Category Archives: home

Homestay: Learn Away From Home

Have you ever seen or heard an ad where they quote the line, “Don’t just visit, live it!” This is pretty much what homestay is all about. It is a bit similar to couch surfing, but the period of stay is much longer. It offers travellers the opportunity to co-habituate with a foster family and enjoy the opportunity to live and learn from the locals themselves.

Trying this experience enables one to engage with the locals on a firsthand basis. It’s an opportunity to learn the local dialect from your host and even learn more about their culture and customs.

Homestay usually involves an agreement/contract with your host. It can be made verbally or better established in print. These agreements address the guest’s length of stay, use of the house facilities, etc.

Sometimes, the foster family and the guest may include off-the-record agreements, such as doing chores in exchange for some amenities, food, learning language or just by having a free guided tour.

Beforehand, travellers make use of advertising websites to look for potential foster families/hosts. This kind of method is possible but is not always advisable. Risks of getting scammed or swindled using this kind of method is probable. However, since the couchsurfing trend eventually flourished overtime, homestay apps were created to cater to the needs of legit and safe home sharing.

These apps offer interested individuals the opportunity to connect with those who are willing to open their homes to students and travellers. Both parties may use the apps to interact and finalize their transaction.

There are also homestay programs offered to students who seek to learn languages on foreign countries. These are commonly offered by some educational and language institutions both locally and abroad. These programs make the perfect opportunity for aspiring language students who wish to take advantage of learning and travelling.
Already decided to try homestay? There are a few things travellers and students need to take note of during the whole process. These key points include the following:

Make your Needs Known. It’s imperative to address important issues with your organization before settling with a foster family. Issues regarding medical conditions, dietary needs, curfew, religion and even phobias are important points to consider if you want to establish a comfortable environment for both the guest and host.

Try to Join your Foster Family during Meals. Most homestay programs have the option to include meal arrangements with the foster family only if the student wished to do so. However, it is advisable for guests to join their foster families for at least one meal to help establish a better bond between both parties. This also entails opportunity for the student to have a firsthand encounter with the locals and learn a lot from their customs and way of life.

Do discuss the “rules” within the first few days. Communication is important between both parties in order to develop a more secure understanding of each other’s needs and demands. When in doubt with some concerns, it is advisable to talk with your host regarding the matter. Avoid making assumptions because this often leads to misunderstandings between the two parties.

Bring a thoughtful gift. Normally, guests bring tokens that represent a part of their culture. This is a customary way of giving gratitude and building relationships with your foster family.

Be respectful of local customs and propriety. Every place has its own set of culture and customs to observe. Being polite and courteous does not hurt. Always remember that as a foreigner, you should know your place and learn to respect the local’s norms.

Have constant communication with the organization that placed you there. In worst case scenarios where a conflict between the guest and the host arises, the subject organization shall serve as the middle man for both parties. They can either help reach settlement for both parties or find the guest a new foster family who will cater suitably to their needs.

All in all, homestay is a warranted a learning experience. It gives both travellers and students the opportunity to learn and explore foreign places in a different light. It also makes them realize that the learning process does not have to be always boring.

7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Parents

Introduction

In our busy day, we have been neglecting our parents on one pretext or the other. In the resultant mad rush, we have easily forgotten our parents and have taken them for granted. We have not cared for what they want, instead have given what we think is right for them. We always form the opinion that they will understand the way we have been all the way. At times, we are often confronted with the charge of mediating for them. Consider these tips for improving connections with our valuable assets before they are gone forever:

1. Smile When You See Parents: It is always good to greet them with a pleasant smile. You don’t have to utter words. At times, the mere smile may work wonder for your parents. If you can add to this smile with some caring words, they will cherish them forever.
2. Learn About Them: From your busy lives, you need to take some time out and try to figure out about your parents. Most often you do not have patience and time to spend valuable time with them. Once you learn about them, you will get better opportunities to deal with them more carefully and lovingly.
3. Declare Your Love for Parents: Tell them that you love them and bring home some surprising gifts for them that they like. You need to gift those things that they cherish but have not disclosed to you. Sometimes, you need to dig into the past of your parents to get the information about their likes and dislikes.
4. Communicate Often With the Parents: As far as possible, try to have a one-on-one interaction with your parents. You can schedule these chatting times after the dinner when family members sit together to take rest and share their thoughts. These times you spend with your parents are quality time for them.
5. Make a Positive Phone Call Home: When you are away from home, you should positively make call to home to inquire about the welfare of the parents. This would remove the sense of loneliness in their lives and instill the belief that there is somebody to care for them.
6. Lead with the Good News: Whenever they do some good thing, tell them that they have done something wonderful for the welfare of the family. Adhere strictly to these rules and see how closely spun the family becomes over a time period.
7. Language is Powerful: It communicates awareness that there are many different kinds of situations family need to go through. Learn to ask open-ended questions and understand that your parents/guardians might not want to share some information. You need to make them understand that they need to open up so that you can resolve issues plaguing them.

