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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Personal Security Services – Do You Really Need Them?

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Security is a catch 22 business. On one hand you can say you don’t need security services as nothing has happened to you in the past, and on the other hand actually having security services seems like a waste of money as they are not preventing anything…that you know of.

There are many documented cases of famous people who have been away from home and had their houses targeted by thieves. More serious cases have reported the persons family being held at knife-point.

Stories such as these could have been avoided by means of a simple risk assessment. If you are going on holiday or leaving town for a couple of days and half the world know where you are, then you should put together a simple security plan to safeguard your home and/or family. What people sometime forget, is that it’s not just the law-abiding citizens who are reading the news papers and magazines.

For celebrities who need the media for their careers, they must remember that the thing that keeps them in the public eye can also be their enemy. I remember seeing a large photo in a tabloid news paper of a football player leaving his house, wallet in hand, and it was clearly stuffed with £50 notes!

Its not a case of surrounding yourself with bodyguards. It’s about making yourself aware that being in the public eye can make you a target, and raising your personal security awareness could dramatically lessen your chances of becoming a victim of crime. Just because something hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the future.

The number one rule of personal security is that YOU are responsible for your own personal security!

This rule doesn’t mean you have to undertake every aspect of your own security. Just recognizing that you need to make some changes and reporting them to the security manager is a great start. If you work for a large corporation or are a celebrity in your field, you will usually have an in-house security manager you can ask for advice. They should then be able to make some recommendations for you. If you don’t have an in-house security manager but still recognize you might need to make some changes, then contacting a trusted, professional and experienced company like Capitol Risk is a good place to start.

Building a relationship with a good security company can be an invaluable asset. It’s assuring knowing you have someone to turn to if you really need help any time of the day or night.

Supplying security services now days is more than just about supplying security officers. Capitol Risk for example can organize for you to be picked up, driven to a private airport to meet a private aircraft and then flown to an exclusive luxury paradise island. Then once you are fully relaxed, bring you all the way back home to your door step. If you would one day be on holiday and happen to find yourself in the middle of a political uprising, then we would also be in a position to get security officers to you and get you out of the country. Extensive networks and connections enable us to bring you fully managed security services for every aspect of your life.

I once had a client say to me that he wasn’t going to call me about a specific task as it was only small and he thought it would be too much trouble. I told him that it doesn’t matter what the task is, it’s always best to call as that’s what we are here for; and I would say that to everyone who might think the same. Every security task we undertake gets 100% of our dedication, nothing is ever too small.

Remember – There is no such thing as random crime.

Making arrangements and using security services before something happens is never a waste of time or money.

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Curio Cabinets – They Are Fun to Decorate With

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Yes, curio cabinets have been a great way to display knick knacks, china, and other special keepsakes, for years. The look of your room can be dramatically changed with the addition of one. The styles and designs can be endless when searching for the perfect curio for your room.

You can find them in any variation of wood grain; the glass can be beveled, etched, or plain. The look and feel of a curio can be elegant, classy, modern, antique, or modern. Depending on the style of your home and the room that you are looking to add the curio too, you will have a variety of options to choose from.

We all remember going in to our grandmother’s house and seeing all her knick knacks and finest china displayed in them. Today the style is still favorable and the appeal to displaying precious knick knacks and keepsakes in a glass and wood shelving unit still desirable.

Where to Find Them?

You can find this furnishing in various places. The internet is a great place to find websites that offer furniture and different selections of styles and pieces. You can always try looking at local estate auctions, flea markets, or garage sales if you are looking for an antique curio cabinet with beveled glass and maybe even ornate claw feet. There are plenty of replica antiques curios to choose from that will have the same style as their ancestors, but not carry the high price tag.

Looking on well known furniture websites, you should be able to find a huge selection of furniture pieces, from classic, contemporary, traditional, modern, or even retro. The prices can vary greatly depending on the size, quality, and maker of the one you select. Quality should be very important, as these pieces are usually carried down from generation to generation. You want to ensure that your great granddaughter enjoys this furnishing as much as you did.

Maintenance for Them

If your curio cabinet is made of wood, which most of them are, you can easily maintain it too look like new. The wood can always be restored to its original state by stripping and re-staining it. The wood can be sanded down to remove stains, chips, or nicks, and the piece can look as good as new 30 years from now.

You can use mineral oils and spirits on your wood to give it life and restore its original glow. The mineral spirits will bring out the color of the wood stain and help to preserve the curio cabinet’s beauty.

When you are selecting the perfect curio keep in mind that this may be a part of your family for generations to come. Keep the style and personality of the piece of furniture unique to your own. The curio cabinet’s lifetime will not be only spent with you, but hopefully other generations as the decades pass. Allow your personality to be reflected in this piece, so later generations will not only use it, but also cherish it.

