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Beyond Red and Green: Decorating for Christmas with a Different Palette

christmas treeChristmas arrives in less than three months. Though it seems far away, it’s about time to think about how you’d decorate your home. Chances are the first thing on your mind is going the traditional route and sporting the classic red-green décor. It’s classic and timeless – it just works on many levels.

But Christmas doesn’t have to be red and green all the time. In truth, you can play around and change the palettes of your décor. Here are some colour combinations that can get you started:

Brown and Green

Brown and green is the way to go when you want a traditional take minus the red. This is just a step outside the box, but the brown accents work wonderfully with green décor. The earthy charm looks both rustic and elegant, thus making it a good combination for houses that feature white, cream, and beige tones.

Red and Purple

Using purple on your décor creates a royal, regal vibe around the house, and the best colour you can pair this with is red. When you put the two colours together, the purple becomes this unique neutral shade that brightens up the red. Such a combination is perfect for homes that have many wood furniture pieces.

Blue and Lime

Blue and lime are a playful colour combination you can use this year. Just imagine a white artificial pre-lit Christmas tree full of blue balls and lime garlands – you know it will work aesthetically, even if the pairing seems unusual.

Turquoise and White

“White Christmas” doesn’t have to be all-white, so why not add turquoise as an accent colour? Turquoise, especially the lighter shades, complements white perfectly without being too flashy. Surely, this combination of coastal tones will create a relaxing feel in your home.

Navy and Silver

Match navy with silver when you want to elevate the contrast between the tones. The navy acts as the neutral hue that can blend easily with almost anything – be it on the tree or on the different decorations. Silver adds that spark, providing the white tones in your accents with sleek, refreshing charm.

Step out of the traditional colour combination of red and green this year. Play with any of these colour combinations to paint your Christmas in a different palette.

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Food Trip 101: Finding a Good Place to Eat

food tripWhen it comes to food, everybody is up for a new challenge. Almost everyone wants to have a new discovery and satisfy their cravings. The problem is you usually end up on a diner serving the same menus and house specialties.

To help you find what you’re looking for, here are some tips from The Fiddler for a new and memorable dining experience:

Search online

It’s not that difficult to find a good restaurant today. You can simply go online and search for pubs or restaurants nearby. Check their menus and specialties; read reviews and testimonials from other customers. There are informative food sites you can visit like Our Awesome Planet and Urbanspoon. Social Media is another tool you can use.

Use your network

Your personal network should be the best reference when it comes to food. For sure, they know some of your favourite dishes. Ask your friends and relatives for more referrals. Get to know more about their experience. Who knows? They may even point you to some of the best restaurants in town.

Drive around

The best way to look for a good restaurant is to drive around the area. Prepare your map and activate your GPS. Visit every restaurant you pass by and check out the specialties they offer. The moment you enter that front door and how the staff give you that warm greetings, you would know what you’re up to.

Explore

When ordering food, don’t be afraid to try something new. Get out of your comfort zone and maybe you could try some international specialties or exotic dishes. This gives you a new experience that will definitely be worth it.

These are just some of the tips you could use when looking for a good place to eat. Learn from the experience of other customers. This will help with your next food trip.

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Credit Firms Subject to Tougher Regulatory Regime

consumer credit licence applicationThe Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) promised consumer credit firms a tougher regulatory regime than was the case when they held Consumer Credit Licences from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Additional Rules

Many firms are now subject to additional rules, which did not apply under the OFT regime. For example, there are new requirements regarding the handling of client money for debt managers and for payday lenders relating to rollovers, Continuous Payment Authority and risk warnings on promotional material.

More Inspections

Firms can now expect to be supervised more often. Smaller firms are subject to monitoring at least every four years, and larger firms are on a more frequent inspection cycle. All firms must be ready to be inspected more frequently, as this may occur as part of one of the FCA’s thematic reviews or in response to data provided by the firm in an FCA return. In many cases, the OFT only audited Consumer Credit Licence holders when complaints were received about a firm, or it came into possession of other evidence indicating issues of concern.

More Fines and Bans

The FCA has greater powers to impose fines and bans on those who break the rules. It can impose sanctions not just on the firm itself, but also on key individuals within a firm.

