Weber 2726 Wood Burning Fireplace Review

The Weber 2726 fireplace makes a nicely sized fire that generates plenty of heat and will burn for a long time, making it very suitable for a backyard party. It has a clean and simple appearance, and the smooth porcelain coating makes it look attractive. It also provides a clear view of the burning logs and glowing coals.

The fireplace has three separate pieces: the base that holds the fire; the lid; and a riser that holds the lid above the fire. When placed on the riser, the lid stops the heat from escaping into the sky, and directs out towards you and your guests instead. The lid can also provide protection from light drizzle, which is a boon when you have bad luck with the weather.

The lid also serves an important safety function. When the party’s over, you don’t need to wait for the fire to burn out, and you don’t need to resort to dousing the fire with water (which could damage the fireplace). Rather, just use a fire tool to remove the riser (it’ll be hot) and put the lid directly onto the base. This will smother the flames and extinguish the fire safely, as well as save un-burned wood and coals for the next fire.

Assembly takes about 20-30 minutes. There are a couple of dozen screws and bolts to insert, so you’ll need a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. You’ll also need two pounds of sand to put in the bottom of the bowl. This is easy to miss in the assembly instructions, but important for insulating the bottom of the bowl.

The assembly instructions themselves are a little cryptic, basically because they’re a series of diagrams without any written words. This means that Weber can service 25 different languages in a single instruction booklet, because they only need to translate the warnings and warranty, but don’t need to translate the instructions (because they’re just pictures). I suppose this helps keep the cost down, but it does make the construction more challenging than it needs to be. That being said, the construction is relatively straight forward provided you take the time to study the diagrams beforehand so you know what goes where. The parts themselves are precisely manufactured and will fit together easily without having to bend or force anything.

When positioning the fireplace for use, make sure it’s on a non-flammable surface (stone, brick, etc.) Also, because the fireplace doesn’t have a screen and is open to the air, sparks will escape and may ride on air drafts, so make sure you position it a good distance (e.g. 35 feet) from flammable materials. The aluminum heat deflector below the fire bowl can also be made more effective by putting some sand (or even water) in it.

The product comes with a two-year limited warranty, which basically means Weber will replace any defective parts, provided the fireplace is assembled and operated according to the instructions.

This is the latest version of a Weber design that has withstood the test of time. With normal maintenance, you can expect it to last many years. Although not particularly heavy, it feels solid and well made. Some other fire bowls will deteriorate after a few years, but not the Weber. The bowl and lid are the same type of porcelain-enameled steel construction that weber uses in its outdoor grills, and both are strong and resilient to heat and corrosion.

In summary, with the Weber 2726 outdoor fireplace, you’re getting a very functional and durable fire pit that’s worthy of the Weber brand name. It generates plenty of heat, with an open-fire ambiance that makes it ideal for a backyard party or quiet romantic evening.

Learning the ABC’s of Rack Mount Enclosures and Server Racks

Rack mount enclosures, rack mount cabinets, server racks, what does all this mean? In most cases these terms refer to a convenient way to organize and store multiple computers (servers) or other types of computer equipment. These rack mount enclosures offer an effective way to store a large volume of computers in areas that offer limited space.

With all of these server cabinets being available in so many sizes and all those options that are available to the end user, there’s no wonder why there isn’t more confusion then there already is on which rack mount cabinet to choose from, so let’s start with some basics.

The most common type of rack mount cabinet is known as the “EIA standard” or 19-inch rack mount cabinet”. Most rack mount computer equipment is what we call a “standardized” 19 inch width. The internal width of these rack mount enclosures is the “EIA standard” of 19 inches, so when you are trying to determine how many servers and shelves you want your server rack to contain, they will all be in this standardized 19 inch format.

All computer heights are measured in units called “U’s”. Now don’t feel bad, this took me a bit to catch on to this concept too. When I went to school everything was either measured in inches or centimeters, but when working with rack mount enclosures things are done just a little differently. In the world of computers, when referring to the height of a computer, 1 “U” equals 1.75 inches. So when shopping for rack mount cabinets you will see references to cabinets like 10u, 12u, 25u and so on. So what does all of this mean to you? There are obviously hundreds of different sizes of server racks and multiple choices of shelving systems that can be put in to these rack mount enclosures. So in order to determine how much space is available for equipment and shelving options, the cabinets are rated in U’s.

For example: If I am looking at a rack mount cabinet that has a rating of say 25u. I of course need to choose some shelving that will fit into this cabinet for my specific application. So how do I know how many shelves I can fit in to my new rack mount cabinet? Well you will also find that the shelves for these cabinets are also rated in U’s. If I choose shelving that has a rating of 5 U’s, then this particular server rack that is rated at 25 U’s will accommodate 5 shelves. Because each shelf takes up the space of 5 U’s inside the rack mount enclosure. If I choose shelves that have a rating of 12 U’s each, then this rack mount enclosure will only accommodate 2 of these shelves. Once you catch on to this new concept of measurement it really does become quite easy to use and understand.

Airflow is always an issue when it comes to rack mount cabinets. Computers produce a lot of heat when operating, so dissipating this heat becomes critical when storing multiples of these devices inside of a single cabinet. This is certainly something you will need to take in to consideration when purchasing your server rack cabinet. You will also want to consider noise and cable management as well when making your purchase. All of these issues and more will be covered in future articles.

The cabinet of a computer is a tall movable closet used to house multiple computers and computer equipment. The form of the modern cabinet is standardized by the Electronic Industries Alliance, so that equipment can be placed in any manufacturer’s cabinet. The primary design criteria are:

1. Access to equipment – various kinds of locks and latches restrict access.

2. Airflow – Cabinets are designed to be placed side-to-side, so airflow is vertical, with vents and mounting brackets for fans.

3. Mounting Brackets – Mounting brackets have mounting holes at standard spacing and are a standard distance apart, to allow a variety of equipment to be installed in several configurations.

4. Grounding – The mounting brackets are conductive, acting as grounding strips for the cabinet and equipment, allowing the whole cabinet to be connected to the building ground.

5. Cable Access – The bottom of the cabinet is usually open, allowing external cables to drop through a raised floor.

(Noise reduction is built into some cabinets, see rack mount cabinets from this web site

The most common type of modern cabinet is known as the “EIA standard” or “19-inch rack mount cabinet”, where 19-inch refers to the approximate internal width of the cabinet, from mounting bracket to mounting bracket. For more information, see 19-inch rack. “Rack mount” computer equipment is standardized to this width, with mounting holes conforming to the mounting bracket standard. The computer height is measured in U`s, where 1U is 1.75 inches.

Wedding Invitations Card Types

Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life so you will want everything to be absolutely perfect. When it comes to selecting a wedding invitation you will want something that fits in with your theme and has the look and quality that you want. You may have something in mind such as a colourful butterfly invitation to match your wedding decorations. However have you considered what type of card you would like for your invitation? Here are some examples of the different types of card you are likely to find for wedding invitations.

Hammer Card Wedding Invitation

Hammer card has a texture running through it that looks as though it may have been hit with a hammer to give it an effect of not being smooth. This usually comes in a thickness of around 300gsm for a good quality feel and is a popular choice for wedding cards.

Glossy Card

Glossy Card is a good choice if you are having invitation printed with some high resolution detailed graphics. Image quality will come out best on a glossy surface and give the feel of shiny brochure like presence. With glossy you should also notice a reflection in the card when you move it in light similar to a photograph. This is a good choice to make those sharp images stand out and give your wedding invite the glitzy glamorous feel.

