Brighten Up Your Home Before You Sell with These Easy Tips

Selling your house means going up against everyone else who is doing the same thing, and there are bound to be other properties that offer pretty much what you have to offer. That’s why it pays to take a little time and brighten up your home before you start inviting viewings.

People want to see a home that they could live in – as opposed to the one that you currently live in – so what can you do to make sure your house looks bright, fresh and inviting, and is the one that people will want to buy? Let’s have a look at some simple, cheap ideas that will give you the upper hand.

Tidy up! – by tidy up we don’t just mean put things away, we mean take away all of your personal clutter, remove any furniture that is there just for your own needs, and get rid of anything that is simply taking up space. Remember, you are selling them a home that they want to live in, and they may not have your own preference for small ornaments, nor do they need to see rooms stuffed full of furniture. Which brings us nicely to the next point.

Create Space – if, for example, you have a large and imposing suite in your lounge, consider putting it in storage and buying – or borrowing – a smaller, simple one that doesn’t overpower the room. Also, take away any occasional chairs and tables that are taking up space, and try and have every room as sparsely furnished as is possible. This way, you will be able to give the viewers a sense of the real space available in the rooms.

Freshen Up – when were your rooms last painted? The paintwork might look fine to you, but you’re used to it! To other people it may well look very tired, and if you are one for bold colours,  that can be very off-putting for viewers. Consider repainting rooms in neutral paint colours for the best effect. This gives the ‘blank canvas’ look that viewers want to see, so they can easily imagine stamping their own identity on the rooms. It’s not as expensive as you may think, and while it will take up a little of your time, you will find it worth your while.

Tidy the Garden – your viewers will want to see what you have to offer outside, too, so make sure you cut the lawn if you have one, clear away any fallen leaves and other debris, make sure your plants look neat and tidy, and make everything presentable. Also, de-clutter the garage of any accumulated junk you may have in there – you’ll be surprised how important a spacious, tidy garage is to some buyers!

That’s a few ideas for tidying up your house and giving it a fresh look, and there are many more, so set aside some time to get the jobs done, and give yourself the best chance of enticing those buyers.

Spend More Time In The Sun With A Better Backyard

 

There’s nothing more important than spending quality time with your family over the summer. When the kids are out of school and you’re ready to cash in your vacation days, you want to make the most of the warm weather and the freedom to go outdoors. After a long winter, nothing’s going to feel better than improving your tan or just sitting outside with a book in the backyard.

With some outdoor improvement tips, you can transform your backyard into an outdoor extension of your home.

First, start with patio furniture that’s conducive to spending hours outside. A glass or metal-top dining table and weatherproof chairs will have you eating al fresco seven nights a week. With a barbecue or a fire pit, you can grill up anything without having to heat up your home.

Second, installing a fire pit for your backyard not only opens up a whole new world of dinner options (including smoky barbecued meats), you can also enjoy the warmth and light of a camp fire without having to get out of town. Fire pits are the safest way to enjoy a fire in your backyard.

If you want to use your backyard more often at night, you need some good lighting. Your home’s back patio light can be over-bright and kill the mood. Instead, try using strings of fairy lights to add some charm, solar lights in the grass, or even hang tea candles in jars around your patio.

Of course, even with the weather, it can feel like a battle getting your kids out of the house and enjoying the outdoors. Even the summer sunshine has a tough time competing with smartphones, laptops, and video games.

Instead of struggling to coax your kids outside when the sun is out, try organizing some backyard games with friends or family on the weekends. These fun game ideas require minimal equipment.

  1. Giant Jenga: This outdoor take on a classic family-oriented game will have you on the edge of your seat. Instead of tiny wood pieces, paint some 2x4sto replicate the game. Not ideal for small kids, but with older kids it will be a blast. Just make sure to get out of the way when that tower starts to come down.
  2. Water Balloon Dodge Ball: When it’s so hot out that a blast of cold water exploding on you feels like a real relief. There’s only one rule in water balloon dodge ball – don’t aim at the face.
  3. Glow-in-the-Dark Capture the Flag: If you’ve got an enormous yard that’s perfect for running around, try an evening game of capture the flag that uses glowsticks instead of flags.

These are just a few ideas to get your kids outside for some family fun and activities. If you don’t feel like getting wet yourself, save them for the next time you have people over on a long weekend and you can let the kids tire themselves out.

