Category Archives: misc.

5 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Movie Night

Looking for something to do that will bring your friends or family together, that won’t cost the earth and doesn’t involve and absolute mountain of effort? Then what you need is a movie night.

Movie nights are great, even more so now that practically every movie ever made is available through on demand services on the internet. Long gone are the days of relying on what your local video store had in stock – just fire up Netflix or Amazon Prime and away you go.

Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? Here are five tips for hosting the perfect movie night.

Get your film choice right

The whole point of having a movie night is to watch a movie, so you’ve got to get your choice right. Is it a family event? Are the girls coming over? Or is it a set of movie buffs getting together to critique the latest blockbuster release? You’ll want to pick your film accordingly. While most will go for a film that most of the guests have never seen before, one smart idea that can help turn this into a regular event is working your way through the IMDb Top 100 movies. You can even get your guests to rate them, allowing you to come up with your own ranking system to see how it compares with IMDb.

Know if you should make a last-minute switch

You can have the best laid out plan in history when it comes to which movie you are going for, but don’t be afraid to change it at the last minute. The Shawshank Redemption might have been set in stone as your next movie night flick, but if it becomes readily apparent once all the guests have arrived that everyone is in a silly mood, don’t be afraid to switch track and go for a more light-hearted movie to reflect that.

Get the snacks in

Only a sadist goes to the cinema and doesn’t snack on something or other. For the full movie night experience, you need to supply your guests with snacks. These can vary from the classic staple of the movies, popcorn, to hotdogs, burgers, fries or how about giving these Irish Nachos a go?

Make sure everyone is comfortable

You can’t enjoy a movie if you spend half of it thinking about how uncomfortable you are or how hot it is. Make sure everybody is happy with the temperature in the room and provide adequate seating for all your guests. You don’t need to have a luxury sofa costing thousands of dollars to do that – just good old fashioned pillows, cushions and blankets to ensure everybody is comfortable.

Leave time to talk at the end

The very best part of any movie night comes at the end, when you get to discuss what you’ve just seen. Make sure you set aside some time once the end credits have finished rolling to sit down around the table and talk about what you made of the film. You can do this with questions to lead the discussion – “What did you think the director was trying to do?”, “Did the movie succeed in its aims?”, or by just going for the jugular and blurting out whatever you thought – “That was absolute rubbish.” See if they everyone else agrees.

 

 

 

 

Choosing Therapy–The First Step on the Journey to a Better You

As a human being, it’s natural to have periods of ups and downs in our lives.  But sometimes, the low periods don’t seem to want to go away for a long time.  We may try to tell ourselves to snap out of it, or to push aside the issues, and claim that we don’t need help.  But, for a large number of people, help is something they need.  And more and more people are choosing to find someone they can confide in–a therapist.

Admitting to yourself that you can’t take on all your problems alone is the most important thing you have to do to start this process; but making sure you find the right type of therapy and a person you can really mesh with is also critical.  With today’s various methods, you have more choices than ever to find exactly what fits your particular therapy needs and personality.

TYPES OF THERAPY

Traditional One on One Therapy

I believe when most people think of therapy, this is what they picture–sitting or laying on a couch while talking about their emotions and experiences to a person who’s listening intently, taking notes, and asking questions about your feelings.  In many cases, yes, this can be true.  But the person who’s giving you help can come in many forms.  There are doctors, either psychologists or psychiatrists who can prescribe you medication if it’s determined that you are in need of it.  There are also less formal settings where you can speak to a licensed counselor.  Some places can even offer peer support, by having someone who’s gone through experiences similar to yours talk to you about how they are overcoming things.

Group Therapy

This is another stereotype that I think people imagine: a bunch of folks sitting around in a circle, introducing themselves to one another, and exchanging conversations about what they’re dealing with.  Group therapy is sometimes a better option for those who might have trouble opening up in a one on one space–sometimes hearing another person talk about a situation like yours will help you feel you’re not alone.

Online Therapy

Just like nearly every other thing in the world, you can now get your therapy online too.  Online therapy can be found on several different websites and is often the best choice for those who live in a more rural area.  Those giving help on these sites range from doctors, to marriage therapists, to social workers and more.  You are sure to find someone who can help you with almost any problem.  Often, these online sessions are cheaper than in person sessions as well–a plus if you do not have insurance coverage for mental health issues.

