‘Kitchen’ by Banana Yoshimoto – Review

One of the many appeals of Banana Yoshimoto’s novella Kitchen is that it deals with feelings everyone can relate to. Everyone has been hungry, and images of hunger, food and meals are plentiful in the novella. Other common feelings also come up, especially sadness and loneliness.

Early in the book, the reader discovers the protagonist, Mikage Sakurai, was orphaned as a child, and that her family had decreased until she was the only one left. Mikage feels she is truly “all alone.” At one point, she says, “We live like the lowliest worms. Always defeated¾defeated we make dinner, we eat, we sleep. Everyone we love is dying.”

Despite the many sad events of the book, though, its tone is not generally one of sadness. This is because, despite all the negative turns of events in their lives, the characters know how to deal with unhappiness. Mikage, Eriko and Yuichi know how to be happy.

At first, Yuichi doesn’t seem to have a good way of coping with things that trouble him. This fact is first mentioned by his mother, Eriko. Eriko tells Mikage she knows she hasn’t been the perfect parent to Yuichi, because although he’s “a good kid,” there are some things she wasn’t able to teach him, things that “slipped through the cracks.” Eriko knows she didn’t teach Yuichi an effective way to deal with other people, and as a result “he’s confused about emotional things and he’s strangely distant with people.”

Yuichi shows this in the way he reacts to Eriko’s death. He avoids calling Mikage to tell her until a month after it happened. His reasoning was that telling Mikage would make Eriko’s death real for him. Yuichi didn’t want to have to deal with Mikage’s reaction. When he finally does call her, and they sit down to talk about it, Yuichi is drunk. In fact, he’s been drinking often in the weeks since Eriko died.

Yuichi learns to be happen when, still feeling terrible about his mother’s death, he goes to see Chika, a close friend of the family. Chika sends him off to an inn where he can be alone to think. Yuichi had been thinking about living with Mikage, but felt as if he needed to “pull himself together” first. While at the inn, Yuichi realizes he really does want to be with her. Yoshimoto ends her novella with Yuichi’s cheerful declaration that he’s going to pick up Mikage at the station. Readers get the sense he’s finally pulled himself together and can be happy with Mikage now.

Eriko had also gone through a time in her life when she was sad and confused about what to do. Yuichi tells Mikage that his “real” mother was another woman and that Eriko, who is transgendered, is Yuichi’s biological father. “After my real mother died,” Yuichi says, “Eriko quit her job, gathered me up, and asked herself, ‘What do I want to do now?'” After the death of his wife, the man who would become …

House Husbands – A Role Reversal

For centuries, we have been locked into gender roles of male as the provider and protector and female as home maker and nurturer. But the 21st century has seen the beginning of role reversals within the family. Men are opting to stay at home and become house husbands. The West, especially Canada, UK and USA, has accepted this new concept of stay-at-home husbands. Asian and Indian families are still a long way from doing so. Muslims believe that it is unislamic for a man to take on the role of a woman.

Reasons for Change:

• As mid-life approaches, many men feel trapped in stressful corporate jobs. They long for less demanding occupations and believe that house work and care of children is easier and will leave time for recreation and hobbies.

• There has been an unprecedented rise of women in the work force. Higher education and professional skills have shattered the glass ceiling, so that women are able to take on jobs which were once the prerogative of men. In many instances, they may be drawing higher salaries than their husbands. Sometimes women are the sole bread winners. Feminist ideologies, availability of contraception and the influence of the Media have also contributed to the rise of working women.

• Unemployment and loss of white collar jobs for men.

• Marvels of telecommunication allow men to work from home and thus ensure a regular pay packet. Working hours and patterns are flexible.

Advantages of being Full-time Fathers:

1. This eliminates the need for home help which is becoming expensive and unreliable. There are many instances of maids starving, sedating or ill treating children. Sometime ago, an Indian newspaper reported that a working woman came home in the middle of the day to find her child missing and the maid happily watching TV and munching peanuts. On questioning, the maid said she had sedated the baby and given him to a beggar woman, on a rental of Rs.100 per day.

Theft of food articles, money or jewelry has also been reported from time to time.