The summer is your time to shine. Get your backyard in shape for days and days of fun, games, guests, and tasty meals.

3 Reasons To Cultivate Your Child’s Musical Education

 

 

It’s generally pretty well established that musical education is something that will help a young person in the development of both their intelligence and their personality. Despite this fact, music programs in most of Canada’s public schools are under fire and in danger of losing all their funding. The reason that provincial governments will often give is that music is not an essential skill like math or computer skills; a school would be much more likely to receive funding for a computer lab where kids can learn coding than a music room and a decent collection of instruments.

And while math and computer skills are definitely important, an analysis of the job market and where it will be in ten years’ time suggests that creativity and the ability to think flexibly will be the most important skills. Jobs that have been performed by humans for as long as we can remember will be automated, and it will be up to our kids to grow into decisive, confident grownups who can navigate a complicated future and carve out a niche for themselves.

So yes, emphasizing math and computers is important, but if kids aren’t brought up with a pursuit that stimulates creativity and opens those neural pathways that help with flexible thinking, they may run into trouble. The idea of choosing a specialty and sticking with it over an entire career is becoming totally anachronistic, so making sure that your child builds confidence and a unique creative voice is more important now than ever before if they are to have a happy and successful life.

So even though you’ve probably read a list similar to this one before, here are some less obvious benefits of music lessons for kids that may not have necessarily occurred to you:

Helps the Educational Process:

There are at least four ways that music will enhance your child’s overall learning abilities: it will certainly improve their motor skills; it can help them see the correlation between hard work, achievement and gratification (when they finally nail that piano number they’ve been working on); it helps to improve memory function, and finally, music can improve abstract reasoning abilities.

Ignites the Creative Fire:

The easiest way to explain this benefit is to say that exploring music, even if your kids are going off of sheet music, is that playing music will probably lead to improvisation at some point, even if it is purely by chance. This creative spirit allows us to think outside the box and dig up solutions and ideas that are off the established grid: the kind of ideas that can transform a business or lead to an important discovery. The more scientific way to explain this is to say: music helps the right and left hemispheres of the brain to communicate with each other.

Helps with Mathematics:

Learning music helps forge strong neural pathways that are related to the way the brain processes and completes a math problem. Classical music – the rhythms and notes – are essentially mathematical; reading music will help your child see math as a more multi-dimensional discipline rather than a dry pile of boring numbers. It may also help them ace calculus without breaking a sweat!

Removing Unwanted or Diseased Trees

The sheer variety of trees that can grow in and around your garden is bewildering. Some are very beautiful indeed, and make for a wonderful addition to your garden landscape, and some can grow to quite considerable size. If you are planting trees, take care to get all the advice you can on which type to include in your garden, as you need to think a long time into the future to see the eventual impact a mature tree may have on your landscape. You may be surprised, too, how quickly some trees grow!

In a garden that already has trees, maintenance is an essential part of their life. Trees with branches that – if allowed to grow out too far – might overhang powerlines, roads and paths or other public areas need to be kept under control. This means regular cutting back of such branches – and the removal of damaged parts of the tree – to keep them under control. It is essential that you perform this maintenance before things get dangerous, as then it will be far more costly.

Use the Experts

You may be able to prune your shrubs, or even dig out and remove those that you want to get rid of, but when it comes to trees things move up to another level. Trees can be very large, and even the smaller ones need expert help to maintain and remove. If you have trees that are diseased, for example, you need to get rid of them before the disease passes to the rest; this is a job for the experts for a variety of reasons.

To begin with, removing trees requires not only the correct knowledge and understanding, but also the use of specialist machinery and equipment. Larger trees also require careful planning to cut down, as you need to be sure they will fall in a direction that will not cause damage or injury to persons nearby. Even cutting down damaged branches is a job for the expert, as they will be able to do the job professionally, quickly and correctly, using the right techniques and with the desired results.

Further Services

If you are looking for local tree removal and maintenance services click here and you will find details of a reputable company with many years of experience in the business of tree services. They can offer you help with everything from felling and removing damaged or unwanted trees to the removal of stumps – a very difficult job that requires plenty of expertise and equipment, and that should never be attempted as DIY. They can also offer you expert pruning and trimming services, so you can keep your young and mature trees in top condition.

