Masonic Cufflinks

My brother – The Freemason

Freemason all seeing eye
All seeing eye

My brother, Tom, is a member of a freemason lodge. What goes on there I don’t know, it’s a secret. And I don’t really care anyway. But my brother loves it and he belongs to the same lodge that my late father was also a member of for many years.

When I’ve spoken to my bother and asked him what goes on, he’s vague and doesn’t say much, he can’t. All freemasons are sworn to secrecy – I new that from my father. In fact I know more about freemasonry from my late father than I do from my brother.

The Ritual

The way my father explained it to me made sense. I know that they all gather for an arcane ritual, passed down through the ages. And that each mason has a task to perform. It is a bit like the UK house of Commons where there is lots of ritual that gets performed but its function is hidden in a bygone age, which no one fully understanf=ds anymore.

He made a comment recently, that he had shirts with buttonless cuffs, with which he likes to wear with cufflinks. He would like to wear this type of shirt to his lodge but didn’t have the right cufflinks to go with them.

Cufflinks for a Freemason


Because his birthday is due, I thought I’d buy him a pair of masonic cufflinks as a gift. But I didn’t know what to get or where to buy them. Luckily I stumbled on this site for masonic cufflinks and they make it so easy. It was a no brainer after that, I just ordered a pair that had the “compass and square” design. I new from my father that this was the symbol of the Craft – the order he belongs to.

Happy with the Cufflinks


He was most grateful when he saw what I had bought. He belongs to other orders as well and I’d seen a section in my travels on the same website other Freemason orders cufflinks. So I passed these details onto him.

Masonic Cufflinks seem quite reasonably priced to me. They look good too. If you don’t know anything about masonry you would never know what the symbols mean but other masons would spot that you too belong to the craft.

How to become a Freemason in the USA

History of Lodges here in North America

Stone Carving

Zimbabwe Vacation

African Shona SculptorYoung Zimbabwean GirlThe whole family recently went to Zimbabwe for our summer vacation. Although it was summer here, Zimbabwe being in the southern hemisphere, were in winter. I say winter, but Zimbabwe is in Africa, winter’s there are quite hot during the day but cold at night. I for one certainly have no problem going around in t-shirts and shorts. Although the local Zimbabweans tend to wrap up, which seems a little odd when you come from a place where it really does get cold.

We stayed with our grandmother, my mother was born in Zimbabwe and grew up there. As children we were exposed to all these Zimbabwe customs. The other great thing staying with granny was very cheap for us, not like a summer vacation at all. The only expensive part were the flights and it takes a long time to get there. You can’t fly direct you have to change flights and I really don’t like spending time in airports.

The culture and food in Zimbabwe are very nice. The people are friendly and polite and the main food is a kind of thick meat stew with sadza, a bowl of cooked millet, a little like mash potato.

Stone Sculpture

Three heads - carved stoneFamily - carved stoneThe other thing that you see a lot of is Shona Sculpture (Shona is the name given to the main tribe in Zimbabwe). There are many makeshift stalls set up around the capital city – Harare and the other main city – Bulawayo. These stalls sell this wonderful stone sculpture, carved by local artists that live and work in Zimbabwe. Stone carving is a tradition here and the stone is soft enough to be worked by hand.

These stone sculptures have varied subject matter from animals and family, to abstract and the virtues. Some are big and some small with all the various sizes in between. Something that will surprise you are the colors of the stone. Lots of different types of stone can be found in Zimbabwe, which have different colors and different streaky patterns. All use the skill or the sculptor to make the most of a particular stone or rock. And that is why why no two sculptures are ever the same.

Shona Stone Carving

When it comes to sculptures, everyone will have their particular favourite type subject matter. I particularly like the ones which depicted a mother and child. And there’s something very African about these Shona sculptures. Africa is just in them, like they could only have originated on that incredible continent.

We toiled with buying some, but there very heavy and shipping them back home is expensive. Which is much more than the original cost of buying them.

But we found a better way, the internet. What can’t you get on the internet these days? Well we found this site Stone Carving That showed us how to easily purchase these sculptures locally and has some great articles all about Shona Sculpture. Then goes on to discuss the artists and the source of all the wonderful variegated rocks.

Our Stone Carving at Home

So on our return we bought some pieces of sculpture for the house. We now have a piece of Africa in our home and the sculptures look great.

Three Piece Luggage Set

suitcase detail - the handle

The Humble Suitcase

Today I’d like to talk about suitcases and in particular 3 piece suitcases. These are getting more popular but are they any good? Well, as with anything these days, you get what you pay for. So the answer is both “yes” and “no”.

modern 2 piece SuitcaseThe Pros and Cons of the Three Piece Luggage Set

But here I want to concentrate on what makes a good suitcase and what to look out for. But first, why a three piece luggage set?

There are two main benefits. The first is that most manufacturers make each one big enough to fit the next size down. So when the cases are not in use and don’t take a lot of space. They’re all nicely stored inside one and other.

