Thursday, December 24, 2015

Guest post- Hand Care Essentials for DIYer’s!

Oh DIY. The satisfaction of creating something crafty, chic, and beautiful all on your own is undoubtedly rewarding. But so often, amongst the exiting results we are also left with tried, dry hands. If you notice this trend, know that you are not alone, and that there are some fabulous habits you can participate in to avoid the post-project dryness.

Essential 1 – Prevention is Key! 

The best way to beat dehydrated hands is to prevent them in the first place. So of course, a nourishing hand cream will be necessary. Make it a goal to start your project with moisturized hands, and be sure to reapply your moisturizer after hand washing or during the breaks in your project. Lollia, created by amazing designer Margot Elena has a fabulous variety of shea butter hand creams that looking, feel, and smell absolutely amazing.

Essential 2 – Keep Them Covered!

If you are working with any materials that could possibly wick the moisture away from your skin (paper, cardboard, and certain woods are especially good at this), simply insert a barrier between your hands and the material. I am talking about wearing gloves, so long as it does not hinder your project! Wearing gloves might also protect you from any potential irritants or chemicals that may cause you to wash your hands more frequently, which is yet another common culprit of dryness.

Essential 3 – Give Yourself a Treat!

At the end of a long day, do not be afraid to spoil your hands a bit. If your hands are dry, but in pretty good shape (i.e. not irritated), treating yourself to a nourishing sugar scrub can be a very good idea. This will eliminate dead skin cells while infusing moisture into the skin, and prepping your hands to better absorb and product you slather on following your scrub treatment.

For intense moisture, apply your favorite product on your hands, and cover with cotton gloves for the night or evening. This will help to lock the moisture into your skin. Lastly, if you find your hands are both dry, and uncomfortable, look for treatments that are specifically designed for this occasion. It is important to remember that even your most agreeable products might cause excess irritation when applied to skin that is broken or inflamed.

Essential 4 – Do Not Be Afraid to DIY Hack It!

If you are a DIYer, odds are you are an avid lover of Pinterest. If at the end of a long craft day you notice your hands are dry and uncomfortable, and you do not have any hand cream “on hand”, do not be afraid to search up a fun DIY at-home recipe. You can enjoy this by yourself, or turn it into a fun event the entire family can enjoy. As always, exercise caution and use judgment when putting together at-home treatments.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

4 Tips For Designing The Perfect Home Office!

Working from home is a dream come true for a lot of us. No need to commute, no one to tell you what to do, no set hours, and you can head to the office in your pjs. However, many remote workers find that it is fairly easy to get distracted when working from home. There are so many things to sidetrack you. From the television to the kitchen with all the snacks, you can easily be sidetracked for hours at a time. To try and minimize the amount of distractions, many recommend creating a home office.

A home office is essentially a space where you go to complete work. It should be an area that is isolated from the common distractions. What is great about having a home office is that you are in charge of the design. You can make the space as chic or eclectic as you desire. If you are creating an office space, you might enjoy some of these design ideas listed below:

1. Location

One of the most important steps to creating a home office is the location. It needs to be someplace that is far from distractions. If your home has the space, placing the office in a spare room, the basement, attic, or even in a garage or shed is a great idea. This gives you enough room to house all of your office equipment and furniture but keeps you free and clear from having easy access to the living room television or the kitchen cabinets.

When choosing a location, you also want to keep your Internet connection in mind. Since you will be accessing most of your work virtually, you want to make sure that the connection is strong enough in the space where you are going to design your office. If you do not have a strong internet connection, this should be one of the first things you invest in. Companies like Frontier offer Ann Arbor internet packages as well as other qualifying locations. Comparing the speeds and rates is a great way to see what matches your needs.

2. Functionality

It can be easy to get caught up in the aesthetic appeal of your home office; however, functionality is most important. Sure you can make your office look beautiful, but if the chair you chose has a hard back that is horrible for sitting, it is not going to do you much good. As you begin to think about the layout of the office and the types of furnishings you will choose, remember you need to be able to function comfortably. Never choose items based on looks alone.

