Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Halloween is coming – Party ideas for everyone

Everyone’s favorite holiday is almost here, and there are several ideas you can use to create an awesome party for your friends and family. Any of the items needed for these party ideas can be purchased at Shindigz or on Amazon. Don’t forget to look up for Shindigz special promo codes to save you some extra cash.

Here are some party ideas for you

Walking Haunted House Tour 

Everyone loves a good haunted house; you can really have fun with this and create something that is really memorable. There is no limit as to what you can do here, and you can have friends and family plus any other volunteers participate and come up with ideas to make your haunted house stand out from the rest and give everyone a good fun scare.

Investigation Ghost Hunts 

This is great for kids and is basically like a treasure hunt or clue style game in the real world, it can include ghost and zombies as well murders or anything else Halloween related. Any item you need to make an authentic scary treasure hunt or detective case can be found at Amazon.

Halloween Charades 

This is fun for everyone, you can brainstorm on different idea that are related to Halloween like guillotine beheadings, vampires sleeping in their coffin, the creature of the black lagoon, Frankenstein and so on. The possibility is endless and is great for children and adults of all ages.

Best Costume Contest 

The classic contest that makes Halloween so fun, you can give prizes and other trophies. Anything from free pizzas to movie tickets and Halloween style home made trophies and other cool ideas all get people more engaged in the contest. Whatever you decide, make sure you inform people about it from the beginning so they can prepare and make awesome costumes.

Halloween Baking Contest 

Having a bake off is a great way to get to see some awesome cakes and baked goods and then to get to eat some tasty treats. You’ll be amazed by how good some bakers really are. There are some truly talented people out there.

Halloween Talent Show 

Offering a talent show related to the holiday is a great way to get people excited and to have a good laugh as most talent shows consist of some pretty funny antics.

These are just some ideas for Halloween parties and all of the items and gags you need for your party.

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Monday, September 29, 2014

Avoiding Bad Guitar Playing Habits – Nip Them in the Bud Early On

The earlier bad guitar playing habits are nipped in the bud the better for beginner guitarists – it’s all too easy for mistakes to become ingrained in one’s playing techniques which makes them extremely difficult to break out of later on.

Some bad guitar playing habits are caused by laziness, for instance failing to tune the guitar before playing, whilst others are the result of simply not knowing that one is going about things the wrong way, like incorrectly positioning one’s left hand thumb on the back of the guitar neck.

It’s advantageous to understand that playing the guitar is a physical activity, and like any physical activity, you need to get the fundamentals down pat before you move onto something more complex.

  1. Adopting the wrong attitude to practice
This is the number one bad habit of beginner guitarists, particularly those raised on ‘Guitar Hero’ for some reason – too much rocking out before learning the fundamentals perhaps?

Adopting the wrong attitude to practice could be adopting the ‘maƱana’ attitude to practicing, i.e. ‘I’ll get around to it tomorrow’, or it could be failing to strike the right balance between learning something new and perfecting something you’ve already learned.

The best balance is one between learning something new and challenging, and practicing something you’ve learned in the past and want to keep working at perfecting.

  1. Trying to play beyond one’s ability
The saying ‘crawl before you walk’ is particularly relevant to guitar playing and it’s obvious that every guitarist needs to master the basics before they start playing complex chord progressions.

This is a particular problem amongst beginner guitarists who want to play along to thrash metal bands like Metallica or Pantera because they often lack an interest in slower rock.

However, they must bear in mind that they’re no Kirk Hammett or Dimebag Darrell just yet, and that they need to start off slowly, literally, before moving on to something faster.   

  1. Not perfecting chords before moving on to the next
Playing chords cleanly and correctly is extremely important and one of the most crucial fundamental aspects of guitar playing. A mistake many beginner guitarists are guilty of is failing to learn how to play chords clearly before moving onto the next.  

It won’t be denied that playing the same chords over and over again can prove tiresome, though before moving onto the next chord, they should be able to get that particular note to come out cleanly at least 75 percent of the time.

  1. Incorrectly positioning their hands
The way a guitar is held in one’s hand is crucially important and this is one of the most common mistakes that beginner guitarists make, one that’s particularly common among guitarists who learn from online tutorials rather than with a teacher.

This could entail an incorrect left hand thumb position, the way they place their hands when forming the regular first position F-chord, or the way they place the guitar in their lap that forces them to hold the guitar at the wrong angle altogether and places the wrist at a rather unconventional angle.  

