Friday, June 19, 2020

5 Trendy Living Room Styles

Are you sick of the same old furniture and design of your living room? It might be the right time to make a few changes and upgrades to your home. If you’re looking for a way to impress friends and elevate your alone time at home, here are five popular living room styles that may fit you.

1. Minimalistic
Create more space by decreasing the amount of furniture and accessories in your living room. Many people adore this unique style for its organized feel. Colors are subdued, décor is limited and the tidy atmosphere creates order and simplicity to the home.

2. VintageMiss the feel of more traditional decoration? Get into vintage designs. The furniture, colors and even the window coverings Newmarket can have a charming touch. This is a great style for those who want a formal feeling home or wish to bring back certain styles from different eras.

3. RusticThis style is ideal for nature lovers. This living room style can incorporate organic-looking material, earthy colors and wooden furniture. The colors create a homey feel and warm lighting is a popular trend.

4. ModernFocus on striking colors and distinctive lines with the modern style. Modern living rooms use space effectively while incorporating straight lines and clean edges. Furniture should look modern or futuristic, and most materials in this type of room are polished and glossy.

5. Beach StyleNo matter where you live, your living room can create a chill beachy atmosphere with your sandy seashells and ocean décor. These types of rooms often sport ocean colors and vintage fishing equipment that helps guests feel like they are actually on the beach.

No matter which style best fits your taste, an upgrade can be exciting and fun. Find furniture that appeals to you and keep your budget in mind. Once you’ve renovated, invite friends over to enjoy the atmosphere you have created. 


Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Place To Call Your Own

It is every family's dream to own a house. Who wouldn't? Instead of paying rent, you could pay for the mortgage instead until you have completed it and in the end, you wouldn't need to worry because it will be finally yours. But owning a house or an apartment or a flat for that matter is not always easy. Banks or lending authorities tend to have high interest rates. Or the government doesn't have any programs supporting interested buyers.

In our case in Germany, the KfW and the Federal Ministry of the Interior offer funding for construction and home. This benefit is a subsidy to families, couples with children and single parents - with the aim of being able to build home owndership. They call it the Baukindergeld, literally translated to "construction child benefit."

The benefit is paid for a period of 10 years and valid for contracts of sale or building permits signed or dated between 01 January 2018 until 31 December 2020. This means that if you bought a house or planning to construct a new one, the contract of sale or the building permit must be dated within this period.

Prerequisites for the benefit include the following:
1. For families, partners or single parents with children below 18 years old
2. A total annual income of maximum €90.000 for families with 1 child, plus €15.000 for each succeeding child
3. The beneficiaries live in the house themselves and does not rent it out.
4. The property should be located in Germany. It does not matter which nationality you have as long as you are a resident here.

How Does it Work:
1. Move In - As soon as you have moved into your own home, you need to register at your district registration office. You will need the resident registration confirmation later on, as proof of your moving-in date.
 
2. Apply for Subsidy - Apply for the subsidy within 6 months from date of moving in. All members of the family should be registered with the registration at the time of online application.  If you still have an unborn child, then you can wait until the baby is there and exhaust the 6-month application period. The new member of the family can only be included in the application if he/she is already born.
 
3. Prove your Identity - Right after the online application, you will receive an application confirmation in the KfW-Subsidy portal under "Meine Zuschussanträge" (My Subsidy Applications). You can then prove your identity via video identification (recommended) or with the Post-Ident procedure in a Deutsche (German) Post branch.
 
4. Upload Documents for Verification - If your application for subsidy is confirmed, you now have 3 months' time to upload verification documents in the subsidy portal. Past this period and your application is invalid and you will not receive any subsidies. The documents that you need are: Einkommensteuerbescheide (income tax assessments), Meldebestätigung (resident registration confirmation), and the current Grundbuchauszug (land register).
 
5. Receive Subsidy - After successful verification of your documents, you will receive the subsidy directly credited to your nominated bank account. You will receive a payment confirmation from the KfW and can find it under "Meine Anträge" in the subsidy portal. On the payment confirmation you will see when the first payment will take place. You will receive the subsidy payment for a period of 10 years at €1.200 per child per year, as long as you live in the house that you registered for at the KfW. Should you move to another place or you have decided to rent your place out, you are obligated to inform the KfW about this. This is because you no longer conform to the prerequisites of the subsidy and you will no longer be receiving the subsidy payments.

Have you tried applying for this subsidy? What are your experiences? Please do leave me a comment, I would love to hear and learn more from you.


3 Helpful Tips for Planting and Maintaining Privacy Hedges

Looking to get some added privacy from your neighbors? In some cases, a natural, living screen or divider is appropriate for a particular area. A hedge makes an attractive and long-lasting screen; however, for a hedge to look good, it must be planted, maintained and clipped correctly. Here are three key tips to follow if you want to plant and use privacy hedges on your property.

1. Planting Hedges
If you’re creating your privacy barrier from scratch, it’s important to have a plan in mind as you go to plant your hedges. You’ll want to determine how dense you want your screen to be, and plant accordingly. For dense screens, plant hedges about two feet apart from one another. Consider concealing the sparse bases of your hedges by installing a trellis. A low trellis can hide a hedge if it’s too sparse or leggy. Position the trellis so that it screens only the bare base of a hedge. When digging holes to support the trellis, make sure that you avoid touching the roots of the hedge.

2. Trimming Hedges
Routine trimming is also necessary to keep hedges healthy. If you want your hedges to look formal, make sure you trim evenly and at a perfect angle. Use a taut piece of string tied between two upright posts to make sure that a hedge is level and use a template to shape the top. Always remember to put clippings to good use by incorporating them into a compost pile, but only if you know that the hedge is healthy and free from disease.

3. Caring for Hedges
Hedges need proper care in order to grow and thrive. Feed and water hedges regularly, since they are constantly clipped and grow rapidly, using up large amounts of energy. It’s also important to pay extra attention to roadside hedges. Before winter, place plastic screens around hedges that are planted near the road. This should prevent the roots from absorbing the de-icing salt and also will keep the foliage from being scorched. Caring for hedges can take a lot of time and effort. Take is easy on yourself and leave regular care to a professional provider of lawn maintenance Lakewood.

