Real Estate

Smaller Houses for Smaller Dreams

smallhouseOne of Joe Biden’s personal goals was to keep the American dream alive in today’s economy. With more Americans experiencing higher mortgages, tighter budgets, and the dollar rapidly losing value, it is only a matter of time before Americans will have to trade in their large homes for small huts.

Designer homes with comfortable floor plans are being made for homes as small as 65 square feet. Many of these new homes would be defined as mobile homes, however, they appear more like small mountain cabins. The most famous of these designs is Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond cabin, which measured 125 square feet in total, but featured all of the amenities and comforts a home should have.

These new tiny homes have much appeal due to their lower taxes and utility costs. Plus, very little daily housework is needed to keep the home efficient and clean. Bigger houses look very similar and waste much of a family’s disposable income to maintain. With a smaller house and smaller bills, this money can be saved for more important things. Most of the items could be bought online for the home as well. Many small home owners will opt to buy windows online, for example. New Jersey vinyl siding estimate show an increase in pricing for larger homes, and many smaller styles will use smaller amounts of the siding to save money.

While the tiny house movement is rapidly gaining in popularity, larger homes and buildings will still remain. Traditional land marks, such as the White House, can certainly appreciate the movement, but will not downsize. With the green movement also going strong in the United States, we will surely begin to see a brighter future overall, even with larger buildings and homes still existing.

Another option is to rent a deluxe micro-apartment in a crowded city such as Boston. These smaller apartments are usually purchased as temporary housing and can be quite costly, these micro-apartments often are rented by the same people who later buy larger than needed homes in America’s suburbs.

While America’s typical actions may not always be beneficial for our aspirations, the tiny house movement remains on the rise. This contradicts our country’s devotion to excess and materialism. The suburban landscape will not change overnight, but theories on radical minimalism are still being developed. As of last year, America’s homes still gained nearly 40% more space, despite the rapidly declining birthrate. In addition to less children, more homes are likely to own more dogs and own a four or more bedroom home. Maintenance is still extremely expensive for homes of this size.

The movement may seem practical and have many supporters, but many Americans still feel that a tiny home is impractical and too extreme of a solution. Newer dwellings will reflect on the economy and a healthy balance will be created. Some speculate a rise in small Cape Cod-style homes that are only slightly smaller than what the average person has now. While the smaller home movement may be downsizing the American dream, many Americans will still dream of their large home in the suburb.


5 Great Trampolining Videos on YouTube

A much-loved, popular craze in recent years, trampolining is an exciting, exhilarating and incredibly entertaining activity for both children and adults alike. Whether it’s exercising at a trampoline gym or simply having extreme fun at home, this superb piece of gym apparatus is perfect for any family. Here are five great YouTube videos which will most certainly make every home out there want to invest in this extraordinary piece of equipment.


1) Simple Steps to Achieving a Backflip:


This step by step tutorial will teach trampolinists how to successfully achieve a flawless and fabulous backflip. Separated into five, simple and easy stages, this confident and clear guide will enable viewers to conquer this magnificent move in a matter of minutes. From showing students exactly how to bend their knees when jumping in the air to demonstrating the famous ‘tuck’ position, this video is ideal for those looking to hone in on their skills and perfect that breath-taking backflip.


2) Extreme Trampoline Tricks:


An impressive compilation of extreme trampolining tricks, this video will leave viewers amazed, astonished and absolutely gob-smacked. Showcasing the most incredible twists and turns mid-air, this jaw-dropping YouTube clip is completely mesmerising to watch. Those who dream of becoming Olympic-worthy trampolinists will undoubtedly find this video both exciting and inspirational. From preforming double back flips to extreme high-jumps, these professionals show viewers exactly how it’s done.


Trampolining is a fun activity
Trampolining is a fun activity 

3) Just Plain Trampolining Fun:


This video shows just how enjoyable this amazing activity can be! Those who are simply looking to have some good ol’ fun will be able to see first-hand that that is exactly what this fantastic piece of gym apparatus offers. In this clip, children and adults alike bounce, jump and fly as they play at Lindon’s spectacular trampoline gym. A brilliant watch for families debating whether or not to invest in this fun-filled, piece of gym equipment, and this video will have viewers convinced in no time at all.


