New Affordable Home Personal Assistants from Amazon and Google

You know that we have entered the age of the Internet of Things, with these AI (Artificial Intelligence) devices that soon will be found in most connected homes. By now, you may have heard about these hot new home tech devices developed by the two tech giants, Amazon and Google. They’re both quite affordable, so it’s time to give them a try. Plus, they make the perfect gift for any tech lover that you know.

Amazon’s Echo Dot comes in black or white and can be wall mounted or sit on a shelf

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon has developed the Echo Dot, which is a compact and more affordable version of the Amazon Echo, without the larger speaker.

The Echo dot is a puck-sized personal home assistant, named “Alexa”. You can ask Alexa many things, such as daily weather forecasts, news updates, and even jokes. Alexa will tell you what your day looks like, once connected to your calendar, as well as the day and time. It can sit discreetly on a shelf or can be mounted on a wall.

The Google Home Mini
By Mrschimpf – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63705836

Google Home Mini

The Google Home Mini is powered by Google Assistant. Also puck-shaped, it has a soft mesh cloth covering. It comes equipped with the Google Home Assistant which can answer all your questions regarding your day’s events, control your lights, play some music, and start your TV at your request. It’s like having your own personal assistant.

Features

Both devices will play your favorite music when requested, through the built-in speaker is not great. Instead, it comes with an audio port so that you can plug in your existing speakers, or connect a wireless one via Bluetooth.

Once you’ve downloaded the app on your smartphone, you can follow the steps to connect to your WiFi network.  There are all kinds of skill sets you can add that are provided by different companies and available through the app.

One of the best things they do, however, is the smart home control. If you have any other device, such as the Nest, Honeywell, or Hive to name a few, you can enable your personal assistant to control them. Then you can just walk into the room and ask to have the temperature turned up the lights switched on or off, the TV, and on it goes.

Fight over App Add-ons

Currently, the two tech companies are battling over the YouTube app availability. Unfortunately, this all becomes confusing and unpleasant for the consumer. We can only hope they will “play nice”, and keep app availability open to all.

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5 Easy Ways to Decorate for the Holidays with a Rustic Style

Decorating for the Christmas holiday season doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can add a festive touch to your home or office with simple touches.

Branches and Greenery

One of the easiest things you can do is go for a hike in your neighborhood, backyard, or even a drive in the country and gather some branches. Red ones are nice but even plain ones can work. The great thing is that they are free. You can leave them as they are, or even spray paint them white or silver if you’re feeling creative and have the space to do this. Place the branches in a tall glass vase. Check your local dollar store, if you don’t have one. Buy a 20-50 light string of white lights and wind them throughout the vase. Set your vase with twigs and lights on a table or hallway chest near an outlet, plug them in and voila—a little holiday magic!

While you’re out in the bush, cut some spruce branches that you can add in a vase. This will add a lovely scent to your home. If you gather enough branches, you can dangle small ornaments from them.

Star

All you need is 5 equal lengths of wood, of any type—wooden dowels, branches or flat 1 inch wide pieces. Lay them out in a star pattern and use hot glue and twine to fasten the points of the star. Wind clear white lights around the star and you have a chic and rustic star to hang or lean on a shelf!

Tree

Create a unique Scandinavian style “tree”, using 2 roughly 6’ to 7’ pieces of wood, leaning together in an inverted “V”. Add a rustic metal or paper star purchased from your local hobby or dollar store to the top. Effortlessly, drape clear white lights around the wooden frame to create a tree shape.  Dangle a few silver ornaments, lightweight twig reindeer, snowflakes etc.

Tres chic!

Table Centerpiece

Simply place pine branches, pine cones and small silver and gold balls and perhaps some small white or red fake berries and a silver star garland around a cake stand.  Add a pillar candle from the dollar store to the center. So simple, and so beautiful. Now you are all set to entertain your holiday guests!

Gift Wrapping

Rustic is the way to go with your gift wrapping. Buy a roll of brown kraft wrapping paper at the local dollar store, and some twine, or red and white twisted ribbon. Leftover Christmas cards from the previous year make great gift tags when they are trimmed. Simply punch a hole through the tag and add your ribbon. Adding a wooden star or similar small ornament, or a sprig of red berries gives a nice touch.

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5 Steps to a Super Clean Fridge

You open your fridge one day and you’re confronted with a disgusting odor, not to mention that you can’t find the jar that you’re looking for. Time to give it a super clean out!

