5 Vacation Destinations the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Travelling with the whole family presents its own set of challenges. Depending on the age of your children, you’ll need to take their needs into account when you book your  accommodations, not to mention activities to keep them intellectually engaged – otherwise they’ll drive you crazy. In many ways, it’s easier to take longer trips once the kids are older. I’ve seen families spend entire summers abroad with children ages 8 and 9, although those children were incredibly well-behaved and fully aware of how exciting it was to travel. 

Travelling with a nanny would be amazing, but it’s not in everyone’s budget – certainly not mine! This is another reason that it might be easier to travel once the kids are older. However, when you have the desire and the opportunity to see the world, you take it. 

Ideally, if you’re planning an extended stay in a fixed location, you could rent a house or apartment intended for longer-term tenants. With today’s advanced technology, your hunt for lodging should be fairly painless. Platforms such as Zeus Living (https://zeusliving.com) can help you find long-term rentals in some of the larger U.S. markets. You’ll have to research the best ways to find rentals in the geographic location you’re planning to spend time in.

Here are five vacation destinations that would be fun for the whole family.

New York – If your children have seen Home Alone 2, they’ll really be on board – especially if you’re visiting around the winter holidays! But New York has so much to offer, from museums, of which there are a bajillion, to the Empire State Building, Central Park and more. And it goes without saying that the adults are going to have limitless fun.

London – If your children read books, they’re probably thrilled to go to London. Think of all the famous authors from the city, and all the books set in that city. London will be much like New York, in that there are just oodles of museums for the little ones, and lots of places the adults can enjoy, too.

San Diego – Provided you time your visit right – and it’s not hard, because only a few months out of the year in San Diego are gloomy – you’ll be gifting fun in the sun for the whole family if you plan your trip to this city. Both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are among the most famous destinations of their kind in the entire world. Additionally, there are miles and beaches and acres of parks, plus museums and all the other amenities you’d expect from a big city.

The Amalfi Coast – Italy has been cool since time began – or at least since the 1960s. The Amalfi Coast is exceptionally scenic and beautiful, with its dramatic coastline and terraced lemon groves, winding roads cut into the sides of cliffs, and the backdrop of Pompei and Mount Vesuvius. Local artisans make handmade goods, like Italian leather shoes that could shod your whole family. Chances are, this locale is unlike any place your family has ever been. 

The French Countryside – The south of France is a treat for the whole family. Choose a location in a small village and experience a vastly different culture and way of life from what you’re used to back home. Slow down and enjoy quality family time. Maybe it’s the last trip before your children go off to college, or their first time overseas – or both! There’s nothing quite like sampling freshly baked baguette,  local cheeses, and artisanal desserts. And don’t forget to at least pay a visit to Nice and enjoy the beautiful beaches.

In closing, remember that vacations like these will be memorable for the whole family. Take lots of pictures and videos, and you’ll be able to look back for years to come.

Do You Want to Make Your Rental Property More Appealing? Here’s How to do It

As a landlord, you already know that every day your rental property sits empty, the more money you lose. The thing is, though, that there are many different and simple improvements you can make to the property to make it more appealing to potential tenants. From keeping organized records to always being available, keeping your tenants once they move in is different than attracting them to begin with. That’s why in this blog, you’ll find a few tips to make your rental property more appealing to potential renters. 

Hire Someone to Manage the Property

A lot of the time, maintenance can fall by the wayside because you’re busy. Then, before you know it, your paint is peeling, the place is overrun with weeds and pests, and you’re too overwhelmed to make it even look good, much less rentable. 

The best thing to do in this case is to hire a company that specializes in rental property management in San Antonio (or whatever city you live in) to help you out with getting the property ready to rent and keeping it in good condition once it’s rented. 

Kitchen Improvements 

The kitchen is one of the first places anyone looks when touring a rental property. Affordable updates to your rental kitchen include dishwashers, freshly painted cabinets, new fixtures such as knobs on doors, and faucets, and up-to-date appliances that are energy efficient. You can go a lot further with designing your kitchen to appeal to renters as well, but that is up to you and your budget. 