2. Children need not be left in child care centers during the day.

3. Participation of fathers in the parenting process is said to enhance the physical, emotional and behavioral development of children. They become more emotionally balanced and develop better coping skills. They grow up to be confident and self assured.

4. Mothers can pursue their careers without feeling guilty that children are not well cared for. Because they are stress free they are able to give their best to their jobs. When work is over, they are relaxed enough to spend quality time with the family and make up for their absence during the day.

5. Husbands become adept at managing the kitchen and discovering their latent culinary talents.

6. Men are likely to spend frugally and balance the budget efficiently. Women are sometimes prone to over-spending on things they don’t need or hoarding more than is required.

7. Housework is not discrediting …

Flower Pots and Their Benefits

Flower pots have various uses, from starting new seeds, moving plants to new locations, indoor cultivation plants, beautifies garden, or charming your room with wonderful flowers. Flower pots have been used since ancient times, the Egyptians were among the first to use pots to move plants from one location to another, later the Romans brought potted plants inside during cold weather. In modern eras, they can be used as a personal gift, kitchen decoration, room beautification, and art object.

Plant pots can be easily found in garden supply stories, grocery stores, home improvement stores and online garden stores. There are different kinds of plant containers, from clay flower pots, plastic, ceramic, fiber glass, hanging pots, window box planters, sandstone urns, and many more; each of them has their own pros and cons. Out of all these, clay flower pot considered as one of the most popular type of pot. Its structure is suitable for maintaining the freshness almost all type of flowers, in addition clay pots are made from organic raw materials, thus these are eco-friendly products.

Before choosing which type of pot you want, you need to determine where do you want to place the pots. Would you like to lay the pot in your garden? Or do you prefer to place the inside your house? Whether in the living room, kitchen or as window decoration in private room, you must plan and decide the placement of your pots. With perfect placement and match with surroundings, it will enhance the splendor of home as well as your garden. Type of plants, sizes of flower, weight, qualities and prices also major considerations before picking the right pot for you. Growing your own flowers certainly bring ultimate pleasure, an interesting activity that enlighten your days.…

5 Major Home Renovation Projects That Offer The Best Return On Investment

When it comes to renovating your home for re-sale there are a few major renovations that top the list.

1. Major Kitchen Remodels. (ROI 75-85%)

The function of the kitchen has evolved over the years and now more than ever the kitchen must meet those needs.

  • Buyers want to envision themselves in a gorgeous newly renovated kitchen where they can actually see themselves – preparing meals for their friends and family -where the kids nestle into a cozy banquette doing their homework, or their guests mingling around that gorgeous island. Buyers want to see this in their minds eye and know that it’s attainable.
  • A major kitchen remodel may need to include a new floor plan to improve on a poorly designed work triangle.
  • If the kitchen is completely dated, isolated and compartmentalized with an inefficient floor plan and layout – don’t think that replacing the cabinets and appliances will camouflage the problem. It won’t!
  • If at all possible add an island into those plans. Everyone loves them!
  • Replacing all cabinetry, appliances, lighting, flooring, finishes and fixtures and new French doors and windows will grab the buyers’ attention.
  • Since kitchens and baths are the costliest rooms to renovate, the buyer will be thrilled that the work is already done for them.

2. Family Room Additions. (75% ROI)

The family room is the second most popular space in the home after the kitchen.

  • Adding 400 sq. ft. of bright and cheery living space (if your neighborhood will bare it), will definitely improve the value of the home
  • Increase the overall height of your space and introduce a vaulted ceiling. Creating a sense of volume instantly makes a room feel more spacious.
  • Consider the details and add beautiful French doors, floor to ceiling windows or even skylights to flood this new space with light and maximizes a view. Take it one step further and add the deck.

3. Deck Addition. (72-95% ROI)

Deck additions are quite possibly the best investments these days. They naturally transition the interior to the exterior – instantly expanding your living space.

And who doesn’t love that?

  • It’s a vacation-at-home experience, as it expands your living space and extends the summer season – forcing you to live more outdoors before the winter season sets in.
  • Its design can be as simple or elaborate as the home it’s attached to.
  • Multi-leveled or single, built in seating or casual seating areas, hot tubs, and outdoor kitchens – all of which add to the vacation home atmosphere.
  • Decks are more popular than pools and relatively easy to build.
  • Design the deck to compliment the character of your home’s exterior architecture. Give it some thought in planning – it should be proportionate to the size of your yard.
  • Incorporate energy efficient solar or led lighting.

