Light Up the Braai and Celebrate Our Heritage!

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Sunny September days are here, and braai season is upon us, so what better time to show off your braaiing skills than on National Braai Day. Celebrated annually in South Africa on Heritage Day on 24 September it’s the perfect day to create memorable moments and enjoy good food with family and friends around a fire. But what are the options when it comes to choosing the perfect braai stand?

Braai Stand Options

Today’s braaier is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the ideal braai stand. There are numerous braai designs with braai accessories, and a wide product range available on the market to choose from. Depending on your personal preference for method of braaiing there is the old-favourite charcoal or wood braai, and the ever-popular gas braai. Another option is the combination charcoal and gas braai. Be it freestanding or built-in, for indoors or outdoors use – the choice is yours.

Making a Choice

Start with considering how often you will braai and for how many people, on average, you will braai for. Next, decide where you’ll prefer to be braaiing – indoors or outdoors. Do you prefer charcoal, briquettes, wood or gas? Do you want to braai year-round or only while the weather is sunny and warm?

Pros and Cons

Charcoal and wood braais are generally cheaper to buy. They give the meat a special flavour that isn’t achieved with a gas braai, but they take longer to reach the ideal hot temperature. Gas braais, on the other hand, are much quicker and ready for braaiing in just a few minutes.  However, charcoal and wood braais don’t burn as clean as gas braais –  which are smoke-free – making them ideal for indoors installation and braaiing year-round no matter the weather conditions. They are easier to clean and offer the convenience of varying temperature settings for cooking different types of meat which a charcoal or wood braai does not. Of course, if you’re indecisive there is the option of a combination charcoal and gas braai. You can enjoy both the flavour created by a charcoal braai and the convenience of fast-cooking with gas.

Keep these handy tips in mind when choosing that epic braai stand and you’ll be well on your way to mastering those braai skills.

A sure-fire place to start is to click here for the best-rated service providers available for all your braai accessories, firewood and braai installation needs.

Springtime Tips for a Creative and Waterwise Garden

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Spring is in the air! A time to look forward to warmer days, slip slops – and for some – beach sand between our toes! It’s also time to get creative and waterwise in the garden.

Waterwise spaces

Sprucing up the garden in Spring is an ideal time to plan colourful and waterwise spaces in this time of drought and water restrictions. The lawn is usually the first to require attention and revitalising. Plant low-maintenance evergreen grasses, or better yet, artificial grass. There is a variety of artificial grass textures to suit individual preferences. An installer can assist with installation and some inspiring design suggestions for a neat and creative look. Plant most of the garden with evergreen plants, using different shades of green and different textures to prevent it from looking too dull. Low-maintenance succulents in various sizes, colours and leaf textures add interest and don’t require much fertilising and pruning. Leaves, gravel, mulch, pebbles, and bark chips all help to retain moisture in the soil and reduce watering needed.

Tranquillity

No garden is complete without a dedicated tranquil space for relaxing in the outdoors. Enjoy the soothing sound of a trickling waterwise fountain or install a pond with fish life to add to the serenity. Perhaps create a secluded seating space using decking or paving tiles where you can unwind at the end of a busy day with a glass of wine and a riveting read. For added charm lay stepping stones to build a quaint garden pathway leading to the quiet space. A must-add are some scented plants such as star jasmine, yesterday-today-and-tomorrow and lavender which are perfect for planting near walkways or seating areas since their fragrance is stronger at night.

Springtime colour

After a dull winter, some springtime colours bring any garden to life. Plant spring-flowering plants to add splashes of colour to the patio area and garden. Here in South Africa, azaleas flower in yellow, white, pink and bright orange. Pansies and violas are great for window boxes, containers and hanging baskets. Gazanias love spring weather and eye-catching vygies bloom in shades of pink, purple, orange and red flowers. If you love to attract sunbirds to your peaceful garden space, be sure to plant some orange and yellow pincushion flowers and the orange-red bottlebrush.

