All posts by Paul Morgan

The best winter boots for women

Find a ugg boots outlet store online that you can rely on for your winter boots. Winter boots are one of those things that are really hard to shop for — especially when you’re a woman. After all, you want a pair of boots that are both warm and cute. Besides, you shouldn’t have to choose between fashion and comfort.

In the process of writing this buying guide, we researched winter boots from all the top brands and several lesser-known names to find pairs in a variety of styles that were highly rated. We tested dozens of winter boots to find the best ones for different women’s needs.

After all, we know that not every woman needs heavy-duty boots that can take on sub-zero temperatures and six-foot snowbanks, but we also know that most women who are looking for a great pair of snow boots won’t be satisfied with a cute pair of water-resistant boots that can’t handle more than a light flurry. As such, we’ve included a fair mix of different options here so there will be something for everyone.

To test these boots, we dunked them in a tub filled with icy water and tried to make them slip on patches of ice. We wore them on cold days to see how warm they were and stepped into deep puddles on rainy days to test water resistance. We walked for miles on snowy stretches of sidewalk in New York City and waded through snow banks in Central Park to vet these boots.

Our opinions are also backed up by expert reviewers and actual buyers, so rest assured — these winter boots are guaranteed to keep your feet warm, dry, and happy all winter long and for many winters to come.

The best stylish winter boots with a small heel

Why you’ll love them: The Sorel Slimpack II Lace Boots are fully waterproof, slim, and cute with a slight heel and fun color options.

If you don’t want to wear clunky winter boots all the time, you may want a lighter, slimmer pair for days when there’s less snow on the ground. These Slimpack Lace II boots from Sorel deliver. They have the distinctive duck boot design you see on many winter boots and rain boots, but Sorel adds cute little design elements like wool accents and fun laces to make them stand out.

The full-grain leather upper is fully waterproof as is the vulcanized rubber part that wraps around the lower part of your foot. You can splash in the rain or stomp through slush puddles in these boots without getting wet. The wool felt collar around the top of the boot adds warmth and style to the basic boots.

Inside the boots, there’s a nice microfleece lining that will keep your feet warm but not sweltering. If you live in milder climates where you may get some snow, but it’s never that bad, you can call these your only winter boots and use them as rain boots in any weather.

These are comfortable, breathable boots that Sorel says are best for heavy rain instead of snow. However, if you wear them with a nice thick pair of socks, they are perfect for cold winter days and a few feet of snow. The waterproof construction and the grippy outsole give perfect traction on ice.

These boots even have a little heel that’s just under two inches. It adds a touch of class and a bit of height for shorter women. As a 5-foot-2 lady, I appreciated that. I love these Sorel boots and I wear them whenever it rains. This winter, I wear them when we have light snow because they’re both cute looking and practical for city winters.

If you need heavy-duty winter boots for extreme cold and snow, check out our other more rugged picks.

Pros: Slight heel, cute color options, good traction, waterproof, slim, comfortable, warm

Cons: Not as rugged or warm as some

6 Ways to Ensure You Order Enough Food for Your Wedding Reception

A good party needs good snacks and indeed finger food and canapes are perfect for your guests. It is estimated that just under half of your wedding budget will go toward paying for your total reception costs — and a large portion of that involves food. Ordering food for your wedding can be a daunting task. After all, how do you know how much food to order? Will some guests go without food? You have a strict wedding budget; therefore, you need to stick to it, but you don’t want to order too little or too much food either. To make sure you get the right amount, consider these six tips before you place an order with your caterer.

#1: Require RSVPs

On your invitations, give a clear RSVP deadline and ensure you include a guest count with the RSVP so you can plan your food order. You need a guest count and one that is somewhat accurate in order to get your food. Remember though, even with an RSVP deadline, everyone who shows up may not actually RSVP.

#2: Use the 25 to 50 Rule

Typically 25 to 50 percent of your wedding invitations sent out will not have anyone show up in their place. If you have a large majority of out of the area invitations, that could be even higher. So, add up your total guest count and plan on feeding 50 to 75 percent of that count. If you think only 50 percent will show up, then plan on 50 percent. So, for example, if you have 200 guests you only need to order enough food for 100.

Don’t forget to count your guests and their guests. Invites may bring a spouse or significant other, which needs to be accounted for.

#3: Decide the Type of Catering You’ll Be Doing

Are you going to do a buffet style or plated meal? Buffets are easier to stretch and guess than plated meals. With plated dinners, you need an accurate guest count because your caterer is creating plated meals for each individual guest. If you’re unsure who is showing up to the wedding, you may want to go with a buffet just to stretch the food as much as possible, however in our opinion buffets are outdated and your guests wont thank you for it, check out some inspirational wedding catering ideas here

#4: Consider Adding Appetizers

Adding appetizers can help feed everyone without going over budget. This will also help accommodate those who show up, but didn’t RSVP. If you’re on a strict budget, skip full meals and serve all appetizers instead. That way you can order more to feed any additional guests, but also ensure you’ll have plenty of food without breaking the budget.

#5: Order Extra Fillers

Fillers, such as side dishes (potatoes, rice, vegetables, etc.) are cheaper than meats and desserts. Order extra of your filler items to accommodate your guest count — and anyone who shows up and plans on eating for two.

#6: Adjust for Children and suppliers

Children only eat about half of what an adult will eat. So, if you know of any children coming to the wedding, make adjustments to the order. Also, don’t forget to serve your suppliers — such as your DJ< photographer, etc. They are working for your wedding all day and it is customary to feed them for their services.

