Friday, January 19, 2018

How To Make Your Home Great Again

It's 2018, and if you're still looking at all the images that fall under the category #beautifulhome, then it may be time to have a word with yourself. Why look and pine over spaces that you don't have, when you can create your own magical environment? Don't let the idea of things being too expensive put you off because if you're clever enough, you don't need to be splashing your cash on the latest buys. Of course, a few luxuries are still essential, but if you're creative enough, then you can pretty much do anything you want.

The style
There are so many different styles out there that it'd be wise to first think of a theme you want to follow. This way every room will fit together as an overall piece. A popular look nowadays is going minimalistic and super open plan. But this may not be your thing, so it's a good idea to have a look through magazines or online until you find a style that you connect with. Then you have a place to start.

The pieces
The little things really count, so you don't necessarily need to swap out all of your furniture and objects and start over. Sometimes it's enough to just change a few little things. Like a table, for example, get rid of the one covered in scratches and stains, and buy a dining table that looks beautiful and brings a sense of style to the room. Even the kind of lighting you have will change the way your home looks. Cater each room to a different set of lights that all have their own mood and personality. The kitchen needs a lot of light as it's where you'll cook, so built-in ceiling lights work well, while the living room can have a dimmer switch installed for variety. And the bedroom could have its own elegant chandelier! (Why not?!)

The life
Plants are a wonderful touch that you can add to a home. They are visually appealing, smell divine, and even supply you with oxygen as well as purifying the air. So what's not to love? If your room is rather neutral, then a plant is a good option, like a peace lily. They don't require much maintenance and tend to last years! White orchids are also very beautiful and add a sense of calm to the environment. If you need colour in your life though, then bringing in some wild flowers will give you what you crave.

Now you have some ideas, start mixing them up until you create your perfect haven. As long as you feel safe and comforted in your home, then that's all that matters. You want a home to connect with all of your senses. That's the key. Once that's been done, you'll be the one taking pictures of your rooms and uploading them to social media. You may even be the inspiration to others out there.

Frugal Family Financing: It's Time to Manage Your Money Better

Kids might be small but they're very expensive- and when you're raising a family, chances are you're doing so on a budget. Living costs are high, and wages can be low- unless you're very fortunate, you probably don't have all that much spare cash left at the end of the month. However there are ways to make your money go further, and living frugally doesn't have to mean 'doing without' or 'scraping by.' Living a wholesome life on a budget can actually be very rewarding. Whether you're doing so to save money or because you need to make your money last, here are a few things to consider.

Budget Carefully
These days there are tonnes of budgeting apps out there that can help you to efficiently organise your money. To stay on top of things you need to know what comes in and what goes out. You should have a separate account for bills and direct debts, so you're never spending money that's accounted for. Prioritise your essential bills, and then you can see the best way you can utilise what's leftover. It could be spending on something useful or saving it, either way; it prevents it from being mindlessly wasted. .

Make Food Cutbacks
Food doesn’t come cheap, and one of your biggest outgoings as a family is likely to be your grocery shop. However, on top of this, you're probably spending on coffee shop drinks, takeaways, sweets or grabbing a sandwich at lunch. It all adds up! Eating well is vital and you should eat for health, but cutting back doesn't mean going without. Batch cook meals and freeze portions, so you have a convenient backup of healthy meals. Pack your own sandwiches and take lunch to work instead of buying it. Purchase a flask and take your own coffee with you, and keep takeaways to a minimum. If you keep a well-stocked pantry, you won't run out of food and be tempted to order in, instead, you can keep takeaways as a real treat- a planned one!

Sell What You No Longer Need
Kids are expensive because they’re continually growing and they are always gaining new interests. This means they can go through clothes and toys very quickly; they can change so fast that in may cases these kinds of items are still in excellent condition where they weren't used for very long. Instead of just throwing them away or donating them, sell what you no longer need or use. You won't get back the full original price you paid, but it can certainly raise some money which can be used towards new items. The Facebook marketplace, Gumtree and other classified ad sites are excellent for this, as your ad will be seen by lots of local people. That way they can collect and there's no expensive shipping fees.

Plan For The Future
Lots of us live paycheck to paycheck, which is dangerous as it means if we’re hit with an unexpected expense we could be stuck unable to afford it. Starting a savings account gives you a buffer just in case anything goes wrong. Having the right insurances in place can be useful too, taking out home warranty or home insurance is invaluable in case something goes wrong and you can't afford to put it right. Think about now, and plan for the future too.

