Monthly Archives: January 2015

Points to Consider Before You Upgrade Your Bathroom Shower

You’ve hit the steam showers at your fitness centre and often thought how convenient it would be to have this in your own personal bathroom at home. You may have just begun to consider having one of the available home steam showers installed so that you can reap the benefits of healthy steam whenever you want; but it’s important that you consider some very pertinent points before you rush out and make a purchase. Let’s take a look at some things to consider before you make some upgrades to your bathroom shower.


  • The construction of your home steam shower must be handled by a professional that is aware of the requirements that will make your shower operate as it was designed. The shower should be enclosed, insulated, and include a water-tight doorway.
  • You want to make sure that the shower that you buy is at least eight feet tall so that you can be accommodated comfortably. It’s best to take measurements to compare with the inventory held by your supplier so that you can select the shower that works best in the space that you have.
  • The seat that might be featured in your shower should be sloped so that you can sit and rise easily; this also helps any excess water drain from this area of your shower.
  • If anti-skid strips do not come with your shower, you will want to purchase some from your supplier so that you can safely and securely enjoy the shower without risk of falling.
  • You should also ask a local electrician to come and inspect the lighting that you have in your bathroom so that the steam will not interrupt or damage the lighting fixtures that you currently have in your bathroom.
  • As you shop for the perfect shower for your individual needs, you should visit so that you can review the inventory that is available, the features that showers have, the pricing, and accessories that you can purchase to enhance your showering experience. At this point you’ll want to review warranties that come with your purchase so that you’ll know the proper procedure should you have problems with your unit. You should explore the delivery options, the product options that you have with each shower, and the recommendations from the manufacturers regarding how to have your shower unit installed. Another valuable tool that you should use before you purchase a shower is the customer reviews that help you to evaluate each shower and if it would work in your current bathroom.

Before you decide which of the steam showers will meet and exceed your needs, you need to educate yourself about each product, the installation process, and how your bathroom needs to be set up to accommodate this new feature. You’ll be much more satisfied if you learn all of the facts ahead of any work that’s done in your bathroom to upgrade to a steam shower.


The health benefits of organic cotton

It’s safe to say that most of us understand the benefits of organic food and drinks and many people now recoil at the idea of eating food grown in a non-organic environment. For some reason it’s taken us a while to catch up with the idea that the fabrics that we wear and surround ourselves with should also come from an organic environment.

What does organic cotton mean?

To put it simply, organic cotton is cotton which has been grown without depending on pesticides and fertilisers to boost production. There are plenty of natural alternatives to spraying pesticides such as releasing so-called “beneficial insects” that naturally do the job of eating potential pests rather than having to kill them with chemicals. In United States around 12 to 13% of the cotton harvested is grown organically and the figure is rising annually as consumers become more aware of what they’re purchasing.

Why use organic cotton?

For many parents today, a growing problem they are facing is that of childhood allergies. No one is entirely sure why there is such a rise in the number of children suffering from allergies but a common hypothesis is that the huge increase of non-organic and previously alien substances we are exposing our children to is a contributing factor. If you look around your home today you’ll see it surrounded by strange plastics and inorganic material which has probably been cleaned by an array of different chemicals. Although it’s unrealistic to have a home filled with wooden or bamboo appliances, there are small steps we can take to reduce our exposure to non-organic products. If you think about the products you have the most contact with, this is probably the logical place to fix first.


Sleeping like a baby

Although the phrase sleeping like a baby tends to infuriate most mums as it gives us a false sense of hope that we might actually get some sleep, babies do spend a lot of time in their cribs (some of it sleeping). By investing in an organic cotton crib mattress we can ensure that our babies have a sanctuary which is safe from the chemicals and pesticides that end up in normal production mattresses. Companies like Greenbuds Baby offer a whole range of organic products and also have organic wool crib mattresses.


Going green

As well as potential health benefits for your baby, there are benefits to going green for us all. Intensively farmed cotton is not only a massive user of pesticides and fertilisers but also a huge consumer of water. Poor farming methods and an effort to maximise crop yields leads to damage to the environment. While organic growing methods may not yield as much cotton per acre or hectare, they do ensure that the product is grown in a sustainable manner without exploiting the land or local resources. As demand increases for organic cotton, the price will eventually fall and farmers will soon realise that there is a difference between quality and quantity!