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The 8 Best Vintage Turntables

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The best vintage turntables have a charm often missing in modern turntables. Whilst modern turntables are aesthetically minimalistic, which suits some, vintage turntables have a warm aesthetic that pleases the eye.

What’s more, vintage turntables are talking points within a room, or match decor within a house. A brand new Rega would stand out like a sore thumb in a 1950s era house with wooden floorboards and antique furnishings.

Therefore, vintage turntables provide a superb alternative to new turntables. The best vintage turntables are at least as good as modern turntables at the same price point. It must be said that the real upper echelon audiophile turntables are a great deal better than anything made 20 years ago, but vintage turntables are competitive right up until around the ten thousand dollar mark.

This article will only discuss the best vintage turntables, so if you’re after something more affordable, perhaps check out the Dual section, as they provide just about the best bang for buck from a vintage turntables perspective. Here’s the great news though: if you’re handy at restoration, or want to gradually upgrade a turntable, the best vintage turntables provide excellent and varied upgrade paths that will keep you busy (and keep you wanting more) for years.

So without further adieu, here are the Top 8 vintage turntables.

Linn LP 12

The Linn LP 12 is without a doubt the turntable with the biggest and best reputation amongst audiophiles. The LP 12 is an absolutely magnificent looking beast, with its wooden exterior providing a warmth characteristic of vintage turntables. Reading reviews of the Linn LP 12 can be a confusing matter, since just about every review has a different set up – different power supply, tonearm or other component that makes a little difference. There in lies the attraction of many towards the LP12 – the upgrade paths.

The Linn LP12 has numerous modifications and parts available, which means that you can buy a ‘cheap’ LP12 (think around $800 USD) and gradually destroy your bank account over the next few years by upgrading anything and everything. The thing about an LP12 – of which there are countless variations since it has been in production for 30 odd years – is that it is a real cult classic, and is priced accordingly. A base model LP12 won’t cost you an arm and a leg by any means, but they sure slug you a lot for ‘optional extras’ such as…a dustcover.

The Linn’s sound is characterised as rhythmical, with excellent time adherence. It has a relaxed warmth about it that matches its appearance well. For sheer musicality, the Linn LP12 is hard to pass up, even when compared to more expensive, state of the art turntables.

Thorens TD-124

The TD-124 and TD-124 Mk II are the competitors to the Garrard 301 and 401 in the realm of idler drive turntables. The TD-124 is perhaps a little more detailed on the highs than the Garrards, and the Garrards weightier in the bass. The original TD-124 when made in 1957 must surely have been a magnificent turntable for the time, and they are still highly sought after today amongst idler drive fans. Like the Garrards, the need to be plinthed well as their motors are very powerful to drive their heavy-as-a-boulder platters and thus create some vibration.

Garrard 301/401

Two similar turntables that justify being under the same banner, the Garrard systems are some of the best vintage turntables when correctly supported by a plinth.

Rega P3

Despite the fact that Rega turntables are still being manufactured, vintage Rega turntables are some of the best vintage turntables around. Of course there are better turntables in the Rega lineup than the P3, but in terms of value for money, the P3 remains the best turntable in terms of value for money till this day. At the time of this article being written, the Rega turntables are the best turntables available for value for money in the present-day.

Acoustic Research XA/XB

The Acoustic Research early model turntables were magnificent achievements when they were released in the early 1960s. Sonically, they were ahead of their time thanks to excellent engineering. They look very nice in an understated way, and can still produce some pretty solid performance. Compared to something a little further on chronologically, an XA or an XB won’t stand up as well to a Thorens belt drive (TD-125 and beyond), but it will still provide the user with a great deal of listening enjoyment. This turntable makes our best vintage turntables list because it is such a hallmark table, but it won’t provide a listening experience anywhere near the LP12. Also, the tonearm on these turntables are awful and need replacing.

Technics SP-10

The suffix after SP doesn’t matter all that much – the SP-15 could have easily made the list as well. What the SP-10 represents is sheer direct drive brilliance. When the direct drive vs belt drive war was at its peak, direct drive fans pointed to the Technics SP and SL series as cases in point. No one got it quite as right as Technics did with direct drives and the SP-10 is the best of the bunch. In contrast to many turntables on this list, in this author’s view, the SP-10 is downright ugly. Looks matter, but nowhere near as much as sound, which is lucky because the Technics SP-10 is the ugly nerd with the brilliant mind.

Technics 1200

The Technics 1200 ranks slightly below the SP-10, but it is still a brilliant turntable that is consistently underrated by audiophiles. Perhaps this is because it is so popular as a DJ turntable. The Technics 1200 does not take much set up to be an excellent hi-fi turntable, and its durability is fantastic. Those of us who are not DJs will find the price a little much these days, especially when compared to other contenders on this list. A base level LP12 is nearly the same cost as a second-hand Technics 1200 these days.