Unconventional Therapies

If you don’t think speaking out your feelings will help, there are other ways to confront them too.  Art therapy is often a perfect alternative for children or those who live on the more creative side of life.  Animal therapy, such as riding horses, can be good for those who don’t easily trust people, because animals are often more intuitive than we know.  Music therapy is a powerful tool for some and can evoke feelings or memories long thought lost.

 

I’ve mentioned just a few types here, but I hope it’s enough to get you started on your journey to mental and emotional well-being.  Seeking therapy is not the stigma it once was, and you should be proud that you value yourself enough to recognize that you need help.

What to Do with Grandma’s Old Ring

It’s a very special moment when a ring gets passed from one generation to the next. It might have come your way because you’re standing on the verge of getting married, or it might have passed your way through a will or estate: No matter how it came to you, there are always a few ways to breathe new life into vintage, antique or valued pieces of art. Here are some practical ideas for what to do with grandma’s old ring.

Do Your Research

Step one is to start by doing your research on the piece so that you know exactly what you have. This includes asking family members if they know the story or origin of the ring; you will also want to take a look at any serial numbers imprinted on the ring, which will tell you more about its contents – and possibly its manufacture. With this, also note its condition and – we’d highly recommend it – have it professionally looked over and graded by an expert.

A Professional Cleaning

Breathing new life into an old piece of jewelry can be as easy as a professional, good cleaning session. Now, it’s very important that you use the right cleaner for your type of jewelry, and for this we’d recommend that you visit a jewelry store and tell them exactly what it is that you want to clean. (There are many horror stories of people who cleaned a valuable piece and did more harm than good.) Read the product’s instructions carefully before you apply it to anything valuable!

 Resizing and Redoing

If you plan on wearing the ring again, it’s also worth putting some thought into getting the ring resized for your hands. Take it to an expert jeweler and they will be more than happy to resize a piece according to your requirements. If you want any changes brought to the piece, like something added or taken away, now is the time to do it. Make sure that you choose a store with a reliable reputation to work on your piece.

Wear It!

If you don’t want to go to the trouble to have the ring re-sized, you could always wear the ring on a chain instead: Ornate or simple gold or silver chains are usually easy to find and can compliment a ring perfectly.

New Life

New life can also be brought to a piece of jewelry by having it turned into an entirely new piece. Yes, most jewelry makers are happy to do this. You can have the piece melted on-to another piece, or melted down and turned into something new. Technically, it’s still the same piece – just with some new and exciting flair.

Have it Insured

Always remember to take special care with a valuable piece: Have it insured, either as a separate piece or as part of your existing household insurance. In the case of robbery, loss or natural disaster – and it happens! – you’ll really wish you had.

Sell It and Invest

Let’s face it: There are times when life hits an unexpected turn and you need some money. Or, you might just decide that you could use the money towards something for the future. Then, consider selling the piece and investing the money. If you want to sell the piece, do so through reputable dealers, and make sure that you have your paperwork in order; take detailed pictures and know exactly what you’re selling.

 

Quick Inspiration–Overcoming Gym Intimidation

What to Look for When Buying a Wine Cooler

Many websites such as focuswinecellars.com sell wine cabinets or coolers. If you’ve never purchased a wine cooler before, though, you may be lost about what to look for. Which features should you consider to get a wine cooler that meets your needs? Below are some tips that can make the process easier.

Consider the Size of the Cooler

The first and most important thing to consider is the cooler size. How many bottles of wine do you hope to store inside your cabinet? Also, think about how much space you have and your spending limit.

In general, most coolers are large enough to store 12 bottles of wine. This is a pretty standard size. If you have the space, however, choose a size that can fit an extra four or five bottles of wine. For example, a chiller that holds 15 to 18 bottles gives you plenty of storage with a little room to grow. However, they make wine cabinets that are much bigger. Some are large enough to store more than 50 bottles.

Get the Temperature Just Right

Another big factor to consider is the temperature. Any wine enthusiast knows that wines need to be chilled and stored at certain temperatures to preserve the taste. Most red and white wines are stored at two separate temperatures.

For example, red wine is usually stored at between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, while white wine needs to be a bit cooler at 49 to 56 degrees. Unless you like drinking only one type of wine, it may be beneficial to buy two small coolers instead of one large cooler. However, you could consider getting a cooler that has dual climate control.

Block Those UV Rays

Did you know that ultraviolet lights are harmful to wine? The more UV rays that wine is exposed to, the more that it changes the original flavor. One way around this is to look for wine coolers that block UV rays. They typically come with special filters for the glass doors. The filters allow you to still peer into the cabinets, but they prevent UV light from passing through. This feature typically doesn’t cost much and will do your wine a world of good.

