88 articles Tag home

Top Reasons Why Dogs are Good for Kids

Top Reasons Why Dogs are Good for KidsIf you know us, you’ll know that we’re a family animal lovers. Husband and I got Chuck in 2006, just a couple of months after we got married and he wa a huge part of our lives for 13 years. We’ve had other pets over the years, too – Happy the hamster, Maureen our Staff-Frenchie-Boxer cross, Bagel and Biscuit the budgies, plus various dogs we’ve fostered over the years.

We’re huge believers that pets make a home complete and that it’s great for kids to have pets too, as it teaches them responsibility…even if it is always be cleaning out Bagel’s cage instead of Sausage! With this in mind, I thought I’d share some reasons that dogs are great pets for kids (and why investing in scratch-proof flooring is a good idea if you want one!)

Bonding

Having a pet helps to build family bonds as animals are often the focus of family activities. From walking the dog together to grooming or feeding the pet, these simple but enjoyable tasks allow everyone to slow down, enjoy each other’s company and communicate with one another.

Exercise

Having a dog means that you have to go for walks. Come rain or shine, dog need exercise, no excuses. You have to remember, that as well as for their physical health, dogs need exercise for their mental health. When they’re at home, they can’t sit and read a book or watch the TV, that’s their equivalent of getting out and having a sniff around the neighbourhood!

Responsibility

The daily commitment of caring for an animal is a great way to teach kids the importance of dependability and responsibility. To be a dog’s provider is an honour that requires a lot of patience and work. We make sure that Sausage and BB help to keep Maureen’s water bowl clean and refilled, put her food down, and make sure her bed is nicely plumped up for her to rest in.

Mental Health

It’s actually been scientifically proven that spending just 15-30 minutes with your dog can help you feel more calm and relaxed, reducing stress and increasing happiness. Playing with your pup increases your brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and tranquility. Just having a dog around can give your mental health a huge boost.

Comfort

Having a dog can be a huge source of comfort in so many situations. When my kids are ill, Maureen (as did Chuck) will always be the first one to sit with them while they’re recovering on the couch, she’s always there with face licks when the girls are crying and she lets us know if anyone o much as breathes wrong within a 100m radius of the house. She’s a huge source of comfort for us all and loves nothing more than a snuggle with her pack…except maybe for a 5 mile walk where she gets to chase pheants!

Getting the Best Broadband Deals for You Right Now

Getting the Best Broadband Deals for You Right NowPhoto by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

You have to look at what you can do to save money and get the best possible outcome from the decisions you make. This means you are going to have to think about what you can do to get the best broadband deals, and there are a lot of things that will help you to achieve this. Make sure you focus on the right choices that will improve your broadband usage right now.

There are so many factors that can help you make the most of the broadband you are using, and getting this right is crucial. Now, when you are choosing a modern broadband package, there are a lot of factors that you are going to need to get right, and this is important to keep in mind right now. Here are some of the best ideas you need to use to get the perfect deal for your broadband today.

What Deals are Available?

The first thing to look at is what deals are available when it comes to choosing broadband options. This is something you have to make sure you get right moving forward and there are a lot of things that play a part in this. Getting the right deals can help you to save money, as well as making sure you have the best possible broadband connection. This can be essential for improving your broadband usage and making your life easier in the process as well.

No Contract Broadband

There are a lot of factors that play a part in helping you to find the right sort of broadband, and the best thing you can do is to look at no contract broadband deals. These are an increasingly popular form of modern broadband deals, and an excellent way of being able to get the broadband you want without having to enter into lengthy and potentially expensive contracts. No contract broadband is broadband that has a rolling contract of 30 days, and this is something to think about.

Choose the Right Provider

If you can choose the right provider you are going to be able to fix so many issues and ensure that you have the perfect broadband deals for you moving forward. This is something you need to make sure you get right, and there are so many great things you can do that will help you with this. Looking for the best broadband providers is important, and there are a lot of things you can do that will help you when it comes to finding the perfect supplier. Consider what they have to offer you, and what you need to look for when it comes to broadband providers.

