7 Brain Hacks to Improve Memory

7 Simple Brain Hacks to Improve Your Memory

Your brain is a complex maze and factory of information.

And trying to understand this very complicated part of your body may seem very difficult.

But as a college student, it is important that you understand how your brain operates.

By doing so, you can actually figure out how you can maximise your use of your brain and absorb as many information as you can in preparation for your exams.

Here are 7 simple things that you can add into your daily routines to help you improve your memory.

1. Exercise Regularly

Getting into a physical activity may be the last thing on you mind when preparing for an exam.

But did you know that exercising can also help improve your memory?

Whenever you exercise, your body’s blood flow also improves as more oxygen gets delivered all throughout your body, including your brain.

Apart from the increased amount of oxygen that your brain receives, it also gets a lot of essential nutrients that helps improve your cognitive functions.

This is why exercising, even just a simple brisk walk, is highly advised if you want to improve your memory.

2. Read Out Loud To Yourself

Whenever you hear people talk or hear music playing, your brain processes those information.

Same goes when you talk out loud, especially if it’s as part of your study sessions.

Try reading aloud some important points that you need to remember.

This practice helps your brain memorize things that you read out loud and this way, it will be easier for you to recall things once you are taking your exam.

3. Play Some Brain Games

You might think that because you are studying at the moment, you shouldn’t be playing.

But research shows that playing brain games are proven to help improve your memory.

If you want to improve your study sessions and make them more interactive, you can try playing a memory game out of it with a friend or two.

Use flash cards or some pieces of paper and write down some important words on them and take turns with your friends in flashing those words and reciting their meanings.

You can also do a mini quiz game which is also a fun way of boosting your memory.

4. Get More Sleep

Yes, sleep. You might think that pulling an all-nighter is the best way to study for an exam.

But your brain needs to rest now more than ever.

Give yourself a break and give your brain the opportunity to consolidate all the important memories that you need to remember.

In fact, even short power naps are very helpful when it comes to improving your memory.

It helps you move your memories from your hippocampus, wherein you first record your memory, towards your neocortex, which acts as a more permanent storage of your brain.

5. Learn New Things

Did you know that when you learn new things, your brain creates additional neural connections?

This is to make room for the new information that you just learned, and this process is very important, as it also helps you maintain a healthy brain.

By learning new things, whether by reading or practicing new stuff, you get to create more networks in your brain, which is helpful in improving your memory and overall brain functions.

6. Drink Coffee

A recent study was conducted to find out the effects of caffeine in terms of retaining and recalling memories.

In this study, participants were tested by memorizing images, then were given a caffeine pill.

They were then asked to view the images again along with other trick pieces and pick out the ones they have been given to memorize.

The researchers believe that the caffeine pills helped improve their memory consolidation by taking caffeine after the learning task.

7. Eat Memory Boosting Foods

Good diet is essential when it comes to helping improve your cognitive functions.

In fact there are so-called brain foods that, when included in your diet, can help improve your brain’s ability to memorize and recall details.

Foods that are rich in omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and other micronutrients, are essential to your diet, as these food can greatly help improve your brain functions.

By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising, eating brain foods and keeping your mind sharp and active, you can definitely improve your brain’s ability to memorize and recall important information, especially those details that you need to remember once you are taking your exams.

Maintaining a sharp memory might sound a bit like rocket science but by following these brain hacks, it can be as easy as just maintaining good habits.

5 Work Colleagues Fistpumping

How to Make A Difference in an Unethical Workplace

The majority of us are likely to face unethical behaviour within the workplace at some point during our careers.

Nearly 50% of all workers have acknowledged seeing ethical misconduct in their workplace during the past year.

Whilst there are many different varying degrees of unethical behaviour, the consequences can be hugely damaging; not only from a legal point of view but also to a company’s reputation and work culture.

Unethical behaviour which is not illegal can chance falling into a grey area which is not defined and is without a code of conduct.

This can then make it difficult to know how to proceed when it is seen within the workplace as often people have different opinions when it comes to knowing what is or isn’t ethical.

It is hugely important for leaders to recognise what exactly drives employees to make these unethical decisions within the workplace, but it is also important for employees to know how to make a difference within an unethical workplace.

Man Stressed at Work with Head on Desk

What Causes Unethical Behaviour in the Workplace?

Many companies tend to create environments where employees feel compelled to make decisions which they wouldn’t usually and which are often unfavourable.

Pressure from managers can cause employees to meet unrealistic targets and objectives and this is one of the most common causes of unethical behaviour within the workplace.

When workplaces put expectations in place which are practically unachievable, then employees are likely to take extreme measures in order to try and meet them.

This is particularly true when it comes to competitive workplaces, where every task is seen as just another way to impress, provide work of value and get ahead of other employees.

When employees feel as though they can’t meet these targets, then they often resort to making unethical decisions, often out of fear for losing their job.

Time for Change Written on Chalkboard

How Can You Make A Difference in an Unethical Workplace?

It has become almost a custom for companies to create and instil a Code of Ethics, which are their own set collection of practices and principles which they aim to live by and believe in.

This is also expected from the employees who should work in conjunction with the company’s corporate values.

In an ideal world, behaving ethically at work should be easy but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and acceptable practices are not always clearly defined.

This is why having a Code of Ethics helps to create a sense of understanding and fairness of the overall rules so that both leaders and employees are aligned.

If you are wanting to overcome unethical behaviour or make a difference within an unethical workplace, then workplaces must help to create an environment where employees feel comfortable and safe.

Many people lack confidence in speaking up about unethical concerns in the workplace, with a fear that they will be reprimanded or even dismissed by a manager.

The more open, approachable and genuine a manager is, then the more willing that an employee will be when it comes to speaking up about important issues.

In addition to this, the way that manages react to reports of ethical concerns and the actions they take following will set the tone for how other employees approach similar ethical situations in the future.

Man Signing a Contract

How Can You Implement an Effective Code of Conduct in the Workplace?

The first step which comes with implementing a company-wide Code of Conduct policy is to ensure that you have it in writing and that each employee reads and signs a copy.

