Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer saving tips

Summer time is one of the happiest seasons of the year. This is the perfect time to get a week of vacation from work, go to the beach and enjoy time with friends and family. As summer could mean happy times, it could also mean more expenses as you spend for family getaways and as electric bills go up due to more people staying in the house and using electric appliances. To help you save money during summer time, here are some helpful tips:

1. Turn off unnecessary household appliances

Be cautious on what appliances kids use. Turn of unnecessary appliances that might just add up to your bill. Turning off the air conditioning during a cold night is one of the helpful things to practice.

2. Let the kids try a summer business

Instead of allowing your kids to just spend more of their money during summer, you can even teach them how to be thrifty and run a summer business. They can try setting up a Lemonade stand or have a garage sale of their old clothes and toys. This way, the kids learn to value money and spend little or just enough for their needs.

3. Save on groceries

Grocery shopping, combined with the money we spend "eating out," makes up a huge portion of our monthly expenses. In order to save more money during summer, you must learn how to save money on your groceries. Choosing less expensive drinks, avoiding single-serving snacks and being realistic about the amount of food you need are some helpful ways to save you some bucks on your groceries.

4. Avoid credit cards

Using your credit card means borrowing money from the bank that issued the card. And since credit cards often have high spending limits, it encourages cardholders to spend more and more money based on their credit limit. This therefore leads to uncontrollable spending. It is more helpful then to use a prepaid debit card or a prepaid money card when making purchases as these types of cards have credit limits based on the amount of money that the cardholder has from their own bank account. This helps the cardholder think twice before spending as he knows the money will be deducted from his own savings account.

Saving money during the summer season does not mean though that you have to spoil your happy times with your family. With careful planning, budgeting and following these simple tips from reassessing your groceries to choosing prepaid debit cards over credit cards will surely help you save more money that you can use for your family"™s future needs.

Garden design for novices

Designing your garden and maintaining it can be a very rewarding, satisfying and relaxing way to spend your spare time. Even the most neglected piece of land can be turned into a beautiful, productive garden, full of color, wildlife and places to sit and relax. If you are interested in gardening or are keen to undertake some garden design at home, then this article is for you. If you want to create the garden of your dreams and learn how to maintain it successfully then read on...

Successful garden design

Planning the best garden begins with deciding what the space is to be used for. It may sound obvious, but many people fail to consider this simple concept. Do you need an area for your children to run around in? Are you interested in growing your own fruit and vegetables? Do you need a shed to house your tools and gardening equipment? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when planning your garden.Having mapped out your goals you need to think about how much time you want to spend maintaining the garden. If you are someone who likes to get stuck in and is looking forward to getting their hands dirty then you may want a variety of flower beds and vegetable beds. If you prefer to look at your garden rather than work in it then you may be happier with a nice terraced or paved area with just a few pots and other items of interest, reducing the need for excessive garden maintenance.

It is a good idea to get a paper and pencil out at this point. Maybe a quick sketch can really help you bring your ideas to life. Nothing fancy is needed here - perhaps you could plan where the beds will be and the lawn. If you require a patio area, you could add it to the sketch, or a pergola maybe. You could get help with this part of the equation from a specialist company if you are drawing a blank.

Ongoing garden maintenance

You should remember that it is not just the initial work that will need to be undertaken to create the perfect garden. Ongoing maintenance will undoubtedly be needed. Depending on how you design your garden will depend on how much maintenance work needs doing, and how regularly. If you dream of a cottage style garden then there are always going to be beds to weed, plants to deadhead, trees to prune, hedges to trim and so on. If you are pushed for time, are you really going to be able to carry out all the necessary tasks?

Some gardens don't require a large amount of work. This is especially true of those that rely on non-plant related features such as water fountains and statues. It is possible to create an interesting and unique space in even the smallest garden without using too much greenery. Decking is another great way to enjoy your garden without needing to spend too much time working in it. Add a few pots here and there, perhaps a small fish pond, and you have a contemporary and relaxing environment in which to read a book or entertain friends.

