How To Create The Most Amazing Family Garden

Summer is finally here, and with the warm weather on the way, now is the time to start thinking about your garden. Kids love spending time outside, so having somewhere suitable to spend time outside as a family is important.

Many parents worry that their kids don’t spend enough time outside, but that tends to be because the garden isn’t suitable. Kids like having areas to play and have fun in, and if your garden doesn’t offer that, then they won’t want to spend time outside.

While it’s important that your garden is somewhere your children can run around in, it should also be somewhere you love. While you want to create the perfect outdoor space for your kids, your garden shouldn’t be one big play area.

To help you create the most amazing family garden, we have put together some tips, below:


Create different zones


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If you are lucky enough to have a large garden, the best thing you can do is create different zones. Instead of having a large trampoline taking up more of your grass, think outside the box.

Think about the different ways you can separate your garden into zones. Perhaps you could have a patio or area with a table, a grassy area with plants, and an area with a den, treehouse or kids climbing equipment.


Invest in good-quality play equipment

Play equipment is important for creating a child-friendly space, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill your garden with plastic. Instead of opting for cheap-looking equipment, go for something more organic looking.

Wooden play equipment looks good, is long lasting and will give your garden a better feel to it. Instead of making your garden resemble a day care center, opting for wooden equipment will give it a better look.


Add a pool

If you have a large enough garden, think about adding a pool. If you and your children love swimming, then adding a pool to your garden is a great idea. Just make sure to invest in a pool that has a safety fence, this is especially important if you have young kids.

If you are a little stuck for ideas of how to fit a pool into your garden, why not get in touch with a landscape architect. For the best landscape architects have a look online and do some research.


Be original

Instead of just adding a slide and swing set, think outside the box and come up with different play equipment ideas. Treehouses, dens, rope swings, tepee tents – there are so many options for garden play equipment to choose from.

If your little one particularly wants a piece of play equipment, like a trampoline, think about how you can make it work in your garden. For example, instead of having a trampoline taking up your whole lawn, why not have a sunken trampoline with a decking lid? By day play equipment, by night an area to have drinks on.

Creating a child-friendly garden doesn’t have to mean sacrificing on your own outdoor space. You can create a beautiful garden that both you and your kids will love, by following these useful tips.

Five Healthy Lifestyle Tips For Kids

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Raising a child is hard. You don’t want to put pressure on them, but you need to teach them responsibility and get them into a routine. There is the temptation just to let them do what they want and enjoy themselves. After all, they are only children. But, for the sake of your kids and your health you need to get out of that way of thinking. Children need a healthy, balanced lifestyle just like adults. Here are a few ways that you can promote that with your children.


Eat Plenty Of Fruit And Veg

It’s important that kids get their five a day. Almost all fruits contain a vital mixture of vitamins, fibre and minerals that is essential for kid’s growth. Children’s bodies are at a delicate stage in their development so you should promote the important nutrients that they need to grow strong and healthy bones. Five a day is the suggested amount, but it doesn’t have to be five pieces of fruit. Mix it up because kids can get bored with food. Try a fruit juice in the morning, an apple at lunch and two pieces of veg for dinner.


Snack Regularly

Children do not work well if they are hungry, so give them regular snacks to keep their energy levels high. As soon as the energy levels drop, fits of rage and anger are on the menu. Obviously, snacks should be as healthy as possible because otherwise it is bad for their diet. Snacks are essential, especially if you kids are active because a positive mind frame is imperative in a child’s growth. If your children grow up in a positive and happy environment, it will enhance their further years as a result.


Mix And Match Their Food

Mixing and matching food is a great way of keeping their diet healthy. A healthy diet for any person is a mixture of protein, fats and carbohydrates and the only way to achieve that is to have all these food groups on the plate. No one food has enough of all these nutrients, so kids should be eating a mixture of meat and vegetables.


Get Some Sleep

You’ve been there yourself. You haven’t had enough sleep the night before, and you wake up cranky and in a terrible mood. Not only is a lack of sleep bad for kids mood, it is also bad for their health. Sleep is the body’s way of restoring and regenerating from the activities of the day before. So, if the body doesn’t get enough sleep it cannot restore its natural settings. Make sure they go to bed at a reasonable time, but also make sure you tailor their bed to their needs. If you have any doubts, pop down to the bed shop and get some help from the professionals.


Stay Active

Children more so than anybody need to keep active. They have boundless amounts of energy and need to run it off, so it doesn’t build up and manifest itself as something else. A lack of exercise can cause stress and affect their mental health.

Remember if you promote these ideas yourself, your children are more likely to follow suit.

