Archive of ‘Tips’ category
Moving home is incredibly stressful, but there will probably come a time when no matter how much you love your home, you need to upgrade or downsize. If you look online, you will find a hundred and one house selling tips, but before you reach that stage in the process, it is a good idea to think about whether you actually need to sell. After all, there are plenty of ways to enlarge or improve an existing property, which could save you money!
If you are still undecided, here are five reasons why it is time to sell up and move on.
A Growing Family
A one-bed studio apartment is fine when there is just the two of you, but once kids come along, it will soon begin to feel a bit cramped. Kids take up a lot of room. They come with extra furniture, toys and hundreds of miscellaneous bits and pieces. Even if the bedrooms are large enough to accommodate siblings, as your children grow into teenagers they will want their own space. For this reason, most families take the decision to move to a larger property once their home begins to feel cramped.
A home is a huge investment. Unless you are lucky enough to be able to buy your home outright, you probably have mortgage payments to make every month. When times are good, this will not be a problem, but if the worst happens and you lose your job for any reason, it will be hard to pay the mortgage. One way to deal with this change in circumstances is to sell up and buy a cheaper property. Ideally, you can pay off your mortgage and be debt free, but at the very least, your repayments will be lower.
A Career Change
Ticking along in the same old job for years suits some people, but if you fancy a change in career, selling your home and buying something cheaper could release enough equity to fund a new business venture. However, this is not a decision to be taken lightly, as you could lose your home if it all goes wrong.
An Unexpected Windfall
Have you inherited a large sum of money or struck it lucky on the Lotto? If so, now would be a good time to trade in your one-bed apartment and upgrade to a beachfront condominium somewhere hot and sunny.
Bad neighbours are a nightmare to deal with. Sometimes the situation can be resolved with some careful negotiation or legal action, but if you have tried everything to make the best of a bad situation, selling up and moving to a new home with nicer neighbours could be answer you are looking for. It is not ideal, but sometimes you just have to admit defeat and take the path of least resistance.
Selling a property is always stressful, no matter how well organised you are, so do not make the decision to move unless you absolutely have to.
Give Your Wardrobe a New Lease of Life
With embroidery one of the hottest fashion trends of 2016, there’s never been a better time to learn the skill.
If there’s one trend that’s making a comeback right now, it’s embroidery! At the start of the year fashion journalists were telling us that we’d be seeing plenty of embroidered garments in the shops – and boy were they right! From jeans to dresses, the more embellishment the better. So there’s never been a better time to take up embroidery than now. With the right skills, tools and knowledge, you’ll quickly be able to add some beautiful embroidery to your own clothes.
Do your research
That’s not to say that books can’t help you out – there are some fantastic ones out there. Have a look online and in your favourite bookshops for some beginner’s level books. If you see a book that’s full of beautiful projects but they’re a little advanced, pick it up! After all, if you’re going to improve you’ll want to have more challenging projects to get started on. Subscribing to a magazine is a great option too, as you’ll be inspired every month to create something new. With the right written advice and the support of your classmates and teachers, you’ll be an expert in no time at all!
Buy the right machine
Of course, all the knowledge in the world isn’t enough if you don’t have the right tools. While it’s incredibly easy to embroider by hand, machines allow you to embark on more ambitious projects and help you to build on your existing skills. Shopping for embroidery machines can be pretty daunting – there are just so many out there! Brother embroidery machines are a great choice for those starting out. The controls are easy to get to grips with, and they come with an array of built-in embroidery designs. As your skill level grows, you’ll find that the familiar comfort of a Brother machine means that you’ll be unafraid to tackle any project.
Take a class
There are many ways to familiarise yourself with embroidery. Firstly, see if there are any classes going on near you. Even if you’re shy, it’s a really good idea to get yourself out there and meet fellow embroidery enthusiasts. You’ll be able to learn not only from an experienced teacher, but your fellow classmates too. After all, some of the best tips come from years of practise rather than the pages of a book!
Some exciting projects
So which projects should you be tackling first? Well, if you want to transform some of your clothes, there are plenty of great ways to get started. Have you got lots of old t-shirts that are past their best? Brilliant – they’re fantastic blank canvases for embroidery designs. Start small, perhaps with a small detail on a pocket or sleeve, and work your way up to designs on the neckline, hem or right in the middle of the shirt. Jeans are great to unleash your creativity onto as well – and the built-in designs on your machine will work wonders. Of course, you can embroider many other things too – from pillowcases and duvets to bags. So why not give your home and accessories a facelift too?
