Home Improvement

Building a Sustainable Household: Where to Start

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Chicago is a buzzing environment for sustainable, green and eco-friendly projects. If you haven’t heard about it yet, there’s a five-bedroom house called the most sustainable home ever built in Chicago in the Roscoe Village. It’s been developed by Ryan Kolar and it has received a lot of media attention when it entered the real estate market.

The house, on sale for one and a half million dollars, has an outside made of recycled brick and wood, repurposed steel stairs and doors made of repurposed mahogany floors. Using strategically placed windows and a skylight, Kolar has reduced the energy consumption to an eighth of what other households current pay for similar properties. He’s also installed a water recycling system that uses shower and faucet water in the toilets.

Admittedly, it’s a high price for an environmentally-friendly house, but you may not need to buy new to create a sustainable home that looks after the planet – and after your savings too.

Energy saving technology

You might need to ensure that your home is prepped with the best energy-saving technology. Let’s clarify this statement: It doesn’t mean that you should install a solar panel on your roof. Instead, you can make sure that the property is set to limit energy waste. Consider the cost of creating hot and cold water and pumping it around the property, for instance.

If your building is set with a traditional pumping system that has constant flow water loops, this design requires a lot of unnecessary water flow and affects the energy cost. However, if the property uses an ultrasonic flow meter, it can monitor and vary the flow to match your needs in real time. In short, you don’t need to waste energy. Make sure also to consider your heating systems and your lightbulb equipment to save energy.

Planet-friendly habits

You don’t always need to change your energy systems to build a greenhouse. You can also modify your habits to reduce waste at home. Fridges, for example, are cost-hungry. The way you organize your shelves can save you a lot of money. For a start, keeping your fridge full consumes less energy than keeping an empty fridge cool. So pack your door shelves full of all the drinks and condiments. With a clever leftover system on the top shelf, you can avoid both food and energy waste. Apply a similar decluttering strategy to your pantry cupboard, to avoid wasting opened packs, buying the same items twice, and missing on the expiry date.

(Related post: How to Organize Your Fridge)

Alternative options to save costs and resources

With a little of DIY attention, you can create significant sustainable savings. For instance, if you’ve never considered growing your vegetables, it’s time to start now. With the right approach, you can save on your grocery shopping and keep your family healthy. Additionally, growing your vegs reduces the impact of product transport on the environment, so it’s a win-win for you and the planet! DIY can go a long way for your wallet and the environment, as you can also upcycle unused pieces of furniture or even make your clothes.

So what’s stopping you from creating your sustainable household?

Family, Self-Care

First Trimester Mini Survival Guide

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You’ve tried for the perfect little bundle of joy, and here you are in the beginning stages of your first trimester. There’s a mighty oak the size of a poppy seed burrowing down in your womb, and other than feeling excited, frightened and happy, you’re probably feeling all the joys that the first trimester brings. The first trimester of pregnancy is arguably the toughest trimester of them all, and not just physically. You’re dealing with the emotional side of praying that your little poppy seed will root and stick, and you’re hoping and praying the first ultrasound provides that comfort of a healthy little heartbeat flickering away.

Image source whether this is your first baby or your fourth, you need to know that every single pregnancy is different. I’ve learned this from experience! I’ll be having my third child in the next 17 days! Different symptoms, aches, pains, and emotions happen with each baby, and dealing with those is tough! When your head is hanging down the toilet bowl and you are revisiting your breakfast, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be thinking about your prenatal fitness, but you are still thinking about your health. The thing is, the first trimester can bring you so many quirky symptoms that managing to stay healthy when fruit and vegetables make you vomit is hard! So, what is it about first trimester that you need to know the most?

You need a good support system.

It goes without saying, pregnancy is hard. You’re a hormone casserole and you need people to tell you that how you feel is valid – even when you are overreacting. Always seek advice from a doctor if you are concerned about any pains or symptoms that are extreme, such as constant sickness. However, your family and friends should be around you and support you as much as possible.

You need to sleep.

If this is your first baby, the one thing that you should spend as much time doing before the third-trimester kicks in is sleeping. Once you hit the home stretch before labor, insomnia and restless legs kick in. Alongside this, your bladder seems to shrink to the size of a walnut. Sleep is hard to come by beyond the second trimester, and then there’s a baby keeping you up. Relax. This is your pregnancy and your time to bloom. Let it happen in peace.

Learn to combat sickness.

You may not have full of vomit drama throughout your pregnancy, but nausea and food aversions could still factor for you. Read here some cool tips and tricks to hold off nausea and the vomit and use trial and error to see what could work for you.

Prenatal vitamins are not a joke.

Forgetting your vitamins could make the difference between a healthy baby or not. Don’t miss out on yours and set an alarm every morning so that you don’t forget to take them. Make it the evening if the morning sickness is too much.

