Why organic food is better for healthy living

While a long time ago organic foods were for people with specific health conditions, today organic produce can be found in almost any supermarket and is on tongue’s tip of everyone. But, the word organic is often confused with natural, free range or hormone free. It is important to note that organic means “food that has been produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals, sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation”.

Organic foods are produced by farmers who “emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of the soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations; meat/poultry/eggs/dairy products come from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones and spend time outdoors”.

Under the US department of agriculture, organic foods bear a specific seal that allow them to be sold as organic though some foods may not be wholly organic and stated as thus on the seal.

There has been much debate over the years over the organic v/s normal food question but it is generally seen that organic food is much better for a healthy life as compared to traditional foods.

  • Organic foods have higher nutrient values (vitamins, antioxidants and minerals) as compared to normal foods. This is because the soil in which they are grown are allowed to recuperate and re gauge with soil minerals through natural means where by the plants can grow up at a steady rate and be filled with the required minerals while excluding harmful chemicals from pesticides/insecticides/herbicides and synthetic fertilizers.
  • They are free of chemicals especially pesticides. Organophosphates, a common chemical of pesticides (originally used during world war 1 as neurotoxin), release toxins that damage nerve and brain cells.
  • They are safer for babies, kids and pregnant women as there is a lesser risk of chemical traces in these foods which can affect the normal growth of young ones as well as developing babies.
  • Organic foods are far safer for the environment as a whole. There is less stress on the environment since the exclusion of chemicals means that there is no problem of leaching and subsequent pollution of rivers, lakes and other water bodies and degradation of soil quality. Organic farms also pollute less as compared to industrialised farms since they use manure as fertilizers and insects and other natural predators to repel pests instead of chemicals.

Squatters rights and how to prevent them

The last five years has seen an increase in unoccupied housing being seized by squatters, unfortunately it would seem that squatters have more rights to a property than the home owner does. There is very little you can do to remove them without going to court and spending a small fortune in eviction notices. If you are successful you then have the financially draining task of having to re-decorate and furnish the property as most squatters will not bother to clean or keep the property in good shape.

The most worrying trend that seems to be sweeping across the UK is foreign settlers that ‘house watch’ when they find a house that is unoccupied they quickly move all their belongings in, change the locks and take over. Squatter’s rights only seem to cover those that move into a property that is vacant but worryingly houses have been seized when it is occupied. There have been reports of unsuspecting people going about their daily lives of working, going to the shops and going on holiday only to come back and find that people have moved in, changed the locks and claiming the house as theirs.

The police only usually get involved if they have broken in or caused criminal damage, if they managed to find a way in without causing any damage then you will need to have a backup plan. It is extremely disheartening to know that you could go to work in the morning and come back to find that your house has been taken over by low life. Usually squatters are those that cannot afford to pay rent, drug dealers, alcoholics and students are then most common squatters. Then there are tenants who stop paying rent and then claim squatter’s rights.

If you do find that you are a victim of squatters then seek advice immediately don’t let them get too comfortable. Most people will say burn the house down, threaten them or break in but if they were to call the police you would be in trouble not them as you would’ve been the one to make the first move. It’s unfortunate that at the moment there is no law in place to protect homeowners so here are a few things you can do to deter squatters:

  • Have a timer that will switch on the lights automatically every now and then
  • If you have a good neighbour ask them to go in and check the post and draw curtains etc
  • Always make sure the windows and doors are locked, you may need additional security
  • Install security cameras or an alarm you can get them at your local DIY store and do it yourself
  • Put up signs saying ‘no trespassing allowed’ or ‘CCTV in action’ these can also deter squatters and thieves
  • Instruct a security specialist to look after you property when vacant, they can also board up the property using steel rather than timber


Takes steps to look after your property whether it is your family home or a let property.


Dartmoor ponies selling cheap

We all know that one of the first people to suffer in the recession were those that have pets that they couldn’t afford to keep in the first place, as inflation has increased and the cost of living soared many families found that they were unable to care for their beloved family pets. Cats and dogs were the most expensive small animals to look after as vet bills soared and many households could not afford insurance. The next increase in abandoned or uncared for animals is the Dartmoor Pony.