Bathroom Improvements

It helps if you look at your rental property the way you’d look at the local bed and breakfast. The first thing you want is for the bathroom to be fully functional, spacious if possible, and very, very clean. You should make the bathroom appealing by letting in as much natural light as possible and adding the following things for the tenants’ use: 

  • Additional lighting
  • Upgrading fixtures and faucets 
  • Replacing the toilet

Again, there are many design upgrades you can make to your bathroom, and you should choose them according to the budget you’re working with. However, remember, the better the home is, the easier it will be to rent to quality tenants. 

Paint Inside and Out 

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your rental property is by painting it inside and out. Nothing freshens up a property like a fresh coat of paint. Make sure to try and stick with neutral colors, as every person has a different personality, style, and how future tenants want to decorate might clash with more colorful paint. 

Enhance Your Curb Appeal

Everyone knows that curb appeal is key if you want to be able to rent a property quickly. If a tenant pulls up to the property and the yard is overgrown, trash is everywhere, and the screen door is peeling and falling off the hinges, it’s a pretty safe bet that they aren’t even going to want to see the inside of the property. If you clean up around your property and take pride in the place, your tenants will as well. 

Make It Secure

If the street lights are out in front of your property and there is no reliable security system, then you might have a hard time renting it out. Tenants want to be able to go to sleep at night secure in the knowledge that they and their families are safe. Beefing up your security is key if you want to rent quickly and keep your property occupied. 

These are just a few adjustments you can make to make your property more appealing to renters. From making it secure to kitchen and bathroom improvements, if you want to rent a property you have to put in the work to make it happen. 

Important and Useful Tips for Traveling With Kids

Traveling with kids can be a really stressful experience, especially if you are travelling for the first time. With experience, it gets easier but travelling kids, especially toddlers, can be quite tiresome as you can run into a couple of challenges any time during the vacation.

However, this shouldn’t stop you from booking cheap flights to Bangkok. Even though it can be a bit overwhelming, traveling as a family is one of the best and most fun experiences. Over a vacation, children get more attention, love, and care from their parents as they are free and relaxed. This is why kids love vacations so much. The trip doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy. Kids don’t care about Disney World as such, all they care about is getting all of mommy’s attention. They love it when the parents are more relaxed, more fun, and emotionally available.

Best family vacation

You might have heard so many “best family vacation” stories to be camping or seaside trips. Lying on a blanket looking at the stars with the family is one of the most relaxing things, which also helps in bonding. These are the free treasurable moments that make up childhood memories. And if you are prepared with everything, from diapers to snacks, there is nothing to stop you from enjoying a great family vacation with your kids! Here are a couple of little things you can do to make your trip with kids better and less stressful, for both you and your kid(s). 

Get to the airport early

One of the best ways to avoid boarding planes with kids is to get to the airport a little early. This way, not only will you be able to have the time to change their diapers, but your kids will have enough time to play or run in the airport hallways. They can also use the washrooms in the airport because what are the chances they can hold on when the plane is about to take off?

Always keep snacks in your purse

I remember my mother always carried a banana with her because I was always hungry. She said they are very easy to carry and are healthy as well. Plus, you can never tell about meal times, neither on airports nor planes. Even when you have gotten to your destination, you never know when you might get stuck in the traffic, or a tour might take longer. You know how kids get so fussy when they are hungry. A hungry kid to deal with is nearly impossible.

Make sure they get enough sleep 

Bring eye covers or blackout curtains so your kids can sleep longer in the morning. This is important as children need more sleep when the schedule goes out. Bring white noise machines or ask your room service for one, because that does wonder!

Don’t go out of their schedule too much

Kids need their sense of security of routines they are accustomed to, therefore, make sure they stay in their usual routine. Unfamiliar events will only stress them out which will result in chaos for you only. Therefore, either be patient when they get hyped-up or irritable or keep them on schedule.