You’ve got nothing to lose by trying
Don’t hold back once you’ve got the embroidery bug – practice makes perfect and the more things you make, the more confident you’ll grow! Once you’ve started to transform your clothes with embroidery, you’ll be the envy of all your friends. Who knows, they may even want to take it up too! With so much inspiration out there, we wouldn’t be surprised.
It can be very easy for your garage to become a badly disorganised, storage area for junk with so many different boxes filled with stuff and other kinds of clutter, that it can be hard to pull your car into it, let alone work on the thing. If you are interested in working on cars, and use your own garage for this or have a small business that you are trying to improve, the following article gives some very practical and easy to put into action tips that will help turn your garage into a more effective work and storage space.
Mount Everything On Wheels
If you want to make your garage a more functional space than it already is, it may be a good idea to put everything on wheels. This means not only stools and things that you’d expect to be on wheels, but bench-mounted tools (such as those found here – http://www.sgs-engineering.com/garage-equipment), arbour presses, drill presses and cabinets are also much easier to handle and store if they are on a set of caster wheels.
Wall Mount Your Tool Boxes
Freeing up floor space is a must, as you need as much space as possible to fit a car inside the garage and work under and around it. This can be achieved by wall mounting cabinets and tool boxes, to give you space to store your tools and other accessories, while keeping them off the floor.
Make Use Of Overhead Racks
Does your garage have a particularly high ceiling? If it does, make effective use of this by using it as an out of the way storage area. Pulley-controlled overhead racks can be bought for storing long items such as ladders etc. so that they are out of your way, but also easy to get back down when you need it.
Stainless Steel Sink
You need somewhere to clean yourself up and parts too at times, so if you haven’t already got one, it may be time to purchase a stainless steel stink. As well as having the advantage of being durable, it is also easy to clean and can be grounded electrically, which is perfect for when you need to use the counter surface to plate metals chemically. If you choose the right mode, you may also have a lot of under sink storage space as well.
Wall Mount Your Parts Bins
If you are constantly having to watch your step because of parts bins sitting on the floor, similarly to what was mentioned before, you need to find a way to free up floor space. By wall mounting your parts bins, it will not only free up that all too important floor space, while keeping them stored away nicely, but also easy enough to find.
Reused Kitchen Cabinets
If you are looking for cheap storage space, look in junk yards and online for second hand kitchen cabinets. These are normally sized well for use in garages and as they usually have shelves incorporated into them, it is not too hard to use them for a new purpose.
This Post is sponsored by Benjamin Moore
It used to be that many other “options” were prioritized when it came to a kitchen. Flooring for instance, was always considered the forefront of a home design. More and more though other factors are becoming important as well. Take a backsplash for instance. These not only have a form and function, but they can be used to invoke certain emotions (colors), they can be used to brighten a space up, they can be used to incorporate different styles, and they add interest to a kitchen. In most cases materials are quite inexpensive and yet they add so much value to a kitchen! If you are planning on going with a backsplash for your next project, here are a few of the top trends in 2016 to follow.
Extend Your Backsplash
If you think that you have to stop at a certain point with your backsplash tiles, think again. This new trend allows you to install your tiles all the way up to the crease between the wall and the ceiling. It acts almost like an accent wall for paint, but its tile. It can really create a nice look and if you really LOVE your material and want to use more of it, you can! Here is an example of a full wall backsplash tile design! This is also a good idea if you can manage to find a material that is inexpensive.
Install Your Tiles In A Pattern
If you think that you HAVE to install your tiles a certain way such as your brick shaped tiles vertically or horizontally, you don’t. Let’s be honest this is a trend, but it’s really not because even though trends are important, what is more important is designing your kitchen how you want. If you want to create a diagonal design with subway tiles; do it. If you want to create a checkerboard design with your diamond and circle tiles; do it! Right now though, horizontal and diagonally placed subway tiles are becoming a hot trend.