6 Steps to Planning Your Perfect Baby Shower

Who doesn’t get excited when a baby is on the way? Your friends and family will most certainly get that undeniable thrill when you make the announcement and soon plans get underway to celebrate the baby’s arrival. So, now it’s time to have a blast with a baby shower party!

Planning a baby shower should be fun. It’s your time to shine and create the party you’ve always wanted. Choose to either go traditional or put a little humor in your event. Think about your theme and unleash your creativity. The main goal is simply to make your baby shower an unforgettable experience for everyone.

To get started, use these 6 Steps to Planning Your Baby Shower

    1. Be prepared. Plan ahead of time. It is best to hold baby showers either on the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy.

 

    1. Look for a perfect place. You can opt to have your house or backyard as your event area. If you have a generous budget, scout for convenient party places which can hold your guests; such as, a local hotel or restaurant banquet room.

 

    1. Set the right date and time. Check with your closest friends and family members to find their availability, and schedule your event for a time that would easily fit within their schedule.

 

    1. Think of the perfect theme. There are hundreds of baby shower themes that you can choose from. Once you’ve decided yours, search for free on-line printable designs. Include matching shower favors as memorable take home gifts for your guests.

 

    1. Surprise her. To make the party more momentous for the mom-to-be, host a surprise shower for the guest of honor. Consult her close friends and relatives when preparing your guest list.

 

  1. Impress with invitations. Send out invitations at least three weeks before the event. Match your invitations with the theme of the party itself. Be sure that the invitations contain all vital information like date, time and place; and include a note about where you signed up for the baby registry. Be creative in designing your invitations.

AND most of all, HAVE FUN!

More Ideas:

  • Use Pinterest to gather ideas for your baby shower including themes, favors, decor etc. Post pictures you like on your Pinterest Board in order to keep your favorites in one place and easily refer to it later.
  • Don’t know the sex of the baby? No problem. Today, there are plenty of modern, unisex shower themes and color schemes. Ideas include, yellow and gray, black and white, and blue and green. Unisex shower theme ideas include, ducklings, bumble bees and seashore.

Fall Baby Shower Ideas

Are you going to have a baby this fall? Well, congratulations! Now, you must be looking for ideas to plan the perfect baby shower. How about a fall inspired theme for the shower then? You can do a lot with the earthy colors that represent fall. Plus, pumpkins are alone good enough to pull off the cutest fall baby shower ever. Here we have a few more tips to make your fall baby shower a success!

Treat or Treat: Cupcakes All The Way

Cute little cupcakes are always great for baby showers. You might have considered pumpkin pies as treats for the party, which is obviously a classic one. However, we love the idea of plain cupcakes with cute pumpkin frosting on top of those. As far as frosting and toppings are concerned, you always get the first pick! Since it is a fall themed party, try thinking of the cutest things about fall that you love and relate most to. It can be the fallen leaves or acorns, or anything else you love. Just don’t forget to add the flavor of the season to the shower, visually.

Pump up the Party: Pumpkins and Produces

Of course it has struck in your mind already, hasn’t it? This is the classic way to decorate a fall themed baby shower, or any party for that matter. Whether it is a real pumpkin or a decor piece, there has to be something there. You can use your decor from last Halloween or thanksgiving. You can find fresh and cute ways to give a spin to the traditional fall decorations and turn your baby shower into a rendition of the famous autumn celebrations. It never gets old. Everyone loves the season and the decorations, no matter how common those might be.

Baby Corner: The Cutest of Them All

Make sure to include a baby corner, table-top or wall, or anything that you find interesting, to honor the arrival of the little one. You can get some of the baby products that you have already purchased and put those together in one corner. It can also be the gift corner for your party. When you are setting it up, make sure to include all the bright fall colors. The corner, or the place can be a representation of the autumn produces. You can also hang some baby products to make a banner. For example, if you have bought some food pocket bibs, particularly in autumn colors, you can hang those with clothespins along with some tiny clothes. It will look cute for sure.

