How to Successfully Bottle Feed a Breastfed Baby

 

Breastfed babies often become attached to the comforting feeling of feeding on their mother’s breast. Mostly, they reject the rubbery bottle nipples in favour of the real thing. However, in some cases, bottle feeding might be the only option. For example, the mother needs to go back to work, illness and inability to continue breastfeeding. 

 

There are several reasons why bottle-feeding might have to replace breastfeeding, but how do you successfully bottle feed a breastfed baby?

 

There are no hard and fast rules, every baby is different, the key is to empathise with the baby and understand why they prefer breastfeeding. 

 

Here are some actionable tips to help to facilitate the process of bottle feeding a breastfed baby. 

 

 

Get the Right Equipment  

The right equipment is key, choose high-quality bottles with BPA free nipples and containers. Speak to your pediatrician or healthcare professional, they can provide you with high-quality recommendations to help you make the right decision. 

 

Let Your Baby Get Familiar with The Bottle 

When you are buying a new car, you always check if it feels right first. Let your baby get familiar with the bottles first. Obviously, you can’t test bottles but you can buy the best bottles for your budget and allow your baby to touch and play with the bottles before you start feeding her/him. 

 

Create a Calm Environment 

A calm environment will reduce the anxiety that is often associated with bottle feeding. Soft music and a calm, cool ambience. Check the room temperature to ensure that it’s not too hot or too cold for both of you. 

 

Make sure you are sitting comfortably and remove any doubt or fear from your mind while visualising a positive outcome. Your baby might not be able to drink all the milk from the bottle the first time around, but just rest assured that as long as you keep trying, eventually your baby will grow accustomed to drinking from the bottle. 

 

Whether you are expressing your breastmilk or using a formula like S-26 Alula Original Formula for toddlers, bottle feeding a breastfed baby will take time. 

 

Don’t Rush the Process 

Take your time, don’t rush the process. Give yourself time and give your baby all the time that he/she needs to get used to this new way of life. 

 

One Feed at a Time 

Take it one feed at a time. Don’t bombard your baby with multiple feeds, when you first start, pick one feed in a day and try to bottle feed. If he/she rejects the bottle, keep trying for some time and then go back to breastfeeding. Continuing this approach every day, it might require a bit of patience and persistence but eventually, your baby will begin to understand that bottle feeding is the new way of feeding. 

 

Create Alternative Bonding Routines 

Breastfed babies are used to the comfort and nurturing feeling they get from being breastfed. Therefore, you will need to come up with new ways to bond with your baby. This might come in the form of extra cuddles, read more, play more and go for long walks with your baby. Your baby will eventually get used to these new routines and forget about breastfeeding. 

 

Bottle feeding your breastfed baby might be difficult in the beginning, or you might luck out with your baby as some babies settle into bottle feeding with ease. However, if you do struggle with bottle feeding remember that no condition is ever permanent and with time. Your baby will grow into the new way of feeding, you just have to give it time, your baby will certainly grow accustomed to bottle feeding eventually. 

 

 

 

How Tech Is Changing Your Road Trips


Have you ever wondered what going on a road trip 50 years ago looked like? Back in the day, technology allowed people to travel long distances with their cars, but the lack of useful features has made travelling more challenging. Our generations are lucky because we get a chance to use the newest products and features to our advantage and make the most out of our road trips.

 If you want to know how technology is elevating our road trip experiences, here’s the list of products and features available to us in today’s world.

You can create a playlist of your favourite songs

When we think about road trips, one of the first things that come to our mind is driving a car and singing our favourite songs. If you’ve recently been on a road trip, you already know that your in-car music technology allows you to even use Spotify to stream your favourite tunes.

Back in the day, people never had the opportunity to enjoy this type of luxury. Those who drive older cars usually have to use a built-in cassette adapter or radio to listen to music while driving their vehicles. Luckily, even if you own an older car, you can install new equipment in the vehicle and stream music of your choice.

You can go farther between fill-ups

One of the worst things about driving an older vehicle is the fact that you have to make multiple stops to fill in your gas tank. Luckily for us, modern vehicles are more efficient, which means you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel in the middle of the night when no one is around to help you.

