Wednesday 1 March 2017

The Natural Beauty of Wood Flooring

Wood flooring adds a brilliant, natural beauty to any room. It's extremely durable and always in style. With proper maintenance and care, it can last a lifetime. The tricky part can be choosing which type will best suit the needs of a particular space. There are many different choices as well as many price ranges to fit almost any budget. Local experts can help give sound advice before the investment is made, including what type of flooring goes best in certain types of rooms. Take a look at some important things to consider before shopping.
Overview of Basic Flooring
There are two basic categories of floors: factory engineered and solid. Factory engineered consists of multiple layers or veneers made up of different types of wood or composite. The veneers are layered in opposite directions to increase stability and to resist the expansion and contraction that comes with temperature and humidity fluctuations. This type is well-suited for basements and rooms with less stable environments. Depending on the thickness of the top layer, it can be sanded and refinished, but no more than two or three times.
What is Factory Finished Flooring?
Wood flooring can be purchased and installed either factory finished or unfinished. Finished products are generally the easier way to go since it will be complete and ready to walk on immediately after installation. Depending on where it will be installed, unfinished wood can be beneficial. It comes without stain or a topcoat, making it ideal for matching existing floors or for obtaining a specific, custom color. After it's installed, it will be sanded, stained, and finished with multiple coats of varnish that will both protect it and give it a radiant shine. An unfinished product will require some time to dry after installation and cannot be walked on until the recommended time.
What is Solid Wood Flooring?
Solid floors are as the name implies. It's made of one solid layer and can vary in thickness up to 3/4" and as thin as 5/16". This is the highest quality available since it can be refinished multiple times, allowing it to last almost indefinitely. There are many different species and grains to choose from; among them are cherry, oak, maple, and exotics, such as bamboo and Brazilian cherry.
Different floors offer varying levels of hardness. Choosing the correct species will depend on a few things. The first consideration should be the amount of traffic the floor will be bearing. Pet nails, toys, and otherwise heavy foot traffic will require a harder variety. It's important to choose one that is readily available or, in the case of exotics, that the trees are being responsibly and sustainably harvested. Some exotics are extremely rare or endangered, making a more traditional species the better choice. Ask a professional for advice on this before deciding what types to choose.

3 Steps to a More Collaborative Team

I was just listening to an interview with one of the world's top leadership experts, my friend and colleague Mark Sanborn. He was asked how leadership has changed over the past several years. Here's what he said:
"The biggest change I've seen in leadership is not among leaders but among followers... The principles by and large haven't changed, but the people whom we lead really don't think of themselves as followers. They think of themselves as team members or collaborators."
This struck a note for me, and took me back to my 15 years as the Executive Producer of a comedy TV show in Seattle. Although I was, by title, the "boss," it always felt like more of a collaboration to me. Very rarely did something make it on to the show simply because I said so; it was almost always by mutual agreement.
Yes, there were times when I had to "put on the producer hat" and be the boss. Leadership does come with responsibility. But for the majority of those 15 years, it was less "me and them" and more "us."
So if Mark is correct, and the people you lead think of themselves as collaborators rather than followers, the question is, how are you thinking of them?
The way you think of those you lead shapes the way you treat those you lead. It may be subtle-you may not even be consciously aware of it-but it has an impact. Even though you may not be aware of this impact, you can be sure that they are.
So, how can you make sure your team is a collaborative one?
1. Make sure everyone's on the same bus.
According to a survey of 23,000 employees conducted by Harris Interactive, only 37% of employees understood what their employer was trying to achieve and why. That's astounding! How can anyone feel like they're collaborating if they don't even know what they're collaborating on? As a leader, you need to make sure everyone on your team understands the big picture, and how they fit into it.
2. Be open with your communication.
Yes, yes, I get that you already know this. All the books about leadership, all the articles, all the training talks about the importance of open communication. So you've heard it. But are you doing it? And what does "open communication" even mean? It means being honest with your feedback, both good and bad. It means listening to the ideas of your team members-including the quiet ones! It means sharing, to the extent that you're able, information you receive from upper management that affects your team. And it means giving your team not just the "what," but also the "why.
3. Treat everyone with respect.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who doesn't respect you? Not much fun, is it? It's the same in the workplace. People like to collaborate with those whom they respect, and who show them respect in return. So treat your team with respect.
By working as collaborators, my team won more than 100 Emmy® awards and enjoyed 10 straight years of #1 ratings. What can you accomplish with your collaborative team?

