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In these humdrum at-home pandemic days, scarfing out of a pizza box or slurping wonton soup from a plastic container is the closest most of us get to a safe restaurant experience. But sometimes you need to spruce things up. Dressing up the table, stretching your palate with new flavors, and setting the mood will help make supping at home feel more like eating out at a favorite corner bistro. These gifts will elevate your dining experiences in 2023.

Set the menu

Special suppers require forethought, and the guest of honor often isn’t in on the planning. While you could print out formal menus, the process can be wasteful—and how many of us have a printer at home, anyway? Instead, artfully scrawl the evening’s courses on a reusable chalkboard the same way a restaurant might announce its nightly specials. A model made from hard slate stone instead of coated wood or cardboard will take chalk better (and scrub up cleaner once the dining’s done).

Ditch disposables

These 15-inch cotton kitchen towels are a favorite of chefs for mopping up their kitchen messes, so it’s no wonder they’ve made it onto the tables of chic eateries, too. The cotton weave is super absorbent, so it’s perfect for sopping up spilled vino or sauces, and it won’t wrinkle as easily as frillier linen or sateen options. In addition to making a table look just-so, the fabric is great for swaddling wine bottles or lining bread baskets.

Revive cocktail hour

Sipping a cocktail at the bar is probably the best way to kill time waiting for a tardy dinner companion, but it’s a pleasure quickly lost when the “bar” is your coffee table. To replicate the level of mixology you previously only indulged in at a proper establishment, Shaker & Spoon stretches its tastes and ingredients well beyond simple classics like Old Fashioneds and martinis. Each box comes with the fixins’ you need to make four cocktails (three servings each), all based around a single spirit. The service’s detailed instructions will have you muddling, infusing, and garnishing like you’re wearing a silk-back vest. The holiday-season rum-centric box features a Filipino-inspired cocktail flavored with avocado and coconut.

Water, without the waiter

Scrambling back and forth to the kitchen to refill water glasses is a surefire way to kill the mood. Without a server to fill up your cup, you’ll need to keep a supply of cool hydration on the table. While hammered metal or bourbon-bottle-turned-carafes might be better at evoking swanky barroom vibes, stoneware will keep the wet stuff cooler longer. The stone in French favorite Le Creuset’s offering is so dense it’ll hold onto a temp throughout the meal. It can also handle anything from -65 degrees F to 500 degrees F, so consider it for double duty as a coffee carafe for fancy brunches.

Embrace appetizers

At home, we usually reserve appetizers for holidays, but having a li’l somethin’ before the main meal is an easy way to upgrade any weeknight dinner. Sure, you could toast up some franks in blankets or defrost some frozen mini egg rolls, but why not expand your palate and avoid cooking at the same time? Pop open a jar of caper leaves—yes, off the same plant that gives us briney capers—and have a nibble. Picked and packed in oil and vinegar on the island of Pantelleria off the Sicilian coast, where generations of farmers have cultivated the yummy berries, the leaves have only recently become chic to eat on their own.

Bread at the ready

Warm, crusty, butter-melting bread that comes straight from the oven—or at least out of a professional warmer—is a mainstay in countless eateries. In your home, the microwave or toaster oven will do, but once the carbs cool down they can become rock hard in an ordinary bread basket. The stone base of this wicker offering, however, can keep buns toasty and ready to sop up sauces throughout the meal. Just place the terracotta slab into a warm oven for 10-20 minutes and slip it into the bottom of the basket, and you’ll get to enjoy hot bread for as long as it takes you to scarf it all down.

Make butter art A little ambiance, perhaps?

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How To Make Windows Look Like Mac

The macOS offers some inbuilt features that make the OS popular. The OS has been designed to make sure the creators get the maximum benefit and get their job done rather quickly.  I used to admire the app launcher, but now I am ok with the taskbar and start menu combination. If you are looking for a way to get some Mac features on Windows 11/10 and make Windows 11/10 look like macOS, then you are in the right place.