The second reason is the motif (outer design pattern), having three cases of any description and trying to locate them on a the baggage handling system, at any airport, is hard. But luckily for us they come in an assortment of different colors, patterns and motifs. Just take a look at the ones you can see here Each of the three cases carries the same design as the others. Which makes keeping track of them and finding them after a flight – easy peasy.

2 piece SuitcaseSuitcase Features you Must Have

But what should you look at in a 3 piece luggage set or any suitcase for that matter?

Modern plastics are now very hardy and even cheap cases rarely tear or rip. Just avoid the ultra, ultra cheap as you might have problems with the skin of these case.

The Suitcase Zip

The big areas are the zip and the casters. These are what make or break a case and you don’t want to find that your suitcase has a design flaw in one of these areas and especially not when travelling.

Most case designers are striving for elegance, designer chic if you will. But this is not always the best way to select features for your case. The zip wants to be rugged and tough. Go for the biggest zip that you can find in the store.

The Suitcase Casters

Casters and another area where designers go for small and cute. Whereas they should go for big and bold. Small wheels will easily clog up with airport fluff and sometimes break. Then you have a suitcase that won’t move to well or wants to veer off to the side instead of travelling straight.

It’s the same as the zip, go for bigger more substantial wheels. They’ll reward you in the long run.

As for compartments and internal pockets and things, they’re okay but not as important as the case structure itself. So always focus on the zip and the casters and then suitcase will last a long time.

Why your Suitcase has to be Well BuiltSuitcase Lock Detail

Modern baggage handling
Checking in baggage

Interior Design London

London Westminstermodern living roomSelling Your House

When selling a house it’s important to show your house at its best. Your house should be close to a show home type property so that you maximise your chance of getting the price you want.

It’s amazing that our homes, over time, move away from an ideal show home standard. And slowly we become blind to what other people see and the impressions they have. After all home is home and that’s the problem. Old worn out furniture, chipped paint, scratches and pet smells all work against the sale. But we don’t notice these in our own homes.

Appealing to the Buyer

You would think that a buyer would see your house’s potential and ignore all the clutter. But alas that’s not what happens and it’s been shown time and time again that by refreshing your property before a sale that your make it easier and faster to sell.

Now you can do this yourself and it doesn’t have to be expensive but you need you get this right. You’re not doing this makeover of your property to satisfy your own personal taste. You’re doing the makeover to sell your property and it’s a skill best left to the professionals.

Coldstream GuardsInterior Design Companies here in London

A good example, here in London is an interior design company called Kenza Design you can find them here interior design London. They will prepare your house for sale, by removing the clutter and dressing existing rooms to establish a strong bond with the buyer. They’ll only recommend decorating or investing in new furniture where absolutely necessary. And remember, anything you buy for your current house can be taken with you into your new house.

There are some very simple rules to increasing the potential for selling your house at your asking price. Ideally you want buyers climbing over one and other to buy your house. You don’t want people viewing and leaving uninspired and undercutting you’re asking price.

So take our advice and use a professional service to get the job done quickly.

Do it yourself interior design

Interior design planning software

iphone wireless charging

iphone diver

iphone wireless charging is here

The new iPhones models now come with wireless charging built in. That’s great news if you’re about to upgrade to the latest model but what if you’re like me and you have a perfect, one generation old iPhone, model 7 plus and I tend to keep my old iPhone for a while yet. But when I do upgrade, I’ll pass my current iphone on to one of my siblings.

My husband has an Android phone, a Motorola, I’m not sure which model he has but it’s quite new. He has these wireless charging pads all over the house, in various rooms and at his office, there’s one on the desk next to his personal computer.

I’ve watched with envy as he grabs his phone from a charging pad, and it’s always charged. Or more correctly always topped up, which can mean the difference to the cell phone dying as it runs out on power or getting through to the next charge with plenty of power to spare.

All iphones can be charged wirelessly

Well I found this site iphone wireless charging and for a small outlay, you can convert your iPhone, whatever the model, into a wireless charging iphone.

iphone being usedIt’s so simple it only takes seconds to do. You just plug the induction charger into the phone’s charging slot. Then bend over the induction plate, which sticks to the back of your iphone. That’s it. The induction plate is what charges the phone when it’s sits on a charging pad.

Wireless charging iphone for the rest of us

Better still, but unbeknown to my husband, is that we can use the same charging pads for both of our Phones. He will see this as taking a liberty as he sees all these charging pads, all over the house, as his personal items.

I know I’ll have to get more but the good news is that these charging pads aren’t too expensive. So a few more won’t break the bank.

I’m not sure our children will appreciate the convenience but I sure they will. And it’ll put to an end the constant search for charging cables that plagues my household.

iphone basics

The iphone range

History of the iphone

88 key digital piano

playing keyboardLearning to Play Piano

My two daughters are learning to play the piano. The have lessons once a week, one hour each and are encouraged to practice when they have spare time. I remove the usual distractions iPad’s, cell phones and our TV is under strict control.

