Thursday, July 19, 2018

Switzerland Trip in July

We spent eight amazing days in Switzerland back in early July, and I am still mesmerized by the breathtaking sceneries this country has to offer. If you are like me who grew tired of the European old towns and their similar architecture, and was in search of something more refreshing and mind-blowing, I strongly recommend giving Switzerland a try. However, being the world's richest country, Switzerland definitely ranks very low on the affordability ladder. So don't be surprised if you ordered a bowl of ramen and the bill came back at $100! 

Picture below: the stunning scenery from the Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Bernese Oberland. Every corner put me in a constant state of awe. 

Our itinerary went like this: 
  • Day 1: departure from Toronto, 3-hour stopover in Milan. 
  • Day 2: arrival in Zurich in the late afternoon. Our hotel Glockenhof Zurich is in the downtown core (financial district to be exact), so the location makes it easy for us to explore key tourist sites. I recommend booking directly with the hotel. We saved over $2,000 from it. 
  • Day 3: Zurich Kunshaus (Art Museum), Altstadt (Old Town), Limmat river banks. Enjoyed lunch and snacks at the La Rôtisserie.  
  • Day 4: Zurich -> Interlaken -> Lauterbrunnen, took a cogwheel train to Kleine Scheidegg; another train to Jungfraujoch. Took the Grindelwald route back to Zurich. 
  • Day 5: Zurich -> Berne -> Thun.
  • Day 6: Zurich -> Lucerne -> Engelberg -> Mount Titlis. 
  • Day 7: Zurich -> Rapperswil-Jona -> The Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen. 
  • Day 8: return.
If you are considering renting a car in Switzerland, don't. We rented a 7-seater because we were travelling with my friend and her family from Copenhagen. It was probably the most stressful place to drive on earth! There were traffic cameras every where, so a slight violation would trigger the cameras to go off. We are still biting our nails over how many tickets we might be getting in the mail! That said, driving through all the alpine winding mountain roads with windows done was truly an amazing experience. 

Picture below: Lindenhof avails you the best views to the Limmat and Zurich old town. 

The sunset in Zurich was magical. 

We spent a few hours at the Zurich Kunshaus. As usual, we were attracted to the modern collections and sculpture garden. There's a lot of construction (expansion) going on at the Kunshaus but you wouldn't notice it from the inside. 


Bird in Space (L'Oiseau dans l'espace) sculpture by Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. 

The iconic Staubbach Falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. 

Paragliders from Schilthorn. 

Jungfraujoch, one of the most recognizable peaks that make up the Alps. I could feel my ears popping as we hiked up. Oxygen level did get pretty thin inside the train station and caves, but it was hardly noticeable outside. I felt a bit light-headed at first but soon overcame it and was completely distracted by the otherworldly views.  

I believe this is the Eiger



Berne old town


Thun

Mount Titlis

Mount Titlis Suspension Bridge


I highly recommend the Rotair (cable car) ride to the top of Mount Titlis, if you are not acrophobic. Make sure we take a stop at the 1,800-m and hike around the Lake Trübsee. 



The iconic Chapel Bridge in Lucerne. 



Seedamm Rapperswil-Hurden Bridge in Rapperswil-Jona. 


Rhine Falls in the Schaffhausen




Stylish Eco-Friendly Options For Your Home

~ This is a featured post. ~

In today’s world, everything you do is impacted by how you treat the planet. With global warming on the rise, people are constantly looking for ways to do their bit to help. There is no better way of doing this than to focus on where people spend most of their time: in their homes. Although being eco-friendly traditionally implies you must compromise your style for the planet, the two are now a perfect pairing when it comes to improving your home. If you are struggling to find the best ways you can update your home style, while keeping your carbon footprint low, make sure you follow the five handy hacks.

Re-evaluate your heating
When the winter months roll in, it can be easy to put your heating on full to avoid any late-night chills. Not only does this increase your energy bill, but it also does lots of damage to the environment. To minimize this risk, it’s wise to invest in aluminum radiators from retailers such as warmrooms.co.uk, which use much less water to heat up and have a smaller energy rating. This kind of radiator also adds a more polished look to any room.

Choose thermal curtains
When you want to keep your home toasty without increasing your energy usage, you can go one step further by buying smart features like thermal curtains. Not only are these a huge help if your double-glazing isn’t keeping the heat in, but they can be a great style statement if you choose some that have bold patterns on them. Popular fabrics include heavy cotton and velvet, which can also bring some texture into a room.

Use natural fabrics
When you buy soft-furnishings, you may not usually stop to think about what they are made of or where they come from. Usually, they will be made of synthetic fibres that can give off a chemical smell when you first buy them. To help the air quality of your home and to promote recycled fabrics, it’s a good idea to shop at natural fabric stores when choosing your blankets and cushions.