Sansui SR-838

Japan sure can do direct drive turntables, and the Sansui SR-838 is a fine example. Originally made in 1979, the SR-838 is a lot more modern looking than most turntables on this list, and its unique looks will probably be what makes you love or hate this turntable. Unfortunately this turntable and its cousin the SR-929 are found very rarely on the second-hand market so getting hold of one is a difficult task. Incidentally, the SR-929 is preferred by some listeners but if you surveyed enough people, the SR-838 would be the overall winner.

Vintage turntables sound great, but have a unique flavour.

If you ask me, the turntables on the best vintage turntables list above have a great deal more character than modern-day turntables. The sleek designs of Rega and Pro-ject look great, but in a different way. I listen to vinyl for its warmth and character, and listening on one of the best vintage turntables amplifies that feeling.

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Norwegian Cruise Line Delivers a Total Redesign With the F3

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It sounds more like a fighter plane than a cruise ship, but Norwegian Cruise Line’s in-the-works F3 is slated to take the cruise industry by storm. In a radical move, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) CEO Colin Veitch told Travel Trade magazine, “We have thrown away the rule book of ship design and started with staterooms.”

While most of the design elements are still tightly under wraps, industry buzz is centered on the shape of the entry-level staterooms. In addition, talk focuses on what’s missing in the F3 as much as what has changed.

The Bathroom

Anyone who’s ever sailed on a cruise ship knows to expect a large box as you walk through the door. This obstruction houses your cabin’s bathroom and, while certainly necessary, it protrudes into the living area taking up a lot of floor space.

In a new cabin design called the “Wave,” NCL has split the bathroom. Wave cabins will have a shower cubicle on one side and a toilet cubicle on the other. An open vanity with sink and wash area have been repositioned in the living space. The result of this one simple change is a stateroom that feels more open and roomy.

“Feels” is the operative word.

Stateroom Designs

The most noticeable design upgrade in the staterooms is the curved walls. Again, while not actually gaining very much actual square footage, the illusion is that you have a more spacious living area. This new, modern décor is more sophisticated moving away from the vibrant, sometimes outlandish designs of earlier ships in the NCL fleet.

An earth-tone palette offset with deep shades of blues, reds and oranges lends a more elegant flair to even the most basic of cabins.

What about popular accommodations such as the Garden Villas and Courtyard Villas? Company executives assure guests they won’t be disappointed at the makeover that’s been planned for these cabins.

Exceptional Nightclubs

In the spirit of an entire makeover of the cruise experience, Norwegian’s F3 ships will offer some exclusive and highly untraditional nightlife options for guests starting with a “nightclub” that isn’t just for nights.

POSH Beach Club aims to start your day with morning cocktails, yoga classes and wake-up music that sets the mood. Afternoons will unveil private cabanas, exhilarating music, spiked snow cones and plenty of time for sunning. As night falls, POSH will transform into an exclusive nightclub with dancing and bottle service. In addition, Halo, an indoor version of the POSH Beach Club, will serve as the private nightclub for those booking the Garden and Courtyard Villas.

Bringing an innovation from Scandinavia, each F3 ship will have its own “ice bar.” Complete with fur coats and mittens for passengers and plenty of vodka, NCLs ice bar will – like others around the world – be totally frozen. With a temperature of 17 degrees Fahrenheit, turnover will be high. Most guests will come for a drink or two then move on to other party venues aboard ship.

For those looking for a middle ground between uber-exclusive and frozen solid, there’s Spice H20. Another “transforming” environment, Spice will revolve through three phases each day: Sunny Spice, Aqua Spice and All Spice. Guests will enjoy a range of music, activity and food choices throughout the day and night.

Ship Specifics

Two F3 ships are underway, but they won’t see the open ocean until 2010. At 150,000 tons, each ship will hold 4,200 passengers. Eighty percent of staterooms will follow the new Wave design and 100% of all outside cabins will offer balconies.

With many industry firsts coming from NCL, now is an excellent time to cruise. If you’re a die-hard cruise fan, mark your calendars so you can pre-book your tour on the new F3s. If you’re new to cruising, check out other innovative ships in the current NCL fleet and find the time of your life.

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Designing the Buffet Table – Step Up to the Plate

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You’ve been invited to a dinner and as you enter the room, the first thing you see is a table that appears to go on forever, draped and skirted in plain white linen, several stainless steel chafing dishes huddled side by side atop a drab lifeless, absence-of-color buffet except for the “decorations” of green foliage that resemble the weeds in your backyard. You think to yourself, “What an ugly table. It’s going to take forever to get through the line and I bet the food isn’t any good either so why bother”! Instead of looking for your seat; you look for the door.