  1. Not learning to play in time
As with any musical instrument, playing in time is one of the most crucial fundamentals of guitar playing, whether one plans on playing with other musicians or not, which they should because it’s inherently rewarding.

A metronome is a worthy investment, though if it’s a bit boring for you then consider buying a cheap keyboard with a built-in drum machine to play along with. It’s kind of like playing with a drummer in many ways, and a great way to learn how to keep time.  

You may have an ingrained love of music, the willingness to practice for hours every day, and have purchased one of the best guitars from an online store, but if you don’t break out of your bad guitar playing habits early on you’ll never improve and see the results you want to see.

Playing guitar can be an immensely rewarding experience and a skill that you’ll derive pleasure from for the rest of your days – understand what constitutes a bad habit, break out of them early on and live life through your guitar.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When Novelty Gifts are at their Best

Finding the right gift for a friend or co-worker – or even a family member, for that matter – can be a lot more difficult than it ought to be. Ideally, you want the gift to be something that the person is going be able to use, or at least appreciate. However, this can put a lot of pressure on the giver.

image via pixabay.com

There is plenty of published data out there lending credence to the difficulty of selecting the right gifts. In the lead-up to Christmas a couple of years ago, The Telegraph published an article about the worst gifts that men buy for the women in their lives. These were a few of the stand-out items:

·         Cabbage
·         Salt
·         Sack of potatoes
·         Beard trimmers
·         Windscreen wipers

There’s a definite lack of creativity at work in the above list. Apparently, the men in this survey were satisfied to buy women things that they wouldn’t mind receiving themselves. Either that or they were just hungry when they went shopping.

The fact remains that choosing the right gift for a person is downright difficult. This is particularly true when buying for people that you don’t know that well – such as for a colleague. In a survey of Australians, one in five admitted to receiving a gift that they simply did not like. Of those, 30 percent either kept the gift or threw it away; another 20 percent had the audacity to re-gift the unwanted item.

Give a Gift that Will Make Them Smile

This is where a novelty item can swoop in and save the day. If you are shopping for someone that you really don’t know – be it for birthday or Christmas gifts or something else entirely – steer away from a soulless gift card or charitable donation on their behalf. Instead, purchase something that’s universally enjoyable. Something that will make them smile.

image via amazon.com

You see, when you purchase a novelty item for someone, you are essentially foregoing the pretence of knowing anything about their personal preferences. Rather than putting yourself in a position in which you would have to try and determine what it is that they really want, you can instead buy them something to make them smile. The smile itself is the gift; and the novelty item is just a means to an end.

Of course, not all novelty items are manufactured equally, and some certainly are not going to go over as well as others. While you probably don’t want to give your boss a poo-shaped key ring (which actually made the list on the above-mentioned Telegraph article), there are plenty of tasteful items to consider. Finding them just requires a little bit of shopping around.

Fortunately, the Internet has made the prospect of shopping for novelty items much easier than it used to be. There is no longer any need to drive across town to visit a speciality shop in the mall. Instead, you can cut straight to the heart of the matter on your own computer or tablet from the privacy of your own home. A few clicks and you can finish all of your seasonal shopping for your co-workers in just a few minutes. 

Just remember: the best novelty items are those that actually serve a small but significant purpose. Remember ‘Big Mouth Bill Bass’, the singing robotic fish that it’s intended to be mounted over the mantelpiece? That may get a few laughs at the gift-giving party, but relatively few people would actually use the gift or leave on the mantel for more than a couple days.

A fish-shaped egg yolk separator, on the other hand, actually has a bit of utility – at least for someone that does any baking at home. Give them a gift like this, and they’ll crack a smile at the party. However, they are also liable to use that gift back home. That’s when your gift has really served its purpose.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wise Family Investments: Setting Up A Trust Fund

During these tough economic times, investing in your child’s future is one of the wisest structured family investments that you can make. Despite the squeeze on household finances, more and more families nowadays find that it’s vital and practical for every child to have the best possible start in life through investing in a financial support scheme. A trust fund can be comprised of properties, cash, bonds or stocks intended to provide financial security and benefits to an individual.

The amount of money invested in a child trust fund is a long-term savings that encourage parents to save for their child’s future. The recipient can withdraw the money only until a specified event occurs or when he reaches 18 years of age that he can already be eligible to receive a yearly income from the fund.

