Archives for November 2014

5 Ways To Encourage Your Children To Give To Charity This Christmas

6534749013_a8db956584_zPhoto by martinak15

Children pick up their core values from their parents. If you don’t teach your children to be conscientious and charitable, they will never learn. As a parent, you act as a moral compass for your kids. They will come to you and ask what to do all the time. You need to have sound advice ready for them when they ask you big questions. This Christmas, teaching your children to be charitable is the best gift you can give them. Here are five ways you can do just that.

  1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen

Throughout the year, community centers and churches host soup kitchens for homeless people. For people on the streets, a meal in a soup kitchen might be the only hot food they get all week. It is always important to help people less fortunate than yourself. You need to teach your children the value of giving back to the greater society. See whether you can volunteer at a local church, such as Harvest Family Church, to help feed the homeless. On Christmas day, you could give just an hour of your time to give hot food to someone who needs it.

  1. Make Christmas shoeboxes

You likely buy your children a whole host of fabulous Christmas presents. Why wouldn’t you? Christmas is the one time of year when you have a free pass to spoil your kids just a little. Teaching your children how fortunate they are is vital to their self-development. Tell your children about other young people who don’t have as much as they have. Together with your kids, you can create shoeboxes to give to needy children. You should fill the boxes with toys and gifts for kids. There are many charities that accept shoebox donations during the festive season.

  1. Give the gift of sponsorship

Among the gifts that you give your children, why not include something a little different? You can buy sponsorship gift cards for people as presents. That means that you are giving money to someone who needs it as a gift for your kid. Your child will get regular updates about the sponsorship and what it means to the charity. For example, if you sponsor an endangered animal, your child will get cards and letters from the company. The letters will explain how they are protecting the animals.

  1. Give food to a food bank

For some families, Christmas is a genuine struggle. People on low incomes and unemployed people will find the festive season hard. Some people will even struggle to feed their family this year. Explain the facts to your children so that they understand how lucky they are. You likely have loads of spare tins in your cupboards. With your children, go through your cupboards and see whether there is anything you can donate to people. Take your spare tins down to your local food bank and donate them. People who can’t afford food will go to the food bank to pick up something for their family to eat.

  1. Sacrifice one present

When you give things to charity, you have to be willing to make a few sacrifices yourself. Children, usually, write a long list of presen to Santa and get just what they asked for from their parents. This year, make things a little different. When your children have written their lists, ask them to choose one present to discard. Tell them that Santa (you) will donate the money for the present to people who need it. Teaching your children to give things up for the sake of others is important and will make them better people.

How to create a romantic couples bathroom

Are you forever fighting with your partner on who is getting in the shower first, are you fighting to use the sink and feel like all you ever do is argue when you’re in the bathroom? What you’re missing is a romantic couple’s bathroom interior, where you and your partner can spend quality time together after a stressful day at work. Here are ways that will help you transform your bathroom to a room that is perfectly romantic for you and the other half:

Fill it with scented candles
Nothing cries romantic than a room full of candles that boast beautiful scents. They make you feel relaxed and help you to unwind, especially if you both have stressful jobs or kids that are a handful. Put the candles around your bath, on top of the toilet, window ledge or on top of your surfaces. Add them wherever you feel they’ll look great but also bear in mind practicality, you don’t want to put them anywhere where you could risk starting a fire.


Double shower
I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t count how many times you’ve argued about who is going in the shower first. Wouldn’t it be much easier if you both went in together? A double shower is also great for us ladies when shaving our legs, as we don’t have to prop up our leg against the wall, we can sit down and do it with ease.

Have two sinks
If you’re forever fighting about using the sink too, installing a ‘his and hers’ will make life much easier. It can be annoying when our partners leave a dirty sink behind but if you have one each, there is no need to complain. This will mostly be appropriate for larger bathrooms. It will mean you can get ready at the same time and catch up on your day, discuss plans or just tell each other how much you love them!


Large bath
Buy a large bath that is big enough to fit the both of you in. If you want to make it extra romantic you could turn your bath into a Jacuzzi by purchasing a whirlpool bath. Ensure you have lots of bubble bath in your home for when you want a luxurious soak together.