Making the most of the broadband choices that are available on the market is something that is really important for the future. You need to make sure you are doing what you can to find the right deals for the future. There are so many factors that you need to consider when it comes to making the most of this. Think about what you can do to achieve this, and work toward making sure you get the best possible broadband deal moving forward.

5 Tips to Financing your Next Home

Everybody, once you become an adult, you would love to enjoy your private space. Having your own home is a dream come true for most people in the world. However, as we all know, that does not come easy. You have to be ready to work for it.

Money is the main factor that can limit you from making a down payment or paying the new house in full. You may need some help in this area. This article focuses on giving you five tips 

that you will need the next time you are making an investment of this magnitude.

Do you need a new home?

Any dream is achievable. However, you have to sit down and analyze whether you require this new home or not.

One of the things you have to analyze is your income. Most lenders will give you reasons why you should take a mortgage. You should nevertheless think about the risk that you are about to undertake. Even if you qualify for a particular mortgage limit, it does not mean that you can pay it off in time.

Thus, if buying a house can wait for some time, you had better do so.

Preparing to acquire the property

Once you think that you are ready to invest in a new home, you have to think of ways of investing in this new asset. If you do not have the ability to pay in full, then your other option is to look for a mortgage.

Before you even start the process, ensure that you prepare beforehand. For instance, you could try to work on your credit score. If it is low, then you lower your chances of getting a mortgage. However, if you can work on getting up, then you can increase your chances by a considerable margin.

A good credit score, by the way, can range between 650 and over. If it is below that, you can work towards improving it.

Look for various borrowing options

Here is where many people make mistakes. You can get the wrong option if you do not shop around to see the various options available. There are many lenders in this space, which means that you have to be keen when making a decision.

Here are the mortgage options you can consider:

– Use a private lender

If you have a poor score on your credit, you can look for a person or a private business that offers that. This is a good option for people that do not have documents required to acquire a mortgage.

– Make a deal with a homebuilder

Most home builders provide in-house mortgages, which you could also use. Nevertheless, you have to be keen when agreeing with these types of lenders.

– Using FHA mortgage

Most federal banks support these loans because they are affordable to many. Even when you have a bad credit score, you could get the mortgage as long as you make a 10% down payment.

Other financing options include rent to own, using your retirement account and crowdfunding.

Final remarks

Before you make any purchases, you have to ensure that you analyze your current situation. For instance, with a new home, you may have to adjust your current budget to help pay for the mortgage you just committed to repaying it. 

Remember also that people take years to finish paying off a mortgage. Therefore, ensure that you make the right decisions and consult professionals in this area.

 

 

 

 

 

Plumbing Emergencies and Tips on How to Deal with Them

Plumbing problems are uncommon, especially when you live in an old house. While a good plumbing system can run with minimum maintenance, there are still many things that could go wrong. In a worst-case scenario, you may have to deal with a plumbing emergency in the middle of the night.

Knowing how to deal with the most common plumbing emergencies is something that everyone needs to know. Taking the right first steps helps to prevent those emergencies from becoming bigger problems that aren’t always so easy to deal with. To help you prepare for the next plumbing emergency, here are some of the things you need to know.

The Right Tools for the Job

Before you are forced to deal with plumbing-related issues, you want to make sure that the right tools are available in the house. Simple things such as a forced cup and plunger can be very handy; not having them, on the other hand, can make dealing with plumbing emergencies difficult.

You also want to have a big enough bucket and leak-sealing tapes. These let you deal with leaks before you can contact the best plumbers available for the job. At the very least, you can prevent water from spreading before the emergency plumber arrives.

Other tools are more common; you probably have them around the house already. Some Allen keys, wrenches, a set of screwdrivers, and a tool caddy for keeping them organised are all useful tools to own. Complete the set by adding blind caps and towels or rags.

Know Your System

Next, you want to equip yourself with some basic knowledge on how the plumbing system is set up. At the very least, you need to know where the main water shut-off valve is located. When there is a sudden leak, you can shut off the water immediately and prevent further damage. Leaks at home are one of the primary sources that contribute to wasted water yearly in the United States. This water conservation infographic provides useful information on the matter.

