Friday, 17 February 2017

Make Time for What You Love with These Helpful New Apps

Managing a full-time job and making time for the things you love is never easy, whether you’re commuting, have a family or are living as a freelancer.  We all know that there are loads of gadgets and apps out there that have been designed to make our lives easier, but sometimes it feels like there are so many that sorting through them for the best ones is a little like finding a needle in a haystack.  Recently, I’ve taken a little time out of my schedule to search for some of the best new apps, and they’ve actually helped me save a lot of time!  Here are some of my favourites.

·        Asana

This mobile app was developed and implemented by several Facebook founders and used to revolutionise that company.  Asana allows you to plan, track and share all your professional and personal tasks.  This app is helping businesses and individuals around the world become more productive, and it can do the same for you!

·        Jinn

Jinn is one of the hottest new apps around, and while it’s only available in London at the moment, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.  Jinn is a delivery service that will bring you literally anything (that can fit inside a car) within an hour of you ordering it.  Pizza?  A guitar?  A new Ikea workstation?  No problem.

·        Bizzby

This helpful app works much in the same way as Jinn, but instead of products, Bizzby gives you instant access to a wide range of services.  You can arrange or book any service you desire with a simple click!  Just type in what you’re looking for—a taxi, a haircut or a landscape artist, for example—and Bizzby will do the rest.

·        Hungry House

Throw out all those menus accumulating in your kitchen cupboard because now there’s an easier way to manage your takeaway and delivery options.  Hungry House locates all the best restaurants and deals in your area and allows you to order and pay without having to make a single call.  Whether you’re in the mood for fish and chips or a healthy salad, Hungry House has all the satisfying options you’re looking for.

·        Mopp 

Mopp is a godsend for those of us who can’t seem to keep on top of tidying the house, or who just can’t stand doing it!  This simple app lets you search and hire a cleaner for a flat rate.  There’s no frustrating negotiation or confusion here.  The rate is £10 an hour, and cleaners will be at your house at the time of your choosing.  You can set up a weekly cleaning, or just get in touch when you need them, say, before having friends over at the weekend.

These are just a few of my favourite new apps, and I have to say that they’ve made my life a lot easier.  Do you have any suggestions for timesaving apps or useful life hacks?  If so, don’t forget to leave them in the comments section!  

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Safety Checklist for Buying a Used Car

Safety Checklist for Buying a Used Car

Buying cars used instead of new is a great way to get a little more out of your money and get your hands on something that might otherwise be way out of your price range. Some cars lose as much as 70% of their value after the first three years, so there are some real bargains out there.

But there are also offers here and there that turn out to be too good to be true, whether they be scams or just a car that didn’t turn out to be quite as good up close and personal as it looked in the ad. With keen eyes, though, you can nab a real bargain, so here’s what you should do to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Do a Car History Check
Sellers should always supply you with a history of the vehicle before you buy it, but there’s only one way to be sure what you’ve been told is the truth. Even if you’re dealing with a trusted and established dealership, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and of course this goes double if it’s a private individual selling the car.

Fraudsters trying to get a higher price may lie about the number of previous owners or past accidents, and some cars even turn out to be stolen, so it’s always worth checking for yourself how things stand.

Get the Car Inspected
If you’re confident that you know your stuff you can do this yourself but if you have any doubts about your ability to spot a problem you should get it done by someone in the know, whether that be an experienced acquaintance or a hired professional.

Oftentimes sellers will have done this themselves, but again you only have their word for it. If the car has too much wear in certain places it could wind up costing you a lot more than the asking price in the long run so don’t skip this step.

Take It for a Test Drive
Not only does this give you a chance to check on the car’s condition first hand, it also gives you the chance to see how comfortable the car is for you to drive—something that bugs you a little after one trip could be a colossal headache if you have to deal with it every day.

You should also try out all the controls and electrics, just to verify that everything’s in good working order and be sure you’re comfortable with them, so you can be sure you won’t get caught out the first time you need to use the windscreen wipers or headlights.

If you follow these tips you should have no problem finding the perfect bargain.

Do it yourself D.I.Y

Since moving into my own home, I have had to do more D.I.Y than I am used to, and it has to be said that I am not all that great when it comes to doing these alien jobs around the house. Don't get me wrong... I can put a picture up. Just last week I hammered a pin into the wall using my hair brush, now it might sound quite out there but I happen to think that I did a pretty good job, I won't need to call Slater & Gordon Solicitors for a personal injury claim any time soon!

I usually save up the D.I.Y stuff for Luke, but I often end up waiting a while for him to do it (I have had a shelf that needs putting up above my television for a few weeks now, maybe one day soon it will be on the wall where it belongs!). Luke is actually a carpenter, so he is pretty handy to have around, but it's true what they say, when your in the trade, your home is the last to be done, and as Luke has his own home, and I have mine...Mine comes even further down the list!

