How to Choose the Right Outdoor Patio Furniture for You

When buying patio furniture you should always first take into consideration the quality. Cheaper is not better when it comes to furniture that is left outside regularly with the constantly changing weather. If you go cheap you will be buying new furniture more frequently than just getting the higher end and higher quality furniture the first time around and it will be more comfortable too. Think of it as investment and it just may be well worth it.First you should make sure whatever you choose should fit in the space you have for it nicely. Second find a material you like and something that will be durable such as wicker, teak, or die cast aluminum. You want to have something that allows you to be comfortable and also something that will last a long time. Of course it should be UV protected and weather resistant too. Remember, this is the place that will be your sanctuary to sit and relax, read a book, listen to the birds, watch sunsets, and enjoy socializing with family and friends.


Wicker RattanPatio wicker dining and seating sets with colorful cushions and multiple different colors of wicker such as white, dark brown and beige offer a great way to decorate your outdoor area. Good quality wicker rattan will last much longer and look better than going on the cheaper end. The cushions won’t fade as fast either. I also recommend covering your furniture too when you are not using it as this will extend the life of your nice furniture. Wicker also comes in many different styles like classic, contemporary, or even have a very tropical feel if you like to feel like you are at the beach in your back yard. If you choose a contemporary design then it will have a more sleek and modern look to it. Some people prefer the classic look as it can have more of a country feel to it. Wicker furniture is also lightweight so pretty much anyone can move it around.TeakTeak is also a great selection as it looks natural, has a beautiful appearance and is incredibly tough! Teak can also come in many different styles as well as different colors. Teak also has dense, hard grain and repels insects because it has a natural resin in it. These are nice advantages for outdoor use. It is high in natural oils to so it reduces how often you would have to varnish, finish, and seal over other woods.


Die Cast AluminumDie cast aluminum is a casting method that makes it easier to create more detailed surface textures of many different shapes and styles. This makes it easy to find a dining or seating set in the style that you love. Aluminum is also lightweight and it does not rust which is important when considering anything metal that is left outside especially in areas along the coast where there is a lot of salt in the air. It is low maintenance, weather resistant, and sturdy so you will love your furniture for years to come.

Book Marketing Techniques: Those That Backfire

Authors need to promote their books, but there’s a right and a wrong way to market, and wanting to sell a book is no excuse for not retaining your manners. No one likes a pushy salesman. Here are some examples of ways I’ve seen authors try to sell their books that have been a total turn-off for me. Authors, make sure you aren’t using these techniques. I’ve listed them in order from what are, in my opinion, least to most annoying.

Lying about Your Book’s Greatness

I’ve seen authors lie about how wonderful their books are in several ways.

  1. Having non-credible book endorsements, both on their websites and books’ back covers. By non-credible, I mean having an endorsement signed by “A.K. in Hawaii” or “A Teacher in San Diego.” If these people don’t want to give their names, they probably don’t support your book enough to want to stand by their comments, and they aren’t going to convince me that your book is worth reading. At the very least, you want full names, and a blurb from Tom Smith isn’t going to mean much to me anyway, unless you’ve written a book about healthcare and he’s Dr. Tom Smith from the Cancer Treatment Center of Miami, or something along those lines. If you can’t get experts on your book’s topic or celebrities or other authors to endorse your book, you’re better off just not including any testimonials so it doesn’t look like false promotion.
  2. False testimonials. Yes, I’ve seen false testimonials and heard authors tell me about them. “A.K. in Hawaii” might be the author’s next door neighbor, a real person who really read the book, but he might just as well be someone the author made up. I know of one author who had a comment page on his website, and about once a week, he would post a comment under a false name raving about his book to try to convince his website visitors how popular and wonderful his book was. The sad thing is that this author’s book truly was terrible, full of grammar mistakes and typos and badly printed, so anyone who read the book knew those comments had to be lies or written by completely crazy people.

