Monthly Archives: March 2015

How To Choose The Right Apartment For Your Family

These days, most families can’t afford to buy a property. Yes, there are some government schemes in place to help them on the property ladder. But people need to pay large deposits before getting considered for a mortgage. And that’s what helps them decide to stick with moving to rented homes instead.

If you’ve got a young family in tow, and you want to live near the city, you might be considering living in an apartment. They are cheaper to rent, and are plentiful inside inner-city areas. Today I will share with you some tips on how you can choose the right apartment for your family! Here is how to find the perfect place for your family:


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Which area do you want to live in?

The first thing to consider is where you and your family want to move. There is an almost endless list of places to consider. I say “almost” because your budget will restrict you to living in some areas only.

I recommend making a shortlist of places that you might want to consider moving to. That way, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to searching for an apartment.

Do some research on the neighbourhood

Now that you have a list of possible areas to move to, the next stage is to spend some time researching them. For example, is crime a problem? Where are the nearest schools and what are they like? What types of people live in those areas? Are they affluent or home to blue-collar workers?

Apart from doing online research, I also suggest that you do a “drive-by” of each area at various times of the day. While the Internet is a good research source, you shouldn’t 100% rely on the information you read. It’s best to see the neighbourhood for yourself before making any final decisions.

For example, when I moved to a rental apartment, I made sure I checked the area out first. That’s because I wanted my family to live in a safe neighbourhood close to various amenities.

What facilities are on offer?

You might think that when you rent an apartment, all you’re paying for is the apartment. And that you’re also contributing to the upkeep of communal areas.

Some apartment blocks like Ultris Wynnfield Lakes also come with a whole host of features. A few places offer things like fitness centres, kids play areas and so forth. Granted, you might have to pay extra for the privilege of such facilities. But it’s OK if you plan to make good use of them.

Is the apartment well-maintained?

Before you decide to pay a deposit and move in, you need to check the level of maintenance in the apartment. Just because an apartment block might look modern and well-kept on the outside doesn’t mean it is on the inside!

Check with the management company or the landlord what major work got done recently. For example, they might have installed a new central heating system. That way, you can be sure that you won’t need to call them out to fix things all the time.


What Is It Like To Live With A Partner In The Armed Forces?

If your husband is one of the many brave people who work for our armed forces, it could place a massive strain on your relationship. Not only will they be away for long periods, but you will worry about whether or not they will return home safely. Today, I’m going to highlight what it is like to live with a partner in the armed forces. I hope doing that will make people more aware of the stresses involved.

Anyone who chooses to join the military should be commended for their actions. As an Army, Navy, or Air Force wife, you’ll have to get used to supporting your partner and being there when they need you. It is possible you might only get to spend a few months together each year, so you need to make them count.

The Loneliness

There can be no avoiding the fact that people who live with partners in the military feel lonely a lot of the time. That is especially the case if there are children involved. Bringing up kids on your own can be very stressful, and you will sometimes wish their father was around to help share the burden. However, there is a simple and fantastic solution to the issue. Ultris Oakleaf Plantation and various other communities in the US are designed specifically to house the families of military personnel. That means buying a property in one of those towns in a wise move. Most of your neighbors will be in the same position, and so you will find ways of supporting one another.



The National Guard

The Worry

While your partner might be able to send letters once or twice each month, you won’t hear from them very often. That is just one of the downsides to being on duty in different countries. Some ladies find that being away from their armed forces husband can mean they spend a lot of time worrying. That is completely normal. When all’s said and done, your loved one is putting themselves in danger in order to protect their people. Many servicemen come home with injuries every single year, and so there is a high likelihood the same could happen to your partner. Opting to get in touch with a therapist could ensure you develop the right coping mechanisms for dealing with that worry. Also, keeping in close contact with their employers will mean you hear about any negative incidents quickly.

The Joy

Outside of military situations, most couples will never experience the level of joy you get when your partner comes home. You will be so thrilled to see them that it could become a rather emotional experience. There is nothing quite as exciting as waiting out on the driveway with your kids for their father’s return. So, it’s not all bad news. While you could buy a family pet to give your children something to focus on when their dad is away on duty, it’s never going to replace the real thing.

