Archives for May 2014

5 Clever Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. There are a lot of extra things that people feel obligated to do over the holiday season that they never have to worry about any other time of the year. Buying holiday gifts, hosting or planning for holiday parties, and hosting out of town guests are just a few of the stressful events that many people endure over the holiday season. Al of these events involves new and unexpected expenses that anyone can have trouble finding the extra money for.

These yearly holiday expenses can add up quickly, but there is always a way to save money. Anyone can use a few simple ideas to save money on their holiday expenses while still enjoying the holidays as much if not more than previous years. There are a lot of easy methods that can fit into anyone’s holiday schedule and make the holidays a lot more enjoyable for everyone. Here are five clever ways to save money during the holiday season.

Give the gift of time

Many people feel the need to spend more money every year on their holiday gifts. They want to show the people that they care about how much they appreciate them, and many people think that spending a lot of money is the only way to do that. The truth is that many people will feel even more appreciated when given the gift of quality time with the people they care about. Anyone can spend some extra time doing something fun as a great gift.

Pile up the holiday shopping offers

There are a lot of holiday offers that any retailer will offer this time of year. Anyone can take advantage of these offers to save more money on anything they need for the holidays. Many coupons and deals can be combined and shoppers can even use rewards from credit cards or retailer memberships to save even more. Don’t forget to compare cards to identify the perfect credit card for you.

Reevaluate the home services

Many people like to spend more time at home during the holiday season, which means they are using more of their home services. This is a great time to reevaluate those services and see if there is any area where money can be saved. Check out to find out what savings are available.

Try out a potluck

Hosting a holiday can be extremely expensive. Having a holiday gathering potluck style can help any host save money and provide more for their guests. Hosts can ask each guest to bring something to add to the feast that will make the party more fun and festive.

Make a list, and stick to it

Having a list is essential to save money on any shopping trip. Those who are looking to save money during the holidays should have a strict list that they stick with throughout the season. This will help people not only avoid impulse buying, but also budget better for the things they want to buy for the holidays.


Etiquette to Follow When Asked to Be a Godparent

Becoming a godparent for a small child is a very important position. While godparents began in the early days of the Christian church, nowadays people without religious connection are chosen to be godparents. Although the details of the roles change in many cases, the etiquette always remains the same. Here’s what to do:


Photo Credit: Flickr

Spiritual Guidance

Usually, a godparent has the same faith as a child’s parents, sharing similar spiritual beliefs. Along with the responsibility of becoming a godparent, this person will often agree to act as a spiritual mentor for the child. This means you should agree to support the child in their spiritual development, setting a positive example, and perhaps even praying for the child if you’re religious.

At the christening, you will usually stand with the parents during the ceremony. If you can’t make the christening, then somebody can stand in for you. However, it’s best if you can attend the ceremony to show your support. You’ll need to dress conservatively for a special event. In some cases, the godmother carries the child down the aisle and hands the child to the priest at the appropriate time.

If you don’t feel comfortable with supporting the child in such a way, you should politely decline. If your beliefs are very different to the child’s parents, then make sure they’re aware of this before you accept.


After the christening, the godparents usually give the child a special gift for them to keep and remember the event. There are all kinds of christening gifts for you to choose from, like spoons, mugs, plates, and more. You may also want to give the child money in a savings bond. Once you’re an official godparent, you need to develop a relationship with the child by remembering special events, like their birthday. Gifts may include engraved tableware, photo albums, and jewellery – although you should remember that gifts aren’t the most important thing.


Although you don’t have any responsibility or legal authority for a child, it’s best if you remain involved with the child throughout their childhood years. This bond can help to support the child emotionally, and you may even become a confidant and companion to guide the child through tough times.

You don’t want to end up being a ‘missing in action’ godparent, as this is awfully impolite and disrespectful. If you don’t live close enough to the child, make sure you call, write, or email them regularly.

You may also need to support the parents if they’re unsure of how to handle a situation in the home. Don’t undermine their parental authority, but give them advice and opinions where needed.