Your pregnancy is a time of joy, as it should be. You should do what you can to make your pregnancy happy, relaxed and calm. A storm in a teacup is coming, and it’s a cute one!

Family, Self-Care

Four Essential Health Checks For The Entire Family

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

While many people spend January searching for New Year’s resolutions to stick to, you might be wiser opting for a bit of lifestyle checkup. As a responsible parent, you want the best for your kids in every shape and form. There’s no better place to start than with their health.

Running to the doctor when they have a rough cough or a persistent earache is one thing, but what about heeding the edict that prevention is better than cure. Take a look at these four essential health checks that the whole family should undergo so that you’re ready to start 2018 fit, healthy and happy.


Although the dentist may not be everyone’s favorite medical professional, the health of your teeth and in particular, your children’s teeth, is paramount. Sugary sweets, drinks, and candy can contribute to a range of dental issues including cavities, enamel reduction, and gum disease.

The best way to prevent these problems becoming painful and widespread is for a regular checkup with your local dentist. It may take a while to find an individual that your little darlings are comfortable with. That’s ok. You should locate a professional who has experience working with children and has a pleasant demeanor. By getting your cherubs opening their mouths wide at an early age, the dentist phobia won’t have a chance to embed.


It pays to visit an optometrist nearby to monitor the vision of your nearest and dearest. From an early age, eye exams are crucial to the health of our eyes. While it’s rare for there to be any serious issues, a qualified optometrist can pick up on any early signs of short-sightedness or astigmatism that may need correcting with glasses. If you have a family history of vision issues or you or your little ones are diabetic, it’s even more crucial that you keep up with your eye exams.


Ear infections are less common in adults than in children. Often pain from the inner ear isn’t caused by a bacteria but by a buildup of wax. Although it doesn’t sound the most pleasant examination in the world, taking your kids to an ear clinic could prevent them from getting a condition such as glue ear which can cause hearing loss for a short time. The nurse will be able to pick up on infections, prescribe antibiotics if needed and also clear wax by syringing if this is the appropriate course of action. If ear problems are persistent, the clinician will also discuss a further course of action with you.


Although weight shouldn’t be made an enormous focus for children growing up as we want them to have a healthy relationship with food, it’s important that you monitor their weight on the sly to ensure they are remaining within a healthy range. In the USA around 20% of children are obese. It’s vital that your child doesn’t become a statistic.

Getting a health overhaul at the beginning of the year can set you on the right course for 2018. Happy New Year!


Managing Sibling Rivalry

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

We all think of siblings as being the best of friends and getting on no matter what. Unfortunately, though, the relationship between siblings isn’t always that simple. There can be quite a lot of rivalry between them, especially when they are very young and they each think that they should get their own way. With two (soon to be three!) kids, I can tell you that from experience.

Sometimes it manifests itself as arguments and some back-and-forth chatter, but sometimes it can be much worse and could even end up in a physical fight. Sound like your kids? If so, you are probably at the end of your rope and would do anything to make them get along.

Putting an end to sibling rivalry isn’t always that difficult. These tips should help to ease any conflict.

Take It In Turns

One of the main sources of arguments is when a child thinks that they haven’t been given a fair chance at something. For example, they might feel that they haven’t had the same amount of time on the computer as their sibling.

One way around this is to get an internet deal that offers multiple devices to be connected at once, like the one only at Optimum.com, so that your kids can use devices at the same time. But when your kids are doing things that need to be done in turns, make sure you time everyone’s turn and ensure that they are all equal.

Don’t Label Them

Some parents label their kids. You know the kinds of things, like “the sporty one”, “the quiet one”, or “the intelligent one”. You shouldn’t do this as this can cause them to compare themselves with one another, and this could help rivalries develop. Sure, you might have a child who is more sporty than the others, but this difference shouldn’t define them. And you certainly shouldn’t use it to label them.

(Related post: How to Teach Your Children to Make Healthy Food Choices)

Team Spirit

It’s a good idea to try and create a team spirit within your family. Rather than being a group of individuals, you should see yourselves as more of a team with the tips at imom.com. Everyone works together to help each other and for the greater good. This will help to make sure that all of your children feel equal and just as important as each other. No one will feel left out at all, which will help cut down on all those arguments!

No Favorites

It is absolutely necessary that you don’t have a clear favorite child. This will only make all of their siblings feel inferior and very much left out. Every child should be your favorite! This can sometimes be difficult to show, though, especially when your kids ask awkward questions like “who do you love more?” You need to answer these tactically with answers like “I love you all in special ways!”

It can be difficult to completely put an end to sibling rivalry but all of these tips should help you get there. At least sibling rivalry often comes to an end as they start to get older!

Managing Sibling Rivalry - The Southern Smiths: Tips to help foster your kids relationships with each other, and you!