Ordering food for your wedding can be easy as long as you take time to calculate your guest count. Also, rely on the expertise of your caterer when ordering food. They know how to stretch your food budget and still ensure your guests are fed.

Authentic Chinese Food

Chu the Phat, a vibrant Asian restaurants Southbank and bar set in Brisbane’s up-and-coming Fish Lane dining precinct. Authentic Chinese food is rarely like the North Americanized versions found in Chinese restaurants throughout the West. More than one traveler has hit the streets in Beijing only to be disappointed that General Tso’s chicken is hard to find.

And as you’ve probably already guessed: fortune cookies aren’t a “thing” in China.

China is one huge, diverse place with millennia of culinary history and influences. China didn’t really open up enough until the 1960s and 1970s to share authentic Chinese food with the rest of the world.

Many of the familiar Chinese dishes that originated in California were adaptations by immigrants from the southern province of Guangdong. These dishes represent only a tiny portion of the spectrum that is Chinese cuisine. The “Chinese food” first shared with the world was largely adapted and altered, and pretty well all of it came from one region.

Everyone is familiar with those ubiquitous classics found on every menu in every neighborhood Chinese restaurant in North America. Experienced fans don’t even need to look at a menu. They already know that sweet and sour chicken, Mongolian beef, fried rice, and other familiar favorites are on offer.

What Is Authentic Chinese Food?

The cuisine that Westerners refer to as “Chinese food” mostly originated in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the 1950s. Jack Kerouac and many of the infamous “Beats” were fans. Chinese food was an inexpensive option for these cash-strapped artists, and the popularity of Eastern philosophy was growing. Visiting Chinatown was a cultural experience in itself.

This fusion food, which later spread around the country and the world, was obviously catered to current tastes and prepared with locally available ingredients. Even the vegetables are often different. The Western versions of broccoli, carrots, and onions rarely turn up in authentic Chinese food.

Authentic Chinese food dishes that were adopted by Western restaurants have some fundamental differences. For chicken, Westerners often prefer white, boneless breast meat. Chinese dishes often utilize the dark meat, connective tissue, organs, and small bones for nutritional value.

American-Chinese food tends to be less spicy than the authentic versions. In the United States, additional soy sauce and sugar are added to dishes that don’t normally call for much of a sweet or salty taste.

Soups and sauces are often made from powder packs sold by big Asian food conglomerates, hence the reason that many Chinese dishes and soups taste consistent in restaurants across the United States.

Where to Find Some Authentic Chinese Food?

If you travel a street or two away from tourist areas in China, finding English on menus in understandably rare.

Don’t buy into the old traveler myth that memorizing or writing down the symbol for chicken is enough. There’s a high likelihood the symbols that follow are for the feet, neck, or internal organs — the pristine-white breast meat preferred in the West is not always the default!

Hostels and hotels in Beijing that cater to travelers may indeed put some of the favorite dishes on the menu, if nothing else, to help with your just-arrived-in-china culture shock. Many familiar offerings — egg rolls, for one — truly are Chinese in origin, but they differ in taste and texture from the versions served in North America.

If Beijing isn’t an option, head directly to the nearest Chinatown, International District, or Asian community and just ask. Many Chinese restaurants have non-English menus with completely different offerings; they are often kept behind the counter for fear some dishes may be regarded as “offensive” or confusing for non-Chinese customers.

China is a big place; authentic cuisine varies widely throughout. Ask if something special can be prepared from the cook’s region. You may need to provide some input for the dish (e.g., choice of meat, rice, noodles, etc).

Note: Many “Chinese” restaurants in the United States are actually owned and staffed by entrepreneurs from Vietnam, Burma/Myanmar, and other places in Asia. Don’t be surprised if your attempt at a greeting in Chinese doesn’t always work out!

Authentic Chinese Cuisine That Is Popular in the West

Although a majority of the Chinese food favorites that we know in the West are not available in China, there are a few authentic dishes that were adopted and then Americanized:

  • Egg Foo Young: The brown, Chinese omelet is a native dish from China.
  • Kung Pao Chicken: Although kung pao chicken is an authentic Sichuan dish, the Western version is usually less spicy than the fiery original.
  • Orange Chicken and Cashew Chicken: Again, don’t expect perfect chunks of white chicken breast in the authentic versions. Also, the American versions are much thicker and sweeter.
  • Moo Shu Pork: Although this pork dish is available in China, it can be hard to find.
  • Lo Mein: Typically one of the cheapest dishes on offer, lo mein noodles can be eaten throughout China and are part of many stir-fried dishes. Lo mein simply means “stirred noodles” — they are typically made from wheat flour.
  • Fried Rice: Many varieties of fried rice are eaten throughout Asia, most often as a way to make safe rice left over from the day before. Even President Obama ate nasi goreng — Indonesia’s simple fried-rice dish — on his 2010 visit to the country.
  • Buddha’s Delight: This healthy vegetarian dish got its name because many Buddhists follow vegetarian diets. It’s traditionally enjoyed on the first day of a lunar new year for health and to give animals a break. Buddha’s delight is often pricey because it can have up to 20 different types of ingredients, including tofu! The dish won’t delight vegans, however: it sometimes contains eggs or fish sauce.
  • Wonton Soup: That ubiquitous salty broth is easy to find in China, although the soup may just contain noodles and balls of meat rather than pork-stuffed wontons. Wonton soup would typically be enjoyed as a meal in itself rather than as an accompaniment.