The Ultimate Summer Survival Guide

There is a day in July where the classrooms are quiet. Millions of school children are silent, staring at the clock, waiting. Waiting for the bell to ring and school to end. But it doesn’t just end for the day, it ends for the summer! The summer holidays, six/seven weeks of the year where kids run wild. No school, no work, they’re free for a couple of months. That period between July and September is a dreamland for every child. For every parent, it’s the toughest mission of the year. One of you will be stuck at home while the other goes to work. It’s your job to look after the children during the day, every day, for two months. Summer is a battleground for parents, and you need to know how to survive. Listed below are some ways to help you survive the summer with your children.


Good Behaviour Chart

A little trick my mum used to use on me and my siblings when we were kids. You put the children’s names on a chart and reward them for good behaviour with a smiley face. You also give them sad faces for bad behaviour. The idea is that, at the end of the holidays, if they have more smiley faces, they earn a reward. This reward could be anything, a pack of sweets, a game or a fancy pair of start rite shoes for them to show off. The choice is theirs. What this chart will do, is help keep your kids under control. It gives them an incentive to be good and not be a pain the whole summer. One simple trick can make your summer a lot less stressful.


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Take Them Out

Don’t stay in your house all summer, take them places. You can go on lovely days out to the beach or a park. The weather should be nice at least once during the entire seven weeks. You can visit local attractions or drive somewhere fun. Getting your kids out of the house will stop them being restless and keep them entertained. Also, a day out will tire them, so come night time they’ll go to bed without complaining.


Playing With Friends

Keep your kids entertained and also catch up with some of your own friends. Birthday parties are a great place for your children to play with friends while you and the other parents take a back seat. But you can also set up playdates. Have their friends come over, or (preferably) go over one of their friends houses. Playdates are great for struggling parents to team up for a day and combine forces. Or, you can send your child over on their own, which means one less thing for you to worry about all day. Just make sure you know the parents and speak to them when they pick your child up. For safety reasons of course.


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These are three ways you can have an easier time at home this summer. You love your kids, but sometimes they can be a handful. Summer doesn’t need to be stressful; you just have to know how to handle it.

Styling up for the British Grand Prix

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is now a fixture not only in the sporting calendar but also in the wider social diary of the international jet set. This Formula One racing event has all the elements that are sure to attract the rich and fashionable elite: speed, power, design, glamour and, perhaps above all, money. These days, the sport is big business, and the major racing fixtures are places to see and be seen. A VIP day out at the Grand Prix is also an ideal way to impress an important client. Ultimately, the organisers know that promoting an ambience of glamour, style, champagne and luxury is all to the benefit of their brand.

Racing glamour

Motorsports have always had an aura of glamour and style, but the connections between racing and the fashion world have become even closer in recent years. Sonia Irvine, the sister of former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine, organised the first Amber Lounge charity fashion show at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006, putting drivers on the catwalk in outfits from the world's top designers.

These days, the paddock area is an informal catwalk in its own right, with everyone aware that they're under the constant scrutiny of the world's media, and dressing accordingly. Drivers such as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are now style icons in their own right, while global sportswear firms compete to design their racing uniforms and offer sponsorship deals.

Safer circuits

Increased safety on the track has certainly helped broaden the appeal of Formula One Racing. Silverstone attracts 120,000 spectators on race day, there for the glamour and excitement, and secure in the knowledge that the event is unlikely to be spoiled by a fatality. This safer racing experience is undoubtedly down to the pioneering work of former FIA president Max Mosley. Recent comments by Max Mosley on show that he still follows the sport and is as impassioned and forthright in his opinions as ever.

Standing out from the crowd

Now that the Grand Prix is the place to be seen for top celebrities, fashion designers and the rich and powerful, just how do you ensure that you get noticed? Money might get you the latest designer outfit, but it takes a personal sense of style and self-possession to turn heads for all the right reasons. Style is all about pushing boundaries while staying chic, saying you're an individual, but most importantly, having the confidence to carry it off in a relaxed and natural manner.

With the biggest stars in music and movies jostling to be seen in pole position, the British Grand Prix is the place to show off on the world stage. It's about more than just racing, and for some, the Grand Prix itself is just a backdrop, lending a reflected glamour of sleek design, speed, power and money to the fashionable social whirl of the whole weekend. Style up and hold your head high, and you too could be mixing with the jet set this summer.        

How to make your child’s first experience of the opticians less scary

It’s very important for toddlers and infants to have the best possible vision as much of their ongoing learning and healthy development is intimately connected with having correct eyesight. Although all smaller children have regular check-ups on their eyes as a part of their overall developmental checks, these are not as thorough as the screening provided by professional optometrists. For this reason, it’s really important to get your child along to the high street optician at an early age.