A healthy privacy hedge is a beautiful addition to any property. By following these tips, you’ll be able to plant, trim and care for your hedges, giving your home more privacy and some added curb appeal, as well!



The New Normal in School

Schools have opened once again for the non-graduating grades after the Pentecost break here in the Federal State of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Beginning last June 15, 2020, school children were allowed to go to school.

New Class Schedule
Most schools have however modified the class schedules, wherein only the core subjects will have classroom instruction. For the case of my daughter, she will only have Math, German, English, Latin, Biology and Visual Arts. I don't understand why they included Visual Arts in the schedule but anyway, they will only be required to come for a few hours a day, with the longest at around 4 hours and the shortest at 2,5 hours. To uphold the social distancing requirement, the school has reduced the number of students coming to class at a time by dividing them into two groups. One group will come during the Week A schedule and the 2nd group will come during the Week B schedule. Since there are only six weeks remaining before the summer break, that means that they would only need to come to school for a total of three weeks. On days when a child does not need to go to school, some minor subject teachers have opted to continue with online instruction.

Mandatory Wearing of Face Masks
The children will be required to wear face masks whenever they are not seated in their seats. This is for their own and others' protection since the enemy is invisible.

Mess Halls Are Closed
There will be no canteen service for the remaining 6 weeks in school for safety reasons, which would mean that the children will need to bring their own food for snacks and lunches. As parents, we should make sure that our children have enough to eat and drink when they go to school for this time period. I should make a menu with my daughter so that we prepare her food ahead of time and so that she will not go hungry at school.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Tips To Finish Your Moving-In Process

After moving into a new house or apartment, it's natural to want to relax as your own reward for a job well done. Maybe you'll want to go out in the town and get a cup of coffee. However, before you can do any of that, there are a few actions you should take to finish up the moving-in process so you can feel more at home.

Find a Storage Unit
If, after unpacking and settling in, you realize you have more stuff than you originally thought, don't fret. You won't have to give things up or send them to your parents; just rent a local storage unit to keep them in. Finding affordable storage Orlando FL or wherever you just moved to is a breeze, especially in a big city. Ask around and look on the internet for recommendations.

Learn Your Neighborhood
This doesn't have to involve interacting with your neighbors right away. However, take some time to go around learning about the neighborhood you'll be living in. Afterward, you'll be better informed on what goes on and who to contact when you're in a sticky situation. Also, depending on your interests and lifestyle, you can narrow your search down for your new favorite spots to go shopping, grab a bite, and take a walk.

Update Your Information
This should be one of the first things completed after you move. Car registration and voter registration are two of the most important things to update, along with your driver's license if you're in a different state. The process to change your address is very simple and just requires a trip to your local post office, or it can be completed online.

Establishing yourself in a new place of residence can be difficult and time-consuming. Take these steps as soon as possible to make things easier and really settle into your new home.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Official Paperworks When Giving Birth in Germany

The birth of a child is always a unique experience for parents. There is nothing else that anyone would like to do as to just pay attention and dedicate your time to your newborn child. Unfortunately, with the birth of a child comes the important paperworks and formalities that parents need to submit and fulfill. 

For this second pregnancy, it will be like doing things the first time since it is my first time giving birth here. In Germany, there are various things that need to be accomplished, not just for the formalities but also to be able to receive monetary support from the government. Here are important things that you need to take note of in order for everything to be in order and to do them properly.  I should prepare the paperworks before the baby comes out so that processing will be easier and faster.

I have come up with a list of the most important administrative formalities related to birth and have also noted the requirements, deadlines, costs if any and the responsible office.


1. Birth certificate (Geburtsurkunde): The birth certificate should be applied at the relevant civil registry office (Standesamt) within 7 days from the child's birth. This is oftentimes taken cared of by the hospital, since they are required to register newborns. The birth certificate costs €10 for the original and €5 for every certified copy. Documents needed are the parents' identification cards or passports for foreigners (Personalausweis), marriage certificate (Heiratsurkunde), birth confirmation from the hospital (Geburtsbescheinigung), and acknowledgement of paternity (Vaterschaftsanerkennung) for unmarried parents.

2. Paternal Acknowledgement (Vaterschaftsanerkennung): This is only applicable for parents who are unmarried. It should ideally be done before the child is born, so that the father's name could be directly entered into the birth certificate, but can also be done after birth. Otherwise, only the name of the mother will be noted. The father also does not necessarily have to be the biological father. There are no deadlines for the paternal acknowledgement. To apply for this, the following documents need to be presented at the civil registry office (Standesamt) or youth welfare office (Jugendamt): parents' identification cards or passports, birth certificate of the father, consent of the mother. The paternal acknowledgement is free of charge.

3. Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung): Because every person is required to have a health insurance coverage in Germany and so that the child is also insured for later check-ups, it is important to apply the newborn child for a health insurance. The child can be accommodated in the health insurance of the mother or the father by means of the birth certificate and/or paternal acknowledgement. For this purpose, an admission form can be requested by phone from the health insurance company. It is important to perform the official paperworks as soon as possible, so that the child can be insured as soon as possible, too! The costs of the insurance is dependent on the tarif. Documentary requirements include the birth certificate and admission form of the health insurance company, and paternal acknowledgement when necessary, and should be applied at your own health insurance provider.

Having a newborn child also mean that you need some financial support from the government because as an employee, you will have to stop working for a period of time to take care of your baby. In Germany, they provide child allowance until the age of 18, maternity allowance, and parental allowance for a maximum of 12 months should you decide to go on a parental leave.

4. Maternity Allowance (Mutterschaftsgeld): For employed women who are private or family-insured, the maternity allowance can be applied at the Federal Insurance Office (Bundesversicherungsamt). The case is different for statutory insured women, as the maternity allowance will be paid by the insurance provider. The maternity protection allowance is given along with the employer's allowance for pregnant women who are on maternity leave. The maternal protection period for permanently employed pregnant women is from six weeks before to eights weeks after birth. To get this benefit, you should be insured with a statutory health insurance company as this is not paid under private health insurance. The amount of the allowance is maximum €13 per calendar day. You will need the following documents: employer certificate (Arbeitgeberbescheinugung), certificate of the presumed delivery date (Bescheinigung des mutmaßlichen Entbindungstermins), and filled-up application form for maternity allowance. The application should be submitted to the Federal Insurance Office for private or family-insured women or to the health insurance company for statutory insured women in good time before the begin of the maternity leave.

