Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Natural look is in

Handmade patchwork quilts


Spoons made from spanners and mirrors that mute - what will they think of next? All was revealed in interiors trends at Maison & Objet - the definitive event for home d├ęcor from around the world. If you couldn’t get to Paris in September for the fair that style-watchers watch, here is a snapshot.
Handmade and eco-chic, trends which often go hand-in-hand, are not going away any time soon.
“Craft is something that’s continuing,” says Lisa White, creative director, Homebuildlife WGSN, who explored all the fair’s nooks and crannies.

From all parts of Asia, London-based textiles company Stitch by Stitch gathered a new collection of handmade patchwork quilts and organic cotton towels with the emphasis on natural dyes. Among them: hand-woven felted rugs from Nepal, and home textiles hand embroidered by artisans in Gujarat, India ­ an area famed for its ancient textile handicrafts.

Still strong are craft finishings from yesteryear, such as lace, especially in a hard/soft mix and match, such as crocheted doilies on concrete.

French artist Nathalie Lete breaks her mould with Karma for Avenida Home, a collection of placemats and coasters influenced by 1970s colours and patterns, in a deco rewind which White says is “really trending right now”.

Lilokawa produced a range of cube footstools, baskets and cushions handmade from recycled coffee bags. Even French brand Airborne, which has been making its iconic armchairs since 1951, is getting in on the act with a one-off design made from remnants.

In what White calls an eco-active macro trend, designers are creating natural materials which are not reliant on petroleum products – as evidenced by Danish Crafts’ MYX lampshade made from hemp and mushrooms (strong, lightweight and biodegradable – and being funky-looking), and a boiled leather chair by Jonas Steenfatt Thomsen, using an ancient treatment which offers a natural alternative to synthetic materials.

The use of materials at hand such as these, White says, is fresh evidence of sustainability emerging in surprising ways. Pols Potten presented bowls made from recycled flip-flops washed up on the shores of Africa; and eco-friendliness meets design in large objects such as a cocoon-shaped baby’s crib from Pearl Cork.

It’s been around for a while, but Maison & Objet can reveal that the industrial look labours on. There was the expected factory-style lighting, but also one-off quirky pieces, such as a chair made out of an old Singer sewing machine. Spanners re-used as cutlery; and delicate white, fluted-edged crockery resembling dainty machinery cogs (both part of a brand collaboration by Diesel Living and Seletti) reinforce this trend’s muscle.

British designer Tom Dixon – Maison & Objet’s designer of the year 2014 – entered the fray with “candleholders [that] again remind you of machines and tools, but in a still very beautiful and almost chiselled way,” White says.
At the fair, the industrial look also extended to pressed metal accessories. A cabinet in new-look anodised metal, which has more of a rainbow effect than the usual aged patina, was created by Sebastian Herkner for Pulpo.

“Gentlemen’s Club” is another trend identified by White, manifested in suiting fabric upholstery [such as herringbone tweed] encased in a solid wood frame; and sofas made from the softest of leathers to look and feel like a baseball glove.

A selection of high-end gaming tables, beautifully finished with detailed stitching or exotic skins, were “further reminders of a gentleman’s living room”, along with boxes to hold cigars or other bits and pieces, and various uses of football-type stitching.

Candles for men are “such a big market”, White says, with manufacturers covering the wax with different types of skin, fur or wood catering to “the male candle lover”.  Though not necessarily gender-specific, Tom Dixon also launched a home accessories collection at the fair, including mouth-blown barware and fragrance diffusers designed “to capture the scent of London”.
For the home cook, White identified new players as a cast iron baguette maker from Emile Henry, with its promise to deliver authentic Parisienne crustiness, foie gras and tagine makers, and a barbecue cooker that works with charcoal that you can use inside the house. A display by Swiss exhibitor Nouvel suggests that the fondue party is not yet over, and now there’s a smoker you can use on a regular stove.

In the “cool, calm and collected” category, Kappes of Japan introduced relaxation and mindfulness in the form of water droplets skipping across a bowl, while Nendo bottled various types of rain, presumably to encourage contemplation.

Beds, we were informed, will be dressed in the kinds of fabrics used to make clothing – including parker material – while also on the textile front, rugs are a continuing trend – both underfoot and as wall displays – and in another 1970s revival, Berber is back.

This season designers are also experimenting with that interior staple, mirrors. New styles are patterned,  “so you can see and not see at the same time”,  White explains. Changeable (up close you can see yourself clearly, back off and the vision becomes wobbly, and faceted, for viewing from all angles.
Colour-wise, White observed pastels varying from barely there to bolder; pink as a key colour (bright and powerful, or cotton candy); furniture and tableware in fuchsia, cranberry and amethyst (a vibrant purple White views as an interesting alternative to black, even seen in hardware such as sinks and garbage cans); along with jewel tones and citrus brights. Lush green appears in “every shade you can imagine”, from lime to dark pine, as do mixes of blue. Even colors that don’t normally go together – such as orange and purple – were teamed at the Paris fair.