Gloss Lustre

Lustre is similar to the glossy card with a shiny appearance. This card is geared more towards a pigment ink and gives remarkable print quality with a 300gsm thickness and has real photobase card. Enhanced layering technologies gives the cards a vibrant and traditional feel and finish. The UV absorbers and ozone protectors were specifically designed for the lustre product. The main difference between the gloss and the lustre is the way it interacts with the light. The gloss gives a reflection like a photograph when moved in light were as the lustre produces a magical gleaming shimmer giving it the mark of quality and elegance.

Linen Card

The linen card is an excellent choice for a more traditional feel. When you look at a magnified view of the material it has weaving lines to give the card its texture. It has a quality feel and gives the perfect texture for the invitation designs with the old fashioned paper style backgrounds.

Smooth Matt

The smooth card is an obvious choice if you don’t want something with a texture or a glossy look. It isn’t the best for printing sharp images or high resolution but if you want something more plain looking and non-flashy then this would be a good choice. The texture of the card is smooth and is of a standard thickness.

Felt Card – Cheap Wedding Invitations

The felt card is another good alternative for a textured feel. It isn’t too different from the linen card or the hammer card. Running your finger along its surface reveals some slight bumps in the texture to give it that feeling of quality.


The pearlescent card has a very expensive look and feel with its shimmering surface. This card stands out as unique from the rest and has a glittering kind of surface. Cut from a thick card stock the pearlescent has a high quality feel, look and style. This is the perfect card to make your wedding invtes stand out and give your guests a first class impression.

6 Useful Tips for Installing Slate Mosaic Tiles

When it comes to architecture, seldom can we find a person who is completely satisfied with the design. Whether it is a humble house or top class hotel, each property owner thinks that there is an adequate room for improvement in the architectural design of their structure.

However with the increasing prices of building material, setting, fixing and installing any structure it is not always possible to completely renovate the structure. So one of the best things is to remodel using the wall panels appropriately.

In short wall panels are small portable portions of architectural beauty that can be installed as patches in order to give an extra height to the beauty of overall interior decoration. Today we will learn about slate mosaic tiles that are fast becoming popular with many households.

Slate Mosaic Tiles

The slate mosaic tiles are the best ways to transform tasteless walls into fine piece of aesthetically enhanced architecture. The unique tough surface with the edges of blocks slightly jutting out from the structure gives a unique natural look to the whole ambiance. It requires minimum knowledge and you don’t have to go through a lot of hassles.

The creativity associated with designing an eye-appealing pattern is unmatched and in fact it can have therapeutic effect on your mind. So, here are certain things that you need to pay attention too:

1. Buying the slate mosaic is actually the first, foremost and very crucial step in the whole process. You need to search through multiple leading manufacturers and suppliers. Don’t be hasty here. Take your time. It is always better to check with your acquaintances for the best suppliers who are trustworthy. The most important things to consider here is quality. Building materials are not something that can be changed frequently. One more thing to consider is that buying building material requires certain knowledge. So if you are not apt in buying building material then it is highly recommendable to accompany someone who has a good experience.

2. For grouts, prefer epoxy based grouts than conventional grouts, but you need to be extra careful while installing.

3. Don’t be afraid to cut the stone edges to design a perfect pattern.

4. Creativity plays a very important role here. Do not restrain your creative talent just because your conventional knowledge does not agree with it. As far as the wall panel seems beautiful, it is agreeable to eyes and gives a smooth visual feeling fitting well into the entire interior decoration scheme, you can go ahead.

5. If you are installing the panels for the first time, it is highly recommendable to use sanded grout. The main benefit of this grout is that sand is known for its smoothness and adaptability. Besides its fine particles give a perfect reason to extremely experiment with the style.

6. It is always recommendable to have a detailed meeting with the suppliers telling them your exact requirements and creative ideas so that they can advice you about the best material, grout and required modifications in design to make it practically possible.

Keeping all the above things in mind, you can create excellent designs that will enhance the beauty of your architecture.

20 Rainy Season Businesses You Can Start Now

Let’s take advantage of these seasonal needs and offer the appropriate business services. You will find below a list of 20 profitable rainy season business ideas.