Elegant furniture
Elegant furniture can contribute to a romantic bathroom as it can make you feel good about yourself whilst making the room feel more luxurious and grand. Check out sites such as for inspiration when choosing your bathroom furniture.

Install a light dimmer
A light dimmer can add a romantic aura to the room. Most of us look great when the lights are dimmed, our eyes glisten and our skin looks tanned. A dimmer is perfect for when you want to take a luxurious bath with your other half but don’t want to rely on the candles for light!

Add flowers
Near enough every girl loves flowers and what better finishing touch to a romantic bathroom than adding a small bouquet, ading a few flowers on the window ledge or by the sink(s). They will give off a gorgeous scent which will leave you waking up in the morning feeling refreshed!

Care Homes vs Care at Home

It’s a difficult decision; probably one of the hardest you’ll ever make deciding and encouraging a loved one to be under someone else’s care. You’ve probably tried everything you can to look after your loved one yourself but it has got to the stage where they need extra support for everyday tasks, and it’s difficult to take on this huge responsibility yourself. It’s important you assist your loved one in deciding what kind of care is best for them: a care home or organise care at home? Here are the pros and cons of both to help you and your loved one make decision that is right for the individual.


Care Homes:

What is a care home?
A care home is a small institution that provides accommodation, support and care for people unable to rely on their selves for everyday tasks. You can find out more about care homes from

Pros of care homes:

  • They provide high levels of care and support in an environment where residents can enjoy a choice of organised activities.
  • The staff work hard to create a homely atmosphere where residents can choose to do what they want, when they want in familiar surroundings with staff they can trust.
  • They provide a sense of community
  • Your loved one can create new relationships with workers and other residents meaning they don’t get lonely.
  • They have trained staff that are always on hand to help with personal issues
  • There is no need to worry about utility bills, meals and household jobs
  • Your loved one will feel safe and secure
  • Residents receive 24/7 hour careCons of care homes
  • Those working in care homes are looking after a large number of residents meaning a lot of different people will be spending a small amount of time with the individual which prevents the residents and staff getting to know each other.
  • Your loved one can become distressed and confused by the amount of different people they interact with especially those with dementia.
  • Getting use to a new environment can be difficult with the disruption to routines and lifestyles which can cause distress.

Home Care:

What is home care?
Home care is supportive care provided in the individuals own home. The care can range from 15-minute visits to 24-hour assistance and everything in between. You can find out more about home care here

Pros of home care:

  • Your loved one remains in their own home where they have many memories, personal possessions and it is a familiar and relaxed surrounding.
  • They can be around the people and the things they know and love best
  • He/she can retain their independence and dignity which some feel they lose when moving into a care home
  • They receive one-to-one specialist attention by trained carers
  • With home care the client retains full control over the care and support you receive

Cons of home care:

  • If single, it can be lonely. Unless they have a lot of friends who visit regularly or a large family.
  • Even though your loved one will have regular visits from a carer they can still be at risk as it’s not safe and secure
  • The house must be maintained and bills must be paid in addition to care costs
  • Home care staffing is usually only available during normal business hours.
  • The home they live in might not be suitable and may need appliabces installing such as grab bars and things to make it easier to move around the house which can be expensive.

Delicious Christmas Day Dessert Ideas

Aside from the religious aspect, there are several things that immediately come to mind whenever someone says “Christmas.” Decorations, presents, and family are just a few of them. But then there’s food and drink. If you can’t pig out at Christmas, when can you? It’s not long until the holidays, so it’s time to start thinking about all the lovely things you want to eat. There’s so much to choose from, with Christmas dinner to think about, Boxing Day, New Year’s, and all the snacks in between. Not forgetting what you’re going to do with the leftovers! One of the best parts of Christmas Day is the dessert. There’s never any room for it after dinner, but later on everyone’s ready to tuck into a piece of pudding or cake. If you’re not sure whether to stick with a traditional pudding this year or make something else, try these ideas for size.