General Tso’s Chicken

Perhaps the most well-known of all Chinese food offerings, no one is completely sure who came up with General Tso’s Chicken. The leading theory suggests that a Chinese immigrant first created the famous dish while cooking for a restaurant in New York City. The debate is so hot that a documentary film was produced about the origins of General Tso’s chicken.

Even if we’re unsure about who served the first round of General Tso’s chicken, it’s a good example of how so many familiar dishes came about. Chinese immigrants experimented with local ingredients and adapted techniques to suit the tastes of local customers — Westerners.

Ironically enough, General Tso’s Chicken has gone the other way around the world: it’s catching on in more restaurants in Taiwan and mainland China.

Do Chinese People Eat With Chopsticks?

Yes! Although a few tourist restaurants may provide utensils for lost Westerners, you’ll be expected to know how to handle a set of chopsticks in most places.

The chopsticks in China are most often wooden or plastic rather than the metallic ones that are more popular in Korea. Millions of trees are chopped down each year to produce disposable chopsticks, and poisonous chemicals are used in the production. Consider carrying your own pair of chopsticks while traveling. At home, decline those throwaway sticks when offered; get a good reusable set to keep.

If you think you’ll be dining at a banquet or in more formal settings, learn the basics of Chinese table manners, and just in case, how to survive a Chinese drinking session. There are a few cultural faux pas at the dinner table best avoided.

Are Fortune Cookies Authentic?

No! Fortune cookies actually originated in Kyoto, Japan, during the 19th century and were later made famous by Chinese restaurants in California. Fortune cookies won’t be offered as a dessert after an authentic meal in China. You’ll have to pick those lucky lottery numbers another way.

Those crunchy wonton strips included with your meal are also an Americanized creation.

Are Egg Rolls an Authentic Chinese Food?

Yes, however, the deep-fried egg rolls served in American-Chinese restaurants are thicker skinned than authentic Chinese spring rolls. While American-Chinese egg rolls are bulked up with cabbage and pork, Chinese spring rolls are often thinner and contain mushrooms, tofu, and local vegetables.

Is There MSG in Chinese Food?

Usually. Monosodium glutamate is actually a Japanese creation, and Japan is the largest per-capita consumer of MSG in the world, but the Chinese most often get blamed for the use of MSG in food.

The term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” was even coined to describe the general unwell feeling after eating at a Chinese buffet. MSG is the subject of many studies and much debate. But no matter if you have a glutamate sensitivity or not, overeating and mixing many different types of foods prepared in heavy oil at Chinese buffets is sure to make you feel unwell. It isn’t the MSG!

Avoiding MSG when eating authentic Chinese food can be difficult. Even restaurants that claim not to use MSG often use it anyway or prepare dishes with ingredients that already contain MSG. But don’t panic! A precursory scan of your pantry may surprise you: MSG turns up in many major Western-branded soups, sauces, salad dressings, lunch meats, processed foods, and snacks that you may already be eating regularly. Many major food brands sneak it into American food.

Because consumers have become more label savvy, food companies often hide MSG under other names such as autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, or soy protein isolate so that consumers don’t catch on.

Don’t expect to feel unwell all the time while traveling in China due to MSG in local food. MSG is a salt, so drinking extra water helps flush it from the body.

Eating Street Food in China

Eating street food from carts and markets is not only a cheap, delicious way to eat, it may be safer than eating in restaurants!

Unlike restaurants where no one knows what lurks in the kitchen, you can see the level of cleanliness around a street cart. Also, unlike in restaurants, you have direct interaction with the cook. They don’t want to make their customers sick!

Competition is fierce between street-food carts; cooks who regularly make customers sick don’t stay in business for long. You’ll often find the most delicious and authentic Chinese food from street carts.

Importance of Catering Numbers

A hop, skip and a ferry ride away from the city, Cockatoo Island is a prime location on an old naval site that has been transformed into a perfect Sydney picnic spots. Who knew that food and beverage orders would require so much math? Well, if you are new to event planning, then this realization might come as a surprise to you, but the fact is that the catering world is heavily driven by numbers. Guest counts, portion sizes, and delivery dates all factor into the profitability of food service, and even small number changes can make a big difference when it comes to serving dinner to hundreds of guests.

Because of all this, meeting planners need a firm grasp of catering numbers to ensure food quality and avoid penalty fees. Listed below are the prominent figures and terms to become familiar with.

Estimated Count

It is the number of guests you initially build your event projections around. There is no real obligation with the estimated count as it is more of a “working number” used to estimate costs and staffing needs.

Expected Count

The expected count is submitted two or three weeks in advance of an event. It represents a more accurate count of anticipated guests, and it is tied contractually to the final count. Every catering operation has their own policies for expected counts, but generally speaking, it is should not deviate by more than 15% of the final count.

Final Count/Guaranteed Count

It is the number of guest meals you will pay for, and it also represents the number of place-setting the catering team will set inside the room. Any changes made to this number after the due date can incur penalties or late fees. Thus, it is important that planner set an RSVP date that falls before the guarantee deadline.

Drop Percentage

There are two angles to drop percentages. The first is calculated by catering to see how much of your final count has dropped from your expected count. If the percentage is too large (over 20%), then a penalty fee may be issued to cover expenses related to staffing and supply orders. Planners use drop percentages to estimate how many “no-shows” to expect. A 2% drop rate is about average for paid or ticketed events. That average can climb above 5% for events that are free. As you can imagine, attendees are more likely to show when they have money invested in an event.

