10 Amazing Useful Wooden Crafts You Can Make Yourself

The world is full of DIYers, and there are also many people in the arts and crafts world that love to build things for themselves. One of the most popular things that people like to do in their spare time is to make things from wood.

But I’m not talking about random objects that people might make just for fun or out of boredom, I’m talking about useful things that can be used on a daily basis!

Check out the following 10 project examples that you could work on at home using nothing more than ordinarily household tools and things like hot melt glue!

1. Wooden tea light holders

Image Source: Fiona Crawford

Tea lights are typically used to set a romantic mood in any home, but they don’t look particularly attractive unless they are contained in something, such as these beautiful wooden tea light holders.

2. Wooden photograph holder for walls

Image Source: Connie Jane McAuliffe

Many people have some kind of photograph holders that they use on their walls, and some people even opt for those frames that you can put multiple photographs in. But if you want something truly bespoke, how about creating some wooden photograph holders?

3. Wooden shabby chic signs

Image Source: Erica Barker

Shabby chic is a popular way to decorate your home, and essentially refers to rustic-looking furniture. Using some spare bits of wood you have and some paint, you can achieve the same effect yourself to create some stylish wooden shabby chic signs!

4. Wooden coffee table

Image Source: Rachael Austin

Coffee tables made from wood are nothing new; after all, such tables have adorned the living rooms of many a home around the world for decades, and even centuries. If you’re looking for something unique rather than a flat-packed mass-produced design, how about using bits of actual tree to create your own bespoke wooden coffee table!

5. Wooden magnetic key holder

Image Source: Joanne Taylor

Standard key holders made of wood are so last year! Instead, why not create one that’s got a magnetic inside of it, so that you can simply fling your keys onto it rather than them being hooked on?

6. Wooden wall mirror frame

Image Source: Jack Bishop

Wall mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, but if you are bored of the way your one looks, why not create an awesome new frame for it using reclaimed wood?

7. Wooden bench

Image Source: FXG Art

Loads of people have some wood lying around in their gardens or sheds, or even in their garages, for example. Consider using some of that wood up to create an easy-to-make bench!

8. Wooden laptop case

Image Source: Albert Sackey

Laptop owners tend to buy fabric ‘sleeves’ for their laptops, but if you want something more durable, why don’t you create a wooden laptop case!

9. Wooden children’s tree branch mobile

Image Source: Tara Williamson

Here’s a useful way to repurpose an old tree branch: turn it into a children’s mobile for a nursery room!

10. Wooden smartphone dock

Image Source: Joneliot Hyman

Do you hate leaving your smartphone and charger cable lying around on your desk, making it look messy? If so, build your own wooden smartphone dock!

How to achieve your goals in 2014

Having goals and aspirations, no matter how big or small, is imperative to feeling accomplished, gaining self-confidence and simply enjoying life. Many believe their fate is left to the divine; It’s In The Stars . While that is one unique perspective, standing around waiting for your goals to happen is not the most productive, efficient or even effective way of achieving your goals. Most high-achievers will tell you that it takes persistence and dedication, but mainly they are proactive about getting what they want – and here’s how they do it.

Make your goals SIMPLE

Keep your eye on the prize. Remaining focused on a clear goal creates higher levels of motivation which is an essential element in achieving it. Don’t clog your mind with complex pseudo goals like ‘I want to travel with friends, get an overseas job and save lots of money.’ That’s not a goal, that’s more of a PLAN. And plans requiredetails, which takes us to our next point.

Make your goals SPECIFIC

If you’re being vague about your goal, you’re setting yourself up for constant disappointment. High achievers understand that all aspects of goal setting must be determined, down to each precise detail. Want to save money? Set an amount. Want to lose weight? Give yourself a specific target. If you know what you’re aiming for, you have a much better chance of obtaining it.

Make your goals EXCITING

The point of a goal is to get yourself motivated about being successful. If you’re not excited about your goal, you’re more likely to stagnate and lose your passion for it. Keep a visual representation of your goals where you can see it every day, it will help to keep you focused and take small steps towards making it a reality with every passing day.

Make your goals MEASURABLE

Set yourself specific times to beat or numbers to reach – whether your goal is to go to the gym 4 times a week or do 50 sit-ups, it’s more likely to get done when you add numbers to the mix. Measuring your success helps define future goals, ensuring you continue gaining confidence and momentum towards success.

Make your goals KNOWN

You’re more likely to stick to your goals if you share them with those around you. This makes you accountable for any loss of progress and as such is more likely to keep you on track. Once you’ve set a goal, tell your family and friends – they’ll not only support you, they’ll also inadvertently challenge you to reach it.