This helps to lessen any feelings of doubt when and if a decision needs to be made following unethical behaviour which is legally wrong or if it breaches company policy.

Depending on the nature of your workplace, you may need to set different rules.

For example, a company which deals with tier 2 visa sponsors are likely to have a different working environment than a bar, so finding rules which suit your individual workplace is important.

Next, you must give a clear outline of what the company expects of the person who have spoken up or discovered the problem.

There should, ideally, be an independent third party with a reporting system.

Having the ability to anonymously report behaviour without any fear of retribution is a hugely powerful tool to have when it comes to creating a “speak up” culture.

If and when any wrongful behaviour comes to light, there will be many employees who question whether or not they should or shouldn’t report what they have seen.

It is vital that you let them know what is expected and that they should report it.

If regulators were to ever question the company and find out that an issue was brought to the attention of managers first and that they subsequently didn’t do anything about it, then this is where the fault lies.

Establishing a proactive business is incredibly smart and it means that you are providing employees with the neccesary tools they need to do their jobs more effectively.

Sadly, unethical behaviour is something that most workplaces fall victim to.

Often incentives include making more money, getting promoted or pleasing a manager, but these can all too often lead to the most unfavourable decisions being made.

Lapses tend to happen in workplace ethics almost every day and in every kind of business, but it is important that there are both strong employees and leaders who have model moral behaviour and have clear policies when it comes to these issues.

These employees and leaders will help to lessen the risk of ethical dilemmas spilling out into the workplace, thus saving the company’s reputation.

New York City in the Making

New York City: In the Making

New York in 17th Century

Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian man, discovered New York Harbor in 1524.

However, the first people to visit the New York Harbor were European Vikings in around 1000 A.D.

So, the first settlement attempt came in 1624 and they were sent by the Dutch West India Company.

Most of them went upriver to Albany, but 8 men stayed in Manhattan, they were later followed by 45 more settlers.

The little Colony was protected by Fort Amsterdam which was built at the same time.

In 1624, the third governor settled the ownership of Manhattan with the Indians and negotiated the purchase price at $24.

He named the town ‘New Amsterdam‘.

The buildings were made of wood at first, but sometime later, houses of stone and bricks were made.

In 1653, a wall was built across Manhattan to protect New Amsterdam.

For the info, the wall next to it was what we call ‘Wall Street’ now.

In 1658, a village was built by Dutch farmers which they called Nieuw Haarlem back then.

However, it was popular later in the 18th century when Merchants started building a country house there.

In 1674, the English fleet captured the area and they renamed it as ‘New York’ in the honor of duke who was the brother of King Charles II.

New York-City 17th Century

New York in 18th Century

New York had around 5,000 population by 1700, and by 1776, the population was almost 25,000.

Also, during the 18th century, things started to get better.

The first newspaper called ‘The New York Gazette’ began its publication. It was around 1732.

Moreover, the first theater opened in 1732 and the first college (Columbia University now) in New York opened in 1754.

In 1776, hundreds of houses were destroyed by fire; in total, one-quarter of the city was wiped out.

During the same year, there was a war against British people, and they continued to occupy New York till it was over sometime years later.

After the war, some New York streets were renamed; Queen Street was renamed ‘Pearl Street’ and ‘King Street’ was renamed ‘Pine Street’.

Also, some other changes were starting to be made during that time.

The Bank of New York was founded in 1784.

Also, stocks and shares took place informally in Wall Street in 1792.

But, a group of merchants made an agreement that they could only deal with each other.

So, that was the starting point of ‘New York Stock Exchange’.

New York City 18th Century

New York in 19th Century

In 1807, the governor of the state drew up a plan for the city.

Before that, New York was growing in a disorganized way and there were no plans made.

Also, they ruled out that there would be 155 streets running east to west and 12 avenues running north to south.

New York Had become the USA’s largest city by 1820 and it had almost 124,000 people living there.

In 20 years, the population was around 312,000, and by 1860, there were more than 813,000 inhabitants.

The port of New York started blooming when the Erie Canal was built.

What it did was it allowed transportation of goods from the coast to the inside area quickly and cheaply.

However, the shipbuilding industry grew even more in the 19th century.

Like all the other city in North America, New York was still an unhealthy place.

People suffered from Cholera in 1832 and 1849. It returned again in 1866.

So, people were having a hard time surviving in New York because it was getting overcrowded by time.

The first New York subway opened in 1904.

Also, Madison Square opened in 1847, and the New York Times began publication in 1851.

Moreover, the first telephone lines were installed in 1878 and New Yorkers gained an electricity supply in 1880.

So, although the city was getting overcrowded, it was growing from the inside, and it was getting better.

And, by the end of the 19th century, the population of New York was almost 3.4 million.

Also, there were new and better opportunities for people there at that time.

New York City 19th Century

New York in 20th Century

In the 20th century, New York Continued growing, and by 1980, the population rose to over 7 million.

Also, several famous buildings were built in the 20th century.

For example, the New York Public Library opened in 1911, the Empire State building was built in 1931, The Rockefeller Center was built in 1932-1940, and more.

In addition, ‘Time Square’ is originally named after the ‘New York Times; it moved there in 1904 where Richard Oakes activists also came to live later on.

Meanwhile, Williamsburg Bridge was constructed in 1903, followed by Queensboro Bridge’ in 1909.

In the same year, Manhattan Bridge was also built.

Moreover, several museums opened during the 20th century in New York.

Some of them are ‘The Museum of the city of New York’ in 1923, ‘The Museum of Modern Art’ in 1929, ‘The Guggenheim Museum’ in 1939, and more.

Nonetheless, many landmark buildings were built in the late 20th century.

They are ‘General Motors Building’ in 1968, the ‘IBM building’ in 1982, ‘The World Financial Center’ in 1988, the ‘Lincoln Center’ in 1962-1969, etcetera.

New York City 20th Century

21st Century New York

In 2001, a tragedy took place when the ‘World Trade Center’ was attacked by terrorist.