Horses and ponies have been extremely popular for young children as they grow up together and share a special bond but as the cost of feeding, bedding and care has gone up many families have had to sell or give away their horses and ponies. The Dartmoor pony is no exception, a while ago they would sell for as little as £1 but a minimum price of £10.50 has been introduced, even with these small price tag farmers and breeders are still unable to shift them on to good homes.

On average 100 Dartmoor ponies are slaughtered each year due to keeping the breeding stock strong and healthy but slaughter men have seen an increase in perfectly good ponies being slaughtered due to lack of interest. The cost of breeding a pony and then waiting for a sale adds up to the breeder and the longer it takes to move them on the more expensive it gets.

As unsuitable buyers step forward breeders have no choice to sell them so they can make a profit but keeping a pony in a small shed or greenhouse is unacceptable with many buyers being completely unaware of how to look after these ponies. Breeders who are unable to sell their stock have resorted to selling them off to the local zoo, Dartmoor Zoo. The Tigers are very happy with the premium meat they get and the Zoo has reported that the Tigers have a much better looking coat due to the protein in pony meat.

It is now though that the Dartmoor pony is even rarer than the Giant Panda with only 1,500 left as opposed to the 30,000 we had just a century ago. Unfortunately they need to have a £5 microchip inserted, a £10 pet passport and also a bale of hay costs around £18 and as they cannot digest food properly they have to continue eating. These high costs are what are attributing to the decline of interest in Dartmoor ponies, it is a shame that many children will not know these fantastic animals but unless rules and regulations are not so strict the ponies will continue to be culled.


Maxi cosi easyfix base review

I decided fairly early that I wanted a base to go with my car seat as it would be easier and practical in my small 3 door Nissan Micra. I have had my car for nearly 5 years and it is economical, safe and easy to park, having a child was not going to persuade me to upgrade to a bigger car unless I really needed to. Having searched for a car seat and base the best one was of course by Maxi Cosi, also a favourite for celebrities they can cost quite a bit. Before making up my mind I visited Babies r us to have it fitted firstly to see if it was compatible and secondly to see if it was worth it.

There are a few bases available for maxi Cosi car seats and depending on which car seat you want then the appropriate base needs to be purchased. I wanted the base to fit using isofix so opted for the maxi Cosi Easyfix base, the other cheaper one fits using the seat belt only but does the same job of keeping the base secure in the car. It is very easy to put in but the only downside is it is very heavy! I know it will always be in the car but having a small car doesn’t help, we have yet to use it while it is fitted and with a child in but I fear we may need to get a more powerful car in the near future.

I would still recommend the base as once its fitted there’s no need to worry about taking it in and out, the car seat clicks in and out effortlessly which will be very handy on a rainy day or when you come home late and don’t want to disturb a sleeping child.

The Easyfix base can cost up to £150 in some places and is used for only a year so you really need to think if it’s a worthwhile purchase for you. For me personally it is and as I plan to have more children I will most definitely use the base again, also you can change the fabric of the car seat for any future children that may use it so it doesn’t look like you’ve had the same one for years.

To save money you may want to buy one second hand as you can get them as cheap as £20 in most places otherwise you can opt for another brand where they are sold cheaper but are far more bulky such as Graco.


Consolidate your debts before they get worse

With the recent financial crisis that is affecting the nation, it’s easy to fall into the red – household bills, credit card payments and loans are just some of the reasons people fall into debt. As the economy continues to become unstable unemployment is also at an all time high, if you find that you are struggling with your financial affairs then debt consolidation may be the answer for you.

Contrary to what many people may think, there are many places that can help you get your finances back on track, eg http://www.debtplan.org/texas.htm. Some are free of charge and some companies charge a small fee to go towards their administrative costs. A credit counseling program can assist you in

  • reducing your monthly payments
  • stop annoying creditor phone calls and letters
  • reduce the years to pay off your debt
  • and best of all consolidate all your unsecured debt into one simple monthly payment

Instead of burying your head under the sand and pretending that all your financial woes will disappear, get help now before you are beyond help and need to file for bankruptcy. If you need to apply for credit in future, it always helps to make sure that all your bills are paid in time. If you have a bad credit history, it can seriously affect your life in the future.

Currently student loan debts are the latest to continue to rise as University fees creep up a little each year. Many are forced to use student loans to pay for their education. As many struggle to pay it back, they may think that they cannot be helped but this is not true; seeking professional help will mean that you can negotiate a lower repayment making your finances easier to manage. In you’re in the Ohio region, be sure to check http://www.debtplan.org/ohio.htm.

