Monday, February 20, 2017

DIY Solutions For Common Problems

DIY no longer seems to have the same appeal it once did. While past generations were all very handy, it seems that fewer people are carrying out repairs themselves. Of course, there are a range of problems which are simply too difficult to attempt on your own, but there are also plenty that require significantly less effort so you don’t need to call in the experts.

There are a variety of problems that seem to occur in every home, and many of them have relatively straightforward solutions. If you’ve been putting off that DIY task for months and months, here are a few quick fixes to give you that push in the right direction.

Running Toilet

There’s nothing more frustrating than a toilet that just won’t seem to stop running. A common cause is a leaky rubber flapper, which allows water to flow into the bowl when you flush. You can confirm that this is the cause by putting some food colouring into the tank. Next, wait a few minutes. If you see the colour bleeding back into the bowl, head down to your local hardware store to pick up a new flapper. If the issue seems more complicated, you may have to get it touch with some plumbing heroes. They’ll be able to get your toilet up and running again.

Holes in the Wall



If you’ve recently taken a picture off your wall, you will have been left with an ugly looking hole that you will want to fill up. Use a putty knife to fill up any holes with premixed spackling. Wait for it to dry and then use a sanding sponge to smooth over the spot. If you don’t have any original paint that was used on the wall, simply head down to your local paint store where they will be able to match the colour if you bring in a sample.

Sticky Lock

If you have a sticky lock that’s causing you difficulty, all you need is a bit of lubricant to help sort out the problem. While WD-40 spray silicone may seem the most obvious solution to the problem, it can end up attracting dirt and worsening the problem. Try some powdered graphite instead. Use some that comes in a tube so you are able to squeeze it into the keyhole. Don’t forget to put a little on the latch as well.

Diverting Gutter Run-Off

Gutters that are leaking water right next to your foundation can cause a whole host of problems. A flexible corrugated drain pipe will extend your gutter downspouts so you can divert it away from any areas which are getting close to the exterior of your property. Whether you choose to bury the pipe or leave it exposed, make sure the water is being diverted away from the house rather than towards it.

Sticky Windows

If your window has been painted shut, use a utility knife to score the paint. Next, use a putty knife and gently tap it into the gap using a hammer. This should get your sticky window loosened up again.  

Do you have any other great ideas for DIY repairs?  Be sure to share them.

Changes in Your Lifestyle That Will Help To Reduce Your Stress Levels

We all lead busy lives and it can feel like we have no down time. If you find that you don’t have time to exercise or to meal plan or to even sit and watch your favorite TV show, then the chances are that you are running on empty. That is never going to be a good thing if you carry on. You might be feeling run down and perhaps even stressed. Stress can affect our health so much, so it is important to deal with stress as and when it arises. So if a busy lifestyle is leading you to feel unwell or constantly rushed, here are a few things that you can do, to beat that stressful feeling.

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Make time for exercise

It can be hard to fit everything in that we need to do, but exercise does need to be made a priority as it can affect our health so much. When we exercise our body rewards us with plenty of feel good hormones. So that is a massive benefit when we are feeling stressed. You can also release stress through certain exercises like boxing or running. It is so much better to get all the stress out in an environment like the gym than to bottle it all up and make yourself feel even more stressed. If you want to try something new when you exercise, then look for some new, different exercises like these, to help reduce stress and anxiety: womenshealthmag.co.uk/health/stress/4353/11-free-activities-to-ease-anxiety/.

Try meditation

When you take the time to just be by yourself or to meditate, then it really can be a massive help when it comes to your stress levels. Think about it; how likely are you to be getting stressed out when you regularly take time out to think and reflect? Being with your thoughts helps you to process them and think about all that you need to do, or things that have happened. Even just taking the time to listen to your breathing can help you to switch off from the stress of everyday life. Some accessories like a mat or some stress ball if you are looking to make this part of your regular routine. Shopping somewhere like meditativewisdom.com could be a good place to look.

Take regular tech breaks

We can get so caught up with social media and tech, that it can really start to affect your stress levels or overall health. When you use a screen in bed, or close to bedtime, it does affect how well you are able to sleep. Social media is notorious for causing stress levels to be increased due to it’s competitive and quite passive aggressive nature. So if you find that you feel worse after checking your Facebook feed, schedule yourself in some regular social media and tech breaks.

Is there anything else that has helped you to feel less stressed that you would add to the list? Would love to hear what you think.