Trees are wonderful to have around if they are well-maintained and kept under control, so why not get in touch with your local tree service experts now for a free no obligation quote, or to ask them for expert advice on all your tree maintenance and service requirements.

Fit New Windows for that New Home Look

Your home is the place where you spend most of your life. Whether that’s relaxing in the evening, spending weekends with the family, cooking meals or simply sleeping, it’s all time that adds up. That means that your home is working all the time, and in doing so, it is costing money. Every home needs to be heated, and to have water that is usable and hot. Yet, there may be areas in which you are losing energy – and therefore money – without being aware.

Your windows, for example; how old are they, and are they as efficient as they could be? After all, windows do more than just let in light. They are there for ventilation when the weather gets too hot, and they provide insulation when the colder months come around. Did you know, however, that leaking or inefficient windows can cost as much as 30% more in energy loss than those that are doing the job? That’s why fitting new windows – which may look like an expense you could possibly avoid – starts to save you money as soon as the job is done.

More About Windows

Your home may be of a certain age where it still has the original – perhaps wood-framed – windows. This is great, and they do look beautiful, but wood rots over the years, and once it does so the efficiency of the frames is reduced. There are many new forms of wood-framed windows that are much more energy efficient yet just as beautiful, plus there are the PVC versions too, which offer added benefits in longevity and insulation.

It is worth talking to a local expert about replacement windows as they will be able to advise you on the best course of action. With so many different options around, and the type of window that suits you being dependent upon a variety of factors, you need expert help so that you can be sure of getting the best possible job at the right price. This is where the local expert is important – they will be able to keep costs down thanks to shorter travelling distances and using local suppliers for the raw materials.

Style and Security

Windows are not, then, just about letting in light; we know that they are an aid to energy-efficiency, and that they are there for ventilation and insulation. They are also a form of security, which is something your old, wood framed windows may not provide. Modern window frames are designed with security in mind – an open or easily opened window is one of the commonest entry places in burglaries – and come with a wise choice of locks and other protection.

Even the modern PVC windows are designed to be attractive, so you will be able to find the replacement windows that suit your property, and once you have new, insulated and efficient windows installed, you will start saving money immediately. Get the experts in to survey your property and give you a quote – you may be surprised how affordable it is to have new windows.

How To Teach Your Kids The Importance Of Clean Up

 

 

As the mom, you’re used to cleaning up your kids’ messes. And there a lot of them. Kids are professionals when it comes to making messes and novices when it comes to cleaning up after themselves. But there are only so many dishes you can scrub and toys you can pick up before your patience runs out. Before you explode and yell your kids into action, consider talking with your children about their responsibilities in the household. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you lay down new laws.

Establish clear, consistent rules…

Your kids aren’t mind readers. Though they may realize you’re frustrated, they may not understand connect your mood to the toys left out on the floor. Outline what you expect out of them each night. Take the time to explain the tasks you want them to do. Writing them down on a chore list or a schedule can be a great visual reminder for those kids who struggle with verbal commands.

However you deliver them, consistency is an important element to your rules. Don’t allow them to ditch dinner clean-up duties one night and then yell at them the next time they try to escape without helping.

… And the consequences of breaking them

You need to establish an appropriate penalty if they fail to help with cleaning. Let’s say you want them to put away their toys after they’re done playing with them. The first time they forget to do it, don’t clean up after them. Remind them of their promise and make sure they tidy up after themselves. You should also give them a warning that if they do it again, there will be a consequence. If they forget to tidy up a second time, you may want to take away the toy(s) they leave out. Or you could cancel your planned trip to see Peter Rabbit in theaters.

Don’t lose your patience

Kids will be kids. Sometimes even when they think they’re helping, they end up making a bigger mess than what they started with. They may break the tickle trunk you use to hold their toys. They may drop their art supplies and spread paint all over the carpet. They may drop a stack of plates when all they meant to do was put them away. Though this can be frustrating, don’t lose your patience and yell at them so profusely they’ll never want to help ever again. Explain what they did wrong and how they can stop it from happening again. Like the rules above, ensure there are consequences if they don’t listen to you when you tell them to be careful.