If you have gotten yourself into debt, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed there are more people than you think who are in the same situation as you; seek help now before the financial strain also affects your health.

Cost of staple foods to rise

British consumers are set to lose even more money as the cost of staple foods such as bread and pasta are set to rise. Meat is also set to increase as animal feed has become even more expensive. Bread and pasta are going up to due to drought in the US and the bad summer in the UK has delayed harvests in the UK.

Many vegetables that are harvested in the UK such as potatoes and peas are being sourced from Israel, and South Africa. The rise in food will impact many families as they are already struggling to feed their families as it is, some parents are even having to skip meals in order for their children to be fed. To add to further woes winter is just around the corner and energy suppliers have already hinted at price rises.

Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do as all supermarkets and suppliers will also be hit with the price increase. Some people have suggested buying frozen vegetables instead of fresh to save money but it has been noted that frozen isn’t always cheaper. Consumers have been writing to MP’s to raise their concerns of inflation and how it is affecting their lives but so far no one has responded, the government are also helpless as food being imported will obviously have cost issues.

One way people have thought of to bring costs down is to sell the ‘ugly’ fruit and veg that often get rejected from being sold at supermarkets because they aren’t nice enough. Because some vegetables grow misshapen they aren’t aesthetically pleasing so they get rejected from being sold to the public, by being allowed to be bought people who often stay away from fresh vegetables because they are too expensive will benefit. It could mean that some food prices can continue to stay low and affordable because there isn’t any competition.


Olympics traffic

Since the start of the Olympics on July 27th businesses have allowed staff to work from home and the Government has warned people not to travel unnecessarily to London unless absolutely needed, this has worked too well as people have heeded advice and not bothered at all. Roads are empty and London hasn’t ever looked so deserted but as a result of this businesses are suffering.

Taxi drivers, rickshaw drivers, mimes, restaurant owners and hoteliers are just some who have noticed a huge reduction in customers. Central London is usually heaving with people but Soho, Regents Street, Oxford Street and Westminster are practically empty, no cars or people. Underground stations are also desserted.

The Olympics were supposed to attract 300,000 tourists to the capital but barely 100,000 have come, the money that the country has put into the Olympics is a huge loss as the money was supposed to be recovered through tourism it now seems highly unlikely.  As you may well know the stadium was sold last year for nearly £500m but it cost over £1bn to build so already £500m has been lost.

You must have also heard about the Games Traffic Lane that has caused worldwide controversy, before the games there was so much confusion in which of the many lanes were in operation that it caused huge traffic delays and congestion. Now that they are in operation people have decided to avoid these roads leaving them completely empty and traffic free. Westfield shopping centre in Stratford is also usually very busy but that too has been abandoned. People are choosing to holiday in Wales, Scotland or Cornwall to get away from all the hype of the shambolic Olympics.

Just weeks ago high street retailers were slashing the prices of stock because of the washout summer people had turned to the internet to avoid venturing outdoors. Although it didn’t really entice customers they just used the internet to their advantage and shopped from home. Some small shop owners are really suffering as they are not getting as much clients as they used to, a rickshaw driver usually rakes in £150 a day but is barely scraping together £40 for a days work. Restaurants are empty and market stall owners are hardly making any money to cover a days wages.

So don’t believe all you read in the papers there is no Olympics traffic or congestion just empty streets and ghost towns, enjoy while it lasts and spend a nice day out without the hoards of people that are usually present.

Luxury cat hotel

One of the added expenses of going on holiday for pet owners is the task of finding someone to look after their beloved pets or a suitable boarding house for the duration of their holiday. You can get pet sitters that visit your home to feed and care for your pets but the thought of letting a stranger into your home is scary for most home owners. Finding a reputable and reliable cattery or dog boarding is also tricky most places need proof of vaccinations and paperwork before they even consider looking after your pet. With the annual vet bills increasing each year not many pet owners are not vaccinating their pets on a yearly basis. Another but costly option for cat owners specifically is finding an ‘animal hotel’. The costs can mount up but if you have the money and really want the best for your pets then this can also be a little holiday for your cats too.


