Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grazing - The New Trend

Homeowners are becoming more house-proud these days, such that they are now increasingly lashing out on well-designed residences. It's no wonder then that entertaining at home @ Grazing, is becoming quite the new trend.

With elegant living rooms opening up to airy patio's, wide garden decks or pools, gone are the days of sit-down dinners confined to the dining room. A varied grazing (informal. to eat small portions of food, as appetizers or the like, in place of a full-sized meal or to snack during the course of the day in place of regular meals) menu - comprising a selection of light foods or tapas - is the stylish way to entertain in lovely spaces in and around your home.

Entertaining with a grazing menu is not similar to throwing a cocktail party. It follows the tenets of good health, which stipulate that enough light bites will make a filling meal. It is not contained to pre-dinner hours either. It can start in the early evening, in the most of casual of ways, and extend until late.

There are no rules to structuring such a menu. You may still be putting the finishing touches on your first plates of tapas when guests start arriving. Serve them a margarita over the kitchen island, move on to nibbles in the patio, and end the night with coffee and dessert on the garden deck.

The great thing about grazing menus is you don't have to slave over the stove too much. Prepare the tapas in advance, or cook them when you need to refill the plates. It helps to choose dishes that are quick and easy to prepare, which doesn't have to mean plain food. A deft hand and a good choice of ingredients can take simple to spectacular.

Try your own recipes, which should be simple, yet big on flavour and loaded with creativity. Now, that's what I call Eating-Out in style!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Removing No-Follow In Blogger

Through this post I'm hoping that you will discover the importance of having a two-way communication between you and your readers through comments.

Comments for a Blog is a very important tool but sadly in the Blogger template the tag is set to "No-Follow" by default. What that means is that every comment you leave at that site (which has "No-Follow") will not entitle you to get a link back to your site. So, if you do not alter this soon, there might come a day when no one would bother leaving you a comment at your site.

How would you feel if there was a day where there were no comments on your posts? This is something all bloggers would dread to face. I personally, try to always leave a 'relevant' comment at the sites that I visit. Actually, to be honest, this is also another way to introduce your site to others, but, we totally don't agree to those spam ones though!

Some may ask, what is the definition or how does one categorize a comment as spam? Comments that have no significance to the topic whatsoever and leaving a text URL in your comment asking people to visit your site are the favourites to be considered as spam comments. So, remember folks, always leave good constructive comments and we will reciprocate.

Comments, to me, means that I'm able to get feedback from my readers, without it I would have to rely on just reading e-mails, now that would take the fun out of blogging, wouldn't it? I remember someone saying to me that, a Blog without comments isn't a Blog at all ... I totally agree with this statement. To me, comments can be considered as contents, the more the better. At the end of the day, this would eventually generate you more traffic and less work for you, because the contents are generated by the readers (like in forums).

The secret here is to get your readers to come to your site regularly and read your posts and finally leaving you a relevant comment. This will help you figure out if you're doing things right or maybe there are things that needs fixing. How will you learn all this without comments?

Then there are those who would say that comments are not important as their readers have subscribed to their RSS feed in large numbers. I would think that is also good, but not so good if you're trying to monetize your site, why? Because, if the majority of your readers tend to read your posts through your RSS feed, then only a handful would visit your site and remember, your Ads are at your Blog, not at the RSS feed, right? So, in plain English : You will have a great number of people reading your posts through the RSS feed, but very few coming to your site thus reducing your page views, hence lower Ad income!

So to avoid all these possibilities, do this, remove the "No-Follow" tag from your Blogger template and your readers will love you for that, and very soon a whole load of comments would start to come in.

To be on the safe side, back-up your template first.

Once you're in your account, click on your Dashboard followed by clicking on your Layout link. Once you've done that, click on the Template tab. Now, just below this is "Edit HTML", click that.

This would bring you to a page filled with a lot of words and letters that may look ancient to you. Don't worry, look for a checkbox situated on the top right side which is labeled as Expand Widget Templates, click this box.

Search for the words rel=nofollow (on your keyboard press CTRL and the F key, this would give you a small screen at bottom of your PC, It's like a mini search box. Type rel=nofollow and press enter in that mini search box) The word rel=nofollow will now appear in a highlighted green colour in your screen.

This is for removing the "no-follow" tag for your comments.

