Winter Driving Tips: Keep Safe on The Roads This Winter!

No matter where you’re at or what type of driver you are, winter driving can be dangerous and difficult for all. In Scotland, winter conditions are harsh and slick, making it rough for you to drive safely. Luckily, there are some ways you can keep safe and prevent you from slips or accidents. Hamilton Mazda is an excellent place to stop by for used cars that will keep you safe in these conditions. Check out these tips on how to drive safely in winter conditions:

1. Put on snow tyres:

If you’re in the snow or know there will be some along your way, be sure to put on snow tyres because they are your number one bet in staying safe when there’s snow or ice. They will put a nice grip on your car and prevent you from sliding.

2. Increase your distance between cars: 

winter driving, safety tips in drivingStay further away from cars when you begin to break. You never know what the car behind you may be doing or how the road is ahead. If a car slams into you, staying farther away from the car ahead will save you from possibly hitting it. Plus, the roads are icy and you don’t want to risk getting to close.

3. Defrost your windows: 

When people are running late, they don’t want to defrost their windows and go straight on the road. Defrosting your windows is one of them most important parts of driving safely, because not being able to see in harsh conditions can cause you a crash. Defrost your car before you get in it.

winter tyres, driving in winter4. Check your tyre tread: 

The deeper the tread on your tyres, the better it is for slick roads. Your tread needs to be at least 3mm, but the bigger it is the safer you’ll be on slick roads. A 1.8 and under needs to be changed right away.

It goes without saying that you should be careful on the roads, especially when driving with the most precious cargo (your family and friends). Wherever you are, you should take the utmost care and precautions when setting out on any journey where there is a chance of snow, sleet or slush. Remember, black ice is one of the most deadly obstacles on the road, and it’s impossible to spot. Please follow our advice and enjoy the winter wonderland safely. Thanks for reading, please leave your comments and questions below.

About the author:Aaron is an ex-professional rally driver, Aaron is now a full time family man who blogs (when he gets the chance!).
Image credit: communityjournal.net

4 Tips for Finding the Perfect Fridge-Freezer

Picking out the right fridge-freezer is a big responsibility.  After all, the choice you make is going to affect how you cook, how your kitchen looks, and how your family feasts on everything from holiday dinners to midnight snacks.

So, how do you find the perfect fridge-freezer to give you the most bang for your buck?  Just follow these 4 tips!

  1. freezerLook For Options That Match Your Cooking Style
    Do you cook a lot of meals from scratch?  If so, look for a model that has more refrigerator space and less freezer space.  That way, you’ll have plenty of room for fresh goodies.If frozen dinners are more you thing, look for a fridge-freezer that has a bigger freezer section.  You might also want to focus on models that have the freezer on top.  That way, you won’t have to bend over to get to your frozen treats.
  2. Figure Out How Your Fridge-Freezer is Going to Affect Your Utility Bills
    Keeping your food cool and fresh doesn’t have to turn up the heat on your wallet!  If you want the best performance AND the best-looking utility bills, you’ll have to look for a fridge-freezer that cools evenly, quickly, and with as little energy as possible.Luckily, all of the newer models will give you details on how much energy they use and what you can expect your utility bills to look like if you buy them.
  3. Decide If You Want a Built-in Fridge-Freezer
    Refrigerators that blend in with kitchen cabinets can give your entire room a much more custom look.  However, they can be a lot more expensive than refrigerators with a traditional finish.Luckily, many of the newer fridge-freezers come in shiny stainless steel — which can make your kitchen look modern and sleek, all without any extra fees attached.
  4. Find a Manufacturer That Gives You Lots of Options
    With so many different refrigerators out there, trying to weed through all of them can feel totally overwhelming.  Instead of getting lost in a sea of models and serial numbers, narrow your choices down by manufacturer.For example, Fisher & Paykel fridges  come in all sizes, finishes, and designs, so they’ll make it easy to find a fridge-freezer that’s perfect for your needs, your budget, and your kitchen.
About the author:Olivia Slamut loves cooking and has developed a passion for smart kitchen appliances. She writes about recipes, appliances and environmental issues.

How To Get The Perfect Paint Effect

Paint effects can add drama to a surface providing far more visual interest than a flat painted surface. Think of these paint treatments as the special effects of the paint world. Many of these techniques can be do-it-yourself projects if the homeowner does the proper research and acquires the necessary tools. The first step in any paint-effects project is to determine the desired look.

paint, paint effects, colour washingColour Washing

The colour washing effect starts by applying a base coat of paint and allowing it to dry. This is followed by a glaze coat of a paint just slightly darker than the base. When the base is nearly dry, rub a cloth across the surface. This should produce a look of broad paintbrush strokes where the base coat is exposed while some of the glaze coat remains in place. This type of paint effect works best on large surfaces.

