Tag Archives: Home and Garden

Go Greener With A Garden Office

IMG_1362The time has long since passed that sheds and summer houses were used only as storage facilities or home extensions. A whole wave of garden offices and studios are combining the outdoors with the indoors to create eco-buildings that are green in more ways than one.
Saving expenses
Many business owners are choosing to skip the commute nowadays and run their business virtually or from home. Not only are they avoiding the rocket-high rentals on a city office building, but the maintenance too   on everything from heating bills to paying for internet and electronic equipment. Add in daily travel and food costs and it starts to become clear why this so-called ‘shedworking’ craze has taken off.
If this is something you’re considering, it pays to do some research. Find out how much a second line for phone and internet might cost and if you already have an existing shed or outhouse, research the steps you would have to take to insulate and light it effectively. Initial costs may seem high, so weigh up potential savings over time compared to leasing a serviced office and work out how the books will balance.
Built-in green features
There are all sorts of extra ways you can promote the environment from your own backyard. Building the shed yourself is much more cost-effective and satisfying, with a range of recycled materials available: used doors and windows, reclaimed laminate and even slates made from rainpipe guttering can help make the project a worthy one.
If you want to go all out for the environment, solar panels can be installed on the roof, again reducing your company outgoings over time. Then there’s the decoration. Use cladding or roll mat plants for your shed roof and you have an instant flood defence, insulation and the bonus of an attractive, natural look.
An alternative to a new shed one that has been used already. It’s worth visiting the local garden centres and asking if they have any ex-display sheds they want to get rid of – these will normally be heavily reduced in price, you’ll just need to do a little dismantling and rebuilding.
An eco-friendly business can still be achieved in the home at reduced cost but it may be the case that your home life and work life are not so easily separated, with kids in the next room or noise from the kitchen down the hall. A private space of your own is a precious thing and coupled with green savings, the garden office is a useful feature indeed.

Daniel Parkinson is a finance and business blogger who gets out his green fingers at the weekend. He’s currently writing a book about eco-business. He has used on a number of occasions.


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What Did We Do Before Clocks?


A Brief History of Life Before Clocks

If you are like most people, you use clocks every single day, without exception. They are our life line to that thing called time, and they allow us to do many things. Firstly, they allow us to keep our jobs, by alerting us to when we need to leave home, and when we need to arrive at work. Secondly, they allow us to keep track of things; how long it took us to run a mile, what time we need to take the cake out of the oven—literally everything! Even Daylight Saving Time relies on clocks; clocks go forward, and clocks go back to keep us on track with the months. It is hard to imagine a place in time and history without clocks, but there was one.

Before Clocks: How Time Keeping Was Always Relevant

Since the early age of man, we have used many things to keep track of the days. Most prominent, before clocks were even a thought, were sun dials. A sun dial was a chart that had a number of carvings on it, in a circle, that could be used to tell the “time” of the day, how close to darkness the day was, what day of the week it was—they were used to tell a number of things. Sun dials were used in a very simple matter. Often they were built on stands, or pedestals. The triangular piece that stood up would act as a hand might on a clock face. As the day wound down, a shadow would pass over the face of the sun dial, created by the darkness of the setting sun. This would in turn shadow certain regions of the sun dial, which would then be used to “tell” the “time.”

Sands of Time: Hourglasses

Another common time piece, before the invention of the clock, was the hourglass; a figure eight shaped glass which would be filled with a measurement of sand. The section where the two halves of the glass met would be exceptionally thin so as to make the sand work its way slowly through the glass. The idea was that you could use the hourglass as a time keeping device. However, the sands that passed through these glass did not necessarily pass through in a predetermined amount of time, and often got stuck, making keeping time with an hourglass very difficult at times, and even very inaccurate to a great degree.

James Lawler is the author of, all of the dates times and information about when do the clocks go forward from 2012 to 2019 and beyond, including free email reminders for registered visitors.


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So, I Don’t Have a Fireplace Anymore

Well, I guess technically I do, but it’s a propane thing we leave on the back patio for those evenings we want to keep our feet warm while we look at the stars.

