Monthly Archives: December 2016

Stop Wasting Money And Start Making Your Own Delicious Coffee At Home

Free stock photo of beans, coffee, espresso, morning

Most people love to start their day with a refreshing and revitalizing cup of coffee. But, with coffee shops charging a premium for even the most basic of drinks, it’s a wonder that anyone can actually afford to drink at these places. It’s even more confusing that people go into these shops at all when there’s nothing stopping you from making luxury coffee at home. You just need a few bits of kit, which will cost far less than a year’s worth of coffee shop coffee, and you can get started. To help you out, this post will go through all of the bits you need, to start making coffee.

  • A Grinder

Of course, all great coffee starts with the primary ingredient; the beans. But, the pre-ground dust that you find in supermarkets will usually leave a lot to be desired. This is because these products are usually freeze-dried, taking out a lot of the flavor that the beans naturally have. Instead of buying pre-ground beans, you can buy whole ones. Then, all you have to do is grind it up. Coffee grinders are usually attractive enough to fit in any kitchen, and can even add some personality to the room. They’re easy to use, and most will do the whole job for you. Buying whole beans is no more expensive that buying pre-ground beans. In fact, in some cases, it can be cheaper.

Image result for french press flickr

  • Something To Brew

Next, you need to be able to brew those tasty beans! The most common option for this is a french press, or, cafetiere. They’re usually a small jug with a plunger attached to the lid. You fill the jug with coffee and hot water, and then put the lid back on. Now, you leave the coffee to do it’s thing. Once the coffee is brewed, you can push down the plunger. This separates the coffee grind from the liquid coffee so that you don’t swallow it. Some people will also go for a full-blown espresso machine. These are generally quite expensive, though. And, the similar results can be found in a regular french press.

  • The Milk

Any Barista will tell you that the milk is the most important element to most cups of coffee. Unfortunately, without an espresso machine, it’s hard to foam the milk up with steam. For some drinks, this is essential. But, for others, you can replicate the effect quite easily. By heating up milk, you change it’s consistency and flavor. You can heat milk in a pan on your hob. Don’t let the milk boil, instead, let it get to the point just before it boils. Then, slowly pour the warm milk into your coffee. Of course, this means that you won’t get any foam. But, the coffee that your drinking will be much closer to coffee shop quality than anything else you can make at home.

If you do this everyday, your home will start to take on the smell of coffee. For most people, this isn’t a problem at all. In fact, the smell is beautiful once you get used to it. Hopefully, this will help you to avoid some of the coffee shop runs you make each week if not all of them. Good luck and enjoy the coffee!

Getting More Wedding For Your Money

Weddings can be expensive, there is no getting around it. But it is possible to save significant amounts of money if you go about it in a clever way. In fact, you can get a fantastic wedding without cutting corners, that doesn’t break the bank. Read on to find out how.

bouquet, bride, bridegroom

Pick Your Date Carefully

One of the ways you can save a huge amount of money on your wedding is by carefully picking the date. The spring and summer are always the most popular, so the price of your venue and catering will be highest at this time.

Save The Date, Wedding, Angel, Flowers, Pink, Lace

Instead consider September to March instead. Specialist wedding venues often run offers during this time as they struggled to fill their booking spaces. That mean you get to tie the knot in an amazing place for a fraction of the cost.

Another way of saving money with the venue is to work on the basis on a late booking. Hotels and venues often put together ridiculously cheap wedding packages for the odd date here and there that they cannot fill.

There are a few catches, though. First, you won’t have long to ensure all your prep is done, so get what you can do before hand like buying the dress, bridesmaid dresses and suits. Second, you won’t be able to give you guests much notice. So make sure anyone key to the wedding can do the date before you go forward with the booking.

Preloved Items

Another fantastic way of saving money on your wedding is to consider buying pre-loved items instead of new. Many items that are associated with a wedding have been used only once and therefore available to buy in fantastic condition. They will also be considerable cheaper than buying the same things new, and no one has to know that it is proved if you don’t want to tell them.

Grayscale Photo of 2 Silver With Diamond Rings

Look on the auction sites for glass vases and candy carts for the wedding reception. Buying second hand diamond rings can save you significant amounts for both the engagement and weddings rings. You can even fire some great bridal gown bargains in classified ads if you have an eagle eye.

