Friday Favorites Linky Party Week 513

Please support and follow our lovely blog party hostesses:

Jerri at Simply Sweet HomeTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Lisa at Condo BluesTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Amy at A Day of Small ThingsPin

Penny at Penny’s PassionTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Jennifer at Busy Being JenniferTwitter | FB | Pin | Inst

If you are featured this week, be sure and grab a featured button for your blog!

You can show your love for this week’s favorites by going over and commenting on the posts and by pinning or sharing!

And if you love all of this week’s favorites, please pin, share, and invite your friends to this week’s linky party! [Read more…]

Fissler Frying Pan Review

Disclosure: I received a free product to facilitate this post. The opinions are my own.


I’ve had some great cookware and some not-so-great cookware.  Last year I was blessed to get a few new pieces to add to my collection so that I could great out a few of the not-so-good pieces!  One of the new pieces of cookware I added to my collection was a frying pan from Fissler.

I received the 9.5-Inch, coated Aluminium frying pan.  These are made in Germany and are compatible induction, gas, electric cooktops.  They are also dishwasher safe.

I was immediately impressed by the quality.  Not only does the product look great (it is shiny and has a very lovely nonstick coating), but it is also very heavy and sturdy.  There are also measuring lines on the side, which is a nice touch! [Read more…]

Where Would You Go If Money Was No Object?

The world is full of spectacular places; there are so many of them if only we had more time and more importantly, more money. Where do you think you would travel to though if money was no object? You wouldn’t have to wonder how much does a jet cost or look for deals on flights and hotels. Imagine the world really was your oyster and you could go anywhere and do anything you wanted – well within reason, but if everything was free or you simply had enough money that you didn’t need to factor it into your plans.

World Cruise

A world cruise is a pretty obvious choice, but for a good reason, who wouldn’t want to go around the world while enjoying a life of luxury. There are different options for world cruises which vary in price, length and destinations, but imagine in the one trip you could be stopping off at destinations like Singapore, Mumbai, Hong Kong, the Canary Islands, Stockholm, Olden and Geiranger in Scandinavia, St. Petersburg in the Baltic, Reykjavik in Iceland, Cape Town and Hawaii. And if money really was no object, then there are even world cruises where you could have your own personal butler who will organise everything for you for when you are onshore. 

 

Tahiti

One of the 118 islands that make up French Polynesia, Tahiti is one places that often comes up when people talk about their dream destinations. Tahiti is known for its overwater bungalows, designed in the style of traditional island houses and is a beautiful, intimate and romantic setting. Tahiti is the largest, and one of the busiest islands and the capital city, Papeete, has a number of high-end resorts, as well as restaurants, markets and shops. At the traditional Papeete Market, shoppers can pick up items scented with vanilla or made from black pearls which are both specialities of the area.

 

Bora Bora

Another of the French Polynesian islands, Bora Bora, is another romantic destination that many dream of going to. Bora Bora is an extinct volcano and today; it sits amidst a lagoon that glimmers in almost supernatural shades of blue, You’ll find coral reefs, white sandy beaches, colourful fish and a beautiful landscape. It’s simply paradise. 

 

Australia

Australia is a country which often appears on peoples’ bucket lists. People don’t tend to go for a short amount of time, but rather make it a trip of a lifetime. Australia is so huge though, that once you are there, you may as well explore and get the most out of it. From spending time in paradise in places like the Whitsunday Islands, enjoying the sunshine, surfing, hiking, checking out the outback or snorkelling or sailing, there is always something amazing you could be doing in Australia, and if money were no object and you had plenty of time too, you could travel around and do it all. If you could do it, then a trip that includes Sydney, Cairns, Ayers Rock and Adelaide would be a great mix. Sydney is a cosmopolitan city which is home to the Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge; while visitors to Cairns can go snorkelling or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Ayers Rock is known for the rock itself but is also a great place to explore the Aboriginal culture. Then there’s Adelaide which boasts an excellent wine region and is close to Kangaroo Island, a wildlife preserve for creatures like kangaroos and koalas. 

