Masonic Tie Pin

My Son is Entering the Craft


My son has followed his father and decided to become a Freemason. He’s at the early stage of his journey, he’s completed his interview and next step is his initiation.

Freemasonry History

He’s always shown a keen interest and now he’s turned twenty, he’s able to join his father, at his father’s mother lodge. And I wish him the best of luck although I don’t know too much of what goes on, his father enjoys it and I’m sure my some will too.

A Small Masonic Gift

I decided that I’d get him something, a small masonic gift, to coincide with his becoming a Freemason. I thought long and hard and checked with my husband, he suggested a tie pin. A masonic tie pin with craft symbols on it. Craft is the term used when referring to freemasonry. I know that I’ve heard it often enough.

Square and Compass

Square and Compass

The symbols I wasn’t to sure about. I was told that the “Square and Compass” are the symbols of the craft and that any tie pin I select should have these symbols. So I learned something new.

The easiest place to get these is from a website and he had one in mind masonic gifts Nicely laid out and easy to navigate to what I wanted. But at the same time not too much choice. Just enough to be helpful.

Masonic Tie Bar

Tie Clip

So I purchased the freemason tie bar and I’ve wrapped it up for him. When my son arrives home from his initiation I’ll present it to him then. I can’t wait to see him wearing it, It looks really nice all gold (not real gold just a gold finish).

The tie pin was quite cheap too. I thought that it would be a little expensive being a freemason gift. I imagined there would be a huge price hike but thankfully that wasn’t the case.

I’m sure my son will be thrilled to receive it – when the time’s right.

Kettle with Variable Temperature

birthday cakeKettle for My Wife

I bought my wife a new present for their birthday, a kettle. Now a kettle although practical, can’t be classed as very romantic.

I bought this kettle through Variable temperature kettle. A website that sites that shows the best variable temperature kettles out there. And that’s the clue; these kettles heat water to a temperature you set.

variable electric kettleAdvantages of a Kettle, Variable Temperature

You see a traditionally kettle boils water and that’s okay but sometimes you want hot water, not necessarily boiling water. There’s no way you can get water at a certain temperature without wild guessing.

Heating water up to boiling point then adding cold water until a thermometer shows you have your desired temperature is just impractical. Enter the variable temperature kettle.

These devices are fairly recent to the market but already you now have plenty to choose from. And they all do one thing and that is to heat water to your desired temperature and keep it at that temperature for a certain time, ready for you to use.

Kettles through the ages

teapot & teacupPerfect for Green Tea

So why did I get Sally One? Well you see my wife is a green tea drinker and green tea is delicate. You need hot water to get the flavor out not boiling water. So I forget what temperature that is but Sally Knows for sure.

Sally Was a bit underwhelmed when She first opened it “A kettle?” She said. Then I explained what it did and what it will do for her tea. And she quickly realized how useful that would be and hasn’t looked back. Sally Uses it all the time to make her green tea. History of Green Tea

iphoneAlways in Touch

The model I bought also has an app for the phone, I pushed the boat out here, There’s one at the bottom of the website I mentioned earlier, here it is again kettle variable temperature. I set up the app on her iPhone and it’s quite simple to operate. Then you fill up the kettle and tell it to start. You could be shopping, upstairs taking a bath. The app tells the kettle to start heating the water then beeps when the desired temperature has been reached. And keeps it at that temperature for 15 minutes.

A very practical present, if I do say so myself. But not very romantic so I ended up taking Sally or to our favorite Mexican restaurant too. Which means she got a kettle and a meal and I got a meal with favorite person in the whole world.

Best apps for use in the kitchen

Photographer’s Light Box

My Hobby

My hobby is photography, specifically I like to do still life photography and add mood and character to an image. A little like a movie set or stage set for a theater.

None of these sets exists in real life. In the theater world a set designer takes his or her input from the screenplay and from the director and produces a visual interpretation of both.

Artisans then take the design concept and build a believable set, in 3d. And that’s essentially what I do. But I combine all the skills into one, director, set designer, artisans – they are all me.

pearls rings bracelet amethyst

My Photography

So I get to create a scene, as props, create the mood I like. Then photograph it. The photography is another skill which we have to learn. But for me it’s more about working with light and specifically how the camera records it.

Our eyes are incredible, they adjust to different levels of light and different color balance, automatically. And even though the lighting might not look right when you set it up, it will look perfect in the final photographic image.

The Lightbox

Sometimes the scene I want to create is small and although I have a homemade studio in the basement. The lighting and softboxes, it’s overkill. I just need a miniature studio. Like the ones here Photographer’s Light Box.