Masking

Masking also begins by applying a base coat of paint to the surface and allowing it to dry. Apply painters tape to the wall utilizing any pattern that interests you. For example, mixing vertical and horizontal lines could result in a checkerboard pattern while broad arcs and curves might look something like ocean waves. Apply a different colour of paint to the desired areas. Allow this to dry and remove the painters tape. The process of apply tape and different colours of paint can be repeated to achieve more complex patterns. Masking projects can create very interesting walls and often limited to a single wall within a room.

Rag Rolling

Rag rolling utilizes a special paint roller which has loose fabric “rags” attached. This roller and its rags can be used to apply paint directly utilizing the additive technique. This results in a surface that exhibits random marks of lighter and darker color corresponding to the positions of the rag as the roller moved across the surface. Applying a base coat of paint and the rolling across with a dry rag roller is known as the subtractive technique resulting also in a paint pattern related to the rag’s position.

Stenciling

stenciling, paint effectStenciling requires a cardboard or plastic device known as a stencil. This device has opening forming the pattern of the stencil. The stencil is held against the surface and a contrasting colour is applied through the openings resulting in a pattern painted on the surface. Stencils can be reused with several often grouped together as part of a paint effect project. Stencils can be used on large wall surfaces or on small painted items.

Stamping

Stamping is similar to Stenciling but instead of the open stencil a carved block is applied with paint and then pressed on to the surface. Think of this as apply an ink stamp to the wall. The block is applied repeatedly, usually in a pattern, to provide the full paint effect. This technique is useful on smaller painted surface or as an accent to a small portion of a wall.

Written by Lachlan Gadd
Lachlan runs a construction business in Australia. He regularly uses MetroSteel as their steel fabricators in Brisbane. When Lachlan isn’t working he spends lots of time in his home workshop doing DIY.

Image credits: octopus.net.au / eHomeDesignIdeas.com

3 Considerations You Must Have About Food for Kids Birthday Parties

birthday party, parties, kid's party, children's party

Planning a child’s birthday party can be a challenge. You have the guest list, theme, party games and food all to plan. The following article aims to give you a helping hand by providing you with three essentials you must consider when planning what food to serve.

Time to prepare

You need to be prepared. Decide what food you will serve and try to make the most of the food you already have. This will insure that you don’t go over budget. Another thing you can do to be budget friendly is purchase any premade food in bulk. Remember that children are more concerned with play time than eating, so it’s best to go with inexpensive foods. Rather than providing the children with a meal just provide a lot of snacks so they can help themselves. It’s best to also serve juice, punch or soda from large bottles so you can monitor how much sugar the children have had.

Kid-Friendly food

This is about supplying foods that are easy to eat and have a broad appeal. Many children won’t eat it if it doesn’t look good. The following ideas should go off with a bang at the party:

  • Buy the hard, thin breadsticks or crackers that come in a box in your grocery store’s bread aisle. Slather one end with cream cheese or a simple flavoured dip, and then wrap a thin slice of turkey, ham or other deli meat around it. Delicious!
  • Make fruit kebabs by cutting pineapple, cantaloupe and watermelon into bite-sized pieces then threading them onto wooden or plastic skewers. Promptly remove the skewers from the table after the fruit has been eaten so the kids don’t use them as weapons or use something with a blunt end, like chopsticks, for younger kids. They look good and taste good.
  • Make ordinary sandwiches fun by cutting them with cookie cutters or turn bananas, celery sticks or other healthy snacks into animals with a few well-placed raisins or carrot slices. It’s all about presentation.

Sugar and allergies

Watch the sugar! Yes, birthdays are meant to be a time to splurge and celebrate but that does not mean that you have to be excessive. You don’t want to encourage a behaviour problem fuelled by sugar or even worse with all your guests with a belly ache. Moderation is key. If they don’t get lots of sugar they will be more appreciative of what they do receive. You also need to be alert to allergies; you should ask parents ahead of time whether it be in person or through the invitations. This will allow you to plan your menu accordingly. You need to take special precautions, cleaning your cooking utensils before beginning to cook to avoid cross contamination.

