guilty of habits that jeopardise our home security. For instance, leave spare keys with neighbours you trust rather than under the mat. Always vet out anyone who is given access inside your premises. Always lock your doors and windows whenever you leave the property and don’t make it obvious when you are away on holiday.

Make sure that everyone in the house develops good security habits. It just takes one slip up for disaster to strike, so consistency is key!

What kinds of decorating styles are there?

Our homes demand our constant attention. We want to be able to define everything about it, to make it our own, to feel comfortable, to feel proud of what we’ve created. An essential way to do that is to consider how we’re decorating.

Today, we’re more empowered than ever, as CNN reports.

What’s different in 2014… is that homeowners itching for a living room makeover are indelibly changed by the design information available to them.

By now a generation has grown up witnessing complete home redecorations within the span of a 30-minute television show. Early adopters of Pinterest and devotees of tutorial-disseminating decor blogs are largely empowered — or sometimes overwhelmed — by this media…

[Magazines still deliver] decorating tips and examples, but instead of a few fresh looks every month, tips now include online color choice generators and automatic room planners.

The problem is then deciding what does and does not work.

Different style guides are a good indicator in how to prioritise your decorating. For example, Sophisticated Classic is described as “An elegant blend of refined traditional furniture, jewelry-like accessories, and pale hues.”

This means choosing a kind lounge suit that fits in, not clashing with pale hues and softer edges. For example, no loud colours, no outlandish designs.

Another, more common style, might something like traditional home decorating. This, according to HowStuffworks.com, usually “adheres to a certain period of history such as Georgian or neoclassical”. To clarify:

“In general terms, however, traditional style has come to translate a generous mix of highly polished pieces from any number of periods and countries (or good quality reproductions) and luxurious accouterments [sic].”

Perhaps, though, you want something more “rustic”: this is a balance of looking like something that would fit in olden times, or the woods, as well the city. Woods, organic textures, natural warmth, and so on, are the kinds of properties you’d want. Downlights help to mitigate harshness, especially if made on long walls to add to the dimension of being a natural.

Or perhaps you’re the type of personality that wants things to shine through. This “Eclectic” style in summary is your life curated.

“It reshuffles the rule book, mixing and matching old and new, East and West, luxe and humble, showy and quiet. It invites you to fill a space with objects you love and unique finds that strike your fancy. Simply put, it’s you, curated.”

This fun style can be fun to play with and can be updated to reflect your growth as a person.

(Image credit: Dennis Zanone  / WikiPedia)

 

The technology of cooling

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The weather is currently having difficulty making up its mind – whether it should be cold or hot. But spring is definitely in the air and soon the scorching summer heat will be upon us. Yet, this need not be as much a problem as we think since we have great gadgets and tech to help.

Fancy Fans

Bladeless fans might seem counter-intuitive, but that’s exactly what Dyson has created. This attractive, sleek and powerful device seems ripped from any popular sci-fi yarn. Using its Air Multiplier technology, the bladeless device uses its silent, hidden motor to stir up and cool air, and push it in the direction of your choice.

Or how about a specially designed fan for the bed? Yes, Brookestone have created a fan that silently gets under the sheets to provide the much needed cool air to combat those heavy nights. It distributes air, meaning that it’s perfect for couples sharing a bed, since you’ll have different body temps.

Cool wear

If you have to wear clothes – and most of us, above 6 months, usually do – then we need to wear clothes that don’t restrict heat. We could stick them in a fridge freezer or cooler bag covered in ice, but there might be another solution: a specially designed suit that allows pockets for ice packs straight from the same fridge. Stay cool, even if you have to wear suits as per a job requirement!

Let the light in, but keep wandering eyes out

No doubt something every new homeowner has wondered is how to balance wanting natural light with keeping privacy. Yes, we could turn on in-door lights but that would cost electricity. And if its day, why not use the free light of the sun?

Thankfully, places like The Shade Store has come up with the idea of light-coloured Roller Shades. These stunning, hand-crafted and custom-made shades come in whatever colour you desire, allowing light in and of course preventing your privacy from being compromised.

Technology doesn’t just mean electronic – but innovation of already existing items that fulfill needs. Here we’ve seen some ways that’s come to be realized with fighting scorching days as summer comes to a close.