General

Four Fall Maintenance Jobs You’ll Be Glad You Had Done

Image via Pixabay – C00 Licence

Summer is a whirlwind of barbecues and backyard parties during which time you’re busy enjoying your home with your family, friends and loved ones.  Home maintenance may not have been at the top of your list as you got on with enjoy those precious times in the sunshine. With the season drawing to a close, however, it’s time to think about tackling some of the essential maintenance jobs that have been sitting on your list for a while. Taking steps now to get your home prepped for the winter months means you’re ahead of the game. It also helps to prevent small matters piling up and turning into bigger, costlier issues. For some things it’s easy to do it yourself, whereas at other times or for larger jobs you may want to call in a professional. So what should you be looking at in the home during fall?

Service Your Heating System

You may not be thinking of using your heating system just yet, but it’s the ideal time for a service and any necessary repair work before the winter rush. After all, you don’t want to find out there’s a problem after the mercury has dropped where you’ll be suffering the cold or long waiting times to get an engineer out. Have any furnaces tested, your central heating system serviced and any open chimneys cleaned so that you know you’ll be cosy and warm when winter bites.

Inspect Your Roof And Guttering

It’s essential to make sure that your home is watertight for the coming bad weather. With roofing, small issues are very easy and inexpensive to repair, but if left unattended they can quickly escalate and develop into serious problems that can cause a lot of damage. Have a professional check for any signs of wear – depending on the type of roof you have you may need cracked and damaged tiles replaced or new vinyl siding – and have someone clear out the gutters so there aren’t any blockages which causing overflows and leaking.

Fill In Cracks And Gaps

A tube of sealant could be the only thing standing between you and lower energy bills this winter. Tackle any little cracks in the walls or gaps between the window and door frames while it’s still fall. Using silicone caulking or weather stripping is easy to do, even as a DIY fix – there are plenty of YouTube tutorials on sealing window frame gaps. The less warm air that is allowed to escape, the more comfortable your living environment and the less money you have to spend on heating.

Test Out Your Sump Pump

If you don’t know how to test out your sump pump it’s definitely something that you should learn how to do, as a little basic maintenance can really help you to save money in the long term. Preventing a backup is crucial, especially if you have experienced a dry summer. Basic maintenance can be done and instructions are usually found in the owner’s manual, but you will need to seek professional assistance for any major repairs.

General

Six Sustainable Home Improvement Ideas For Green Living

Over the past few years, society has become more aware of the impact we have on the planet. Deforestation, global warming, and other environmental concerns have become hot topics of conversation, with everyone asking how they can do better. When the time comes to freshen up your home, it makes sense to do so in a green way. Not only will this reduce your impact, but it’s healthy and cuts costs too. With that in mind, here are six sustainable home improvement ideas. 

Source – CC0 License

Paint The Right Way

Anyone wishing to make big changes to their decor usually start with the walls. However, before cracking out the paints, you must check that they won’t harm the interior environment. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemicals that are found in many paints. Using low or no VOC paints will lower the harmful emissions in your house, improving the overall air quality. 

Buy Pre-Loved Furniture

Shopping for furniture can be a lot of fun. But, you’ll find it much more enjoyable if you know your spending habits aren’t harming the planet.  When you purchase pre-loved furniture, you reduce the impact you have on the environment. This is because fewer resources are being used, and less waste is being dumped in landfills. There are many places to find second-hand bargains. 

Replace Those Old Appliances

While buying second-hand is usually better for the environment, that doesn’t always apply to appliances. Fridges, stoves, and dishwashers all become less efficient as they get older. Plus, older appliances weren’t built with efficiency in mind. Rather than waste energy needlessly, you should look into replacing your older kitchen essentials with newer, more efficient versions. 

Search For Reclaimed Materials

Whether you purchase new or pre-loved, you should search for furniture made from sustainable materials. Most rustic furniture is built with reclaimed wood, which is an environmentally sound choice but also looks handsome in a home. If you’re planning to replace your countertops, then you will save time, money, and energy by using sustainable materials for that too. 

Source – CC0 License

Let The Sunlight In

Using lamps during the day is expensive and inefficient. With the sun shining outside, there should be no reason to touch your light switches. If you don’t have enough natural light in your home, then look for ways to change that. Simply washing the windows and removing the blinds can make a huge difference. Adding skylights to your home can also be a great green project. 

