Friday, January 31, 2020

Dads Can Write for Parenting Pubs, Too!

Recently a friend of mine told me how her husband is a good writer but doesn’t really know where to get started. I told her if he can write short essays about dad-hood, he could break into some local parenting pubs, who are often dying for stuff written by dads. They seem to already have so much written by moms and they like to have a variety of voices to choose from for their monthly spots to fill.

Check out my post over at The Published Parent for more on this topic and a great resource!

*Found this post in the vault from 4/10/09 and decided to spruce it up a bit and repost :-)

3 Easy Ways to Give Your Kitchen a Farmhouse Feel

Upgrading your home doesn’t have to break the bank or even take a lot of effort. You don’t have to be a contractor, handyman, have a lot of experience in “home repair,” or know all the best Flooring Liquidators. What you do have to have is a little bit of creativity!

The farmhouse/cottage trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s a great way to blend classic and modern styles, make your home feel cozy, and even boost the value of your home if you ever plan on selling it. 

So, if you’re not necessarily the “fixer-upper” type but you want to make some farmhouse upgrades to your kitchen space, what can you do? Let’s look at three hacks that can completely change the look of your kitchen. 

1. Ceiling Tiles

Have you ever been in an old building that’s been restored to its original glory? Many places used to have intricate ceiling tiles that would bring texture, warmth, and an interesting element of design. By adding ceiling tiles to your kitchen, you can provide that same warmth and antique look with just a weekend of work! 

Choose cream-colored or white tiles for a more neutral look. Or, go bold with a bronze look to offset a neutral wall color. You can then accent that bronze color around the rest of the kitchen with something like a copper kettle on the stove, etc. 

2. Add Antiques

You can add a rustic, farmhouse touch to almost any kitchen simply by decorating it in a different way. Adding an antique or “distressed” piece here and there is a great way to bring the theme together without having to know anything about design, repair, etc. 

Hit up some local antique shops or thrift stores for anything that might spark your interest. Once you find one piece, you can look for others that would go with it. Get creative with your shopping. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match items. Quirky is good in a country kitchen!

3. Make it Smell Like Home

Scent is a powerful thing. The things we smell can remind us of certain places, people, or even very specific events. One great trick for making your kitchen feel more “homey” is to make it smell more like home!

What does that mean? 

Well, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine a country kitchen? Aside from the way it looks, it’s hard to think about farm living and not consider all of the delicious food. From freshly-baked loaves of bread, cookies, and pies, to the smell of a crackling fire that could be coming in from the next room, scents that are inviting and make people feel warm can change the entire atmosphere of your kitchen without having to do anything more than lighting a candle. 

You see, you don’t have to make major changes to your kitchen to create a farmhouse vibe. With just a little bit of creativity, you can build the atmosphere of a country kitchen where you’ll love spending your time each day. 

Tips for Hosting a Successful Social Evening

There’s nothing better than inviting people around for a fun evening at your house. While there will always be bars and restaurants and so on to attend, there’s just something that’s more intimate about inviting your loved ones into your home. But of course, while it’s nice to have them around, it’s not as if you can just get them into your home and hope that you stumble upon a night of fun. Simply being together will give you fun for some time, but a whole night? That’ll require more. Below, we take a look at a few ways how you can host a successful social evening with friends and family.

Create the Space

We’re used to our homes being spaces where we cook, relax, watch television, and so on. They’re spaces designed with our needs in mind. But that won’t be of much help when you’re hosting people. Then, it’s best to have a designated social space for everyone to enjoy. If the seating in your living all currently point towards the television, then make some changes! There are layouts that are more conducive to conversation. Alternatively, you can look at the open-plan kitchen layout, which is especially good for social evenings.

Grab the Supplies

You can’t have a great night with friends without a few supplies! Of course, the type of supplies you have will depend on the type of evening you’re hosting. You won’t need quite as many snacks if you’re going to be serving dinner, for example. It’s always a good idea to keep some snacks in the pantry so that you’re always ready to host. For drinks, opt for a selection, including beers, wines, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks. That way, everyone will be happy!

