Your One Week Jump Start To Low Carbon Living


Given the challenges the world faces due to global warming, it’s natural that many of us have taken a look at our lifestyle and our homes. We glance over the things we do, perhaps even calculate our carbon footprint, and wonder where we could cut back.

The train of thought then tends to go one of two ways.

  1. You make a plan to change your ways, beginning to adopt more eco-friendly methods of living. You make the change for life, unable to imagine that you will ever go back to your high consumption ways of the past.
  2. You have good intentions about making all those changes… but life tends to get in the way.

If you have mastered the first response then good for you, you’ve pretty much got it made. If, however, you fall into the second “well intentioned but not quite doing enough” category, then it might be beneficial to take the time for a single week of low carbon living.

One week in which you aim to be as environmentally-friendly as possible - what could be so hard? The things you do during this week might not be realistic all the time, but the exercise is still worth doing. It gives you time to zero in on your necessities, see what workarounds you can come up with, and learn a little more about sustainable living. So why not give it a try?

As the ideas are often good but the implementation less so, here’s a jump start guide to how you can make changes for your low-carbon week.

1) Get groceries delivered to your door. Online shopping has made this easier than ever; a few clicks and you’re home free.

2) Keep social events at home or in the garden. Rather than wasting energy on making extra journeys for social events, invite people to your home. On nights when no one is available, you can amuse yourself by calling your parents, playing old-fashioned board games or more more online versions like FoxyBingo, or just sitting with a good book - all keep you at home using relatively little energy.

3) Switch your cleaning products. It’s easier than ever to find eco-friendly products; you can throw a few options in with your supermarket shop. When you see they are just as effective as the more toxic-heavy options, you won’t go back.

4) Turn off the lights. We all have a tendency to use more light than we need, especially in rooms we’re not actually using. Make a mental note to check your house every so often to ensure there’s not extraneous lights on anywhere. One light per person is sufficient.

5) Solar lights for the garden. Having your low-carbon week doesn’t mean you can’t sit outside of an evening, but make the switch to solar lighting rather than anything powered off the mains. The lights might be a touch dimmer, but unless you are reading a novel, it shouldn’t make a difference.

6) Practice ecological driving techniques. The idea of ecological and driving going together in a sentence might seem odd, but there are ways and means of reducing the amount of petrol you’re using. For a start, ease up on the brake; instead, take your foot off the accelerator and let the car come to a natural stop wherever possible.

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Four Smart Ways To Save Money This Summer

With summer nearly upon us, there is a lot to think about. It is the best time of year for lots of reasons. Maybe you are in the process of planning your holiday, or you are thinking of taking some time off work in order to visit friends and family more locally. Besides a trip, there are so many exciting things to do over summer that you may wish it lasted a bit longer. With new art exhibitions, music festivals and sporting events to pack into your calendar, it is a full-time job just finding time for everything. While it can be a lot of fun, it can also be quite expensive. When the nice weather starts, you can so easily be tempted to head out to a chic bar with a rooftop terrace and watch the sun go down, or invite your friends over for a barbecue and a party. However, all of these things cost money. If you are worried about how you are going to afford the sort of summer that you’ll tell your kids about, here are a few tips:

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Before you can think about where you are going to go and what you’re going to do once you get there, you need to figure out what you’re going to wear. In an age of social media posts and selfies (a study conducted last year estimates that about one million are taken every day), you always have to look good. However, with fashions changing and clothes being expensive anyway, it can sometimes be difficult to look your best all the time. The bargain ideas you'll find here may be able to help. You do not need to buy the most expensive brands to get noticed around town. Be creative and create your own clothes. They will always be unique and by virtue of you not selling them, priceless. Also, while it may seem counterintuitive, summer is the best time to invest in your winter clothes. Big, warm coats and gloves and hats will be cheaper in the stores because there is not as great a demand for them. Conversely, winter is the best time to find your next great pair of swimming trunks or a bikini.