These photo light boxes are ideal. Simple to set up and easy to use. They normally come as a cube, about 18 inches each side. But this was too restrictive for me so I went for a bigger photo light box. Mine is three feet square. I find that this gives me enough space to be creative but isn’t too big so that it becomes cumbersome.

It goes without saying that you need a good camera and lenses, a tripod and shutter release. These, along with the photo lightbox, all work together to create that beautiful image.

still life photography

choosing a dSLR camera

How to choose a camera tripod

iphone wireless charging

iphone in handMy husband’s new cell phone

My husband has a wireless charging pad in almost every room of the house. Every room, means four rooms. Our bedroom, the hall the tv living room and the kitchen. He has one of those new Samsung cell phones and they can charge wirelessly and that’s what the charging pads are for. He just puts the phone down on one of the pads and it starts charging immediately.

The iphone basics

Benefits of charging Wirelessly

This has a number of benefits, because he’s almost always in one of those four rooms of the house the phone is always nearby and more importantly charging. When the phone rings, he just grabs the phone and starts talking (no charging cable to remove)

iphone on the tableGrabbing the phone

Because he’s got into the habit of always putting the phone on a charging pad, he knows where it is all the time ( it can only be in one of four places ). Grabbing the phone to dash of to work or rushing to meet friends invariably means the phone’s charged and can’t be hiding some place.

an iphone history

old iphone charging

I could only look on in envy, with my trusty iPhone 6s, which I love by the way and I would never change to Android. Android just doesn’t do it for me. I just plough on with my charger sitting by the side of my bed which doubles up as my alarm clock.

Old iphone Charge Wirelessly – here’s how

But then just by chance I came across this site wireless charger for your iphone And I ordered a conversion kit for my old iPhone. I plugged it in, folded the panel over onto the back of the phone, where it sticks in place. That’s it done, less than thirty seconds – It took me longer to open the box.

Charging Everywhere

And to my amazement, it just works on all four chargers in the house, much to my husband’s annoyance. As now there’s a one in four chance that a charging pad is occupied by my phone. But I must say it was a really quick and easy to fit the little device to my iphone and worth every penny I paid.

Three Piece Luggage Sets

Getting around

Jumbo Jet silhouteTraveling is fun, international travel is even more fun. The hard bit is getting to your destination, trains, coaches, flights, tickets, passports; is bad enough but it’s made more tricky if you’ve got children with you on the trip. And the more children, the more hassle.

But the journeys’ only part of the trip. The bit that’s at each end of the journey, so we won’t dwell too much on that. After all you’re on vacation, so the important bit is the bit in the middle – the destination itself.

The Suitcase

old suitcaseObviously you have to pack, everyone has their own method and there’s probably a hundred different ways out there on the net. You’ll find some good tips for packing here. Packing tips

But we want to focus on what you put everything in. The suitcase the rucksack, the sports bag. Each has its place and you should select the one you feel most comfortable with.

The Three Piece Suitcase

We’re going to focus on the suitcase and in particular the 3 piece suitcase, like the ones here 3 piece luggage set

The reason we like the three piece is because of storage, when not in use. Each case is a different size and they all all fit inside the next one up. The result is that you only have one case to store between trips.

This is great but you should be quite discerning when selecting a new suitcase to purchase. When you’re in the shop or mall, they can all look very enticing. But looks can be deceiving. There are only three main aspects to consider when you’re looking for a new suitcase

  • The case material: is it tough enough.
  • The zip: is it rugged enough.
  • The casters: are they robust enough.

Holiday sunsetGets these right and your new suitcase will last you for years. And more important it won’t let you down in the middle of a trip.

Remember the shop environment is a nice place for a suitcases to hangout. An airport with to many clothes packed inside (we all do it) is fairly hostile place.

So concentrate on the big three.

88 Key Keyboards and Pianos

The Piano – The Big Brother

baby grand pianoWhen contemplating a new piano keyboard, there are a number of things to consider. It’s important to get a full 88 key keyboard as this has a full set of octaves, which is similar to a grand piano. Meaning it’s capable of playing any piece of music ever written for the piano.

Large electronic piano keyboards have become much better over the years as both sound quality and technology have improved. But nothing will truly replace a true grand piano or even a baby grand for that matter.

But you have to have deep pockets and plenty of space for of these special of all musical instruments. And let’s not forgetting tuning, which on a real piano, needs to be carried out at least a couple of times a year, more if you really want the piano kept in tip top condition.

