Author Archive | Jennie Lyon

Tips to Maintain Your Privacy at Home

Tips to Maintain Your Privacy at Home

Whether you are a parent with young children or someone that likes entertaining, everyone is familiar with the experience of finding unwanted guests in just about every room in your home. You might find a kid playing with your laptop in your office or a house guest in your bedroom. No matter the culprit, it can be frustrating to feel like no space is sacred. Even intruders with pure intentions can cause you to feel anxious or uncomfortable.

Creating a private space might seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. A few simple steps can prevent unwanted visitors into your private spaces and give you the peace of mind that your things are safe and secure where you left them. Whether you simply need a barrier to stop the mildly curious or something with a bit more security, there are budget-friendly options for all needs.

Change the Hardware

To keep unwanted guests out, choose door hardware with a sturdy lock. This will make it clear to anyone that tries to open the door that this space is off-limits. While a heavy-duty lock would do the trick, there are also more creative hardware pieces to consider. Wrought iron slide locks couple well with non-traditional sliding door styles, such as barn door fixtures. Check out the best barn door hardware for a unique take that can add character as well as security.

Slide locks can provide a polite but firm message to nosy guests and can be put out of reach of adventurous small children. A simple slide lock can be purchased from the hardware store on a budget, but unique pieces can often be found at local shops or farmers’ markets where a local blacksmith has a booth with the added benefit of supporting local businesses.

Install a New and More Secure Door

Many homes, especially those that are not brand new, may have lightweight doors with handles that just don’t latch very well and may swing open at the slightest breeze. Wooden doors and doorframes will warp over time and need to be replaced.

It is important to check door frames for wood rot. It may not always be obvious to the casual eye when the damage to the door frame is caused by more than warping from age. Replacing the entire frame is relatively inexpensive if you can do the work without a carpenter. Once the frame is secure, an additional easy solution to a door that won’t latch is to install a new door with new hardware. Sometimes a soundly closed door is enough to discourage nosy guests.

Install a Green New Door

When you’re doing any DIY project, it’s important to keep smart recycling tips in mind. The same idea applies when you are looking to install a new door. A quick check with a local carpenter or Habitat for Humanity ReStores will give you access to recycled building materials and doors to choose from rather than buying a new door from a home improvement store. Choosing a recycled piece is the green choice, but it can also provide you with a beautifully unique door. This solution is particularly good for a creative space such as an art or craft room or a home office where the door becomes as much art as functional security.

Consider a Few Budget-Friendly Security Measures

For more serious security concerns, or in cases of persistent intruders, there are a few budget-friendly security options that can be put into place. Installing a deadbolt on offices or the master bedroom is certain to keep out intruders of all sizes. It is inconvenient to have to carry a key to get in and out of these rooms, but the inconvenience might be worth the peace of mind. Little fingers can do a lot of damage to expensive electronic devices in the space of a few minutes.

A deadbolt can be as simple as a key lock entry or can be as sophisticated as requiring keypad entry or specialty cut keys that only a locksmith with specialized equipment can reproduce.

Be More Self-Sustainable by Creating a Vegetable Garden

Be More Self-Sustainable by Creating a Vegetable Garden

Imagine being able to harvest over half a ton of beautiful vegetables from a garden that is only 20-foot-long. Yields like this are far easier than you think to achieve and the secret lies within the strategy you use. If you want to make sure that you get the best result out of your garden, then take a look below.

Plant in Raised Beds

Expert gardeners all agree that it’s super important to build up the soil.  If you are able to have a deep and organically rich soil then this will encourage the growth of extensive roots. These roots then have a higher chance of being able to reach a lot more water and nutrients. The vegetables that you can then harvest will be extra tasty and way more productive. If you want to be able to take advantage of this then you need to make sure that you have some raised beds. Raised beds are able to yield up to four times more produce when compared to plants that are in spaced rows, not to mention that you have way more room to grow them as well.  When you do have a raised bed, you will also find that they can save you a lot of time. Your plants will grow much closer together and this will crowd out any competing weeds. That means more produce for less time! If you are wondering what you are going to do with all of your extra vegetables then why not grow tomatoes and make this sugar free tomato sauce recipe? You can also plan out a home-grown thanksgiving dinner if you start early enough too.