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If you are planning a trip that requires you to fly, a good trick for getting a better price online is clearing the cookies in your browser. Airlines use dynamic pricing to decide how much to charge you. They use your search history and cookies against you so deleting them can save you money. Other good advice includes booking seven weeks early for short haul flights and eighteen weeks for long haul flights.

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It is a myth that you have to spend money to have a good time anyway. Art galleries and museums, in particular, are often free and all they offer is the most exquisite things of beauty that humanity has ever created. It’s a pretty good deal and you can find lots of details about great places here.

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Lastly, going to the park and borrowing a book from your local library are both free. Combine them, and you have just about the best summer afternoon anyone could hope for.

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Delivering the Perfect Wedding Speech


The idea of delivering a wedding speech is daunting. The reality is even worse. The only way to deliver the perfect wedding speech is to be prepared. You’ll have a crowd of people watching you; some family, some friends. Now is your time to shine and prove to everyone that you can be trusted with this responsibility. If you’re determined to get it right on the day, here are some tips to follow.

Write Your Speech
You’d be surprised by how many people decide to wing it when it comes to wedding speeches. Speaking from the heart is a great idea but you don’t want to risk being stuck for words, or rambling on to the point that you say something inappropriate. So, write your speech in advance. It’s better if you can tailor your speech to the bride and groom but if you’re not a natural at creative writing, there are plenty of speech tips online.

Test it Out
Before you offer your speech to the whole wedding, you may want to think about testing it out on a few people first. Choose people you can trust and who you know will give you good advice. Similarly, you may want to test it out at the actual venue. Find a spare few minutes where the wedding breakfast room is empty and say some of your speech aloud. You’ll then know whether you need to raise or lower your voice so people can hear you clearly.

Get Used to a Crowd
All eyes will be on you while you’re giving your speech. If you have some anxieties about speaking in front of a crowd, you may want to take yourself out of your comfort zone a few times before the wedding. You can do things like, take part in karaoke in a public bar or read poetry at a poetry night. It’s just a way of getting used to people staring at you. While you’re delivering the speech, ignore the photographer. It’s a photographer’s job to take pictures of people delivering speeches. If you’re lucky enough to have a good one, you shouldn’t notice the camera anyway.

Do Tell Jokes
A crowd will pick up on your nerves and the best way to calm yourself down and break the ice, is to tell jokes. Don’t go overboard but a good joke or funny story about the bride and groom can really change the atmosphere in a room. They say that people often forget the words you say but never forget how you made them feel.

Keep the Dirty Laundry to Yourself
As the best man, it can sometimes feel like your duty to embarrass the groom. However, there is a line you shouldn’t cross. For example, telling stories about the groom’s ex-girlfriends will get you in nothing but trouble…and the groom too. Stories about your friendship group misbehaving will usually get a laugh, but remember that the groom’s new in-laws are sitting close enough to choke him. Use your intuition but when all else fails, ask your for your mom’s opinion.
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The Best Way To Save Money? Make More Of It

There are plenty of ways that you can save money, but if you don’t want to scrimp and save, then the next best thing you can is not to save money, but make more of it. We know that might sound pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t explore the many options they have to boost their income the healthy way. Bring more money, and you’ll be able to maintain your present lifestyle and save money at the same time.

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Part-Time Work


Many people long hours and don’t like the idea of working more, but if you can handle a few more hours a week then getting a second job might be the way forward. You don’t have to give up all of your free time. Just working a couple of evenings a week or weekend mornings can bring in a sizeable amount of money each month. Part-time work is usually readily available too, as most people prefer full-time work or don’t want to work unsociable hours.

Looking Online


The internet is a treasure trove of moneymaking opportunities. Whatever your skill set is, there will be an opportunity for you to make money with it online. For example, if you’re a talented artist or make crafts, then work with a magento agency to get an online store up, running, and profitable. If you already have the items to sell, it’ll be a matter of waiting for someone to buy. Alternatively, you can also look at tutoring online, be it an instrument, skill, or as an English teacher for foreign students.  