Inform them of itinerary/ events

Tell your kids about what to expect from your everyday travel plans. You can even print out pictures of each place and make a smack scrapbook to do that. This will not only excite them but also get them ready so they can conquer their fears.

Teach them how to act around people

Social behaviour is one of the most important life lessons you will be teaching your kids. Teach them how to act around other people, especially in public places such as restaurants, etc. and you never have to be embarrassed again.

Schedule in some physical activity

On your trip, make sure you schedule in some time for physical activities. This is one way to make sure your children can be themselves. Make sure you make visits to a playground or theme parks etc. 

Plan one thing per day

If you jump around from one place or event to another, your kid will get tired and start to fuss. They need to be prepared, which takes longer than us. Therefore, make sure you don’t plan more than one thing per day. If you can handle bad meltdowns, you can surely plan more than one event a day. But be prepared that when the schedule changes, they will get cranky and stressed and lash it all out on you. You won’t even be able to enjoy the events.

Kids will not act like adults

Kids will act like kids and you have to stop expecting them to act like adults. This is one of the most important and useful tips for traveling with kids. Don’t expect them to act like a lady or a gentleman while you enjoy a fancy dinner with your spouse or your friends. If you know they are going to make a scene, engage them in something. Like a book, a board game, or bring a tablet along to keep them busy while you and your friends enjoy a good talk. Usually, when kids have the pressure to act or behave a certain way, they act out.

Have a normal good night with them back at the hotel

After the whole going out and fun, kids, and even you and your spouse, need some downtime. Make sure you spend time just chilling and relaxing with them. You can read them a book or two just like home, which is why you have to make sure you bring their favourite books. Or just lie down with them and ask them how their day was and what they would like to do tomorrow. Just listen to their ideas, which will result in very fewer meltdowns. Children get really fussy with hectic travelling schedules and start to cry or get cranky at any reason they can find. Just make sure they don’t miss home!

Everything You Need to Know About Wood Fireplaces

While refurbishing or purchasing a home, most homeowners contemplate either adding or renovating an indoor fireplace. In recent times, the choices have abundantly increased for homeowners. Wood, gas, and electric fireplaces are some of the most popular choices among homeowners. However, nothing beats the charm of the traditional wood-burning fireplaces. These indoor fireplaces do not only make rooms feel snug and warm but also change the entire feel and look of a room.

This comprehensive and concise guide discusses everything you must know before buying a wood fireplace.

There Are Different Options to Choose From

If you are a romantic with your heart still stuck in the Victorian era, the traditional open hearth fireplaces are the right choice for you. These fireplaces are made from either stone or brick. One can hear the crackling of wood and roaring of fire while standing close to these fireplaces. However, the open hearth fireplaces are relatively ineffective in large areas. Moreover, their construction requires disrupting an entire wall. If that sounds too much trouble, consider installing fireplace inserts. An insert is a fireproof box that is placed into an existing fireplace. Typically made from cast iron or steel, it features an insulated gas that stops the heat from getting dissipated.

However, if the charm of traditional wood fireplaces is irresistible to you, consider installing an enclosed fireplace. These fireplaces resemble traditional hearths in design. However, they feature a glass panel in the front, which minimizes heat loss and thus, efficient heating.

Why Should You Opt for Wood Fireplaces?

Fireplaces are a favorite accessory that almost all home buyers look for in a home. Fireplaces add elegance, romance, and architectural fineness to any space. If you have been toying with the idea of getting wood fireplaces installed, allow us to make this decision easier for you. Here are a few reasons you should opt for a wood fireplace.

1. You won’t be worrying about a massive electricity bill all the time

Electricity bills can burn holes in pockets these days. The most significant benefit of getting a traditional open hearth is that you won’t be constantly worried about getting a massive electricity bill. Moreover, when a bad storm hits and electricity is off, your fireplace will still be running and keeping you warm.