Luxury cat hotel

There are many of them all over the UK and very popular in America. The reason they are called ‘luxury cat hotels’ is because they are more like private apartments that are on the ground floor and have a garden view and lots of room inside to play. Cats will be fed daily and some cat hotels also have a play room or recreation room that they can also play in. The rooms all have an activity centre, bedding and sometimes even a cat sized sofa. The only downside of this is that they don’t actually get to go outside and roam around like many cats do. They have a small garden enclosure at the end of their ‘apartment’ that allows fresh air in and they can see outside. Some older cats no longer use litter trays and most still like to spend a lot of their time outside lazing around in the sun on a nice day. Cat hotels do not allow this as they can get confused and run away so they are confined in this ‘apartment’ for their duration of stay.

Cost of luxury cat hotel stay

I have found the cheapest price of £8.95 for one days stay at a cat hotel but prices can go up to as much as £25 a day, for a second cat sharing the same room its usually a reduced rate but only a few pounds less than the standard rate. They do look very cosy and clean but for the price you pay it isn’t really anything special. It’s just another way of people to exploit cat owners to make money out of them. I have two cats and they spend a lot of their time outdoors even if it’s raining or snowing, they also do not use litter trays so a cat hotel would upset them as they would be confined all day.

If you do choose to send your cat to a cat hotel then make sure they have been vaccinated and neutered as well. The accommodation should also be approved by the council, don’t be fooled by professional looking websites, always visit first to make sure it is up to a high standard. A weeks lodging for one cat can cost as much as £80, for two cats £144 so before you fork out make sure you do a little research first.


How to generate bright ideas

A very common question is ‘Can you give me some ideas, I have tried everything but nothing seems to work.’

Though it may seem obvious, the truth is just that you have to loosen up and the let the ideas flow and jot them down as soon as they do.

Write it down
Have you ever had that problem when everything just seemed to flow into your mind at the same time and you just did not know where to start? Else, you got stuck on an idea? If you answer yes to these questions then the best thing is just to write them down on paper.

Why paper is simply because getting some inspiration while writing it down on a word document can be quite difficult and it is way easier to organise paper notes and you can also scribble all over them, something that is not possible with word.

Why you should write it down is that as soon as you get an idea, your mind will try to push it to the back to give way to new ideas. This will encourage the flow of more ideas and give you the freedom to organise everything and match them up as needed. This technique does not apply to writing only, it can be in any aspect of your life.

Visual materials are always interesting as you can clearly see them which can then lead to the creation of new ideas in a way no words could ever do. As it goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

This is why it is always a good idea to scribble in the margins of the idea paper. You do not have to be an artist to do this, make things that you understand as it concerns only you and you have to be able to translate it.

Sometimes drawing something bad can lead to the creation of new things so really you should not bother too much about your drawing types as long as you know where you are going.

Many people read a lot of ideas and techniques that do not inspire much at the end of the day but writing them down will loosen up your thoughts and give you the freedom for more ideas.

Housing benefit and LHA

Fortunately in this country you can never be homeless, if you ask for help you will surely get it. Councils all over the UK have been housing people for decades at the cost of the tax payer. Unfortunately the days where it was for hard up people are gone, as too many people have abused the system local housing from your council is on a long waiting list, you could be waiting years for a place to live. Don’t worry if you really need help there are other ways.

Did you know you can claim LHA a local housing allowance now instead of council housing or both even. As council housing has a severe shortage of housing applicants are being advised to apply for LHA instead. It means you can find a house or flat that you like in an area that you like and if you are a low earner or on certain benefits you will also qualify. You can get help with a deposit for the flat and grants to buy things like furniture and decorating the home. You can also be placed on the council’s waiting list for council housing in the meantime but if you qualify for LHA and your circumstances never change then it could be paid for indefinitely.

All councils have different limits you can apply for to pay for your rent, you also need to check how many rooms you are entitled to as well. If you are single and under 35 you may only qualify for the flat share amount, in this case you may need to pay the difference if you want a one bedroom flat instead of a house share. If you are a couple some councils allow you to rent a one bedroom property, if you are a single mum then children can also qualify for a room of their own.

LHA is changing so you need to check with your local council and keep and eye on things. If you are entitled to LHA or housing benefit you may also qualify for council tax benefit too, some or all of it may be paid in full. With many young people on low incomes or unemployed it is easy to lose independence so by claiming LHA they can live independently and out of their parents hair!