Don’t Give Winter The Colder Shoulder: Act Now

Winter is both a wonderful and terrible time of the year. As a result, it’s easier to discuss the negative impacts of the winter time once we’re away from it! While you might be thinking of the snow painting white landscapes and the snowmen appearing gradually in each front garden, there is also another side to winter. Winter is a cold season that endangers the safety of your home, the survival of the wildlife, and – even worse – human survival too. It would be unfair and irresponsible to only think of hot chocolate, a battle of snowballs and Christmas decoration when too many lives are fighting to go through winter. As a result, it is now time to consider what you can do to prepare for the colder months and to improve your home, the wildlife’s chances and the life of the many people who don’t have a roof over their heads.

Homeless and cold

What Are You Doing At Home?

The problem with winter is that it is a season of high natural risks that can damage your home, or simply infiltrate through a weak structure. For instance, water is not only about snow. Rain too can join the party and cause serious damages to your home, especially if your roof is holey. Unfortunately, a holey roof is noticed only when the first winter rain creates a drip inside the home. In other words, it’s best to get your roof checked in advance! Additionally, if you live in a region that is renowned for its cold winter, you might want to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze. This could destroy your water system, and cause your home to be cut off from the water supply until the repairs can be done. So if you are looking for ways to avoid such issues, Heat-Line is a good name to bear in mind. It is a Canadian company that has developed freeze-protection solutions to withstand the coldest climates. It’s not the kind of expertise you want to live without if your home is in a cold region.

What Are You Doing For The Wildlife?

Even the wildlife has a hard time in winter. Therefore it is important to give it the best help you can. This starts by letting your garden go wild so that animals can hide and hibernate safely. Additionally, if you have a water feature, remember to break the ice so that the fish or frogs that hibernate at the bottom can survive. Additionally, make sure to leave food for the animals. Birds, especially find it difficult to feed themselves in winter, so providing a range of peanuts, seeds, and table scraps will prove very useful. If you have a big garden, feel free to leave food for other visitors, such as bread and boiled potatoes for foxes, nuts for squirrels and even cheese for badgers.

Rodent Animal Garden Squirrel Winter Parus Major

Squirrel in winter

What Are You Doing For Others?

Helping others

Members from the Charleston Elks Lodge 242 pass out hygiene products to homeless veterans and civilians at the 11th annual Stand Down Against Homelessness Oct. 29, 2010, at North Charleston Armory Park, S.C. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is an American fraternal order and social club founded in 1868. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Taylor)

There are hundreds of thousands homeless people in every country. Too many die during the winter; they freeze to death. It is a horrible way to go. While you can’t find them a home, you can certainly help them to survive dire winter months. You could choose to distribute food, toiletry supplies, and warmer clothes to help those who sleep outdoors to survive. Often warm socks, sleeping bags, and blankets can make a huge difference when the weather is cold. So what can you give to save another life next winter?

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From House Hunting To Moving In: A Countdown

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Whether you are a first-time buyer or are planning to move into a larger family home, buying a new house can be very confusing. There are lots of steps to go through, and once you start the whole house-hunting process, you might feel like you will never make it to a new home! To help simplify this entire process, here is my countdown that covers everything from the house hunt to moving into your new home!

Six Months Before Moving Day: House Hunting

 

As finding a suitable house and sealing the deal can take a long time, it’s a good idea to start looking for a new house at least six months before you need to move out of your current one. This will give you plenty of time to go through with all the legal things that need to be sorted out. In order to find the best home, it’s necessary to widen your search as much as possible. For instance, you should look online, speak to local real estate agents, and look through property listings in local newspapers. That way, you are increasing the number of properties that you see in your search.

 

As Soon As You Find A Great House: Get A Survey

 

Once you have found a dream property, it is important to get a survey done as soon as possible. You don’t have to get one done, but it is very much in your interest that you do so as it will flag up any potential problems with the property’s structure. Building experts will take a look around the house, especially at any problem areas. The kinds of things that surveys often flag up include damp and weakened foundations.