You feel more comfortable

A comfortable driver is more relaxed and ready to stay focused on the road. Modern car designs allow you to adjust your seats and turn an upcoming road trip into a pleasant experience. Additionally, improvements in engine performance and efficiency offer excellent performance and a smoother riding sensation.

You feel safer

Vehicle safety has changed over the years, and newer cars are inevitably safer than ever before. Modern vehicles have more safety features that will protect you from accidents.

Additionally, while driving a newer car, you have the option to control sound and temperature, which is essential if you need to stay focused while on the road. If you’re travelling in the mountains, modern vehicles will make you feel more secure because they’re made of ultra high strength steel that can minimise the risk of injury after an accident.

You know where you’re going

Travelling to a foreign country or cities you’ve never visited before can be intimidating. With the in-dash GPS vehicle tracking, you will feel more confident while travelling because the GPS gives you information about your route and shows you where to make turns. Additionally, the newest technology allows you to read any map in the world and find the fastest way to get to the desired place.

It’s worth noting that modern in-dash navigation systems allow you to choose what type of music you want to listen to, read your messages, make a call or even configure your device.

You can pack more

Some modern cars are getting bigger, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A heavier vehicle can carry more weight, which is ideal if you need to pack more things on your road trip. More importantly, some vehicles are designed for drivers who need extra space for family members or tools and equipment.

It’s worth mentioning that some modern vehicles are specifically made for parents of big families. If you’re thinking about buying a new vehicle, some cars will allow you to travel with all your family members without having to use or rent another vehicle.

Conclusion

In today’s world, these features are not considered a luxury. However, they’re making our lives a lot easier.

If you’re preparing for a road trip, make sure to consider an upgrade because some of these features will improve your road experience and make you feel like you’re driving your vehicle on the smoothest surface. More importantly, you will feel much safer, spend less money on fuel, and you’ll always know where you’re headed.

Beetroot Powder – Delicious Weight Loss

 

Losing weight is an age-old battle, and for anyone who has tried to drop a few kilos, you will know the word "battle" is more than appropriate. Exercise and healthy eating play a large part in reducing weight, and keeping it off, but science has found that factors such as internal inflammation and digestion problems can override all your hard work. That's where the potent nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of beetroot powder come in.        


Beetroot powder nutrients

Beetroot powder is a rich source of essential nutrients. It contains Vitamins A, C, B-6, and folate, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. It is high in nitrates, contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and is high in antioxidants called betalains. It contains 0% fat. 


Weight loss properties   

Apart from supplying the body with a range of vitamins and minerals, beetroot powder is also a friend when it comes to weight loss. It helps reduce weight in a few interesting ways. 

Beetroot powder has a detoxifying quality that helps maintain liver health. The liver is essential for weight loss in that it produces bile which breaks down fat and flushes it, along with other toxins, from the body. A liver that doesn't function properly can lead to fat build-ups in the liver itself, but also in other parts of the body.   

Inflammation, particularly in any part of the digestive system, can cause weight gain and an inability to lose weight. The result is that all your dieting and exercising culminates in nothing but frustration. Beetroot powder has two types of powerful anti-inflammatory compounds – betalains and nitrates. Betalains diminish inflammation by destroying free radicals and thereby reducing oxidative damage to cells, while nitrates contribute byridding the bloodstream of toxic substances that cause inflammation.     

Beetroot powder aids digestion. An efficient digestive system helps prevent weight gain and bloating by assisting the body in using the nutrients it extracts more effectively. The slower the food we eat moves through the stomach and intestines, the more calories the body absorbs. Calories are an essential energy source for us, but if our body absorbs more calories than it needs, the excess is stored as fat. Beetroot powder can help boost our digestion, keep us regular and help the weight stayoff. 

Finally, research has found that beetroot powder can help eliminate water weight and, consequently, bloating. 


How to incorporate beetroot powder into your daily life     

Beetroot powder is a convenient way to add extra weight loss nutrients into almost anything you can think of. Beetroot powder is tasty enough to stir into a glass of water and drink for a quick pick-me-up at any time of the day or night. Adding it to a fruit smoothie or fresh vegetable juice is even better.  

