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28 Aug 06:37

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

by joythebaker

vegan carrot jalapeno soup

Soup is my barometer.

Soup tells me how much a restaurant cares about the details of their dishes.  It’s not the daily fish special or the fanciest steak on the menu that can tell you everything about a restaurants menu… all of the details and love and care  (if they are there) are in the soup.

I’m talking about in the development of flavors, the house-made stock, the onion dice, the thorough puree, the texture, the garnish, the temperature.  And… since soup is not one of those glitzy menu items like pork-belly-this or fried-brussels-sprout-that… soup sits around waiting for just the right amount of salt and heat and garnish to make it shiiiine exactly bright.

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

Last week I ordered Carrot Jalapeño Soup at Sylvain, one of my very favorite New Orleans restaurants.  On point.  The soup was perfectly creamy (probably laden with an ample amount of heavy cream), and juuuust spicy enough to make me question and affirm my choices.  The soup had so much love and care, it really could have outshined any type of bacon fat on the menu.

Because some of a good thing is never enough, I made my own Carrot Jalapeño Soup, vegan and with feeling.

This soup is spicy, creamy, filling and delicious!  Dang near as delicious as this Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup, but maybe that’s just me having a thing for raw cashews.  Let’s discuss.

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

This soup, as most soups do, comes together rather discretely with sautéed onions and garlic.  I also added fresh thyme leaves before adding the spice of fresh jalapeños and sweetness of fresh carrots.

Building flavors is key.

Carrot soup is also lovely with the balance from fresh celery.  It adds just the right amount of earthiness to the soup.  Celery always seems rather affirming in nature.

As the soup simmers, with carrots, jalapeños, and vegetable stock, we make a simple cashew cream.

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

Cashew cream is born (bus mostly blended) from raw cashews and filtered water.  It remarkable that such a simple mixture can add such a wonderfully creamy texture to our soup!

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

Once the carrots are simmered to soft, we puree the soup (jalapeños, broth and all) into a smooth puree with an immersion or upright blender.  The blending is satisfying and steamy.

Finish the soup by stirring in the cashew cream, tasting, and adding salt and a touch of pepper.

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

Because I didn’t strain the soup or the cashew cream, we’re left with a hearty soup full of character and bite.  I used two jalapeños per pound of carrots.  The jalapeños were de-seeded to remove a bit of the spice and bitterness.  It’s just enough spice to compliment the sweetness of the carrots.  This soup is simple, yet full of comfort and care.  I hope you love it!


Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

60 minutes

about 6 cups

Serving Size: serves 4

Vegan Carrot Jalapeño Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 pound (about 8) carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed and sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked in 1 cup water for 1 hour
  • 3/4 cup filtered water


  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the carrots and jalapeño.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and stir to combine. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer uncovered until carrots are completely soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Drain water from the raw cashews.
  6. In an upright blender, combine cashews and 3/4 cup water. Blend until smooth. Place in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Once the carrots are soft, remove the soup from the heat and use a immersion blender to blend smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup smooth in an upright blender in three batches. Be careful not to fill the upright blender too full with hot liquids while blending. If using an upright blender, transfer soup black to the pot and stir in the cashew cream.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Soup will last, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 7 days.
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29 Aug 19:30

Match Your Suit and Shoes Perfectly with This Cheat Sheet

by Whitson Gordon

Match Your Suit and Shoes Perfectly with This Cheat Sheet

If you're still learning how to dress a bit better , it can help to have some little "cheat sheets" on hand. This graphic from Slaters shows you what color shoes go with what color suits.


15 Aug 08:13

New Orleans: ManhattanJack

by joythebaker

Manhattan Jack New Orleans

I’m taking my time getting to know New Orleans.  There’s so much to learn about the food culture here.  Things like where you get your beignets, where your po’boy bread comes from, and who makes your King Cake all make a difference when it comes to New Orleans food staples.  So much pride and so much nuance.  It’s a really exciting place to explore food.

I talk about a few of my favorite New Orleans spots here, but I’d love to get down to the nitty-gritty of my experience of this glorious city.  First up:  ManhattanJack, a bakery that has quickly become my happy place.

I hope you come visit New Orleans, and I hope you eat all the things.

Best New Orleans Bakeries - ManhattanJack

I’ve made my way in and out of a hearty amount of New Orleans bakeries lately.  There’s the bakery I go to for a really good baguette, the bakery for the perfect croissant, the bakery for the best doughnut.  ManhattanJack is the go-to bakery for extra decadent, over-sized, home-style sweet treats.

Maybe the cookies are a tad too big (never a problem).  Maybe the brownies have a little too much caramel (not even possible).  Maybe the Black and White Cookies are the size of your face (and sooo!?).  Essentially it’s the bakery I want to call home sweet home.

Best New Orleans Bakeries - ManhattanJack

This is my happy place.  I demolished that Chocolate Dot Cookie in no time.

The Chocolate Dot Cookie is a thick, crisp, crunchy, sweet cookie.  It’s like a crumbly shortbread-type cookie with dark chocolate and sprinkle sides.  It’s just right.  The brownie is coated in caramel, fudgey chocolate, and candy pieces.  It’s 100% over the top.  So delicious and it’s totally normal that it took me three days to finish.  Thanks for helping me demolish all this goodness, Summer!

Best New Orleans Bakeries - ManhattanJack

I dream night and day of the perfect Black and White Cookie.  Soft and cake, topped with dark chocolate glaze and sweet vanilla glaze.  This is just right.

I also love the ManhattanJack is bright and airy.  Plenty of comfortable seating at a cozy table, couch, or common table.  It all feels modern, comfortable, and unpretentious.

Best New Orleans Bakeries - ManhattanJack

Heck yes there’s chocolate-dipped shortbread!  I love when food is graphic.

ManhattanJack also has a stellar savory menu with a really delicious Club Sandwich and breakfast sandwiches that are BEYOND perfect for a lazy weekend.

ManhattanJack is my spot for:  treats to take to a small dinner party / afternoon snack with tea cookie and my laptop / late Saturday brunch / the best Black and White Cookie in town.

4930 Prytania Street
Uptown New Orleans

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15 Aug 11:30

Turn a Shelf into a Clothes Hanging Rack with PVC Pipe

by Alan Henry

Turn a Shelf into a Clothes Hanging Rack with PVC Pipe

If you have an ordinary shelf in your bedroom or closet and want it to pull double-duty as one you can hang clothes from, a little PVC piping is all it takes to do the job. The folks from The Family Handyman show us how it's done.


12 Aug 18:18

Hilla Shamia ‘s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood

by Ada Teicu

Wood casting by Hilla Shamia Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood

Imperfection is what drives the train of carefully hand-made products. Israel-based product designer Hilla Shamia showcases a wonderful symbiosis between wood and metal in her Wood Casting collection. Creating an inspiring way of combining wood and cast aluminium, the designer sees beauty in the imperfection and highlights it for us to take a closer look: “The negative factor of burnt wood is transformed into aesthetic and emotional value by preservation of the natural form of the tree trunk, within explicit boundaries. The general, squared form intensifies the artificial feeling, and at the same time keeps the memory of the material.”

Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 1 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood

Molted aluminum is poured directly into the wood, burning its way into the crevices to shape unique furniture pieces. The tables and benches preserve the old tree trunks while exhibiting a fresh, modern design. Slightly burned in the zone where the two materials meet, the wood evokes new visual potential for the world of furniture design. How do you feel about this cast aluminum and wood furniture? We would love to know if you’ve seen anything resembling this technique before.

Enjoy and share if you liked the uniqueness of this collection!

Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 2 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 3 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 4 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 5 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 6 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 7 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 8 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood Wood casting by Hilla Shamia 9 Hilla Shamia s Wood Casting Exhibits Ornamental Merger Between Aluminium and Wood


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13 Aug 07:05

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

by joythebaker

roasted tomato and feta guacamole

I wish there was some sort of Willy Wonka-style candy factory that produced savory avocado delights instead of candy.  In addition to that statement making me sound stone-cold craaaazy, the reality of that sort of factory would be absolutely AMAZING!  Don’t lie.  You want in.

I’d totally Veruca Salt my way all up in there.  No shame.

Since there is no fantasy-land avocado factory I’ve settled for roasting a big ol’ bunch of cherry tomatoes, and tossing them (along with just a little too much feta) into a batch of creamy do-no-wrong guacamole.

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

Don’t roasted cherry tomatoes look a little bit like candy?  If candy were vegetable.

Related and rhetorical:  why won’t I shut up about candy!?

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

These avocados feel like a hot commodity here in the South.  In California, they grow on trees (like money, and Jimmy Choos) and you always have a friend who complains about the random avocado tree littering their backyard with avocados.  Oooooh how I long for such produce problems.

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

In-skin slicing, because we’re very smart and very efficient.

Cilantro and onions in the avocado bowl all for the mashing.

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

Coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes and big crumbles of feta are folded into the mashed avocado mixture.

Lots of fresh lime, salt, and pepper, too!

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

That was easy, wasn’t it!?

It’s natural to feel mostly like a magician.

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4 servings

Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole


  • 1 heaping cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to roast
  • 4 ripe Haas avocados, pitted and sliced into chunks
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced (a heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • heaping 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • corn chips for serving


  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place tomato halves, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until bubbling and slightly wrinkled and dry, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven dan plow to cool on the pan until cool enough to handle. Place all of the tomatoes on a cutting board and coarsely chop.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine avocado chunks, onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro. Coarsely mash with a fork or a potato masher. Add tomatoes, feta crumbles, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Taste and season as necessary. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving. Serve with corn chips.
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17 Jul 01:26

16 Reasons You’re Succeeding in Life (Even If You Don’t Feel You Are)

by Marc Chernoff

16 Reasons You're Succeeding in Life (Even If You Don't Feel You Are)

It’s often hard to tell just how close you are to success.

At times we all feel less than successful.  We feel like we’re running in place, struggling to make even the slightest bit of progress.  And while this is a perfectly normal feeling, you have to ultimately break free from it and see yourself and your life in a more positive light.

The key is to pay attention to the small things.  Just because you’re not where you want to be, doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  To be truly happy and successful today doesn’t mean you don’t desire more in the future, it means you are sincerely thankful for what you have already accomplished and patient for everything yet to come.

Every morning when you wake up, think of three things that are going well in your life at the moment.  As you fall asleep every night, fill your mind with an appreciation for all the small things that went well during the day.  Examine your daily successes.

Give the power of your thinking to the positive influences in your life, and they will grow stronger and more influential every day.  Remind yourself of what works well and why, and you’ll naturally find ways to make lots of other things work well too.  The most efficient way to enjoy more success in life is not to obsess yourself with what hasn’t worked, but instead to extend and expand upon the success you already know.

Here are some much-needed reminders – sixteen good reasons you’re already succeeding in life:

  1. You are walking your own path, not anyone else’s. – One of the most foundational sources of both success and happiness is simply being comfortable with who you really are.  Not trading your reality for a role or your truth for an act.  Not giving up your freedom of thought.  Not putting on a mask.  So never let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you.  If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must continue to be different from the world.  Don’t be scared to walk alone on your own path, and don’t be scared to like it. (more…)
28 Jul 01:04

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

by Marc Chernoff

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

Life is not complex.  We are complex.  Life is simple,
and the simple thing is the right thing.
―Oscar Wilde

When we were young life was easier, right?  I know sometimes it seems that way.  But the truth is life still is easy.  It always will be.  The only difference is we’re older, and the older we get, the harder we make things for ourselves.

You see, when we were young we saw the world through simple, hopeful eyes.  We knew what we wanted and we had no biases or concealed agendas.  We liked people who smiled.  We avoided people who frowned.  We ate when we were hungry, drank when we were thirsty, and slept when we were tired.

As we grew older our minds became gradually disillusioned by negative external influences.  At some point we began to hesitate and question our instincts.  When a new obstacle or growing pain arose, we stumbled and fell down.  This happened several times.  Eventually we decided we didn’t want to fall again, but rather than solving the problem that caused us to fall, we avoided it all together.

As a result, we ate comfort food and drank alcohol to numb our wounds and fill our voids.  We worked late nights on purpose to avoid unresolved conflicts at home.  We started holding grudges, playing mind games, and subtly deceiving others and ourselves to get ahead.  And when it didn’t work out, we lived above our means, used lies to cover up lies, and ate and drank some more just to make ourselves feel better again.

Over the course of time, we made our lives harder and harder, and we started losing touch with who we really are and what we really need.

If you’re nodding your head, here are some ways you’re likely making your life harder than it has to be, and some ideas on simplifying things:

  1. You look to everyone else for the answers only you can give yourself. – For much of our lives – especially at the beginning – we get told what do, how to think, what looks good, what “success” is, etc.  You don’t have to buy into any of it anymore.  Feel free to peel back the layers.  Think for yourself.  Listen to your Self.  Break the mold.  When you stop doing what everybody else wants you to do and start following your own intuition, you will find exactly what you are looking for. (more…)
04 Aug 01:02

20 Bad Excuses Holding Good People Back

by Marc Chernoff

20 Excuses Standing Between You and What You Want

Live by choice, not by chance.  Make changes, not excuses.  Be motivated, not manipulated.  Work to excel, not compete.  Choose to listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else.

Over the years, likely without your conscious knowledge, you have adopted self-limiting beliefs that are quietly sabotaging your best efforts for personal growth.  If you pay close attention to your self-talk, these beliefs will reveal themselves in the form of excuses.

Truth be told, if you really want something, you will find a way.  If you don’t, you will find an excuse… and then you will live with that excuse every day of your life.

This is precisely what makes so many of us unhappy.

