• Let’s Eat: 6 Tips For Planning Your Next Outdoor Dinner

    Event

    Simple table settings
    It’s more than likely that you’re having a low key, outside dinner party so it’s best to keep the table as simple as possible. Let the food be the main attraction and opt for white plates and simple cutlery. You can also skip the centerpieces because the idea is that you want your guests to talk to each other and pass the food with ease…not be looking past a giant vase to see each other.

    Get the lighting right
    Whether it’s stringing soft white, Christmas lights or investing in tea lights or small lamps, make sure that the light you choose gives off an ambient vibe. Tiki torches are also a good option to give off a large amount of light and can be used time and time again for other events!

    Ice is nice
    Make sure that you always have ice on hand in a watertight container. No one likes to eat outside and have to be going inside to top up on ice very 5 minutes. A nice metal bucket is a great thing to keep next to the dinner table.

    Music is key
    So you’re caught up in the food, the lighting, the setting but you’re still missing something. Music! Run an extension cord outside and play something mellow to match the atmosphere. Don’t turn up the volume too much because you still want people to interact without having to raise their voice. If after the meal you want to have a dance session, then you can crank it up!

    Bugs be gone
    Outside dinners mean one thing. Bugs. Always keep bug spray or citronella candles on hand because it’ll be no fun if your guests are biting into dinner and mosquitoes are biting them!

    Using the kitchen
    If you’re strapped for a big table or prefer your food piping hot, then it’s okay to utilize your kitchen. Make it the hub for people to serve themselves and then walk outdoors to sit and eat. Just be sure to keep all condiments and sauces on the table so people don’t have to get up again to dress their salads!

  • DIY Gallery Wall: A Great Way To Show Off Your Photos

    How To Decorating

    If you have a few pieces of art or photos of your family and friends that you want to put on display and you’re up for a simple and colourful DIY home project to tackle this weekend, then a gallery wall is for you! Check out how easy it is here:

    What you’ll need:

    • Damage-free adhesive hooks
    • Pencil
    • A level
    • Framed photos or pieces of art
    • Tape

    What to do:

    Decide on a layout
    Now the layout depends solely on your personal style. Are you more of a straightforward thinker? Then a simple circular arrangement might be for you. Are you more creative? Then you can try a spiral layout like the one below.

    Image via potterybarn

     

    Lay it out and place the hooks
    An easy trick that you can do, using a pencil and pieces of paper, is cut out the different shapes of your frames and stick them on your wall so you can see clearly where each piece is going. Once you’re satisfied, place your hooks and make sure everything is level! 

    Image via pbfingers

     

    Hang everything
    Hang your pieces, step back, and admire your reinvented wall! Don’t be afraid to experiment with colours, shapes and placement if you’re planning on creating another gallery wall in your home. Feel free to send us a photo of your DIY gallery wall on our Facebook or Twitter!

    Image via abeautifulmess

  • The Best Furniture Touches To Complete Your Home

    Decorating Home

    In your home you have the standard large pieces and appliances that you purchase like the fridge, the bed, the couch and so on. However, if life has taught us anything it’s that beauty is found in the little things. The magic of a beautiful coffee table or the functionality and added décor of a nightstand are examples of the fabulous finishing furniture touches (say that 3 times fast :D) you should invest in! Find pieces like these and more, online and in store, when you shop with us.

    Coffee Table
    Let’s start with an easy one, the coffee table. Think of a coffee table like a work of art that pulls your living room together in the middle. They can have a glass top to add a sleek and modern finish or they can be more solid for a functional feel. Either way, you can add some intriguing coffee table books or a vase and you’ll have an added piece of décor.

    Image via Pinterest

     

    Nightstand
    Nightstands add symmetry to your bedroom as well as extra storage for all the important things you need at arms reach like your glasses, a lamp, the book you’re reading, etc. Getting a matching nightstand set for your room frames your bed and makes it look extra cozy!

    Image via HGTV

     

    Desk
    Whether you work from home or your kids need a designated study space, a great looking desk fits the bill! You can opt for whichever material suits your home décor best and create a cozy and quiet space around it with rugs and bookcases for example.

    Image via cswt

     

    Bookcase
    Gone are the days when bookcases were just for books. Of course if you’re a book lover, you can stack your shelves with books galore but you can also use a bookcase as a form of decoration. Break up the books by adding your favourite pieces of art or vases to give it an off balanced, eclectic feel.

