Saturday, November 16, 2019

Holly Lane Christian Jewelry Review and Giveaway #hollylane #hollylanegiveaway

Disclosure:  I received this necklace at no charge to facilitate my honest and unbiased review.  All thoughts and opinions stated are my own!


Unlike a lot of my friends, I am not a huge jewelry person.  I prefer pieces of jewelry that have meaning or a background story.  Most of my pieces were gifted to me for different occasions and it is rare that I purchase anything for myself, but when I was offered the opportunity to review Christian jewelry from Holly Lane, I was thrilled.  I spent about an hour on their website trying to decide which piece I wanted and fell in love with lots of them.  Narrowing it down to one was the hard part.

Never heard of Holly Lane?  This wonderful company has been in business for over 16 years and was not named for the founder, but for the street, the founder lived on when she started the business.  Here's more about Holly Lane: 

Our line of sterling silver Christian jewelry is intentionally designed to create opportunities to share Christ with others and to be worn as a personal reflection of faith. Each piece is designed in central Virginia by jewelry artist Tiffany Scott who has based her designs on verses from the Bible in order to bring comfort to the wearer and be a representation of God's promises. These unique designs are meant to catch the attention of others and spark conversation about the verses they are based on.

Each piece of verse-based Holly Lane jewelry comes with a Story Card that features the verse reference on the front, and an explanation of the design's significance on the back. Tiffany's love for semiprecious gemstones shows through in her use of many different gems throughout the line. The Holly Lane line is designed so that the customer can put together their own personal combination of pendants, chains and bead drops based on the promises they are holding on to and how God is currently speaking to them in their lives.

As I said before, it took me quite a while to choose my piece of jewelry.  I chose the Wonderfully Made necklace because sometimes, I need a reminder!

When my package arrived, I loved how it was boxed, so I wanted to share some photos with you so you can really get a feel for how this company cares!






Everything was put together with so much love and care.  I was so very impressed with the packaging because I have ordered things from other places and they have been just tossed in a box for shipping.  Holly Lane goes the extra mile to show they care! 

Christmas is just around the corner and I hope you will check out Holly Lane.  The craftsmanship involved in the making of this jewelry is wonderful.  I recommend them whole-heartedly!  They have been kind enough to offer my readers a code to use to receive 20% off their purchase at hollylane.com.  Simply use 20FORYOU 

There is also a giveaway!  You have the chance to win a $100 e-gift card to Holly Lane.  Winner will be chosen 11/20/19.






Friday, November 15, 2019

DIY Milk Carton Lamp - Guest Post

Disclosure:  This is a guest post by Brock Ingham.**


We all know how important lighting can be in a home, heck! It’s the only reason you see things past 8:00pm…

All kidding aside, lighting can truly transform the design of any room (for good or for bad). Ever walk into a room and get creeped out just from the sight of a flickering blue fluorescent bulb? It can be a deal-breaker for any design and takes all the focus away from the relaxing rocking chair or beautiful throw rug.

In this post, I am to break the common misconception of needing to invest a lot of money to get a beautiful chandelier for your home. No need to break the bank here, we’re going to make a lamp completely from milk cartons (almond milk to be specific)

Now, I’m not prejudiced as to what milk you drink or use I just found that the tetra cartons used for almond, cashew, and other nut milk come in the perfect size and structure. You could certainly opt-out for a juice carton or something similar if you prefer.  In my experience, the nut milk cartons work best. 🙂

Here is what you will need to get started on your DIY Milk Carton Lamp :
⦁ 15 – 25 milk, nut or juice tetra cartons ( The number is based around the size of the lamp you want)
⦁ Spray paint of your choice  ( I went with silver)
⦁ Fishing wire or sting
⦁ A few battery operated LED’s
⦁ M3 or double-sided tape
⦁ Let’s begin!

Make sure all your cartons are well washed, open them up to be flat pieces of material and allow to dry.


This is the tricky part so look at the images closely. There’s nothing special about the design so feel free to go rogue with your own origami type design (triangle patterns work best).  So long as you build in the flap that ties the pattern together.

Cut the carton up into 2-inch strips the longest way down. Fold them into the triangle pattern shown below with a strip on one side of each sticking out.


Get to folding!

It felt like I must have folded a hundred of these things to get it to the proper size I wanted. Again, this will depend on how big you want your lamp to be. I’m sure it would look great with 30-40 of these little triangles, so long as you can close the loop that creates the ball.

Once 5 or 6 have been built you can connect the triangles to create a hexagon pattern like the ones below.

Continue to put the hexagons together that will form the ball. To start forming the ball you can leave one of the flaps open to attach them to one another or you can simply glue each section together.  Using glue may be more effective in the long run.


Although the tetra packs tend to have a shiny surface there will still be some color from the outside of the pack showing. This is why I decided to spray paint the entire globe silver. I didn’t know how the paint will react with the waxy coating on the tetra so I wanted to make sure the color blended well. (it did)

You could opt-out for another color choice here, I think black or gold would look really nice as well.

Once dry, maneuver the LED’s inside the lamp and secure with the M3 or double-sided tape. Run the fishing line from the bottom of the lamp, secure again to the top of the lamp and leave enough line to attach to any point of the ceiling in your desired room.


You’re all set! Sit back in glory as you send good riddance to that flickering bulb you left behind. If you are looking for more unique lamp options that take way less time (only a click of a button) check out the Original moon lamp made using 3D printing here.

**Author Bio:
Brock is the founder of Levitatingmoon.com. His store is dedicated to offering out of this world gifts for those of all ages.  When he’s not looking for the next big gift you can find him tending to his vegetable garden under the sun. **

Monday, November 4, 2019

CINDERELLA AND THE SECRET PRINCE DVD Giveaway Ends 11/11

Disclosure:  We received a copy of this DVD to facilitate this post.  All opinions are honest and unbiased!


On November 5, a secret, never-before-told tale of Cinderella comes to DVD from Shout! Kids and Gold Valley Films. The charming Cinderella and the Secret Prince is sure to have children spellbound this winter! Available for preorder now from shoutfactory.com and amazon.com.