 

Italy

Again, if money was no object, you could visit lesser-known Italian towns like Siena, Bologna and Lake Como. Siena is best known for historic offerings like its 13th-century square Piazza del Campo and the Museo Civico, which houses beautiful frescos. Bologna is a culinary destination, and the glacially formed Lake Como, in the Italian Alps, is renowned for its natural beauty. Again, you could spend a decent amount of time here and visit the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy, which features pastel-coloured homes built into bluffs overlooking the Bay of Naples, and little towns like Ravello; visitors also aren’t far from the island of Capri. Travellers who like high-end fashion shouldn’t miss Milan, headquarters of big-name Italian designers like Versace and Dolce & Gabbana and when money is no object, you might as well treat yourself. 

 

South Africa

There’s desert, mountains, coastline, and the cultural heritage, South Africa has a lot to see. Within one day, you could go from shopping for locally-made crafts at Greenmarket Square in Cape Town to off-roading in the bush at Addo Elephant National Park looking for the big five: elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo. Then you can cruise along the Garden Route—renowned for its whale-watching—on South Africa’s eastern coast, and if you like a bit of history, then you can take a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, or visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. English is widely spoken, and South Africa is more westernised than many other parts of Africa/ It also doesn’t require a visa to visit, it’s malaria-free, and you can’t forget that South Africa has an excellent wine region. There’s so much to see and do, again you need time not to be an object either. 

 

Space

Forget that the Russian Space Agency requires you to be a billionaire in order to explore the final frontier, or that you need almost £200 million to go on a private venture around the moon with American company SpaceX, just imagine being able to go into space. The companies offering this jaunt may need to work on their luxury offerings for the journey to make it more desirable, but if you can put up with a long, boring journey all to go to space then wouldn’t this be the trip of a lifetime?

 

Where would you go if money was no object?

 

Book Review: I Don’t Like to Eat Ants

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I received a free book copy to facilitate this review. The opinions are my own.


I’ve been reading to Thaxton since he was born, and he LOVES books!  A while back I was excited to receive a review copy of I Don’t Like to Eat Ants, written by JTK Belle and illustrated by Sabine Mielke.  Thaxton was immediately interested in this book, and it is now one of his favorites.

We actually just started doing Letter of the Week, and this was one of the books we used for the letter A.  Thaxton loves it so much he will often request it by saying, “anteater book.”

This is a great book for all ages.  But I’d say the ideal age group for the book would be 4 to 8 years old.

Thaxton is only 2, so he doesn’t fully understand the plot, but he still enjoys the book a lot.  It has a really fun rhyme scheme, which is great for toddlers.  And the whole book is actually a dialogue between the two anteaters, which allows you to have a lot of fun with the reading, doing voices and that sort of thing.  (In reading to Thaxton, I’ve found some of the most fun books to read are these books filled with dialogue/conversation.)

Apart from the great rhymes and humor, there is also a great storyline and a lesson to be learned.  The story is about an anteater who does not want to eat ants anymore.  His friend, Anteater 2, is outraged by this and cannot imagine eating anything other than ants.  Finally, the two anteaters go to a restaurant, and Anteater 1 convinces Anteater 2 to try an peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Anteater 2 is amazed that he actually likes it.  Anteater 1 then says, “I’m glad you tried something other than ants. You never know what you’ll like till you give it a chance.”

If you have a picky eater in your house or a kid who is reluctant to try new things than this book would definitely be a great way to start a conversation about trying new foods.  I think your kids will also find it entertaining and enjoyable, as we did!

You can order  I Don’t Like to Eat Ants on Amazon.

If you have a children’s book or other learning products for children, I’d love to write a review for you. Please see my advertising page or contact me.

7 Inexpensive Upgrades to Your Home

People spend thousands of dollars on home upgrades. They might be thinking of selling the home right now or are looking to sell the home in the future. They think they can get the money back when they sell the house, but they rarely do. Some renovations are not worth the money. For example, Readers Digest listed 32 home improvement ideas that are a huge waste of money.

