We love love. It’s pretty great when you’re able to meet a person who cares about you and respects you, and when you can also care about and respect this person in return. A lot of finding the right person involves timing, and so it’s especially nice when two people decide that now is the right time for a long-term relationship, and then, a while after that, decide they want to get married. A big part of many engagements, however, is an engagement ring. Such rings are traditionally seen as something the woman wears before the big day, but nowadays many men are wearing them as well. There are a few different ways to approach buying an engagement ring, and one increasingly popular option is designing a ring together.

A unique love

We all want to feel special and unique. There’s even a saying that goes something like, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Jokes aside, every love is different, and that’s good. Some couples meet online, while others meet through mutual friends. Some couples want to get married at the beach, while others plan on eloping to Las Vegas. It makes sense that you want a ring that reflects your feelings toward each other. When you’re excited to start your life, sometimes a standard ring just doesn’t seem like enough. The first thing to do is find a reputable local jeweler who is willing to work with you and your fiance. If you’re getting married in Brisbane, Australia, then you’ll probably want to also look for engagement rings in Brisbane. You can go with a national chain or a local, family-owned store. It’s all about finding an environment that makes you feel comfortable. You don’t want an overly pushy salesperson, either, because then you risk ending up with something you don’t like simply because you wanted the badgering to stop. Never say, “yes,” if you really mean, “I’m not sure.” That’s true for both weddings and wedding rings.

Budgets and time frames

Getting a custom engagement ring isn’t usually a speedy process. You have to figure out the design and then wait for the ring to be made. If you want the engagement ring to be completed by a certain time (such as before a big engagement bash), then make sure to start the process early and be very clear about your deadlines.

You should also be prepared to spend more on something custom-made than on something that you can buy right off the shelf (or display case). If you had a certain budget in mind for a traditional, pre-made ring, it’s worth bumping that budget up somewhat for a more exclusive design. Don’t, however, feel the need to spend a lot of money to “prove” that your love will last. There is no piece of jewelry capable of doing that. If spending more money protected couples against divorce or misfortune, then people who drop a million dollars on a wedding would be married for a hundred years. That’s not how life, or love, works.


Granite is a beautiful addition to your home. Traditionally, granite countertops are the go-to way to incorporate the lovely stone in your home, but that is not the only way to incorporate the lavish material. Many granite companies, like Southwest Michigan Granite, have everything from custom designed slabs to leftover pieces for you to choose from at a much lower cost. Granite comes in so many colors and textures that it looks dashing by itself or looks bold when used with other materials, like metal or wood. Granite is durable and easy to clean, so it is perfect for countertops. If you want to incorporate granite in your home in ways that will set your design apart from the rest, consider these applications below.

Granite in the Bathroom

Granite is resistant to mold and water, so it’s ideal for the bathroom, the room of your house where the most moisture lives. Granite is functional in the bathroom, but it also looks incredible and is an easy solution for elegance and appeal. Similar to a kitchen countertop, granite is great used as a bathroom vanity top. You may also want to go so far as to looking into getting a granite sink or basin, or as a base for your tub to fit into. Granite can be cut by composite material machining that uses water jet cutting systems to make precise projects. Pedestal sinks come in granite, as do shelves. Nothing looks better than granite floors in the bathroom, and considering the bathroom is the most abused room in your home, you will want to furnish it with material that can stand the test of time.

Granite Mosaics

Mosaics are the most decorative, creative way to improve your home, and granite is a wonderful material for the job. Granite pieces can come together to create beautiful mosaics to be used around the fireplace, as the mantle, in the shower walls, as a walkway, or as a backsplash. Granite mosaics create a focal point for the room that attracts the eye. Use white and cream granite for a clean and fresh look, or darker colors for a more traditional and rustic look. With mosaics, you also have the option to combine light and dark tones that will contrast each other for greater design and creativity.

Granite Countertops Throughout Your Home

Countertops are not only a part of the kitchen, but they can include desktops in the office, table tops in the dining room, and coffee table tops in the living room. Granite is such a versatile stone that it can be used in any room in your house. The leftover pieces are even great for cutting boards or decorative pieces. As you can see, including granite in your home is limitless. It is sought after for its strength and beauty, and will have your guests wishing they had granite in their home as well. Everyone who upgrades their home with granite is thankful that they did.