With the help of good fairy Crystal, Cinderella and her three mouse friends are able to escape the attic they live in and make it to the Royal Ball at the palace … but they soon discover a terrible secret. The real Prince has been turned into a mouse by an evil witch … and the “Prince” standing in front of everyone at the Ball is an impostor! Cinderella and her faithful furry friends must embark on an all-new adventure to restore the real Prince to his true form and help him defeat the forces of darkness.



Cinderella and the Secret Prince is voiced by Cassandra Lee Morris (Your Name), Chris Niosi (TOME), R. Martin Klein (Perfect Blue), Tony Azzolino (The Grover Complex), Kirsten Day (Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures), Wendee Lee (Cowboy Beebop: The Movie), Stephen Mendel (Barbie: Dreamtopia), Terrence Stone (Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft), and Stephanie Sanditz (The High Life), directed by Lynne Southerland, and produced by Allen Tsang at Gold Valley Films.



My family really liked the movie and the girls have already watched it several times!  Would you like to win a copy of your own?  Simply enter on the rafflecopter form below!
There will be 2 winners!

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Perfect Foods For Festive Parties

According to different times of the year, there are certain foods that are more suited to the season than others. Sometimes we like to eat light when it’s beach body season and you’ve got a swimsuit to slip into. Sometimes we like to eat heavy and hearty when it’s Sunday lunch during the springtime, and all the family has come round! And sometimes we like to eat because of the weather - if it’s cold outside, we fill ourselves up with warming, hearty foods, to help the evening go by smoother.

And there’s no occasion more fruitful when it comes to food than a party, and Christmas is all about keeping the festive spirit alive!

No matter where you’re going this Christmas, whether you’re staying at home or heading abroad, there’s going to be a festive party of two nearby that you’ll love to attend! And because of those endless partying possibilities, here are some of the best foods to layout on the spread, to keep your guests thinking of Christmas as they dance and carol the night away.



Mulled Wine

So it might not be a food, but it’s definitely part of the food and drink spread that’s commonly laid out at festive parties. It’s a staple of the season, after all, and your party just wouldn’t be complete without a batch! Especially if it’s below freezing in terms of cold outside!

But any old flagon of wine isn’t going to cut it here; there’s a long history behind it, dating back to the Romans. And considering such a great amount of trial and error, red wines seem to be the common favorite amongst the people who like to drink the stuff. So, if you’re in need of a mulled wine recipe, look no further: we’ve got a perfect one for you right here.

Mince Pies

Not everyone likes them, do they? But if you do, and you’ve got a friend coming to the party who does too, you’re going to chow down on them for all you’re worth. And seeing as they’re not too hard to make, you can whip them up in just a few minutes, and be able to feed a whole village with the product by the time you’re done. Now isn’t that in the Christmas spirit?!

But don’t just stop at the mince pies! Make sure you’ve got something to pair them with too - whilst you’re at it, check out this whipped cream recipe, because the two pair, as well as gloves and hands, do during the winter period.

Macaroons!

They’re a favorite at all kinds of parties, thanks to being colorful and tasty little hits of flavor. But come Christmas time? They’re unmissable for when a party rolls around! Of course, they can be very tricky to make, especially if you’re never tried your hand at it before, and that’s what makes them quite pricey if you decide to just go out and buy instead.

However, if you are a first-timer, follow this rather quick macaroon recipe. It’ll get you to grips with the basics of making these biscuits, and if you’ve got some spare time on your hands, make two or three batches to really learn the craft. If you bring them along to a party, you’re definitely going to be the favorite person of the night!

Christmas Canapés

The ‘beginning with m’ naming convention over, this last hit of flavor will work great for any festive party you hold or attend in the upcoming season! Christmas canapĂ©s can be of the sweet or savory variety, and depending on the kind of tooth you have, make as many of each as you like.

No matter what ingredients you’ve currently got in the house, there’s a good chance you’ve got the makings of a good Christmas canapĂ© recipe all ready to go. Got some cheese in the fridge? Perfect. Got a bit of cauliflower in the bottom drawer? Even better. Or maybe you’ve got some frozen cranberries leftover from the summer? Put them to good use here!

There are a lot of foods you can layout at a festive party, but some are going to work better than others. If you're really trying to set the atmosphere, make sure you follow recipes like the ones we’ve listed above! The amount of effort you put in here will be paid back tenfold by anyone who comes along to your party, so there is no love lost here!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Christmas Jars In theaters Nov. 4, ONE NIGHT ONLY! Review and Giveaway #ChristmasJarsL3

Disclosure:  We watched a screener copy of this DVD to facilitate our honest and unbiased review.  All thoughts and opinions are those of the Shelly's Bits and Pieces family.  All prizes will be fulfilled by the sponsor.

When I looked at my calendar, I realized that Christmas is just around the corner,  This year will be harder for our family since we lost our 91-year-old matriarch, my grandma, on August 28th.  My grandma loved Christmas more than anyone I have ever met, and I can honestly say that she passed her love of Christmas to me.  I am one of those people who can listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas movies year-round!  With that being said, I am lucky enough to have viewed a new movie that is coming for one night ONLY in theaters!  Christmas Jars will be in selected theaters on NOVEMBER 4, 2019 ONLY!

About Christmas Jars:

Based on the beloved novel by Jason F. Wright, CHRISTMAS JARS shares the story of Hope Jensen, a reporter who uncovers the remarkable secret behind a holiday phenomenon: money-filled glass jars anonymously given to people in need. The New York Times bestseller has created a new holiday tradition that has changed the lives of people in their time of need, all over the country. CHRISTMAS JARS is a one-night movie event that provides hope to all as we enter this special season. In theaters Monday, November 4 only, CHRISTMAS JARS is a heartfelt reminder that kindness truly is contagious.