Now delete the word, rel=nofollow and Save Your Template!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Affiliate Programs

There are many ways that one makes money from simply blogging. We agree that Google AdSense is the number one choice when it comes to monetizing your site, but, as more and more bloggers are enrolling their sites into this type of contextual advertising program, it's quite common we find that their earnings are somewhat low at times. So, many bloggers nowadays look for alternatives to add on-top of their usual AdSense ads. This is totally a different story if you're John Chow or Darren Rowse as their traffic goes into the thousands.

So, what is the alternative here? Joining the right Affiliate program, is the other option. But, unlike AdSense ads which works on CPC (cost-per-click) and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) these Affiliate programs require your readers to click on the links and requires them to purchase a product, thus concluding a sale. So, for the majority of blogs that get low amounts of traffic, the idea of making more than $3.00 in a day can even sometimes be hard to achieve. But this all changes if you're a publisher in a certain Affiliate program.

By joining an Affiliate program, advertising a product at your site becomes so much easier as merchant ads and product links are easily assessable to your readers. You can also attach them into your e-mail campaigns thus giving you an additional edge in converting a sale. Another good thing about them is that they're free to join.

Commissions from such programs can vary depending on the Merchant's pay-out based on a percentage that they would preset. This can range from somewhere between 4% - 10% commission when a sale or other qualifying actions are completed. This is called CPA, or performance-based marketing. Definitely getting a 4% commission on selling a product worth $10-$15 is not going to be much for you, but, imagine this, what if someone buys a $6,000 product? And the best part out of this is that, the more you sell, the higher percentage of commission you will receive. That would give you an income that would probably take a couple of months to earn out of those AdSense ads alone. Trust me, there are a lot of people out there who are making a reasonable amount of money solely through these sort of Affiliate programs.

As there are many Affiliate Marketing companies out there for you to choose from, It's not going to be too difficult to find one that suits your site. For me personally, companies like : LinkShare and Amazon, works well. As both are trusted brands, I find them to be highly effective on my site. Chances are, once your readers are referred to these Affiliate sites they might end up buying more than one product, now how does that sound for passive income?

So what are you waiting for, if you're not already a LinkShare publisher, sign up for it using the following button.

LinkShare  Referral  Prg

Sunday, July 15, 2007

LA Galaxy's Biggest Star

Ladies and Gentleman, we present to you LA Galaxy's newest and biggest star, David Robert Joseph Beckham, OBE, but to the rest of the world he is simply known as the famous, David Beckham! Born on the 2nd of May 1975, David Beckham is without a doubt, one of the worlds biggest marketable sports figure. Becks begins his American soccer career by arriving at Los Angeles where he will play for the LA Galaxy team.

Attended by well-over 2,500 fans of LA Galaxy, the stadium reception was somewhat a spectacle to behold, amid confetti cannons exploding and music blaring at the same time, crowds singing out loud his name at the theme song from the cartoon "The Flintstones".

Presented with his lucky No.23 jersey, Beckham will have an uphill task here as the LA Galaxy team has only won 3 of their first 12 Major League Soccer games this season to stand 2nd bottom on the table.

Made his name at Manchester United, before moving onto Real Madrid to be a Galactico and finally arriving here in America on Thursday (July 13, 2007) . The 32 year old David Beckham will make a whopping 250 million dollars over the next 5 years whilst with the LA Galaxy team. With his arrival, the Americans are hoping that this will definitely be a major boost for soccer in their country.

UK's hottest couple; Victoria and David Beckham, will be moving into their new 22 million dollar Beverly Hills mansion, before he begins his official training with the team somewhere next week. And, come July 21, the Americans will officially get to see Becks in action in his first game when the LA Galaxy's take on his former rivals, Chelsea FC.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Schmooze Award

Another day full of surprises, that's how it is for me today. Placed as a Hot Member at MyBlogLog and now this, Wow, I have to thank my lucky stars! I'm still overwhelmed by the recent Award that I received a couple of days back from The Blog Fairy, and to add to my excitement, here comes along another one! It seems that I have the Power of Schmooze and they've decided to share this with me.

Blogging has been a tremendous learning cycle for me. Never did I imagine that it would bring me such joy. Awards, were definitely not on my list of wants, when I began this journey. To me, friends whom I have made through this experience can never be lost. The reason I say this is because of their genuine support, guidance and encouragement that is never ending. I am therefore greatfull to one such individual, Mariuca @ Marzie! She has been my constant motivator, always sharing, always been there.

Thanks to her, I'm receiving this Award today and I must say, I'm extremely excited and happy given the fact of my current ups and downs in the home front. But, believe me when I say this, It's things like this that makes life that much interesting in the Blogging world. Thank you, Marzie!