5. Parental Allowance (Elterngeld): The parental allowance serves to compensate for lost income. The administrative procedures after the birth can only be carried out at the offices designated by the state government, which are listed on the website of the Federal Ministry for Families (Bundesministerium für Familien). The amount of the reimbursement is based on the previous net income. An application should be made immediately after birth because the payment is only made retrospectively for a maximum of three months. To apply, you will need the birth certificate, parental allowance application form, and payslip from the last 12 months. The responsible office varies by federal state. You can find information on the parental allowance office (Elterngeldstelle) in your area from your city, district and municipal administration or from family advice centers. 

6. Child Allowance (Kindergeld): Child allowance or benefit is given to children until they reach 18 years. The application for child allowance (Kindergeldantrag) is processed by the employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit), with processing times approximately between 1-1.5 months. It is possible to apply to the authorities for child benefit before the birth, but the application is only valid when the birth certificate is submitted. Payment is made from the month of birth and is paid retrospectively for a maximum of 3 months if the processing time is longer. The limitation period for the legal claim is four years. You will need to submit the birth certificate and the application form, which is available at the Agentur für Arbeit website.  

7. Income Tax Card (Lohnsteuerkarte): Have your income tax card changed. If you want to benefit from the child allowance, you must have your offspring noted on the income tax card. The income tax card can be applied for before birth, however the registration itself only takes place afterwards because the birth certificate is required for this. The change has to be accomplished as soon as you receive the birth certificate at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). You will need to bring your income tax card, personal identification or passport, of course the birth certificate and paternal acknowledgment (for unmarried parents). 

8. Parental leave (Elternzeit): As a soon-to-be mother, you will of course want to spend time with your baby for as long as possible. That is why there is the parental leave. Generally, expectant mothers have a legal right to take parental leave until the child is three years old. This must of course be registered with the employer in writing at least seven weeks before the start of the parental leave. Not a classic administrative procedure after the birth, but nevertheless mandatory, the notification of the birth to the employer can be combined directly with the application for maternity protection and parental leave. Most mothers take 12 months of parental leave because during this time, they can also receive parental allowance. But if you financial capacity allows, you can take the maximum of three years. 

So there, hope this list will help other expectant moms like me living in Germany to prepare for the administrative procedures that go along with giving birth here. And I wish for a healthy and safe pregnancy.   


Saturday, May 30, 2020

Self-Defense Helps

When you go out in public you want to feel safe. It is a crazy world to live in, and you cannot control the things that go on in it. Though this is true, you should be prepared for emergencies best you can. If you are properly trained and equipped, you can keep yourself out of harm’s way. Here are a few things you can use for personal defense.

Fighting
Learning self-defense techniques requires special training. This method means you do not have to be equipped with an item to protect yourself. It is important that you understand hand-to-hand combat is usually not a lethal act. So, if you are trying to defend yourself or getaway, this is a great way to do that.

Gun
This is one of the most lethal self-defense tools one can have. This should be used only in the most serious situations. You can have a small handgun with Glock trigger upgrades, which makes for a more user-friendly gun. You want something that has knockdown power but is easy to use. Make sure you look into your local laws to ensure handguns are legal to carry in your state.

Pepper Spray
Having pepper spray is a great way to blind or visually impair your attacker. If you spray the liquid into their eyes, they will have a burning sensation. This will give you the opportunity to either attack or get away depending on the immediate threat. You can purchase mace in a small, easy to carry can.

Knife
In close quarters, a knife can be used to protect yourself. With a sharp blade, you can do a lot of damage. You should know how to use it and be comfortable wielding it. You can easily carry a pocket knife out in public. Many come with a clip or are small enough to clip onto your pants.

How you choose to react to a situation should be practiced. You want to make sure that you use discernment when you are faced with an emergency.


Friday, May 29, 2020

The Emergency Items You Should Always Have on Hand

It's good to be prepared. As our world has seen recently, the unexpected can happen at any time to change life as we know it. While we can't prepare for every event, we can be armed and ready for things like minor medical incidents or power outages, like emergency lighting Rockland County NY. The following are the top things to keep on hand for emergencies.

Weather Radio
According to the Red Cross, one of the top things you should have for emergencies is a hand-crank or solar-powered NOAA weather radio. You can find multi-use radio, some with a flashlight and SOS alarm, on Amazon or at your local retailer.

Flashlight
Don't depend on batteries to last forever. Make sure to get a hand-crank flashlight that will provide light when you need it. With LED bulbs, these retro tools will give a surprising amount of illumination and only require another crank if they start to dim.

Blankets
If you have an emergency during freezing and wet weather, a typical blanket is just going to absorb water and freeze along with everything else. You'll need to get Mylar thermal blankets to reflect body heat not only to keep you dry but to protect you from hypothermia.

First Aid Kit
Of all the preparedness items, this one will probably be the only one that has to be replenished periodically from frequent use. Antiseptic, antibiotic cream, gloves, tape, bandages, OTC pain relievers and medical tools are all staples of a well-stocked first aid kit.

Non-Perishable Food and Water
In the event of an extended power disruption or a natural disaster, you need to be prepared in case you have to shelter in place. Plan for one gallon of water per person per day for a total of two weeks. Good foods to have available are energy bars or meals ready to eat, also known as MREs.


My Pregnancy And Some of Its Complications

So I am now in my 26th week of pregnancy and my belly has bubbled as I have swallowed an entire watermelon! I am feeling the joys of my baby's kicks, sommersaults and punches. Oh yes, this baby moves a lot!

I had two check-ups this week: one for the special organ malfunction screening at a specialist since I belong to the high-risk pregnancy group and the routine prenatal check-up at my OB-Gyne.