Check out this movie trailer:


My thoughts:

This movie touched my heart in so many ways.  It deals with adoption, loss, giving, and most of all LOVE!  I loved the movie from beginning to end and there were times when I was crying.  When my brother and I were small, we started Christmas Jars around September and we would use the money we saved to buy Christmas gifts.  That was the original idea of the family who started the jars, but thanks to the kindness in their daughter's heart, that idea morphed into so much more.  Instead of buying gifts for their family, that money became a gift for someone in need!  Such a blessing.  I will gladly recommend this movie to everyone.  Whether you are a believer or not, this movie will touch your heart.



Check out the website for CHRISTMAS JARS by clicking here.  You can buy your tickets, watch movie trailers and snippets, and learn even more about the movie on their website.  Start your holiday season out with a heartwarming movie event!  Remember, CHRISTMAS JARS will be in theaters Nov. 4, 2019 for ONE NIGHT ONLY!

GIVEAWAY!!

We are giving away a DVD copy of this wonderful movie!  Simply enter on the rafflecopter form below and you could own your own copy!  This movie might start a tradition that you will love forever!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Comforting Dishes To Serve On Cold Winter Nights

Is there anything more comforting on a cold winter night than a tasty warm dish? Herbs and spices can really help to warm us up on a night where the temperature drops below freezing - take a look at the comforting dishes below for a few ideas:

Chili

Chili is a great dish because you can make it to your own tastes. It can be mildly spicy, or you can add lots of different spices for a real kick. It all depends on your tastes. Plus, you can use Quorn mince if you’re trying to cut down on animal products. The vegetarian version is just as yummy!

Curry

There are all kinds of curries you can go for depending on your mood. Whatever you choose, there’s no denying that this is a dish sure to warm your bones on a freezing cold night. Whether you can only handle a tikka or you’re brave enough to go for a bhuna, this could be the ideal comfort dish.

Mac And Cheese

Is there anything more comforting and filling than mac and cheese? If you love gooey, cheesy dishes then this one is for you. All you need to do is add your pasta, various cheeses of your choice, milk, and herbs to your pan or slow cooker and you’ll have a delicious meal in no time.



Stew

Who doesn’t love a hearty stew? You could even throw in some dumplings for good measure! If you’d like to feel extra warm and snug, look at the best red wine facts and see if you can figure out what drink goes best with your dish. You’ll hardly notice the cold at all!

Soup

Soup is always a winner, and the perfect excuse to use seasonal vegetables such as pumpkins. The wonderful thing about pumpkin soup is that you can add as much or as little spice as you like, as well as lots of coconut. Then, you can spray the seeds with oil and roast them in the oven, before sprinkling with salt. They make the perfect soup topping or snack!

Slow Cooker Minestrone

This vegetable-packed soup is usually also dotted with pasta to make a wholesome and nutritious meal. You can also add croutons for a satisfying crunch.

Brownies

You can’t forget the deserts! Brownies are one of the most delicious and gooey treats straight out of the slow cooker. Try it!

Better yet, all of the above dishes can be made in the slow cooker - yep, even mac and cheese! This means all you have to do is throw your chosen ingredients in (you may want to check out a few recipes first if you haven’t made it before) and then leave it to cook all day. You could say that many of the above dishes make themselves! You can leave it there for hours and it’ll be the perfect temperature when you’re ready to eat it. It’s the perfect way to save time and still enjoy a tasty, home cooked meal.

Leave your own ideas below!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Staying Organized: How To Manage Relatives Far Away

Most people grow up and move away from their family homes in the pursuit of education and experience away from the apron strings of their parents. It’s not unusual that as we settle our own lives away from home, our parents' age and become infirm. Some people move back to their family towns and homes to be closer and look after their parents. Others choose to stay put, having already put down roots elsewhere.

When this happens, it’s ahead and heart tug of war. You want to be able to help, but if you have life pinned down elsewhere, it’s not always easy. However, there are plenty of ways that you can help your relatives to manage their lives, even if you are miles away.

Person Holding a Stress Ball


Providing long-distance elderly care is important for their health and wellbeing, and while you don’t have to be a carer to look after someone that you love, you just need to be informed of the situation at hand. Once you know what they need the most, you can ensure that you are remotely giving them that help. Forgetful relatives could benefit from you setting up a physicaladdress.com virtual mailbox to manage their incoming and outgoing mail. This way, they don’t have to worry about surprise bills coming into the house that confuse them further. Your elderly relative may not need to go into a care home, but that doesn't mean that they don't need your support.

You could arrange for home caring by a care assistant who can go into the house and look after them in their own surroundings. This service can be a happy medium between avoiding a care home and giving your family members the extra care and support that they need. Ensuring that you can manage their care, pay attention to their finances and pay their bills for them is vital for their health and wellbeing. The best thing that you could do is to ensure that they don't have to worry about the paperwork while they feel supported physically.

A comprehensive care plan - even for social care, such as home visits for companionship - can make a huge difference in the life of someone who lives far away from you. You may not be able to get there all the time and even just having someone to talk to can change the way they feel. It also prevents isolation, which is one of the worst things that could happen to an elderly relative. You may feel guilty for not being able to be there yourself, but it’s not how you should feel. Your parents and family raised you to spread your wings and fly, and they’ll still be happy and proud of you if you still lived far away. You may not have been born to care for elderly relatives, but that doesn't mean that you can’t help where you can.

Keeping their affairs managed keeps them healthy, so help where you can and don’t panic if you can’t be there yourself!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

12 Must-Haves for Your Next Beach Trip with Kids

This is a guest post.  I only share items I think my readers will enjoy.  I hope you like it as much as I do,

Whether you live in a state of travel doers or dreamers, chances are, you’ll make a trip to the beach. There are great beaches along both coasts, and if you’re thinking about Virginia Beach, you should check out this post on why it’s such a great beach.

If you live near the ocean, you’ll probably go often, but if you live in a land-locked state, you probably won’t have as many opportunities. Either way, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared. Get your car tuned up so it’ll run well for the trip, check that you haven’t missed any important recalls, and finally, make sure and have everything you need at the beach. Here are the 12 essentials you don’t want to forget.