How to Keep Your Wedding Costs Down

You've always thought about your dream wedding. A beautiful wedding gown, the perfect setting, a romantic bouquet, you wanted it all. But, when you were daydreaming, you never actually realized how costly a wedding could be. Now that you are getting married, the reality is all too clear - weddings are expensive. In fact, it seems like everything to do with a wedding costs a fortune.
So, if you want that perfect dream wedding but you don't exactly have a fairy godmother who will magically sign a check for all of your wedding expenses, what are your options? Well, there are four main choices.
You can cut corners on your wedding by having less guests and forgoing the traditional wedding items like flowers or favors. You can get a new credit card and charge everything for your wedding on it, and then pay the bills after you get married. You can decide not to have a wedding at all and elope. Or, you can find a way to have your dream wedding for less money without cutting your guest list or using a used wedding gown. It's up to you to decide which option makes sense for you, but most brides choose the fourth option and try to find a way to have a dream wedding for less money.
Well, you may be thinking, "that sounds great, but how do I actually do it?" Don't worry, there are some very easy ways in which you can cut your costs and still have a terrific wedding. Read on to find out the top ways to keep your wedding costs down.
Pick A Public Spot
When you start planning your wedding, one of the first big decisions you make is where to hold the ceremony and reception. An excellent way to keep your wedding economic is to choose a public place for your ceremony and reception. Botanical gardens, golf courses, beaches, historic places, national parks and their public buildings are all wonderful and inexpensive spots for weddings. Using a public place rather than an event hall can save you thousands of dollars on your wedding budget.
Make Your Own Favors
Another way to cut down on your wedding expenses is to make your own wedding favors. Cellophane wrapped cookies, jordan almonds in bags, small plants - these are all things that you can serve as do-it-yourself wedding favors. Martha Stewart Living Weddings and other crafty wedding magazines and websites have ideas for wedding favors that you can do on your own. You just purchase the different parts of the favor at a discount online and then assemble the favors yourself.
Don't wait until the last minute to work on your favors. You can start making your favors as soon as you've settled the guest list, wedding colors and theme. Preparing all of your favors in advance will help you when the big day starts sneaking up on you. Also, enlist your bridesmaids and close family members to help. You can even have a "favor party" and invite everyone over to work on the favors. Provide the guests with food and booze and they'll probably be happy to help.
Be Your Own Wedding Planner
If you want to cut costs, you should forgo having a wedding planner. You can be your own wedding planner, all it takes is for you to be organized and inventive. As soon as you get engaged, pick up a wedding planning organizer. Start keeping track of what you've done and what you need to do in the coming months. File vendor contracts and bids in a 3 ring binder. Make time to update your planner weekly and follow up on any leftover "to do's."
Grab a few wedding publications and look for unique wedding ideas. Browse through bouquets in magazines and decide which flowers and centerpiece shapes you like. Also, there are lots of websites that offer wedding planning ideas for free. Using the internet, wedding magazines and books, you can find the same advice that you'd typically get from a wedding planner.
Work With Your Florist
Another way you can trim costs is to work with your florist to choose inexpensive flowers for your wedding. Be straight with your florist and let her know what you can afford. If she's good at what she does, she'll be able to offer some lower cost suggestions. Low cost doesn't always mean less flowers, it could just mean a different type of bloom or more greenery. Going for daisies over lilies or peonies will mean a lot to your wedding's bottom line.

Raising Your First Kitten

Bringing your first kitten home is exciting and you are about to open up a whole new world with your new precious pet. I'll never forget the day I brought my first kitten home.
As a child I never grew up around cats really as my dad was super allergic and even a small amount of hair would swell his eyes and throat shut. So I never considered owning a cat myself.
One beautiful day in May, I was doing some shopping and saw a sign about a local pet store near by that was closing and of course they were having a blow-out sale to try to sell everything before closing their doors. Little did I know that after walking through that door I would fall in love with one of the most beautiful creatures that I could and would welcome into my home. A Bengal! It was love at first sight! He was striped so beautifully and that precious face melted my heart. After at first hearing the cost I was taken aback and had to really think about it. After a few minutes browsing through the store after telling the store owner I needed to think about it, he (the store owner) approached me and made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
So I bought everything I needed from the store. Litter box, a few cat toys, some dishes for his food and of course that precious bundle of fur in a box ready to go home. Tigger (as he was so named because of his stripes) was so scared!! I felt so bad and just wanted to comfort and cuddle him! But he wasn't going to have that. I am almost positive he was traumatized in some way.
Bringing him straight in the door and then introducing him to the house was a new struggle on it's own!! Nothing like bringing a puppy home which was the only thing I was really familiar with (besides cows and horses).
Tigger was skiddish and very cautious about his new surroundings as he had to get accustomed to the smell of a German shepherd who was one year old and very rambunctious. As he ran downstairs to the basement (where I strategically placed his litter box and installed a cat door) he found his safety in the corner behind the washing machine. I also added a small blanket that my dog slept with so he would get used to the smell of her.
He did not want to come out of the basement for almost a month! Even trying to coax with treats and toys I couldn't get very close. It took time and patience and I made sure to respect his space. Finally one day he crept upstairs and came out to me in the living room. Gave me a little purr and curled up on my lap. I was amazed! He had finally warmed up to me and trusted me after all that time.
A year later I was offered another kitten who I of course welcomed with open arms and the process was so much easier with him! I now have two very happy cats that absolutely love their momma. Even though it took time to learn and understand them I would never go back and change a thing. My advice though is if you are a first time kitten owner take the time to make sure that your kitten you want to bring home isn't so scared of you and if you do have one just take time with her or him and show them love and respect so they learn to trust you.