  • Cold Weather Apparels and Accessories: Starting a cold-weather apparel store can be a great option for those looking for a seasonal business. You can buy products in large quantities and start selling to retail fashion shops and corporate offices. You can even hire sales canvassers and pay them on a commission basis.
  • Lawn care business: Contrary to popular beliefs, the rainy season is a great time to start a lawn care business. Lots of individuals and large companies seek for services of lawn care maintainers to help them take care and beautify their environment. You will need to advertise your services in local newspapers, or write an introductory letter to the ministry of environment either at local or state level. You can also write to property managers. Who says you can’t go out and knock on doors of commercial businesses and property managements? They have a long list of clients that will need the services of lawn care service providers. You can start with two or three staff.
  • Roadside snacks: In this rainy season, snacks like roasted corn, cooked corn and cooked groundnuts are in demand. Passersby, pedestrians and drivers alike would always want to buy hot snacks to heat up their body and quell their hunger. Your target market should be in densely populated areas of streets with big pot holes that could delay traffic. As drivers slow down, they notice you and buy your snacks. Herbs and Flower Farming/Gardening: Flowers survive better during the rainy season. Plants are the basis for all landscapes, homes, gardens and even for brightening offices. You will pay small amounts for packets of seeds and make way more when selling starter plants. The more space you have, the better you will be at it. If you have the space in your landscape and outdoor garden, you can create gardens where you will grow the plants and dry them out after. This will add much to your inventory and you can make lots of money selling dried flowers to retailers, wholesalers, and even flower shops.
  • Make Mosquito Nets: Mosquito nets are simple to make and easy to use. They eliminate the need for repeated use of dangerous chemicals. Mosquito nets can be institutional and attractive. By using pretty flowing fabric and a few household objects, it is possible to make a beautiful yet functional mosquito net. Things you will for construction of a mosquito net are; stud finger, 4-inch metal “O” ring, cup hook, 2-feet diameter embroidery hoop, 20 yards of tight weave chiffon fabric, 4 feet of stain cord or ribbon, hot melt glue and clear hot melt glue sticks.
  • Tea Café: This market is not likely to be saturated if you decide to start this business. What innovations do you need to do this business? Simply make your tea joint look neat and attractive. Guys will park their cars, jeeps; roll up their sleeves and squat for a cup of steaming tea. You can entertain them with music. Your major target will include bachelors and spinsters, and also from the married groups and workers in general. Most of these people leave their homes early enough for work without having breakfast. Make sure your shop is situated where there is high concentration of people. Also make sure your customers have varieties of beverages to choose from e.g. beverages like bournvita, Milo, ovaltine, top tea etc. Other add-on for your tea café can include bread, canned fish, sardine, noodles, soft drinks and water. As a starter you require fire heating gadgets, tables and chairs, cups, plates, spoons, knives, forks and so on. You may require a small accommodation or a table space in a busy area, which wont be difficult to get if you meet the right authorities. You just need to part with a few cash to get this space. As you start operation, set aside some specified amount that the government may require as levies. Never mind the levies because you can record over 40 clients per day especially when you start very early in the morning and evenings. If you are innovative, entrepreneurial and exceptional, you will discover that there is no limit to what you can earn.
  • Catch and Sell Snail Meat: Snail meat has been severally affirmed as a safe and nutritious delicacy. If you place a blanched piece of romaine lettuce, zucchini or cucumber into a small tank, in no time snails will gather around it. You have to be patient though, because it will take a while to catch a whole bunch of them. The best period to commence snail farming is the raining season. You can start with about 50 – 60 snails to have a good knowledge of how snail breeding works. Snails are sold in bunches of 20 pieces each and the price depends on the size. The bigger sizes are sold between N2, 500 and N3, 000 per bunch. It is better to buy the big ones so you can expect to produce more after about 35 days on location. As a starter, you can start with as low as N10, 000 in this business. You can sell your products to hotels, restaurants, individuals and market women. You can even export them if you have large quantities in stock.
  • Umbrella Stocks and Sales: Since there is no notable umbrella manufacturer in Nigeria, prospective investors are advised to buy in wholesale and start selling branded umbrellas to corporate organizations. Don’t forget companies will like choose the colors that match their company. Modern rain umbrellas are made with fabrics (commonly nylon) that can withstand a drenching rain and one that can dry quickly and fold easily. They are available in varieties of colors and designs. You can get it in large quantities for retail at Idumota in Lagos and the prices ranges from N150 to N250 depending on the size.
  • Tarpaulin Hire Business: Many people organizing outdoor parties are most likely to hire tarpaulin to shield them from the rain. You can make money by engaging in the tarpaulin hire business. If you don’t have enough money to buy a brand new one, you can lease it from sellers and hire out to those who need it, taking the commission as your gain.
  • Pest Control: A pest control home based business can provide you an healthy income. There are various types of pest controls such as insect or rodent control, or the business can specialize in providing all pest control services. There are also various methods now being used to control pests, such as chemical-based sprays and organic-based sprays. This will also have to be a consideration in terms of the types of methods your business will utilize. Overall, a pest control service can be very profitable business venture during the rainy season and can generate profits of N5million per year. You can write a proposal to big corporate organizations stressing the advantage of pest control and healthy living can have for them.
  • Yam planting and Sales: Turning yam into an exportable product is considered a remarkable achievement in Nigeria. Although the country is rated as the largest producer of yams in the world, it didn’t find the means to take advantage of this huge potential for export until the formal launch of the Nigerian Yam Export to U.K in July 2009. You can take advantage of the rainy season, which is best for yam planting and sales. You can buy yam in large quantities and sell to exporters, and you can also sell to local manufacturers who process yam to pounded yam and flour.
  • Maize Cultivation and Processing: Investors have the opportunity to capitalize on the current high demand for staple foods by investing in the cultivation and processing of maize and corn. Maize is commonly grown in the middle and southern part of the country where heavier rainfall permits two corn crop seasons per year. A well drained loamy soil can be used for maize plantation.
  • Gutter Cleaning: A lot of gutters are blocked during the rainy season preventing the free flow of water. You can start making money by offering the service of Cleaning Gutters. Don’t shy away from this business because it’s a money earner in the rainy season. You can employ two to three people to leverage on. You will need to assemble items such as large wooden spoon, a simple garden trowel, and a sturdy pair of garden gloves. You can find work with landlords or landlords associations. Some will prefer you clear it for them weekly while some will want their gutters to be cleared once or twice in a month. You can charge between N5, 000 to N20, 000 depending on the clients and the intensity of the work to be done.
  • Hire Water Pumping Machines: A lot of houses will get flooded during the rainy season. This will create a business opportunity for you to own a water pumping machine and hire out to these houses to clear the flooded area and pour the water to the gutters. Some water pumping machine owners charge as much as N5, 000 per day. During emergencies when there is no entrance to a whole street a water pumping machine owner can charge more. All you need to do is to identify such flooded areas, move in with your pumping machines and charge appropriately.
  • Sell Rain Coats: Modern raincoats are often constructed of breathable, waterproof fabrics such as gore-tex and coated nylons. These fabrics allow some air to pass through, thereby allowing the garment to “breathe” so that sweat vapor can escape. You can commission a tailor to sew in different sizes and designs to meet the demand of different customers; you can also buy in some retail stores and sell directly to individual and corporate organizations. Or you can recruit sales canvassers who can help you get it to the markets, especially when it rains.
  • Start a Car Wash Business: A lot of cars will get dirty in the rainy season because of splashes by mud. You are going to make cool money in the rainy season with this business. There is some equipment you need to start this business. Most importantly you need a pressure washer, if you want a proper washing to make your customer appreciate your service and always come back. The pressure washer brings out the water with pressure. It removes all the dirt and makes the cars to glitter. The pressure washer is also used to wash the car radiators, no matter the amount of dirt that blocks the vent of your radiator, the pressure washer removes all and opens up the vent again. The pressure washer consumes less water. The amount you can charge to wash cars and trucks will vary with location and to how dirty the car or truck is. Normal car wash costs N300, but for interior wash, it can cost up to N800. Washing of engines cost up to N1, 000 which is also the cost for normal washing of Jeep. The cost for washing a truck can be around N3, 000 and a very dirty trucked can be charged N5, 000. If the engine is extremely dirty, you will have to apply chemicals which are a mixture of diesel, detergent, kerosene, petrol and acid, which should be mixed very well. Sprinkle on the engine and leave for about five minutes. Now when you use a pressure washer to rinse, the engine would look as clean as new. You can get to major car parks, negotiate with car owners and get their cars washed before they get back to the car park
  • Repair Pot-holes: You can start a mini-road-construction business repairing pot holes. A lot of pot holes will continue to increase in size during the rainy season. Some products make potholes repair easier than others. Asphalt makes the process significantly easier. No special equipment is needed with asphalt. You can start making money with the local government area in your locality. You can even negotiate with the unit or National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in your area or discuss with the landlords association or the local government chairman. You can charge as much as N20, 000 to N100, 000 or more, depending on the intensity of the project.
  • Own a Warehouse: A lot of retailers have been keeping goods in shops before now but during the rainy season, most of them will be forced to take their goods to warehouses to protect their goods from unexpected rainfall. Prior to opening a warehouse business in your area, it is paramount to find out how many competitors you have. Gain knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the market place and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from others. You can charge daily, weekly or monthly. However, make sure you inform your retailers in your areas that don’t have a shop before now that you can provide them a secured place for their goods in your warehouse. They would be ready to pay for your services
  • Produce Shower Caps for Women: This business can be started with very low capital. Purchase some yards of plastic materials which are clear, opaque or semi-transparent or can have pretty designs on them. Measure the distance around the head where the shower cap is expected to end. Add one inch to this figure for overlapping purposes. This will be the shower cap circumference. Purchase elastic, less than one inch wide, and cut to the shower cap circumference. The elastic can be sewn on the outside or inside of the shower cap edge, or the elastic can be pinned down, sewn, and then one or two folds (or rolls) made, then sewn again to “case in” the elastic inside the edge of the plastic cap. You can sell for N50 or more depending on the quality of the nylon you are using.
  • Set Up an NGO for Climate Change Disaster and Relief Services: This type of NGO is going to be busy in the rainy season, providing supportive services for Nigerians who live in flood prone areas. The NGOs in this sector will be responsible for educating Nigerians in these areas on how to avoid flood disasters and also provide weather report and analysis so that they will prevent flood occurrences in their regions. Such an NGO will receive regular funds from foreign donors. You can make money from this by affiliating with already existing NGOs abroad. They have regular source of funding and they will be happy to have an affiliate agency here in Nigeria or Africa.
  • Make Mosquito Repellant Lotions: Earlier on we talked about Making Mosquito nets for sale. But you can also produce mosquito repellant lotions so repell mosquitoes which are in abundance in the rainy season. There a couple of different formulations you can make for your natural mosquito repellant. In general, what you are doing is diluting an essential oil that the mosquitoes find distasteful or which confuses them so they can’t bite you. The oil doesn’t mix with water, so you need to add them to other oils or to alcohol. It is important to use an oil or alcohol that is safe for your skin. You can sell in a small bottle after production for N100 to N300 depending on the size.
  • Produce Agro Products for Local and Foreign Consumption: Local products like cocoa, kola nut, banana, chili pepper, shea nut, okro, melon are products that you can start selling during this rainy season. All you need to do is to locate the exporters and start earning finders fee. If you have a small farmland, you can sell to retailers and start making money that exceeds your imagination.