Though it recovered in no time, the residents of New York were heartbroken at the time.

In the 21st century, the city of New York still made great progress.

For instance, one ‘World Trade Center’ was opened again in 2014, the ‘World Trade Center Transportation Center’ in 2016, and many more.

So, to this day, New York is still considered as one of the best cities in the whole world.

Also, it’s a major financial and industrial center.

Last but not least, New York is also an important tourist destination and everyone believes that it’s a city to make money and with great opportunities.

By 2017 and 2018, the population of New York rose to over 8.6 million.

So, comparing New York from the 17th century with the New York City now, it has made enormous progress.

Also, the mansions, condos, and apartments in New York have gotten so expensive.

However, there are some people who have made so much money that they can afford anything.

For example, Here’s a list of New York’s top expensive houses sold in 2018. Scroll down to find out the details.

New York City 21st Century

New York’s Top 4 Expensive Homes sold in 2018

$74 million (#Dph60, 520 Park Avenue)

The first in the list would be a guy named James Dyson.

Dyson bought an apartment in the Robert A.M. Stern-designed tower for around $74 million.

He is an inventor of pricey hair dryers and vacuum cleaners, and his net worth is around $10 billion.

The lavish penthouse features 270 square feet of outdoor space and six bedrooms.

$62 million (#Dph52, 520 Park Avenue)

In November 2018, an anonymous buyer bought a 9,200 square feet condo worth $62 million at 520 Park Avenue.

The condo features a master wing with two huge bathrooms, a private elevator between levels, and all sort of fancy stuff.

It was reported the billionaire ‘Frank Fertitta’ bought the penthouse at 520 Park for around $70 million last year.

However, it’s not clear the unit he purchased.

$59 million (@Ph, 503 West 24th Street)

Though they didn’t reveal the buyer’s name, the triplex condo was sold for $59 million.

It was recorded in the priciest downtown purchase list in the city’s history.

The condo features 10,000 square feet of space, 2,700 square feet of outdoor space, six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a swimming pool, and more.

$56 million (#phs, 70 Vestry Street)

The Robert A.M. Stern-designed Tribeca condo was listed in the most expensive penthouse at 70 Vestry.

When it first hit the market, they asked $65 million for it.

So, we must say the buyer was lucky enough to get that in $56 million with such a huge discount.

Modern Home at Dusk

5 Creative Real Estate Marketing Ideas & Strategies for 2019

As we move full steam ahead into 2019, you are likely looking to make some major headway with your real estate portfolio.

With so much potential to tap into, though, you might not be 100% sure where to start.

If you are short on ideas, we’ve got some useful and creative real estate marketing ideas and strategies for 2019.

These should make it much faster for you to build a comprehensive real estate system that you can benefit from for years to come.

Here are some useful real estate marketing ideas and strategies which are very popular in 2019.

Holding iPhone with Social Media Apps

1. Get on Social Media

Probably the best thing that you could do as a starting point for your real estate business is to start using social media to your advantage.

When used in the right way, it can be among the most powerful tools that you have.

We recommend that you start off by looking at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and especially Instagram.

The last one is especially useful for real estate marketing in 2019: it’s got the happy blend of image-heavy content and easy interaction with readers and viewers.

You can use this to start interacting with people, sharing photos of your best properties and really pushing for your business forward in the right way.

If you are serious about marketing your real estate business in 2019, then you need to make use of social media as best you can.

Social media is an essential tool for you to work with, and we cannot recommend that you use it enough for building visibility and credibility.

Be sure to get yourself some social media pages set up, but remember that all good social media accounts are run with a universal kind of language.

For example, how you come across on Twitter should be the same as you come across on Facebook.

While how you market yourself will change from location to location, you’ll find that the general tone and style of language that you use should be a lot more rigid.

This is a small but important step towards building a strong social media presence that is going to benefit you moving forward, so keep that in mind.

2. Increase Interactions with Social Shares

By the same token, you should be looking to make the most of social sharing.

Many people don’t use social sharing features, despite it being a major part of real estate marketing in 2019.

Why is it so useful? As research from Rightswitch shows, you can make sure that each and every one of your properties is easily shared on major social media channels.

You’ll have noticed it yourself on other property websites, lingering at the bottom of the page.

The opportunity to go and share the content on places like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and the like is very useful indeed.

If someone happens to come across a property that they like on your site, they could share it with their social media following – who knows how many house hunters just so happen to be following that person?

It’s these little tricks that can make all the difference if you want to build a strong, secure social media presence.

The more shares and interactions that you can get, the better.

And the best way to get people involved with your business is to encourage your present viewers to share the houses they like.

By doing this, you can really improve your social media presence.

3. Vary Your Content with More Video

One of the most challenging parts of running a real estate business in 2019 is making sure that you can be interesting enough to the viewer.

That might sound harsh, but it’s not intended to be insulting in any way: we just mean that you cannot stick rigidly to one particular form of content.

Your best bet if you wish to get more traction and business is to start using more variety in your content.

For example, do you just produce long read articles at the moment? They are very useful.

From an SEO and a learning perspective, you can never have too many high-quality articles over 1000 words in length.

That being said, you should also be looking to make the most of the most real estate friendly form of media: videos.

With video, you can make sure that you start to see more people take decisive action.

A video is far more likely to hold the attention of a viewer, and they are generally much more likely to take action.

Indeed, you’ll be more likely to get people coming to check out your real estate website (and your properties) by using video to help advertise your brightest and best properties.

You would be crazy not to be using video more in 2019, to be honest.

Content in written form will always have its use, but you will find that video is very much a good way to get your more hits.

If you are on your lunch break at work and you are house-hunting, you are more likely to watch a 2-3 minute video than read a longer article.

When people have time, they’ll enjoy an article.

When they are busy, though, videos can help to make up for that time attention deficit and still convince them to see what you have to offer.

Pins on a Map Graphic

4. Get a Google My Business Page

We mentioned earlier on that social media is very important, but your most important social media tool is that of Google My Business.