Make Your Own Favours

Silver Spoon Beside Silver Fork

Depending on how many people you are inviting to your big day all the little bits and bobs can really start adding up. For example, if you plan to give each guest a wedding favourite at their place setting that can be up to 1-2 pp extra. If you have 100 guests, you are looking at 100-200 pounds just for this small detail.

A great way around this is is to make your own wedding favours instead of buying them. There are a load of fabulous DIY ideas for this you can try like providing seeds of your wedding flowers so people can remember the day. Or even making your own homemade preserves like jam or pickle.

Jacobs Lunch

Lunch

Another wonderful way of getting everyone involved in your special day and saving some money is a Jacob’s lunch. This is where you ask every guest to bring something to eat with them that they can share with the rest of the wedding party.

How To Build A Bar In Your Home

alcohol, alcoholic, bar

If there was just one place you could bring closer to your home, what would it be? Chances are, a bar is pretty up there. Not only would you not have to leave your house to go to it, but you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get home – because you’re already there.

So, if having a bar in your house is what you’ve always wanted, read on to find out how to do it. From tips on the planning stage to actually building it, you’ll figure out everything you need to get the job done.

Pick The Perfect Spot

First up, you’ll want to pick the perfect spot. Within your home, it’s good to have set areas for different things. Like you have the kitchen for eating and the bathroom for showering, you probably also have a relaxing haven to unwind in. And now, you need the perfect spot for the bar to go. Maybe you want to have it somewhere outside, in a purposely made place, or even next to the kitchen for convenience. You could even add it on to your kitchen in a small corner or a sunroom that you don’t overly use.

Think About The Style

Next up, what style do you want. If a cute, cosy pub is your ideal inspiration, then take inspiration from that. Or maybe you want more of a chic bar style, then go for it. You can even keep it very much in the theme of your key home design. Take a look at places like Pinterest or home magazines to find inspiration on how to style it.

Plan The Layout

bar, stools, table

Once you’ve got the style in mind, it’s down to the layout. What do you want it to look like? There are lots of different ways a home bar can work. Are you going to have a huge bar space and a little bit of seating, or even no seating at all? Or, maybe you want to have a small bar in the corner with lots of room to hang out? Get thinking and draw up some ideas before you start the buying process.

Choose The Furniture

Now that you know what kind of design you want and roughly what it will look like, it’s time to pick out the furniture you will need. The type of furniture for pub designs you might want to consider will include the bar itself, seating, tables, and shelving for the storage. These are the key pieces you will need to plan the decor and get the bar going.

Create The Design

The final step includes the finer design details. By now probably have a solid image in your head of what the finished design will look like. So, pick out the colors, the accessories and the furnishings that will complete your home bar. From the glass styles to the liquor you want to stock, these decisions will set off your home bar.

And now you’re way towards having your home bar. All that’s left to do is install the furniture and start decorating!

Transform Your Home Into a Relaxing Haven

Home is the place we should feel the most comfortable. Kicking off your shoes after a long day and lounging on the sofa, or curling up in bed with a hot drink is absolute bliss. But to truly be a relaxing haven, there are a few changes you can make around the home to make it that bit more comfortable and cosy. Here’s how you can go about it!

animal, cozy, cup

Clean and Declutter

As the saying goes- tidy home, tidy mind. And that couldn’t be truer, when you’re surrounded by mess and clutter, it definitely doesn’t put you in a relaxed mood. Since the countdown to Christmas is on, there’s no better time to have a deep clean anyway. You’ll need everywhere sparkling clean and ready for guests, and ready to put up your Christmas decorations. Once your home is clean and tidy, you’ll feel much more at ease, and find you can put your feet up and relax without any stress.

Set The Ambience

Lighting is everything when it comes to setting the mood and atmosphere in your home. Harsh overhead lights aren’t going to do much for putting you in a chilled out frame of mind, so invest in a couple of lamps. Different light sources around the room allow you to tailor the mood you’re after. You could also add scented candles which have the benefit of giving off beautiful soft lighting as well as the scent. There are tons of beautiful Christmas scented ones on the market at the moment so take full advantage! Sites like this have a wide selection https://www.yankeedirect.com/shop/christmas/large_jars/.