House Move: A Smooth Check In

There’s a sense of excitement that beats like a giant heart at the center of a house move. It’s the infinite possibilities of a new beginning, the challenge of an unknown place, the relief of leaving the old and broken behind. Naturally, there is always a lot of stress that goes with it: Have you packed everything? Will the kids like the new place? Are you done cleaning the old house? Are you sure you haven’t forgotten anything? Moving house is about balancing the excitement and the stress with grace and agility. But once you’ve started the machine, there is no way back. So keep in mind some steps that may not seem essential at first but that will make your life a lot easier if you follow them.

Keep Everyone In The Loop

It may seem like a good idea at the start not to worry the kids with the idea of moving house. Naturally, moving house is stressful for adults, but you should always include your children in the preparations. Children will need time to accept the idea that they will be living in a new home, so get them in the loop about your project as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you begin to visit houses to let them know. If possible, try to take them to the essential visits, such as when you go for a second or a third visit to the same place to help them visualize. At the same time, open up about the subject of moving house with your suppliers. Some might be able to provide useful advice on locations that they continue to supply. Similarly, some suppliers are happy to help you switch to the best partners in your new locations if their services can’t follow you.

The Emergency Luxury

As you move in, the first couple of weeks will require some emergency solutions to make you feel at your ease before you can take your marks in the new place. So it’s important to create a sense of luxury with the little things that you can bring home rapidly and at an affordable cost. For a start, remember the pleasure of a fresh cup of tea. There’s nothing worse than finding white scales in your freshly brewed tea, unfortunately, hard water is very common. So, start by testing the quality of your water as you move in. If you find that it is too hard, allow yourself a taste of luxury with a water softener. Not sure which one to pick? Have a look at the database of Fleck water softener reviews and ratings from actual customers to gain a better understand of the solutions available. Another great idea to bring a feeling of ease and comfort is to buy a high-quality coffee machine. Is there any better feeling than a fresh cup of cappuccino?


The Test Of Ownership

The last step in creating your space in the new home is the start decorating. Your home d├ęcor is more than a case of vanity: It’s the time to express yourself in your house and to give a personality to each room. There’s nothing like a colourful wallpaper with an elegant carpet to bring a room to life. If you are the adventurous type, create an ambiance by adding decorative items such as cushions, frames, rug, potted plants and even a pair of curtains. Take ownership and show your colours!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Keeping Active With The Kids!


To some parents the idea than you may need ideas of keeping kids active is crazy! Some children have you on your toes every moment of the day and really, these parents are looking for a break.  As kids get older though they tend to spend a little more time hanging with their friends or watching TV.  So, we have pulled together a few ideas to help keep the children, and you, active and fit.

Monday to Friday is probably going to be taken up by the school run or heading to work, however depending on the location of your school, and a little bit of an earlier start, you could grab the kids up, rucksacks on and cycle your way to the school gate.  Most schools will allow you to leave the kids bikes somewhere around the school, if you are worried about theft or damage it’s worth considering single bicycle insurance for added peace of mind.  Cycling is a fantastic exercise for getting your heart pumping and strengthening your whole body.  It will also help your children to concentrate more as exercise coupled with a good diet is proven to increase our ability to function at a higher percent.

Of course you don’t have to cycle to school everyday, you could mix it up by walking too.  A brisk walk will boost circulation and get your heart working.  You can mix it up by taking your running gear and once you have dropped the children at the school gate, take a 30 minute running route back to your house.  Walking is gentle on our joints and is something everyone can do, it also saves an unnecessary car journey meaning you are doing your bit for the environment.


During the evenings or on weekends you could find out where the local health centre is and head of for a family swim.  If you have young children why not take some parent and child swimming lessons.  At some centres, older kids can have lessons in one pool whilst the parents take on aqua aerobics in another, so you could get a really great work out and help your children find their inner mermaid.  

Why not try something different every Saturday?  Make a game of it?  Search around your neighbourhood and find out what is on offer then try everything, even if it doesn’t appeal to you.  It is great for children to see you challenging yourself and will encourage them to do the same.  So if you are afraid of heights, why not head out to a climbing hall and tackle one of the walls?  Or saddle up and try horse riding.

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure to have fun whilst you are doing it.  Stay safe, keep hydrated and enjoy yourself, those are the only rules!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oh Canada! 5 Most Beautiful Spots In The Great North

If there’s one thing that everyone knows about Canada, it’s that the scenery is simply incredible. And that it gets very cold..okay, that’s two things. But anyway, both are definitely true. From crystal blue lakes to snow capped mountains, sandy beaches to sweeping plains, Canada has it all. And as the second largest country in the world, it’s no wonder such diversity exists in this incredible land.