For the gastronomes among us, sprinkle some over a salad, or add it to the dressing for an engaging, highly nutritious twist. 

And while beetroot powder may lose some of its potency if cooked (heated), you still get some benefits if you add it to a curry or a casserole. And who could say ‘no’ to a slice of sweet, vibrantly-coloured beetroot cake? Add it to your pancake mixture, to your biscuit dough. 

The possibilities are endless because beetroot powder is that versatile. 


A final note     

To be as delicate as possible…if you’ve never had beetroot powder before, you might be alarmed by beetroot-coloured urine and darker stools. Have no fear. This is perfectly normal. In fact, it means the beetroot has been absorbed and is busy doing its thing.   

 

Five ways you can take care of your lawn this summer

 


Usually, the first thing that attracts anyone to a house is the lawn. Everyone likes a lush green lawn which boosts a house's appeal and makes it look lovelier. Summers are the ultimate time for a yard to bloom in its full might. However, heat and scorching summer sun pose a mighty challenge to keep lawns healthy and sprouting.

If you neglect your lawn during summer, heat can wreck it. Every day practices like not mowing correctly, not applying pesticides, and inappropriate watering methods can render your garden either soft and squishy or barren and dull. Therefore, high maintenance is required to have a healthy and beautiful garden throughout summer. You can easily keep your lawn in good condition if you adhere to these five lawn care tips:

1.    Trimming overgrown trees and bushes:

It is essential to ensure that the trees, hedges, shrubs, and bushes are pruned and well maintained to give the green landscape a beautiful look. No one likes overgrown hedges and messy tree branches - they diminish your garden's charm and pleasantness. But, unfortunately, large tree branches and heavy growth of wild bushes are common problems that house owners face during the warm season.

It is important to trim and cut off all the extra growths regularly. Clipping away the green clutter in front of your house will get you a neat and healthier-looking lawn all summer long.

However, before attempting to start the pruning regime, make sure to have sharp tools with which you can work. Pruning saws, looping shears, dull clippers, trimmers, and hedge shears are some standard gardening equipment, but you must exercise extreme care while using them as they are pretty sharp and dangerous. Also, follow safety guidelines religiously. If you reside in Round Rock, search terms like tree cutting Round Rock TX and you should find a suitable option to call in a professional to help you with trimming. The experts can also guide you on how many inches you should trim and at which angles.

2.      Mowing at the right height:

Generally, the grass in your lawn should be about 2 1/2 inches. You should only remove about the top 1/3 of the grass blade at each mowing. Therefore, a good time to mow lawns is when your grass gets about 3 2/3 inches high.

Also, don't mow the lawn while the grass is still wet as it could develop different diseases. Cutting immediately after a shower or early morning when the grass is still wet with dew is not a good idea either. Wait for the grass to get dry before mowing. But don't start cutting when the sun is directly overhead. It causes stress to the grass, and you'll exhaust yourself too. Wait until late afternoon or early evening to mow your lawn.

3.      Water your lawn the right way:

A lovely, green landscape needs sufficient water. But if you're negligent while watering, it can prove to be disastrous for your lawn. It can quickly wither in the hot weather. Regular watering during a dry spell is very beneficial for the roots. Try using sprinklers to water your lawn. Sprinklers allow the grass to absorb water slowly and thoroughly. Be careful not to overwater your garden. Soil can become saturated, leading to waterlogging.

Water your lawn at least three to four times a week, not every day. The grass should get only one inch of water. Early mornings are ideal for watering your lawn; it gives your turf ample time to absorb the water. Since the sun is not so strong early morning, it prevents water evaporation between 6 to 10 am. The sun, when watering, is vitally essential for the process of photosynthesis to take place. If you water your lawn at night, the grass will not be able to absorb water successfully. Besides, excess water will remain in the yard, which can quickly develop certain water-related diseases.

4.      Managing weeds:

Weeds can cause hindrance in plant growth by blocking airways. They stop nutrients from reaching the roots. You can quickly identify weeds if you see flowers, especially dandelions, growing on your lawn. Another sign that your yard has weeds is the irregular patches of different textured and colored grass that look nothing like the rest of your yard.