Consolidate Debt
Debt is a significant drain on a person's budget. This is because it’s so easy to accumulate and when it does you're stuck paying more interest. With many people, it reaches the stage where they can only afford to make the minimum payment each month (which only covers the interest), so the amount of debt is never being reduced. When this happens, and you’re overcommitted, your best bet would be to contact a debt charity or company before you start falling behind. They can often work to have payments reduced and interest frozen, and recommend different plans you can sign up to to get your debt paid off without falling behind with your money. Another option (but one you would need to carry out carefully) would be to take out a consolidation loan or credit card and use this to pay off all other debts. That way you only pay for the one lot of interest, which can work out cheaper.  Not to mention it's easier for you too as you're only paying the one bill.

What steps will you be taking to ensure your money is being managed better this year?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Can You Really Make Your Garden a Fun Place for Your Kids to Play While Still Keeping It Beautiful?

Having outdoor spaces around your home can mean great fun places for kids (and pets) to play, but generally, this comes at the expense of being able to have a garden that looks pretty. Delicate flowering plants and ornamental trees are usually not great at withstanding boisterous play, and kids and dogs do tend to love digging holes or making big divots in lawns.
Image result for kids having fun in the backyard garden
1. Fun Vs Beautiful
For some people, the choice is simple, and the fun the younger members of their family have in the garden is far more valuable to them than having a beautiful garden, devoid of random toys, holes, and broken plants. Others try and compromise, by letting their kids and pets play to their heart's content in the back yard, but keeping the front yard as a more out of bounds, ornamental space. There are even times (for example when trying to sell a home), when a good-looking garden might outweigh play time, and kids are taken to the park if they want to have fun outside instead.
These are all valid approaches, but is it possible to have a practical garden that is good for games and play, that also looks nice?
2. Alternatives to Natural Lawns
    Lawns are generally the areas where most play takes place, but it can be hard to keep your turf looking nice when it is used as a sports pitch! Artificial lawns are becoming more and more popular, as well as being soft and natural looking, they are also safer for kids and pets and don't end up with weeds and bugs. For older kids, a deck or patio can also be a good alternative to keep the garden looking neat, but they are harder surfaces where younger kids may get scrapes more easily.

    3. Robust Plants Vs Ornamental Plants
      Mature trees, hedges and shrubs tend to be the best choices around the areas where your kids play. You can check out My Gardening Network for ideas about the types of plants you could consider.
      If you have big trees already in your garden, these can be used for play in attractive ways, for instance by building a tree house or making a swing off a large, sturdy branch.
      With older kids you can consider cacti, too, which are very resilient – though the spiky varieties are perhaps too dangerous for smaller children.
      It can be a bad idea to put more ornamental, flowering plants, or leafy herbs which can be fragile, on the borders of your lawn area or anywhere else where they are adjacent to where your children play. Instead, add color with hanging baskets, window boxes, or self-contained troughs.
      If you plan out your garden so that the most delicate plants are out of harm's way and the features included for your kids, such as tree houses and swings, blend into the natural look of the garden, there is no reason why you can't have a thriving, pretty garden as well as happy kids!

      Wednesday, January 17, 2018

      Sick Days - Cheering Your Children Up During Illness

      When illness hits your home, you might be left at a loss for what to do. Obviously, if it is you or your partner who are ill, you will probably just have to put on a brave face as you continue to look after the kids as normal. But if one of your kids were to fall ill, then that is a completely different story altogether! They will not be happy at all and they will expect you to entertain them while they have a sick day from school or nursery.

      Not sure you’d be able to cope if you did have to look after your child while they were off from school or nursery? No worries, here are some really useful tips that can help you get through your child’s illness.

      Try And Get The Day Off Work
      Thankfully, most companies out there understand that employees with children might need to take the occasional day off to look after sick offspring. So, hopefully, your company will be perfectly happy to take one day off to look after your child. If you aren’t able to, then your partner might have better look trying to wrangle a day off. However, if it doesn’t look like either of you will be able to escape from the clutches of work for a day, you will have to move onto the next point.

      Arrange Childcare
      So, you can’t get the day off work to look after your child. It’s OK, there are a few backup options that you might be able to use. It’s a good idea to get in touch with either set of your child’s grandparents to see if they are able to look after them for the day. However, if their grandparents are particularly old, then you might not want to risk them catching whatever it is your child is suffering from. So, you might prefer leaving them with a younger relative or friend. If none of those options work for you, you could always use the services of a local nanny or babysitter.

