Ask Away Blog: September 2020

How I Enjoy Nature in the Fall

Wednesday, September 30, 2020


I love spring and fall because they are the inbetween seasons that have good weather that isn't too hot or too cold.  Here's how I enjoy nature in the Fall.


Easy Ways To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

 

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Becoming greener in our approach to home energy use has become a goal lately for many people. Not only are we more aware than ever of the impact our personal habits have on the planet around us, but recent global events have tended to make us more aware of saving money. The good news is that taking a kinder environmental stance can also go hand in hand with reducing your utility bills. Now that’s what you call a win-win situation. Making these changes around the home doesn't have to be difficult - sometimes just a small action can make a big cumulative difference further down the line. Here are some easy steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient and save the planet and your wallet:

Drop Your Thermostat

Just the simple act of turning your thermostat down by five degrees could really make a big difference. Try purchasing a cosy and stylish wrap that you can wear as an extra layer around the house. Or you could try a smart thermostat that lowers the temperature when you aren’t in the house - this could save you up to 15% a year on your heating bills.

Put In Low-Flow Showerheads

If you know that your water efficiency could be better, adding low-flow showerheads could really help to reduce what you use. They limit your flow of water to under 2.5 gallons per minute, and that’s versus around 5 for a conventional shower head. If you tend to shower a lot, this is a very practical way to reduce what you use.

Get Solar Panels Installed

If you live in a location with lots of sunlight, getting solar panels installed is definitely the way to go. They do have a fairly high upfront cost, but you can find grants available in some cases to help cover the cost of purchase and installation. They can help heat your water and generate electricity - some homes generate enough to sell back to the providers! There’s quite a lot to know about the different types of panels available, so do your research.

Service Your HVAC System


Keeping your furnace and A/C system in balance is an absolute must. Most problems are actually just caused by a build-up of dirt and debris that can clog the system and force it to work much harder to heat or cool your space. It’s easy to clean your HVAC yourself so make it part of your cleaning schedule, or you can schedule a maintenance appointment instead. If your coils are clean, parts properly lubricated and connections tightened, the unit will run more efficiently - lowering your bills and having less impact on the planet.

Unplug Your Unused Appliances

Did you know that you could have a ‘vampire’ in your home? Rather than a bloodsucker, this term actually refers to appliances that continue to draw down electricity while they’re in ‘standby’ mode. Things like laptops, cell phone chargers and televisions all continue to use power, even when the device itself isn’t in use. On its own, one of these isn’t going to make much difference, but getting into the habit of not leaving these devices going is key - collectively, they can make up around 10% of your energy usage in a typical year!

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How to Buy a Gift for the Men in Your Life

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

 

Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries, or ‘just because’ --buying gifts for the men in your life can be extremely challenging. You want to make sure that you find something just right for them, to let them know that you’ve been thinking of them.

It’s even harder when they appear to have everything they need, but the expectation to present a gift is still very much there.

Follow this guide to help you to choose the perfect gifts for men!


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A key to buying gifts can be outlined by this very simple rhyme to help to limit the variables when it comes to gift buying.

Something they want

Everybody will come across something they want at some point or another. That could be something you see in a store that screams the name of the person you’re buying for at you, or something they have expressed a desire to own or do. For example, if you know that the person you’re gifting to enjoys going to see movies, why not gift them with a movie pass that they can redeem at any point they want? Or maybe something decorative to help them to personalize their space a little better. Anything that they want, but not necessarily would want to spend their own money on

Something they need

Now, we all have that list of things that we need or need replacing. Gift-giving time is the perfect opportunity to gift our loved ones these things that they may use every day, but maybe of a slightly higher quality to those that they would usually buy for themselves. For example, somebody who needs to use a walking aid to get around might want to choose from a selection of high-end canes to make their movements more stylish and comfortable. Just because the gift is from this category, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be special.

Something to wear

Clothing can be a challenging one for men. Some men are happy for others to help them to choose clothing for them, but others may be set on their ideal style. For those worried about this, a pair of good quality, or novelty socks can be a great addition to a gift for men. A special occasion coming up? A nice tie, cufflinks or a pocket square is a thoughtful gift. Does the man you’re gifting for enjoy a particular sport or hobby that requires special clothing? Why not research around that. If this hobby or sport means a lot to them, it will mean equally as much to receive a gift that reflects that.

Something to read

Books are always a good choice for avid readers. If you know that someone has read a particular book by a particular author then you can always ask the store associate to recommend some titles and authors that are similar. Another choice may be an e-reader so that they can choose whatever books they want. Books not really their thing? Maybe consider a magazine subscription related to their favorite hobby.