Four Questions You Should Never Ask Your Pharmacist

Lucy, on the comic strip Peanuts, often sits behind her sign offering psychiatric help for five cents. But there's a reason why medical doctors don't work in carnival-style booths. Pharmacists are some of the most accessible medical professionals in the country, and they end up meeting all kinds of customers with absurd questions. To help these professionals keep their sanity, there are a few questions you just shouldn't ask.
"Does this look infected?"
This happens a lot. The average person is uncertain about whether a discolored wound looks infected, and they can be unsure about whether to just buy bandages or a full strength antibiotic cream. If possible, don't ask the pharmacist. They have people shoving wounds in their faces all day, and not everybody is able to stomach the parade of leaky pustules and weeping scabs. To be sure, it's good to take care of your wounds, and some professionals may not mind if they're asked politely. Still, the point remains that you wouldn't thrust the offensive injury under another stranger's nose, and you should be considerate that the human in the lab coat may not be in the mood.
"Do you think I might be pregnant?"
To be sure, it's an important question. The unplanned pregnancies of first-time mothers can be particularly disorienting, but a pharmacist won't be able to give a certain answer when you're only a few days late. They can direct you to the pregnancy test kits, but it isn't their job to educate you on the entire reproductive system. All kinds of biological and environmental factors can affect your monthly cycle, and there are more variables than you can communicate in a couple of questions. Make a point of learning how your body works, get a test kit to take home, and schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN.
"Can you give me an early refill on my narcotics prescription?"
They've heard it all, and there's no real way for you to convince someone that you aren't just losing a fight against addiction. Your physician has prescribed an appropriate dosage and time period, and the pharmacy can't help if you've run out early. Even if you're about to go on a vacation, that's not something to be negotiated and adjusted in this setting. Addicts wander into these stores all the time, using every excuse in the book. Maybe they just need a sample, or they claim to have verbal permission to get two bottles at once. There are tight laws around controlled substances, and they're generally for your protection.
"Can you make an exception, just this once?"
Whether it's about narcotics or just another refill that hasn't yet been authorized, don't ask your pharmacist to bend the rules. These medical professionals have studied and worked to get to their position, and they would be putting their families and careers at risk for your convenience.
In the end, it's mainly a matter of being considerate. The pharmacy can be confusing because these workers are almost as accessible as cashiers, and yet they play an important role in making sure people receive the right medications.

Smartphones - Which One Should I Buy?

