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About BBQ Grills and Smokers

The first known practice of grilling took place in South America with the Arawaks who used a wooden structure known as a barbocao.  This method of cooking was also adapted by early Americans who used it to cook hogs slowly so that the meat was flavourful and extremely tender.  In modern times hamburgers and hot dogs have become the most popular items to be grilled on a barbecue along with corn on the cob.

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Historical Moments in BBQ:

Edward Kingsford was the inventor of the charcoal  briquette.  He was related to Henry Ford and was tasked with establishing a sawmill and a Ford auto parts plant in the northern region of Michigan, USA.  Kingsford notice that there was a massive amount of wood scraps from the Model T production line and he processed the scraps into charcoal under the name Kingsford charcoal.  Briquettes were eventually used in small portable grills.

The round style of portable BBQ which has a small spherical lid was invented by George Stephen who was a welder.  Stephen was looking for a solution to the wind constantly blowing ash on his food when he grilled it, so he used the bottom of a buoy and welded three steel legs to it.  He created a lid from a smaller sphere and created a BBQ prototype.  After taking the BBQ home and experimenting with it, he started a company called Weber-Stephen Products.  This “kettle” style BBQ is still popular today.

The first gas grill designed to be used outdoors was created by Don McGlaughlin who owned Chicago Combustion Corporation which is now known as LazyMan.  The gas broiler that he invented featured a grill that was built-in along with permanent coals or lava rock.  The open broiler design was later adapted into a portable grill in 1954 which also featured a 20 lb propane cylinder.

Modern Grills

Today’s BBQ grill typically uses either natural gas or propane as a fuel source.  You can cook the food directly on the grill or with radiant heat.  Gas grills are available in a wide range of sizes from small and portable to larger sized grills and may even be large enough to grill enough food for a crowd of one hundred people.  These larger size grills are often custom built and are portable by being towed by a car or truck.  Natural gas and propane grills can be converted to take the other type of gas if desired.  Most gas grills are designed in a cart style which includes a grill unit and a frame that contains a cabinet to hold the fuel tank.  There are generally wheels on one side, sometimes there is a side element for cooking extras and storage below.

Newer gas BBQ grills have a radiant burner located near the back of the grill which offers even heat over the span of the burner to be used with a rotisserie attachment.  The rotisserie is a long metal skewer that rotates with an electric motor and is ideal for grilling small meat cuts.

Some grills have a smoker box which uses wood chips to add a smoky flavour to foods that are grilled on the BBQ.  When items are to be smoked, lower temperatures are ideal and the items are smoked for a longer period of time.

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Infrared Grills

These grills work by hearing a ceramic tile which then gives off infrared radiation which cooks the food.  The heat that is generated distributes evenly across a cooking surface and can reach as high as 500 degrees C which can quickly sear items.

Charcoal Style Grills

These grills tend to use charcoal or briquettes as a source of fuel.  The fuel is transformed into embers which provide the heat that is needed to cook food.  Some people prefer the uniform size of briquettes while others like charcoal because it does not contain the fillers and binders that briquettes do.  Some charcoal grills are round, some are square while others have a more rectangular shape.  There are several styles of charcoal grills including:

  1. Hibachi – this is a traditional Japanese device used for heating, not cooking, but this name was adapted for a type of portable barbecue. These charcoal fuelled cooking devices are called shichirin.  This is a very inexpensive type of grill crafted from cast iron and containing a charcoal pan with two cooking grills over top that can be adjusted.  There is no lid.  These small devices are ideal for their portability.
  1. Pellet Grill. These grills utilize pellets for fuel.  Pellets are composed of vegetable oil and compressed sawdust and are small and puck like.  The pellets are stacked into a hopper and slowly fed into a firebox near the bottom of the grill controlled with a thermostat.  A pellet grill has a versatile temperature range.  It can be set to smoke meat, to cook it slowly or to grill at higher heats.  Top of the line pellet grills are designed to hold a constant temperature for over ten hours.
  1. Cart grill. These grills look similar to a gas grill but can be a kettle design or a rectangle shape.  The lid is generally hinged, and the entire unit is on a cart with wheels.  The charcoal pan can be lowered or raised and there is a drawer below for the collection of ashes and their easy removal.  The multiple features of the modern charcoal cart grill makes it just as convenient as a gas grill.
  1. This type of grill features wire and sheet metal in place of a cooking grid.  The grill generally has legs attached to its charcoal pan and does not have any type of venting system.  The heat can be adjusted by moving the cooking grip up or down.

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Maintenance and Care of BBQs

If you purchase a reasonably expensive BBQ you expect it to last for quite some time.  The best way to accomplish this is to keep the grill clean and ensure that all of the surfaces are burned off after cooking.  What you need to do is crank up the heat to high and allow any food bits to burn thus removing them from the grill.  Once the grill has cooled down a simple wipe can remove the excess ash and dirt.  Never cover up a BBQ that has not fully cooled down or moisture can gather inside of the appliance and cause rust to form.

Many BBQ units can have a life extension with replacement parts.  If a part on your BBQ fails, simply purchase a new part and install it on your BBQ to ensure that it has a longer life.

How to clean your BBQ

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Floating Shelves, What You Need To Know

Shelving is an item of furniture that is useful because it is completely practical for arranging items and storing them easily, whether the need for storage is in your home or in your garage.  You can easily keep items organized and visible for handy use as and when they are needed.  There are many different types of shelving that one can purchase or build at home if they are so inclined.  The option to make shelves on your own is one that is good if you have a specific need or design in mind.