The FCA started supervising credit firms from the very first day it assumed responsibility for them. There is certainly no grace period being granted for firms to adjust to the new regime. Actions have already been taken against payday lenders Wonga, Dollar Financial and The Cheque Centre.

As of late October 2014, the FCA revealed that more than 30 debt management firms had been subject to actions (such as refusals of authorisation applications, freezing of bank accounts or being forced to carry out a Skilled Persons review) since the switch.

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Increasing Rental Yield: Can You Build a Granny Flat on Your Property?

granny flatsHousing is a basic human need, yet it seems like it becomes more expensive with each passing year. One thing that has helped, though, is how some investors are adding secondary dwellings to their existing rental properties. These granny flats provide an affordable housing solution for lower income renters, while giving the investor an additional source of cash flow.

You might be wondering, though; is it worth it? Building a granny flat on a rental property is fairly affordable, but there are things you should keep in mind before going through with it.

1. Council restrictions

Before anything else, you need to make sure that your plans are actually legal. There are multiple legal requirements that you must follow when it comes to the size and design of your flat. Most specialised builders of granny flats will gladly help you with this, and can give you a consultation to determine whether your property is suitable.

2. Calculating ROI

Naturally, you want to learn if building a flat is financially sound. Find out what weekly rent you need to charge in order to recover your investment in a set number of years, and see whether it matches your expectations. It is important to do your research here, and ask local real estate agents whether there is an existing demand for granny flats in the area.

3. Tenant screening

Most granny flats tend to attract younger types of people. You want to make sure that they will get along well with the tenants on the main property, so screening them properly is essential. Look for young professionals and couples who are saving up for their home; they are usually the best tenants you can get for the flat.

4. Selling price 

Finally, you should also be aware of the impact a granny flat has on the future selling price of your rental property. While it will likely limit your pool of buyers, a well-built granny flat can potentially add a significant amount to your final price, beyond what it cost you to build. It is a trade-off between ease of selling and higher profits.

Generally, a good rental property becomes even better and more profitable with the addition of a granny flat. This is something that is worth considering if you find yourself wanting a little extra cash flow.

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Should Your Business Invest in New Technologies?

There comes a time when business owners realise that they need to invest in something new to keep their operations moving forward. Any kind of investment is a big decision. Whether it goes right or wrong, the people who decided on it share the responsibility. As such, business leaders know the importance of making sure they invest money in the right technology.

technologyWhy Invest?

New technologies reach a wider market, helping you develop better relationships with potential clients. A good investment doesn’t only offer allow you to offer better services; it also streamlines operations, maximises profit, improves efficiency, and minimises costs. Many talented employees may even show their hidden potential upon the introduction of new technologies.

Should You Invest?

IT project management consulting experts say that incorporating new technological developments with business operations is the norm. It’s best to make good use of such developments as early as possible, as everybody will rely on them eventually.

The first question to ask is whether any technology will add anything to your current operations. If you can answer how it can benefit your business, then it’s a good idea to invest in it.

How Much Should You Invest?

Most businesses spend one to 10% of their annual revenue on technological advancements, depending on the industry. They buy or upgrade their existing technology to improve their output. Some don’t buy immediately, but support the development of new technologies if they find it beneficial for their future operations.

How Can You Protect Your Investment?

Studying new technologies can cause delays. In some cases, these end up being useless because nobody can use them properly. Look for experts in IT, software, project management, and system integration and technological advisory. Their services can help your business adjust to new technologies quickly, so you don’t have to worry about lagging behind.

If you’re planning to invest in any technological advancement, you’ll need to plan thoroughly and hire the right people to help you adjust. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you know that your investment is worth every dollar.

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Important Things You Shouldn’t Forget before Starting a Fencing Project

Home FencingAre you thinking of installing a fence around your home? Below are some tips to get you started:

Do your Research

Don’t forget to inquire with the municipal building code officials and neighbourhood associations regarding rules about the height, material and look of fences. Some neighbourhood require a building permit for fence projects, so make sure to ask this.