Becoming a great godparent can be a tough job, so make sure you’re up to it if you accept it. You’ll need to keep an active role in the child’s life, make an effort with them, and help them develop as a person. You may even need to support the parents through tough times. If you’re prepared for all that, then go ahead and accept!

Tips on how to settle in to your new retirement home

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If you’ve recently moved in or will soon be moving into a retirement home, then it’s a massive step and not always an easy one. It can be difficult to adjust initially as it’s likely to be a completely alien environment to you. However, here are some tips on how to settle in to your new retirement home and hopefully make the process a whole lot easier…

Go for plenty of visits beforehand

If you’re yet to move in to your care home then it’s important you visit several times before your moving in date. Obviously you will go and look over the place to make sure it’s somewhere you want to live, but the more you go, the more likely it is you’ll feel at home when you do move in. You may even get to know some of the staff and other residents, so there will be some friendly faces when you first get there.

Organize a visiting rota with your family


One of the hardest things about moving into a retirement home is that people often feel as if they won’t see as much of their family. This is hard on both sides as there’s a good chance your family will also find the whole thing difficult. Therefore, draw up a visiting rota so you all know who’s visiting and when. This will make it easier for everyone as there’ll be no wondering when someone’s going to turn up and it’ll give you something to look forward to.

Get stuck in with activities

The vast majority of retirement homes have a long list of different activities in which you can take part, and if you want to start feeling at home then you should see what takes your fancy and try them out. If you take a look at these Herefordshire care homes with Extra Care you can see the wide range of facilities and activities on offer, including craft room, fitness suite, indoor bowling green, library, IT suite, and more. Obviously, different care homes around the country will have different facilities but most should offer something you’re interested in.

Talk to people

As well as getting involved with activities, it’s imperative that you talk to people. It might sound like your first day at school again, but the more people you talk to then the more likely you are to make new friends, which will help massively in settling in. You’ll be able to talk to the other residents as well as the carers and other stuff and even any volunteers who work there. You’ll never be stuck for someone to have a chat with! If you want to chat to a third party in confidence, then Age UK are an excellent charity with plenty of people to talk to.

Dress your room up a little

Obviously you can’t totally redecorate your room but you will still probably be able to but a bit of a personal touch on things. If you have any favourite ornaments, photographs and other bits and bobs at home then you should be able to bring those with you and make your room feel a little more like home.


10 Simple Steps: Planning A Family Picnic



Summer is on its way, and what’s better than kicking off the summery months with a family picnic? It can be entertaining and a great way to kill off boredom, and it also helps the family bond in the great outdoors.

The great thing is, it doesn’t take more than a picnic basket, a few different types of food, and a little help from the family to organise your own outdoor feast.

So here are 10 simple steps!

10. Make Sure The Day Is Free In Everyone’s Calendar. Picnic season is obviously more popular in the summer months because there’s a better chance of nice weather, there’s time off from the daily 9 to 5 grind and the kids are back from university. Make sure nobody has to dash off early from the picnic, make a day out of it!

9. Location. Choosing the right place to sit down and eat is always the toughest task. You want somewhere quiet but with a nice view, and far from any pesky wasp nests. Ask around the family for their view, or search online for any great locations in your area.

8. Create Invitations. If you’re going for a family AND friends picnic, why not design some lovely invites, to make it that little more special? Clarify the time, date and location for the guests, and try make it creative and fun.

7. Bring A Picnic Basket. Picnic baskets are a nice little centerpiece to the picnic blankets. Fill it up with tasty treats for the family to enjoy!

6. Treat Yourself. How often do you get to have a picnic? Not often is what most would say. So, why not be a little naughty and pack everybody’s favourite treats? Cookies, crisps, cakes and fruit will definitely bring a smile to everyone’s faces. For a real personal touch, why not bake the cookies and cakes yourself? Not only will you be a great picnic organiser, you’ll also be a master baker.