Switch To Solar Panels

Even when the sun isn’t shining, you can still light up your home. Going solar allows you to harness the power of the sun and use it to power the house. Solar panels have come a long way and are much cheaper these days than when they were first invented. Nonetheless, they are still a significant investment, so make sure you have enough in the budget to cover the costs. 

With these sustainable home improvement ideas, you can adopt a green lifestyle while turning your home into a more comfortable and stylish place to live.

General

How To Lower Your Home’s Energy Bills

We have realized, some decades later than we should have, that there are costs to using up as much energy as we’d like. The dangers of climate change are already being felt, and if the experts are to be believed — and why wouldn’t they be? — then it’s possible that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. And there’s another, more personal cost too: the more energy you use, the higher your energy bills, the more money you spend each month. Not ideal. But if you’re beginning to feel the financial strain of all that electricity and gas, then fear not, because there are ways you can reduce your consumption, almost immediately. We take a look at a few of the most effective methods below.

Pexels – CC0 Licence

Is it All Necessary? 

To begin, you’ll want to look at your current usage, and figure out how much if it is actually necessary. We’re living in a society that has encouraged liberal use for a long time, and part of reducing usage involves undoing that education. Take a look at all of your energy using devices in your home, and determine if there are any that can be reduced or abandoned altogether. Sometimes there are more economical alternatives available, or they’re just no longer needed. You could make big savings just by hitting the off switch.

Update the Infrastructure

Of course, there will be some things that you need or want to have in order to run a modern, comfortable home. But sometimes the energy we’re pumping around the house just isn’t used efficiently. Let’s take everything to do with your heating and cooling infrastructure, for instance. They’re two of the biggest energy-sappers, yet much of what they produce goes out of the windows, especially if they’re old. To keep more of the cold and hot air inside of your home, check out texashomeimprovement.com. There you’ll find more energy-efficient windows available. Once they’re installed, you’ll require less hot and cool air to keep your home at an agreeable temperature, which will mean reduced bills.

Your Appliances

As well as your general infrastructure, you’ll also want to review your appliances. You might think give too much thought to your fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, and so on, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the costs of running these machines can vary wildly. If they’re old, then they’ll be much less energy efficient than newer appliances. There are special sticks that you’ll find on more modern options that waste less energy.

Family-Wide Policies

Underlining every change you make will be your family. It’s all good and well putting the right pieces in place, but it’ll be your family and anyone else in your household that has the biggest influence. Lights off — indeed everything off — when they’re not in use and using energy responsibly will make a big difference. Make sure everyone knows what they should be doing, and why they should be doing it, too. Everyone will benefit from their efforts!

General

Best Ways To Get More Privacy In Your Home

Living in privacy in the modern age appears to be getting more tough by the day. With an increase in CCTV cameras on every street and nosy smartphones users ready to record and post online everything they see, keeping your family home and it’s contents out of sight may appear impossible. Luckily, there are actually some great, creative ways in which you can make your homestead more private, and ensure that both your family and belongings are secure and out of reach of prying eyes. If you’re interested and want to know more, then read on to discover some of best steps you can implement to protect your property today!

Image Source – Pexels

Fencing & Greenery

If your garden is open and stands without any kind of defensive border around the edges, the likelihood of people being able to see into your property is of course very high. In contrast, when you make an effort to install some kind of feature that surrounds your outdoor space, everything inside seems more out of reach. Whether you opt for something that seems more natural such as trees or tall plants that can create a green barrier; or something that’s a little more imposing and obvious to create a definition between your families sanctuary and the outside world, like a wooden fence or brick wall. This all depends on the kind of vibe that you are trying to give off, as you may already have a specific design that you need to stick to. 

Curtains & Blinds 

When you travel further inside, you have a few different options to choose from. Blinds can filter the incoming light whilst still blocking anyone from seeing inside, meaning you can still have a bright home despite installing extra privacy measures. They come in so many different designs and styles that any decor can accommodate a perfect set of blinds, but if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed and rustic then perhaps curtains may be a better option. Curtains can be as thick as per your own personal choice, as there are even specific types of net curtains that allow you to see outside clearly, yet those outside cannot see in. Additionally, some are thick and covered with lush patterns to create a softer more homely kind of privacy, and they can also help to keep in some warmth when it gets a little colder. 