Make Windows 11/10 look like macOS

While Windows 11/10 has evolved a lot, but there are features I would love to have on Windows. In this post, I have shared a few tools which bring in those functionalities to Windows 11/10.  These will make Windows 11/10 look like Mac. 

1] Lightshot

macOS has an inbuilt screen recorder and screenshot feature. It’s extensive and makes macOS very user-friendly for creators. While Windows 10 has Snip and also a lot of third party tools for taking a screenshot, Lightshot wins by a great margin. Once you install it, use print screen to trigger it.

Then just like on macOS, Command-Shift-4, it reveals the selector. You can then select an area. It will instantly offer editing tools, annotate, highlight, option to share, save or print the screenshot.

2] Seer: Quick Look Tool

Keyboard shortcuts

Install Plugins to enhance its functionality like rename, ExifTool, and so on

Font support

Change Language

Apart from this software, you can also try the QuickLook app from Microsoft Store. It offers the following actions:

Spacebar: Preview/Close Preview

Esc: Close Preview

Enter: Run & Close Preview

Ctrl+Mouse Wheel: Zoom Images/Documents

Mouse Wheel: Adjust Volume

Using these you can zoom into documents, switch between files by hitting the arrow key, and also choose which program to use to open different file types.

3] Quick Time Screen Recording

You can use the Xbox App to record a small video quickly. Also called as GAME DVR, it can record almost anything on Windows though it is primarily for recording Xbox Game clips. But since most of the third-party software is paid, this comes in handy to record without installing anything.

4] Universal Search using Cortana (WIN Q) or use WOX

macOS universal search tool is one of the best-inbuilt features. All you need to do is hit the spacebar, and it reveals a search box. You can use it to find almost anything. Windows offers a similar experience with Cortana search. All you need to do is invoke it by with Win + Q keyboard shortcut and start searching.

One small drawback of this is that it also displays search results from Bing. There is an equally good alternative–Wox. Once installed you can configure it to launch when you hit the space bar. It will pop up a search box where you can type to find what you want to see on Windows.

The best part of Wox is that its open source supports plugins, you can customize hotkeys, disable it on full screen, execute command line tools,  search within the Control Panel, and it replaces your run prompt.

5] WinLaunch

If you want to have macOS like launcher on Windows 10, you need to try WinLaunch. You can add programs, files, URLs to it. To launch all you need to do is hit SHIFT + TAB, and it will reveal the blurred background with the list of apps you added to the launcher.

As you can see here, we aren’t trying to convert your Windows completely into Mac. Instead, we are trying to bring only some useful features.

These links may also interest you:

Three Body Hacks You Shouldn’t Try At Home

Scientists and amateurs alike have been testing the effects of sending electrical currents across the scalp. Illustration by Chris Philpot

To improve themselves, a growing number of people are going beyond meditation or exercise. These brave pioneers are trying to hack their bodies with bacteria, special diets, and even electrical zaps.

1. Smell Better

Probiotic Perfume

Scientists are developing probiotics that are modified to produce more pleasant smells than the current bacteria living in your gut.

Humans don’t stink—it’s the bacteria eating our sweat and stomach contents that cause body odor. Avoiding meat and staying hydrated can tamp down some malodorous strains. But a more drastic measure is in the works. Personalized Probiotics is working with Cambrian Genomics to develop genetically modified bacteria that colonize the gut. Following the orders of specialized genes, the bacteria would produce pleasant-smelling compounds to mask the reek of their brethren. “All life is code,” says Austen Heinz, CEO of Cambrian Genomics. “Everything is editable.”

2. See Better

Food For Sight

A group of citizen scientists experimented with a diet to improve their eyes.