Finding the right wine cooler can help you store your bottles properly for a long time to come. If you love drinking wine, you don’t want to be without at least one wine cooler that can keep it at the correct temperature. Considering the above factors will ensure that you never waste a perfectly good bottle of wine again.

Is it Too Late to Start a Blog?

Many people wonder if it is too late for them to start a blog. The truth is that it is never too late to start a blog. Even if your company has been going for a while, you can still benefit from a blog. Of course, most experts recommend that you start a blog long before you ever start a business. But if you are considering blogging, there are some pretty compelling reasons to do it.

Benefits of a Blog

First let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a blog. One of the first benefits to be aware of is that blogs drive traffic. If your business is an online business, and you sell items or services from your website, then you are always looking to get more traffic. Although a blog post will drive traffic to the blog, you can always redirect that traffic back to your sales page by including links within the content or sales widgets on the sidebar. In addition, blogs get you indexed for more keyword terms. This this is especially true for longtail keywords, which is going to drive a significant portion of your traffic. Finally, a blog allows you to communicate with your customer and let them get to know your company better – especially you as a thought leader and industry expert.

How to Create a Blog

So how do you create a blog? In order to create your first blog, you have to make a few choices. The first is whether you are going to use a blogging service like WordPress (the website not the platform) or Blogger, or whether you’re going to install the WordPress platform on your own website and blog there. You also have to choose a name for your blog and decide what sort of content you are going to include. You also want to figure out what sorts of keywords you want to target with your blog posts, which is what we will get into in the next step.

What to Write Blog Posts about

Figuring out what to write your blog posts about is something that everyone struggles with. Many companies write about things that interest them and those within their company, without thinking about how a customer would perceive it. Your blog post should solve a person’s problem or give them information that they needed. A blog post is not an opportunity to pitch someone your products. You can still get that traffic redirected to your sales pages if you do it carefully. In fact, let’s take a look at exactly how to do that in the next section.

How to Use a Blog to Increase Sales

If you want to use your blog to increase sales there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is one of the benefits of having a blog. But the way that you go about increasing those sales is important. For example, your blog post should be nothing more than that – a blog post. If you want, you can link to your sales pages or mention items briefly that apply to the content, or you can post a widget on the sidebar with your items for sale. But the blog post itself should be about the topic. Another way that you can use the blog post to increase sales is by getting people to sign up for your mailing list after they have read the content. This may also be done through the sidebar or through a link somewhere in the content. These are both great ways of using your blog to increase sales.

 

 

5 Things Older Citizens Should Do to Protect Their Homes

While grandparents can play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren, there is also a need for parents (yes, that is you) to make sure that nana and papa are well protected as they grow into their old age.  This is important as there are many ways that the elderly can fall prey to those with ill intentions in their heart.  As such, it falls on the entire family to find ways to help protect nana and papa and their home and this article will outline five ways in which to do so.

 

Preventing Home Invasion

One reason the elderly who live alone are deemed to be easy prey by robbers is that they tend to go to bed early.  This means that robbers can hit several houses in one night.  However, there are several precautions which can be taken to prevent bad people from getting into the house.

For starters, they can make sure that all doors and windows are locked when they are home.  This is important as many times robbers will try to enter the homes when someone is in the house as they believe it is easier.  In addition, if they have an alarm then they should use this always – including any panic button which they should keep with them.

Regarding all doors and door frames, they should not only be wooden but should be reinforced by steel or another metal and any windows should be shatter-proof.  Doing so will help to make it harder for any unwanted visitors to enter the home.

When it comes to someone knocking at the door there are two things to keep in mind.  First, always ask the person to identify themselves.  Another tip is to install a security camera and lights at all entrances.  This will help record who comes to the house in case something is amiss.

Remember the saying ‘good fences make good neighbors’?  The same is true when it comes to preventing home invasion.  If your parents live in a home with a gate, they should always keep it locked – better yet is to set it up with a camera and a remote as this will allow them greater control on who can access the property.

 

Spare Keys

When it comes to keys, it is important to remember is to never keep a spare key under the doormat.  Instead, it is wise to give family members a key to the home and if needed the homeowners can install a touchpad or some other combination lock to help them access the home in case they have misplaced their key.

This is important as many robbers take for granted that an extra key will be kept under a doormat or in a flower pot, or on a ledge.  You see robbers like homes that allow for easy entry and nothing could be easier than leaving a key next to the front door.