Enchantment

Nothing provides perfect charm like strategically placed arches in the garden with scented flowers like star jasmine or roses growing over them. Plant colourful and bright flowering plants in pots and containers and place these around the garden and patio area. Include garden statuary, large urns or birdbaths as décor items and use pebbles or cobbles for edging the garden beds to add some interesting character.

Springtime provides the perfect time to create a quiet and beautiful garden space for much-needed contemplation and relaxation.

Spring into action! Click here to find the best service provider or professional to help you create a garden that is simply inspiring.

Organise and Reclaim Your Garage Space

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Is your garage storing everything except the car and other essentials it’s designed for? Then it’s time to declutter and reclaim the garage space for its intended purpose.

Just the thought of beginning this task is overwhelming for any homeowner, but if planned and broken down into smaller steps it becomes far less daunting!

Clearing out

Begin with organising a container and discarding all unwanted items. Hire a container from a waste and rubble removing company if budget allows. Collect all the waste items and rubbish that is no longer needed and have it removed – just ensure that these items can be safely discarded. Divide the garage into sections to make it easy to tackle one section at a time. Sort through all the items and decide on what is frequently used, never used, and occasionally used. Donate or even sell those items that haven’t been used in the last six months to a year. Recycle as much as you can! Afterwards, you’ll have what’s left to be stored and organised.

Space planning

Move all the remaining items that will be kept and stored out of the garage, if it’s possible to do so. Take some measurements to begin planning the use of the garage space. Decide on what area will be used for what purpose. By using plenty of vertical space and overhead ceiling or rafter space you can free up the floor area to finally park the car inside the garage without bumping into any obstacles.

Storage

Garage cupboards, wall shelving, boxes with divisions, hooks and pegboards are all ideal for keeping items neatly organised and labelled. Sort nails and screws and store them in labelled bottles, boxes or drawers for easy access. Group similar items together. For instance, store hammers and screwdrivers alongside the screws and nails so that they’re easy to locate. For bigger items like bicycles use heavy-duty hooks attached to the wall or to rafters overhead to help keep the floor space clear for easy cleaning. Use a separate outside garden shed to store lawnmowers, spades, weed eaters, fertilizers and other items often used in the garden. Lockable cabinets keep hazardous items such as chainsaws, tins of paint and paint thinners locked away safely.

Safety

Most importantly, make sure to include a fire extinguisher for fire safety in the garage space.

Get creative

If you’re feeling creative, there are plenty of ideas to brighten up this usually dull space in the home. Use preferred paint colours, unusual vinyl stickers, creative labelling or decorated wooden storage crates. Tile or add some inspiring stencil patterns to the floor and shelving for some flare. You could go as far as colour coding sections for some fun but practical organisation!

A neat and strategically organised garage interior not only accommodates your vehicle with ease but also provides extra usable space that every homeowner needs.

Click here to find the right professional or service provider to assist with tackling this home project.

9 Simple Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

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Whether you’re a master chef or brilliant baker, it’s important to have the right tools and trusted options for the best results. To make meal preparation time quick and easy, it’s necessary to have useful kitchen gadgets on hand.

One can’t do without measuring cups, a kitchen scale, mixing and prep bowls, a rolling pin, whisk and spatula when whipping up that magical cake or bake. And a stand-alone mixer saves time on the mixing process.

Chopping, slicing, zesting and grating? With the right tools like a simple zesting tool, a grater, a handheld mandolin for wafer-thin slicing and of course the essential chopping board, these tasks are quick and easy.

But while these basic tools are usually mandatory in most kitchens, these 9 simple, inexpensive gadgets will make time spent in the kitchen that much easier:

  1. An ice-cream scoop that has heat conducting liquid inside its core makes use of the warmth from your hand and scoops out perfect servings every time without straining a muscle!
  1. A pancake batter dispenser minimizes the mess when prepping those pancakes for breakfast.
  1. Cooking meat is made quick and simple with the use of a meat tenderizer or mallet for that ultimate tender piece of meat.
  1. A kitchen thermometer to check that meat has cooked to the perfect temperature is handy. Use it for checking the heat of cooking oil before frying and for checking the boiling point of sugar when making treats like fudge.
  1. Collapsible colanders made from silicone are exceptionally easier to clean than their metal counterparts. They take up minimal storage space in the drawer when collapsed.
  1. Grating all your favourite cheeses is a breeze with an electric cheese grater. This awesome gadget will also grate veggies!
  1. An electric multiple egg boiler to save time in the morning for a quick and healthy family breakfast is a must.
  1. A potato ricer is super handy for smooth and amazing potato mash, without the hassle of mashing! Use it to purée other vegetables too if you don’t own or feel like using a food processor.
  1. And finally, a three-blade vegetable peeler is your best friend when it comes to peeling. One blade for basic peeling, a second serrated blade for peeling thicker skinned foods, and a third blade to shred veggies in a decorative style for a creative salad that looks spectacular on the table!

Why spend time slaving away in the kitchen when you could be enjoying more of the mealtime with family and friends.

Simplify your life! Use the right kitchen tools for the best results!

If you’re looking for the right service provider and the best results when it comes to solving your home related needs, then click here for reputable and recommended service providers who offer great service!

10 Quick and Easy Kitchen Hacks

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Life is often constantly busy and on the go. So, who doesn’t love useful kitchen hacks that are budget and time friendly?

Try these handy hacks to get things done quickly and easily in the kitchen:

  • Smelly wooden cutting board? This brilliant baking soda hack will clean it easily. Sprinkle the board with baking soda and rub with a slice of lemon to add a fresh smell to your favourite cutting board.
  • In a hurry to peel those boiled eggs at breakfast time? A half teaspoon of baking soda added to the water will allow the egg shells to easily fall away, or simply put the boiled eggs into a bowl of cold water which will make them easier to peel.
  • Create quick and easy Taco Shells by hanging fresh Tortillas over the individual rods of an oven rack in the oven, and voilà! Instant Taco Shells ready for a tasty filling.
  • Grilling fish? Save on cleaning, and infuse flavour, by grilling fish on slices of lemon which will prevent the fish from falling apart and from sticking to the grill.
  • Need to pit a bunch of cherries quickly? Grab an empty bottle that has a bottleneck size slightly smaller than the size of a cherry (e.g. a beer bottle). Using a skewer or chopstick and placing the cherry on the top of the bottleneck, push the stick down through the top of the cherry and into the bottle, thereby pushing out the pit. A quick easy method that collects all the pits without the mess!
  • Want to peel that garlic in a hurry? Break the garlic bulb up into cloves, grab a sealable container, toss in the cloves and close the lid. Shake the cloves vigorously in the container for a few seconds. All the skins will easily fall off and you can pick out the peeled cloves, ready to use!
  • Is your baking soda or baking powder still fresh to use? Watch for bubbling when adding a quarter teaspoon of baking soda to two teaspoons of vinegar. For baking powder, add one teaspoon to a half cup of hot water. Since it’s seldom that an expiration date is labelled on these products, this hack is helpful in solving the freshness mystery.
  • Use a spray bottle filled with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for spritzing apple pieces, sliced avocado, guacamole or any other foods that tend to oxidise or become brown when cut.
  • Burnt residue on the bottom of your frying pan or cast iron skillet?  Fill it with warm water and quite a bit of salt, stir, then boil for 15 minutes. The boiling helps to remove most of the burnt residue, with the help of scrubbing it with a soft sponge.
  • Have sticky ingredients like molasses or honey to measure? Spray the measuring tool with some cooking spray to make the honey slide and the measurement easier and more precise.

These awesome and simple hacks will make life in the kitchen a little bit easier.

Find a service provider on www.servicemonkey.co.za to make your life easier!

Fun and Functional Kids’ Bedrooms

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PBTeen

If there’s one space in the home where a bit of magic can be created, it’s a kid’s bedroom.

Keeping practicality and safety in mind, inspire the imagination of a child or teen with clever creative furniture design, storage and room décor that will bring the room to life!