I am pretty clumsy as it happens, but there have been times I have surprised myself with what my do it yourself skills have been capable of. I once built a wooden toy box for Leo and fitted the hinges myself, just last year I put Leo's new bed together with the assistance of my Mother, and now I am putting up pictures using hair brushes. Seriously, are there any limits to my talents!?

Slater & Gordon Solicitors have put together a really interesting infographic highlighting some of the danger that we might not always consider when we turn our sights to home improvements. I won't talk about that time I managed to electrocute myself... You can check the infographic out below.


How to Regain Control of your Garden after Winter

Winter can cause complete devastation to the garden. It is impossible to keep your garden looking neat and attractive when it has been battered by the harsh weather for months and the bleak grey of winter can leave it looking more like wild, untamed tundra than your backyard. So, what can you do to take back control in time for the warmer months of the year?

Collecting Debris
The first step to taking back control of your garden involves tidying the area. After months of rain, wind and neglect, your backyard will be covered in all kinds of debris. The quickest, easiest and most effective way to collect all of this is with a leaf blower, which you can get from suppliers like SGS. Use this to make small piles of leaves, rubbish and any other debris that has fallen. Dispose of this appropriately and it will already make a big difference.

Mow the Lawn
Next, the lawn will need a good trim much like you would get a fresh summer haircut. Mow it to a neat length, aerate the lawn and also trim back your hedges and carry out a thorough weeding of the entire area. You may also want to call a tree surgeon to thin out the branches to allow more sunshine. Collect all the trimmings and dispose of them appropriately.

Clear Out the Shed
The shed can be an intimidating place to go after the winter months as it is likely to be packed full of dust covered items and so crammed that you can barely get a foot inside. Bring everything out and throw away what you don’t need, keep out your garden furniture and BBQ and neatly place the rest of the items back. Clean the furniture and BBQ and set up a social area and space to relax.

Winter can leave your perimeter fence, gate and garden shed looking drab and unattractive - this can bring down the tone of the entire backyard. Clean these wooden items and provide them with a fresh lick of paint to revitalise and make your garden much brighter.

Inject Life and Colour
Finally, you will want to embrace the new season by buying colourful plants and flowers. You can also add your own decorations to add style and personality.

With these steps, you will have reclaimed your backyard just in time for spring and summer. There is nothing better in these months than relaxing in your garden surrounded by natural beauty or inviting your friends and family round for a BBQ and a few drinks.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What You Should Do In A Dental Emergency

If you find yourself on the Gold Coast with a dental emergency and you do not have a local dentist, then the best place to start is the website. You will be able to find a register of all of the dentists in the area, as well as all of the dentists that offer out-of-hours emergency services. The first thing that you need to do is do not panic! Whatever the situation is, you will want to remain calm and approach the problem with a clear and level head.

Assess The Situation

Before you even start to look for an emergency dentist on the Gold Coast, you will first want to assess the situation and decide whether or not it can wait until the following day, or if you will require a dentist immediately. For problems, such as chipped and broken teeth, crowns of fillings falling out, you will want to see a dentist as soon as you can to help to prevent any further damage from occurring. If a child has lost one of their first teeth, or if it is just a general toothache, you may wish to wait and see a dentist the following day during regular hours. Many larger dental practices will also offer surgery on the weekend, which you can check out depending on when the problem arises.

Information At Your Fingertips 

If you decide that you do need to see a dentist immediately, then all you need is a computer or mobile device with an internet connection and you can find the closest emergency dentist to your location. However, it is not just a case of finding the closest dental surgery, as you will want to make sure that you use the services of a reputable and reliable dentist. Make a quick shortlist of the closest dentists to your location, and then check out their online reputation using the internet. You will be able to see what other people have written about their experience of dealing with specific dentists, which could help you to decide on which dentist you will visit.

Stay Calm

When you have decided on which dentist to use, you will want to contact them immediately and make them aware of the nature of the emergency. They will then be able to give you directions on where the surgery is located and have the dentist prepare for your arrival. If a filling or crown has fallen out, or if you have chipped a tooth, make sure that you take the bits of the tooth with you, or your crown or filling. If you have these, it can help the dentist to do emergency dental work to solve the problem for the short-term. For example, you may be able to get a temporary cap on your tooth, but in the long term, it will require a crown, which can require more than one visit to the dentist.

In any emergency situation, it is important to remain calm and make sure that you do not panic. Panic can often lead to rash decisions which may have repercussions, so it is important to take your time and find a reputable and reliable dentist to assist you with your dental emergency.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Enter Other Worlds in BADLAND

Badland is a special game. With uniquely lush graphics, inviting sounds, and ever-so-simple controls, it appeals to players of all ages. Lately, I’ve been playing Badland just as much as Leo.