Eye tests for toddlers

Take your child to a professional optician at around about the age of three. If you leave it for much longer than this, there’s a chance that learning difficulties will develop as a result of uncorrected eye problems. If any are found, there will be a better chance of nipping them in the bud.

What to expect in the optician’s test room

The tests that will be carried out in the optometrist’s room are entirely comfortable, and the procedures are designed for easy and stress-free treatment of young children. The first eye examination is always something of a trial simply because you don’t know what to expect, but once you see how professional, experienced and caring the specialist is, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

First of all, you’ll be asked about any family history of glaucoma or other eye conditions, and whether you’ve noticed your child experiencing any difficulties whilst playing or trying to focus on distant objects.

At Howards Opticians, a number of simple tests will be performed, depending on your child’s age. The optician will use various techniques to check your child’s eyes, but essentially each eye will be tested on its own and then in conjunction with the other eye to make sure that they’re working properly together. As a child of three or four will hardly be able to explain whether they’re experiencing any problems in vision, an instrument called a retinoscope is used to measure light reflected from the back of the eye to determine issues of focus.

Sometimes, parents are worried that their child can’t read yet, and how in that case the eye test can be carried out. However, reading tests are designed for older children and adults; for toddlers, there are different tests. Remember that these are specifically designed for small children, to put them at their ease and to cause minimum discomfort. You’ll be able to hold and comfort your child throughout in surroundings that will be unfamiliar to you both.

No worries

Taking a small child to see an optician for the first time can be a scary prospect, for the parent as well as for the child, but there’s really nothing to worry about. You’ll be there all the time to provide comfort when needed, and opticians are trained to deal with small children, and will not expect them to be as proactive as adults in the tests. When the checks are completed, you’ll know either that everything is fine or that potential problems are being professionally addressed.

High-end hair styling on a budget

It’s common knowledge that to keep your hair looking great, it’s necessary to spend some time and effort on it. The good news is that to do this need not necessarily involve great expense.

No one gets out of bed with perfect hair, and celebrities look so fabulous simply because they have a whole team of dedicated hair technicians working on them before they even leave the house. Although the majority of us can probably live without stylists, the occasional trim and cut can make a significant difference to our appearance.

Don’t repeat-wash in one session

A double-shampoo will simply strip your hair of its natural oils, and “squeaky-clean” is actually synonymous with “super-dry”, which is something you definitely don’t want. The advice from Toni & Guy Liverpool and other experts is not to use a shampoo twice in the same wash, but after every other wash, and to use a small amount of conditioner when you’re not shampooing. When you do use shampoo, use just half the amount recommended on the bottle. The result will be healthier hair that has a lot more body, and you’ll also reduce your shampoo expenditure by half.

Careful with the timing

If you’ve coloured your hair, using clarifying shampoo is a definite no-no, whether it’s homemade or been bought in a store. It will drain out the colour and leave your hair looking less evenly toned. Instead, use clarifying shampoo just before you actually apply the colour. The effect of removing traces of build-up in this way will be hair that can hold the colour better for longer.

Use baking soda

Every six weeks or so, remove all the traces of conditioner and styling products using a box of common baking soda from the kitchen cabinet. Mix a spoonful of this with two of white vinegar and rub it into your scalp right along the hair strands, and then rinse it all out.

Use the right pillow cases

If you sleep on satin pillowcases, you’ll find that your hair crumples far less than it does on cotton. The hair cuticles become roughened by cotton whereas satin will allow your hair to slip gently over the surface as you turn and roll during sleep.

Visit the local hairdressing academy

Getting your hair done at the local college by trainee hairdressers will work out cheaper and often a lot better than visiting a high street salon. Students are usually keener to try out a lot of new styles, whilst at the same time ensuring that they’re doing their work properly. Tell them what they want and their supervisor will keep a check on things.

The myths of the simple-and-easy hairdo and the wash-and-go cut have been pretty much exploded by now, and most people appreciate that only the starlets leave their houses with perfect hairdos. There are, however, numerous ways in which you can keep your hair not only under control but also looking great by taking a few shortcuts and applying half a bottle of common sense.


Finding the Right Mortgage Lender for Your Family

All home mortgage lenders aren't created equal. That means you have to shop around and do careful research before delving into the housing market. If this is your first time buying a home, this task can seem daunting. After all, there are countless mortgage lenders out there vying for your business. How do you know which one is best for you? Here are some tips for finding the right mortgage lender for your family.