Hide Your Electrical Outlets
If you have electrical outlets on the same wall as your backsplash, and you probably do, it’s important to hide them as best as you can. This can really break up the design of the backsplash and make it look gaudy or disorganized. There are a few ways to hide them, but one of the best ways is to have an electrician come in and remove the ones on the wall and instead install them under the lip of the counter OR under the cabinet (above the counter space). If you absolutely cannot move your outlets, that’s okay, just make sure that ALL the outlets on the wall are facing the same direction i.e.; vertical or horizontal so you won’t break up the look of the design of the backsplash.
Wood Is In!
If you think that a backsplash is just made from things like ceramic, glass, stainless steel and stone, think again! Another popular trend for 2016 is using wood materials. You can use plywood, planks of wood, salvaged wood, wood flooring materials and more. This has a really nice beautiful look to it, but also if you can manage to find a place that has left over wood; it can be budget friendly as well. You can use crates and you can even use wood pallet – just break it down, sand it down, add a stain, add a coating, and then get them installed on your wall. Go by your local wood shop or home improvement store and see if they have any wood that they might just be throwing away. You can also contact a few companies that use pallets and see if they are throwing any away. Here are a few really nice wood backsplashes for you to look at.
Use The Same Tile Materials Throughout The Design
A few years ago it was a popular idea to create a frame using one material or one color and then create another design inside. This trend is out. Instead, the new trend states that you should use ONE color or ONE material for your entire backsplash. Sure, a mosaic style backsplash is pretty to look at, but once you add in all of your other materials such as your granite countertops, wooden cabinets tile floor, etc. it just goes from pretty to busy. Definitely not something you want in a kitchen. Instead of using mosaic tiles, consider using mirrored or shiny surfaces such as mirrored glass, tin, steel or even glass to create a reflective design. This will make the kitchen seem simple and clean, but it can also make your kitchen look larger than it actually is, because the material can reflect the kitchen off of it. It’s a trick of the eyes, but it works.
If you and your small family are just flying through time at warp-speed, it’s time to think about how you want to document all of the special moments in your lives. These days, it probably feels like a week takes a day, a month takes a week, and a year is hardly even a year.
While you want your little boy or girl to progress, sometimes you also just want them to slow down and stay little forever. Barring that possibility, the next best bet is to try to document their childhood and all of the beautiful things that have happened during it.
For the perfect photo shoot, you’ll need to think about a place for photos. This can be tough, considering you need to think about the age of your child and whether they will be able to sit through a photo shoot or not. Once you have decided on a place, you’ll want to select how you plan on saving the photos. Depending on the final print size, a different lens or even whole camera must be selected. Hopefully, by now, you have one amateur photographer who would be willing to walk through all of these details with you.
After you’ve had your family’s photo shoot, and had a chance to look through and select some of the best ones, you’ll want to print out photos and make a family photo album that documents your family’s journey through your baby’s first year outside of the womb. It’s an exciting time no doubt, so there will be plenty of photographs. The number of photographs is okay, though, if you enlist the aid of Shutterfly on your side. Shutterfly makes it easy to print out photos, especially considering its latest campaign of discounts and coupons. Thanks to a partnership with Groupon, Shutterfly is offering huge discounts and savings on its page. If you take a look today, you will see discounts like a free photo book, free shipping on fifty prints, and even 10% off several items. Of course, it’s not easy selecting the best photos from any photo shoot, so you’ll likely want to have a couple of books printed from this first year. But it will all be worth it – these sweet memories will be enhanced with photos to remember your little one by.
Travelling with kids always means packing a lot of bags and carrying a lot of luggage. Children need proper clothes, toys, and gear, especially if they are very young, and more often than not, mothers neglect their own luggage to make room for everything the kids need when vacationing. But there are at least five pieces of clothing and accessories you must take to feel like a million bucks no matter if you go on a road trip, a city break, a two-week beach resort retreat or a sightseeing tour.
You don’t need to pack much, and you don’t need to take yet another suitcase to host your entire wardrobe, as these five essentials will cover all your styling and fashion needs.
1. A Pair of Nude Summer Sandals
If you plan to walk a lot or to spend lazy days on a beach and fun nights at the hotel’s pool bar, a pair of nude summer sandals is your best friend. Nude flat strappy sandals go with everything you already packed, be it a light white summer dress or a pair of jeans for colder days. Being independent of color schemes and types of clothing (sporty, casual or elegant), your nude sandals will make your legs look longer and thinner. You can wear them while you do some sightseeing, visit parks, and zoos, making a terrific choice if you want to spend a romantic moment (after the kids went to bed) at dinner with your husband.