Angel and I speak with hundreds of coaching clients and blog subscribers (subscribe here) every month, and this one self-defeating ailment always rears its ugly head eventually – excuses, excuses, excuses.  And I’m not above the excuses either.  I catch myself making them sometimes too.  But that’s the key – we have to catch ourselves before our excuses become hopeless regrets.

So let this be your wake-up call.

Stop making excuses for why you can’t get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen.

NO more negativity.  NO more laziness.  NO more quick fixes.  NO more blaming others.  NO more “I’ll do it tomorrows.”  NO MORE OF THESE EXCUSES:

  1. “It’s too late.” – It’s never too late to live a life that makes you proud.  If you don’t learn anything else from this post, learn that.  We get one shot at this.  There’s no age limit on changing your course, and to settle in and be stuck in a life that isn’t authentic is a tragic waste.   Honestly, it’s never too late or too early to be who you are capable of being.  There’s no time limit – you can simply start and stop whenever you want.  You can change or stay the same.  You can make the best or the worst of it.  It’s up to you, so make the best of it.  Do things that startle you.  Feel things you’ve never felt before.  Spend time with people who help you grow.  Live a life you’re proud of.  And if you find that you’re not, have the courage to make a change. (more…)
11 Aug 00:53

12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You

by Marc Chernoff

12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You

Your behavior is a little thing that makes a big difference.

In our line of work, Angel and I hear from hundreds of coaching clients every month.  Through this experience, we’ve come across scores of toxic behaviors that push people away from each other.  And we’ve witnessed the devastation these behaviors cause – to relationships, to personal and professional growth, and to the general well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone in their life.

Let’s be honest – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another.  None of us are immune to occasional toxic mood swings, but many people are more evolved, balanced and aware, and such occurrences happen only rarely in their lives.

Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once in a blue moon phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving negatively, and consciously shift your mindset when necessary.

The twelve most common toxic behaviors we see are:

Reminder:  Have you checked out our book?  We just released a new bundle pack for “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently” which includes our eBook, audio book, paperback and bonus material on sale for a big discount.  Click here to check it out!

  1. Being envious of everyone else. – Don’t let envy (or jealously) get the best of you.  Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  There is nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior.  So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s.  Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday. (more…)
13 Jun 21:00

Focus on the Skills You Have Instead of Following Your Passion

by Sebastian Klein

Focus on the Skills You Have Instead of Following Your Passion

"Follow your passion," might be common career guidance, but is it good advice? Success can also come from refining the skills that you already possess, rather than worrying if your job is right for you.


11 Jun 12:00

Reuse a Tennis Racket as a Swing-out Workbench Caddy

by Mihir Patkar

Reuse a Tennis Racket as a Swing-out Workbench Caddy

Here's a neat trick to put that old tennis racket to some use, even if some of its strings are out of shape. With a single screw, you can make a swing-out caddy for your tools at the workbench, says The Family Handyman.


09 Jun 21:00

How to Decide What to Do with Your Life

by Leo Babauta

How to Decide What to Do with Your Life

When you're young, the world is your oyster and opportunities seem endless, but there can be a lot of pressure to decide on a life path. How do you know what career to pursue and what to do with your future?


04 Aug 12:00

Use Firefighter Codes and the Eisenhower Matrix to Sort Your Inbox

by Mihir Patkar

Use Firefighter Codes and the Eisenhower Matrix to Sort Your Inbox

Too many emails can bog you down, so rather than being overwhelmed by the unread messages in your inbox, take charge. Entrepreneur Bryan Lee uses his previous experience as a firefighter and a popular productivity tool to make a system to sort his emails.


04 Aug 17:30

​Start Presentations With a Mental Puzzle to Make a Great Impression

by Mark Wilson

​Start Presentations With a Mental Puzzle to Make a Great Impression

First impressions matter, and this is certainly true when you give a presentation. To get off on the right foot, try posing an intellectual question to engage your audience and get them thinking.


04 Aug 21:00

How to Effectively Work with People Who Are Smarter Than You

by Jessica Stillman

How to Effectively Work with People Who Are Smarter Than You

It's entrepreneurship gospel—hire those who are smarter than you. There's no mystery to this wisdom. Clever, skilled employees require less management, constantly teach you new things, and shore up your weaknesses. But while the rationale behind this oft-repeated tip is simple, executing it isn't.


05 Aug 16:51

How Sleep Changes as You Age, and Why You'll Need Even More of It

by Melanie Pinola

How Sleep Changes as You Age, and Why You'll Need Even More of It

Not sleeping as well as you used to? Maybe it's just you're naturally getting older. Unfortunately, since sleep is so important for protecting your mind and body physically, it's a Catch-22.


06 Aug 15:30

Use These Workouts to Combat the Physical Stress of Sitting Too Long

by Eric Ravenscraft

Use These Workouts to Combat the Physical Stress of Sitting Too Long

Increasingly, the workforce is dominated by people who spend their days sitting. This is terrible for you . These exercises can help reduce the overall stress you place on your hips and butt every day.


05 Aug 14:00

Finding Great Subjects to Photograph Close to Home

by Richard Taylor

You don’t need to take expensive and exotic trips to make good images. So if staying at home is more your thing then a few simple ideas can help you create beautiful images. What you might view as commonplace and bland can still be photographed in an imaginative and skillful way to produce an image that shows a far more striking aspect of the subject or scene. I am not suggesting you get all creative with software manipulation either. I am suggesting explore your imagination and creativity; perhaps push your technical boundaries a little and this will further enhance your photographic skill.


The ability to take an everyday scene and construct from it a superb image will require your application of some or all of the following:

  • vision to see the various elements that might be included in an image
  • concentration and time to develop the idea and assimilate all the components
  • awareness to recognize the potential of a color, shape and form
  • observation to study the scene and time enough to mentally collate the aspects of the image and to try them out in camera
  • willingness to try something new

This skill of making the mundane magnificent is not dependent on the type of camera and lens you use, it works with anything. My particular interest is nature and wildlife, but the skill can readily be applied to most of your chosen genres of photography.

Getting started

To start you should be looking for a spark or catalyst to kick off the mental process. This can be anything that takes your fancy such as color, shape, pattern or motion.

Once you have selected your particular environment, and isolated some elements for a composition, then take some time to arrange and rearrange them in your mind. Walk around, kneel, lie down and test different perspectives. Work the opportunity and let the image evolve, don’t rush it. You may get a few strange looks in certain circumstances, but that is the price you pay.

Something simple like a field of rapeseed (or field of other flowers or crops depending on where you live) is a common, beautiful, bright yellow sight which also heralds the arrival of summer. The endless fields of yellow can be monotonous, but they can provide you with a colorful subject in their own right, or a backdrop for a smaller subject. You can use the color, the size of the field and the detail of individual flowers. Look about for a subject, choose a perspective and include other elements such as: blue sky, clouds, a tree, a car, a sunrise or sunset, or all of the above. Let the image unfold.

Finding subjects close to home

The images here are all taken this year, with this article in mind, all within a couple of miles of my house. This is to demonstrate that there is much on our doorsteps that might keep our photographic needs satisfied, well some of them at least.