There are many ways in which weeds can creep into your yard, through air, birds, animals, one's clothes, and shoes. A large variety of weeds are commonly found in lawns that either grows as flowers or seed heads. The right approach is to pull weeds along with their roots by hand or use a weeding fork. Besides this, you can also use a herbicide spray with low toxic levels to better control these pesky, persistent things.

5.      Aerating is essential for a green landscape:

Aeration is crucial for your lawn in dry summers because it oxidizes the soil, improves soil water uptake, penetration of nutrients, and oxygen absorption. It keeps the fertilizers and pesticides intact within the plants, preventing them from washing away into the sewers. Specific conditions of your lawn show it needs aeration. For example, thin patchy grass, or if the soil looks like thick clay.

Timing is also significant in the aeration process. The lawn must be moist but not sopping wet when aerating. You should water your garden one day and then aerate it the next day to have the best result. The simplest and budget-friendly way of aerating the lawn is to use a garden fork. The trick is to push the fork almost one foot into the ground to form aerated holes. Aerated holes allow the lawn to 'breath' and better absorb water. While this is easy for small gardens, you can acquire professional help from an aerator to make the process easy for large ones.

In a nutshell:

Gardening is quite relaxing and therapeutic. A wonderful, green sight refreshes you and connects you with Mother Nature instantly; it becomes, as John Keat said, a thing of beauty that’s a joy forever. 

International Yoga Day: 5 Ways to Ground Yourself While Improving Focus & Productivity

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt lives and shake people’s foundations all over the world, it is crucial for individuals to find ways to bring harmony, peace and alignment to their mental and physical well being in healthy, uplifting ways. 

June 21st is International Yoga Day - a day to focus on how the practice and philosophy of Yoga can promote the holistic health and mind body soul wellbeing of every individual. And what is more central to yoga and wellbeing than being grounded? 

Amelia Vogler, grounding expert and energy medicine specialist, highlights how the practice of grounding can help improve focus, clarity and productivity - something we’re all struggling with right now.

Grounding is not just a spiritual exercise, but also a highly practical one that can improve anyone’s ability to focus, be clear-headed and even get more done. When you’re grounded, you’ll feel more at peace with yourself, more patient with others, and balanced when tackling what the day throws your way,” says Amelia Vogler.

Here are Amelia’s top 5 ways to ground yourself:

Find your feet 
Spend some time getting reacquainted with your posture. Grounded, safe postures start (not surprisingly) with the ground. Feel your feet on the ground and let the Earth come to you - then bring the Earth into you and fill yourself with that energy. Try walking barefoot on the ground - this helps reconnect your with mother nature and your connection to the earth.

Find your breath
Try a full-body breath. Focus on connecting your breath to your feet. Everyone has their own unique breathing pattern which can be expanded on. Learn to breathe deeper and focus that breath down into more parts of your body, including your feet. This helps remind us that we are more than the mind, and that we have support underneath us (literally and metaphorically) at all times.

Get moving
Think of the difference between a lake that is fed by a stream versus the one that sits stagnant.  The lake fed with moving water remains clear and balanced whereas the lake that has no flow gets congested and murky.  Take some time walking in nature, or even a few extra rounds around the kitchen island and keep the energy moving in your body.

Drink water
Nothing can live without water, including you.  Water nourishes your cells and it also acts as a conductor for electricity in the body.  Did you know that the brain uses electricity and chemicals to communicate? Ensuring proper hydration can actually keep your mind thinking clearly and your body running optimally.  Water helps you to regulate your temperature; keeps oxygen and nutrients moving through the body; and energetically speaking channels vitality throughout the tissues of the body! 

Call a friend 
There is nothing more grounding than a deep and enriching conversation with a good friend.  Yes, we are all coming out of our COVID isolations a little shaky in the sphere of communication, and no better time than to pick up the phone and invite a friend for a walk outside (or a walk and talk, if they live somewhere else) and share heart to heart.  If you are curious about a good ice breaker, try the question, “What did you learn most about yourself during the pandemic?”  

Find Beauty 
Beautiful things inspire us, make us smile, and keep us grounded in inspiration.  Beauty doesn’t have to be in art (but it can be). Beauty can be found in the colors of a blooming garden; the perfect baseball pitch; a gorgeous car; your child laughing at a movie; a beautiful sunset or sunrise.   Take that one moment to see beyond the everyday mundane and look for what is beautiful hiding just a little deeper. 