5. Fun And Games. Before the food, organise a fun and energetic activity for everyone to take part in. Bring a football for the lads, and perhaps some badminton rackets or a frisbee for the girls. It’s a great way to work up an appetite and get that metabolism going before the feast!

4. Bring Seating. A lot of ideal picnic areas, unfortunately, don’t have tables to sit at. That can be a real problem if you’re inviting the grandparents. Bring some cosy camping chairs and stools for those who don’t want to sit on the grass! Also pack an umbrella and maybe a windshield, just in case you experience any typical British weather.

3. First Aid. The chances are the kids will go off exploring or get a little rough playing football. Make sure you pack a first aid kit with plasters, bite cream, hand sanitizer and an extra blanket. Oh, and if there’s any water nearby, pack a towel and some spare clothes.

2. Plates And Cutlery. Nobody wants to eat with their hands, especially outside. Pack some good quality card places and plastic knives, forks and spoons. Don’t forget to tie up a bin bag for the rubbish!

1. Enjoy! It’s all about having a great time with your loved ones. So take part in the activities, enjoy the weather – but more importantly, enjoy the food!

Collectible Birthday Present Ideas For All The Family

Collectible Birthday Present Ideas For All The Family

Flickr author credit

It can be difficult to know what to get your family members for their birthday. Some of them will already seem to have everything they need and others will just be impossible to buy for. Considering this, I thought this morning might be a good time to write and release a short post giving you some great ideas. Opting to purchase collectibles is always a wise move, as the recipient will be more inclined to look after the items and keep them for a long time. Even so, it’s often choosing which collectables are most suitable that people struggle with. So, if you’re not too sure what you should purchase for your family this summer, just give me your full attention and read on…

Ideas for your husband

Some men love buying tools and performing basic DIY tasks around the home, but others are less inclined to do the same. However, all men like collecting tools for that one day when they find the motivation and decide it’s time to build a doll’s house or something similar. So, opting to add to your man’s collection by buying him some new tools this year could be perfect.

Ideas for your daughter

Porcelain dolls have been popular for hundreds of years, and so it’s pretty safe to assume your daughter would love one for her birthday. If she likes it, you can add to her collection each and every year, resulting in something truly amazing that she can be proud of. Princess dolls are selling well at the moment, so make sure you don’t overlook those on your travels.

Ideas for your son

Boys love collecting action figures, and so looking on eBay or another reputable online auction website for vintage models might be a good idea. Sure, he probably shouldn’t take the figures out of their original packaging, and he’s going to need some kind of display cabinet, but your husband should be in a position to build this using all his new tools.

Ideas for your parents

If you have children of your own, the chances are your parents will be nearing the twilight of their lives. This is good news for you, as buying presents should become easier and easier. You see, during the later years of our lives, most people tend to become a little nostalgic, and so finding collectable items from the past is a great way of making them happy. Perhaps they love the Beatles, or maybe they love a certain old film? Either way, you should be able to get signed albums or movie posters online without too much hassle, and that’s guaranteed to put a smile on their faces.

Now you know about some cool collectable birthday present ideas for all the family, I hope you’ll be more inclined to think outside the box and avoid purchasing those terribly packaged cheap body sprays again. At the end of the day, when I get something like that as a present, there’s a part of me that wonders whether the giver is trying to hint that I smell.

I hope that helps!

How to Choose a Trustworthy Solicitor

So, you want to find a trustworthy solicitor? You might need a solicitor’s help for many reasons, but no matter what, you need to make sure that the person you hire is trustworthy. Here’s how you can choose a trustworthy solicitor to help with your case, whatever it may be:


Photo taken from Flickr

Research Online

Do some research online to find a list of solicitors in your area. You’ll be able to make a short list afterwards, and then you can research each one individually to see who is right for you. Ideally, the solicitor you choose will be knowledgeable in your case, or better yet, they’ll specialise in cases like yours. Start by looking at!

Read Testimonials and Feedback

Many good solicitors will have testimonials and feedback displayed proudly on their website so have a read through these and see what you think. Bear in mind, however, that they won’t display any negative feedback they have.