The rainy season is an all year round event, so if you have the time and some money to invest in a business idea then check above the one that best describes your dream business or starting point. Discover the money making possibilities of each one and use them as your keys to success.

Oil Painting Art Course – Learn to Paint by Copying Paintings in Museums or Home – Michelangelo Did

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni’s father sent him for formal schooling, but Michelangelo preferred copying paintings in churches. He later befriended arts and studied with some of the great painter and sculptors of his time. But he thought that he could learn more by copying the masters.

In museums around the world, you can see artists creating copies paintings. In Louvre in Paris, you can see a stream of artists copying their great paintings. Copying masterpieces has been a cornerstone of traditional art education for a long time. In fact, one art course you can take at The New York Academy of Art in New York City, NY, USA consists of students walking a few blocks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) and copying paintings. That is the course!

I have done copies of paintings at MMA New York City of oil paintings by Theodore Gericault (French Romantic Painter, 1791-1824) and Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez (Spanish Baroque Era Painter, 1599 – 1660).

Artists at MMA who want to make copies make a request to MMA’s Education Department. The Museum allows artists to get exclusive use for a month to one room or gallery in the museum to do a copy of a specific painting. The public still has access, but only one artist is allowed to copy in that gallery. I highly recommend your doing the same.

Museums vary in permitting artists to do copies. In New York City, USA, the MMA does, but the Frick Collection and the Museum of Modern Art do not. Check with your museum.

How it works varies from museum to museum, but generally, you apply, get permission and follow that museum’s rules. For example, in the Louvre, and other museums, painters are not supposed to use the same size canvas as the original. You can’t eat or drink in the museum, must use a canvas drop cloth on the floor where you paint on an easel and you must clean up thoroughly after every session. Some museums offer copyists locker space to leave their paintings and gear at the museum instead of bringing everything back and forth each day you want to copy during your month access to a painting gallery.

If you can’t afford to go to an art school because of time and/or money, learn from the masters. If you can’t get to a museum, copy the great paintings from reproductions. If you can’t get reproductions, you can find them in library books or on the web.

What you can learn from copying the masters? Everyone is different in their ability to extract information from art instruction textbooks, videos or art classes. By copying a masterwork, you can learn something about the artist’s technique, handling of paint, use of color, composition, form, drawing and so on.

Can you learn from copying great paintings? Michelangelo thought so.

Popular Bathroom Remodeling Styles

Bathroom remodeling styles are numerous, diverse and fun. The bathroom is an essential part of the house. Usually, it defines your taste and sets the general ambiance of the home. After several years of being the only place in your house where you could enjoy a relaxing private moment, your bathroom has now been reduced to a place you use purely for its functional purposes. You no longer linger in there. It is no longer as welcoming as it used to be. Your house is silently and slowly being robbed of its style, grace and comfort. So naturally, you are seriously contemplating a bathroom remodeling operation. You need to revamp the place, bring back that fresh updated feel.

A nice bathroom remodeling goes a long way in raising the value of a house. Houses with outstanding bathrooms tend to be valued higher. It is a good investment. Years of use result in signs of damage, wear and tear and general aging of materials. A remodel not only allows for repairs, but also provides the opportunity to sneak in a few new nice features. Changes in trends can see some color schemes outdated and an update would be welcome. Among the most important reasons for a bathroom remodeling would be to increase safety. Many injuries occur in the bathroom every year so you need to keep it very safe. A little more space is also desirable. Large bathrooms are particularly in top fashion.

A traditional bathroom is popular with remodels. Such a bathroom gives off a live in feel. Soft bold colors such as browns are used to give warmth to the room. Curtains rather than blinds are recommended. A chest of drawers at a corner with flowers will bring life into the bathroom. You can also hang pictures in there and make sure the place is well lit, preferably with a lavish chandelier. Traditional bathroom remodeling styles are bold and masculine and will fit well in a villa style home. If you have a modern apartment, you might want to pass on this one.

Country style bathrooms are also popular, but as with traditional will only go well with an appropriate house. Floral curtains and shutters are preferred. Wood plays a huge role in this style. Varnished wooden floors and tiles in rustic colors are matched with other furniture in the bathroom. Painting is done with a sponge to give the walls that worn natural look. Toilets should have high level cisterns with pull chains. Any kind of free standing bath will suit. Stylish wall lamps and basket shelves complete this bathroom remodeling look.

Shabby chic is a mix of neglect and style, which can be very hard to achieve. This style is bold and fits well in a continental house. Plumbing is not concealed and the more rugged the better. A cast iron bath is a must with unique ornaments and antique framed mirrors completing this bathroom remodeling style. Modern bathrooms are all about space. Space is at stake so it makes sense to have bathroom furniture made to measure. Fitted bathrooms allow for space as vanity units, storage units and cabinets ensure no clutter lies around. Concealed cistern units are incorporated. Shower-baths are practical as are walk-in showers, which should preferably be chrome structures over white. Chrome and stainless steel set the theme and can be complemented by stylish blinds.

A fantasy bathroom remodeling style truly lets you run away with your imagination. It provides for innovation and indulgence into your fantasies. Futuristic interior design with large spaces brings the room together. Steam cabins coupled with whirlpool baths are ideal as are walk-in showers with modern tiling, chrome shower fixtures and stylishly classy lighting work well with this style. You can even add a waterproof television set if you so wish for that luxurious feel. However, this bathroom remodeling style will only work for large bathrooms.

Dream What You Want To Dream, Go Where You Want To Go

Hey! But where?! Where exactly do you want to go? And where do you want to be? These questions are interchangeable as both ask about the direction in which you are heading. At a micro level, most of you know roughly where you are going.

Your direction in life probably looks like this:

You are born…

You went to school… to study history, language, science, etc.

You had dreams…

You came out from school and started working…

Maybe you achieved some of your goals like getting a car, having the latest gadget…

Then what? You are looking forward to buy a home.

Day in and day out, you go to work waiting for the next pay-cheque to buy more things…

Some of you are happy in this state…

But most of you feel that something is missing in life. Life can be better than this. Life should be better. However, somehow along the way you got lost.

You believe that you can excel and become better. And you can! The first step is to start by understanding yourself!

There is this part in Alice in Wonderland, where Alice comes to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.

At a macro level, a lot of people are at loss as to where they are heading. What the Cheshire cat said was true. It doesn’t matter which road you take if you have no idea where you want to be because any road you take will bring you there. The only problem is the destination may not be where you want to be. Worst still you may be circling around and land in the same old place.

Most of you are likely in your comfort zone right now and let things be when the pay-cheques are still coming and everything is still looking fine. It is only when some drastic event happens, that you begin to desperately make changes. At this point, you have no idea what your needs are or what you want to change to?! You’re in panic mode with no time to think or plan things properly. In this instance, you are likely to be making changes through trial and error with more errors than you care to know. It causes you anger and fear! It is painful to go through that kind of change.