Traditional Christmas Pudding

If you’ve never made a Christmas pudding before, perhaps this year could be your year. Traditionally made using suet and dried fruit, this flavourful pudding is a classic for a reason. To make a beautiful pudding, find a recipe that calls for you to steam it. It will take a long time, however – Delia Smith’s recipe calls for eight hours. This isn’t one to do last minute; you can do it in advance and store it in a cool place until it’s ready to heat up on Christmas Day.

Chocolate Yule Log

Another Christmas classic, the yule log or Buche de Noel, is a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t like Christmas pudding. It’s a good option for children and people often choose to do a pudding and a chocolate log. Use the best dark chocolate you can find to make an extra special cake. Be careful when you’re rolling your log that you don’t crack the sponge – but if you do, just cover it with chocolate ganache or plenty of icing sugar.


This Italian classic is great fun to try if you’ve never made it. If you don’t fancy it for dessert, it makes a great breakfast when everyone’s opening their presents. Cherries, sultanas, and currants make this sweet bread a deliciously fruity affair. You could also try the Germanic stollen, a similar bread that often contains marzipan covered in sugar.

Christmas Trifle

Everyone loves a trifle, and there are so many ways you could make one. Kids and grownups alike love the combination of jelly, fruit, and cream. And if there aren’t any kids around, you can make your trifle indulgently boozy. Try a black forest trifle, with chocolate and cherries or use leftover Christmas pudding or cake to form the base of your trifle. For a boozy trifle, you can’t go amiss with bananas and Baileys – just replace the Baileys with toffee sauce for kids.

Remember that there’s no need to stick to just one dessert. Who says you can’t have several? After all, there’s Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day to cater for.

11575193106_5770180aef_zImage by Pete

How to Protect Your Home During the Winter Months

How to Protect Your Home During the Winter MonthsAs the winter season approaches, is your home ready for the onslaught of winter weather? Snow, ice, and frigid temperatures can devastate homes that are ill prepared for winter storms.

The cold season will be here before you know it, so here are five ways to prepare your home:

Home Security Systems

A home alarm system not only protects your home from intruders, but with all of the features security systems offer, you can ensure your home’s heat and fire safety. Most security systems, like ones provided by Protection One, include thermostat control, smoke detectors, and carbon dioxide protectors. As internal furnace issues are still the leading cause of home fires, a security system can alert you when something is amiss with the thermostat and heater.

Ice Dams

Homeowners in cold climates should be aware of ice dams, which occur when snow gathers on your roof, begins to melt, and then refreezes, creating a barrier of ice that traps water on top of your roof. The trapped water could potentially seep into your shingles and seams of the roof, creating cracks that could lead to an internal home leak.

To prevent this, homeowners have a few options. One of the leading causes of ice dams is a non-insulated attic. Attics that aren’t properly insulated release a lot of heat, which causes the snow on the roof to melt, thereby creating an ice dam. Insulating the attic properly can keep this problem at bay. You can also rake your roof, or pay a company to do it for you. Lastly, you can install deicing cables on your roof, which in essence are heated wires that will melt the snow.

Winterize Pipes

Wrap pipes to prevent them from freezing. The most important areas are crawlspaces and attics as they usually are the least insulated. You can wrap the pipes in foam rubber sleeves, fiberglass insulation, or heating tape. Additionally, look to seal any drafty areas that are leaking in cold air.

Walkways and Driveways

When a storm is blowing your way, it is a great idea to take precautionary measures by putting out deicing materials on your front porch, outdoor stairs, and walkway to prevent ice from forming.

For driveways, while you can consistently shovel a path, consider replacing the driveway in order to install a snow melting system underneath. By the use of electric cables or hydronic tubes, the ice will melt, leaving you a clear driveway.

Outdoor Foliage

It is no secret the winter months wreak havoc on your outdoor plants and flowers. Instead of having to replace them each spring and summer, cover your plants with insulators to protect them during the cold. Laying down mulch or bark is a great option for insulating your plants, but you could also protect them with blankets, tarps, or burlap coverings.

Getting a head start on winterizing your home will help keep it secure throughout the whole season.

