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Don’t Sweat the Smart Stuff

 

With leaps and bounds in technology occurring faster and faster these days, I am constantly interested to discover new inventions and equally fascinated with things that are fun and useful but ultimately not exactly vital, and things that are designed to protect me and my family and friends.

Smart homes seem to be the tech ‘buzzword’ at the moment with companies such as Amazon, Apple and Samsung all creating devices to make controlling your home appliances easier. With Amazon’s voice-controlled Echo, you can add items to your shopping list and check local weather all with a simple voice command. Samsung’s smart fridges allow you to view what’s inside from your smartphone and even suggest recipes based on ingredients – handy!

Some swear by the functionality and think it represents how we’ll do things in the future. Others think it’s a novelty that will fall by the wayside in a couple of years.

One area, however, where smart devices can enhance your life is home security. Internet-connected devices can take the hassle out of home security by allowing you to keep an eye on your property from anywhere in the world, at anytime.

One such company that can provide this is the security experts, Yale. Whether it’s a Smart Door Lock, Smart Home Alarm or Camera, Yale’s Smart Living range has the device for you, allowing you to secure, monitor and control your home security from a simple touch of a button.

Smart Door Locks

Have you ever had your hands full when coming home from work and struggled to unlock your door? Or maybe you’ve wanted to grant access to your family, friends and visitors if they’ve arrived on your doorstep early.

Yale’s range of Smart Door Locks give you the freedom to secure your home without the need for a key. Now you can open your door in a number of ways, including PIN code, fingerprint recognition, remote fob, or even via an app on your smartphone or tablet. What’s more, you can keep track of who’s coming and going and at what time; ideal for parents keeping an eye on teenage children!

There’s no need to worry if your kids arrive home early, or if you’re stuck at work with friends on the doorstep. You have complete control of access to your home.

Smart Home Alarms

Arm, disarm, configure and control your home alarm system all from your smartphone. You can also receive notifications, emails and even images direct to your phone when the motion detector is triggered, to give you instant information in the event of an intrusion.

When used in conjunction with a power switch, the alarm systems also have the capability to turn on/off your lamp remotely with your smartphone or boil the kettle as you pull up on the drive.

Smart Cameras

Check in on your home at the touch of a button with a Yale IP Camera. Whether it’s to watch over older children when they’re home alone, or check on your pets during the working day. The cameras can also be installed in the homes of elderly parents or relatives, for added reassurance on their well-being.

Complete with motion detection the IP camera can alert you to movement in the home, and it also has a two-way audio feature that allows you to listen and talk back with a built-in microphone and speaker.

Yale’s Smart Living range also works with a number of leading smart home networks such as Samsung SmartThings and Control4 for to create a complete smart home experience.

For more information on Yale’s range of smart security, visit www.yale.co.uk/smart-living

Personally, I am all for useful developments in technology and am happy to embrace anything that makes family life that little bit easier, and safer.  What are your thoughts?  I would be interested to hear them in the comments.

4 Exciting Summer Holiday Activities for Kids in London

The summer holidays are fast approaching and a trip to London is a great way to embrace warmer weather with your children. The capital has exciting activities in abundance — from outdoor paintball to bike tours — to establish a top-notch itinerary.

London

Sonny at the Science Museum – another brilliant day out in the capital

The end of the school year is right around the corner so, as a parent, you’ll have the task of keeping your kids entertained for the next six weeks. So how about a trip to London? A trip to the UK’s capital will provide more than enough sights and attractions for the grown-ups and a wide range of exciting activities for your children. Here are five of the best that should be on your to-do list.

  1. Explore London’s Parks

London boasts some of the most engaging historical landmarks and fantastic architecture in the world — and its parks aren’t too shabby either. No matter which area of London you are situated in, there is a nearby park to suit you needs. Scenery to die for, vast areas of grass to enjoy a picnic, live events, even a variety of wildlife — there really is something for everyone.