Meal Cards

Some planners offer more than one entrée at formal meals, and this creates another calculation requirement. Hotels and banquet centers don’t want to be stuck guessing how many guests will choose steak or chicken, so it is up to the planners to get accurate counts of each choice through their RSVP system. On event day, each attendee should get a colored meal card they can place on the table, so servers automatically know which dish they ordered.

Drink Tickets

Event planners can use drink tickets to control the costs of running an open bar. It is accomplished by giving each guest one or two drink tickets at registration. The bartender will accept the tickets in exchange for a drink, and guests who opt to drink beyond their ticket allowance can pay cash. One thing to note about drink tickets is that the venue will charge you the highest priced drink per ticket. For this reason, it makes sense to use this system with a beer and wine or house bar since the selections will be priced more closely together.

Work With the System

Ultimately it is up to the event planner to provide accurate counts to the catering department. Those planners who ignore the policies and deadlines issued by their provider can end up paying more than they should in the form of penalties and other fees. The best way to avoid this is to read through the catering policies before planning the event. Following this one simple rule will help you choose the most appropriate dates and costs to pass onto the guests.

Green waste drop-off days

Got stacks of leaves or boxes of weeds just hanging around your backyard? It’s rubbish removal Northern Beaches Sydney job to clear it from your backyard. With the size of the council wheelie container being so little, it is difficult if not down appropriate challenging to do away with garden waste, when you have an entire garden filled with it. Don’t misery, that is why we are below, One2Dump at your solution to remove any kind of unwanted overflow from your yard clean up. Whether it is a springtime tidy or just a general tidy up of the backyard, it is not that difficult to accumulate an entire vehicle lots of yard refuse.

If you require any type of sort of garden waste removal on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, you could do no far better than to give us a call on: 0450 712 779.

We can organise for a complimentary, no responsibility quote to have your yard waste grabbed fast. We have a fully licensed and insured dump truck at the ready, so you do not have to load bins of any kind of summary, whether wheelie or skip, nope just give us a call as well as we will come and also pick it up as well as remove it pronto.

If you require to have your yard squandered collected, such as raking up dropped leaves, after that allow us know when you call and we can price quote on that particular also. We are here to assist. You can relax when you are dealing with the experts from One2Dump, as we appreciate our consumers as well as are seeking long term connections where we supply on pick up.

Do not be tricked by some economical competitors that will charge you a small, almost also good to think rate – and afterwards when they run out sight, perhaps just nearby as well as later on, they will certainly dispose your refuse on someone else’s land or driveway. This is highly unlawful, yet that is the threat you take with hiring on cost alone. We are really affordable with our rates for choosing as well as removing yard waste, however we have to dump this in the correct facility in your place and this costs loan.

I have stacks of crushed rock, can that be gotten?

Ordered way too much crushed rock for the new driveway? No problem, just give us a call as well as we can come and also choose it up. Crushed rock is an excellent method to keep weeds down around the house, and it develops a good “distinct obstacle” that would certainly theives dislike. However it is challenging to examine whether you got the correct amount provided, so it is simple to have actually some left over. Absolutely nothing to fret on your own concerning, as One2Dump are right here with a dump vehicle at hand. Our chauffeur can come to your place and get any type of excess building products, including pavers, gravel and also various other construction products also.

What regarding old roofing system floor tiles, do you take that away also?

Just changed your roofing with a great colorbond metal framework, as well as now you have a whole number of old terracotta ceramic tiles scattered throughout the backyard. Well we can come and also get those old tiles out of there. We recycle such products and these can be made back right into beneficial crushed rock kind surface areas for various other home owners. So you can feel confident that when we get we recycle as much as possible. One2Dump are ecologically liable and also care for your refuse, whether it be from the home, yard, your workplace and even you commercial complex.

Do you grab building waste as well as yard waste?

Sure, if you have actually mixed waste, we can take care of this as well. Combined waste will certainly be separated into recyclable and also non-recyclable, to ensure that tipping charges will be lowered, costing you much less and placing even more cash back in your pocket. Timbers can be reused for other structure jobs or depending on their problem, can be reused for barbeque as well as fire wood. We believe in squandering absolutely nothing as well as putting your refuse to good usage, when feasible.

We have simply ended up building our new house as well as need the destroyed old yard and plants eliminated, can you do this?

Certainly, we are below on the Northern Beaches to assist you get your home or home in order, so the requirement for cleaning up the backyard or your premises is our goal. We operate in many hours that you will discover ideal, so give us a call as well as we can organise a totally free quote and also assist you obtain your room back.

In some councils currently it is difficult to have environment-friendly waste eliminated. Particular limitations and also laws avoid yard waste from going into landfill ideas. When yard particles accumulates around the residence, this can pose a significant risk to your safety and security and also well being. Stacks of leaves can ignite on warm days in summer as well as decomposing moldy boxes of weeds and also compost can be the breeding ground for dangerous and potentially dangerous pathogens. Do not put your family members at risk, by having yard trimmings or unwanted compost accumulate and also take up important area. Hire the specialists at removing your environment-friendly waste and seeing to it that where feasible, the best recycling of your waste is performed. Securing not only your atmosphere but the general atmosphere, which is everybody’s duty to deal with the land, in a way that will cultivate the demands of future generations.