Ask for Recommendations

Ask friends and family to see if they know somebody suitable. These are often the best recommendations, as you know exactly who you can trust.

Have a Consultation With Them

By now, you should have a shortlist of solicitors that you can meet with. Book consultations with them to go through your case and allow them to talk you through what they believe they can do for you. Remember, you should always be wary of a solicitor that promises you the world. This person should be realistic about your case and let you know clearly about any risks and costs involved.

Do You Seem to Get Along With Them?

Getting along with your solicitor is important. While you may not become best friends with them, you both need to get along in order to conduct a successful case. If you don’t like this person, it’s unlikely that you’ll be happy with the work they produce for you or agree with their decisions.

Have They Answered Your Questions in a Satisfactory Way?

Before you go, you’ll want to compile a list of questions for the potential solicitor. Ask as many as you feel you need to in order to get a good idea of whether they’re right for you. When we say answered in a satisfactory way, it doesn’t mean telling you what you want to hear – it means being honest with you, and not putting you under any illusions that you’re going to get a million pound settlement.

Go With Your Gut

Our gut instincts are right the majority of the time. If you instantly seem to like someone and they impress you in your consultation, you’ve probably found the right person for the job. If you can’t put your finger on why you didn’t like someone, don’t stress – just find somebody else. Go with your gut instinct and you should go far!

If you follow the above advice, you’ll get a shortlist of quality solicitors, ending up with the perfect person to deal with your case. This doesn’t guarantee success for you, but it does guarantee the best possible chance. Good luck!


Save some space in the bedroom!


It is one of the most common questions asked when it comes to designing, decorating and furnishing your bedroom (or any other room in the house). How can I save some space in my home?

The answer of course there isn’t really anything that you can to do to make the room bigger in space, but you can but some of our clever little hints and tips into action to make sure that you are using every spare inch of space that is available to you.

One of the best space saving places to start is with your wardrobe. Opting for a fitted wardrobe will easily make the most of the space that you have (especially since so many of them are designed directly to what you need and the room that you have).

You can also choose to perhaps downsize some of your furniture items; such as your bed for instance. Buying yourself plenty of room in your bedroom, whilst not cutting down on the storage that you have previously enjoyed.

But enough about the adults, what about the children? Is there a way of making the most of limited floor space for the little monsters to play on?

Children are messy by nature, in fact compared to other places throughout your home children’s rooms can so easily become cluttered and untidy. This is due to the sheer volume of toys, books and clothes can sometimes seem a little overwhelming when it comes to sorting out their room.

But just by putting some thought into what they need and if there are anyways that you can make a difference to amount of room that it will take up you can really make a difference to the sense of space in the bedroom.

Flexible space systems is one of the best options to keep in mind when it comes to children’s bedroom storage and furniture. They have their groundings in a fitted wardrobe; however Flexispace systems are designed with children in mind. Plenty of shelves and hanging rails and a variety of drawers and hidey holes ideal for your child.

These systems also grow with your son or daughter, allowing for a long lasting space solution that will stand the test of time.

Another option to consider when it comes to children’s bedroom furniture is that of the cabin bed; especially if they are built around the specifications of your room. Cabin beds bring together two very important worlds; that of order and organisation and of course fun and excitement.

Children will be so happy to sleep in their “tower bed” and you can be sure to have a smile on your face when you see the extra storage space that you have gained underneath the bed. This little cubby is the ideal place for toys, books and even TVs and gaming consoles as they grow.

These are just a few of the hints and tips that are key to keep in mind when it comes to placing and picking furniture for your bedroom. Whilst you may not be able to go for the smaller options, you can always buy smart furniture options and give the illusion of space where it may not otherwise be.


