Friday Favorites Linky Party – Week 491

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

Kelly at Under a Texas SkyTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst | BL

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…]

3 Efficient Tech Ideas For The Modern Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of our homes. It serves as a place where meals are created, in essence powering the minds and bodies of families and friends across the world. In an ever-evolving technology centred world, kitchens are becoming smarter and more efficient to suit the needs of a modern lifestyle. With modern kitchen technology, preparing healthy and delicious meals at the comfort of your own home has become doable by just about anyone. Current and future kitchen technologies also safeguard our environment by reducing our household carbon footprint. Tech ideas that are finding their way into our kitchens aim at alleviating pressure from the hectic modern lifestyle, saving on energy consumption and delivering tasty meals.

Smart Kitchen tops

In recent years, touchscreen technology has considerably transformed the meal preparation experience by adding a touch sophistication and modernity. Apart from improving kitchen aesthetics, modern kitchen appliances are utilising touchscreen technology to improve safety and efficiency. Smart Kitchen tops such as the Thermador Masterpiece Series Freedom Induction Cooktops not only add a sleek feel to your kitchen but also come with full-colour touchscreen user interface and state-of-the-art technology that allows it to detect pots and pans.

AI-Driven appliances

The world today is making a mad dash towards Artificial Intelligence and in kitchens, the sci-fi dream of having appliances seamlessly working together is finally becoming a reality. AI-driven gadgets substantially increase cooking efficiency and need less of our time and effort, a dream come true for the working class. Among the industry leaders in Kitchen AI is LG. Their InstaView ThinQ smart refrigerator with Amazon Alexa built-in is astonishingly clever. The fridge can suggest recipes based on the available ingredients, monitor expiration dates and purchase groceries. Its internal cameras also allow you to monitor the contents of your fridge through your smartphone. Samsung also offers the Family Hub smart refrigerator which has Bixby. This new generation of Samsung refrigerators has similar features as the InstaView ThinQ refrigerator and enhanced online delivery functionality and the ability to create voice-based profiles.

Refrigerators aren’t the only kitchen appliances that are getting an AI boost. The PHB920SJSS smart oven built by General Electric is powered by Geneva, intelligent software that can coordinate with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant.

Smart appliances

Chefs can make mouth-watering meals with basic Kitchen tools and equipment. The rest of us, however, might struggle substantially to achieve the same results. Smart appliances come in handy when delivering tasty and healthy dishes while also minimizing water and energy consumption. The smart gadget field is quite diverse. There are task-specific appliances such as coffee makers and multi-purpose devices such as ovens and cookers.

The Instant Pot Smart WiFi (surpassed the multi cooker – our favourite product) is among the best selling smart appliances that are making their way into the kitchen. The pot allows you to start and continuously monitor the cooking process from anywhere through your smartphone. The pot also has Google Assistant Integration. One only needs to download the Instant Pot app which is available for Ios and Android and connect to your WiFi network to begin using its advanced features. The Instant Pot app also offers numerous recipes ranging from breakfast, kid-friendly, dessert recipes among others that can be executed on the device. The Cook Now button which is found alongside the cooking instructions automatically adjusts the setting of the pre-programmed pot to the required meal recipe and starts cooking.

As we head towards an exciting future it will be interesting to see what other tech advancements will be made in the kitchen. Future appliances and related technologies will probably make kitchens more userfriendly and safer.

Headache Hat Review

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

I’ve suffered with migraines since childhood, and I’ve been searching for and trying different products to provide relief for years.  One item I have used over the years is an ice pack. I’ve used a number of these! They’ve all worked fairly well (some work better than others) but for the most part they require you lie down to use them.

I have had a couple of wearable ice packs filled with liquid gels or gel beads. These are okay, but the ones filled with liquid cannot be stored in the freezer and none of these packs stay cold very long. Enter the Headache Hat.

When I heard about this product I was very excited. It is a wearable ice pack that also provides compression, and it can by put in the freezer for maximum cold time. [Read more…]

Best Home Maintenance Tips

Things Every Homeowner Should Know

Owning a home is an exciting yet daunting venture. Having a place to call your own can give you a sense of pride and fulfillment. That’s why many homeowners go the extra mile to take care of their home and maintain their property. After all, having a home that you can show off to your neighbors is fun. For some solutions to problems that can happen at any home, check out Guardian Recovery Services. They have been helping Michigan businesses and homeowners recover from various disasters, such as fire, smoke, water, and mold for over 15 years.