Make your goals TANGIBLE

Write what you want down. Write it down every day if it helps. Seeing it in black and white may give you the push you need to achieve what you want from life. Chase after goals you know you will enjoy.

Setting yourself up for success is visualising what you want, knowing how to get it then using dedication and persistence combined with a proactive approach. Your goals ARE achievable. Make 2014 your year!

Things to Consider When Hiring A Media Agency

Deciding that you want to hire the services of media agency may well be one of the best decisions you could make for your business.  However, choosing a particular agency should not be a decision that you make lightly.  There are some important things that you should consider that will help you choose the best media agency that will work best for and with you.

Participation In Social Media

Given that social media is one of the most powerful forms of marketing and that most media agencies will undoubtedly have a social media strategy, it is important that the agency you choose to work with actually is active in social media themselves.  This can easily be found out either by browsing the agency’s website or running a quick check for their name through Twitter and Facebook.  You’d be surprised at the number of companies that claim to be media and social media experts that do not have active accounts on these types of sites.

Portfolio/References

Although most media agencies won’t be able to tell you everything about whom and what they have worked on, they should be able to show you some examples.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a client who has given them permission or a former client, ask to see some work that they have done in the past and ask about how successful those particular projects were, as this will give you an indication of the standard of work that they produce.

Education

Because things like social media are changing, it is important that media agencies stay on top of their game and keep learning about new trends.  Although there is no official and formal school or course that agencies can learn about what is current and what is not, they should be staying up to date with trends and doing lots of reading, watching and learning to fine tune their services.

Do They Understand Quality Over Quantity

The point of this is a competent media agency should know that having 15,000 likes on Facebook and 20,000 Twitter followers is not much use to a business, unless there is actual interaction between a company and its followers.  You should be wary of agencies that offer large numbers in a short length of time.  It takes time and effort to build up a fan base of followers.

Content

It is a well-known fact that good content is king when it comes to things like social media.  It is important that you hire an agency that has individuals who are good at creating interesting content that will draw your followers in and want to interact with your company.  With regards to content, you should also ask to see some examples of content they have generated for previous clients, which they should be able to do without giving away who or what it was for.  It is also essential that they know the rules of content creation on the various websites and social media platforms, as they are all different from each other.

On trend: the fleece

fleece

Believe it or not, the humble fleece has shot to the top of the list of must-have fashion items. Rather than being the go-to piece for those in search of practical work-wear, its popularity seems to have risen in line with the explosion in Scandinavian-inspired clothing.

Simple, functional and from the same family as the jumper, the fleece is making its comeback as a must-have staple for any wardrobe. The real trick to pulling off this look is knowing how and when to wear it and in this article, we look at the role of the fleece in a modern and fresh wardrobe.

The benefits of wearing a fleece

Perfect for getting you through the temperamental British weather, the fleece is an excellent transitional piece. Seeing as UK winters now take up most of the year, its useful to have an item that you can dress up or dress down whatever the weather.

Although you wouldn’t want to wear it out in a downpour, the fleece is nonetheless a surprisingly versatile choice which can be teamed with dark jeans and plimsolls in the daytime and smart trousers and brogues during the evening.

The range of choice

As the fleece is now a key trend piece, there are a huge variety of different styles to choose from to suit all price brackets. Many designers have put their own spin on the piece so there’s something suitable for all needs.

Check out this Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s men’s fleece collection for high street style at a snip.

Putting together an outfit

Since modern fleece styles boast modern and clean silhouettes, they avoid the reputation for being over casual or even scruffy. With these newer designs, the fleece is an intermediary piece that is perfect to take you from running errands to enjoying dinner. No longer heavy and bulky, the fleece strikes a sophisticated note that once seemed impossible.

The fleece can be worn similarly to the much beloved chunky knit jumper. Whether you want a jumper style fleece or one with a zipper along the front, the general rule is always to pick a style that complements your body type.

The ideal partner for jeans, trousers or any kind of bottoms, the fleece is an essential piece when creating a smart-casual look. As fleeces no longer rely solely on texture but also on pattern, you can also experiment with colour combinations and statement dressing for an up-to-the-minute look.

Queen Of Comedy Miranda Hart Heads Out On The Road

Miranda Hart Heading To A Town Near You

Miranda Katherine Hart Dyke or Miranda Hart as she is better known has become something of a household name as an actress, comedienne and writer.  Her big break came when she starred as the accident prone cleaner Barbara in Lee Mack’s sitcom Not Going Out, which eventually led to her own semi-biographical radio show and the TV version that followed.