Security Features 

If you want to install some extra privacy features for security reasons, then luckily there are several different steps you can take. First of all, installing a camera of your own can actually protect your privacy though it may seem a strange concept, as it can act as a kind of preventative measure against any suspicious activity on or around your property. As well as this, you can measure your windows and invest in some kind of shutters. These can be made of several different materials, metal being the toughest, that close to secure your family and belongings safe inside.

General

4 Different Ways To Use Small Outdoor Space

If your outdoor space is relatively small, it can be difficult to know how the space can be used to the greatest effect. Conventionally, small gardens have always been treated largely as bigger ones would – a play area for kids, a lawn, a space to sit, and similar – but just on a smaller scale. 

However, the confines of a small space can sometimes mean it is preferable to choose a simple theme and double down on it; using the entire space to service a single goal. Below, we have suggested four different ways that you can use a small outdoor space, as well as the benefits each option can provide… 

#1 – Create a haven for wildlife

Many gardeners choose to dedicate at least some of the space in their garden to wildlife by, for example, providing an insect hotel or bird feeders. However, you can take this a step further; all you need is a small seating area for yourself, and then the rest of the space can be entirely dedicated to wildlife.

There are plenty of different ways to ensure that your garden is as wildlife-friendly as possible. Bird feeders, for example, do not necessarily need to contain food – you could save one container and fill it with discarded pet hair, which birds will then be able to use for their nests. Wildlife ponds are also a great idea and require relatively little maintenance when constructed, and you can also add sheltered areas that small animals can use as hides during the winter. Finally, you can boost the number of bees and butterflies that visit your garden by removing your lawn and planting a beautiful wildflower meadow instead. 

Pixabay // CC0 Licence

#2 – Use the space to add an extra “room” to your home 

The way that people use their gardens is changing, to the point where modern gardens are no longer just about plants, flowers, and trees. For many, their outdoor space can be used as a place to relax, cook, and gather with friends and family – a place of leisure that essentially functions as another room in their house. Using outdoor space in this way is a particularly popular choice with those who do not necessarily have the time to maintain a conventional, greenery-filled garden, but still want to be able to enjoy time spent outside. 

If you want to give this idea a try, it’s best to focus on weather protection first; the likes of Stylemaster Patios can install patios with opening roofs or covered decks that help to enclose the space and make it more all-season-friendly. With this in place, you can then look to add function; barbecues are a particularly popular choice, especially for those who want to entertain guests frequently, and a comfy sofa and a few decorative touches can add a sense of coziness. Last but not least, think about how you will provide heating to the space, especially if you intend to be able to use it throughout the year – patio heaters are usually the best choice for this purpose. 

#3 – Dedicate the space to growing your own produce 

People growing their own fruit and vegetables has become more and more common in recent years, though in most cases, the activity is restricted to small sections of a garden or a few individual containers. However, the more space you are able to use, the greater your yield will be – so you could consider the majority of your entire outdoor space to the purposes of growing. 

To turn this idea into a reality, you’ll probably need to make sure you leave enough space to keep equipment – such as fertilizers,  plant labels, hand tools, and so on – in, but a small cabinet will usually suffice for most families. The rest of the space can be used to plant out fruit and vegetable seedlings. If you want to make the absolute most of the space you have available, square foot gardening is by far the best way to do this. Also think about vertical space and how it can be used; hanging baskets, for example, can be used to grow strawberries and blackberries, which can help to free up ground space. In time, you’ll be able to visit your garden rather than a store when you’re cooking a meal – so not only is this idea a useful way to use a small outdoor space, but it could also help to cut down on your grocery bills. 

Pixabay // CC0 Licence

#4 – Create your own storage center

The idea of turning your garden into a kind of storage center may be unusual, but for some families, it can make complete sense. If you have run out of storage space in your property or your garage, then repurposing your backyard and dedicating it to storage can be a great way of easing this concern. 