 

Once Your Offer Has Been Accepted: Prepare For Moving

 

Many people rely on a moving company to help them move house. These companies can be especially useful if you are moving a long distance away, as they reduce the possibility of you needing to go back and forth between each property numerous times. But before you can move, you will need to pick up the keys for your new house. More often than not, the real estate agent will call you when you can collect the keys; it’s necessary to get these in plenty of time before moving day so that you can move some items before if necessary.

 

Moving Day: Get Organized

 

When moving day arrives, you should be as organized as possible so that everything goes without a hitch. Think about writing down a plan for the day, which splits up jobs between everyone involved so that they know exactly what they are responsible for on the day. The plan should also include times for each job so that you manage to stick to your schedule and don’t overrun. Failing to stick to your schedule could mean that the moving company is with you for longer than planned, which could lead to extra charges.

 

Now that you have this countdown, there’s no need to panic in the run up to moving day!

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Get In On The Green-Fingered Action And See Your Garden Grow

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When you’ve spent a lot of time trying to get your home up together, you can often feel the need to get outside and do the same in your garden. After all, you may have spent a lot of time preparing your home for the summer, so you’re going to want to do the same with your garden too. But, it can often seem like a big task. If you’ve not spent a lot of time getting involved with your garden, you might not know where to start. But to make sure that your garden flourishes this summer, it’s time to get green-fingered.

 

Get Your Hands Dirty

 

When you’re looking to get out in the garden, you’re going to want to embrace the idea of having to get dirty. If you really want to transform your garden, you’re going to want to get stuck right in. You might find that the right equipment will help you. This review of timberland earthkeepers on workbootcritic.com should give you an idea about footwear, but you may also need some gloves and perhaps even protective eyewear to make sure you’re up to the job too.

 

Learn Your Plans

 

As well as feeling prepared for the task at hand, you might also want to swot up a little. When it comes to gardening, plants and living things, it can be to your benefit to know a little about what you’re doing. When you’re planting different flowers, you may need to know what sort of conditions they thrive in and how to care for them. Otherwise, you may find that your hard work backfires if your newly planted things just can’t stay alive.

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Dine Al Fresco

 

Eating outside is always such a treat in the summer months. But, in order to be able to enjoy it, you’re going to need to have somewhere to put your dining furniture and maybe even outdoor cooking facilities. So, as a part of your garden works, you’re going to need to create a dedicated eating space. This could involve creating a patio area if you don’t have one already, and looking for the perfect dining furniture set.

 

Get The Little Ones Involved

 

One of the best things about getting out and working in the garden is that you can involve your children too. It can be a lot of fun to show them how to plant things and care for them. It’s also great to be able to plant different fruits and vegetables with your children, watch them grow, then go on to cook and eat them too.

 

Attract Wildlife

 

While you’re out making your garden gorgeous, you might want to think about the different ways that you can attract wildlife. Not only can you do this while you’re planting new things, but you can help to encourage wildlife into your garden with your maintenance and upkeep too. Being a little untidy, leaving seeds out for the birds and watering often are all good ways to ensure that you create a lovely home for local wildlife.

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Hotting Up! Prepare Your Home For The Warmer Weather

If things are hotting up where you live, you might be ready to make some changes at home to feel more comfortable with a warmer temperature. The summer brings about plenty of opportunities as well as some occasionally unbearable heat. With the warmth and open windows, you can expect that fresh paint to dry quicker without too many unbearable scents. And you can make the most of that freshly mown lawn to enjoy a few barbecues too.

 

Bedroom Blues

 

No matter how big or small your property is, we all need to adjust to the change in temperature. You might start by changing your bedroom so your nights are more comfortable. Losing sleep in the heat is awful as you toss and turn all night. Stay cool by investing in a service for your air conditioning. If you have solar panels, you might find it cost effective to cool your room during the hottest part of the day when the sun shines. That way you shouldn’t need it on quite as much after the sun has gone down.

 

Make sure you still air your home. It’s tempting to keep windows closed when the air outside is hotter than the temperature inside. Try getting up a few minutes earlier. When it’s close to dawn, the air is cool and fresh and it’s quiet outside. Open all the windows to create a good through-breeze, if only for a few minutes. Stale air isn’t healthy. Both you and the whole house needs to breathe!