“The design of the table and the food goes hand in hand,” said Ken Stewart, Banquet Manager at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. “When you walk up to a buffet, it’s a lot like window shopping. It should capture your attention and make your mouth water; so much so that you can’t wait to dig in. Perception is reality. If the table looks good, the food looks good; therefore, it must taste good.”

As the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression; this is especially true in the food service industry, and everyone remembers their “first impression.” So how do you make a visual impact and turn ordinary into awesome and blah into beautiful? Dress to impress! By dressing the table in vibrant colored linens and coordinated skirting with interesting patterns and textures, and eye-popping décor, in varying elevations; you will have a spectacularly designed, take-your-breath-away presentation that will stand out in a crowd.

“The presentation of a beautifully appointed buffet table sets the tone of the room and the evening”, said Frank Gregory, Senior Catering Sales Manager at the Bellagio Hotel. “When guests walk into a room for an evening event, they’re not really sure what to expect or how to position themselves for the

evening. When you walk into a room that is set for a buffet dinner, especially in today’s society it creates an atmosphere of relaxation”.

The birth of the buffet in Las Vegas is attributed to the late publicist Herb McDonald, “who inspired the all-you-can-eat buffet in 1946 more out of hunger than genius. One night while working late at the El Rancho Hotel, McDonald brought some cheese and cold cuts from the kitchen and laid them out on the bar to make a sandwich. Gamblers walking by said they were hungry, and the buffet was born”. Gambling Magazine, July 10, 2002.

But according to food historians, the first buffet was a type of cabinet or dresser that originated in France in the 18th century. Small amounts of food were placed on this buffet to serve small groups of people. The buffet has since evolved into one of the most effective ways to serve large groups of people, a large variety of food in a relatively short amount of time with maximum efficiency. The buffet has carved out a distinct niche in today’s marketplace and can be found in casual and upscale venues and private establishments around the country.

“With the Thomas & Mack Center doing buffets at approximately 85-90% of the over 2300 separate catered events we host per year, the presentation of the buffets are critical to our success”, said Cheryl Sogovio, CPCE, Director of Catering and Convention Services and Vice President of the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE). We always analyze the entire event, including room size, program, profile of attendee, etc., to ensure that we select the proper placement, length and design of the buffet. If we don’t, service can be negatively affected causing poor flow, ineffective service times and dissatisfied guests. In addition to placement, how the buffet is designed and decored effects the overall guest experience. As we all know that “people eat with their eyes first”, we strive to make the buffet a visual experience, adding to the overall ambience of the event”, said Sogovio.

Not only has the buffet evolved; diner’s palates have become more sophisticated and discriminating, and if they are expected to serve themselves, they expect to walk up to a beautifully embellished table and feast their eyes and indulge their taste buds on a bountiful buffet filled with a variety of sumptuous foods deliciously prepared, appropriately garnished and chock-full of savory aromas and mouth-watering flavors. They want an adventure, they want to be entertained and they want to be wowed!

“The expression that ‘people eat with their eyes’ is one I live by when designing a buffet table”, said Annie Kang-Drachen, Director of Sales and Catering at the Department of Food & Beverage Management, UNLV William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. “Not only is a well-designed buffet a WOW factor, it enhances the meal. It’s the palate teaser; the first impression you have before actually tasting the food. People are more cultured nowadays and their expectations are higher than ever.”

While the success of any meal depends largely on the quality and taste of the food, a presentation of dazzling décor will bring life to the table and reflect the expertise and imagination of the culinary team. A table laden with a magnificent spread of festive foods and lavish, over-the-top displays will heighten the guest’s experience by creating a mood and evoking emotion.

Although a table design doesn’t always call for elaborate and expensive decorations, it is important that the decorations compliment the food, not distract from it. You don’t have to be a creative genius, an event designer or have a background in catering to understand that food displayed on a buffet table looks much more appetizing when the table is perfectly appointed. To achieve affect, drama and intrigue, the use of eclectic props and eye-catching designs; that keep within the theme of the venue or the spirit of the event, will exceed the expectations of the guests. Chafing dishes, serving bowls and trays, in different shapes and sizes; glowing unscented candles; lush blooming flower arrangements and potted plants; balloon bouquets and ice carvings to intricate edible fruit and vegetable displays, set on graduated pedestals and lifts, are items that will provide height, balance, symmetry and dimension to a table and are important components to the presentation. Party lights add color; fountains add sound. Infinite possibilities abound. “I like to suggest custom props. They’re interesting and relate to the client’s company, or fun themed props that match the buffet or the venue itself”, said Evelyn Ramos, Senior Sales and Catering Manager at the Las Vegas House of Blues. Florals and logo’d ice sculptures add elegance, a little attitude and definition to a buffet table. Whatever the client chooses, the buffet table has to look amazing or it will make the food look unexciting.”

