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!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Make Your Summer Preparations Now

Summer isn’t too far away, and that’s why you should start making your summer preparations now. If you start preparing now, you’ll make sure your entire home is ready for this exciting time of year! Leaving it to the last minute will likely mean that you don’t get anything done in the end. After all, summer is a busy time of year, with lots of weddings, get togethers, and impromptu nights out! Read on to learn what to do…

Invest In Some New Window Treatments
Having different window treatments for summer and winter is a good idea. Winter curtains are usually far thicker and longer, helping to keep the heat in. However, sheer curtains can let in more natural light, especially throughout summer, and tend to keep the room they’re in cooler too. They can make your room appear larger, brighter, and give it a more summery vibe on top of that.

Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint
A fresh coat of paint, even if you simply paint the place the same color that it is already, will make a big difference. You’ll be able to brighten up the different rooms in your home. You might even be able to give it a whole new look or theme if you decide to go for a different shade or color. It all depends on how much time you’re willing to spend making your home look summery and light. Pastel colors all look great, and you could even have one bright feature wall if you really wanted to.

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Include A Bold Color
If you’re brave enough, include a bold color somewhere in your home. As mentioned before, you could do this with a feature wall, or you could include it in the form of various accessories. Include a bold color with your rug, cushions, throws, and anything else you want to add to your home. It’ll give the place more personality. If you want to go one step further, add a pattern! You could do this with a roll of wallpaper, or do it yourself with a paint brush or stencil if you’re feeling creative.

Make Sure Your Garden is Weed Free
Who wants weeds in their garden when summer arrives? You want your garden to look great, perfect for get togethers and even when you feel like relaxing alone with a book. Do your best to eradicate weeds before summer comes. You may not be able to completely get rid of them, but you can definitely give it your best shot. Once it’s free of weeds, you can do your best to make it look as pretty as possible!

Plant Some Pretty Flowers
Plant some pretty flowers ready for summer. You can choose complementing or clashing colors, it’s up to you! However, you just need to make sure you have enough time to maintain these flowers, or your garden isn’t going to look as great as it can. Research the sort of care you’ll need to give the chosen flowers for you to thrive. You can create a lot of texture and interest with the different flowers that you choose.

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Grow Your Own Herbs and Veg
Why not grow your own herbs and veg ready for summer? You can do these in a greenhouse, patch in your garden, or even in your windowsill. When summer rolls around, you’ll have your very own supply of tasty healthy stuff to add to your summer recipes. Perfect whether you’re entertaining or just cooking for yourself! You’ll save money and know exactly where your produce comes from.

Make Sure You’ve Got Outdoor Seating
Outdoor seating is a must if you’re going to invite your friends over, or relax alone. You can have cushioned social seating, or even just a huge hammock for yourself to relax in! Just make sure it’s sturdy and durable enough to withstand the elements. You don’t want to have to keep on forking out for new furniture every time the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Get Ready To Grill
Summer is the perfect time to pull out the grill and get cooking. Don’t have a grill? There are some incredible models out there today, and you can find out more about these kinds of smokers here. Your friends will flock to your house for a catch up once they realize you have a grill. You can host incredible garden parties, or even cook yourself healthy, tasty food whenever you feel like it.

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Maintain Your Home Appliances
If you haven't done any maintenance on your home appliances, now is the time to start. There are a few appliances you should make sure are in full working order for summer, including your air con. If you want to remain as cool as possible when it’s boiling hot outside, you need to ensure your air con is doing its job. You don’t want to spend even more money in the long run when you realize there has been a problem you’ve left unattended.

Make Your Home More Inviting
There are a few more ways you can make your home look more inviting. Your curb appeal is one great way to do this. You can make repairs on your home, keep your grass short and make sure it’s nourished, as well as give your front door a fresh coat of paint. Add a new welcome mat, a letter box, and clean your car - every little helps, and it’ll all make your home look better ready for summer! You could even add some pretty accessories, like figurines and wind chimes to give your garden a more whimsical look. Improving your curb appeal isn’t just for helping your home to sell faster. It will make it look better in general!