Floating Shelves are a type of shelf that are affixed directly to a wall surface without any visible support.  They are called “floating” shelves because they are not part of a larger shelving “unit” and stand alone on a wall.  It is much easier to place a floating shelf because it does not take up much space on a wall.

floating shelf

Considerations for Purchasing Floating Shelves

Most floating shelf units will be sold with some type of mounting hardware.  The main consideration you will have is the function of the shelf and then you will consider size, colour and material that the shelf is created from.  Do you want a natural wood look or do you want something more modern?  Glass is another commonly used material for floating shelves.  Choose shelves that are sturdy enough to hold the items you want to place on them but are not too heavy to place on the wall safely.

Some stores sell shelves in groups of two or three while others sell single shelves.  The thing to watch out for would be a discount when purchasing in “bulk” if you buy more than one shelf at a time.

Installation of Shelving

As with any type of shelving, you are going to need to be able to drill into the wall directly into a stud.  For this you will need to be able to locate the wall studs and have a drill or other piece of equipment that can drill a hole.  Studs can hold weight when you load the shelf whereas simply drilling a hole into the wall is not going to accomplish anything except that the shelf will fall from the wall and the items on it may be damaged.

Measure the area on the wall where you want to place shelving and decide how many shelves you would like as well as what sizes you need.  Use a level to mark the exact location of the shelf before you start making holes.  Installation of floating shelves usually means using a bracket of some sort and then mounting the shelf onto it.  Generally speaking, the screws and brackets that are provided with the shelf in a “kit” are not of very good quality.  It is definitely worth it to purchase separate items that are going to last and keep the shelf in place for as long as you want it in place.

 

Small Space Living

Floating shelfToday’s homeowner is more likely to live in a much smaller space and has a greater need for more innovative types of shelving.  With small space living, every square inch of a home is precious and must be used to its highest potential. Floating shelves really fit the needs of small space living because they do not take up much room while providing a much-needed storage area or place where items can be displayed.  For those who are renting an apartment, it is often important to ensure that the walls do not sustain much damage or the renter could end up having to cover that damage cost out of their own pocket.

Floating shelves are usually reasonably priced enough that one might even consider leaving them in place when they move so that no holes are left in the wall afterwards.

Floating Shelves for Every Room

Floating shelves are great for the living area, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen or any room in your home, really.  They are nice to look at while serving a purpose of organization and general tidiness.  These shelves can be easily removed if needed and placed in a different location.  It is all up to you to decide what is aesthetically pleasing and floating shelves tend to be a good choice since they don’t have the large and ugly brackets that many shelves need to hold them up so they will not detract from the décor in your room.

Certain types of shelves just work better in certain rooms.  For example, if you have some items that you want to store in the bathroom but your bathroom is really small, there may be only certain areas where you can place a space-saving shelf, and that is where a floating shelf will come in extremely handy.

The floating shelf is not specifically designed to hold extremely heavy items such as heavy books and/or heavy decorative items.  These types of shelves can really break up the length of a large hallway and can be handy for items that are always in demand such as hats, school bags, shoes and keys.  Shelves look best if they are organized in a tidy fashion, adding another dimension to the room.  If everything that you own is crammed onto a shelf then it can start to look unkempt.  That is obviously not the result that is people are looking for when they install a shelf.

The division of spaces in a studio style apartment is important and shelves can help to achieve that division while still keeping the feel of the open plan.  In fact, floating shelves can be installed near furniture to hold a lamp or remotes for electronics while the same style of shelf can be installed in a dining area to hold extra items needed for the table when guests arrive.

The installation of floating shelves in a dining room can also add another use to a typically underused room.  The shelves can be organized in such a way that they can hold a computer and a keyboard or provide an area where quiet reading or studying can be undertaken.

A little bit of planning and forethought is great before shopping.  That way you know what the shelves will be used for, how many shelves you will need and what types of material these shelves should be made from.  The right shelves can add another dimension to any room.

The benefits of floating shelves

Packing For A Cruise: The Ultimate List

What do you need when packing for a cruise?

Appropriate Clothes and Accessories
Electronics and Devices
Important Paperwork
Medical and Wellness Items
Other Essentials
Others
Extra Packing Tip

For most of us, packing for a cruise is something that happens once every few years. So unless you’re a cruise line staff member you’ll probably struggle to figure out what to pack. Of course, this comes as no surprise – a vacation in the middle of the ocean coupled with several sporadic stops at different destinations will obviously be challenging to pack for. Cruising is not the most usual method of travelling, hence has a different set of rules for packing.

Packing for a cruise is a bit more complicated than throwing an arbitrary pile of clothes and a couple of accessories into a suitcase. You will need to take a number of things into consideration such as climate variations between the home ports and ports of call, the cruise line’s dress codes, expenses for additional luggage (when flying to the home port) and so on.

It seems like a lot of work to pack for a cruise already, doesn’t it? Don’t despair though; we’re here to help you pack. With our list of essentials to bring on a cruise, you will be more prepared than the captain when you’re done packing. Here are the essential things to pack when going on a cruise:

Appropriate clothes and accessories for your cruise

Shoes. Although you’ll spend most of the time basking in the sun and island hopping, you should not limit your footwear to sandals. Often, cruises will include excursions that require a lot of walking or activities such as zip lining and rock climbing. There could be events that require you to dress a bit more formal as well. Throw in some sneakers and some dress shoes in your luggage as you’ll most probably need them.

Watch. If you don’t plan on carrying your cell phone, remember to bring a watch with you for time keeping.

Lanyard necklace. Your cruise liner will issue you a cruise ship ID that will serve as your room key and security pass when disembarking and boarding at different stops. It’s cheaper to carry your own lanyard for your ship ID than to buy one on board.

Formal outfits. The majority of cruises will include a couple of formal dinners, make sure to pack a tuxedo or a dark suit, or an evening dress.