Sheds are perhaps the most valuable way of adding to your home’s storage; while these (usually wooden) buildings are most commonly reserved for garden equipment, they can be used for anything – leisure equipment, out-of-season clothes, and anything else you’re struggling to find a home for elsewhere. Provided that you store items in water-tight boxes and add padlocks to ensure your items are secure, there’s really no reason not to use a shed as valuable extra storage space for your home. You may want to reserve a small section of the garden for a patio that you can sit out and relax on, but otherwise, it makes complete sense to utilize your outdoor space for storage purposes if doing so is the most practical choice for your family. 

In conclusion 

Exploring one of the ideas above gives you the chance to fully focus your time and resources to ensure you can use your small outdoor space as effectively as possible. Choosing a single focus is often simpler, and more cost effective, then trying to use a small space to create a multipurpose garden, so if you like the idea, it could well be worth selecting one of the ideas above and giving it a try for yourself.

General

Wedding Craft Projects to DIY

You’ve got the partner, you’ve got the ring, and you’ve got the excitement of your family and friends asking you about all things wedding. Getting engaged to the love of your life is an incredibly exciting stage of life. You now want to get planning your special day to make it a truly memorable experience for everyone around as you get ready to say ‘I do’. The costs of all those special touches can really add up. Here are 5 wedding craft projects you can DIY to add a personal touch to your unique day. 

Bunting

If you’re going for a traditional country style wedding, there’s always room for bunting. Simple, rustic looking bunting can be made simply using ribbons and triangles of fabric that can simply be sewn together. Strung together with string lights for a romantic feel to your room. 

Toiletry Baskets for Bathrooms 

Baskets with miniature toiletries in the bathrooms can be the saving grace of any potential mishaps at a wedding. Place feminine hygiene products, hair spray, deodorant, breath mints and gum in baskets along with candies and perfume to help your guests to freshen up. It may not add a lot to the grandeur of the occasion, but it’ll certainly help maintain the cheerful atmosphere.  A thoughtful and personal touch to a wedding. 

Mr & Mrs Glasses …or ANYTHING 

Etsy and EBay are great resources to produce personalized touches for a wedding. However, there is also a lot of potential to make these things alone. Search websites such as vinylcuttingmachineguide.com to shop and compare vinyl cutters that can be used for many of your personalized wedding crafts. You can easily cut transfers for champagne flutes to give the extra touches to your toasts– they also make excellent keepsakes for after the wedding! 

DIY Photo Booths 

Photo booths are fun and memorable. It creates memorable keepsakes for guests and the happy couple themselves. Get creative with costumes, wigs and props and use Polaroid cameras-why not have your guests use their pictures next to their messages in your guest book? Anyone who has used social media in the past 10 years has run into countless fake mustaches. It’s easy, it’s affordable and it’s fun.

Centerpieces and Cake Toppers

Centerpieces don’t have to be show stoppers. They can also be functional and fun. Don’t have room for a photo booth? Thankfully, there will be no shortage of high-quality cameras and amateur photographers in attendance. Artfully arrange a bunch of fake mustaches and maybe a few sentimental things as well and let people make their own fun — and lasting memories for you.

In the end, the most important part of a wedding is not the decoration. It’s not how much it all costs. Focus on what matters — the ceremony itself — and have fun with the rest. Spending a fortune is not what makes a wedding memorable. Use the money on the honeymoon. Get creative on the rest. It might be a lot more fun than you might expect. 


Pexels-CC0 Licence

General

Nine Fast Hacks To Improve Your Health

Being busy makes it easy to fall into bad health habits, like staying up too late, skipping the gym or relying on fast food. If you want to live a longer, healthier, happier life, you need to invest in your health. Here are some simple health hacks that even the busiest person can squeeze into their routine.