A good plumbing system also has a number of isolation valves. Their main purpose is so you can shut off the flow of water to certain areas around the house, making dealing with specific issues easier. For example, there is usually a shut-off valve below a sink, so you can isolate the taps without turning off the main’s water supply.

When working with the plumbers, it is also a good idea to have professionals inspect the system thoroughly.

Who to Contact

24/7 services are handy because the best service providers can be contacted at any time. That said, you want to find the best plumbers to contact so you don’t have to go through the hassle of searching for one when you have an emergency to deal with.

Asking the plumbers to inspect the system prior to dealing with an actual emergency is a good idea for this very reason. If you’re looking for a recommendation, you can start by contacting the Bristol plumbers at Plumbing Care Services. You can get a fast quote by filling in the contact form on their website or simply give them a call if you have an emergency. They strive for a 60 minute response time so are a good option to consider if you’re in an emergency.

Having the number of a reputable plumber to hand prior to an actual emergency also allows you to compare quotes and estimates better. By the time you need their services, you already have their day rate and know how much the job is likely to cost.

The Right First Steps

Shutting off the main valve or the isolation valve to a specific area is always a good first step to take when you have a plumbing emergency to deal with. However, it is far from a permanent fix. In fact, leaving the master valve closed for too long is inconvenient.

Remember that you have more tools to use, which means you can deal with many emergencies yourself. In the event of a leak, for instance, you can use Teflon tape to seal the leak temporarily. You can also use blind caps as a quick-fix for broken fixtures.

Wrenches are handy for when you have loose pipes, or when you need to replace some fixtures yourself. You can use a plunger to fix a clogged drain or toilet. Use a cup plunger for smaller drains, or a forced cup plunger for sinks and toilets.

Keep a bucket handy, especially when you need to open fixtures or drains. Even when there is no water visible from the top, the system may still have water inside. Opening pipes and drains could mean letting a lot of water out of the system, something you want to do with buckets and rags handy.

Here’s another reason why knowing who to call is a must: you can ask for first-aid advice over the phone. If you are not sure about what to do in the emergency, contact your local plumber and ask for a step-by-step direction.

With the main issue solved – even when it is only temporarily fixed – you don’t have to worry about the plumbing emergency turning into a bigger problem or damaging other parts of the house. You can then sit back and wait for the plumber of your choice to come and deal with the bigger repair.

Work and Home – Five Ways to Keep Them Separate

How to Separate Home and Work LifePhoto by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

As someone who works from home, I’d be the first to say that there are a lot of pros to the arrangement. I get to work in a familiar environment, Maureen the Pup doesn’t have to be left by herself and I get to dictate my own hours (and eat lunch whenever I want!). However, there are also downsides, and it can be difficult to create separation between home and work life – I say this as I sit here typing on a Sunday afternoon, between cooking dinner and doing loads of laundry!

There are, however, ways to ensure that work and home don’t bleed together – here are a few of them:

Invest in Office Space

This might seem counterproductive if you want the freedom of self-employment, but there are lots of small office spaces where you can work, distraction free, which don’t cost a fortune. Click Offices London guide can help you to find serviced office space in the City, which will fit your budget and help you to look more professional to your clients.

Set Work Hours

I’m very guilty of taking work at a moments notice, which means working at times when I should be with family. Set yourself hours in which you’ll accept work and don’t do anything outside of this. You could even set yourself an out of hours notification for your emails so that clients won’t expect to hear back from you until the next day. It can be daunting, thinking about losing work, but setting parameters like this is good for everyone.

Ditch the Work Phone

For those of us with work phones, consider implementing a ‘no phone’ policy at home. There’s nothing worse than a fun time with the family being spoilt by a call from work about something that could wait till Monday. Of course, there are some exceptions to this but in most cases, the job can wait till you’re on the clock.

Delegate as Much Work as Possible.

If you have others that work with or for you, make sure to assign a reasonable amount of tasks to them, instead of trying to do everything yourself. Give your assistant or team members tasks that are lower on your priority list, but that you can trust them to accomplish. You may also think about assigning tasks or activities that will build and enhance their skills.