    Image via cubtab

    Chest of Drawers
    This is one of the more needed items in our post because some homes don’t come with enough cupboard space. A great, eye catching chest of drawers will help with storage and add another layer to your room. If you get one to match your bed frame, then you’re set!

    Image via intercon

  • Gather Round: How To Pick Your Next Dining Room Table

    Home

    Choosing any big-ticket piece of furniture for your home is a commitment (to say the least!). With factors to consider like style, shape, seating, comfort, colour, choosing a table can become a little confusing. Here are a few of our suggestions to help you when you head out to purchase your new dining room table.

    Start With Size
    You’ll want to start by measuring your dining area first to see how big or small your table needs to be. A good rule of thumb is to leave approximately 36 – 38 inches between your table and the wall so your guests have enough room to pull their chairs out. Another feature you can measure is the room between the seats themselves. You guests should have enough room to enjoy their dinner without bumping elbows!

     

    Move On To Shape

    Rectangular Tables: The traditional and always space friendly, rectangle table! These are great if you have a larger family because they offer the best comfort when it comes to seating.

    Round Tables: If you’ve got a small space, a round table is a great fit! They don’t have sharp corners and give a natural smoothness and flow to the room. Round tables also invite a close and intimate environment with guests because of the seating.

    Oval Tables: They’re just like round tables but don’t have as much of an intimate feel because of the oval shape. These are also an option if you like the feel of a round table but need more seating.

    Square Tables: The always modern square table is a fan favourite if you’re a fan of designing with symmetry. With a square table, everyone will be at an equal distance from one another thus inviting more conversation at your dinners!

     

    Think About Your Home Life
    Finally, you have to think about your life at home. Are you living alone? Do you have toddlers who like to paint on the furniture? Are you planning to decorate with a rustic or modern feel? Are you looking for something low maintenance? The last step to choosing a dining table is all on your and your personal taste for your home. Good luck shopping!

  • Creating The Perfect Home Office Space

    How To Home

    When you’re working from home, it’s not always about eating lunch whenever you want in your pajamas and daydreaming…well, not all the time anyways. :D If you’re working from home the best way to stay productive and not distracted is to have a designated workspace. Remember, your goal is not to make a dreary cubicle at home. Here are some tips to create the perfect home office space.

    Before you create the office space be sure to ask yourself questions like:

    • What type of work will I be doing?
    • Will clients be visiting the space?
    • When will I be doing the bulk of my work?
    • Will I be making video conference calls?

    Lighting
    If you have the opportunity to create your home office in a room that is flooded with natural light, take it! It will make the room feel lighter and you’ll have a window to add to your décor and look out of periodically.

    Supplies
    Think about how many pieces of equipment you’ll need like printers, routers, monitors, etc and map out how they will integrate into the space.

    Privacy
    You can’t be productive if you’re surrounded by distractions. When creating your home office, be sure that you think about your privacy so a room with a door or a room that is not too close to the main area of your home is essential. If you can’t avoid being in the thick of it, invest in a good pair of noise canceling headphones!

    Personality
    It’s an office space yes, but it doesn’t have to be dull. Be sure to decorate your space with things that motivate you. A good example would be framed photos of your family!

    No Clutter
    Just because you’re at home don’t get too comfortable in your space. Treat it just like the office and avoid letting too much clutter pile up. Set up storage spaces so your desk area or anything in your line of sight is clear.

  • 4 Simple One-Pot Recipes

    New Technology

    One-Pot meals are easy on your budget and cut down the clean up in your kitchen significantly! Check these recipes out for some inspiration for dinner tonight. If you try any of these or have one-pot recipes of your own, be sure to share them with us on the Courts Cook App! The download is FREE and it’s available on both Apple and Android.

    Apple download link:
    https://itunes.apple.com/tt/app/courts-cook-app/id1053947322?mt=8

    Android download link:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.unicomer.cookapp&hl=en

     

    Spanish Chicken and Potatoes
    This dish is perfect for those days when you feel like you need comfort food. Rich and hearty and healthy enough so don’t feel like it’s a cheat day!

    Full recipe here: http://pinchofyum.com/one-pot-spanish-chicken-potatoes

    Image via pinchofyum

     

    One-Pot Beef Lasagna
    Lasagna is a great meal to make if you need to feed a big family or would like leftovers for a good couple of days! Packed with beef and your favourite cheese, this one pot meal is a must.