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Bedding changes can also help you feel more comfortable. Most of us love having a duvet wrapped right around us. You can still enjoy an ultra light down comforter for summer that will help you to avoid becoming too warm. Choose cotton sheets that breathe well, and experiment with pillow coverings that feel cooler to the touch. You might even choose to move your bed under the window so you can enjoy that light breeze in the night.

 

Changing the decor can also help psychologically. Go for cooling blues and fresh greens to help you feel a little cooler in the bedroom. Remove all the fluffy pillows and change out the winter rug for something a little more summery. Finally, install some Venetian blinds or shutters to keep the sun and the heat out of your room during the day.

 

Backyards and Balconies

 

If you’re lucky enough to have some outside space, now is the best time to prepare it for the summer. You want to make the most of it so you can be outside in the fresh air as much as possible. Of course, you should always stay safe in the sun. Make sure you have prepared a shady area that stays shady throughout the day. This will be much cooler than other areas of your garden or balcony, so it will be more comfortable for you and your kids or pets.

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Cooking and eating outdoors are one of the best things about summer. You might have an outdoor kitchen or just a barbecue. Make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned and safety checked before you begin. You might need to buy a new grill if the old one has rusted or weathered. Alternatively, grab that scrubber and get scrubbing!

 

If you are ready to install a new kitchen area, look for a spot in your yard that can be protected from the wind. You need it to be well ventilated so keep at least one side fully open. There are roof specialists that can provide you with a permanent covering that could still allow plenty of light into the area. It can be handy to pick a space that is big enough for your grill as well as the full dining set.

 

You may also want a separate patio or dining area in another part of the garden. This might become a bistro style patio or your entertaining area when you have family and friends come over. Make sure you can cover it with a gazebo, awning or parasol. Many gazebos come with lightweight netting to keep the direct sun and insects away from your food. It’s important to protect any food that is out in the open to avoid food poisoning.

 

Relaxing in the garden is a wonderful way to spend your evenings and weekends. If you haven’t done so already, consider landscaping your garden. You can enjoy hedges, shrubs, and bushes in the border areas of your plot. These can attract local wildlife if you’re fond of bird watching too. Sculpting a small lawn into a pleasing shape can take quite a lot of work. When it’s done, though, a quick outing of the lawnmower once a week can keep it looking great.

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Water features are very popular for gardens that are big enough. You might choose a cascading waterfall or fountain. If you have the space, you could even have a pond, complete with fish and lily pads. There should be railing in place if you have small children at home. Why not install a small zen garden and some decking nearby? You can enjoy Tai Chi or Yoga while relaxing in your beautiful garden.

 

Swimming pools can be expensive to install and maintain. But they can also be incredibly refreshing on a very hot day! As always, safety is paramount. You will need to install safety railing and gates so children and pets are unable to access the water unaccompanied.

 

Lovely In The Living Room

 

Back in the house, life can be sticky and uncomfortable without air conditioning. You don’t have to install it if you’re not keen. Instead, make the use of through-breezes. Two open windows at opposite ends of the house can facilitate this. Ceiling fans are not always energy efficient so check yours before relying too heavily on it. If you have leather furniture, a thin cotton throw can relieve the discomfort of leather contact on bare skin.

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Ice chips, popsicles, and cold drinks are very helpful when it comes to cooling down. If you’re planning a night in front of the TV, you might choose to turn the lights off to help you feel cooler. For the most part LED bulbs don’t emit any heat, but darker spaces do tend to make us feel less claustrophobic and hot. It can be a good idea to clear the clutter from rooms before the weather becomes too hot. This too reduces that awful claustrophobic feeling the heat can give us.

 

Before it gets too warm, why not have a big clear out? You can reclaim some of that valuable storage space, and declutter the cabinets and surfaces in the living room for a more minimalist style. You might even change the decor to lighter colors and less textured fabrics. All these little things may not make it cooler, but they can help you feel less hot. Move your favorite arm chair closer to the window, and install blinds to reduce the amount of direct sunlight entering the room.