3 Ways to Ensure Your Child’s School is Hygienic

Kids can transfer germs very quickly. School classrooms and play areas can house lots of germs that your kids can bring home and catch illnesses from. Ensuring your child’s environment is clean and hygienic can be a tricky task when you have no direct control over one of the places they spend a huge amount of time at: their school. That isn’t to say you can’t do anything though! Here are some tips for ensuring your child’s school is hygienic.

1. Teach Your Child

Instilling proper habits in your children will ensure that they are healthy and clean at school. Not being able to hold their hand throughout the day anymore, you can’t be sure that they’ll always do the right thing. However, you can be proactive in your approach by teaching them while they are at home. Ask your children the important questions and give them the answers they need to understand the significance of hygiene. How do germs spread? Why is it important to be clean? What is proper practice? Why should I wash my hands after using the restroom? Why should I wash my hands before I eat? Why shouldn’t I share drinks or other things with other children? This transfer of knowledge at a young age will help your children to grow with good hygiene and to be safe while you are not around.

2. Speak to the Teachers

Ask the faculty and staff about their procedures on hygiene. Do they teach proper procedures in the classroom? Do they monitor the children to ensure they are following instructions? Are there tissues, hand-sanitiser, disinfecting wipes, or power towels that are easily accessible for children to reach? How often are the supplies used and cleaned? Do the teachers practise what they teach to the kids and lead by example? Ask the teachers, but then also ask your children when they get home. You are trying to keep your children safe, so you want to make every effort to ensure the school you send them to is reinforcing this good behaviour.

3. Research the School’s Hygiene/Safety Policies

Schools should have in place a health and safety policy that outlines the proper steps and procedures for emergencies and day-to-day activities. Obtain a copy and familiarise yourself with what the guidelines say. Is the policy adequate and have you seen evidence of it being implemented in the school? Challenging a policy can be difficult, especially as a parent, but don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel an insufficient policy is putting your child and others at risk. The school’s hygiene policy should also mention what procedures they follow in terms of keeping the school clean. You can feel confident that your child’s school values hygiene as much as you do if they use a professional cleaning company that specialises in school cleaning, such as AMC Cleaning.

School is where your child will spend the majority of their day during the week, so it makes sense to want to make sure the environment is as safe as can be. Do you have any extra tips you could share with other parents who want to do so? Comment below.

7 Reasons To Take Your Family To Australia

If you are trying to decide where to take your family in 2015, why not consider going on a trip to Australia? There are many incredible things to see and do in the land down under, and so your family will have a blast visiting this country. If you are thinking of booking a getaway soon, here are seven reasons you should choose Australia.


Image Credit

1. It will be a massive adventure

One thing, you can guarantee, from Australia is that it will be an adventure. When you travel somewhere like Oz, you will find that things are wild in the literal sense of the word. Children love exploring new places, and so they will have a lot to see in this country. Getting to the place takes a long time, and so you need to think about whether your kids can handle the flight. If they can, it will be an ideal trip.

2. You can see some fascinating animals

Some of the weirdest and wildest animals in the world happen to live in Australia. Many people see that as a reason to avoid the country. They think that they will get bitten by a black widow spider the moment they step onto Australian soil. The chances of that happening are one in a million. Your kids will get an opportunity to see some of the most bizarre creatures in the world, and it is safer than you think.

3. The weather will (always) be sunny

Right now, it is summer or the ‘wet season’ in Australia. That means that the temperature is high, and you can expect some extreme weather. If you have never been to Australia before, you should go in their winter so that it is a little cooler than it is right now. Kids’ skin tends to burn quickly, and so you want the weather to be a little calmer than it is in the summer. No matter when you go, you know you will be in for some sunshine.


Image Credit

4. The art there is fantastic

One thing, which Australia is famous for, is its eclectic range of new art. Some of the canvas prints in Australia are stunning. From aboriginal art to modern art and portraits, there is something for everyone here. Some people believe that the reason for this excellent art is because the scenery in the country is dramatic.

5. They speak the same language

If you are taking a family abroad, the language barrier is always a concern. If you go to Australia, there is one enormous advantage. They speak English as their mother tongue. That means that you and your children should have no problem in the country. You can talk to strangers with ease and so getting around is simple.