Brilliant Ideas to Decorate the Baby Shower Functions

When it arrives to baby shower decorating ideas, the common dilemma most of the people find themselves in is choosing out pretty baby shower decorations that are creative and affordable.

Usually, decorations are the outstanding accents that boost the look and feel of any party. So, some elegantly chosen decorations will furnish your party the perfect touch that makes you pleasurable. Follow these baby shower decorating ideas to confer your party a pleasurable atmosphere, yet without spending a lot of money –

Use different types of Flowers

Generally, fresh flowers give color, life, beauty, and hope. Those qualities are precisely what we observe in a little baby as well. So flowers are the perfect decoration to complement a baby shower. You can use pink or blue flowers to match the gender of the baby.If you desire to have a specific theme, you can use the flowers based on the theme colors. But be cautious that you should select the colors of flowers that can give a pleasant look and feel.

Display photos of parents-to-be, family, and friends

Usually, people love to look at pictures. Normally, we all do the same thing. Most of the people like to look at different pictures of people, what they are doing, what they are having, where they are at, and with whom they are. Pictures are enjoyable, private, and fascinating. So, exhibiting a few pictures of the mother, father, and their friends and family at the baby shower function is a grand decoration to add your party some spark and flavor. Photos, in fact, personalise a baby shower function and let each and every person get to recognize the eager mother a little enhanced. They are also an entertaining ice-breaker and get everybody chatting & smiling.

Another good thing about photos is probably they charge almost nothing, so they can be used for an affordable baby shower decorating idea without any doubt. Just pose the expectant mother for some photos of herself, her spouse, a few pregnancy pictures she likes, some photos of her family and friends, and lastly any baby photos she has of herself or her spouse. Exhibit them in a little photo album, mount the photos on various sheets of scrapbook and beautify the pages with stickers, ribbons, beautiful quotes, well-known poems, & some other baby related superfluities. Either put the pages on easels or rest them even on the gift table. No doubt, they will be a big hit because pictures never fail to affix an enjoyable & special touch to a baby shower event.

Buy some colorful Balloons

To my knowledge, there will not be any party without balloons. Yes, that is true; balloons are the universal symbol for any kind of party. Balloons could not be out-of-place at a baby shower party and they are low-priced when compared to several party decorations. You could go with any color of balloons or simply you can go with the color that suits your party theme. Knot the balloons to the gift table, the expectant mothers seat, or spread them all over the party room. They look cheerful and remind your visitors that this is a party.

Should be simple and pleasurable

Usually, when it comes to baby shower decorating ideas, organizing it as simple is the major factor to be considered. Do not compare simple with cheap, poor quality decoration products, never compromise on quality. Rather, the above simple and classy baby shower decorating ideas will append a sweet and pleasurable feel to the baby shower party that will provide your party a fun, cherished, and memorable mood.

The Best Gardening Tips for Spring Preparation

With such a cold winter, many gardeners are delighted that the spring is finally here. Even better, it is time to plant seeds and cultivate gardens which will bring about the hot green attractiveness of the spring season. However, without early preparation, your gardening might not be successful. Below are some of the very best strategies to organize your gardens for the spring season.

Start looking for seeds and bulbs

If you’d like to plant flowers such as lilies, it is time for you to start ordering seeds and bulbs. Otherwise, you will miss out on the radiant summer display. You could get the seeds online or purchase them from the nearest store in your neighborhood. Make sure the seeds and bulbs are in excellent condition to avoid disappointments late in the season when the planting season has passed.

Cleaning the garden

If there are debris in the garden, it is time for you to throw them out. Don’t ignore the lawn and the pond. Remove any weeds from the garden and put them in a pile to create a compost that could be used when gardening. Dig up the soil in the garden and flowerbeds to make sure it doesn’t harden. If you cannot do this yourself, it is time to find a gardening service.

Cleaning the greenhouse

If you’d like to plant in a greenhouse, it is time to do tidying. If there are any leftover plant debris in the containers, clear them out. Ensure that the seats and floors are cleaned completely to avoid bringing in any pests. Look at the temperature and everything necessary to make sure the greenhouse is in an amazing condition when the spring season starts.

Repairing gates

If you would like to divide the plants in your garden, you need to start fixing the gates. If you are using wooden fences, make sure they’re properly treated to avoid pest attacks. Fix any broken latches and re-paint them accordingly to make your garden appealing when the planting starts.