Small/Portable – The 88 key keyboard

keyboardOur electronic boards win in on both size and portability. A lot of the technical breakthroughs have been in the actual keys themselves and how they behave. They have “weight” and mimic a real keys in a mechanical keyboard, so that you get the same feel and response as you play as you would from the real thing. Check this out Piano Keyboards with 88 Keys

The sound too has become quite expressive. The software is able to replicate the “sustain” quality of the “strings” as though it was a real piano.

Electronic instruments are seen as a poor substitute for the real piano. But that’s not so. The electronic counter parts are able to bring their own unique qualities that the full blown instruments can’t.

Other Nice Features to Have

One of these qualities is the ability to switch to a learning mode. Where the software helps you to refine your technique. It doesn’t replace the need to practice it just helps you to master your keyboard. This is more useful to beginners than experts but it’s nice to have.

Then there’s the electronic instruments’ ability to mimic the sound of other pianos from uprights to grand pianos, to harpsichords. If fact anything that has ever been made.

The history of the keyboard

Great Shona Sculpture

Shona Sculpture - HeadMy New Sculpture

I just had to tell everyone about this new sculpture that I’ve put in the garden. The idea came to me when I visited a friend’s house and we went into her garden.

My friend, Anna, has a wonderful garden, well kept with a wide variety of colorful flowers. And there in the center of the garden was an ornate fountain. Cast in a mod-roc material in an abstract form. It looked marvelous. There’s something about a fountain that brings a sense of tranquility to an outdoor space. And most people find the gentle trickle of water quite soothing.

That visit planted a seed in my head. I couldn’t have a fountain for the location I had in mind. That would have involved plumbing and unsightly pipes. But I wanted something sculptural. So I started researching.

Shona SculptureAfrican Sculpture

I stumbled into something called Shona Sculpture. Which are pieces carved from stone and rock. You can see some good examples here It’s also a good place to purchase.

What I saw, blew me away. These are African sculptures made by local black artists in Zimbabwe. There are all sorts of subject matter and all sorts of sizes.

The more I saw the more I was able to define what I wanted. The most wonderful thing about these sculptures is their African roots. They have their own spirit and they look like they belong in the natural outdoors in a garden setting.

I choose an abstract family group, in black shiny stone. Parts are left as rough stone to give a different texture both visually and tactilely. It give a sense of belonging every time I see it. It anchors the family into its environment. I like to feel it bonds my family to the house and makes us all one.

Being stone, they’re quite happy to stay outside all year round. They’re not affected by the wind rain or snow.

A great addition, I think you’ll agree.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Robots from the 60’s

Traditional Vacuum CleanerA great many years ago now, more than I care to remember, there was a movie. I can’t remember what the movie was about and I think it was made in the 1960’s, possibly the 50’s.

The reason I remember it or more correctly have flashbacks to it was because all the domestic work around the house was carried out by a robot. And I thought that was really cool and how great it would be when technology provides the real thing. Not some guy, dressed up in a robot suite but a real robot that never gets tired, never wants more pay and doesn’t try and skip corners.

Robots in the Present Day

Well now it’s 2017 and I’m still waiting and I think there’s a long way to go yet. But progress is being made. Now we have robot vacuum cleaners, quite a lot of choice in fact. But there’s a great site here that will help you chose the best one top robot vacuum cleaner today

The Good and Not so Good

Now the question is, can I replace my upright vacuum cleaner with s robot vacuum cleaner? And the answer is no, not yet. Robot vacuum cleaners can’t get right into corners, can’t move furniture around and can’t do stairs.

But what they can do, they do rather well. They extract dust really well and the more expensive ones pass over the entire floor. When their batteries run low they’re able to find their recharge base to get more juice. Then off they go again.

When they fill up, they let you know that they need emptying. Sadly they don’t go off to find the trash can themselves.

How good are they?

I’ve had one for a few months now and I can honestly say that it does a great job. Then once a week I get out the upright and do things like the corners and other places that can’t be reached.

Not quite that 1960’s robot, but a step in the right direction.

Well This is My Home

The world off the home has become quite techie, in my lifetime and I’m still a year away from middle age. So I thought it would be great to review the stuff I buy, I buy lots of gadgets because I’m quite geeky and let everyone, who’s interested, know what I think.

What makes me qualified you give you an opinion? Well nothing really. But I’m keen and on a sucker for detail did hopefully I’ll get some good insights into various gadgets.

And if nothing else, athome theater least you can take my opinions on board and come to your own conclusions. There’s no right or wrong as far as I’m concerned. It’s all just personal preferences.

So I’ll post often pin things I like and things I don’t and off you come back often, then I’m sure you’ll find interesting stuff.

This is my first post but I hope you pop by again real soon.