 

Dangers

 

Do you have a shed or garage that contains dangerous liquids or chemicals? Now is the time to make sure they are tucked away in a cooler space with no direct sunlight. Wooden structures like sheds can become incredibly hot in summer. Gas cans and pressurized canisters can explode and even catch fire in extreme conditions. Make sure your barbecue gas is also secured away somewhere safe and never used in the direct sunlight.

 

Sunscreen and sun hats are an important part of enjoying the weather responsibly outdoors. Even when you’re indoors, it’s important to stay hydrated and slow down a little bit. Stay safe this summer.

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Tips for Traveling in a Car with Pets

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If you hate to leave your furry friends at home when you head off on a road trip, why not bring them along next time?

 

Bringing your pets along for the ride is a great way to have more fun on the road, not only because pets make everything better but also because you won’t spend quite so much time worrying about how they’re doing.

 

If you do decide to bring our four-legged companions with you, you should make sure that you make things as safe as possible for them. Most of us do everything we can to mitigate any potential accidents and injuries for ourselves and our human passengers, but not everyone goes to the same care when they have pets in the car. Don’t be like them and make an effort to really keep your pets safe in the car. Here are some simple tips to help you do just that:

 

Safely Secure Them

 

Perhaps, the most important thing you can do to keep your pets safe on your next road trip is to ensure that they are safely secured into the car. The best way to do this is by placing them in a carrier or crate that is well ventilated and which can be strapped into the car much in the same way you’d secure a car seat for a child. You can also buy straps that can be slotted into the seat belt buckle on one end and your pet’s collar on the other, but these allow for more movement, so if you have a nervous or overexcited dog or cat, you might not want to use them.

 

Feed Well in Advance of Traveling

 

Unless you’re going to be on the road for a very long time and there’s no way of getting around it, you should avoid feeding your pets while your vehicle is moving and you should aim to feed them a light meal around 4 hours before you set off on your journey. This will help to prevent any upset stomachs, especially in pets who aren’t used to traveling. If they need to be fed again during travel, try to find a safe spot to pull over and let them eat safely while the vehicle is static.

 

Monitor the Temperature Carefully

 

When the weather is warm, it can be so easy for your vehicle to overheat and this could cause heatstroke, and even death toy our pets if you aren’t careful to keep the car well-ventilated. Similarly, if it is very cold outside, your car could become too cold and cause your pet to freeze to death. Obviously, you would be devastated if either of these things happened, so keep the windows rolled when it’s hot and bring lots of blankets to keep your pets warm if it’s cold outside, and never, ever leave your pets in your vehicle unattended for long periods of time.

 

Pack a Pet Travel Kit

 

If you want your pets to be as happy and comfortable on the road as possible, you should think about packing a pet travel kit. This should include the basics like food and water, and a bowl from which they can eat and drink, as well as a favorite toy or two,  to help your pets feel more at home. You should also pack leashes, medication, an animal first aid kit and anything else you could conceivably need.

 

Practice

 

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Before you take your pets on a long journey, if they aren’t used to traveling in the car, you should take them on a few shorter journeys first. This will familiarize them with car travel and build up their tolerance so that they do not get distressed when you go on your big trip.

 

Think About Identification

 

If you’re going to be traveling far from home, then you need to ensure that your pets can be easily identified should they get lost. You can do this by ensuring that they are microchipped and by putting a tag, which contains your cell phone number, the address of the place you’re going and other important contact information on it.

 

Keep Them Away from the Windows

 

Although lots of dogs seem to love riding with their head out of the window in cars, it’s actually a pretty dangerous thing to allow. Not only could they be injured by objects flying through the air, but they could also potentially fall out of the window if it’s cranked right down and they aren’t secured.

 

Do you travel a lot with your pets? What do you do to ensure that they are as safe and comfortable as possible during the journey?