Initially she played a small part in Not Going Out as an acupuncturist, but the story goes that she impressed the producers with her performance that they wrote her into the show as a regular.  Thus Barbara the cleaner was born.  She stayed with the show until 2009 when after the success of her radio show called Miranda’s Joke Shop; she was commissioned by the BBC to make a TV version.  Before Miranda though, she also appeared alongside Kevin Eldon and Nick Frost in the offbeat sci-fi situation comedy Hyperdrive as Teal. During her time on that show she received a British Comedy Award nomination for the part.

As well as her bigger roles in Not Going Out, Miranda and Hyperdrive she also appeared in a plethora of British comedy shows in smaller parts such as My Family And Other Animals, French & Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous, Lead Balloon, William And Mary, The Vicar Of Dibley and Smack The Pony.

Miranda though is probably the role that most people know her for, a series that bears her name, is written by her and is loosely based on her life.  The comedy also stars Sarah Hadland, Sally Phillips, James Holmes, Patricia Hodge and Tom Ellis and has been described as being “old fashioned” as it is a lot “cleaner” than modern comedy shows and relies heavily on Miranda’s own penchant for physical, slapstick humour.  There has so far been three series of Miranda and there have been talks about making a film to follow on from the cliff-hanger ending of the last episode.

She has also had success starring in the prime time BBC drama Call The Midwife, in which she plays Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley Browne, also known by the nickname “Chummy” Most recently she played the role of the mother in the David Walliams novel adaption for the BBC, Gangsta Granny which aired during the Christmas season.

Ms Hart has also branched out and released her first semi-autobiographical book entitled Is It Just Me? In October 2012 and now she is set to tour the UK on her first stand-up tour.  Although she has appeared on stage as part of sketch comedy tropes and other forms of performance this will be the first time she has toured a stand-up comedy tour.  The tour is called the “The What I Call” Tour and if you live in London you can get Miranda Hart tickets at the o2 online or at the box office.  The tour will be calling at a number of different cities and towns up and down the country, but London will see the most nights and is likely to be one of the highlights of the tour.

Although there is not a lot of information about what the tour will include, you can apparently expect “galloping, attempts at song and dance, and simply – such fun!”

 

A Solution For Low Water Pressure

water

If you are experiencing problems with low water pressure in your home, this could be caused by a number of different things.  In the following article we will not only identify some of the common issues involved in low water pressure, but also discuss ways that you can correct this problem and improve the level of water pressure in your house.

Analyse What Could Be Causing Low Water Pressure

Although most low water pressure problems are caused by and related to pipes that are clogged.  However, if you have recently had clogged pipes replaced then you will need to dig a little deeper to find the root of the problem.  Start with the most obvious things first and ensure that the shutoff valves that are nearest to your water meter are fully opened.  This may sound very simple and basic, but plumbers will also charge you cost of a callout, even if the solution is just turning a valve.  Once you have checked the shutoff valves, now check the water pressure.  It is a good idea if your home is connected to the main water supply for your city that you phone the water department and ask them for a water pressure reading.  The ideal water pressure should be something in region of 45 to 55 psi.

If you would prefer not to call the water department, you could use a pressure gauge to test the levels.  These can be picked up relatively easily from most good DIY and homeware stores.  Simply, connect the gauge to a water spigot inside your home and then turn the water on.  You will get an instant reading on the gauge.  If the pressure level is low, it may be that your city is delivering water at a low pressure level.  If you feel that your city’s water department are not going to increase the water pressure level, you may have to increase the pressure with a booster pump.

A booster pump can be used to increase your home’s water pressure levels.  They are relatively simple to use and are normally very easy to adjust as they have a dial on the top of them that allows you to set the pressure level.  Ideally, remember, you will want your home’s water pressure to be in the region of 45 to 55 psi.

However, if your home’s water pressure reading was fine, the problem could be that there are pipes that are much smaller than they should be or there is something obstructing the water flow in the pipes.  It is recommended that unless you are a qualified plumber, you should hire an expert to help evaluate and analyse your system to see what the next course of action should be.  Obviously,  when hiring a plumber you should shop around and as well as getting quotes before deciding to hire a particular tradesman, you should also look for reviews and testimonials of previous customers who have had experiences of their services.

5 Steps to a Secure Home

Safety at home is a priority for almost every family. Parents have to be vigilant against threats both outside and inside the house. Neighborhood predators and street violence in the community couple with online bullies and hackers to put family security at risk.

But with the proper precautions both inside and outside, you can help keep your family safe. Here are five safeguards for your home.