#1 - Sandcastle Building Supplies



No matter how old your kids are, they can get into building a sandcastle. Your whole family can work together to build a masterpiece. This kit has everything you need to get started and is just right for little kids. A couple of extra shovels would be a good idea to bring as shovels are a hot item, and if everyone has their own, there may be less bickering.

#2 - Sand Proof Blanket

Once you use one of these blankets, you will never use an ordinary blanket at the beach again. Instead of being limited to the width of a towel, you will basically get your own small “room” to set up and spread out on with these blankets. The sand won’t stick to it, so it’s your best bet for keeping snacktime grit-free.

#3 - Umbrella



Even those most sun-loving among you will be thankful for the shade of the umbrella on a hot day. If you have little ones, you’ll definitely need that shade to protect their fresh skin from burning.

Things to look for in a beach umbrella are UV protection, wind resistance (beaches are notoriously breezy), and ease of carrying.

#4 - Sun Protection (Sunscreen, Hats, Sunglasses)


This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people unload from their vehicle excited to feel the sand beneath their feet and then realize they forgot the sunscreen. It’s just not worth it to skip the sunscreen because your family could end up with a week’s worth of agony if they get burned.

Zinc-based sunscreens are effective and provide good protection from the UV rays but won’t load your child’s system up with chemicals.

The sun can burn your skin, but it can also burn your eyes and do long term damage. A hat will shade your eyes, scalp, and face to prevent burning. Remember, though, the beach is often windy, so a chin strap under the hat will help it not to blow away.

Sunglasses will protect your eyes. Your eyes are important, and UV rays can do some major harm, so make sure your sunglasses block out UV rays.

#5 - Water



Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Make sure each child has a water bottle, and bring another gallon to refill when their bottles are empty.

#6 - Snacks

Have you ever noticed that spending time in water makes you hungry? If you think you have enough snacks packed, throw a few more in just in case!

Some great beach snacks include the following:

  • Pretzels
  • Clementines
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cookies
  • Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Peanuts


#7 - Chairs

Sure, you could sit on the sand, but you’ll appreciate some back support as the hours fly. Beach chairs are the perfect place to soak up the summer sun, listen to the waves, and keep an eye on your kids.

#8 - Cooler

A cooler tote is lighter and easier to pack, so it makes for a good beach option. If you’re trying to push hydration on your kids, you won’t have much luck if everything is warm. You can keep drinks and snacks cool in it. Make sure you throw some ice in because even the best cooler won’t keep stuff cold on their own after roasting in the sun for a while.

#9 - Music



A waterproof and thus sand-proof speaker is perfect for a day at the beach. Have your kids help you choose a playlist. Then, as they build sandcastles, eat their snacks, and bury each other in the sand, they can sing along to their favorite songs.

#10 - Boogie Board

Riding the waves on a boogie board is one of the best activities to do at the beach. Your kids can learn to catch the waves with the perfect timing to ride them all the way back to the shore. They will be so proud of themselves and want to do it for hours.

#11 - Stand-up Activities (Frisbee, Ball, Kite)

                                                                                                                                                                    Frisbee is a lot of fun at the beach if it’s not too windy. There are lots of air currents, and the frisbee will rise and fall with them. If it is too windy, a softball or baseball will be easier to keep track of.

Running after a ball or a frisbee is a great way to get your heart pumping and let your kids burn off some energy. And, the beach is the perfect location to fly a kite thanks to the steady breeze. Your children will be amazed as they watch it soar high above them.

#12 - Wagon

We’re highlighting 12 things you need to bring to the beach for your family day. If you want to avoid taking 12 trips back and forth to your car (which may be blocks away if it’s the peak season) you need a good beach wagon.

A folding, all-terrain wagon will fit nicely in your trunk and will roll across the sand easily.

There’s something magical about being on the beach and enjoying the long days of summer. Family beach trips will likely be the highlight of your summer. A little planning ahead to get prepared with everything your family will need allows you to stay longer and fully enjoy the adventure!


Melanie Musson is a writer for carinsurancecomparison.com. She lives in the beautiful, landlocked state of Montana, but makes sure her four children get to the ocean for a beach vacation every year.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Planning The Perfect Big Family Trip

Taking a trip with the family is a great way to enjoy a break and catch up. Families can find it difficult to spend time together, so an annual trip with your extended family can be a fun way to reunite and make some special memories.

Planning a trip is stressful at the best of times, but when you throw group travel into the mix, be prepared for even more stress and chaos - think Home Alone! But with some organization and some useful advice, you can enjoy planning your special family trip.

Plan your next family adventure with these tips for planning the perfect big family trip.

Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

Choose the ideal weekend

Getting a large group of people together isn’t always easy. People have different work patterns, different commitments, and there’s always the occasional one-off event like a wedding that can cause problems finding a date for everyone. Try to plan at least six months in advance, and confirm a date with everybody so that they can keep it free. If there’s one date that tends to suit everyone each year, you can make it an annual weekend that will make it easier to arrange year after year.

To help save one person from always being the organizer, each family could take it in turns to help ease the burden and to share the work fairly.

Pick a great place

While spending time with your family can be enjoyed wherever you are, picking a good destination can help make sure that everyone has a great time. It’s a way to tick destinations off your bucket list and gives you a chance to get away from home and all of the distractions that can usually affect your time together. There are plenty of amazing city destinations to visit as a group, while popular places like LA, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston also make some fantastic destinations for your trip.

Make the journey fun and affordable

A trip away can be a treat, but with everyone’s budgets being different, it’s better to keep things as affordable as possible. A charter service from US Coachways allows you to travel as a group in style, which can work out to be very affordable between you all. Plan some activities for the journey - some games and a brilliant playlist can get your weekend off to the best start.

If you’re only going away for the weekend, try to choose somewhere that isn’t too far for everyone to get to. You’ll want to spend time with each other, not on the road, so try to find places that are within easy reach of your home. 

Create an entertaining and flexible itinerary

With weekends together being as rare as they are, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough planned to make the most of your time together. A fun and flexible itinerary can help make sure there’s enough time for family activities, while also making sure everyone gets some time to themselves. Activities can include tours, trips to theme parks, etc. or you can spend time together playing games in the park or on the beach! Keep things flexible so that you can change plans depending on the weather or the mood on the day!

