How to Increase the Value of your Home

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If you are looking for a few ideas to help you increase the value of your home you’re in the right place. Websites such as https://www.dinodecking.co.uk/ can help you add some value to your home but before we consider those options let’s take a look at a few of our own:

Convert your Loft

If your loft is fully insulated you may want to think about converting it. Adding some more room to your home will make it more attractive to prospective buyers. Teenagers and anyone who need privacy will love nothing more than to spend time in the loft.

While you may need planning permission to covert your loft, depending on where you live, a house with more rooms than the rest of the street is attractive. Consider adding a few windows to increase the amount of light that comes into the loft.

Update your Kitchen

Very few people want to buy a home that has an old kitchen in it unless the price is reasonable. If you want to make as much money as possible from the sale of your house you may need to make improvements.

Rip out your old kitchen and add a more modern one that has plenty of cupboards. Use corner cupboards, wine holders and any nook and cranny that could be filled with cupboards. The more kitchen units you add the more appealing it will be.

Don’t forget to leave plenty of space for a cooker and a washing machine. You may also want to leave room for a dishwasher too. If your kitchen is big enough, you could always build a wall and add a utility room. This will add a bit more appeal to your home and value too.

Build a Conservatory

It would be lovely if you could add a large conservatory but this may not be possible. Even if you can only add a small conservatory it’s worth doing. Some people love to sit in a conservatory, whereas others are happy to grow plants. A conservatory is considered to be an extra room and is, therefore, very valuable to have. Don’t forget to add a few sockets so electrical items can be used.

Consider adding a curtain or some blinds to the conservatory so it’s ready to use. The more appealing your conservatory is the more likely someone will want to buy your home.

Build some Decking

Now we’re moving the home improvements to the garden which is an area people often overlook. When it comes to your garden you may find that you need to do a bit of work. If your garden is quite large or you may want to add some decking. Composite decking will not only break the garden up a little but it will also add a bit of value. This is because it makes your garden look much more attractive. Anyone who comes to look at your home will notice the decking and imagine what it would be like to use it.

You may want to stick some furniture on your decking as it adds that special touch. Decking can be used for all sorts of things such as parties, barbecues and sunbathing.

Don’t forget to keep your garden as tidy as you can. A tidy garden will appear to be cared for and is much more attractive than a messy one.

Update your Bathroom

There’s nothing quite like a new bathroom suite. If you would like to impress anyone who is looking around your home you may want to invest in a new bathroom suite. Suites that are typically more than 10 years old can start to look outdated. The good news is if you do decide to replace your bathroom you don’t have to buy the most expensive suite. A clean, white bathroom suite can suffice, just as long as it’s big enough for the bathroom.

Have an Open Plan Living Area

If your living area and your dining room are divided by walls you may want to rethink things. An open plan living area not only lightens the place up but it adds more room. You want prospective buyers to think your home has a lot of room. You can pull this off by knocking down walls and opening the living area up. You may need to call in a few professionals to help you do this but you could add more value to your property.

Increasing the value of your home is easy when you know how. You may have to spend a bit of money on your property but it could be worth it. Try to look at your home from the point of view of a prospective buyer and see where you would make some changes. A little bit of work could go a long way.

Counting the days to Half Term..

Homework. parent meetings, school trips. A variety of medical appointments. Plenty of out of school activities. A growing collection of bills. Oh,  all the germs seem to have wanted to visit us this term. This is why I’m counting down to Half Term.

While a little bit of routine is wonderful. I already miss the freedom of the holidays.

It’s fair to say that most of the stress of school days is actually my fault. Poor planning, or specifically trying to get too many things done in too few hours. I have crammed so many jobs into the last week, dashing from one place to the next. It’s led to a week of feeling utterly exhausted. Why do I do it to us? I’m not sure, but I need to change it.

Learning to pace ourselves.

My stress contributes to the mood of the children. If I’m happy they are happy. When I am stressed, they are generally grouchy. It’s time for us to stop and take a breath.

Certain things I put in place to help us all. Homework, we look at it as soon as it arrives, not wait until it is due. Music practice, 5 minutes every day is better than fighting to practice at all over the week.

Lunchboxes.. the boys empty them and leave them by the sink. I write a meal plan for lunch boxes, this helps with shopping for and packing them!

Half-term at home.

