Potential Risks and Rewards

Nintendo announced their new line of DIY Cardboard STEM toys last night: The Nintendo Labo. Its a collection of kits that include pre-punched cardboard sheets and instructions to turn them into peripherals for the Nintendo Switch. Two kits will launch on April 2oth, 2018. The first is a Variety Kit that will include the components to make a piano, a toy house, a fishing pole, a pair of “remote-control cars,” and a set of handlebars for a motorbike. The second is a backpack harness that lets players control a giant, building-smashing robot a-la the Jaegers from Pacific Rim.

The announcement was met with mixed results last night. I’m willing to throw out some of the concerns though. Single adult men don’t really get to complain that a children’s plaything doesn’t appeal to them. Comedy Writer Mike Drucker said it best in this Tweet:

 

Mike Drucker

@MikeDrucker

NINTENDO: Nintendo Labo is for kids and those that like kid stuff!
ADULT GAMER: Okay, but what if I don’t want it?
NINTENDO: Totally fine. It’s for kids.
ADULT GAMER: Yes, but cardboard? Really? Not in my game room!
NINTENDO: It’s for kids.
ADULT GAMER: But how is it for me?

With that said, I don’t think the kits are without risk. I’ve spent the last day thinking about it and have some thoughts about the risks and the potential rewards of purchasing, and playing with, Nintendo Labo Kits.

The Risks

Durability

The Labo kits are made out of cardboard. All signs are pointing to the cardboard being of the thicker variety, but at the end of the day it is still cardboard. This means that these things have the chance of being very, very flimsy. I can imagine a lot of families will buy these things, build them, and have them broken after a few uses by a rambunctious child or pet. Some of the early previews from places like The Verge have said that the kits seem pretty durable, but we really won’t know how much punishment they can take until they are out in the wild.

The Cost

The Variety Kit and the Robot Kit are $70 and $80 respectively. That is a lot of cash. Now, both of those kits come with a cartridge that includes software, but we have no idea what’s going to be on it. $150 for both kits is a TON of cash in today’s economy and I think that will, unfortunately, leave a lot of families out of the fun. Also, these kinds of toys can’t really be shared so the price will never come down like they do on most video games.

The Games

The fact is that we really have no idea how fun any of the mini-games will be. If the cartridges are filled up with a bunch of trash and tech demos a lot of kids will just bounce off of them and create a LONG line of resentful parents. I don’t really see that as a good look for a company that is just starting to build momentum.

The Potential Rewards

The Joy of Creation

What kid DOESN’T like building things? LEGOs and other building kits have never been more popular so this does seem like a natural success. I can absolutely see a bunch of kids getting hyped to build their own game peripherals. A lot of younger kids learned to play Super Mario Kart using the plastic steering wheels that you put Wii-motes in. These kits give them the change to build stuff that is way cooler.

Discovery/STEM Learning

The piano kit works by using the infa-red sensor on one of the Joy-Cons to detect the movement of silver tabs to play music. The remote controlled cars work by using the precise vibrations from the HD rumble in the Joy-Cons to move themselves. That’s just two of the projects in one of the kits. Kids are going to learning some very interesting engineering tricks that are being used by a company that is used to achieving miracles using relatively simple technology. The learning potential is incredible for kids who are interested in taking advantage of it.

Family Time

The instructions for building the Toy-Con kits are all displayed on the Switch tablet. They are manipulated using touchscreen controls. This makes building the different kids ideal fort a two person team. I expect that a lot of parents will be teaming up to build these toys and play with them. That kind of family time is invaluable.


What do you think? What are you concerned about? What are you excited about? Sound off in the comments!

How to Turn Outdoor Christmas Decorations On/Off

 

Here are some problems solvers to keep you warm and dry and inside your house while lighting up the neighborhood.