How to Help Your Kids Adjust to a New House Post-Divorce

Divorce is not only the separation of two people that once formed a couple. Each of these people has parents and other relatives that had grown close to the "in-law". In addition, if the union involved children, in particular, young children, the divorce gets more complicated.

Explaining Divorce to Your Young Children

This is the hardest part of a divorce. How do you explain to your children that you and the other parent don't love each other anymore? This is often something you don't quite understand yourself, yet, you have to explain it to your little one(s).

Keep it Simple--Stick to the Facts

It doesn't matter if your child is two years old or 18 years old. Divorce is going to hurt them. Granted an older child is going to understand much more than a toddler, but you still must choose words carefully. There is no need to get into the minute details that led up to the divorce. Keep it simple, straightforward, and stick to the facts.

Divorce makes us feel like a failure. Did you know statistics regarding first marriages show that almost 45% end up in divorce court? This is almost half of the couples who had committed to "love until death do us part"--who couldn't. Therefore, feeling down on yourself and beating yourself up as a failure shouldn't be a part of this conversation.

Make Your Kids Believe the Two of You are a United Front

Although you are separating and dissolving the marriage, your children need to believe you both are still a team. Just because you cannot live together, doesn't mean you are not going to continue to communicate. Your mutual children are still a priority, and you need to stress this so your children understand this.

Ensure your children understand that this new chapter in the family's life is going to be a good one. Even though you and your spouse will be living in separate households, you are all still a family. Explain that all families are unique because theirs takes up two residences only means the love is spread out.

Make the New House Home

This step is most likely going to be the hardest. Once you have convinced your kids you both still love and want the best for them. Because children do not handle change well, perhaps you can make the outside look like the old yard. Homeowners spend an average of six hours a week in their yard when they spend time upgrading it. This is according to a 2016 Houzz Home and Garden report. Allowing your child to help with gardening can be therapeutic.

Let Your Child be Part of the Process

During a separation or divorce the family home might be sold and the profits divided between partners. If one parent keeps the home, your child needs to know they will now have a second home. This means a new bedroom to decorate, a new neighborhood to check out. Try and make this change in their life feel exciting. One way to do this is to let them decorate their new bedroom in their own style. Using a four-color process creates high-resolution, colors provides clarity of vibrant yet subtle tones. This will help to design an atmosphere in the new home that is cheerful and upbeat.

Make the New Home Feel Familiar

If the family home is being sold, you want to do whatever you can to make the new surroundings comfortable. You want to make the new house feel like home to your children. A unique process to achieve a virtual photographic quality is by using dye sublimation. Allow your child to help with decorating the new house so they get the feeling this is their new home.

The most important thing to do is to remind your child you both love them. Do whatever you can to make this new dual residency living arrangement as "normal" and comfortable as possible.

How to Help Your Aging Parents Get Their Finances Together

We love our family at all ages, but talking finances with the older members of the family can be tricky business. Seniors don't like to discuss their money situation, especially with their children. And that stems from the core of aging - there is already so much they need help with, and they want to retain some independence.

However, like any family, there is a time and a place for a little tough love. When it comes to helping your parents age gracefully into their older years ahead, finances can play a big role. Here are some tips on how to help your aging parents get their finances together.

Be Gentle

First and foremost, keep things in perspective. Think about how you would feel if your children came up to you and started auditing your credit card statements with no apparent reason. That is how your parents can feel, not to mention it can make them experience guilt, anger, disconnectedness, and frustration. Your parents may view your intervention as rushing them into a home so that they are less of a burden on you and your life.

Be upfront about your intentions. You don't want to belittle your elderly parents, but you want them to make the right financial decisions for their wellbeing. Clarify your intentions so they can see that you are on their side and that you are all still a family unit.

Know Their Plans

Discuss with your parents their plans. Every family is different and unique; some elderly family members want to stay in their private home as long as possible, while others are open to living in a retirement or assisted living facility. Whatever your parents' wishes are, support them if it is reasonable to do so. If not, it may be time to have a discussion with them about what decision is in their best interest.