Choose any patch of grass on a dewy morning and have a look for a good collection of dew drops and try a backlit shot. The sparkles and perfect shapes of the droplets make an intriguing subject. Here I have turned the image into a black and white just to emphasize the shape and patterns, but often you’ll want to keep the lovely green of the grass.

001 Dewy Morning in the Grass

Garden birds are probably the most accessible wildlife for you budding nature photographers. With some simple skills you can go beyond just taking a record shot, but can create lovely images. Place a bird feeder in a good position, with a decent background, and a thoughtfully placed perch and sit back and wait. Change the perch and change the background at will and you have a whole suite of different images available to you.

002 Robin on Chair

A sunrise over a meadow may be a regular occurrence in your home patch, but to make it a little different get down low in the vegetation. Here I have obstructed the sun with a tree at the edge of the meadow, and thus broken the sunlight up into many light sources coming through the foliage. The background is formed by selecting an aperture that provides sizeable circles of confusion (out of focus light sources) behind the subject. The subject is just a few seeding grass heads, but you can turn the simple into the stunning by constructing an image.

003 Meadow Sunrise

Vast fields of cultivated crops can provide you with a wonderful opportunity. A bright yellow rapeseed field for example. Look for something to isolate within the vast swathe of yellow that provides a point of interest in an image full of color. Sometimes it is simply a color that can spark your thinking, but spotting a dewy web provides a focus for the image. Prowling the edge of the fields on a bright and sunny day will also yield a lot of insect life, which could become your whole new world.

004 Rapeseed Field

You can choose a different day and different weather to change your image. On a foggy day dewdrops collect on spider webs and can give you an abstract view of the rapeseed field. The spark here was the pattern effect of the drops and then the gorgeous yellow background.

005 Rapeseed Field Dewdrops

This image was created by using a long lens that can accommodate a lot of foreground (has a lot of reach and you can stay back from the subject) and can throw the background and foreground out of focus with a shallow depth of field, while filling the frame. If you shoot into the sun, then the sunlight passing through the green foliage will bring out the bright, and almost luminous, green of the leaf with which you can compose the foreground and background. The spark was the beautiful color of the backlit green foliage, completely different from the front-lit color.

006 Garden Bluebell

Sometimes simplicity is the only catchword you need to remember. Find a patch of wildflowers, pick the most concentrated spot and shoot away, picking various subjects. The color and the profusion will give you all you need to create an intriguing and colorful image.

007 Summer Flowers

Spring and summer are obviously the prime times for encountering wildlife, and therefore photographic subjects for your nature images are abundant. Unless you live in the tropics, the winter season can be a lot more mundane, so you are probably going to have to work harder. Colorful weeds and insects are always a feature of summer. Putting them together works a treat, although it may take some patience.

008 Dandelion and Ladybird

It is not all about your hands and knees or the hedgehog perspective, so a few leading lines and an old barn will give you a far superior image to a snapshot of endless cultivated fields. Throw in a few colorful wildflowers in the foreground, a dark stormy sky and the farm fields you drive past routinely may take on a new perspective.

009 Old Barn in Fields

A very sparse little patch of flowers, with color being their only redeeming quality, can still provide you with a good opportunity. This technique is purely an in-camera one and utilizes controlled motion of the lens. Slow the shutter speed (low light, low ISO, dull weather or a combination) and zoom in or out by hand while the shutter is open gives the resulting motion blur. This can be used in a variety of ways and once you start your imagination may take hold. If you don’t have a zoom do the same with your prime lens but twist the camera in your hands.

010 Flower Burst

So just to show you that you can make great images close to home with a little effort.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for finding ordinary things and making great photos? Please share in the comments below.

The post Finding Great Subjects to Photograph Close to Home by Richard Taylor appeared first on Digital Photography School.

06 Aug 19:00

Prophetic: Glitchhikers Chap Starts Game “EP” With Oracle

by Alice O'Connor

Do you really want to know?

These dreamy summer nights continue. Today I’m casting procedural prophecies and rolling my eyes back to watch surreal visions in ΘRAΩLE (and that’s the last time I’ll stylise that), spinning forecasts from words like “Knots”, “Earth”, and “Promises” then interpreting dreams of temples, trees, and dagger-pierced hearts. It’s too hot but I can’t stop staring at this gorgeous polygonal fire.

Oracle is the first game of East Van EP, a planned collection by ‘ceMelusine’, one of the folks behind lovely dreamy night game Glitchhikers. £1 gets you Oracle and three games yet to come.

… [visit site to read more]

05 Aug 20:30

After 21 Years of Marriage, This Couple Took the Best Anniversary Photo Ever

After 21 Years of Marriage, This Couple Took the Best Anniversary Photo Ever

Submitted by: (via Ken_Thomas)

06 Aug 15:30

Shatner Checks in on What NASA is Up to

28 Jul 08:11

Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens

by Lavinia

Accessory System kitchen Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern KitchensKnown for its hand-crafted, high performance kitchens, Henrybuilt has recently launched a new line of drawer accessories. The line is illustrative of the company’s focus on the integration of function, beauty, craft and durability all coming together in a particular way to create a great living experience. The hand-crafted accessories extend the warm, tactile feeling of Henrybuilt’s system into the interior, where users interact with the system most. The new pieces are designed to optimize space, bringing efficient storage and movement into the kitchen work area.

HB Accessory System Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern KitchensThe accessory system includes a solid wood cutting board, two knife-storage options, flatware storage, large utensil storage, spice storage, as well as a reconfigurable divider system made from Paperstone and solid surface acrylic – held together magnetically. According to the press release we received, Henrybuilt clients are to receive a core group of accessories with the purchase of a new kitchen developed by the company. We appreciate the stylish look of these tools and are curious to find out your own thoughts and ideas! Would you personally enjoy having them around in your kitchen?  [Photos and information provided via e-mail by Henrybuilt]

HB Flatware Storage Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchensdividers Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens dividers2 Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens flatware Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens   HB Spice storage Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens knife board 1 Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens knife board 2 Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens the cutting board Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens utensil Elegant and Highly Functional Drawer Accessories for Modern Kitchens

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28 Jul 14:39

The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

by Tara Mastroeni
backyard pool The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Have you thought about your dream home? Image Via: JAUREGUI Architecture Interiors Construction

Purchasing a “Dream Home” is one of those life accomplishments that tops nearly everyone’s bucket list. Whether you prefer a modernized urban loft or a sprawling suburban home with a white picket fence, most of us hope to find a home that feels like it was made specifically for our family. However, searching for your dream home comes with different considerations than any other real estate purchase. Since you’ll likely be aiming to stay in the property for the foreseeable future, you’ll want to look for a property that will keep you and your family happy for the long term. Don’t be afraid to be picky and hold out until you find a home that feels right. How can you tell that you’ve found your perfect place? Most people say you’ll just know. Until then, use these 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home to make sure you’re looking in the right area.