I spoke with Lisa Fuller from the Aladdin Buffet to find out why they are voted the No. 1 Buffet in Las Vegas. “Aside from the fact that our food is superior and delicious, our buffet is welcoming. The international stations are themed and some are decorated with authentic artifacts indigenous from the nation it represents. I don’t think people realize how important both service and aesthetics are to a presentation. Our buffet is well-designed and user-friendly, in other words, easily accessible and attractive. When the guests walk into our restaurant, you can tell; they just can’t wait to get up to the buffet. They smile and ooh and awe because it’s a really pretty display. The food is fresh and colorfully coordinated; I mean the color just pops, and the chafers are always full and the stations are always clean”.

Table function and design. The set up has to be functional; it doesn’t have to be boring. Fortunately, the lay out is no longer limited to a single row of rectangular tables. Serpentine, half moon and round banquet tables are stylish, interchangeable and balance out the room. “The trick on a Caterer’s part is to make the buffet interesting, have enough stations throughout the room so there are not unending lines of waiting”, said Gregory.

Placement. Proper placement is crucial. A food table set near the entrance, the stage or the bar will create mass confusion. The table should be positioned so that it flows without turning into an obstacle course of confused diners running into each other. Space permitting, a double-sided buffet will service guests more efficiently and expeditiously, and it is always more feasible to separate the action stations, the dessert table and the beverages from the main buffet if possible. This will avoid “traffic jams” and allow guests to move freely and smoothly from one table to the next.

“Meeting planners are always interested in the placement and presentation of the buffet”, said Ramos. “One of their biggest concerns is for order and convenience so that the guests won’t have to backtrack which ultimately causes a bottleneck and slows down the line. Lighting is important; it will accent the food and is critical to the safety of the guests. Everything on the buffet, from dishes to décor, must be secure and balanced and set back from the edge, in case someone accidentally bumps the table. I avoid setting a large number of glass objects and items that can fall over easily. Broken glass flying at a guest or into the food and tipped over candles are extremely dangerous and a recipe for disaster”. Order and layout. With all of the creative ways to decorate a table, it’s easy to create clutter. A spaciously set buffet is aesthetically appealing and convenient. “Make a station clear with an even flow so the guest doesn’t have to look for silver, plates, linen/napery, potatoes at one end, meat at another, salad who knows where. The trend is definitely to make it more interesting, action-oriented and fun; much harder to do for those parties of several thousand but much more memorable than the old soup line/cafeteria style. Food is fun as exemplified by the enormous popularity of today’s TV cooking shows. Quality and presentation is never out of style”, said Gregory.

With the influx of new and unique restaurants, and the migration of famous restaurateurs and celebrity chefs at the top of their game, Las Vegas is fast becoming the dining capital of the world, and the quintessential capital of the buffets. Tourists no longer come to gamble and clients no longer come solely for the convention experience; they come to dine out and buffets are a popular choice. Whether the table design is in celebration of the holidays, the seasons, a special occasion or a specific theme, buffets are an appealing style of service, and if you want to create a truly memorable event, you need to spend time designing and decorating the table. It will be one of the first things people notice when entering the room, and it needs to be the most impressive part of the room. Think of the buffet table in terms of a magnet; it should pull the guests toward it. Since a large part of the evening’s social interaction will take place in line, the atmosphere surrounding the table should be comfortable and welcoming and the décor and design should be unique and exciting. This will make a positive “first” and long-lasting impression with your guests.

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8 Easy Steps to Find Your Perfect Toilet

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Maybe you’re building a house, or you’re remodeling. If you’re like most folks, the toilet probably does not rate very high on your list of priorities. Still, the toilet is a key piece of a comfortable, modern, well-functioning home. Following a few straightforward steps can help you find a toilet that is right for you, both functionally and aesthetically. Remember, alltoilets are not built the same!

Step by step now, let’s examine:

1. The shape of the toilet bowl: The main choices here are an elongated bowl and a round front bowl. The round front tends to be two inches shorter, and works well for smaller spaces. The larger elongated front is more comfortable and sanitary, since there is less drip on the toilet.

2. The toilet size: There are lots of choices, with different lengths, widths and heights. Make sure you measure the space available for the toilet to ensure a comfortable fit. You also need to consider the rough-in space, which is how far the centerof the toilet bowl is from the finished wall, since this limits the size of the toilet.

3. The size of the toilet trapway: The trap way is that part of the toilet that through which the water and waste exit. The minimum standard allows waste with a diameter of 1 ½ inches to pass through. You may want to consider looking at a larger trapway to minimize clogging problems.