This feature is almost essential for any business that is serious about long-term improvement, and is going to become a major part of helping you to bring in more business naturally.

With Google My Business, you can easily start to make more of a positive impression on your audience.

You can set up a Google My Business account very easily – if you ever had a Google Places or Google+ account, then it’s more or less the same as this.

You will be able to set this up very quickly and without much effort, and you can then be more easily found in Google searches, on Google Maps and on Google+ – given the power that Google has in terms of market visibility, this is an obvious one to push for.

Many people don’t bother with Google My Business, but it would be foolish to leave this kind of visibility on the table.

If you want to make sure that you can market your real estate business in 2019, then you absolutely need to start using this kind of marketing tool. It’s not just for visibility, though; it’s for credibility.

People will be less likely to use your business if they feel like your competitors are more professional looking.

If you have a Google My Business account, then you can make sure that you still appear professional.

With more information readily available, including your location, you make it much easier for people to trust that you are a real estate business they can trust.

Credibility is everything, and Google My Business gives you credibility in spades.

5. Invest in Aerial Photography

Lastly, we recommend that you look to use aerial photography to your benefit.

This is a very powerful tool, and easily one of the most effective ways that you can improve how your business is seen in general.

People who use this tool to their advantage are going to be able to make a massive impact on the way that their properties are seen and sold.

When your competition is just using basic shots of the front, side, and back of the house, they aren’t getting a full feel for the area.

Well, with the help of aerial photography, that changes more or less instantly.

You will soon find that aerial photography is the perfect starting point for showing off not just the home from new angles, but the surrounding area.

A home can look like a paradise with a close-up front view shot of the home.

But it’s about more than this: what about when you arrive at home? Does the rest of the area feel as good?

With aerial photography, you can answer these questions and boost inquiries into your home.

By giving more of an abstract shot of the home, too, you are showing off everything from the roof to the size of the garden relative to the properties nearby.

It allows you to offer the viewer a new perspective on your property that the viewer won’t get from a competitor.

Simply by using a drone with a camera, you can snap some professional looking aerial shots that will make selling your homes so much simpler.

As a real estate agent, 2019 offers both luxurious opportunity and massive challenges to be overcome.

If you start marketing using the above tools, though, you might find it easier to handle these problems.

If you want to make this a profitable and successful year, then consider using the above ideas: they could make a huge difference to your real estate business.

Granite vs Quartz

Quartz vs Granite: Choose The Best Kitchen Worktop to Suit Your Needs

If you are doubtful or confused about which kitchen worktop to choose, this article may be helpful.

The main confusion is faced by homeowners when they come to know about the granite as well as quartz kitchen worktops.

Both are awesome choices and hence all the confusion.

This article will help you get your confusion cleared.

Are you undergoing major renovation for your house?

If yes, then you must have included renovating all the corners and each of the surfaces of your house to be renovated. Right? Let’s check it.

You have included your bedroom, of course, your washroom, your living room, and your kitchen room all.

Did you include your worktops in the list? What? You forgot.

Include it instantly. After all, it is the work surface of your kitchen that ensures a hygienic and healthy atmosphere for you to live in.

Well, there are many worktop materials that are available in the market but the confusion that most of the homeowners face basically involves quartz vs granite.

While quartz countertops are engineered stones and offer comfortable options that offer you maintenance advantages, granite countertops are natural stones that require considerable attention with respect to the maintenance aspect.

But the look and feel offered by both is absolutely unmatched.

What’s The Difference Between Quartz Worktop and Granite Worktop?

Colour

With an extremely natural appearance, granite countertops are the most preferred options for homeowners who want to offer an elegance that appears naturally.

So far as granite worktops colours are concerned, you get many shades starting from lighter colours like white to darker ones like black and dark brown.

The quartz worktops colours, on the contrary, are available in almost every colour as they are painted with pigments.

Starting from a natural looking colours to bright greens and darker shades of red, these are available in various shades.

The most common colours, however, include whites with light grey, beige, etc.

These worksurfaces are developed with a very consistent look that ultimately makes it capable of keeping seams unnoticeable.

Cleaner

Granite countertops worktops stay as they are for even more than two decades.

They never require sealing.

In fact, the cleaning care needed for the material is almost nil.

A damp sponge and paper towels are enough to clean the stains and spills that may affect the look for the material in a negative way.

Spills too are easy-to-clean and they can be handled with granite worktop cleaner perfectly without any significant effect being put.

When it comes to quartz worktops cleaning, there is good news for you.

If the cleaning aspect is your utmost concern, quartz worktop too is very easy to clean just like granite countertops.

Clean fresh spills on the worktops can be handled well by using dish soap and a soft cloth while for rigid stains to be removed, you may use glass or surface cleaner.

Repairs & Maintenance

A granite worktop repair and maintenance facilities could be easily found as a supplement to home improvement methods.

The small chips or scratches can easily be repaired using epoxy kit.

In case of larger issues, including extreme dullness or multiple scratches, it is recommended to go for refinishing or polishing of the surface.

For repairing quartz countertops, however, epoxy kits could be used but handling cracks are more difficult in case of these material-made worktops.

Keep it off from extremely heated bases or surfaces as it may lead to the decolouration of quartz.

With Caesarstone, you get quartz overlay that can be applied on the already existing worktop to give it an elegant appeal.

Prices & Cost

Besides so many factors that affect homeowners choice of materials, the one that is the most vital is the cost of the materials.

While granite worktop prices are a little less, averaging $60 per square foot, the quartz countertops cost is quite high, averaging $75 per square foot.

For granites, you may get the cost reduced, homeowners may opt smaller pieces or tiles.

On the other hand, quartz normally has fixed prices, which is high because of the special edges that are offered.

Durability

Granite worktops are resistant to cracking, scratches, and chipping.

Still, it is always expected that you don’t ever go for these worksurfaces as a cutting surface.

Quartz kitchen worktops, on the other hand, are engineered materials that are highly resistant to cracking and chipping stuff.

The presence of the resins in quartz make them a more flexible option for people who either want a contemporary appeal or conventional feel in their premises.