Digital Timer for Outdoor Christmas Lights

Christmas Decorating Ideas-How to Turn Outdoor Christmas Decorations On and Off-Outdoor Bluetooth Power Center

Set it and forget it—until the Christmas lights twinkle to life exactly when you want them to. You’ll love the multi-tasking capacity of our Outdoor Bluetooth Power Center. You can light up the whole street, and then some, with this 6 grounded outlets. Thanks to hybrid technology, you can control your devices (within an 80-ft. range) from either your smartphone (iPhone or Android) or tablet (use the user-friendly HyBlu app) or the included wireless handheld remote. Use the timer to set a daily, weekly, countdown, or vacation schedule. It’s that simple!

Protect Outdoor Christmas Decoration Electrical Cords from the Elements

Christmas Decorating Ideas-How to Turn Outdoor Christmas Decorations On and Off-Extension Cord Safety Seal

The Extension Cord Safety Seal is a smart little dome that locks cords together to prevent shorting and has rubber ends to protect them from moisture. Once you’re connected your outdoor Christmas decorationsto the extension cords, simply snap the protector around the connection and keep out water and snow.

Protect Multiple Outdoor Christmas Decoration Cords from the Elements

Christmas Decorating Ideas-How to Turn Outdoor Christmas Decorations On and Off-Twist and Seal Cord Dome

If you’ve created a Winter Wonderland in your yard and now you’ve got a lot of cords that need to be joined, here’s a way you can use a power strip outdoors! The Twist and Seal Cord Dome™ takes the place of hazardous wrapped tape or plastic. This dome-shaped cord protector has room for a whole power strip, so once you put it in and screw on the lid, the cords are protected from the elements. There’s even a removable ground stake to get the whole cord protector up off the ground and closer in your reach.


Turn On Your Outdoor Lights from Inside Your House!

Whipping Our Foursquare Home’s Exterior Back Into Shape

Though it’s been a little quiet on the blog lately, we’ve been very hard at work on several ongoing house projects.

The most major of our projects has been our focus on the overall exterior appearance of our Foursquare. As a realtor, I’m keenly aware of curb appeal, and how small differences on the exterior of your home can truly set the tone for how you feel on the interior of your home. But as an owner of a house with wood siding, a large yard, and a lot of plantings around the house, I know what an overwhelming endeavor it can be to stay on top of those items that impact the curb appeal of your home.

In our case, I’m not so concerned about what people driving or walking by our home think. Instead I’m more concerned with how the curb appeal makes me feel, or how it makes our visitors approaching the house feel. I want our home’s exterior to set a tone of relaxation for all of our visitors, and it’s hard to feel relaxed when you approach a yard of long unkempt grass, flower beds full of weeds, and significant sections of cracked or peeling paint on the house. After all, it’s our goal to have more relaxing evenings like this.

This summer we’ve decided to approach the curb appeal and exterior maintenance of our home in three distinct phases.

  1. Flower/planting bed beautification
  2. Addressing exterior paint issues
  3. Overall porch projects and paint

We’re going to put off repairing/rebuilding/repainting our picket fence and some bigger yard projects until next summer, but this list of three items should keep us busy outside for most of the summer. So we kicked things off a few weeks ago with the garden beautification piece of our curb appeal project.

You can see some of the paint/siding issues on the house in the photo above, but we were more focused on the flower beds. We planted a good number of ferns and other items last year, and they were doing well, but we had several bare spots we wanted to fill in. If you saw that we installed a drip irrigation system last year, you can also see it exposed in the photo. The black tubing has bothered me since we installed it, but we installed it all after mulching, so we never went ahead and buried it all last year. That’s another item on our list that we’d like to take care of.

We have a few friends in Alexandria that have an absolutely lovely garden. After they visited us last year they told us we should stop by to split some of the plants they have when it came time to plant this season. So we took them up on the offer.

After a very nice tour of their gardens, we ended up walking way with several bags of plants destined for our garden. In total, we had ourselves a new rose bush, obedients, cone flowers, daisies, and sedum.

We took all of the plants to the house and placed them in the locations that would soon be their new homes. Throughout the garden we have about nine different areas where we can plant. I planned it all out based on likely cover, color and height of the plants, and where I felt our existing plantings were just a little thin.