Included on their list were items such as:

· New HVAC systems

· New decks

· Sunrooms

· Swimming pools

· New faucets and fixtures

· Built-in swimming pools and hot tubs

· Expensive, out of the ordinary landscaping

· Murals and wallpaper

· Built-in fishtanks

· Home gyms

· Saunas and steam rooms

· Fireplace mantles

· Solar panels

· Over renovating bathrooms and kitchens.

Many home improvements provide a rotten return on investment

For example, a basement renovation typically only returns less than half of the money spent on it. The same with a major kitchen remodel. They say kitchens sell homes, but what good is that if you only get back fifty percent of the money spent.

Seven things you can do inexpensively

There are several things you can do inexpensively: 1. For a few hundred dollars, companies such as Rustica can set you up with fabulous interior Dutch doors between your living room and the kitchen. For your front door, you can add a little paint, preferably black or smokey grey, the colors Zillow says to add to get the most return on investment, and you’ve made a terrific start. 2. Buy one quality appliance instead of remodeling. According to keenlykristin.com, buying one quality appliance makes a ton more sense than remodeling an entire kitchen and losing thousands of dollars in resale.

3. Use tile or high-grade linoleum over hardwood. Both tile and modern linoleum are fantastic choices over hardwood. They are infinitely cheaper, yet even linoleum looks terrific in the modern styles available.

4. Think about refinishing the deck. If you sand down your original deck and re-stain it, it will look like a million bucks for perhaps $200 or less.

5. Think about revamping your kitchen cabinets. If you sand and repaint your kitchen cabinets then repaint them, you’ll wonder if you are even in the same house. True, it takes some elbow grease and a creative touch, but you can have a completely new looking kitchen for around $100.

6. Repaint old faucet fixtures. Modern paint companies such as Rustoleum make modern spray paints in metallic look gold that looks fantastic and runs around $7 a can. This will save thousands on a bathroom remodel. Add a new rug and a shower curtain, and you are gold.

7. Consider stenciling a custom floor. You can give any room in your home a thousand dollar look with ordinary wall paint. Check out this YouTube video, Stenciling Floors, to learn how.

Saving money

Search the internet and you will find literally dozens of home remodeling sites. If you look further, you will see the vast majority of them treat home remodeling like money is no object.

While it’s true that if you plan on living in a house for another 20 or so years, a home remodeling project may make life more livable. People are moving out of their homes and relocating or staying in the same city, but they are either downsizing or upgrading at an increasing rate. The average is around 11 years in one home in most cities, but in that span of time, some people will have moved in and out of their home three or four times.

With rapid relocation, in many cases, it makes sense to do as little as possible to renovate your home. Instead, it makes financial sense to cut loose with the old and buy new. This is particularly important advice for those in transition periods such as when an elderly parent dies or their children grow up and go to college.

Still, to sell quickly and at a good price, a home needs to look modern. So it’s a great idea to investigate inexpensive ways to renovate a home.

Need For Home Security And Residential Locksmith

You are probably busy most of the day going to work and handling other responsibilities every day. While you might be capable enough to handle all the other chores around the house, it can be challenging to maintain the locks and security systems. These locks and other measures are what keep you and your family safe from intruders. It is better to have as much protection as possible than to regret it later. Here are five services a professional residential locksmith offers.

Rekeying Doors

One of the cheapest methods of safely moving into an apartment or house that has been home to many people previously is to get the locks rekeyed. You can hire any locksmith to come and change the springs and pins in all the locks. You will need a new key after this. It is better to get a professional locksmith than any regular one.

Repairs The Locks

Locks can get very difficult open when they get old and rusty. If any of the locks in your home is causing trouble while unlocking or locking, then you should hire a professional residential locksmith. It is better if someone experienced takes a go at it, doing it yourself could just make it worse.