Whatever your parents' plans are, there are some areas that need to be discussed before proceeding. Some important questions to consider:

  • Do you have power of attorney? If not, then who does?
  • When was their will last updated?
  • Where are their financial records?
  • Do your parents have a financial advisor? If yes, can you contact them?
  • What is their long-term care situation?
  • What do your parents' pension and/or retirement earnings look like?
  • The plan may change a million times over, but it is good to be safe rather than sorry. Around 55% of the American population passes away without any will or estate plan. By knowing all of these answers ahead of time, you can save a lot of stress in the event of their passing in the future.

    Understanding Medicare, Medicaid, and Health Insurance

    Perhaps one of the most important aspects for senior family members regarding healthcare is what plan(s) they have. The American Cancer Society estimates that there are approximately 3,000 new cases of cancer in the United States every year, and your aging parents are not immune. If your parent is or becomes incapacitated, the pressure lands on you to find out what government assistance they qualify for and the documents you need to manage their accounts.

    Also, it is important to understand your senior family members' existing healthcare coverage. Around 20% of adults do not think that the healthcare system was designed nor prepared to deal with the aging population. Finding out your parents' current plans, and those expenses can help you to get your aging parents' finances together.

    It is important to talk to your aging parents about their finances and to help them get their documents in order. Remember to come from a place of love and empathy; they need to see that you are wanting to help and have their best interest in mind. Asking the tough questions and finding out all the nitty-gritty details can make everything smooth sailing for you and your parents.

Five tips for Improving your Curb Appeal

 


You've heard the saying; the first impression is the last impression, right? It's true because people are quick to form judgments based on face value, and the same may apply when it comes to your home. The exterior is the first thing people see as they walk past, and if you haven't paid much thought to it, it can cast a wrong impression over the whole place, no matter how much work you've put into the interior.

In the real estate world, your home's drive-by appearance is the curb appeal, and while it's easy to notice when it's there, it's painfully obvious when it's missing or lacks any panache. If you want your home to make a lasting impression on anyone who drives past, it's vital to extend your curb appeal beyond adding a fresh coat of paint.

Below, we've listed the top five ways you can enhance your home's curb appeal to make a striking statement. These tips can help boost your home's resale value while making it infinitely more beautiful for you to live in.

Professional landscaping

A welcoming, beautifully maintained lawn is one of the most attractive features of any home and can increase your curb appeal immensely. A well-manicured garden doesn't just serve an aesthetic purpose – it can be the perfect place to spend lazy summer evenings, host barbeques, and more.

However, maintaining a lawn on your own is challenging. This is an incredibly labor-intensive job best left to the professionals. Professional landscapers do more than neatening up your garden – they can transform it entirely if you want.

If you're in Alberta, you might have a hard time figuring out which plants can grow best in the climate. Professional landscapers can help you pick out the best plants for each season and execute your vision flawlessly. They can help install waterworks, rockeries and design a stunning layout sure to impress. With lawn maintenance Alberta you can ensure you have a lush, vibrant, and healthy lawn all year round, regardless of the weather.

Professional landscapers can create an outdoor space that's more than just a lawn; it's a work of art.

Redo your roof

Most homeowners are surprised at the impact a roof can have on your curb appeal. However, the roof easily accounts for at least half of your house's exterior, thus making it an important aspect to consider. Over the years, your roof can wear away due to constant exposure to the elements. The tiles can become incredibly faded and cracked, and you might have areas that need some serious work. Redoing the roof is an excellent way of renewing your home's exterior and upping your curb appeal.

Fixing the roof is an excellent way to increase the value of your home, too, because prospective buyers carefully analyze all structural elements. A worn-out roof can mean your home is more susceptible to leaks, mold, and bug infestations.

Apart from structural repairs, you can add some cosmetic enhancements too to upgrade your exterior. A splash of paint can do wonders for the roof, changing the tiling or adding fancy new trim. All these enhancements can make your home seem beautifully maintained and designed.

Dress up your front door

You'll be amazed at how badly a dull, boring old front door can impact your curb appeal. It can take away from every other enhancement you've added to make your home look unattractive and unexciting. Dressing up your front door is a small yet incredibly effective way to add to your curb appeal.