Round out the Soil

The shape of your beds can make a huge difference. If you want to make more room, then try and gently round off the top of your soil so that it makes an arc. A rounded bed that is just 5 feet wide then becomes 6 feet wide.  This might not seem like a lot but when you do it across all of your beds, you will soon find that it makes a huge difference. You can expect to gain around 20% more space when you do this, and if you want some plants that are good to sow on the edges then simply focus on spinach, lettuce and other greens.

Pay Attention to the Arrangement of your Crops

If you want to get the maximum yield from every bed that you have then you need to pay attention to how your plants are arranged. Try and avoid planting in a square pattern or even in rows. Instead, try and stagger your plants by arranging in triangles instead. If you do this then you may find that you can plant up to 10% more plants in each bed. Be careful though because you don’t want to pack your plants too tightly. If you do, then you will compromise the yield.  If you crowd too tightly then this will also stress your plants out, making them way more susceptible to disease.

Grow Climbing Plants

It doesn’t matter how small your garden is because you can grow way more if you choose to grow vertically. Grow-hungry crops include peas, tomatoes, melons, squash and pole beans. Growing vegetables vertically will save you a lot of time because it makes maintenance way easier too.

Think of the Planet For Your Next Celebration

When it comes to celebrating, it’s tempting to throw everything you can into it and make it an event to remember. You want your guests to talk about it for years to come, and the only way to make this possible is to go all out. 

However, going big, whatever the event can have a disastrous effect on the environment. From the harmful consequences of regular air travel to the amount of leftover waste you can get from big family dinners once, twice, thrice, or even more every year, these occasions can seriously harm the world we live in. 

Air Travel

Jumping on a plane to celebrate an engagement, honeymoon, or just because you feel like a vacation seems like a great idea at the time, and if everyone’s doing it, then why shouldn’t you? Well, if you are conscious about air pollution, you’d understand why more and more earth-conscious folk are abandoning air travel. 

While it’s true that you should never settle for less when it comes to engagement rings, you don’t need to go all out for a big proposal, and this is doubly so if you’re planning a destination wedding. Bigger is not always better—the more intimate, the more memorable and unique. 

It’s always wonderful to celebrate anything by catching the next flight out there; no one is disputing that, but with a more substantial focus on the environment than ever before, it’s useful to understand that you don’t need to jet-set around the world to prove your love. 

Car and Emissions

The same goes for car travel and the emissions that they will cause. Air pollution caused by exhaust fumes from thousands of cars on the road every year is astronomical, and this is why, rather than renting a car for your next celebration, maybe suck it up and embrace public transport, whether you go abroad or stay at home. 

If you are seeking solutions to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle that is better for the environment, abandoning your car for the bus or even a train (especially if it’s electric-powered), is a fantastic first step to take. You can still see everything you want for your celebration, whether that’s a birthday or treating the family to a Christmas adventure. Nevertheless, you will need to make sure you know the timetables before embarking anywhere. 

Food Waste

Who doesn’t enjoy getting the family together for the big holidays throughout the year? It’s a great chance to bond and reconnect, especially if you haven’t seen certain relatives in a while. 

However, with a lot of guests means there will always be food leftover, and this means this food will go to waste, especially if it is contaminated with sauce and other food. You can, however, take steps to minimize this with smaller portions and a more modest meal. It may take some getting used to, but it will be better for the planet overall. 

Celebrating More Consciously

We’ve been conditioned to believe that if something is not a huge event, then it doesn’t matter at all, and while there is nothing wrong with celebrating, it’s vital to realize just how much is too much. Whether you’re thinking of tying the knot, taking a vacation, or bringing everyone together for the holidays, it’s worth considering how this will impact the planet before setting anything in stone. 

15 Best Children’s Books for Christmas!

Do you remember what Christmas was like when you were a child?

Sure, as an adult, the winter holidays can be filled with all kinds of stress. You have to worry about family, hosting a big dinner, making sure that all of the presents are under the tree… It’s crazy!

But if you’re a child, it can be pure magic. Santa Claus and snow and reindeer and stockings! They get to be around all of their favorite people for days and be showered with nothing but love and attention. It’s little wonder why kids love Christmas.

