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November, 2013 |

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George Osborne spends £10m of taxpayers cash on swanky new ‘Big Brother …

George Osborne has blown a cool £10.2million revamping his Whitehall HQ using firms which supply the Big
Brother house, Vivienne Westwood and the Queen Mary 2.

The Chancellor splashed tax-payers’ cash on interior designers specialising in expensive and quirky chairs, tables and desks.

two-year spending spree is revealed just days before Mr Osborne discloses his latest brutal cuts in Thursday’s Autumn Statement.

it will create out­­rage, coming as millions of the country’s most vulnerable people are hit by cuts to disability benefits and having to endure the hated bedroom tax.

of the lavish spending emerged following a question tabled in the House
of Commons
when it was revealed that over two years Mr Osborne has sanctioned a string of deals to smarten up his department.

The items bought have not been disclosed but the firms used by him are. Among the Treasury’s suppliers was Panik Design, which sells £5,500 bookshelves, £3,300 poker card tables and £65 paperweights.

Chancellor’s department
spent at least £1,300 at the Milton Keynes-based company, which claims its studio “showcases some of the world’s best in designer accessories, lighting and furniture”.

firm, whose clients include Calvin Klein and Christian Dior, boasts that it is “the UK’s largest independent stockist of contemporary design” and offers a “unique range of high-end products”.

Panik’s spokesman refused to say what the Treasury bought, but said it was “not ridiculously overpriced”.

added: “It’s a lovely functional product that does a very good job, that a lot of businesses buy. The people that work there will enjoy it.”

supplier was furniture firm Ferrious, which sells three-seater leather sofas for £7,600. The Treasury spent at least £1,696 with the company, whose website says: “Our goal is to offer clients the finest furniture, kitchens, lighting and accessories all backed up by an unparalleled interior design service.”

Mr Osborne also sanctioned spending of at least £2,700 at office furniture company Senator which promises: “Our mission is to design, deliver and manufacture innovative office furniture…of the highest quality.”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher, who uncovered the spending using parliamentary questions, accused Mr Osborne of ignoring the needs of millions of people struggling to make ends meet while he gave his HQ an expensive makeover.

Mr Dugher said: “Rather than tackle the cost-of-living crisis Treasury ministers are living it up in luxury.

have been shopping at exclusive interior designers to kit out their offices while families are gathered around the kitchen table worrying about paying bills. This goes to show just how out of touch David Cameron’s government is.”

minister Nicky Morgan said £8.5million – not including VAT – had been spent over the past two years refurbishing the Treasury to support “increased occupancy” of the building. When VAT is included, the total cost of the refurb comes to £10.2million.

One Treasury insider said: “I don’t see why we couldn’t have just bought new furniture from Ikea.”

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Job Hunt For December 2, 2013

New ‘Hot’ jobs have just been announced by Frederick County Work Force Services.


Frederick County Work Force Service’s Latrice Lewis said her agency is committed to assisting job seekers find employment and there are several Hot Jobs that are available right now. To view other job postings, just go to

Residential Sales Representative (307917)

Seeking energetic, competitive and self-motivated Residential Sales Representatives to generate qualified residential leads, participate as a productive team member, and submit pipeline and administrative reports in a timely and accurate manner. Position is full-time, and the representatives will be soliciting residential neighborhoods in the Northern Counties of Maryland. Representatives will be paid while being trained; growth opportunities are available.

Organizational Development Specialist (301809)

The Specialist will implement leadership programs that positively impact organizational effectiveness by identifying and evaluating business initiatives to ascertain appropriate programs that meet company goals. Will be responsible for the implementation of effectiveness interventions, and will consult with management and other leadership to identify business processes. Will also partner with internal stakeholders regarding employee training needs.

Optician (308113)

Dispense and fit spectacles, contact lenses and other optical aids, working from the prescriptions written by optometrists. Advise patients on various types of lenses and spectacle frames, including advice on style, weight and color. Eyewear and contact lenses sales. Also advise patients on how to wear and care for their spectacles and contact lenses. Must have outstanding customer and organizational skills, ability to communicate effectively and tactfully, computer experience, and manual dexterity to perform precision work. Must have strong salesmanship. Professional appearance, basic computer knowledge, must be able to work flexible hours and have reliable transportation.

Banquet Set Up Person (308302)

Full knowledge of all banquets and meetings held; Must be aware at all times of guest’s needs; Check stations for neatness, cleanliness, proper setup, and backup supplies if needed. Ensure setup is correct for upcoming function to be held; Has service ready at least fifteen minutes prior to scheduled time for function to commence; Sets room up in its entirety before serves arrive. Maintain cleanliness of the storeroom and all banquet areas, to include cleaning baseboards, polishing brass and dusting light fixture.

