26 May 2017

Delicious Decisions – 10 Steps Toward Creating a Successful Restaurant

You have a passion for food and you want to share it by serving up the best there is on offer. Your dream to share tasteful dishes and tantalising flavours all boils down to culinary success in the restaurant business. And let’s face it, we live in a fast-paced society where eating out is a big part of life these days. But how do you make your restaurant stand out over the rest of the crowd?

Your restaurant is going to be a reflection of you and you should plan and set goals.
You need to make decisions on everything from lighting to signage and even as important as where to keep everything cold. Taking the stress out of this big decision, take a look at options such as Butler Equipment commercial refrigeration when deciding on your commercial kitchen catering needs. But as always in business, there’s plenty more to consider.


One of the early steps involves creating your restaurant master plan.
What do you want the overall feel of your restaurant to be? Think about things including the menu, the type of service you want to provide, the direction you want your restaurant to take over time. Try to delve into the mind of your guests as they will ultimately play a big part in how your restaurant concept will play out.


When it comes to running a successful restaurant, location is paramount.
Making this decision will depend on a number of factors including your target customer base (upper market, families, young couples, etc.), if you’re up against competitors or the only restaurant of its kind, budget and what will meet your business needs.

Have a business plan

You will be making lots of plans for your restaurant venture but the most important one of all is creating a business plan. This will help create a structure and clarify the direction of your company support as you grow, manage and develop your restaurant.


While money isn’t always everything, you need to ensure you have a budget.
Why? Overspend and you could find yourself in trouble. Don’t spend enough and you might find you aren’t meeting the needs of your customers.


Possibly one of the most important aspects to consider is your menu.
Your menu choices will say a lot about you as a business and ultimately bring your customers in. Keep it simple where possible, keeping in mind what type of restaurant you’re developing when deciding on dishes. Review your menu over time and revise if you find particular meals aren’t selling. Another option is to have seasonal menus that change over a set time period.


The right staff

These are the faces on the phone and the floor representing you.
Always pick staff that you feel are the right fit for your concept. You don’t want rude or forgetful people as the face of your business. Look for the talent that fits your business ideal and ensure all team members are trained to fit your business model.

The look and feel of your restaurant

What kind of atmosphere do you want to serve up to your customers?
First impressions are lasting ones and you want to impress from the minute people walk in the door. Consider comfort, signage, décor, staff, accessibility, the list is endless. You also want the visible look to be a reflection of you and the message you want to portray to your customers.

What is your standout secret?

What do you have that the next restaurant doesn’t?
Will you have a particular item on the menu that makes you stand out? Any restaurant can serve drinks, meals and a tasty dessert, but in order to stamp your mark on the restaurant scene, you need to find a tempting morsel to sell to your customers. Think secret sauces, new recipes or it could be as simple as the atmosphere.


How do you want people to find out about your restaurant?
How you market your business needs to be effective. Consider aspects such as advertising, social media, word of mouth and the impact they will have in marketing your business.


Always welcome feedback, both good and bad.
You want to hear what you’re doing right but also what is going wrong so you can improve on it. Embrace your customers as they are what keep you in business.

Running a restaurant isn’t easy but with a little patience and planning, you have the potential to set yourself up for success.

23 May 2017

Tips for Creating a Safe and Stylish Bathroom on a Budget

photo credit

Creating a safe bathroom to suit the entire family can be challenging. With little ones running around and the needs of aging parents, it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately, there are many modern bathroom designs and DIY projects that allow you to create a safe and stylish bathroom without breaking the bank.

Non-Slip Features
If your goal is to make your bathroom safer, non-slip mats can be used at the bottom of any bathtub or shower. Wooden models or silicon rock mats are a chic alternative to traditional bath matts. If you are unable to find a mat that fits your bathroom aesthetic, you can create your own out of any non-slip material.

Bathtub Safety
With safety in mind, consider a walk-in bathtub. These are ideal for family members with mobility issues because they grant those with disabilities the freedom to bathe on their own. It is common knowledge that many senior citizens end up in the emergency room every year due to bathing related accidents. However, this is not just an issue affecting seniors. Bathtub accidents affect around 235,000 people of all ages per year. With this information in mind, investing in a mobility aid is not a bad idea. Walk-in bathtubs can be an important part of fostering a sense of independence and dignity for many people. Many walk-in bathtub companies offer hundreds of unique designs fit for bathrooms of any size and suit any style. These tubs can be designed to include a built-in shower option and eliminate the danger of bathing for senior citizens. They can even be designed to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Since walk-in bathtubs average a depth of 2 and-a-half feet, they can create a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. Tubs can even be created with jacuzzi jets for extra luxury and relaxation. For those with unique health concerns, tubs can be equipped with built-in medical alert systems, so bathers can call for help should the need arise. This feature gives many users the peace of mind they lack when using traditional bathtubs.