ocean view kitchen The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Make sure to be honest about your wish list. Image Via: Fougeron Architecture FAIA

1. The Features You’ve Always Wanted:

Congratulations, on looking for your dream home! You deserve it. It’s important to go into this purchase with a new mindset. In the past, you’ve probably looked for a property that met your needs – it had enough bedrooms for the whole family or the commute to work was a breeze. This is different. A dream home is more about fulfilling wishes than meeting needs. Don’t be afraid to make a sizable wish list. Everyone’s wish list is different. Some may dream of waking up each morning to watch the sunset rise over a lake while others hope for picturesque snow-capped mountains. While you may love the thought of having a community fitness center just a few steps away, your partner might prefer the secluded quiet of a single home. Have each person in your family make a list of the features that they crave. Then, rank each of those features by importance. While it’s unlikely that you’ll find a property that will check off every single box on this list, this exercise will help you focus on properties that work for all of you. Before you get started look at these insider tips nobody telly you about buying a home.

large lountain house The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Make sure you fall in love with your surroundings. Image Via: DesignWorks Development

2. The Neighborhood and Surrounding Area:

Remember, that your property does not exist in a bubble. It’s part of a larger community that you will exist in on a daily basis. With that in mind, it’s critical that you find a neighborhood that suits your needs before buying. Is your great escape one that gives you all the peace of a secluded forest or tons of energy from a bustling city center? Do you want to be able to walk to a coffee shop each morning or would you prefer not to have to contend with potentially noisy neighbors? Whatever your heart desires, don’t hesitate to do your research before starting your search. Take a drive and spend some time there, if possible.  Go out to eat at local restaurants and take a walk through a nearby park. Once you find areas that you like, let your real estate agent know. He or she will use this information to focus in on showing you will have you feeling comfortable.

expansive lot The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Make sure your lot gives you a view you can’t get enough of. Image Via: Guerin Design + Development

3. Lot Location and Size:

The lot is often an afterthought when it comes to purchasing a property, but it should be in the forefront of buyers’ minds.  It is the one thing about a property that cannot really be altered. Think about it: You could knock down a house and rebuild it from scratch, but regardless of the changes you make, the lot will stay the same. When looking at specific properties, consider the lot’s location and size carefully before submitting an offer. Do you long for a back yard big enough for your kids to run around in? Does the lot have a view that you can see yourself enjoying for years to come? If anything about the lot seems like a compromise to you, don’t hesitate to walk away. It will easier to find a similar property on a better lot than it will be to continually settle for a less-than-adequate location day in and day out.

historic home The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Figure out whether you prefer the charm of an older home or the sleekness of a newer model. Image Via: Elise Moore Design

4. The Age of a Property:

When it comes to buying a home, especially the home you’ve been thinking about for your entire life, age does make a difference. Buying older homes and brand new ones each have their pros and cons, so be aware of what you’re signing up for before you submit an offer. Do you swoon over the irreplaceable charm offered by old homes? Would you fall in love with a property that offered it’s own built in dumbwaiter and a hidden servant’s staircase. If so, tailor your search to those historical diamonds-in the rough. However, be aware that older homes tend to require a bit more TLC than their newer counterparts. Aternatively, does your ideal property require no more work than turning the key in the front door. Do you dream of a closet large enough to hold your more-than-substantial wardrobe and an updated master bath that feels like a spa? In that case, new construction may be a better fit. If you can get in on the ground floor, you may even be able to select certain features while the home is being built and customize it further to your tastes.

tropical pool exterior The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Think about the style of living that works best for you. Image Via: D’Asign Source

5. Your Ideal Home Style:

Whether it’s a style of living or the actual aesthetic of your property, you want to make sure your home is one that you’ll feel proud to pull up to each day. Since how a home looks is one of the first things that you (and others) notice about a property, finding a style of home that fits your personality is absolutely key. Single homes make a great choice for those want the freedom to customize a property to their exact specifications. Condo living is for people who want to own their own home while still having access to hotel-style amenities. Town home living offers a compromise between the two, but each association is different, so make sure you’re aware the policies associated with each community. Once you know which style of living you prefer, focus in on aesthetic. A modern and minimalist condo community obviously looks like night and day from a Victorian single property. As you go about your day, think about the different types of homes you see. Make a note of the one’s you could see calling home and which styles are a complete turnoff.

spacious living room The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Your new property should give you enough room to roam. Image Via: Spacecrafting / Architectural Photography

6. The Right Amount of Space:

The trick when it comes to finding your dream home is figuring out how much space you truly need. Buying a home that is too small for your family will leave you continually trying to configure the space to make it work for you. In the same vein, buying a property that is too large will allow you to spread out, but will wrack up large costs. Think about the space that you currently live in. How does it feel? Do you have enough bedrooms or do multiple family members have to share? Is there enough storage for all of your belongings? In addition to considering your current living situation, you should also consider your plans for the future. If you think you may be making an addition to your family sometime soon, plan for a little extra room. Ideally, you’ll want a happy medium that will give you room to grow without going overboard.

open concept layout The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Concentrate on finding a layout that suits your needs. Image Via Joie Wilson Interior Design

7. A Layout You Love:

Not all square footage is created equal, which is where the floor plan comes into play. If you compare two properties that are 2,000 square feet, one could dedicate most of the space to the living area while the other could focus on more spacious bedrooms. While it is possible to redesign your floor plan after moving into the home, it’s a long process that requires a huge commitment of time and finances. Unless you are particularly handy, it’s a project that will require hiring a team of contractors. Be sure to focus on finding a layout that is as close to perfect for you as possible. Picture yourself using the space as you walk through the property. Think about things you’d like to do over the years you spend in your dream home. If you take pride to host the family holiday party every year, consider an open-concept plan that will you’re your guests plenty of room to roam. However, if each of your family members relishes in having their own private space, a more traditional layout might be a better option.

remodeled kitchen The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Scope out the potential for projects before submitting an offer. Image Via: Pickell Architecture

8. The Potential for Future Projects:

Even your dream home is going to require a little bit of customization – as it should. Whether you’ve spent years wishing for a chef-style kitchen, poolside backyard oasis, or a tricked-out media room, it’s unlikely that those features will be exactly to your specifications from the moment you sign the deed. Keep an eye on how much customization will be required in each property you see. Be honest with yourself about how much of that work you’ll be able to handle, even if it happens slowly over time. If you know your way around power tools, make sure you’re okay with the investment of time that will be required. If you’d prefer to have a professional do the job, get ready to set aside a sizable chunk of change. Think about projects that are big and small – everything from painting the dining room to completely gutting your master bathroom. If you need renovation inspiration, check out these 10 Easy Design Touches For Your Master Bathroom. Remember, that not everything has to be taken care of immediately, but you’ll want to have an idea of how much work it will take to transform the property into the dream home you’ve been waiting for.

palm tree exterior The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

Stay within a budget that leaves you feeling comfortable. Image Via: Sater Design Collection, Inc.