Nothing wrong with these pursuits but I do feel tend to takeover if left unchecked and are ways to do nothing. The great time wasters of our age. So I channel their energy into something that’s going to stretch them and give them a musical background. Which will last a lifetime and hopefully will help them mentally at school and with their homework.

I needed an 88 key digital piano

So task one was to get an 88 key keyboard so that they could practice at home. We don’t have room for a large piano so a piano keyboard was the way to go. Like the ones here

Electronic piano keyboards Are remarkably good these days, they sound and behave just like the real thing. Except they’re both smaller and can be packed away when not in use.

Another feature, which I like as well, it’s the headphone jack. It means whoever is playing can play without disturbing the rest us. My partner works night shifts so we have to try and be a quite as we can during the day. So the ability to play through headphones is a godsend, it really is.

keyboard closeupMaking Music Together

Both girls are progressing rapidly with their piano lessons and have really taken to the piano. Switching between a real piano and our 88 key keyboard is relatively easy for them as the keyboard mimics the real instrument so well.

Learning to play Music helps Cognitive Skills

So the electronic keyboard was definitely a worth while investment and their school grades are improving too. Are the school grades improving because of the the piano lessons?
That’s hard to say but I like to think so.

I think learning to play any musical instrument improves their concentration. It uses different regions of the brain so that has to be good a good thing. Learning to play Learning to play online

Grand PianoFinally

Should there come a time when we don’t need the keyboard anymore. I understand that we can sell it on eBay and get a pretty good price for it as a second hand item. Which it’s good to know we’d get something back at a future date.

How to sell your old 88 key keyboard

temperature kettle

Green Tea being poured

May Passion

I’m so pleased with my latest gadget. But first I want to tell you about one of my many passions, tea.

But not tea with milk and sugar, black teas, white teas and every other color tea in between. But my favorites are Janine and oolong teas. Very subtly flavored, very refreshing and I recently found out, very healthy too.

Brewing Tea

But an important part of these teas, is in the brewing. I used to just pour boiling water into a cup of tea leaves or a small pot. Let the tea brew for a few minutes, then drink.

But I’ve since found out the boiling water is not always ideal for making hot drinks like tea, coffee or even hot fruit drinks.

Pouring boiling water into a cold cup or tea pot will cause the temperature to drop slightly as some of the heat it’s lost warning the cup/pot.

Temperature Control Kettle

Back to my latest gadget, a kettle with a built in thermometer. Simple – takes all the guess work out and you ensure that the water is heated to the temperature you set. Like the ones here best variable temperature kettles

Even better than just heating the water to the desired temperature, they also have a function that keeps the water at that temperature. Mine keeps the water at that temperature for up to 15 minutes.

Blue and Gold Teapot

Making the Perfect Cup of Tea

So what I do is pour some water into a cup or pot first. Leave it a few minutes. Pour the water away. Then make my tea in a nice warm cup or pot. With water that’s sitting at the correct temperature.

The Perfect Cuppa

Verdict – It’s all in the Taste

The result is a perfect cup of tea. But does the tea taste better – Yes. Before I’d make tea which was okay and that was very nice. The difference was most likely the temperature of the water. Well now the tea is consistently excellent and I know I getting the maximum health benefits too.

soft water system

Our Installation

Let me tell you what a difference soft water has made to our household and to our day to day lives, since we installed a “water softener system” to the domestic supply.

The Good Things

fluffy towelsTowels – These start of all nice and fluffy and soft to the touch. But after a year or so, they would start to become coarse and feel rough on the skin. This only gets worse as the months and years went by. And it’s too expensive to keep replacing them every few months. I live with a family of six, that’s a lot of towels.

Well I replaced them all, once we had our new “water softening system” installed, this was about a year ago, as I said earlier. The result is that those new (newish) towels are still soft and fluffy and I’ve every confidence that they’ll remain so.

washing hands with soapSkin – Soft water has another huge benefit when it comes to washing. The water feels better somehow and you really notice the difference when you go somewhere that still has hard water.

When you wash, the soap gets soapier – not sure if that’s a real word but you know what I mean. And you feel cleaner. The water is wetter and the nice soft towels sponge the water off the skin so you feel drier after a bath our a shower.

Hair – this is where I noticed a big change. My hair always felt a little rough before and slightly tangled. And in the mornings it would stick out in different directions. Not any more. My hair is bouncy and soft and feels incredibly clean. I get a buzz just touching it nowadays.

Savings – we’re using a lot less soap, shower gels, shampoos, than we did before. Because the water is soft you don’t need as much. I reckon we as a family we are using about half the amount we used to use.

More Info

This is a good resource if you want to know more hard& Soft and this is a good site if you’ve made the decision to get a home water softener get one here.

What’s not to like about soft water?

Hello Everyone

Welcome to our new site which we’ve dedicated to all the gadgets we buy and try out. We all love gadgets and they increasingly form a big part of our everyday lives, so they are important.

Here we’ll be reviewing what we think and we deliver the bad as well as the good points. As we see it and we hope this will of use to people who share our views and this site is open to all.

So stay tuned and once again “Hi”.