You know what? You do not have to go through this painful experience at all. You do not need to feel uncertainty, ANGER and FEAR every time you make a mistake. Just START NOW! Now is the best time to find your direction and start making small changes that will lead to your dream, where you have ample time to adjust and work WITHOUT FEAR AND ANGER. Your dream will become reality with your right action.

To do this you must first know your thoughts by understanding yourself. Your thoughts lead to your action, and the action will create result.

Here is why most of you are at the crossroad or getting stuck and unsure as to where you are heading or what to do… Take a quick note which category you fall into.

  1. You have the same old thoughts which spur you into action that give the same old result. Usually you do not realize this!
  2. You have too many thoughts that lead to too many actions which give little or no result. You are the type who enjoys the action more than seeing the result!
  3. You have too many thoughts that caused you to keep changing your action thus this lead you to no where. Do you know that you are fickle-minded and easily influence by outside forces?
  4. You keep on thinking with no action. You’re likely immobilized by too much information.
  5. You have very little thoughts but many unfathomable reasons of your underachievement. You are the lazy type and have a very pessimistic mind-set. You too did not realize your inherent negativity. This type of people is the hardest to change.

You may say, “I’m not one of above”. Let me tell you this, if you are in anyway feeling unsatisfied or discontented, then there is definitely something wrong. By KNOWING YOURSELF, you can recognize the issue whether it is coming from within you or from your environment.

If you have already set your goal and know where you’re heading, well congratulations! However may I ask, do you know the easiest way to achieve your goal? Sometimes you have to not only look at where you want to go, but also find the easiest and nearest road, and steer in that direction.

Therefore, it is important to take some time to understand yourself, your needs and wants. Find out your natural talent and set a direction on where you want to be in life.

The Great Wall of China was not built in one day. The same goes with everything you do too. It takes time and your conscious effort to make the changes in your life and make your path to success.

The simplest way to understand yourself is through BaZi analyse. Your Day Master of your BaZi already fill with many information of yourself and this is only first layer of your characters:

Wood Day Master

Wood element can be categorized into yang, Jia Wood, and yin, Yi Wood. Jia Wood is like the tall trees of the Amazon forest.

At a glance, Jia Wood people are very sociable and comradely to all his Jia Wood brothers. But in fact, they are loner and very territorial. They have a direct, genuine and honest personality which is a virtue not many will appreciate. They will call a spade, a spade and nothing else. Thus, often enough their words may come-off as crude and lack of diplomacy.

A Jia Wood person will fall soon when they become too successful like a tall tree being chopped down for other usage. Being on top a corporate company or in any organization as the first man is a bad sign indeed for them.

Yi Wood is like flowers, creeper and small plants. They look soft and gentle but while tree tumble after a storm, Yi Wood will still be there in the next morning.

Similar to the creeper, Yi Wood is a social climber. Their main talent is networking. Due to their sociable and diplomatic nature, they are very good at handling public relation matter. Like the creeper or plain grass, they will survive any storm that comes their way.

Yi Wood is never firm with their decision because of their fickle nature. Hence, they may come across as a person who is short of principal. However, it is this nature that save them from many danger. They are the Master of “Damsel in Distress”. Only they will know their truly bad patches in life.

A Yi Wood has a far reaching career than Jia Wood in climbing the corporate ladder.

Fire Day Master

Your Day Master tells a lot about yourself. It represents your core-self, and can review your likes and dislikes. By understanding you’re the element of your Day Master, you can understand how you behave and react in such a way from the influence of external and internal forces around you.

Fire element can be categorized into the yang, Bing Fire, and the yin, Ding Fire. Bing Fire represents the one and only sun. It has the ability not only to shine on every corner of the earth and but also bring lights to other planets in this solar system.

As such you know Bing Fire people are naturally generous and giving. They emit warmth, happiness and are always energetic. Their laughter is almost contagious to the people around them. Albeit their friendliness, Bing Fire people are also a loner.

Should you meet a Bing Fire person who behaves the opposite of this cheerful nature, you will know they are facing tougher time of their life.

Ding Fire represents the candle light. It has a very illuminating nature, and the candle brings lights by lighting another candle one by one.

Therefore, Ding Fire people are helpful in nature. They are the care-taker. They have a gentle persuasive manner to get their message across. They work better in group compare to their yang brother, the sun.

Ding Fire person unlike the Bing Fire, who is self-generating, can be burned out with their constant helpful nature. When this happened, they take on a “couldn’t careless attitude” in their life.

Earth Day Master

Earth element can be categorized into the yang, Wu Earth, and the yin, Ji Earth. Wu Earth can be represented by mountain, rock and big boulder. The term rock solid aptly apply to the Wu Earth people.

Like the “Great Wall of China” built to block the attack from enemy, Wu Earth people are naturally protective, quiet and steady. Whilst they are a good listener, they hardly talk or speak their mind preferring to keep silent and thought to themselves. Not many will know what a Wu Earth think hence, they may come of as mysterious to some. However, people still trust the Wu Earth naturally due to their quiet strength. They like to confess their darkest secret to Wu Earth person because they know that Wu Earth will not reveal their secret anytime soon.

Sometimes Wu Earth people are bug down by too much secret. It becomes a burden to them. Their weakness in expressing their inner emotion and ideas makes it even harder for them to call for help when needed.

Ji Earth is the soil that grows the plants and produces mineral.

Therefore, Ji Earth people have a nurturing and motherly characteristic. They are very good care-taker. Since Ji Earth can growth thousands things, they are naturally resourceful and giving. People always come to Ji Earth looking for answer and help while Ji Earth people will hardly say no to any request that come their way.

Hence, Ji Earth needs to be assertive, as people tend to walk all over them because of their good giving nature.

Metal Day Master

Metal element can be categorized into the yang, Geng Metal, and the yin, Xin Metal. Geng Metal can be represented by raw metal, axe, sword or in human form, Geng Metal is the hero who always rescue the damsel in distress.

Therefore, heroes like Captain America, Iron Man or Superman are very Geng Metal. They are very protective. Unlike the Wu Earth who just standby, fortified and protect, Geng Metal people will not hesitate to fight back or attack. Geng Metal people have a tough exterior and do not mix around easily. However, once they become your friend, it is for life. This is because of their altruistic nature. They usually are very fair person and demand justice to be served.

The tougher the life of Geng Metal the better their luck. If thing is getting easy for the Geng Metal, it spell trouble for them soon.

Xin Metal is the jewellery, ring and sparkling accessories. It main objective is to attract people and for show.

Therefore, Xin Metal people love the glamorous limelight. They are natural in showmanship. However, they are not attention seeker but they demand people to pay attention to them. Face value is important a Xin. Xin Metal people may not be pretty but they must standout in the crowd. The best way to get into the right footing with Xin is to shower them with praises. However it must be done with sincerity because they dislike being deceives. They may look like a “dumb blond” sometimes but their mind and words are as sharp as a knife.

Xin Metal is going through bad cycle, if they have to work hard or are unnoticeable.

Water Day Master

Water element can be categorized into yang, Ren Water, and yin, Gui Water. Ren Water can be represented by the ocean. It covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. The ocean itself contains many living forms and creatures that hardly can be seen on the outside.

As such, Ren Water people are extrovert and adventurous on the outside while introvert when it comes to emotional matter. Ren Water people are very resourceful too. They are true capitalist because of their strategic mind, in born entrepreneur talent as well as their ability to pull the entire important factors together to run a business. Most of the top riches men in the world are Ren Water.

Hence, Ren Water people should not delve deeply into emotion matter and should focus their mind on a trade. You’ll know Ren Water are down and under when they are involves in emotional issue.