2. These fireplaces make an eco-friendly choice

Global warming is real, and now is the time to act. You can join the fight against global warming and climate change by making small changes in your home. Wood-burning appliances are a great way to make things change for the better. These appliances significantly reduce one’s dependence on fossil-fuel supplied energy. Moreover, wood-burning devices have zero carbon footprint. Since wood is a sustainable energy source, the move to wood-burning products will help save the environment in the long run.

3. They make the perfect setting for a date night

There is nothing more romantic than sitting in front of a fireplace, sipping wine, and holding your partner’s hand. This is the kind of romance that only exists in books. However, with a traditional open hearth, you can make this your reality.

The Final Word

Wood fireplaces remain a hugely popular choice among homeowners for several reasons. They are easy-to-operate, energy-efficient heating devices that can elevate the look and feel of any room with their mere presence. Therefore, if you have been thinking about getting a wood-burning fireplace installed, don’t think twice.

The Culinary Delights of York

I’m almost afraid to publish this little preview of what the culinary delights of York have in store for any foodie who is thinking about making their way to this history-rich city, quite simply because all the options (and more) might have you feeling like a kid in a candy store! I mean the fact that there are food and drinks festivals should say a lot about York’s culinary scene, so the only thing left for you is to head on down and get a true taste of it yourself.

York has firmly established itself as the county’s foodie capital, with a table under the spires of northern Europe’s largest gothic cathedral making for the venue for just one of the many unique dining experiences to immerse oneself in. Contemporary culinary evolution meets traditional favourites to create an extensive mix of gastronomic choices that will leave even the fussiest of foodies extensively satisfied, if not a bit disappointed that they just didn’t have the time to try everything out.

Literally everything is on offer and you really don’t have to look hard at all to find what you’re specifically looking for. However, you are encouraged to try out some of the local dishes, many of which will undoubtedly be familiar to you, except they have that good old Yorkie-spin to them. So the good old Sunday roast will perhaps come with trimmings prepared and served York-style, which can be found at one of the many gastro pubs in the city.

York boasts a number of award winning restaurants as well, with some signature chef dishes that will have you associating a specific, unique taste to your visit to York once you roll out of town again. This is where you’d go for your healthy portions of modern British cuisine.

Restaurants, cafes, food courts at malls and resident hotel restaurants aren’t the only places where the culinary tastes and delights of York can be sampled. In fact, one can say that the York Food and Drink Festival is where the true taste of York comes to the fore, quite simply because it is during this annual event when the singular focus of the people in this history-rich town is on food – how it tastes, how it’s prepared, where it comes from and how it’s to be served and enjoyed.

Follow this link to get some more great ideas for how to find the best food in York:

http://www.iknow-uk.com/article/ultimate_guide_to_york

It is after all the biggest of the UK’s food festivals and it’s still going strong after celebrating its 20th year, last year in 2016. While you’re getting up-close and personal with the whole of Yorkshire’s finest chefs, cooks, recipes and even producers, you can take advantage of this chance to sample as much as you can.

The children can get involved as well with the kids’ hands-on cooking classes, while the drinks element comes into to play for adults to enjoy through wine tastings and a swig of some beverages from all over the world, even though the main focus is on those which are sourced locally and from some of the immediate surrounding areas.

Home Appliances – They Don’t Make Them Like They Used to Anymore

Since I love to preach about and pride myself in being able to put my nose for the bargain to good use, I wouldn’t say I’m a brand conscious person, particularly when it comes to household appliances. I mean it’s kind of counter-productive if you’re going to be spending the whole morning navigating the open-air markets for the best deals you can get in fresh ingredients and then go back home to prepare that food using appliances and tools which are only expensive as a result of the name brand they carry.

That said however, there are some brands which I tend to gravitate more towards than others, but that’s only because of the quality they offer. Still, the price factor comes into play because it is after all about how well they perform in doing their intended job and how long they last and perform well. I recently had to replace a blender that had died and in all honestly it had served me really well over the years, in which case I replaced it with a more modern juicer, but the jury is still out because modern day appliances just don’t seem to be built like those of the good old days.