Sweaters and jackets. No matter what the weatherman says, make sure to pack a jacket or sweater just in case the weather predictions were wrong – which they often are.

Hats. Make sure to carry a hat to protect yourself from the sun if you’ll be visiting a sunny destination or one to keep you warm when you stop at cold ports.

Sunglasses. How frustrating it would be squinting all day in the hot sun. It’s one of the most important items to carry for eye protection from the sun and you’ll look like you’re on holidays too!

    Electronics to pack for your cruise

    iPad / Tablet / Device.  Most cruises these days have WiFi available. Electronics can be taken onboard a cruise ship and are great for entertainment for kids, for catching up online, on the news or for online reading and entertainment. Always ensure they are labelled and stored securely in your cabin.

    Alarm clock. If you don’t carry your mobile phone, remember to carry an alarm clock as many cruise cabins don’t have them.

    Power strip/board. If you need more than two power outlets for your gadgets, make sure to bring a power strip with you. (Please note that some liners may not allow you to carry power strips, so make sure to confirm with yours before carrying one.)

    Surge Protector. Surge protectors offer some level of protection against power spikes and offer more outages for all your electricals on board.

    USB Charger. A USB charger will ensure your mobile phone and cameras are always charged and available for all your photo taking opportunities.

    Digital books and movies. If you’ll be carrying your E-reader or tablet, make sure to download any media you need before you board the ship as data charges are generally steep at sea.

    Thumb drive. Scan and store digital copies of important documents such as your passport on a thumb drive as back up.

    Walkie talkies. Cell phones will either incur high roaming charges or not have coverage while you’re on a cruise. Walkie talkies offer a good alternative especially for people travelling in a group.

    Chargers and backup batteries. Make sure to carry extra batteries and all the different chargers you need for the different devices you’ve packed. Otherwise, they’ll not be of much use to you once they run out of charge.

    Flashlight. You may need a flashlight so as not to disturb your other guests in the cabin at night or even in an emergency if the need arises.

    Travel Speaker. For your own entertainment and enjoyment a travel speaker is great to play music while relaxing in your cabin.

    Important paperwork to carry on your cruise

    Identification documents. Ask your cruise line about the documents and paperwork you will need for the trip. A passport, for example, might be required if you’ll be making a stop in a foreign country.

    Passports. You will need this for checking in and out of international ports. Without a passport you cannot access the ports you visit.

    Travel insurance. Make sure to purchase travel insurance for your trip to protect yourself from issues such as baggage loss, port changes or mechanical breakdowns.

    Credit Cards. These are a great necessity for financial security and general expenditure without the worry of carrying cash and loose change.

    Medical Insurance Cards. Always Important to carry for any medical emergency that may occur and personal identification.

    Thank You Card. This is always a great idea to carry to thank the hardworking staff who serve you day and night.

    >> Need to buy cruise products online? We've got Ample. <<

    Medical and wellness items to take on a cruise

    Tactical Medical Pouch - $17.99Medication. Make sure to carry any medication that you are currently taking or that you think you might need such as aspirin. A few first aid items such as bandages might also come in handy. Although some of these items might be available on board, they cost much more than they would in your local pharmacy. 

    Sea sickness remedies.  Bring something to help with sea sickness, even if you have never experienced it – you never know when you might need it.

    Antibacterial wipes or gel.  These will help you maintain proper hygiene while on the go.

    Mosquito repellent.  A mosquito repellent gadget or bug spray will come in handy if your ship makes a stop at a place where there’re mosquitoes – generally anywhere tropical.

    Ear plugs.  Sometimes your cabin might be located near a busy walkway, the ships engine room or nightclub – all of which are pretty noisy. Bring some ear plugs to ensure you’re not kept up at night by all the ruckus outside.

    Sunscreen.  As you will most likely be spending a lot of time in the sun, make sure to bring some sunscreen to keep your skin protected.

    Shaving stuff.  You don’t want to look dishevelled on a cruise, always ensure you have a shaver for hygiene purposes both for men and women.

    Other essential items to carry 

    Luggage scale.  Don’t be caught out paying for excess luggage. A compact luggage scale is great for travelling with to know how heavy your luggage is on exit.

    A foldable duffle bag. Carry an extra foldable duffle bag just in case you go a little wild with your souvenir shopping.

    Dry bag or plastic bags. These will help keep your electronics safe when you need to pack them in the same bag as your wet bathing suit or clothes.

    Extra coat hangers. There will be a couple of hangers in your cabin, but this might not be enough especially if you’re taking a longer cruise. Carry a couple of your own – ideally wire hangers as they take up less space.

    Day pack. A tote or small backpack will be quite useful for carrying sunscreen, water bottles, cameras, books and other items as you move around the ship or stop-over port.

    Toiletries and necessities. Your cruise liner will provide you with some basic toiletries such as shampoo and soap at the very least. If you’re picky about these items, make sure to pack your own. The same applies for hair dryers. Most cabins will come with low wattage dryers, bring your own if you’d prefer something more powerful.

    Hanging Toiletry Organizer Cosmetic Bag - $15.99Bathroom door organiser. There’s typically very little storage in a cruise liners bathroom. If you’re going to have any additional toiletries, get a bathroom door organiser to increase your storage and keep everything organised. 

    Storage Organisers. Considering the sizes of many cabins, storage organizers help keep toiletries and personal items in one compact place.

    Packing Cubes. The small ultra lightweight zippered bags are perfect to neatly and compactly store all your travelling needs. They come in different sizes according to your luggage needs.

    Binoculars. Great item to bring for viewing off the deck or viewing islands/places in the distance and other ships or sea life like whales and dolphins out at sea.