That same weekend, my parents and brother had planned to visit. While I’m sure they wanted to relax a little, they also offered to help us get the garden in order for the season. I can’t tell you how wonderfully welcome it is to have a helping hand when it comes to weeding, mulching, and general garden prep.

While my parents and I worked to rid our beds of as much dead, overgrown, and unwelcome inhabitants from our flower beds, my brother and Alex hit up Lowe’s for all of the mulch and dirt we’d need.

Alex and my brother brought back 30 bags of mulch and three bags of dirt. It’s amazing just how much mulch you need for this garden, which takes up a relatively small part of the yard.

We took a methodical approach to the whole project. First my parents trimmed or cut back the plants and boxwoods. Then my mom and I worked our way through the beds to remove weeds, and I worked with my dad to plant the new plants and flowers in theirs places around the garden. Alex then followed burying the drip irrigation line and running anything new to supply water to the new plants. Finally, my dad, mom, Alex, and I all worked around the whole yard spreading the bags of mulch. (My brother during this time was on the water side trimming our massive hedge.) The whole thing took two days, but when we were done we had the garden looking better than it’s looked since we bought the house in 2014.

I varied the colors of plants from bed to bed to keep it interesting, and with the larger bushes now nicely trimmed back it gave some of the smaller plants a little more room. While the wood borders may not be perfect, they work well with the garden in its current state, and give us a well defined area in each section for plantings.

I’m very hopeful that the drip irrigation system will do wonders to keep everything well fed throughout the summer. And now that the line is fully buried, mid-day waterings won’t end up supplying swelteringly hot water onto our plantings.

One area that I’m particularly excited about is the front of the house. It’s actually the “back” given the orientation of the front towards the water, but this is the view that visitors see when they pull up. The large white metal box houses the geothermal ground loop at the entrance to the house. We planted our new rose bush to the right of the box, and the rose bush from last year is on the left. It’s my hope that these climbing rose bushes will flourish and eventually will camouflage this unsightly feature.

This section of the house is also where our drip irrigation system hose bib sits. It’s in direct sun for the second half of the day and that abuses the hose timers. The first hose timer, which we installed last summer, was solar powered but the solar cell went bad after the first month, leaving our plants without water for a week (and they died). The second hose timer we installed had an LCD panel on it, which ended up going bad. We couldn’t read what it said and we weren’t able to change the program after that. So this summer Alex decided to go the wifi route. He picked up this Melnor Rain Cloud wifi enabled hose time.

It has 4 outlet zones, was extremely easy to setup, has advanced scheduling options, and even has a component that allows the system to monitor soil dampness, only watering when the plants actually need water. Best of all (for Alex’s peace of mind), he can check on the watering status from his phone.

This is one of the parts of the house he wanted to be able to monitor remotely, and now he can.

Right now we’re only using one outlet, so we will just cap off the other three. But we plan to expand this in the future if we ever plant a fruit, veggie, and flower garden in the front yard. Each zone has an independent schedule capability, which is great for something like a vegetable garden that has far different needs for water than a flower bed garden.

All told, we had a pretty solid weekend of work and effort to get this garden looking good. But when we were done we could really see that we made a ton of progress.

It’s amazing how great a few dozen bags of mulch can make a garden look. We used the mulch with weed stop in it this year in the hopes that it might keep some of the weeds we normal get at bay. We’ll see if it actually works, but I’d love to pull fewer weeds this year.

With the garden in shape our attention turned to the next more piece of our curb appeal efforts, taking care of the siding and paint issues that have plagued our house since day one. But that’s another story for another blog post. I can tell you one thing for sure, when this is your scientific method for figuring out the right paint colors, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

Do you have any curb appeal dreams for your home this year? Is your garden the place you go to relax and enjoy, or is it a daunting part of your home that you dread the upkeep on each year? I have a love/tolerate relationship with my garden, and I welcome all advice on how to make it more of a love/enjoy relationship.