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5 Easy Steps to Managing Your Christmas Plans

Christmas can be a busy, yet exciting time of year. Like many mothers, you may feel a little waylaid with all of the things that you have to do. Dinners, wrapping and sending cards means that you may be doing more than what you planned this Christmas. It can be tough to find the time to tackle everything.

Stop. Breathe. Relax. You don’t have to have a busy Christmas that makes you feel like you are losing your mind. With Christmas a little over a month away, now is the time to take a step back and organize your Christmas in a more thorough way.

Here is your five-step plan to assist you with your Christmas endeavors. It doesn’t have to be a stressful time!

Step 1: Organize Your Cards and Postage

We all love to send Christmas cards to our nearest and dearest. But, the quest in the post office can be something of an ordeal. Now is the time to write and prepare your Christmas cards. Make sure that you take advantage of online postage. You can purchase postage sitting in your desk chair, so you don’t even have to leave the house. Simply go online and purchase postage via an online vendor. Easy peasy!

11426866126_1c92d3a8f7_zKate Ter Haar

Step 2: Prepare and Plan Your Christmas Dinner in Advance

If you are cooking for all of the family this year, you may feel overwhelmed. After all, feeding a whole tribe of family and friends can be tough. It’s time organize your dinner in a more definite way. So, create a menu of what you would like to serve people. Keep it simple if you have over ten guests in attendance. You can be a little more creative if you have a small gathering. The key is to make a detailed list of starters, main courses and desserts. You can even get platters to help you. Why not get a small selection of different puddings? Keep it simple and plan in advance. Buy in advance and freeze what you can. That way, you don’t have to spend time buying and planning dinners.

Step 3: Wrap Little and Often

With an overwhelming amount of kid’s presents, you don’t want to spend your Christmas Eve wrapping everything. Make sure that you set aside one hour per night to dedicate to wrapping. Focus on one family or person and make sure that their gifts are wrapped. Stick to batches if it makes it easier. The key is little and often. You’ll be done in no time.


Step 4: Take Advantage of Babysitters Over the Festive Period

Everyone wants to spend time with the kids over Christmas. If you are panicking how you are going to play Santa this year enlist the help of family and friends to undertake babysitting duties. They will be more than happy to help.

Step 5: Take a Look at Your Plans and Organize Them Effectively

Okay, there is a wealth of events happening over Christmas. Now is not the time to panic. The key is to look at when you have something planned or what you want to attend and write it all down. Use an app or a planner from your smartphone. Keep kid’s dates and your events separate. This is the key to your success this winter. Plan like a military operation! It’s the only way to keep your cool at Christmas.

Amazing Hobbies To Try As A Family

When your kids are small, it is a great time to take up a few hobbies with them. Before you know it, your kids will want to go out and do things alone. You should make the most of the time when your children want to spend time with you. Once they are moody teenagers, they will have other things on their mind, and you’ll have to beg them for family time. Right now, you can enjoy time with your little ones whenever you want. Finding different ways to bond with your family means that you get a chance to learn new skills with them. You need to make sure that the hobbies you choose are age appropriate for your kids so that they enjoy them too. Here are some amazing hobbies to try as a family.

334867875_73131509d0_zmark sebastian


Many families take photos together, but few bother to nurture the skill any further than that. If you enjoy taking pictures, why not become a pro? Invest in a quality camera for you and your family so that you can enjoy all learn some vital photography skills. When you get good at taking excellent photos, you can even frame them and display them in your home. You can get reasonable deals on photo printing and framing online. When people ask about your pictures, you will glow with pride, telling them that your family took them.

Playing a sport

If you enjoy staying active, you should consider playing a sport together. Families tend to send their kids to a sports club, but few play sports as a family unit. You might want to play tennis or badminton together. These sports are perfect for four people as you can play doubles matches. When you teach your children to play a sport, you are giving them valuable fitness skills. If your children develop an interest in exercise from an early age, it will serve them well through their lifetime.


Cooking or baking with your children is a great way to spend an afternoon. If  you are having trouble finding ways to entertain your children, you should consider baking. Kids love to get involved in kitchen activities. Things can get a little messy sometimes! If you follow a few simple tips for baking, though you will find that everybody has a blast. Choose a different cake recipe each time and enjoy spending some quality time together.