      Take Them Straight To The Doctors
      As soon as you do realize that one of your kids is ill, you should take them to see a doctor straight away. Don’t worry about health insurance - more often than not, children are covered on their parents’ policies, but you might want to double check a site like GoMedigap for more information on specific health insurance policies and what exactly they cover. Once your child has seen the doctor, you can have some peace of mind knowing that their condition isn’t too serious. If it is something to worry about, though, you can be sure that the doctor will give them all of the necessary medication and treatments. And then you can take them home so that they can focus on getting all better!

      Encourage Them To Nap
      It’s a good idea to try and get your poorly child to sleep as much as possible while they are ill. Their body will need all the rest it can get! While they are sleeping, their immune system can get to work fighting all of the germs and bacteria that are causing the illness. Plus, the doctor might have given them some medication that could leave them feeling drowsy and sleepy. If they do end up feeling this way, they shouldn’t try and fight the urge to sleep. To encourage them to take a nap, you could get them to lie out on the sofa while they are watching the TV. They will then be able to nod off whenever they feel like it. If you find them sleeping on the sofa, simply switch off the TV so that they can have some peace and quiet.

      Get Them To Drink Plenty
      As well as plenty of sleep, your child will also need to drink lots of water while they are sick. It’s always best for them to drink water as sugary juices could make them feel quite nauseous while they are poorly. However, if your child refuses to drink plain water, then it’s fine to offer them some fresh fruit juices. Just make sure that they are as low in sugar as possible. Their body will need plenty of fluids while it is ill to help it fight off the illness. So, even if your child might be throwing up quite a bit, it’s always worth offering them small sips of water so that they don’t end up dehydrated.

      Prepare Some Quiet Activities
      Of course, your child won’t be able to sleep around the clock. There will be times when they are awake, and you will certainly know that they are because they will be complaining about being ill quite a bit! So, you need to think of some ways you can entertain them. Keeping them entertained will help them take their mind off their illness and they won’t feel quite so down in the dumps. It’s a good idea to stick to some quiet activities so that they don’t exert themselves too much and make themselves feel worse. Things like reading a book together, playing with some dolls or Action Men, or just watching the TV will be enough to take their mind off everything.

      Don’t Force Them To Eat
      If your child is particularly bad, then there is no way they will feel like eating anything. This is often the case in the first couple of days of their illness when their health will be at its worst. You shouldn’t try to force them to eat anything during this time. They might not be able to keep anything down and forcing them to eat will only lead to them throwing up - you will be making mess for yourself to clean up! You can keep their energy up by giving them juice and dry toast to eat.

      You might feel really frustrated that there is little you can do when your child is ill, but all of the above steps should be a big help!

      Controlling the Money That Your Home Eats for Fun

      Your home will eat your money for the fun of it and not because it is necessarily even that hungry, that much is for certain. But, you can stop your home from indulging on your finances in this downright useless manner by simply seeking to control the money that you spend within and because of your home.

      For advice on how to control your homely finances, make sure to read on.


      Control your taxes
      Taxes play a massive part in the finances that you pay in your home and can also be eaten up for the fun of it by it. And, if you want to bring your tax prices down, specifically your council tax, you’re going to have to start trying to control them as best and as often as you can.

      The first thing that you should be doing when seeking to control your taxes is getting in touch with a tax attorney. You should be doing so because these sorts of people are professionals in the field of tax paying and are well versed in everything in regards to tax law, and when you have somebody like that working in your corner you will give yourself a far better chance of brining your tax prices down. More to the point, when you have somebody like that working for you in your corner you will make it far more likely that instances of over-payment in regards to your taxes will be able to be spotted far easier. And, when these sorts of instances are spotted, your finances will not be eaten up for the fun of it.

      Something else that you should be doing when seeking to eradicate spending too much in regards to your taxes is keeping a record of your tax records at all times. You see, when you have full-proof evidence backing up the fact that you have both paid your taxes or received a tax repayment you will make it far harder for anybody in office to claim that you need to be paying more money in useless taxes.

      Control your insurances
      Like the money you pay on your home’s taxes, the money that you pay on its insurances can be as equally as useless and high. But you can bring these insurance premiums right down, you know.

      When seeking to do so, the first thing that should be done is the acquiring of homeowners insurance because of the way it offers compressive and full-cover support for those that acquire it. Specifically, the support it would offer you is guarantee of monetary repayment should damage occur in your home that is out of your hands, such as damage incurred by either fire or water or should your home be the target of criminality.

      And then, once you've decided that this specific type of insurance is in fact what you need, getting the premiums down in regards to it should be your number one goal. And, the best way to do this is to try to combine it with your other insurances when and where you can. You see, today, many insurers offer their customers the chance to combine their home insurance with their other insurances, such as their car insurance. And, when these kinds of offers and deals are tapped into you by yourself you will soon see a sharp decline in the amount of money you are having to pay for your insurance premiums. Ultimately, this means your home will not be eating into your insurance funds for absolutely no reason at all.