Keep Your Social Media Separate

If you’d like to separate your work relationships from your personal ones, it’s a good idea to keep them separate online as well. The easiest way to avoid overlap is to use different social networking sites for different purposes. For example, Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent tools for developing your professional network, whereas Facebook is often better suited to sharing photos and news with your family and close friends. If your business page is linked to your profile, there’s temptation to answer questions doing downtime, but you should try to keep notifications off at weekends, at the very least.

How to Make Your Home Office Feel Secure

Feel Safe in a Secure HomeWorking from home has many advantages, but it can be difficult to separate home from business. If you have an office in your home, you might worry about security, especially if you keep documents containing sensitive information, cash or payment details. With new GDPR rules in place, it’s even more important to protect your client’s information, or you could land yourself a hefty fine. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about some ways to make your home office feel more secure:

Barriers

Having barriers from Barriers Direct across your driveway might not stop people from coming onto your property, but they’ll give a clear sign that security is on your mind and that you want to keep a line between yourself and the outside world. They also stop people using your driveway as a turning circle, which can be very annoying if you live on a busy main road.

Lights

Exterior lights are proven to be a deterrent to people coming onto your property for nefarious reasons late at night, but they also give you an extra feeling of safety if you come and go when it’s dark. Use a selection of carefully placed lights to give you illumination in all of the areas you’re likely to use, once the sun goes down, for the ultimate feeling of safety, but be mindful of lights which might shine into your bedroom if a cat wanders past!

Get a Dog

While I’m not suggesting you have a team of German Shepherds patrolling your perimeter, dogs can really help to make you feel secure in your home office. When Sausage was a baby, Husband worked nights and having Chuck there made me feel so much safer as he’d let me know if someone so much as breathed in the direction of our home!

Camera ACTION

You’ve probably seen headlines about burglars being foiled by security camera footage. This is one home office security solution that works as both a deterrent and a means to get justice. You can get security cameras that are part of a complete home office security system, or you can use cameras that work on their own. Whichever way you go, we recommend using a security camera with a mobile app, so you can see footage in real time and store it if you ever need to go to the police.

Get a Safe

If you’ve got things in your house which are of serious worth, installing a safe might be a good way to feel more secure about your belongings. Safes can be good for keeping company records and payment information safe, too. If anyone does manage to break into your home office, it will be a lot more difficult for them to steal anything of value, and in a lot of cases, having a safe can make your contents insurance premiums go down. Make sure they’re installed by a reputable company and think about going for a safe which has two separate locking mechanisms for an added layer of security.

What do you do to ensure you feel safe and secure in your home office? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Make Your Home a Little More Nordic

Make Your Home a Little More NordicThere’s been a huge trend for Scandi home styling for quit some time now, with hygge, lykke and fika all becoming part of our vocabulary in recent years. I don’t know if it’s the time of year, with the leaves starting to brown and jumpers coming out of the wardrobe, but it got me thinking about those Scandi trends and how we could make our home feel a little more Nordic, without making major changes. Here are some of the things I came up with:

Go White

You might not think of whte floors and walls when you think about being cosy, but actually, whiteness is a staple of Nordic home design, with many opting for clean white walls and adding in splashes of colour elsewhere. This is because they winter months are long and dark in Scandinavian countries and white walls reflect the light as much as possible. Light grey can also create a sense of cosy in a room, particularily if there is enough light in the home.

I Love Lamp

No Nordic home is complete without a lot of lamps. As above, the winter months can be really gloomy, especially as you go further North, with some places seeing no daylight for weeks on end. Creating a lighting scheme which can be bright when you want it to be, as well as being cosy and muted when you feel like it, is super important to get the Nordic feel.

All Natural

Scandinavians have a great appreciation for the outdoors and nature is reflected in much of their design choices. Décor, artwork and materials often represent the nature of the Nordic region. Wood is abundant in most Scandi homes adding a coziness that compliments and warms the usually white walls and light floors. You will often find sheepskins and reindeer pelts on chairs and floors as well as plants and flowers or even branches brought in from the outside.

A Splash of Fun

While you’ll find a lot of muted colours and sleek lines in Scandi design, there’s always a splash of colour and a hint of fun in there somewhere. Be it an accessory in a bright, wild colour or a set of cushions with a fun geometric print, it’s not all serious. Don’t be afraid to use clashing colours or oversized items like clocks and mirrors to make the room feel lively and vibrant.