Some solutions for a more energy-efficient home mean taking a look at how you use energy in your home. You use energy when you heat and cool your house, so consider adjusting your thermostat even one or two degrees, which can save you money on cooling or heating costs. Also, look into installing a programmable thermostat, so you are not wasting energy when you are asleep or not home. In addition to finding more energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning units, be sure you maintain them correctly. Getting a tune-up from a company like John Duffy Energy in Edison, New Jersey and changing your filters regularly on the AC and heating unit can help your units run more efficiently. You can also install a wood burning stove. As long as your get your wood from trees that are already down or that need to be thinned out, then you are heating your home in a more energy efficient way. You can update all your appliances, like your laundry machine and dryer, dishwasher, and refrigerator to more energy efficient versions. Setting your hot water heater to 120 degrees is more energy-efficient. If you have an electric water heater, replace it with a natural gas water heater. You also use energy with your lights, so replacing your compact fluorescent lights with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can save you money and energy because these bulbs last longer.

Energy Efficient Materials

In addition to upgrading your appliances in your home, try to use energy efficient materials in your design. Adding attic insulation and using residential metal roofing can heat from escaping through the roof. Be sure you choose a light-colored roof to decrease the heat transferred to the attic. What is more, with a metal roof you can install solar panels on top of them to offset your energy usage. Manufacturers even make more energy efficient flooring with cork and thicker windows, so your home stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Countertops made of bamboo or recycled glass are more energy efficient because they are more sustainable to produce. Another more energy efficient option for countertops and floors is concrete.

Exterior Energy Efficiency

The efficiency of your home does not involve the interior exclusively. The design of the exterior of your home is just as important. Plant trees on the south, west, and east sides of the house to help shade your home. You can also install a simple rainwater collection system to water these trees with. Another way to reduce water usage is to plant shrubs, bushes, and perennials that are tolerant to drought, called xeriscaping. Composting is another energy efficient solution for your home. Rather than toss your food scraps as waste, start a pile in your backyard for healthy compost to amend your garden and around your other plants. Think of your home as a living organism. What goes in can be used as fuel for another part of the home. In addition to compost, use your lawn clippings for mulch, to attract more worms that keep the soil healthy.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, this is a tough time. Friends and family alike are devastated by the news, and so are you. “Cancer” is one of the most hated words in the English language, and you wish it had never come anywhere near you or the ones you love. A diagnosis, however, is not the end. Cancer can be fought, and cancer can be beaten. You have a journey ahead of you, but it’s one that will create beauty in the struggle and hope for the future.

As you move towards treatment, you can expect your doctor to talk you through the most common cancer-fighting options. You’ll discuss chemo, and if you choose to undergo the treatment, you can expect some negative side effects, including hair loss and nausea–but not even chemo will have the last word over you. Chemo is used for good reason, in that it’s one of our most effective ways of fighting back. The treatment won’t last forever, and it gives you a way to kick cancer back. Another treatment you’ll likely discuss with your doctor is surgery, and your doctor will put you in contact with a center. A brain tumor would be removed somewhere like the Atlantic Neurosurgical Specialists, and a mastectomy performed somewhere like this New Jersey Breast Center in Edison, NJ. Surgery is not always necessary, so that first discussion with your doctor is just that: a discussion.

Besides these standard options for fighting cancer, there are some other strategies you can enlist to punch back. A change in diet is often recommended for cancer treatment. The fewer toxins you put into your body through your food, the better off you’ll be. New studies are showing that avoiding animal protein can be a huge help in combating cancer. Researchers found that mice injected with aflatoxin (one of the strongest known carcinogens) reacted differently to the injection based on their milk protein intake. The researchers found that it didn’t matter how much aflatoxin they injected: the mice who consumed less milk protein (less than their daily dietary need) did not get cancer; the mice who consumed more than their daily dose of milk protein did. While researchers are still investigating the role a vegan diet plays in fighting cancer, there are many more studies that lend credence to the benefits of going vegan! As you fight, enlist the power of growing things and take time to study new developments in cancer research. You still have a great deal of power when it comes to how your body heals, so as you fight, investigate. Cancer doesn’t get to have the last word over you.

One part of beating cancer is handling the stress that comes along with it, and we all know that more appointments can be impossible. You may benefit from online therapy from sites like BetterHelp.