 

Back Up Energy

While we are fortunate to live in a country with a stable power supply there are times when the lights do go out.  Maybe it is from a big storm or it could just be that the system is overloaded – remember the blackout of 2003.

As such, having a backup power system installed in the home could come in as useful when the lights go out.  Not only will this make sure that the grandparents have energy but it will help them to remain comfortable while they wait for a family member to come and get them.  Lastly, a backup power system will make sure that any medical devices are operational while power lines are down.

 

It’s Not Just Break-ins You Need to Worry About

Unfortunately, many of the bad people preying on the elderly do not sneak around in the night.  Many are smartly dressed and seek to steal from grandparents in other ways – such as providing false or misleading financial advice.

This is a major problem as it leaves older Americans vulnerable to those who tap in the hard worked for value they have in their homes.  For example, there are many in the reverse mortgage market who are looking for shortcuts.  This is a shame as these products have been on the market since the 1960’s and many are even guaranteed by the government.

This means that they are safe products but just to be safe you should check out this reverse mortgage calculator at https://reverse.mortgage/calculator to make sure your parents are getting a good deal.  Doing so will help to protect their homes for the long run.

 

Home is Where the Heart is

Maybe as Americans, we have forgotten what life in an extended family is like.  But the reality is that having a large and involved family around is a safety blanket for everyone involved.  Not only does it help to share the work of having a family but it also makes sure that everyone is looking out for each other.

As such, home really is where the heart is and by promoting a place of safety, warmth, and love you are not only helping nana and papa but you are helping all generations to foster relationships and memories that will last a lifetime.

 

4 Innovative Home Design Trends to Watch Out For in 2018

Home design trends are integral to the work of an architect; clients will always be influenced by the homes they see on interior design blogs, so it’s important to stay aware of the latest movements. This year, layouts, features, and systems are evolving to suit the growing needs of the modern day homeowner, relying on both technological advances and ancient building practices to transform the architectural landscape.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the building sector consumes nearly half of all the energy we produce in the United States, so the lean toward sustainable design comes as no surprise. Whichever way you look at it, the future of architecture is going to be spectacular. Here are four innovative trends to watch out for this year.

Organic Architecture

Perhaps one of the most notable design trends for 2018 is the move toward earthen living. Over the years, home design has become increasingly energy efficient, but environmentalists think we can do better. Cue the development of organic architecture: a reliance on ancient building techniques and biodegradable, earthly materials that take us back to our roots. Despite having been built from dirt and stone, today’s “earth houses” are far from primitive, with structures proving comfortable, strong and beautiful. It is estimated that 50% of the world’s population lives in earthen architecture – and this is something Western countries are starting to pay attention to.

Flexible Floor Plans

On the other end of the spectrum, the world continues to move toward a more seamless, technology-driven existence. This means our homes are becoming more adaptable to our needs, paving the way for sliding partition walls and flexible floor plans. Adaptable design will allow rooms to transform into other rooms and living spaces to change along with our changing lifestyles. A large home office could, for instance, be divided into two rooms to accommodate a nursery; or else a dining room could flow seamlessly into the kitchen for family mealtimes, but become a smaller, more intimate space for dinner parties.

Adaptable “Bonus” Rooms

Dedicated living and dining rooms could also be replaced by large, adaptable multi-purpose spaces. While this trend accommodates our growing need for flexibility, it also remains conscious of the environmental and societal impact of larger homes. The trend towards minimalism and the Tiny House Movement of 2017 means many people are thinking of ways they can downsize or make the most of their existing spaces. Some modern homes also include private “bonus” rooms that can be adapted to suit a variety of needs.

Outdoor Living

This year will also see a trend towards the great outdoors, with many homeowners designing their backyards to accommodate everyday living. We’ve already seen outdoor lighting and garden decor soar in popularity over the past couple of years, but 2018 is set to take the design trend one step further. Expect to see bigger and bolder porch ceiling lights in modern homes, like the statement pendants and outdoor chandeliers available from YLighting, as well as sofas that look like they belong inside, wooden nesting tables and even tapestry rugs.

All in all, 2018 is set to be a dichotomous year for home design. While we continue to rely on technology to adapt our homes to our changing needs, there is also an increased sensitivity toward the environment and a need to return to more primitive times.

 

Fun Winter Activities You Can Do With Your Kids

One thing that many parents hate about winter is the cold temperatures. When the temperature drops, you’ll likely find that your kids spend more time inside as they play video games or sit in front of the television because they don’t want to deal with the ice and snow. As a parent, you can set a good example for your kids and show them how fun winter can be. Some of the best winter activities are those that you can do inside and out with your kids.