During the special organ malfunction screening, a fine ultrasound screening was done to check if everything about the baby is okay. They would look at all the organs especially the vital ones: heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, ets. and measure the size of the extremities, look if the ears, eyes, nose and mouth are where they should be. The baby's heartbeat is also checked and also the flow of blood and "food" supply between mother and fetus. I am happy and relieved to say that everything about the baby is okay, she is healthy and even growing up faster than her gestational age.

The specialist found out during the screening that I have an increased amount of amniotic fluid, a medical condition called polyhydramnios, so I had to do more tests to find out what has caused it. Aside from the usual routine checks at my gynecologist, I had to give blood samples to check my sugar levels and also to check for infections. 

"Should I be worried?" This is what I asked my gynecologist. She told not to worry too much about it because we are still waiting for the results of the blood tests. And as shown in the special screening, the baby is growing despite the increase in amniotic fluid.

I was informed though of the possible complications of severe cases, one of which is the late positioning of the baby because it has extra room to move in the later stage of the pregnancy. It is also possible to have pre-term labor or have premature birth. Or the baby grows too big. The placenta detaching from the wall of the uterus before giving birth is also possible. An umbilical cord prelapse can also occur in which the umbilical cord falls out of the vagina before the baby. In worst cases, it could lead to stillbirth. 

So should I be worried? Thinking about the possible complications, one cannot help but be! But I have a very supportive family and friends who listen to me and my gynecologist and her team are also good and competent so I need not really worry too much. I just have to take of myself, relax as much as possible, take care of my food intake and enjoy this little one growing inside of me. Hopefully, the bloodworks will also turn out well and if not, at least we can take preventive and curative measures and monitor the baby. 


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What You Need To Know About Moving To Miami, FL

If you love sun-soaked days, beach weather year-round and a relaxed atmosphere with international flair, a move to Miami, Florida could be right for you. With its subtropical climate and an average of 248 sunny days a year, Miami offers the opportunity to live in paradise full-time. Take a look at what you should know if you’re thinking about moving to Miami.

The Famous Beaches Are Open Year-Round
If you love the beach, you’ll be thrilled to know that unlike many beaches in other parts of the country, the beaches in Miami, Florida are open year-round! That means you and your family can enjoy a day at the beach in December or a picnic by the water in March. Popular beaches in the area include Sunny Isles Beach and the Oleta River State Park, but no matter where you are in Miami, you’re never far from a great piece of shoreline.

It's a Great Place To Raise a Family
Miami may be famous for its downtown party scene, but what you might not know is it’s also a wonderful place to raise a family. The diverse population and numerous parks and museums, like the well-known Miami Children’s Museum, make this a great spot to settle down. If you’re looking for custom homes Miami FL, luxury builders can help you bring your tropical dream home to life.

It's Got World-Class Cuban Cuisine
For foodies and fans of international style, Miami’s Cuban cuisine scene is a must-try. Located only 330 miles from Cuba and home to one of the highest concentrations of Cuban Americans in the country, the city can proudly boast Cuban food that’s second to none. The neighborhood of Little Havana is the center of Miami Hispanic culture and offers restaurants, cafés and clubs. For the ultimate gastronomic experience, try a frita, or Cuban hamburger.

For fans of beach weather, top-notch food and family fun, Miami, Florida stands out. If you like the sound of this world-class city, it may just be the right home for you!


Optimize Your Yard

Now more than ever, it's time to optimize and take advantage of our outdoor spaces. However, it's all too common to have a yard that doesn't provide a good space to hang out and enjoy the fresh air. If you find yourself wanting to go outside but not having any reason to, here are three things to consider.

Flat Spaces
For starters, you need some flat spaces large enough to hang out in. Hills are fun when they're covered in snow and you have a sled in hand, but the rest of the year they're just a pain to get up and down. Look at deck builders Halifax or your area, or see if you have the space for a patio. 

Protection
Wherever you live, there's something outside that you need protection from. In many places, it's the temperature which is either too hot or too cold. In most places, some protection from the sun is needed. In other places, you will need something to discourage the bugs. Whatever challenges you face, you want to make sure that you can be safe and comfortable outside. 

Activities
It's not enough to have an inviting and comfortable outdoor space, you need something to do in it. Eating is a popular option: outdoor bars and kitchens make a delightful addition to any outdoor space, but there are also plenty of other games and activities that can be moved outside. You need something to do once you're outside, even if it's just to sit and talk to friends. 

Outdoor activities are very much an "if you build it they will come" situation. It's hard to make yourself go outside if you have no reason to stay there and nowhere to stay. Design your outdoor spaces to be inviting and useful, and you will find yourself using them more.


A Name for Baby No. 2

Naming a child is one of the most important decisions any parent is faced with. Because once a name is decided, the child will bear it all though his/her lifetime. It may seem like a Herculian task, and it can at times be so, but thanks for modern technology, there is now a vast database of boy or girl names, along with their meanings, origins or roots, and even name or Saint's days.

But how do you select the name for your baby? Parents may choose popular names, or names which have a relevant meaning for the parents, or they name their child after a person who has a great influence on them. What is important I think is that the child will be identify with the name, and not get bullied for it once he / she grows up.

Since we are having a girl, (yes! it is a GIRL!), it should of course be a girl's name. Our first daughter has two names and I want the second baby to have two names too. So we are thinking of the following names:


Lilly - it is both the name of the flower Lily in english and comes in 150 varieties. A beautiful flower, it is a symbol of purity. It is also the short form for the Hebrew name Elizabeth, which means "my God is abundance" or "pledged to God". My daughter loves this name and wants to name her baby sister so.


Emilia - the Italian name has Latin origins ("aemulus") and is the female form for Emilio. When translated, it means the zealous, the hardworking, the imitator. I love the ring of the "-iya" at the end and I think that when combined with softer names, it gives the person more character and personality.  


Grace - the name is derived from the Latin word Gratia, which means grace, beauty, mercy. In Roman mythology, the three Gratia are the three daughters of Zeus. In Christendom, the name has come to mean "the mercy of God."