2. A Little Summer Black Dress
Just like the nude sandals, the little black dress can take you out to dinner, to the beach, to the amusement park, downtown shopping or visiting friends and family. The little black dress is an essential item for any type of trip so you can look forever fresh and stylish according to the occasion or the mood you are in. It can be styled in an elegant manner, a sporty way, or a casual chic one, and it doesn’t take up too much space in your luggage. Pick one that compliments your body type, shape, and features and make sure it has a knee-length so you can wear it in casual or formal contexts.
3. A Pearl Jewelry Piece
When you travel with kids, the last things on your mind are your beloved accessories. You need to pack the kids’ clothes, shoes, games, medicine, and emergency items and so on, especially if you travel in foreign countries. You probably don’t have enough space to pack jewelry, but take one pearl piece with you. Pearls are forever fashionable, timeless pieces that go with anything from jeans and sneakers to little black dresses or comfy overalls. If you pack an elegant white freshwater pearls bracelet, for instance, you won’t need other accessories. Style up a summer dress for a fancy beach resort party or a casual city-break outfit and look stylish and elegant no matter where you go.
4. A Backpack
If you already have a long traveling with kids packing list, don’t even consider taking a purse or different types of bags. Travelling with children requires a backpack to keep at hand everything you need for them and for you as well. Now if you really want to travel in style, take leather or a stylish canvas backpack instead of a sporty one to match your sightseeing, dinner or party outfit. A backpack goes great when road-tripping, but if you left the kids at the hotel’s kids club and entertainment center, and you want to have a nice evening out at the theatre with your husband, the backpack can turn into a stylish accessory if you wear the right clothes.
5. A Summer Hat
This is a practical item which also happens to be a stylish one. Summer usually comes with sun rays and blazing heat so don’t forget to take a cute straw hat or a nice fedora, together with the caps and hats you already prepared for the children. A chic hat can style up an outfit and can be worn even in the evening. Keep yourself safe from sun rays, heat and discomfort and spice up your vacation look without taking up too much space in the family luggage.
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
After being cooped up inside all winter, with Spring on the way and lighter nights meaning more time to play out, it’s essential to encourage your kids to get out and about this Spring. We’re so used to children now spending their evenings sat inside playing on their x-box or watching TV that it’s really important to push your children to play outside for their health and fitness. Here’s some top tips to get them back out enjoying the great outdoors:
Get them a new toy
Whether it’s a bike, pair of roller blades or a scooter, kids love having something to play outside on and there’s nothing more exciting than showing off your new toy to all of the other kids on the street. Scooters tend to be the most on trend with children of all ages been seen scooting around. Once your kids have their own new transport mode this also opens lots of doors for family bike rides and trips to the park plus it means they’ll be keeping fit and getting in lots of healthy exercise.
Arrange family days out
Going for a walk around a reservoir or heading out for a long walk in the countryside is a great way to be active as a family and the mild spring weather provides the perfect climate. If you’re heading out for the day, why not make up a picnic to enjoy somewhere in the sun for a rest and remember to pack a raincoat in your bag just in case you get caught out by a surprise April shower.
One of the best ways to encourage kids to get outside is to invest in a flying toy. Although some can be dangerous if left unsupervised, traditional toys like Frisbees and kites still provide a lot of fun. If your child is after something more technologically advanced, an electric toy helicopter or plane will perhaps be more impressive but arguably much more expensive.
Whether its games, family walks or something new, hopefully your children won’t need too much encouragement to get out this Spring, but if they have become a little too comfortable with staying indoors these tips and tricks should help you to prise them outdoors to benefit from the fresh air.
We all use chemical-based cleaners to keep the home clean and germ-free. However, these chemicals can be dangerous to children if they get their hands on them. Brooms, mops and brushes can also cause damage in the wrong hands! We’ve collected a list of handy tips and hacks for storing home cleaning equipment in a way that minimizes risk to children.