4. The flushing system: In the US, by law all toilets must have a 1.6 gallon tank to conserve water. However, you do still have some choices.

o In gravity fed toilets, the weight of the water from the tank pushes the waste through an S shaped trap way, as the siphon that is created empties the bowl.

o With pressure assisted toilets, air in the tank is compressed as it fills with water. When flushing, the pressurized air pushes the water more strongly into the bowl, resulting in a better flush. Disadvantages, though, include greater noise, expense and difficulty of repairing.

5. One or two piece toilets: Two piece toilets are more common and inexpensively priced, and have a separate tank and bowl which are connected when the toilet is installed. One piece toilets have 5 or six parts that are seamlessly connected into one piece. They tend to more stylish, more expensive, easier to clean, and smaller, making them ideal for smaller spaces.

6. Maintenance features: Some toilets have features designed to make it easier to take care of them. For instance, Toto, an innovative Japanese manufacturer, has SanaGloss, a ceramic glaze which prevents bacteria and mold buildup, making the toilet easy to clean. American Standard has its EasyClean feature. Kohler has an insulated liner for some of its toilet lines, preventing moisture build-up on the outside of the tank due to condensation.

7. Appearance: while a toilet needs to work well, it also needs to look good in your bathroom. Fortunately, today’s toilets come in a huge selection of colors and sizes. Bear mind, though, that choosing a color other than white can significantly add to the toilet’s price. One approach you may to consider is to choose a toilet that is part of a bathroom suite, thus ensuring that are the fixtures are in harmony.

8. Other features: High end toilets may come with heated seats, warm air drying systems and built-in bidets, such as the Toto Washlets. Kohler Comfort Height toilets have a higher seat, making sitting down and standing easier.

There, now you have 8 steps to finding the toilet that is right for you and your loved ones!

Be sure to visit our site for even more information.

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Design The Eco Friendly Bathroom: Guide to Living Green, Healthy And Sustainable With Minimal Effort

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Most bathrooms are the least eco-friendly room in the house. Unnatural bath and body products, plastic bottles, toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, hair combs and brushes are not good for the environment. The chemicals in the high performance bath and shower cleaners have so many toxic chemicals that they can cause cancer, birth defects and lung damage. The place to get clean needs to be the place to get clean of non-disposables, synthetic ingredients, harmful sprays and perfumes in cleaners and skin care products.

Non-disposable chic beauty

Going non-disposable is a beautiful thing-and it’s stylish as well. With more people on the planet every day, ecological consciousness and sustainability is becoming part of the global awareness. Here are some totally cool non-disposable items you can have in your bathroom in place of the old throwaways. They work better, last for decades and they look amazing. With an eco meets vintage feel, your bathroom can feel like yours again and not a miniature dumping site.

The safety razor

Your dad or grandfather probably had one and maybe you forgot they existed! The safety razors are still here to get you a closer shave and save you the time and expense of buying new razors and razor heads. The safety razor heads last longer than other ones and they are made with natural, strong materials.

The wooden toothbrush

Lovely wooden and bamboo toothbrushes make all the difference because they are compostable and pure. Now your whole family can have their own wooden toothbrush made from natural fibers. The wooden toothbrush is no longer a thing of the past. You can feel good about buying new grooming tools with a sustainable approach.

The body brush

Now you can throw out your plastic poof for something more substantial. If you have an old boar bristle brush with a hole in the handle you can string some ribbon through it to make a hanging shower brush. Just rub some olive oil into the brush before putting it in the shower. Wooden body brushes made especially for shower use are good options, too. Natural shower brushes work a lot better at removing dead skin cells than a plastic poof.

The sea sponge

Ethically harvested sea sponges feel so good on your skin and are another natural alternative to plastic shower poofs. Sea sponges last forever, get your skin micro-exfoliated and smooth to the touch. Nothing gets your skin feeling smooth like a sea sponge in the shower. It holds a lot of soap so you don’t have to keep refilling it. Sea sponges make thoughtful gifts for yourself or your friends.

Linen shower curtain

Shower curtains don’t have to be made of plastic. Materials made from hemp or cotton make natural looking, classy shower curtains for your bath or shower. These materials are attractive, neutral, fast drying and safe for the environment. You don’t have to worry about tears that come with cheap plastic shower curtains.

Natural cleaning products

Natural cleaning agents like Super Washing Soda, Borax and baking soda clean effectively without the fumes and chemical residue. If you have children or pets you need to use cleaning agents as close to nature as possible. Lemon, orange and lavender essential oils give your cleaning agents more antibacterial power and make you feel relaxed and energized while cleaning. Breath deeply and relax. Cleaning can be therapeutic.

Turn your bathroom into the wholesome oasis it was meant to be. Simplicity is the theme to make this special room a place of meditation and retreat. Re-purposing old items to make a safer place will make buying newer items like toothbrush holders, etc less necessary. Eco-friendly, natural bathroom accessories will help you to fill in the gaps when there is something your bathroom really needs.