February half-term is always a tough one for us. The weather is always mixed, and money is not in great supply as it’s not long since Christmas and two Birthdays! So, February half-term is always spent at home. The first few days usually everyone wants their freedom. Then they get bored! So I always plan indoor activities to do in the holidays.

If the weather is good, we will pack up a flask and get out and about. I must admit I’m longing for Spring to arrive when it is easier being outside with all the children together!

One year old baby update

I had forgotten how tiring a one year old is. He is on the go all day, any mischief he can find himself in, he will. At the moment his favourite thing appears to be climbing. Perhaps one day he is destined to climb mountains, as at the moment nothing seems to high for him to clamber. I take my eyes off him momentarily and instantly find myself having a heart in mouth moment as he is precariously clinging to the top of a curtain or something.

How on earth I have a one year old I don’t know. 2018 was lost in a blur of grief, ill health and frankly confusion. I will forever be in debt to those friends who reminded me of school trips, dress down days, and school closures. They allowed me to use what energy I had to enjoy my baby, my now one year old.

One year check.

We had our one year check with the health visitor, which went really well. He is doing OK, I was reassured that he is biding his time to talk, it will come. To be honest I’m not entirely sure he ever gets a chance to speak with the others around, and I probably speak more than I should to him. But, I’m sure we will get there, eventually. I like the one year check as it gives you a chance to double check that your child is about where they should be developmentally. He’s the first child I’ve had who hasn’t got a dummy at the one year check – he threw it out his cot aged 5 months and wouldn’t have it back. Another reminder that each child is very different.

Food

Food is one of those things which I hoped we would not have any issues with. However, little N has other ideas. He is already starting to fuss and has developed an absolute aversion to rice. So anything with rice in gets launched across the kitchen. Cleaning up rice isn’t much fun, so I’m torn between keeping it off the menu and adopting the approach of keep trying (but keep the broom and mop handy..).

Sleep.

Pah, sleep is for the week. This boy of mine likes to sleep in the comfort of the Superking sized bed. Though so far for two nights this week he has actually stayed in his own bed all night…so perhaps he is starting to make improvements with his sleep? We will see. It was nice to have two proper sleeps this week! He has a good bedtime routine, and so I’m hoping soon we may get a little more undisturbed sleep,

Play

He loves toy cars and spends time pushing them along. Other than that he loves the chickens and ducks. Oh, and climbing. He’s not quite walking but will walk if I hold his hand, and happily coasts around the sofas.

The Easiest Ways to Score Free Food and Drinks

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We all know that finances are quite the struggle. It seems as though there is never enough money in your wallet or purse to enjoy those simple things, such as food!


However, we have some news that is sure to brighten your day!

There are several ways you can get your hands on great food and drinks for absolutely no cost? Yes, even with the high cost of everything in this world, there are some things available for free.

Here are 4 incredibly easy ways to score some free food and drinks. WOW Free Stuff want to ensure you that you will not have to jump through hoops to get some free food, very little effort is involved.

Apps

There are a wide number of meals that can be easily accessed directly through the apps on your phone. Whether you are looking for some tasty junk food or a healthy meal, an app is a great way to score some free food.

Let’s look at this deal: Fast food apps are one of the best way to save a lot of money off your meals plus earn some great freebies. For example you can score a free Classic of Leggera pizza from Pizza Express when you sign up for their app.

If you want to get healthy, there is an app you can download called Olio. This advertises great deals that are available in your local area. All you have to do is click and collect to earn some wonderful freebies.

There is no reason to wait, go ahead and do it today. Apps are the best way to fill up your belly without spending a penny. Go ahead and start swiping for some great free food!

Need a pick me up?

Free Tea & Coffee

Retail therapy has taken the nation by storm in recent years. Whether you plan to spend or not, just browsing in a shop at items you desire can be quite therapeutic.

Quench your thirst. If you visit your local Ikea with a loyalty card you can grab a free drink at no charge. This is not a bad way to spend an hour or so.

Of course, they will want something out of you for their generosity. They hope that you do make a purchase, so try to plan your trip when you plan on making some form of a purchase.

Meet & Greets

Your time at the university is perhaps one of the most sociable experiences you will ever have, it is one of the best ways to connect with other young individuals

While this is all well and good, it simply gets better. Universities know they need something to get young people to mingle together. They want you to get together to make new friends and contacts.