And I would like to share this Award with five recipients, whom I truly believe deserves them. To these friends of mine, I say Congratulations :

Ev Nucci - My love for Blogging comes from this great lady, thanks for everything.
Darlene - I would call her the BBQ King, a true girlfriend.
Teri - A woman who truly appreciates life.
Aayush - My buddy who tells it all from his heart.
Ishtar - Lives half her life abroad from home and comes out with the greatest of stories.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Unseen Forces

We should not presume that what we cannot see does not exist. It is usually the deeds of our conscious minds that make fools of us all, in failing to realize that some happenings in the physical world can be related to the unforeseen forces which surround us.

Before China opened its doors to the rest of the world, it was seen as a land of myth and mystery. "Secrets" like kung fu, the balancing of yin and yang in maintaining health and the science of acupuncture drew large crowds of westerners to China to seek knowledge of these mysteries.

Of the many who came, one particular group of professionals comprising doctors, dietitians, biologists, chemists and geologists bundled themselves into jeeps and embarked on a low-profile expedition. Their journey took them into uncharted territory, over unfamiliar mountains and across inhospitable desserts, before they finally came to a village where an unusually high number of twins had been born.

After a day of much-needed rest, the team set about its business. The doctors lined up the village to examine them; the chemists tested the wells and river water; the geologists examined the mineral contents of the soil; and the dietitians just queried the villagers on their eating habits.

After two weeks, the team members met to discuss what they had discovered. Each member came forth to disclose his findings, and the group realized there was nothing special about the water, soil, diet or even the people.

The leader, Kent Mcdonald, told the rest of them to pack up for the return trip. While everyone went about the business of pulling stakes, Mcdonald stood atop a high vantage point outside the village contemplating the forces of nature that had given this place its particular distinction.

Eventually, he decided to join his colleagues but as he walked towards them, he heard a shrill voice from behind him. Turning, he saw an old woman gesturing wildly towards him and trying to reach him.

He decided to find out what she wanted and was joined by his interpreter. The interpreter spoke to the old woman at length, then turned to Mcdonald and told him the villagers frequently bore twins because of the two identical mountains that stood tall and proud in front of the village. Whether or not Mcdonald believed this, he at least had an unusual tale to relate to his family and colleagues when he got home.

When the ancient Greeks were at the peak of their civilization they too had their own beliefs which closely matched those of the Chinese, especially when it comes to child-bearing.

Bedrooms and other main rooms in a house often had paintings and busts of handsome Greek Gods and beautiful Goddesses at strategic points. By decorating their homes in this way, the Greeks believed that during a woman's pregnancy, the expectant mother would somehow subconsciously "programme" the looks of the Gods and Goddesses into her unborn offspring.

When the baby was born, it would have the profile of a handsome Greek God or, if a girl, the beauty of a Goddesses. How much truth there is in these ancient ways, we certainly do not know.

Among the Chinese, there are also many beliefs surrounding pregnancy. One of them calls for a "ban" on any renovation work in a house where a pregnant woman lives.It is held that the noise and dust will cause the expectant mother much discomfort and consequently, her irritation will have a negative effect on the baby's appearance. Mirrors and glasses are also treated carefully so that they do not shatter and cause scarring of any sort on the child's face.

Whether or not these things are to be believed is not the point; to most Chinese, they would just assume not to take the risk that it might be true after all. Similarly, we should not scoff at things that are said of unseen forces and elements simply because we cannot detect them with our own limited senses.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Awesome Award

Well to be frank, I'm lost for words on this. I've been down lately, and have not been focusing too well on my blog. Three days ago as I was over at MyBlogLog I received a nice little surprise from The Blog Fairy. I was immediately awakened from my slump state to find out that it was an Award! Never in my wildest dream, have I ever imagined for one moment that any Award in particular would be bestowed on me. I'm still actually in a daze and am wondering how I was chosen for this Awesome Blogger Award.

Apparently the ladies have been enjoying these sort of Awards for quite a while now, such as : Rockin Girl Blogger and Blue Ribbon Blogger. So, I think they decided that it was high time that the guy's have a share in this. I'm actually honored that I get to share this Award with few great minds, my true friends : Marzie @ Mariuca (the best female blogger, she gets to enjoy the Blue Ribbon Award) Zubli (the great visionary) and Bobby @ Revellian (a maestro to the blogging world)

And to The Blog Fairy, I must say, THANK YOU with all my heart! You have indeed made me realize that, sometimes good things do take place even on your darkest day's.