Hannah - the name comes from the Hebrew word "channah" and has biblical origins. It means gracious, graceful and lovely. In the bible, the name comes from the mother of the Prophet Samuel and the prophet Hannah. 


Marie - the name means "the stubborn" and "the one loved by God". Marie is considered a variant of the name Maria, the mother of Jesus, which goes back to Mirjam, and therefore has a Hebrew origin. 


Claire - the name has Latin origins and is derived from "clarus", with the feminine form "clara" being used only after the time of the Romans. It means the bright, the clear, the radiant, the shining. The name is known for St. Clare of Asissi, the founder of the Order of Claris. This is also a good name to someone who stands out and inspires. 

So these are our choices. Which name combination can you suggest? I would really love to hear from you. I will reveal in another post what Baby No. 2's name will be once we have decided on one so look out for it!     


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Top 3 Ways To Keep Your Kids Entertained This Summer

The summer's almost here, and that means warmer weather, time outdoors and, for many families, kids on school vacation. Luckily, there are plenty of fun ways to keep your little ones from getting bored over the break. Take a look at the top three ways you can keep your kids entertained at home this summer.

Learn a New Hobby Together
Experts have shown that summer activities are key to staving off boredom and mischief. With many families spending more time together than ever, this is the perfect chance to pick up a new hobby. Kids will love the hands-on messiness of putting together a scrapbook, the sugar rush of baking cookies and the rewards of growing their own vegetables in a backyard garden.

Throw an At-Home Pool Party
If you have a pool, an amazing staycation is right in your backyard. After a long winter, it's easy to get your pool prepped for fun in the sun. For example, if you're looking for pool filter maintenance Myrtle Beach SC, trained experts can help make your pool ready for the ultimate party. Your kids will be thrilled by touches of summer décor like pool floats, beach balls and neon towels. To set the mood, be sure to load a playlist of your favorite hits and keep some healthy snacks on hand, like watermelon or pretzels.

Have a Family Game Night
Summer rain keeping you inside? Try having a family game night! Board games are great for your kids' cognitive and linguistic development and also help teach focus and teamwork. When the kids are full of energy, games such as Charades are a fun way for the whole family to bond and blow off some steam.

It's important to help your kids stay stimulated over the summer. Whether it's baking sweet treats, hanging out by the pool or playing board games, these ideas are sure to keep your kids entertained without ever leaving home!


Monday, May 4, 2020

Simple Apfelstrudel Recipe

I had my first taste of Apfelstrudel on one of our trips in Austria and I fell in love with this warm dessert ever since.

Soft, crisp and best served warm, treat your family and guests with this dessert!  
Apfelstrudel is made from Blätterteig (puff pastry dough) traditionally filled with chopped apples, raisins and cookie crumbs, topped with powdered sugar and served warm with vanilla sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. This is perfect with your afternoon coffee or tea. 

This desert is easy to prepare and bake. I made my first batch last year with my daughter and it was delicious! Since then, I would prepare this recipe whenever we want to have Apfelstrudel. You can either prepare the dough yourself if you feel up to it or you can buy the ready to bake ones sold in the supermarket.

For this recipe, I used the one I found online from the magazine Bild der Frau (in German). It has well explained and simple instructions, ideal for beginners like me.


Ingredients:
For the dough (if you want to DIY):
125 g flour
70 mL water
1 TBSP oil
A pinch of salt

For the filling:
3 pieces apples (preferably Elstar or Boskop variety)
40 g sugar
80 g cookie crumbs (e.g. butter cookies or ladyfingers)
1 pack vanilla sugar
A pinch of cinnamon
30 g raisins
Lemon juice

Also:
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Melted butter
Clean dish cloth

Instructions:
1. Knead a smooth dough out of flour, water, oil and salt. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling foil and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. You may skip this step if you already have a ready made dough. In my case, I used puff pastry dough.

2. For the filling, wash and peel the apples and cut into small pieces. Drizzle with the lemon to prevent browning. Add sugar, cookie crumbs, vanilla sugar, cinnamon and raisins and mix everything well. (We skipped the raisins because my daughter doesn't like it and added some honey, around 2 TBSP, instead.).

3. Roll out the dough in a square form on a floured work surface. Lay out the kitchen towel, carefully lift the dough onto the towel and pull apart very thinly. 


4. Spread a thin layer of the liquid butter on the dough. Then spread the filling over the lower quarter of the dough, leaving a 1-2 cm wide rim on the outside. Fold the outside over the filling and then roll up the dough tightly using the kitchen towel. 


5. Place the seam down on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Brush with part of the liquid butter and bake in the preheated oven at 180 ° C for 35 minutes. Take out of the oven briefly after half of the baking time and brush with the remaining melted butter. This makes the apple strudel so nice and crispy.


6. Serve while still warm - sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can also serve this with vanilla sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The warm and cold combination is just wonderful!

Easy peasy does it! Let me know your thoughts once you have tried the recipe.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Explaining Installment Loans

There are a variety of loan types that banks offer. When taking out a loan, it is best that you know what type of loan is most appropriate for your needs. Explore the ins and outs of one of the most popular types of loans: installment loans.

What Are Installment Loans?
Loans offered by banks typically come with some sort of contract that defines how and when the loan will be repaid. When it comes to installment loans, a total loan amount is requested by the customers. Usually, they need to make a small payment upfront and then agree to a monthly payment until the total loan is paid off. The most common example of an installment loan is a mortgage.

How Do You Get an Installment Loan?
There are several different types of institutions from which you can take out an installment loan. Banks and credit unions are usually the first places many people think of when they think of taking out any kind of loan. If you already have an account, it's best to use your bank to take out the loan, as you already have a history with the institution. If you do not have a bank account, try searching online for a place to get one. To know if a local bank offer installment loans, search for installment lender Mississippi.

If you live on or near a Native American Indian reservation, you can also look into tribal installment loans, which are basically the same as regular installment loans. The main difference is that the loan is offered by an independent lending association that is not associated with the state or federal government. 

Installment loans are one of the most popular types of loans. Whether you want to buy a house, take out a loan for a car or another large purchase, an installment loan is probably your best bet. Talk to your local lending institution for more information.