Always go second-hand
When you are updating a room with new furniture, you run the risk of increasing your carbon footprint by choosing brand new styles. To keep your footprint low and introduce a vintage feel to your home, going second-hand is always preferred. Then, when the time comes that you are finished with those furnishings, you should put them on a second-hand website or donate them to friends, family or charities for free.

Bring plants indoors
Bringing plants inside has immeasurable benefits to your home, from adding a bright pop of colour, to improving the air quality around the house. Having a few scattered around each room means you are less likely to need an air humidifier, which reduces your energy usage. Not only this, but you are doing your small bit to help plants grow. If you want to go one step further, you can also make your own allotment in your garden, where you can grow your own fresh produce. This way, you reduce your carbon footprint further and add a rustic feel to your home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

3 Simple Tips to Make Moving Home Easier

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While moving house can be a really exciting moment in a person’s life, it can also become a long and stressful process. You spend months at the local estate agents trying to find the perfect new home, while looking for a buyer for your current home. Then you end up spending a lot of money on moving fees, and finally there is the extra cost of having to move all of your belongings from one location to the other. With all of this in mind, here are three simple things you can do to make moving home an easier and less stressful process for you and your family.

Don’t spend extra on packing materials
Most people end up spending a lot of money on moving house, from the cost of hiring the removals van, to paying for a babysitter to watch the kids for the day of the move. However, you can save a little bit of money on moving house by not spending so much on the price of packing materials. Instead of buying lots of boxes, bubble wrap and tape, try and utilize items that you already have around the home. You can use suitcases to pack away clothes and use linens to protect delicate items, such as plates and glasses, rather than wasting bubble wrap.

Pack with precision
While it might be tempting to just chuck items into random boxes and seal them up without a second thought, you will definitely regret it once you arrive in your new home. Instead, take the time to create an organized packing system. It might be best to pack one room at a time, as that way you are only losing the use of one room, rather than losing items from all over the house.

Plus, when you have cleared out the first room, you can then use that space to store boxes in so that the rest of the house doesn’t become too cluttered. Label everything precisely, with a note of what room the items are from, and a general description of the contents. This will help you to decide how to transport each box; for example, some items might go in a moving truck, while the essentials can go in your car. If you don’t have enough room in your car, you can always get a 4WD Supacentre roof rack, to give yourself some more space. It might also be worth writing a list of each box, so that you know if anything goes missing.

Try to avoid moving during busy times
During busy traffic hours, moving home is going to be made that much more difficult, especially when it comes to finding parking at the other end. Therefore, it is important to think about what time of day you are going to move; for example, you might find it worthwhile to take the day off of work and hire the moving truck for use during the late morning or early afternoon, when most people are still at work or school.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tips To Help Make Your Home More Appealing

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Whether it’s for your own good or because you’re trying to sell your house, there will come a time when you feel like your home is in need of a makeover. It could be that it appears drab or you’re simply sick of the same old look and feel.

The following tips will allow you to make your home more appealing and a better place to live and spend your time overall. Instead of stressing over the updates, take it one project at a time and have fun recreating and fixing what needs some attention in your space. This is your chance to get creative and allow for your visions and wishes of what you always wanted your home to look like to finally come to life.

Keep it Clean & Declutter
A messy home is typically going to make your property less appealing no matter what. Therefore, spend time cleaning and decluttering on a regular basis. Come up with a schedule that helps you stay on track and not get too overwhelmed with the task. Also, stay organized and make sure all of your belongings are stored away and labeled correctly so you can always easily find what you’re looking for. Picking up as you go or in the evenings before you head to bed will allow you to stay on top of this responsibility and it’ll be less likely that you’ll have it all pile up into one large undertaking.

Focus on Curb Appeal
People and passersby care about what the outside of your home looks like and you should too. You want onlookers talking positively about your property and not complaining that it’s bringing down the ambiance of the neighborhood. It’s worth the investment to keep up with your landscaping and spend the time cleaning up a bit on the outside. Some ideas you may want to consider that boost curb appeal are power washing the driveway and siding, replacing old garage doors and making your porch appear attractive by adding plants and a sitting bench. In addition, replace a worn down mailbox and think about painting your front door a bold hue that catches your attention.

Spruce up the Backyard
You don’t want to forget about the backyard when you’re working on coming up with ideas for how to make your home more appealing. Pay attention to the details and work to create an oasis where you actually want to spend time. You’ll want to offer plenty of seating and privacy if you like relaxing in your backyard or are someone who entertains often. You can read more online about what signs to look for when deciding if it’s time to replace your deck and install a new one. Not only should you contemplate replacing your deck, but also planting some colorful vegetation and maybe even adding a pergola that will spruce up your space even further.

Consider New Paint
Consider a new paint job when brainstorming ways for how to make your home more appealing. Paint has the ability to instantly transform a room by making small areas look bigger and dull spaces look brighter. It can be a fun DIY project that you complete with the entire family, or hire someone to help you out and guarantee it gets done quickly and looks professional. Remember to touch up the trim and any doors while you’re tackling this project. It’s a wise idea to see if both the interior and exterior need to be refreshed when you’re determining what to paint.