Care & Maintenance

While care and maintenance are needed for both types of worktops.

You may be a little lenient with the care and concern for quartz but you must not lack attention for the granite worktops.

No matter how confused you are regarding your choice, it is completely up to your requirements and priorities that will help you make a suitable choice.

For some people, it is only the look and feel of the worktops that matters the most while for a few people, it is the care and maintenance requirement that forms the basic parameter for making the choice.

Make sure whichever option you choose is one of the best from your perspective.

So far as the care, repair, and maintenance is concerned, if you think you cannot proceed with the same, have a professional hired for the same.

Choose the one you want and you will get a magical kitchen for yourself.

Author Bio

Jennifer Adam is a marketing Head at KMLWorktops.london, a leading retailer of high quality quartz worktops, granite worktops and many other worktop variants for homes and offices in London. She is passionate about all things related to home improvement and she loves to write on related topics when she finds time from his hectic schedule.

Beautiful Modern Home

6 Most Sought After Features for a Modern Home

Your home is your sanctuary, a place where you can unwind and relax after long days of work.

It is where you spend most of your time.

Everyone has a different picture of what his or her home should look and feel like.

What a person wants out of their house very much depends on the needs and tastes of the person in question.

That being said, some housing trends remain unaffected by individual preferences and are universal to all home buyers of today.

Here are six of the most sought after features that make up a modern home:

Open Concept Living Space

1. Open Floor Plan

The “open floor plan” or open concept is probably the most overused phrase in the housing market at the moment.

So, what does it mean?

Houses with open floor plan usually have large, open living spaces that serve more than one function.

In modern houses, this type of floor plan eliminates the need for partition walls between a living room, dining area, and a kitchen.

So, you get what is essentially a great room which combines all three spaces.

An open floor plan is a necessity for people today.

But why has it become such a must-have?

Well, the prices of houses are skyrocketing.

We can no longer afford big, luxurious houses.

Open floor plans are the perfect solution to maximize the floor area that is available to us.

They make the interiors of our homes look large, inviting, and free-flowing.

Also, open floors plans are very flexible.

Hence, they can accommodate our evolving needs.

Another advantage of an open floor is that it removes that sense of isolation from other family members.

Outdoor Entertainment Area

2. Outdoor Living Areas

Maybe it is because we have to spend so much time cramped up indoors with our work, any chance to go outdoors and relax is very much appreciated.

That is why outdoor living areas have become crucial for modern homes.

It is just more enjoyable to have family gatherings, dinners, etc. out in the open, closer to nature.

Patios, porches, decks, cabanas, etc. all are great ways to incorporate outdoor living spaces into your homes.

These features can also add a touch of beauty to your property.

Even with a small property or backyard, these spaces are possible.

What you can do is extend your indoor living area outdoors instead of separating them.

One example is to have a moving glass wall system or large sliding doors between the living room and outdoor deck or patio.

This way, when you open the doors, you can have one large indoor-outdoor living area.

Furniture and other furnishings can set the mood for your outdoor living area.

So, make sure you are careful with your selection.

If you are concerned about the weather, you can shade the outdoor living space.

Metal carports, pergolas, canopies, are all very affordable and perfect for the purpose.

White Double Garage Door

3. Secure Garage or Parking Space

Life without cars, pickups, SUVs, and other four-wheelers have become pretty much unimaginable.

They are indispensable parts of everyday lives.

But they do require considerable investment.

So, it only makes sense that garages, carports, and other parking spaces would be a priority for any potential buyer.

Nobody wants to leave their vehicles at the mercy of mother nature, do they?

Besides saving your cars and pickups from the adverse elements, these shelters will also keep them protected from the prying eyes of thieves and vandals.

Attached garages are the norms for most modern houses.

However, detached garages have also become very popular in recent times.

But for people who are short on cash and want an affordable solution for their parking problems, then carports would be the way to go.

There are many options available in the market, everything from wooden to vinyl carports.

Of course, all of them come with pros and cons of their own.

However, something that is gaining a massive fan-following among homeowners is metal carports.

These metal carport kits are incredibly strong and durable but come at a very low price.

Organised Storage Shelves

4. Storage

People accumulate a lot of things over time; family heirlooms, sports memorabilia, household appliances, and what not.

It is just an unavoidable consequence of living.

However, they do not want the mess inside their bedroom or living area.

There, they want everything organized.

So, it is important that a modern house has dedicated storage spaces.

Pantries for kitchens, walk-in closets, attics, garages, and basements all form a massive part of modern house design.

If you want to save floor space, why not go vertical?

Hanging, built-in or multi-purpose shelves are great for this purpose.

Some of the homeowners, however, prefer to have their storage completely separate from their house.

That way, they do not have to constantly deal with the storage hassle and can instead utilize all the available floor area for residential purposes.

Hence, outdoor storage shelters have risen in popularity as excellent alternatives.

Backyard sheds, detached garages, carports, etc. protect your belongings and do not take up any space inside the house.

If curb appeal is of the utmost importance to you, then you cannot go wrong with a traditional wooden storage shed.

On the other hand, metal carports and garages are your safest bet if you are looking for affordability and the durability.

Modern Wavy Ceiling Lights

5. Natural Lighting

With the growing understanding of the benefits of sustainable living, more emphasis will be put on natural lighting.

And it is not just about limiting your ecological footprints.

Its advantages extend beyond that.

Natural lighting has been proven to be better for the physical and, more importantly, for the mental health of people.

House designs that incorporate natural light can increase the productivity of the occupants, reduce their stress, and, generally, get them in a better mood.

Not to mention, it also helps to cut down on the energy costs since you won’t need electricity to light up your house.

One of the obvious ways to get daylight into your house is to have bigger or more numerous windows.

Picture windows (or windows that do not open) can also let in natural light, and they are more affordable than normal windows.

Of course, you will need some normal windows for ventilation.

Skylights, clerestory lights, etc., are also effective ways of lighting the interiors of a house.