Adding Your Style
A safe bathroom doesn’t have to be a drab one. Fun and creative DIY projects can help you to infuse your personal style into any bathroom. House plants can also be used to bring the outdoors in and create a relaxing ambience. A new lighting fixture can give an old, worn-out bathroom new life. An interesting chandelier or antique lamp might be just the ticket to reinventing your bathroom.

16 May 2017

6 Quick and Creative Clutter Hacks to Help You Organize your Home

Let's face it, clutter is a natural companion to having kids.

No matter how much of a clean-freak you might be, it's practically impossible to make sure that everything stays organized 24/7, particularly when your home isn't as spacious as you'd like. If you want the feel of a brand new home like the ones offered by Vision One Homes, without actually re-designing your entire home, then keep reading to see how you can banish the majority of that everyday mess and create that clean, new-home feel.

Sometimes, all it takes to clear up the jumble of books and toys is a little creativity, and some DIY sessions with your miniature interior designers.

Here, we're going to take a look at just a few simple ways that you can upgrade your home storage solutions (without breaking the bank).

1. Use Rain Gutters to Catch Knowledge
Ever thought about using a couple of cheap rain gutters in your house? The answer is probably "no", but you might be surprised at how cute this hack actually looks! A rain gutter can make a perfect bookshelf for kids, so long as you file down any sharp edges.

You can get these nifty DIY items in a range of different colors to match your child's room décor, and once they're installed, you can ask your kid to help you organize all of his or her favorite books into the perfect little display. You should end up with something like this:


2. Banish Dangerous Cords with Toilet Paper Rolls
Okay, so toilet paper rolls might not seem like the most glamorous organization tool, but they can actually look pretty stylish if you get your kids to help you stick on some decoupage paper and extra embellishments.

To help make the prettiest cord organizers around, ask your kids to design their own for their bedroom, and you can craft the ones that you use downstairs. The result should look a little like this:


3. Organize Drawers with Cereal Boxes
Speaking of cheap and crafty ways to organize your home, how about using a few old cereal boxes to clear out the clutter in your drawers? All you need to do is save your used cereal boxes, cut them in half, and cover them with some colorful paper.

Then, you can slot your boxes into your drawers to help you divide up some crucial space between magazines, documents, and other bits and pieces.


4. Turn a Picture Frame into a Dry-Erase Board
Need something to help you remember the billions of mommy-tasks you have to do each day?
How about an incredibly fashionable dry-erase board, that you can make at home?

All you need to do is frame a scrap of pretty fabric or paper, and hang the resulting item in a high-traffic area. You can use a dry-erase marker to jot down any notes you need to remember, and it'll clean off perfectly.


5. Use Velcro to Organize Teddies
Make sure that dearest teddy is always on hand- but off the floor with a little bit of Velcro. All you need to do is attach one side of the strip to a wall or door in your kids' bedroom, and attach the other (softer) side to the back of the teddy.

Instant organization, and your kids can have their favorite animals watching over them while they snooze.


6. Use Magnetic Spice Pots!
Want to make sure you're always ready to craft the perfect after-school snack?

Stop worrying about where you're going to place all your pots of spice and flavor, and simply stick them on the fridge instead! If you can't get your hands on some magnetic containers, you can simply use light-weight plastic ones and glue a cheap magnet to the bottom.

These magnetic pots will attach easily to your fridge, keeping them out of the way when you're cooking.


These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Check out this article on organizing your laundry room for even more ideas on getting the most out of the space you have; or go to visiononehomes.com.au and visit their blog for even more information on setting up your home.

Lighting Fixtures that Serve Best with These 3 Kitchen Styles

When you’re redesigning your kitchen, you want to make sure that it’s in a style that you will enjoy for at least the next half decade. If you redesign your kitchen only to dislike the backsplash, hardware, or light fixtures six months later, you will blow your budget and view the kitchen as a stressor, not as a place to prepare good food and sip espresso in the early mornings before you take off for the office.