Selling the Old Junk


In homes across the country, there are many items that could be sold for a big collective profit. Take a look through your old drawers; how many items do you no longer use that you could sell? Even if looks like junk to you, there’ll be someone out there who’s willing to take your old belongings off your hands for a fair price. It doesn’t have to be junk, either - just anything that you no longer use. Doing this could bring in an entire month’s worth of cash, all for selling stuff that you no longer want.

Renting Out a Room


If you’ve got a spare room in your apartment or home, then why not look at renting it out? This could bring in a big boost of cash each month. You’ll have the power to pick your tenant, can set the price, and you’ll have some extra company around the house. Sounds like win, win, win to us! This is especially useful if you just some extra cash over a few months.

Exploring Opportunities


In the end, there are many more opportunities to make extra cash than most people realize. If you have enough determination, then you will be able to bring in extra money. How you do so will depend on your individual talents and how much free time you have. Keep your ear to the ground and look to see what’s out there!


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Dig Deep For This Tropical Oasis

So, you want a garden that you can entertain your friends in? That will wow them and make them feel as if they have been transported to another time or place? Then the tropical oasis garden is perfect for you, and here how to get it.

The overall design

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Obviously, the first thing you need to work out before you start digging at all is the overall design that you will be going with. That means you need to consider the size of the space that you are working with, along with how much light each part of the garden gets, and what you what you will be using the space for.

Check out Fine Gardening Magazine and Garden Designs for inspiration. You can even have a go at designing your own garden with tools like Garden Planner Online. Or just leave it to the professional if you are more about results than budget.

The planting

Now, once you have a plan to work form the next thing to set into place is the planting scheme that you are going for. In a tropical oasis style garden that means exotic plants like palm and ferns.

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Try Trachycarpus fortunei
and Chamaerops humilis
to give you lush, dense green foliage tan then add a pop of color her and here with some stunning examples of Bird Of Paradise and Flamingo Flowers.

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Remember too, that you will need to invest in these plants as growing them from seed without a greenhouse is going to take a long time! Unfortunately, buying pre-cultured plants is a little more expensive. But needs must when the devil drives, and you want your outdoor space to be ready by next month for that informal little get together than your planning!

The entertaining space

Once you have the planting under control, then you need to start to think about the actual space in which you will do most of your entertaining in. It helps to have a delineated area set aside for this, such as a patio or a deck.

This gives a focal point for the guys at your party to congregate around, and also provides a usable outdoor space for the family when you are not entertaining.

You can delineate the entertaining space cleverly through lighting as well. Whether you chose to hang string lights around, the outside to provide a pretty boundary line. Or use larger more sculptural light orbs, to draw people into the space and give the area some focus.

Consider the location of this space to the rest of the garden and home though as well. Yes, it's nice to have it a little way away from the house. As this help you to feel immersed in the garden of exotic and tropical plants.

However, too far away from the house, especially the kitchen makes hosting parties nightmare. Unless you are going to employ someone to run back and forward with canapes and drink refills all night.

Providing Cover

While dining alfresco is lovely, you will also want to make provisions in case the weather isn't on your side at the time of the party.  That means having some covered or semi-cover place in the garden that folks can retreat too if things get too hot or too wet.

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Options for this include garden rooms where all of the windows open and bring the sense outdoors in. Or if you want to avoid major building works and adding costs to your garden renovation, why not go for something like this DIY verandah? Which is just perfect for protecting your guests and your decorations from the elements in style.

Water features

Something that is bound to evoke the tropical mood is if you install a water feature in our garden. Most people think that these are complicated and take a lot of money and work. But actually, there are super stylishly premade features that you can now get that are relatively easy to install.

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The relaxing spaces

Of course, you won't want everything in your garden to be about entertaining a large group of people. In fact, it's also nice to have some more private, and relaxing spaces that are a little more intimate.