How to Choose the Perfect Dog Breed for Your Family

If you think it’s time to introduce a dog into your family and home, then you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right breed to suit everybody’s lifestyle. This guide will help you take everything into consideration when it comes to choosing a breed, so your family will be ecstatic with the new addition and vice versa:


Photo taken from Flickr

Research, Research, Research

You must do plenty of research on everything to do with owning a dog. It’s no good simply choosing one you like the look of, or one just because it’s cheap – you need to find a breed that will suit you all perfectly, regardless of looks and price. All breeds are different, so it’s up to you to read up on articles and books to get a good idea of the breed that’s right for you. There are quizzes online that could help too!

How Much Time Do You Have?

Some dogs need more time from you than others. While some might be happy with one short walk in the day and may not need much attention at all, others may need a couple of long walks and plenty of attention throughout the day. Some breeds also need more grooming than others.  Make sure you choose a breed that you have all the time in the world for.

How Much Energy Do You all Have?

Many dogs have different energy levels too. While some are known for being a pretty lazy breed, others can be very energetic and constantly wanting attention/playtime. If you have an energetic family, then you can afford to get an energetic dog. However, if you’re pretty lazy then you’ll need a dog to match that.

Don’t Just go For the Cutest

You should never pick out a dog judging by looks. Some dogs are better with kids, while others can be nasty to them. For example, many people think that smaller dogs are cute, but smaller dogs can get very attached to one person in the family and will not like it if the kids want their attention.

Consider a Larger, Trainable Dog

Although all dogs are trainable, a larger dog such as a collie or Golden Retriever are eager to please and usually very good with kids. They also have less of a chance of getting injured by a child if they are to step on the dogs poor or something, whereas a smaller dog could become injured and lash out.

Do Your Kids Have Allergies?

Although every dog runs the risk of setting off your kid’s allergies, you can try to combat this by going for a dog that doesn’t shed as much as others.

Buying a Dog

You need to get your dog from a reputable breeder. Look online to see where there are puppies for sale, make a shortlist, ask the breeder some questions, and see if you can pay the puppies a visit. You’ll then be able to make the decision as to whether you’d like one of the puppies!

I hope your family and your new dog are very happy together!

Ways to Design and Remodel Our Office Eco Friendly


Offices have long been a place where resources are wasted. Now the tide had finally shifted and the need to be more cautious with the environment came into focus on all levels of human endeavor.

However, contrary to popular belief, going green in the office doesn’t have to bring an increase in expenses. On the contrary, in most cases saving the planet also means saving money. With that in mind, here are some simple tips on how to be kinder to the environment from the comfort of your quiet, relaxing home office.

Is it quite necessary?

Obviously, the only thing more environmentally friendly than a green remodeling is no remodeling. With that in mind, consider the scope of changes you deem necessary and reevaluate your decisions before you set about remodeling your home office.

The upside is that you are working from your own home, and thus you are the only one deciding what can be implemented, and how, compared to corporate offices, where the situation would obviously be different.

Let the Sunshine In

Lighting is one of the major costs of any office. Keep that in mind when you start considering the layout of your new home office. Abundance of natural light will not only make your offices look more elegant and spacious. It will also save you a lot of money in the long run and it will have a great impact on overall productivity. Like most organisms on this planet, we naturally thrive under the sun and there is no getting away from it.

Go Solar

Solar power technology had come a long way since its beginnings. Today it is possible for almost everyone to find a suitable way of harnessing the power of the sun in one way or another, as there are companies that tailor the existing systems to client’s needs and limitations. Be sure to check out your options before making any further plans.

Use recycled materials

Days when recycled paper looking like moist newspapers someone sat on was the only recycled material around are long gone. There are now beautiful, durable and interesting recycled materials available for just about any purpose, primarily reclaimed lumber and recycled glass. The first makes for a beautiful, vintage-feel material now modeled in sleek, modern pieces that will add character to the space, while the latter is perfect for counter-tops.