3. Lighting Is Inspiring

Did you know that proper lighting can actually motivate you to be a better worker? Whether your home office is in a poorly lit area or not, investing in lighting is ideal. Using window treatments like ventilation blinds allows you to control the amount of natural light that comes into the office at any given time. If this is not an option or there are no windows in your office, going with bright, energy-efficient bulbs is a great alternative.

4. Add Your Own Personality

You are going to be spending a great deal of time in your home office. Therefore, you do want to make it a place that you feel great about walking into every day. While keeping comfort and functionality in mind, you should add a few design elements to the space that really interest you. 

For instance, if you are into nature, adding some plants around the room can liven up the place. If you enjoy bright and vibrant colors, apply bold color paint to the walls or create a feature wall that encompasses all the colors you like.

It may take time for your home office to come together like you imagined. Remember, while the aesthetics are interesting, it is imperative that you remember to create an office space that allows you to be productive at all times. Hopefully these design tips will get you started in creating a space that you enjoy working in on a daily basis.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Guest post- What causes foundations and slabs to start to sink?

Whether your home is new or old, there is a possibility that the foundation (or slab) can start to sink into the ground.  The reasons for this are many. Settlement or movement can be caused by expansion in the clay, improper compaction in the soil or improperly maintained ground surrounding the foundation. Regardless of the cause of the settling, this scenario can be very serious for the homeowner. Settlement can not only reduce the value of your home, it can also render it dangerous to live in.

In most cases, the underlying cause of foundation settling is water. Certain components in soil tend to swell or shrink with varying levels of moisture. The result is varying degrees of movement in the soil. High clay content in soil is more susceptible to settling than those types of clay that have less clay. The degree of settlement can vary from very slight (which is still an issue worth addressing) to quite pronounced- a dangerous situation.

When the foundation of a home or building is laid upon unstable soil, there is much higher likelihood that the foundation will move, shift, and settle. Because there is no real degree of uniformity to each type of soil’s movement, virtually every foundation is subject to movement. This is true of all kinds of foundations, whether it is slab, pier-style or beam-style foundations. In some cases, the soil underneath a home will swell uniformly, in which case there is no issue as the foundation will also move uniformly. The problems arise when the soil swells unevenly, causing the slab to settle unevenly. That differential movement can cause cracks, fissures and other problems.

When slab settlement occurs, a host of problems can arise.  The structure can be at risk of being damaged, which can cause a variety of hazards and make the home unsafe.  Drainage problems, tripping hazards, cracks and other issues can also arise from slab settlement.

How do you know that your home may have settlement issues? There are some signs to look for.  These include:

Exterior Warning Signs

Rotation in the walls

Separation around windows or garage door

Noticeable cracks in bricks or surrounding mortar

Moldings that have fallen off or shifted

Interior Warning Signs

Doors and windows that fall out of alignment

Cracks in drywall or sheetrock

Floor cracks

Generally, settlement cracks will appear vertically, as opposed to the kind of cracks that will occur as a result of a wall being subject to lateral movement from soil pressure.
If you notice any of these warning signs, do not hesitate; call a foundation specialist such as SMR Supplies Inc. They can assess the issue and devise a solution to remedy the problem. Shifting foundations can be a serious issue, posing a threat not only to the value of your home but also to its structural integrity. Do not take that risk. Call in the experts to fix the problem and keep your home and your family safe.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Guest post- Interior Design Trends for 2016!

Is your home long overdue an image overhaul? Are you a business owner looking to give their brand a new direction with a corporate face-lift? Get inspired in time for 2016 with our cherry-picked list of interior design trends you can expect to see everywhere come the new year. It is easy to keep up with the Joneses, whatever available budget you have got to play with, dunhelm vouchers from can help you to save money.

Vintage goods and pre-owned pieces

Consumers love of vintage goods and antiques does not seem to be fading any time soon, and in 2016, it is forecast that more people than ever will be buying artisan goods and antique furnishings. When you shop right, pre-owned pieces need not cost the premium you would expect. Discover authentic antique pieces at prices you can not only afford, but will barely but a dent in the spending budget. Perfect for adding character to your spaces, you even refurbish furniture pieces that seen better days with new upholstery, paints and finishes to coordinate perfectly with your interior design theme.