When redoing your front door, it's vital to remember the importance of symmetry. Adding symmetrical patterns can help you center your door as the focal point and give you a point of arrangement for everything you add around it.

Adding a bright coat of paint is a sure-fire way to make your front door stand out. You can add lighting fixtures on either side to draw attention to the door, as well as vibrant potted plants. Paintings are another fun way of amping up your curb appeal and giving your home an artsy vibe.

Furthermore, you can add new, eye-catching knobs and handles as per your style. The front door should reflect the vibe of your home, so be sure to follow a theme to make everything come together seamlessly.

Outdoor lighting

Adding outdoor lights is one of the most effective ways to increase your curb appeal. Outdoor lighting can add incredible depth to your home while providing much-needed safety and security. In addition, adding outdoor lighting can help enhance your landscaping and let visitors marvel at the beauty even in the dark. For example, you can illuminate a walking path or add sparkling fairy lights to give your garden a grotto-like vibe.

Solar fixtures or low-voltage bulbs are an excellent option if you're looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to illuminate your exterior. In addition, statement lights around the front door and near trims can help draw the visitor's eye to all the structural enhancements around the home, thus increasing your curb appeal. Having lights outside can also improve functionality in the house. You can then efficiently utilize your outdoor space for cozy get-togethers.

Add wooden shutters

Adding wooden shutters is an excellent way of enhancing both the exterior and the interior of your home. If you have too much sunlight streaming in, adding wooden shutters can help cool down your home and control the light you get. Furthermore, it can give you additional privacy and create a cozier interior.

Apart from improving the interior, wooden shutters add immense warmth and beauty to your home's exterior, thus increasing your curb appeal. Wooden shutters can help bring a touch of warmth and nature to your home while making the area seem incredibly well-designed.

Not many people opt for other shutters on the exterior, making this addition seem novel and eye-catching. Curb appeal is all about setting yourself apart, and dark-stained wooden shutters can help you do just that.

Conclusion

Any investment you make to enhance your curb appeal is likely to pay off incredibly well. You'll create a home that you can show off and be proud of while increasing the resale value exponentially. In addition, these changes can bring about more functionality to your home, letting you do more in the same space.

Furthermore, they allow you to create a much more comfortable, inviting space for your loved ones. While some enhancements may be on the pricier side and require professional help, there are others you can easily complete on your own and achieve a remarkable effect.

Coping with Unpredictable Weather: Rely on Outdoor Power Equipment to Stay Safe OPEI Offers 12 Tips to Help Prepare Ahead of Storms, Hurricanes and Floods


Weather today can be challenging, and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) reminds home and business owners that it’s important to make sure you have the right outdoor power equipment on hand and are prepared before a storm, hurricane or flood.

“Across the country, we’re seeing weather events that are more significant and more frequent – droughts, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. These present real challenges to homeowners and businesses. Thankfully, outdoor power equipment is here to help. There is a product and power source for every need and to address every scenario,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “At all times of the year, it’s important to keep your outdoor power equipment in working order, to have the right fuel on hand, and to know where your safety gear is. Get prepared now, so you are ready.”

OPEI offers the following tips:

Make a list of what you need to clean up. Survey your property. Consider the damage a storm might cause and make a list of what tools might be needed for repairs. You might need a chainsaw, pole pruner, water pump, portable generator, snow thrower, or utility vehicle.

Take stock of your outdoor power equipment. Make sure equipment is in good working order. If needed, take your equipment to an authorized service center for maintenance or repair.

Find your safety gear.  Avoid the scramble for sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing and work gloves, which should be stored in an accessible area with your equipment. 

Review the owner’s manuals for your equipment. Read product manuals to ensure you know how to operate your equipment safely. 

Have the right fuel on hand. Fuel stations may be closed after a storm, so it’s important to have the proper fuel for your equipment. Store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment (for more information: www.LookBeforeYouPump.com).

Use common sense when using outdoor power equipment. After the storm, take time to think through a strategy for clean-up efforts, and use the appropriate equipment for the job. If necessary, call a professional landscape contractor or tree care service.