Smartphones are beautiful, so beautiful in fact that many manufacturers are beginning to place female voices inside your phone so they seem more lively and vibrant, too bad that they don't substitute for a girlfriend. However, as beautiful and elegant as smartphone maybe you may find it difficult to choose the right one for you. With so many different options in the market, how do you decide which one is the best for you? Here, I'm going to share with you my five tips for choosing the right smartphone.
Rank Your Priorities: I don't mean keep a written note of what you look for in a phone, it's better to keep a mental note or an idea. When I say priorities, I mean what aspects of a smartphone do you find important. Maybe you need a phone that cost under $400 or with a really good camera. A bright and beautiful screen, even a stylus or maybe you need a phone just for watching funny videos. As long as you know your top two or three priorities for your smartphone, you should be able to narrow down certain phones and then make a decision from there.
Don't Be Afraid To Buy Old Phones: A lot of people will tell you that they need those brand new smartphones with the best and brand new specs. That doesn't mean you need such phone too! In a few months time the iPhone 7 will be one year old, but the previous launch i.e. iPhone 6 is still considered as a very good smartphone. So, when you're looking for the right smartphone look to the older generations of the smartphones as well, because often times you'll find phones that are still very good and are also cheaper.
Don't Feel The Need To Buy High-Priced Smartphones: Many smartphone manufacturers are moving toward this trend. You can still find some cool features and durable smartphones at a price that is lower than most high-end smartphones. Ever since I bought the OnePlus 1 for under $350, I've been so impressed with what companies can provide for such a low price. On the other I find the Galaxy Note 5, which costs over $800, is way too expensive and iPhone 6 price is just reasonable. The point is that your smartphone does not need to be expensive to be a great quality.
Think About Your Smartphone's Accessories: These accessories include chargers, battery packs, cases and pretty much anything you can either attach or connect to your smartphone. We do rely on a lot of these accessories, so you need to look for a well-established phone like the iPhone or the popular Android phones built by companies such as, Samsung, LG, Motorola. You probably won't find many accessories with smaller names or new brands, just think about whether or not you need them.
iPhones Are Very Basic: I'm not saying people who use iPhones are basic, don't get me wrong! What I am saying, however, is that I would have an easier time learning to use an iPhone then if I were learning to use any other smartphone. It's a fantastic phone an very convenient because most accessories work with iPhones. They always have great cameras and apple services even though considered overpriced are excellent in terms of keeping everything you own all in one place. I'm not saying to put the iPhone is your number one option, but I am saying that if you're looking for a high-quality device that's simple and easy to use go for the iPhone. Like I mentioned above, look to the older models of smartphones because many of them are still brilliant smartphones.

Enjoy the Top 5 Cultural Tour Experiences in Bhutan

Think mystical beauty, think surrealistic ambience, think serenity, or simply think Bhutan! As one of the most stunning destinations in the world, Bhutan offers a mix of rustic beauty and contemporary charm. Most importantly, this unique place happens to be a paradise for globetrotters and fun-lovers. The cultural tour experiences in Bhutan will not only enthrall and excite art connoisseurs but also fill the hearts of general tourists with joy and exuberance.
If you are planning a trip to one of the most exquisite places in the world, Bhutan will emerge as the right option for you. The scenic locales, natural beauty, and picturesque Bumthang valley will help you enter into a magical world. Not to forget the cultural tour experiences; which happens to be the perfect icing on the cake.
Check Out the Tour Experiences
When it comes to Bhutan, travelers can plan trips to the western, central, and eastern regions. Although the western region happens to be more advanced and developed than the other areas, the central and eastern parts are also accessible. While planning visits to Bhutan, most of the tourists opt for Bhutan cultural tours as it offers them deep insights into the cultural practices of the country.
Check out these tour options, if you are already planning a trip to these fascinating 'Land of Thunder Dragon'.
1. Savoring the Richness of Bhutan's Amazing Culture
Your trip to Bhutan will remain incomplete without a visit to the beautiful Taktsang Monastery. According to the general beliefs prevalent in the area, the Taktsand or Tiger Monastery bears a striking resemblance to Guru Rimpoche's face. Since it's constructed with a cave series, the monastery resembles a human face.
Situated at an altitude of 2133 meters, the Tiger Monastery is an integral part of Bhutan cultural tours.
2. The Colorful Dzongs
Dzongs are of huge importance in Bhutan as they comprise of monasteries, part fortresses, or government offices. The interiors of these Dzongs have beautiful and intricate paintings that reflect the philosophies and teachings of Buddhism. These inspirational images will surely fill your hearts with joy and satisfaction. Paro and Thimpu offer home to some of the vibrant Dzongs.
3. Festivals of Bhutan
The festivities in Bhutan are amongst the special attractions of the cultural tours. While planning to visit Bhutan, you must not miss the colorful and vibrant Tshechus. Festivities and celebrations are inseparable parts of Bhutan cultural tours, and you can travel toThimpu and Paro for the most exciting experiences.
4. The Rustic Charm
A considerable part of the Bhutanese population happens to be farmers. Plan your trip with reputed tour operators in Bhutan and they will offer you once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. You can be a part of the rustic Bhutanese life, and spend a day or two with the Brokpas.
Stay in the warm and cozy farms, assist them in cooking meals, and enjoy the classic stone bath, all in this beautiful destination.
5. Say 'T' for Trekking
The dramatic landscape, picturesque destinations, and exquisite locations offer the best opportunities for hiking and trekking. An enriching trip to Bhutan will be incomplete without the trekking tours.