    Full recipe here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/alvinzhou/heres-how-to-make-lasagna-in-a-skillet?utm_term=.gqw8ry9wk#.koOPKDRgZ

    Image via buzzfeed

     

    One-Pot Basil Shrimp Pasta
    Pasta is always a fan favourite to make because it’s easy and you can usually add almost any ingredient to make the perfect blend! Try this shrimp pasta recipe tonight and even if you aren’t feeling shrimp, swap it out for chicken or sautéed vegetables!

    Full recipe here: http://cookiesandcups.com/one-pot-shrimp-pasta/

    Image via cookiesandcups

     

    Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup With Spinach & Olives
    Lastly, we couldn’t forget an option for the vegetarians! Lentils are high in protein and let’s face it, are just amazingly delicious in any dish. This soup is a hearty and healthy option whether you’re a vegetarian or not!

    Full recipe here: http://www.isachandra.com/2013/03/smoky-tomato-lentil-soup-with-spinach-olives/

    Image via isachandra

  • Laundry 101: Some Of The Do’s and Don’ts

    Cleaning Home

    Let’s start with the things that you should do:

    • DO separate dark colours from light. It’s the first lesson we all hear before we learn how to do laundry!
    • DO wash your jeans or coloured pants inside out. This will help to keep their deep colours lasting longer. A good rule of thumb is to also wash new dark coloured jeans separately the first time because those colours tend to bleed through and can ruin your other clothes.
    • DO hang clothing that you don’t want to shrink. Some fabrics like cotton, wool, or cashmere tend to shrink with the heat from the dryer. Spare yourself the surprise and hang dry those items. For the ladies, the hang dry rule also applies to bras so the cups keep their shape and last longer.
    • DO use hot water to wash bed sheets. This will kill and sanitize any germs on the sheets and can help keep allergies at bay.
    • DO hand wash any items that have special embroidery, fringe, sequins, decorations etc. to avoid them falling off or getting caught on other pieces in the wash. Sometimes you can get away with flipping the piece inside out but it’s best to be safe and hand wash. This also applies to zippers; be sure to zip them up so they don’t snag on anything.
    • DO read those labels! Some garments are dry-clean only, can’t take bleach, need low heat, have to dried be flat, etc. Read the label carefully so you don’t ruin your favourite pair of pants!


    Here are some of the things you shouldn’t do:

    • DON’T ever try to fit in more clothes than the washer can hold. Sometimes you want all the laundry done at once but you’ll be leaving no room for the clothes to be washed thoroughly and you’ll be putting stress on the washing machine’s barrel that can cause it to malfunction.
    • DON’T use too much soap. Cut back on the amount of soap you use by ¼ - ½ because using too much can actually cake up under the collars of shirts or pockets and cause bacteria to grow.
    • DON’T leave your laundry in the machine for too long. Sometimes we forget that we’re doing laundry (It’s true) and leave the wet clothes in the machine. This will cause mould to grow and you’ll have to wash the batch over again.
  • Some Of Your Bedding Questions Answered

    Bed

    When should I change my mattress?
    A good rule of thumb to how long you should keep a mattress is 7 – 10 years! That’s a long time to get accustomed to one mattress but it’s good to check when its time may be up so you can get a new one and spare yourself the back pain.

    How can I make my mattress last longer?
    Unfortunately, there’s no real way to make a mattress last longer other than regular care such as getting a good base, investing in a mattress cover/protector from the start, rotating it regularly and following any manufacturer cleaning instructions!

    Should I be sleeping on a soft or hard mattress?
    It’s not so much an argument over soft or firm but more which mattress will support the right parts of your body. Hard mattresses have been known for facilitating a neutral spine position but have also been linked to causing problems with persons who have lower back pain. Soft mattresses are said to reduce back and joint pain as they form to the shape of your body but can push the spine out of alignment and reduce the quality of sleep. So it’s best to consult your doctor about what type of mattress would be best suited for you!

    How do I choose the right size bed?
    That all depends on your space! Be sure to measure the room so you go in knowing exactly how big of a bed you can get without sacrificing crucial space. You should also consider factors like, having room for your spouse, the price and the brand before you make a solid decision. Remember, when it comes to your back, cheaper is not always better as it will never be a good investment in the long run.

    What’s the deal with thread count?
    Thread count refers to the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch of material. Essentially, this means that the higher the number the better the sheet. Usually sheets with the thread count of 250 – 300 are a safe bet because in recent years, manufacturers have been cheating the system by winding two threads together to get a higher number but not necessarily a softer sheet!