Hampstead Heath offers a beautiful location for long walks and a brilliant view, while Clapham Commons provides a more lively environment with tennis courts, grass pitches and a skate park to enjoy. If you want to introduce your children to wildlife they may have never seen in the wild, Richmond Park is home to over 650 deer and St James’s Park houses a broad range of birds, such as pelicans being fed every day at 2:30pm.  

  1. Bicycle Tours

A tour of London’s vast array of sights is undoubtedly a must when visiting the city. The lengthy stroll between attractions or the added stress of public transport can make it a hard sell to children. The solution to your dilemma? A bike tour. Not only do you all get to see the sights and experience the attractions, but you’ll also benefit from the exercise and added enjoyment of a bike ride around the city.

London — like many over European cities — has become iconic for cycling, and therefore bike tours are an extremely popular tourist activity. While this does mean that you may have to book in advance to make sure you have a saddle to sit on, it also means that there are a wide range of tours to choose from.

  1. Outdoor Paintball

A day of paintball in London is a great way to give your kids an experience unlike any other. Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets will be a nice change of scenery, especially as you and your kids will be spending the day immersed amidst the excitement of outdoor paintball. Travelling a little while out of the inner city into more rural surroundings allows you to experience paintball near London, which is a great change of pace for your children.

One key benefit of outdoor paintball is that it’s a suitable activity for a broad range of ages (8 years and upwards). Due to the use of lower powered weapons in kids paintball, it makes it a perfectly safe activity, leaving you with the ideal activity for a day of exciting family fun.

  1. Zorbing

Much like paintball, zorbing is an activity that is difficult to compare with any other. In short, it involves being securely harnessed in a huge inflatable ball and rolled down a hill. Dizzying fun at its finest.

The majority of London is made up of urban environments that present no opportunity for Zorbing. Luckily, though, you won’t have to travel too far out of the city to experience it for yourself. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can travel to one location to experience Zorbing and paintball near London. There is a woodland facility just outside of the city that’s home to both activities and combine to make a brilliant day out for the kids.

A trip to London is a fantastic way to bond with your family, spend some time in a holiday environment and allow your kids to explore a new city for the first time. All of the activities mentioned above are perfect for children, but not designed with only kids in mind — meaning that the parents can have an equally as exciting day!

Back to School Shopping with Love the Sales

With two weeks of the summer term left, I am almost ready for the children to go back to school in September; well, practically, anyway.  I have new school bags and book bags lined up, uniform bought and paid for, and even lunch boxes and drinks bottles in mind.  My plan is to be ready for September by the time they break up for summer so we can make the most of the time together and firmly put school out of our minds.  There is one area I leave to the last possible minute, however, and that is school shoes and trainers.  We all know how quickly children’s feet can grow, so buying shoes for September at the end of July just seems silly.  I leave it until the last week of the summer holidays to get them measured and fitted for trainers and school shoes. This year, I intend to have Jasmine measured in town and then buy her school shoes from Love the Sales.  I have my heart set on these Kickers shoes:

kickers

When I went into Year 4, I was bought my first pair of Kickers school shoes and I absolutely loved them.  They were black patent in a chunky, almost platform, style with an actual heel (hello, Spice Girls). Bearing in mind that this was 21 years ago and I can’t have owned them for more than a year at most, it’s fair to say they made quite an impression, and I am hoping that Jasmine will love her Kickers just as much.  That she is going into Year 4 herself in September (how is that possible?!) is just a happy coincidence.

As well as school shoes, Love the Sales is a great place to find trainers and bags for school too; with hundreds of sale items all located in one place, it makes catching a bargain easier than ever – it’s basically the site you’ve always been looking for.  You’re welcome.

Are you back-to-school-ready yet, or do you prefer to leave preparations to the last minute?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

The Benefits of Insulating Your Home

Many people around the world are lucky enough to have insulation installed around the home. Be it a drafty loft or thin walls, there are plenty of places that insulation can be installed to keep the heat in your home and keep the cold air out. It may be the height of summer right now, but it really won’t be long before the nights start drawing in again, and the cold air returns.