It’s never too early to start spring cleaning. If you’re the need to reduce some clutter in your house, then why wait until March to start? All the stuff in your house probably isn’t going to become essential once the season changes from winter to spring. There are a few ways to go about cleaning and decluttering. One of the easiest is to just throw out everything that you aren’t using, whether it’s old appliances, clothes, books, or something else. That isn’t the most efficient way, though.

Double check things

If you know that old washing machine you’ve been keeping in the garage is dead once and for all, then feel free to haul it away to the junkyard. But if you aren’t absolutely sure, then it can’t hurt to get an outside expert to take a look at things. If you’re way of the big box appliance stores, contact a family-owned appliance repair service like Astre Appliance Services of Fairfield, NJ. While you’ve moved on and bought a new washer or a new stovetop, there’s a chance your old item could be refurbished and made useful once more. You won’t be using it, but someone else might be able to squeeze a little more life out of it. It’s both cheaper and more environmentally friendly to refurbish an old appliance than it is to buy a new one. As a bonus, if the appliance repair people say the item is truly useless, then they might know a better place to haul it away than your local dump.

Hire a service

People tend to approach the decluttering process one of two ways: with overwhelming and perhaps unearned confidence, or with dread that this is entirely too much for one person to handle and they don’t know why they’re even bothering. People in the first category often find themselves desperately in need of a few extra sets of hands when they become exhausted halfway through the process. People in the latter category may put off and delay indefinitely out of fear that it can’t be done. In either case, you should feel more than fine about calling in some help. Sometimes you can bribe your friends to help you sort through all the crap you’ve accumulated. Other times you may want to hire professionals, especially if that will make the difference between it getting done or not.

Then there are the issues that crop up after almost everything has been hauled away or donated. Maybe you’ve cleaned out your attic only to discover that there’s way too much rat feces up there (not that there’s ever really an acceptable amount of rat feces, but some amounts are more horrifying than others). You don’t get paid enough to deal with rodent droppings. In fact, you don’t get paid at all, so that means it’s time to look for an attic cleaning service. A company like Atticare of New Jersey is more than equipped to go up there and clean things up, then take measures to ensure rodents can’t get in again. After everything is done, you should have an attic that’s both free of clutter and free of rodents. The next step is making sure it doesn’t fill up with useless items again, and that part is on you.

It’s no secret that you can sell just about anything online. From people getting rid of old TVs on Craigslist to people offering a weekend in their vacation home through VRBO, to businesses that have grown and thrived using only an online store–the internet has created unlimited selling opportunities. The reason is simple: the internet connects you to anywhere. A girl in America can buy her prom dress from China, and a woodworker in Norway can sell his candlesticks to a couple in Japan. We’re all connected, and that leaves plenty of opportunity for business growth and sales potential.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of making an online business. An online store can be a great way to start turning a full-time or part-time profit since your handmade items or direct liquidation can be sold for higher than what you paid. Buy wholesale pallets, and you can make a profit on inventory you invested less time into. Shipping allows you to send it anywhere. You can have a thriving Amazon shop out of your back porch, or an Etsy business that brings in an extra grand a month, just from the crafts you create on the weekends. Online businesses have a lower set up cost: they require no office. You can work from home. Your customers can peruse your inventory at any time of day: you don’t have to be available 8-5 in a store or pay employees to be. Plus, online stores are easy to track, so you’ll have an easier time seeing which products sell well and which don’t. You’ll also spend less time on the business, since online stores are easy to set up, and most of the features take care of themselves.

Let’s say you aren’t looking to start a full or part-time business selling things online. You should, however, be aware of all the ways online selling could be a benefit to you. Rather than dragging your grandmother’s antique dishes to the thrift store to donate, you could make a significant profit posting them online. The same goes for your old devices, extra junk, and anything else you think would resell. You can even post horses for sale online, allowing other equestrian lovers to find and fall in love with the horse that’s for sale. There’s almost no limit to what can be sold online, and it’s a great way to pass on the love from items you’ve enjoyed, and put some extra money in your pocket.

Whether you want to start a business, or just post a thing or two for sale, the internet offers great opportunities. Next time you have something to sell, consider whether or not it could turn a profit on eBay or Amazon or Craigslist. Your pocketbook will thank you.  