Showing Off Your Big Ego

Too many authors try to promote themselves in ridiculous ways by writing on their websites how their book is a “must read” and contains the answer to all the reader’s problems. If you have to tell readers that, they aren’t going to believe you. Go find some legitimate testimonials from reliable people who will say those things about your book. You are not qualified to judge your own book because you have a vested interest in it.

The worst example of authors showing their egos that I’ve seen is when they post book reviews for themselves on Amazon and other online bookstores, and of course, they give their books five stars and brag about how great their books are. When I see an author give himself a five-star review, I realize the author is clueless about what is legitimate as a review; he hasn’t done his homework about the publishing industry, and he is trying to use trickery to sell his book. Not only will I not buy the book, but if there’s an option to vote on the review, I will always vote that it was not helpful.

Being In Your Face and Violating Personal Space

No one likes to have his or her personal space violated. However, not everyone has yet learned that the Internet also contains personal space for people. It’s one thing to have your book for sale on your website, at online bookstores, to promote it at websites for book promotion, or to buy Internet ads. It’s another thing to invade other online users’ personal space.

Here are some book marketing efforts I’ve experienced online that have been a total turn-off for me.

  1. Repetitive and Unwanted Emails. I’ve had this happen more times than I can count. Somehow an author finds my email address and adds it to his email list and I start hearing from him every couple of days about all his book events and why I should buy his book. Even if I want to be on the person’s email list, sending me an email every couple of days is irritating. An email once a month or even once a week isn’t that bad, but I have other things to do than read about your book events on the East Coast when I live in Texas, and I am not going to hop on a plane to attend your book signing, especially if I’ve already read your book and had it signed. And if you’ve added me to your email list without my permission, well, technically, that’s illegal.
  2. Sending Friend Requests at Social Media Sites Solely to Promote Your Book. If people are interested in your book, they will request to be your friend at a social media site. Instead of spam friend requests, take out a Facebook ad that will be targeted toward the people most likely to read your book. It might cost you a little more money, but it will save you time online and provide you with far better results.
  3. Posting Book Covers on Other People’s Walls. My “Wall” is not the place to promote your book. My friends are not posting on my Wall so they can find out about your book. Get off my Wall!
  4. Messaging. No one likes junk mail, so don’t send me a message about how great your book is and how I can buy it. I only want messages from my real friends.
  5. Chatting. This one I especially find irritating. One day I was on Facebook, and an author, whom I didn’t know and who had already sent me three messages trying to tell me how great his book was and to let me know I could get it on Kindle for just $2.99, sent me a chat message about his book. If I don’t reply to your message, I sure don’t want to chat with you. I politely ignored him and logged off Facebook rather than tell him to quit harassing me. I wasn’t going to engage in an argument with him. But let’s be clear-I’m on Facebook to chat with my real friends. Not to read your book.

Sadly, space violations don’t only happen online. I was once at a book festival where an author made a point of going up to people walking by her booth with a set of headphones and quickly placing them over her victims’ ears before they could object so they could listen to her audio book. When I saw what was going on, I quickly turned down the nearest aisle and avoided that side of the room for the rest of the time I was there. I’ve also stopped to look at books at festivals where authors have said things such as “Why don’t you buy this book?” and “What can I do to get you to buy my book?” You can let me be is what you can do. Tell me about the book if you like, give me a chance to read the back cover, and then I’ll buy or move on. I don’t need a pushy sales pitch.

Have you ever met an author who behaves in these ways? I sure have-too many times. Perhaps you are even one of those authors. Hopefully, now you know better. Let’s face it-guerrilla book promotion doesn’t work when you act like you have a gorilla’s manners. Connect with your readers, but do it on their terms, without being pushy or rude. Be friendly, be straightforward, but also be willing to take “No” for an answer. When you are polite, you always make a better impression on your potential readers.

What Is An E-Book? – The Industry and the Future

E-books have evolved in their short history to a point where most online surfers have heard of them and understand the different formats. The key to e-books is that they are electronic versions of books and do not require printed versions, but can be available in hard copy form if the publisher chooses. Many self-published writers are finding e-books to be a simple way to express their ideas without the costs and barriers involved with traditional publishing. Amazon has been a leader in the industry with its Kindle reader while Apple has challenged the platform with its iPad, which downloads e-books from the iBookstore.