You can achieve this effect in a number of ways. Firstly, you can install outdoor furniture at specific points in the garden. Perhaps where a tree or bush give some privacy? Or where there is a beautiful view. Which can create a magical escape from the hustle and bustle of everything.  

Or you can be clever with your planting and use different levels, and density of foliage to create what they call garden rooms. Which means dividing the space up into smaller areas with only natural materials.

Furniture

No exotic garden, especially one that is designed with entertaining in mind would be complete without furniture. Happily, this is something in which there is an embarrassment of riches. In fact, it may be that the only problem you have is deciding between two particularly wonderful pieces for your outside space.

For a truly exotic look why not channel a retro vibe and go for wicker, and bamboo chairs and two seaters sofas. Make sure that they have a modern edge by painting them in bright colors with mismatched cushions to set them off.

Then there is the wonderful idea that is cabanas. Traditionally used in poolside or beach settings, you can easily site these in your garden to give some authentic tropical style.

Basically, there are wooden decks with roof, and curtain on the side. On the deck is placed cushions to lounge around on while sipping tropical cocktails, and generally having a wonderful time. I'm sure you get the idea.

Lastly, why not consider initially wrap around sofa on your veranda or deck? This is when all the sides of the area are converted into comfy seating. Which makes a wonderful almost club-like atmosphere for you guests.

You can buy ready-made garden sofas and install them. Or construct your own with this handy guide. Just make sure to accessorize with loads of throw pillow and few of these cute coffee tables for folks to rest their drinks and snacks on.

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The Thrill Of A Tranquil Home


Everybody wants to feel happy in their own home, but life can become stressful and overwhelming very quickly. Once you let your maintenance slip around the house, that’s when your cozy retreat from the world loses its cozy, relaxing and tranquil atmosphere and becomes just as stressful as the outside world. It’s a vicious cycle, and if you want your home to be a welcoming blanket of relief after a tough day at work or after running errands then you need to put a little bit of time into keeping it that way.

There’s nothing quite like a tranquil, homely home to wash away the stresses of life. The best way to break the cycle of having a stressful day and feeling even more stressed when you come home is to fix your home. You might return to the outside world with a clearer, calmer frame of mind and find that you don’t want to shout at your boss quite as much at the end of each day. If you’re wondering how you could make your home a little cozier and improve its general appearance then here are some ideas which might kick you into action.


Declutter.
They say that a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind, but both of these things feed into one another. The more focused you become on issues outside the home, the less you’ll pay attention to keeping the home neat and tidy. In turn, as clutter builds up in each room of your house, you’ll start to feel more and more overwhelmed by the state of the place on a mental level. The solution is simple: you need to declutter. And you need to do this not only once or on an annual basis, but each and every week.

Setting aside a day for tidying and cleaning will turn the chore into a habit and ensure that you never forget to do so. You’ll thank yourself when you find that your home starts to look consistently better. Sometimes, achieving the fresh and open look around your home doesn’t require a huge chunk of your money to redecorate the place, but a simple tidy up. Achieving the contemporary, minimalist feel around your home really isn’t as hard as you think; you probably don’t need that interior designer after all.


The power of paint.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of a paint job to create a refreshing, new and welcoming look to your old home. When it comes to DIY interior design, a lick of paint is every homeowner’s method of choice. It’s cheap, straightforward, and it can have a hugely transformative effort on the appearance of a house.

It’s called a makeover for a reason; much like the effect of putting on a new set of clothes, you can bring out the best qualities of your home when you start from scratch and refresh its face. The potential for your house to feel cozy and welcoming is already there, but you need to bring it out. A white coat of paint which invites natural light into the home and brightens each room is what you need to achieve that cozy, tranquil and aesthetically pleasing effect.

Fix the basics.
Interior design is all well and good, but you can’t live in a relaxing environment until you’ve solved any physical or practical problems. Your home might be dealing with a few issues that you’ve been putting off for a while, such as leaky plumbing or inefficient windows, and solving these problems should definitely come before making improvements to your home for the sake of mere aesthetic pleasure. You’re never going to be able to relax when you know that there are serious issues with your household, so you need to screw on your DIY hat every time there’s need for maintenance or general care for your home, as ignoring the issue won’t make it go away.