Backyard Garden Ideas

We are moving again soon.. this time to somewhere we can really call our home. It has a small backyard where we can finally have our own small garden, enjoy grill parties and have a space for our Suki to play.

I have been scourging the Internet for some small garden ideas and here are my top picks:

1. This garden style gives that tropical feeling.. with bamboos, yucas, and palms, it gives you that vacation feeling. The white pebbles give it a fresh contrast.

 
2. A tree in the middle with a water fountain simply gives that calming and relaxing effect. A tree that transforms beautifully with the changing of the seasons will be pefect in this case.


3. A patch of green and paths leading to a back lounging area is also nice. A pergola can be added for those rainy days so you and your guests will not get wet. Your backyard area should be longer though.  


4. A tiled walkway on one side and a green patch and flowering blooms in pots on the other side with an eyecatching garden accessory like this white bicycle gives your backyard a chic look. 


5. A lounging area with a fire basin ensures that it will still be comfortable outside the garden even on those cold and chilly nights. Adding elements like gravel stones and wooden planking for the flooring gives texture and separates one area of the garden to the other. 



Which garden idea is your favorite?


Friday, April 17, 2020

Keeping Our Beaches Clean

Ah, a day on the beach: the quintessential element of a summer vacation, and a key component of a romantic walk into the sunset. However you enjoy the world's coastal beaches, you are probably aware that these delicate areas need to be protected. Follow these simple tips for how to keep the beaches near you in pristine condition for years to come. 

Protect Local Ecosystems
Many beaches are threatened by invasive species of both plant and animal variety. These organisms are harmful because they take valuable resources from native species and can end up overpowering a local environment because they have no natural predators. Companies like this lake and wetland management Sarasota county FL are taking steps like removing invasive species and restocking those that are more native. 

Guard Against Erosion
A number of natural causes can wreak havoc on coastlines. Water naturally flows toward the ocean, and natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis can quickly destroy what may have taken decades to build up. Although we can't stop the weather, we can take time to guard land against water and wind erosion by planting native plants. 

Pick Up Trash
Water, air and ground pollution are everywhere. When you are enjoying yourself in nature, take time to pick up your own trash and encourage those you are with to do the same. Perhaps have a local clean-up party to get rid of litter that can travel toward the ocean in rainstorms. This simple action helps to keep the area looking good and saves the lives of ocean-dwelling animals. 

You might not have the power of a large company or government, but there are still simple things you can do to help keep the beaches near you beautiful. Planting one plant, picking up one piece of litter, and removing one invasive organism can make a noticeable impact on the areas near you. 


A Different Easter

It has been more than a month now since the state of Baden-Württemberg implemented the protective measures to stem the spread of the Corona virus. Schools have closed since then and school children find themselves home schooling. Workers who are not in the critical infrastructure are urged to work from home. Car industries have opted to shut down their production lines. Restaurants, pubs, cinemas, museums, churches, public playgrounds are closed to prevent the gathering of people. All these measures are in place to help stem the spread of the COVID-19, to give the health system the time to accommodate the critical cases. 

Just yesterday, Chancellor Merkel and the state ministers have come to an agreement to relax the protective measures a bit - but by relax, it meant opening some of the shopping stores that have less than 800 sqm. store area whilst still implementing proper distance of 1,5-2 meters. Schools will slowly open beginning May 4th but initially for those who are in their final years and will be undergoing their examinations. Public gatherings and sports events are still not allowed though. Visiting friends and relatives are still restricted, even travel plans. 

It is usually around the Easter holidays when we have travel plans with the family, to enjoy Spring and celebrate Easter somewhere else.  This year is a very different story. We were not able to celebrate Easter somewhere else but celebrated it with the family at home. There was no church gathering and the usual Filipino traditions that I have been accustomed to while growing up like Palm Sunday, the Pabasa beginning on Holy Thursday until Good Friday, going on the Stations of the Cross and then celebrating Eater Sunday at Church with the Filipino community. 

But what I find beautiful in this crisis is the communion with God and friends online. I find it beautiful that I get to pray the rosary and novena for the dead with my high school friends. To attend the holy mass at the comforts of your home through a live broadcast on social media. Even though the churches are closed, communities are still able to gather online, praying at the comforts of home. We get to spend more time with the family. It could get challenging at times, when boredome strikes, but it is still a nice feeling.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

3 Simple Steps to Give Your Home Instant Curb Appeal

Want to improve your home’s visual aesthetic? Whether you want to impress visitors or just increase your personal enjoyment of your home, increasing curb appeal is always a smart idea. Here are three simple tips that will improve the look of your home and provide a welcoming first impression for all your guests.

1. Paint the Exterior
What better way to transform the look of your home’s exterior than to slap on a new coat of paint? Neutral tones, such as grey, tan, putty and wheat are recommended for exterior walls. Paint the trim in a contrasting color to really make your house pop. Consult with professional painting services Louisville so you can give your home a whole new look without lifting a finger!

2. Upgrade the Front Porch
If your front porch is nothing more than a simple concrete slab and a front door, it may be time to dress up your entryway. Start by replacing outdoor lighting so that guests can see your front door as they approach your house. If possible, build a pergola or awning to provide shelter in front of your door. Even simply replacing old house numbers with new ones can give your entryway a whole new look. These small steps will give your visitors a much friendlier welcome as they reach your front door.

3. Create Well-Defined Paths
Make your home much more inviting for visitors by creating a well-defined path to show guests the way to reach your front door. This could be as simple as laying down mulch or gravel, to something more substantial like a masonry or paved walkway. To make an even better impression on all your guests, install solar-powered lanterns around pathways to light the way from the street or driveway to your home.

You want your home to always look its best. If you follow these tips, your home will make an excellent first impression on each of your guests!


How To Beat COVID-19

It has been months now since the COVID-19 virus has spread throughout the world. It has affected the lives of everyone and the global economy. What makes it more difficult is that it is so new and we don't fully understand the virus yet and we need more data in order to come up with an effective treatment or vaccine against it. For the medical and pharmaceutical fields, it is a race against time.

So what can we do as ordinary citizens to beat this virus? Foremost, we must listen to what our health authorities say. If they are saying to stay at home, then by all means, please do so.