Fortunately, insulation is fairly easy to install and, assuming you know where to install insulation, can be done with minimal tools and without much assistance. As long as you have the insulation rolls, some insulation adhesives and a bit of willpower, you can often get this done in under a week’s time for a medium sized loft.

Why install insulation?

Insulation lasts a very long time. Depending on the type of damage it might encounter, for example, a roof leak, the lifespan could be anywhere from 80 to 100 years. So why not get it done now so that you can install it, test it and experience the effects so that you’re ready for when winter comes around? It’s a cheap and effective way of improving your home and you’ll thank yourself later when the cold season starts again.

How do I get started?

The first step is to calculate how much insulation you need to buy. There are many insulation calculators that’ll help you work out how much you need, but you could also just measure the length and width of the area you want to cover and multiply them together. For example, a room of 20m by 20m would require 400 square metres of insulation.

Once you’ve decided how much you need, you can start to roll it out and lay out onto the loft. There are several types of insulation installation. For example, you can line it across the floor of the loft, or you can stick it to walls. To attach them to walls, you’ll need some wooden supports to contain the insulation, but these can be easily bolted to the walls and measure to size depending on how much insulation you need.

Will I need help?

As mentioned before, installing insulation is just a matter of calculating the size, buying it and then rolling it out or lining the walls. However, if you want to insulate a wall that doesn’t have wooden supports to place the insulation, then you might need a hand bolting supports to the wall or carrying up the rolls of insulation to the loft. Aside from that, it’s a relatively straightforward job that won’t take long to finish.

Will insulation save me money?

Insulation usually pays for itself fairly quickly and will definitely save you money.  According to this post by Ovo Energy, you can save up to £240 every year on your fuel bill, with initial installation costing around £395.  Of course, fitting the insulation yourself will save on the installation costs, bringing them down to around £50; well worth it, right?

Do you have insulation in your home?  I would love to hear more pros and cons.

3 Sleek Design Ideas for a More Photogenic Home Office

Instagram is getting bigger and more influential by the day. It now has more than 800 million active users, making it one of the largest social media platforms. It is also the perfect platform to use for a variety of purposes, from personal branding to connecting with a broader audience and promoting your work.

The key to conquering Instagram is great visuals. If you’re like me and you work from a home office, setting up an office that looks good on camera will make producing Instagram content – and content for other platforms, including YouTube – a lot easier. Here are some of the design ideas to begin with.

Limit the Number of Colours

Look at the most successful Instagram influencers and you will quickly notice a pattern. Their indoor, in-office photos are usually taken in rooms or areas with a limited number of colours. White and light grey are the most popular colours in this genre, but you can easily integrate other colours into your home office as long as you limit the number colours in the room.

You can also mix and match colours with patterns and textures. I personally love the combination of white walls and silver or steel accents. White and wooden textures also work great together. Once a main theme is defined, you only need to build the rest of the room around it.

Another important factor to consider is balance. You can’t have a clean-looking home office when all of the office appliances and ornaments appear unorganized. Add elements to different areas of the office as you see fit. Avoid overcrowding one part and try to maintain balance by using spaces (white space in particular) and levels (such as elevating your main monitor with a stand).

More Natural Light

The best lighting to use is natural light. Natural light, especially during the golden hours, offers the most flattering results when used for photography. Since light is entering the office through windows, you have more control over the softness and intensity of the light.

You can still use artificial light to brighten things up, but there are a few details to attend to when you do. For starters, find high quality LED lights for better colour accuracy. Cheap, low-quality lights will produce a green or purple hue when used for photography.

You also need to pay close attention to the softness and direction of the light. Try to position the light so that you can take pictures without them being exposed in the frame.

Details!

Every detail of the home office helps create the perfect setting for your Instagram and social media posts. There is no point in having a modern-looking, super-clean desk when you have an old radiator on the corner of every photo. Look at the catalogue of modern radiators on Warmrooms.co.uk to solve this problem once and for all.

With a sleek and clean home office set up, you can make Instagram photos, produce your own YouTube videos, and develop a stronger social media presence as a professional or a business owner. You’ll also have an awesome home office to work in!