Gui Water is like the morning dews, the cloud or the rain. It do not have a form and hard to contain. Gui Water brings coolness to their surrounding with morning dews, and freshness to the plants with their slight drizzle. In the form of cloud they shade us from the bright hot sun.

Therefore, Gui Water people are helpful and nurturing in nature. They are naturally introvert and shy people. Their strong quality comes from intuitiveness, and they are very good with their gut feeling decision.

Gui water is at their worst when they are being contain. They will act like a cage animal, ready to spring on you in the element of surprise, and then dash for freedom.

While both Gui and Ren Water are flexible, Gui Water lack the Ren Water’s dynamism and stamina.

An in depth analysis of your BaZi can tell you more of yourself.

5 Insider Secrets For Starting Your Own Sprinkler Repair Business

 Would  you like to make money in your spare time or on the weekend?  Or, even work completely for yourself? One option is to start your own sprinkler repair business.  People may mow their own lawn in a recession, but they will rarely do their own sprinkler system repairs. Armed with these 5 Insider Secrets for Starting Your Own Sprinkler Business, you can be off to a good start.

Insider Secret #1:  Price by type of repair.  When you buy a shovel at the hardware store, the price tag doesn’t split out parts and labor.  So, why charge your customers in this manner, detailing both parts and labor?  It’s no one else’s business but your own how much you are making on labor.  For each repair that you perform, have set prices that include parts and labor.  For charge, charge $45 for a rotor sprinkler replacement.  The $45 covers the parts price of $12 and your labor charge.  Pricing by type of repair allows you to quickly quote repairs to potential customers.

Insider Secret #2:  Gathering customers is more important than your repair skills.  This is actually quite logical — without customers calling you to do repairs on their system, you will have no chance to show off your repair skills.  Therefore, you must focus your limited time on driving customers to you — by telling everyone your know that you are in the sprinkler repair business; by taking the time to write Google and Yahoo business postings so that you show up when people search for “sprinkler repair” in your geographic area.  The quality of your work is important, but don’t delay starting a business in order to learn more about repairs.  You will learn by doing in this business!

Insider Secret #3:  Call back customers promptly.  This secret may seem like a no brainer, but you will be shocked and amazed how many of your competitors — many of them focused on their big-profit installation jobs — will not even call back customers in desperate need of sprinkler repairs.  It’s your job to snap up these quick repair jobs and make a profit!  

Insider Secret #4:  Get to know an irrigation or plumbing supply wholesaler.  Do a Google search to find irrigation or plumbing supply wholesalers in your area, and then visit them.  Personally meet 1 or 2 of the salespeople, and tell them that you are interested in a starting a sprinkler repair business.  They will tell you the commonly used sprinkler equipment in the area, likely extend you a line of credit, and even provide training on their products.  They will be indispensable to your business.

Insider Secret #5: Organize and protect your business.  Your repair business must be started on solid ground.  That means protecting your business and yourself personally by using a proper business organization structure such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) for protection.  Form your business organization, then establish a bank account for your business — never commingle personal funds with cash flow from your business.  Set up a bookkeeping system to keep track of your expenses and to bill your customers professionally.  Always seek the professional assistance of an accountant or attorney if you need it.

Most people will not repair their own sprinkler system, even in a recession!  The start-up costs are low and the profit potential is high.  This makes a sprinkler repair business worth considering.

Enclosed Versus Unenclosed Platform Wheelchair Lifts

Are you looking for a platform lift that can transport your wheelchair from one level of your home to another? Most of the specifications are straightforward – you already know how much room you have for a lift, how big the platform has to be, how much you can spend, and how much weight it needs to support. What about the issue of enclosed vs. unenclosed?

These two lift varieties rarely appear side by side on the showroom floor so they seem to fill different niches but they’re actually quite similar. This guide will explain a few of the strengths and weaknesses of each wheelchair lift variety.

Advantages and Applications of Unenclosed Lifts

Unenclosed lifts are an inexpensive, practical solution that allows access from one floor to another. The variety is incredible, ranging from light and uncomplicated to strong enough to carry a mobility scooter or heavy electric wheelchair. Unenclosed lifts are used both indoors and out – the outdoor models are moderately weatherproof and work just fine in mild weather. Snowy climates are not the best for these lifts.

Unenclosed lifts do better for interiors though. They feel more spacious than enclosed lifts, so you can opt for a smaller model that takes up less floor space without feeling cramped or closed-in.

The Varieties and Benefits of Enclosed Lifts

Generally, any lifts that span more than two floors will have an enclosed construction not for safety or aesthetic reasons, but because the lift itself will require a little more structural support. Some applications require a wheelchair lift that operates more like a residential elevator, installed wherever two or more closets line up. Hiring contractors to install a shaft is prohibitively expensive but will give your lift extra durability and length of life.

An enclosed lift can go anywhere and span as many floors as needed. Of course, we suggest the lighter unenclosed models if you don’t need much power or versatility.

If you’re looking for the type of lift that secures directly to the stairs or wall, and travels on a track, you are looking for an “inclined” platform lift. Different companies use different terminology but it helps to keep the terms straight when you’re looking for a platform lift.

The shopping process is a lot easier once you start narrowing down the selection and choosing between enclosed and unenclosed is a great place to start. Once you know what you want, the lift manufacturers and retailers can provide all the information and guidance you’ll need.

The Effects Of Chocolate On The Emotions

It is common perception that chocolate is a mood elevator although some people believe that it causes headaches and migraine. Though it is widely accepted that chocolate affects our moods, the research on this is still in a fluid state. Every contention is fiercely debated. We will discuss various ways that chocolate affects our moods and emotions, according to the present set of beliefs.

Chocolate affects us both negatively and positively. Some people, when they are sad or depressed, experience a craving for chocolate. On eating chocolate they report that their mood is elevated and they feel better. This elevation in mood is temporary though and when this effect wears off, they again revert to their previous state of mind.

There are many health benefits that are attributed to chocolates. It is good for the heart. It increases the responsiveness of blood vessels which is useful for preventing heart disease. It also increases glucose tolerance. Chocolate also contains some substances which have an anti oxidant effect. This is helpful in preventing cancer.

Chocolate is reported to cause headache, obesity, rectal itching, heart burn and emotional problems like irritability, confusion, anger and depression.

Chocolate is rich in carbohydrates, which increase the rate with which tryptophan enters the brain. This increases the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates moods, creating a good feeling.

The addictive property of chocolate is also well documented. This is evidenced by the fact that some people, when trying to give up alcohol, depend on chocolate to satisfy their cravings. This drug-like property is attributed to caffeine, anandamines, phenylethylamine and magnesium that are present in chocolate. The presence of caffeine and magnesium can contribute to a feeling of craving for chocolate. Ananadmides affect the brain in a similar way to marijuana, though research in this field is still debated.

There are more than 350 chemicals in chocolate. Some of these are believed to cause allergic reactions. Some scientists believe that phenylethylamine and theobromine could cause changes in moods. Phenylethylamine causes blood pressure and blood sugar to rise. It generates a feeling of alertness and contentment thus creating a feeling of well being. But, a short period of emotional high is followed by a period of emotional low. Theobromine is found naturally in cocoa and acts as an anti-depressant, but has been known to be toxic to animals.

Eating chocolate can also give rise to a feeling of anxiety. Phenylethylamine is said to cause dilation of blood vessels in brain causing headaches. Though it is still debatable whether phenylethylamine reaches the brain.