Things don’t seem to last that long anymore and the new juicer is more than holding its own so far, but I don’t know — the materials used just doesn’t seem like something I’d use to knock an intruder over the head with. It’s not all the way flimsy, but in comparison to say the blender my parents had in our kitchen growing up and even the blender which I had that had reached the end of its life cycle, this new juicer and actually all the others I had a feel for in the store before buying just doesn’t feel like it’s made out of durable materials.

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On top of that it’s getting harder and harder to find a repairman who can actually fix appliances that break these days. The general consensus seems to be one of replacing over repairing, the worst of which case is when the entire appliance needs replacing and not just the problem area identified.

The struggle is real and in a sense always leads one back to some of the trusted brands which are emerging in modern times since some of the old-school names in home appliance production seem to be falling victim to the times as well. So with appliances such as kettles, if you spot what is something like a very distinctive Russell Hobbs kettle, go for that original one and spend those few extra pounds as opposed to going for a cheaper version bearing a different name which you barely recognise.

A few extra pounds spent now will spare you having to make the decision between feeling up the repairman to see if it’s at all possible to repair a faulty appliance and concluding that you have to replace the whole thing.

Generally though and going beyond just home appliances, it just seems like consumer goods producers aren’t building things to last anymore.

Why You and Your Family Should be Eating Fish More Often

If this was a one-line post and I didn’t have to go any further than explaining why you and yours need to be eating more fish, it would be as simple as saying that fish is very healthy. There are indeed some reasons for eating fish more often beyond its health benefits and since fish does indeed make for one of my favourite ingredients to cook with, I’ll be happy to get into it all.

“Clean” source of protein

As far as getting your recommended dietary portion of proteins, it seldom gets “cleaner” than fish as a good source. Depending on the type of fish you’ll be cooking of course, fish is almost as pure as protein can get in its natural form and this is largely due to the fact that fish as they occur in nature are often on the move and so build up lean muscle tissue while their constant need to be on the move has them eating all the time for their energy. That’s why fish pretty much doesn’t have any fat to speak of, with even something like a fried fish dish making for a very healthy source of protein.

So something like deep sea hake will do well for your family’s source of the closest thing to pure protein as you can get, without going the supplements route.

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Very healthy

Pilchards in particular come to mind as another variety of fish which is extremely healthy, very rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which aid in the development and functionality of the brain amongst other things. Canned pilchards often don’t taste too good however and this is often the case no matter how they’ve been canned (precooked and canned in tomato sauce, etc).

So if you can get them fresh or as fresh as you can then a good fish curry with white rice and an island coconut salad will do.

Going back to the health-factor however — you only have to look at counties such as Japan where fish is major part of their diet in that part of the world and if you were to go there now you wouldn’t find too many obese people. Fish is filling and healthy, making for a great main for any meal.

Many ways to prepare fish

This is one of the biggest reasons why I personally love fish and why I think you and your family should be eating it more often. There are about a million ways to cook just one variety of fish and in each case the dish can come out tasting completely different from the next dish which features the exact same fish variety.

Season your hake with fresh lemon and garlic on one occasion for example and then on the next occasion you could season the same hake with fish spice and you’ll have two dishes of the same fish variety which taste completely different. You can also use sake if you want a healthy alternative to vinegar.

Even something like frying over microwaving, boiling or smoking will have the same fish dish tasting completely different, more so if it’s served with different sides.

Safely Carrying Out a Food Allergy Elimination Test

If you or anyone in your family experiences symptoms such as itchy ears when taking the first bite of your food, chances are you might be carrying some food allergies. Food allergies are often detected very early on in one’s life, but they can be developed over time, mostly due to an unbalanced diet which is severely deficient in one form of nutrient or one which contains too much of a certain food which comes with an excess of a certain nutrient or a selection of nutrients.

A visit to the specialist to officially test for food allergies can be a bit expensive since it likely falls under “non-essential” medical care, but ultimately that should be the aim. You should go for an official allergy test so that you can be sure of which foods are causing your body to react.