Help With Home Security Systems

A residential locksmith can understand how trying it is to leave your home empty when you go away for a few days or even during work hours. You may have had a top of the line system installed a few years ago, but it might have some vulnerabilities in it now. Professionals know about all the new equipment trending in the markets. They can even help you install some of these gear. Having a sound home security system is essential to keep your family and valuables safe from criminals.

Safe Sales And Service

Safes have become really important in today’s world. You probably have valuable or sentimental items around your home, they will be vulnerable in case someone decides to break in. That is why it is essential to have a safe. You should also keep all the important documentsin it. A locksmith can help determine which would be best suitable for your needs. You might even need one for any licensed weapons in the house, to keep them away from your kids.

Smart Lock Installation

While you are upgrading security systems, fixing up locks, or getting them changed, it might be useful to take a look at a piece of smart technology. Smart locks are becoming increasingly popular for numerous reasons. It can be connected to your mobile, and let you know if it is lock or not. It will make it possible to lock the door with just a touch of a button on a connected device.

Some can be controlled by AI voice command gear, like Amazon’s Alexa. To take it even further, you can even get a smart lock that has a camera. Those devices can also be connected to your mobile, and they allow you to watch whoever is at your door at any time of the day.

4 Things To Look For In A Potential Rental Property

Buying to rent is an attractive proposition for many reasons. Perhaps you’re looking to begin earning a more passive income, maybe you want to take the first step in starting your own business, or perhaps you’re simply looking ahead and thinking about ways to increase your assets for when you reach retirement age. Whatever it is driving you to purchase your first buy to let property, you need to make sure it’s a wise investment, so here are 4 things to look out for. 

  1. The cost
    Perhaps unsurprisingly one of the main things to consider when looking at potential properties is how much initial investment you will need to make and what potential return you could see. In terms of the initial investment, you may already have an amount of money saved up to buy the property outright or you may be looking at taking out a rental loan from a company such as Visio Lending to cover the cost of your mortgage. Either way, the price needs to be right and ideally, you’ll be looking at properties selling for below market value. When it comes to potential rental returns you’ll want to ensure that you can make a profit after making your mortgage repayments and putting money aside for maintenance and agency fees. The maintenance aspect of the property is often what is most overlooked, so when choosing the property to buy remember to check the quality of the roof, heating system and major appliances that will cost you the most to replace.

  2. The location
    The location of your property can make a big difference in the amount of rent you can charge your tenants. If you are looking to cater to families then an important factor to consider is being close to or in the catchment area for a good school. If you are looking to cater to young professionals then a location with good transport links is advisable to help them with their commute. Whoever your target tenant is, do a little research into the kinds of things that they typically look for in a property to help you decide on the best location for you to buy in.

  3. The condition
    More often than not, the properties that are below market value and represent a good investment opportunity require a little bit of work so it’s important to be clear about what jobs you are comfortable doing and which you will need to hire in professional help for. Most of the time a fresh carpet, a lick of paint and a general clean can do wonders for a run-down house, but on occasion, you may need to consider larger-scale improvements such as installing a new kitchen, bathroom or heating system. Remember that the improvements you make to the property before being able to let it out will need to come out of your total budget.

  4. The current real estate market
    The real estate market can be influenced by many factors causing property prices to rise and fall. Keep one eye on the market at all times to see if its a good time to be buying or selling.  

Friday Favorites Linky Party Week 512

Please support and follow our lovely blog party hostesses:

Jerri at Simply Sweet HomeTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Lisa at Condo BluesTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Amy at A Day of Small ThingsPin

Penny at Penny’s PassionTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Jennifer at Busy Being JenniferTwitter | FB | Pin | Inst

If you are featured this week, be sure and grab a featured button for your blog!

You can show your love for this week’s favorites by going over and commenting on the posts and by pinning or sharing!

And if you love all of this week’s favorites, please pin, share, and invite your friends to this week’s linky party! [Read more…]

Don’t Believe TV: Real Tips for Home Renos

Renovating a home is a lot like biting into a jalapeno pepper. You might like it. But it can also make you cry. To turn your home renovation into an Instagram-worthy success story, read on about how to do it all without too many tears. From staying on budget to opening small spaces and cozying up large ones, here’s to realizing your real-life home reno dreams.