We satisfaction ourselves on customer fulfillment, and that suggests you will certainly be delighted with our friendly town garden decline pick up service. Simply pay attention to several of our other delighted clients, and hear what they need to claim.

The Best Drawing & Illustration Software 2019

If you’re a beginner then you’ll need a quality concept board frames artist Sydney to last a while as you plow through your business. What is the best drawing software? There are over 40+ different software solutions for drawing or doing illustrative work. Depending on who you ask you’ll get a different answer to what is best. Your choice depends on cost, style of drawing and willingness to put up with problems. In this article I’ve included a few of the best paid options (all relatively affordable) and a couple of free drawing software options.

Drawing & Illustration Software

1. Adobe Creative Cloud (CC)

Adobe Photoshop from CS6 is what I use with my graphic tablet. Photoshop allows me to sketch as if I was using a real pen or brush. It’s also great for video or photo manipulation. The only downside with Adobe products is the monthly updates which might be annoying to some. Don’t make the same mistake of assuming PS Illustrator is for drawing too (hint: it’s not).

Photoshop CS6 – Rare 

Unlike Creative Cloud this is a one time purchase. You could buy it, that is if you can find a physical copy for a reasonable price, but since our operating systems are going to evolve eventually the software could in theory face problems? It’s extremely rare and is almost sold like a collector’s item. Adobe Photoshop Creative Suit 6 is the most revered edition of the software because it included at a bargain price ( by today’s standards) Photoshop, Acrobat, Premiere Pro, After Effects, InDesign and Illustrator. That’s probably why they went on to a monthly subscription. Wasn’t sustainable for growth.

2. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

As the name hints, Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro is designed for drawing. It has wider utility but is particularly good for sketching, character creation or comics. It’s simple to use and has a lot of customization options .

3. Clip Studio Paint

Don’t think that this software is limited to just manga. It has a great variety of tools and layer functionality, a user-friendly interface and is quite affordable. If you’re thinking of how to draw manga this is a part of the solution. The pose functionality is amazing. You can’t touch this.

Painting software

If you’re looking to get software for classic painting then painting specific software is the choice for you. Software such as Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop CC or ParticleShop

4. Corel Painter

Now if you’re looking to get a realistic painting effect with digital art software. Corel Painter is the beast of burden for this job. I cannot stress enough how much I love Daniels work. I’m green with envy.

5. ArtRage

It’s easy to use. The UI and tools feel like they are made by another artist for artists.
Smooth control and great pixel precision. ArtRage is universally good painting software for artists working on a Mac. PC and Android devices.

6. Paint Tool Sai

If you don’t have money you can still do great work unlike Photoshop.  A lot of customization. A lot.  Highly flexible for all your needs but might not be the best looking tool in the world. Definitely worth checking out. Did I mention it’s free for the first 30 days?

7. Gimp

Free. Easier to use than Photoshop CS6. I think it’s more intuitive? It might not be as powerful as the rest but it definitely gets the job done when you’re just starting out and don’t know any better and need any help in making it easier.

Conclusion

The truth is each piece of software has near endless possibilities. At the most basic level all of these digital paintings have pixels. So either test out or try out all choices or look at the types of artists the software attracts and make your choice based on that. I personally use Gimp and Photoshop CS6.  Your end goal should be able to draw what you want in the fastest time possible.

Pilates Side-Lying Leg Lifts

Pilates Side-Lying Leg Lifts mobilize and stabilize the hips while strengthening the glute med (side bum) and improving core stability. Practice side-lying leg lifts after a thorough warm-up using the exercises below. Scroll to the bottom for the full video! Private reformer Pilates training is perfect whether you are a Crossfit enthusiast wanting to do more workouts, recovering from an injury or simply want to try something new is our focus.

Warm-up for Side-Lying Leg Lifts
  • Supine Hip Circles
  • Supine Hip Sways
  • Bridge Lifts
How to do Pilates Side-Lying Leg Lifts
  • Lie on your right side, with the right arm extended long so the head can rest on the bicep
  • Stack the legs, hips, and shoulders directly on top of one another
  • Draw your top hipbone down towards the feet, to lengthen out the top side of the body
  • Bring your pelvis into neutral alignment, drawing the abs in
  • Place the top hand on the floor in front of you for support, or on the top hip to challenge your balance
  • Inhale to prepare, as you exhale, lift the top leg straight up towards the ceiling, keeping the hip, knee, and toes pointing forward (square or parallel alignment)
  • inhale to lower the leg back down (keep the leg hovering off the bottom leg for added challenge)
  • exhale to lift the leg straight back up, keeping the hips stacked, pelvis neutral
  • Repeat 8-16x and repeat on the left
Tips
  • Keep the abs engaged, ribs knitting in the entire time to help with stability
  • Try to keep your gaze straight forward so the back of the neck stays long
  • Focus on keeping the top hip stacked as the leg lifts up
  • Keep the hand of the top arm firm on the floor for added stability
  • You can always bend the bottom knee in to 90 degrees if stacking the legs is too unstable
  • Keep the top shoulder soft away from the ear
  • Try flexing and pointing the foot to see if you feel it more in one position versus the other
Avoid
  • Letting the belly relax
  • Looking down towards the legs
  • Letting your top hip roll backward as the leg lifts up
  • Externally rotating at the hip as the leg lifts up
  • Letting the top shoulder round forward or creep up toward the ear
  • Sticking the bum out behind you
  • Flaring the ribcage out
Modifications

Bend the bottom knee if to 90 degrees and keep the top hand on the floor for more support. Decrease the range of motion in order to maintain a neutral pelvis. Take the movement as slow as you need to in order to stay balanced and in neutral alignment. Try adding a blanket or thin pillow under the head to support the head and keep the neck long.