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Dollhouse Kits – Materials Needed to Build a Dollhouse

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If you’ve recently ordered a dollhouse kit, you are probably anxious to get started! While you are waiting for your kit to arrive, now is a great time to get all the materials you will need together. Your kit includes all the wood needed to build your dollhouse, but you will need some tools to assemble and paint it, decorate the interior, and add any embellishments that you might want.

You will want to organize a workstation big enough to fit your dollhouse and a few tools. Below are listed all the supplies you will need or might want in order to build your dollhouse.

Supplies Needed for Assembly

    o Glue: Most of the dollhouse parts are secured with glue. We recommend finding wood glue that will set fairly fast, is easy to sand, paint, or wipe off, and has a good applicator tip. Try Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue.
    o Masking tape: You will need this to keep parts of the dollhouse together while waiting for the glue to dry. Also helpful to cover areas of the dollhouse when painting.
    o Pencil: for marking lines to cut and line up parts.
    o Hammer: Many dollhouse kits come with nails that you can choose to use to make your dollhouse more secure.
    o Fine tooth saw: Though most parts in the dollhouse kits are ready to be assembled, a few will require some trimming or cutting.
    o Utility/X-acto Knife: Also for trimming and cutting. Especially important when shingling your roof.
    o 100 grit sandpaper: For smoothing down edges that have been cut.
    o Rubber bands: When assembling window frames and other smaller objects, rubber bands are perfect for holding parts together as they dry.
    o Turntable: Not a must, but worth considering. The turntable makes your dollhouse much easier to work on, display, and play with.

Supplies Needed for Painting

    o High quality semi-gloss latex enamel paint: Painting is actually one of the biggest jobs in assembling your dollhouse. When choosing colors, you will want to think about the following:

      o Main exterior color-to be used on all the house’s siding. Your most important color. An 8 oz jar will probably be sufficient
      o 1-2 exterior accent colors-for doors, window frames, shutters, porches, balconies, and other outdoor embellishments. Make sure they coordinate well with your main exterior color. 2 oz jars should be big enough, but consider getting an 8 oz jar if you are using white as an accent color-you’ll probably want to use it in several other places
      o Interior paint colors-When planning to decorate the interior of your house, you may want to paint the walls instead of wallpaper them, and you will probably want to paint the ceiling as well.
    o Good quality paint brushes: You will probably want a few sizes of paint brush, because you will need them for covering large areas, small corners, and tiny details. Make sure the paint brushes are made to paint on wood and that the bristles don’t frequently shed.
    o 320 grit sandpaper: Used to sand between coats of paint to get rid of globs and unsmooth surfaces.
    o Light spackle: Not absolutely necessary, but may come in handy. Used to fill in tiny cracks between dollhouse parts or holes made by nails.

Supplies Needed to Finish the Roof

    o Roofing material: Dollhouse kits come with rectangular wooden shingles. If you want to use a different shape (square, fishscale, diamond) or material (slate, tin, aluminum, tile), be sure to order before you are ready to work on the roof.
    o Shingle dye: If you are using wooden shingles, you will probably want to dye them. Dye comes in red-brown or gray.

      o Rubber gloves: Protects your hands from staining when dyeing shingles.
      o Large piece of cardboard: Needed to lay out each shingle to dry after dyeing.
      o 2 1-gallon plastic milk jugs: Used to store and transfer shingle dye.
    o Liquid Nails: Type of glue used to attach shingles to the roof.
    o Utility/X-acto Knife: Some shingles will need to be cut to fit a specific space on the roof.

Supplies Needed to Finish the Interior

    o Dollhouse wallpaper: Wallpaper is the fastest, and usually the most attractive, way to decorate the interior walls. We recommend buying pre-pasted sheets. Wallpaper can be bought based on individual patterns or in sets of pre-selected designs. Buying individual patterns gives you more variety and specificity; buying sets is more economical.
    o Paint and brushes: Instead of buying wallpaper, you might choose to paint the rooms. As with the exterior, use high quality semi-gloss latex enamel paint.
    o Flooring: There are many types of flooring available for dollhouses: tile, wood, and marble flooring patterns, carpet, and rugs. You may want to change the type of flooring for each room (for example, tile in a bathroom, carpeting in a bedroom).
    o Flooring adhesives: To adhere wood, marble, and tile sheets to the floor, we recommend using Liquid Nails (the same glue used for the shingles). Carpets and rugs can be attached using carpet tape.
    o Lighting: This is definitely an optional step-lighting a dollhouse is almost an art in itself. You will need tapewire, some type of transformer, brads and eyelets, and a test probe, along with whatever lamps, lanterns, sconces, or chandeliers you plan on using. You’ll probably want an electrical piercing tool as well.
    o Furniture and accessories: This is one of the most exciting parts about building a dollhouse! There are literally thousands of choices available-just be sure to keep the size of your dollhouse, and your budget, in mind. You might even be interested in building some of your own items!