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Staying Healthy This Summer

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Summer is nearly upon us. Maybe you are planning a vacation that you’ve been looking forward to all year, or you want to take some time off work to finally get to the things around the house that you’ve been putting off for so long. Either way, the summer is not only a new season, it is a chance for a fresh start. A lot is said about getting one’s body ready for summer as if the beach or the local pool is some sort of tacitly acknowledged beauty contest were everyone must participate (because they have no choice; the judges are everywhere and always watching) and no one gets a trophy. However, this can quickly seem rather absurd and can easily cause lots of people to avoid those places. The emphasis on the so-called ‘beach body’ reveals a fascination with appearances. Looking good is important, but being healthy is crucial. Here are a few ways of becoming the healthiest you that you can this summer:

 

  1. Being healthy is all about the sort of lifestyle that you lead. One of the most important things for any person to feel good and look good is getting enough sleep. Researchers from the National Sleep Foundation in the US collated findings from lots of studies and found that adults need to get between seven to nine hours each night. Any more or less will not help you quite as much. Sleep is the time when your body recovers from the pressures that it faces all day long. Failing to give it a chance to catch up is only going to compound the problem. They do not call it beauty sleep for nothing.
  2. Diets are sometimes quite dangerous. Losing weight is a healthy choice for some people but doing it at any cost can actually threaten your health to a greater degree. That is why you should eat foods that are good for you in moderation. It is fine to occasionally have something that you love that is rather calorific, but if you do it too often, it can become a problem. In any case, healthy food does not need to be any less appealing. Sites like HealthyButSmart.com can help you find the best products to ensure that your food is both nutritious and good for you at the same time. One particularly good device to invest in is a blender. Put your favorite fruits in with a little of something sweet, and you have a great breakfast which you can have on the go.
  3. Exercise is obviously the third point in the healthy lifestyle trinity. A lot of people dread to think about going to the gym or doing something gratuitously grueling like a marathon. However, exercise can be fun too. If you like dancing, then do it regularly as it is a great way to get a workout without really thinking about it. Besides, if you take up a sport, you will learn a new skill while also doing some exercise. Playing on a team can also help you make friends. By the end of your first season, you will not remember that you started just for the exercise.

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DIY Dos and Don’ts

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Got your own personal home project planned out? Ditching handyman services can save you a lot of money, but there are a lot of factors to consider before going DIY. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that will ensure your project goes to plan.

 

Do buy top quality tools

 

When it comes to tools you don’t want to be skimping back on cheap fragile tools or outdated second-hand gear. Stick to well-known brands – a Ryobi impact wrench is likely to be far more trialled and tested than a cheap own brand tool from ten years ago. Online reviews and comparison guides can help you to make the right decision.

 

Don’t buy expensive specialist machinery

 

Top-end tools for specific uses should be hired, not rented. You’re unlikely to use these machines again so don’t waste your money buying one. Trusted tool hire companies such as United Rentals will often provide brand new models and will keep tools well maintained, so you know you’re getting something good for your money.

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Do paint

 

Painting is the perfect DIY task for beginners. It doesn’t require too much know-how or licensing. There are some basics that need to be covered, learning to prime and caulk up holes is worthwhile. Painting also does take a fair bit of preparation – everything needs to be moved and covered in sheets to stop it getting splashed. However, the actual painting process is very easy and can be more easily corrected than other DIY tasks.

 

Don’t play with gas or electrics

 

Electrical work requires a permit, so leave this to a professional. Other than getting in trouble with a surveyor later down the line, dodgy wiring could cause a fire or put you at risk of electrocution, so don’t do it. Gas work meanwhile also requires a license as could cause a gas leak if done incorrectly – hire a licensed plumber to deal with this.

 

Do tackle flooring

 

Flooring may seem like a big job, but it can actually be very easy to install. Floating flooring from companies such as Armstrong is the best option to pursue – whether laminate or hardwood you’ll simply have to snap fit it in and there will generally be instructions from the manufacturer. When sizing up the room, just make sure you leave a little room around the edges as flooring that is too tightly installed can warp.

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Don’t knock down walls

 

As fun as it may look to swing that sledgehammer, knocking down walls isn’t as easy a task as you may think and getting it wrong could cause the whole house to collapse. It also requires a permit in most cases. A professional construction service will know how loads are transferred and carried and so will be able to carry out the work more safely. This also applies to cut-outs and creating new doors or windows. Always contact your local planning committee first and notify your home insurance company if you have one.

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