Finding things to do as a family can be difficult when everyone is a different age. But trying to find some common ground is important to ensure everyone has a nice time. Food is something that can bring everyone together - everyone’s got to eat. Split responsibility for food between you all, some easy dishes that will feed a crowd can be a crowd pleaser and will help keep costs down on your trip too.  

A group photo is a must

A family photo is the perfect way to capture the memories of your weekend together. It can be very rare to have your family in one place, so taking the opportunity to take a photo is a must. As these opportunities are rare, you’ll need to learn how to take a great group photo to help you get the ideal shot.

Spending time with your family is important, and big group getaways can be full of fun and excitement that helps keep a family close together. With some good planning and plenty of family travel tips to follow, you can arrange a memorable family trip. Many families take a trip as an annual family tradition, so why not make this the year you start yours? Now all you need to do is decide where you want to go!


Friday, September 13, 2019

Supporting An Elderly Relative




Having an elderly relative in your life to take care of can be hard. Not only do you need to worry about all of your life problems, such as juggling looking after a home, and going to work, you will need to spend time ensuring they are well looked after. It can take up a great deal of your time, and often you will feel tired, and that you can't get a break.

You may need to help with several areas of your loved one's life. These may include helping them dress and wash, as well as cooking for them, and buying groceries. You may need to help them up in the morning and into bed at night. They may have mobility issues and require you to take them places. Fundamentally though, if they live alone, they may rely on your company to get them through life.

Ask For Help From Your Family

It is vital to get as much support from those around you during a time such as this. Enlisting the help of your partner, or children may be beneficial and will take some of the burdens off you.

If you have any siblings, you could involve them too. Having as many people who can pop in and visit will mean that there is not a sense of resentment either if it feels that it is all falling on you to do everything.

Come up with a plan between you as to who will go on which days. Try and keep to a regular schedule if possible as this will help you to get the best coverage of care at all times.

Use A Care Visitor Service

There will be private duty care services within your area that will help to take the pressure off you. Hiring a specialist caregiver to visit each day will mean that your loved one will get the best attention possible. You will be able to rest easy, knowing that their every need are being met and that they are in safe hands.

A care visitor will be able to help with all of the day-to-day support that your loved one will need, including assisting them in dressing, washing, eating, and get about.

Get Respite Care

If you are devoting a massive part of your life to caring for your loved one yourself, then it is only natural that you will feel exhausted by this at times. You will need to take a break.

Going on holiday from time-to-time will ensure that you get the opportunity to unwind and recharge. This will help you come back refreshed, and better able to take care of your loved one.

During this time, you may wish to take your family member to go and stay in a respite care center. Have a look for a home that you feel will give them the best experience. Many run social activities and have a very supportive staff that are there 24/7 to take care of all of their needs.

How To Plan Your Next Home Move

If you’re getting ready for a big house move and feel as though you haven’t made sufficient steps to plan the whole endeavor properly, then there are a few steps that can be taken to help ensure that you get things right. Failing to prepare can leave you in a very uncomfortable and stressful situation that might otherwise have been avoided.

Image Source - Pexels

Reduce And Pack Your Stuff

Realistically, before you decide to pack your belongings, it’s best to reduce the amount you have. Whether this is through selling online or simply throwing away, the less you have to move the easier it will be. If you take the chance to sell your old stuff, you will also get the added bonus of more money to spend to improve the experience even more! Once you’ve finished reducing and feel comfortable with what you have, get in contact with some professionals (find local movers here!) that can help you to evaluate which vehicles are needed to transport your stuff and how you’re actually going to get to your new home, as this will relieve a lot of pressure. Attempting to complete this step on your own will be almost impossible unless you already have some kind of van or truck to carry everything safely, so be sure to seek help!

Redirect Your Mail

Leaving your mail to be sent to your old address is such a huge mistake. This could mean that your personal information and private details such as bank card data and medical records will be going straight into the hands of someone else. It’s so simple to get in touch with the most important businesses, organizations, and individuals (such as work, family, doctors, any subscriptions, insurance) so that you can let them know about your upcoming move, but you can also contact your mail service to ‘redirect’ everything with your name on to your new home. It would be so easy for someone with bad intentions to take advantage of your personal information, and you could end up in quite a frightening situation if they are able to decipher a lot of data from your mail.

Prepare For Arrival

Failing to sort out your different energy, water, and any other providers will leave you in a sticky situation. It’s not always an instant change when you start a contract with a new society, so you may end up being left without warmth or power for weeks or even months if you dedicate to try and arrange it all on the day of your arrival. By being proactive and ensuring that you have already established which providers you will be making use of before you reach your moving date, you will save a lot of time, money and effort for the future!

With any luck, these tips should help you to get ready for your home move and plan all of the necessary steps to make it as hassle-free as possible. Reduce your stuff, redirect your mail and establish your different utility providers!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Key Pros and Cons of Online Promo Codes

Photo by Negative Space from Pexels


Everyone loves a good deal – whether it’s on an item of clothing, a food product or free shipping. And that’s where online promo codes come in. When you go to the checkout, you will often be greeted with the ‘voucher code’ or ‘promo code’ box which will then send you to Google to search for a discount code. But are they really all that they seem? Here are some of the top pros and cons that come with using online promo codes!

Let’s start on a positive note – the pros! 

They save you money

One of the main pros of online promo codes is that they are a great way of getting a discount online; available on a wide range of websites, they can save you hundreds of dollars. Everyone likes to save money where they can, and a promo code is an ideal way of doing this. Before applying the code, however, ensure that you read through the terms and conditions – you don’t want to be caught out by the small print!

They are easy to use 

Almost everyone now can use a computer with ease – and promo codes are no different. There are lots of websites (an example of a company that’s on a voucher code website is Fanatics) that lay out the offers to you in an easy-to-use format, allowing you to get the code with a click of a button. You can then copy the code and put it in the box on the website. By subscribing to a voucher code website, you will be informed of the latest offers and deals – allowing you to get fantastic discounts on items just in time for that special occasion!