4. Main Floor Master Bedroom Addition(73% ROI)

  • Adding a 400 sq.ft. master bedroom suite and spa-like bath provides a private retreat and appeals to many home buyers. Access to main floor is gaining in popularity.
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Do You Know What a Robot Coupe Blixer Is?

Robot Coupe has manufactured all types of kitchen equipment to make cooking easier for the busy chef. Their range includes mixers, vegetable preparation machines, cutters, graters, dicing equipment and now a blixer. It’s clear to see that they specialize in food preparation machines that take the drudgery out of cutting, peeling, dicing, and grating. Now that they’ve extended their range to include a blixer, it makes the catering business so much more exciting.

But what is a Robot Coupe Blixer and what can it do for you?

Well, in short, it is a combination of both a blender and a mixer. It takes the best functions of a blender and a mixer and combines them into one piece of versatile kitchen equipment. This eliminates the need for two separate machines and is consequently space saving too.

The Robot Coupe Blixer’s features include:

• A stainless steel motor shaft that is hygienic and long lasting. It is built for continuous and regular use.

• It has a pulse function for the quick blending of tough or hard ingredients such as root vegetables.

• The induction motor is reliable and durable. It is a quality motor that is manufactured for regular use.

• It has a magnetic safety system and a motor brake that ensures your safety during use. It will cut-out when it is over capacity.

• It has a high liquid capacity bowl. So you can blend or mix ingredients of up to two litres.

• It includes a sealed lid. We all know how necessary this is. No one wants the ingredients to land all over you and your kitchen.

• The bowl and the lid scraper are made in two parts so that it is easy to dismantle and to clean.

• It is able to mix at 3000 revolutions per minute. That is quite a high speed setting for a blixer.

The Robot Coupe Blixer is manufactured to blend or mix fruit and vegetables. It has the necessary functions for the hard fruit and vegetables as well as for the softer ones. You can set it on the single speed setting to either blend the mixture to a smooth runny consistency or you could simply use the pulse function if you want to keep some chunks of fruit in the mixture. This innovative catering equipment is great for the modern kitchen and is especially suitable for the busy restaurant kitchen while it saves space and money.  …

Flow And Kitchen Design

Let’s take a look at some common flow plans for food preparation that you’ll discover inside the kitchen. The most basic, and most desirable, flow plan is the straight line, also known as the assembly-line flow. Materials move steadily from 1 procedure to another in a straight line. This type of style minimizes backtracking; it saves preparation time and confusion about what’s going out of the kitchen area and what’s coming back in.

The straight-line arrangement functions nicely for little installations because it can be placed against a wall and adapted to the cooks’ duties. Wherever there isn’t enough room to arrange food preparation in a straight line, a well-liked and efficient option is the parallel flow. There are four variations of the parallel style:

1. Back to back. Gear is arranged inside a long, central counter or island in two straight lines that run parallel to every other. Sometimes a four- or five-foot room divider or low wall is positioned between the two lines. It’s primarily a safety precaution, which keeps noise and clutter to a minimum and prevents liquids spilled on 1 side from spreading onto the other. Nevertheless, placement of a wall here also makes cleaning and sanitation a lot more hard. The back-to-back arrangement centralizes plumbing and utilities;

you may not need to install as many drains, sinks, or outlets, as both sides from the counter can share the same ones. A back-to-back arrangement in which the pass window is parallel to (and behind one of) the production places is sometimes recognized as a California-style kitchen. When the pass window is located perpendicular towards the production line, it might be referred to as a European-style kitchen area style. The benefit from the European style is that each cook on the line can see the progression of multiple dishes that make up 1 table’s order.

2. Face to face. In this kitchen area configuration, a central aisle separates two straight lines of gear on either side from the room. Sometimes the aisle is wide sufficient to add a straight line of worktables among the two rows of gear. This setup works well for high volume feeding facilities like schools and hospitals, but it doesn’t take benefit of single source utilities. Even though it’s a great layout for supervision of workers, it forces individuals to perform with their backs to one another, in effect, separating the cooking from the food from the rest from the distribution procedure. Therefore, it’s most likely not the best style for a restaurant.