Mix and Match

One thing you’ll notice about most Nordic rooms is that it’s not all matchy-matchy. You’ll find things make from wood, plastic, metals, fabric, all in a variety of colours and shapes. You’ll find ultra-modern furniture sitting alongside antiques and you’ll find hard surfaces and straight edges softened with fabrics and textiles. In Nordic homes it is not unusual to find and interesting mix of expensive classic pieces with more affordable designs – Scandinavians know the value of good design in their homes and will often save up for that one iconic piece that will give them great pleasure, rather than spending on smaller items which are ultimately disposable.

Family Admin: The Background Work In A Successful Household

(Image Source)

Being a parent is often considered a full-time job, and this makes sense when you think about all of the work you have to do. You will have to feed, clean, and help your child to sleep, while also providing them with an early education and plenty of play, eating a huge amount of the time you used to spend on other things. When you’ve got this much on your plate, it can be all too easy to find yourself making mistakes or ignoring crucial work which could have a big impact on your life. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring a range of different admin areas, giving you some easy ways to handle them when you’re trying to keep your family moving in the right direction.

Money

While it might be a subject which people don’t like to think about too much, money is crucial to your family, and is one of the key areas which you need to focus on. Children can be extremely expensive, often costing their parents a small fortune before they reach adulthood. During this time, you’re going to need to be on top of your money, or you could find yourself struggling to give your little ones everything they need. You can find some examples of the areas you need to keep in mind below.

Savings: Saving money when you’re having to spend a lot can be a difficult task, and a lot of people choose to have small comforts instead. Having savings behind you will make it easier to afford the big things in your child’s life, like getting their first car or paying for college. There are loads of tools on the market which are designed to help with this, from bank accounts which can manage your saving for you, to financial experts who can be on hand to help you to make the tough choices which come with your money.

Debt: It’s likely that you’ll get into some sort of debt as a parent, whether this is the occasional credit card spending or something much larger, like a mortgage. When you borrow the wrong kind of money, though, it can often be a challenge to pay what you owe, and a lot of people struggle with this. A debt relief order can help your family to get out of debt. In most cases, though, it’s best to work hard to avoid this position, putting time and effort into the background work to avoid debt.

Taxes & Bills: As the last part of this to consider, it’s time to think about the tax and bills you pay. A lot of people struggle to cover these parts of their lives when they have kids, and even doing the work to get them paid can be a challenge. It’s well worth looking for help if you’re struggling with this, though you should be putting enough time into working on it to avoid this. If you need help to get started, there are countless blogs around the web which are in place to cover this sort of work.

Education

Giving your child the best possible education your home town can offer is crucial to their success in the future. Even if they don’t like going to school, being in a good one will make it far easier for them to get good grades, though you will have to be on top of a lot of admin work to make this possible. Schools are becoming increasingly competitive, and will often open applications long before your child would be old enough to enroll. This makes it worth doing plenty of research to figure out the process you’ll have to go through at least a year before they start. There are a lot of Facebook groups which are filled with knowledgeable parents who have gone through the same process in the past.

Medical

Along with enrolling your child in a good school, it also makes sense to make sure that they have access to a quality doctor. A lot of people ignore this factor when they are thinking about their children, assuming that they will be healthy for years to come. Of course, though, it’s impossible to tell what might be around the corner, and the help of an experienced health expert could be invaluable. You can research your local doctors, but will also have to fill out a bit of paperwork to make sure that they are ready for your child. In a lot of cases, it will be worth having the little one see a professional like this on a regular basis until they have developed enough for you to be confident.

Moving Home

A lot of families have to move home during their first few years together. As your unit grows, your old home will lack the space and resources you need to function properly, and this will put a strain on everyone. When you decide to move, a lot of the work you’ve done in the past will be reset. For example, if you’ve signed your child up with local medical professionals, but move to a different town, you’re going to have to go through this process again to avoid having to go back to the old place every time the kids need help. There are organisations out there which are happy to help with this, though it will also be worth taking steps to make it easier for yourself. Making a to-do list will be very helpful, giving you the chance to forget about your mountain of jobs to focus on one at a time.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to start taking your family admin work more seriously. A lot of people struggle with this, finding it hard to know what needs to be done when they are trying to build a successful household. This sort of work is becoming more and more crucial in the modern world, and a lot of people are finding themselves having to put time into it.