Garden services

However, there is a third option. This allows you to have any garden you want without having to do a lot of work - hire a company to do it for you. There are companies who can do garden maintenance for you. They can clean out the pond, water the plants, deadhead the roses, prune the trees, harvest the fruit and vegetables, mow the lawn.... The list goes on and on and includes garden design too. This is a fantastic option for those who don't have the spare time to carry out the work themselves but want to enjoy a beautiful garden at home.

However you choose to design, maintain and enjoy your garden, make sure you end up with a space that you enjoy and can't wait to spend time in, regardless of whether that is with some secateurs or a good book and glass of wine in your hand!

by: Kathryn Dawson


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Think of lighting as art for your home

Think%20of%20lighting%20as%20art%20for%20your%20home Lighting is possibly the most powerful tool you have when it comes to interior design. It does not make sense to invest in beautiful furniture, rugs, paintings and accessories if they are in the dark. The perfect light fixture not only illuminates a space - it is also a beautiful, decorative design element.

"When looking for a light fixture, think of yourself as a curator looking for a perfect piece of art," says interior designer Laurie Smith, known for her role as a featured designer on the hit television show Trading Spaces. Smith says, "Like art, a fabulous fixture can make a strong design statement, as well as provide illumination for your space."

Often consumers do not realize the difference updated lighting can make in their homes. Smith suggests finding one special piece and building a room around it. "In design school, we learned that lighting is the most exciting and mysterious medium in design. Lighting is sculptural; it's textural, it's exciting," she says.

"There are so many varying styles and designs in lighting today that the possibilities are endless. Different materials and shapes are just part of what goes into determining that perfect fixture," says Smith. "For instance, do you want the shape of your piece to contrast with your room's schematic or coordinate with it? Taking a traditional fixture and placing it into a modern setting creates interest through contrast, while taking a sleek modern fixture and putting it into a traditional setting infuses new vitality and a sophisticated accent."

With so many choices on the market, the task of selecting a light fixture can be difficult and overwhelming for many homeowners. It's just a matter of developing a plan or one idea. To help consumers get started, Smith talks about the importance of lighting to interior design in a new video series. Each minute-long video focuses on a different aspect of lighting and ways to incorporate it into every homeowner's design plan.

Videos in the series include:
* Choosing the Right Lighting Fixture
* Find an Object of Inspiration
* The Impact of a Single Lamp
* Lighting Fixtures as Art

Whether looking for one fixture or a complete lighting design plan, a great place to start is at a lighting retail showroom. There you will find professionally trained staff to help you select the perfect light for your space.

Courtesy of BPT

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cool grilling tools could make you a backyard hero

(NC)-A number of nifty new grilling accessories are sure to attract the attention of outdoor chefs of every experience level. Why not impress the grill master in your life by giving them one or all of the following cool grilling tools as a gift for any occasion?

Weber suggests:

Tongs remain an indispensabletool and the one item cited as being both owned (86%) and most used (70%) by Canadian grillers. Outdoor chefs also own a basting brush (79%), a grill fork (73%), a wire grill brush (71%), and a turner/spatula (64%).

The Ebelskiver: This European-inspired grilling tool creates traditional Danish pancakes in a perfect sphere shape. Also idea for making individual pizza puffs or turkey/chicken/beef pot pies.

With hamburgers remaining the food item most often grilled, Weber has developed three new accessories for this devoted audience:

Weber Burger Press: Designed to create the perfectly formed burger patty, this press makes a dimple in the middle of the burger for even cooking from centre to edge.

Weber Slider Press: Form two perfectly shaped sliders at the same time with this press that makes a dimple in the middle of the burger for even cooking throughout.

Weber Meatball/Slider Rack: This stainless steel two-sided rack holds up to 15 meatballs or eight sliders. It allows for even cooking and a one-flip approach to grilling several small burgers or meatballs at once.

Cast iron Griddle: When you need a flat surface, you need a cast iron griddle. It's the perfect accessory for grilling food, from pancakes to scallops, without mess or fuss.

Potato Nails: A sure hit for baked potato lovers, these stainless steel nails allow for quick, even cooking of potatoes.

Portable Table: The perfect gift for tailgaters and campers, this portable table goes up quickly and stores flat.