One ounce of chocolate contains 20 mg of caffeine. Researches on the effects of caffeine have reported that caffeine can cause problems in sleep, restlessness, irritability, heartburn and anxiety. Withdrawal from caffeine causes fatigue and headaches.

Tyramine is another amino acid present in chocolate. Though it is not certain whether any significant amount of tyramine reaches the brain, yet it is known that it causes blood vessels to expand and contract causing dull headaches.

Women appear to crave chocolate more than men, including diabetics. Some amongst these women reported that only chocolate and nothing else could satisfy their craving. The presence of magnesium in chocolate can account for the fact that during PMS (Post Menstrual Syndrome) craving for chocolate increases in women, as during this period a deficiency of magnesium may arise.

With all this contradictory information on the effects of chocolate on mood, one has to observe from one’s experiences and decide whether chocolate is right for one. But, certainly, large amounts of chocolate will effect us physically or emotionally one way or another.

Try a Dental Flipper For Your Missing Teeth

Dental flippers are one type of removable partial dentures, or “removable partials.” All removable partials, including dental flippers, use standard acrylic denture teeth to replace missing natural teeth. The pink base or “plate” portion of a partial denture is an acrylic material identical to the base used in standard full dentures.

The Fabrication

The fabrication of dental flippers requires several steps. The dentist or dental technician first takes an impression of the patient’s mouth. A plaster cast is then poured using that impression. The plaster cast and a prescription specifying the appropriate tooth color are sent to a dental laboratory for the actual fabrication.

The laboratory’s technician selects the proper shape and number of acrylic teeth in a shade that most closely matches the specifications in the dental flipper prescription. An acrylic plate is then carefully molded to fit the patient’s palate (for an upper flipper) or to fit just inside the tongue side of the patient’s teeth (for a lower flipper).

Some dental flippers are secured in the patient’s mouth by the pink acrylic plate snapping between the teeth. For a slight additional cost, a dental flipper can be fabricated to be secured in the mouth using wires with small balls on the ends.

Uses for partial dentures

As mentioned earlier, dental flippers are relatively inexpensive dental appliances used to replace one or more missing teeth. Often, they are used on a temporary basis while the patient waits for a more permanent dental crown or bridge to be fabricated. They can also be used to aid the healing process after dental implants have been put into place.

Although a dental flipper is intended to be a temporary solution, some are designed so well that it is not unheard of for people to wear them for many years.

Dental Flippers Have Some Distinct Advantages

Dental flippers are far less expensive than fixed dental bridges, implants and other types of dental appliances. In fact, they are the least expensive way to replace a missing tooth. The difference in their cost means that dental flippers offer a distinct advantage to patients with tight budgets.

Several missing teeth can be replaced at the same time by using a single partial denture. A partial denture can therefore avoid or at least postpone the need for individual bridges or dental implants when several teeth are missing. In addition, a fixed dental bridge might not be appropriate if three or more teeth in a row are missing, or if the teeth on either side of the missing teeth are not healthy. These issues do not present any difficulty when a dental flipper is used.

Despite being considered a temporary solution, many people wear partial dentures for many years. If the patient uses good oral hygiene and the dental flipper is properly maintained, it can provide an outward appearance similar to that of a more expensive permanent dental appliance.

Partial dentures can also serve as “immediate” partial dentures. A flipper can be fabricated before unhealthy teeth are extracted, and then be inserted immediately after the extraction. In addition, if a patient is already wearing a flipper but an additional natural tooth must be extracted, an impression can be made with the flipper in place. The dental lab uses this impression (with the flipper embedded in it) to insert a false tooth in place of the bad one. This is a one-day procedure, enabling a patient to have a good replacement tooth the same day the offending tooth is extracted. Aside from the cost advantage, the fact that new teeth can easily be added to an existing plate is perhaps the biggest advantage of using a partial denture.


Partial dentures may not be quite as aesthetically appealing as a permanent bridge because the clasping wires often used to secure them may not be completely concealed. Due to being removable, they are not as stable as bridges. They can also impair gum health if worn for extended periods, making good oral hygiene essential. Their irregular shapes also make them somewhat brittle and eating requires care or even removal to prevent breakage.

All in all, however, dental flippers are a viable and relatively inexpensive treatment option for people with missing teeth.

Having a Wood Burning Stove Fitted – What Happened to Me When I Had to Replace My Old Parkray Boiler

First things first, the house or cottage in which we live was built in the late 19th century mainly of stone construction, for farm workers to live in close to their work on the farm ( normally called a tied cottage) and had been occupied by a family working on the farm prior to our move into the property in 1987, since when a certain amount of modernisation had been done by ourselves over the years, new bathroom, showers and kitchen etc.

At the end of July this year we had the chimney sweep in to clean the soot from our two chimneys.

The one that had been used non stop over last winter as our main heating was the worst as it had a Parkray multi fuel heater fitted into the wall with a surround of tiles and tiled hearth; this fire had been there since before we moved in and although pretty ugly had given good service over the years by heating four radiators and the hot water in the winter.

We had it fuelled by anthracite eggs or ovals, which gave plenty of heat but this fuel is getting very expensive, it also comes with certain ecological issues attached being a fossil fuel, which spoils our carbon footprint. We had occasionally burnt wood in it but it was not an ideal wood burning stove due to the grate being built for a coal based fuel.

“BAD NEWS” said the sweep when he had finished the job, “your back boiler is leaking into the grate and there is a lot of wet in the bottom of the grate”.

So, we had to bite the bullet and replace the fire with a new one of some sort, we had looked at all the different options over the years and decided against oil because we have access to plenty of wood from the farm. Also most of the modern systems depend on having electricity to ignite and control their burners, and because we are subject to power cuts in the winter, just when one is most vulnerable to the cold; it was important for us that we had a system that will work on its own, we wanted it to continue to heat the water and the radiators upstairs by convection to keep the house warm until the power supply returns.

Off we went to StoveTec in Hereford UK to look at what was available to us and just how much it would cost, we looked at all the models in the showroom and chose a Hunter multi fuel with internal boiler (Hunter are a part of the Parkray Group apparently), with single door with one clear pain of glass in the front, which I liked because it had none of the fiddly bits just clean lines and simple design.

Steve the owner of StoveTec then arranged to come out to do a site survey on the next Wednesday; whereupon the measurements for the base and the layout of all the pipe work was checked, and the chimney stack was inspected from the garden.

The quote, which was very reasonable and included the fitting of a new stainless steel chimney liner, was accepted and it was arranged for the men to start work the next week.

The team duly arrived and proceeded to start with the removal of the original fireplace, in preparation, I had already turned off the water and drained the system with the garden hose prior to their arrival.

As with all building workers, we made sure that copious amounts of tea, instant coffee and biscuits were available throughout the day in large mugs with a good quality tea bag per mug with various spoon-fulls of sugar and whole milk according to taste, which after the first day we learnt off by heart.

The removal of the old fire place created a large amount of dust and noise from the hammer drill and chisel, and a large quantity of waste rubble and a pile of bricks that I decided to save for any small garden project which may require a few bricks, a barbecue comes to mind, which is not a high priority for us but may come in handy in the future .

Once the old tiled hearth and surround had been broken up, the feed pipes to the boiler were now exposed enough to be able to get a hack saw in to cut the pipes and free up the stove for removal. It was very heavy and had to be manoeuvred onto a sack trolley to be wheeled out of the house and lifted in to the truck for scrap.