They will make you loyal to the brand 

When a company frequently offers promo codes you are more likely to go with them. However, it’s important to think about the reason as to why they always have sales or voucher codes – e.g is the quality poor? If they are from a company that you know and trust, you will then recommend them to others, allowing more people to reap the benefits of the promo codes.

So there are three of the main pros that come with using online promo codes. But are there any cons?

They can make you overspend

Everyone has been there. Tempted by more sales items or great discounts, you can easily spend more money than you first intended. Online promo codes are incredibly tempting – highlighting seemingly incredible deals that you can easily use. But when you notice these savings, it’s important to not go over the top and overspend. Yes, you can reap a great deal – but don’t put your finances at risk because of a promotion.

Final Thoughts 


With there only being one major downfall for using online vouchers it’s clear that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. As long as you use the codes sensibly, there shouldn’t be any damage. Before you use the code, however, read the expiration date on the code and reviews on the voucher website itself – you don’t want to risk the security of your device for a discount after all!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Tech For Wedding Planning

When you’re planning for something important, a wedding for example, did you know there are some great online tools out there that are going to help you out?

Getting organized for a wedding can be overwhelming. It can leave you feeling stressed, anxious and worried that you’ve missed out a crucial detail or two.

That’s why you need this blog to help you find some solutions to prevent the wedding build-up anxiety and help you stay in control. Some of these tools you’ll also find super helpful in your work life too so dive in and find some assistance when you need it most.

Asana

This is a general tool that helps you to keep track of your projects and manage the workloads of everyone working on them. Use it to plan, allocate and tick off actions as they happen. Easier to use than many online tools, it’s simple to access and add to and makes collaborative working a dream. Use it to allocate jobs to family members in the run-up to your big day and watch as your wedding project really begins to take shape.


Image from Pexels

Spotify

Yes, as a wedding tool. Upgrade to premium and get your wedding playlist sorted quickly and easily. You can create music for walking down the aisle, leaving the church and your evening repertoire. If you’re trying to save money on a DJ, you’ll even find hundreds of wedding playlists on there that can be fed through the speakers and guarantee you’ll have everyone on the dance floor.

All Seated

If your wedding is on the large side then this is going to help you get everyone organized. As a collaborative app, it can be accessed by anyone you choose, so if you do have a wedding planner it will help them see where you’ve assigned seating.

La Fete

This app has become a godsend for wedding planners so if you’re doing it alone then this is the app for you. It simply does everything and will allow you to take control of everything from setting your budget to choosing your band from sites such as https://www.alivenetwork.com/hirelivemusic/wedding_bands_in.asp?area=Berkshire

Stay in control with this app, specially designed for wedding planning and use tech to make life easier.

Trello

Much like Asana, Trello is most often found in the workplace but like Asana it’s an excellent tool for collaborative working and task management. Use it to assign work to your team and hold them accountable with mutually agreed deadlines.

Weddings can be stressful and you want the day to go as smoothly as possible with few or no hiccups. Tech has provided us with some very modern solutions and as such, you should find some apps that make your life as easy as possible.

Find some enjoyment through creating that perfect list on Spotify and knowing that you’ve got it all covered with tools that bring everyone together. Then it’s time to enjoy the perfect day with the people you love.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tips On Choosing The Right Care Home For Your Elderly Parent




With the passing of time comes the need for change.

Where once your parents looked after you as a child, seeing you through your infant years, the troublesome teen phase, and your entry into adult life, the roles will one day become reversed. There might be a time when you have to become the caregiver, giving your parents the same love and attention that they afforded you when you were younger. And as you take on a more caring role, you will have to consider the options available to you, one of which might be to find a care home for your parent.

You see, while your parents could live at home with you, and while their home could be adapted to cater for their needs, the best course of action might be to find 24/7 care if they aren't able to look after themselves any more. It's difficult to think about, but it's true for so many of us. And if this is the case for you, or if it could one day be the right option, here are some tips to help you find the right care home for your parent.



#1: Understand your parent's needs

Firstly, consider the type of care home that might be right for your parent. There are two types you need to be aware of, and one will be more suited than the other. We are thinking specifically about residential care homes and nursing homes.

Both offer accommodation and personal care, but nursing homes provide specialist health care to the elderly, with a focus on specific conditions such as dementia and Parkinson's Disease. You can find out more about the differences here.

By knowing the type of home more suited to your parent's needs, you will be able to narrow down your choices.

#2: Consider the costs involved

Depending on where you live, residential fees differ, and different care homes might charge more, especially if they are within the private sector. So, when choosing the right care home for your parent, this is something you need to take into account when doing your research. While you could contribute to the care costs of your parent, it might be that your parent has savings that will pay for the necessary fees themselves, so you need to have a discussion with your parent to find out more about their specific situation. However, if they fall below a certain financial threshold, or if they have any specific medical needs, then there might be no cost to them or you at all. The Money Advice Service has some useful information as a guideline to help you.

#3: Research available care homes

When you have worked out your parent's specific needs, and when you know what the financial situation will be, you will then be in a better position to research the homes local to you. You should do this in two ways. Firstly, use this handy search tool, and with your parent, look at the available homes near to you. You can normally learn a lot about a home by the testimonials on the website, the pictures available to view, and the information about the services they provide.

You should then do a Google search for local news stories that might alert you to any problems. As has been highlighted on the news, some homes have garnered a bad reputation for the care of their clients, and have necessitated the need for a nursing home abuse attorney to deal with extreme problems. While these cases are rare, you should still investigate for the sake of your parent.

Then visit the care homes near you, as you can usually learn a lot about a place by stepping foot inside, meeting staff and residents, and checking for such things as cleanliness and the overall mood of the people living there. Use this checklist provided by Age UK to guide your decision.

Finally

Finding the right place for your parent to live might be tough, but talk with them about what it is they require, and together, take your time to explore the best options available. Just remember to visit your parent regularly once they have moved in, and bring their grandchildren too, as no matter how nice the care home is, having your family around will truly make them feel at home.