      Don’t waste money in your home
      Yes, luxuries are nice to have and they do bring your home to life, but sometimes they are just a complete waste of money. And, as is the theme here, wasting money is most definitely something to be avoided.

      One way to stop wasting money in your home is to forgo opting for expensive luxuries and to instead opt for simpler ones. For instance, instead of opting for underfloor heating in your home, why not just buy yourself a portable oil-filled heater? By doing so you will still warm your home up but you won't have to be paying extortionate prices to do so.

      Your home will most certainly eat up your money for fun, and it’s time you put a stop to it. And, when it comes to putting a stop to this useless kind of spending, make sure to remember all of the points above.

      Sunday, January 14, 2018

      The Simple Luxuries That Will Really Bring Your Home To Life

      When you’re tired of your home decor, you can often feel as if you have to renovate every inch of the space. And that can not only drive you crazy, but it can cost too! If you really don’t like the idea of having to redo everything from scratch so that you can fall in love with it, then you’ll be glad to know that this doesn’t have to be the way to do it. Instead, you need to hone in on a few key details. Whether you’re looking to renovate your home after you’ve just moved in, or you feel like your tired decor could just do with a bit of a shake up, then you’ll really benefit from investing in a few little luxuries that can bring your home to life.

      Underfloor Heating
      Up first is something that will improve your quality of living, as well as the way that you feel about your home. Because when your house is cold, you’re never going to feel all that much at home. Instead, you need to make sure that the place heats up nicely. One of the best kinds of heating to install that will improve your home is underfloor heating. Because with this fancy way of doing things, you don’t need radiators. And that means you’ll be able to maximize the space you have available in rooms too.

      Sky Light
      From here, you’re then going to want to think about the way that you can add some more light into your home. And, of course, in a luxury way! Well, what could be more luxury than a sky light? Not only will this allow you to open up spaces and let in some more natural light, but it’s going to look stunning too. So you’re definitely going to feel as if you’ve upgraded the level of your home.

      Granite Countertops
      Now, you’re going to want to think about what you can do in your kitchen to really create a sense of luxury. While there’s a lot you can do, you’re going to want to work on that one thing that will really pop. So, of course it’s going to have to be some stunning granite countertops, such as those by World Stone, that will really change the look of the room. Because you might not want to change the entire kitchen, but a countertop upgrade will make you feel as if you have.

      Hot Tub Bath
      From here, you’re then going to want to do something similar in the bathroom. Again, you may not want to put in a whole new suite, but a jacuzzi tub will do the trick. With something so indulgent, you’ll feel like you’re at a spa every time you bathe.

      Home Hub Security
      Finally, you’re going to want to make sure that your home is protected. A security system that’s hooked up to a smart home hub is always going to be the best of the best. And the great thing about this is, that you can control it when you’re out of the home too, meaning you’ll feel secure knowing that you’ve protected everything that you’ve built.


      Friday, January 12, 2018

      From Boring College Dorm To A Cozy Home Away From Home

      When your kids move away to go to college, it’s their time to make a mark on the world. They will finally have all the independence that they have probably craved throughout their teenage years. Plus, you won’t be there looking over their shoulder anymore! So, many college students feel that they are finally free to make all their big life decisions on their own for the very first time in their lives. That will certainly be very liberating for them!

      And one of the first places they will want to make their mark is in their college dorm. Now that they have their very own space, they will be able to do whatever they want to it and decorate it however they like. You won’t be able to have any say in their bedroom design now that they no longer live under your roof! But, even so, it’s still a good idea to pass on some decor and organization tips to them so that they can create a college dorm room that is both comfortable and practical. Here are some great tips that you should pass onto them to ensure that they don’t make a big hash of their college dorm, and that they can turn it into a cozy home away from home!

      Use Plenty Of Photos
      It’s a good idea to remind your kids to take some family photos with them to uni. They should also gather together some pictures of their friends as well. Photos are a great addition to any decor and adding lots of familiar faces to the walls will make your child feel a bit less homesick once they first move out. They’ll be able to display their photos in frames or they can simply stick them to the walls. They just need to make sure that they don’t use pins or any adhesives that will damage the paintwork as that could lose them the deposit on the room!