Now you know what it is like to live with a partner in the armed forces, we think you should be in a better position to deal with the issue if your husband decides to sign up. Thanks for reading today girls. This post should have given some hope to those who will be affected in the future.


Finding Out About the International Baccalaureate Programme


Anyone out there who has children knows how much time and effort has to go into giving them a good education. After all, this is one of the most important things you will ever do.

Most parents would agree that providing a quality education is just the best thing they could do for their kids, as well as being a positive action for the future of the world in general. It might seem like a bit of an exaggeration to say that but by giving your children the best education you can, you are also preparing them to make a more valuable contribution to society in the future. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?

It is at this point that we could consider whether it is worth taking a look at the International Baccalaureate programme. This is something that has been set up by the not for profit educational organisation of the same name. The lofty goals of the programme include helping students to become more knowledgeable, more caring and more inquisitive. It certainly sounds like a worthwhile approach, so how does it work?

The way it goes about aiming to achieve these goals is to work with schools, governments and various other international organisations to produce challenging material that helps students to develop as people as well as in the sense of learning things. It covers youngsters between the ages of 3 and 19 and has been active since back in 1968. The programme is designed help spur on both personal and academic development in students.

The profile for students who are likely to get involved in this learning method includes traits such as being good communicators, open-minded, caring, reflective and principled. While many students are likely to start out with this kind of personality, the programme aims to help them develop these good points over time.

Almost 4,000 Schools in 147 Countries

Clearly, not all schools offer this way of learning. However, there are a good number of international baccalaureate schools spread across the globe that are part of this scheme. There are participating schools in just about every part of the planet. In the UK there are currently 142 schools in the scheme, while the US has the highest total, with 1,575. The total number of participating schools in the world is currently given as an impressive total of close to 4,000 in 147 different countries.

In fact, as a sign of how this programme is still expanding we can see that new schools in Ecuador have recently become fully authorised. A total of 56 new schools have been added in the Andean country, bringing the total there to 120. Meanwhile, in the UK a brand new assessment centre has just been opened in Cardiff.

If you are interested in finding a school near you or reading about the latest developments then you can find out more on the office site for the International Baccalaureate Programme. There is a lot on information on there that can help to show you more fully what this is all about and whether it could be right for your children.


Online Vouchers Make Shopping for Gifts Easier and More Affordable


If there is one thing we all love doing it is shopping. When it come to shopping for gifts it is even more fun, as I love buying stuff for other people.

However, it can be a hassle to try and find interesting gifts for everyone, especially if you have a lot of birthdays and other special occasions at the same time of year.

In my case, for some reason most of the people I know all seem to have their birthdays in the same 3 or 4 month period. This makes shopping for interesting things more difficult and also puts more of a strain on my finances.

Every year I promise to myself that I will get organised and buy some gifts in before this spell of frantic birthday activity starts. Of course I never do this, just as I never get organised enough to buy Christmas presents far in advance.

The good news is that last year I discovered the benefits of using online vouchers.  These vouchers and deals help the gift shopping process in a number of ways.

Get Inspired

The first big benefit I found is that it is easy to get inspired in this way. If I go shopping for birthday gifts in the traditional way I can find it difficult to come across items that are of interest to me. Sometimes I will just end up wandering about aimlessly for ages without seeing anything worthwhile. However, when I go online it is easy to find interesting ideas. This is because a range of different deals are often shown side by side. You might see a big discount on some sports gear next to a hotel deal or some furniture bargains. This means that you could find the ideal gifts for a number of people at the same time pretty easily. If the people you buy for all know each other than this can also mean that you avoid the typical problem of buying the same things for everyone on your shopping trips. The chance to see a wide range of possible gifts in little time lets you add a huge amount of variety to your shopping.

Spend Less

Of course, one of the main reasons for using vouchers in the first place is to spend less money. We all enjoy buying gifts for our loved ones but it can be tough to get everything we want without spending a lot on it. Thankfully, by using online vouchers you can find the perfect gifts without spending too much on them. This is great news if you are on a tight budget but don’t want to compromise on the quality of the gifts you choose. Spending less on these gifts can make the whole process more enjoyable and more likely to be something that you look forward to doing all over again next year. After all, it takes very little effort and makes the process of buying gifts so much more fun as well as cheaper.