Grilling tips and recipes can be found online at www.weber.com.

How to add value to your home

When you want to improve the value of your home, get the most out of the money you spend on renovations with a few easy remodeling tips from Sally Morse, director of creative services for window fashions company Hunter Douglas:

An Updated Kitchen - Gone are the days of the purely utilitarian kitchen. Today, kitchens require a balance between functionality and personal style. Invest in a new kitchen table that is both serviceable and aesthetically pleasing. Ever wondered what to do with that dining room you never use? A lot of families are doing away with the tradition of having a separate dining room by joining the two rooms. That way you get added space and value in the room that you are using more often.

Storage Space - A stuffy old attic or basement that hasn't been cleaned out in years is a waste of valuable space. Start by clearing out your storage areas and organizing their contents. Uncluttering your home will instantly make it look bigger and cleaner.

Window Shutters - One of the best ways to add value is at the window. The refreshed, fashionable Palm Beach polysatin shutters with the DuraLux finish by Hunter Douglas are virtually indistinguishable from finely painted ones - making these shutters an excellent investment choice for your home.

Modern Bathrooms - Just by making a few changes in your bathroom you can create a more attractive and comfortable space, as well as increase the value of your home significantly. Updating simple fixtures such as your faucet and sink, or adding in a bath, can give any outdated bathroom new style.

More information is available online at www.hunterdouglas.ca.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Room to spare

What do you do with that extra room in the house? The one that has no real purpose except to collect things? Or you may have an empty room or two when the last of the kids have moved out or gone away to school. We end up with lots of remnants of their lives, but no kids. This room becomes either a shrine with no real purpose or a place to collect all the things we don't know where to put.

We are so often cluttered with the stuff from grown children that gets left behind as they get established elsewhere on their own. They like to have the unpaid additional storage space in a parent's home or they just don't want to make any decision about what to do with their things. So, their things are left taking up lots of precious space, even though the stuff may not be so precious to anyone anymore.

What to do with a spare room:

1. Dump the junk- Don't waste that spare room with an accumulation of junk. It won't go away on its own. Make a plan to clear out the clutter and disperse of the goods to people who can better use them. Your home's square footage is too valuable not to be using it.

2. Guestroom- Create a spa-like retreat for your guests. Include reading materials and brochures for local activities. Have some hotel-like amenities ready to go in a decorative basket so they feel welcome, knowing you have thought of their needs.

3. Craft or hobby room- You finally have a place to do your scrapbooking, sewing, or painting! Let this room be your private studio where creativity flows.

4. Gifting- Have a room just for gift giving. Keep ribbons, gift bags, tags, and wrapping paper in the room along with any items you have purchased ahead of time for gifts. Don't forget the scissors and tape. So whenever you need a present, it will be a snap to put one together.

5. Exercise room- This does not mean you have to have all the big equipment that you find at a gym, but if the area is designated as a workout space, you are more likely to do your yoga, palates, and strength training. Clear out the room and put your yoga mat, weights, TV, audio equipment and workout DVDs in it.

6. Home office- Instead of letting paper pile up on your coffee table or kitchen counter, set up an area to pay bills and answer mail. Put everything you need for these activities in the room including a desk, stamps, stationary and pens. Create a simple filing system and get a jump on tax preparation for next year.

7. Mediation room- Oh to have some peace and quiet-create it! Don't allow anything in this area that doesn't bring you peace and tranquility. Some suggested contents include a water fountain, floor cushions, candles, incense, and chimes. Selected reading and audio materials will also set the mood. A serene start or end to you day, or a quick getaway to rejuvenate.

8. Room to spare, room to share- create that media room, music, pool, puzzle, card or board game room and invite friends over for a night of fun and hospitality.

9. Renovators rescue- Use the empty room as the spare room to hold addition furniture, etc. when you are renovating - flooring especially is difficult as you need room to move all your stuff. When all your renovations are complete, rework your spare room into one of the above suggestions.

Often your spare room can be used for several of these purposes. So next time you walk by that room, stop a moment to think about the possibilities. Take the next steps today to give that spare room some real purpose and turn it into a room that will give you a feeling of satisfaction and relaxation.