Have a backup plan

As you can imagine, buying a new storage trunk, cleaning a carpet, or replacing a set of dishes can be expensive. A backup plan can help you cover these financial emergencies when your kids’ best efforts to help go awry. If you don’t have a rainy-day fund that covers these unexpected expenses, you can turn to a personal loan company like MoneyKey for help. These lenders offer cash loans that help you pay for these emergencies by using methods that fit your busy schedule. You don’t have to make time to send off an application or sit through an interview. They do most of their business online, which is why so many moms use short term loans. You don’t have to find a babysitter while you apply. As long as you have a tablet or laptop, you can apply, receive, and repay your loan from anywhere and anytime you have a secure connection.

Break down the chore into steps

Often disaster strikes when they race through a big job without taking care for each step. You can minimize the chance your kids cause damage by breaking each chore into smaller, more manageable stages.

It may be difficult at first, but when you stick to your guns, eventually your kids will see your word rules. Sometimes you might have to be hard on them, but ultimately you aren’t their friend. You’re their mother. You need to make sure they develop a sense of responsibility for their surroundings. Not only will it take a load off your chores at home, but it will help you raise a considerate and competent child who can clean up their own messes.

Pain-Free Ways To Limit Your Kids’ Screen Time

 

 

Screen addiction wasn’t something your parents had to worry about when you were a kid. Though you argued for more time spent watching TV or playing your Nintendo, you tempered your time indoors with time playing outside. Things are a lot different now. Always near to hand, the iPhone is a constant in your kids’ lives. Like so many of us, they’re addicted to checking in with their feeds and group chats whenever there’s a lull in IRL activities. (That’s In Real Life, for you clueless parents). Except, when your kids use their phones constantly, new studies suggest tie significant health consequences to their digital habits. A growing portion of the scientific community links diminishing mental, emotional, and physical health in youths to excessive screen time. Let’s go over the possible risks and solutions to excessive screen time.

Too much screen time has side effects

Filled to the brim with apps, an iPhone can take on any use. It’s an entertainment system, a gaming console, a communication device, a learning tool, and much more. On the surface, it could only seem like a positive influence in your children’s lives. But once you delve deeper, it’s not as cut and dry.

Recent research suggests excessive screen time poses a risk to your children’s mental and physical health. The University of Bristol found those children (aged 10 and under) who spent more than two hours a day in front of a screen experienced:

  • Emotional difficulties
  • Hyperactivity and/or inattention
  • Problems with their friends and peer group

As screen time increased and physical activity decreased, researchers found these problems worsened.

Other studies saw similar negative effects in teenagers. One theorized excessive screen time as a suicide risk factor, as those teens who spent more than five hours on a device are 71 percent more likely to commit suicide. These studies point the finger at social media accounts as the reason why so many teens have poor mental health today because they cause older children to compare themselves to others.

This research, alongside cases of cyber bullying, cause many parents to rethink how they allow their kids to use cell phones.

You aren’t the only concerned parent

At the start of the year, some of Apple’s biggest shareholders sent a letter to the Cupertino-based company. The letter, which you can read in its entirety here, voiced a concern shared by many parents around the world. Jana Partners and the California State Teacher’s Retirement System (CSTRS) — collectively owning roughly $2 billion in Apple shares — urged Apple to address the mounting public health crisis of youth phone addition. They said the tech company has a responsibility to limit access to their phones. They also asked Apple to study the impact of excessive phone use on youth’s mental well-being.

How to win the argument

With science on your side, the obvious solution to the problem of screen time is to limit the amount of time your kids use their phones. For any parent who has already had this conversation, you know this is easier said than done. When your kids are used to a certain amount of time with their phones, any restriction will be met with anger. It’s going to be a challenge to get them on board, but the following tips can help you convince them to cut back on their screen time.

Remember to limit, not eliminate: The problem isn’t the phone itself. As mentioned above, it’s a great tool for your kids that lets them explore the world. It only becomes a problem when they spend too much time on it. Though you may be tempted to keep their phone under lock and key, don’t. Studies show that teens who don’t use their phones are less happy than those who do.

When you bring up the subject, clarify that you don’t want to take their phone away from them. Make sure they know you just want to limit the time they spend on it.

Set household rules that apply to everyone: If you continue using your phone without restriction after limiting their screen time, you might experience some pushback from your kids. They may resent you or call you a hypocrite. You can try avoiding these arguments by making it a family challenge to limit everyone’s screen time.