Solar Panels on Tiled Roof

6. Energy Efficient Design

It is finally dawning on people that the ever-rising costs, as well as the ecological consequences of using fossil fuels, is unsustainable.

Steps have been taken in every sector to minimize dependency on these non-renewable energy sources.

Nowhere have these changes been more apparent than in the housing market.

Energy efficient design has become critical to modern houses and rightly so.

So, how do modern homes achieve energy efficiency?

Energy efficient design starts right from the conception of the building.

With passive building design, the building can take advantage of the local climate, site conditions, prevailing winds, and other natural features to passively heat or cool the building.

Using sustainable building materials and construction practices can also help with the energy efficiency of your buildings in the long run.

Insulation, thermal mass, daylighting, natural ventilation, etc. are also essential elements of passive home designs.

In addition, modern homes are also looking to benefit from alternative sources of energy.

The growing popularity of solar panels, rainwater harvesting, etc. are testaments to those practices.

Technological advancements have kept pace with the energy efficient home designs as well.

Most houses now run high-efficiency water and lighting fixtures, kitchen appliances, gadgets, and so on to reduce energy loads.

These are but some of the popular features that have come to define modern homes.

And most of these features do have logical reasoning behind them. Hopefully, the list will be of some help the next time you go house-hunting.

Foreign Language Translation Books

Italian: Such a Lyrical Language!

Recollections of an Italian interpreter & translator

With over 80 languages spoken just in Peterborough, it’s no wonder the area’s professional interpreters and translators are kept busy!

Anne Castellano has been helping non-English speakers in various situations for over 30 years, working as a freelance Italian interpreter and translator.

With many thousands of hours of experience in diverse settings, she is equally at home interpreting in operating theatres as in prisons and has vast experience of working with the Police, the Courts at all levels, the Probation Service, Solicitors, Hospitals, Clinics, GP surgeries, mortuaries, Social Services, Driving Theory Tests, dentists, opticians and many more.

As you can imagine, this has given rise to many interesting, humorous and sometimes scary situations!

There are certain consultants and nurses at the local hospital who go into raptures when they hear Anne in full flow – “keep talking, it’s such a lyrical language, it sounds beautiful!” is the cry.

In the courtroom, Anne says, “if the Italian speaker shouts, I have to shout and if they swear, I have to too! It all adds to the passion and intensity of the exchange!”

The mood and temperament have to be matched.

Once, on a hospital ward, the patient in bed was being repositioned and the nurses ploughed ahead with their ‘manhandling’ as they thought she was saying, “that’s better!” – until Anne pointed out that what she was actually saying was “Aspetta!”, ie. Wait!! Hang on!!

Humour does play a part as Italian can be a very expressive language with much ‘allegria’ in it – a certain type of humour can also have its place as Anne often discovers when interpreting for Police officers in the custody suite – she comments, “how else can the boys in blue cope with what they have to put up with on a day to day basis without their black humour to keep them sane?!”

Nowadays some people say why employ an interpreter when we have Google translate?

Anne’s reply, based on experience, is always – “that’s fine if you want the translation for a cricket ball to come back as a dance for insects!”

…there simply is no substitute for face to face contact.

Anne Castellano

No machine can reflect the subtleties and nuances of language and the message has to be conveyed in the right tone.

The competent interpreter can gauge the setting and the appropriate register to adopt to ensure that the client or patient has completely understood.

Anne adds that it is equally true that a good interpreter should act as a mirror between the two languages and the best interpreters are considered to be virtually invisible, ie. the conversation or questioning flows effortlessly between the two languages without the presence of the interpreter being noticed or feeling at all intrusive.

Anne says how satisfying it is to be able to bring clarity to a situation and, often, calm people down.

Imagine not fully understanding what a doctor or police officer or a social worker is trying to say to you… it can be very upsetting and nerve racking.

Simply hearing your native tongue can be like adding a calming balm to the mix. Someone who can explain what is going on!

Anne always reflects that the presence of an interpreter can be a double boon to the non-English speaker – not only can they then understand what is being said to them, they are also able to express themselves fully in their mother tongue, asking whatever questions they wish or explaining their situation in their own words.

It’s clear that Anne gets a real buzz from her work, her favourite bookings are those that allow her to be present in the delivery suite for the arrival of a newborn baby.

She reports, “I have helped deliver several babies over the years and it is always a real joy and privilege!”

The variety of the profession never ceases to amaze, one day Anne may be at her desk translating legal documents and the next she may be engaged in conference interpreting or a home visit to an elderly person or, on occasions, doing voiceovers for promo or training films.

Confidentiality is also paramount.

Anne explains, “The local Italian community is still very tight-knit with virtually everyone knowing everyone else. It is therefore essential that whoever I am interpreting for has the utmost confidence that nothing that is discussed will ever be repeated.”

“I always stress, right from the outset of any scenario, that our entire encounter will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.”

It is this trust and confidence that has led to Anne’s numerous excellent rapports with both professionals and Italian speakers alike.

Story Contributed By: Anne Castellano

If you would like to book Anne for an interpreting assignment or you have any documentation which requires translating from Italian to English or vice versa, please call 0774 81 55 359 for a quotation or email her on anne.castellano@btinternet.com

Does Your Kitchen Need a Silestone Worktop Transformation?

You can easily transform your kitchen with a beautiful interior and update the work surfaces with some of the latest materials such as Silestone.

It is a man-made stone, consisting of approximately 95% quartz and other materials to give it impeccable strength.

Not only that, Silestone provides great strength but it is also a flexible and adaptable surface.

If you are looking for a truly versatile worktop material, Silestone quartz is a number one choice.

Is Your Kitchen Outdated?

If you wanted to answer the question, “is your kitchen in need of a Silestone Worktop transformation?”, it depends on the type of interior your kitchen has and what makeover you want your kitchen to have.

However, silestone kitchen worktops are ideal to style up any type of kitchen – be it modern or traditional.

Having said this, one of the main items to know if your kitchen is ready to receive stone is that it’s already fully installed.

Your cabinets should be fixed to the floors and walls.