You can get your fridge looking and smelling fantastic in a few quick steps!  Make your fridge the kitchen showpiece it’s meant to be!  All you need is vinegar, baking soda, baby oil, and some microfiber cloths.

  1. The first thing to do is to turn off your fridge and remove all the items inside. This is when you can toss anything that is past its fresh peak, and
  2. Dump the contents of any containers of leftovers, that have started to grow fuzzy things, and are morphing into some unknown shape!
  3. Take out all the shelves and bins. Fill a bathtub with 6 to 8 “ of warm water with ½ cup of baking soda.  Soak everything for about 15 minutes. Then, rinse and dry.
  4. Dissolve 2 tbsp of baking soda in 4 cups of warm water. Take a microfiber cloth and wipe the interior of the fridge. Looking better already, right?
  5. Wipe the exterior of the fridge as well, paying particular attention to the door gasket. Clean the grime buildup between the folds of the door gasket.  Use a cloth wrapped around the blade of a kitchen knife to get in between the layers. Stainless doors get a special treatment with a microfiber cloth spritzed with one part vinegar to 2 parts water. Then, remove the streaks with a little baby oil on another microfiber cloth. Flip the cloth over and polish to a nice shine!

Now don’t wait too long before the next cleaning. Once a month is all it takes to keep your fridge looking and smelling fresh and clean!  No more cringing when your mother-in-law comes to visit. And just think what a pleasure it will be to put your groceries away, plus the next search for that recipe ingredient will be a lot easier. Who knew that a simple fridge clean out could have such an effect!

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12 Steps to a Stress-free Move

Near the top of everyone’s list of least favorite things to do, is moving. Whether it is a move across the street, to the other end of the same city or across countries or even continents, the misery is the same.

Are you suffering from pre-moving day stress?

Luckily, there are some ways to make this trek with all your worldly belongings a little less painful.

  1. Sort all your stuff. It’s truly amazing what we can collect over time. And depending on the size of our families, these items can quickly multiply. This is the perfect time to get rid of extra clutter. It’s time to be ruthless and clean out your closets, drawers, and sheds. How many vases do you really need? Is it worthwhile to hang on to those books you’ll never read again? And maybe it’s time to part with that coat you haven’t worn in 4 years. It’s important to cut down on the items you’ll be moving, so be strong and donate, sell or trash. Sort by category and keep like items together, such as gardening tools, seasonal décor, books and documents, toiletries. It’ll make the packing and most importantly, the unpacking, a lot easier.
  2. Plan the Moving Day A day mid-week and not at month’s end will make it easier to line up movers. Everyone seems to move at month’s end and movers book up quickly.  Makes some calls to compare rates. It’s also a good idea to check any recommendations or references they may provide. If you are relying on family and friends, the more hands the better! Don’t forget to reward them with a meal such as pizza and drinks, half way through the loading to keep everyone fueled and hydrated.
  3. Create a master Moving List  There are so many things to consider when you are moving, beyond the actual packing, that it’s easy to miss something. It’s a good idea to set up a timeline where you can check off what’s done, and easily see what still needs doing. Items to include: Set Yard Sale Date (if having one), which leads to cleaning and pricing items, obtaining signs and tables, and advertising; arranging for utility hook-ups, and notification of move out day; change of address at Post Office, and setting aside time to purchase any items needed before moving into the new home.
  4. Pack a Moving Day Box Fill a clear tote with items that you might need right away when you get to your new home.  For example, you could include items such as paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning cloths, soaps, garbage bags and cleaning products.
  5. Pack an overnight bag Include a change of clothing, PJs and any toiletries or meds that you will need.
  6. Set aside a pail full of leaning supplies to have handy when you arrive in the new home. You’ll want to clean the bathrooms and wipe out drawers, cupboards, and closets before putting things in place.
  7. Label Boxes Keep similar items together in a box and label each box with a general description of the contents.  Use clear tape to tape the boxes shut.  It’s easier to stack closed boxes. Also, add a strip of colored tape on the top left corner of the box to indicate the room, or floor of the house it should go to when unloaded. You could differentiate between essential or non-essential items. It may seem obvious, but heavy items should go in the smaller boxes and keep the larger boxes for the lighter things.
  8. Use clear plastic bags for soft items, such as cushions, blankets, and comforters. Ziploc bags are great for keeping smaller items together.
  9. Take pictures of any electronic hookups, garden beds or furniture or picture arrangements that you want to duplicate.
  10. Buy minimal food At least 2 weeks before you move, decrease the amount of perishable food that you are buying to minimize what you’ll have to throw out before you move. Clean/defrost the fridge at least 2 days before you move.
  11. When loading the truck it’s a good idea to load the heavy furniture in first. It’s super handy to rent a dolly for moving day. It’s great for the really heavy items like appliances, but also for piling on a large group of boxes and moving them in one trip.
  12. Book a Sitter for the day or even overnight if you can. Moving day can be upsetting and dangerous for kids and pets, so arrange to have them off-site in a safe environment during the move.
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8-Year-Old ‘Kidpreneur’ Launches Step Stools for Kids

