Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mommy Must-Have: Minos Moka Pot

It's no secret that I'm a coffee lover. I have three different kinds of "coffee machines" at my home. But, one of those machines stands out. When I really need a boost, when I really need something more than just a standard cup of coffee, I go for my Minos Moka Pot. Why? One word: Espresso. That beautiful beverage that is somehow relaxing and energizing all at once.

Now, I've had other stovetop espresso makers in the past. And, to be completely honest, I shied away from using them regularly. Not because I don't like expresso (clearly, I do) but because they were either slow to brew, difficult to clean, or just a hassle to use in general. But the minos is much different. Although it seems to work basically the same way, it's somehow more efficient (no waiting around FOREVER for my coffee) and much easier to take apart and clean (no weird vacuum happening). It's also a just much prettier pot. I can leave it out on the countertop for display instead of having to hide it away in the cabinets. I also love how you can change the silicone on the handles. It's a little touch, but one that makes this Moka pot feel much more customized.

The finished product is also, of course, important. The espresso comes out smooth (no grounds present at all!) and rich. Just how expresso should be.  Overall, this little pot packs a whole lot of punch. Effective, pretty, and all around easy. Perfection!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How Busy Moms Can Ensure Their Careers Are Just As Rewarding As Their Home Lives

Written by a contributing writer



Most people love being at home with their kids, but pretty much always find something negative to say about their jobs. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t parents find ways to make their careers just as rewarding as the life they lead at home? The truth is, they can!

Here are some suggestions to help you if you want to feel more fulfilled in every aspect of your life:

Choose A Career That Incorporates All Of Your Transferable Skills

Think about all of the transferable skills you have that can be used in a new job role. This doesn’t just mean the skills you’ve acquired in other ‘official’ jobs, but the skills you’ve acquired as a parent! There are so many skills and roles that parents take on daily. Just some of the skills you’ll have after having children include:
  • Communication and listening
  • Problem solving
  • Crisis management
  • Supervising
  • Mentoring and teaching
  • Time management
  • Financial management

There are likely so many more too. Can you think of a career where you can use the skills you picked up as a parent?

Of course, the skills you have as an individual and skills you’ve picked up in previous jobs make all the difference too. By choosing a career that incorporates all of your skills, you’ll feel more fulfilled each day.


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Pick A Career That Really Makes A Difference

If you want your career to be just as rewarding as your home life, you’re going to need to pick a career that you know really makes a difference. There are all kinds you can go for depending on the qualifications you currently have and whether you’re willing to go back to school/training. You could become a nurse, a teacher, a counselor, or even a social worker. Becoming a social worker is a great option, as you’ve raised your family so you may be effectively able to work with other families. But what is a Social Worker exactly? You’ll be expected to make sure children and adults are safeguarded from harm, keeping an eye on families or individuals who may be considered a risk. You can really improve the outcome of people’s lives in a role like this. That being said, you could make a difference in just about any role you choose to take on!

Define Your Priorities


If you’re going to pick a job that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, you need to make sure you’ve defined your priorities. Which is most important to you right now; your home or job? If your kids are still young, it’s likely your home. If they have grown up and are mainly doing their own thing now, it may be your career. Make sure you know what you can't compromise on to make the best decision for you at this time.


Set Boundaries At Work And At Home


Whatever you do, you need to make sure you set clear boundaries at work and at home. Learn to say no if you struggle with that at present. By learning how to set these boundaries, you’ll be able to remain present and focused on the task at hand and have a happier time doing so. You won’t feel rushed off your feet doing things you don’t even want to do!

Choose Something Flexible

If you want a great career that you’re able to fit around your family time, there are a number of options you can go for. Here’s a list of options that could help you in terms of setting a flexible schedule:
  • Financial planner
  • Interior decorator
  • Accountant
  • Makeup artist
  • Hairdresser

There are many other options too, but it’s up to you to do your research and figure out what will suit you the best. You could even start up a side business or offer your services on the side online. These things allow you to make your own money while making sure everything fits in with your current lifestyle. Many people are doing this and you can make it work if this is something you really want. People are selling the most weird and wonderful things, so don’t limit yourself. People are earning a living by drawing cartoon characters for various purposes, doing voice overs, and plenty of other things on sites like Fiverr.