In addition, you should have all the appliances that will be in contact with the stone on-site.

This allows the fabricators and installers to know exactly where and how to create the cut outs for your worktops.

Silestone Kitchen Worktop Wrap

When it comes to aesthetics, Silestone comes in a wide range of colours – from neutral shades to bright and vivacious hues.

So, it can fit into any kitchen style or theme.

But before you decide to buy Silestone, you must know the following facts, as well as tips, to maintain and take care of this kitchen worktop material in the years to come:

Toughest Stone

Silestone is tougher than granite, as it’s a non-porous material with resin content to make it impact resistant and malleable.

While both materials provide stout durability, Silestone is highly resistant to scratches and stains due to its non-porous nature.

In addition, Silestone surfaces come with exclusive bacteriostatic protection which ensures hygiene is always a must.

Similarly, the brand offers N-Boost treatment on all its materials which act as a liquid repellent.

The result is achieved by developing a treatment that acts at a molecular level within the stone.

Seamless Fabrication

Silestone Calacatta Gold is a gorgeous kitchen stone to add a sophisticated flair to your kitchen, just like any natural stone.

However, Silestone has a leg up on any sort of natural stone when we talk about large installations.

This is because some of its slabs are fabricated in larger pieces without any seams or fewer seams.

If you want a flawless countertop, it must be on your list.

Not only that Calacatta is the most famous marble in the world but the manufacturer offers the natural look without the maintenance required on natural marble.

Maintenance

Another best thing about Silestone is that it doesn’t require any sealant or protective coating to prevent it from heat, stains or scratches.

Routine clean-up is also a breeze with just mild soap and water.

Heat-Resistance

While Silestone claims to be heat-resistant and totally heat-proof, it is advised to not put any hot pan on the surface.

Place a hot pad or trivet before putting a hot pan on it. It will only enhance the longevity of the stone in the long run.

Where to Buy Silestone?

It is best to purchase your worktop material, such as Silestone Statuario or any other worktop material, from a reliable stone supplier.

Comprehensive online stores offer a huge selection or range to choose from, at very reasonable prices.

You must take your time and do some legwork before investing in a kitchen worktop material.

Try to avoid any place that pushes a specific brand or style on you.

There must be no pressure to pick any stone that you don’t want.

It is best to look for a place that handles designs, fabrication, installation and sales.

A company that handles all is more likely to work with skilled craftsmen to install your worktop and handle the renovation well.

If anything goes wrong, you can also contact the company to deal with the issue.

Moreover, make sure that the company has been in the industry for years and that they have favourable customer reviews.

Also, ask to see their testimonials or work samples to know more about their previous work before hiring them.

Rome Through the Eyes of a Cabbie

Traveling to a foreign country for the first time can be a scary experience for most.

There are hundreds of obstacles that could come up during a trip.

These obstacles will likely include budget, transportation, and communication, which are just about the three essential parts to any trip.

When planning my first trip to Italy, I decided that my first stop would be in Rome to visit my extended family.

Unlike many other first-time travelers, I happened to be very lucky.

My cousin Viviana’s husband, Raffaele, is a taxi driver and makes a living off tourism in Rome.

Anthony & Raffaele, Rome
Raffaele & Anthony, Rome

My friends and I were only staying in Rome for five days and Raffaele was kind enough to dedicate himself to us for most of our stay in the eternal city.

If you ask anyone who’s traveled to Italy before, they likely stayed in Rome for at least a minimum of a week.

The massive crowds at tourist attractions contributes to that. It’s likely that most people spend at least a half a day waiting to get inside the Vatican Museums alone.

I had my caffé and cornetto, made my way to the Sistine Chapel, calmly explored St. Peter’s Basilica, and was back at Raffaele’s in time for lunch.

We dedicated half a day to Vatican City and still had time to explore Rome later in the day.

Most newbie travelers would beg to hear the secret to not dedicating one entire day to waiting on line in Vatican City.

I had two things going for me. I visited Rome in January, which is down season for traveling to Italy, and I have a cousin who is a professional cabbie.

My Italian family welcomed me with open arms and Raffaele was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

From the first day we arrived, he would pick us up around nine o’clock and spent the entire day driving us to all the major tourist sites.

Another factor that made this experience even more authentic was that Raffaele spoke very little English, so I had to pull whatever Italian my nonno taught me out of thin air.

I also had my google translate app help me get through the more difficult conversations.

Rome Colosseum
Roman Colosseum at Night

Getting Around

One of the most expensive and time-consuming parts of visiting Rome is transportation costs.

Most tourists are recommended to buy the Roma Pass, which costs at maximum 38 Euros.

I purchased one, not realizing that I didn’t even need to use it.

Not everyone has the money to pay cabbies to drive them around for the entire day.

Walking is always an option, but most people are pressed for time during their trips.

The Italian public transportation is very efficient, but again, it can be daunting for a first-time traveler to figure out the subways and bus routes in a city as large as Rome.

Enter the hero of my trip, Raffaele, who picked us up in the morning for espresso and took us exploring around the entire city of Rome.

Where We Stopped

One of our first stops was at the legendary Sant’ Eustachio il Caffé, which is very well known and recommended by Vogue and the New York Times.

Sant Eustachio il Caffé Rome
Sant Eustachio il Caffé, Rome

No one on the planet drives with the efficiency and skill of an Italian cabbie, who sport some of the greatest reflexes I’ve ever seen.

It’s truly an art to be able to drive in Rome. Raffaele resembled Mario Andretti when he did it, driving with both class and just the right amount of aggression.

I felt like a movie star when Raffaele drove directly up to the Pantheon and parked near the side of the esteemed church, only for him to be waiting for us when we were finished exploring.

Cabbies have more of a free range when it comes to parking in Rome.

Raffaele especially came in handy when certain tourist sites were across the entire city from most of the main attractions.

Instead of spending all my time figuring out public transportation times and maps, Raffaele had us at La Terrazza del Gianicolo in a matter of minutes.