Challenge

Try internally rotating the leg for a few repetitions and then externally rotate the leg for a few repetitions. Try reaching the top arm up towards the ceiling for an added balance challenge. Let the foot hang limply to add more weight to the working leg. Add 8-10 pulses at the top of your range of motion after your last full range repetition.

Ready to Practice? Press Play?

5 Secrets to Selecting Highly-Effective SEO Keywords

As an expert SEO Sydney, Heliumseo.com.au can provide you with SEO consultant Sydney to benefit your business in long term. If there is a single concept that is the driver of much of the Internet’s growth over the past decade – not to mention nearly all of Google’s annual revenue of $25 billion – it is the concept of keywords. Keywords are what we type in when we are searching for products, services, and answers on the search engines, an act that Americans performed 15.5 billion times in April 2010 according to ComScore, the web research firm.

Companies optimize their webpages for search by assigning keywords to those pages. The implications for a business of picking the right keywords are therefore huge. Keyword selection is fundamental to success when it comes to executing a paid search or PPC campaign. It is also integral to a website natural or organic ranking on the search engines.

But keywords are not just about SEO. They at the heart of a company’s marketing campaign at its most granular level. Do our customers love our product because it is fast-acting or because it is long-lasting? Are we cheap or the best? Do we provide people with ideas or with help? If you can’t immediately identify the most important keywords for your company, it is doubtful that you can effectively market your products and services to your target audience. The following guide will provide you with 5 ideas to keep in mind when you are selecting keywords on which to build your online marketing.

Picking SEO Keywords: Focus on Good Phrases

When it comes to search engine marketing, there may be no larger misnomer, no more archaic term than the ubiquitous keyword. In my view, there should be an official migration to the more accurate term keyphrase, but for now I will be forced to use what I consider to be an inaccurate term. My frustration with this term is that it quite simply implies a single word, which is rarely the strategy that we employ when doing keyword research and selection in the service of PPC and SEO campaigns.

All too often, people dramatically overthink the most basic keyword research concepts; keyword generation should start simply with answering the question of “What products or services do you sell?” If you sell dog food online,  the root words dog and food alone would be very poor keywords because on their own, neither dog nor food do a remotely good job at describing what you sell. Though this example makes it obvious, many times we have to fight through our urge to include those bigger, broader root keywords.

Picking SEO Keywords: Avoiding “Vanity” Keywords

Now let’s look at a trickier example—one where the root keyword arguably does a good job describing what we are selling. Say I own an online jewelry store that sells all types of jewelry. To rank highly for the keyword jewelry would probably be at the top of my search engine marketing goals. And yet this would probably not be a profitable keyword that will drive relevant traffic to my site. That is because, from an organic SEO perspective, you are unlikely to rank highly for this term unless you are a huge, highly authoritative site—or lucky enough to be Jewelry.com, knowing that Google rewards keywords that match website addresses.

In this case, you would do well to go after more specific keywords such as gold jewelry, silver necklace, or women’s Rolex watch.  Not only is the competition for these terms less fierce but, from both an SEO and a PPC perspective, those more specific keywords are going to have a significantly higher conversion rate to purchases on your site.

Sometimes we refer to those root keywords as “vanity keywords,” because if you do just one search to see who seems to be winning the space, you are likely to pick the single broadest keyword and see who comes up ranked highly. In nearly every case, however, we have found it to be more successful and deliver a significantly better return on your SEM investment by focusing on the hundreds or even thousands of more specific keywords that more closely match the services, products, brands, and locations that you sell or serve.

Picking SEO Keywords: Using Google’s Wonder Wheel

This is in my opinion the best little secret of everyone’s favorite search engine: the Google Wonder Wheel. Released about a year ago but virtually unknown compared with Google’s much more visible search tools, the Wonder Wheel can be accessed by doing a search and then selecting “Wonder Wheel” under the filter options on the lefthand navigation.

What you are presented with now is a visual representation of the way that Google groups together keywords. (Indirectly, you can also deduce how users themselves perceive search terms.) This alone can become the basis of your PPC and SEO keyword research.

Starting with the search term dog food, I see related more specific terms like dog food reviews, dog food comparison, and dog food brands, which can help identify other keywords to focus on. Then, clicking on dog food brands, the search engine automatically expands that keyword to be another hub, with more specific keywords related to dog food brands such as nutro dog food, Purina dog food, and so on.

At my comapny, Wpromote, we use this tool to help shape overall content strategies. Continuing with the dog food example, we can see that ratings, comparison, and reviews all were all grouped as closely related to dog food in general, implying that people that are searching for dog food are very interested in the comparison and review side of things. So from a content strategy perspective, it would be a very powerful takeaway to include a heavy emphasis on customer ratings, third-party reviews, and side by side comparisons to help the consumers make their dog food selections while shopping on our site.

Picking SEO Keywords: The Value of Repetition

One concern we hear frequently is whether it is beneficial or harmful to repeat keywords. In other words, should we vary keywords (dog food, puppy food, and Purina) or repeat keywords (dog food reviews, dog food comparison, and dog food rankings.) The short answer is that the repetition is just fine, as long as the meaning of the phrase as a whole is sufficiently varied. In other words, dog food and dog food online are basically synonymous, and the content that one might expect to find associated with both keywords is the same. However, dog food reviews and dog food comparison indicate somewhat different content and therefore are appropriate to be used in tandem as keywords.