Volunteering or charity work

It is never too early to teach your children to give to others. If you show your children how to be charitable from an early age, they will take that skill through into their adult life. There are loads of schemes that allow adults and children to volunteer together. Consider helping out at a soup kitchen or doing a charity bike ride as a family.

Learning to play music

Few children learn to play instruments these days, which is a real shame. Between five and eleven, children are most susceptible to learning new skills, such as learning to play music. It will be easy for your children to pick up musical skills during this age bracket. If you already play an instrument, you can teach your children. If you don’t, you might want to take a class and learn together.


Hiking is a wonderful family hobby. It is free, and it’s healthy! What more could you want? As it gets cold, you will need to make sure that you all have your snow boots on when you go walking. You can plan a route that leads to a nice cafe, where you can all have lunch, and then hike back to the car.

8 Tips For Making Your Home Feel More Relaxing

Most of us associate a feeling of calm and peace with a relaxing holiday. But, why shouldn’t we be able to achieve this feeling a little closer to home? In fact, why shouldn’t we be able to get this feeling in our homes? The pressures of everyday life mean that we don’t give as much attention to our nests as we would like to. However, transforming your home into a tranquil space does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. With these handy tips, you will have that sought-after feeling of calm and peace as soon as you walk through your front door.

  • Flowers

Certain flowers have a calming scent that works well at relieving stress. Try adding some vases around your home full of lavender, rose and jasmine flowers. Not only do they give off a soothing aroma, they are also beautiful to look at.


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  • Candles


Candles are a great way to achieve a relaxing ambiance in your home. Aromatherapy candles are specifically designed to make your body and mind relax. White candles with a delicate scent, such as chamomile, are much more calming than strongly scented varieties, which can be overpowering.

  • Lighting

At night, softer lighting will set the perfect tone to your new relaxing home. Instead of using the main light in your rooms, opt for the lower lighting provided by table lamps and floor lamps. Alternatively, try adding a dimmer to your main light so that you can adjust it with ease. Avoid exposed bulbs as the light will be too harsh.

During the day, open the blinds and curtains and let the natural light flood into your home. Spend time in the sunniest of your rooms, soaking up the warmth. This will make you feel relaxed and content.

  • Furniture

Opt for neutral colors and soft fabrics and textures when it comes to furniture. You will achieve a relaxing feel with comfortable bean bag chairs, floor cushions and poufs. Soft looking and feeling rugs will also help. Arrange your furniture around a central point like a fireplace or a large window to achieve a calming look and feeling.


Image from Flickr

  • Bath

Everyone associates relaxing times with being in a warm bubble bath. Even just the sight of the bath will make you feel relaxed. A lovely white, clean bath surrounded by candles and flowers is guaranteed to make you feel very calm.

  • Paint

As is the case with the furniture, light, neutral paint colors will contribute to a relaxing home. Hues of blue, gray and green will work best as will whites and creams.

  • Tidy

A tidy home is a relaxing home. If your house is dirty and cluttered, you will be easily distracted by it, and you will find it much harder to focus on chilling out. Although this may be easier said than done, especially if you have young children, try to remove as much clutter as possible. You might even consider doing a proper clear out of all your unwanted items. Make your bed every morning as this will make it more inviting at night time.

  • Artwork

Pictures and paintings of tranquil scenes will help you achieve that calm feeling. Choose pictures that are not too loud or bright as these may cause the opposite of the effect intended.

7 Tips for Holiday Traveling with Kids

7 Tips for Holiday Traveling with Kids

Many families make the decision to do some traveling over the holiday season. A lot of families travel during the holiday season, to see their family and friends or just to get a break from the cold winter weather. No matter what the purpose of the holiday travel is, many parents experience some difficulties when traveling with kids. These issues are sometimes enough to make parents even reconsider whether or not they want to travel during the holiday season.