The most basic thing to do is to observe proper hygiene and treat everything you touch and person you meet to be infected with the virus.

Observing proper handwashing technique is very important. We all have seen illustrations and even videos on how to properly do it. It is important to thoroughly wash the hands including the wrists with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, rinse and thoroughly dry. Then sanitize hands with a disinfectant like 70% isopropyl alcohol.

Avoid touching your face especially in public places with unwashed hands. 

Should you sneeze or cough, use your elbow to cover your mouth.

Wear a mask when going out, especially when going to public places.

Keep a 1,5 - 2 meter distance to the person next to you, especially when in public areas. Avoid physical contact like shaking hands. 

Most of all, stay at home when you don't need to go outside to buy groceries or medicines or to see the doctor. This could definitely help save lives.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

4 Cost-Saving Tips for International Traveling

International travel offers cultural enrichment, delicious food and drinks, incredible historical settings, and a sense of adventure and exploration like no other. The cost of such an adventure can quickly add up but don't let that stop you from booking one. Here are some cost saving tips to consider when planning your next vacation overseas.

Reconsider Your Departure City
Flying from a large international airport, such as Newark in New Jersey, LAX in California, or George Bush in Texas, can cut airline ticket costs when traveling internationally. You may be able to skip an additional stop or layover if you leave from a large city's international airport that is within a couple of hours of your home.

Book Airport Transportation
After you book your ticket from a departure city, do some research about that airport's various services. For example, it is more economical to book Houston airport transportation services than to park a car at either of the city's airports. This may not save a whole lot of money in the long run, but the money you save would definitely pay for a few meals or museum tickets in a new country.

Fly Round Trip
If you are starting your trip in London, England, then you should also finish in London, England. When traveling internationally, plan your trip soin a circle, meaning you start and end your trip in the same place. This way you book a round trip ticket, which will always save you money. From there, take trains, buses, or domestic budget flights to travel to different cities or countries.

Decide What's Important
Divide your vacation budget into categories, such as eating, touring, sleeping, and traveling, and then decide what percentage of your budget you want to put in each category. This way you can plan to spend your hard earned money at Michelin star restaurants rather than five star hotels. You can book second class train tickets and have more money for private tours of museums. Decide what you want, plan a budget, and then stick to it.

International travel is expensive, but there are several ways to save money here and there. Most importantly, have a great trip.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Livewires 97 Fundraising for the Frontliners of Southern Philippines

The Corona virus has befallen the entire globe. Everyone is affected, nobody is exempted - no matter what color, religion, race or age group you may be, the virus comes undetected to infect you. Especially vulnerable are the senior citizens, the elder sector of our community aged 60 and above and those whose immune systems are compromised due to pre-existing illnesses like asthma, diabetes, kidney failure, and heart diseases to name a few. 

Many developed countries have a high number of positive cases of Covid-19 patients. Despite the advanced and good healthcare system and facility, some of them are not able to catch up with the pandemic, like in the case of Italy and even Spain. 

For third world countries like my home country, the Philippines, if the virus and contamination gets out of control, then it could really, really be critical for everyone. That is why the government in my country has ordered an enhanced community quarantine, and even extended it until the 30th of April because that is the only way that we can slow down the spread of the virus. This is to give precious time to our healthcare facilities to manage and handle the critical cases, to avoid the crowding of patients in our already full hospitals and to allow time for our scientists and researchers to find a cure. 

In my home country, especially in Southern Philippines, PPEs or personal protective equipment are very difficult to procure. Our frontliners are in dire need of them, because supplies have run out, and without them, they are placing their lives at a very great risk. Aware of this situation, our high school batch called Livewires 97 have initiated a fundraising campaign to help procure these essential PPEs and distribute them to hospitals handling COVID-19 cases like the SPMC (Southern Philippine Medical Center) and DMSFH (Davao Medical School Foundation Hospital) in Davao City, Royeca Hospital in General Santos City and DRMC (Davao Regional Medical Center) in Tagum City.

We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors from the day we started our fundraiser.


As of 6PM of April 6 Philippine time, we were able to raise a whopping Php 604,711.23! From all of us from our batch, we are very grateful for you support for our frontliners. Indeed, no amount is too small as your help can go a very long way. If you want to know more about our fundraiser, please feel free to visit us at our official website: www.livewires97.org or visit our Facebook page for updates at facebook.com/livewires97PisaySMC.

Thank you again to everyone with a generous heart. May God bless you and keep you and your family safe and healthy! 


Tips for Your Next Florida Vacation

Florida is one of the most popular destinations in the country. It's home to beautiful beaches, amazing culture and some incredible amusement parks. You're bound to have a good time on your trip no matter what, but here are a few details you should plan in advance to ensure you get the most out of your vacation. 

Where to Stay
The first thing you'll need to decide is where in Florida you want to go. If you're looking for a family trip to the amusement parks, you'll likely want to stay in Orlando. Here you can choose from hotels, rentals or resort properties. Beach towns usually have plenty of rentals available depending on what you're looking for. They do book up way in advance during the warmer months, so be sure to plan ahead. 

How to Get There
Many people drive long distances to get to Florida in order to have their car with them, but that isn't always feasible. If you live a long way away, consider flying instead. You can get a Florida towncar service Orlando to take you to your hotel and take a care service to places that aren't within walking distance. Renting a car is always an option as well. 

What to Do
You won't have to worry about being bored on your Florida vacation, but you will need to choose what activities you can fit into your trip. If you're there for a beach trip, you'll likely spend most of your days on the beach, but look into the area where you've chosen to stay for some great night activities as well. There is also plenty of shopping and local culture to see during the day if you need a break from the sand and water for a bit. 

Although planning a trip can seem somewhat tedious, you'll be happy you did the work in advance. If you get all the details worked out beforehand, all you'll have to worry about doing once you're on vacation is enjoying yourself to the fullest. 


Thursday, March 26, 2020

How to Make a Difference in Your Community

It's easy to feel as though it's impossible for just one person to make a difference. People who have this feeling, who do not believe that their actions can make a significant impact on the world around them, often suffer from hopelessness and despair. It is important to remember that the behavior of one person really can change society for the better. All that it takes are a few small steps, such as the following.