That said, while you’re perhaps putting the money together to be able to go to a food allergy specialist, there’s a way to safely carry out a food allergy elimination test, but it’s something which should perhaps only be tried by those whose reactions to certain foods are of a milder nature.

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For months on end one of my cousins would feel really, really sick after enjoying a full English breakfast, but it took a while to realise that it was indeed something in the full breakfast which was causing this allergy. It was indeed the egg, which she had somehow developed an allergy to and the symptoms were rather severe at times, including painful heels, double-vision in one eye, vertigo and constantly having a feeling of wanting to throw-up whenever she woke up in the morning.

Eggs as the culprit were narrowed-down on when she’d eaten more than one egg on a particular occasion when she’d been really hungry over breakfast and that’s when the symptoms were aggravated. All she did was eliminate eggs from her diet completely and the symptoms disappeared.

So to do a safe food allergy elimination test one must focus on the most common food items which are known to cause allergies, even if they’d previously not caused any reactions. Eggs definitely form one of these food groups, so too the likes of peanut butter, anything with gluten (which is just about everything these days), different types of nuts like almonds and even peanuts, cow’s milk and even something like artificial flavourings.

It doesn’t end there however because even sugar can cause allergies, particularly white sugar, but mostly when you react to white sugar you’ll most definitely react to brown sugar as well, which sort of gets worse because you might react to sweetener as well.

So while you’re eliminating the potential allergy-causing foods you should proceed to replace them with more natural whole foods, like perhaps replacing white sugar with honey as a natural and healthier sweetener. While you’re at it, keep a box of anti-allergy tablets handy for possible breakouts caused by a food you’re sill eating that might be the cause of the allergy, but yeah, often just eliminating known allergy-causing foods one by one does the trick to find out just what it is you’re allergic to.

A Million Ways to Prepare Rice

Rice is perhaps one of the easiest foods to cook and is probably something we all learned how to cook back when we were eager to learn how to cook like mum. I mean I can bet you that even if you’re trying out a new brand of rice or even a new variety, chances are you only read the cooking instructions to reaffirm what you already know.

It’s very difficult to mess things up with rice and you perhaps only have to overcook it once in your life to learn. Even for those who prefer not to de-starch their rice it’s really hard to mess things up.

If however you do overcook it or that and the “excess” starch makes it appear to be more like a samp or porridge, you can always roll it up into rice balls or press it into small cups as part of a refreshing “presentation,” much like how they do in restaurants when you order a rice dish like curry and rice or even grilled fish with rice.

Otherwise if your desire to prepare the rice in your rice dishes is strictly by design, there are many different ways of doing so.

Fry it

It took me quite a while to master what is otherwise the very simple dish of fried rice, which is served with a range of salads, meats and paste sauces. Fried rice is a popular dish in Indian Ocean islands such as Mauritius and is quite a healthy dish given what the rice is usually paired with. But yeah, I guess you can fry what most of us would refer to as “normal” rice — that rice with the medium sized grains which you find everywhere, but obviously you’d have to boil it first in the manner you usually cook rice and then fry (preferably in a tiny splash of olive oil) in little chunks in a shallow pan while stirring all the way through.

Otherwise use long grain fine rice if you don’t want to first boil the rice and then fry it as some extra cooking work, since long grain rice cooks much easier and quicker and so it can be cooked almost exclusively through frying.

Season it

This is something they particularly love doing in South America, which is adding seasoning to the rice. Seasoning gives rice a nice flavour to it if you’re not content with boiling it in salt water to give it some taste and the great thing is that you select any seasoning of which the flavour you’d love to dominate the taste of your dish.

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Butter it up

This particularly makes minced meat dishes taste that much more special, even in the case of the minced meat baked into a meatloaf or something like that. Simply add a spoonful of butter to your rice when it’s simmering and getting rid of the remaining moisture. The butter should turn the rice all the way yellow, but this yellow hue would be much deeper than that of seasoned rice.

These are just a few of the many ways you can prepare rice and don’t be afraid to experiment.