Invest in Quality Furniture

It doesn’t matter how nice your surroundings are if you’re trying to rest on a springy bed or watch tv on a sagging sofa. Buying quality pieces will be so much more comfortable to sit on and will last longer too. You could even go for something like a massage chair to help relieve the knots and tension most of us feel due to our busy lifestyles. You could consider something like http://www.shiatsuchairs.net/kahuna-massage-lm6800/ which gives you a ‘zero gravity’ experience.

Achieve That Spa- Like Quality In The Bathroom

A long soak in a hot bath can fix just about anything, and it’s a great way to unwind and warm up after a long day. But if you’re battling with mouldy grout, dodgy flooring and hoards of products then it’s never going to be as relaxing as it could be. If your budget is bigger, you could remodel the room entirely, opting for sleek tiles and a stunning roll top bath. If it’s on the smaller side, you can still revamp it without spending much. Buy some proper storage systems to keep everything neat. Touches like large fluffy towels and a soft bath mat will give you that luxury feeling without blowing your budget. A grout pen or scraping tool will have your tiles looking like new again. Either way, it’s an important room to focus on if you’re all about relaxation.

Surprise Your Children With Fun In The Snow

Image result for snow pixabay

There’s nothing quite so magical as snow in the winter. Snow brings out the child in all of us, and the children go mad for it. Snow days from school are the best fun most children can have. There are ways you can make snow even more exciting for your children. Snow days offer plenty of chances for outdoor activities that you don’t get at any other time of year! Here are a few snow themed ideas to keep the fun alive.

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WHEN IT SNOWS

When it snows, get the kids outside straight away. You can never tell how long snow is going to last, so get out there as soon as possible. You don’t want to be left with the brown sludge of snow that’s trodden on too many times. Get the snow when it’s fresh on the ground. Let your children be the first to stand on the clean white canvas. Then, set about making a snowman. This is the first order of business on any snow day. You’ll want plenty of snow for this, so it’s worth doing it first. Set your snowman up in your garden to ensure he doesn’t get destroyed or caught in the crossfire of snowball fights. Make sure, too you have a carrot and stones for his nose, eyes and mouth. Oh, not to mention a scarf and hat! Get your kids on the floor and make snow angels with them, too. Snowball fights can be a lot of fun. Make sure to keep things safe, though. Stones caught up in the snow can hurt! If you know snow is forecast, it’s worth investing in a sledge too. If you’re lucky enough to live near a hill, walk there with your children and let rip.

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WHEN IT DOESN’T SNOW

If you’re not lucky enough to have any real snow forecast, you could book a winter holiday where snow is guaranteed. Locations like Finland are ideal for winter destinations. Arctic Circle winter holidays are a perfect chance to see snow like you’ve never seen before. Book these locations before Christmas, so you see a little snow in the festive season. The kids can get festive with a variety of activities. Visit Santa’s village in Lapland, where you can visit Santa in his office and see Santa’s post office! You could visit Saariselka, where you and the kids can give skiing a go. There are reindeer there, too! Or, you could take a trip to Urho Kekkonen National Park. This protected expanse of fell country offers you endless fields of untrodden snow. What better destination for a snowball fight? Winter locations are ideal for family holidays.

Whatever way you choose to enjoy the snow this winter, make sure you get a chance to see plenty of it! Nothing is quite so cleansing. Snow time is an excellent opportunity for family bonding, too. Make sure you take the time to play with your children. Let the sight of snow put the child back into you!

Hacks To Bring Down The Cost of Your Home Insurance

Whether you own your home or rent, it’s always advisable to have contents insurance. In the result of a break-in, a natural disaster such as a flood or criminal damage such as arson, it means that the cost of your possessions are covered. You can even insure yourself against accidental damage, for example, if you trip and fall into your tv or put something in the washing machine that breaks the drum! But as with anything, you don’t want to be paying over the odds. Thankfully there are a few ways you can bring down the cost while still having the peace of mind of being insured.

apartment, architecture, boots

Shop Around

The beauty of the internet is that you can quickly and easily shop around. Don’t just insure through your mortgage provider for convenience, run some figures through a comparison website and work out the best deal for you. Be sure to read all of the small print, so you know exactly what you’re covered for. For example, many insurers won’t pay out if they don’t believe you have taken reasonable care to look after your possessions. This could involve leaving doors or windows unlocked. Find out what you’re covered for so you can be careful not to invalidate it.