Parents should be able to travel with their kids during the holiday season with little stress or problems. Parents can prevent a lot of potential issues with their kids while traveling by being prepared and understanding what causes those issues. With a few tools and some luck, any parents can get through their holiday trip stress-free and even have the opportunity to create some great memories with their kids. Here are seven tips for holiday traveling with kids.

Have some easy-to-use entertainment

Having some reliable ways to keep kids entertained while traveling is essential. Books and movies are a great way to keep kids quiet and happy for hours on the plane or in a car. Parents can swap out their Cox cable TV for satellite that has mobile app options parents can use wherever they go.

Try to maintain a regular schedule

Kids usually do better when they are on a normal schedule. Parents might be good about maintaining their schedule at home, but traveling creates new issues for it. Parents can try to book flights during nap time and attempt to help them eat and sleep on a regular schedule during the trip.

Make time for play and rest

Just as kids like to have their normal schedule, every child needs to have time to burn energy and time to sleep and recover. Parents should plan these times into their vacation schedule to keep their kids happy and healthy throughout the trip.

Pack some food options

There are a lot of food options at airports and gas stations, but parents might not be able to find something appropriate or healthy for their children. Parents should pack their own food options for their kids to ensure that they are always eating something healthy and nutritious.

Do not try to plan too much

Parents often get excited about holiday travel and try to plan a lot of activities during that time for their kids. This may seem like the best way to get the most out of a trip, but overloading can just make everyone cranky during the trip.

Carry some essentials on the plane

There are a few things that parents should carry with them on the plane or in the car. A few of these things include baby wipes, an extra set of clothes, snacks and a non-electronic toy or games.

Make it a learning experience for the kids

Kids who have never been on a plane before or are traveling to a new area can learn a lot from their holiday travels. Parents should take this time to teach their kids some new lessons and help them cement new memories.


Four Great Kitchen Trends of 2014, and Possibly 2015

Four Great Kitchen Trends of 2014, and Possibly 2015It’s always a great idea to consider upgrading your kitchen. It adds value to your home and makes you feel comfortable and organized in your own home. Kitchens are one of the most important rooms in any house. It’s a gathering place; the place where families come together. For this reason and many others, it’s important to keep your kitchen trendy. Here are some of the most popular kitchen trends of 2014 which will probably continue to be stylish in 2015.

White and Black

In the past, wood cabinets were all the rage. Lately, however, the colour scheme has shifted favourably over to a black and white palate. White cabinets and black countertops are the most popular, although some people choose to go all white with their kitchen design. Even the black-and-white checkered floor pattern that was all the rage in the ‘50s is making a comeback. This colour scheme is timeless and trendy, and if you choose to follow this trend, it is unlikely that your kitchen will go out of style for many years.

Islands with Storage

Islands are fantastic additions to a kitchen because they provide valuable counter space. In the past, however, they were not utilized to their full potential and had only a few places for storage underneath the countertop. Modern islands can give a great amount of storage space. You can hang pots and pans underneath, or go with enclosed cabinets. You can design modern islands to store almost anything, and this storage bonus is being incorporated into many kitchen designs in 2014.

In-Kitchen Dining

It is becoming more and more popular for people to dine in the kitchen itself. It’s casual and intimate at the same time, and provides a nice separation from formal dining areas. The island is often used as the space where people gather to eat; simply adding barstools provides a sophisticated and sleek way to eat in the kitchen. Another great option is to add a small table to a long kitchen. It makes the dining experience feel more formal while still being casual. Depending on your family’s style, in-kitchen dining is a great way to bring everyone together for meal times and beyond.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel appliances have been all the rage for quite some time, but this metallic finish is starting to be incorporated into other areas of the kitchen. A stainless steel backsplash is both modern and practical, as it is much easier to clean than traditional backsplashes. Stainless steel is also being incorporated into cabinet hardware, lighting, and dining accessories. This look is as modern as it gets, and it’s sure to continue to be utilized in the kitchen outside of appliances in the years to come.

How to Get Your Dream Kitchen

If all these ideas (or if you have your own) sound great to you, consider installing a Bespoke Kitchen. Click here to see how Mike Taylor Bespoke Kitchens can work with you to make your dream kitchen a reality.