Clean the gardening tools

Having thrown the gardening equipment in the shed during winter, it’s about time to take them out of storage. Clean, sharpen and inspect them to make sure they are functioning well. Change broken or damaged equipment so that everything is working before you start planting.

Prepare compost/manure

If you’d like your crops to grow completely when the spring season comes, you have to be equipped with a large amount of garden compost and manure. However, you need to avoid using fertilizers or pesticides that can harm your plants. As such, any unwanted weeds or plants picked from the garden need to be placed in a compost area. On the other hand, it is also sensible to collect any animal droppings in your garden and store it for use as a compost.

Last but not least, you should be prepared with plenty of water supply when the seeds are planted. Without water, the plants will die within a short time. Therefore, store big containers of water to ensure there is a sufficient amount of water for the plants. Use these ideas to prepare your garden in time for spring.

Gardens Of The Past

Gardening In Ancient Egypt

In the hot climate of Egypt, the rich liked to rest under trees for their shade. Gardens were created enclosed by walls with trees in rows. Sometimes they grew alternating trees. They grew sycamores, date palms, fig trees, nut trees, pomegranate trees, and willows. Vineyards were grown to make wine that only the rich drank. The common people drank beer.

A large variety of flowers including roses, poppies, irises, daisies, and cornflowers were grown. Also, they liked to grow fragrant trees and shrubs. Their gardens had rectangular ponds sometimes stocked with fish.

The Egyptians believed the Gods liked gardens. Gardens were usually around the Temples. There were different trees associated with different Gods.

The gardens were beautiful so they were used for pleasure and produce. Gardens were used to produce fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and to produce wine.

Gardening In Ancient Iraq

In the Ancient World, beautiful gardens were created in Iraq. The Assyrians came from Iraq and in the period 900 BC – 612 BC they ruled a great empire in the middle east. The upper-class Assyrians enjoyed gardens. Gardens were irrigated by water canals. They planted trees such as palms and cypresses. Trees were planted in rows by alternating the species like the Egyptians. Ponds were created and they cultivated vines and some flowers.

The Assyrian Empire was destroyed in 612. A huge empire was created there by the city-state of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar is supposed to have built one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Which is the hanging garden of Babylon. His wife missed her homeland so the King built a stepped terrace garden for here. Man-powered pumps watered it. (Probably a chain pump)

Greek Gardening

The Greeks weren’t very good gardeners. They used trees to provide shade around the Temple and other public places. You rarely saw gardens just for pleasure. When flowers were grown they were put in pots. Gardens were grown for practical reasons. They grew Orchards, Vineyards, and vegetable gardens.

Roman Gardening

Gardening was introduced to Egypt in 30 BC when they were conquered by the Romans. The rich Romans created gardens next to their palaces and villas. They were masters of any of the topiary. The gardens had statues and sculptures. They built homes around a countryard which had a colonnaded porch, a pool, and a fountain. There were beds of flowers in the courtyard.

The gardens are lined with hedges and vines. There were a lot of flowers such as acanthus, cornflower, crocus, cyclamen, hyacinth, iris and ivy, lavender, lilies, myrtle, narcissus, poppy, rosemary, and violet.

When Rome conquered Britain they introduced a number of new plants including roses, leeks, turnips, and plumbs. Once Rome fell gardening declined in western Europe. Churches made some gardens for growing herbs for medicine. Altars were decorated with flowers.

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Designing My Home Garden

When building our new home, we had to design a front garden and a garden for the side of the house that wasn’t getting much light.

My front garden area was quite a large area and the climate that I live in is fairly coastal, so I really needed to do a lot of research into what types of plants would actually grow in my area. Not only that, but the soil that was on my property wasn’t very good, and I had to get a lot of organic soil bought in to substitute the sandy type of soil that was there.

When I did manage to find the plants that I wanted, and started to plant them I found having a little seat was handy, as my back was getting really sore from leaning over and bending down a lot. Not everyone would benefit from a bulky item when gardening but with the chunky wheels on some gardening seats I found would take me all over the garden without getting stuck.

My garden hose nozzle was one that I could easily adjust and was similar to this product on the page, watering the garden with this was so much more simple, rather than using an older style nozzle or a pouring type device.

I asked my husband to go to the local hardware and get me a gardening kit with a small shovel and the like, but they fell apart so quickly, therefore, I decided I’d never do that again. Instead I searched amazon on the internet and was able to find my most favourite set of gardening tools which I’ve also included on this page.