Last but not least, consider going for a party theme for the fun factor. For example, you can do a ‘tropical’ theme and have your cupcakes decorated as tropical fruits. You might also want to opt for a unified look by incorporating the party theme into the design of your custom birthday invitations!

Image credit: madeformus.com

New Landlord? Guide To Becoming A Landlord

In the current economic climate the rental market is a rocketing sector. Mortgages are hard to come by so more people are turning to rental options in which to house their families and loved ones, making this a prime time for investors in property.

If you are able to invest but are new to the sector, becoming a landlord may seem somewhat daunting. Here are a list of items to tick off your check list to ensure you are doing the right thing for your reputation and your prospective tenants.

mortgage, landlord, rent, house rentCheck your mortgage

If you are buying a property for the purpose of letting it out, you must ensure your mortgage provider understands this is the case. Most lenders offer separate types of mortgages for buy to let investors than for homes lived in by the owner. If you don’t have the right sort of mortgage you could find yourself in hot water as your lender may be within their rights to repossess your property.

Know your tenants

It is important that you check out your tenants’ backgrounds as these are the people who will essentially be left in charge of the day to day running of your property. Getting hold of references from previous landlords and employers ensures you are doing what you can to put responsible people in your property. You can choose to let your property privately, through an estate agent, or through a registered provider of social housing Wirral Partnership Homes Flats is one such example. Using a third party may mean references are carried out on your behalf.

Protect yourself and your tenants with a tenancy agreement A tenancy agreement can be procured easily from stationery shops and online retailers, but it is important that you read it carefully. This sets out your legal obligations as a landlord and tells you how both you and your tenants are protected by the law.

Gas and electrical safety

As a landlord it is your responsibility to ensure the gas and electrical sources and equipment provided in the home is up to scratch. You will be required to get gas appliances tested annually by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

Invest in an EPC

An EPC is an energy performance certificate which shows how efficient your property is. You will require one for every self contained property you let out. EPCs cost about  100 and the better your property scores the more appealing it is, so consider making upgrades such as wall and floor insulation to help keep your property better insulated year round.

Fire protection

When it comes to fire protection you have responsibilities as a landlord to ensure working fire alarms are fitted and that tenants can escape should the worst happen. Houses with multiple occupants such as house shares have even more responsibilities so make sure you check these out.

Declare any income

Any money you make as a landlord should be declared to HMRC so you can pay any tax on it. You can be prosecuted for not doing so and forced to repay any benefits you should not have received.

Becoming a landlord is exciting and it could prove to be a great money spinner, however you should make absolutely sure your legal obligations are satisfied when embarking on such a project.

About the author:

This is a guest written by Jamie for wirral partnership homes & flats.

Image credit: renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My Gift for Myself

A long overdue post but still I want to share it here.  Ever since I started blogging I have wanted a nice camera, a DSLR to be exact. I always envy those shots made by a blogger friend from her DSLRs. But budget and priorities restricted me from buying one. I relied on my digicams (yes, I have 2) and they helped me tell my stories in my blog.

It’s been almost two years since I started this site and I might say I have gained some knowledge in this so-called career of mine and made a decent earnings out of it and my other blogs. December 2011 I saw that my income could make me buy a DSLR I’ve been longing for. I told myself, in June I’ll get myself a DSLR. Although I had the funds, it didn’t happen. Hubby kept on asking me why would I buy one when we already have 2 digicams, what would I do with that expensive thing. That kept me thinking and stopped me from buying. Months passed and I saw my work is paying off, high! During this time I keep track on what’s new on the DSLR market and ask advices and tips from my friend. I even think there were times she was already annoyed with my questions. 😛 At the same time, I already saw in my husband his interest on the DSLR and witnessed him comparing reviews from different models. This gave me hope and I told myself, soon… it will be mine!!! (with evil laugh) 😛

I planned to buy the camera before Christmas but I don’t know what happened and it didn’t push through. I think we were in constant search of stores that offer it at a lower price just to find out they were priced the same. December 28 I finally bought my DSLR.

DSLR, Canon, Canon 650d, camera
My Canon 650d

It is a Canon 650d. We’ve seen many positive reviews about this camera and from my friend’s advice and expertise, hehe… we got this. So far, it’s been hubby who’s learning to use it. He has every bit of patience in reading manuals, by the way. Hahaha!! Will just wait for him to teach me. 😛 I hope to learn to handle it someday. Maybe in spring when it’s sunny and flowers color the day.