Sit down one day and establish the rules to this challenge, making sure everyone knows when they can use their phones and when they can’t. Pick specific times — like during dinner or an hour before bed — as phone blackouts. Make it a competition to see who can go the longest without checking their notifications. You’ll have a greater chance at winning them over when you turn it into a game.

Reward good behavior: Don’t think yourself above bribes. They can be a great incentive when your kids are still challenging this new smartphone regime. Talk to them to see what it would take. When they start listing things like a pony, the iPhone X, or something equally expensive, be ready with your own affordable options.

A customized iPhone decal is a great option as your first reward. Though inexpensive, these decals (or skins) offer your kids a way to express themselves in unique ways. When it comes to selection, no one does it like dbrand. These vinyl skin creators have an exclusive partnership with 3M vinyl that allows them to offer premium designs your kids won’t find anywhere else. Your kids can choose from special dragon skins or marble or carbon fiber iPhone skins. And when they use the online build-a-skin feature, they can play around with customized combinations of any color or texture.

Take advantage of parental controls and other sneaky tools: If they’re still not respecting your new rules, you’ll have to fight dirty. Every iPhone comes equipped with parental controls (the Cupertino-based company calls them Restrictions) that let you lock certain apps, hide explicit content, and block websites. Here’s a thorough guide showing you how to enable this feature.

Your provider should also offer ways you can limit their data, allowing you to disable apps and prevent in-app purchases. Depending on your provider, you may even be able to lock apps after they’ve used them for a certain length of time.

Some parents take matters into their own hands. They change the password to their house’s Wi-Fi every day and will only share it once their kids complete their chores. It’s a handy way of ensuring your kids help out around the house. If you choose to go down this route, make sure you’ve put limits on their data to make sure they don’t go over their limit in retaliation.

The bottom line

Cell phones are an inevitability in 2018 but their negative side-effects aren’t. Speak with your children and work out a way to limit their screen time that works for the whole family. Making it a family challenge, employing parental controls, and rewarding good behavior are just three ways you can increase your success. But don’t stop there. Brainstorm your own ideas that can make this transition a little easier and share with the class.

Best Memory Foam Dog Beds

How much do you love your dog? If you’re like most dog owners, the answer will be a lot! We do love dogs, and they love us back – that’s part of the reason – and they make the most loyal, dedicated and wonderful pets. Intelligent, obedient and always there for us when we need them, dogs are an addition to the family, and we like to look after them to the full.

It’s a fact that dogs love a comfortable and warm bed to lie on – and as they tend to sleep as and when, one that is available whenever they need it – just like us, so we also like to make sure our pets are catered for in this area. We give them a nice place to sleep, close to warmth and with plenty of soft cushioning, and with older dogs it is important that we look after them.

As dogs age, they tend to suffer from a lot of the problems that we experience, not least ageing and aching joints. This can cause them pain, and while medication can help, there are other things that we can do to help dogs remain as comfortable as possible.

Have you considered a memory foam dog bed? You may not even be aware that they are available, but they are, and they are fast becoming very popular indeed!

Dogs Love Memory Foam

Think of the reasons why you love your memory foam mattress: it remembers your contours, for a start, so you know that when you lie down it will be perfectly shaped for your body, and as comfortable as possible.

Why shouldn’t that be the same for your dog? In fact, dogs may benefit even more from memory foam than you do, as they like to settle down somewhere snug and cosy for their sleep, and this sort of dog bed may be just the thing for them.

There are many of these on the market now, from some of the best brands in the dog and pet care business, and you can choose from a variety of sizes, shapes, colours and styles, and across a full range of surprisingly affordable prices.

For Young Dogs Too

It’s not just older dogs that will appreciate a memory foam dog bed, for your puppy will also love the comfort it gets from using one of these. They tend to come with removable, washable covers so you can keep them clean all the time, and you can buy them in a variety of thicknesses and to suit every type and size of dog.

We reckon that a dog deserves a comfortable sleep as much as the owner – and we are sure you do, too – so why not check out memory foam dog beds right now? There are some really great quality versions around at sensible prices, and you will be giving your dog the sleep and comfort it deserves, especially if it is an older dog that needs that little bit more care and attention.