A Line of DIY Cardboard STEM Toys

Every time I think Nintendo is going to act predictably I end up looking foolish. They announced this morning that they would be posting a new video tonight that would demonstrate a new “interactive experience” that was “specially crafted” for kids. I assumed that they were just talking about a game. I like to give myself partial credit, so I’ll give myself 1/10th of a point.

Nintendo showed a new video announcing Labo. This is a bizarre line of DIY cardboard kits that let kids (or adults) build attachments for their Joy-Cons and play various mini-games. On a high level, Labo works by providing a set of pre-cut cardboard sheets that you punch out, fold, and connect in order to build different attachments called Toy-Cons (ADORABLE name btw). Once the Toy-Cons are built you can use them to play a set of mini-games either on the Switch Tablet or using the Switch tablet as a controller. There will be two Toy-Con sets at launch on April 20th, 2018, but I am certain that more will be launched over the course of the year.

Labo is a STEM toy at its core and represents a huge shift for Nintendo. When the Switch launched last year Nintendo focused on games that appeal to the standard gaming audience. They did a great job releasing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey in one year. But, they definitely played it safe. Labo is different. This brings Nintendo back to where they were with the Wii. They are releasing a product whose core attraction isn’t a traditional game. Instead, Labo focuses on three core experiences.

Make

The experience of punching the cardboard sheets and following on-screen instructions on the Nintendo Switch tablet evokes the same feeling as building a complex LEGO set. Reports from around the web on places like The Verge are telling us that some of the sets can be completed in as little as 15 minutes, but will be best when done by a parent and child working together. This kind of social experience is something that was missing during Link’s solitary adventure last year.

I never would have expected Nintendo to try and capitalize on the growing maker movement among families and in educational circles now, but this is a great way to do it. Our kids are already excited about it and they’ve only seen a 2 minute long promo video.

Play

It wouldn’t really be a Nintendo product if it didn’t include a game. Each of the Toy-Con sets includes a cartridge full of mini-games and other software that will help kids play with their newly built creations. We don’t know many details yet, but I am super hungry to play the robot game if for nothing else because that robot can transform into a car!

Discover

Once kids have built their Toy-Con Accessories, and played their mini-games, they can then use the Discover mode to get information about how the Toy-Cons work. For example, the piano works by using the Joy-Con’s camera. When you plug the Joy-Con into the back of the box it can see the cardboard pieces moving when you press the keys. The software translates that movement into song! This learning component is something that is a perfect fit, too. The market has been flooded in recent years by toys and games that let kids figure out their inner workings, but none of them have the polish of a Nintendo game. This has the chance to be something special.

I will admit that I am very excited to see the Piano included in this set. It reminds me of when Nintendo packaged the music maker alongside the Mario Paint game for SNES. This Piano is going to see a LOT of use. I can’t want to see the cool YouTube videos that kids will create with it.

The Nintendo Labo Announcement Video

The Toy-Con Sets

Toy-Con 01 Variety Kit (MSRP $69.99) includes:

Nintendo Labo Variety Kit box

  • 2 RC Cars
  • 1 Fishing Rod
  • 1 House
  • 1 Motorbike
  • 1 Piano
  • The game cartridge

Toy-Con 02 Robot Kit (MSRP $79.99) includes:

  • The (awesome) robot kit
  • The game cartridge

Toy-Con Customization (MSRP $9.99) set includes:

  • 2 stencil sheets
  • 2 sticker sheets
  • 2 colored tape rolls

Nintendo Labo will be launching on April 20th, 2018 and we can’t be more excited for it. Is this something that your family will be picking up? Sound off in the comments!

The 20-Point Job Search Game Plan

Autumn is football season and as I listen to the TV analysts handicapping each game two words are ubiquitous in their conversation when they discuss what it takes for each of the two teams to win. These words are ‘Game Plan’.

In football, more than in any other sport, regardless of the disparity of talent, a game can be won or lost based on a coaching staff’s game plan designed around their teams’ strengths and the perceived weaknesses of the opposition, with the deciding factor lying in the execution and the coach’s ability to assess and adapt midstream as needed.