Sprucing Up A Room With An Area Rug

Living in a rented attic with a limited space, this restricts us from modifying our home. We could just add some decors and accessories to beautify our living space and one of the easiest and most economical ways to change how our home looks is to spruce our rooms up with area rugs.

Placed strategically, area rugs can change the appearance of any room giving it an instant makeover without the steep costs. Area rugs come in a wide variety of sizes and designs that makes it quite easy to find one that’s just perfect for your home. In choosing area rugs to adorn your home, take these things into consideration:

area rug

Style and Cost. Area rugs come in a myriad of colors and patterns that can easily match any decor. Your objective in purchasing an area rug is to spruce up a room without having to change your furniture so do make sure to match the rug with your current furnishings. Oriental and Persian rugs are great accents for formal areas. Those with modern or eclectic decor can opt for contemporary-style rugs. Set a budget before choosing an area rug then choose the highest-quality rug that fits it.

Size. Room-size rugs are ideal for living rooms and family dens. Runners would be perfect for hallways and foyers while scatter rugs are most-suited in bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways. Before purchasing your rugs, do remember to always measure the room where you will be placing them to ensure proper fit.

Location. It is also important to consider where you would be placing an area rug before deciding which one to purchase. Those made of cotton, wool, sea grass, and sisal are best for high traffic areas while you may want to keep those made of silk, jute and olefin in less frequented areas of the house. Those who are looking for durable and easy to clean area rugs can also opt to get those made from synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester. These usually withstand heavy furniture and resist stains.

Once you have chosen your area rugs, prolong their beauty with proper maintenance and regular cleaning. Area rugs that are placed in high traffic areas must be vacuumed daily. Accidental spills must be blotted out gently and never scrubbed or rubbed. Every few months, have your area rug cleaning done by professionals. Choose cleaning services that use organic, bio-degradable and non-toxic cleaners to ensure that your area rugs are not only clean but also toxin free.

Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No-win No-Fee Solicitors; Too Good to be True?

There is a lot of talk about no-win, no-fee lawyers and the world of personal injury law, but how do you separate the fact from the fiction? When all is said and done, you need to use a little common sense in order to find out the truth about this area of law. Here, some of the facts are laid out and several myths are dispelled.

personal injury

1. You pay your lawyer out of the compensation that you receive.

This is one of the big worries that people have, but it’s a common misapprehension about how no-win, no-fee legal services work. It does sound as though the claimant has to pay his solicitor in the event of a successful claim, but this is not the case. The successful claimant keeps 100% of his settlement or compensation award. The claimant’s legal fees, including the solicitor’s fees, are paid by the other side. This means that no matter what the likely size of the compensation award, claiming will not leave the claimant out of pocket with legal bills.

2. Personal injury lawyers encourage frivolous claims.

This myth seems to have come about after various incidences of ridiculous claims made in other jurisdictions, particularly the United States. Watching American television, you could be forgiven for thinking that lawyers claim for the slightest reason. English courts, however, do not look favourably upon frivolous claims. The legal profession regulates the standard and integrity of solicitors such that any solicitor who encourages someone in a frivolous claim will be at least severely discouraged. The no-win, no-fee system means that lawyers look at whether or not a claim is likely to be successful in court, basing their judgement on the knowledge of the English legal system and bearing in mind the disapproval of frivolous claims. With frivolous claims, there is a very real risk that they will be unsuccessful and therefore have put in the time and effort for no reward.

3. Personal injury lawyers are ‘ambulance chasers’.

There has indeed been a rise in personal injury claims in the last decade. Some people argue that certain members of the profession do their best to attract clients from just about anywhere, even scouring A&E departments in order to find people to represent. Again, this is largely untrue, as any good lawyer has no need to traipse around hospitals touting for clients.

There is, however, a good deal of advertising that serves to make people aware of their rights. Prior to no-win, no-fee claims, only those who had insurance or very deep pockets to fund their own claims could access justice. Often, cases were resolved not by reaching a just decision, but by seeing which side had the best, most expensive legal representation. No-win, no-fee means that no matter what the earnings of the claimant, he can try to seek justice for the injury or illness he sustained. Advertisements serve to let people know of their rights and to help ensure that everyone knows what they are entitled to by law.

Love them or loathe them, personal injury lawyers are a necessary part of modern life and should you be on the receiving end of an injury caused by the negligence or carelessness of another, you will be glad that the experts are there to act on your behalf.