If you’re in the process of deciding what to do with your kitchen but aren’t sure in which direction to head, read on about the three kitchen styles below!

The Traditional Kitchen
HGTV writes that the traditional kitchen is a mixture of French and English design. Mary Broerman, interior designer and owner of the MDB Design Group in Altadena, says that the “traditional kitchen design style is ‘warm and classic.’”

What is most powerful about the traditional kitchen is that it is a mixture of other designs, including colonial, rustic and country. Painting the cabinetry in warm colors and replacing the hardware with copper fixtures will make the kitchen feel warm and inviting. The kitchen will become a place for family and friends to congregate where everyone will dine on delicious breakfasts and talk over airy pastries.

But as you no doubt are already aware, a kitchen is not complete without appliances and light fixtures. For the traditional kitchen, going the steel appliance route would look out of place. Instead, opt for matte appliances in warm colors, like butterscotch yellow or eggshell. When it comes to the light fixtures, you will want focused pendant lighting that won’t distract from the theme of the kitchen but that will light it nicely. The Nora Lighting brand sold by Lumens retailers will complement the design of the kitchen and will light the main surfaces for a fully functional food prep and dining space.

The Old-World Kitchen
Old World design celebrates big, dark and ornate fixtures. Beautifully carved woods and leaded glass windows will bring your kitchen the old-world character it deserves. Marble countertops and richly designed tile backsplashes will make the space dynamic and provide the kitchen with a strong yet elegant look. Stainless steel appliance finishes work well in this space, combining old world aesthetics with new world functionality.

When it comes to the light fixtures, the bigger, the better. Consider hanging a chandelier or a large iron or dark wood hanging box light above the island or food prep station. For the flooring, use beautiful solid oak wood or cream-colored tile to provide a stark contrast between the cabinetry and flooring.

The Modern Kitchen
Perhaps the most popular of kitchen styles, the modern kitchen is all about clean, smooth surfaces, stainless steel appliances and a light feel punched with bright pops of color.

The kitchen should be light in color, this includes the cabinetry, countertops and in some instances, the flooring. However, the color of your flooring depends on how bright the kitchen is naturally. Does your kitchen have large windows that allow for lots of natural light, or is it positioned at the back of the house where it rarely sees the sunshine?

If it’s a naturally bright kitchen, think about laying down dark tiled flooring to provide a color contrast that will really bring vibrancy to the space.

To keep the space from feeling sterile, the DIY Network suggests installing under-cabinet lighting to help accentuate the wall space between the cabinetry and counter tops. Similar to the traditional and old style kitchen themes, use hanging lights that offer fully functional task lighting. Make sure the fixtures complement the space while also standing out; consider going with brightly colored fixtures in red, yellow or teal.

You use your kitchen every day. Whether it’s to heat up leftovers in the microwave or to make pasta from scratch, you occupy the space. Make the kitchen better part of your home by designing it to fit your tastes.

05 May 2017

Top 5 Trends in Home Security

The continuing evolution of cloud-based and wireless technologies has paved the way for amazing advancements in home security. These new developments are providing home owners with more convenient ways to monitor, secure and control everything from surveillance cameras and alarms to door locks and outdoor lighting with the quick touch of a button.

Many of the home security trends we are seeing in 2017 are largely centered on home automation technology, which has become increasingly streamlined for a more user-friendly experience.
Today’s “smart home” inventions have raised the bar substantially, offering greater flexibility to safeguard and monitor your home from any location. On another positive note: security systems featuring automated technology are becoming more and more affordable, and some predict that in the next five years, more than 75 percent of American households will be automated in some way.

Here are five of the biggest trends to look out for in the coming year.

Video alarm verification
Many home security systems have closed circuit recording that allows you to watch real time footage, as well as past events by searching the video recording. One of the new trends in home surveillance is cameras that are equipped with video alarm verification, which sends a short, 30-second video clip to your phone or tablet when suspicious movement is detected. Using the Internet, you can instantly download the video as well as pictures taken from the suspicious event.

Cloud-based technology
Smart residential security systems are increasingly using cloud-based services for storing pictures, music, video and other data. Why? Cloud–based technology can more efficiently handle complex processing (with fewer software glitches), giving homeowners a user-friendly platform for monitoring their home or smart devices remotely through their smart phone. Cloud storage sends your continuous or event-based video to remote servers, and can be viewed on-demand.  We are also seeing security system touchpads being replaced with a gateway or hub controlled through the cloud.