Trust fund is about giving beneficiary money that your child needs but not providing them full control over the investment.  You need to delegate a trustee who will be in charge of the money for your child until such time that the fund matures and that is when the beneficiary is of the right age to receive the financial support to help him achieve his goals.

There are different trust agreements that you can use for different situations. So, before you set up a trust account, consult your legal counsel and ensure that you have the agreement in writing to protect you and your beneficiary. Trust funds can be formed while you are still alive or upon your death. It is also wise to note to include in your agreement the ability to revoke it in case there are changes in the circumstances. If you are to choose a trustee, be sure that you can trust that institution or person with your life and your finances. 

Image credits to: Stuart Miles - freedigitalphotos.net

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2014 Emmy Award Winning Shows to Watch

This year’s Emmy Awards saw the return of crowd favourites, such as Modern Family, Game of Thrones and the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad. Though the end of Breaking Bad will leave a hole in our hearts, the latest TV newcomer, True Detective, showed it could be the next big hit, taking home five Emmy wins after its first season. If you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon of these four brilliant shows, here’s a recap of what you’re missing out on.

Modern Family

Comedy series Modern Family once again proved itself to be two steps ahead of the rest after its fifth win for Outstanding Comedy Series. The story follows Jay Pritchett, the head of a big and unconventional family, which includes Jay’s second wife Gloria, his two adult children (Claire and Mitchell) and their respective families. This year’s Emmy Awards saw Modern Family win Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series awarded to Ty Burrell.

Breaking Bad

2013 marked the final season of Breaking Bad and at the 2014 Emmys, the show went out in style, with an amazing six Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series. When a high school science teacher, Walter White (Brian Cranston, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series), finds out he has terminal cancer and no money to pay for treatment, he turns to former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series), to help him cook and sell crystal meth. His struggle to provide enough money for his family after he dies leads him deeper and deeper into the vicious drug world.

Game of Thrones

Keeping up its growing history of excellence, Game of Thrones returned for its fourth year for another four awards. Set in a fantasy world, Game of Thrones follows the political struggles of ruling families, all vying for a chance to take the Iron Throne. While war rages in the south of the land, a dark and terrible force awakens in the frozen north, ready to sweep across the land. Across the sea, three dragons, thought to be extinct, hatch with the help of the last true heir to the Iron Throne. This year saw Game of Thrones win in what it does best. Awarded Outstanding Special and Visual Effects, Outstanding Costumes for a Series, Outstanding Art Direction for a Contemporary or Fantasy Series and Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup.

True Detective

With Breaking Bad coming to a close, True Detective has stood up to take its place as the next big crime drama. Awarded fiveEmmys in just its first season, True Detective has a bright future ahead. Two homicide detectives, Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle, hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana for over seventeen years after coming across the ritualistic murder of a prostitute in 1995. Click here to get season one of True Detective on DVD or Blu-ray. Among its awards were Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.

What other Emmy award-winning shows are you looking forward to watching? Leave a comment below to share your answer.

Breaking Bad Screening Lab in Hollywood
Image by: The Conmunity -  Pop Culture Geek, on Flickr - https://flic.kr/p/7JH1mC

Image credits: "Emmy statuette" by NASA - NASA.GOV. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emmy_statuette.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Emmy_statuette.jpg

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why is Organic Container Gardening Very Popular?

For the growing health-conscious community, organic container gardening is a practical way of growing fresh and clean produce for home consumption. This type of gardening method, require less space thus it is ideal even for city and apartment dwellers. Growing plants even if they are in containers can still be lots of fun and therapeutic. Many people feel relieved to see growing greens amid the concrete jungle they call home.

One of the major reasons why organic gardening is very popular these days is that it can give you nutritious and healthy produce for your family’s consumption. It is also very rewarding to see fruits of your labor being prepared for your meals!

Container gardening is also perfect for anybody who wants to put up his or her own garden despite lack of space or time. Because you only plant in containers, you don’t need to dig or till or need lots of gardening tools. It is inexpensive and simple. You don’t have to worry about your plants not getting enough rain or sunshine because you can easily move the containers around when you need to.

Lastly, container gardening do not eat up your time and space. In less than 15 minutes, you can water all your containers. You can set up your garden in your balcony or the rooftop of your apartment. Some also utilize their walls by putting up vertical racks so it’s pretty much convenient for everybody!