4) Fantastic Games to Play:


Providing children with an array of fun trampolining games to play with friends, this video is great for parents looking for an ideal way to keep their kids entertained. Whilst children and their peers enjoy jumping and bouncing about under the fresh open air, parents can watch peacefully from indoors. A great way to get kids away from the TV and game consoles, these superb trampolining games will get children out and about and having fun.


Owning a trampoline is great for parties
Owning a trampoline is great for parties

5) Brilliant Exercise Routines:


Expert Katie Gough, founder of ‘Jump to Focus’, provides viewers with a range of great exercise routines to complete. A superb way to lose weight and get fit, this video promotes trampolining as the ultimate way to work-out. From completing a side-to-side jump to a pike jump, there an array of brilliant exercises trampolinists can try. Ideal for those looking to burn off some steam and increase fitness levels, ladies can exercise in the privacy and comfort of their own garden.




These five great YouTube videos show the intense amount of enjoyment and great exercising opportunities that trampolines provide, to buy a trampoline visit a site with a wide range of trampolines. From showcasing extreme, jaw-dropping tricks to demonstrating fitness enhancing exercises, these five amazing clips will have viewers gripped from the word ‘go’. Ideal for anyone thinking to invest in a trampoline, these videos show viewers exactly what this popular craze is all about.





Image credits: celesteh and Candie_N (Welcome Spring)

Family and Personal Home Improvement

7 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Value Fast

When you want to refinance, rent, or sell your home, you need to make it the best it can be. Using the 7 fixes below, you can take your home to the next level.

7. Add Curb Appeal

Image via Flickr by james.thompson

If you can’t see at least 75 percent of the house from the front, it can appear foreboding to someone who might want to live there. The only kind of person who wants to live in a creepy shadow-hole is exactly the kind of person you do not want as a renter. Or if you’re in the market to sell, they’re the kind of person who probably can’t afford to buy your home.

6. Open Up the Space

Open spaces give people more options. If you can find a structural engineer, you can find out which walls aren’t load bearing and knock them out. You can turn average floor plans into dream spaces just by making them larger, and potential buyers and renters love the idea of having a bigger and more luxurious space.

5. Make the Home More Efficient

Adding insulation in the attic is fairly easy, as is caulking the windows to seal out drafts. If you want to be fancier, you can insulate the water pipes, install insulation over basement walls, and even add new windows. If you’re replacing old windows, new ones can sometimes double the value of your house. Anything that saves utility money and makes the space more comfortable adds value.

4. Ensure the Structure is Sound

If your home is structurally sound, people will feel more secure placing their safety and their money into it. Having a termite inspection done and getting a domestic electrician to inspect your wires are two very good ways to make sure your home is solid. You also can carefully mark your water meter, leave your home for a few hours and then check it. If the needle hasn’t moved in four hours, you most likely don’t have any water leaks (thereby ensuring there will be no structure-compromising water damage).

3. Beautify the Front Door

Front doors sell homes. Make the door look inviting, and people will want to walk in. You may even want to replace the door altogether with something bright and open. Just make sure to keep security in mind regardless of what you do with your door.

2. Shine a Light

Lights are great everywhere, and you can balance natural and artificial light to create a mixture that people will love. A few skylights, a translucent window treatment here and there, and a few extra ceiling lights can make a world of difference to a potential buyer and since skylights are becoming a hot trend for newly remodeled homes, check out Long Island Roofing to boost the value of your home.

1. Tend to the Little Things

Anything that needs to be fixed should be fixed promptly. Not taking care of your home destroys value rapidly, while taking steps to preserving value will yield the biggest returns. Your home could become aged like fine wine over time, but if you don’t maintain the place, it will simply become run down.

Your home can be even more amazing than it already is, and the potential gains could affect your bottom line. By using a few reasonably simple fixes, you can accomplish huge results.