Go Sledding

As long as you have a hill nearby, you can plan a sledding day with your kids. You can pick up an inexpensive sled from almost any big box store. If you plan ahead, you’ll find cheap sleds at thrift stores, secondhand sporting goods stores and even yard sales. Kids can also have fun trying different things out as sleds like a trash can lid or the top to a plastic storage box. When using those items, just make sure that the hill has a softer slope that won’t cause them to fall off.

Plan a Ski Trip

Many parents don’t think about taking a ski trip because they assume that these vacations cost too much. While you may not have money in your budget to stay at a four-star resort, you may have enough cash to plan a day trip to a local resort. Some of these resorts offer specials for those who come on weekdays or those who come in a small group. You can even sign up for family classes or lessons that teach you how to snowboard or ski together. With Little Hotties hand warmers in your pockets, you and your little ones will stay warm on the slopes.

Make Real Hot Chocolate

Take a break from the cold weather outside to make some real hot chocolate together. Anyone can heat up some water and pour in a packet of powdered drink mix. Making hot chocolate from scratch helps you bond as a family and make a delicious treat that you can share. All you need is some chocolate, milk and a little sugar. Bring the milk to a gentle boil before adding the chocolate and the sugar. You can experiment with different flavors like cinnamon and vanilla and top each mug with some real whipped cream.

Try Maple Candy

Teach your kids how to make a simple but delicious snack that they’ll want to share with their friends with just a few simple things. Use a bowl to gather some fresh and clean snow. You’ll then pour a small amount of real maple syrup onto the snow. With a wood craft stick, carefully twist and turn the syrup to mix it with the snow. This creates a small piece of candy with an intensive maple flavor that kids and adults will love. It may even become a family tradition in your home.

Just because winter brings some cold temperatures to your area, that’s no excuse for spending every day in front of the television or away from your kids. You can create a new tradition with your kids that they’ll look forward to every year. Consider making hot chocolate and maple candy or going skiing or sledding together.

3 Ways to Add Value to Your Home

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Buying a house is a huge investment both financially and emotionally. Choosing where to live is no easy decision, you must consider a number of factors and mark each one against your lifestyle. You want your chosen neighborhood to have good transport links to be accessible for work, have an abundance of amenities, good schools, public spaces, and so the list continues. Once you have narrowed down your options, and selected areas on which to focus your search, you can then begin to look for a property that satisfies your needs.

It can be easy to be put off properties by their current condition, but to find a home that you can add real value to, you need to look beyond the cosmetic condition. As long as the property is structurally sound, and ticks your accommodation requirements, you have an opportunity to grow your investment while putting your own design style on it. Here are the top 3 ways to add value to your home.
The Kitchen
Kitchens are no longer just a functional necessity for the home. Kitchens are now multi-use spaces that families spend a lot of time in. If the property you are considering has a kitchen that needs attention, do not despair! While you are viewing it, try and establish whether the walls of the room are loadbearing; if they are not, they can easily be removed to make the room bigger. When it comes to the design for your new kitchen, choose durable flooring that will be easy to maintain, and adequate storage solutions so that counters can be kept clutter free to maximize the feeling of space.
The Bathroom
Bathrooms are the one room in the house that can provide a solitary sanctuary from the stresses of everyday life. Updating your bathroom will allow you to create an environment that you can relax and unwind in. While the bathroom furniture you select needs to be functional, this does not have to be at the expense of style. While trends come and go, a safe yet stylish option would be to incorporate contemporary bathroom products into your design. For example, the Duravit collection of bathroom furniture will give a contemporary update to your bathroom with its earthenware pieces. Even the smallest of bathrooms can be given a luxurious upgrade, just remember to choose furniture that retains visibility of the floor space to create the illusion of space.
The Curb Appeal
People often concentrate on the interiors of their home to add value, but is important to pay attention to the curb appeal of your property. Your outside space provides the backdrop to your home, and is an opportunity for you to show your design flair too. If gardening isn’t your thing, choose low maintenance options for the garden’s design. Remember, that you look out of your windows into this space, so you want it to be optimized for your enjoyment from inside, just as much as when you are outside.
You will hopefully have many happy years in your new home, and while cosmetic updates do cost money to fulfill, by choosing wisely this money will be returned to you when you come to sell the house. You don’t have to do all the updates at once, make a list of what you would like to change, and prioritize the rooms as you see fit.