Stay on Budget

Many home renovators are tempted to go all in too quickly, but resist the urge. The truth is, research and patience are your best defenses against turning your fixer-upper into a real money pit. First, create a master plan of all the renovations you want done, then get bids from several general contractors. These will give you an idea of the max you’ll spend. From there you can pare down on the list of projects, do some things yourself and/or wait to do others for some time down the road.

Open Up Small Spaces

To revamp a small space, the first trick is to empty the space of every piece of furniture and decoration. And we mean Every. Single. Piece. Paint the walls, doors, trim, moldings and even light switch and outlet covers the same color for a seamless look. Install recessed lighting if possible so that every corner of the space is bright and usable, or use a combination of accent lighting like wall sconces, under-the-cabinet lights and table lamps. A large mirror and other shiny fixtures will reflect light and make the room seem larger. Then, return only the furniture you love to the room. For the pieces you don’t want to use but don’t want to part with, Austin storage units let you keep valuables safe while still freeing up the space.

Cozy-fy Large Spaces

To keep a large space from feeling cavernous, carve out smaller zones. In a large living room, some built-in bookshelves and window seats will add some extra magic. Lighting is also key, so add more accent lighting in every corner to keep the creep factor to a minimum. To create a comfortable conversation zone, consider adding a large area rug and floating the furniture close together in the middle of the room. For walls, you can afford to be bold with a large space. Try a glamorous wallpaper, install crown molding or paint the walls a dramatic jewel tone like navy blue.

Restore Original Flooring A home renovation isn’t complete without restoring some glory to original floors. Older homes often have beautiful heartwood covered up by layers of ill-advised carpeting or linoleum. Remove those layers, strip it down and refinish the wood underneath. Or, if you’re lucky enough to find them intact, restore historic ceramic tile floors.

Invest in the Right Upgrades

Don’t go overboard on the fancy upgrades. Vinyl window, siding and garage door replacements have a much higher return on investment than a major kitchen remodel, according to real estate professionals. But if you must add a little frosting, opt for new cabinet knobs and drawer pulls in brushed nickel or bronze for an updated look.

Keep Everything Organized

If you’re undergoing a whole house makeover, things will be in disarray. You’re likely to find a box of stray screws in the bathroom cabinet and drop cloths in the linen closet. If that is the case, your first line of defense is movable storage. Invest in several transparent storage boxes with lids to organize materials by project — paint pans with rollers and tape, tile with grout and calk, etc. Next, get a couple of five-gallon buckets with aprons to organize tools. Add a sharpie and painters tape for labeling and you’re good to go.

Have Courage

No one ever said it was easy, but it doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Armed with a little savvy to tackle the budget and organization woes, and with a few ideas on maximizing the space and making it all cozy, you can conquer your home renovation with as little pain as possible.

Simply Earth Essential Oil Starter Box Review

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I received products to facilitate this post. The opinions are my own.

Last year I had the honor of reviewing the Simply Earth Essential Oil Recipe Box!  This is a subscription program where you get 4 bottles of essential oils each month, plus other supplies and recipe cards that teach you fun and unique ways to use your essential oils.  (If you missed these posts, please scroll down to the bottom to find links to all my reviews!)

Here are a few quick facts about this amazing subscription box!

  • Cost is just $39 / month.
  • Each box has 4 bottles of essential oil, recipe cards to help you use your oils in fun and unique ways, plus other materials you need to make the recipes.
  • Each box is specially curated with a unique theme in mind.
  • Each box is a $150 value!
  • When you subscribe you get a cool BONUS box for FREE!
  • You also get a $40 gift card for FREE when you use my referral link and coupon code:  SSHOMEFREE!

Rather than reviewing the January box, this month I had the opportunity to review their new STARTER BOX!  Check it out!

[Read more…]