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Gardens Across the World

January 3, 2019

Buildings across the world have the wow factor, don’t they? How many times have you marveled at them when you’re on holiday? However, have you done the same when taking in their gardens? Perhaps not. Cultural differences are rife throughout the world and it’s amazing to see how we change our outdoor space depending on our beliefs and global location. Here, we look at how different societies tend to their gardens.

United Kingdom

In the UK, we appreciate the importance of our garden, especially when looking at buying a property. Research claims we will fork out up to £11,500 more on a home with a garden. For some, a garden is more valuable than an extra bedroom, meaning that even those of us who aren’t exactly green fingered love a bit of outdoor space to call our own. We pine for that perfect lawn, shed and relaxation area with a sun lounger.

A garden in the UK measures 15 metres long on average and is home to 10 different varieties of flowers. The most popular garden plants include tulips, rose lavender and bluebells, all of which add colour to a vibrant space. Throw in a greenhouse, birdbath and washing line and you have the UK’s perfect garden. Unfortunately, though, we normally only spend 12 hours each month in our garden due to the nation’s temperamental weather and our busy lifestyles.


In Italy, there is a much greater focus on symmetry and traditional spaces are home to few flowers. You will mainly find evergreen plants that have been manicured into geometric hedges or topiaries. One thing the Italians are very fond of is covering their stone walls with foliage vines or climbing roses.  The garden space is seen as an extension of the home’s entertainment area, so you are likely to find art work cladded throughout, including sculptures of gods and goddesses. On the patio, a lemon tree that has been potted in a stone urn is one of the nation’s favourites.

While the UK uses the likes of a bird bath or pond for a water feature, homes in Italy prefer the cooling effects of bubbling fountains, pools or cascades. Don’t be surprised to see water shoot out of hidden pipes if you’re walking along a garden path — this was a common feature in old Italy.


Moving away from the European garden scene, cultural references are even more prominent. Like so many other locations, India is known for its cultural diversity and this is evident in their colourful gardens. Thanks to the tropical weather India encounters, its garden plants can thrive and that is why so many homes will be filled to the brim with flowering plants.

The Tulsi, Queen of Herbs, is something that you’ll be likely to see throughout the country. It is thought of as the holiest and most cherished of the many healing and health-giving herbs that will be found in Hindu homes. Because of its holy status, it is planted in special pots and has earned a very special place in the country’s homes.

Roses are another likely part of an Indian garden. This is because they are said to bring happiness to your life — and they have the bonus of not requiring a lot of care. With cultural references throughout horticulture, money plants are also considered a lucky plant and there will be likely spots with them if you are to observe an Indian garden.

United States

 You will often find multilevel gardens stateside. Plastic decking is commonly used in spaces that are on a slope in order to provide a flat surface area to host those elusive barbecues, or to overlook your garden.  

The American garden is usually bigger than Europe’s efforts. Studies have shown that Americans are now growing more food in their gardens than ever before, meaning patches to ‘grow your own vegetables’ are becoming increasingly popular. In 2009, the White House even planted its first vegetable since the Second World War and, by 2013, it was reported that a third of the American public were growing their own food in the backyards.


It’s the dream for many Brits to start a life Down Under. But, how do their gardens compare? While it hugely depends on where you live — the Outback will differ immensely — we will focus on the suburban areas of Australia since more than 80% of the nation’s population lives in cities or bigger towns. Thanks to the enviable climate on offer, many Australians place outdoor living as a top priority. Lawns are becoming less important, with studies showing that a third of outdoor renovation projects are either reducing this space or removing it entirely. Decks, pergolas, terraces and verandahs are springing up in their place and almost half of the projects are incorporating a barbecue area into their plans.

When looking at plants, homeowners in Australia are keen to stick with floral displays that are native to Australia, or those that are drought-tolerant. For the lucky ones, an outdoor pool is a luxurious addition to the outdoor space, so you can cool down with a splash about.