This is also true about conducting a job search; however we substitute the phrase Job Search Action Plan for Job Search Game Plan.

For a successful job search you need to define your goals, create a step-by-step Action Plan with defined benchmark and results, and you must commit yourself to execute and adapt the Action Plan to the best of your ability. For executives and professionals at a senior level it is helpful to have coaches and advisors help you throughout the job search process.

Here are 20 basic steps I recommend incorporating into a job search game plan.

1: Define the job/s you’re seeking and the Hire Profile of the ideal candidate employers are seeking to interview and hire.

2: Define, qualify and quantify your qualifications, strengths and weakness based upon the Hire Profile.

3: Identify your relevant achievements and accomplishments based upon the Hire Profile.

4: Investigate how employers for these positions recruit and prefer to receive and process resumes and referrals.

5: Craft a resume(s) with a unique personal brand in the favored style and format based on points 1-4.

6: If you have a DIY resume and LinkedIn profile have it critiqued before (not after) you begin to use it.

7; Prepare all addendum documents you will need for your document portfolio.

8: Craft a generic cover letter that is also adaptable for specific positions.

9: Create a LinkedIn profile with a unique personal brand based on factors 1-4 listed above.

10: Identify existing LinkedIn connections and other people you know who you can reach out to for networking.

11: Set a reconnect and follow up plan for all the existing people you want to network with.

12: Set a goal of acquiring 5-25 new connections each week and define how you will approach them.

13: Identify people who will recommend and endorse you on LinkedIn and how to approach them.

14: Vet your references or have them vetted for you by a trustworthy 3rd party.

15: Identify interview questions you are likely to be asked and prepare brief on point responses.

16: Have people conduct mock Interviews with you as part of the prep process.

17: Research potential employers and how you can get on their radar screens.

18: Make a list of company websites you will check constantly for new postings.

19: Create an Action Plan tracking booklet.

20: Keep focused on working the Action Plan a minimum of 25 to 40 hours each and every week.

These are some of the essentials of a successful Job Search Game Plan, and as in football the desired results are dependent on commitment and the quality of the execution.

As always I am happy to critique resumes and LinkedIn pages and they can be sent to perry@perrynewman.com.

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How to Improve Communication Skills at Work

Communication is without the doubt one of the most important business skills, no matter what industry you are in.

As a Sr. Recruiter and Interview Coach, I have seen many candidates, often strong technically, fail interviews as their communication skills weren’t strong enough.

Most of us process huge numbers of messages every day. However, effective communication is also about understanding the emotion behind the information. Effective communication can improve relationships by deepening your connections to others and it enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.

Here are some tips to improve your communication skills at work:

Most of us are terrible listeners. Instead of truly listening to what the person is saying, we interrupt, think of our response, or think we already know what the speaker is going to say next. To become a better listener, practice fully focusing on the other person. If you are checking text messages or doodling, you’re almost certain to miss nonverbal cues in the conversation.

Avoid interrupting and seeming judgmental. In order to communicate effectively with someone, you don’t have to like them or agree with their ideas or opinions. However, you do need to set aside your judgment and withhold blame and criticism in order to fully understand a person. The most difficult communication, when successfully executed, can lead to the most unlikely and profound connection with someone.

Lastly, show your interest in what’s being said. Nod occasionally, smile at the person, and make sure your posture is open and inviting.

Pay attention to non-verbal communication.

Body language can tell you just as much as what a person says, if not more. The way you look, listen, move, and react to another person tells them more about how you’re feeling than words alone ever can.

You can enhance effective communication by using open body language—arms uncrossed, standing with an open stance or sitting on the edge of your seat, and maintaining eye contact with the person you’re talking to.

Find out preferred way of communicating.

Everyone has a different communication preference.  I love email, but others would rather pick up the phone and talk, text, or even use social media or instant messaging to relay something. Respect the person you’re trying to contact and use the method they seem to prefer. If you’ve called someone several times and always get their voicemail, but the person is always quick to respond to email, switch to email instead.