It was then that we were able to see what we thought was the full extent of the space available at the back of the fire, we could see a large amount of brick and stone infill, for what we thought must have been the original cast iron black grate; complete with an oven on the side, which looked so pretty in pictures but were extremely difficult to get the oven up to temperature and were dirty as the fire was open and not enclosed; but they normally had a trivet to hang or place a pan or kettle over the fire for cooking soups and stews.

But No, they had to remove two more courses of brick before the final aperture was revealed in all its glory, it really made the room look so much bigger, once all the rubble had been removed and a bit of tidy up had been done.

Meanwhile the men had placed the climbing frame and ladders up onto the roof and around the chimney stack so that the new stainless steel liner could be lowered into the chimney stack, once it was in place a plate was cemented in and a new chimney pot and cowl fitted to top out the flu.

Where the liner came down into the fireplace it was fitted into an enamelled stove pipe via a socket fitting on the end of the cut flu liner, and then into the socket on top of the new Hunter Stove.

Before the new stove can be placed into position there had to be a new base fitted on the floor of the cavity, we finally decided on large pieces of slate, which is more in keeping with an old cottage than the polished granite that we thought about first, this is fixed in place on the floor of the base level with a coat of cement and tapped level.

The next job was to fit a metal plate to the inside of the fire place above the new stove, where the new flu came through a hole cut in the middle to block out the rest of the chimney and stop any of the soot from the old fire falling down into the room in the future; this was sealed around all the edges to finish the lower part of the chimney off (this was later sprayed with black enamel paint).

With the hot water pipes connected to the boiler (the out flow hot to the top, and the inflow connected to the bottom on the opposite side of the boiler cold), the water was then turned back on and the system filled to check for leaks and and test under pressure with the pump running.

Then it was all systems go for ignition to see how it all worked with a fire burning in the grate. It was simply amazing just how fast the boiler heated up and hot water started to move up the pipes to the hot water cistern. It is now a week since we have had it up and running and we have now got the hang of it managing to keep it in over night with the aid of some very dry seasoned oak blocks.

There is no doubt in my mind that the main thing with running a wood burning stove is to have dry seasoned wood at all times otherwise it will not burn correctly and it willl not get hot enough, plus it will clog up the chimney with tar and get the glass front of the door all covered in a dirty black coating of soot and tar. I always think that if the wood burns slowly down like a cigarette glowing across its length the stove is working correctly and that the wood is dry.

The best types of wood to burn locally around us is oak or ash if you can get it, but I also have access to plenty of willow, which is OK if very dry, I occasionally get a bit of pine, which burns very fast and noisily spitting and popping away in the grate.

I can thoroughly recommend our wood burning stove and I look forward to many years of warm winters by the fire in the future.

Aklan’s Chicken Inubaran

Chicken is the most common poultry dish feature in Philippine cuisine. The widespread recipes in various restaurants and by home chefs are evidences of this liking. What’s great about Pinoy delicacies is the creativity in indigenous cooking. When you get the chance to travel around places, each locality has popular specialty dishes that leave a mark in every tourist’s heart.

In the Western part of the Visayas region lies the oldest province in the country, Aklan. Along the rich heritage is their sumptuous cookery. And one of the most popular Aklan specialty dishes is the Chicken Inubaran (chicken with banana pith). It is a chicken dish cooked with coconut milk and slices of banana pith, locally termed as ubad, which is the center-most layer of the banana trunk. This tender and sweet white part is what gives the recipe a blissful flavor. The preparation of this dish is actually laborious since you have to cut down a whole banana tree to get the pith. But nowadays, you can buy canned hearts of palm or ubod (in Filipino) in local markets or grocery stores.

Chicken Inubaran is preferably cooked with native chicken as it gives the dish its real authentic taste. Since native chicken requires more cooking time than commercially bought chicken, you can make use of your best slow cooker to tenderly cook your Chicken Inubaran recipe. Slow cooker is ideal for inexpensive cuts of meat. Likewise, other ingredients are very common and within reach. It includes lemon grass, salt, vinegar, onion, garlic, black pepper and ginger as spices to taste. You can also add libas leaves, a souring ingredient, if you want your recipe to have a little bit sourly taste. Simply put all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cover and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours, or until chicken is tender. Afterwards, you can now enjoy the creamy soup over hot steamed rice and savor a flavor rich eating experience. It perfectly goes well with your favorite grilled food too.

Aklan’s cuisine looks exotic but the taste is very much pleasing since it makes use of common ingredients. It showcases an original way of cooking that provides an appetizing experience to all the local and foreign visitors of the land. Considered as the best tasting dish in the province of Aklan, Chicken Inubaran is something that you should try to cook. Introduce an exhilarating flavor of Visayan cooking to your friends and family.

It’s quite amusing to discover the finest gastronomic flair of every region that makes cooking at its best! You can have all the opportunity to explore and enrich your cooking preferences. Truly, Filipinos have exceptional range of culinary grace which represents simplicity and resourcefulness.

Understanding Tooling, Patterns and Core Boxes for Green Sand Metal Casting

In order to produce castings utilizing an automated mold machine and green sand casting process, tooling must be created. This article provides an overview of the types of tooling currently in use.


Skilled Pattern makers build or make patterns as per the design provided by an engineer or designer. The pattern could be made using wood, metal, or plastic such as expanded polystyrene. They can be hand cut from wood, molded from aluminum or CNC cut. Most modern patterns are CNC machined.

The pattern is slightly larger than the finished product to accommodate the “contraction” or “shrink allowance” of the metal to be cast and the product size. Depending on the size of each part to be cast, and the size of the Flask (sand surface available), one or dozens of impressions of each part will be on the pattern. In the instance where there are impressions of different parts on one pattern, that is commonly called a ‘family’ pattern.

Depending on the configuration of the part, patterns sometimes also have core prints that create registers within the molds into which the sand cores are placed. Such cores, sometimes reinforced by wires, are used to create under cut profiles and cavities that cannot be molded with the ‘cope and drag’ (top and bottom of mold).

Paths for the entrance of metal into the mold cavity constitute the runner system including the sprue, various feeders to maintain a good metal ‘feed’, and in-gates that attach the runner system to the casting cavity. Gas and steam generated during casting exit through the permeable sand or via risers that are added either in the pattern itself, or as separate pieces. 

Molding box and materials

A multi-part molding box (known as a casting flask, the top and bottom halves of which are known respectively as the cope and drag) is prepared to receive the pattern. Molding boxes are made in segments that may be latched to each other and to end closures. For a simple object, flat on one side, the lower portion of the box, closed at the bottom, is filled with casting or green sand. The sand is packed in through a vibratory process called ramming. The pattern is then placed on the sand and another molding box segment is added. Additional sand is rammed over and around the pattern. Finally a cover is placed on the box and it is turned and unlatched, so that the halves of the mold may be parted and the pattern with its sprue and vent patterns removed. 


To produce cavities within the casting-such as for liquid cooling in engine blocks and cylinder heads – negative forms are used to produce cores. Usually sand-molded cores are inserted into the casting box after removal of the pattern.

Coreboxes are made using wood, metal, or plastic such as expanded polystyrene. They can be hand cut from wood, molded from aluminum or CNC cut. Most modern coreboxes are CNC machined. 


To control the solidification and metallurgical structure of the metal, it is possible to place metal plates or chills in the mold. The associated rapid local cooling will form a finer-grained structure and may form a somewhat harder metal at these locations. In ferrous castings, the effect is similar to quenching metals in forge work. The inner diameter of an engine cylinder is made hard by a chilling core. It is possible to prevent internal voids or porosity inside castings by controlling the way a casting freezes.