Home Improvement Insurance Lifestyle

Advantages and Disadvantages to Living in an Apartment Complex

There are several factors to consider when choosing which level of an apartment complex to live on. For instance, some people like the top level for privacy while others like the bottom to avoid stairs. You’ll have to look at your individual situation to decide the right apartment level for you. Here are 4 things to consider when choosing whether to the live on the top, middle, or bottom of an apartment complex.

4. The Cost of Utilities

Apartment Complex

Image via Flickr by kafka4prez

Living on the middle level of an apartment complex is the best way to save money on utilities because you have the best insulation. This keeps your apartment warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Heat rises from the apartments below when you live on the top level, and the bottom is always coldest. Of course, it’s also important to look at the efficiency of the building, because older apartments typically have higher utility bills.

3. Noise Level and Privacy Concerns

Some people prefer to live on the top level of an apartment complex so they only have to worry about noise coming from the neighbors below them. Living on the middle level is the noisiest because you have neighbors on top and on bottom of you, and usually on each side, too.

The bottom level can be noisy because of traffic, especially in downtown Atlanta apartments, for example. So, if noise is a concern for you, look for an apartment on the top level or in an area that is quiet, such as near the gym or laundry. You’re also best off on the end of a row so you only have one neighbor to the side of you.

2. The View From Your Window

People often choose to live on the top level of an apartment complex because of the view — higher is better. In general this is true, but just because you’re on the top level of an apartment complex, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a good view. It depends on the location of the building and what’s around it.

For instance, you might be overlooking several other apartments or have your view blocked by other buildings. Additionally, you need to consider the direction in which your apartment is facing, because one side might face the mountains while the other faces nothing. Of course, having a view isn’t a good thing if you suffer from acrophobia.

1. Ease of Access and Sense of Security

Unless you can afford to live in an apartment with a doorman, security is a factor when choosing which level to live on. In general, living on the top level is the safest, because it takes the longest to reach from the entry of the apartment building. However, living on the bottom level of an apartment complex is appealing for people that can’t take stairs well, such as the elderly or the disabled. You have to decide whether ease of access is more important or your sense of security.

There are advantages and disadvantages to living on each level of an apartment complex. You have to think about your priorities and choose the level that matches your lifestyle and needs the best. Do you have any other suggestions on what people should consider about the level of their apartment.

Creativity Family and Personal Food

Beat Easter Holiday Boredom!

No sooner have we packed away the Christmas tree are we looking at the next major event in the calendar.  Yep that’s right Easter is just around the corner and parents up and down the country turn their immediate thoughts on how to entertain the kids during the break.  Hold no fear let us help with our 5 ways to entertain the kids this Easter; let’s not waste any more time let’s dive right in….

easter holiday boredom

Get them in the Kitchen

 Easter is all about hot cross buns and chocolate for the kids and let’s not forget Easter eggs.  Instead of letting the run amok get them in the kitchen and let them help you make a mess!  First up hard boil some eggs for them to roll down a hill. This used to always be my favorite part of Easter (well, and the chocolate) get them to decorate the eggs too so that they can identify which is theirs!

You can also have them make some chocolate crispy bars which are so simple to make and there is nothing to put in and out the oven.  Simply melt some chocolate for them in a bowl and then hand over some rice crispies and let them mix it all in, then just pop them into the fridge while they lick the bowl!

Get an arts and crafts box

Growing up I always remember my parents bringing out an arts and crafts box full of stuff for us to do in the holidays, especially when the weather is miserable, and I used to love it.  It was always packed with things like glitter, parchment paper, pencils, pens you name it they were in there.

Getting kids into crafts is really easy and keeps them interested for an afternoon.  You can even get special kits that are specially designed for younger children for things like cross stitching so that they don’t get a chance to injure themselves.

Get imaginative

Why not gather all the rugrats round and have them use their imaginations and have them write a story together.  It doesn’t always have to be something original – it could be their favourite nursery rhyme of bedtime story but get them add their own bits in.  Kids love getting creative and it is great for them to use their minds creatively.

You could also have them write a chain story with their friends.  Each child (and you, if you fancy) writes down and sentence or paragraph and then only keep the last line visible so they can connect the previous and forthcoming story.  Once everyone has written something select someone to read aloud – the end result is usually pretty funny!