Warewasher (308305)

Washes dishes, glass, etc. as assigned pots, pans kitchen utensils, etc.; Cleans kitchen floor, storage area, walls, etc.; Removes garbage and washes garbage cans before putting them back in place; Performs other reasonable related duties as assigned by immediate supervisor and management.

RN or LPN (Registered / Licensed Practical Nurse) (307540)

Home health care provider seeking skilled Registered Nurses (RN)/ Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) to work within our clients’ homes providing direct patient care. Experience with pediatric trach, vent, g-tube, and suctioning highly desired. Full Time and Part Time positions for overnight shifts. Must have Current Maryland RN/LPN license and at least one year of experience.

Landscape Laborer (308112)

Temporary (over 6 months expected) Landscape or maintain grounds of property using hand or power tools or equipment. Workers perform a variety of tasks, which may include the following: sod laying, mowing, trimming, planting, watering, fertilizing, digging, and raking. No experience necessary. 7am-4pm; M-F Saturday work may be necessary. Transportation provided from Frederick to job sites daily. Competitive wages

Public Affairs/Administrative Assistant (308240)

Provides public affairs support for the command when NMRC PAO is not available. Interacts with news media representatives and members of the public on routine matters (does not act as spokesperson for the command); Editor of the monthly newsletter to include all day to day aspects with attention to detail related to content, layout, final preparations for distribution etc. to meet established deadlines. Has skills in interviewing a variety of people and gathering information from many differ sources for newsletter articles and other public affairs information products.

Senior Statistical Programmer/Project Lead (308087)

Provides critical clinical programming support to projects; Interacts directly and independently with staff and management as a fully functioning member of the clinical programming team; – Ensures compliance of standards for all SAS programming assignments; Reviews and provides feedback on designs, annotations, DB structures, edit checks, SAPs and SPPs.

CarMax employment opportunities:

Information session – Monday 12/2, 2-3

Call 301-600-2389 to register.


For information on other employment opportunities and job tips, log onto

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Setting a festive holiday table



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    Holiday tablescapes at the Ideas House at 5936 Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis, MN on November 12, 2013.

    Photo: Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

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    The holiday season is officially underway, and chances are you’ll be serving a celebratory meal or two before it’s over.

    Whether you’re hosting a big gathering or a festive dinner for the family, dressing up the table is one way to make the occasion special.

    You don’t have to invest in expensive decorations or dinnerware to create a holiday mood. Instead, you can get creative with what you have on hand, plus a few low-cost embellishments.

    For ideas, we turned to Bachman’s, where a team of four designers have decked out the Holiday Ideas House in full seasonal splendor. This year’s Ideas House includes four tablescapes: a traditional Christmas dinner, a winter-white holiday wedding, a sophisticated black-and-white New Year’s Eve party, and a Nordic-themed holiday spread.

    “Scandinavian style is trendy now,” said Sarah Pitts, Bachman’s spokeswoman. “But it’s evergreen for this area,” where so many people have Scandinavian roots.

    For other timely trends for the season, plus designers’ best tips and tricks for setting a table that will “wow” your guests with holiday spirit, read on.


    Everyday dinnerware in plain white or another neutral color can lay the foundation for a festive holiday look. “You don’t have to buy new dishes,” said Pitts. “One way to achieve new looks is to layer in linens or accent dishware.”

    Think outside the box by introducing layers of unexpected elements. For a traditional Christmas table setting, Bachman’s designers wrapped each place setting with a ribbon tied with a bow, to resemble a gift-wrapped present. Small individual floral arrangements on top of each place setting make a celebratory statement — and double as party favors for guests to take home.

    Lifting the eye

    You can elevate your tablescape, literally, by adding height. For an elegant winter-white wedding table, Bachman’s designers used cut-glass bowls as plate risers under each place setting. You also can play with height for your centerpiece, Pitts said. Instead of one big centerpiece, collect smaller elements of varying heights, such as candles and collectibles, and arrange them in the center of the table. (For a Scandinavian-themed holiday table, Bachman’s designers used wooden stars, votives and cut-glass candlesticks.) Smaller decorations also allow more room on the table for food, Pitts noted.

    And don’t forget the space above the table. “Looking up, there’s usually a light fixture that can be decorated,” Pitts said. Chandeliers and other light fixtures can be trimmed with garlands, berries and other seasonal decor. “It’s simple, fast and adds a big wow factor,” she said.

    Sitting pretty

    Dining chairs are often overlooked as a decorative element. For a sophisticated New Year’s Eve party table, designers draped black scarves over chair backs, tied with ribbon. For a traditional Christmas-themed table, designers used gold Deco Mesh, an inexpensive material that’s sold by the roll, as a chair tie-back.


    Look around your home to find items you can use in festive ways for your holiday table, suggested Pitts.