6. You can experience another culture

Despite the fact that the language is the same as ours, there are some cultural differences between us and the Australians. When you go to Oz, you will notice that people take life at a slower pace than we do. The heat means that people have a positive attitude towards everything. When you visit this country, prepare yourself to relax. Remember, you need to embrace the culture here.

7. It is always developing

Since Australia is a relatively new country, it is still growing and expanding in many ways. You will find that there are always new projects and things going on in this rich and exciting country. When you visit it, you should go to tourist information and find out what’s going on there. You should also consider taking a bus tour so that you can get a real taste of the environment.

3 Tips To Protect Kids From Social Networking Threats

family, children, technology, money and home concept - smiling f

Kids are inherently social beings. Take a glimpse outside and you’ll see children practicing their social skills and interacting with each other. It’s only natural that they would want to use a social network. After all, their classmates have their own accounts.

Pew Research Center points out that more than 55 percent of American kids ages 12-17 use social media sites. In the UK, 25 percent of kids ages 8-12 have a profile on Facebook despite clear age restrictions. The stats depict that social networking sites are the new playground for kids.

However, there are dangers of using social networking sites that parents and children need to be aware of and address, such as:

Inappropriate content: Kids using Facebook and Twitter may come across shocking content. In March 2013, a video showcasing child pornography was shared 16,000 times and liked by nearly 4,000 users. Shocked users tweeted out their rage, and the news spread like wildfire. It took 8 hours for Facebook’s team to remove the video and all traces of it. The question: how such a video was uploaded without being detected? And what if your kid sees such a video?

Anonymous strangers: You may have heard of the ‘stranger danger’ term, but kids may be threatened by those who are familiar to them. However, social networks make it easy for perpetrators to pose as others, or leave anonymous private messages. Pew Research Center reveals that 32 percent of online teens were contacted by someone with no connection to their social circles, and 7 percent said they felt uncomfortable with the initiated contact.

Social networking stalking: Posting images can reveal a lot of information about what your child’s private life looks like, including the school they attend, what their place looks like, or information about their family. Social networking stalkers may even approach your child and use techniques to lure them into real-life meeting, or steal some private data of your kids to torture them online.

Protecting kids against social networking dangerous

Luckily, parents have a several tools and options to protect their kids from social networking threats and increase security on devices kids use to access social networking sites. Here are some of them:

Configure privacy settings: Most social networks have privacy settings. Ask children what social networks they use, and talk to them about the importance of privacy, both online and offline. Set their personal information to private and explain them that you’re trying to help protect their information. Parents also have the option of purchasing internet security software that scans privacy settings on Twitter, Facebook and other networks to ensure there are no security lapses. Some of these offerings may also offer a secure web browser to ensure safe web surfing for children.

Discuss social media use: Have the conversion about dangerous of using social media sites with your kids early on. Tell them what is appropriate to share online and what isn’t, and most important whom to share the information with. Teach them not to engage in conversations with strangers, especially those older than the kids. It’s also a good idea to teach them about how to report abuse on Facebook and other social networks. Refer them to the Family Safety Center on Facebook, where there is a wealth of advice for parents and children alike. If you need any more tips that you can pass onto your children, have a look at this article on about online activities that you should refrain from doing.

Keep regular checks: That’s the rule of thumb. If your kids are going to use social media networks, they must allow you in their social circles and you must be diligent in monitoring what they share/post and following their activity. Making kids agree to be followed can be an uphill battle, so try appealing to them by reminding them that what they post online can be seen by anyone. In order to protect their online reputation, they must allow a parent/guardian to monitor their social media activity.

Top Changes You Should Make To Your Home After Having Children

If you’re lucky enough to have just welcomed a new life into the world, you will have your work cut out. Looking after small children can be an incredibly stressful job. Not only that, but you may have to make lots of alterations to your property in order to accommodate them. We all know how prone kids are to accidents, and so it’s important you limit the chances of them being seriously injured. Most of the changes you need to make are pretty simple. You just have to think like a child in order to work out which areas of your home are most dangerous. While common sense is the best solution, you might like to consider some of our suggestions…


Jessica Pankratz

Invest in slipcovered furniture

The chances of your child dropping or spilling something on your furniture stand at somewhere close to 100%. For that reason, you need to invest in some new products that can be cleaned without too much hassle. Slipcovered furniture companies provide excellent items that have removable covers. That means you can take them off and wash them without having to pay for a specialist. While you might have to spend a lot of money for the best quality furniture, it’s most certainly worth the expense. Just ask any other mother on your street.