1. Bright Lighting

Keeping both interiors and exteriors well lit can help to deter criminals from making your house a target. Of course energy conservation is a priority, so invest in solar lights to keep walkways and steps around your home visible at night. Other areas to focus on both inside and outside include:

•Stairs

•Foyers

•Doorways

•Porches

2. Lock Down the Fort

Conducting a routine check of your door bolts and window locks is always a good idea. Ensure that things are working well and are tamper proof. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, “Locks are a significant part of a comprehensive strategy for protecting your home, your loved ones, and your possessions.” They also point out that “not all locks are created equally.” The highest security locks are strong enough to sustain drilling, prying, pulling, wrenching or kicking, and they have keys which are protected against unauthorized duplication by utility patents.

3. Home Security

In this day and age, many homeowners invest in a home security and surveillance system. House security systems will protect against burglary with an alarm system. And today, many are connected to your wireless device so that you can check in on everything at home even when you are out. You can find out more about the top security systems here.

4. Inside Safety

Aside from potential burglars and predators outside the home, there are many disasters which can happen inside as well. Make sure to check your smoke detectors and replace batteries regularly. Also keep an eye on your stove to protect against lethal gas leaks.

When young children live at home, be sure to plug all your electrical outlets with safe plastic caps. Fire danger is also a hazard with lots cords and power strips. Don’t leave chargers plugged in when not in use, keep charging laptops away from sheets and blankets that might ignite if the computer became to hot.

5. You vs. the Worldwide Web

Perhaps the biggest threat to you and your family is online with a global network of hackers and predators vying for your personal information. Software solutions like Safe Eyes or NetNanny can protect families from explicit content which they might run into on the internet. Other practical tips include keeping the children’s computer in the living room where parents can supervise the screen easily and using non-administrative accounts for kids which will limit what they are able to do. Finally, make sure to educate your family members about why it is important to be cautious online and how to be safe.

With these five steps, your family will be able to sleep soundly at night and be safe at home.

Image from www.homesecuritysystemsales.com

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Problems With Damp In Your Home

Although you may be tempted to put off fixing that little leak you just noticed in your home, the dampness caused by it could not only cause damage to your house but it could cause problems with your health.  If you are not sure of the full implications that living in damp home can have on your health, read the following article to find out 4 reasons why you should invest in damp proofing products before it gets worse.

Bacteria

There is nothing bacteria love more than moisture.  After all, it is bacteria’s preferred breeding ground.  It doesn’t matter how many different anti-bacterial cleaning products you buy, if you have a damp house you will already have bacteria.  Colonies of bacteria thrive on damp organic matter like floorboards and wall boards.

Pests

The Director of the Industrial Hygiene Program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at John Hopkins University, Dr Breysse stated that when there is a high level of water damage, there is a higher level of cockroach, mouse and other allergens.  These should be of particular concern to you if you have children who suffer from asthma.  Mouse and cockroach waste is known to be a trigger for asthma and these kinds of pests love damp areas.

Dust Mites

If you are aware that you have an allergy to dust mites you will already be familiar with many of the symptoms of this allergy including itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, other respiratory problems and even some asthmatic symptoms.  It is estimated that dust mites prosper in places where the temperature is around the 80 degrees F mark, and where the humidity measures above 60%.  In order to stop dust mite growth you need to keep your house below 50% humidity.  Air conditioning is the most successful way of creating a healthier environment for people who suffer from dust mite allergies, as it dehumidifies and cools the air.

Mould

It really is no secret that people get sick from working and living in damp areas.  Regardless of what it is that makes them sick, it relates back to mould.  With mould, the visible signs and smell is the main indicator.  It is thought that mould could be responsible for allergic reactions as well as many respiratory illnesses.  However, it is still unclear whether illness is caused by mould or whether mould is just simply an indicator that you have problems with dampness.

Most people try to find quick fix solutions to dampness; however there is no way to remove it overnight.  Whenever you see mould growing, you need to both eliminate the source of the excess moisture and remove the wet material.  The best way is to prevent dampness by avoiding condensation.   You should, if possible, invest in a venting system for your kitchen, tumble dryer and bathroom.  If this is not possible, you should open windows until steam disappears and if you notice a water intrusion or leak, fix the problem as soon as possible and remove all wet materials.  There are other damp proofing products that you can find online that will help you in the fight against unwanted moisture.

How to Find the Right Doctor for Your Family

For parents everywhere, finding a good, trustworthy physician who is family-friendly is not a simple task. But it is important to have a good family doctor to provide the right care and assistance and be familiar with your family’s medical history. And in emergency situations, having a trustworthy doctor to call brings peace of mind. Here is a list of tips to follow when trying to find the right doctor to fit your family.

Network First

A great place to begin the search is with your network of connections. Ask family, friends, social media acquaintances, and other contacts if they can recommend, or advise against, a particular family physician. Local friends may have insight into finding the best doctors in the area who can provide both care and professionalism.