In addition to meeting some new people, they also supply an endless supply of free food and drinks. There is just something about a steady supply of sausage rolls and mini quiches to keep people in the same room.

Birthday Freebies

While few people enjoy getting older, retail shops and restaurants love it and are prepared to offer you some great freebies.

So what have we learned? There is always going to be some give and take involved in free food and drinks. For example, if you want a free doughnut from Greggs, you will have to download their app.

While there are some healthy options available, the vast majority of these freebies are designed to help you score a free treat. If you are not allowed to eat free junk food on a birthday, is there any day you should?

Why I make time to exercise.

“I was meant to go for a run but…” I was talking to another Mum yesterday and the phrase tumbled out all too easily. I was surprised by her response of “When do you find time to run at all? I barely find time to cut my toe nails!!” it hadn’t been what I had expected. It did make me think though, that often as parents it is easy to forget to make time for yourself.

I took up running again at the end of 2018, I hated it. It hated me. We hated each other. But, strangely each run gave me time when I made peace with my body. I can’t run and think about things, I just run and think about running. It is pure amounts of me time which I hate and love in equal measures.

Walking has always been something I have enjoyed, but I use walking as my time to think. Walking provides me with time to dissect problems and resolve them. Great, but I often come back in a less relaxed state than I began.

I needed something more, swimming had always been my choice of relaxation, but it doesn’t fit in quite so easily with 4 young children. I am sat rolling my eyes wishing I still lived within 5 minutes of the sea front. I really believe in the power of the sea to heal mind and body.

I digress, so, running. I still feel very much like a fraud, I am not a runner. But I do enjoy my runs, they are getting longer and faster as the weeks roll on. My legs are getting stronger, and I am starting to resent the days I can’t run. The great thing about running is I don’t need any fancy kit. I have things I like to run with, but they’re not essential. I also find I am so busy concentrating on not falling over that i can’t think about other things, therefore I am really relaxed when I get home!!

As a parent I think I worry a lot about my children’s well being, what they’re eating and how much screen time they’re getting. I never used to worry quite so much about myself. Parenting means I put my childrens needs first, but it is important not to forget my own well being too.

Korres Greek Olive Collection Review

Have you seen the beautiful new range from Korres? Korres Greek range looks so pretty, and just makes me think of warm summer holidays!

A couple of weeks ago I made an impulse purchase, I needed a bar of soap, but wanted a nice bar. I was standing in Waitrose and spotted they had a “new in store” range from Korres. I couldn’t resist, and the decision to purchase the soap was made.

I posted an image of the soap on Instagram, and Korres got in touch to say that the soap didn’t look quite right.

That layer of white? It shouldn’t be there. They sent me some other bits from their range as they couldn’t replace the soap, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the range.

Initially I have to be honest, I was disappointed as one of the reasons I bought the soap was to create less plastic. The items which they have sent out come entirely in plastic bottles, with plastic lids. Not ideal, in truth quite frustrating.

Let’s talk about the items though!

Anti-Ageing Body Oil Honey.

This is an easy to spray on oil, I do like a body oil as it is quick to rub on after a shower and instantly gives my skin a glow. (I also imagine I am on some exotic holiday rubbing in sun oil, while I’m actually standing in my freezing cold bathroom in the UK…just me?!) The honey scent is subtle, but comforting. Oil is great for my dry skin, and I really like this!

Shower Gel Honey

The shower gel pours out nicely, and looks rather like runny honey! The recommended way to use this is to apply to a sponge or flannel to get a good lather. I have to admit I agree, and it also helps me not use it too liberally! The lather is quite silky, it doesn’t foam too much and instead you feel like the gel is actually cleansing your skin.

Body Milk Honey

I tend to avoid body milk, as I worry that they won’t be nourishing enough. This comes out of the tube like a lotion, it doesn’t pour out so it’s easy to get exactly the amount you want.

It absorbs really quickly and easily leaving skin soft and smooth. No sticky feeling after applying! I really like it, and it has made me re think body milks now!

Korres is great at using natural ingredients and avoiding parabens and SLS. This range is suitable for vegans.

I really like the new Greek range, definitely one to keep in mind when I’m next shopping! Especially if they opt to go plastic free at a later date.