As exciting as maintaining a home can be, it’s still no easy task. Whether it’s mowing the lawn or cleaning up nasty mold in your house, you need to know how to solve some of the most basic but serious problems in your house. Here are some common household problems and how to go about fixing them.

1. Things to Check Before Buying a Home

Before you make the decision to buy your future home, you need to make sure that you do your homework. One of the biggest expenses in a home are utilities, so check to see how much they will cost monthly and where that fits in your budget. If the costs end up being a little far out of your budget, then you may want to consider other options.

Another thing to do is to talk to your neighbors. There’s a lot of information you can get from talking to your neighbors, such as what the neighbors are like, whether some of the other neighbors are loud, or if the neighbors stay up late frequently. Knowing just a little bit about what the neighbors are like will be helpful since you could potentially be living right next to them. It also won’t hurt anything to just go over to your neighbors and get to know them while you’re looking at buying a new house.

One of the most important pieces of information to gather about the house while looking is the disclosure statement from the seller. By law, the seller has to make a statement about the condition of the house, but there is always room for the seller to be dishonest or exaggerate some of the details. It’s always helpful to have a professional opinion on the house, which is why it wouldn’t hurt to get an inspection on the house. It may cost a little more to get an inspector to look at the house, but this could save you much more money with potential problems down the road with the house. For more information on what to look out for, check out some advice regarding plumbing inspections.

2. Common Household Problems and Solutions

One of the most common minor problems in homes is certain rooms that are too hot or too cold. One of the biggest causes of this problem could be the lack of ventilation into that specific room. A solution to this problem is air sealing. The tricky part to air sealing is finding out where the air is leaking in that room. Once you find the leak, you just cover that leak to prevent hot or cold air from leaving the room which will allow the air to circulate. Learn more about how to fix uncomfortable rooms here.

A common problem in households, old and new, is mold or mildew formation. It can seem like a small problem at first, but it can become quite serious if left untreated. In most cases, mold or mildew forms due to a water leak somewhere in the house. This water leak usually comes from a fault or leak in the piping. In other cases, the mold or mildew could be from a ventilation issue. Whatever the cause of mold forming, the best solution is to find the source. You could check where the mold is forming to see if you can spot the leak, or you can call a plumbing and heating contractor to have them determine the source and fix the problem.

A build-up of dust can be easily overlooked as just something that needs to be swept. But if dust continues to form quickly after repeated cleaning, then it’s best to have this problem checked out by a contractor as this could be from faulty ventilation or a leak somewhere in the house. If you find yourself having to clean up dust more than once a week, it could be something more serious than you think.

While these are all just a few of the problems and concerns to look out for before and after buying a home, there are still numerous problems that can occur. The best way to counteract these problems is to just watch out for signs that something is different about the house or is changing. The more diligent you are in spotting signs, the faster you can examine and fix the problem.

Moving And Packing Tips To Make Your Move Dead Simple

When you take a look at all the things around your home that you’ll have to pack for a move, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. While hiring packers to do the work for you is the easiest way to get the job done, you can still do it yourself with the recommended tips below. These can make the process easier so you can pack and move better than ever before.

1. Stock up on Plastic Zipper Bags

Plastic zipper bags can make packing the small things inside of your home less of a hassle. In addition to keeping them in one place, it ensures they don’t easily get lost with all of the other things you’re packing. For each bag, label what is placed inside and always place it in the box that coordinates with the room. For example, nuts, bolts, screws, and nails from the garage will still go into a larger garage box.

Plastic bags are perfect for packing small bathroom items, pens, children’s toys, socks, blocks, cords, and even cosmetics. Fortunately, you can re-use them after you move so none of the bags will go to waste.

2. Hire a Moving Truck

Moving trucks come with professional movers who will take the most physical work out of the moving process. They’ll make sure your belongings, including furniture and other bulky items, are safely placed and packed into the moving truck for transport. They’ll also drive the truck to your next destination so you don’t have to worry about driving a larger car than you might be used to. Movers take a fraction of the time to move boxes than most everyday people, so they are well worth paying to hire.