A Warm Welcome

The best social evenings are the ones where people feel welcome from the first moment they walk through the door. So be sure to give people a warm welcome when they arrive! Some people are more forthright with their needs when they’re in other people’s homes, but many people hold back. Be sure to offer them a drink, take their coats, and let them know that they can do whatever they need to feel comfortable. It’s the best way to ensure that you get the most out of your social evening, rather than having to wait for everyone to feel comfortable before the fun begins.

Games and Fun

You’ll spend some time talking and catching up, but at some stage, it’s best to introduce more guided activities. One of the best and most fun games to play is charades. Divide the group into two, and use a random word generator to select the word. You’ll find that everyone gets into the spirit of the game!

Easy Logistics 

Finally, you can make your night a resounding success by taking care of the logistics, such as how people will get home. Order taxis for a specific time, or give people the option to spend the night in your spare room

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Smartest Things to Pack in Your Hand Luggage

If you are planning a business trip or a vacation anytime soon, then it can be hard to decide what kind of luggage you need to take. Do you only need to think about hand luggage, or will you really need to have a checked bag? But if you only take hand luggage, how do you pack everything that you need but still abide by the hand luggage rules, like liquids under 100ml and so on? Planning ahead is a must, so that you can have a happier trip and manage to take all that you need. Here are some things to think about and ideas of what to pack.

  • Reusable water bottle: as we know, the liquids that you take in your hand luggage need to be under a certain amount. But if you don’t want to buy a lot of plastic bottles once you have gotten through security, then take a reusable water bottle with you. You can then drink up before you head through the security gates, and then refill from a tap once you get through security. Then you’ll have it with you on your travels, so there will be no going thirsty.

  • Toiletries: it is handy to have some toiletries with you in your hand luggage, even if you have some checked bags with you. You could pack some toothpaste if you are going on a long-haul flight, or just like to freshen up after you have eaten something. If you are someone who is an anxious traveler, then it could be a good idea to pack a CBD 1000mg size, so that it adheres to your hand luggage rules, then you can take some drops as and when it is needed. Other good toiletries to have are face wipes and lip balm; they can go a long way to help you feel refreshed on your travels.

  • Phone charger: if you are traveling, then it is a great idea to make sure that you have your phone charger with you. You might want to check your car rental details once you’re at your destination, call someone to pick you up from the airport, or use the GPS on your phone to find where you need to be. So make sure that you have your charger with you and then it can help in a number of ways. The same thing goes for tablets and laptops, make sure that you have your chargers!

  • Clothing for your destination: you might be heading to somewhere warm, but where you have just left from is cold. So having a change of clothing for when you arrive at your destination is a great idea. Likewise, if you are heading somewhere cold from somewhere warm, having some layers with you that you can throw on once you have arrived at your destination. Airplanes can be a little chilly too, so make sure you have a hoodie or a cardigan, as well as some socks, if you are someone who feels the cold easily. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy - Skillet Lemon Chicken Recipe

Some flavor combinations were just meant to be together and lemon, garlic, and chicken are one of them. If you’re not particularly confident with seasoning meat or you find that most chicken you cook is bland then this lemon chicken recipe is easy and I found it over at In this recipe, all of the flavors come from a delicious marinade that can be made in advance and used when you need it. The marinade does all the hard work for you so all you need to do is grab your skillet or fire up the grill and watch as the flavor profiles come to life. 

As such an easy dish this lemon chicken makes a great midweek dinner as a part of a meal plan served with rice, or a Mediterranean salad, but can also be brought out for summer BBQs and served with vegetable kebabs or jazzed up with some fresh herbs for a zero-effort dinner party. 

Here’s how to make it. 

You will need: 

For the spice mix
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 1.5 teaspoons of ground coriander 
  • 1.5 teaspoons of ground cumin 
  • 0.75 teaspoons of ground nutmeg 

For your marinade
  • 80ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 60ml of olive oil 
  • 3 tsp of crushed garlic (approximately 3 cloves) 

For your chicken
  • 1.5lb of chicken (You can use thigh or breast)
  • Salt and pepper of course 
  • A large onion
  • 2 whole lemons 
  • Some olive oil 
  • Optional parsley to garnish 