My real wood burning fireplace was left when I gave my house of 23 years to my then wife and kids..

Let us just say that that house is where my friends Rob and Leslie shared life with us for years as we were all growing up to be “adults.”  Rob had his love that he worked so hard for, and I had mine.  We ended up marrying both of our “projects” and having lovely children and reasonably happy lives.  Probably far happier in retrospective, than they were while we were going through some of the trials, but isn’t that the way of life.  If anyone described childbirth accurately, nobody would ever have sex, but after its over, the memories are warm.

As far as Leslie is concerned, I’m surprised we stayed such good friends, as I called her Stephanie half the time.  Through the magic of FaceBook, we got to know each other again pretty well the past couple of years.

I am writing by the grace of Harrys Hof Brau, by the beautiful fireplace that they have provided. Today it is apparently exclusively for my self centered solace.  I am in shock.

I got the news today that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Leslie, has passed on.  She was not in the best of health, but the circumstances have left us all numb.  She was walking up a staircase, fell backwards and never recovered from her coma. She was in her 40’s with a loving husband and two wonderful kids. I was the “best man” at their wedding.  It is a pretty stark wakeup call, but if nothing else it helps put things in perspective.  It is skillful to consider these things when we are caught up in our own “shit.”

I sit in frustration for my current wife, as she desperately struggles to understand why my daughters, their aunts and uncles, etc. cannot get along long enough to have a holiday meal together. This is the kind of shit that would have occupied my thoughts for the majority of the day.

I also sit in humble appreciation, by the fireplace at Harry’s, that we have houses to invite people to, that we have reasonable health, and that we have good friends.  Especially when we lose one so suddenly and tragically, it makes all of the dribble regarding where we spend Thanksgiving seem incredibly inconsequential.

Be nice to people, hug everybody you see.  We have no idea when our number will be called, and if they went by merit I’d be long gone so count every day as another opportunity to make things right.  You might not ever get there, like I might not ever get there with ex in-laws or my girls, but one thing is for sure.  If you don’t try, you sure as hell won’t ever do it.

God be with you Les.  You will be missed by more than you can count. God be with those you left behind, because your absence will be felt more than you ever could have known.  I’ll miss your FB updates.  Love you ‘sis.

Her last post on FB




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Taking Your Office from Cold to Warm in Simple Steps

It is unfortunate that so many offices, reception areas, and waiting rooms are so cold and clinical. They do not offer an inviting space and they do not offer any warmth. This is not actually how clients, customers, visitors, job applicants, and business associates will want to see a business. Think, now, about your own office area. Whether you have just a reception area, a waiting area, or any type of main section where many people will be throughout the day, what image is it currently portraying? Keep in mind that this space is often the first thing that people will see in your company. If you are giving off the wrong feel, it could give a wrong first impression.

If your office area is like many others, you are offering something cold and clinical that will do nothing to put people at ease. It is time that you stop thinking professional equals cold. Instead, you need to just learn office décor options that will keep a professional and a warm look.

Make Spaces Smaller

Often, office waiting areas will be large and cavernous. This can leave a waiting client or business associate to feel as if they are isolated and alone. This is not a good feeling. Of course, you cannot close in the space without construction work. However, you can make a space feel smaller with simple steps that will create a more cozy feeling. Here are some ways to make an office feel smaller than it actually is.

  • Use dark colors. This is a visual way to create a smaller feel. It is proven that lighter colors on the walls will feel larger and darker colors on the walls will feel smaller.
  • Make use of heavy fabrics. This does not necessarily mean just on windows. Instead, you can create a visually interesting wall of fabric that will also make a space feel smaller.

Add Peaceful Details

Often, an office will be without much décor other than those same artwork posters that seem to be offered at wholesale to business owners. This does nothing to create a warm and personalized look. In order to create a warmer and more inviting office, you will need to change the kind of deco that you are using. You need to add details that bring about a sense of peace and comfort.  Here are some options to consider.