Keep batteries charged. Make sure batteries for your equipment are fully charged in advance of a storm, and only used manufacturer-approved charging systems. Keep a couple of extra batteries on hand to keep equipment running. 

Trim trees safely. Keep both feet firmly on the ground, and observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area. 

Ensure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry, and make sure you have adequate lengths of extension cords. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.

Drive utility vehicles (UTVs) with caution. Keep the vehicle stable and drive slowly. Do not turn the vehicle mid-slope or while on a hill.

Be aware of others. Keep bystanders, children and animals out of your work area. Do not allow other people near outdoor power equipment when starting the equipment or using it.

Listen to your body. Storm cleanup can be draining. Do not operate power equipment when you are tired, drink plenty of water and take regular breaks.

About OPEI
OPEI is an international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of outdoor power equipment, small engines, battery power systems, portable generators, utility and personal transport vehicles, and golf cars. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI is managing partner of GIE+EXPO, the green industry and equipment exposition, and administers the TurfMutt Foundation, which directs the environmental education program, TurfMutt. OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces.

How to Pick the Best Credit Card to Help Travel for Free

Pandemic itch get you into a travel frenzy? Learn how to use travel rewards credit cards properly to earn while you fill your life with wanderlust. The senior research analyst for MyBankTracker.com pulled together tips on how consumers can pick the best credit card for their lifestyle to help foot the bill - whether they're headed for a road trip, cruise or hotel stay. Simon Zhen suggests: 

1. Review Your Previous Travel Spending: Look at prior trips and identify any patterns in travel spend. 

  • Consumers may find they frequent specific airlines or hotels and could benefit from opening a branded card geared toward extra benefits like free checked bags or hotel upgrade
  • Cardholders might recognize they’re not brand loyal so a non-branded card with flexible programs is a better choice 
  • Credit card users who don’t travel frequently enough to make a travel card worthwhile might want to consider a cash back credit card
  • Pro tip: International travelers could benefit from a rewards card with no foreign transaction fees that also covers Global Entry fees 


2. Think About Future Travel Plans: Consider any planned trips over the next two years. Check flight, cruise and lodging prices now to gain a better understanding of costs; then think about how to maximize the rewards that may be earned. It’s helpful to see if a card offers extra perks to make the trip a bit more luxe, such as airport lounge passes, free checked bags or priority boarding.

3. Compare the Annual Fee to Quantifiable PerksMany of the lucrative travel rewards credit cards have high annual fees around $500 or more. Consumers shouldn’t rule these out just because of the fee - smart spending can enable a cardholder to earn enough rewards to more than offset the annual fee. Think about it this way: if someone eats out often, a card with a dining out bonus category can easily turn those points into travel rewards.


4. Maximize Travel Rewards Redemption: Cardholders should be aware of the actual value of the earned rewards. Many premium travel cards offer various methods to redeem points and miles--some can yield more value. For example, the points could be worth more if redeemed through the issuer’s booking portal.

“Figuring out which credit card is the right fit is not as straightforward as you may think,” cautions Zhen. “Instead of simply choosing a card because of its welcome bonus or rewards rate, find a match that fits your unique spending habits. What types of purchases make up the most of your spending? You’ll likely discover a pattern that could help you maximize your rewards if you choose the card that matches your financial habits.”

View all the in-depth tips here, How to Choose a Travel Rewards Credit Card

About MyBankTracker
MyBankTracker is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (Nasdaq:QNST), a leader in providing performance marketplace technologies and services to the financial services and home services industries. QuinStreet is a pioneer in delivering online marketplace solutions to match searchers with brands in digital media. The company is committed to providing consumers with the information and tools they need to research, find and select the products and brands that meet their needs. MyBankTracker is a member of QuinStreet’s expert research and publishing division.

MyBankTracker is an independent comparison website helping consumers make smart banking and financial decisions. The mission is to match consumers to their perfect bank by providing and tracking in-depth information on more than 5,000 banks, credit unions and financial products. Using a combination of technology and money management expertise, MyBankTracker provides personal finance comparison tools and educates consumers to optimize their relationships with banks and lenders.

Twitter: @mybanktracker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mybanktracker

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