 

About the author:

This guest post has been written on behalf of Hughes Carlisle who like to promote content and information on legal issues. You can find out more information by clicking here which will take you to their website.

Image credit: Supakitmod/Free Digital Photos.Net

How We Disposed Our Christmas Trees

One thing best here in Germany is their waste disposal system. I have never been to any other country except here but based on the stories I heard from my classmates in my German course, they too found the system incomparable from where they come from. This may not be true for other people of course since we still find flaws and really, there’s no perfect, dirt-free country.

So how is the holiday season aftermath? Gift wrappers and boxes piled up in those blue bins. Bottles of wines, champagnes and beers consumed during dinners and last new year’s eve. They just go to those metal bins sorted by the glass color. These are normal trash in our homes which can easily be gathered up. But how about the Christmas trees which stood in almost every home this season? All the Christmas trees standing in your living room start to dry out, leaves begin to turn brown and later on fall. But of course we wouldn’t let our tree reach this stage and wither in our living room. We need to dispose them properly.

I remember when we were shopping for Christmas decors I saw a decorative bag which was be big enough to wrap a whole tree. One just has to put it under the tree which could also serve as a decoration and at the same time catch all those falling leaves. It was expensive though for a “trash bag” so we didn’t buy it. Anyway, schedules of pick up of garbage are still up and that includes the trees.

trees, christmas trees disposal, christmas trees, waste disposal

There are designated areas where people can put their trees for disposal and will be picked up on specific schedules. This just shows how systematic waste disposal is here.

I wonder how many rolls of tissue papers can these trees produce. 😛

Going to University – Advantages and Disadvantages

Going To University, university,

For a lot of young people, going to university can seem like the only logical step forward after finishing college or sixth form. Although the majority of people who go to university because they want to, some people feel pressured into it by their family or teachers, and still others may feel like they have no other options.With so many university graduates around these days, it can be hard to stand out. And as the fees have recently risen (to an extortionately high £9000 a year), many young people are finding themselves “priced out” of attendance. So is university really all it’s cracked up to be? Here are some advantages and disadvantages.

Pro – It Opens up New Avenues of Employment

One of the main reasons people go to uni is to better their chances at employment. A number of jobs are simply “graduate jobs” – ones in which you need a degree (sometimes any degree) just to get past the CV application stage.

And it almost goes without saying, but if you’re looking to get a career in medicine, architecture, accountancy (the list goes on…) you’ll need a degree suited to the path. A study revealed graduates tend to earn significantly more than non-graduates, but this is offset somewhat by…

Con – Student Loans

The bane of any graduate’s life, student loans cost more than you might think. At £9000 a year, you’re looking at almost thirty grand of debt for a typical three-year course, and that’s not including the maintenance loans for rent and food and so on!

There is interest there, too, so the longer you take to pay it back, the more it’ll be. Also, it’s based on income – the more you earn, the more you pay back. This can sometimes feel like you’re being punished for getting a well-paid position.

Pro – New Life Experiences

“Student life”, a phrase often spoken of in hushed, awe-filled tones, like it’s some kind of booze-fuelled Nirvana. Although you might forsake the alcohol (there will be a lot going around, just to confirm) you will definitely meet a lot of new people and have a lot of new experiences.

You will gain a large amount of independence and make friendships (and memories) that will last a lifetime, so enjoy it!

Con – Lack of Experience

Unfortunately, spending your time getting educated means you won’t have much practical experience. Depending on the career, some employers will prefer action-learning to book-learning, and you won’t have much of a CV to show them.

Pro – Self-improvement

You’re living away from home for the first time. You’re cooking and cleaning yourself, you’re managing your own schedules, and you’re balancing your bank accounts (hopefully!). You will become wiser, more independent, and more reliable.

You will come out of university with a wealth of life experience, and will be all the better for it. No matter what the cost is, you will have improved as a person.

Your time might have also given you more direction – maybe you decided that you’re not suited to physiotherapy after all, and instead choose a different path, perhaps in laboratory refurbishment or as a dance teacher! Who knows?

Con – Time Cost

Apart from the money, the other big cost of university is time. Three years for a standard undergraduate degree, and up to seven for some medical ones – it’s a long time. Some people simply decide that, instead of racking up a huge debt, they’ll get straight into the world of employment.

A degree isn’t entirely necessary – you can work your way up through a company by hard work alone. The important thing to do before deciding to go to university is weigh up the pros and cons, and make up your own mind.

About the author:

Post by ex university student Tom Rokins.