Extendable, adaptable living space

As housing demands continue to rise, more and more first-time buyers are finding their budget exhausted from a relatively small property investment. But for those starved for space, 2016 sets to inspire as the continued popularity of outdoor/indoor living is expected to take off. Designed to help incorporate available outdoor space into everyday living areas, the idea of outdoor/indoor living is ideal for those short on space, and looking to making savings in their budget, with sturdy furniture pieces that can utilized both indoors and out.

Geometric prints, tiles and textures

Expect things to get mixed up in 2016 as the popularity of geometric tiles, prints and patterns continues to rise. A hot trend in interior design at the minute, you will find a multitude of geometric designs to get you inspired, making the perfect foundation for a tile project for the kitchen or bathroom. Get adventurous with your flooring and walls in other rooms of the house, and introduce geometric tiles throughout your home to stamp some real character to every space.

Natural materials from sustainable sources

Another enduring trend you can expect to see stick around in 2016 is the use of natural materials in every aspect of interior design. Signature furniture pieces made from ethically source oak, pine and maple woods continue to be a popular choice in kitchens, while metals and minerals are also making a comeback. Make sure your interiors are up to date with upcoming trends, and kit out your spaces with a semi-industrial aesthetic with copper, aluminium and stainless fixtures and fittings. Add a subtle style accent if you do not want to go big, with understated lamp shades, door handles and paneling.

Breathe new life into your interiors this 2016 with a new colour palate

Sometimes, all a space really needs is a new lick of paint. If you are on a budget and can only give your space a simple makeover, make sure you invest in some of the standout shades of the season when picking your paint. Rich reds, warm pinks and fleshy, peachy shades are sky-rocketing in popularity, with the trend expecting to continue into 2016 and beyond. The ideal colour palate for spicing up drab spaces, and adding instant warmth to any room.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Product review- The original Lava Lamp!

I have always been fascinated by lava lamps and the science behind it so when I was invited to sample a lava lamp from Lava Lite (the original lava lamp), I was beyond thrilled!

Lava Lite offers a wide range of lava lamps in a variety of sizes and combinations which includes the original lava lamps, specialty lamps, themed lamps, party lights, night lights and more. Here are some of the uniquely fabulous lava lamps that have caught my eye!

With so many fun and quirky lava lamps on their site, I had a hard time selecting just one lamp for a review. In the end, I decided on one of their 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Collector's Item lamp! Their 50th Anniversary lamps come in four sizes: 

14.5" (Classic)
17" (Designer)
16.3" (Premier)
27" (Grande)

To give you an idea the size of the lamps in relation to each other, check out this illustration.

I decided to go for the Premier size (16.3") for its larger than average volume!
This is the one I picked!

Check out the lava lamp that arrived at my doorstep a few weeks ago!

My wonderful lava lamp came with a glass globe, a gold base, a gold cap and a light bulb. The assembling was pretty straight forward and it only took me less than a minute from start to finish. A certificate of authenticity was included with my new lamp! The dimmer switch (which was not mentioned in the product description on their website) is definitely a welcomed bonus!

This was how my lava lamp looked right after I plugged it in with the dimmer switched to the maximum. I really like the combination of yellow wax and purple liquid. They look so gorgeous together, don't you think? I also like the beautiful glass housing and the chic gold steel base and matching cap. Because of the size of my lava lamp, I had to run it for 2-3 hours to ensure it reaches its optimal performance level.

After about an hour, the wax began to melt.

About 2 hours later, my lava lamp started to form a "towery" wax pillars which is totally normal.

I checked my lava lamp again an hour later and voila, there was finally some lava action!

No two formation was ever the same and it's so much fun to watch!