The main reason for making an e-book can be summed up by efficiency. An e-book doesn’t get lost like a physical book and doesn’t have the problems of torn pages or a worn cover. From a cost perspective, there is no longer any reason to spend a fortune on cutting down a forest to create thousands of copies of a book without knowing if it will sell. In the old world, books might be out of stock if they did sell, requiring new pressings, whereas in the new world e-books are never out of stock. The emerging model for printing hard copy versions now is based on orders as they come in, such as at Amazon.

Another efficient quality of e-books is they can be updated more easily. Traditional books were printed in a series of pressings, based on demand. But if demand diminished a book might go out of print and become outdated. The original pressing might also have misinformation or typos. E-books, however, allow the writer to always have an updated version ready for online distribution, as errors can be corrected immediately, instead of waiting for the printing process to take months.

Consumers enjoy the advantages of e-books over traditional books thanks to lower pricing. Since it costs less money to make and market an e-book than a printed book, the price drops for consumers. Number of pages can still affect the price, but e-books make it possible to sell more items of the same thing. For example, instead of buying an entire book, some people might just want to purchase one chapter at a reduced price. Other advantages of e-books are they can be converted to different languages and they can be used with text-to-speech software to create audio books for people with disabilities.

Today’s e-books are designed for smaller screens than in the past. Dedicated e-book readers have become an extra electronic device people purchase specifically just for reading e-books and online newspapers. The Amazon Kindle has been one of the most popular e-book readers, along with the Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo and Sony Readers. Tablet computers such the iPad make useful e-book readers due to their portability and controls that make reading easier. These devices can download and store e-books from online stores such as Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store and the public library-based OverDrive. Mobile devices such as iPhones and Androids can also read e-books.

Although the e-book market does not have industry formatting standards, the most popular format has been the Adobe PDF files. Web developers tried to construct a system known as Open eBook, a zip file based on XHTML and CSS, that breaks e-books down into components. But the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) has moved closer toward the EPUB format as a standard, allowing the file to be converted to other formats. EPUB can embed metadata, resize text and supports Digital Rights Management.

The popularity of e-books has skyrocketed in the second decade of the 21st century. In May 2011 Amazon reported that its sales of e-books had surpassed sales of hard copy books. A Pew Internet Project survey in 2012 showed that 21 percent of American adults had read an e-book within the past year. It was also found that e-book readership favors people under age 50. A large majority of e-book readers read printed books as well. Nearly half of the respondents said they preferred e-books over printed books.

In 2012 Apple launched iBook Author, which is a software program that allows authors to create e-books in the PDF format on an iPad and directly make products available in the iBooks store and for sharing. Amazon has a platform called CreateSpace for authors to create e-books, which must conform to the site’s policies. Lulu also provides the tools for authors to create and market their own self-published e-books.

E-books have proven to be profitable, even for traditional publishers such as Random House. Fifty Shades of Grey by novelist E.L. James was one of the company’s big sellers in 2012. Half of the 30 million copies sold were e-books. The company reported that e-book sales made up 27 percent of the total book sales, which was a 7 percent increase from a year earlier.

Free e-books can be found at Amazon by looking at their Top 100 Free list. Many times a publisher will give away a sample of a book as an e-book that promotes the printed paperback or hard copy for sale. Sometimes e-books are just free to expose a new author. Apple also offers free e-books at the iBooks store. Other websites that offer free e-books are ManyBooks.net, Free-ebooks.net and Open Culture. You can also search for free e-books using the PDFgeni.com search engine.

The future of e-Books may merge more with multimedia and text to speech capabilities. It remains important that e-books are a clickable medium. They can be linked to websites as well as interlinked so that they provide easy navigation to source material. The most advanced e-books link to instant videos that complement the text. E-books are very useful for people involved with other communication besides writing.