Consider your tone.

The problem with email and social media is that it can be difficult to determine the tone. It is easy to come across as angry or pushy, so avoid using many exclamation marks in your emails and if you’re angry or upset, take a few minutes to cool down before responding. If possible, meet in person, so nothing is misconstrued.

Check your grammar.

Always proofread anything you type. If you’re not great at catching errors, use Spell Check or ask someone to proofread your emails/letters.

Rephrase what you hear.

Restating what your co-worker or boss says to you by repeating the important points shows you are listening and understand what you were told. It gives both parties a chance to clarify if there is any confusion.

And finally, never stop improving. Effective communication is a skill you must practice. Observe how others respond to your communication to clue you in on areas for improvement.

Fixing a Broken Cabinet Door – #NiceLittleSaturday

Hope you all had a nice weekend. Today we’re going to be trying something new on the blog.

Over the last several weeks I’ve been trying to knock out little projects here and there as time permits. These are small items I’ve been putting off for a while, things I can take care of in a relatively short amount of time, and things that are a little more routine. Rather than type up a giant blog post, I’ve started sharing some of these smaller projects on our Instagram Stories.

Since Instagram Stories fade away into oblivion after 24 hours, we figured we can share the video here as a quick blog post for anyone that didn’t see it on Instagram. We’re calling these #NiceLittleSaturday projects, since we should be able to knock most out in a day.

This first #NiceLittleSaturday project is a quick fix of a broken cabinet door that belongs to a good friend of ours. A dog she was watching got his collar stuck on the knob and broke the door right off. I figured it could be fixed really easily, and #NiceLittleSaturday was born.

And there you have it, that’s our #NiceLittleSaturday post for this week. I’d say it was a success, and now our friend will once again have a working door on her cabinet.

These #NiceLittleSaturday posts are certainly a work in progress, so we’ll tighten up the videos a bit and shorten them in the future, maybe even shoot them not in portrait mode (this is because of IG Stories). Does this seem like something you’d like to see more of?

If you’re wondering where #NiceLittleSaturday comes from, it’s an ode to Will Ferrell’s character, Frank “The Tank” in Old School. He was asked what his plans were and he responded with his classic line, “Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.”

Did you knock anything out over the weekend you’re particularly happy with? Or maybe you checked a nagging project off of your list? Let us know what you were up to, we’d love to hear.

Kicking Up Our Curb Appeal with a Front Porch Makeover

Curb appeal comes in many shapes and sizes.

Back when we first laid eyes our home in 2014 it already had that classic waterfront farm house feel we immediately fell in love with. From a distance it was lovely, but upon closer inspection, the exterior paint on the wood siding was a little worn and tired, the roof more green than we would have chosen, and the porch floor color and lighting choices were very different than what we wanted for the house.

This summer we’ve been focusing on improving the curb appeal/making updates more to our taste for our home through a three step approach.

  1. Improving the existing garden/beds around the house
  2. Addressing exterior paint issues
  3. Overall porch projects and paint

After working through the first two major steps, our home is really starting to look great. The fresh paint is clean and crisp, the new roof color on our metal roof is much darker gray and less green, and the garden has really been coming into its own this summer.

With the first two steps complete, we turned our attention to our home’s front porch. More specifically, we wanted to finish up some work that we started shortly after we bought the house, and make our front porch a welcoming sight for visitors.

When we started work the front door was home to two oversized brass light fixtures that were installed in the early 1990s. They were badly weathered from the salt air, were far too large for their location, and just didn’t go with our general design aesthetic.

As a result, the brass fixtures were retired in favor of two more traditional farmhouse lights for either side of our door.

With the lighting starting to look the part, I wanted to add some casual seating to set the tone for the porch. I started looking for a nice set of chairs that would look at home in this location and I happened upon the perfect pair when our neighbors offered us a pair of vintage chairs they’d found that weren’t going to work for their yard. They needed some clean up, so to seal in the wonderful patina an afternoon of work to sand off the rust and grime and apply a coat of sealer made them ready for their new home outside.