    Why are hotel beds so comfortable?
    Ever been to a hotel and wondered why the bed feels so much more heavenly than the one you have at home? Well, hotel mattresses are changed way more frequently so they will always offer better support even though they’re being used. They’re also usually in the sizes Queen or King, which are bigger than the average homeowners mattress, giving you a better and more comfortable sleep because you have more space! And to add to that, hotels also keep your bedding crisp by ironing your pillowcases, sheets and duvets!

  • 5 Easy Ways To Decorate Your Home With Plants

    Decorating Home

    Kitchen Window
    Make your kitchen window a sanctuary with small plants. They’ll be a great addition to the space and will benefit from all the natural light.

    Photo via brit.co

     

    Create A Jungle
    Create different levels with your plants to cover a space or corner of your room to create this effect of an indoor jungle. Plus, you can show off the great pots the plants are in too!

    Photo via brit.co

     

    Shelf It
    If you have shelving built into your walls or entertainment units with spaces to fill, put small plants there to bring an extra pop of décor!

    Photo via popsugar

     

    Corner Plant
    If you look around your living room, you’re guaranteed to have a space that’s dying for a corner plant! Get a nice pot with a medium to tall plant and place it next to your couch to create balance.

    Photo via Pinterest

     

    Hanging Plants
    You know those great hanging plants you probably have outside hanging up? Bring one inside and place it on a shelf so the leaves hang down the side creating a waterfall of greenery in your space! This one is definitely our favourite look.

    Photo via melyssagriffin

  • How To Take Better Photos With Your Smartphone

    How To Mobile/Tablets

    Focus on one subject
    Let’s reign that focus in. A busy photo isn’t always a great photo. Don’t get us wrong, the background can be exciting but many of the greatest photos have just one interesting subject as the main focus. So take some time to set up the shot that you want and play with how you want to focus on your subject, then click!

    Make sure the lens is clean
    You clean the face of your phone but when was the last time to wiped the camera lens? You’d be surprised how smudged it gets from the dirt and fingerprints collected in your pocket, your bag, etc. Always make sure you give the lens a little wipe before you snap a pic so it’s crystal clear!

    Use gridlines to balance your shot
    In photography, an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total to achieve balance and specific points of interest to your pics; a rule of thirds. Switch on the grid function on your phone to keep your pics balanced.

    Find different perspectives
    When you see a pic in your head, try flipping the angle and see if it makes the image more intriguing! Unique and unexpected angles can add depth, height and shed new light on your subject. Plus, you’re using your smart phone so it’s lighter, smaller and easier to manipulate to get the perfect, off angle shot.

    Use natural light
    The flash on your smart phone can be quite unforgiving and harsh. Let's face it, they make people look washed out and that’s just not flattering. Take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find and play with shadows and silhouettes. If you still think your image isn’t bright enough, you can always edit that.

    Avoid zooming
    So you see something you want to photograph in the distance…naturally you’re tempted to zoom in on it. We’re here to tell you to stop. Do. Not. Zoom. When you zoom what happens is you compromise the quality and sharpness of the photo and you’ll end up with something that looks grainy, blurry and pixilated. What you want to do is get as close to your subject as possible and then crop your photo after. Cropping is actually just sampling pixel info that was actually recorded so you’ll keep the quality up and have more space to play with.

    Keep it steady
    In photography a steady hand is crucial especially when you’re taking photos in low light. What you can do is buy a mini tripod for your camera or prop it up on something to keep it sturdy whilst the camera tries to take in as much light as possible.

    Play with reflections
    Reflections make for amazing photos! Look for opportunities in puddles, larger bodies of water, mirrors, sunglasses, drinking glasses, windows, and metallic surfaces and play with abstract images.

    Edit and don’t filter too much
    So you took a great photo but want to tweak it. No worries! You can use smart phone editing tools to brighten, up your contrast, align, and basically do anything! It’s best to keep editing to the bare minimum, which means not over using all those filters they give you so that your photo stays in its most raw and beautiful state. Edit but don’t go crazy!

    Get an external lens
    If smart phone photography is something you take really seriously, then don’t be afraid to get fancy with it. There are a ton of external lenses that you can purchase and attach to your phone; from fish-eye to wide-angle lenses you’ll open up your range of perspectives 100%!

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