Keep Brooms, Mops and Brushes Out of Reach of Little Hands
Use wall space in your kitchen to ensure mops, brooms and brushes are out of reach of small children, but readily available for cleaning when you need. You can pick up cheap wall mountings or hooks in most hardware stores and install them yourself. Place them at a level that is out of reach of kids, but easily accessible to you. We recommend keeping mops and brooms near to a window or door so they can get some fresh air. This allows any moisture to dry off, and prevents bacteria from accumulating.
Organize your bathroom cupboards
Keep the bathroom cabinet neat and tidy by installing a cross-beam. You can easily make one at home using a broomstick handle or something similar. Hang bathroom and toilet cleaners from the beam to give yourself more space below for storing other products. If you have particularly harsh or abrasive cleaners in the bathroom, consider locking this cupboard, and keeping the safer bathroom items, like toothpaste and shower gel, in a bathroom storage trolley.
Maximize Kitchen Cabinet Space
As most regular kitchen cabinets usually consist of fixed shelves, cleaning products can easily get pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten about. One solution is to install a detachable basket on sliding rails. The basket should be big enough for your kitchen cleaning products and equipment and easy enough to remove so you can rearrange them when needed. This system makes it much simpler to keep track of what products you have, and to spot if anything has gone missing.
Make Areas of the Home Off-limits
You can make certain areas of the home where there is hazardous products or equipment ‘out of bounds’ to the kids, for example the laundry room. It probably isn’t practical to lock every single cupboard that contains cleaning products. However keeping one room locked and off-limits, then storing the most hazardous products here, is a good way to give yourself peace of mind.
Take Precautions When Ironing
A high quality iron and ironing board are worthwhile investments for safety reasons alone. Cheap models are often more unstable, making them easier to topple, and may have less secure storage points for the iron. Store your ironing board with a secure rack, rather than just leaning against the wall, so there is less chance of it falling.
Dispose of Used Containers Safely
Even after you’ve thrown away cleaning product containers, they can still pose a threat. Children can route through the trash and find the colorful containers, which may contain potentially dangerous chemicals. Rinse out the empty container before throwing them out, and for harsher chemicals, place them in a bag to add another layer of protection.
Child safety is a priority for any parent, and keeping a tidy, germ-free home is an important part of minimizing the risk of accidents or infections. We hope you find our tips for child-proofing your cleaning products storage useful!
These tips were provided by Helpling Cleaning Services, an online marketplace for finding local cleaners.
When it comes to gas, safety is a top priority. Keeping up on gas safety checks and knowing what to look out for are crucial for ensuring that your home is safe from unwanted gas leaks. From hiring a professional to checking in regularly yourself, here is everything you need to know about gas safety checks.
What is a gas safety check and who is authorised to do one?
A gas check is a safety procedure in which a Gas Safe certified heating engineer assesses your home’s gas system and appliances to make sure that everything is working properly. A Gas Safe heating engineer will have been through an apprenticeship program and received a Gas Safe ID to prove that they are qualified to perform gas safety checks.
During the check, the Gas Safe engineer will make sure that ventilation passages are functioning correctly and are not blocked, that the safety devices in your gas system are working efficiently, that the system’s pressure is accurate, that all of the fittings are secured and without leaks, and that the gas leaving the home is clean and not harmful.
How often do you need to get a gas safety check?
Gas safety checks should be performed annually by a certified professional. If you’re renting your home, be sure to understand the agreement of your lease with respect to who is responsible for carrying out these annual checks.
According to the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations of 1998, landlords are required to obtain a gas safety certificate (CP12) every twelve months to ensure that their properties are gas safe. Some commercial properties, however, hold the tenant responsible for arranging annual gas safety checks after the first certificate expires.
If you’re a tenant, understand the responsibilities of your landlord and the details of your lease. If you bring any appliances into your home, for example, your landlord is legally responsible for checking the gas pipes leading into those appliances, but not the appliances themselves. Try to be present when a Gas Safe heating engineer does a safety check in your home so you can ask questions and know if anything doesn’t get looked at during the safety check.
Why is it so important to perform gas safety checks every year?
Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas that can be fatal. It is produced when gas or Liquid Petroleum Gas are not completely burned off, like in the case of a gas leak. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage or even death, so being cautious about gas leaks is one way to avoid these potential dangers.