The method

  1. Combine all the spices for the spice mix in a small bowl and give them a stir
  2. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic for the marinade in a separate bowl 
  3. To make your chicken sizzle, pat it dry with some paper towel and then season with the salt and pepper.
  4. Next, cover the chicken on all sides with your spice mixture 
  5. Put the chicken into a glass container or dish and add in your diced onions  before pouring over the marinade
  6. To make sure the marinade gets into all the nooks and crannies gently massage the chicken until it’s covered all over
  7. Place some plastic wrap or a plate over the marinating chicken and leave for up to 8 hours in the fridge to ensure maximum flavor penetration. If you need the chicken sooner then leave at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. 
  8. When you’re ready to cook, cut your 2 lemons in half and add them to a heated skillet pan cut side down. Once they have begun to soften and have some nice grill marks, remove the lemons and set to one side. 
  9. Next, add a little olive oil to the skillet before adding your chicken in a single layer. 
  10. You can now throw away any remaining marinade. 
  11. Cook the chicken until it is well-cooked through which should take about 7 minutes on each side. To check, gently open a piece of chicken and make sure it is no longer pink inside. 
  12. Finally, when done transfer the chicken to a serving dish and squeeze over some of the grilled lemon juice. If you’re using parsley then garnish the finished dish now and eat immediately. 

Tackle-It Tuesday: Sheet and Pillowcase Storage in a Linen Closet

I finally got tired of stacks of sheets and pillowcases toppling over in our linen closet. Plus one of my husband's love languages is Acts of Service, so I have been trying to get things more organized lately for him. The bonus is that it helps me to feel more at peace in the house, and the kids can find things more easily too!

I went looking for a solution and saw that people on Instagram were doing an organizing challenge and some were placing their sheets neatly into bins and then labeling them in their linen closets.

This is my friend's cousin, who has 11 kids and staying organized is very important in her household!
 Yes! So I went to my bestie Amazon and ordered these beauties after measuring our closet:

Monday, January 27, 2020

How to Make the Most of a Business Trip

Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

To make the most of a business trip, you need to do more for your career and for your personal life. Trying to do more on an already exhausting trip might seem impossible, but the steps outlined in this guide can actually help you to relax more during your downtime and better manage your energy.

Mental fatigue is a serious issue, so invigorate your mind and help yourself enjoy a better sleep by following this guide to help you make the most out of any business trip:

1.    Bring Your Own Creature Comforts With You

Bring pillowcases from home, photos, and, most importantly, slippers. Small creature comforts from home like these can help give you a sense of normalcy when you are living out of a hotel room. For those who travel for a living, creature comforts are the only way to add consistency to your routine, no matter how similar all the hotel rooms start to look.

2.    Eat Healthy, and Not At the Hotel

Vary where you eat but don’t fall into the trap of consuming unhealthy meals, day in and day out. There are many great healthy restaurants and markets in any city you go to, and finding these can help you stay healthy, give you an excuse to get out of the hotel, and, if you go with coworkers, you can socialize outside of work.

3.    See if You Can Add Extra Personal Time Before or After a Trip

If you have vacation days left over and you can cover the cost of your return trip, it’s worth seeing if your employer is willing to allow you to have a few days off before or after your business trip. If you can cover your own costs and have days left, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

4.    Look Up The Best Way to Experience a City – Not See It

Even if you aren’t permitted personal time off to see the city on your own after the business portion of your trip is over, you can still see the city. When getting out there, however, skip the busy, overcrowded tourist highlights and focus on all the experiences you can enjoy. From great markets to unique arts and cultural events, to even just spending time reading in a peaceful place, these activities will help you really experience your destination while feeling energized. To find these places, look up some quality 48-hour guides, like this 48 hours in Manchester guide that showcases how to really experience the city. This type of guide is ideal if you at a destination for three days to a week but need to work during the day. This way, you have fun, exciting experiences to enjoy that get you out of your hotel room.

Relax better and see more of your destination on every trip you take with work. Your time is your time, so use it to experience new foods and activities. The fun you’ll have will help you relax so much more and ensure you get a great night’s sleep at the end of your workday. 

4 Gift Ideas to Start Saving Up for Christmas

This isn’t exactly the time of year where you normally start planning for Christmas. However, it is never too early to do so – especially if you have the idea of gifting something particularly memorable to a loved one. 