      Add Some Posters

      As well as photos, your child should consider getting some posters to add to their walls. Again, these will need to be applied using an adhesive that won’t damage the paintwork on the walls. Whether your child prefers music or movies, there will be plenty of posters that I’m sure they will be into. They can check websites like All Posters to find some really cool movie posters. If they’d rather have a poster of their favorite band, they could pick one up at their next gig or concert.

      Get Plenty Of Seating

      When your child moves into their office dorm, they will probably find that there is only enough furniture for a single person. One bed, one chair - that might be it! If they are lucky, they might also find a very small sofa. So, as you can tell, there won’t be enough seating for them to have guests around. They’ll be allowed to add some extra pieces of furniture, though, so it’s worth getting some more chairs. They might also want to take a look at the Sack Daddy website to get some super-comfy bean bags. These will add some extra shape and color to the dorm room, which will make the overall interior design extra inviting to guests!

      Take Extra Bedding For Guests

      The college won’t supply any extra bedding for students to have guests stay over. That’s not to say that your child won’t be able to have guests stay in their room with them - they just won’t get any extra bedding for them! So, it’s a good idea to send your child off to college with an extra duvet and pillows. There won’t be an extra bed for any guests, so they should also take a sleeping bag and camp bed to make up for this. Camp beds can be easily folded up and stored away when not in use, so they won’t take up too much space in the dorm room.

      Cover Tiled Flooring
      You won’t be able to change the floor that is in the dorm room, but there are some ways you can cover it up. If your child moves into a carpeted dorm room, then there should be no reason to change it, as the carpet will provide the room with some warmth. However, tiled flooring can be very cold and could make the whole room come across as quite cool. There’s an easy way around this, though - just add some rugs! Rugs come in all shapes and sizes so your child will be able to find one that can cover most of the floor of their room and cover up as much of the tiles as possible.

      Add Lamps To Dark Rooms
      The majority of college dorm rooms are quite small and cramped. As a result, they will often feel quite dark and dim, which, in turn, can make the room feel even more cramped than what it actually is. To break this circle, you will need to open up the windows to let as much light flood in as possible. The best way to do this is to replace any dark and heavy curtains with some thinner ones. It’s also useful to get some curtains that come with bows or ties so that you can open them as wide as possible and tie them back so there is no chance of the material falling in front of the window.

      Make A Wall Mural

      If your child has a creative streak, then they might like the idea of making their very own wall mural in their college dorm room. This is a great way to create a focal point in the bedroom which will instantly attract everyone’s attention. There are lots of ways to create a mural, but the safest in a dorm room is to just stick a variety of things to the walls. Your child won’t be able to be too artistic and draw on the walls, so it’s best to keep things safe and just stick numerous posters, photos, and other cute decor additions onto the walls with some safe adhesives.

      Take Advantage Of Washi Tape
      I’ve mentioned a few times already in this post that you need to use some adhesives that won’t damage the walls too much when you are sticking the likes of photos and posters to them. The best adhesive for this is washi tape. This is long strips of tape that won’t leave any residue when you remove them from walls. The strips are easy to peel away from the surface onto which they are stuck, and they also won’t remove any of the paintwork with them. But that’s not the only reason for choosing washi tape. The tape itself is covered in colorful patterns and images, so it is also a great way to decorate your room. You could cover the edges of bookshelves with the paint to add a splash of color, for instance. You’ll be able to find washi tape in most DIY stores as well as online.

      Get Some House Plants
      Another way to instantly add some color to a college dorm room is to add plenty of house plants and flowers. You might even want to treat your child to a bouquet of beautiful flowers as a leaving gift for them. Plants will keep a lot longer than flowers, though, so it’s a good idea to encourage your child to get some plants as well. Don’t worry about your child neglecting the pot plants and leaving them to die - there are quite a few varieties that are very easy to look after and require little attention. Take cacti, for instance. These plants are originally from the desert and are used to getting by on very little water, so there is no reason to worry that your child might kill one by forgetting to water it! You can get lots of different types of cacti, some of which grow pretty little flowers, so it’s worth getting a few different ones to add some variety to the dorm room.

      Invest In A Room Divider
      If your child is moving into a shared college dorm room, then they might find that the lack of privacy is a bit of a struggle to get used to. There is an easy solution, though. They could simply buy a room divider. It’s possible to buy some really decorative dividing screen across the middle of a room so that they don’t have to see their roommate the entire time. If you think that it could come across as a bit rude, you could simply place the screen in front of the closet so that your child has a private space in which they can get dressed and undressed every day.

      You will probably remember your college dorm from back in the day - was it slightly cold and sterile? Well, your child won’t have to worry about an unaesthetic room anymore thanks to these great tips! Don't forget to pass them onto them when they move out!