Furniture

Choosing furniture pieces wisely will save space and money. Durable furniture that is safe, sturdy and comfortable will last many years. Whether you’re looking to create a large play area or to conserve space, there is a furniture piece to suit the purpose. Twin and triple bunk beds (with safety rails) and beds with built-in storage are great space savers and provide much-needed storage for items like bed linen and clothes. Twin bunk beds offer the advantage of separating so that they can be used individually, which is great for when children are older and in separate bedrooms. When family or friends come to visit, space becomes a bit more of a challenge. That’s where twin daybeds and trundle sets with a built-in pull-out mattress solve the space problem, providing additional space to snuggle in at night.  Some bunk bed options have a futon on the lower level that converts to a comfy sofa for relaxing on during the day. Loft beds open up floor space below for a play area or storage boxes to be placed. Some loft beds have built-in bookshelves and desk space below and are a smart option for small bedrooms. The built-in stairs of some loft beds offer handy storage space which is cleverly hidden. L-shaped bunk beds with a lower bed placed at a right angle to the one above may take up a bit more floor space but they add style to an interior layout. The compact nature of these bed styles saves you from buying extra furniture pieces.

Storage

Keeping books, toys and other items neat and tidy minimizes clutter in kids’ bedrooms. Wall-mounted shelves are ideal for displaying trinkets and treasures. Hanging hooks are great to keep hats, towels and jackets neatly stored. Cupboards offer compact space for clothes, shoes and linen and there are various space friendly modular designs that allow extra pieces to be added on as the need for more storage arises. Utility baskets offer easy child-friendly storage for soft toys and blankets, encouraging little ones to pack and unpack their toys themselves. A floor-to-ceiling storage unit with a sliding ladder is a great space saver that adds a fun element to the tidying up process. Ottomans and toy boxes provide both additional storage space and extra seating.  Another useful furniture piece is the pigeon hole unit which adds plenty of extra organised space that is easily accessible for children. For the nursery, a chest of drawers that doubles up as a changing station keeps stored items within easy reach. Better still, an all-in-one compactum unit consisting of a chest of drawers with a changing station on top and attached to the cot keeps all those baby necessities within easy reach of the cot.

Décor, Style and Other Essentials

With the design shape of beds and other practical aspects of a kid’s bedroom considered it’s time to pull it all together and create some magic! Choosing décor, a style and theme is made easy with options such as vibrant or pastel bedding and pillows, trendy vinyl wall stickers, colourful child-friendly paint, and different themed furniture styles. Choices range from a relaxed, traditional, rustic or handcrafted country style, to contemporary, modern, minimalist or the industrial look. The popular four-poster princess style and racing car style beds, or those with built-in slides and stairs that lead to the top of a bunk or loft bed add a sense of mystical adventure and imagination for a younger child. As a guide, keeping a child’s preferences and interests in mind helps when choosing an ideal theme and will usually appeal more to the child. Décor pieces such as large bean bags, floor cushions and even teepee tents filled with comfy themed cushions are perfect to laze on while reading a book and add fun and comfort to the interior design of a room. A small table and chairs offer a designated space for drawing, building puzzles and constructing those awe-inspiring Lego masterpieces. Firm play favourites like a dolls house, mini kitchen play station, and a playmat designed as a race car track are fun easy play options to fit within a room. Paint some chalk paint on a wall surface area within easy reach for children and watch them draw and create their own works of art! In a nursery, an area located close to the cot and baby where mom can sit and feed or sleep is essential. A rocking chair is helpful for some mothers and block-out curtains are another essential to make sleep time easier. Choose a colour palette for the room that doesn’t easily show marks and add a rug that is easily washable to protect carpets from spills and scuffs.

With a little creativity and clever design options, a bedroom space can become a magical playful paradise where relaxing, reading and learning are fun!

Is It Time to Revamp Those Tired Worn Floors?

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Are you keen to start revamping the floors in your home? Don’t rush the process.

Floors play a pivotal role in your home and require careful consideration before installation. With so many options available, it can seem somewhat overwhelming on where to begin finding the perfect fit. What will work best in a specific space? What are the pros and cons? Which choice will suit your budget?