    Coffee mug. If you’re a coffee lover (or a lover of any other hot beverage, for that matter), you’ll find a coffee mug pretty useful for ferrying your hot beverage around while keeping it hot.

    Detergent. The majority of cruise liners will offer laundry services, but these are seldom free. Carry your own travel-size detergent for cleaning undergarments and swimsuits if you’d like to save on laundry costs.

    Other items, not so essential

    Soft Drinks (soda). Can be taken aboard Australian cruise ships. You may want to store some drinks for yourself in your cabin or to take off ports in a backpack or when you’re relaxing in your cabin.

    Air freshener. In small cabins an air freshener is always a great idea to freshen small bathroom spaces or cabin spaces.

    Zip-lock bags. Zip-lock bags allow you to carry small items and items that may leak in your bags and compartments. It’s a safe way to make sure deodorants; perfumes, make-up or medications are kept compact and safe.

    Stain Remover. The worst thing is wearing an item of clothing with stains on it. A stain remover will ensure your clothing is kept free from stains.

    Dryer sheets. Keep your clothes from getting lost in shared washers and dryers by using dryer sheets, not to mention having them kept clean, static free and smelling fresh.

    Wrinkle eraser. To get the wrinkles out of your washed and packed clothes, especially formal gear taken onboard a cruise ship, as cabins don’t often supply ironing equipment.

    Clothes pegs/pins. You’ll need pegs for hanging items of clothing and swimming gear to dry out and pins for pinning things with like clothing.

    Wet wipes. You never know when you’ll need a wet wipe. Great for when you have children travelling with you and for any messy situations that occur and you’re nowhere near a bathroom.

    Sticky notes. For busy families coming and going in and out of cabins, sticky notes are a great idea to leave reminders and notify others of where you are or what’s happening.

    Highlighter pen. When you need to jot down information or highlight important notes on your travel info, take a highlighter, because they don’t carry these onboard.

    Pop Up Hamper.  A collapsible travel hamper is compact to pack in your luggage and is great for storing extra items like clothes or even dirty laundry in your cabin and store things in when you’re exiting.

    Extra Packing Tip

    Pack everything you will require on the first day on board the cruise ship in your carry-on bag. Your checked luggage could take as long as six hours to be delivered to your cabin, and having some essentials with you in the meanwhile will spare you some headaches. Additionally, if your luggage is misplaced or gets lost during transit, you’ll have the things you need most as you wait for the issue to be sorted out.

    Of course, none of this matters if you can’t remember it, so make a personal checklist that includes everything you want/need to carry. Lastly, enjoy your cruise and Bon Voyage!

    What items have we missed?  Send suggestions to admin@ampled.com.au and if we add it, you'll get a 10% off voucher!

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    What to pack for a cruise

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    Everything you need for your Campervan or Caravan

    Camping with a campervan or caravan is an extremely pleasant way to relax.  With your self-contained unit, you can drive to any location and enjoy everything the area has to offer from the comfort of your own home on wheels.  Making certain that you have everything that you will need on your trip is a crucial step to a successful adventure.  It never fails that you find yourself in a remote location and there is that “one thing” that you could use or worse, desperately need.  We have compiled a list of all of the items that you should need for any adventure so that you can review the list and glean ideas.

    Before you leave, add emergency contact information into your wallet, let family know how long you will be gone and the area you will be going to.  Bring plenty of cash, traveller’s cheques and a credit card for emergencies.  Check on the weather reports for the destination that you will be travelling to.  Bring your cellular phone and the appropriate charger so that you can keep it ready at all times.  Don’t forget to pack any prescription medications that you are currently taking because if you are going off the grid there is no opportunity to deal with emergencies such as that.

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    The Vehicle

    caravanWhile most campervans have all of the accessories needed, you want to ensure that you have all that you need for most emergency situations.

    Consider adding these or ensuring that the items you do have are in good condition and in decent working order:

    • Spare tire
    • Engine oil
    • Gas can
    • Baling wire (if exhaust parts fall off)
    • Windscreen washer fluid
    • Water
    • Emergency Kit
    • Tire jack
    • GPS device
    • Maps (for those going “off the grid”) and out of range of GPS sats
    • Basic tool set
    • Tire inflation kit
    • Levelling kit for under your campervan
    • Blocks to place around tires to prevent rolling
    • Window coverings
    • Patio lanterns
    • Awning
    • Tarps
    • Patio Lanterns
    • Fold up picnic table
    • Fold up tables

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    Sleeping Arrangements

    sleeping bagSome families have campervans that have room for every member to sleep.  Sometimes there are hot evenings where you would rather sleep outside.  Either way, it is important to have the following:

    • Tent
    • Foam bedding
    • Sleeping bags
    • Pillows
    • Extra blankets
    • Sheets
    • Pillow slips
    • Throw blankets
    • Cozy pyjamas/lounge pants
    • Alarm clock and batteries

     

    Bathroom

    camp outhouse bathroomA bathroom is one of the many great conveniences of a campervan.  This means you are not subjected to those disgusting “pit” toilets that smell horrible or public bathrooms that are never as clean as they should be.  Many campervans have a toilet, show and sink in a small area, but these are super convenient and make for easy access to amenities.  Pack these things:

    • Toilet paper
    • Toilet cleaner
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Dental floss
    • Face cleanser
    • Towels
    • Wash cloths
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Soap
    • Deodorant
    • Hair brush
    • Hair dryer
    • Razors
    • Make up (ladies)
    • Make up remove cloths or solution
    • Ear cleaner swabs (Q tips)
    • Shaving cream
    • Laundry bag
    • Mirror
    • Supplies to clean the bathroom
    • Bathmat
    • Shower cap (when you want a shower but don’t want to wash your hair)