Get dirty in the garden

Spring time is usually people take the opportunity to get their gardens in shape so why not get the kids involved.  Get them to pot some plants and have them attach labels with their names on so they can track their progress!  Take the opportunity to teach them about vegetables too and have them grow their own – this is an excellent learning tool too.  They can even eat them when they are ready!

Get out and play!

Growing up I always remembered when the weather started turning better; after being cooped up in the house for so long because it was so cold and miserable through winter I was like a coiled spring when the sun came out.  Take the kids down the local park or outdoors centre and let them run wild!

This not only promotes a healthy run lifestyle but it also lets them make new friends and encourages them to interact with other children – developing their social skills.  This is great for Mum and Dad too because by the time they are finished playing they are well and truly knackered and ready for some crispy treats – perfect for getting the feet up!

Family and Personal

Learning About Eye and Hair Color from DNA

humandnaThe term “DNA” often is heard on television crime dramas. DNA is the building block of life and the materials that passes the information of life from generation to generation. For example, DNA contributed by the mother and father provides the blueprint for the child. This blueprint controls all the factors of the child including things like height, eye color and even intelligence.

This type of testing is often associated with DNA paternity testing. This process determines if a male individual is the father of a child and is often used where the paternity of the child is questioned or must be established for legal reasons.

But the advent of cheap paternity test has also prompted people to have DNA testing done for other reasons. The DNA test can also give people information about their ancestors. The information revealed by the genetic tests can indicate where the persons ancestors were from and would indicate some details of their appearance such as eye and hair color.

Another use of DNA genetic testing is to establish some of the appearances of discovered human remains. These tests are often used in conjunction with skeletal remains from the Middle Ages or earlier periods. If viable DNA can be recovered from the skeleton, the testing can determine some details of the appearance of the living person. Combining the facial structure with the details of eye and hair color provided by the DNA testing allow artists to reconstruct the appearance of the individual even if they have been dead for centuries.

Another use of the DNA testing attempts to unravel some more recent mysteries. DNA testing can be used to confirm a familial relationship between two tested individuals. For example, the test can confirm that a discovered skeleton is the ancestor of a currently living individual or another discovered body.

Some situations present another difficulty. What if there is no second person or body to compare to the questioned skeleton. DNA testing can be used to determine the traits of hair and eye color of the skeleton. This can then be compared to known description of the individual and used to establish identity. This is useful in attempting to identify remains of individuals killed in recent wars.

The world of DNA has changed drastically even in the few decades since the science began. Not only is the testing more advanced and more affordable, but man’s understanding of the information has improved. This has included mapping of the common DNA genetic information found in many parts of the world. This allows the tested individual to not only learn about the physical traits of their ancestors but the part of the world they lived during early human history.

Image Credit: net_efekt

Family and Personal

New Fetal DNA Testing For Pregnancy & Paternity

pregnantDetermining paternity in the first trimester of pregnancy has obviously been very challenging. Thanks to advancements in DNA testing, it is now possible to determine fetus paternity using plasma drawn from the mother, which allows for much earlier DNA testing that is noninvasive and safe for the fetus. These advanced tests can help reduce the number of abortions that are chosen due to rape and other undesirable situations.

How It Works

DNA is shared between a mother and a fetus, resulting in a small amount of fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream. Previously, tests to determine paternity using the mother’s blood weren’t as accurate as tests using amniotic fluid taken from the fetus in the second trimester. For most women, the risk of waiting until the second trimester to determine paternity was unacceptable because abortions can only be completed during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Early blood tests to determine paternity are ideal in situations where a decision to abort must be made. For instance, rape victims in committed relationships can use a DNA test during the first trimester to determine whether their partner is the father of the fetus. Early DNA testing can potentially reduce the number of abortions that occur when women are unsure of the father. To obtain a UK paternity test, you will need to find a lab that specializes in very early fetal testing.