3. Rent Equipment

If you’re not going to hire a professional, or the movers you hire won’t carry out larger items, then you should rent equipment to make the job easier. While rolling carts will help with heavy boxes or some furniture, a forklift hire from Mars may be necessary for larger items. Fortunately, these can be booked in advance and are very affordable.

4. Go Through Your Things

It’s costly and time-consuming to pack and move things that you don’t want, need, or use. Save yourself the trouble by going through your things months before you head out. Donate, sell, or throw away anything that you’re not going to use inside of your new home. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money by doing this before you move.

5. Create a Schedule

If you have a schedule of what needs to be done, then the process of moving will be simple and straightforward. Without it, you could easily end up second-guessing yourself and whether or not you’ve scheduled everything to get done. Even if your move isn’t long-distance, you’ll want to be as organized as possible.

A Move Without the Stress

Make moving easier by utilizing the tips above before you get started. You might be surprised at how much simpler they make moving as a whole. From knowing when things are going to be done to hiring tools before you leave, each step will bring you closer to your final destination.

Friday Favorites Linky Party Week 490

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

Kelly at Under a Texas SkyTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst | BL

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…]

5 Fun, Educational Summer Activities For Kids 

Are your kids bored this summer?  Do they sigh heavily when you offer your usual litany of suggestions — go on more bike rides, meet friends at the local playground, visit the county fair, or set up camp in the backyard for a night of stargazing? 

Maybe it’s time to try something different, time to help them expand their growing minds with a fascinating new subject. 

Learning doesn’t just occur in school. Introducing your child to learning outside the classroom, does more than just teach them invaluable skills. You’re also teaching them to be lifelong learners. 

Here are five suggestions to help your kids experience the thrill of discovery:  

Teach Your Kids About Genealogy 

Genealogy can help your kids understand their family tree. 

If, for example, your family has an Irish genealogy, use stories published in Irish American newspaper articles dating back to the 1800s to help them discover their roots and the type of lifestyle their ancestors lived. They might be surprised to learn that from 1820 to 1860, a little under two million Irish people immigrated to the U.S. to escape the potato famine in Ireland. They came here to find jobs and build a new life for their families — and that could be why your family resides in the U.S. today.

Teach Your Kids How to Cook 

Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. You can make it fun and exciting. Use this opportunity to teach your kids about the nutritional value of different foods. 

Teaching them how to make salads will do far more than teach them practical culinary skills. Your kids will start appreciating the value of eating unprocessed, natural foods rich in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. You’ll also be making them aware that junk food is loaded with unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt, and fats.

Who knows? They may even surprise you by making their own Crack Chicken Pasta in an Instant Pot

Teach Your Kids How to Read Aloud

Reading, of course, is an essential life skill that will increase attention span, improve vocabulary, and strengthen cognition. 

Books still have their place in modern life despite the plethora of multimedia devices. Good books have captured the wisdom of the ages in the voice of their original authors.  

Reading aloud adds a new dimension to literacy. Your kids will learn enunciation, dramatic pauses, and correct pronunciation. They will learn how to entertain an audience with the spoken word. 

Teach Your Kids How to Write Creatively

Even if your kids have learned the fine motor skills of how to use a pencil on paper, learning how to write can be priceless. If they’re already proficient at handwriting, then teach them how to get good at typing, and if they already know how to type, then teach them how to compose their ideas on paper. 

But, of course, writing well is not about knowing how to put words on paper, nor is it about learning grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Rather, it is about learning how to organize a sequence of coherent ideas. Also, when you have your kids focus on creative writing and composing short stories, it helps spur their imagination.

Teach Your Kids How to Code

Many online educational programs teach children the fundamentals of computer programming. Learning how to code will become an increasingly valuable skill in the future.

Learning this skill is like learning a new language or playing a musical instrument. While using tutorial software like MIT’s Scratch Program is not always intuitive, it’s a highly rewarding creative activity once someone gets the knack of learning how to write their own programs. 

Your child will learn how to enjoy experimenting. 

The purpose of these five learning activities isn’t to acquire proficiency. Instead, it’s a way to show kids that learning can be fun. These skills also contribute to learning how to think.

You’re helping your kids learn how to feel excited about discovering new things without the pressure to compete with others or perform for a grade or approbation. You’re teaching them the joy of learning for its own sake. You’re teaching them how to think. You’re teaching them that the world is a far more interesting place than they thought.

