Monday, October 20, 2014

Healthy Homemade Halloween Candy Bars and Chocolate Snacks

It’s that spooky time of year again and this year we are really getting into the Halloween spirit with some ideas for healthy treats and candy bar recipes that you can use. When kids knock on your door demanding tricks and treats, you don’t necessarily have to hand out store bought sweets, typically laden with sugar, corn syrup, unhealthy fats, artificial flavors and colors.

You can be uniquely different when you hand out homemade treats that are not only healthier than store bought ones, but also fairly easy to make.

Healthy homemade Twix bars

These homemade chocolates are great because you get to control what goes into them – they are gluten free so it can be a great idea even for kids with gluten allergies. Here’s what you’ll need:
  • ½  a cup of white rice flour (you could also use buckwheat flour)
  • 2 tbsp evaporated cane juice (you can also use coconut sugar; if not use regular sugar)
  • ½ a cup of arrowroot (you can also use tapioca)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence or extract
  • 3 + another 3 tbsp butter (nut or seed butters work pretty well here)
  • 1 tbsp flax powder blended with 2 tbsp water
  • A few pitted dates
  • Water as required
  • 3/4 cooking chocolate
First, combine the two flours and the cane juice in a bowl, and then add 3 tbsp of the nut or seed butter, flax mixture and the vanilla. Blend well and ensure that the mixture is even with no lumps. You should have a doughy consistency. Shape the dough into cookies of the desired shape (you could use fun cutout shapes as well) and flatten them on a cookie sheet on an oven tray. Bake until the cookies appear light golden brown. Take them out of the oven and wait until cool.

Meanwhile take the dates, the remaining 3 tbsp of the nut butter and about a tbsp of water and blend this to form a smooth mixture (you may need to add a bit more water). Put a dollop of this paste atop each cookie to cover it completely and evenly. Place in the freezer for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, melt the cooking chocolate in a double boiler. Remove the cookies from the freezer and dip each of them in the liquid chocolate one by one. Place these on another baking sheet (even foil will do, you just need to be able to peel away the finished bars easily after they set) and freeze again. When they are nice and firm, wrap them in pretty foil, clear or colorful plastic sheets or other wrappers of your choice.

Simple homemade chocolates

What you need:
  • 1 kg Cooking chocolate (use milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate; kids usually prefer the sweeter taste)
  • 2 cups Mixed chopped nuts, roasted and/ or dried fruits such as raisins
  • Chocolate mold trays in fun shapes
  • Foil for wrapping
In a double boiler, melt the cooking chocolate (you can use a microwave for this, but you do have to very careful not to scorch the chocolate as it melts;  this ensure that you break it down into small pieces). Drop roasted nuts and/or raisins into the chocolate tray molds. Put just two or three pieces in each and then spoon the liquid chocolate into each mold. Tap the tray on your work surface so the chocolate settles and covers the nuts completely. Refrigerate for a few hours and then wrap each individual chocolate in colorful foil or even clear plastic sheets tied with a pretty twine bow.

So here’s wishing you a sweet, fun filled and enjoyable Halloween. We do hope that you enjoy using these DIY ideas.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tips to Create an Attractive, Functional Home Office

With the internet and other communication tools at our disposal, it’s easier than ever before to work from home. Working from home has obvious advantages – kids can be supervised, many overhead expenses can be avoided and you don’t have to deal with the tiresome daily commute. Working from home saves you a lot of time and lets you optimize the resources you have at your disposal.

But– how do you create a space that is organized, productive, comfortable and functional? Here are some tips to help you create an ideal home office space for yourself:

Create a proper office space

Make use of that guest bedroom, basement area, or spare room in your home that you rarely use– ideally you should have a dedicated area for your home office. If you cannot use an entire room, use a partition or create a dedicated space within the room for your office.  It should be a clearly demarcated space where the family knows not to intrude without sufficient reason. Remember, just because it’s a home office, doesn’t mean there isn’t serious work going on.

Follow basic rules of ergonomics

Your workstation design is vitally important since you will be spending several hours if not the entire workday in your home office. You need to have the desk at the right height, a chair that is both comfortable and supportive, and all basic office implements within easy reach. For some, a standup desk, a kneeling chair, or even a treadmill in your workstation could be a good idea, ergonomically speaking. These could help you avoid occupational hazards such as repetitive stress injuries and chronic pain.

Carefully consider what you really need

A desk, chair, sufficient storage, your computer and peripherals, shelves or cabinets for files, stationery, and books  are the basic items to for any home office. If you envisage having to meet with clients or other business associates in your office you should have additional seating options. Do you really need any other item of furniture cluttering up your office space? Keep it simple and spare; let there be enough space to move around and let there be less clutter.