8 year old Canadian “Kidprenuer” has launched his business creating one of a kind step-stools that are nontoxic and sustainable. If you thought that was good, hes donating $10 of each purchase to help the families affected by childhood cancer.

Owen’s company Nice Bench Co, started when he decided to make and paint his little sister a bench. His grandparents and aunts loved the bench so much that it fueled Owen to make more. He built 12 more from scrap wood on Christmas day!

The Nice Bench Co Step Stools - Donates for Childhood Cancer Causes

The wood for the benches at Nice Bench Co comes to them in air-dried rough-hewn planks harvested from a neighbors private sustainable Forrest in Novar, Ontario, Canada.Owen’s dad cuts the planks to size before Owen planes, routers and assembles with a drill, screws and glue. The detail-oriented young CEO then glues wooden plugs to cover each of the screw holes. Each “nice bench”, as Owen calls them, is then sanded and finished with biodegradable, zero VOC milk paint. Canadian manufacturer Homestead House Paint Co. generously donates some of the milk paint for Owen’s kidpreneur enterprise. Owen gives each bench another careful sanding before sealing with Homestead House Paint Co.’s hemp oil or bees wax. The standard color palette was selected by Owen and his mother, who oversees production and quality. Owen’s older brother gives the final look over before signing off.

nice-bench-co-sustainable-step-stools

The Nice Bench Co was launched on Facebook in April 2017, and the first sale was celebrate 20 days later. Since then Owen has run out of wood twice. He has been able to donate $150.00 in gas cards to The Northern Ontario Families of Children with Cancer (NOFCC), helping to offset travel expenses for Northern families traveling to and from The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

When Owen is asked about his goals for the business, he simply says “I want to be on the ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ and start a charity to help children with cancer”.

Owen’s benches are handmade and a one-of-a-kind 100% Product of Canada.

Childhood cancer research is severely underfunded, with only 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget spent on children’s cancer research in the U.S., and just 3% in Canada. Owen hopes he can help change those stats and bring greater awareness to childhood cancer.

 

 

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5 Tips to Get Spring Cleaning Essentials Done in Record Time!

The snow has melted, the winter coats have been put away, birds are chirping, and the sun is shining–it’s time for that annual spring ritual of cleaning your home.

It’s also the perfect time to get organized and declutter your home and workspace, and at the same time, improve your health and well-being. That piled-up clutter can impact your mind and body as well as mess with any plans to have guests over! You will be able to sleep better and gain mental clarity. The added bonus is the satisfaction of donating unused items to a charity so others can benefit.

It can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Not everyone is a fan– but here are some tips to ease you into taking it on, and get you out enjoying the warm spring air in no time!

  1. Follow a plan:

Work from the top down, inside to outside.

Pace yourself. Do one room at a time. Or just part of a room, like a closet, or drawer. Set aside a few hours each day to tackle the cleaning jobs, leaving some time to put your feet up, enjoy some spring sunshine and relax.

Multi-task, have laundry going while sweeping the floor for example.

Do the easy stuff first, take out the garbage and recycling, gather up the laundry, etc.

  1. Get the right tools:

Invest in good rubber gloves to deal with the dirty stuff.

Gather up the cleaning tools, dusters and cloths, and garbage bags, you will need. Use a decent mop with a squeeze mechanism for wringing it out plus a heavy-duty pail with a measuring scale.

Use washable, reusable microfiber cloths instead of paper towels.

A high-quality HEPA vacuum is one of the best cleaning products you can arm yourself with. It will remove dirt and dust, allergens and impurities in the air.  Make sure you put all those attachments to use getting all the dust bunnies out from under furniture, cobwebs and get into all the corners.

There are even apps you can download for your phone that help you organize and set up tasks and create checklists. For iPhone there is “Cleaning Checklist”, and “Spotless”. The Android choices are “FlyHelper” and “Spring Cleaning Checklist”.

  1. Don’t do it alone

If you know someone that is willing to help it will make the job more fun and any decisions easier to make with an arbitrary opinion.