We hope this article has been useful to you, but let us know. And if you have any other tips for our readers, please share your ideas with us.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Need For Hope In A World Gone Crazy, And Some Preparation

Do you know the saying: “expect the best, prepare for the worst”? In a world where nationalism is on the rise, the internet seems to be solely focused on selling your data to companies, where some even suggest we are living in a “post-truth” era, it might seem easier just to give up and despair. You don’t even have to go far to be confronted with the worst of humanity and existential threats that are looming over humankind. It’s people denying climate change when clearly the planet’s weather has become more erratic. It’s seeing politicians choosing for business and the wealthy, while the middle class gets decimated and the gap between the haves and have-nots keeps getting bigger. It’s everything you would consider just and fair, being hollowed out bit by bit.

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Now, you will have two options, either give up and let it all wash over you, or work through the pain. There is a lot to say for the power of hope in these examples. Hope is the belief that the circumstances will get better. It’s not just mere wishing, it’s an actual belief that things will turn out alright. It’s being faced with life-changing adversity but still knowing you will come out on the other side. It’s losing everything you hold dear at the age of 50 and still believe you can start all over again. It’s being told to have a life-altering disease, but still making the most of things.

But in the context of hope (or lack of), it’s not always about these tentpole events in life. It could also be just a lingering feeling. It could be the feeling of not mattering in the greater scheme of things. Think of people who go to work every day, clock in and out, but have been so disconnected from things because of a sense of futility. It could also just be the prospect of better things to come, such as a promotion. And hope or lack of has real-life impact. In a study of mechanical and electrical engineers at a Fortune 100 tech company, the high-hope engineers, on average, missed less than three days of work in twelve months.  The low-hope engineers missed, on average, more than ten days of work in that same period of time.

So hope plays a role when we are faced with significant setbacks in life, or it can be a lingering sense of being stuck somewhere. When dealing with adversity or the sense of “being stuck,” you can see people fall into two basic categories. One is the category of psychological victims. These individuals are passive, pessimistic, and look to the past. They ask, "Who will help me?" They despair and are all consumed by their loss, refusing to help themselves. The other category is one of the psychological survivors. These people are active, optimistic, and look to the future. They ask, "How can I help myself?" They grieve, which is healthy, but they continue to persevere and fight.

If you would apply this to yourself, when facing adversity, you should try to avoid being pushed into the victim role and switch your mindset to surviving. Some people would call this a fight or flight mechanic. If you see other dealing with adversity, let them grief, but also try to help them on their way again. The key to switching from victim to survivor is understanding that the initial step is the hardest one. When in a victim mindset, it will be harder to see silver linings, and when you are in a survivor mindset, you will automatically grasp at any opportunity to see glimmers of hope. This is a way is the hardest and most fascinating thing about a hope, how the momentum of hope accelerates people in, well, being more hopeful.

The positive physiological effects of hope are well-documented, most eloquently in Jerome Groopman's "The Anatomy of Hope," where he writes: “Belief and expectation -- the key elements of hope -- can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine. In some cases, hope can also have important effects on fundamental physiological processes like respiration, circulation, and motor function.”

Groopman's research showed that during the course of illness, belief and expectation (two mental states associated with hope) have an impact on the nervous system which, in turn, sets off a chain reaction that makes improvement and recovery more likely. This process, he points out, is fundamental to the widely accepted "placebo effect," which is created by a hopeful outlook.

And as great hope is, it can’t be the only thing you rely on. There is no harm in preparing for the worst. This could mean having the right insurances in place, making you sure have savings or have a wrongful death attorneys at your service if the situation calls for it. It’s like general “Mad Dog” Mattis legendary quote on meeting new people: “be polite, professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Of course, the context is a military one, but the sentiment is one that extends to regular life as well. Expect a positive attitude from everyone, but be prepared for the worst.

It’s hoping for a promotion at work, but also having alternatives if that doesn’t happen. It’s making sure the bills are paid before you go on a spending spree. It’s organizing a BBQ as the weather forecast is looking good, but have a plan B if the heavens open up. It’s fighting the good fight against climate change, but not be disheartened when you can’t change people’s minds. It’s trying to follow your dreams, persists but also know you can evolve if things don’t pan out.

And that’s where we are right now. It’s no longer the era of unlimited hope and the sky being the limit. It’s also not the time of doom and gloom. Being faced with existential threats, the disappearance of the middle ground and the public discussion being held from the extreme wings, the only way through is to keep the hope, but also don’t get taken for a fool.

Monday, June 17, 2019

How To Have A Great Date Night

Special occasion coming up? First date? Or a romantic celebration in order? Then you need to make sure that you can have a great date night. But what shall it be? Let’s take a look.

Do Something Active

First of all, if you’re looking for a different kind of date night to what you’re used to, then why not do something active? Sometimes, it’s really fun to be able to think outside the box and try something new. From go-karting to rock climbing, and everything else in between, this could be the perfect way to have some fun!

Enjoy A Delicious Meal

If you’re a foodie, or you want to be able to enjoy each other’s company and have a good conversation, then going to a restaurant is always a good idea. However, you are going to want to think about the kind of restaurant that you want to visit, as well as what sort of cuisine may go down well. Either way, if you book somewhere special, you’ll often know that you’re going to have a good time.

See A Show

Finally, you may also want to go and see a show too. Now, we all know that you could go to the cinema and see one of the latest films, but you do that regularly, it may not feel all that special. However, when you decide that you want to enjoy a nice date night, then going to the theatre is often perfect. However, what should you see? Take a look at the below infographic to help you to decide.
Infographic Design By theatre tickets

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Scary Vehicle Recalls you Should Know About

Disclosure:  This is a guest post.  This is important information that I think you need to know, so  I am more than happy to share this with you!

Driving can be dangerous enough with a perfectly safe (and perfectly working) vehicle. One thing that usually doesn’t even cross a motorist’s mind is a fear that their vehicle will suddenly malfunction causing a life-threatening traffic accident. Unfortunately, this is something that all people who own, lease, or just drive a vehicle need to think about. Cars are not perfect, and neither are the people – or machines – that build them.