Credentials Count

When first visiting a medical office, don’t be afraid to ask about the doctor’s credentials because these are probably a fair barometer of the physician’s training and performance.  While going to a prestigious medical school is well and good, what matters most is where the doctor did their residency.

A residency is where physicians practice before setting up their own office or practice. In the residency program, new doctors are being trained under credentialed doctors who will affect their clinical style far more than their schooling will. When searching for the right doctor, look for one who is affiliated with a respectable hospital and who has passed their board certifications. This information should be accessible on any insurance provider’s website.

Scrutinize the Office

After you have asked for a referral and done some homework on the doctor, it is time to meet in person. When first visiting the office, consider the way patients are being treated, how the receptionist treats everyone, and if the staff seems helpful and respectful. If everyone is being treated kindly, chances are they are running a reputable office.

Research has shown that patients who are uncomfortable with their doctors have poorer health than those who see empathetic, supportive and involved physicians. So feeling comfortable with the office and its staff is a big part of determining whether or not to come back for a return visit.

Good Questions

The first visit is a perfect time to come prepared with great questions for the doctor, nurses and other staff members you might meet. Apart from surveying how they treat patients, ask them plenty of questions and leave no stone unturned. When making the appointment, provide a few details about the reason behind the visit, namely, to find a good doctor for your family. This way the proper amount of time can be allotted for the appointment.

Being the first visit, the doctor will also have many questions mostly about family health history. Be ready to provide your information. You might even be able to fill out paperwork and a questionnaire ahead of time. Once at the office, do not be shy. Share health concerns, symptoms, and relevant health history so that the doctor is fully aware of what is going on.

After sharing about your history, here are some questions to ask the doctor:

•If their credentials were not readily available online, ask about where they went to school, who they studied under, and why they chose medicine and family practice as a career.

•Ask how to reach the doctor if there is an emergency or a question, and ask how long it normally takes them to respond. Also, ask if the doctor personally answers questions or concerns, or if they have a nurse or other staff member do it.

When looking for a family-friendly physician, be prepared to ask questions. A doctor should be there to support your family’s health, so it is important that you feel confident about who is treating them.

Image from www.sheknows.com

Top Tips for Booking Your Family Holiday on a Budget

If you’re penny pinching like the rest of us in 2014 then it may be difficult to imagine a holiday this year. However, if the kids can’t stop going on about the summer holidays already, and you’re dreaming of some time to relax, then perhaps a holiday wouldn’t be a bad idea. Let’s have a look at some top money saving tips for family holidays and decide then whether going away may be more affordable than you thought.

Image by Philip Taylor

Savings

First up, let’s see how much we have in savings. Don’t worry if it’s nothing, as we have exactly the same in our own savings accounts! What you need to do is start up a money box, or a vacation fund jar. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; an old pasta sauce jar will do nicely. Simply slice a hole in the top big enough to drop coins in. Now let the whole family know that any change they have from shopping, or found down the side of the sofa cushions, has to go in there. Of course, a jar full of coppers isn’t going to get you far, but it will put you into a holiday savings mood. Sacrifice a few little luxuries a month and put your own money in the jar, in the form of notes. Just a little bit here and there will soon add up to an impressive holiday fund.

Destinations

Whilst your vacation fund is filling up nicely, it’s time to look at your destination options. Where is cheap, easy to get to and going to be fun for the whole family? There will be some obvious ones to cross off the list (sorry kids, not Florida this year) which should leave you with a few options to pick from. Have a look at prices for flights and accommodation, to see which looks the most cost effective. If they’re all around the same price then put the destinations into a hat and ask the children to pick one out. That way they get to make the choice themselves!

Travel

The next thing you need to do is book your travel, which is best done as far in advance as possible. Depending on where you live, and where you’re going, the cheapest option will probably be by plane. Try to book a flight at least 3-4 months in advance to get the best deal on flights. The same applies to most forms of transport, including coaches, buses and trains. The earlier you book them, the cheaper they will be.

Accommodation

So, you know where you’re going, when you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Next up, where are you going to stay? Hotels can vary a lot in price, so it’s best to have a good look around. For example hotels in Dublin with Venere may be a lot cheaper than the same hotel booked directly. Find out who offers the best deals and whether there are any coupons available, to help bring the cost down even more. Not everywhere will have deals on, but it’s always worth ringing up a specific hotel and asking, if you can’t find anything online.

By the time you’ve booked your flights and accommodation, your holiday fund should have added up nicely. Most places will let you book now and pay later, giving you a little bit of extra time to add those extra dollars to the pot.