3. L-shape. Wherever room isn’t sufficient for a straight-line or parallel arrangement, the L-shape kitchen design is nicely suited to access several groups of gear, and is adaptable for table service restaurants. It gives you the ability to place more equipment inside a smaller room. You’ll often find an L-shape design in dish washing areas, using the dish machine positioned at the center corner from the L.

4. U-shape. This arrangement is seldom used, but it’s ideal for a little …

Commercial Kitchen Cleaning: The Importance of Keeping Your Restaurant Clean

One of the most crucial factors to the success of any restaurant is its cleanliness. Can you ever remember a time when you were in a restaurant and it just seemed dirty? Chances are, you probably associated it with the quality of food you were getting. Making a great first impression is extremely important, and this doesn’t just involve keeping the dining room clean. It also entails keeping your kitchen spotless as well.

We all know the importance of keeping the kitchen clean, but do you really know? Not only do you want to provide a safe working environment for you staff, it’s also mandatory to pass a number of health and safety regulations. The last thing you want at a restaurant is risk of legal action or worse yet damage to your reputation. Most importantly, you want the quality of the food you are serving to be top notch and sanitary for your guests.

As a restaurant owner or manager, you have enough issues to deal with on a daily basis. To keep your restaurant kitchen clean and glistening like new, you may want to rely on the services of a commercial cleaning company. Leave the cleaning worries behind you, and let the professionals take care of it all. Using the latest cleaning products and equipment, the right company can effectively clean your entire restaurant exterior, commercial kitchen hood cleaning, exhaust, ventilation systems and more. From deep cleaning everything from oven to deep fat fryers, fridges, tile floors and grills, they will leave your kitchen looking brand new. Not only will your kitchen equipment run better, they will also be quiet and free from odor.

If you are considering working with a professional cleaning company, you are making the right choice. Consider it an investment in the efficiency, safety and reputation for your overall business. Providing your restaurant with regular, professional cleaning and maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your customers coming back time and time again. And most importantly, it will keep your staff happy knowing they are working in a safe and clean environment.

When it comes to commercial kitchen cleaning, you need to find a company that offers professional service, delivers quality, on-time and safe cleaning services. Commercial cleaning companies like AmeriClean do just that and are committed to delivering quality service at the highest professional status. Remember: clean restaurants mean more profit!…

Want to Run a Property Background Check on a House? Here’s How!

Hunting for a new house can be thrilling, yet it is also stressful now and again. If you are in the market for a new home, then naturally you understand there’s a good deal to keep in mind. Sadly, it’s not just as easy as picking out a home and giving over a cheque. One of the simplest ways to ensure you buy the house you’ve always wanted and get the best price is to utilize a property records check.

Determining how much to spend on a house is ordinarily the first step. You must figure out a location that you are happy to live in. Do you desire a big kitchen. The list goes on!

When you have decided on all the elements you’re looking for, you can go out and start exploring! And eventually, you’re going to discover a couple homes that interest you. This is when it becomes fun, however you can’t just make the purchase. Here it’s important that you do your investigating and look more into the place you are considering.

This is where it’s important to use a property background search to get full information on the property you’re looking at. Making use of this type of property check is one of the greatest ways to get find additional information on any home you’re interested in.

A property records search will teach you plenty of important info including current and prior owernship info, prior sale prices, property tax information, mortgage records, house purchase and current assessment info, neighbor details – it’s a long list!

If there is a lien on the house, you can have the home snatched away from you, even if you weren’t aware of it when you bought it. Naturally it’s the very last thing you want to have happen, and simply by using a property background check gives you the security you need to not stress over it.

The information you gain from a property records check will also give you a big edge when the final price. This alone could potentially save you thousands of dollars.

Running a property records check is a snap thanks to the internet. There are now websites that offer records searches online. When you utilize a background check website, you just punch in the home address and you are then given access to the info. The cost for using a check does not cost much – usually you can even pay a one-time fee for unlimited searches to help you if you are considering more than one place.