Jeffrey Tibbetts and a group of citizen scientists designed a diet to augment human sight. The all-liquid regimen cuts out vitamin A1, supposedly forcing the eyes’ light-sensitive proteins to incorporate vitamin A2 and shifting the visible spectrum. After several weeks, dieters claimed to see near-infrared light, and Tibbetts described perceiving enhanced colors that produced “the most fantastic sunsets in the world.” Actual scientists offer a darker view: The diet is more likely to cause deadly vitamin A deficiency than to work.

3. Think Better

Jump-start The Brain

Scientists and amateurs alike have been testing the effects of sending electrical currents across the scalp.

Studies suggest a little electricity across the scalp can relieve pain, increase focus, even tame bipolar disorder. Scientists are still testing the potential of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in trials where trained professionals use expensive medical grade devices. Meanwhile, intrepid amateurs are trying to develop their own tDCS tools from nine-volt batteries. These rigs are nothing like those in hospitals and labs, cautions biomedical engineer Marom Bikson: At least one DIYer claimed he went temporarily blind.

WARNING: Extreme body mods can have serious side effects. Until we engineer new bodies, take care of the one you’ve got.

This article was originally published in the February 2023 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Three Body Hacks You Shouldn’t Try At Home”.

How To Make Google Assistant Read Your Articles Out Loud

Found an interesting article you’d like to read but too tired right now or busy doing something else? You could save it for later or ask your Google Assistant to read it to you instead. This way you won’t risk forgetting about it afterward.

The feature was recently introduced. Google explained that the technology is different from other screen-reading software, as it’s capable of reading text in a natural-sounding voice and cadence so that people won’t have trouble listening and understanding, even for longer periods of time.

Google’s virtual assistant is available on most Android phones, so if you’d like to hear it read out to you, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps.

Note: so far the feature is meant for listening to articles, blog posts, or short stories online.

Set Up the Voice Match on Your Device (If It’s Not on Yet)

To check if your Google Assistant is already active and ready on your device, touch and hold its Home button or say “OK Google” or “Hey Google.” If nothing happens, it means you’ll need to manually turn on Voice Match on your device. Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to your device’s Settings app.

2. Scroll down until you find Google and tap on it.

4. Find and tap on the “Voice Match” feature under the Hey Google category.

5. Make sure the Google Assistant toggle is on. Also, turn on “Hey Google” under Voice Match.

6. Once Hey Google is on, Google will ask you to say a few phrases so that it can learn your voice. Follow the steps indicated.

Note: on some older devices that don’t offer the assistant’s services by default, you may have to download the Google Assistant app.

Get Google Assistant to Read Articles to You

Before we start, we need to point out one thing. The feature only works if you’re using the Chrome browser on your Android device or any other Chromium-based browsing app. If you have one on your phone, you are good to go.

1. Open an article you’d like to read in your browser of choice, then simply say: “Hey Google, read it.”

2. The first time you’ll attempt this command, Google Assistant will probably say it can’t do that because “Screen Context” needs to be turned on first.

3. A pop-up window will promptly appear on the screen asking you to give the Google app access to use your screen context. Tap OK. You don’t have to go looking through Settings on your own.

4. Now go back to the article and ask the Assistant once again to “Read It.” This time it will surely oblige and say “Got it” or “OK.” It takes a few seconds, as the virtual helper scans the piece before starting to read it out loud.

Take Full Advantage of the Controls

You can access these controls directly from the Notification tray as well. You can even close the browser and still be able to pause or play the reading just by swiping down from the home screen or directly from the lock screen.

But wait – there’s more. Can’t understand English all that well? Perhaps you would like to hear the virtual assistant read to you in your native tongue.

Look for the three-dot menu icon located in the upper-right corner of the “Read It” browser and tap it, then on Translation. Here you can choose the language you want the text translated to, including German, Spanish, Polish, Romanian, and more (42 languages in total). The feature leverages the power of Google Translate to achieve this, and the results are remarkably adequate and convincing.

From the same menu users can select a different voice to read their articles. You’ll find this option under “Read aloud voice.”