And if you really want to build up the Christmas spirit in them, you can work in some fantastic children’s books about Christmas into the evening bedtime story rotation! Here are some of my favorites that I highly recommend you share with them:

The Polar Express: 30th Anniversary Edition by Chris Van Allsburg

Before it was a Tom Hanks movie, The Polar Express was one of the most beloved Christmas books ever written. If you’ve only seen the film, then you should definitely check out the original it’s based on.

On Christmas Eve, a little boy boards a mysterious train bound for the North Pole. Once there, he meets Santa himself, who gives him any gift he desires. His choice isn’t what you might expect and leads to a magical tale filled with beautiful images.

Arial the Secret Santa by Mary Nhin

In Arial the Secret Santa, children will follow Arial the unicorn through school, in her community and in nature as she models how easy it can be to share kindness. From giving a compliment to smiling at someone who’s having a bad day, Arial shows children that, no matter how small, words and act of kindness MATTER, especially at Christmas! Included in the book is the Kindness Tree Activity to help encourage your child to give praise and spread positivity into the world.

I love Christmas. It’s a time of peace and kindness. And kindness and compassion are the traits I most want to instill in our kids.

If you’re looking for a book this Christmas to help teach your kids about the power of kindness, then this is the book to have under the tree. I highly recommend this book!

Festive Flamingo by Shaula Maitland

If you would like a moment of calm this Christmas (and a brilliant night’s sleep, shh…) then Festive Flamingo is the book for you!

Flamingo shares a festive selection of breathing exercises and relaxing visualizations. She joins you for twelve magical meditations, where you explore positive themes such as perseverance, curiosity and self-belief. Build a magical camel out of snow, learn to ice-skate with the woodland animals and create an exciting game for the elves.

Enjoy the benefits of meditation, alongside adventure and festive fun!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
 by Dr. Seuss

I mean, do you really need a summary of How the Grinch Stole Christmas? It’s one of the most celebrated children’s books of all-time, let alone one of the all-time great Christmas books! It’s also a brilliant cartoon, two big-budget movies, and the basis of countless toys. And you know what? It deserves every single bit of praise it gets.

The Grinch that Stole Christmas perfectly communicates the meaning of Christmas and is filled with stunning art, hilarious rhymes, and some truly funny jokes. It’s a true classic that should be on every child’s bookshelf. If you’ve never encountered it before, you owe it to yourself to give it a read (even if you’re an adult)!

Little Squirrel Squish Gets His Christmas Wish by Ross Hammond

Do you remember the story of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer? Everyone told him that he couldn’t be a member of Santa’s reindeer team. Well, here is a children’s book that reflects that story, putting a whole new spin on the idea of following your dreams!

Little Squirrel Squish is a tiny squirrel who wants to be part of Santa’s flying crew. But because he’s so small (and because he’s not a reindeer), everyone keeps telling him to forget about his dreams. But one Christmas, he decides to go for it, changing everything! This book will teach your children that their every dream, no matter how seemingly out of reach, is worth exploring!

Santa’s Reindeer by Brooke Stevens

Getting back to Santa’s reindeer, let’s talk about Santa’s Reindeer, the book!

Discovering that everyone is different is one of the most important lessons a child can be taught. In this adorable Christmas book, all of the various personalities of Santa’s reindeer are explored. It’s a perfect read for small children, full of cute illustrations and a lovely Christmas message!

The Mouse in the Hammock, a Christmas Tale by Bethany Brevard

If you think it’s only Santa who does good deeds on Christmas Eve, you need to meet a very special mouse!

Spinning off from the “Not a creature was stirring…” line from Twas the Night Before Christmas, this wonderful book features a mouse who is busy all Christmas night doing small acts of kindness, such a cooling the cocoa for Sanata, hanging up the mistletoe, and taste testing the cookies! It’s a fabulous lesson for kids who are looking to drive the meaning of Christmas home: that you’re never too little to make a big difference!

The Elf Who Couldn’t Read by Sonica Ellis

Do your children know how to read yet?

Countless children learn how to read their first words while sitting on their parents’ laps. And if you want a book that will help them sound out letters while also embracing the Christmas spirit, then this is it!