9. Costs That Make You Comfortable:

This is not the most fun factor to think about, especially not when compared to upgrades and aesthetics. But, if cost is not considered, your dream home could end up becoming more of a worry than an escape. Try not to stretch yourselves to the furthest reaches of your budget. Remember that there are more costs to consider than just the monthly mortgage payment. You should also consider local taxes, monthly utility costs, and association fees when purchasing. Once you submit an offer on a property, have your agent get in contact with the sellers. He or she can ask can ask them to provide a breakdown of their average monthly and yearly payments. An extra note of caution: Keep in mind that these costs will stay consistent over time. You’ll still need to account for them if your circumstances change such as retirement or an expected layoff. Leave a little breathing room in your budget, so that you’ll feel comfortable staying in your dream home for many years to come.

poolside columns The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

When it comes to your dream home, be wary of big compromises. Image Via: Perrone Construction

10. Compromises You Can Handle:

As important as it is to be aware of what you’d love to find in your dream home, it’s equally important to take stock of which facets of homeownership will make you miserable. That way, you can guide your home search away from those qualities and avoid having your idealistic living experience marred by a feature you cannot change. If you cannot stand living on top of your neighbors, focus on searching a smaller property that will allow you to have more breathing room on your lot or expand your target area to a less-populated space. If you absolutely cannot abide by the idea of spending you weekends doing extensive pool maintenance, be wary of buying a property that includes one, even if you love the rest of the home. Every property is going to come with some sort of compromise, but when you are talking about your dream home, they should feel minimal. As a rule of thumb, if you spend more time after a showing focusing on the one less-than-desirable aspect of a property rather than the handful of good qualities it has to offer, the compromise is too is not worth it.

lake house The 10 Most Important Factors for Buying Your Dream Home

What features are essential to your dream home? Image Via: Highland Group

Everyone deserves to find their dream home. With the right amount of research, it is possible. Use these important factors as points of consideration as you and your family begin the home buying process. They’ll help you focus in on the qualities that a property must have in order to be your perfect fit. What are you waiting for? There’s no reason to wait on making your dream into a reality. Tell us about your dream home. If you’ve already found it, what factors were critical in helping you make that decision?

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29 Jul 14:42

10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

by Shelley Little
bedroom1 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

This is a gorgeous Japanese-inspired bedroom. Image Source: WB Homes

One word sums it up : Zen.  Yes, peaceful simplicity surrounds the modest designs of Japanese culture. Thousands of years steeped in tradition have influenced Japan’s architecture and interior design aesthetic, resulting in a serene and very cultural interior design.

Japanese style evolves around clean and uncluttered living, holding tightly to balance, order, ancient customs and a love for natural beauty.

When one understands the ancient tea ceremonies and lifestyles of the Japanese— the culture immediately becomes very endearing and worth replicating in our everyday lives. If for any other reason, let’s mimic Japanese style in order to bring a little bit of their well-honed Zen into our own lifestyles. Couldn’t we all use a little bit of peace and harmony in our homes?

Since Japanese interior design has this tranquil decorating touch perfected, let’s look at 10 ways to add some of this becalming style into your home today. You may want to visit 30 Of The Most Ingenious Japanese Home Designs, as well.

living room2 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

The sliding doors are a great Japanese design solution. Image Source: Out to See

1) Elements of Nature in Japanese Style Interiors

Japanese culture is saturated in a love and respect for nature. The best way to maintain a strong connection with the natural world, is to bring nature indoors.

Adding traditional Japanese plants, such as bonsai and bamboo, into your home will give it a small  Japanese cultural touch. Really though, you can add any sort of deep greenery and still achieve a similar style. Consider adding sleek plants such as palm or orchid to your home. It is not typical to see a lot of  colorful floral arrangements in a Japanese home, so whatever plant you choose, keep it simple,  natural  and green.

Japanese homes also bring nature inside through large, expansive windows that allow a view of nature from every angle. Like this bedroom, featured below, the large sliding glass door brings serene, natural views indoors. Open up your home to the wonders of nature today.

bedroom patio 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

The view from this bedroom brings nature indoors. Image Source: Decker Bullock

2) Soaking Tubs Are Important in Japanese Interior Design

The serene sounds of water bubbling will fill your meditative ears and immediately have a calming effect. Just like plants, elements of water are imperative in the Japanese home.

Ofuro, translated as bath in Japanese, is a tranquil tradition that is well-worth adding to your home. Japanese soaking tubs are small, deep tubs that usually have some sort of bench seat. These tubs are becoming an Eastern trend that many health conscious homeowners are flocking for.

Turn your bathroom into an enlightened escape by adding one of these soaking-style tubs. It is the ultimate way to have East meet West, and create a spa-like environment in your home.

wood modern bathroom 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

This wooden bath house would fit perfectly into any Japanese home. Image Source: Right Arm Construction

3) Japanese Style Sliding Doors Or Screens

An authentic Japanese screen is called a Shoji, and it is an essential design element in Japanese homes.

Due to the high cost of housing, Japanese homes tend to be small and a lot of residents rent apartments, so conserving every square inch of space is essential. Unlike doors, these Shoji’s slide back and forth, saving space that a swinging door would take up.

An authentic Japanese screen is usually made of fine translucent paper held inside a  wooden frame. However, modern versions of these screens can be found online and are usually made of glass panels inside a wooden grid.

Another key element of these screens is that, unlike doors, they do not block the natural light and views of nature. Replacing a large expanse of wall with a glass-panelled sliding door could be a great way to incorporate this style into your own home.

japanese room 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

Sliding doors are a common interior design element in Japanese homes. Image Source:Dennis Mayer

4) Elements of Wood and Bamboo in Japanese Interior Design

One of the best ways to harmonize with nature is to add natural wooden elements into your home. Japanese culture is known for using wooden elements throughout their homes.

Walls, doors, screen grids and frames are all made of natural wood. The most common woods being western versions of maple, cypress, hemlock and red pine. Bamboo is also a popular wood used for decorative purposes, as can be seen in the image below.

Essentially, the texture of wood can be seen everywhere in a Japanese home. Try bringing these natural wooden elements into your home by adding a bamboo floor, or wooden screen. You will love the serene calming effect that clean-lined wood elements can add to your home.

modern bathroom 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

The bamboo ladder in this bathroom is a nice nod to Japanese design. Image Source: Custom Made

5) Japanese Style Entryway

The Japanese entry is called a genkan.  This is the area that greets visitors and also the place where shoes are immediately taken off and usually replaced with indoor slippers.

As you notice in the image below, the entryway has a shelf or cabinet called a getabako that is used for storing shoes (tips of the shoes are usually placed pointing outwards, unlike the image below). As you will also notice, the entry is simple in design with wooden elements and a lot of natural lighting.