    For the New Year’s Eve table, designers used a shiny gold tree skirt for a tablecloth, and vintage jewelry as napkin rings to add a bit of sparkle. “It’s a great way to make use of a cool, blingy bracelet collection,” Pitts noted. Don’t forget holiday ornaments, which can be incorporated into tabletop decor in a wide variety of ways: suspended from candlesticks, displayed in dishes or hung from chair backs. Ornaments also can double as party favors for guests to take home as a holiday keepsake.

    Place cards

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    Retailers ring up sales over 2 days

    Opening on Thanksgiving was a first for many merchants, and they said the rewards paid off.

    A number of national retailers opened their doors for the first time on Thanksgiving Day as a way to attract shoppers. Macy’s was among the big department stores to break with its long tradition of closing on Thanksgiving Day and opened its stores at 8 p.m. Thursday.

    “We had people waiting for us to open,’’ said Sharolyn Scott, manager of Macy’s Shenango Valley Mall store in Hermitage. “There was a lot of excitement here with customers.’’

    The store remained opened all night and wasn’t set to close until 10 p.m. Friday.  

    Among the promotions at Macy’s were electronic kitchen items for less than $10, skillets, diamond-studded earnings and a slew of clothing specials.

    Employees were asked if they wanted to work a specific shift on Thursday and Friday before any assignment sheet was created, Scott said.

    Noticeable almost everywhere this year early on Black Friday was the  absence of shoulder-to-shoulder crowds trying to elbow their way into stores and down aisles.

    Retailers credit earlier Thanksgiving openings for spreading out crowds more evenly over two days.

    Sears in the Shenango Valley Mall was doing a solid business in tools and electronics. Promotional items such as infrared room heaters and cooking items were displayed on many aisles.

    Likewise, the J.C. Penney store at the mall was doing well on clothing and bedding.

    Others in the local business world used the long holiday weekend to start a new or different tradition for themselves.  

    Goldstein’s Furniture Bedding had not had a Black Friday promotion for a couple of years, but decided to get back into the game. Among its hot buys were $64 accent tables, $299 recliners and a microfiber sofa with a similar price.

    The Hermitage furniture store opened at 10 a.m. Friday, two hours earlier than normal, said Kristen Colley. “We had a lot of people waiting,’’ she said.

    Buying patterns at a furniture store are a little different from traditional retailers because couples like to make their choices together.

    “I think people are doing a lot of updating,’’ Colley said. “There were a lot of husbands and wives getting gifts for each other.’’

    General Motors Corp. also got into the Black Friday celebration by offering $2,000 off all 2014 Cadillacs plus deals on other cars. Montrose Buick, GMC, Cadillac began telling people of the promotion after GM announced it last week, said James Fetterman, sales manager at the Hermitage dealership.

    “We’re trying to capitalize on people who are out shopping and for people who want a new vehicle for the holidays,’’ Fetterman said.

    At Design By G! in downtown Sharon, store owner Geri Ibanez was getting her women’s clothing, accessories and boutique shop ready for today – Small Business Saturday.

    Greater Sharon Associates decided this year to boost Sharon’s Night of Lights by having food vendors, entertainers and artists starting at noon and continuing throughout the day. The regular lighting of the tree and torch and other traditional events will begin at 6 p.m.

    Located in the newly named Loose Caboose Shops on East State Street, Ibanez said she is excited about the transformation the downtown has undergone in the past year.

    “I have people come in every week wanting to know if there’s another store in the downtown where they can open a store,’’ she said.

    In a unique twist, two stores at the small plaza across from Case Avenue Elementary School in Sharon decided to have their grand opening on Black Friday. Clark’s (photography) Studio and Cazzco, a clothing printing shop, opened Friday to try to capture buzz from all the Black Friday traffic. The businesses share an opening so patrons can move from one shop to the other without opening a door.

    Bryan Clark, a manager of the family-owned enterprise, said it was time to open a location in Sharon in addition to the studio in New Castle. Clark’s offers traditional studio photography and senior portraits, plus its photographers takes pictures for school yearbooks.

    Owner of Cazzco, who prefers just to use his last name, said after being in New Wilmington for more than five years it was a good time to open a shop in Sharon.

    Both managers said the location close to Sharon schools was good enticement.

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    Cyber Monday Deals – Where to Buy (Amazon, Macy’s, Walmart, Overstock …

    Those who have not made the best out of the lucrative Black Friday deals need not to worry as they can satisfy their shopping hunger on the Cyber Monday i.e. December 2.

    Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States, is the best time for those who don’t have the patience to stand in lines for hours and still wants to have best buying experience.  You can settle at your homes or office chairs after the weekend and start looking for online deals on this Cyber Monday.

    But where to buy, what are the deals, when to buy??? These are few questions rushing in the minds on many. Well, here we present you a list some of the biggest online retailers that will be offering Cyber Monday promotions.


    Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, may not reveal its Cyber Monday offers until Monday. But what you can do is just sign up for emails and get latest updates on its deals. Social forums like Facebook will also be a good idea to get yourself updated on what’s going on sale when it happens. In the meantime, Amazon has already started its Black Friday Deals Week where it has been discounting lots of items, adding new ones about every 10 minutes. Shopping  crazy are advised to subscribe to their Black Friday email list to get new updates pushed to you as they happen.


    Well, following the footsteps of Amazon, Macy’s too seems not to reveal exactly what’s on their cart on Cyber Monday, but they insist it will cover the gamut of their store, including women’s dresses, kitchen appliances, toys, makeup supplies and dining room accessories.



    Going a step further in making the customers wandering about the deals, the country’s largest retailer has chosen to drop some hints at what it will have on sale for Cyber Monday. It may be a whole Cyber Monday Week of discounted items and free-shipping at the WalMart. For starters, it will have the Apple iPod touch for $199 (regularly $229), and a 46-inch Samsung LED HDTV for $478.

    The Salt Lake City-based online retailer that sells overstocked goods from other stores seems to be ready to attract customers with their early -Cyber Monday deals. Discounts include 20 percent off on a 70-inch Sharp AQUOS HDTV ($1,699), up to 65 percent off on women’s dresses, 56 percent off the usually expensive Dyson vacuum cleaners, and up to 63 percent off of assorted bedding and comforters.


    The national retailer Target is beginning its Cyber Monday week from Sunday. Just sign up for email updates and explore what’s new and exciting on its cart. However, a sneak peek on their website suggests they’ll put video game systems on sale on Monday, certain toys on Tuesday, home appliances on Wednesday, other electronics on Thursday and bedding on December 8.

    Tiger Direct:

    The giant online electronics retailer opening its Cyber Monday sale with PC laptops, HDTVs, external hard drives, smartphones, desktop and computer components. It is offering free shipping for orders above $100.

    Best Buy


    Best Buy, the big-box electronics chain, will offer Cyber Monday sale with one-time sales on electronic goods. If go by its website, the company is offering sales on laptops, desktops and all-in-one computers, HDTVs, Blu-ray players, digital cameras, mobile phones, video games and much more. To get email alert on what’s new, just sign up on its website.

    JC Penney:

    JC Penney is already offering 20 to 25 percent rebate on online purchases over $100 or more, but it will host its two-day Cyber Monday deals on 50,000 items from Sunday. The retail chain is also offering free shipping on purchases over $99 to its customers.

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    Product testing: Butter Boy


    Buttering an ear of corn isn’t something you could call “difficult” but it is one of those things where you might have said “there has to be an easier way of doing this”.

    The makers of the Butter Boy think they’ve come up with that easier way.

    They claim it can be used for more than just corn, too.  They suggest it for pots, pans, and anything hot while keeping your hands clean.

    Kristen and Ashley gave it a try on WBTV News Saturday Morning.  They purchased the Butter Boy at Bed, Bath and Beyond for about $7.

    Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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    Holiday Plates put spark in holidays

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    A well-decorated table with appropriate linens, tableware and silverware, plus personal decorations, goes a long way in making a meal, especially at the holidays, not only a culinary delight, but an event.

    Just ask members of the Farmington Garden Club who on Nov. 23 and 24 decked out the Spicer House with their Holiday Plates event and gave visitors a visual delight and ideas for decorating their holiday tables.

    “We’ve had a steady stream of people,” said Barb Dermody, garden club president.

    Starting with the Spicer House front entrance — where holiday decorations greeted visitors — the historic home was filled with tables boasting the community’s diversity and garden club members’ artistic flair

    Tables were set for Purim, Hanukkah, Ramadan and Christmas with a variety of themes. Jan Dolan, former state Representative and Farmington Hills City Council member, as well as garden club member, provided a dinner table setting that required a minimal investment. The Farmington Musicale provided a holiday table with a musical theme, including plates with a piano keyboard design.

    “The whole theme this year was Winter Wonderland. We have a lot of silver and white colors and dried flowers,” said Joann Jenkins, who was co-chair of the event with Chris Britts.

    Despite the beauty of all of the holiday tables on display, garden club member Marcie Glencer said all are possible to use with meals. The point is to make the meal and the holiday an event. “This is an art form,” she said.

    In her designs, Glencer, who has also provided holiday table designs at Cranbrook, said she likes to blend concepts, such as Victorian with modern. Her design at Holiday Plates featured Spode dinnerware and gold silverware.

    Another tip she offered was to use triple napkins for design. But one of the napkins is white and is the one used by guests. “You can bleach white napkins,” Glencer said.

    And yet another tip: Use charger plates and layered, large tablecloths to add dimension and color to the table design.

    “This really doesn’t have to be expensive,” Glencer said.

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