Photo credits: Tomwsulcer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Most Common Driving Offences to Avoid

There are many hundreds of driving offences on the statute books, but only a relative few are regularly broken by drivers to the extent that courts must deal with them time and time again. Worst of all, these commonoffences tend to be at the higher end of the punishment scale, attracting stiffer penalties and fines. If you find yourself regularly stopped by police for these offences, it might be time to seek professional legal advice from a firm like GC Traffic Lawyers or perhaps even consider taking a driver refresher course.

Of course, the best way to avoid trouble with the police is to not commit offences in the first place. Here are a few of the most common, and serious, driving offences to avoid if you want to hold on to your licence.

Drink driving

It’s been more than 30 years since governments identified drink-driving as a major killer on the road and began campaigns to stop the offence through a combination of demonization and an appeal to common sense. While the numbers of drink-drivers are decreasing, many motorists continue to think it is okay to drive after consuming too much alcohol. It’s an offence even to sleep in the car if you are drunk and in possession of the keys. Don’t tempt fate. If you are going to drink, leave the car at home.

Driving while disqualified

One of the consequences of being caught drink-driving is having your drivers’ licence disqualified for sometimes lengthy periods. Yet this isn’t enough to stop some idiots from getting behind the wheel – some even drive home from court just hours after being disqualified. Driving after having your licence taken from you by the courts is serious and repeat offenders can find themselves in a prison cell.

Unlicensed driving

Just slightly less serious is the offence of unlicensed driving. This is usually committed by people who have let their licence expire (intentionally or unintentionally), drivers who have not sought to get a new licence after a period of disqualification and those who never bothered to get a licence in the first place. It is unacceptable, except in a dire emergency, to drive without a licence.


Everyone knows not to do it, yet just about everyone goes over the limit occasionally, even by just a little bit. The fact is, speed kills and exceeding it by even a few kilometres an hour poses a danger not just to you, but to all other road users. Speeding can make it more difficult to control your vehicle and increase the distance it takes to stop, especially in an emergency.

Driving while holding an electronic device

A relatively new offence, driving while using (or even touching) an electronic device such as a smart phone or tablet can be a trap for unsuspecting drivers. Most people know that they can talk on their phone only if it is connected to a hands-free device through cable or Bluetooth. What they don’t know it is also illegal to even touch your phone. This includes using it as a GPS while it is attached to a holder or just checking your text messages.

There are so many traffic offences that it is relatively easy to be caught breaking a rule. But avoid these five most common offences, and you stand a better chance of holding your drivers’ licence a little longer.

Image credits: "Cell phone use while driving" by Ed Brown as Edbrown05 - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cell_phone_use_while_driving.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Cell_phone_use_while_driving.jpg

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mosquitoes here, there and everywhere

After my youngest son, Yahmir, has been hospitalized due to dengue fever caused by a mosquito bite years ago, I am always on guard against mosquitoes. Dengue and Chikungunya are now an all-year-round mosquito-bite diseases in the country which should not be taken for granted as it comes in different strains that can be fatal.

image via en.wikipedia.org

To refrain from being the dinner of these blood suckers, as much as possible we mosquito proof our home. We always check for any stagnant water in and out of the house especially after a rain fall. Any pool of water like in the saucer of a plant pot or rain water caught inside an old tire, fresh flower vases and even in the base of an air conditioning unit is a good place for them to breed and hang out. In fact, wherever they can find enough water  to lay their eggs, they will be there.

There are many ways to keep safe from mosquitoes.  Through researching I have found out that there are plants that repel mosquito.  Unknowingly I have these plants in my garden like the Citronella grass, Rosemary, an herb plant that I used in roasting lamb chops, and Marigold, one of my favorite flowering plants.  A good friend gave me a Neem tree seedling, known also as a mosquito repellent.  Aside from the mosquito repellent plants around, I also spray an odorless insect spray all over the house once a week.

Even if we make sure of a no-mosquito home, we are not yet safe when we get out of the house, so I have this anti mosquito bracelet (effective for 15 days with refillable pellet) worn by my youngest son for better protection.  My eldest son and husband uses repellent lotion, alternately with mosquito patches (can be bought from the supermarkets and drugstores) when they go off to work.  I also have this at hand in the car whenever we go out of town to make sure of mosquito bite protection. 

Once in a while I also put a little of eucalyptus oil in a small saucer in our bedroom, as it drives away insects too. The use of mosquito coil in the backyard whenever we hang out there on weekends to do cooking (roasting).