With so many beautiful places to visit, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, take a look at this rundown of some of the top scenic spots in Canada and start packing your bags today.

Banff National Park

The quaint town of Banff has the privilege of sitting at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, providing it with stunning views on all sides. In the wintertime, it is a skier’s paradise with a host of excellent runs for people of all ability. In the summertime, it is a dream come true for hikers. And right in the middle of that dream is the majestic Lake Louise. Though it is entirely frozen over in winter, when it thaws, the bluer than blue water is a sight to behold. Not far away from here is Moraine Lake where you can get some incredible contrasts between the mountains, forestry and water.

Niagara Falls



Probably the most visited and talked about of all Canada’s natural wonders, that shouldn’t put you off from making a visit here. Remember to visit the Canadian ETA website before travelling here from abroad. Visitors can get incredibly close to the 57 metre drop by boat and witness the sheer power of the waterfalls first hand. The nearby Niagara Gorge has been a hotspot for daredevils for years, and there are plenty of walking trails around for those who aren’t quite as brave.

Whistler

Another name that has almost become legendary, Whistler is just a two hour drive from Vancouver and is a firm favourite amongst winter sport lovers. It was even one of the locations used during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. In the summertime, the lively town comes to life and acts as a base for hikers and mountain bikers looking to take in some pretty special scenery.

The Yukon

Right up in the sparsely populated north of the country, the Yukon is home to Canada’s highest mountain, Mount Logan. The fact that the region is so isolated means that this is one of the best places in the world to experience nature at its most untouched. There are hiking opportunities aplenty, or you get down to experience the scenery by water in a canoe or kayak.     

Bonavista Peninsula

Off the mainland of Newfoundland is the Bonavista Peninsula which is packed with hidden coves and other natural wonders for you to discover. Exploring this part of the world feels like you could be off the coast of Ireland or Scotland, which is testament to how special and diverse Canada’s scenery truly is.

Have you been to Canada?  WHere have you visited?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bring A Touch Of Class Into Your Home

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Over the last few years, there's been a push towards rustic, shabby chic design trends. A lot of the interiors that this style has inspired have been utterly beautiful, creating a wonderfully rural, cozy-cottage sort of feel to any home. But that kind of style is on it's way out and what's replacing it is a slightly more refined sense of taste. Class is the order of the day now, and there's nothing like bringing in a sense of decorum to make your home feel more inviting and comfortable. Now, a lot of you are probably assuming that this means that you need a palace level home in order to achieve this kind of interior design style, but that's simply not true. Just about any home can become a haven of class and style by following a few simple pieces of advice. With that in mind, here is how you can bring a touch of refinement to your home.

Invest in high-quality furniture

Nothing makes a home look cheap or drab that furniture that is clearly designed to only last a year or two at most before completely and utterly falling apart. If you really want your home to start feeling classier, then it's important that your furniture reflects that ideal. Something like a chesterfield sofa is a classic design that is guaranteed to bring that classic feeling of opulence and dignity to any home. Not only do pieces of furniture like this look fantastic but they're incredibly comfortable and are much more likely to serve you well for years to come than something cheap and cheerful from somewhere like ikea.

Use your space wisely

When you're working with a rustic, shabby aesthetic, then you have some wiggle room when it comes to how you use your space. There's a certain degree of charm to a slightly cluttered, busy looking design when you're dealing with this kind of style. But when you're trying to bring more class into your home then it's important to focus on the way that you're using the space around you. Focus on clean lines and symmetry in the way you decorate as well as leaving good amounts of open space for people to move around. The more than you can make your home feel more spacious and open, the better.

Never underestimate the power of lighting

The lighting in your home might seem like a fairly small thing that you surely don’t need to focus on that much, but you'd be astonished at what a difference it can make. The wrong lighting can make even the nicest home feel drab, dingy and unpleasant. Make sure that you strike the right balance between bringing enough light into each room and creating the most pleasant and relaxing ambiance possible. Lamps are a great way to achieve this but can sometimes take up a lot of space. Finding a beautiful ceiling fixture is one of the most effective ways to take a room;s central light and turn it into a show stopping piece of decoration.

I am sure you know a few other ways to bring a touch of class into your home.  If so, please share in the comments.