Enlist the help of your partner for all the heavy stuff. Spring cleaning can include a lot of reaching and lifting and be quite exhausting.

  1. End the clutter!

Begin each room, by doing a quick sweep, collecting items that need to be sorted or put away into a bin, to be dealt with later.

Going through piles and piles of stuff, making decisions on what to keep and what to toss, and dealing with memorabilia can be difficult and emotional. Sometimes there are things we just want to hang on to, even if we don’t have the storage space for it. My brother-in-law is a good example of this. He has 75% of his home’s basement filled from floor to ceiling, with boxes filled with memorabilia, from old cameras to worn-out hockey skates. His wife is not too enthusiastic.  She is always apologetic to their children since they will one day deal with it.  Ease the guilt of getting rid of stuff by donating to a charity like the Canadian Diabetes Association.

When you’re done, make sure there is a place for everything so that clutter doesn’t build again. Add shelves, and hooks for hats, gloves, and bags.  A disorganized home can increase your stress level.

  1. Hire a professional

for things like carpet and upholstery cleaning, and window cleaning if you have hard to reach ones.

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Be On-Trend with These Paint Colors for 2017

Sophisticated hues take center stage, according to Behr®

I had a look at some rooms painted in these new paint colors for 2017, and I have to admit, I like them all! While I never been a lover of pink walls, a really light shade of pink on the walls, paired with some gray and white furniture would be a lovely start to a bedroom color scheme. Add some bright reds, chocolate brown, and hot pink cushions and it could be dynamite!

  1. Confident colors for composed creative types: dusky blues, spicy reds, lime greens
  2. Composed colors for the traditionalists: earthy greens and taupes
  3. Comfortable range lists light pastels, pinks, blues and yellows

Benjamin Moore’s® paint color of the year is named “shadow”. It’s lovely! A dusty muddy shade of gray and eggplant.

“It ebbs and flows with its surroundings, and light brings it to life. Rich, royal amethyst can fade into the soft lilac-grey of distant mountains or morph into lustrous coal. Indulge your mysterious side. Let Shadow set the mood.”

—Ellen O’Neill, Creative Director

If you are drawn to colors, by their names, you will also love these: Pink bliss, Wish, Stormy Monday, Sea Star, Gentlemen’s Gray, Porcelain to name a few…

Dulux® Paints names its paint color of the year: Starry Sky, which is a mid-intensity grey-blue.

The Pantone® color institute, known for its color management system of the print industry are also jumping in with colors pulled from the film industry, most notably Star Wars: The Force Awakes, The Peanuts Movie, and Disney’s Inside Out.

These palettes have dreamy names such as Day Dreaming, At Ease, Forest Bathing, and Florabundant.

It’s chosen color of the year is about the brightest neutral you’ll come across! It’s a bright green, named Greenery. If you’re looking for a bright color to revitalize a room, this one’s for you!

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Growing Herbs Indoors

Growing herbs indoors is an easy, inexpensive way to have them fresh and handy for snipping into your favorite dishes as you prepare them. Anyone who enjoys cooking knows the difference in flavor and aroma between using fresh herbs over dried. Cooking with herbs also means being able to use less salt but keeping all the taste­, a definite bonus for anyone watching their sodium intake.

Choosing Your Plants

Easy ones:

Parsley

Bay tree – slow grower

Kaffir Lime tree – leaves are used in Thai cooking

Lemongrass – doesn’t even need soil. Just put it in a glass with water. It will send out roots, and new sprouts with many new stalks, that can be cut off from the bottom.

Mint – easy to grow, but invasive, so it needs it’s own pot.

More Difficult:

Rosemary

Oregano

Thyme

Hardest:

Basil – needs a warm and sunny spot.

Cilantro

Sage

It’s better to buy plant seedlings from a greenhouse. It’s much harder to grow from seed. Terra cotta clay pots are best, but any pot with good drainage will do. Bigger is better, so your plants have room to grow. A good idea is to place your pots on a tray covered in pebbles so that air can circulate up through the drainage holes.

Use a premium potting mix with good drainage. Don’t be tempted to bring in soil from outside. You’ll end up bringing in organisms that are balanced by nature but won’t be under indoor growing conditions.