Security integration
Any good security system offers components that work together seamlessly and can be controlled depending on user preference. For instance, you can program your front door to unlock if the smoke alarm is triggered, or have a camera start recording when motion is detected. Many of the new security systems are using cloud-to-cloud communication to integrate components with an assortment of other “smart” devices that use Wi Fi and are either cloud-based or operated to support Amazon’s Echo. This cloud to cloud integration may help prevent the frustration felt by many consumers who are forced to use several smart phone apps to control their home security and automation features.

Wireless cameras with 2-way communication
Voice control technology has ushered in a new wave of smart home innovations that allow you to secure your home and control appliances, doors and devices with a single verbal command. This year, homeowners were treated to wireless security cameras featuring two-way communication, which allows you to remotely talk through the camera with the touch of a button.  If motion is detected by the camera, your smartphone app sends you an alert allowing you to talk to – and potentially scare off -- a possible intruder. This may be an effective first line of defense against robberies and theft.

Smart home gadgets
Just 10 year ago, the notion of having an intelligent abode seemed like a scene straight from The Jetsons. Nowadays, you can create and customize a smart home with connected devices that help you cook dinner, wake up, turn off the lights and control temperature based on your specific needs. Or you can go for a smart home system that is fully automated.

Here are some of the coolest gadgets that can make your pad just a wee bit smarter:

  • The LG Instaview Refrigerator with Internet cameras lets you remotely view your fridge to see if you’re out of milk, order groceries and send messages to loved ones. This smart fridge runs Windows and WebOS and is compatible with Amazon Alexa. 
  • Find out if a burglar is trying to break into your home with Cognitive Systems’ Aura, which detects disruptions in household signals and Wi-Fi caused by a person’s body. The device sends you an immediate alert if something appears to be amiss. 
  • Plug any device or appliance into the WeMo Insight Switch and you’ve suddenly got an intelligent device that can be controlled via your smartphone.

01 May 2017

Four Tips to Create a Beautifully Accessible Garden for Disabled Seniors


About 40 percent of people over the age of 65 have at least one disability, according to the United States Census Bureau, with about 15.7 million of these people suffering from mobility issues.  Many feel confined, forced to stay home, eventually succumbing to feelings of isolation. This sort of pervasive isolation later in life can trigger bouts of depression and sadness.

Thankfully, gardens can be therapeutic, with horticulture therapy being used in different forms of rehabilitation. Even though indoor and outdoor plants share similar elements, the unique outdoor setting of a garden has a unique effect. The garden setting inadvertently honors our primal baselines, as we are creatures that evolved in an environment intrinsic to nature. There is research proposing that there is an automatic, even subconscious reaction to nature.

These therapeutic gardens offer sensory stimulation to dementia patients. In a randomized controlled study, even the sites of murals depicting nature accompanied by natural sounds have been noted to reduce discomfort.

Many gardens tend to be inaccessible to those with mobility aids. However, there are certain things that your family or your assisted living facility can do to ensure that it is accessible to everyone.

  1. The Layout of the Garden Install several seats in the garden, under shaded areas. Gardens can be stimulating, with shady areas tempering the possibility for over-stimulation. If you have a large lawn, make sure that corners and headways have a curvature instead of straight lines. This will make it more accessible to those with mobility aids. Not only that, but this will help with maintenance, as you will not be required to maintain hard corners with specialized pruning tools. Instead of a pond that can pose a potential danger, use a low maintenance water feature to bring the visual interest of a pond without the heavy maintenance.
  2. Have Several Quiet Spaces Throughout the Garden Some people who are experiencing cognitive impairments may need the occasional quiet time to recollect. Designated quiet areas will ensure that everyone stays comfortable during an excursion. These areas should be shaded, with simple landscaping and away from working areas and potential sources of sound.
  3. Install Kneelers The aging population may not feel comfortable bending for an extended period. Kneelers are ground-level beds that are raised. 
  4. Make Tools Accessible Keep tools in a consistent location to help everyone remember where they go. This could be a designated shed for hand tools and garden materials. Use brightly colored tape to help misplaced tools, with long handled tools helping to ensure that no one overexerts themselves.

If you are creating a community garden for the public, use a survey to decipher what the community wants and needs. A survey can help to ensure that the garden is accessible. Encourage the community to visit the garden by showing your willingness to adopt to disabled visitors.