The more important concept to keep in mind is that you want to choose keywords that best relate to the content present on a web page and on a website; if you don’t have a dog food comparison matrix, then don’t bother including comparison-related keywords; you are misleading your users, and certainly not fooling Google. So in an ideal world, you do have a comparison section, a reviews section, and a rankings section, housed on different pages or sections of your site, with each one tagged with the appropriate keywords. Correspondingly, your SEO and PPC search engine marketing efforts should that content by driving review keywords to the review pages and so on.

Picking SEO Keywords: Guiding Your Content Strategy

Keywords should guide your overall content strategy. We have referred to this concept several times in the preceding tips, but it is important enough to leave as a final guiding paradigm.

Conventionally, we think linearly about content and keywords; we build a website, and then launch search engine marketing campaigns to drive users to our content.  That approach has its limits. When we think about strategy at Wpromote, we think about  a circular process; since our keyword research reflects both what users are seeking and the way that the search engines (particularly Google) “think” about keywords, we let that help to drive our content strategy.

Put differently, to be phenomenally successful, we seek not to take static content and try to pry greater results from it; instead, we leverage the existing needs of the users, and use that knowledge to help us create the best possible user experience. That, in turn, will be rewarded with higher rankings, greater traffic, and a higher ROI from our marketing efforts.

What to Wear During Cross Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is a famously aerobic activity. You’ll generate a lot of heat and moisture, so it’s best to dress in layers. During your Heli skiing Canada you will see the shredding epic pillow lines and high alpine bowls all day long.

Summary:

  • Each layer must be breathable
  • Add extra mid-layers for warmth, if needed
  • Your outermost jacket and pants should be windproof on the front side and breathable on the back panels
  • Carry as little as possible
  • Bring a change of dry clothes for after your ski

1. Base Layer

Your body will generate a lot of moisture when you cross-country ski.

Most people sweat from the exertion and/or develop condensation on their clothing from the temperature difference between their warm bodies and the cold air.

Wool or synthetic base layer materials are good for drawing moisture away from your body so it can evaporate.

Base layers need to fit snug against your skin but not feel tight or constricted. If your base layer is baggy, pockets of moist air will circulate next to your skin and you’ll feel chilled.

2. Mid Layer(s)

This layer is for warmth and moisture wicking.

We like thin, warm fabrics like merino wool. If your mid-layer is thin and lightweight you can take it off and stuff it in your pocket or pack if you get too warm while skiing.

If it’s cold, it’s better to add extra layers rather than wear bulky mid-layers. Extra layers are better for drawing moisture away from your body and allow you to make adjustments if conditions change.

3. Outer Layer

Purpose-made Nordic ski jackets and pants are constructed of windproof fabrics on the front side, and stretchy, breathable fabric on the back.

The wind might blow from any direction, but when you’re skiing it will almost always feel like you’re skiing into the wind.

You can test fabric for windproof-ness with the “breath test”. Hold the fabric up to your mouth and blow hard. You shouldn’t feel any air pass through the fabric. (Make sure your face is clean and you aren’t wearing make-up.)

Both your pants and jacket should be constructed with front side fabrics that completely block the wind. Jackets and pants need to be well-articulated at all the joints so you can move with freedom and comfort.

If you think you might enjoy racing, buy warm-up pants with a full-length zipper down the side of each leg. That way you can easily remove them immediately before your race begins.

Unless your ski area is very rainy, you should avoid Gore-Tex and similar fabrics. They aren’t breathable enough for Nordic skiing. And anything made with down feathers is definitely not a good choice for cross-country skiing.

Lycra Race Suits

The advantage of Lycra is the comfort of completely unrestricted movement. The disadvantage is, well… Lycra.

Also, Lycra isn’t windproof. If you wear a race suit, you might also want to buy windproof nordic underwear. Yes, that’s a real thing.

Hats, Neck Gaiters

Wear whatever hat or headband you like.

“Buff”-style neck gaiters are popular with cross-country skiers. They seem to provide just enough warmth and protection and are easy to stuff in a pocket or clip to a drink belt.

They also make great headbands.

Socks

What happened with socks? In the last decade they evolved from boring but essential to the most awesome clothing item ever.

The fabrics are great, the styling is fun and the fit is amazing. They come at an astonishing price, of course, but today’s technical socks are a pleasure to wear. Who knew we could get so much performance from our socks?

Btw, if you have trouble with cold toes, don’t wear 2 pairs of socks. That might cause blisters. Here’s a solution that will keep your toes warm when cross-country skiing.

Gloves and Mitts

Most Nordic skiers wear gloves rather than mitts because they give better control over your poles.

Those of us with cold hands and poor circulation wear well-fitted Nordic ski mitts and use hand warmers as needed. We can still have pretty good control of our poles.

In case you haven’t read our Buying Guide for Nordic Ski Poles, we recommend you buy ski poles with the hand harness, not a simple strap.

These come in different sizes and are expensive to replace. Be sure to test with your gloves or mittens on before you buy.

Glasses and Visors

Skiing with glasses is really nice; they protect your eyes from the sun and wind.

Sport sunglasses with interchangeable lens are a good choice. Clear lens protect you from the wind and snow in low light conditions and dark lens protect you from UV damage and glare.