The stairs leading up to the porch, as well as the porch floor, had also see better days. Peeling paint, splintered treads, rotten railings and floor boards, and missing sections of stairs required some pretty extensive fixes to make everything sound again. We repaired, removed, sealed, and corrected several issues before we could give it a fresh coat of paint. As usual, Lulu was largely bored by this whole process.

As we mentioned in our prior post about our paint color selection for the exterior of the house, we made a major misstep with our initial porch flooring color selection. The first color we chose, Sherwin Williams Chatroom, was just too gray green for the floor. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful to get a coat of paint on this floor that I’ve disliked since day one, but the color was just a little bit off.

After licking my wounds from our incorrect color choice, I swallowed my pride, bought a gallon of Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray, and began correcting our mistake.

The new color was much more what we were hoping for. It’s a true gray and one that will make the porch a much more calming space.

This color gray is far more in keeping with the general style of “casual waterfront farmhouse” that I’m going for with our new color palette.

With the porch repair and floor paint complete, it was time to start accessorizing this wonderful space. To add some color and life to the porch I wanted to add two potted plants to either side of the front door. On a trip to HomeGoods I found two large ceramic planters that I really liked.

Keeping with the accessories finds theme, I also found a great deal on a couple clearance lanterns at Target.

No porch makeover is complete without a welcome mat. As luck would have it, this Target doormat was not only on sale, but it also truly embodies the sentiment I’d like to embrace for all visitors to our home.

A subsequent trip to HomeGoods turned up these adorable outdoor pillows (and a new boat print that will find a home somewhere inside). I loved the pattern as well as the tie in of the green and aqua.

With my accessories purchased, I excitedly started on the “fun” part of the front porch makeover. My excitement quickly waned when I realized the scale of the pillows was WAY off for the size of the chairs. It looks like the pillows tried to eat the chairs as if they were giant anacondas going after their next meal, and given my intense fear/dislike of snakes, anything that makes me think of these creatures is a no-go in my book. So back to HomeGoods they went.

With my disappointment aside, I kept moving forward though, planting two new sedums in moisture max soil. My hope is that the right soil will help bridge the gap between waterings when we’re at the house, but time will tell. I set them on either side of the door along with the chairs, mat, and lanterns. The gardening boots and four legged sidekick sure do look cute in the photos, but were also there to assist me in my efforts.

I grabbed a throw pillow from inside to get a better idea of the size pillow I’ll need for the chairs, and think a small lumbar pillow will work much better than the 22″x22″ pillows I tried on the first attempt.

It’s amazing how a few accessories can transform a space. I didn’t realize how much warmer and inviting the porch would feel, especially with the addition of the plants.

I was also thinking ahead when it came to the lanterns. While I plan on moving them inside when not in use (to keep them clean, dry, and bug free), I also know how hot this porch gets in the afternoon sun. I didn’t want wax candles to melt, so I purchased plastic LED flickering “candles” which will achieve the same look, be better suited to the hot temperatures, and will be safer to have than a lit candle on a staircase.

The final item we have yet to install is this new door knocker.

We’ll have to be a bit creative in hanging it as we don’t want to drill more holes in the metal door, but Alex is working through a few solutions to that challenge.

While the look is on the simple side, that was intentional. I tried to be restrained as we didn’t want the porch to look cluttered, and fewer items means fewer items to clean and maintain!

Overall, I had a great time making over this small space. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of a larger scale renovation, and these are the types of projects that keep me energized and excited about what’s to come!

Google gives users more control over the ads they see

You know how you search for an item online and then for weeks, that particular item follows you around the internet, popping up in ads on nearly every website you visit? Those are reminder ads and Google says advertisers usually set them to show up for about a month from when you visited their websites. But now, Google is letting you mute those ads. You just have to head over to Ad Settings when signed into your Google Account, go to the “Your reminder ads” section and hit the “X” next to any ads you don’t want to see anymore. It’s a temporary solution — the muting only lasts 90 days — but since that’s substantially longer than most reminder ads stick around for, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t see them again.