I am absolutely in love with my new, gorgeous lava lamp! The lamp arrived in a perfect condition. Because my lava lamp is larger than the average size lava lamp, it took a while to warm up but the wait was absolutely worth it. The flowing and colliding melting wax was mesmerizing, relaxing and quite entertaining to watch. Unsurprisingly, my son became a huge lava lamp fan after he saw me plugged in the lamp for the first time. Now, he always asks me to turn on the lamp for him. 

A well-made and awe-inspiring lamp with charming, hypnotizing powers, what's not to love? This fascinating lamp brings our family so much fun and joy, it is now one of my most treasured possessions! Use a lava lamp to jazz up a space or inject a playful touch in a room! Highly recommended for gift giving or for yourself!

Disclosure: I have received this product to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever owned a lava lamp? Do you have a lava lamp obsession as well? I would love to hear about it! Don't forget to get your own lava lamp here!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book review- Decorating With Carpets: A Fine Foundation!

Thanks to Meghan Phillips for sending me another gorgeous design book, Decorating With Carpets: A Fine Foundation by Ashley Stark Kenner, Chad Stark and Heather Smith MacIsaac!

The sophisticated black and white room on the front cover of this book piqued my interest right from the start. Here is a sneak peek of some of the brilliantly decorated homes you will find inside this book!

Decorating With Carpets: A Fine Foundation is truly a gem! This visually delightful book demonstrates the importance of carpets in the world of interior design with amazing photographs of stunning rooms designed by of top designers such as Victoria Hagan, Bunny Williams, Steven Gambrel, Markham Roberts, Alexa Hampton, Jan Showers and more! Page after page of beautiful carpets and inspirational rooms, this fabulous volume shouldn't be missed. Highly recommended for every designer and design aficionados!

Don't forget to get your copy here!

*I received  this book to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Product review- Minted artwork!

I have always love Minted products! They have everything from great quality paper goods (customized holiday cards, customized wedding cards, customized baby and kids cards, customized invites, etc), artwork to home and party decor, all sourced from independent, talented artists from around the world. So when I was contacted by Minted to receive a custom product from their artwork collection, of course I said yes!

Here are some of my favorite artwork from their collection!

Such gorgeous artwork, don't you think? Which one are you drawn to? Honestly, it took me a while to pick just one artwork for this review because I had so many favorites. In the end, I selected this print!

I picked a large 30"x 30" limited edition print by Molly Goodman. I decided to put it in my master bedroom across my bed so it's the first thing I see when I wake up every morning!

My print depicts a valley that lays below the tiny town of Pienza in Tuscany in the weeks between winter and spring when new grass is sprouting and old grass is falling away.

I picked the whitewashed herringbone frame for its modern rustic look.

A close-up of the whitewashed herringbone frame.

A close-up of my lovely print!

I absolutely adore my beautiful artwork! The image evokes a sense of peace and tranquility in a faraway land which I truly love. 

Printed on high quality paper with deluxe pigment ink, the small details and colors look sharp and vibrant. The frame, on the other hand was made from sustainable mango wood and was individually crafted so slight imperfections and variations in the arrowhead pattern was to be expected. I actually thought the little quirks are quite charming!

Condition wise, my print was carefully packed with layers of cardboard sheets and protective wraps so nothing was ruined during the delivery process. 

All in all, great artwork, wonderful materials, fast and careful shipping with plenty of design styles and picture frames to choose from, what's not to love about Minted?

Don't forget to visit their website to check out their fresh, stylish and affordable offerings when you have a moment!

Disclosure: I have received this product to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, October 19, 2015

How to choose a coffee grinder!

Flavor depends so much on the beans, so does it even matter which coffee grinder you choose?

Coffee geeks love to preach about the benefits of freshly ground coffee. It lasts longer, it tastes better, and it freezes better. In other words, pre-ground coffee and instant coffee just do not cut it. Clearly, not all coffee is created equal. But if you must go with coffee grinders, which one should you choose? Some must be better than others, after all. Here is a quick guide to choosing the right coffee grinder:

What You Should Know About Ground Coffee

One thing coffee and espresso aficionados can agree on is that the grinder really matters. Despite what you may think, the grinder can actually make a huge difference in the taste of your beverage. When shopping around for a coffee grinder, it pays to know a few facts about ground coffee.