Start Big and End Small

Investigate the options of online lenders, your existing bank or financial institution, and mortgage brokers. Create a list outlining the rates offered by each, then narrow down your selection from there. Consider not just interest rates but points and other fees as well. Don't just assume you have to get your mortgage through your bank or credit union. They may not end up offering the lowest rate for you, so it's important to shop around.

Head to Your Existing Bank

That said, it's worth a try to start with your bank or credit union to see what kind of a deal you can get. Find out which types of mortgages they offer and if there are any deals they offer current customers like yourself. You may luck out and get the terms you were hoping for.

Consider a Broker

If you're leery of navigating the sea of mortgage lenders, one option available to you is to hire a mortgage broker who can act as a middleman between you and lenders. They can't exactly cut deals or obtain low rates unavailable elsewhere, but they can help you narrow down your selections and pinpoint the best deal possible, says Bankrate. Just be careful when hiring a mortgage broker to make sure they are reputable.

Ask Around

Just like you would ask your family and friends for recommendations on good carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, so too should you ask for opinions on mortgage lenders. You will get solid insight as to which lenders are easy to work with and offer convenient, affordable rates and services. Another source of good information is your real estate agent. He or she should be able to impart advice on mortgage lenders with whom they've worked in the past. Local real estate agents have their fingers on the pulse of the housing market and are a vital source of information in the industry. Yes, some agents have in-house affiliated lenders that they recommend exclusively, but a good agent won't limit themselves to those. Other people to ask include your lawyer, financial adviser, or your accountant.

Take Lots of Notes

When you meet with various lenders, be sure to take copious notes, asking for things like Good Faith Estimates (GFE) and Truth-In-Lending (TIL) statements, recommends Forbes. In addition, inquire about lock-in periods, points, and any qualification requirements. Be aware of the fit between you and a particular lender. According to Texas Iron and Metal (click here), you should feel like you are part of a partnership engaging in a collaborative process, not a person being sold a product. Fair lenders will not only qualify you for a loan, they will also give you advice on how to improve your credit standing and how your mortgage gels with your long-term financial plan.

This article was contributed on behalf of Texas Iron and Metal, your steel supplier in Houston TX when looking for steel to build a home! Check out their website today and see how they can help you.

Managing Your Family Finances

Planning for your family's present and future takes a lot of work. That's why, when it comes to family, it's a good idea to have a plan in place to save and invest for their future. There are a number of ways to do this, and by keeping finances "in the family", you'll be able to ensure that the family is covered for future emergencies, while allowing the family members themselves to thrive later in life. Making sure that your money stays in the family also means making sure that your family is investing right, and investing in its own success as well! Here are some surefire ways to make sure that your money is maximized for your family.

Savings and Assets

The first thing one can do to ensure that they are saving for their family is easy: pick a bank and open a savings account. Today, it's easier than ever to open a savings account, even online, to ensure that when your family needs money handy on a rainy day, it's available to them. Some online accounts can even be backed by precious metals, ensuring that your family's money has stable backing and is always available.  By making sure that a portion of your income goes into savings, you have the peace of mind of knowing that in case of an emergency money is available. And if no emergency is forthcoming, that money is available to invest in your family's future.

Another thing to consider is your assets in relation to your family. Every asset you accumulate has value. From the traditional "handing down of the keys" of the family car in the wake of a new car purchase to planning the division of your estate, the key is to make sure that losses are always mitigated by keeping things of value in the hands of the next generation of family members. Like handing down the car, it's important to remind the recipient of the value that is now in their hands.

Investing For, and In, Your Family

One way to make sure that your family investments are successful is to ensure that money for investment is diversified in stable and intelligent ventures. Many families, for example, have amassed stable fortunes by devoting part of their investment capital to energy investing. Some families make sure to keep stock portfolios in a variety of areas, but stable ventures with long-term, widespread use, such as food, energy, or basic life needs, are often the best way to go. Direct investment is a great way to make sure that your family's money grows.

Another way to make sure that your finances stay in the family is to make sure to be supportive and not only finance, but in any way possible, help and support business endeavors among immediate family members.  Not every business succeeds, but making sure that you place that investment in the family helps inspire family members towards working together for united financial success. And in the case of a successful family business, it's possible to see returns on your investment, sometimes in a very short time frame!

By working together, saving, and investing where opportunities arise, proactively managing your family's finances with an eye to the future will ensure a bright future for generations to come. Proper planning can ensure that your family stays healthy and just a little more wealthy in the long run. And talking to an estate attorney doesn't hurt either!

This article was contributed on behalf of US Emerald Energy, your number one choice when looking for energy investing assistance. Check out their website at for more information.