  • Plants are a good choice to soften corners and give texture to bookshelves. If possible, choose live plants, which look more professional in a space.
  • Make use of water. There are plenty of ways to do this, like wall water features, wall waterfalls, and custom fountains. These fountains can include a look and feel that matches your sense of décor. The sound of moving water and the visual interest that they will add certainly brings a peaceful feeling to an office.
  • Choose visually pleasing artwork. Bypass those prints that every business seems to use. Instead, find an unknown local artist and choose artwork by them. Not only will you be supporting your community, but you will also be adding something truly interesting to your office walls.

All too often, offices are cold and uninteresting. You do not have to let this happen in your own office. Instead, you can create a space that truly speaks of your business, is professional, and is still warm and inviting. This could be very important to the impression that people get of your business. Additionally, a warm and inviting office will be more pleasant to anyone who needs to spend time waiting in that space.

Polly Godwin is the owner of, a company specializing in water features, outdoor water fountains and more.


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Why Are Great Photos So Important When Selling Your Home?


Pictures can say more than words.  Great photos are the most important thing that you can use to market your home.

Most buyers start their search online, so listings that don’t have a photo or have a poor quality one will usually get ignored.

Tips for great photos


The first and most important photo is of the front of your home. Crop the surrounding pavement, vehicles in the drive and the front garden that can distract from the front of the building. Angle your shots and go as close as you can.

Get a wide shot of the front of the house and make sure that you take photos of good selling points like the garage, or special features like the front porch.

Take your shots on a sunny day, with blue sky to give the best photos. You should aim to have the sun shining from behind you (so you might want to time it when you take the pictures), and avoid pointing into the sun. However if your house faces north, you might want to take the photo on a cloudy day to avoid glare.

If your property doesn’t have its own garden, but shares amenities like a swimming pool or communal garden, then include photos of these. Emphasize the space of your garden by shooting low and long. Make sure that the garden is looking its best: mow the lawn and prune any straggling shrubs.


Some people suggest taking interior shots of all the rooms, some recommend just taking photos of the main living areas. Bedroom photos don’t always mean much unless there is a special feature like a picturesque fireplace. Bathrooms can be tricky as they are usually so small and you need to be careful not to catch the reflection in mirrors.

The most important rooms to photograph are the living room, kitchen, dining room, breakfast area and any other living area or maybe a different angle on the living room. If the hall or stairway area has any special features, then this might be worth including, along with bedrooms or any other rooms that might in some way capture the essence of the home.

To get the best shots, make sure the windows are open, curtains drawn back and blinds pulled up. Even better if there is a view, capture this as well as the room inside. However be very careful that your light meter doesn’t over-compensate for the brightness of the light from the window. You can avoid the problem by taking a photo when it’s not so bright outside, when it’s overcast or at sunset or sunrise. Best to take photos without the flash but experiment with and without it, as sometimes the flash helps brighten the inside and overcomes the problem of bright light coming in the windows.

Clear away any clutter – add floral arrangements to brighten up the room, close the toilet lid- all these little details can make your shots look great.

Move the furniture to show off the room to its best advantage. If you have a narrow hallway, maybe you can focus on an interesting or unusual detail rather than emphasizing what might be a weakness.

Make sure the photos that you use are of the best quality. If you can’t take them yourself, then get a professional in for you. Nothing is more off-putting than a poor photo that is badly composed or badly exposed. Be careful of shooting in the bathroom and catching your reflection in the mirror.

Take ‘landscape’ rather than vertical shots, as this will ensure that there’s no distortion to the photo when you upload it on the internet.


Whatever you do, DON’T upload badly shot photos online as this will have the opposite effect.  Avoid photos that show rooms that are cluttered, dark, show pets and children and don’t show off your home to the best possible advantage.

Great photos of your home can be the most important marketing tool you use for selling your home. They show off the place and can attract the buyer to come and have a look. For advice on how to take great photographs of you home when selling in Hertfordshire visit the website.

Image Credits: marimoon and h&b {lea}



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