South Africa

South Africans are another nation of outdoor lovers. Be it their own space or elsewhere, they are known to feel at home in open space. Ideas that are often noticeable in South African gardens are increasingly becoming more noticeable across the globe. South Africans often have a shaded area to hide away from the glaring sunshine. This could include shade-loving shrubs and perennials that have a walkway passing through, which adds to the serenity. They are also very fond of the wildlife. Whether it’s inviting our flying friends in for a drink of freshwater or providing nectar-loving birds with plants that delight them, they set up features to help entice the wildlife into the garden — similarly to how we do in Britain.

Many South African gardens are home to society garlic. It’s a worthy addition to herb gardens and the flowers bloom even under duress.

No matter where in the world you are, it’s clear that the garden is an important part of your home. While some use it for luxury, others believe certain plants can bring good fortune on the family.

Food Gadgets

How To Set A Table For Formal and Informal Dinner Parties

August 13, 2018

Dress to impress: dinner party table settings

Dinner parties are a wonderful social experience, both to attend and to host. But, like with any fashionable trend, the expectation changes by the year. How should you dress your dining table when hosting a dinner party? What are the key differences between formal and informal parties?

In the following guide, provided by AC Silver, retailers of antique silver we’ll give you pointers for a perfectly presented dinner party table, whatever the event.

Formal parties

Perhaps you’ve invited your boss over for dinner, or you’re the host of a special occasion within the family; perhaps a relative has popped the question to their significant other with a beautiful antique engagement ring, and you want to host a party of equal elegance to celebrate! In this instance, you might wish to lean towards a more formal table setting. A formal table will have pre-set cloth napkins — and potentially antique silverware and glassware — as well as a quality tablecloth and elaborate centrepiece. Candelabras, sterling silver wine ewers and antique claret jugs ae also perfect for setting an elegant dining tone.

In-keeping with tradition, an empty plate is set before the guests for each course. A server would then bring in the food and offer it to each person in turn, rather than placing plated-up food on the table. However, this is quite old-fashioned, so you may prefer to serve your guests already-filled plates/bowls for each course. If you’re hosting a formal dinner party, preparing up to six courses is a generally accepted rule, which will often include a starter, fish course, meat course, dessert, and cheese.

Setting a table for a formal dinner party

Cutlery placement is important when setting a formal dinner table.

The plate should be in the centre, with the forks to the left and the spoons and knives to the right. When it comes to the dessert fork and spoon, these must lie above the plate — the fork below the spoon — with the former pointing to the right and the latter, to the left. Next, all side plates go to the left of your dinner plate, while napkins go on the side plate — or you can put these on each dinner plate, if you prefer.

Here are some important points to consider when setting a formal table:

  • All cutlery must be placed in the order it will be used — starting from the outside and working in.
  • Your knife blades should face the plate, while all fork prongs must face the ceiling.
  • Serving salad and soup? The salad must be served on a salad plate, which is placed on top of the dinner plate. The soup bowl then goes on top.
  • If you’re serving red and white wine, they must have their own glasses. These should sit above the table knife, on the right-hand side.

Each dish should be tidied away when the course is over, and it’s vital that your guests have everything they need to dine already on the table.

Informal parties

You may be hosting a less formal affair, such as a dinner party for some friends. The entire atmosphere will be more relaxed and there’s less of a need to use your finest china and silverware. However, that doesn’t mean your table shouldn’t look nice and you could still use attractive centrepieces — such as an LED vase or decorative wooden bowl, if you wish.

Your table will have less cutlery and flatware than for a formal party, as all the food will be out for the guests to pick from. An informal dinner party can also be comprised of a single course or standard three. Go for the typical ‘starter, main and dessert’ dining structure, or simply cook up a hearty main meal and let your guests chat, laugh and drink as they dine.

Setting a table for an informal dinner party

With an informal dinner party, you have more room to let your creative side out, as there’s less rules involved. However, you still want to create an attractive setting.

A good idea is to pick a theme. Whether this is simply a colour, or you want to go for something quirkier — like the seaside or fairy tales — a theme can really bring your informal dinner party to life. Get tablecloths and runners that complement your chosen theme and put out handmade crafts on the table to add personality. Why not also tweak formal table setting trends to make them more casual? For example, you can use wine corks, toothpicks and paper to make fun place card holders for each guest or opt for colourful, simple tealights to illuminate the table without the need for ornate candelabras.