What’s it all about? 
Badland is a magical type of flying game. Players control a mystical creature: a shadowy figure who can grow, shrink, and flap its arms to fly. One could reduce Badland to the genre of “endless runner,” but it’s much more than that. In order to win, players must think quickly, make daring moves, and solve puzzles on the fly (pun intended). In addition to flying, there are hills to climb, tunnels to roll through, and traps to conquer. It’s an absolutely mesmerizing game.

The visuals in Badland remind me of Tim Burton movies (e.g. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Frankenweenie). The style is captivating, twisted, and a bit dark. The landscapes in Badland are filled with towering trees, gnarly branches, and wildlife galore. But the Badland isn’t just any eerie environment; it seems to be a glimpse into another world. Some of the shrubbery comes to life as you pass. Certain fields are protected by natural wonders. More often than not, it feels like we’re trespassing in a dangerous place.

Badland has hundreds of missions and levels. With so many challenges to beat, there’s replay value for days and days. Each mission is different than the previous one, requiring gamers to continuously adjust to their surroundings. Some levels teach important lessons, such as when to use a speed boost to zoom past approaching rocks. It might be easier said than done, but that’s part of the fun. One of my favorite power-ups is the shrinking pod, which transforms your creature into a bat-like being. If you’re tiny enough, you can fly through practically any path, no matter how narrow the cave or how small the opening. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the growing pod is equally entertaining. If you pick up enough of them, you can balloon out to the size of a small tree!

Badland sounds just as great as it looks. The soundtrack, which is mostly free of music, is absolutely filled with glorious sounds. Right from the get-go, it feels like we’re transported to a different universe. Maybe I’m influenced by the sunlit environment, but I’m reminded of the mysterious island from TV’s Lost. Perhaps an even more accurate description of the soundscape is that of Pandora from James Cameron’s Avatar. The stereo sounds in Badland are truly magical. It’s immersive for the player and a real treat for anyone nearby. When Leo is playing Badland, I’m not annoyed by the same song or sound effects over and over. Instead, I can enjoy the serene sounds of a dreamy universe.

In case it isn’t clear, I’m a big fan of Badland. It has already entertained millions of gamers, Leo (and myself) included. First impressions are important, so don’t let the title deceive you. Badland is all good. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Did you over spend on Christmas 2016?


Doesn't Christmas feel like a long time ago now? 2017 is already flying by and it will be Spring before we know it, it has to be said though, so many people are still feeling the ripple effects from Christmas, at least 35% of the 2,700 people within the UK surveyed by My Voucher Codes, over spent over the Christmas period. 

I find this rather shocking if I am honest, I like to spoil the Leo and the family over the holiday season, but I never ever spend more than I can afford. This year I was extra specially worried about how I was going to finance Christmas, we had just moved to the new house over the Summer, and there were bills coming out of my ears. With this in mind I created a budget and I stuck to it, I got creative with my ideas and come the big day, Leo was over the moon with his treasures, and I was just so pleased to see how much that beautiful boy of mine was enjoying the magic.

38% of the people surveyed kept to their budgets (You can read the full article over at The London Economic), and I just don't quite understand how people get themselves in such a financial mess over the festive season. Why would people spend money that they cannot afford, I have never put Christmas on credit because I like knowing that I am starting the New Year without worrying about paying off that one day at the end of December. 

I can't say that I am exceptionally oraganised when it comes to preparing for the big day though, but I do start to make some purchases when Leo goes back to school in September. I like to be able spread the cost over a number of months so that I can afford to spend more than I would than if I did it all in one go with the majority of people during December, I find that if you look around throughout the year, there are usually some pretty good deals available, and it is so easy to pick things up and store them away, and then when you come to get all of your wrapping done, it's nice to not have to get stressed about what you still need to purchase.

When Leo and I were in Tesco the other week, we picked up a super deal on a NERF Gun that was reduced from over £50.00, down to £12.00! I couldn't believe it and sent the lady off to query the price, and when she came back confirming that it was indeed the correct price, I practically threw that toy into my trolley before someone else came along and snapped it up! Leo looked really surprised, especially since I had just been telling him that 'Yes we can look down the toy aisle, but no you cannot have a new toy today!'. I just wish he had been with his Dad at the time because it would have been amazing to sneak that away for Christmas 2017.

If you keep your eyes open throughout the year though, and you are open to storing things away, then it is totally possible to not get into debt, and very easy not to get stressed out about Christmas Shopping!

I have not yet bought anything for this year, but I think I will start keeping my eye out now so that I can put some things away in preparation. I always make sure to hide things in the attic, as there is no way that Leo can discover anything up there, and it keeps it out of my way until we need it.

How do you prepare for Christmas? 
Were you able to stick to your budget for Christmas 2016?