Tag Archives: home

DIY Wall Hangings

My wife and I were decorating our new apartment this month and we wanted a large picture as a focus point on the living room wall. I wasn’t too keen on getting one of those generic photos from IKEA or Banta so we decided to use one of my own photos.

I had two options, either get a framed canvas print or get it printed on foam-core and then make the frame myself. I’m always on the lookout for DIY projects so the latter sounded more interesting to me. I found this neat tutorial online on how to make one of these large sized pictures and mount it on a wooden frame. If you’re interested in doing something similar I’ve listed the steps on how to go about it;

1. Choose an original file. You can use a photograph you’ve taken yourself or any other source but its important that you use the original file in maximum resolution and at least 300 dpi, this will reduce the amount of pixelation in the final print. I was blowing up a picture (taken on my 5 year old Nikon D60) to 90×60 cms and and I was happy to see that there wasn’t much degradation in quality.

2. Once you’ve got the file for printing you can select between Canvas prints or Foam-core backed prints. I was already getting some prints from Artech so I preferred to let them do all the print work since I’ve dealt with them before.

frame 01

3. According to the tutorial in the link you can use wood strips to give the foam-core extra strength and rigidity. I didn’t want my frame to protrude too much from the wall so I went with a thinner wooden frame. I bought all the supplies from ACE Hardware; wood rafters/strips, sandpaper and caulk.

frame 02

4. Measure, cut and sand the wood frame to the size of your foam-core. I know a V-joint looks prettier than a simple butt-joint but it would not be visible anyway so I chose the latter method. Apply a layer of caulk to the strips and press them into place on the frame. They should set in about 30 minutes. Once the frame had bonded with the foam, I applied double-sided tape to 8 points on the frame and fixed it to the wall. I didn’t use nails or screws since the entire thing is very lightweight and I didn’t want to mess up the wall with more holes than necessary.

Including materials, this picture cost me less than 8 KD so this I guess this is a fun and cheap way to decorate your home with your very own artwork.

home

Setting up a Home Surveillance Camera – Dlink DCS 930L

My wife and I needed a way a monitor our babies while we’re at work and to keep an eye on our home when we’re out of the country so we looked for an easy and reasonably priced home surveillance solution. After some hunting on the internet I came across this model from Dlink that fit our requirements perfectly.

A few friends have asked us for more detail on how to set it up so I’ll try to make things as clear and simple as possible in this post.

What do you need?
1. A stable internet connection with decent upload speed.
2. A router that supports (or has configurable settings) Port Forwarding
3. A network camera

How do you set it up?
1. First of all, follow the instructions for your specific brand of camera to set it up on your home network
2. From the router assign the camera a static IP address (like 192.168.1.99)
3. Check from a PC on your home network to see if you can access the homepage of your camera
4. Go to Port Forwarding settings on your router and create a rule to forward incoming connections to your cameras port (use a port like 8088) and save the rule
5. Now find out the IP given to your router by the ISP. Hit www.whatismyip.com to find out
6. Now you can test if you can access your camera from an external network. Enter [http://(your home IP address):8088] and you’ll see the homepage of your camera
Note: You most probably won’t have a static IP assigned to you by the ISP so if you restart your router you’ll have to recheck your IP address.
7. If you can buy a Dynamic DNS service you can set a permanent URL for your camera and access it just by entering it in your browser. That way you won’t have to check your IP every time the router is restarted.

Dlink DCS 930L

Whats in the box: DCS 930L Camera and stand, Power adapter, Installation CD, Instruction booklet, Network cable

Setup: Installation was very simple and you have the option of either hooking it up to your router for the initial setup or using the WPS feature (you router must also have this feature) Once you’ve set it up using the installation software you can unplug it from the router and then install the camera on the wall or on a shelf in the room that you want to monitor. The camera will connect automatically to your home WiFi network once you’ve moved it to its new position and connected the power.

My Dlink App: The application that comes with the camera allows you to control multiple cameras around your house and also setup motion detection or ask the camera to send you an email alert when there’s a sound or movement inside the field of view of the camera. Using the application you can register your camera on the Dlink cloud and then log into your camera when you’re away from home.

Mobile App: The Dlink application is available for iOS and Android and it too allows you to access multiple cameras from your mobile and also take screenshots from the video feed.

Performance: This is not some High Definition video recorder but for keeping an eye on your home this is more than adequate. We have a 3 MBPS DSL connection but uploads are usually around 500 Kbps so there’s a slight lag in the video feed but its still usable. The microphone is rather sensitive and we can clearly hear our children talking from the corridor or even the inner rooms. Since the mic is sensitive it also has a rather annoying hiss when the room is very quiet.

Where can you buy it from?: When I was planning on buying this camera back in June there was a one day offer from Sheeel for 19 KD, which I missed but later on found it on Mr. Babu for the same price. I got my order from Mr. Babu in less than a week.

Making The Perfect Burger

The works

Recently I watched Heston Blumenthal’s “In search of perfection” series for like the millionth time and was eager to try out making the perfect burger on my own. I used to think that a perfect burger would require exotic cuts of meat like Black Angus or Wagyu but since it all boils down to the freshness and quality of the meat I tried it with fresh Indian beef (chilled, not frozen).

The new City Center in Dajeej has a really good meat section and the guy there will adjust the meat:fat ratio based on your requirements. The pre-ground trays were all extra-lean with 95:5 so I asked him to portion out a piece of lean rump (I think it was rump or shoulder) and add approximately 20% fat. Fat, as I understand is what gives the patty a juicy and soft texture. Meat that is too lean will end up in a patty that’s too dry and tasteless.