I found that gardening was great not only for a way of switching my busy brain off from the daily grind, but was a way in which I could encourage our kids to get out in the sunshine and assist with the duties that all gardeners at times need help with. My son in particular loved to get around the garden with a little trolley type device when he was younger, carrying all the little budding plants that we were planting and the tools that I didn’t want to carry around my hips. It was really cute to watch him really get into the whole prospect of planting a tree and watching it grow. Little pulling carts were wonderful for him transporting our gardening tools, and it made him feel special helping us out.

Gardening with a lot of color has a way of brightening up our day too. I love gerberas’ and pansies and have them all over my garden beds. They don’t flower all year long though, so I’ve had to come up with other solutions for winter flowering plants like the snowflake tree. This ensures at least one of my garden looks pretty all year around.

Garden Room Design Tips

Garden rooms make great additions to the garden and they also provide you or your family with that extra space that can be used for a number of reasons. You can make a garden hideout for your children so they have some place to play when out in the garden or you can choose to have a garden room that is a gym, studio or small office where you can get your work done. Whatever your needs for the room, you definitely will want to achieve the best in terms of putting it together. A few tips can prove helpful in ensuring that you design a functional room in your garden without necessarily making the garden look overdone or overcrowded.

Tip 1 – Think about room space and positioning

How you wish to use the room should be what guides your space and positioning considerations. Remember that the room can be placed anywhere in the garden, even if it is not that close to your main house or on the patio. You can actually hide it from view or choose a sunny spot so that you have enough light coming into the garden room. If you are looking to enjoy more privacy while using the room, then choose the location carefully.

Tip 2 – Choose the appropriate structure

When it comes to garden rooms, the structure options are numerous. You can choose anything from tented spaces, glass boxes, mobile shepherd huts or fully constructed and insulated rooms. Again, your usage should help you determine what kind of structure is best for your garden. The size available in the garden can also be used in determining whether a mobile structure or a semi-permanent one is best. There are so many ready built solutions for garden rooms you can choose from but you can always have something unique built from scratch to match your personal preferences. But whatever you structure you choose, remember to bring weather into consideration so you have a structure that remains functional during the seasons you need to use it the most.

Tip 3 – Blend the room with the garden

Your aim when designing a garden room is to create a visual flow that is seamless between the room and the garden. Choose construction materials that compliment garden design and items that you could have in the garden. Unpainted wood, for instance easily matches the outdoor settings, especially if you have trees and other shrubs. You can also make other choices to add definition to your structure without making it look overdone in any way.

Apart from blending, you can also add decorations to the room. Vivid bright colors and patterns can be very good outside, but you should choose the palette carefully. Go for refined and relaxed colors, but be as bold and exciting as you wish to be. You can also make other additional choices like fairy lights, lanterns or cushions to lift up the mood in your garden room. There is just so much you can do to bring your garden room to life.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Busy Families

It somehow seems that modern life is busier than it has ever been. As well as our work and family commitments, there are now so many ways to spend our leisure time; it often feels like 24 hours is simply not long enough to get everything you wanted done in the day.

The problem of being busy all of the time (even though it is a good problem to have) hits those of us who have time-consuming jobs and are also raising a family the hardest. If you fall into this category, you may find it helpful to read the following list of five potential New Year’s resolutions you could make to ensure your 2017 is less stressful than this year may have been!

1) Leave the office on time – Even if it’s only on one or two days a week, it is important that you sometimes put your foot down and leave your place of work as soon as your day is meant to finish. You’ll find that you get much more done in the evenings!

2) Invest in a 2017 calendar – It may sound like a simple step, but that’s sort of the point. Having your work and leisure commitments mapped out for the weeks and months ahead in an easy to view format will allow you to see at a glance just how busy you are and whether you are taking on too much.

3) Spend 10 minutes doing nothing – Again, this is more productive than it sounds! Set your alarm ten minutes earlier every day so that, before you get up, you can spend this extra time in completely undisturbed silence, thinking about what your priorities should be for the day to come.

4) What are your two most important tasks? – Speaking of priorities, it is also a good idea to take a step back from time to time and decide which the two most important jobs are that you wish to accomplish on any given day. This is a great way of clearing your head when you feel overwhelmed.

5) Consider hiring household staff – You may have thought that hiring a nanny or other household staff might be the ‘easy way out’, but this is not the case. Those who have invested in professional assistance of this kind know that hiring a caring and responsible person to help run your busy home is a fantastic way of relieving domestic pressures.