Cover those sharp edges

Small children slip and fall all the time, and that is why it’s vital that you cover all the sharp edges in your home. That is especially the case if you have marble countertops in your kitchen. Thankfully, there is no need to get the sander out and round them off. In fact, you can get some cheap products that solve the problem. Most of them are made of rubber, and they are fitted over your sharp edges to ensure anyone bumping into them leaves uninjured.

Look for alternative lighting solutions

We all know how difficult it can be for a small child to fall asleep in the evenings. So, it might be sensible for you to look for some alternative lighting solutions. Adding some lamps or dimmer switches could help you to create a more relaxed atmosphere. In turn, that could mean your child get to sleep much faster. The last thing you want is to deal with a kid that refuses to close his eyes because you are in a brightly lit room.

Install a stair gate

Children are not capable of walking down stairs safely until they are at least a couple of years old. However, most of them will attempt to do so regardless. That could lead to them getting hurt, and it could result in a lot of worrying medical visits. To eliminate the possibility of that happening, you must install a good quality stair gate as soon as possible. If nothing else, it will give you peace of mind.

So long as you make all those basic changes to your home, you shouldn’t encounter too many safety issues. We hope your child grows up to become a healthy and well-balanced individual.

Good luck!




Why Toys Are Essential for Your Dog’s Wellbeing


Pet superstores are crammed full of toys and amusements for dogs but are they really necessary? After all, you feed them, take them for walks and love them. That’s enough, right? Just as humans require mental stimulation, so do animals. Environmental enrichment is the key phrase that’s heard around zoos, animal parks and shelters. We’ve all seen those poor zoo creatures that do nothing but pace back and forth. The main reason for this is that they have no mental stimulation. The reputable zoos now give their animal’s toys and puzzles to solve, including working out how to get their food. This has made a significant difference to their wellbeing. Your dog needs enrichment too, especially if it’s at home alone. Here are a few ways to give your pet the stimulation it needs.

Kong is King

There are a number of hollow, rubber chew toys on the market but Kong is the most popular. Collars and Tags have a great selection in their on-line shop. Although dogs enjoy chewing and fetching a Kong as is, they particularly enjoy working out how to get to the tasty treats you can stuff it with. Dog biscuits are fine or try spreading peanut butter inside. If you think that’s too easy and need the game to last longer, load up the Kong with treats, then hide it somewhere safe or put it inside a cardboard box. Your dog’s sense of smell should take over and they’ll work hard to find that food. If you’re available to play with your dog, tie a string to the loaded Kong, then slowly move it around and stop. If you repeat these actions, Fido will concentrate and learn stalking techniques.

Tug of War

There are numerous tug of war toys out there which dogs certainly enjoy, however clear ground rules must be established. Dogs will growl and look like they’re being aggressive, however it’s usually just play. If the dog gets over-excited and snatches the rope from your hand, then play time should end. The rope should always be put away after each session, so the dog knows it’s a treat. If real aggression is exhibited, then this activity is not suitable.

Dogs with Visual Impairment

Don’t think your blind dog has to miss out on the fun. They will rely heavily on hearing and smell, so toys that can be stuffed with strong smelling treats are suitable, as are toys that make noises, such as a chiming ball. Most blind dogs will play ‘hide and seek’, just like a sighted animal, and you’d be amazed at how accurately they can follow a squeaky toy.

Play is absolutely essential for your dog’s overall well-being and if you leave your pet for extended periods, then it’s of paramount importance to provide environmental enrichment to alleviate stress and loneliness. 

Why Handmade Goods Are Better For Your Child

When it comes to looking after our kids, we all want to do our best. There isn’t a corner of the world that a mother wouldn’t go, to make sure that their kid gets the best start in life. But with budget constraints and conflicting opinions on what is right and wrong, it can often be hard to know which way to turn.