Image – free for commercial use

  1. Work on mindful eating. Pay attention your appetite to help you make better food choices and enjoy your food more. Sit down at a table to eat your meal, instead of eating off your lap in front of the television. Chew your food slowly, instead of trying to scarf it down in a rush. Pay more attention to the flavours and savour your food. This will help you to recognise when you’re full, making you less likely to eat more than you want. 
  2. Put a small drop of lavender oil on a tissue and tuck this inside your pillowcase before you go to bed. The scent of the lavender works as basic aromatherapy to help you relax, and drift off to sleep a little easier. 
  3. Make sure your primary care doctor is someone that you like and trust. Your doctor will be your first point of contact for any health issues, so it’s important that you feel able to talk with them about any concerns you might have. 
  4. Floss daily. Flossing is one of the best ways to promote gum health and keep your whole mouth feeling clean and healthy. 
  5. If you spend a lot of your day looking at backlit screens, whether phones or computer screens, take better care of your eyes by taking regular screen breaks. Try the 20.20/20 rule, which means that after twenty minutes looking at a screen, look away for twenty seconds at an object over twenty feet away. 
  6. Try meditating. Your mental health is just as key as your physical health, so don’t forget about caring for it too. Meditation, if only for a few minutes each day, gives you the space to focus on your breath and let go a little. If you’re new to the practice, try a guided meditation app to learn the basics. 
  7. Take a stretch break. If you’re sitting down for most of the day, your muscles can quickly end up feeling tight and uncomfortable. Take a short break and spend a few minutes stretching your muscles out to release tension and ease tightness. 
  8. If you commute to work on the train or bus, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. This is a great way to sneak in some extra exercise every day and get some fresh air and added steps. If you work in an office all day, walking some of your commute means you get to be outside in some daylight for a short while, instead of being inside in artificial light the whole day. 
  9. Go to bed a little earlier. Sleep is one of the best things you can do to ease stress. Not getting enough sleep means your health will suffer. Instead of sitting up late every night, try and get to bed a little earlier. Even just an hour before your usual bedtime can make a lot of difference in making you feel refreshed in the morning
General

How You Can Manage Your Personal Health

In this busy world, many of us barely have any time to stand still, never mind taking time out to worry about our own health. But it’s important to take a step back and to focus on yourself, and how you can manage your personal health. Here are some tips on how you can do that.

Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle

The most important thing about a healthy lifestyle is that it’s easy to maintain. A lot of people decide they’re going to go to the gym every single day, or give up chocolate for the rest of their lives, or try out the newest fad diet, but the truth is that they aren’t the way to stay healthy. It’s about your entire lifestyle, allowing yourself what you love in moderation, and not beating yourself up when you don’t end up going for that run after work or if you throw your hands up in despair and order pizza when that new kale recipe doesn’t turn out the way that you wanted it to. Moderation is key: eat healthily, but treat yourself. Make sure you stay active, but don’t worry about running any marathons if you don’t want to.

Be On Your Team

It’s important that you are part of your own medical team. Make notes in your doctors’ appointments, ask questions, and do research on websites like Inspire so you can learn more about the medications that you may be taking and the conditions that you may have. Being your own advocate is a crucial step in learning to take control of your own health.

Have Regular Health Checks

Having regular health checks is the best way to make sure that you’re on top of your health. Go to the doctor and make sure that you get your blood pressure checked every two years and, if you’re a woman, make sure you get regular pap smears and pelvic exams to make sure that you don’t have any irregular cells that could lead to cervical cancer. Older men should ensure that they get regular prostate exams, and past forty, people should also make sure they get regular breast checks, cholesterol checks, and eye exams. Although eye exams might not seem important to you, you need to make sure that your eyes are in good shape – you may need glasses to drive safely.

Consider Your Mental Health

Mental health is a factor that many people end up neglecting, but it’s every bit as important as your physical health – in fact, poor physical health can affect your mental health, and vice versa. More and more people are finding that they suffer from anxiety or depression, and although you may be worried about slapping a name like that onto what you’re feeling, it isn’t a bad thing. Talking to a therapist, trying out cognitive behavioural therapy, or going on medication can all help you to live a healthier and happier everyday life. Therapists can help you figure out coping mechanisms that will improve your life.

Managing your health can involve a lot of factors, but if you do your best to lead a healthy lifestyle and visit your doctor regularly, you can’t go far wrong.

General

5 Ways To Help Your Little One To Sleep

Helping your child to sleep can seem like an impossible task. You put them to bed, only to find that half an hour later, they’re wandering downstairs wide awake. Not only is this bad for your child’s sleeping pattern, but it also eats into your time of an evening, which every parent needs to unwind. But how can you help your little one to sleep, and is there any way to actually do so that works well?

We’ve noted down 5 ideas here, that have worked out for other parents. It’s worth a try, huh?