Some Great Family Dog-Friendly Walks In The UK

Dogs are the most popular pet in Britain and cockapoos are especially popular nowadays.  However, if you are considering one of these exceedingly cute breeds, then you also need to think about the fact that cockapoos need regular walking.  If you are looking for something a little more interesting than just down to the local park or in the back garden, check out this list of 5 great family and dog-friendly walks found up and down the country.

Thor’s Cave and Wetton Hill, Peak District

To enjoy the beautiful Manifold Valley, you can take the 3.8-mile walk that lasts about an hour and a half.  As it is a steep uphill walk, it will be more of a challenge for less energetic dogs.  Dramatic rock formations is what the Staffordshire White Peak are is particularly famous for and it also gives you the chance to check out the amazing Thor’s Cave.  As well as the spectacular views from the cave’s mouth, your dog will enjoy exploring the cave.

Flamborough Head, Yorkshire

If you have an older dog that requires less exercise or are relatively new to walking long distances, you should give this walk in Yorkshire a try.  It is a clear and grassy path with a route that takes around one hour to complete.  The light work is worth the great views you have of the countryside and stunning lighthouse.  There are also lots of places where you can let your dog run free.  As the area is rich with wildlife, you need to be careful when letting your canine friend off the lead.

Aberffraw To Porth Cwyfan, Anglesey

Dogs that love the salty sea air and ocean water will enjoy a relatively easy walk from Aberffraw to Porth Cwyfan in Anglesey.  It takes around an hour and a half to complete and for most of the 4.3 miles, it is fairly flat terrain and therefore great for all levels of walking ability.  The walk has lots of great spots to let dogs run off the lead and outstanding views from the cliff tops dotted along the coast.  You can even extend the walk to take in Cwyfan Church, that is only accessible during low tide.

Curleywee And Lamachan Hill, Dumfries And Galloway

This particular walk stretches along 10.25 miles and is, therefore, more suitable for experienced dogs and walkers who have been on long treks before.  It can take roughly between six to seven hours to finish and consists of various types of terrain with the occasional overgrown path.  The challenge is more than worth it though, as you are treated to staggering views of Wigtown Bay and as you’d expect, there are plenty of places for off-lead exploration.

Poldhu And Mullion, Cornwall

Heading to the Cornish coast anytime soon?  If you are, you should consider trying the 4.5-mile walk that boasts amazing coastal views and a relatively easy cliff-top route.  It only takes around an hour and a half to complete and is perfect for all experience level walkers and dogs.  What’s more, the route is dotted with dog-friendly pubs, where you can stop for a rest, a pint and some treats for the dog.  For dogs that love a good play on the sand and in the sea, you also pass the beautiful dog-friendly Polurrian Cove beach.

Taking a Ride on the Big Wheel of Fortune

 

 

Being retired means I have lots of time on my hands.  Forget about the bucket list, I’ve checked off so many of those experiences I’m on my second round of some of them.  The ones I really enjoyed I’m eager to do again.  One of the things I do is search out those giant Ferris wheels and take a ride on them.  This started with a dare from my husband who knows how afraid I am of heights.  I figured out it wasn’t the height, but the queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that I hate feeling.  On a trip this year to National Harbor near Washington, DC I finally gave in and rode the giant eye.  It was much more stable than I expected, and when I felt a little dizzy, I’d envision myself in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  There we rode the Sky Lift to the top of a mountain, and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon watching people ice skating, and taking in the sights. I figured if that height didn’t bother me too much, this shouldn’t either.   Before I knew it, the Eye had stopped, the ride was over, and we were back on the ground.  Since that day I’ve rented cars from Alamo Rent a Car to indulge my new passion.

I looked up the list of these Ferris wheels and have made a new determination.  My goal is to visit at least half of the ones in the U.S. and at least two abroad.  I want to take my time and drive from Chicago to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina next year, then to New Jersey and New York after that.  Anyone who knows me knows I like to bring my grandkids and friends along on these crazy adventures and we have a ton of fun.  We use Groupons to save money on everything from the car we rent, the hotels we stay in to the food we eat.

I worked for many years in hospice care as a nurse.  One of the things people talked about at the end of their lives was their families, and the things they wish they had done.  Every time I get to the top of one of those wheels I’m grateful to be there, and that I’ve lived my life with no regrets.