Musicians, painters and movie makers can use e-books to showcase and promote their other media. Ultimately, e-books are quick learning tools that provide instant access to deeper content. If the e-book can speed up someone’s search for knowledge to a matter of minutes or even seconds, it has a powerful utility for the reader. Expect e-books of the future to help people cut through technical jargon and learn new systems quickly with visuals and creative ways to index and categorize knowledge.

Some of the Best Cooking Books That Need to Be in Your Kitchen

Having just graduated from university, cooking books have a firm place on my kitchen shelf. From disastrous attempts at making barely edible dishes, my time as a student has exposed me to many cooking books. Here are the top ten of the best cooking books that are invaluable to any wannabe Masterchefs out there.

Ready… Steady… Cook!

10. Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith

This mammoth cookery book whips in at number 10. Delia Smith is very much the David Beckham of the cooking world – an institution. Her Complete Cookery Course does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides wannabe chefs with a full, comprehensive guide to creating the best dishes. With fundamental must know recipes like apple pie and yorkshire puddings, Delia shows she is one of the masters. With mouth-watering pictures acting as a rough guide this book is a god send for beginner chefs. No doubt a staple on your mother’s shelf, this book is perfect as a starting point in the basics of pastry making, cake baking and roast making. A genuine triumph in the cookery book world.

9. The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman

Chapman’s bible does not follow the conventional rules of cookery books, but is a diamond in the rough for curry fanatics out there and the reason it has made this best cooking books list. The New Curry Bible does not simply show you the recipes but teaches you the history of curry making. It is not a book to be bought for people who want a quick fix curry. If you are one of those people I suggest you save yourself time and money and just buy a ready meal. However, if you are interested in the exquisite nature of curries, then this book teaches you all you need to know. Like any specialist cook book, it is a little disheartening at first to encounter all of the strange herbs and spices that you know you don’t own, but the rewards from having knowledge of these is irreplaceable. Although it may take you a while to get to grips with the fine art of balancing the spices, you will most certainly become famous amongst friends and family for the talent you will take from this beautiful book.

8. Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea: 150 Fabulous Recipes for Every Occasion

As a massive lover of seafood, this book has literally been my magna carta. Rick Stein takes you on a journey around the coast and teaches you to really appreciate fish in all its scaly glory. From skinning methods to filleting, this book teaches you how to prepare and cook fish to perfection. Stein writes in a clear and simple fashion and it is impossible to resist his infectious passion. With a variety of dishes that cater for absolutely every occasion, this book is a must have for beginners and experienced fish mongers alike. The instructions are not condescending or set in stone, and leave freedom for experimentation. A truly great book by a truly great chef and teacher.

7. Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong

Following the theme of specialist cooking books, Simple Chinese Cooking is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to start a love affair with chinese cooking. Filled with beautiful photography, this book coaches you through each dish with clear and crisp step-by-step instructions. Usually when faced with a specific cook book, there seems a never-ending list of ingredients that appear to exist in outer space, but this book has essentials that can be bought and found easily in local grocery stores. Not only is this book a great guide, but it is also incredibly exciting as each week you can watch yourself develop and gain confidence with once seemingly difficult dishes. From steamed cod to sweet and sour pork, Kwong’s recipes will have you burning all your chinese takeaway menus from the get go.

6. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

There can be no such thing as a best cooking books list without Mr Oliver, of course. One of the things I love most about almost all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are their beautiful and impeccable presentation. They are not endless pages of lines and lines of writing but are instead filled with bright, colourful and delectable pictures, as well as no- nonsense recipes. In his 30 Minute Meals Jaime shows you that once and for all cooking does not have to be a stressful and laborious affair. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is amazing for working people for whom time is money, and of course students who wish to spend minimum amount of time cooking and maximum amount of time… studying. Not only is it wonderfully organised with a designated section for starters, mains and desserts, but there are numerous vegetarian recipes scattered inside, making this book literally for every type of chef.