Healthy Snacks to Take On-the-Go

Life often requires a little bit of ingenuity and the ability to accelerate in a moment’s notice. Eating healthy is hard in the best of circumstances, but when on the go, it can be tough. Bags of potato chips is easy, and fast food convenient. Yet with a little time and creative thinking, you can create healthy snacks to grab and go whenever you’re in a rush.

Part of eating healthy is cutting back on fats and processed sugar. Buying snacks with fewer ingredients can help to prevent purchasing a snack that looks healthy but is loaded with the very ingredients you’d like to avoid. Another option is to make your own at home, and prep them so that all you need to do is grab as you run out the door.

Five Healthy Grab-and-Go Snacks

  • Honey. For a quick pick-me-up, honey is the way to go. Purchase individual honeycomb packets and you can add honey to anything: crackers, bread, on top of a banana, or over the slices of apples. Offering needed antioxidants and linked to reduced strokes, heart attacks, and may also help promote eye health, honey is a great way to finish that seventh inning stretch until your next meal.
  • Peanut butter and apples. The fiber from apples will help you feel full for longer, not to mention digestive health, and peanut butter contains protein, fiber, and vitamin B-6. Putting the two together is as delicious as it is healthy. Just remember to squeeze lemon juice over apples to slow the oxidation process that turns them an unappetizing brown.
  • Turkey jerky is a great idea if you need something to sink your teeth into on the run. Lower in the bad fats, but loaded with taste, turkey jerky is a low-cost alternative to beef jerky, and depending on which flavor you choose, can be low in sodium and sugar. Many find making their own is a great alternative, allowing for taste and preferences.
  • Trail mix. Store-bought trail mix offers at least five flavor options, but if you’re up for it, creating your own means you have limitless possibilities. At the base of every great trail mix is nuts, often peanuts, almonds, and cashews. Add in some dried fruits, perhaps a small amount of chocolate and liberally sprinkled with your favorite spices. It’s also one of the easiest to create different sizes, from small for snacks at work to large for those long road trips.
  • Popcorn with dried roasted chickpeas. Not often thought of as a pair, wash and thoroughly drain the chickpeas and add to pre-popped popcorn. The lovely flavors mix; the chickpeas add a nice savory crunch to the satisfying chewiness of popcorn. As with trail mix, it can be separated into small or large portions depending on your needs.

If you don’t have time to make all of these healthy snacks, many are readily available at your neighborhood stores. Remember to store them according to directions, but none should need refrigeration. All are great to toss into a bag and head out the door, whether for a quick trip to the beach or an overnight trip out of town. 

Kid-Friendly Kitchen Design Ideas

The kitchen can really get chaotic in the household. While you’re preparing meals your toddler is trying to grab the pots and pans out the cabinet, your school-aged daughter wants to be a big helper, and your preteen is hovered over the countertop looking for a snack as they complete their homework. There has to be a better solution to this regular evening madness. 

And there is. Redesigning your kitchen to meet the needs of not just yourself, but your children can help smooth things over. Not sure what a kid-friendly kitchen would look like? Here are some ideas below:

 Install Lower Cabinets and Drawers

For the little helper in the family, accessibility is key. You don’t want them getting hurt trying to climb on a chair to reach higher cabinets. Having a few low cabinets with drawers installed at a lower level can make your helper’s job easier. You can check out different cabinet styles by visiting sites like https://www.gkandb.com/locations/san-francisco/ to find designs that match your decor best. 

Breakfast Nooks

Breakfast nooks are ideal for families with children because they serve a dual purpose. They give the kids a place to sit and eat their snacks after school while also providing a space for them to do their homework, draw, color, or mix ingredients to help you prepare dinner. There are many different styles and sizes to choose from based on the size of your kitchen. Try to designate an area away from the stove and the prepping area to keep kids safe. 

Easy to Clean Surfaces

A few minutes in the kitchen with your kids and all your hard efforts to clean go down the drain. You can make cleaning a lot easier by working with easy to clean surfaces. Whether installing countertops or flooring keep cleanliness in mind. While natural stone like marble is quick to stain quartz isn’t. Lament flooring is also an option to make it easy to mop up messes. 

Entertainment

When your kids are younger they seem to be attached to your hip. They don’t want to leave mom’s side even if she is cooking dinner for the family. If they’re going to be in the kitchen with you, but you want them to stay out of the way, then consider adding things to your design that will keep them entertained. A feature chalkboard wall, for example, can keep them drawing for hours. You could also buy a television for them to watch their favorite shows. 