Start making these summer preparations now and you’ll be more than ready when the sun comes out. You can have a lovely time alone, or invite your friends over for food if you’re feeling generous. If you have any tips you swear by for getting ready for summer, leave them below!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Amazing Advantages Of Buying A New Build Property


A lot of people out there will turn their noses up at new build homes. It’s easy to see why, of course - they lack the personality and uniqueness of old homes, which offer a sense of romance and history, too. However, if you are point blank refusing to look at the new build market, you might be making a big mistake. There are dozens of benefits that come with buying a new build, and if you are a first-time homebuyer, there are plenty of reasons why you should forgo the old rather than the new. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of buying a new build property.

The ‘brand new’ experience

While older homes might have some character, they have also been lived in. That means decades - possibly centuries - of dirt, grime, wear, and tear. No old home will be absolutely perfect for your immediate needs, and one of the first things you will be thinking about is renovating, replacing and accommodating your style of living. With a new build, everything is fresh, brand new, and designed to modern standards. All you need to do is move in, and there is no work involved other than basic decoration. You might even be able to play a part in the design process if you offer your interest early enough.


Choice

If you express interest in a particular development at an early stage, you will find you get to pick and choose from the best of the properties. Whether it’s a nice garden or a top-floor penthouse with all the trimmings and fabulous views, if you get your name down quick, you can choose your perfect home. You might be offered a broad range of furnishings options, too. Many developers will be happy to kit out a kitchen with a specific oven, for example, if you express your desires.

Personality

There is something of a myth surrounding new build properties, in that people complain they are bland, dull and full of magnolia. This is true, of course, but the idea behind this type of basic decor is to give you a blank canvas to do what you want. It also means you can take your time with decoration - you will never see a new build on sale with crazy carpet patterns or wild wallpaper - and can work slowly, within your budget over some months.


Warranties

One of the best reasons to buy a new build home is that you have protection. Maintenance and repair costs in older homes can be exceptionally expensive, but with new builds, you will often find you get things like structural warranties - possibly for as long as ten years. That means that any issues that arise will be the responsibility of the seller or the builder - not the buyer. As a first time homeowner, new builds might be an excellent way to start adapting to the higher costs of ownership for renting a property, where the landlord is responsible for the vast majority of maintenance issues.

No chain

So many home buyers are left disappointed when the property chain breaks down. Person A wants to buy a property from person B, who wants purchase a home from person C. The trouble is, person D can’t sell person C their home until person E buys their’s  - and then person F decides to pull out altogether. These chains can be endless, and at every link, there could be a problem - 20 percent of property sales are canceled. With a new build, it’s smooth sailing. Get accepted, find your home loan, and the property is yours with no trouble from a chain.


Energy efficiency

Old homes were not designed to be energy efficient, and it can take a lot of work to get them up to modern standards. With new builds, however, everything is built with energy efficiency in mind, due to government regulations and current consumer demands. With a new build, you can guarantee that your home will be well insulated and have energy efficient central heating. The plumbing and electricity will also be piped and wired to modern standards. In short, with energy efficiency and durability in mind, new properties will end up saving you a significant amount of money over your duration in the home. They are built to last, too. When you decide to move on, all you will need to do is some basic decoration and refresh work, rather than large-scale repairs and building work.

Healthy and safe

Modern homes are also built with health and safety in mind. Because of their brand new air conditioning systems, for example, new build homes can benefit people with breathing conditions such as asthma - who may struggle when living in an older property. New builds will also come equipped with enhanced safety and security, with double or triple glazed secure windows, fire, and carbon monoxide alarms, and sturdy, robust locks. Modern new builds are designed with external safety in mind, too. Outdoor lighting, security gates, and underground garages can all reduce the amount of crime experienced in the area.


Profit

While there are no guarantees for a return on your investment, it’s fairly standard that new build properties will rise in price faster than older properties - especially if you are amongst the first wave of buyers. There’s a good reason for this. If you buy off the plan, you tend to get a cheaper deal and move in quicker, before all the building work has been completed. As more homes go up and more people move in the value of your property might well rise, too. In general terms, developers raise the prices of their homes as each one sells, and your property will be linked to value to the last home sold - not the first. In many cases, this will exceed standard house price inflation, meaning you could walk away from your new build with a healthy profit to use as a deposit on your next home.
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits of buying a new build home. It’s not for everyone, of course, but perhaps this guide will persuade you that new builds might be a little more on your radar in the future!