Ideal Location

For optimal light, your herb pots will do best in a location facing south or southwest. They will need a minimum of 4 hours of light each day, though 6 to 8 hours is optimal. If you can’t get enough light from the sun, consider fluorescent lights placed about 4 to 6 inches away from the plants. A windowsill is a good spot since the plants don’t mind cool temperatures at night so long as you keep the plants from touching the glass, so the cold doesn’t nip the leaves. Dry air will be hard on the herbs, so if that’s the case, you can give them a weekly misting. If the plants become too spindly, it’s a signal that they are not getting enough light.   Brown spots on the leaves mean that they are burning, and probably getting too much light. Rotate your pots regularly to keep a well balanced shape to your plants.

Watering and Feeding

The most common mistake people make is to overwater. If leaves are yellowing, the plant likely is getting too much water. The rule of thumb is to let the plants thoroughly dry out. While they don’t like to be overwatered, they do require consistent watering.

Fertilize about once a month. If the plants seem to have stopped growing, they probably need food.

Time to Enjoy!

Enjoy your herbs often. Cutting encourages growth, but don’t cut more than a third at a time.

Finely chop or cut your fresh herbs. The more surfaces you expose, the more flavor that you will release.

Don’t overcook your herbs because their flavors and aromas can be lost with too much heat.

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10 Budget-Friendly Home Upgrades

Spruce up your home with these low-budget upgrades to add new style and value!

 

  1. Paint

If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, then painting walls in any room of your home is the way to go. New color on the walls will instantly freshen up a room. And while you are removing anything hanging on the walls, it will also give you a chance to reassess the arrangement and maybe try something new, like adding shelves, a photo collage of travel or family pictures, or an entirely new piece of art.

  1. New Lighting

Updating older light fixtures is another good way to give a room a new look. A new lighting fixture or ceiling fan can add instant drama. If a completely new one is out of the cards, even installing a dimmer switch can increase the functionality of an overly bright light.

  1. Installing a Kitchen Backsplash

can add instant glamour and bling. There is a wide range in pricing whether you go with white ceramic subway tiles, glass mosaic, or a combination of the two. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, they are not too difficult to install yourself. You will need a tile cutter, which many rental services and hardware stores carry. You can even simplify the job by installing a handy pegboard to hang all your kitchen utensils.

Not only will it look good, it will make kitchen cleanups so much easier.

 

  1. New Cabinet Hardware

Another relatively quick and easy upgrade is to change out the kitchen and bathroom cabinet hardware. The only thing that might take some time is choosing one, since there are so many choices! Make sure you measure the distance between the existing screw holes so that the new ones you buy will fit without any redrilling.

  1. Paint Cabinets

A more time-consuming, but very rewarding task would be to paint your cabinets. If they are dated wood, wood laminate or metal ones, painting them a fresh white, or trendy shade of gray will make your kitchen look brand-new and add loads of value.

  1. New Faucets

If you think of the knobs, handles, and faucets as the jewels of the kitchen, this is where you can add the shine and the bling!   Plus faucets can add a lot more functionality if you include a spray function, so the upgrade is not just aesthetic.

  1. Door Knobs and Handles

While you are shopping for the cabinet hardware, you might also want to take a look at doorknobs and handles. Changing out the doorknobs may be all it will take to give interior or exterior doors a new look.

  1. Moldings and trim

really class up a room. Replacing baseboards, adding crown molding, or a chair rail will give a space a more finished and refined look. If you are confident with the measuring and cutting, you can tackle the job yourself or leave it to the experts. Getting the mitered corners clean and exact takes some skill! Sometimes just painting older wood trim will give it the new look you’re after.

  1. New Window Dressing

Adding blinds, new curtains, or both, in fresh new patterns and colors will instantly update your home. You’ll need to consider issues such as privacy, insulation value, and style.

  1. Enhance the front entry

All that might be needed is a fresh new coat of paint for your front door to add instant curb appeal. Add in a new door wreath, some urns with seasonal plantings, a new doormat, perhaps new house numbers and voila!

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7 Home Interiors For Christmas Holidays

Christmas is a time of year when we are thankful, celebrate the wonderful year and share the blessing we have with others. We gather with family and friends, give each other gifts and sing joyful songs.  It’s a time to enjoy the people in your life.

 

Christmas Decor

Creating a festive ambiance for your home will definitely help to feel the Christmas season. Here are the 7 home interiors you can try to you home.

1.     White Christmas

If you like to make it elegant and clean look this holiday, try the all-white decor scheme. Color white is a beautiful way to keep your home to look peaceful and still. Just add up a few silver accents to make it sparkle and shine.

2.     Rustic red

A natural warmth and comfort of wood is a good idea to make color red a fabulous addition to the room. It complements any various tones of the wood.