If you’re wondering what’s hot for Christmas, cranberry is the key color. “It’s not red, but slightly warmer, with a bit more orange,” White explains. Green and copper sit companionably in wreaths and accessories which will outlive the festive season, and lighting accents in many forms – folded as origami, set into wall treatments or designed like pine needles – are a home decorator’s must-have.

Monday, March 27, 2017

10 New Year Resolutions to Ignite Your Practice, Business or Life!


Every year we start fresh with a new year and a new set of goals. The New Year celebration is one of my favorites for this very reason. It’s not like starting over; it’s just adding to what we’ve already done and fixing the things that didn’t work as well as we had hoped. We make resolutions to achieve goals. I’m not talking about quitting smoking or losing weight (although those are great goals), I am talking about making money and doing more and achieving the financial goals we need to live happier lives. Here’s a few of those goals that I will be sharing in an upcoming webinar on astutemy.com:

Build a solid marketing plan and give it time to work


I know, it sounds a bit old school and I agree that it is in some ways. But if you have no plan, you have no future. I’m not saying a company can’t be successful without one. I am saying that with a plan, you can make better choices, move faster, stay focused and manage your budget with ease. To begin, you must set a strategy and define your goals. Then, you must define how you will achieve them using various tactical methods. Then, be relentless. Work harder than you have ever worked in your life. Whatever it takes. And most importantly, focus on ROI (return on investment).

Friday, March 17, 2017

Man Defrauds Roofing Company of More than $130,000; is On the Run



MEQUON, WI — A man is reportedly on the run after authorities say he defrauded more than $130,000 from a roofing company in Bronx.

Police are currently searching for Dan Neuendorf, 58, Mequon, after he has been charged with theft in a business setting and four counts of fraudulent writings.

According to police, Neuendorf abandoned his Mequon residence and has been on the run on "because of a theft matter with his former employer."

Police stated that Neuendorf, who was a bookkeeper and data entry employer for the Bronx roofing company, was responsible for data entry for the company's payroll and accounts payable systems.

Police stated that another employee would routinely "pre-sign" business checks for business purposes and that Neuendorf had access to these "pre-signed" business checks. According to official records, Neuendorf would take these "pre-signed" checks and cash them himself, then manipulate the company's payroll and accounts payable systems to make it appear that the checks would reflect a payee of numerous clients the business worked with.

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Police reported that on Feb. 3, 2017, Neuendorf "recently" stopped coming to work. When a co-worker began to investigate business bank records held at Tri-City National Bank, she identified multiple checks that were payable to Neuendor that were cashed without the company's knowledge.

When police investigated, they learned that he cashed 22 checks valued at approximately $131,867, which were cashed without the company's permission. Investigators have identified more than 50 additional roofing checks payable to Neuendorf for another $51,260, which also appear to be suspicious.

Neuendorf was caught on bank surveillance footage cashing the fraudulent checks.

He faces up to 17 years behind bars if he is convicted of the maximum sentence each felony charge carries.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How To Use Live Video Chat For Your Small Business


In the past fifteen years, technology has transformed the way in which we communicate. In both our personal and professional lives, we have more channels available to us than ever: text messaging, instant messaging via social networks, and live video chat. The latter is a cutting-edge way for individuals to speak with others across the globe, and continues to become more valuable, with the video platform as a service (PaaS) market expected to generate $1.7 billion in 2020.

Live video chat may be ideal for friends and family to communicate in an intimate way, but it also holds great potential for businesses. For smaller enterprises especially, video chat can help you to increase engagement and gain an edge over your competition.

How?

Live Video Chat is More Convenient for Consumers

Live chat is a common form of customer service today. E-commerce sites of all sizes offer this feature, allowing buyers and prospects to speak with real agents.

However, live chat tends to be text-based, with both parties forced to articulate themselves through the written word. This can be frustrating if your concern is of a technical nature, or requires a long, complex explanation.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Feeling Great with Greens

There’s a group of shoppers I bet you know well. They enter your store with a determined look, make a beeline for your supplements section and head to the register with a few bottles of green food supplements in their arms. This happens every month or so, with clockwork regularity. In short, they’re green foods die-hards.

What’s the draw? Well, many fans will tell you they “feel great” when they have their greens. They may report having more energy or feeling their immune systems are better equipped to battle foreign invaders. Retailers, you know full-well that while “feeling great” may sell supplements to some customers, other clients want the facts supporting exactly why these effects occur. You know, assurance that the results are more than just psychological.