After all, certain luxury gift ideas require months of budgeting for the regular person. While this will take its toll, and you might have to cut out a few daily treats to save up the money, it will be worth it when you see the recipient’s face on Christmas morning.

The only problem: what gift should you buy? For guidance and an easy way to answer that question, consider the following gift ideas:

1. New vehicle

A new car is certainly going above and beyond as far as Christmas gifts are concerned. Yet if you have, say, a son or daughter who will be passing their driving test this year, it is also a logical choice. They receive a practical gift, while you have a hand in ensuring the vehicle is safe. 

To avoid any possible disappointment, you should work with the giftee in advance to ensure they receive a vehicle they desire. Learn about their favorite car brand and color. Although if you purchase them a top-of-the-range luxury car, it could be a garish neon green color and they’d still be happy.

2. A statement ring

You want to make an impression on the gift receiver, right? Well you can do this, and also let them make an impression of their own, with a statement ring. 

A statement ring is, of course, a piece of jewelry that stands out from the ordinary. It’s bold in design and memorable for all the right reasons. One example would be the 18ct gold Crown Rings range from Annoushka. This type of ring will likely cost a little extra when compared to a standard ring, but the giftee will certainly appreciate the added effort.

3. Arcade coffee table

When you know the giftee wants to get their game on, why not go all-out and give them an arcade coffee table? It’s certainly the more extravagant option when compared to the current video game consoles on the market. 

It’s also immensely fun. Plus it’s a statement making piece without being obtrusive. In comparison to an arcade cabinet, a coffee table can also function as, well, a coffee table. This means one minute it will be used to rest drinks on, the next for a game of Pac-Man!

4. Front row seats and VIP access

If you have ever been to a concert, comedy show, or other event, you will likely have felt envious about those sitting front row. Yet with forward planning and a dash of luck, you have the chance of securing those prime seats. 

It also makes for a great present. If your giftee has a favorite band or theatrical production, try and secure a couple front row seats. Certain events also attach the luxury of VIP access, which will only make the gift all that more memorable.  

4 Tips To Help Your Child With Math

For many of us, math can be a challenging subject. With so many topics, rules and methods, many children get confused early on and end up disliking math. The good news is, with a little bit of extra support you can ensure that your child gains confidence and learns how to tackle with those trickier problems. For a few simple tips on helping your kid master math, be sure to take a look at these five.

1 . Tutoring Apps

To give your child a little added support, a maths tutor is a worthwhile investment to boost their skills and confidence. It’s likely that you are already helping your child with maths yourself, and combining this support with a professional tutor, will really set your child up for success. For a great math tutor, take a look at My Tutor Lab. It’s an on-demand tutoring app, where you can find the best tutor to suit your needs and schedule. To access top support from the comfort of your own home, this app is well worth a go.

2 . Real-life situations

If you really want to help your child to understand math, ensure that you help them to use math in real-life situations. Let them help you pay for items when you go shopping, and count up the change. When you have a lesson or appointment- ask them to tell you what time it is. You could also bake some cakes together, and have them measure out the ingredients. When you help your child to grasp how maths is useful in everyday life, you’ll ensure that they truly understand the value of maths.

3. Maths games

Most parents know that when it comes to learning, if you make it fun- your kids are more likely to be engaged. There are plenty of fun math games online, and you can also make up your own at home. Whether it’s a math-themed treasure hunt, ball games, or jump rope; use what you have around the home, put on some music on and enjoy it! Use toy cars to practice learning about directions, or measure the height of teddies and make a height-chart. You could also practice some arts and crafts by making a giant multiplication table together. Whatever the game, the most important thing is that your child gains a positive experience of the maths learning process.

4. Daily practice 

To grasp new knowledge that sticks, the key is repetition. Practice math with your child a little bit each day, have set activities that you repeat, and keep a journal of your progress. Games are best played in groups so when your child has a playdate, take the opportunity to play a math game altogether.

As with any learning endeavour, remain positive and give your child lots of praise. Some children naturally struggle with maths and won’t take to it right away. Be patient with your child and help them to enjoy the subject as much as you can. In time, you’ll find the teaching methods that work best for you.


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