What You Need to Consider When Designing Your Dream Bathroom

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Image Source: Flickr

So you’re thinking of renovating your bathroom and giving it a shiny new makeover. It may seem like an incredibly daunting task, but the reward of creating your dream living space is well worth it. As we all know, the bathroom is a sanctuary where you can relax and relieve the stresses of the day. For you to feel really relaxed and at ease, it has to be designed right. But before you jump straight in, there are some important elements to consider before getting started. With our expert guide, you can rest assured to be prepared, every step of the way.

Determine What Type of Bathroom You Want

Before you being with any renovations, you must decide what kind of bathroom space you want. Do you want a custom bathroom with a full suite of fixtures? This kind of bathroom will come with matching built in cabinets and countertops. Or would you want an en suite, built into your bedroom? If that’s the case, you are likely to have a much smaller space to work with. You could even design a mediterranean style powder room, in which case, it will be designed mainly for guests. It’s all about what style of bathroom would suit your needs best.


Budgeting and Planning

Before deciding on anything, take time to think about costs and the amount you’re willing to spend on designing your new bathroom. Consider what you’ll need, from plumbing services, to floor plans, right down to the decor. Are you able to splash out the cash for the quality that you’re looking for? Also it’s important to figure out what you’re working with. You’ll need to know all the dimensions of your room, windows and doors, to determine how much space you have to experiment with. If you want to minimize costs as much as possible, think about incorporating some DIY into your design plans. And finally, just to be on the safe side, you might want to put some money back in case of emergencies and any hidden problems such as water damage. As the saying goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry in this case.

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Image By: Flickr

Design and Layout

In terms of how you want your bathroom to look, important factors to have in mind are themes, lighting, color schemes and design styles. Want kind of ambience do you want to achieve? You need to know this before making any decisions. You might want to have a built in shower installed if you like the aesthetic of  smart style bathrooms. If your preference is more of a vintage feel, a good old fashioned claw and ball-foot bath tub would work best. Before selecting, plan how it will fit in with the rest of your house. These are the things you should consider when choosing between tiles or wallpaper. You’re also going to want to think about  if the style of sink unit you want is within your budget and easy to install.

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Image From: Pixabay

Lighting

Out of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom should always have excellent lighting. If there’s an opportunity for natural light, then windows are always going to be the best option. You can choose from ceiling lighting fixtures, dimmer lighting, or accent lights to enhance the overall ambience. Downlights are typically the most practical lights for bathrooms, or if you want to go for opulence, you could have a chandelier fitted. Mirrors are another great source of natural light, or you could purchase a vanity design with light bulbs framing the glass. Always check the IP ratings on your lighting fittings to ensure maximum safety from electrical hazards.

Utilising Your Space

When selecting your Bathroom features and products, the most important thing is to assess how much room space you have. The key is to make the most of every inch available without overcrowding. Ideally, the toilet should be positioned where you’d find your soil pipe. If your bathroom is fairly small, think about if it’ really necessary to have a separate bath and shower. You could always go for a bath with a shower fitting to work better with the space that’s available to you. One question to ask yourself is whether you want fitte or free standing furniture. To determine how to work with the space you have, visit a bathroom showroom. This will really help you get your dimensions into perspective. Of course, you can also seek professional advice from a specialist.

Adding a Personal Touch

When it comes to designing your bathroom, it’s always fun to inject some personality into your living space. It can be as simple as patterned toweling against a plain ceramic bath. Just subtle injections of color and personal style. Another way to bring your bathroom to life is with tiling. From mosaics to monochrome, there are so many ceramic designs out there. Have a browse on the net for inspiration, before deciding what you want. As rule of thumb, try to use no more than three different tiles, to avoid clashing and making the room look too busy. Large format tiles will give the impression of a larger room, especially if you match the grout color.


Speak to the Specialists

If you need an expert second opinion, then consider working with a bathroom designer, local specialist or architect. They’ll be able to provide you with professional tips, inspiration and advice. Builders may be able to carry out fittings, but they won’t have that specialist knowledge that you need. An expert will know all the latest trends and will help you to get the best out of your budget and living space. You could even opt for an independent, local in-store design service to install your bathroom. They’ll be on hand close by to deal with all requests you may have, plus they are available to make any alterations. It might also prove to be a more feasible option if an architect exceeds your spending limit.