Vote in Local Elections
Major national elections such as the presidential race are not the only ones that matter. When you cast your vote in a local election, you will effect change by bringing the people into office who will make decisions about property taxes, the funds devoted to public schools, local businesses and more. The results of township elections often come down to just a few votes, meaning that your vote really does count when you vote in a local election.

Volunteer
Volunteering is an effective and rewarding way to help your local community Baltimore. Based on your schedule, your skillset and the type of volunteer work that you are interested in doing, you will be able to find appropriate volunteer opportunities at many wonderful organizations in your area. Do research online or ask friends and family members to find an organization that works for you.

Patronize Local Businesses
Small businesses are the heart and soul of any community. Next time you're on the hunt for a gift or splurge, instead of going to a large chain store, take the opportunity to visit a local business. You'll help to ensure the continued vitality of your community, and you may even make a new friend.

By voting in local elections, volunteering in your area and shopping at local businesses, you will make a difference in your community, form connections and boost your self-esteem. Enjoy, and remember each day that your positive and negative actions have a ripple effect that extends far beyond your neighborhood.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Why You Should Build Your Own Home

Are you ready to move? Perhaps you’ve looked around at some houses for sale and you’re just not impressed. One exciting option is to build your own home! It may sound daunting, but there are many advantages to building instead of buying.

You Are in Control
You get to have a say in every step of the process. From the beginning step of choosing where you want it built, to home design Fleetwood Pa, to the construction – you are in charge the whole time! It is your home, after all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have everything exactly as you want it?

You Get the Décor You Want
If you’ve looked at homes for sale, you’ve probably noticed that some of the décor is a bit dated, or maybe it just plain doesn’t look good. If you build your own home you don’t have to worry about ugly paneling in the den or a kitchen island that takes up way too much room.

You Get Exactly What You Want, Where You Want It
Do you want your own man cave but can’t find any houses with enough room for one? Build your own home and you can have a huge room built to your specifications for your man cave, with all the additions you could ever dream of.

You Can Design Your Own Landscaping
If you buy a home and then do the landscaping, it can be difficult to get a look that both matches the home and your taste. If you build a home you can plan both the home and the landscaping at the same time, so that they can complement each other.

A home is more than just a building. Build your own home and get exactly what you want so that it is a place you can truly enjoy spending time in.


Basic Maternity Fashion for Moms-To-Be

If you are pregnant, you should wear clothes that are comfortable but also chic and fashionable. Choose materials that are skin-friendly like cotton, with a share of lycra or spandex so it stretches with your growing tummy. Here are some basic items that you should have to accompany you during your pregnancy 


1. Comfortable Shoes: Whether you choose for ballerinas or mules with a low heel, they are simply easy to put on - you just slip your feet in and they are also never go out of style. With such shoes, you also do not have to bend over your growing tummy to, for example, tie your laces or adjust straps. Choose styles that have a slightly tapered tip as rounded ones will tend to optically shorten your legs. Choose good quality shoes, as there is a high chance that you will still be wearing them post pregnancy.

Mama straight jeans in dark wash from H&M.
2. P-pants / jeans: It is always good to have a pair or two of p-pants or mama pants. Choose a pair with a dark washing, because it optically makes you look leaner than light jeans, and a pair with a straight cut. These pants have an elastic adjustable band to ensure optimal comfort. Allow time to try a few pairs until you find one in which you truly feel comfortable in.

Tunic blouse from Esprit.
3. Tunics: Tunics have been a trend for sometime now and you can choose one that doesn't have to be a maternity model. These type of clothing are cut wide and long and offers enough space where a mom-to-be needs it the most: on the bust, of course in the tummy area, and also around the hips. Choose cheerful colors or with a decorated neckline. A round or v-neck cut may show a bit of skin but it optically lengthens the neck.

Wraparound dress from H&M.
4. Wraparound: A wraparound dress made from elastic material accentuates your figure. The V-cut beautifully emphasises your growing décoletté. The band slung around the waist optically separates the tummy and the bust and emphasizes your feminine figure. This flexible dress also grows along with your growing tummy. There are also styles that are breastfeeding friendly.


Mama jersey leggings also from H&M.
5. Leggings: black or dark colored leggings or elastic pants are comfortable and fashionable all year round. You can pair with a knee-length boots in winter or with ballerinas or sandals in summer.  Maternity leggings have an extra adjustable band. Just be sure to pair your leggings with a top that reaches down to your hips and  bottom!

So these are just some of the basic clothing to have during your pregnancy. What are your maternity fashion must haves? Do share them with me! 


Sunday, March 22, 2020

4 Ways to Improve Skin Aging

As we grow older, our skin may show signs of age. Your diet and overall environment can affect your skin in varying ways. You may want to regain the youthful appearance you once had. Keep reading to learn four ways you can help aging skin look young and vibrant again.

1. Get Enough Sleep
We’ve all heard that getting enough sleep is important for your health, but it’s also important for your skin. Getting at least six to eight hours of sleep can improve your skin. It may also be beneficial to sleep on your back, since your skin may furrow and wrinkle when you sleep on your side.

2. Skin Procedures
Skincare has come a long way and there are many skincare procedures that you can choose from, depending on your needs. One very popular non-invasive skin procedure is microdermabrasion. This is a procedure in which the outer layer of the skin is sloughed away with microcrystals. Non-invasive procedures are gentle enough on the skin that few may require downtime.

3. Anti-Aging Creams
Many anti-aging creams on the market may help to rewind the signs of aging. Retinol, for instance, can help your skin produce more collagen and may make your skin more supple. Increased suppleness and elasticity may help to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making you appear younger.

4. Wear Sunscreen
You may have heard how important sunscreen is in the prevention of skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen can also help reduce skin damage. Damage from the sun’s rays can cause your skin to show the signs of aging. Sunscreen with an SPF level of 30 can help protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

Growing old gracefully doesn’t have to mean showing your age. Consider using some of the options above in your quest to recapture younger-looking skin.


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