Stone tile flooring is also popular in these homes, especially the entryways. In order to mimic this design, we suggest  copying the clean, simple lines of Japanese design. Keeping your entryway uncluttered may be the biggest challenge (especially for North American homeowners who tend to house some clutter in their entry’s such as mail, shoes etc..).

modern entryway 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

There is always a place to store shoes in a Japanese entryway. Image Source: CCS Architecture

6) Japanese Style Furniture

While a lot of authentic Japanese homes do not segregate furniture-filled rooms for certain purposes such as sitting room or TV room, we can still mimic Japanese simplicity into our sectioned-off homes.

Most of Japan’s furniture is low to the ground, or when it comes to tea ceremonies, floor cushions usually forgo furniture. Mimicking this design aesthetic can be as simple as incorporating low-to-the-ground furniture into our homes, such as the simple side tables and bed frame featured in the image below.

Or we could be more authentic by surrounding a low plank table with floor cushions—using this as a means to dine would be very bona fide, and maybe even a bit romantic.  Whether you want more of an East meets West design, or you want to be extremely authentic — Japanese style furniture can easily be incorporated into your home.

asian modern bedroom 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

Furniture that is low to the ground is common in Japanese culture. Image Source: Tim Clarke

7) Minimalist Japanese Design Principles

As you can probably already tell, Japanese design is clean and minimalist. Clutter is not contained in these homes. As we discussed above, sometimes there isn’t even much furniture in an authentic Japanese home.

How can you achieve this design aesthetic and still have a home full of furniture and modern comforts? The trick is to keep your design simple and uncluttered. Most modern design aficionado’s will find this style easy to replicate.

Furniture should be modern, clean-lined and made of natural wood. Lighting should be angular and modern (as seen in the kitchen below). Or lighting could mimic an authentic Japanese lantern style, as well. Overall, look to modern living designs to replicate this clean, simple style. Everything should have a purpose and a place — nothing is out of order or lacking function. Studying the art of Feng Shui may also help you design your minimalist interior.

contemporary white kitchen 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

This contemporary white kitchen is a sleek way to have East meet West. Image Source: Interiors By Darren James

8) Open Space and Natural Lighting Are Key In Japanese Design

As mentioned above, open space and minimalist design principles reign in Japanese design. So let’s look at another way this design aesthetic is achieved — Natural Lighting.

Natural light abundantly fills these homes, bringing with it serene views and colors of nature.  What could be a better way to light up your home? Large, expansive windows and ceiling openings such as skylights, are the perfect way to add this bright design into your own home.

Heavy draperies are also a big no, no. All they do is block this natural light. Try keeping your windows clear of any obstruction, but if this is not possible, then opt for a simple bamboo shade or sheer, gauzy curtain panels.  Natural light — what a bright way to light up your home!

modern tv room 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

This modern TV room has plenty of natural light via the floor-to-ceiling windows. Image Source: Logue Studio Design

9) Popular Colors in Japanese Design

In keeping with the natural beauty of the outside world, Japanese homes typically contain simple colors from nature. Predominant colors are derived from the browns of wooden elements, and the greens of plants. Flooring is either wood or grey stone tile, and most walls are replaced with screens that are covered in opaque paper.

This design results in a simple color palette that is very neutral. How can we mimic this in our own interiors? Try incorporating these natural wooden elements through wood shelving, wall panels and flooring, or add the grey-tones of stone in your floors or even your furniture (see image below).

Also, don’t forget to add plenty of green through natural houseplants. Simplicity is key when choosing your color palette. Look outside your windows to see what natural color elements you can incorporate in your home today.

sitting room den 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

Floor-to-ceiling windows let a lot of natural light into this room. Image Source: Doba-Arch

10) Create a Zen Meditating Space

Try diving deep into the peaceful Japanese culture by creating a truly serene space in your home that is meant for mediating, having tea, or doing yoga.

Look at the room featured below. It is an amazing nod to Japanese culture and would make a perfect place to have Japanese tea. Find a quiet place in your own home to lay out a floor cushion for meditating or just sitting and relaxing. Don’t forget to  add a water feature, so its trickle will drown away all distracting noises.

Paint the room in calming greens or browns, add some live greenery, play some calming music and Voila! You have your very own, very Zen Japanese hideaway.

japanese tea room 10 Ways to Add Japanese Style to Your Interior Design

This is a perfect Japanese tea room. Image Source: Konnitanaka

While you may not have grown up surrounded by the ancient Japanese culture, you can still fall in love with its very peaceful design aesthetic that is deeply rooted in history.

In order to achieve this style,  mimic its clean, simple and minimalist design throughout all the rooms in your home. Add to your home: natural wood elements, simple greenery, natural lighting, modern furnishings, water features, a deep soaking tub, plush floor cushions, sliding doors or screens, a room for mediating and plenty of colors derived from nature.

All of these small pieces pull your home together into a rich Japanese interior design that speaks to its culture and love of nature.

Would you like to have a home designed in this style? If so, what would you add to your home to achieve this look?


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29 Jul 22:14

Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by Henrybuilt

by Lavinia

Opencase shelving ideas Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by HenrybuiltKnown for its award-winning kitchen system, which unite furniture craft with high function and good design, Henrybuilt developed Opencase based on these same core values. The shortcomings of most modular shelving systems stem partially from the use of ‘wall standards’, or some form of vertical support for shelving. The rod and panel design of the Opencase System allows for more seamless aesthetic integration into a space, while enabling great adaptability in terms of functionality. The system works in a wide range of applications and is designed to evolve with the user’s needs over time. Starting point configurations have been developed for entryways, libraries, offices, wine storage, pantries, wardrobes, utility closets, laundry, and children’s rooms.
Opencase Bench sm Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by Henrybuilt
The backbone of the system is an interchangeable set of precision-machined steel rod supports, which allow for a variety of elegant functional pieces to be attached to the wall – and to be changed out in minutes by anyone living with the system. The product is being released with a full suite of specialized components. Each component is handcrafted from the very best materials. The palette is broad, and includes steel, solid wood and leather fittings, as well as pieces sculpted from solid composite panels. A collection of proprietary softgoods adds warmth and texture and addresses storage needs such as laundry, recycling, and even includes small durable bags for storing tools.

To support the launch of Opencase, Henrybuilt has developed a website to aid in configuring the product. The configurator enables clients to view layout options and generate pricing based on a simple input of their dimensional needs. Pricing for the system starts at $2500. per full-size panel for basic configurations. The panels are available in any size from 21-48″ wide and 18-96″ tall. [Photos and information provided via e-mail by Henrybuilt]
Opencase desk and pouches straight on s Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by Henrybuilt Opencase Entry Wallet Keys Phone holder s Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by Henrybuilt Opencase Leather Bin s Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by Henrybuilt Opencase Leather Key wallet phone s  Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by Henrybuilt  Opencase walnut desk close s Elegant and Innovative: Opencase Shelving System by Henrybuilt

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24 Jul 18:00

Prepare These 15 Stories for Your Next Job Interview

by Melanie Pinola

Prepare These 15 Stories for Your Next Job Interview

Storytelling is perhaps the best way to present information so it's memorable and relatable, and it can make you stand out especially in job interviews . Career expert Liz Ryan of Human Workspace drew up this poster to help you arm yourself with stories before your next interview.