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    Kitchen / Food Preparation

    campfire foodMost kitchens only need the basic items, but longer trips do require more planning.  Create a meal plan and grocery list together as a family or with whomever you will be taking your adventure with and shop to gather all list items.  Some staples can remain inside the campervan at all times but others must be purchased fresh each trip.  Here are the kitchen items you should have on hand:

    • Pots of several sizes
    • Frying pans of a few different sizes
    • Roasting pan
    • Baking pans
    • Kettle
    • Coffee pot (electric or stovetop)
    • Coffee mug
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Coffee
    • Tea
    • Tea pot
    • Tea cozy
    • Tea mug
    • Mustard
    • Sugar
    • Seasoning
    • Spices
    • Utensils
    • Table Cloth
    • Table Cloth Clips
    • Butter dish with cover
    • Mesh food covers
    • Cooking oil
    • Olive oil
    • Soup mix
    • Pasta
    • Knife sharpener
    • Large serving spoons
    • Casserole dishes
    • Cheese grater
    • Salad spinner
    • Strainer
    • Measuring cups and spoons
    • Platters
    • Serving trays
    • Appetizer dishes
    • Skewers
    • Roasting baskets
    • Barbecue brush
    • Barbecue sauce
    • Plates (Large and small as well as paper plates)
    • Bowls
    • Cups
    • Dish detergent
    • Dish cloth and towels
    • Plastic wrap and containers
    • Tin foil
    • Dish soap
    • Drinking water
    • Oven mitts
    • Wine opener
    • Wine glasses
    • Beer mugs
    • Ice chest and ice
    • Lighter and waterproof matches
    • Aluminum Foil
    • Ziploc bags of various sizes
    • Garbage bags
    • Barbecue grill and propane or charcoal
    • Camping stove
    • Rope/string for clothes line

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    Around the Fire

    campfireGathering around the fire is something that man has done since the dawn of time.  A good fire provides heat and it can be used to cook food too if necessary.  When you sit around the fire you need certain things to make the experience a comfortable one.

    • Chairs
    • Roasting forks
    • Fire grill
    • Cooler (doubles as a drink holder and side table) (ice chest)
    • Guitar
    • Lighter fluid
    • Cushions for seats
    • Speaker (if you want to play music from your smartphone)
    • Axe
    • Insect repellent
    • Beer holders
    • Plastic sippy cups for mixed drinks
    • Straws
    • Marshmallows
    • Hatchet
    • Chainsaw (if you are going “off the grid”)
    • Propane fireplace (during times of fire bans)
    • Firewood

     

    Going on an Adventure

    campingCamping is great, but sometimes you want to get out and explore your surrounding areas. This requires certain equipment, so it’s a great idea to have it all on hand.  You don’t want to be left stranded at the campsite when you could be out having an adventure. 

    Many items are optional and are for use on certain types of trips, but we are listing all of the things we can think of:

    • Hiking boots
    • Rain gear
    • Hats
    • Sunscreen
    • Kayak
    • Surfboard
    • Stand up paddleboard
    • Knee board
    • Wet suit
    • Flippers
    • Snorkel and mask
    • Mesh bag for shallow dives
    • Camera
    • Memory cards
    • Laptop
    • Backpack
    • Water bottle
    • Bathing suit
    • Goggles
    • First aid kit
    • Pocket knife
    • Emergency whistle
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Inflatables for the water
    • Beach chairs
     

    Relaxing in General

    relax hamockIt can be difficult to decompress when you want to take a vacation, but when you surround yourself with items that help you to relax, you can easily take on the role of vacationing mom/dad/entrepreneur or whatever it is that you do for a living. 

    We suggest bringing these types of items:

    • Outdoor games such as croquet
    • Books/Magazines
    • Hammock
    • Lanterns
    • Candles
    • Binoculars
    • Radio and batteries

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    Clothing

    clothing-jeans-beltUnfortunately, you cannot simply take a peek into your closet to get something to wear so you must pack appropriate clothing to wear on your trip. 

    Make sure that you bring different options to suit the weather:

    • Warm weather clothing – shorts, t-shirts, sandals
    • Cold weather clothing including a nice warm jacket
    • Undergarments
    • Waterproof pants
    • Lounge style pants
    • Shorts
    • Jackets
    • Sweaters
    • Several types of shoes and boots to suit many types of situations
    • Gloves
    • Shoes/socks

     

    Bringing a Pet

    dog-pet-chihuahuaYour pet is a part of your family so why wouldn’t you take them camping with you?  Make sure that you bring everything that your pet needs to feel at home. 

    Those items can include but are not limited to:

    • Pet Food
    • Treats
    • Blanket and bed
    • Towel
    • Bowls
    • Food
    • Water
    • Toys
    • Plastic bags for excrement (if in public places)
    • Leash and collar and/or harness

     

    Things you can Never Have Enough of

    • Batteries
    • Extra clothes
    • Extra food
    • Blankets
    • Plenty of Fresh Water
    • Fuel
    • Wood for fire

    The best course of action when you plan your trip is to decide where you are going and what the weather will be like.  Plan out your route and then follow it as closely as possible.  When you are organized and have all that you need, you are going to have a great time.  Don’t stress out too much about the time that you will spend travelling between points, the idea is to have fun on the trip.  If you want to spend extra nights at certain points then do it.  This is the best way to enjoy every moment of adventure.  Take plenty of pictures and keep a journal if you like so that you can document memorable moments.  Journals are powerful tools to preserve memories for decades.  You can use them to pass the time and to help with remembering the details of all of the fun times you had on your trip.