Space is Ideal

If you have the funds for a complete kitchen remodel then remember space is key to a family-friendly kitchen. The more space you have the less cluttered you guys feel if you’re in the kitchen at the same time. Open concepts are very popular and provide a ton of space which can be ideal for putting up child gates, a playpen, or a section with toys to keep the kids occupied. 

Island

For kitchens without a lot of counter space, things can get pretty crowded really fast. You can make the kitchen more family-friendly by installing an island. A nice island not only provides more storage but gives you space for prepping meals. It can also double as an eating or studying area for the kids if you don’t have space for a nook. 

Babyproofing

For infants and toddlers roaming around the kitchen, you want to be careful. Be sure that you have babyproofed everything to keep them from getting hurt. Section off the area by the stove with a child safety gate put socket covers over low but unused outlets, put rubber bumpers on sharp corners,  and install locks on cabinets they shouldn’t access.

The kitchen really is the heart of the home. It’s where meals are prepared and families spend time with one another. If your kitchen tends to become a madhouse when the kids are around, make some changes like those discussed above to make it more kid-friendly.

Items To Sell or Get Rid Of Before Your Move

Buying a home is expensive. By the time it’s all said and done, you’ve likely used all or most of your financial resources to secure the property. When the time comes to start moving, it may seem practical to save money by holding onto everything you can. Contrary to popular belief, however, taking everything from your old place to your new one can cost you more. 

 The more you pack, the more moving supplies you need, the more time and energy you spend packing. Not to mention, whether you rent a moving van or hire movers, the size of your load will determine how much you’ll pay to transport your belongings. 

For these reasons and more, it is simply best to get rid of certain things and purchase new stuff once you get moved in. How do you decide? Below are some suggestions. 

Old Appliances – If your new home doesn’t have appliances like a refrigerator, stove, washer, or dryer, you might be tempted to load your old ones up on the moving van and take them with you. Yet, if the appliances were on their last legs in your old home, it would make more sense to sell your old appliances and use the money to purchase new ones once you get settled in. 

Old Mattresses and Box Springs – Why bring a beat-up mattress and box spring to your new bedroom? They can be the host of everything from dust and debris to mites and other bugs. Transporting your mattress unnecessarily can end up being more of a nightmare than it’s worth. Not to mention, it’s pretty cumbersome to lug up or downstairs and into a truck. Simply order a new organic mattress and memory foam mattress foundation online and have it delivered to your new place.

Unworn or Damaged Clothing – Purging your closets is one of the top recommendations before a move. Over the years people have a habit of holding onto more clothes than they really need. Some have never been worn while others are outdated, stained, or ripped. 

Food – If you have a stockpile of canned or boxed goods in the kitchen you should probably start eating those items before the move. You can also donate some to a charity or give them to friends and family who may be in need. However, these items simply weigh down the truck. As for perishable items, they simply don’t travel well. 

Disabled or Old Vehicles – Cars cost a lot of money to transport whether you’re moving a city away or states away. So, unless the car has some sentimental value to you, it’s best to get rid of it. You can sell it to a salvage yard for parts or try and sell it to an individual buyer. 

Old Furniture – Don’t load the couch with a missing leg or the loveseat with holes in it onto the moving truck. Old furniture will only create a hassle in your new home. Even if you have to wait a while to get new furniture, it’s better than trying to patch up something that could give out on you at any moment. Not to mention it’s bulky so it will be difficult to move and costly. 

Selling Your Items

After you’ve gone through your entire house to discern which things you’ll pack and which you’re going to sell you can begin deciding how you’ll get this done. You can host a yard sale before your move, you can take photos of the items you have for sale and sell them through the classifieds, or you can sell them online through platforms like eBay. While yard sales can be a bit more work, selling your things online will take a lot longer and can cost a lot more to ship things to their new owners. So, weigh the pros and cons accordingly. 

Moving is stressful enough. It also costs a pretty penny. Why frustrate yourself or stretch your budget further by trying to hold onto things that provide no real purpose or value? Rather than busting your back to move bulky, cumbersome items that will just end up being thrown away once you get to your new place, simply find a way to get rid of them now. Whether you sell them online or host a yard sale, the money you receive from it will certainly come in handy.