5. The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

After his debut cook book How to Cook Everything became an international sensation, Bittman is back to teach you it is easier than you thought to cook recipes from all around the world. With no unnecessary embellishments Bittman gently leads you on a culinary round the world trip that will leave your taste buds in a state of euphoria. The best aspect of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World whilst you may never get round to cooking everything inside, the dishes you do make will leave you feeling inspired to take dishes you already cook and turn them on their head. Although it can be overwhelming to face so many recipes in one book, I urge you to add this to your collection. It is timeless and will only help to increase your knowledge of food.

4. Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets by Gordon Ramsay

In this incredible and not too badly priced book, Gordon Ramsay lets you in on a few secrets that have made him the world-renowned chef that we have all come to love. With a huge collection of recipes from poultry to fish and desserts to soups, this cookbook lets you in on inside info that will have friends and family thinking you are a bona-fide kitchen guru. The recipes are simple and effective and Ramsay has even added flourishes of his own, such as useful tips on presenting dishes. If you really have a passion for cooking or would love to learn more, this is the book that teaches you not just to cook but how to become a chef. These tips help to make cooking a truly enjoyable experience and will boost your confidence to be adventurous not only in cooking but also in eating as well.

3. The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

As a self-confessed sushi addict this book is incredible – the pages are almost edible. It combines the modern with the traditional and allows you to get to grips with this difficult Japanese style of cooking. Although not to everyone’s taste, this book teaches you the secrets behind making that difficult sticky rice and how to present your sushi in wonderful ways. The most interesting thing about Dekura’s book is they way it advances from simple to expert. This allows you to move gradually at your own pace and also sets little targets within the book. Whilst there are other books on the market such as Yo Sushi’s, it is Dekura’s book that really stands out of the crowd. With gorgeous photography it inspires with a mere flick of the page, and unlike its contemporaries has clear and simple instructions. A must have for any sushi fan and it also makes a great present.

2. Wahaca – Mexican Food At Home by Thomasina Miers

This book comes in at number two of this best cooking books top ten and is a must have for any frequent Wahaca customer. It was only recently published and plunges you straight into the vibrant and tasty world of Mexican street food. One thing that did surprise me was the breakfast section, and I have to admit I have been thoroughly converted to a mexican way of eating in the morning. Full of beautiful pictures and written in an accessible and friendly way, this book does exactly what the title states and brings Mexican food straight into your kitchen. Miers has clearly done the research required for such an exquisite book, and the information about mexican chillies is invaluable. An excellent book for cooking meals for friends and a great equivalent to BBQ parties.

1.Jaime does… by Jaime Oliver

In at number one is Jaime does. In this book Jaime travels through foodie hotspots such as Spain, France and Morocco in order to find innovative recipes. The book is beautifully presented (like all of Jaime’s books) and has wonderful pictures of his travels alongside the amazing pictures of his food. Each country has an introductory paragraph that explains the culture and food he came into contact with, and then in very simple language and an ever friendly tone, Jaime guides you through a range of dishes. From light bites such as patatas bravas to the more complex dishes like the steak tartare, Jaime’s tone never condescends you as the amateur chef. This book not only provides great enjoyment as a teaching tool but is also nice to flip through every now and again to behold the location shots of his food journey. Overall a very deserving winner of this Best Cooking Books list. Absolutely delicious!

This is by no means the only ten cook books I think you should own. There are many other brilliant cookbooks out there for beginners such as The Student Cookbook by Sophie Grigson. This is superb for amateur chefs who simply do not have the time to cook elaborate meals every day and are after recipes for both real cooking and convenience cooking. Then for more adventurous chefs who are willing to getinventive and scientific in the kitchen, there is Heston Bluementhal’s brilliant book The Fat Duck Cookbook, which combines vivid illustrations and wacky recipes for a truly great cooking experience. Overall, the ten books that compose this best cooking books list all offer friendly, easy to follow guidance which enables you to not only enjoy them as books, but also enjoy them as learning tools that will one day make you the king of the kitchen.

Bon appetit ladies and gents.