Why You Should Vacation in Austin

Austin is the third-largest city in the United States and the third-largest state capital. It’s no secret that Austin is a great place to be. More people are moving here every day, and that growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Austin houses for sale are still a very active market. Right now it could be a great time to buy. However, if you aren’t ready to move to Austin just yet, you must visit, and here are a few reasons why.

Music

Music is the heart and soul of Austin. The city rightfully earned the slogan Live Musical Capital of the World in 1991, when music critics discovered Austin had more live music performances per capita than anywhere else in the nation. In every other city, travelers are welcomed with a playlist over the PA system. In Austin, your live music immersion begins as soon as you deplane. On weekday afternoons, several shops and restaurants at Austin’s airport host live bands, and most of the musicians are local acts. 

Barton Springs Pool

Nestled in Zilker Park, Barton Springs Pool is a favorite locale among visitors and residents alike. Native American settlers once believed the springs possessed spiritual healing powers, and professional travel writers still refer to Barton Springs as the “soul of Austin” and many visitors say it’s an ideal spot to cool off in the summer. Formed from underground springs, the 3-acre pool consistently stays between 68 and 70 degrees – perfect for a respite from the sweltering summer temperatures Texas is known for. The grounds also feature bathhouses and an educational exhibit about the history and biology of Barton Springs. 

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

One of the most visited attractions in Austin, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum boasts more than 45 million pages of historical documents and papers from President LBJ’s lengthy career. The museum contains exhibits relating to the president’s time in office, as well as important issues of the day, including the rise of the civil rights movement. Also of interest is an impressive scale replica of the Oval Office as it would have been during Johnson’s presidency, and many temporary exhibits related to American history are hosted throughout the year.

Food Scene

When it comes to good eats, Austin is the place. From world-renowned chefs to taco joints and food trucks, the city is a foodie adventurer’s paradise. A great way to navigate the diverse food scene is to check out the myriad of Austin’s artfully decked-out food trucks. It’s hard to imagine that a city this size actually has over 1,000 mobile restaurants. From donuts to vegan bites and barbeque to Peruvian delights, whatever food you’re craving, you’ll find it here somewhere. 

Best Vacation Destinations for Families

Planning a family getaway? You’ve got lots of options, whether you’d prefer sticking closer to home or jetting off to an exotic destination. From budget-friendly trips to adventures in Europe, these are some of the top vacation spots for families to consider.

Amelia Island, Florida

Situated just off Florida’s northern coast, Amelia is an island that offers more than a dozen miles of gorgeous sandy white beaches and lots of family-friendly activities. You can enjoy horseback riding at the edge of the Atlantic, paddling through marshes and tidal creeks, and biking on miles of paved, scenic trails. Learn about history at Fort Clinch State Park with its well-preserved 19th-century forts, and take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic downtown in Fernandina Beach.

Vancouver, British Columbia

One of the world’s greatest, and most beautiful cities, Vancouver is surrounded by mountains and water, offering something for everyone. Stanley Park covers 1,000 acres right in the city and has a 5.5-mile-long paved path along the waterfront for walking and biking while enjoying stunning views, and it’s home to a number of attractions, including a miniature train, water park, and the Vancouver Aquarium. In the summer, enjoy beaches like Kitsilano, or Kits, which has a grassy area for picnics and Frisbee tossing as well as a massive heated outdoor saltwater pool. If the weather isn’t cooperating, take the kids to Science World, with lots of interactive, hands-on exhibits. 

With all the breathtaking scenery and so many fun things to see and do, many visitors find themselves falling in love with British Columbia’s largest city. If that’s you, you might want to include some time to tour the Vancouver houses for sale too.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

A great spot to visit outside of the summer months, Joshua Tree National Park is ideal for a camping trip from around mid-fall through mid-spring, although you’ll find a good variety of accommodation options in the village of Joshua Tree just outside the park. It’s home to the unique Joshua Tree along with many bizarre plants like the teddy bear cactus, and there are lots of boulder formations for climbing, including smaller boulders for the little ones to scramble over. After dark, the stargazing is out of this world.

Costa Rica

Consistently rated as the safest country in Central America, Costa Rica is the perfect spot for the family to play. It offers lush jungle with scenic trails for spotting monkeys and all sorts of colorful birds and other wildlife, the chance to swim under waterfalls, whiz across a zip line, kayak, and more. Kids as young as six can take a “safari float,” a gentle ride across the rapids. Of course, there are plenty of gorgeous beaches to enjoy too. 

London, England

If you want the kids to experience Europe for the first time, London is a great pick. While the language won’t be foreign, older kids and teens will be fascinated with the world they’ve probably seen in films like Harry Potter. The Tower of London is sure to thrill with the ghoulish tales told on a tour, while Buckingham Palace offers the chance to visit the home of a real queen, Queen Elizabeth, and watch the Changing of the Guards too.