Are you ready to make your career just as rewarding as your home life? Use some of these pointers and see what happens. Contrary to popular belief, work doesn’t have to feel like work! Leave any tips that have worked for you below!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How To Make Your Kitchen Fresh Again

Written by a contributor writer




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Your kitchen is one of the most functional and used rooms of the house. It’s where all your food is prepared and it’s where a lot of people come to have a chat to whoever it is that is making the dinner or lunch that day! Because of the huge amount of use you get out of a kitchen, it can soon get incredibly boring to look at and use, so we need to change it up every now and again. But what are the best things to do to make sure it stays fresh?


Install New Appliances

When you look at a kitchen, what do you see that takes up the most space in the room? If you’re saying the appliances, then you’re 100% right! Kitchen appliances/units are the biggest factors in the looks of your kitchen because they dominate its space. This means that they’re going to dominate the tone and mood of the room too, so we’re going to want to change them if we want to spice everything up again. Buying new kitchen units means that you’re also going to get a different functionality out of your kitchen. Different units have not only different stylings, but different builds mean that the storage space that they carry is going to change slightly.  Hopefully, this will allow you to do something you couldn’t do before! Do keep in mind, though. that replacing all of the kitchen units in a kitchen is a very big job so make sure you hire a skilled laborer to do this for you as you’re not going to be able to do it yourself and could make a mess if you do!


Replace The Cooker

Your cooker is what is going to be getting used the most out of all of the items in your kitchen; it contains a stove and an oven meaning that you’re going to be using it every night when you want to cook something so it can get dull pretty quickly! Not only that but it can get damaged very easily too if you’re not careful, so sometimes we need to replace it. But even if we don’t need to, it can still change the feel of the room. The cooker is a focal point, so if we change it then we change the room! A popular choice is getting an induction cooker; this only affects the stove but it’s a much more futuristic way of cooking. Flames are not used, instead, magnets are used to generate heat to the stove which is much safer than using flame.  Just be careful with the little ones as they might be tempted to touch it! For this, you’re going to also need the best induction cookware as it won’t work with most cookware, so have a look!


Put In A New Surface

Similarly to the kitchen units, the kitchen work surface is another very large part of your kitchen and adds to the overall look of your kitchen in quite an unusual way. Your kitchen top is important because, obviously, that is where all of the work takes place! It’s where you’re going to be cutting and putting everything that you’re preparing, so it’s important to get a good quality kitchen surface that isn’t going to stain when something is inevitably spilled on it! From afar you’re not going to immediately notice what the kitchen surface is like because you’re not close enough to it, so from the entrance of your kitchen it’s really not going to matter at all, however, the more you get into the kitchen and the closer you get to it, the more you are surrounded by it and the more of it you can see which means that once you’re right up against it, it becomes the biggest thing in your eye line and therefore will dominate the tone of the room. This is what is known as subjective dominance, so make sure you like the look of your surface before you put it in!

Any of these things is going to make your kitchen like new again. Whether it’s getting a new kitchen surface in to make everything feel new again when you’re cooking, replacing all of your old units for new ones, or getting a brand new cooker, they’re all going to make your kitchen a much more exciting place to be in! Of course being in the kitchen means you’re going to have to cook things, but what are the best things to cook? Well, read this and you’ll find out!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cruelty-Free Hair Products (Affordable Options)

That's right! I've taken my cruelty-free journey to hair! Now, while I don't exclusively use cruelty-free products, I am trying to make the effort to find cruelty-free options and switch to cruelty-free products that are comparable to the products that I currently use. So far, most of my day-to-day makeup is by cruelty-free brands. So let's see if I can find some CF hair products as well!