When choosing a flooring product consider your needs first, before deciding on a style. Let’s explore some of the more popular floor covering options:

Carpeting

It’s a common myth to avoid carpets if you suffer from allergies. Carpets help remove airborne allergens and dust by trapping these in their fibres. There are carpeting options with an anti-microbial finish for this purpose. The trick is to ensure regular vacuuming to remove trapped allergens and dust, which allows restoration of the carpet pile at the same time.  If you’re looking for a safe, soft and slip-proof surfacing that provides warmth and comfort – or you have an uneven surface to cover – then carpets are a perfect choice. If you have children or pets, consider stainproof yarn. Best for bedrooms, living rooms and ideal for stairs, carpets save you money and energy due to their insulating effect. Remember to rinse carpet shampoos off thoroughly otherwise, they will attract dirt.

Tiles

Tiles are a practical choice for any area of the home, both indoors and out. Should a section chip or crack, tiles are easily replaceable, are strong and super easy to clean. They come in a wide variety of sizes, patterns, textures and finishes. Digital ink printing technology creates different looks, such as the natural wood-look, or those resembling planks, stone and cement. Depending on quality, tiles are cost-effective and available in a wide price range. Household cleaning products should be avoided in favour of the supplier’s recommended cleaning products to prevent build-up over time. Using the correct adhesive, tiles should be laid on a level surface. Be wary of using smooth tiles in areas where they can become slippery when wet – rather opt for tiles with a non-slip texture or grip.

Cement and Screed

Cement and screed flooring are smooth and seamless finishes, which are not only decorative but also hardwearing. Resistant to dirt, abrasives, water and stains, use this practical floor covering in any area of the home, including outdoors. They are chemical resistant, low maintenance and easy to clean. Some products can be applied over existing flooring or tiles, with the correct preparation. You have the added advantage of being able to update your cement floor look by applying a stain, or by stripping and resealing it. Although the application process can take time, it’s wise to be patient and allow that time for the curing process to reach proper completion. Have an experienced contractor do the installation using the correct sealer to maintain the floor’s longevity. Although not all cement finishes are consistent in colour, and some hairline cracks can occur, this is all part of the look! Pricing varies depending on the product used.

Wood

Wooden floors have natural character and add overall value to your home. Cost varies depending on the product and finishes chosen, so installation may be limiting for those on a tight budget. That said, there’s a wide variety to choose from. Choosing the right type of wood goes a long way to ensuring longevity. Wood is versatile flooring that can be changed simply by sanding and refinishing it. Hardwood flooring is tough, hypoallergenic, and can be installed in most rooms. Oak, maple and cherry are popular choices for hardness, while mahogany is chosen for its beautiful appearance. Softer woods like pine are prone to scratching, so they’re not ideal if you have pets or children. Wooden floors are easy to maintain and clean but are susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature. Certain wood types need regular waxing to maintain shine, and liquid spills should be wiped away instantly. It’s best to ask for professional advice before committing to a choice of wooden flooring and to have a specialist install the flooring for a quality finish.

Vinyl

Vinyl is a durable choice that’s both stylish and easy on the budget. Luxury vinyl, cushioned vinyl, and the wood-look are just some of the popular choices. Available on a roll in sheets, tiles or alternatively as planks, installation is hassle-free and quick. It’s easy to clean, doesn’t fade or stain, is waterproof and scratch-resistant. This quiet, warm and comfortable underfoot surface doesn’t swell or lift, and is slip-proof, making it ideal for kitchens or bathrooms. Vinyl is suited for high traffic areas like entrance hallways, laundry rooms, playrooms, and living rooms. Although easy to maintain, vinyl is susceptible to gouging from sharp objects, and to excessive sun and heat exposure which can cause expanding. Include damp protection measures when installing.