1. The flavor of a coffee not only depends on the coffee plants and the roast, but also on the size of the coffee grinds. The larger the coffee ground, the longer it takes to extract the flavor.

2. Additionally, smaller coffee grounds have a greater chance of making their way into the cup, especially if you use a French press or similar method.

3. Also, the heat from a coffee grinder can affect the flavor of coffee grounds when it prematurely warms them.

4. Coffee and espresso must both be ground soon before brewing in order to preserve the taste, which may rule out some types of grinder, if you are a serious aficionado.

What to Look for When Buying a Coffee Grinder

There are a few considerations you should weigh when shopping for a grinder:


Some people may be surprised to learn that coffee grinders can cost lots and lots of money.

You can certainly find low-end coffee grinders for under $20 at major retailers, but there are also coffee grinders that cost more than $1,000. The true coffee geeks preach that these are the only way to go, but not everyone can put down that kind of money on a grinder.

Set aside a budget beforehand, and then think about your other options.

Grinder Mechanism

There are two types of grinder mechanisms: blades and burrs. Bladed grinders are the types of grinders that we commonly find in supermarkets and large retailers. These grinders operate much like the pulse mode on a blender – simply put the beans in, hold down the button, and wait a few seconds.

Burr grinders use either cone-shaped or flat-bladed burrs to spin coffee apart. Generally, conical burrs spin more slowly, so they transfer less heat to the beans when grinding them. However, the high-end flat-bladed grinders also have heat dissipation mechanisms inside, so these also lose minimal flavor.


Mid-level and high-end grinders also give you the option to change the coarseness of the grind. Stepped grinders come with pre-set grind levels, or steps. Each step falls somewhere between coarse and fine.

Stepless grinders simply have a range, without a pre-set step. Potentially, you can have an infinite number of settings with stepless grinders, though some may argue that you actually have less control over the final level of coarseness.

Do not think that just because a grinder is stepped that it has a small number of grind levels. Some of the higher end models can have 40, 50, or even more steps. This is more than enough to choose from, even from an avid aficionado.


In general, high-speed models are less expensive. They also transfer more heat to the beans while they are being ground, though. As mentioned, this can affect the flavor.

If you have the budget and want to really consider yourself a coffee fanatic, go for low-speed grinders. Some upscale models will allow you to adjust not only the fineness of the grind, but also the speed of the burrs. Blade grinders, which are typically low-end grinders, do not usually have these settings.


Dosers are additional features that automatically dispense a certain amount of coffee, or a “dose.” This gives you more precise control over the amount of beans, and, therefore, the flavor that will go into each cup.

These are very common in commercial settings, and you have almost certainly seen them in action at your local cafes.


Timers are mechanisms that give you even more control over the fineness and precision of your coffee grind. You set how long you want the grinding process to last, and the machine stops grinding when you tell it to.

There are two types of timers, precise and imprecise. Like stepless grinder, imprecise timers simply have a sliding scale that you adjust, while precise timers let you input the exact amount of time you would like to grind.

Grinding by Hand

Some grinders allow you to grind your own coffee by hand. But should you choose one of these hand grinders? As with electric grinders, they come at all price ranges, but they tend to be less expensive than the high-end electronic grinders.

Some coffee nerds feel that they take too long to grind, however. With espresso, you should be brewing within 30 to 45 seconds of the grind, so oxidation can start affecting the taste when you use a hand grinder.

The Brew

Will you be brewing espresso, coffee, or both? Espresso needs its grind to be fine and consistent. Unlike drip or press coffee, water is blasted through the grinds very quickly, so it has less time to extract the flavor.

For coffee, coarser grounds will do. There are coffee grinders that are specifically designed for espresso and some that are specifically designed for coffee. And then there are those that handle both.

Putting It All Together

When you add up all these factors, from the type of grind mechanism to the type of brew you will be drinking, you should have a pretty good idea of which type of coffee grinder is right for you.

The next step is to research the brands that fall within your price range and see which ones offer the features that you are after.