Informal parties are a great place to serve interactive dishes, like gourmet burgers or fajitas, so your guests can make their own combinations. Put everything out on the table in one go so that your guests can pick and choose which ingredients they want to eat and pass food around for a more sociable atmosphere.

It’s a wonderful social experience to host a dinner party. Simply choose how formal or casual you wish the evening to be and use the appropriate tableware and dining etiquette to set the ideal tone!

Food Gadgets

5 Small Appliances You Need in Your Kitchen

August 2, 2018

Are you a newlywed trying to figure out what you need in your new home? Or maybe you just want to add an item or two that will help you when it comes to cooking for your family. With a seemingly endless supply of kitchen appliances out there to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming. Here are five products though, that your kitchen should not be without.

Stand Mixer

If you like your arms feeling as if they are about to fall off, you might not need a stand mixer. But if that does not sound appealing to you, you might consider getting one of these work horses for your kitchen. A stand mixer doesn’t just mix your cake batter, this multi-use tool can do so much more.

The flat beater can mix your dough for cookies and your meat for meatloaf, it can also break up cooked meat for shredded pork and chicken, and make chunky mashed potatoes are a thing of the past. The dough hook is great for yeast-based doughs such as pizza and cinnamon buns, and the whisk can be used to beat eggs for meringue or make homemade whip cream. On top of that, other attachments will allow you to slice apples, make pasta noodles, and even ground you own meat.

Bread Machine

While you do not need a bread maker to make good bread, when you begin to learn more about bread machines, you can see why they might be handy to have in your kitchen. Baking bread with traditional methods can take anywhere from 3 to four hours when you consider the time to knead the dough and allow it to rise.

A bread machine might take just as long start to finish, but it only requires 5 minutes of prep and the machine does the rest for you. Plus, you don’t have to tire your hands kneading the dough or heat up your kitchen with a hot oven while the bread bakes.

Instant Pot

Working late or having a crazy schedule should not hinder you from getting to enjoy a hot meal at home each night. If your job schedule has you running through the drive thru each evening for dinner, you should consider having an Instant Pot in your home. An Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, rice cooker, skillet, and oven all in one. It can cook elaborate meals in less than an hour and make rough cuts of meat tinder and tasty. It can even cook frozen meats safely, for when you forget to take your meat out of the freezer in the morning.

Immersion Blender

If you want to blend your soups to smooth perfection, but don’t want to transfer it to your blender to do so, an immersion blender might just be your new best friend. It’s lighter and easier to clean than a full-size blender and can do almost anything that it’s full-size counterpart can do. Smoothies, sauces, dips, and soups, this small appliance has got you covered.

Indoor Grill

Nothing beats a good grilled steak. But sometimes going outside to grill just isn’t doable. If you live in an apartment, for example, or just not wanting to step outside on a cold winters day. Sometimes you just want to grill without stepping outside, and a countertop grill allows you to do just that.

You can choose an electric grill, that cooks both sides of your meat at the same time, or a stovetop grill pan will do the job as well. These are usually made from cast iron and even come big enough to fit over two burners, so you can grill all your meat at once.

Food Gadgets

The Best Turkey Fryer Available

May 9, 2018

A turkey-fryer can be used any time of the year. But, with holiday season being here, deep-frying a turkey is something many people want to do. But, you need the right turkey-fryer to do so. These are a few top options to consider when buying a turkey-fryer.

Char-Broil TRU 

Oil-less at its finest. This turkey-fryer simply requires you to put the turkey in the fryer, and you’re ready to go. It can handle a turkey up to 16 pounds in weight, it cooks faster than oil cook-times, and you can coat the meat with a rub prior to cooking, to really enhance the flavours.

Bayou Classic 

This 32-quart fryer is ideal for larger turkeys, or deep frying in less time. It is a stainless-steel finish, so it is not going to get damaged, dirty, or too messy with various uses. It is non-reactive, so it won’t overheat, and it will cook your turkey evenly throughout in less time. It is great at conducting heat as well, so you don’t have to worry about oil or grease fires when deep-frying a turkey.