Could Your Family Benefit From A Home Extension?

If your property has become too small to house your family, there are only a few options available. Presuming you don’t have the funds or desire to purchase somewhere new, it makes sense to pay for an extension. Doing so could bring many different benefits for those who live with you. Just in case anyone reading this post isn’t convinced about how much difference an extension could make to their property, we’ve listed a number of plus points below. At the end of the day, work of that nature doesn’t come cheap. So, you will still have to make a significant investment. However, it will be much cheaper than buying somewhere new, and a lot less hassle.


Photo credit here

More space

It might sound obvious, but we thought it was sensible to point out that a home extension will give you more space. Depending on which area of your property you plan to extend, that could mean you get a bigger kitchen or perhaps more bedrooms. You could give those to any aging family members who need extra care. It all comes down to how much money you’re willing to spend, and which parts of your home are suitable for the work. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to weigh up all the pros and cons of building an extension off different rooms. Remember, you can always add space upstairs at a later date. You’re just going to need something on the ground floor first.

Increased value

There is no getting away from the fact that any home extensions you perform are going to add a significant amount of value to your property. That means spending so much cash now isn’t the worst idea in the world. So long as the work is carried out to a professional standard, the value of your home should increase far beyond the initial investment you made. Considering that, extending your property could make good financial sense. You will reap the monetary rewards whenever you decide to sell up in the future.

No need to pack your life away

If you choose not to extend your home, the only other way of getting the extra space you require will be to move somewhere new. As we said only a moment ago, that will be far more costly. However, that isn’t the main reason you should stay put. Moving house is incredibly stressful for everyone involved. You have no choice but to pack your lives away and kiss goodbye to all those special memories. Do your kids a favour and extend instead. There is nothing worse than having to move from place to place when you are young. Children need to feel like that have roots, and they’ll never get that if you keep sending them to different schools. Stability is key!

Presuming you read all those points, the benefits of a home extension should be obvious. All you have to do now is work out which local specialist is most capable of handling the job. Of course, there are lots of review websites you can use to find suitable tradespeople.


Keep Healthy for Baby


Image by: Brian Wolfe

When you become pregnant, it becomes even more important to take good care of yourself. Here are some top tips for keeping yourself in top shape.

Regular Prenatal Care

The first thing to do when you suspect you’re pregnant is to see your health care provider. During the first visit a test will be done to determine how many weeks you are and your expected delivery date. Once everything is confirmed then you can head home to look for quality maternity clothes online.

Supplements and Good Nutrition

Ok, time to eat for two (or more). Now is certainly not the time to be going on a diet or trying to cut out calories. Quite the opposite… You’re going to need around 300 additional calories every day, especially as you advance in the pregnancy and the baby grows quicker. If you’re particularly active, too thin or carrying more than one baby, you’ll need even more calories. However, if you’re overweight, your doctor or nutritionist will help you with consuming a few less calories.

Healthy eating is important at the best of times but even more so when you’re expecting a baby. So do make sure you’re getting your calories from nutritious foods that will help your baby to grow and develop. You should aim to keep a well-balanced diet consisting:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Low fat dairy produce
  • Lean meats
  • Whole grain breads

By making sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet, you’ll get all the nutrients you need. You’ll also get to maintain a great pregnancy weight and shop for stunning quality maternity clothes online.

Keep in mind you will also need more essential nutrients like folic acid, calcium and iron during pregnancy. Your doctor will likely prescribe prenatal vitamins to make sure that both you and your growing baby get enough of what you both need.

But just because you take additional prenatal vitamins doesn’t mean you can eat a diet that lacks in nutrients. Oh no. It’s important to keep in mind that you have to eat well for you and your baby. The vitamins simply supplement your diet and aren’t the only source of the nutrients you need.

Exercise During Pregnancy

The recommendation for pregnant women is around 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week if you’re not already into exercising. If you were active or into intense aerobic before you become pregnant, you might be able to keep your workout routines so long as the doctor says they’re safe.

Exercise during pregnancy helps with:

  • Increasing energy
  • Improving sleep
  • Preventing excess weight gain
  • Reducing pregnancy-related problems like swelling and back pain


Getting enough sleep is always important but especially so during pregnancy. Since your body’s working hard to help a new life grow, you’re probably going to feel a little more tired than usual. And as baby gets bigger, it’s going to be more difficult to find comfy positions when you want to sleep.