As much as I love cooking, the thought of writing all these notes is a pain in the neck. Now without going into too much boring detail into the making of the patties, I’ll list some of the things I learned in the process. Click to read more for pictures and video;

Continue reading

massager

Hyundai car massager – review

I bought three of these massagers last week via Sheeel.com for KD 10.9 and I’ve been using it for the past couple of days in my car. Out of the three one of them had an issue with the power adapter and I’ve contacted Sheeel for a replacement and I’ll be receiving one from the dealer in Salmiya soon.  So my review will be based on my user experience in the car and not at home since I can only use the car power adapter for now.

Whats in the box:
1 Seat Massager
1 Car power adapter
1 Domestic power adapter

Installation:
Its just a matter of sliding it over the top of your car seat and using the elastic bands on the sides to keep it positioned properly in your seat.  As you can see from the photo is fits perfectly in my car seat and my dad has his massager installed on his chair at home so its fits almost anywhere.  Based on where you’re going to use it, plug in the car/domestic power supply and you’re good to go.

Features:
First off I’d like to point out that this is not really a massager but rather a kind of vibrator er.. vibrating device. It does give you a strong buzz and you can feel it all over the areas mentioned on the remote control.
. Massage points for neck, back, loin and hips (all indicated by LEDs)
. Variable speeds
. Selectable massage modes (it just cycles through a series of sequences switching rapidly between the massage points)
. Heating option

User experience:
Well its not as fantastic as I thought it would be but then I was expecting an experience similar to the  Shiatsu massage seats found in the Hyundai Genesis or Benz S Class. Yeah high hopes for a device costing  10 KD but I guess its ok for the price you pay. As I mentioned before its not really a massager but it  does give you a strong buzz all over your back   and rear end. I was stuck in traffic during the weekend and  I didn’t really mind sitting there for a few minutes since I was enjoying my music on full blast and  getting a soothing buzz for my weary back.

I cycled through all the modes and speeds and although there aren’t any dramatic diference between modes you do appreciate the variation on the speeds and sequences of massage points. Since I’m writing a review I figured I might as well use the heater option. Now thats one feature that hard to find fault with,  it heats up in a couple of minutes and you can feel this strong heat hitting you right in the lower back.  I think people with back pain might find this feature useful but I won’t be using that option again soon.

One more thing I’d like to mention is that while using it you constantly feel like you’re driving on a rough road.  It might be confusing at first but then you remember that its just the vibrations from the seat.

What I liked:
. price, its only 10.9 KD and delivers a satisfactory massager/buzz while you’re in the car or at home
. easy to carry out and weighs only as much as a cushion
. handy remote control with easy to operate buttons, also has a neat little pocket in the side to store it
. choice of two power supplies

What I didn’t like:
. not a real massager but I guess you can’t call it a ‘vibrator’ either 😛
. its not possible to know which mode you’re in and at what speed. Mode and speed indicator LEDs would have been a nice touch
. no carry bag or handles on the seat. Its easy to carry around but a simple strap and Velcro strip would make things much easier while packing it
. sometimes gets noisy and is a little embarrassing when you have company

Update: I had logged a complaint regarding the faulty power adapter and Sheeel customer service called me the very next day (since the day I emailed them was on a weekend) and provided information on how I can get a replacement power adapter. There’s a Hyundai Electronics showroom opposite Boushari Clinic, off 4th Ring Road, and now its working fine. I would recommended Sheeel.com for future purchases coz of their swift response.

India-Kuwait

If India were my home

I came across this website that compares any two countries based on parameters like infant mortality, health care expenses, fuel consumption, expected life-span etc. I compared Kuwait to India and the results were shocking to say the least. I love my country and all but looking at the numbers shows the stark reality.

I couldn’t find the source of their calculations but I’m guessing they’re taking the average/mean for the population of each country. Since we have a HUGE population (under the poverty line) back home these numbers tend to be rather shocking.  Now here’s something to cheer you up, I compared India to Sudan ! 😀

If it were my home [link]

dumpling sweet

കൊഴുകട്ട – Kerala rice dumplings

The ‘കൊഴുകട്ട ‘ or rice dumpling is a fantastic light snack or even breakfast meal thats a year round favorite with me and my brother. Now this cold weather is one more reason to enjoy this Keralite delicacy. For this post my mother volunteered with the recipe and actual cooking. The first one is a sweet version which my mom’s sister has perfected to a whole new level and the second one is a savory version which satisfies meat lovers like me.

Dumpling dough:
Roasted rice flour (available at any Indian grocery store or supermarket)
Boiling water ( I don’t know the reason for this but my mom insists the water ‘has to be’ boiling
Salt

Sift the rice flour and salt in a mixing bowl and then pour in a steady stream of boiling water while quickly stirring the mixture with a fork or spoon. When the dough reaches a soft but homogenous mass you can stop mixing. Now take a small ball of the dough and shape it into a little cup. Drop a spoonful of filling in the middle and close up the sides and you can use a little water to seal it in. Use a traditional idli steamer or rice steamer to cook the dumplings. They should be done in about 10 minutes on full steam.


Sweet filling:
powdered jaggery
shreded coconut
mashed ripe banana
Mix all the ingredients together and that’s it.


Savory filling:
minced beef
onions
green peas
tomato puree
curry leaves
green chillies
garam masala
turmeric power
chili powder
coriander power
salt
pepper

Saute onions and add spices, cook till aroma is released. Add the beef and fry till the beef is no longer pink then add the tomato puree and green peas and cook till the mixture is dry.