Your glasses will probably fog up whenever you stop skiing to rest. You can prevent that problem by lifting them onto your forehead until you start skiing again.

Ski visors are another option for dealing with fogging. Visors are made of clear or tinted plastic and shield your eyes. They’re especially nice in heavy snow conditions. The air circulation behind a visor is better than sunglasses so they’re less prone to fogging.

Downhill ski goggles are too warm for cross-country skiing. Plus, they definitely break Nordic fashion rules.

Backpacks

We encourage our Masters athletes to ski without a backpack. You need to get your centre of mass well forward to cross-country ski properly and wearing a backpack makes this difficult.

Nordic skiing drink belts are a good choice for carrying a lot of fluids and a few small items, like an extra buff and  snack.

While we don’t like to carry a backpack, sometimes it’s necessary for safety. When it’s very cold you must be prepared for an emergency situation. It you get hurt, even with a little ankle sprain, you’ll cool down very quickly. In that case, you need some extra clothing and other emergency supplies.

Safety first!

Wool Knickers, Long Socks, and Leg Gaiters…

Most cross-country skiers don’t dress like this anymore.

Modern Nordic clothing is lighter, more comfortable and dries faster, and there’s really no need for leg gaiters on groomed trails.

Norwegian sweaters are another type of old-fashioned cross-country ski clothing you don’t see much anymore, at least in Canada. They’re heavy, bulky and extremely expensive. Also, beautiful.

Final Tips

It’s best to start out feeling a little cold and underdressed. You’ll warm up quickly.

If you’re a runner, think of how you’d dress if you were going for a run and dress in a similar way.

If your planned route includes a long descent, you might get very cold, especially if you build up sweat during the ascent. In this case it makes sense to carry a small pack with some extra clothing. Put on dry mitts, a fresh hat and perhaps an extra jacket before skiing downhill.

Finally, bring a change of dry clothes for after your ski. Strip off all your wet ski clothes (including underwear and socks) and change into warm, dry clothes for the trip home. Even in a heated car, you can get chilled if you stay in your wet ski clothes.

The Norwegians have a great expression we try to take to heart:

Five Tips for Serving Alcohol at Events

Serving alcohol at an event is a risky proposition. More often than not, the decision to include liquor at your events opens the door to a whole laundry list of liabilities most event planners would rather avoid. Still, if your event calls for cocktails – if liquor or the lack thereof will make or break an event – you can pull it off with the right precautions. The Lake Grand Ballroom provides sophisticated small function rooms Melbourne to any event with its Mediterranean-inspired interiors.

So, let’s get down to business. How can you keep attendees happily buzzing along while also minimizing the risk in serving alcohol at your event?

First, Know Your Plan

How large is your event? How many bars are you going to have? What sort of drinks will the bar serve; will you include hard alcohol? Will the bars be cash-only, or will you use drink tickets? What methods will you use to slow or limit the access to alcohol? How will you handle intoxicated patrons? How will you prevent drunken attendees from leaving in their cars? These are all factors you need to consider before you give your guests beer, wine or booze.

Make Absolutely Certain You’re Licensed To Serve

You’ve worked out your ideal bar situation and your next step is to get a liquor license. Serving alcohol without being properly licensed is a serious offence, never mind that you expose yourself and your client to massive liability. You may contact your local liquor control board; criteria for getting a Special Occasion License will vary and the license is a one-time-use.

Frankly, the easiest way to serve legally is to hire a company already licensed. Bar, full service caterers and event venues should already be properly licensed and insured – confirm their status.

If your own event company does a good deal of food and beverage service in-house rather than hiring partners, get licensed!

Get Insurance

Sorry, but licensing and insurance is a big topic! A license isn’t enough on its own. Talk to your insurance company and make certain you have the proper liquor liability coverage – or as mentioned, hire a catering service with their own policy and have them cover you with it. This is a big part of your contract review – again, know your service provider’s status.

Hire Trained Bartenders

Yes, serving alcohol is all about limiting your liability. If your own staff (avoid having volunteers in this position) will be serving attendees, you need to provide them with the required training on how to serve alcohol responsibly. If you’re hiring a catering company, same deal; make sure they’ve got trained employees. Otherwise, you’re potentially stumbling face-first into a legal quagmire.

Tip: many conferences direct attendees to a local restaurant/bar for a private happy hour. The bar takes on the liability and everyone is happy. 

Limit How Much Guests Can Drink

I’m going to come right out and say it: open bars at an event are a horrible idea, and you should never offer them (but we often do!) Yes, you want your guests and attendees to mingle, network and have a good time, but you also want to avoid a serious incident. The easiest way to do this – limit how much your guests can drink. Give them drink tickets, set a three-drink limit, have a shorter happy hour; don’t allow attendees to drink themselves into a stupor.

Tip: serve food, always! If you get people eating they’re more likely to drink less. Besides, drinking on an empty stomach can lead quickly to drunkenness.

Take Steps To Prevent Drunk Driving

Personally, I’d say this is the most important one: you need to do everything in your power to prevent inebriated guests from getting behind the wheel. Have an understanding of how your attendees are coming and going from your event.  Watch all your exits carefully and have your security staff on alert. To be honest, if you’re hosting a conference or a large wrap party it might be worthwhile to secure police presence.

An easy (yet more costly) preventative measure for drunk driving is to provide transportation such as buses or taxis.

We’re happy to provide some helpful hints, but at the end of the day and headed into a long night, do your research. Serving without proper planning is a recipe for disaster.