Making Our Current Home Work for Us

Making Our Home Work for UsPhoto by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Next week, Sausage starts senior school. She turned eleven a few weeks ago and suddenly seems so grown up. She currently shares a bedroom with her sister, which was their choice when we moved in, but a lot can change in the space of four years and I think Sausage is craving her own space. It will be even more important when she has homework to do and needs a quiet place to do it, so we’re having a re-jig of the whole home, to make it work for us.

We have three bedrooms in our home – one for Husband and I, one for the girls and another which is used as an office/dressing room/junk room. Sausage is going to have the room that Husband and I are in so that she and BB have rooms which are the same size, while Husband and I will move into his office and the dining room will become the office.

Both girls would like their bedrooms decorated too, and their colour choices could not be a better illustration of their differing personalities. Sausage wants her bedroom to be purple with black accents, and BB wants hers to be even more pink than it already is! Everyone says they look alike, but I always counter that with “…but their personalities are VERY different!” We’re buying a new bed for Sausage as she’s currently in bunk beds with her sister, and she’s looking forward to choosing one.

At the moment, what we call “the dining room” isn’t actually used for anything close to dining. It’s where Sausage’s budgie, Bagel, lives, as well as the family’s bikes. Our shed isn’t massively secure, so we keep the bikes inside, but this will definitely need to change. As well as a bed, we need to invest in some sort of bike storage for the home, like a shed or lockable bike box to keep everything safe and secure.

We need to do a few other things around the house, too. Our kitchen floor needs replacing and we have the tiles, we just need to get around to actually laying them! Our upstairs bathroom is in a state of disrepair, just because it’s quite old, so we’re hoping our landlady will take care of some of that this year too.

I think the only room we’re not doing anything to is the living room! However, once we get all of the moving around and rearranging done, our home will work a whole lot better for us.

Sausage and BB Design Their Dream Home

It’s been pretty rainy and rubbish here for the last few days and after the madness of last week (Sausage turned 11 on Tuesday, so we’ve had playdates, sleepovers, shopping days as well as a barbecue at the weekend for our friends’ 40th) we’ve opted to spend some time chilling at home. You know what kids are like, though, and even chilling at home means finding pretty constant ways to entertain them, so I thought I’d ask them to tell me what their dream house would be like, and write about it here!

A Personal Lift

While brainstorming their ideas, both girls decided that their dream home would have bespoke passenger lifts – Sausage to transport her dozens of dogs and BB to get her pushchairs upstairs because she wants a dozen babies!  I can see my retirement years being spent doing a LOT of baby sitting and dog sitting…

Walk-In Wardrobe

Despite neither of my kids being massively girly girls, they both LOVE clothes, and another thing they agreed on (I can’t believe they’ve agreed on so much to be honest!). When Sausage mentioned that she wanted a massive walk-in wardrobe, BB decided that she definitely wanted one of those, too. They’d better both have good careers for all this stuff!

Conservatory

I’m not sure what it is about the women in our family, but we all love a conservatory. Maybe it’s the feeling that you’re sitting outside but manage to be warm and dry at the same time? Either way, both girls decided that a conservatory would be high on their list of demands when designing their dream house.

Theatre Room

In all honesty, we’re only just at a point where BB will sit still for long enough to watch a whole film. She’s okay at the cinema because she can’t get up and wander off but at home, it’s a struggle. However, she’s recently decided that she does like watching movies with us (even if we have to spend ten minutes convincing her beforehand!) and both girls agreed that a theatre room would be a great addition to their dream house.

Indoor Swimming Pool

They might not be overly keen on school swimming lessons (who likes being given two minutes to get your school uniform back on to your still-damp body?!) but both girls love being in the water. My dad kindly bought them a pool for the garden this summer and they’e had great fun using it so far, so they agreed that an indoor pool that they could use all year would be a must-have in their fantasy house.

What would your kids have in their dream house?