You can try lying on your side with your knees bent. This position keeps the baby’s weight from putting pressure on larger blood vessels that carry blood back and forth from the heart, legs and feet. By lying on your side you can also perhaps prevent leg swelling, varicose veins and haemorrhoids.

As a matter of fact, there are doctors who even recommend that pregnant women try sleeping on the left side. One of the big blood vessels on the right side is the abdomen. So if you lie on your left you keep the uterus off the abdomen, optimising blood flow to the placenta and your baby.

From sleep, exercise and eating right to making sure your overall lifestyle is healthy during pregnancy, you can ensure to have a happy and healthy baby and easier birth.

Top Three Things To Consider When Purchasing A Dishwasher

If you are thinking about buying a dishwasher, you are going to be spoilt for choice because there are so many brands on the market. Dishwashers buying guides are packed with advice, tips, and recommendations, among other essential information that are perfect for those who want to get their money’s worth. Here are three things you should take into consideration before committing to a purchase.


Look for something that is energy efficient

I believe that getting a machine that is energy efficient is one of the most important factors to consider before purchase. A model that runs ‘efficiently’ will not only save you lots of money over its life cycle, but means that you can have a clear conscience knowing you are helping the environment. Always choose a model that has water-saving features, and comes with programs such as ‘rinse-and-hold’ cycle as well as having a’ hard food dispenser.’ Both of these functions save you time using excess water to rinse particles of food off dishes by hand. If you can buy a machine with an ‘upper/lower rack wash program as well. The rack wash software cuts down incoming water to parts of the machine, and, therefore, saves water and energy even more.

The correct size for your kitchen

Don’t forget that even though the majority of dishwashers come as standard 24-inch built in, you can get smaller versions if space is at a premium. If you find that even an 18-inch is taking up too much kitchen space, then you should consider buying a portable model. These small mobile units are on wheels and can be stored away in a cupboard when they are not being used.

Noise levels

When you are buying a dishwasher, the noise levels that they give off will vary, and depend on a number of factors. On some models, the motor and pumps are attached to the tub and will naturally amplify the sound. It is best to find a machine which has the motor mounted at the base. It’s a difficult task to know which machines are the quietest, but if in doubt, go for ones that advertise this as a selling feature. Price could well be a factor in this as well. Remember that in most cases cheaper is not better. On the subject of noise, the more you pay, the quieter it gets. Trust me on this.

Of course there are other issues that you should take into consideration before buying this labour saving machine. Points such as the colour, price and how easy it is to operate should also feature at sometime during the decision process. If a machine ticks all these boxes, then you will know you have made the right choice.

4 Makeover Ideas for Your Backyard


Feel like your backyard needs something new? Sick of the same boring, old area? If you’re not happy with your backyard, or you just want a little change, there are plenty of fresh and exciting things you can try. The best thing about backyard makeovers is you can often do them yourself. Here are four makeover ideas you could try.

1. Add a Patio

If you don’t already have one, you are surely missing out and it’s time to change that. Patios are the ultimate key to outdoor entertaining. They give you a place to cook, eat, and just relax in your own backyard. Builders, like those at Additions Building (click here to view their webpage about patios), have a huge range of patio styles to choose from; there is sure to be the perfect match for your backyard out there. If you already have a patio, a quick, simple, and cost-effective way to give it a makeover is to add curtains to the edge of your covered patio, allowing you to close off any bad weather.

2. Herb Garden

Adding a herb garden is an easy way to completely change how you use your garden. Not only can you make a beautiful planter box for you herbs, but they also give you a reason to go out and enjoy your garden every single day. You get to grow anything you like, not only herbs but vegetables and fruits too. And, unlike looking after flowers, you get to eat them in the end! With a herb garden, you’ll never have to pay for herbs again.

3. Hanging Lanterns

Hanging lanterns can completely change how your garden looks at night. In fact, after you have them up, you will never see it the same again. They create an entirely different atmosphere when you are entertaining at night. Whether you want them to be chilled out or romantic is up to you, because the best part about them is you can make them yourself in just about any style you can imagine. Though, unless they are solar powered, it is best to get an electrician to connect up all the wiring for you.