Punta Cana, Dominica Republic

If you’re looking for an affordable, family-friendly resort-style vacation in the Caribbean, Punta Cana has lots of options and all sorts of fun things to do with the kids. There are powder sugar-like beaches edged by shallow turquoise water for swimming along with many other outdoor adventures, from snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, and river rafting to dolphin and whale watching tours.

How to Decide What Type of Music You Should Have at Your Event

Every event has a feeling of its own.  Whether you want a party-vibe, or it’s a business conference, almost every single event can be categorized with one common need: music.  Music is the gear that keeps all public social interactions in motion.  It covers up awkward silences, lets people connect through shared experiences, and can increase endorphins to put people in a better mood.

The only drawback is that with so many thousands of different kinds of musical acts- how do you pick which is right for your event?  Here are a few pointers to aim you in the right direction.

Audience Type

This consideration can be an important one.  A work event for a team of mostly 20-year-olds is going to have a completely different feeling from one of a bunch of 60-year-olds.  Although they’re both work events, there’s a higher chance of the 20-year-olds wanting more modern music, and the 60-year-olds feeling dissatisfied if they get given the same performance.

Even though you may like a certain kind of music, you need to set that aside and consider what the attending groups will want.  If you’re not sure, you can ask around to find out.

Audience Numbers

Big swing bands can be fun, high energy, performers.  Although they could be excellent at a lot of events, ranging from weddings to proms, they’re more suited to large crowds.  If your group is smaller, a single trumpet player may carry across the same feeling without overwhelming your audience.

If your crowd is large, you can consider more people, but you can also still get away with one performer depending on the layout of the venue.

Type of Event

Along the line of your audience type, the kind of event is essential as well.  You wouldn’t hire a screamo metal group for a four-year-old’s birthday party, just the same as the average person wouldn’t hire cartoon cosplayers for a stapler company’s corporate party.

Sometimes you can break the mold, like a bride wanting a steel drum player for her wedding, or a retirement home wanting drag performers for a holiday party. It’s essential to consider the audience and then work out from there.

Budget

If you can’t afford a string orchestra, go for a quartet instead.  Although there’s no harm in having lofty goals, you need to be able to afford to hire performers.  There are performers for virtually any budget. You must be realistic about what to expect before you go into hiring someone.

A tried and true classic is a solo singer or cover artist.  Usually, solo artists are more flexible with what kind of performance they can put on, and cover artists are generally willing to take requests from the audience.  With just one performer, a solo artist can often be the most cost-effective entertainment to hire as well.

By keeping these things in mind, you give your event a better chance of being a huge success and your guests, giving you glowing compliments.

3 reasons to choose organic cotton printed t-shirts

More and more brands are moving towards the use of eco-friendly clothing as customers demand clothing that is both stylish and sustainable.

Cotton is one of the world’s largest crops, and organic cotton is grown and manufactured without using chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers making it a better crop for the environment overall.

When looking to purchase printed t-shirts, there are a few reasons you should opt for organic cotton. Take a look at the reasons below.

1. Good for the planet

Organic cotton is grown using a lot of water and other natural materials, such as manure. This means that no chemical pesticides or other products are used when producing organic cotton, which means that the surrounding land and ecosystems are protected.

As well as protecting the surrounding land, organic cotton production stops toxic chemicals from being released into water or into the air as pollution.

2. Good for humans

As well as being good for the land, organic cotton production is also better for the farm workers who often suffer as a result of handling toxic-ridden cotton during the picking or processing of the plant.

In terms of its benefits once it gets used for fabric, organic cotton is hypoallergenic which makes it a much better option for being kind to skin! Organic cotton is also softer and lasts longer than non-organic cotton or other fibres such as bamboo because the way it is handpicked means that the quality of the fibre is protected.

3. Perfect for bespoke printing

There is no doubt that organic cotton printed t-shirts are one of the best options when looking for printed t-shirts.

Cotton is a fabric that is soft, durable and stands the test of time well which makes it the perfect choice for those looking for a quality product.

Plus, organic cotton takes on printing really well with the end product being one that is both vibrant in colour and high-quality. Make sure you look for a manufacturer who uses GOTs certified cotton when making printed organic cotton t-shirts.

How to Plump Lips Without Injections or Fillers

by Violet Knight

Unless your name is Patrick Star—of the cartoon variety, not the beauty guru—and you live under a literal rock, you’re undoubtedly aware that a large derriere and puffed up pout are still reigning as the most sought-after body modifications of the new decade. While some folks are embracing confidence no matter what their body shape (with a section of this demographic instead focusing on the importance of character and personal merit), another slice of the population has become obsessed with emulating celebrity beauty trends. These naturally unattainable goals have led to a massive spike in plastic surgery, with lip injections, fillers, and implants topping the list.