We all think, to some extent, that we’re prepared. Our bills are paid. We have a job. For the most part, we don’t think of the life events we could be preparing for, but there are quite a few things we could get ahead on–even if some of them are a bit unusual. Here are five ways you can be taking care of your future (that you probably didn’t seriously think of until just now).

Future Health Issues

Many of us don’t even consider our health until it’s too late. It is, however, a good idea to start investing in your wellbeing now. A future without a debilitating disease is a lot better than one with–and right now, your choices and habits could be all that’s preventing one. Try to alter your diet to include less sugar and animal protein, and try natural health aids, like CBD oil.


Many of us only save a little at a time, hardly considering future savings. You should, however, be putting away 10% of every paycheck. If that’s not possible, try to rearrange your lifestyle until you can financially afford it. While it might not be realistic right away, savings are hugely important, and that 10% is a great buffer against falling into any kind of debt.

Choice of Burial

While a weird one to think about right now, it’s always best to decide how you want to be buried, and let your family know. If you’re in charge of a clan, it also helps to decide on a provider ahead of time. The choice is up to you: coffin or cremation? Many are now preferring cremation services for their low-cost and natural approach to burial. A request for cremation vs. burial means your family will have an easier time knowing what to do, and less of a financial burden.

Protected Information

In the same “weird” vein of the last one, you should have all of your sensitive information, like bank accounts and passwords, written down and kept in a folder. In the event of your death, your spouse or family would be able to access what they needed without unnecessary stress.

Live in the Present

While it might seems a bit antithetical at first, preparing for the future by forgetting about it improves your quality of life. We often enter the future unprepared, because we wasted so much of our present worrying. Instead of living in limbo, an effort to live in the present often encourages us to care for our immediate needs, making the future steadier and more secure.

Instead of preparing for the future with a vague sense of worry, there are practical things we can do right now, in the moment. They’ll help us, and our family and friends, in the long run. They might seem peculiar now, but they’ll afford us peace of mind when the future rolls around.

At one point or another, we will all lose someone we love and care about deeply. If we don’t, then that means we don’t love anyone, and that’s incredibly tragic on its own. But just as we can’t have joy without sadness, we can’t have life without death. When a close family member dies, like a parent, spouse, or sibling, we’ll probably be expected to have a role in planning a funeral or memorial service. That may seem impossible when you’re grieving, but countless people do it every single year, and that means you can as well.

Unexpected deaths

If a family member has been sick for a while, death can come as a sort of relief. Sure, we miss the person who is gone. We miss this person terribly, in fact, but we’re also glad he or she isn’t suffering anymore. It’s a strange feeling, but at least you have time to prepare yourself for that feeling. You can also prepare yourself for the aftermath by talking to your sick relative about how he or she wants the funeral to look. Does the loved one want the body to be embalmed and buried in a coffin, or would he or she prefer cremation services? Are there any songs or passages that to be read at the service? Should the service be open and welcoming or small and private?

Sudden, unexpected deaths are another matter entirely. When those happen, we feel doubly cheated, because we’ve lost someone we love without getting a chance to say goodbye. Accidental deaths or suicides are common methods of death for younger people, so there’s also a sense that the deceased had so much life ahead of him or her, and now it’s gone. Suicide, in particular, is especially tough to comprehend. When the death is sudden, it’s natural to be more uncertain about how a funeral or memorial service should look. If possible, think about the deceased’s favorite songs or movies or books. What traits did the person value the most in other people, and what traits did you value the most in the person? Talk about these things with other people in the deceased’s social circle as well; there’s often no one right answer. While it’s important to honor a person’s final requests, it’s also important to remember that funerals are supposed to comfort the living as well as remember the dead.

Additional tributes

Once you’ve made the necessary decisions and gotten through the memorial service, you’ll probably feel exhausted, like you’ve been carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and can’t do it anymore. That’s natural, and so is a feeling of relief that you don’t have to deal with things like casket finishes and memorial bouquets anymore. Allow yourself time to just be sad and mourn. Take time off work if possible. A few sessions with a grief counselor can also be incredibly helpful. As you mourn, think of other ways to honor your loved one. That could come in the form of a monetary donation to a good cause. When someone dies of cancer, it’s not uncommon for family members to request donations to a cancer charity in lieu of flowers. If your loved one was a history professor who highly valued education, it’s worth seeing if you can start a scholarship in his or her name at a liberal arts college like Linfield College. Make the tribute as personal as you feel it needs to be. You’re loved one is gone, but that doesn’t mean he or she will be forgotten anytime soon.