In it, Jingles the elf doesn’t know how to read yet, but needs to figure out Santa’s Christmas list. With the help of your child, they read the list together and make sure that Christmas is a huge success!

Secret Santas And The Twelve Days of Christmas Giving by Courtney Petruzzelli

One of the reasons why I love Secret Santas so much is that it makes giving anonymous. You aren’t giving someone something with the expectation of a “thank you” from them. Instead, their enjoyment is its own reward.

In this wonderful Christmas book, your kids will learn about Secret Santas and why it can be such a wonderful Christmas tradition. Beautiful art and a wonderful message make this a Christmas must!

A Christmas Cookie Exchange by Sheri Wall

Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies? But have you ever noticed that there tends to be one seemingly plain oatmeal cookie left on the plate after all the other cookies are eaten? Well, this is HIS story!

Meet Phil, an insecure fruit-filled oatmeal cookie who longs to be more fancy and famous. With help from his cookie friends, he learns what’s on the inside is more important than fancy sprinkles. Self-love and acceptance are essential qualities for kids to learn, and this rhyming Christmas tale teaches them that character and self-confidence really do matter.

How To Catch An Elf by Adam Wallace

Have you kids ever wanted to catch an elf? It turns out that it’s trickier than you might think…

In this fun and silly story, a clever elf manages to elude all of the traps that children set for him on Christmas Eve! There are lots of fun rhymes and some inventive illustrations that your kids are sure to love!

Never Let A Unicorn Meet A Reindeer! by Diane Alber

If you’re looking for a Christmas story with a twist, this might be the book for you and your kid!

Instead of it being Christmas in the book, it’s about a birthday wish gone wrong. A little girl (who has a unicorn) sends a letter to Santa to ask if she can borrow one of his reindeer during their “off-season.” He sends one with a note saying that the reindeer should never meet any unicorns. It turns out that unicorns and reindeer get highly competitive around each other, so the little girl soon has a mess on her hands! This is a funny and delightful book that can even be read when it isn’t Christmas!

The Adventures of Pookie: Mission Fat Hearts by Rebecca Yee

Everyone loves a secret agent story, especially kids.

If you want your kids to take lessons of kindness and caring into the real world, this book might be the perfect way to do it. It not only tells a Christmas story about three of Santa’s helpers doing missions of good deeds before Christmas but gives your children some missions of their own!

For example, their Christmas mission might be to give an extra hug to someone they love that day. Or to leave a “thank you” note for the mailman. With these Christmas missions, your kids will be brightening up someone else’s Christmas, a wonderful lesson to learn!

God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren

If you worry that presents, tinsel, and trees are distorting the true meaning of Christmas, then this might just be the book for you and your child.

In it, a Mama Bear and her cub explore what Christmas truly means, from what Santa truly represents (the spirit of giving) to the birth of Jesus. It’s filled with beautiful art and a wonderful Christian message.

Construction Site on Christmas Night by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Have you ever read any books from the Construction Site series? If not, this might be the perfect place to introduce you and your children to some fun and entertaining characters!

In this Christmas tale, all of the vehicles of the construction site get together to build a new home for the fire engines and, after they finish that important job, find Christmas surprises of their very own! A lovely message and some adorable art make for a great Christmas book!

What are some of your favorite Christmas children’s books? Please share them in the comments below!

How to Make an Eco-Friendly Gift Card Snow Globe as a Holiday Gift

If you are giving a gift card this holiday season, don’t just slip it into a card – make it into a snow globe. It will take giving a gift card this holiday to a whole new level – especially if you are giving it to  a child. Eben and I decided to do this project for a Secret Santa party that he will be going to – it was a super fun gift to make, read on to learn how. These are perfect for last minute gifts too!

What you will need:

  • glass mason jar
  • water
  • eco-glitter
  • glue gun
  • gift card
  • tiny ornaments

This is actually a super easy do-it-yourself project that only takes a few minutes to complete. Secure the gift card to the lid of the mason jar with hot glue. Fill the mason jar with water, add eco-glitter and a couple of tiny ornaments, screw the lid on super tight – you now have the perfect way to give a gift card!