MasterBuilt Butterball Fryer 

For indoor use, you can’t go wrong with this turkey-fryer. It is compact, quick, efficient, and deep fries any bird in no time. The electric fryer can hold a turkey up to 14-pounds. You can simply set the electric dial using the LED screen. It also uses about 1/3 less oil than typical fryers, so it will taste great, but won’t be overly greasy.

There are many great turkey-fryers. Regardless of size, material, finish, or features. If you would like to see some reviews on turkey fryers then is a great place to start. these are among the top options to consider if you are looking for something easy to use, efficient, and durable for years to come.

Food Gadgets

The Latest Exciting New Food Gadgets

May 4, 2017

The way food is prepared and served has continued to change with time. Various new gadgets are being discovered to make the work around the kitchen easier and presentable. Some of them are unbelievably cheap and go a long way in speeding up the way food is prepared and served. You can keep up to date with how companies such as these are doing on the stock market with websites like CMC Markets.

Super Marts Melon Scoop

This gadget comes in handy for the melon-lovers as it eases the separation of the fruit from the skin. The gadget is easy to use to both kids and adults. Apart from separating the skin from the fruit, it can use to be used to separate the seeds from the fruit as well. At a price of $8 only, you can get this food gadget and avoid the work of eating melons on their skins with seeds.

Smart Planet Bacon Nation Bacon Master

For $30 you can get the Bacon Master which is an upright griddle cooker which let you prepare your bacon evenly without the need of turning it. This gadget allows fat to drain off for a healthier meal option and can be stored for used for later meal preparation.

One Click Butter Cutter

The butter cutter is used to make pats which are perfectly shaped for an even melt and spread on your bread. This gadget can also be used during cooking to make even portions of just the right amount. This gadget is useful in the kitchen considering its cheap price of $16 only.

Tour de Pizza Bicycle Pizza Cutter

The pizza cutter gadget comes in a small bicycle design which is made of stainless steel. The blade which takes the form of a bicycle wheel is strong enough to cut through any pizza thickness. This gadget comes in its own storage rack for storing the bike as it’s amazingly cute. The gadget retails at only $20.

GenTen New One-Step Corn Kerneler

Cutting the kernels off the cob is a tedious and sometimes can leave you all messy if not done with care. The children are met with the challenge of feeding on boiled maize while still intact on their cobs. This gadget comes in handy to help in removing the grains from the cob and storing them in a container attached to it. This ensures that your workplace is neat and the grains do not fall off to the floor.

T-Rex Spaghetti Measuring Tool

Many people are met with the challenging of determining the amount of food which is just enough for one meal so as to avoid wastage. This gadget helps in measuring the amou8nt of spaghetti which is just enough for a kid, an adult, or a dinosaur, which is a meal of three to four adults. The shapes on the gadgets will help in helping you measure the right amount of spaghetti to be cooked for one meal.

Ben and Jerry’s Pint Lock

At sometimes, it becomes important to secure your food, especially when you live in the same room with friends who feed on your food or children who open jars and litter the food around the house. This locking gadget helps you secure your food by ensuring that you are the only person who has access to the food stored in the jar. For a price of $15, you can save a considerable amount of money for buying food that has been misused by others.

The Robot Nutcracker

Cracking nuts is one of the hardest and tiring works, especially for children who do not have the strength for the task. The nutcracker robot gadget makes the work easy and can be used to crack any type or amount of nuts for use in the kitchen or for raw consumption. Let the name fool you, this small gadget can be acquired for $29 only.

Takara Tomy Rapid Drink Cooler

What’s cooler than carrying your fridge around during the hot season? This battery powered portable cooler makes sure that you enjoy your chilled drinks regardless of the high temperatures. The gadget chills the drinks lightning-fast by putting some ice in it. The gadget uses rechargeable batteries, making it an essential gadget for hiking as it can be charged using the car charging system on the dashboard. It comes at an amazingly cheap price of $37.