As a new mother, you will have to buy hundreds of things. In the end, it can be tempting to buy whatever’s in front of you, just to avoid having to spend more time shopping. There are certainly instances in which that is a fine philosophy. After all, it’s better to spend time with your child rather than standing around in the supermarket wondering which type of bib would suit them best. But there are other times when it’s worth thinking through a big purchase and spending that extra bit of cash in order to get some peace of mind.

And there are often times when quality is supremely important. In many cases it can be worth investing that extra bit of cash in order to get this vital quality assurance. And perhaps the best form of quality assurance comes from knowing that your new purchases have been handmade.

Handmade items have a load of different advantages to them. First of all, you know that the materials will be safe and healthy for your child. With plenty of knock-offs and cheap imitations rolling off of the assembly lines abroad, many of them use materials that are unsafe for children.

If the item is handmade then you know someone has safely handled it before, and you also know that they company making it cares about their materials. Powell Craft stockists, for example, will have more information on their products than your average discount supermarket will have. Using this information, you will be able to make sure that the items that your child uses every day are completely safe.

You should also be thinking about durability. Obviously your child will be growing a lot over their first few years. Many mothers take this to mean that they should be buying anything too expensive, as it will simply be grown out of in a month’s time. But there are items, such as cribs, that are worth investing in. A handmade crib will last an extremely long time, and will often have an extensive or lifetime guarantee. As a bonus, you will also be able to pass it on to other mothers when it is their turn.


Source: Pixabay

Handmade toys will also have a certain charm to them. They will be simple and timeless. They will also be completely free of all of the choking hazards that often make it through safety checks in modern toys. As a further bonus, toys such as this are likely to last a very long time. This means that as your child grows up you will have a few mementos of those first happy years.


Keeping Your Volunteers Interested

When you want to be a Volunteer English Teacher in Thailand or reap the rewards of volunteering in some other field, what factors will ensure you really do enjoy the fruits of your labour and drive you to continue volunteering?


Image by Louisiana Sea Grant College [flickr]

Here’s what organisations should be doing to really engage their valuable volunteers.


Organisations need to understand their volunteers – what their needs are; their expectations and what skills they possess or could enhance. Such understanding will help to create truly meaningful volunteering opportunities. It’s also important to offer a range of opportunities.

Creating the Bigger Picture

Volunteers like to understand how their contributions will fit into the bigger scheme of things which helps them to gain better understanding of what they’re doing and why.

Be Grateful for Your Volunteers

Whether someone is a Volunteer English Teacher in Thailand or working with the community in other ways, they’re not only offering their time for higher recognition. By simply thanking them for their hard work and dedication, you show volunteers that they are appreciated, their work is acknowledged and they will feel better valued.

Engaging the Community

By helping volunteers to engage their communities, you show support and the desire to ensure their efforts not only don’t go unnoticed, but also have the ability to keep on going. Help volunteers by providing avenues to engage the community and get people talking about their efforts. This can be done via word of mouth, social media and local newspapers and radio stations.

But don’t just rely on volunteers, donors and current members to spread the word. Use community channels, local online platforms and reach out to your community with your needs, your mission and how they too could become a Volunteer English Teacher in Thailand.

Making New Friends

Volunteers, and even donors, don’t just live in a volunteering vacuum. They too have families and friends and their own communities, so why not help them to reach out and engage with their special people – those who likely share interested and passions. Social media, and helping volunteers to stay in touch can open up your organisation to an entirely new audience who might just want to get involved – be it donating time, funds or innovations or even resources and expertise. Simply encouraging your volunteers to keep in touch and letting them know their friends and family are important can help encourage volunteers to be better, work harder and stay involved.


Image by Suzanne Schols [flickr]

Promoting Volunteer Work

Many volunteers, especially today’s youth, could be scared off by reams of contact forms or bustling fairs. While most people know which cause they want to support, or have always wanted to be a Volunteer English Teacher in Thailand, they may not know how to turn their burning drive into action. Find ways to advertise active needs within your organisation and communities in a non-threatening manner and make the sign up process really simple.

A Call to Serve

Emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye and arranging staff and volunteers timeously can be quiet the challenge. By having elements like a phone tree and emergency plan in place, as well as social media, volunteers can be rounded up as quickly as possible. But don’t just contact them when you need them, engage them regularly, appreciate them and keep them interested. Encourage their friends and family, too, to keep in touch and sign up in the event of an emergency and keep striving to expose more community members to your mission.