An Idiot’s Guide To Renovating An Old Home

Not everyone is lucky enough to find their perfect home on the real estate market. Some are so unlucky that they never find their perfect home in years of searching. You are fortunate in the sense you have found yours, but unfortunate that it isn’t perfect. It isn’t perfect yet. In a few short months and with a lot of effort, this old home could turn into a property even better than you imagined. To do that, though, you need a crash course in the basics. Luckily for you, you can find all you need to know underneath.


Visualise The Future
The first step is to find a property that you can turn into something special. But, before you start, you have to see the potential of the property. It isn’t always easy to see potential, especially when the beautiful swan masquerades as an ugly duckling. Still, it is important to try and picture what the property might become when the scaffolding comes down. Otherwise, you won’t have a property to renovate in the first place. More importantly, you will run into plenty of stumbling blocks if you invest the wrong property. You might not be Mystic Meg, but you have to look past the obvious and into the unknown.
Basics Come First
So, you have a property and want to make a bid? Great, but have you done the basic research? Lots of buyers forget or choose to omit this from their checklist because they are so intent on making a purchase. The problem is that this lack of research leads to trouble in the future. And, there is nothing you can do when the ink dries on the contract. With that in mind, make sure you hire a surveyor to check the structural integrity, and take a look at the wiring and roof too.


Repair Or Replace?
Once you have the property, you will have to make a few changes. This is inevitable, and it shouldn’t deter you in anyway. The only thing it should make you ask is whether you want to repair or replace. There will be a lot of things that aren’t your cup of tea, and that will make you want to stamp your mark. The thing is that replacing everything can be expensive. Repairing is a lot easier as you only need the tools. Thanks to The Sharp Cut and other guides, they aren’t hard to find. Additionally, you will save a lot of money this way and be able to focus on the major projects.
Be Practical
Even if you repair instead of replace, there will be lots that need fixing. Before you make a decision, you should think practically. Yes, it would be nice to have a bigger bathroom or kitchen, but do you have the money? If the answer is no, you need to put it on the backburner and concentrate on other areas. There is so much you will want to change, yet your budget will only stretch so far.
Now that you have the answers, it’s time to get to work. The house won’t transform itself into your dream home.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Don’t Blame Your Tools: Tool Buying Tips

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Whether you’re following your DIY dreams, buying tools for business or simply doing emergency repairs, having the right tools for the job is essential. Buying tools requires a bit of budgeting, some technical know-how and research in order to avoid getting ripped off. Here are some handy tips that may help you when shopping for tools.

Buy combo kits

You can sometimes save up to 30% on costs when buying a combo kit as opposed to individual tools. Most combo kits will only store the essentials, from here you can branch out and buy the more niche tools for your needs. Occasionally, some combo kits may throw in items you don’t need like cheap work lights or some other new form of fandangle that the tool company wants to promote. Try to avoid these toolkits as you may be paying for items you’ll never use.

Read reviews

Bigger tools can be expensive, so make sure you read up on all the specs, as well as researching into reliability. Product review sites are ideal for this, offering professional criticism and comparisons. For example, this site could be handy when looking for the best drill press. You may also be able to ask friends and colleagues for recommendations.

Get familiar with a brand

Shopping around, you may be able to find individual tools at a cheaper price. But keeping loyal to a brand can have its perks. Machinery of the same brand will generally use similar parts, and certain functions and settings may be the same allowing you to easily familiarize yourself instead of having to read up on the manual each time. Cordless operated tools of the same make may all use the same battery and charger too. This could save costs as well as the confusion of multiple batteries and chargers.  

Shop at the right time of the year

Certain times of the year can be great for deals, with tools sometimes reaching discounts of up to 60%. This may allow you to buy more tools at once, or buy quality models usually out of your price range. The best times include the lead up to Christmas, the January sales and just before Father’s day. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are particular days to look out for. Also try buying certain tools out of season (some outdoor tools such as trimmers and mowers may be less expensive in the winter when the demand isn’t as high and companies are eager to shift stock).

Going cheap can be expensive

This might seem like a confusing contradiction, but buying cheap tools may work out pricier in the long run. This is because cheaper tools generally aren’t made to last, and will need to be repaired and replaced more regularly. Unless you don’t think you’ll be using these tools often, you should look to invest in durable tools. This doesn’t mean having to shell out on a top-of-the-range industrial model, but similarly you shouldn’t skimp out on a second-hand machine from the 70s if you’re going to be using it on a regular basis.

Hope some of these tips help!  See you soon!