You just need to fix problems whenever they arise, and then you can get back to chilling out. You’ll find that your home falls apart far less when you address maintenance issues regularly, as leaving these things can lead to more serious problems developing in the future. What might have taken a few hours to fix, such as a broken faucet, could end up taking an entire weekend to fix and perhaps even a professional plumber if the problem is allowed to develop into a more serious plumbing issue. You have the choice of investing a little bit of time into maintaining your house on a regular basis or investing a huge chunk of your time when some big issue arises.

Warmth.
We’ve all ended up curled up on the sofa on a cold night struggling to get comfortable. You don’t want to freeze, but the itchy jumper you found in the back of your wardrobe isn’t exactly the ideal solution. Feeling comfortable and relaxed in your home depends on a certain level of warmth, but turning the heating on full blast all day long isn’t good for the environment or your bank account. If the idea of wearing excessive, uncomfortable layers around the house just to stay warm doesn’t sound appealing then you need to look into other ways of keeping your house warm.

You can use the resources already at your disposal to keep your household warm. Moving objects such as furniture away from radiators could allow the heat being generated to spread around the room more successfully, and draught-proofing your doors could also stop cold air from seeping into your cozy living room or bedroom. You could also look into house window tinting to trap heat in your home. The point is that you don’t have to rely entirely on central heating to keep you warm in your household; using clever tips and tricks to keep out the cold and keep in any heat is a much smarter, cheaper and environmentally conscious way of staying cozy in your home. People survived before central heating, so there are other ways to stay warm.

Fix your bathroom.
When it comes to a peaceful home, you want to get your bathroom just right. This may just be a place to stay clean for some, but it could be your tranquil little retreat if you design it correctly. It doesn’t take a lot of money to replace those old tiles with sparkling clean, modern and enticing new ones. You want to actually feel excited about taking a long soak in the bath rather than dreading the old, dingy, dirty tiles in your bathroom; giving the floor a makeover might be a good idea too. It’s worth taking the time to improve your bathroom.

Lighting.
You shouldn’t underestimate the effect that lighting has on your mood. Your home could entirely be transformed by the right kind of lighting in each room. As mentioned earlier, the reason that freshly painted white walls are so appealing isn’t just because they’re minimalistic and allow for new design ideas for your home but because they reflect natural light and instantly brighten any interior space.

Of course, you’ll want to think about the artificial lighting your household will require in the evenings too. Harsh, piercing lights might be ruining your mellow, tranquil vibe, so you should be opting for soft lighting with yellowish hues for living rooms, bedrooms and other places of relaxing. The right kind of lighting can warm your mood and create a peaceful environment. Bright, white light should be reserved for working environments; perhaps your study or the worktop in your kitchen.

The garden.
Landscaping is one of the final things you could consider when trying to create a more welcoming home for you and your family. The exterior of your house is just as important as the interior. The front of the house gives either a positive or a negative first impression as you’re pulling up to the driveway after a long day, but even the back garden can play a big part in creating a relaxing and pretty home. Landscaping this outdoor space needs to first involve ridding your garden of overgrown weeds, dying plants and perhaps even old trees. Much like decluttering your house, which I suggested earlier on, this will create an open space and a refreshing environment in which to surround yourself.

After tidying up the garden, you can start thinking about landscaping in terms of sprucing the place up. You might want to plant new flower beds which boast vibrant colors or a brand new tree. The goal is to create an outdoor space in which you’ll want to relax either on your own or with your family. The garden is part of your home too, and you want it to feel just as tranquil and chilled out as your property’s interior. You could fill this outdoor area with creature comforts, such as cushioned chairs, a dining table for barbecues and perhaps even aesthetic flourishes such as a fountain or a mini pond for some fish.

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