Image credit

#1: Make a routine

One of the most important things to do is to set a routine for your kids, so that they have a similar bedtime – and waking up time – every day. Whilst this can seem like it doesn’t really matter, it will work wonders for your kids sleeping patterns, and it could even mean that they have healthier sleep when they get older. Choose a reasonable time, and try to stick to it every night.

#2: Say no to screens

Another thing that can affect your child’s sleep is screens, so make sure that you limit screen time before they go to bed. Instead of putting the television on for your children, why not read to them? This could help them to sleep better, and it will allow them to relax properly in the process. Try not to allow them to use phones or games consoles an hour or two before bedtime, as this will help.

#3: Think about bedroom temperature

Your child’s issues with sleep may derive from the fact that their bedroom simply isn’t a suitable temperature for them. Children all have different preferences, but in general, a good temperature for a child’s bedroom is between 68 and 72 degrees (a little below and above this is fine, too). Visit an air conditioning showroom, and make sure that your house is kitted out for a good night’s sleep.

#4: Create some calm before bed

If your child is super hyperactive before bed, it’s going to be hard for them to relax and go to sleep. Try to create a calm environment an hour or so before bedtime; dim the lights, make sure that you’re all relaxing as a family, and certainly be mindful of what your kids are eating that could affect their sleep. Sugary foods and soda are (obviously) a bad idea, so you may want to eliminate these things, too.

#5: Work out what is interrupting sleep

Sometimes, the issues that your children are having with sleep are clear. Perhaps they’re scared of something, and they can’t sleep because this is playing on their minds? Make sure that you address this – perhaps by turning on a night light, or telling them that monsters can’t get into the house – and you should find that they fall asleep quickly without these worries hanging over them.

So, if you want to help your little one to sleep, then keep these 5 things in mind! Be sure to persist, and everybody in the family will be enjoying catching those zzzs.

General

Six Ways To Make Your Home Feel Like A Luxury Resort

One of the best things about a vacation is how relaxed you feel, but once you arrive home, the stresses of everyday life can come rushing back all too quickly. Bring some of the relaxation home with you, and make some changes to your home inspired by those luxury vacation resorts. Bring resort living home, and get the rest of your house to match your hotel inspired bedroom.

Image – free to use 

  1. Upgrade your bathroom. Depending on your budget, you can make large or small changes to your bathroom to get that spa bath feel. If you have more money to play with, switch out your bathroom suite for some serious luxury. A glass-walled walk in shower with a waterfall head, and a jacuzzi bath with jets will make you feel like a VIP everyday. If your budget is tighter, make small chances. Add a heated towel rack and swap your towels for high quality, super soft bath sheets. The large towel is much nicer to use. Add some plush robes, candles and luxurious toiletries, and even without a new suite, your bathroom will feel chic. 
  2. Create a resort worthy entrance to your home. Keep the front garden tidy, with some pops of color leading you to the front door, with large, well-kept plants. If you can find who sells palm trees nearby, add palms in beautiful pots by the front door for a beach luxe feel. 
  3. Turn your hallway into a hotel lobby. Buy a beautiful hall table, and top it with some beautiful pieces that attract the eye as soon as you come in. A pretty lamp, a vase of great smelling flowers, some bowls to contain knick-knacks and keys as you come in or framed pictures of the family all add personality and glam. Hang a piece of artwork or a mirror above the table to draw the eye. Mirrors are fantastic in small, dark hallways as they bounce light back into the space, making it feel larger and brighter. 
  4. Invest in beautiful curtains. Drapes in a luxe fabric with a nice texture instantly make a room feel more expensive. Choose the best you can afford and have them made to fit your windows instead of choosing ready made. Silk, damasks and linen all make for luxurious curtains. In bedrooms, hang blackout curtains to help you get hotel quality sleep. 
  5. Create mood lighting. Treat yourself to a beautiful light fitting for your ceiling lights. Use dramatic shades or chandelier style fittings if you have high ceilings, and use them to upgrade the look of spaces like over the dining table. Dimmer switches are a great way to adjust the light in a room, whether you’re in the mood for light and bright, or more dimly lit and romantic. Add lamps on side tables for softer lighting, especially in the bedroom. 
  6. Add flowers and greenery wherever you can. Resorts are always filled with plants, so do the same at home. Succulents, potted plants and cut flowers all upgrade the feel of your home, bringing in color, scent and beauty

n