    The most well-read travel columns are the ones that include adventures such as camping where everyone can afford to take the trip.  Campervan trips are extremely affordable and very fun too.  These types of trips are also a perfect option for large families that have a hard time finding accommodations together.  The idea of several campervans joining together for a trip is becoming more popular whether it is family or friends or a combination of the two.  Deciding on a destination as a family or as a group can be exciting and fun too.  It is a great way to get closer with those you love and to create memories that you will have for years to come.  You can always have a great time without having to spend thousands of dollars.  Start planning your next trip today and see where the road takes you!

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    Solar Panels - Get Ready For Summer

    As the price of power keeps going up, people are becoming increasingly concerned about their mounting electricity bills. It’s this concern that has seen many homeowners choose to install solar panels to insulate themselves from the upward-moving energy prices. The fact that people are also becoming more environmentally conscious has also helped increase solar energy adoption in many households.

    Lower your summer power bill by using solar energy

    With summer just around the corner, now is the best time to make your solar investment as summertime is the time when most homes spend the most on electricity bills. The higher summer temperatures mean that your air conditioning will be running almost always – something that you will notice on your power bill.

    Solar Panels - Get Ready For SummerStarting the process of installing your solar power system early is advantageous as it gives you the time to go over the installation details and complete the entire process before the sun travels down to this part of the earth for summer. 

    If you’re considering installing a solar power system but feel like you need to learn a little bit more about solar before you take the plunge, then you have come to the right place. In this post, we shall be looking at all the aspects of a solar power installation so that you can have an easier time making the decision.

     

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    How a solar power system works

    Solar panels, also referred to as solar modules, work by converting sunlight into electrical current. To do this, solar panels are fitted with materials that react to produce electricity when they’re exposed to light; this is referred to as the photovoltaic effect. Solar panels are made up of several solar cells (mostly made of silicon) connected together and sandwiched between a backing plate and protective glass. The entire panel is then surrounded by a frame – usually made from aluminium.

    Like other electric devices, solar panels are also rated based on their efficiency. The efficiency of a solar panel is calculated by comparing the output of the panel (in watts) with its surface area. Generally, the more efficient the solar panel is, the more power you’ll be able to get from a given roof space. Panels that are more efficient are also more expensive. Solar Panels - Get Ready For Summer

    The electricity generated by solar panels is direct current (or DC). Since most appliances in homes and offices run on alternating current (or AC), an inverter unit is needed to convert the DC to AC. If your solar system produces more energy than you require, you can either store the extra energy in batteries or feed it to the electricity grid and get paid an agreed on feed-in-tariff by your power supplier. 

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    Components of a Solar photovoltaic (PV) system

    You are going to require more than a couple of solar panels to get a solar power system up and running. There’re a couple of components that make up a solar PV system, these include:

    1. Solar panels. These form the foundation of any solar PV system. Their job is to capture the energy from the sunlight and transform it into electrical energy. The solar panels are the most visible part of the solar power system as they have to be installed outside to receive sun rays.
    2. Solar Array Disconnect. The name may sound fancy, but this device is basically a switch that allows you to cut-off the power coming from your solar array (several solar panels connected together make an array) in case there is a fault in the system, or you need to repair other parts of your solar system. The disconnect switch has to be powerful enough to handle the full power output of your solar array on the brightest of days.
    3. Battery charge controller. This device is necessary if you want to store the power generated by your solar panels for use when there is no sun (i.e. at night or on dull days). A battery charge controller makes sure that the current sent to the batteries is consistent and that your batteries do not get overcharged. It also prevents your batteries from getting discharged back through the system when there isn’t any sunshine.
    4. These are needed to store the power generated by the solar panels during the day for use at night or on days when the solar intensity is not high enough to generate significant amounts of power. You can either use lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion batteries. The latter is a relatively new technology and will, therefore, be slightly more expensive.
    5. DC-to-AC inverter. The energy that will come from your batteries or solar panels will be direct current (DC). To change it to the form that you get from the grid (alternating current or AC), you’ll need a device called an inverter. This will make the energy from the solar panels ready for use by all your household appliances and devices.
    6. Utility power meter. This is an optional device, but it’s important for measuring the amount of power that is being supplied to your home or business by the solar panels. This way you can make improvements to the system for maximum efficiency.

    Wiring and fuse box connections will also be required to connect all the components and to connect the solar system to your home’s or building’s circuitry.

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    Considerations to make when installing a solar system

    There’re several things that you need to consider before you purchase and install a solar power system in your home or business, these are:

    1. Your energy consumption. Before you make any purchases, you will need to evaluate your current rate of energy consumption. This will help you determine the capacity of the system you will need and whether energy storage in batteries will be necessary.
    2. The suitability of your roof for solar installation. Most roofs can have solar panels installed on them. Depending on the nature of your roof, however, you might need to do some additional things to ensure you get the most out of your You should look for the following when evaluating your roof for a solar installation:
      • The orientation of the Because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, north facing roofs will generally get more sunlight than south-facing roofs and are, therefore, better for solar panel installations. East-or-west-facing roofs can also be used for solar, but more panels or higher efficiency panels may be required to produce adequate power.
      • Roof pitch. Solar panels can be installed on roofs that have a pitch between 15 and 40 degrees. For flat roofs, you will need to install the panels using mounts to get the correct angle.
      • Roof size. The size of your roof will determine the kind of system you will install depending on your energy needs. You will need to use high-efficiency panels to get enough energy if your roof is small. But if it’s large, you can use numerous low-efficiency panels that are less expensive to buy.
      • Shading on your roof. Your solar panels will require maximum exposure to sunlight to maximise energy production. Tall trees and buildings that cast shade on your roof may make your system less effective.
      • Your roof’s age. Solar panels are durable and can last for at least 25 years. To avoid having to remove your installed panels to replace your roof, make sure your roof is in good shape and will not require replacing in the near future before you install your solar panels.
      • Roofing material. Although you can install solar panels on most types of roofing materials, some materials such as clay tiles, wood or slate can be quite fragile which means that you’ll need to find an experienced installer to install the panels without damaging your roof.
    1. Local council approvals. Find out if you will need any approvals from your local council before you commence your solar installation. This could save you some headaches later on.