Check out the percentage of post-consumer materials used in the production of the furniture you’re considering. There are companies that offer furniture with high percentage of recycled materialsthat is also designed to be recycled at the end of its usage, so make sure you look at what they have to offer before turning to other options, and they would be more than happy to help you with an office fit out to best serve your needs. If you’re bent on using wood, stick to renewable species like bamboo, cork on plantation trees. Hard wood that grows slowly like teak or oak will greatly increase your eco impact.

Literally Go Green

There is not much to say in favor of having plants that is not already known, but it is important you plan a space for them beforehand.

Insulate Properly

About forty percent any business consumes goes to heating and cooling. Good insulation will cut down those costs to a minimum and make the place itself much quieter and more comfortable. Make sure your insulation is green.

Use the Tech

Office occupancy sensors are a great and a relatively inexpensive way to further reduce your electricity bill and, consequently, your carbon footprint. There are many more systems that can help you save money, be kinder to the planet and that will make your office life more comfortable, such as electrostatic air cleansers, dehumidifiers and many more great gismos that are both practical and improve working conditions.

This is by no means a complete list, but only excerpt meant to show you some the possibilities of eco-friendly office practices. However, attitude is the most important factor in changing one’s habits toward a more eco-friendly existence in any aspect of life. Don’t just implement a couple of changes and call it a job well done. Be active and always look for new ways to reduce your impact on the environment, as that is the only way to make the change permanent.


How To Manage Childhood Allergies Around The Home

It seems that childhood allergies are becoming more prevalent these days. Perhaps it is because we are far more likely to seek the help of a doctor now than our parents and grandparents did, which provides improved statistical information.

House dust mite - Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus

Photo Source

Many allergies have no medical treatment. It is not that they can’t be treated, just that it is preferable not to treat them unless they become severe. Medical intervention at an early age can have after effects later in life, so it is better to handle allergies externally where possible.

Conditions such as asthma, that are aggravated by allergic reactions to a child’s surroundings are manageable in the home. We are able to control the symptoms of hay fever and dust allergies too if we are determined to do so.  Here are a few ways you will help to manage childhood allergies around the home.

Considerate Cleaning

Household cleaning products contain all manner of nasty ingredients that will aggravate eczema and asthma. Try to make the switch to more natural cleaning solutions.

  • Lemon juice is a powerful and natural cleaning product that is suitable for use all around the home, except for on real wood furniture. Mix it with water to dilute and fill a handy spray bottle to make it convenient to apply. Then it is easy to spray the solution in kitchens and bathrooms to leave surfaces hygienically clean.

  • Vinegar is great for killing bacteria and cutting through limescale. White vinegar makes an excellent substitute for chlorine bleach in toilets and down plug holes. The fumes from chlorine aggravate sensitive lungs and, though vinegar smells, it does not give off nasty fumes.

  • Use natural beeswax on wooden furniture instead of an aerosol spray. Do not use aerosols where there is a danger of irritating someone’s lungs.

Personal Care

Only buy products formulated for use by allergy sufferers. Roll on deodorants are best, and chemical free soaps are on the market that cost no more than branded soap.

Regular Vacuuming

Remove dust by regular vacuuming. Vacuuming used to cause problems when it stirred up dust, but new models that have received accreditation by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation have HEPA filters that prevent suffering.


Once a year, experts advise that carpet cleaning specialists come in and deep clean the carpets to remove dust mites and other microscopic pests. People often replace carpets in preference of wooden flooring for severe sufferers.


Replace mattresses every couple of years with new. In the meantime, use anti allergy covers that protect a sufferer from mites that live in all mattresses. As an extra measure, use a domestic steam cleaner to kill surface bugs and prevent them causing problems.

Air Conditioning

In the worst cases, air conditioning helps. Hay fever sufferers in particular will benefit from a system that takes air from outside, filters it, and applies a positive air pressure to the home, preventing the ingress of pollen.

Luckily, allergy symptoms tend to die away for the majority of children when they grow. That is small comfort as you watch them suffering, however, so keep a constant awareness of your surroundings, and you may find more novel ways to help. You are not alone in this fight, so join some online forums and talk to others, you will be amazed at the difference you can make.