This article will offer you some information behind why green food lovers won’t give up these supplements, and how to clue in your hesitant clientele about why they may want to join the crowd.

Energize Yourself
Be they in powdered, liquid or tableted form, green and healthy supplements are often comprised of various plant and/or algae compounds that can instill numerous health benefits. Green food supplements are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and can be made from spirulina, chlorella, kelp, alfalfa, spinach, broccoli, cereal grasses (like barley, wheat and kamut) and more. Nutrients from these components—easily recognized by the body—are said to be readily incorporated into one’s system. States Bob Capelli, vice president of sales and marketing at Cyanotech, Kailua-Kona, HI, “Green foods nutrition comes in the most natural form, and the body assimilates the nutrients easily leading to increased energy. And, the beautiful thing is this is a natural energy boost that is sustained for several hours—not a quick ‘pick me up’ that leads to an energy crash shortly afterward.”

To fully understand how this natural “pick me up” occurs, let’s talk biology. For the body to function most efficiently, it must be healthy at the cellular level. Nerve signals must fire appropriately, hormones and enzymes need to secrete at the proper time and special cells (like those in the immune system) must do their respective jobs properly. Like many things in nature, our body’s internal functions take place in a delicate balance that can be thrown off by illness, stress, poor nutrition and the like.

Having just the right alkalinity balance is a great example. If one’s pH drops low on the scale and into the acidic range, cellular electrical biochemistry may be affected. For instance, red blood cells each have a negative charge to help prevent them from clumping together. When the charge is stripped (which can sometimes be caused by a too-acidic pH), the red bloods clump together. This makes it harder for them to travel through the vascular system and deliver oxygen. Eventually, one who is experiencing this effect might feel tired and sluggish (1).

Unfortunately, too many people are in the acidic range thanks to a poor diet loaded with processed foods, too much meat and dairy, coffee and alcohol, and even stress, says Brandon Bert, cofounder of Amazing Grass, San Francisco, CA. He describes another unfortunate side effect of being too acidic: “Our bodies store fat to protect our organs from over acidification.” Clearly, most healthy individuals don’t want to store extra fat, especially around the organs.

Rather, most people should shoot for a pH of around seven, which is considered neutral on a pH range of one through 14. The body naturally strives for this equilibrium. But, when it is constantly fighting to keep out of the acidic or alkaline ranges, our energy levels may be negatively affected. This is another good reason for green foods to enter the picture.

“Greens have an alkalizing affect on our body, which is helpful in keeping the body from becoming acidic. By consuming acid-forming foods, our bodies are continuously fighting and using more energy to neutralize the excessive acid to retain a healthy pH balance. When [nutrients from] alkaline foods get into the bloodstream, the nutrients help your cells to be recreated and regenerated thus helping to boost your energy levels,” states David Romeo, managing director of Nutraceuticals International LLC, Elmwood Park, NJ.

Nearly all healthy individuals can fairly easily maintain the proper pH with a good diet and appropriate supplements like green foods. States Christopher Daniels, director of product development at Greens Plus, Vero Beach, FL, “[They] buffer the body’s pH, increasing cellular alkalinity and promoting rapid nutrient absorption. The abundant supply of micronutrients found in [green foods] are quickly utilized to correct deficiencies and by mitochondria to produce cellular energy.”

Daniels’ last point warrants some extra explanation. Mitochondria are the microstructures that break down food molecules and transfer the energy to cells (stored as ATP or adenosine triphosphate). Green food molecules may be especially helpful to these microorganisms for such energy building. In a sense, greens can help give cells the food they need to make energy efficiently and when our bodies need it most. States Mark Timon, M.S., founder of and formulator at Vibrant Health, Canaan, CT, “The result is a steady output of energy matched to the demands of the moment.”

But again, a poor diet—such as not eating enough greens at mealtimes—could contribute to a feeling of sluggishness. Chris D. Meletis, N.D., naturopathic physician and director of science and research at Trace Minerals Research, Roy, UT, cites a 2007 report stating that 89% of Americans don’t consume the recommended minimum intake of five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day (2).

Bert explains why greens in supplement form can be a great bang for one’s nutrient buck, especially for those whose diets are greens deficient: some dehydrated green powders expand up to seven times their size. “It’s a very concentrated, convenient and affordable way to get the essential green leafy vegetable nutrition our bodies need to function at peak levels,” he states.

Plus, the nutrients may be easier for the body to extract in this form. Says Timon, “Many green foods, though not all, are remarkably nutrient dense relative to the amount of calories (in the form of macronutrients fat, protein and carbohydrate) provided by the food. Removing the water from the plant and powdering it simply concentrates that nutrient density even more, while opening cell walls and expanding surface area to make nutrients easily available.”