Choose the Right Materials

As Western Australia is known for its harsh climate, boardwalk.com.au and other Perth aluminium screen providers advise homeowners to choose extremely durable materials that are highly resistant to weathering and corrosion. Many homeowners, however, prefer a classic white picket fence. Unfortunately, wood fences are prone to staining and can rot over time. So, instead of the standard wood, why not go for a low-maintenance material that gives the look of wood without the trouble of cleaning like vinyl. You may also try steel, aluminium and bamboo.

Mix Different Types of Fences

If your budget is tight, you may just mix different kinds of fences to save installation costs. This can also lessen the amount of fence that may need repainting.

Hire Professionals

Find a local fence contractor to help you with the installation process. Make sure to check their portfolio to generate ideas for your fence project.

Let Your Neighbour Know about Your Fencing Project

Make sure to talk to your neighbour about your fencing plans. Be considerate by not blocking their views unnecessarily.

Make Entrances

Create two paths in a fenced area to ensure safety and convenience. The paths should be big enough to accommodate bulky tools like large garbage cans, lawn mower, and so on. You can also add pergolas and stepping stones to determine the locations of gates easily.

Customise

Once your fence is installed, make sure to dress it up with finials or decorative posts. You may also want to plant a row of flowers in front of your newly built fence or paint it depending on your home’s design.

Installing a fence around your home could be for utilitarian, decorative or security purposes. Whatever your reason is, adding a fence around your property is definitely a good investment.

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Eating Out: A Food Lover’s Guide to Oslo’s Best Cultural Restaurants

A Restaurant in OsloOslo is undeniably one of the most amazing places in the world. It is perfect for weekend getaways, so try exploring the city alone or going on a trip with your friends. Though it is still an undiscovered tourist spot, many people believe it is Scandinavia’s next great capital city. No wonder statistics reveal that more than 3 million foreign tourists spend their time in Oslo every year.

Apart from the beautiful museums, great waterfalls and old architecture, another reason many people visit the city is its choice of culinary delights. Read on to know some of the best cultural restaurants you must try in your 48 hours in Oslo.

Maaemo

This Michelin-starred restaurant offers 20 different dishes depending on the season. Maaemo takes pride in providing highly seasonal yet modern meals that capture the heart of many. During summer, for instance, the restaurant’s menu includes grilled scallop with smoked butter or wild reindeer with pickles and vinegar. You should visit Maeemo if you want to try a different kind of fine dining restaurant.

Kolonihagen

Want to experience eating good food in a barn-like environment? Kolonihagen is the right place to go. It serves scrumptious meals made from natural and locally sourced ingredients. Though located in a backyard, Kolonihagen provides a wonderful outdoor dining experience.

For lunch, the restaurant offers a three-course Norwegian-French-influenced menu. They provide specialties such as hams and cheeses served with bread, which is popular with locals as well as tourists. For the evening menu, Kolonihagen serves a seven-course meal.

Solsiden

There’s something special about Solsiden that makes people eager to come back. The interesting thing about this seafood restaurant is that it only opens for half of the year – from May until September only. You can sit there for hours observing people, savouring each meal and watching the stunning views. Solsiden is a must-see place to visit, especially if you want to explore some unusual destination.

These are the amazing restaurants to try in Oslo for food lovers like you. Experience pure Norwegian flavours, ingredients and food traditions at its best.

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How to Travel to Singapore like a True Backpacker

SingaporeSingapore is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. It is highly accessible if you’re coming from neighbouring countries like Malaysia. Other than flying, you have two travel options: you can either travel by bus or by train.

Sunny City State

The Lion City sits 1.5 degrees from the equator, which means you will need your sunglasses for sightseeing during the day. Legend has it that the city state was named after the lion (Singapura). Home to a population of 5 million, Singapore ranks second to Monaco in terms of having the densest population.

Despite its small size, there are lots of attractions in the city. The only downside to visiting Singapore is the cost of living, so be prepared to spend. Nevertheless, the cost of travel doesn’t take anything away from the adventure that awaits you in this city state.

How to get there

Most of Singapore’s visitors are tourists and backpackers who are on their way to someplace else. Tourists from other countries can travel by plane and through the 5th busiest Airport in Asia. It is also accessible by land from the Malaysian Peninsula. You can even book online for bus rides from KL to Singapore.