Did you find these tips helpful? How do you choose gifts for loved ones?



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Have You Thought About Accessibility In Your Home?

 

Over our lifetimes, we can make all sorts of changes to our home. But if you’re thinking of making a few more in the near future, be sure to think about the potential lack of accessibility your home may be suffering from.

For example, if you’re planning on renting out a space, having accessible features to boast will increase your tenant pool by tenfold. Plus, you never know when a loved one may need to use a walking aid/wheelchair in the near future, so it’s beneficial to think about making your home a little more accessible!

So, without further ado, here are just a few amazing changes to make to your property to cater to the disabled people in your life.

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Think About Your Doors


First thing’s first, think about the doors in your home. On average, how wide is the frame? Because if only you, standing tall and slim, could fit through that gap, it means your home could do with some small accessibility tweaks. Namely, making your door frames a little bit wider, just enough for a wheelchair user to push their doors through.

So, if you’ve always wanted a set of french doors leading out to your patio, or you’ve always fancied a curved archway leading from the living room to the kitchen, now’s your chance to finally convince your partner to help fork out for them! It’s accessible, and it’s very aesthetically pleasing, and would be a wonderful addition to your home.

Think About Your Stairs

The modern home is most likely to have more than one storey to it, and that means you’ve got to make use of stairs both inside and outside of the home. Of course, this is of no trouble to you right now, you can use them just fine. But think about your elderly grandmother who struggles to go upstairs, or your friend who is a regular wheelchair user; how are they going to fare?

It’s one of the reasons why wheelchair ramps are becoming more and more popular amongst the domestic community, specifically concerning the outside areas of their home. When you’ve got a wheelchair ramp for a person to use, they can easily get in and out of the house, which helps to promote a much more healthy lifestyle. Who wouldn’t want that for their property?!

Think About Your Lighting Options

And finally, you’re going to need to think about the lighting in your home too. If you ever decide to rent out your rooms, and a blind or partially sighted tenant comes to ask about the brightness levels in your property, what are you going to say?

You may need to just replace the bulbs for a higher wattage, but most of all, you’re going to want to fit more and more lamps around the place, to really light up your rooms. It’ll only serve you well in the long run!

Your home could be very accessible with just a few small changes.



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Books I Recommend You Read [September]

Monday, September 28, 2020

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.


Didn't read much because it's been hard since we lost our Stella bear but I did read one...


What Essential Oils Are Safe For Dogs?

Saturday, September 26, 2020

 
As a society, more and more people are turning away from drugs and instead exploring holistic healing options. If you’re interested in holistic health care, you might be wondering if you extend the benefits to your dog too. Before doing this, it’s important for the welfare of your dog that you make sure that essential oils are safe for dogs. A dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours, so even natural scents could have a negative effect on them.

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The essential oils listed here are the ones that are most consistently found to be safe to give to dogs. You can use essential oils alone, or combine them with other holistic treatments, like CBD oils from 805Beachbreaks.com.

Essential oils can be used as a health aid to boost immunity and soothe aches and pains in a natural way. Here are some of the oils you can use for common ailments for your canine companion.
 
Chamomile

For humans, there are fewer things more relaxing than a cup of chamomile tea of the sofa. Your dog can also benefit from the calming effects of chamomile too.

Whether your dog is up-tight, or experiencing stress from a house move, staying in kennels, or fireworks in the neighbourhood, you could consider offering them a little bit of chamomile oil. This can be used to ease stress or to settle an upset stomach.

If you’ve taken in a shy or fearful dog, chamomile oil can also help them to calm down enough to learn to socialize.

Frankincense

Frankincense and myrrh have been around for centuries, so it’s not a surprise that they can be used on animals. Frankincense oil works on the health and immunity of your dog’s cells.

If your dog is behaving in an out of character way, for example during doggie daycare, you could consider boosting their immunity with some frankincense. This oil can also be used to support their digestive tract if stress is upsetting their stomach.

Ginger

There are many similarities between the benefits that both humans and pets can get from essential oils. Hot ginger tea can be used to soothe your stomach and clear out respiratory tracts, the same benefits can be used for dogs.

Ginger can also help if your dog is experiencing some digestive problems, to help them to breathe easier. Ginger can also help with joint pain.

Lavender

Lavender is a great option for a dog who is stressed and needs to relax. You could try lavender to ease anxiety and car sickness.

The nicest way to make use of lavender oil for dogs is to apply to the fur on your dog’s ear. Massage them during application to kick start the relaxation.

Myrrh

Myrrh is known to help dogs that are dealing with skin irritations. Myrrh has an antiseptic quality, as well as astringent properties. This makes it a great cleanser. These properties mean that, when applied regularly, it can clear patches of irritated skin on your dog.