If you’re anticipating being hunting for a house anytime soon, make sure that you take the right measures to get the best price and your dream house! A property background check will give you the piece of mind of learning all the important details about the house you decide to purchase.…

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Container Vegetable Gardens

Not everybody is lucky to have a yard at the back or a big garden. But it is heartening to know that with the help of container vegetable gardens, garden enthusiasts have the option of growing vegetables at their own sweet will. The box vegetable garden is a gift for all who have a passion for gardens but do not have the required space.

The indoor garden for vegetables is not only a secondary option to the yard but it is a positive choice for a variety of reasons. Firstly these containers or urns are easily found in the kitchen making the whole show environment friendly and safer for the little ones in the family. Apart from being productive these box vegetable gardens serve two other purposes – they add to the décor of the home and also makes it look stylish The small garden pots can be arranged around the porch giving it a verdant look to the dull urban image.

Understandably there are some restrictions to the expectations from a pot vegetable garden – the first one being the size of the plant that will grow in it. The best choices are radish, carrots, lettuce and the like. Small crop plants can also be grown in an indoor garden. For instance tomato and pepper do not require much space. A plus point is that one container about 24″ to 30″ can grow at the same time plants like tomato, parsley and cucumber without requiring extra sunlight or moisture. The urn thus doubles up as a veritable fresh live salad bowl.

No extra arrangement is required for these urn vegetable gardens. The containers can be anything – a jug, pail, basket, wooden box or the typical flower pot. Discarded bushels, washing tubs, big food cans, window plants as well as nursery flats can also suffice to build up the indoor vegetable garden.

Following the same principles of a indoor gardens, water plants too can be grown. The prime purpose however of the indoor green patch is decorative. Depending on the size of the pot, sweet or yellow flag iris combined with a giant arrowhead of calla lily can be planted. Unlike the vegetable gardens there are no fixed specifications for water gardens. Both of these – water gardens and container vegetable gardens are fairly easy to grow and are definitely worth giving a try for those who have a passion for gardening.…

Homemade Cockroach Killers

Using homemade roach killers in your home is an effective way to get rid of an infestation while ensuring the safety of those living in the home. These mixtures are made of items that are more than likely already at your home in your kitchen or pantry. This remedy can be used as often as needed and will only cost just a fraction of what store-bought roach killers cost.

Carefully clean up any food messes promptly after you’ve made them, to ensure that roaches don’t come looking for the crumbs. Dirty dishes can also coax roaches into the kitchen. Once you have determined that there is no mess for them to feed on, use any one (or several) of these methods and recipes to kill roaches naturally.

Boric Acid

This is one of the most commonly used homemade roach killers. Then the roaches eat the boric acid, they become dehydrated, and this eventually kills them. Those that eat it generally bring it back to their nest via the feet and the body and introduce it to the rest of the ménage. To make this mixture, combine 2 to 3 teaspoons of boric acid and equal parts sugar and water, to make a paste. Put this in the areas of your home where roaches normally live and spread it around in the infested areas of your home. Using this method usually eliminates roaches within 2 weeks.

Baking Soda and Sugar

Baking soda is one of the things that is useful in so many ways, so it is always good to have on hand. Commonly, it is used as a nontoxic roach repellent, working similar to the boric acid. Mix equal parts of the baking soda, water, and sugar. Use this mixture as bait in areas that typically house roaches- under cupboards, along the refrigerator, and around the kitchen sink. The baking soda kills the roaches that eat it, and it sticks to their feet so that they carry it back to the nest for others to eat it and die.

Soap and Water

Another simple yet effective method-1 cup of water should be mixed with 1 teaspoon of soap. Pour this solution into a spray bottle. Spray it on roaches whenever you see them. The mixture will suffocate the roaches, as the suds from the soap block their pores and prevent breathing. This mixture can be used as often as needed. You may also leave a jar of the solution in any corners that they frequent. When they crawl into the jar, they won’t be able to escape.

DIY Roach Hotel

Using an old margarine tub, cut a hole at the rim, but do not cut the lid. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup borax, ½ cup bacon grease, and ½ cup sugar. You may add honey or more grease to make the mixture moist enough to make into balls. Form into large balls and place on the margarine tub lid. Snap the bowl down onto the lid, and place …