Remodel the Kitchen & Bathrooms
The most used rooms in your home are the kitchen and bathrooms, and buyers always look at these spaces when shopping for a new home. Invest in these areas, and your home will not only look better in the present for you to enjoy, but you’ll likely be able to sell it a lot faster when the time comes. Be proactive and do your homework so you can figure out what features you like and feel you can’t live without when it comes to the design aspect. A few ideas to help you get the ball rolling include painting or refinishing cabinets, replacing floors and installing a unique backsplash.

Take the Time to Decorate
A happy and attractive house is one that’s decorated and looks like someone lives in it. Avoid leaving walls blank and not spending the time to add your personal touch to your space. Make your home more appealing by hanging colorful artwork, putting down rugs on cold floors and placing plants throughout your home to make it more lively and inviting. Display a few family photos here and there, and purchase decorative pieces that speak to you and your home’s style. This is your chance to add a little bit of extra character to your home and showcase your taste as well.

Rework Your Lighting & Fixtures
You’ll be able to instantly make your home more appealing when you explore the idea of updating your lighting and fixtures. A dark and dreary home will cause you to feel tired, and you won’t have any desire to be in your space. Shop for beautiful fixtures that light up your rooms and give yourself options for setting the mood such as putting your lights on a dimmer switch. Add lamps, install recessed lighting and replace or wash old windows to draw in plenty of natural light to your entire house. The point is you can never have too many lighting choices for daytime or in the evening, so make sure you have a wide variety of solutions incorporated throughout your space.

Conclusion
There’s no reason to settle for mediocre when there are so many ideas for how you can make your home more appealing. Use these tips to get you started in the right direction and excited about all the new possibilities that exist for updating your space. Most importantly, be sure to sit back and enjoy these upgrades and take the time to admire all your hard work once you get your house to a better place.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Tips and Tricks For New Homeowners

~ This is a featured post. ~

Moving houses can be one of the most stressful life events, but with effective planning, you can ensure this can be as smooth and stress-free as possible. You can also ensure you are prepared for any unexpected occurrences and reduce the stress of moving to a new house.

Plan well ahead of moving day
It is best to plan ahead and make sure your schedule is free on moving day. This can help reduce the stress of what will already be a very stressful life event. Consider moving on a Friday to allow you to have the weekend to settle down in your new home and organize your things and thoughts.

Don’t leave packing on the last day or the night before to prevent stress and prevent you from forgetting anything important. It is probably best to make a list of everything you need to move, anything you will take with you and anything you will need to do once you arrive at your new house.

Ensure that you have all the information you need if, say, your children are moving to a new school, such as their start dates and times, any meeting you may have with a teacher and similarly if you are also moving to a new job.

By keeping all these in mind, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and stress once you arrive in your new home.

Keep key contacts at hand
Key contacts when moving home can be along the lines of your internet service providers to help you set up your new house’s WIFI, local technicians to help you in setting up your TV or help with water damage cleanup in case you need help in checking your kitchen and ensuring it is functional for your first week.

It might also be a good idea to have the contact details of the moving company if you are using one, in case boxes are lost in transit and require frequent communication to arrive on time.

Likewise, any emergency numbers might be useful to note down. Particularly when you are moving to a new neighborhood or a new city, you may not have the same connections as you had in your past home. Therefore, it is best to have these contact details on hand in your first few weeks.

Label boxes clearly
As part of your planning and for ease of unpacking, you can label boxes well ahead of moving day. This will ensure you have everything you need, and you will not forget anything. You can also set aside a box of unused items or items you will not take over to your new house and can send to donation or set up for sale. This will lessen clutter in your new home and give you space to redecorate!

Likewise, write a list of everything you intend to bring to your new home and everything you do not need and can be thrown away or donated. This way you can easily tick off important items and ensure that they have arrived safely in the new house. And if they are delayed or lost, then you know exactly what is missing.

Pack a small bag of essentials
Things can get lost in transit or delayed, and unexpected inconveniences can occur. It might be best to prepare a small bag to store essentials such as medicine, painkillers, a spare change of clothes, toothpaste and toothbrush, chargers and anything else that you may need in your day to day.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself
With the stress of moving to a new house, all the preparations and management it requires, it is easy to forget your own well-being. Ensure you get enough sleep on the night before moving day, so you have the energy to handle the day. Fatigue can affect your focus and concentration increasing the likelihood of forgetting things and getting enough rest will ensure you have enough energy to tackle the rest of the day.

Likewise, keep vitamins and any essential medication at hand on moving day and in the first few days. Stress can affect the immune system and the stress of new environments, and can also affect life events such as moving to a new school or home or job, can reduce your resistance to something like the common cold.

As stressful and hectic as moving to a new house, with planning and organization, you can ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible. And once the move is complete and all your belongings safely arrive at your new home, it will be time to celebrate this new chapter of your life!
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