What to See

• Singapore’s China town is considered one of the oldest in the world. This is a popular stop, especially during the Chinese New Year.

• Arab Street hosts several decent hostels for the usual backpackers. You can expect clean rooms at affordable prices. Some even offer free Wi-Fi.

• Little India, despite being the busiest district for backpackers, is also considered one of the best places to see. This area, as the name implies, is heavily influenced by Indian customs (Indian eating norms don’t include spoon and fork).

• Orchard road is the shopping centre of Singapore. It’s where the real action is, although it may not be as a backpacker-friendly, unlike the previous ones due to the accommodation costs here. As you can expect from any shopping district, Orchard Road is one of the most beautiful and modern parts of Singapore.

Adventure’s End

Singapore is one of Asia’s cultural melting pots. One would never run out of things to do during their stay. But once you’re done with your trip, you can easily proceed to a neighbouring country and continue your adventure. This makes Singapore an excellent addition to your travel itinerary.

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What Facebook Users Hate That Your Brand Should Never Do

FacebookFacebook is a fascinating place to market. You have plenty of tools to target your audience and establish meaningful relationships. This platform is highly versatile that you can post a variety of media to generate share; not to mention that you can synchronise it with your other digital channels.

The marketing potential of any social network, however, is only achievable if you know how to do things that people approve of.

Early this year, a recent study revealed the aspects of Facebook life users dislike. One facet of the results is truly surprising; only 5% of users said they dislike seeing social activities they were not included—something everybody expected to be right at the top of the list.

If you’re serious about making it big on the world’s leading social networking site, be aware of the following:

TMI Posts

About 36% of respondents gave a thumbs-down on people sharing “too much information” about them. What does this means for your marketing? Rather than focusing on your brand, concentrate on entertainment instead. The best SEO and SEM companies make campaigns a hit because they put personal value when producing social content.

Temptation to Share Personal Info

Asking for sensitive information is another thing that raises the ire of FB users. Privacy has always been subject to debate when it comes to using the Internet, let alone social media. Unless you want to make your customers feel harassed, don’t be too pushy or aggressive in terms of requesting for their emails.

Pressure to Comment on the Content

It didn’t come as a shock to know that users find “comment requests” annoying. There’s just nothing in it for them. If you really want to obtain significant social signals, create unique and interesting content to make people compelled to like, comment and share on their own.

Facebook is a major part of your marketing campaign, and you shouldn’t fail here. Work with true marketers to avoid such pitfalls and get a positive word of mouth review.

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Reaching Out for an Extra Hand

virtual assistantDocumentation is essential in every business to keep things in tracked and recorded. From simple memos to big contracts, it should contain clear and comprehensible phrases to avoid any confusion and misinterpretation. A simple word or punctuation can alter the meaning of a sentence or even the whole document.

Most companies, however, do not have the means to employ proofreaders to check the accuracy of the documents. Fortunately, they can hire a virtual personal assistant to help in the copy editing job. Precision plays a vital role in a company’s success, which is why it should never be often overlooked, according to experts.

Role of Proofreading in Business

Sending out poorly written proposals, letters, contracts, and other files can tarnish the reputation of a company. Documents that are full of typos and errors can cause a negative impression from existing and potential clients. In business, there is no room for mistakes and carelessness.

The slightest grammatical errors can hinder the credibility and authority of companies from solidifying their presence, thus delaying their success. Well-written papers can convey class and professionalism of the entire company.

Importance of a Separate Proofreader

Every business owner wants to do better than the others. They want to be on top of the competition. That is why an error-free document is crucial. One of the most common mistakes companies commit is that only one person writes, edits, and proofreads every document.

A writer tends to overlook unseen mistakes in the document because it is typically his style. It is wise to have two separate employees for writing and checking. Studies show that people who keep reading their own work become unwary of their mistakes. Fresh eyes tend to catch errors easily.

Proofreading should never be underestimated. Business owners who communicate within or outside the company represent and reflect the business as a whole. More than the reputation, poorly written documents can cause harm, especially if interpreted as the opposite. Avoid loss in business by prioritizing correct grammar.

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