Accuracy of First Trimester Testing

Today, early blood tests have been shown to be very accurate. In fact, a recent study using thirty different mothers was conducted that allowed DNA testing companies to prove the accuracy of their tests. In the study, two potential fathers were tested for each mother. In all thirty cases, scientists were able to correctly identify the father correctly. To perform the test,a sample is needed from the father to determine paternity.

The tests work by isolating the mother’s DNA. DNA that is different from the mother belongs to the fetus, which allows scientists to identify the father using fetal DNA. Labs need a sample of plasma from the mother to complete the test, which can easily be provided. The test matches the child’s DNA to the mother first to eliminate the DNA that comes from her. The remaining DNA is used to identify the father. After the samples are collected, results are available from within a few days to several weeks depending on the company you are working with.

Who Can Use Fetal DNA Tests?

Anyone with access to samples from the potential father can use fetal DNA tests. It may be easier to use a sample from your spouse if you suspect the fetus may have a different father. For example, women who have been the victim of rape can use a DNA example provided by their partner to determine whether they are the father. DNA tests can also be used to determine paternity in the case of an extramarital affair to ensure the spouse is the father.

Derek is currently blogging for a immigration DNA testing company.

Image Credit: daia_

Family and Personal

How to Make Your Electronics Baby Friendly

baby friendly electronicsAs a parent one of the things you have to learn is how to protect what you don’t want your baby to touch while she’s exploring the world. It’s only a matter of time before the blanket buddies and the rattles simply don’t capture baby’s attention anymore, and they are putting their hands on everything else. How, in that case, do you keep her away from the most expensive things that you own, your electronics? The solution is to get down at eye level with your child and have a look at anything interesting. This of course, means covering the wall sockets and dangling cords, and the machines themselves. In addition, you want to move anything you want to keep out of reach. Once everything is out of the way, covered, or wrapped up tight, you can focus on keeping sticky fingers and roaming hands off your devices like your cell phone or iPad. Here are some tips for keeping small hands safe and your hard earned devices clean.

Cover or close off any and all open wall sockets and surge protectors.

Wall sockets are a definite hazard to little creatures that can actually fit their fingers in them, and of course, babies have no idea that their toys are NOT supposed to be jammed in there. Companies that make baby proofing items provide plastic shields that insert into empty sockets and even covers for surge protectors. They are inexpensive and extremely valuable. If you find that you could not afford them, a free solution is to block off access to the wall sockets and to hang the surge protector on the wall or keep it out of reach in some other manner.

Contain any dangling cords.

You can’t keep your eyes on your baby all the time, it’s just not possible. We want, however, the best for our children and desire to keep them safe. Dangling cords are responsible for about six hundred strangulation deaths a year, (1) and should be paid particular attention to. Wrap them up as much as you can, or gather them together and use a zip tie to contain several of them together and tack them to the wall. Again, baby proofing companies make it easy on parents and provide products that allow you to safely cover your hanging cords, but it is essentially a parent’s choice to baby proof as they see fit.

Move anything you don’t want ruined out of the way.

This is the easiest step you can take to keep your things safe. Little hands love pulling DVD player trays out and snapping them off, or worse, they are likely to shove snacks and food into slots that don’t require it. Note: VCR’s will NOT play a peanut butter sandwich. Invest in some shelving with doors and locks, or keep your equipment out of reach. In addition, a distraction is often helpful with this point in baby proofing – if you find that you can’t move anything any farther away from the pretty blinking lights of your stereo, perhaps it is time to find a toy that mimics what they seem to be so fascinated with.

Saving your cell phones and iPads.

Charging your phone, or even talking on it can be difficult with an infant around. They love the noise and the buttons, and toy companies have yet to come up with an imitation cell phone that is better than mom or dad’s. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try. Keep your mobile phone safe by keeping it out of reach, or investing in protective covers. In addition, look into getting a “baby app” for your cell phone or iPad and download it. These apps are designed for touch screens and look just like your regular dialing screen, except you can’t call anyone, and you can’t use any of the features of your phone unless you press a certain key sequence. If you feel squeamish about even handing over your cell phone, consider the plastic covers or keep it completely out of reach.

Image Credit: DeeKnow