3.     Greenery and gold

Having a natural green like Christmas tree and garlands can make a home fresh and attractive. Just add some gold against the green, it will liven up the décor.

4.     Sleek Scandinavian

Scandinavian design is a sleek and airy look. It is a basic black and white colour palette that help keeps the space streamlined and stylish. You can also add some red and green for a dramatic contrast.

5.     Silver and gold

It’s a classic and reminds the festive spirit of the holidays.

6.     Glittering gold

If you want a luxurious look, you can never be wrong with gold decors. Mixing sparkly, shiny and matte gold accents will help create balance and texture.

7.     Hanukkah pastels

This is a symbol of divinity in Judaism. Hanukkah decor natural colour is blue. You can pair it with soft purple hues creates a cheerful and friendly home for the holidays.

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Has Kitchen Innovation Gone Too Far?

For most of us, a kitchen is not just another room in the house. Its more than that. The kitchen is the place where most of our time is spent, where we have the most meaningful conversations are had and where we can be creative. The kitchen is the home.

For that reason, we invest a lot of time and money into making our kitchen into one we’ve always dreamed of. We know what style we like, and the colour we want the cupboards, but where we are left a little puzzled is the area of kitchen technology. Rapid innovations in the kitchen space make it hard for us to keep up.

When the first self-cleaning oven came out people were ecstatic, no longer did we spend hours on our Sunday’s scrubbing that big metal box. No longer did we panic when something overflowed and dripped down in the oven … this innovation gave us a less stressful and more convenient kitchen ‘life’.

Now, innovation has gone beyond making things more convenient. We’re now into luxury items that in 10 years, we’ll start to wonder how we ever lived without kitchen of the futurethem. Fridges can now tell you whether a perishable item has expired or not, they can even segregate different types of fruit and customize the temperature it is chilled. Heck, there’s even technology so you can even text an espresso machine, place an order, and it’s ready for you when you get downstairs. How perfect is that?

These innovations are just a couple examples of how far technology has come in the kitchen space. Trying to stay ahead of the curve is impossible. This begs the question…are 15 year warranties on appliances even applicable anymore? Do prices need to go down as we expect a higher turnover? Is the average lifetime of an appliance or kitchen technology now based on cool new features and added convenience as opposed to the classic signal ‘does it still work?’.

Several people have been writing about kitchen technology lately, talking about all the cool things available on the market, the prices and which brands are the best to buy. Some of the innovations I’ve seen are starting to border ‘ridiculous’ but then again … I want pretty much every item that I’ve seen.

This is my ultimate wish list (some of these things I haven’t seen on the market yet!)

  • germ eliminating knife block
  • customizable temperature fridge
  • fragrance to get rid of food smells
  • portable induction oven

These are just a few of the ideas that I have …. I would love to hear your feedback. Is there anything you wish you had in your kitchen? Or is there something you’ve recently purchased that you feel everyone needs to know about?

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Ikea Uses 1% of World’s Annual Wood Production, says Pacific Standard Report

Ikea, the huge Swedish furniture business that popularised the flat-pack model, has a reputation around the world as a family orientated company that cares about people and the environment. There’s only one problem. All those Billy book cases and Hemnes beds are made using wood. Lots, and lots of wood. In fact, according to an article in the Daily Mail, Ikea use 1% of all the wood produced in the entire world each and every year.

ikea kitchen

Think about that for a minute. Ikea is a privately held business. They sell occasional furniture – hallway tables, sideboards, beds, book cases and the like. And they sell so many of them that they alone account for a small percentage of the world’s wood use, which includes wood used to make paper-based products.

There is a problem though and that is where it all comes from. In the past they have been criticised for using wood derived from trees felled in ancient woodlands. Once that hit the news, they put in place a series of measures to prevent it happening again. But that doesn’t mean they are all-of-a-sudden green. 25% of the wood they use comes from sustainable forests. The rest of it – well, they say that it isn’t from illegal logging anyway and that there is a roadmap in place to increase the use of wood from sustainable sources to 50% by 2017.

Ikea’s seemingly insatiable desire for wood has spawned a wholly owned subsidiary company called Swedwood that, you guessed it, processes trees into furniture. They’re growing fast too. Swedwood has been posting 20-25% year-on-year growth since it was founded more than 20 years ago in 1991. They employ more than 16,000 people at 50 sites in 10 countries around the world.

One thing is for sure. With Ikea posting consistently high sales, anybody that sells chainsaws will probably be in high demand for quite some time. As would anybody selling meatballs. Or lingonberries for that matter!

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