Finding the Right Auto Loan Lender for Your Family

Buying a car doesn't stop with the initial dealership experience. According to DealFinder, you have to think far into the future about your ongoing financial relationship with your auto loan lender, because you're in it for the long haul. Getting the right rate and terms can seem like an arduous task but not when you're armed with the right tools and dedication to research. Here are some tips to consider when looking for a car loan lender.

Look for a Specialist

When calling around for auto loans, take note of who you're referred to. Most lenders should refer you to an auto loan specialist who deals with this type of loan every day. Get the name of the contact person to whom you should direct all queries. You don't want to have to deal with being shuffled between departments and representatives every time you call. By going with a specialist, you're getting targeted expertise that can only work to your advantage.

Get Recommendations

Just like you would when searching for a plumber or general contractor, ask your family and friends who they recommend for auto loans. Perhaps they had an exceptional experience with one lender, or maybe they had an awful time with another. Check out online reviews to see what's being said about the lenders you're considering. You can narrow down your search to reputable lenders from here.

Convenience Factor

When choosing an auto loan lender, it's important to ensure they are easily accessible when you need them to be. This includes having a 24/7 website where you can access your account information at any time, advises Bankrate. How easy is it to navigate their website? Are the menus thorough and easy to follow? Can you easily access your loan payoff amount and next payment due date? Can you chat live with a representative if you have any questions? Can you set up alerts and reminders for payments? Remember, missing just one or two payments can damage your credit score, so avoid this at all costs.

Observe the Terms Carefully

Whether you finance through a dealership or through your own bank lender, it's important to read the fine print. Don't just consider the interest rate, but take a look at the length of the term, any prepayment penalties, qualifications requirements, and hidden fees. One rate may seem rock bottom but when you look closer, you may detect fees that you'll have to cough up later.

Know What You Can Spend

Before you start looking for a loan, review your credit report carefully and make sure it's correct. Know what your score is; this will give you a ballpark idea of what kind of rate you can get from a lender. Outline a budget that you can live with and take it with you to every lender you visit. Get pre-approved for a car loan when you can so you don't have to waste time doing this when you find the car you love. When you're armed with information, you have the power to negotiate with the dealership, get the best interest rate possible from your lender, and even shoot for a lower price on the car. Save yourself time and money by being prepared before you go.

This article was contributed on behalf of DealFinder, your number one choice when looking to improve your car dealership. Convert leads to sales with DealFinder today! 

Inspirational figures your kids will look up to


When a person has a profound level of success in the business world, they can sometimes use this success to help others achieve their hopes and dreams. Investment in great up and coming companies gives entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed and grow their own businesses. On the other side, the investor can experience fantastic returns on their initial investment. This is a great way for investors to expand their investment portfolio.

Be diverse

M1 Group was created by Taha and Najb Mikati and is currently managed by Azmi T. Mikati BSc, Taha’s son. Azmi has been influential in helping M1 grow to be one of the leading investment holding companies in the western world. He continues his father’s and uncle’s influence of being invested in many different sectors. M1 has investments in the aviation, telecommunications, fashion, and real estate sectors. They continue to look for great investment opportunities in other areas. A diverse portfolio means the risk is reduced and they can enjoy the ability to get steady returns for their investors. Azmi is a great example of a child that grew up learning a family business and helped it succeed more than ever before.

Look at the company as well as market trends

Warren Buffett has long been an investor in a wide variety of sectors and start-ups. Sometimes, a company can be a real winner despite market trends. This kind of out-of-the-box thinking is what has led Buffet to be one of the most successful investors of all time; he has shown that at times a good feeling about a company can pay off. If there is exceptional talent behind an idea, it may be a lucrative venture.

Follow your passion

If you are passionate about something, then you will work harder to meet your goals. Just look at the success of Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté: he started out with nothing but a passion and talent in the performing arts. His circus group were a wild success at the Los Angeles Arts Festival in 1987, and now his net worth is more than $2.5 billion. Not bad for a group that didn’t have even enough money for the return ticket home if the festival didn’t yield good results for them!

Working hard can pay off

Some investors had some pretty tough times before they had success. This can be inspirational because it shows that hard work and dedication can pay off in big ways. John Paul Dejoria is the genius entrepreneur behind John Paul Mitchell Systems, one of the bestselling lines of salon products in the world. Before his success, he was a Redken employee and even briefly lived out of his car. Now his success has led to further investments, such as the luxury tequila brand, Patron. His story is an example of how once investment wealth is accrued it can be used to branch out into other sectors.

Teaching kids

Showing kids early on in their lives that following passion, putting in hard work, and looking up to mentors, can result in their long-term success in a wide variety of professions and fields.