25 Jul 17:15

The Tree That Grows 40 Different Fruit

The Tree That Grows 40 Different Fruit
In an ongoing series on hybridizing fruit trees, Syracuse University sculptor Sam Van Aken's Tree of 40 Fruit is true to its name. Most of the year, it looks pretty ordinary, but in the spring, the tree blossoms display various tones of pink, crimson, and white. Then, from July through October, it bears 40 different types of stone fruit, including almonds, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums.

The feat is accomplished by grafting together several different varieties, including native fruit, heirlooms, and antiques, some of which are centuries-old, Aken tells Epicurious.

Submitted by: (via IFL Science)

23 Jul 15:49

Raspberry and Pomegranate Smoothie with Green Tea Ice Cubes

by joythebaker

raspberry pomegranate smoothie with green tea ice cubes

Don’t look at me with those sad-clown eyes (wait… is that a thing?).  It can’t be all Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls around here.  That’s unrealistic (though delicious) and downright daunting (though delicious).

When the day’s diet turns a bit too indulgent, I reach for a blender and try to coax whatever fresh ingredients I have into a healthy smoothie.  It’s not rocket science… it’s mostly just fruit and almond milk.  You know the old song and dance.

If you take away any little gem of inspiration from this smoothie concoction, please let it be the Green Tea Ice Cubes.  Though so so simple, these little blocks kinda thrill me.  All the antioxidants and good vibes of green tea, frozen into a smoothie friendly cube and ready for blending.  It’s a clever way to add more nutrients to our smoothie meal!  I’m into it.

Raspberry Pomegranate Smoothie

My favorite smoothie boosters include:

•  Chia seeds for their omega powers

•  Maca powder for energy

•  Aloha Green Juice Powder for a major boost of green and minerals

•  Raw Meal Protein Powder for a vegan, gluten, and dairy free protein bang

•  Big handfuls of kale, cucumber chunks, and not bacon.  Whatever you do, don’t add bacon.

Raspberry Pomegranate Smoothie

Into the blender we go with raspberries (fresh or frozen), almond milk, pomegranate juice (bitterness to balance the sweet), green tea ice cubes, and chia seeds.

The results are sweet pink simplicity.  It’s refreshing.  It’s summer.  I know… it’s not cinnamon rolls.  Let’s be reasonable people who eat reasonable things from time to time.

Note:  For the Green Tea Ice Cubes I brewed a Yerba Mate Green Tea Blend and froze them into cubes.

Raspberry Pomegranate Smoothie with Green Tea Ice Cubes

makes 2 small smoothies

1 heaping cup frozen raspberries

1/3 cup pomegranate juice

1/2 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon chia seeds

4 green tea ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  Divide between two glasses and enjoy immediately.  

25 Jul 04:05

One-Pot French Onion Pasta

by joythebaker

one pot french onion pasta

I’m already anticipating Sunday.

Talk about putting the cart before the horse.  We haven’t even hopped around the weekend enough to make it to Sunday.

Sundays, I would argue, are the worst.  Actually… they’re the BEST but only between the hours of 8am and noon when we’re sleeping in, churching, brunching, or napping after pancakes.  After noon on a Sunday I find myself in the unfortunate task of pretending to be relaxed while stressing about the week to come.  We’ve talked about this before.  It’s called The Sunday Stresses, and it’s more real that we deserve.

Luckily there’s PASTA.  All healing, all comforting, all filling PASTA.  Thank you, Lord.  For real.

I have pasta every Sunday night.  I spoon myself an embarrassingly large bowl, sit cross-legged on the couch, watch Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and just tear through a bowl.  I’m trying to fill the pit of Sunday Stresses and pasta usually works, until it doesn’t… but even still.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

This One-Pot pasta comes together easily and makes the house smell like an onion dream.  There’s just something so right about the smell of cooking onions.

While the onions, thyme, and chicken broth flavors have more of a Fall feel to them… well, The Sunday Stresses know no season.   Let’s just get some quality couch time in.  Let’s make out with pasta, just a little.


One Pot French Onion Pasta

Fat spaghetti pasta, chicken broth and water, onions halved and sliced, butter and olive oil, thyme and cheese and arugula and seasoning.  Everything! Let’s go!

One Pot French Onion Pasta

The onions.  Oh the onions.  They actually cook longer than the pasta itself.  The onions need a bit of caressing with butter and olive oil and low heat.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

Progress.  It’s hard not to hover and stir, but the onions do need quality time with the heat.  They need to sit and simmer a bit.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

This is about when I get super impatient and start to think of worms.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

Golden brown, studded with fresh thyme, seasoned with salt and pepper rather aggressively.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

Deglazing the hot pan with water and chicken broth.  The steam!  The best part.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

Welcome to the party, pasta!  We need you.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

We do a little dance on the stovetop.  Simmer with the lid on for a bit.  Stir with the lid off for a bit.  Simmer with the lid on again.  Fluff with the lid off.

It’ll all come together in about 10 magical minutes.

Related:  I need more magical minutes in all of my days.  RIGHT!?

One Pot French Onion Pasta

Taste and most likely add:  salt and pepper, way too much parmesan cheese, and handfuls of fresh arugula.

One Pot French Onion Pasta

By now your neighbors are likely knocking on the door because you made the world smell AMAZING! Share the pasta, not the stresses.

This pasta is both slightly sweet and salty.  As the onions cook down, they take on a tender and sweet quality.  It’s lovely, but you may find yourself adding a bit more salt and parmesan cheese than you might expect.  I love the spice that fresh arugula adds to the pasta.  Red pepper flakes are also divine.  You want to add cooked sausage too!?  Heck yes!

Happy Weekend!

One-Pot French Onion Pasta

serves 4

Print this Recipe!

3 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

salt and fresh cracked black pepper

3 teaspoons fresh thyme

2 cups water

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

12 ounces uncooked spaghetti

salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

parmesan cheese

fresh arugula

Place a large heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and butter and stir until butter is melted.  Add the sliced onions all at once.  Stir to coat the onions in the fat.  Allow onions to cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and thyme and stir.  Allow the onions to cook for about 4 minutes at a time.  Lower the heat if the onions are browning too quickly.    The onions will begin to brown, break down, and resemble an onion jam.

When onions are entirely browned and completely soft (about 15 minutes), add the water and chicken broth to the pan.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the pasta all at once.

Return to medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Place the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid to toss and stir the pasta for about 3 minutes.  Return the lid and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and taste the pasta for doneness.  There will still be just under an inch of liquid in the pot.  Allow the pasta to cook more (if it was still crunchy), or allow some of the liquid to cook off.  It’s about your preference.  I like a bit of the broth remaining.  Plus, the pasta will absorb more of the liquid as it sits.

To serve, spoon into large bowls, top with parmesan cheese and fresh arugula.