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Revamping Your Home's Heating

 


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Boiler replacement is something that a lot of people seek. But why can you only find combi boilers these days? What are they and why are they better than traditional gas or oil boilers?

Well, a combi boiler – short for combination boiler – combines both your hot water and central heating in the one unit. Traditional boilers generally come with a massive cylinder that stores the hot water and this requires the boiler to be placed in a large space such as a loft, in a walk-in cupboard, or in an adjoining garage. When it comes to combi gas boiler installation, these types of boilers are generally quite small. Their size means that they are ideal for those with little space and can be placed in an empty, sizeable kitchen cupboard.

Despite this, these gas combi boiler parts have the power to generate instant hot water without the need for storage in a large tank. Due to the uniformity of such units and, because they are modern, it's much easier to get furnace replacement parts than those of older gas or oil boiler models.

Combi gas boilers are particularly popular in Europe where the market share in some countries, such as the UK, is thought to be as high as 70%. When it comes to getting the installation of a new boiler performed, it should be noted that combi gas boilers are cheap to install.

What About New Radiators?

Installation services can also provide you with brand new radiators. However, you may be questioning the benefit of getting new radiators along with your new gas boiler. Well, today's energy-efficient radiators can be crafted to suit the interior design and style of your home.

The radiator has hardly been regarded as fashionable over the years due to its rather 'samey' look. In recent years, underfloor heating has been seen as a way to remove these bulky fixtures from homes. Underfloor heating is indeed a great option, but it may still be a bit too pricey for most. A great solution is to get new, modern radiators installed alongside gas boiler installation.

This is because modern radiators can come in all sorts of shapes and styles. One such popular option is the vertical radiator. These types of radiators have been designed with space and style and mind. Instead of running horizontally along the ground, your radiator runs up the wall in a sleek, stylish manner. This also has the added bonus of offering a large heating surface and, therefore, warmer rooms. They are both practical and pleasing to the eye.

Along with the many modern gas boiler options, you will notice when it comes to getting combi boiler installation work done, these new radiators have also been built with efficiency in mind. This makes them more cost-effective than your old radiators by reducing your central heating bill. This, along with getting a new gas boiler installed, makes new radiators a safe investment.

So there you have it: all you need to know about revamping your home’s heating.


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Four Self Care Tips For Fall

Thursday, September 24, 2020

 

2020 has been a year unlike any other, no doubt about it, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end this fall. With the world still in the grips of the pandemic, and cases only set to rise over the next few months during flu season, taking the time to look after ourselves and those around us has never been more crucial. While significant progress has been made, such as the $1 million contribution to expand medical care to homeless people to help treat Covid-19, as highlighted by Cynthia Telles, we still have a long way to go. But even though it’s easy to feel a bit helpless, sometimes the perfect place to start is with yourself, with self-care being more important than ever.

Even though fall is set to look a little different from last year, that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy it and change our self-care routines to transition alongside the seasons with these four tips.

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Check-in with yourself

Find a few quiet minutes every day, either in the morning or in the evening, once you’ve finished work, to check-in with yourself, and honestly address how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the endless amount of news and information constantly being thrown our way, especially if we are currently working from home and generally spending more time indoors than ever. That’s why addressing how you are is the first, healthy step to determining what you need, whether that be a call with a friend, a soak in the tub, or an autumnal walk outside.

Practice your baking skills

Cooking and baking is a great way to relax and enjoy yourself that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a screen. Not only that, but you get a yummy treat at the end of all of your hard work - what better incentive is there? Fall is a great time to try out some delicious and filling new recipes such as an autumnal apple or pumpkin pie, cinnamon cookies, or spiced ginger muffins. You can share with friends and family after, or enjoy during a cozy evening in.

Go for an autumn walk

Going on a walk has been proven to put you in a better mood and give you a burst of energy, almost instantly. And what better time to go for a stroll then during colorful fall? Take photos of the seasonal changes around you and collect some colorful leaves and chestnuts to decorate your home with. Or if you feel like you need something a bit more intense, plan a weekend hike somewhere local to get your heart pumping, legs moving and endorphins going.

Invest in some light therapy

There is a reason why we feel better during the spring and summer months when the days are longer and lighter. We need light signals to keep our energy and serotonin levels up, so as the darker and longer nights slowly start to creep in, many people might start to feel a bit down, fatigued or even experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Investing in a Lumie light or similar lightbox that mimics the sun’s rays, without the harmful UV, could be the perfect way to combat this drop in energy during fall and give you, and your well-being, a much-needed boost. Not only this, but the light will help you to wake up easier in the mornings and put you in a better mood overall.