Monday, July 2, 2007

BMW 3 Series Convertible - 2007

How I would like to have this Convertible parked in my garage! It's a car which evolved from a project carried out by a couple of very enthusiastic engineers who initially asked themselves the question on what the modern reiteration of a twenty year icon should be like. BMW claims that their new 2007, 3 Series Convertible to be in a league of it's own; while the ultimate driving machine is the Coupe, the Convertible seems to have a mirror image for an open driving experience and unique lifestyle motoring.

The special thing to note about the vehicle itself is because it's the first to feature a retractable hardtop. Also for the very first time, the 3 Series Convertible will feature a newly developed 6 and also 4-cylinder engine with direct gasoline injection technology. Their featured top model is the 335i Convertible, loaded with a straight-6 twin turbo (306bhp power) unit. BMW will also be featuring a 330d version, which is infact a 3.0L in line-6 turbo diesel. This will be their fourth variant in it's new 3 Series range, right after the Sedan, Touring and also their Coupe.

Their Coupe/Cabriolet (or in short, CC) roof has such an excellent concept in design. It somehow gives the car a unique dual character, with the least minimum effort placed. The car has a hardtop that fits all intents and purposes, and with a touch of a button the elements are opened, and all is bared to see. No wonder it makes owning an open-top car so much fun. It has also triggered a much wider market for car makers as they have added this variants to their line-up.

Some would say that it's not right for a CC variant to automatically join any family of cars out there, but there have been hold-outs, ever so notably with the likes of BMW. And they have also just jumped on that same bandwagon, with the release of their latest 3 Series Convertible.

Porsche alongside with BMW, have always held their policy of not compromising the dynamics and balance of their convertibles or their roadsters for that matter, which is why these cars only come added with soft and simple lightweight roofs (there's also detachable hardtops available from them, but that would be another story all-together). And finally, they have come to a conclusion that they able to present a better version, which is light, dynamic enough to handle the weight issue. They are also certain that the 3 Coupe, that this BMW 3 Series Convertible is based on, is definitely on the right platform for them to make the paradigm shift.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Renovation Tips

It may be high-time that your home needs a revamp. But before you give the go-ahead signal to your interior designer for an opulent classical theme or sign up for a big renovation loan, think strategically. Here are some renovation tips I would like to share with you.

Ask yourselves these: Do you intend to stay in this place through your twilight years? Or, do you intend to upgrade to a larger space quite soon? Plan your renovation based on your family's projected needs rather than any fanciful decor ideas or current wants.

Homes that are well renovated and maintained fetch higher prices in the resale market compared to un-renovated ones. This real estate maxim holds true whether you live in a flat or a semi-detached house. However, you may not get back what you spent on the renovation if you had splurged on pricey marble fittings or unusual extras like a sunken conversation pit.

While it may not be possible to determine exactly how much a good renovation will increase the value of your property, there are some general guidelines property pros swear by, one of the which is that a well-executed, thoughtful renovation can entice prospective buyers to pay more than they would otherwise have if they had seen your home in its original dingy state.

So even if you intend to sell on in a year or two, it can pay to do a renovation now. Besides, if it is a major renovation like adding a new bathroom, your family can enjoy it until your move.

  • Plan Your Budget
How much you should budget on your renovation really depends on the condition of the property. "In general, a renovation should cost between 10 to 15 percent of the property price. However, if your property is really old or in a bad condition, it might be necessary to spend more."

Think carefully before you sink serious money into fancy hi-fi equipment or designer kitchen cabinets.

  • The Right Reno's
Dark and cramped spaces obviously do not go down well with prospective home buyers. Instead, creating an illusion of spaciousness and abundant natural light is a good way to enhance the value of your property.

Bring more light into your home, especially if your floor area is small. Try to remove some non-structural walls and partitions and replace them with glass panels instead. Also, don't forget the importance of proportion. "Furnishings and fittings should be designed in proportion to the size of the home. For example, an extremely large sofa in a tiny living room would make the place appear smaller."

  • Save On These
As a general rule, avoid renovations that only appeal to those with niche tastes. No point of having designer bathroom fittings that may only appeal to buyers with exclusive tastes, but its significance may be lost on other potential buyers.

Using bathroom fittings of a moderate quality will do. Certain fittings like chandeliers, expensive marble flooring's or fancy curtains may also not make much of a difference to the value of your home.

With all these, remember, Renovate Smart!

Tips & Tricks for Making Your Home Beautiful from Furniture.com