Other dangers include explosions and harmful emissions into the air, all of which can be avoided by ensuring that gas appliances are functioning properly and are correctly fitted.
What else can you do to be extra cautious about gas in your home or commercial space?
Throughout the year, you can protect your home from gas leaks by knowing what to look for. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness. If you suspect there is carbon monoxide in your home, get fresh air immediately by opening doors and windows, turn off your gas appliances and leave the home. See a doctor right away, and call a professional Gas Safe heating engineer to inspect your home before returning.
Your home can also show signs of a carbon monoxide leak, including lazy yellow or orange flames on your cooker (rather than crisp and blue ones), dark staining on appliances, frequently blown out pilot lights, and increased condensation inside windows. The best detection method you can invest in – in conjunction with annual gas safety checks – is a carbon monoxide detector. This inexpensive device will alarm you if there is carbon monoxide in your home. Make sure it’s marked EN 50291 and is marked by a European approval standard.
By staying up-to-date on gas safety checks, repairing broken appliances and regularly servicing boilers, you can feel more confident that your home is safe from harmful gas leaks. Pay attention to warning signs and symptoms of dangerous leaks, and be sure that you are working with a Gas Safe engineer and asking him or her the questions you have about your home and appliances.
About the author: Dave Holliday is the owner of Watertite Plumbing in Bristol. Dave has helped many homeowners and landlords with their plumbing, boiler and gas safety checks. You can connect with Dave on Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn or call Watertite Plumbing and Heating on 01179 093 967.
Ah, summer! Vacation time! Sounds wonderful, right? But add a baby or toddler to the equation, and you’ll find yourself needing a vacation from your vacation! How can you minimize the vacation stress? Is it even possible to navigate a family vacation minus meltdowns? Try these tested strategies for keeping the fun in your vacation while keeping the drama out.
- Plan Extra Time. Remember it’s not a race to get to your destination as quickly as possible. Make the car trip as enjoyable as possible by planning extra stops and lots of buffer room into your schedule. Stop and let baby stretch when he’s getting cranky. Make sure she has her blankie Being strapped in a car seat for hours on end isn’t fun for anyone!
- Pack Snacks and Surprises. When my daughter was younger, I made a special trip to the dollar store just to purchase surprise toys for the trip. Magnet dolls, army men, new coloring books, and new games can go a long way to keeping the element of fun in your trip! For babies and toddlers, extra snacks and drinks help them stay occupied and keep away the crankiness, too.
- Focus on Family. Don’t try to fit in adult activities and entertainment with a baby or young children in tow. You’ll be frustrated and so will baby. Find zoos, waterparks, kiddie rides or beaches that allow you to hang out or move at your own pace. Bring along extra baby supplies you will need, like burp cloths, bibs and security blankets. Long lines and rushing from one show to the next will only create frazzled kids and parents all around. Save those for an outing without baby or for when the kids are older.
- Create Adult Time. When we went on vacation with my family recently, we made sure that each parent got a night out by rotating who would stay at the beach house with the kids. This way we adults got time to ourselves and time together without the kids, too. And the kids were not kept out late or made to sit at restaurants beyond their capacity to be still. Everyone wins!
- Stick to Schedules. Everyone knows that vacations are the time to go with the flow and throw out bedtimes and naptimes, right? Wrong! While flexibility is great, kids who stay up late every night after being on the go and in the water all day turn into meltdown monsters! Young children and babies especially need a certain amount of sleep to maintain emotional equilibrium and to stay healthy. Have you ever wondered why we all tend to get sick on or right after vacation? Lack of sleep may be a big factor! So plan fun-filled activities during the day and come back early enough at night to allow the kids to wind down, cuddle with you and their baby blanket and get to bed at a decent time each night. If you have a sitter or are vacationing with another family, you can always rotate nights out as adults (see #4). Also, plan a down-time in the afternoon for at least one nap for the littlest ones. Snuggling with their favorite blanket will also give them a sense of security in a strange place. Everybody will benefit from the opportunity to recharge before going out to play again.
Vacations can be fun, not frenzied. They can bring pleasant memories, not meltdowns. All it takes is a little planning and preparation. Remember that these years with babies and young children will soon be past. We adults will have time to ourselves once again. Until then, let’s maximize the fun for our kids and minimize the frustration on vacations!