Maple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo

I LOVE this shampoo. It leaves my hair clean, shiny, and it doesn't dry it out. I like the smell of tea tree oil so, of course, I love the smell of this shampoo.  The brand, Maple Holistics, specializes in cruelty-free and all-natural personal care products. I will definitely be trying more products by them! (You can get free samples from Maple Holistics here!)
Live Clean Argan Oil Restorative Shampoo and Conditioner
I used these products up! Which, unfortunately, is a rarity due to my product testing schedule. But, in all honesty, I just loved how my hair looked with this shampoo and conditioner. They make my hair completely revitalized and healthy after months in the Florida summer sun. The shampoo does have an earthy vanilla scent that took some getting used to simply because I am used to very strong fruity scents when it comes to hair care products. This scent was much more subtle and soft. I also love that you can find them in the drugstore and at Target (my Publix even carries them) at a pretty affordable price point! Live Clean also makes hand, body, and baby products.

Alba Botanica Conditioners in Coconut and Plumeria

Alba is a popular brand and probably one of the first people run to when they decide to go cruelty-free. Alba's products are hit or miss for me. And every time I get a miss, I want so badly for it to be a hit. I liked these conditioners but wasn't wowed by them.  The plumeria scent was my favorite, but I felt like I had to use a lot of product to get my hair fully conditioned. Overall, I would recommend these conditioners if you have short or medium length hair. But if you have long hair or need intense moisture, I would look elsewhere.

Baptiste Dry Shampoo

This one is a bit controversial. Baptiste has claimed they are cruelty-free, yet some sources report that they sell their products in China. (China requires animal testing in order for the product to be sold there.) To be honest, I'm not sure which is true and can't find anything from the brand other than this statement:
"Batiste Dry Shampoo is not tested on animals. While we have no connection to the Leaping Bunny Program, we use a rabbit icon to draw attention to the fact, as stated on the can, that we do not test our product on animals."

So, taking the brand for its word, I've included Baptiste on this list.  And it's my favorite dry shampoo. I've tried higher-end brands and I always come back to Baptiste. My favorite scent is Bare. It's very light, clean, and not perfumey at all. The dry shampoo soaks into my hair, leaving it soft, and feeling/looking clean. It's super easy to use, not messy, and there is no fussing with it to get it to work.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

5 Epic holiday ideas for the adventurous type

Written by a contributing writer


If you’re already planning what to do on your next big vacation, how about you go on an epic once in a lifetime adventure? If you’re the adventurous type, then typical vacations of laying down at the beach with a cocktail in your hand will definitely not do it for you. You would want something more thrilling, something that would get your adrenaline pumping right?

The good news is that there’s so much the world has to offer for those people with a thirst for adventure. Whether you want the adventure on land or under the sea, there will be something that can satisfy your thirst for something different. Check out some of the places you can go and things you can do below.

1. Swim with sharks in South Africa – sure there tours that let you get closer to whale sharks, which are not man-eating and is considered a friendly giant, but if you want the thrill of danger, go on a cage diving tour in South Africa. If you don’t consider yourself a daredevil yet and cannot swim without cages, this is the perfect tour for you. You will get to see one of nature’s most majestic, not to mention dangerous, creatures – the great white shark.


2. Trek the world’s highest peaks - if you’re looking for the most scenic and beautiful mountains, there’s probably nothing that can come close the majesty of the Himalayas. You will not only appreciate Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world, but also the small mountain villages all over the place. The key to a great adventure in the Himalayas is that you get experts to guide you through the area. If you’re thinking of going on this adventure, get more information over at www.kandooadventures.com. They can definitely take you on the adventure of your life at the Himalayas.


3. Whitewater rafting - for those who want to ease their way into being an adventurer, you can try white water rafting first. While there are areas that are highly dangerous given the kind of rapids they have, you can try to look for some that are perfect for beginners and even families if you want to bring your kids with you. From there, you can level up and discover the more dangerous and popular routes, such as the Great Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.


4. Discover the rainforests of Costa Rica – if you want a break from mountain or water scenery, why not go on an epic adventure through the rainforests of Costa Rica? This is perfect especially for those who truly enjoy appreciating the many animals and plants that nature has to offer. You’ll see wonders such as rivers filled with crocodiles and rare orchids and birds. A trip like this should be experienced by every person at least once in their lifetime.