For you, 2017 was a year of hard work. Of discovery. Of making tough calls, and moving forward. You accomplished a lot. You didn’t accomplish everything you wished you could have, but that’s the nature of life. At the end of it all, you’re able to look back and think, “Wow. That was a challenging year. Some of those challenges I made for myself. Most of those challenges I overcame.” But wow. Thinking about everything that you faced throughout the year, in a ten-second replay, feels a little like having a bowling ball dropped on your head. You put up with a lot. You dealt with a lot. You conquered a lot. You’re an older, wiser, and more accomplished person. And, proverbially or not, your feet probably hurt.

After a year like last one, it’s time to take a short rest. It’s time to put your feet up, close your eyes, and think, “Now what?” If you’re like most people, you’re not quite sure how to enjoy the end of a season. While 2018 will bring new challenges, the challenges of 2017 are done, and you’re in the rest period. While you might be enjoying the silence, the lack of stress, the relief… chances are you’re restless. You might not know how to enjoy this time. You might not know how to pat yourself on the back, pamper yourself a little. In other words, you deserve a reward for everything you got done in 2017, and you might not know how to give it.
The good news is, it’s easy. Once you realize that you deserve a thank-you present from yourself (and really, you do) you can settle back and start thinking about what to get yourself. It’s easy, with the internet, to send a thank-you gift or two to yourself. After mulling over what you’d like, you might choose a bit of pampering: bath bombs or a trip to the spa. You might decide you’d like to try a new cocktail recipe, so you easily purchase liquor online, whether you live in Lawrenceville, NJ or Eau Claire, WI, since there’s always an easy way to get what you’re hankering for.

You might decide you want a bigger reward (after all, your 2017 headaches were pretty big) so you think along more exciting lines. Maybe it’s time to take that trip to Iceland, Italy, or the Caribbean. Maybe it’s time to finally remodel your kitchen, and get your dream-space realized. You’re well on your way to daydreaming about it: with modern appliance retailer sites, even gorgeous kitchen appliances are easy to browse from the comfort of your own living room.

No matter what you decide to do for yourself (there’s a reward out there as unique as you are) you’ll be happy with the choice you made. 2017 was quite a roller coaster ride, and you need some time to reflect on how you grew as a person. You also need some time to thank yourself for being the person you were since you got yourself through it.

You have an older house. Its shingles might chatter in the wind. Its pipes might leak. Its walls might creak, and its floors might moan. Your house has acquired quite a bit of personality–and at this point, you’re convinced it’s a cranky old man.

You may have had your home for ages. You remember feeding oatmeal to your toddlers at the kitchen table, curling up together to watch The Dick Van Dyke Show, while some did homework during commercials and some colored. You remember packing everyone into snowsuits. You remember drinking your coffee in the early morning silence. You have good memories in this house.

On the other hand, you may have just acquired the house. Maybe you loved the idea of a remodeling challenge–taking the creaking structure and making it well again. Maybe you loved the land the house was built on: the graveyard full of history nearby, or the way the hill behind the house sloped down into a brilliant valley sunset. You don’t have any memories attached to the house, yet… but you want to make them.

No matter which of these is your situation, it’s time to decide what you’re going to do with your old house. Essentially, there are two different routes you can take: to repair, or to tear down and start from scratch.

Some homes may not require anything as drastic as a full rebuild. You may not want to upgrade and instead keep the house in good condition. You can get your pipes fixed. You can mend that dilapidated roof, whether you live in Washington or New Jersey, quality roof repair is only a phone call away. You like the idea of keeping your home the way it is; you want to preserve the memories in their original format.

Some homes may require a full rebuild; they just might not be stable anymore. Or, they might be fine for years, but you know you want to rebuild anyway. It’s time to start fresh and put your family somewhere new. You’re excited about creating something from the ground up–and you get to keep your beautiful land. Now, with companies standing by to help you, like these home builders in Brisbane, it’s easy to start the process of creating a brand new home.

No matter which road you choose to take, whether repair or rebuild, your home will always be an important place. Whether it’s dear to you because of the decades of life and stories in its walls, or because you designed each turn of the floor yourself, you’ll take pride in your home. It’s something worth spending time and money on because it’s the backdrop for the important things in life.


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