5 Ways I Keep Cheery in Winter

I am the first to admit that winter is my least favourite season- unless there is snow! The thing about snow is that it makes everywhere feel very bright, and I really do think the brightness helps! But on days like today when it is just cold, and miserable, I would rather hibernate. Seriously, I would much rather be on a hot sunny beach. So, here’s how I beat my winter blues and stay happy over winter.

Baby it’s cold outside.

Wrap up and get out there! Baby carrier or buggy, getting out in the fresh air always helps me feel brighter, and wears N out a bit too – perfect if I want a quiet coffee afterwards! I’m trying to do this every day!

If I get a child free day I pick up the pace and try to walk to somewhere specific. It gives me thinking time, which benefits everyone later in the day! When the children are off school, we head out on a family friendly walk, which keeps us all busy and we’re happy when we get back in the warmth!

Hot Food and Drinks

A comforting hot mug of tea, or luxury hot chocolate sometimes give me the boost I need to take a miserable winters day in my stride! I’m still making my own take out coffee and avoiding the coffee shops too! Swapping my lunchtime sandwich for a bowl of comforting soup, or hot pasta really helps too! It sounds silly, but in summer I enjoy sitting outside with a salad so I’m trying to enjoy the benefits of being inside cosy with a bowl of soup.

Pamper

Yes, ok this one is rare! I am awful at giving myself a bit of pamper time! But seriously, whether I get my hair cut, or just paint my toe nails taking a little bit of time to pamper myself always makes me less frustrated at these cold days! I think I have a tendency to try to hide under thick socks and hats in Winter, but I should still make a little time to pamper myself! Someone once told me your summer skin is created over winter. I have no idea if that is true, but certainly a good excuse for me to treat myself!!

Embrace it!!

It’s cold. It’s miserable. Yes, but the days are already getting longer! Embracing the winter, treating myself to a new ridiculous winter hat, or an extra thick pair of socks – the perfect way to stay warm and accept that Spring will soon be on the way, just not yet!

Escape..

I would love to jump on a plane and escape to somewhere a little warmer right now. Unfortunately time and budget are stopping me from doing that! But, I can escape by starting to plan a break! I’m looking at a long weekend in Cornwall, not quite a tropical paradise, but a change of scenery will help pass the winter months!

A Guide to Choosing Your Very First Fishing Rod

This article is published in partnership with Mediabuzzer.

Image Source: Pixabay

Fishing is a very addictive pastime, and most who take it up will continue to fish for the remainder of their life, and who could blame them? There’s something magical about being surrounded by nature, and if you have been coaxed by a friend to take up fishing, here are some important things to consider when buying your very first fishing rod.

  • What Species of Fish Are you Trying to Catch? – It is essential to know the species of fish you are targeting and in the event you haven’t a preference, think about the fishing environment. Will you be fishing in salt or freshwater? What species are commonly found there? The answers to both these questions will enable you to narrow your rod choices down somewhat.
  • Avoid Expensive Rods – Like most sports, the beginner does not need anything high end, as you first have to master using a rod, so stick with a mid-range rod for your first purchase. While you don’t need the very latest advances, you should buy from a known manufacturer, which will ensure the rod is of good quality. Check out the Zenaq Fishing Rods Australia hobbyists can get from Fish Head, one of the leading tackle suppliers at lower than retail prices.

Image Source: Pixabay

  • Understand Rod Action – The way a fishing rod responds to line pressure is called rod action, and the species of fish you are hoping to catch is a big factor. For a novice, a medium action is preferred over a slow or fast action, unless you are fishing for a species that demands a specific rod action, with a fast action having less bend, while a slow action will allow the rod to bend from close to the handle. If you have no idea of the species of fish to focus on, what kind of fishing environment are you looking at? This could be anything from fishing in the ocean from a boat to sitting on the banks of a river and to a large degree, this will help you with your rod selection. There is also a great video that simply explains rod action which you should check out.
  • The Power of the Rod – The power is determined by the amount of pressure it takes to bend the rod when line is pulled. Heavy, medium and light are the main choices, with a heavy powered rod preferable for big fish, while a light action rod would be more suitable for fish under 10kg.
  • Go With a Well Known Manufacturer – A quality fishing rod should last a lifetime if it is cared for properly, and while you shouldn’t be looking at the top end of the price range, you do want a quality rod, which would likely be in the mid-price range. Zenaq have rods of all types and at affordable prices, especially if you buy from an online supplier, and with such a well-known brand, you can’t really go wrong.