4. Pond

What could completely make over your backyard more than adding a water feature? Water features always create a sense of ambient life and growth with the space they are in, making them the perfect addition to a relaxing garden. Large features, such as a pond with fish or a miniature waterfall, will always be a hit with guests and add a touch of Zen to the garden. On the other hand, small water fountains always create a relaxing atmosphere and can even be handmade in any shape or style you like.

There are so many things you can do to make over you backyard – these are just a few ideas. Have you given your garden any makeovers? What did you do? Leave your experiences and ideas in the comments section below.

A Mothers Story

She always takes care of you when you’re sick, she’s there to pick you up when you fall down, and she does as much as she possibly can to make your life easier.  Your mum is your biggest cheerleader, your best friend, and a true superhero.  But, as this infographic shows, some mums will go even further than you may have believed possible in order to protect their children.  From the mum who spent 75 days upside down in order to give her babies a higher chance of a successful birth, to the mum who went blind in order to pay for her children’s care, there is no stronger love in the world than that between a mother and her child. TheCircle take a closer look.


How SR 22 Insurance Costs Can Add Up


It’s never good news when a traffic court judge orders you to get SR 22 Insurance. While this form of insurance itself may be only $15 to $25, the impact of being insured as a high risk driver can cause some serious financial hardships. This is because there are a variety of expenses that can occur as a result of needing this specialized form of auto insurance.

SR 22 Insurance Is Not Really Insurance

In actuality, calling an SR 22 certification “insurance” is something of a misnomer. This is because it doesn’t work like insurance at all. Although it’s issued by an insurance company who files one for you with the department of motor vehicles, it does not work like regular insurance.

By definition an insurance policy is paying a small amount of money for a large amount of financial protection. In the event of an accident, an insurance company will pay the cost of injuries and property damage as long as you have been paying your premiums and are eligible to make a claim.

In contrast, SR 22 insurance does not work like this in any way With SR 22 insurance, you are really just getting a Certificate of Financial Responsibility. This is state-mandated proof that you’re carrying regular car insurance, but it is not proof of insurance by itself and it is only valid if you also have active liability coverage.

When Do You Need SR 22 Insurance?

You will need to get SR 22 Insurance under the following circumstances:

1. You have been sent to a traffic court after a driving violation or collision because you were driving without any car insurance.

2. You have a long string of traffic violations which were accumulated over a short period of time. For instance, you may be ordered to get SR 22 insurance by a traffic court judge if you have had large number of speeding tickets within a few months.

3. You’re in a collision and have a preexisting DUI or DWI.

SR 22 Insurance Costs

In some cases, SR22 policy costs and rates can be more of a financial inconvenience than a serious punitive liability. At other times, it can become highly expensive. It really depends under the circumstances you were required to get this certification.

If you get SR-22 insurance because you have accumulated a large number of speeding tickets within a short time, then your expenses are the cost of the certification and paying a little more for your car insurance.

However, if you get SR-22 insurance because you have been involved in an accident while carrying a preexisting DUI (Driving Under the Influence) then your costs can add up very quickly. This is because state laws take drunk driving violations very seriously. Alcohol-related driving accidents cost the general public about $114.3 billion per annum. Worse still, are the numbers of fatalities. Statistically, a motorist is killed by a drunk driver every 30 minutes.

Consequently, if you get an SR 22 Insurance related to a DUI, you are looking at a lot of incidental costs, as well.

·  You may have to get an ignition interlock system. This costs $200 to be installed in your car and an $80 a month maintenance fee.

·  You may also have to pay the costs associated with attorney fees, court costs, and bail fees. This can range from $1,000 to $3,000.

·  You may have to pay for a compulsory drunk driving education program, which will set you back a farther $1,500 to $2,500 in costs.

·  You may have to pay $250 reinstatement fees.

·  Your car insurance will probably more than double.

Financial and Non-financial Costs

An SR 22 insurance is a penalty for violating certain traffic laws. There are financial and non-financial costs involved. Financially, there is the cost of having to pay more insurance for as long as three years even if you become a safe and reliable driver. Non-financial costs can be the difficulty in getting car insurance or the the cost of possibly losing your job if you can’t go to work because of SR insurance related to a DUI.