Better be safe as the saying goes “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

The Key Considerations That You Need to Make When Buying a Property

Buying a property is a major investment. You need to make sure that you are fully aware of the process that is involved in this decision. For some, it can be an overwhelming experience. The jargon and the financial process can be complicated to understand. What is more, the physical process of house hunting can be less than exciting and more of a chore.


What you need is a handy guide to assist you with your house buying quest.

Park Place Expensive Real Estate Monopoly
With thanks to Philip Taylor on Flickr - https://flic.kr/p/bDwfRq

Here are the key considerations that you need to make when buying a property:

1.    Working Out a Budget

While you may dream of living in a country mansion in the middle of nowhere, you need to be realistic. Working out a budget is important. Are you buying a property alone or is this a joint venture? Typically, you will be loaned money based on your income. As a single person, this is three times your annual salary. As a joint venture, this is worked out at five times your combined yearly salary. Of course, you will need to have a deposit. In the UK, this is worked out at 15% of your mortgage rate. This can be difficult to get. But, working out a reasonable budget is critical. Cutting out luxuries such as eating out may be advisable for the short term. You should be prepared to have your finances scrutinised. Mortgages can be difficult to obtain. But, they are not impossible to get. You should compile an adequate income and expenditure to ensure that your money goes further. When you are in the midst of buying a property, budgeting is imperative to your success.

2.    What Are Your Requirements?

Once you have worked out your budget, you need to consider what your requirements are. Do you plan to buy a house that is fit for purpose now? Are you looking at buying a property to raise a family in? Is a driveway important? Would you like additional room to build an extension or conservatory?

While no one is expecting you to have a crystal ball to look into the future, thinking about your requirements is important. Buying a house is a great investment. You need to think carefully about what you need from your home, now and in the future.

You should think about how many bedrooms you need from a property. You will be expected to pay for more space. Two bedroom houses are significantly cheaper than three bedroom properties. Of course, you can purchase a house that is fit for purpose now. You can always move in the future. Some people buy a house and term it as their ‘forever home.’

Whatever your plan is, you need to make sure that you are thinking about the future when you purchase a property.

3.    What Kind Of Property to Choose: New versus Old

There are many attractive houses within the current property market. Many people want a brand new house. This is because new homes come with the warranty. Others prefer to buy older properties as renovation projects. Whatever property you decide to purchase, ensure that you are doing it based on sound decisions.

New Properties: These often involve less stamp duty. The taxes on new builds are lower. The maintenance in these properties is very little. What is more, they can be a sound investment when purchased in an up and coming area.

Old Properties: many people see these as a lucrative option. Buying an older house leaves room for renovation. This can make a major profit in the long term.

4.    Location, Location, Location

Whether you are relocating to a new area or staying in your hometown, you need to consider the location. According to http://www.thepromove.com/, practical considerations should be made, such as commuting time to work. Furthermore, you should think about the quality of the schools in the area. You should also consider what amenities are local to your property. These are all important factors when finding the right place to reside in permanently.

5.    Arranging Appointments: Be Flexible

One of the biggest stumbling blocks that buyers face is arranging appointments. You need to bear in mind that this is a competitive market. With this in mind, you need to make arrangements as soon as possible. Many estate agents are flexible, but you also need to be flexible too. Some appointments are conducted on evenings and weekends, but you may have to be prepared to take time off work.

6.    Making An Offer That Can’t Be Refused

Making an offer on a property can be daunting. After all, this is a great investment on your behalf. You should try to make an offer that is slightly under the asking price. This will make your mortgage cheaper in the long run. However, you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Someone else will snap up the house, and you will be left with no property at all. You should only offer less if it is necessary. If the house is in a fantastic location and is in a good state of repair, by offering less you are likely to be rejected. Only offer less when it is practical. Negotiating a great deal will not harm your chances of homeownership. You need to be savvy with your cash. After all, this is a huge sum of money. You don’t want to spend more than necessary. Penny pinching is imperative in the housing market. This frees up more money for renovations.

7.    Moving Day!

Moving day is an exciting time for many new homeowners. Remember, you need to seek the services of a moving company to assist you. This will take the stress out of your move. When you are visiting financial providers and estate agents, you don’t want to have to move your house by yourself. This is a savvy way of taking the stress out of moving. Compiling practical checklists are also critical to alleviating the stress out of moving. You can find examples of these online.