How to Care for Your Natural Oak Bathroom Furniture

Solid oak furniture can be a great addition to any bathroom. Not only is it stylish and traditional, it can also prove incredibly durable and resistant when looked after properly. That being said, the natural wood has earned itself a reputation for being difficult to maintain - particularly in damp environments.
This concern over its upkeep is unfortunately causing many people to opt for melamine alternatives, which is considered a great shame by those who manufacture natural wood furniture.
Whilst oak admittedly requires more care and attention than other materials, it is far superior in appearance and quality. Plus, it is manufactured in a far more environmentally conscious way, reducing the amount of carbon emissions sent into the atmosphere.
So if you're thinking of bringing wood into your bathroom - or you're looking for ways to prolong the life of your existing cabinets - don't be disheartened by the idea that you'll have to spend hours treating and caring for it. Looking after natural wood is surprisingly simple.
When you know the right way to care for your oak furniture, you will no doubt reap the benefits of its beautiful structure and shine. All you need to get the best out of your bathroom cabinets are a few tips and tricks to ensure the wood remains in good condition, year after year.
First off, you need to make sure you're looking after your new cabinet from the moment it arrives. You'll want to make sure you don't cut through the box's packaging when you're unpacking it, as this could inadvertently damage the wood.
The best way to unpack your cabinet is to remove all the surrounding protection whilst making sure it stays standing on its legs. Make sure you remove all the appropriate handles and shelf supports and put them to one side, so as not to lose them in the packaging.
You will need to clean the wood in order to remove any residue from transport or storage. It's best to use a damp cloth, avoiding the use of any chemical cleaning products.
Some furniture items will be delivered with a light oil application applied in order to protect it. This also gives it a tough, waterproof finish that will protect it during installation.
Most manufacturers will recommend using an oil treatment every three to six months. This is normally Danish oil or something similar to bring out the grain. Bathroom cabinets are particularly prone to damp, so a water resistant oil is required to prolong the life of the cabinet and keep the natural grains visible.
Danish oil generally dries in 4-6 hours and gives a natural, low sheen finish. It also doesn't give off much of an odor, which it why it is the most preferable wood treatment for many. Additionally, it does not flake, crack or peel. It is also resistant to even the toughest stains.
Another benefit of using Danish oil on your oak furniture is that, although it is water resistant, it is also microporus to water vapor, allowing the wood to breathe. This will help prevent build up of mold or mildew on the wood, as well as protecting it from damages.
In terms of cleaning your cabinet, it's best to avoid chemical sprays and polishes altogether. Instead, simply wipe the surface with a damp cloth. It is also advisable to keep the furniture away from direct sunlight or sources of heat, such as radiators or vents.
All of these measures will prevent the finish of the wood from fading, as well as help keep it resistant to stains, chips and other damages - making oak a durable and attractive option for your bathroom.

RV Repairs: Get Your Road Trip Back on the Road

Motorhome issues are difficult and often unexpected. Malfunctions can cause stress and create obstacles during a family road trip. In the worst-case scenario, the need for repairs can stop a fun trip in its tracks. When facing such setbacks, two questions come to mind: "How much is this going to cost?" and "How long until I can get back on the road?" That is why it is always important to plan for the unexpected and save extra money for potential repair expenses on your road trips.
RV Repairs and Upgrades
With regular maintenance, many problems can be avoided. Sometimes, however, unexpected troubles can arise that require immediate attention from an expert. The prospect of RV repairs, however, should not necessarily spark fear within you. Repairs can also bring modifications and enhancements, like new additions or technological features. Who wouldn't love making his or her vehicle even more deluxe with a built-in grill or a comfortable chair? In any case, making preparations for a variety of road conditions and circumstances will help you save big in the long run.
The types of internal and external repairs that can be performed on an RV are numerous. If you are not an expert in this area, leave any desired modifications up to those who know what they are doing. Professionals are trained to ensure proper RV function. An experienced technician should be well informed and know how to find and install the perfect additions to your vehicle.
Adventurously Exploring the Road
Adventures in life are what you make them. In other words, they can be as great or horrible as you want them to be. Never be afraid to venture into the unknown. There are always a million reasons not to do something, but it only takes one action that could lead to an unforgettable experience.
Once you have implemented all the necessary RV repairs and adjustments, you can enjoy all that a road trip has to offer. Traveling in mobile homes usually turns out to be an amazing adventure that creates memories for a lifetime. Seeing natural and man-made spectacles is one way of giving life meaning. Furthermore, experiencing "life on the road" is an adventure in and of itself. Travel is a wonderful luxury that you should enjoy with the least amount of interruptions possible.
Maintaining your vehicle and home-away-from-home should always be a top priority. RV repairs are necessary and should not cause excessive stress when left in the hands of trusted professionals.