Additional Considerations

As we mentioned above, you’ll need a Chromium-based browser for this feature to work. What’s more, “Read It” is not available for certain websites and most apps. (You’ll need to use the web version instead.) If you’ve stumbled upon a paywall or a log-in is requested to display the full article, the feature may not work. Despite these limitations, the new Google Assistant trick proves super useful. Going forward, Google will surely continue to improve it.

Want to get even more out of your Google Assistant? You may want to learn how to create an emergency routine using Google’s virtual helper, just to stay on the safe side of things.

Image Credit: Google Blog

Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

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Unique Data Visualization Techniques To Make Your Plots Stand Out

Andrews Curves for Data Visualization

Andrews Curve is a useful plot for visualizing patterns in multidimensional data. The concept Andrews Curves was developed by statistician David F. Andrews in 1972. Andrews Curves are created by defining a finite Fourier Series which is an equation of sine curves. This allows us to visualize the difference in data. The equation is given by:

where x refers to each of the dimensions in the data and the value of t ranges from -π to π. Learn more about Andrews Curves in Python Here and Wikipedia.

Let’s create the Andrews Curves in Python using Pandas.

Importing the Libraries

import pandas as pd

Importing the Data

df = pd.read_csv("iris.csv")

The dataset has been downloaded from Kaggle.

Plotting the Andrews Curves

plt.figure(figsize=(12,6)) pd.plotting.andrews_curves(df, 'Species', colormap='YlOrRd')

Here, we passed our dataframe df into the .andrews_curves() method of pandas.plotting. We also passed our categorical variable and the colormap for the Andrews Curves.


Putting it All Together

Python Code:

On executing this, we get:

Source – Personal Computer

Raincloud Plot for Data Visualization

Raincloud Plot is a unique Data Visualization technique introduced in 2023. It is a robust visualization technique that combines a violin plot, a box plot and a scatter plot. Thus, one can see a detailed view of raw data in the single plot. This plotting style makes the Raincloud Plot better than any of the charts it is made of alone. Learn more about Raincloud Plots here.

4) “Thunder”, a pointplot connecting the mean of the different categories (if pointplot is True)


Installing the Libraries

pip install ptitprince


Importing the Libraries

import pandas as pd import matplotlib.pyplot as plt import ptitprince


Importing the Data

df = pd.read_csv("iris.csv")


Plotting the Raincloud Plot

plt.figure(figsize = (12,8)) ptitprince.RainCloud(data = df, x = 'Species', y = 'Sepal.Length', orient = 'h')


import pandas as pd import matplotlib.pyplot as plt import ptitprince df = pd.read_csv("iris.csv") plt.figure(figsize = (12,8)) ptitprince.RainCloud(data = df, x = 'Species', y = 'Sepal.Length', orient = 'h')

Source – Personal Computer

Calendar Heatmap for Data Visualization

Calendar Heatmap is a unique visualization technique to visualize the time series data. It creates a horizontal pallet of squares, each resembling a day of a year. One must have seen a similar palette in their GitHub profile for all the commits for a year. Since it’s a heatmap, each square has colors of different densities based on the values or weights for that day.

In Python, we can create a Calendar Heatmap using a library called calmap. Let’s build a Calendar Heatmap.

Installing the Libraries

pip install calmap


Importing the Libraries

import matplotlib as mpl import calmap

Importing the Data

df = pd.read_csv("currency.csv")


Getting Data Ready for Plot

df['Time'] = pd.to_datetime(df['Time']) df.set_index('Time', inplace = True)

Here, we converted our Time column to DateTime type. Next, we set the Time column as Index using the .set_index() method which will help plot the Calendar Plot.

Plotting Calendar Plot

calmap.calendarplot(df['2023']['GEMS_GEMS_SPENT'], cmap = 'OrRd', fig_kws={'figsize': (16,12)}, yearlabel_kws={'color':'black'})

Here, we used the .calendarplot() method of calmap. In the calenderplot(), we specified the arguments as dataframe for the year 2023 for column ‘GEMS_GEMS_SPENT‘, cmap as ‘OrRd’, figure keyword arguments fig_kws for specifying the figure size, and yearlabel keyword argument yearlabel_kws to specify the colour of the year label at the left side.