Below, we will cover some of the biggest, scariest recalls that happened so far in 2019.   Hopefully, these ten recent recalls won’t claim thousands of lives like the five deadliest vehicle defects in history did. Since many factors go into how deadly and far-reaching a recall can be, the below defects are not ranked, but rather listed in alphabetical order by brand.

#1 – Audi: Leaking Fuel

Number of Recalls: 75,000 Vehicles

Audi began notifying registered owners of the recalls in their 2015-2018 A8s and 2016-2018 A6s, A7 hatchbacks and Q7 SUVs. This defect, involving 75,000 vehicles in the U.S. alone, involved the left and right fuel rails which were found to leak fuel, which is extremely dangerous around any ignition source. The smallest spark, static, or even just a hot surface (like the pavement on a summer day) could cause this vehicle to catch on fire.

#2 – Chevrolet: Steering Problems 

Number of Recalls: 113,000 Vehicles

The smallest crossover from Chevy, the Trax, is experiencing a recall. It involves the Trax CUVs that were manufactured from July 1, 2017, to April 4, 2019. The reason for this recall is that the front lower control arms that connect the wheel to the chassis have been found to not be properly welded together. Therefore, these essential control arms can separate, making the driver unable to properly steer the vehicle.

#3 – Chrysler: Power Losses

Number of Recalls: 198,731 Vehicles

The popular family car, the Pacifica minivan, has a recall affecting the models that were manufactured between 2017 and 2019 due to an electrical issue. A portion of the battery assembly has been found to have faulty wiring, which can cause the vehicle to lose power. When this happens, the power steering will stop working and the engine can fully stall out.

#4 – Ford: Rolling Away

Number of Recalls: 822,500 Vehicles

In July of 2018, Ford recalled 550,000 Fusion and Escape vehicles built from 2013 to 2016 due to issues with the shifter cables. It turns out, Ford didn’t recall enough. They are adding 270,000 Fusions built those same years at the Flat Rock and Hermosillo Plants and 2,500 Rangers built in March 2019 at the Michigan Plant. All of these vehicles have the same major problem: a faulty gearshift that can cause the vehicle to spontaneously come out of park and roll away.

#5 – Honda: Deploying Airbags

Number of Recalls: 118,000 Vehicles

The 2019 Honda CR-V has already injured three passengers due to its airbags randomly blowing up in their faces. The manufacturer has explained this unexpected deployment to be caused by metal burrs in the steering wheel that makes the airbags overheat. Faulty Takata airbags inside Honda vehicles killed 13 people in the United States not too long ago, so it’s concerning to hear that the same deadly malfunction is happening again.

#6 – Mazda: Inoperable Wipers

Number of Recalls: 187,798 Vehicles

2016-2018 Mazda 3s are being recalled (106,756 are 2016s) because of windshield wipers that stop working due to loss of electricity to the motor. The worst part: Mazda was notified of this problem back in 2015. It wasn’t until April 2019 that a Quality Audit Committee got to the root of the problem. Owners of the affected vehicles will be notified by June 3, 2019—hopefully before one of them gets stuck in a rainstorm with wipers that won’t do their job.

#7 – Ram: Unlatching Tailgates

Number of Recalls: 410,351 Vehicles

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is recalling 1500, 2500, and 3500 Ram pickup trucks with eight-foot cargo beds that were manufactured from 2015 through March 31, 2018. A portion of the power-locking mechanism in the tailgates has been found to break, which will cause the tailgate to unlatch. Whatever is in those huge eight-foot beds – probably the tailgate too –  would be sent flying out across the interstate Final Destination Two style.

#8 – Subaru: Faulty Brake Lights

Number of Recalls: 1.3 Million Vehicles

Yep, that’s right; this recall involves over one million vehicles. 2014-2016 Subaru Forester SUVs, 2008-2016 Impreza sedans, 2012-2016 Impreza wagons, 2008-2014 WRX and STI sedans, and 2013-2017 Crosstrek SUVs are all being recalled due to brake light switches malfunctioning. This defect not only prevents the brake lights from illuminating, but it also can prohibit the ignition from starting (in keyless-entry models), and it can prevent vehicles with automatic transmissions from shifting out of park.

#9 – Volkswagen: Fracturing Coils

Number of Recalls: 56,100 Vehicles

Certain Volkswagen vehicles are experiencing fractures in their rear coil springs. When this happens, the coil can puncture the back tires causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and risking a fatal traffic accident. The models affected are 2017-2019 Golf SportWagens, 2019 Jetta sedans, 2015-2019 Golf hatchbacks, and 2018-2019 Tiguan SUVs.

#10 – Volvo: Detaching Lift Arms

Number of Recalls: 46,000 Vehicles

This is another malfunction that is most treacherous for those driving behind the involved vehicles. With the 46,000 2018 and 2019, Volvo XC60 SUVs affected, in certain conditions and cold temperatures, the tailgate lifting arms and springs can detach. Volvo did the right thing and notified registered owners at the end of January 2019, but the problem is that the new parts aren’t available yet. So, Volvos sporting defective liftgates are most likely cruising all over U.S. roads.

Does your vehicle have a recall?

Deadly vehicle defects are much more common than most people realize. Manufacturers are required by law to notify vehicle owners of recalls—no matter how seemingly trivial, but there is always a significant delay between the first report of a problem and when you will get your letter, email, or phone call. It’s essential that you pay attention to recent recalls on the vehicle you and your loved ones drive. Check out the below websites with recall lookup tools and bookmark one of them so you can quickly run a search on your specific vehicle each month.

Safecar.org
Recalls.gov
NHTSA.gov
carfax.com

Sara Routhier is a Research Specialist and Staff Writer for AutoInsurance.org. In addition to obtaining a degree in Elementary Education, being a public school teacher, family nanny, and tutor, she has over four years experience in the auto insurance industry. Having lost a child herself, Sara is dedicated to spreading the word on traffic fatality causes, educating readers on dangers to avoid, and working towards preventing more unnecessary deaths in America.