Image Source: Pixabay

You can make good use of the Internet in your quest for a suitable fishing rod, as there are many online resources with very specific information on all aspects of fishing, and when you are ready to buy, a Google search will take you to the best deal.

Small changes to reduce bathroom plastic.

I have to admit that I was a little horrified when someone mentioned that my bathroom was full of plastic waste. It was a throw away comment, but got me thinking. I hadn’t really thought about the every day things which created small amounts of plastic, very regularly. But the more I looked at our bathroom products the more I realised just how much plastic waste I was creating.

I think it’s really important to remember that small changes are really important. If you try to change everything at once, it will cost a fortune, create more waste, and you’ll set yourself up to fail. So, little steps. These are ours so far in the battle against plastic bathroom waste.

Deodorant

Deodorant, so this one I have already changed. I made the switch from my old deodorant which had a plastic lid, to Earth Conscious which comes wrapped in cardboard – it is truly plastic free. You can read my review of Earth Conscious, but I will say after having used it for several months I am impressed with how well it lasts.

Facial Wipes

I haven’t used face wipes in years, last owned c. 2008 when I tried them briefly. But, Cotton Wool Pads, I have never used many of these, but have always kept some in. They come wrapped in a plastic bag – not good. So I’ve switched to Fulfilled Reuseable Face Wipes. These are great as they come in a pack of 7, so one each day. Use them, then stick them in the wash. Great for washing your face!

Toothbrush, so plastic handled tooth brushes are a nightmare. I have tried bamboo, but I have struggled with them. I need to try a few more different ones to see if I can find one which really suits me. Until then, does anyone have any suggestions for replacement heads for my electric toothbrush which may be more eco-friendly?

Shampoo, while shampoo bottles can be recycled, creating the waste in the first place when I don’t need to is the problem. So, as a family we have switched to a shampoo bar. This has actually turned out to be beneficial in many ways. The boys are quite keen to wash their hair using the bar, where they hated shampoo. Apparently the bar is easier to use – it is certainly less messy!

Shower gel, initially we started buying refills. Now we have switched everyone to a soap. I was worried that soap would dry out my skin, but so far so good! There are so many bars of soap available, there are plenty to try! One brand I’m about to try is Primal Suds, I’m just about to place an order so I’ll let you know how we get on in a month or two!

What to do with family between Christmas and back to school.

That awkward stage between Christmas Day and back to school, how do you survive it? Pre-Christmas Day, it was easy to find festive things to entertain everyone. But then the excitement of Christmas Day is over, LEGO is built, family visited and the children start to ask is it back to school yet…

Currently, we’re in the midst of eating up the Christmas food. At least one meal a day feels quite snack based – if only as I’m saying if you eat this healthy soup (made using left over vegetables) you can have a slice of yule log… There also feels like there’s a lot of TV watching too. But that might be just because we are suffering from a Christmas cold?

Yesterday, we hosted a BBQ for friends. Yes, a BBQ in December! It was the perfect way to make the most of the very mild weather. It also encouraged the children into the garden. They actually stayed outside until it was going dark! Being outside was definitely something they had all needed! Whether you have space to encourage the children outside or take them to the park, getting them outdoors will give you a nice quiet evening!

Days Out

Days out, there are still some great days out to have before back to school! They don’t have to be expensive, and places which are open are often a little quieter at this “off season” time. Remember to utilise your National Trust or English Heritage Passes if you have them. Another great place to visit is country parks. Local to us we have a country park which offers a huge play park, and mountain bike trails. Great for burning off energy!

Remember to check out what’s on in your local area, sometimes local events can be great fun and good value. Our local garden centre has family events on next weekend just before the children go back to school. It’s worth checking out local to you bloggers e.g. High Wycombe parents – What Mummy thinks. They often give great tips on where and when to visit places local to them!

Staying in?

If you’re staying home make the most of Festive TV. If you have younger children have a cinema afternoon at home with the curtains pulled closed and some snacks – left over goodies from Christmas or some home made ones will work well.

Get your craft on! There are plenty of  ideas on www.funcraftskids.com including lots of makes to do with things you would normally bin!