Get a Burglar Alarm Professionally Fitted

Many insurers will drop the cost of your insurance if your home is protected by a burglar alarm. You will need to have this professionally fitted for your insurer to take it into account, so find a company who specialises in alarm systems. This is beneficial for you as you have peace of mind that your home is protected by the alarm and you’ll pay less on your insurance too. They are one of the best ways you can protect against burglars as they’re so effective. Thieves simply won’t stick around once an alarm goes off as there’s too much of a risk of them being seen and caught.

Increase Your Excess

This is the amount you will have to pay before your insurer will pay out. While it will be a ding in your wallet if you do need to make a claim, providing it’s still affordable then it’s a lot cheaper than having to replace everything you own. And doing this means you bring down the cost of your insurance.

Pay Annually

The same is true for just about anything you buy- paying for it upfront for the year will work out cheaper than paying monthly. If you can afford to do this, then you’ll save yourself a chunk of cash. There are often additional fees when the policy is paid monthly.

Build Up Your No Claims Bonus

Just like with car insurance, you can build up a no claims bonus with home insurance. This will give you money off for every year you don’t make a claim. For this reason, any minor damage or losses may be cheaper to pay for yourself privately instead of going through your insurance. It’s much better used for larger incidents where the damage is more than you can reasonably afford to pay yourself.

Signs To Keep An Eye Out For On Your Senior Dog

Brown Dog

Just like humans, as dog’s age, they become more prone to illnesses and certain conditions. Genetics, nutrition, and environmental factors all play a role in how fast your dog ages. So it’s not ‘one size fits all’ care when it comes to senior dogs. Here are a few signs and symptoms to watch out for with your older dog, to keep their tail wagging right through the winter of their life.

Arthritis

Arthritis in older dogs is common, however, it can still be a difficult condition to manage. Inflammation and degeneration of the joints can make walking and standing painful, and cause dogs to slow down. They might start to struggle with things like jumping up or climbing the stairs. Because animals are programed to hide their outward pain, the signs may be difficult to recognize especially at first. Keep an eye out for weight gain (as a result of reduced mobility) sleeping more or changes in the way they move such as jumping up to greet you. Thankfully supplements are effective in managing arthritis in older dogs and can keep pain down and improve their mobility. Cod liver oil is safe to give to dogs, or you could try something like a daily yunnan baiyao capsule. This can slow the onset of the disease and provide relief from painful swollen joints.

Dental Disease

No dog’s breath is going to smell like roses; that’s a given. But there’s a difference between regular doggy breath and something indicating that there’s a problem. Plaque and tartar can build up over a dog’s life, but it’s also due to their weaker immune systems why older dogs suffer more with this. Keep an eye on the way your dog eats, make sure they’re not refusing food or favoring one side of their mouth. Tooth issues can present pain in animals just like it can with us so carefully monitor your senior dog to make sure they’re not in any unnecessary pain. You can keep your dog’s teeth healthy by regular brushing- even once a week can make a dramatic difference. Dog’s don’t tend to like this much, starting them while they’re young is ideal but if not try to keep the experience as stress-free as possible. You could give them dental chews to enjoy, and also feed them dry instead of wet food. This is better for tooth health.

Diabetes

Are you killing your dog with kindness? As much as they might enjoy those table scraps, extra treats and everything else they can get their paws on, it’s important to moderate what your dog eats. Classic symptoms include excessive thirst and urination, and losing weight despite the fact they’re eating the same amount. Basically the same kind of symptoms you’d see in humans with type two diabetes. It’s dangerous since it can lead to blindness, liver disease, kidney disease and a whole host of other adverse side effects that could lead to an untimely death. Have your dog weighed to ensure they’re at their correct weight. If not, ask your vet for feeding advice. Treats should be fully moderated, and you should make sure they’re not able to scavenge in bins or snag treats from other family members. You can make your own healthy dog treats that are low in fat and provide lots of useful vitamins and minerals for your pooch. There are loads of recipes and ideas online.