Laminate

Laminate flooring is a great choice if the budget is tight and you’re keen on the hardwood look. Tough, easy to clean and resistant to allergens, fading, and stains, laminate is a favourite choice for homeowners with pets and kids. Although it can sound hollow when walked on, an underlayment helps to minimize sound and provide a barrier for moisture. It is available in a variety of textures, shapes and finishes and often used in almost any room or space. Surfaces become scratched over time if not kept free of dirt and sand, and spills should be cleaned immediately. Laminate is sturdy and eco-friendly, as well as easy to install.

Other innovative floor surfaces worth considering are cork, bamboo, and linoleum.

Flooring is a big investment. Whatever your preference may be, consider all the pros and cons, then contact a professional for sound advice and quality installation.

Sources: South African Garden and Home Magazine 2014 / 2015

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Improve Security to Safeguard Your Home

house-2368389_1920_copyYour home is your safe haven – or is it? In today’s world, where safety and security are paramount, just how secure is your home? When last did you really evaluate the security aspect of your property?

Consider the following security tips when looking at safeguarding your home:

  • Begin with changing your mindset! You may think you’re quite security savvy, but often we tend to be too trusting about our surroundings. Get into good habits and routines such as locking the doors and arming the alarm every night before going to bed. The aim is to have your security actions become second nature.
  • Undertake a security survey of your home. What are the potential weak points? Where could would-be intruders possibly hide or gain easy access to your property? Ask someone such as your Neighbourhood Watch to assist you in this process. Together with the network of people they know, they can offer good advice and provide objectivity.
  • Have an emergency plan in place. This could save lives, should the unthinkable happen. A panic room or safe room, for instance, could keep you safe and give you time to call your armed response company or the police authorities. Ensuring you have an emergency number on the speed-dial function of your phone is handy.
  • Add layers of security. By adding layers of security beginning from the outside perimeters of your property, and working inwards, the opportunity for crime is minimized and made more difficult for intruders to easily enter and exit with speed.
  • There are many security options available. Security measures such as electric fencing, sensor beams, alarm systems and motion monitoring cameras, burglar security bars, shutters and security screens, even shatterproof windows, are all great options for adding layers of security. And the appearance of physical barriers needn’t look unattractive either. Many service providers offer attractive designs to compliment the style and look of your home.

South Africans should not only see a home security system as a vital necessity, but also as a valuable payoff designed around their lives. Besides helping you to sleep better at night, it boosts the overall value of your property, making it a worthwhile investment.

Check out the service providers on www.servicemonkey.co.za to help you get started.

Do you need additional exposure for your Business and Brand?

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Delighted to communicate with you in such a manner and I guess the picture says it all….you know where your are going , but how am I going to get there?

The ServiceMonkey Group comprises of two websites namely, ServiceMonkey for the Trades businesses and ServiceProfessional for Professionals of course.

Our goal is simple… “give smaller businesses a web footprint and help grow their brand”


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We would be delighted to list your business on either one of our websites and this is what we can offer:

Basic Listing: Cost – FREE         

Standard Listing: Cost – R189 per month 

  • Not only do we make the basic information available to you but you enjoy the following as well:
  • List Discount Offers on your page,
  • Get customers to write Reviews and Testimonials which is posted on your page
  • Want to share Photo’s of your workmanship? No problem!
  • Click here to get offer!

Premium Listing: Cost – R289 per month

Not only do we make the standard information available to you but you enjoy the following as well:

  • We will post at least two articles via Social Media on your behalf
  • We will place your logo at the bottom of our website for at least one week of every month you are listed
  • We will at our discretion display your brand on one of our Promotional or Service Provider banners for one month every three months of the year.
  • Click here to get offer!

Looking for something a bit more “in your face”?

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We would be thrilled if you were to consider taking up poll position by having your brand displayed in a Large Banner as displayed below for ONLY R199 per week!

Click here to get offer for the Large Banner!

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 Little more than you can handle?

Why not consider our Offers Banner at only R49 per week or the Top Page Banner at only R79 per week.

Click here to get offer for one of these options!

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Did I hear you say you are a member of BNI?

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If so, in this special offer take another 25% off our prices just because you are affiliated to a great network of business professionals who know what business is all about.

Thanks for your time and looking forward to doing business together!