    It’s only after you have considered these things that you can move forward and begin your solar power system installation. 

    Advantages of using solar energy

     

     

    Some of the benefits of using solar power for your home or business include:

      • Reduced energy bills as the free solar power will supplement or eliminate your grid power consumption.
      • Reduced environmental impact as you’ll be using renewable energy.
      • Extra income from the feed-in tariff if you generate enough power to supply the grid.
      • Protection from future rises in energy costs as your solar system will serve you for more than 25 years.

    Solar power is not only good for the environment but good for your budget too. Invest in a solar power system for your home or business this summer and save!

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    Purchasing a Vacuum? What You Should Know

    Whether you want a vacuum for your home or business, it is important to find the right vacuum that is most suitable for the type of cleaning that you need to accomplish. A vacuum that is designed for cleaning a residential home is much different than one that is designed for an industrial or commercial application. Commercial vacuum cleaners tend to be larger and more basic and often have much more power than a regular residential type vacuum.Vacuum Cleaner

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    Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaners

    A wet/dry vacuum features extremely heavy duty suction power. Whether you need to clean up the sawdust in a workshop or contain an overflowing tub, these types of vacuums are designed to tackle the toughest of jobs. The biggest consideration that one should have when looking at wet/dry vacuum cleaners is their cleaning ability.

    The size of a vacuum has a direct effect on the cleaning power it delivers. Larger models tend to deliver the best results, however many homeowners need a smaller model because they have much less storage space and a smaller area to clean.

    Many manufacturers tend to overstate the fluid capacity of a vacuum by up to eight gallons. With a wet/dry vacuum, as the float rises inside of the collection tank it will eventually block further suction by the vacuum.

    Types of Wet/Dry Vacuums

    One of the features of a wet/dry vacuum is that it is generally very basic. Once you consider how much room you have to store the vacuum and have chosen one based on your cleaning needs you will need to decide on the type of vacuum that is most appropriate for what you will use it for.

    • Mini-Sized – are easy to store and extremely light but tend to sacrifice performance and capacity
    • Small – highly portable but also sacrifice capacity and performance
    • Large – powerful and well-suited for tough cleaning jobs. These hold a large amount of debris but tend to be very bulky and heavy, particularly when they are loaded with water.

     

    Noise Factor

    Due to the fact that wet and dry vacuums tend to be extremely loud (up to 85 decibels), it is important to consider wearing hearing protection.

    Important Features to Consider in a Vacuum:

    While these details may seem small, it is important to consider these features when you purchase a vacuum:

    • On-board tools – most vacuums have a utility nozzle to be used for larger debris, a crevice nozzle for small, tight spaces, a dusting brush and a squeegee attachment. One piece versions tend to be more convenient than inserts.
    • Dust bag – these bags tend to prolong the life of the filter cartridge if your vacuum has one. It can also make switching from dry to wet cleaning effortless. Costly “high performance” bags are no more useful than standard bags, so don’t waste your money.
    • Extension attachments – help to reduce the need for reaching or kneeling and/or stooping.
    • Filter – choose a vacuum that takes a pleated filter because it is easier to change and less likely to leak dust. Check to see if replacement filters are readily available before you purchase a particular model.
    • Tool storage – observe where the tools are stored on the model you are considering. Some vacuums have them on the outside while others have a small interior compartment for tool storage.
    • On or off wall – vacuums that roll around take up floor space and can be difficult to move. If you have a vacuum that is affixed to the wall it can eliminate the issue of space but may present different issues in that your movement can be restricted.
    • Hose fittings – many vacuums have two swivel fittings – one located at each end of the hose which helps to prevent the hose from kinking. Some vacuums only have the one swivel attachment at the end that fits the canister.

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    What to Consider When Buying a Vacuum

    The starting point when you are trying to determine the best vacuum for your needs is to think about the type of cleaning you need to do. Do you have wall to wall carpet, area rugs, stairs, hard surfaced floors or tile floors? Upright vacuums with a bag are a great option for rugs and carpets while canister vacuums are easier to use on stairs and hard surfaces. Hand held or stick vacuums are perfect for quick jobs while robotic style vacuums are perfect for getting the job done while you are not even home.

    Are you looking for a vacuum that needs bags or one that is bagless? Both are good options, but the vacuum that needs bags means that there may come a time when you are out of bags and cannot use your vacuum until you purchase more. Bagless vacuums have a receptacle that must be emptied regularly or the hose of the vacuum will become plugged and this can present a whole new set of problems. Regular vacuum maintenance is an important part of ensuring that your vacuum runs properly and does the best cleaning job.

    When it comes to motor strength and filtration, you definitely get what you pay for. If you purchase a stick style vacuum it is not designed to tackle tough jobs like your plush bedroom carpet. Purchase a vacuum that is large enough and powerful enough for the job that you want to use it for. If you are using a vacuum in an industrial or commercial setting where it will be used every day then you want something that is more powerful and easy to clean and will be durable. Lighter and cheaper vacuums are just not designed to withstand constant use.

    Know what your needs are before you start to look at vacuum cleaners. The best way to understand your needs is to take stock of the flooring surfaces that need to be cleaned, the amount of times you will vacuum each week and the level of soil that you need to tackle. Price points will also vary widely, depending upon the size and type of vacuum cleaner that you choose.