Keep your technology up to date

Technology, gadgets and software can really help simplify your work processes. Take advantage of this! Since technology is constantly being upgraded and improved, keep track of these changes and perform maintenance checks while keeping your data backed up. Also, ensure that your antivirus software is up to date; you don’t want your computer crashing and precious data lost. Remember, in your home office you are your own boss and your own employee, so it’s up to you to keep office up and running smoothly, without technical glitches.

Let there be light

Natural light is very important – it keeps you feeling upbeat and  can help you avoid the blues as you type away on your computer by yourself. Since natural light is not always possible (and you may frequently work during non daylight hours) sufficient ambient lighting for the entire space and focus lighting for your desk are also important. Not only does a well lighted space make you feel better, it helps to avoid eye fatigue, headaches and so on.

A place for everything, everything in its place

Proper storage space is important so that you can keep your office space neat, organized and free of clutter. This makes for more efficient working and better productivity, and you also waste less time searching for things  you need.

Pay attention to the d├ęcor

You need to like the space that you call your home office. After all you're going to be spending a lot of time in there.  Consider a cheery color on the walls, drapes that you enjoy looking at, a few family photos or a wall art that brightens up the place, and perhaps a few potted plants. Adding a few creative touches here will give you something nice to look at and could provide some much needed inspiration too!

Shop smart

It’s important to keep your operating costs low – this helps add to the overall profitability of your business. To a large extent you can do that effortlessly in your home office. In practical terms, there are no overheads such as electricity, rent and other running costs. You can also ensure that you shop online for office supplies.

Not only does that save you the time that it would take to run down to the store, but you can also take advantage of online sales and discounts. Shopping for discounted printer cartridges for any printer brand, buy refill kits, bulk ink, cables & accessories and photo paper can make a significant difference to your finances. Luckily you can always get great discounts on ink & toner at TomatoInk.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Print From Your Tablet or Smartphone

Handheld devices such as the Smartphone or tablet are the norm these days; few of us seem able to function without these convenient, nifty gadgets. Oftentimes, these become our principal working and communication devices; so it follows that we need to be able to print using tablets and Smartphones. It can help save time and effort, and can be a low cost printing solution as well.

What you can print

In this largely paperless age, where everything seems to be digital, , printing can sometimes be absolutely necessary. After all,  there is much that needs to be printed after all and you can print practically anything that you have on your device like pictures, documents, text, web pages, articles and more.

How to print from your handheld device

Firstly, ensure that your printer is able to print wirelessly. The printer has to be Wi-Fi enabled to do so. The Wi-Fi transceivers built into the printer lets a device detect and recognize it. You have to establish a connection first and then you can send print jobs to the printer. This way you don’t need a dedicated printer for each device and one printer will work to print for several devices; even if those devices are at a distance.

Wireless printing for Android

If you're printing from a device that uses an Android operating system, turn on or enable wireless printing on your device. You will typically need to go to ‘Settings’ and then enable printing or you may need to download a cloud printing applike these free printing apps:
  • The Printer Share Mobile Print App lets you print directly from your Android device via WiFi, Bluetooth, USB or Internet. You can print PDF files, office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), bills, invoices and more.
  • Cloud Print Plus supports Google Cloudprint and lets you print from your mobile. It also lets you share and manage printers, print text messages, print from Facebook, Dropbox, Google Drive, emails, contact printing and more.
You will of course have to check whether the version of your Android supports these apps. Other apps may work better with older versions.

Wireless printing for iTunes

Any AirPrint supported printer will let you print from an iOS device. Configure your printer to use the Air Print app (some will work automatically while others need to be configured) and ensure that the printer is on the same wireless network as the iPhone.

Locate the item you want to print and then select print. Select your printer and tap ‘print’. Similar to Android systems you can also use apps to print wirelessly from your iOS device.
  • ePrint Free supports all iPhone models and iOS up to 7.1.2 version. Print web pages, image files, contacts, albums, notes, and clipboard. It also prints in sepia, Duplex mode and more.
  • The Canon Easy Photo Print app lets you print easily from a compatible Canon printer.
  • The Epson iPrint app lets you print from your iOS device to Epson printers. Check the list of compatible printers to see if yours will work.

The roundabout way to print from a handheld device

This video explains how you can print from any iOS device to any printer via Windows:

Similarly, there are other ways of printing from a tablet or Android device to a regular printer and it doesn’t have to be wireless. You can email yourself a document or a photo from your Smartphone or you can text an SMS. Open the email on the computer that is connected to your printer and then print from there in whatever format you desire.

As you can see, you can print from pretty much any handheld device to any printer,even a regular wired printer, by following one or the other options detailed above. With all that printing you’re going to need a sufficient amount of ink & toner. For the best deals and discount offers subscribe to our mailing list and like us our on Facebook.