Putting it All Together

import matplotlib as mpl import calmap df = pd.read_csv("currency.csv") df['Time'] = pd.to_datetime(df['Time']) df.set_index('Time', inplace = True) calmap.calendarplot(df['2023']['GEMS_GEMS_SPENT'], cmap = 'OrRd', fig_kws={'figsize': (16,12)}, yearlabel_kws={'color':'black'})

On executing this, we get:

Source  – Personal Computer


In this article, we learned and implemented three unique visualization techniques to take our data visualization game to a next level. Unique visualization techniques are eye-catchy and gain attention from the viewers. Learning new techniques also helps in developing our skillset. One can try playing with arguments of the methods discussed above to build more robust and beautiful plots. With time, a lot of new visualization techniques are being developed, one should keep trying to learn them to create more accurate plots based on the data.

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Modern Dining Room Makeover Reveal

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Welcome to my dining room makeover reveal. For this makeover, I really wanted my dining room to have the same vibes as my living room, staircase and kitchen. I think I accomplished that. 

Dining Room: Before

Week 1 : Before Pics and the Plans

Week 2: Painting a Small Room

Week 3: Coordinating Rugs in Open Floor Plans

Week 4: MCM Inspired IKEA Besta Hack

Week 5: Didn’t happen. I was too exhausted from setting up my shop.

The Plans

The ceiling stencil didn’t happen.

Dining Room Makeover Reveal

This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through an affiliate link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Despite the bright colors in the mood board, the room is a very relaxing and tranquil feeling. I’m keeping it pretty simple because I desperately need a peaceful environment right now.

I’ve been too busy to actually enjoy it, but it sure does make me happy when I walk through it, even if the rest of the house is trashed.

The table was a lucky vintage find at a thrift store. It was the kind of find that you swipe up before anyone else sees it. I bought a set of chairs from my friend, Cassie, and then bought another set to match.

The chandelier was found at an antique market in Sicily. I love it so much. The roses are hand-sculpted and have imperfect fingerprints in them.

The curtains were dyed and trimmed out to match my living room curtains. I love the bit of softness they add to the room.

I added cabinets to the room surrounding the French doors. Shelves will be eventually be added so that my dreams of a library can be fulfilled. For now, the cabinets add so much extra storage. 

I painted the cabinets to blend in with the walls. This helps my small room from feeling smaller. The box on top is my solution to the never-ending paper problem.

I repainted my china cabinet and sold it. It was replaced with an IKEA besta hack. This cabinet holds a ton of board games. In the winter, we hibernate and play games a lot.

The wallpaper panel was my solution to needing a piece of art crazy enough to compliment my cabinet.

I used a hoarded roll of the Opalhouse paper. This was the perfect use for 1 roll of paper. We love looking at the design and seeing weird, unintended designs.

I love how the chairs fit around the table. So far, my card game-playing son has no objections to the table, so I’m happy.

I never thought I would be a rug-in-the-dining-room type of person, but it adds so much warmth to the room. Gracie is also a fan.

Doesn’t everyone’s dog match their rooms?

Marble Lazy Susan (similar)

I’m so happy with my new dining room makeover, even if it isn’t finished 100% to completion.





Coral game cabinet (tutorial)

Cabinets (tutorial)

Curtains (tutorial)

Paint Color: SW Cooled Blue

Marble Lazy Susan

Wallpaper – Target

Clock (similar)

Artwork (vintage)

Big thanks to HANDy Paint company for providing me with products to paint with. I have a few weeks off in December and there are a few walls that I’m thinking about painting at that time.

Pin for Later!

Emy is a vintage obsessed mama of 2 DIYer who loves sharing affordable solutions for common home problems. You don’t need a giant budget to create a lovely home. Read more…

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