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    All About Swag Tents

    Camping is one of the best ways to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban living and get back in touch with nature. It’s a great way to spend time with family and friends without all the distractions that plague us on the daily. For those who love to travel but are limited by their finances, camping gives you a low-cost way of travelling without spending lots of money on accommodation – arguably the most expensive part of travelling.

    But, while a camping trip is meant to be a stress free and relaxing experience, it often gets too difficult and too complicated for a lot of people – more so when it comes to sorting out the “shelter” part of it. There is a lot of stuff to remember to carry, pack in your car, and then set up once at the campsite. There’s one item that can make camping a lot easier, however, and that’s the swag tent.

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    What is a swag tent?

    The swag is, rightly, identified as an Australian invention. In the earlier days when motor transport was the preserve of a few, men who travelled between farms and towns in search of work used to carry a canvas bedroll that contained their few belongings wrapped up inside. These ensembles were referred to as “swags”, and their carriers as “Swagmen”.


    Fast forward a couple of decades, and the swag has modernised to include several more features while still maintaining its traditional function; simple-to-transport-and-setup outdoor accommodation.

    A Swag, by definition, is a “tent-like” shelter used for outdoor sleeping and camping. Swags are sleeping compartments usually made of canvas (although swags made of other materials are also available) that feature water and insect proofing. They provide a comfortable and easy way to sleep outdoors without the frustrations and inconveniences of a regular tent.

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    Types of swags

    Unless you’re looking at a custom made swag tent, there’re generally two kinds of swags; the traditional swag and the dome swag, also known as the tunnel swag.

    • Traditional swag. This type of swag is particularly popular with hikers and bikers as it is less cumbersome to carry and easy to assemble. Here you basically have a mattress sandwiched between two layers of canvas; one side is the base while the other is the cover. It’s a bedroll in essence.
    • Tunnel or Dome swags. This type of swag has a dome or tunnel shape. The shape is held up using ropes and poles which means that dome swags need some installation. Dome swags are generally more comfortable as the setup enables you to have space between you and the upper canvas. These swags offer easy head and/or side access; they’ll keep vermin, snakes and insects out, and are generally well ventilated. The complexity also means that they are slightly bigger and bulkier making them more suitable for campers who are using motor vehicles to get around.

     

    Dome swags, because of their many additional features, are generally more expensive than traditional swags which feature a simpler design and limited features.

    The benefits of using a swag tent

    There are many benefits of using a swag tent for sleeping outdoors. These include:

    1. Fast setup and pack up. Even the most complicated swag tent will be simpler to set up than a regular tent. A swag enables you to set up fast when you want to hit the hay and pack up even faster when you want to hit the road.
    2. You don’t need extra bedding. Swag tents come fitted with a foam mattress that provides you comfort and keeps you off the cold ground. Just roll up a sleeping bag with your swag, and you’re good to go.
    3. It’s warmer than a tent. The heavy canvas of a swag and it’s relatively smaller volume will help you keep warm on cold nights by trapping the heat close to your body. The foam mattress and the heavy PVC or canvas floor will also help to keep you separated from the cold ground during your slumber.
    4. It’s cooler than a tent. When it’s hot and uncomfortable, you can improve the ventilation of your swag by opening the top canvas layer and the ventilation windows to allow free circulation of air. Since swags are fitted with screen meshes where the canvas opens, you will still be protected from annoying insects.
    5. Swags are heavy duty. Swags are generally designed and manufactured to be very heavy duty and will, therefore, be able to withstand years of use and abuse.
    6. You can use it in the back of your truck. If you’ve got a truck, then a swag is exactly what you need. Set up your swag in the back of your truck and you have a raised comfortable shelter to sleep in.

     

    It’s these benefits that have made swag tents so popular with campers in Australia and other parts of the world.

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    Swag tent buying tips

    Like buying any other item, you need a healthy amount of information to ensure that you purchase what you need and don’t make the wrong decision when buying a swag. So here are some tips to help you ensure that you invest in the right swag tent for your needs:

    1. Cheap is bad. As with most things, you also get what you pay for when it comes to swags. When shopping for a swag, look for good value instead of looking for the cheapest offer. Remember, a good swag will last you for many years if you treat it well; so spending a little bit more will pay off.
    2. Choose a swag style that suits your needs. If you’re travelling mostly on foot or cycling, choose a swag style that is less cumbersome to carry around. If you are using a vehicle for your travels, then you can choose swags with more elaborate designs and features.
    3. Swags come in different sizes. Swags generally come in two sizes; single and double. If you’ll be sharing your swag with a loved one, then get a double – keep in mind that you will need to transport the swag when selecting the size.
    4. Check the materials. Look for a swag tent made of thick canvas. Swags that are made of thicker canvas offer better waterproofing and insulation and will generally last longer. Also, make sure the zips are heavy duty as they need to be sturdy enough to take some abuse. The material used for the swag’s floor is also something that you should consider. It can either be PVC (will offer complete waterproofing and durability) or heavy canvas (will offer limited waterproofing and is also durable). A waterproof floor will protect you from the wet ground and outside moisture.
    5. Pick the appropriate mattress size. While thicker is definitely better when it comes to the size of your swag’s mattress, it’s important that you find a compromise between comfort and portability.
    6. Get a swag with a bag. Packing and carrying your swag around can be stressful and tedious if you don’t have a proper place to put it in. Look for a swag that comes with a “swag bag” that you can use to pack your swag in.

     

    The type of shelter you use can determine whether you have a good time camping or a bad experience. Swag tents make camping easier and more comfortable by providing you with a shelter solution that is easy to carry and use, with a great assortment of comfort features.

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