In 2012, Google began allowing users to block certain ads they didn’t like. It’s now expanding that feature and it will start to become available on more apps and websites that partner with Google for advertising. And now, it will also work across devices. So if you mute an ad on your phone, it will also be muted on your laptop.

Google isn’t the only company changing how users experience ads. Last year, Apple announced that High Sierra’s Safari would stop advertisers from tracking users as they visit different sites, which also got around the reminder ad problem. And Google has said that this year, new versions of Chrome will automatically block annoying ads like pop-ups, autoplaying ads, countdowns and large ads. Chrome 64 is also expected to have an option for users to mute websites that have autoplay videos.

Google’s new ad tools are rolling out today but keep in mind, they only work on ads delivered by Google.

Lovely Light Grey Living Room Ideas

Rooms Edit: Light Grey Living Room Ideas. Go grey gracefully with these lovely Scandinavian style pieces. I’ve picked out a chaise sofa, oak frame chair, fifties shaped footstool, patterned throw, sheepskin rug and more. See my Light Grey Living Ideas to give your space a design nudge in the right direction.

lovely light grey living room ideas mood board

Rooms Edit

Amy Chaise Sofa: Chic and contemporary sofa in light grey upholstery with beech wood legs, £2155.30 sale price from Darlings of Chelsea.

Ruben Oak Frame Chair: Mid-century modern shaped armchair with comfy cushions in House Weave Marble fabric, £335 from Arlo & Jacob.

Wool Mix Footstool: Stockholm style light grey upholstered footstool with fabulous fifties curves, £250 from Habitat (product code: 22762).

Klippan Quilt Wool Throw: Classic patterned grey and white throw created using soft 100% lamb’s wool with fringed ends, £61 from Scandinavian Design Center UK (product code: 25093-01).

Light Grey and Oak Ukan Media Unit: Attractive and practical one drawer, two compartment media unit with black metal hair pin legs, £149 from Made.com UK (product code: AVUUKA001GRY-UK).

Sheepskin and Wool Rug: Eco friendly grey dyed rug which is perfect for warming up your living room floor, £96.99 from Skinnwille at Wayfair (product code: SKWI1037).

Mongolian Fur Cushion: Super soft shaggy cushion with faux suede back, £49 from Barker and Stonehouse (product code: IKAT0002ST42).

Grey and White Basket Trio: Three handy storage woven baskets with carry handles, £59 from Barker and Stonehouse (product code: GEYR0406ST56).

HemingwayDesign Royal Doulton Rose Vase: Single stem porcelain vase with mid-century modern flavour design, £35 from John Lewis (product code: 73584506).

Buy Lovely Light Grey Living Room Ideas Products

You can buy the light grey products mentioned in this feature from the following online retailers.

Darlings of Chelsea Link: Darlings of Chelsea
Arlo & Jacob Link: Arlo & Jacob
Habitat Link: Habitat
Scandinavian Design Center UK Link: Scandinavian Design Center UK
Made.com UK Link: Made.com UK
Wayfair Link: Wayfair
Barker and Stonehouse Link: Barker and Stonehouse
John Lewis Link: John Lewis

Lovely Light Grey Living Room Ideas Post Credits

Author: Homegirl London. Thanks: No one assisted with this feature. Prices correct at time of publishing. Product codes noted where provided. Photographs: Darlings of Chelsea, Arlo & Jacob, Habitat, Scandinavian Design Center UK, Made.com UK, Wayfair, Barker and Stonehouse and John Lewis. Disclosure: This feature includes the following affiliate partners – Darlings of Chelsea, Arlo & Jacob, Habitat, Scandinavian Design Center UK, Made.com UK, Wayfair, Barker and Stonehouse and John Lewis (if you click through from my website and purchase items from the affiliates I will earn a small commission).

Lovely Light Grey Living Room Ideas