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All You Need To Know About Being a First Time Pet Owner

 

For as long as we’ve known, humans have kept animals as pets. Unlike any other species, we are accustomed to welcoming cuddly companions into our families and homes. It’s unclear where this trend originated from but many believe that people tamed wild animals thousands of years ago to use as protection. It was then that they discovered that animals could be useful and loyal accomplices.

The modern-day house cat or family dog is a far cry from the tamed wolves of old but their value remains the same. It’s now common for people to keep pets of all varieties, from lizards to fish, and from hamsters to tarantulas. No matter the animal, there is someone out there who’d love it as a pet.

People tend to get very close to their pets. 67% of American households have at least one pet, and half of them consider their pet to be a member of the family. There is no escaping the bond between humans and their animal friends.

There are tremendous benefits to having a pet, both mental and physical. Spending time with animals is shown to make people happier and reduce the symptoms of stress and depression. Those with pets that require exercise and outdoor activities, tend to live more active lifestyles. Getting regular exercise has positive health implications.

However, pets need responsible owners. They are high maintenance, expensive, and can cause the occasional problem. Before getting a pet, people should consider the responsibilities as well as the benefits.

If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons, decided on what pet you want, and are ready to embark on your very first pet journey, you’re going to need some pointers. Here is everything you need to know about being a first-time pet owner.

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Pets need training

You might be surprised to know that fish are the most popular house pets. While they don’t require training, the vast majority of pets do. Apart from fish, cats and dogs are by far the most popular types of pets. These animals must be trained and domesticated to live with you.

Like babies, pets don’t instinctually know where the bathroom is. Their table manners and general household etiquette needs to be taught. Pets must understand their role in the family. Structure, routine, and an obedient relationship with their owners are generally the keys to a pet’s happiness.

Take the time to train your pet to avoid anguish in the long-run.

Find a good vet

The first thing you should do with your pet is to take them to the vet. Animals require vaccinations and annual treatments for things like fleas.

As it’s your first pet, you should ask your vet to fill you in on everything you need to know about maintaining good health practices for your animal.

It’s important to have a vet that you know and trust. Do your research, ask around, and find the right vet for you and your pet. If you’re ever worried about your pet’s health, never hesitate to give them a call.

Know their grooming requirements

Many pets require vigilant grooming and hygiene habits. Whether they have long hair, thick fur, sensitive skin, or are prone to certain infections, it’s vital that you know how to take care of your pet from a bathing and grooming standpoint. Establish a routine and tend to their needs regularly. This will help get them used to it.

Exercise is essential

Just like people, animals need exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and illness. Regular exercise helps keep animals’ blood pressure low, build lean and healthy muscle, and develop strong bones. It also helps keep their digestion process healthy.

Find out what a healthy amount of exercise is for your pet and ensure that they get it.

Optimize your pet’s nutrition

A pet’s diet is fundamental to their overall health. It impacts their bone health, organ health, coat condition, and oral well-being, amongst other things.

Obviously, different animals have different nutritional requirements. Some will thrive on carnivorous diets, while others eat strictly vegetarian food. Consult your veterinarian and find out what foods are best suited to your pet.

If you notice that your pet’s energy or mannerisms are slightly off, consider switching up some elements of their diet.

Pets aren’t cheap

Big or small, all pets cost you money on a regular basis. To cover their basic needs, such as food, water, and medical bills, takes its toll over time. Additional equipment such as a bed, bowl, lead, collar, cage, and toys can cost a pretty penny.

Consider all costs and ensure that you’re covered.

Be prepared for young pets

While puppies, kittens, and other baby animals can melt your heart at a glance, they can also break your heart. Young animals, puppies in particular, are often quite mischievous. As they are yet to learn socialization and training, they are likely to cause a raucous in your home.

Prepare for your personal items to be stolen, swallowed, or chewed. Be conscious that your pet isn’t aware of any wrong-doing and that it will take time and effort to get them accustomed to regular life.

Avoid leaving valuable items and expensive clothing around the house, and ensure that you prioritize toilet training.

Be ready for health issues

An unfortunate reality for pet owners is that your pet is likely to incur health problems. While you can be lucky enough to witness only minimal issues, it’s important to realize that serious illnesses and accidents happen to pets all the time.

Most people outlive their pets. When your furry friend passes away, it can be traumatic for the whole family. For the sake of you, your partner, and your children, be prepared for when that day comes.

It’s always nice to give them a good send-off. Pet cremation urns are a great way to honor your pet after they are gone. They come in a variety of beautiful designs, meaning they can blend nicely into your home.




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