5. Hang Gliding at Rio De Janeiro - if you’re not the type to be deterred by heights, hang gliding from the Pedra Bonita is definitely a sight to behold. You’ll get to appreciate the Sugarloaf Mountains while traveling to the beach for your landing. Don’t forget to look for the famous Christ the Redeemer statue while enjoying the sights of Brazil!

Friday, September 8, 2017

What to Look for in Renovation Quotes

Written by a contributing writer


Deciding to start a home renovation project is a big step for any homeowner. That is why the process of finding the right renovation expert to complete the job is so important. When you are searching for quotes and getting estimates for your job, it is important to understand what that quote should include and what your rights are to change it before you sign a contract with the renovation professional. Here are three important things to look for in home renovation quotes.

Scope of Work


An important part of the estimate is knowing that both you and your contractor are on the same page when it comes to a variety of project specifications. This part of the quote should spell out clearly what the contractor will be expected to complete and the timeframe in which they will complete it. Additional information such as inspection fees, permit fees, and other costs not related to material and labor should also be clear before signing a contract.

Standards for Quality

Contractors have to meet safety requirements for each job they do, but there is no governing rules or licensing to guarantee high-quality work. If you are worried, you can include in your quote and your contract specifications for contractors to follow manufacturer instructions on materials, that all employees must act in a workmanlike manner and that they follow the standards of local trade associations, even if they are not members themselves. While you may not have to pay more to meet these standards, it may affect the original quoted timeline for the length of the project.

Bid and Allowances

When it comes to money, you want your contractor to be as transparent as possible. A good bid should provide you with the best estimate on the cost of materials (which can change depending on the type of materials you want to be used for the project), cost of labor, how many hours of labor will be required, repairs for possible damage and cleanup materials. Most quotes will have room for an allowance, which gives the contractor a certain amount of wiggle room in case costs of materials are higher. These allowances should be researched by the homeowner to determine if the contractor is providing a fair estimate in material supplies.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Loving Mom: Showing The Family How Much You Care

Written by a contributing writer



It is easy to take people for granted. As a mom, it probably happens to you on a daily basis. The kids don’t say thank you for making dinner or the husband doesn’t realize how much work it takes to get a clean house when you have kids. However, most mothers move on to the next day without a second thought. But, instead of hoping they show they care, why don’t you make the first move? If you start the process, they are more likely to reciprocate. And, let’s face it – very few things get done around the house without a mother’s touch.

Here are four simple ways to show your family you love them.


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Smile When You See Them

The majority of moms can’t help but shine their cheesiest grin when they see their loved ones. Whether it’s the hubby or the kids, they make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Still, there are times when you've had it with them or when you are not feeling at your best mentally and physically. It’s these times which are the ones which cement your love. By flashing a loving smile when they walk in the room, they will know they are the center of your attention. You don’t have to speak because a smile says a thousand words.

Share Regular Meals

It is true that families don’t share the same dynamic any longer. Thanks to technology and a fast paced environment, people don’t appear to have time for a family dinner. However, sitting down and eating together is an amazing way to create a bond and keep it alive. The simple act of asking the kids and your partner how their day was is a sign you care. After all, who would ask and listen to the response if they were just going through the motions? Also, the dinner table is a place for fun and laughter, and these two elements are sure-fire signs of a loving household.



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Tell Them

Of course, the most basic method is to say it with words. Sometimes, there is no need, but people like to hear it all the same. It isn’t like the jury is out; it’s more like it feels good when it comes out of the blue. Just saying the words “I love you” is a great place to start, but you don’t even have to have the conversation face to face. If you prefer, you can slip personalized thank you cards into your family’s lunch. The feeling of warmth when they see their surprise is hard to replicate any other way. Leaving notes on the bathroom mirror has the same effect.


Use Grand Gestures

There is nothing better than a surprise which ticks all of the boxes. A card at lunch is nice, but it is human nature to want more. For example, the kids might want a trip to Disneyland over the summer, and your husband might want a new car. Although they are big gestures, they do go a long way when used sparingly. Plus, it is always nice to enjoy a vacation and come back to a brand new car!


Usually, you can show them how much you care by being the mom of the house.