In only four full days and a half of the fifth day, we managed to explore the colosseum, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums, La Terrazza del Gianicolo, Spanish Steps, Piazza Venezia, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and Campo de’ Fiori all while leisurely taking our time.

Not to mention watching the fireworks light up across the city on New Year’s Eve while sitting atop the Spanish Steps, a recommendation of Raffaele himself.

It was one of the most breathtaking experiences of my entire life to see the fireworks light up across Rome.

There were tourists of all kinds watching along with me, celebrating by popping champagne in the middle of the street.

Local Customs

As an American, I was shocked to see people openly drink in the street because it’s illegal in most cities in America.

During the famed Italian daybreak called siesta, Raffaele and his wife Viviana cooked us lunch at their home.

I’m sure that the New York cabbies would be jealous of the midday break the Italian cabbies are granted daily.

After our mouthwatering eight course lunch, Raffaele had my friends and I taste test his home-made fennel grappa, which was amazing.

It was a truly wonderful experience to witness a true Italian hospitality.

A day in the life of a Roman cabbie gave me an experience in Italy I will never forget.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time in the eternal city only, wishing for one more day of experiencing the Roman way of life.

Story Contributed By: Anthony Sciarratta

Using Instagram on Smartphone

How Instagram Has Transformed the Fitness Industry

In recent years, our social media feeds have contributed to a fitness revolution that cannot be avoided.

With images of the ideal body perpetuating through society, there has been a change in attitudes towards exercise, fitness, nutrition and fashion.

Social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram have provided personal trainers and fitness fanatics with a platform to offer advice and support for others trying to achieve their fitness goals and adhere to the ideal.

Why is Instagram So Popular Within the Fitness Industry?

Instagram has become societies go-to platform for inspiration and motivation, whether you are working towards a bikini body, training towards your next bodybuilding competition, or simply trying to lose/gain weight and get in shape.

Thanks to Instagram, there is a constant stream of motivation to drawn on, with a plethora of fitness and sports brands capitalising on users on-going quests for self-improvement.

But why is Instagram so successful at doing so?

People are drawn to the consistency of photographic evidence that demonstrates progression and results, giving people the encouragement and hope that such goals are possible.

The Promotion of a Lifestyle

Some of the most successful brands on Instagram take a subtle approach to selling by focusing on posts that tap into the users desire for a particular lifestyle – not just a product.

It is very likely that if a consumer is interested in sport, then they are going to be interested in nutrition, health and general well-being too.

Consequently, brands recognize the importance of viewing users in this light, ensuring that their posts aren’t too repetitive, dull or just trying to sell a product.

Just How Powerful is Instagram?

Instagram statistics demonstrate immense power showing that 1 billion active users a month, and around 100 million pictures and videos uploaded every single day.

So, it is no surprise that Instagram holds immense power to connect people from all over the world.

Such power has enabled Instagram to become the ultimate platform for businesses and organisations to gain more coverage for their brand and products.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for the average search engine optimisation company to now switch their attentions to using social media as their primary marketing tool instead, such is the power and influence it has.

Instagram has become so powerful that personal trainers, health experts and fitness enthusiasts can capitalise significantly from the platform.

Diet plans, workouts and health supplements are increasingly shared across Instagram, particularly since public figures and influencers can use Instagram as a way of promoting specific brands, just by the upload of a photo and use of a hashtag.

Instagram’s image of the ‘ideal’ figure promotes sculpted curves, defined abs, toned glutes and solid muscles, an image that showers our feeds on a daily basis.

This raises a debate as some people see this as problematic as Instagram is promoting an unrealistic and unattainable goal, that young people become obsessed with.

Alternatively, the images can be used in a positive way to show off personal achievements, thus inspiring and encouraging others to continue living a healthy lifestyle in order to achieve your goals.

Fitness Apparel

Instagram has caused a stir in the fashion industry by infusing the world of style and sport to create a hybrid style, known as ‘athleisure’ which is currently one of the hottest trends.

The term athleisure refers to casual clothing that is designed to be worn for exercising as well as general use.

Once upon a time, showing up in yoga pants or cycling shorts and trainers anywhere outside of the gym was frowned upon.

Now, street-style icons can be found flaunting their healthy lifestyle on-the-go by pairing their favourite trainers, with high-performance sportswear.

And thanks to Instagram, it is apparent that this trend is here to stay.

Fashion brands are now creating athleisure lines that are designed with versatility in mind, enabling consumers to be able to wear them on any occasion.

The athleisure trend has demonstrated a super quick growth over the past few year and has become a staple within the fashion industry, both luxury and high-street.

The explosion of athleisure has been fuelled by the Instagram lead cult of healthy living and clean eating.

Fitness enthusiasts are constantly posting pictures and selfies of themselves modelling with new protein shakes whilst wearing their latest gym apparel (which is often part of a brand deal, given to them in exchange for promotion).

Instagram Food Revolution

These days, a meal cannot be consumed before taking a picture and sharing with Instagram first.

Food photography has transformed societies eating habitsby displaying a multitude of delicious pictures of healthy food and recipes that are promoted by health experts and nutrionists, encouraging people to eat healthy.

Society is now used to the notion that the camera eats first, and thanks to Instagram, there is lots of knowledge and information out there about healthy eating which has made eating vegetables trendy.

How Influential are Influencers?

Influencers have become extremely popular within the world of Instagram.

The concept of an influencer is only possible because of how social media has changed how we perceive and process digital media.

Fitness influencers have quickly become some of the most powerful across social media.

Why? Because, once upon a time, the fitness industry implied that achieving a dream body was only attainable for those that workout the hardest, like famous body builders and professional athletes.

Fitness influencers have diminished such attitudes by transforming the notion of fitness and making it achievable for everyone.

In order to capitalise from this, influencers manipulate their digital image to adhere to brand deals for public exposure.

Will Instagram Continue to Grow?

For as long as Instagram remains a platform to share photos and high-quality content, then it will continue to grow indefinitely.

So far, it has connected millions of fitness-minded users, as well as encouraged people to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle, something of which should continue.