Dollhouse Embellishments

This section includes a list of replacements for items already included in most dollhouse kits, and a list of additions not included in many dollhouse kits (though they may be in some). As you build your dollhouse, you may find that you want to change what you already have for something a little fancier-for example, replace a standard door with a Victorian etched glass door. So, if you’re interested in embellishing your dollhouse, here are some areas you might want to think about:

Replacement Embellishments

    o Windows
    o Doors
    o Stair/Porch railings
    o Staircases
    o Shutters
    o Trim

Addition Embellishments

    o Pediments
    o Chimneys
    o Outdoor signs, lettering, or address numbers
    o Porch additions not already included in dollhouse kit

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Window Screens – Theft Proof Windows

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We hear about burglaries daily in the neighborhood and things we learn from these burglaries include: secure our family and our house. Most of the burglaries that happen in the neighborhood are reported to be happened by opened window screens of houses. The reason behind burglaries is actually our carelessness as we forget to lock entrance doors and windows with an assumption that nothing bad will happen in the street but nowadays burglary rates are rising and economic recession has made everyone to live from hand to mouth therefore the desperation and lack of money can make people to do something as bad as a burglary.

The home security dealers can eradicate the possible burglary threat to your house by providing some extra ordinary security measure to the loop holes which will result in the burglary. One such measure includes the secure window screens which provide basic prevention from thieves, intruders and burglars.

Window screens for the security purpose are manufactured from steel and they have an appearance similar to the insect screen. The material of these windows is very robust and durable and eliminates the chances of possible intrusion in your house. The steel of these screens cannot be cut by knife and these screens cannot be removed by the weight of the intruder, they can stand immense amount of pressure without moving an inch. These security screens look like a net of steel which allows air and light to pass and blocks insects to enter. From a distance they may look like an ordinary mesh but actually it is strong enough to protect your home from any intruders.

Windows protected by window screens can assure you some additional protection to your house and valuable stuff in it without blocking the entry of air and light in your house. As the screens to block insects entering the house can be removed in a jiffy but window screens are installed on permanent basis for the security reasons.

Now, you may ask what will happen if your home catches fire? Will you be trapped inside your house? No, because these windows can be removed from the inside by simply unlocking the bolt and removing it from the hinges and hence providing you an easy way to escape from such fatal situations. If you want to avoid these troublesome situations of theft and burglary then you should think about the installation of window screens. I hope these tips will be helpful for you.

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Tips To Increase Your Kitchen’s Value

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Ask any realtor or property agent what is the best remodelling project that gives you maximum return? The answer without a second thought would be the upgrading of a kitchen. So if you’re looking to invest in your kitchen, here are a few remodelling tips to increase your kitchen’s value.

Include Smart Storage

With more and more people opting for a transitional kitchen that seamlessly connects dining space and living areas, kitchen cabinets are now more like elegant and sturdy furniture with plenty of storage options comprising of pullout trays and boxes. An add-on to improve both functionality and the value of your kitchen is to incorporate customised drawers made up of separate spaces for dishes, cutlery, and other cooking utensils. This will further keep your kitchen well-organised and clutter-free.

Give Importance to Selection of Countertops and Islands

Adding an island will make your kitchen a more efficient and practicable space. But with many choices to pick from like built-in islands, mobile cart islands and repurposed islands, it is vital to select one according to your kitchen’s layout and style. Speaking of countertops, they should be in sync with the colour and design of the cabinets. For instance, using dark-coloured countertops will be a perfect contrast against light storage options and vice versa.

Use Energy Efficient Appliances

Upgrading your kitchen with energy-efficient appliances like Energy-Star qualified dish washers, refrigerators, and modern cooking range as well as ovens will not only enhance the value of your kitchen space but also allow you to incredibly save on energy bills.

Don’t Ignore Paint and Flooring

You can easily turn a kitchen from drab to fab by brightening up its cabinets, ceiling, and walls with a few coats of paint. Again, the colours you choose should be striking and also well-blend with the overall appearance of your kitchen. While classic black and white combination will be a sure hit, using colour options like grey is the trend now. When it comes to kitchen flooring, it should be both attractive and durable.

Finally, Get This Job Done By A Pro!

If you plan for an extensive refurbishment that may alter the footprint of your kitchen space, it is always safe to involve a kitchen design pro with an excellent know-how on the value-enhancing trends. Do thorough research to find someone who will help you to finish a perfect kitchen makeover that goes with your personal style and budget.

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