If we take a look at history, however, we can see that body trends come and go; at one point not so long ago, thin brows with high arches were all the rage and being stick-skinny was seen as the ultimate body type. Hairstyles, too, have changed drastically over the years, as have opinions regarding curves, piercings, acrylic nail styles, and a host of other body modification possibilities.

While some people insist on going under the knife or subjecting themselves to chemical injections in order to achieve what they hope will be a more idealized face or figure, there are a host of other non-permanent, non-surgical alternatives, especially when it comes to creating the appearance of full lips. Read on for a thorough ‘how-to’ on plumping your lips without using any injections or fillers.

OPTICAL ILLIPSION

The first method was re-popularized circa 2014 by King Kylie, herself: overlining the lips. It only takes a short browse through some YouTube beauty videos or an “Instagram realities” page to realize the full power and potential of makeup. 

The fantastic part about this option is that it offers the most natural look. Yes, the full-size lip is an unnatural phenomenon at its core, but it’s also a trend that can create an unpredictable and serious imbalance in the face. Unfortunately, this can quickly result in either regret or a feeling of needing more procedures to “even it out.” When working with makeup, we can create the illusion of a larger eye, smaller nose, more well-defined face, and of course, fuller lips—with zero surgeries, fillers, or injections needed.

This method also gives you free reign to try your puffy pout in a wide range of colors and styles. You can try lining your lips to their natural shape, or you can create a new shape if you prefer. Want a more defined cupid’s bow? Need some extra help on the top lip, but not the bottom? Wish your lips rounded out instead of cutting on a diagonal? Just draw it in! Pair your liner with a complementary lipstick, and enjoy your handiwork whenever it suits you. Being able to play with your lip shape is not a fluid option when dealing with injections and fillers, which is another major perk to this playful solution.

PLUMP, PLUMP, PLUMP IT UP

Depending on your age, you may remember the rise of lip plumping glosses back in the 1990s. These sticky, high-shine formulas created fuller-looking lips predominantly by irritating them; formulas would include ingredients known to sting the skin, which was markedly painful but did effectively call on the body to increase blood flow to the lips, making them look plumper for a short period of time.

The current plumping glosses on the market take a varied approach, with some repackaging the old technology and others adding to it or solely using new ingredients. These new formulas strive to increase collagen and elastin in the lips, which works to fill in lip lines, minimize cracking and improve the overall appearance of lips. As a result, lips visually appear fuller and more hydrated with continued use.

As a word of warning, it’s important to read the package when dealing with plumping glosses. Some of these products have a limit on safe usage per day, some are offering only short-term results, and others are meant to slowly enhance lips for a longer period of time. With the latter option, the typical time frame advertised is about two weeks; these products may or may not include a short-term plumping effect, as well. So long as you know what you’re buying, there shouldn’t be much disappointment to deal with.

KEEP, KEEP, KEEP IT UP

Another interesting technology to try is the handheld lip plumping device. There are a number of these circulating nowadays with varied instructions for use, but the same general outcome. Some of these devices are battery-powered, while others use your own breath to create a suction field around the lips. As extreme suction can lead to lip bruising, consider first trying a plumping device that has a number of intensity levels or the ability for you to control the suction on your own, and work your way up slowly.

There are definitely a number of perks to the handheld device route. First off, you can carry these babies around in your purse or bag and refresh your look whenever it suits you. While the makeup option can last all day long, the results of plumping glosses and lip plumping devices tend to fade faster. Being able to discreetly refresh your pout on the go (even sans mirror) is a significant bonus!

Adding to the allure of these devices is the fact that you don’t have to wear any makeup at all if you so choose. The main reason I shy away from cosmetic products is that they can be incredibly time-consuming, so you really have to want the results if you’re going to regularly dedicate the time. For others out there like me, who would rather get up and go, using a handheld device means that bare lips or your favorite lip balm is plenty good enough.

THE THICK AND THIN OF IT

Whatever your preferred style, it’s worth it to play around before deciding to take the more dangerous step of opting for injections or fillers. Aside from the fact that you could leave the doctor’s office looking botched and feeling tremendous pain, these treatments do have long-term consequences. Even if your fillers or injections look excellent at the outset, these products are notorious for creating bumpy, uneven lip texture which will remain with you for the rest of your life, even with routine maintenance.

There’s no shame in choosing to live your best life, but it’s always wise to weigh your options and be sure that following a temporary trend is going to be worth it in the end.

Resources: WebMD, Chicago Tribune

4 Tips for Changing Your Home Decor in 2020

Changing your home décor can help to refresh your space, improve your mood, and encourage you to spend more time at home in 2020. However, it can be challenging to know where to start and which trends to follow when you are looking to decorate. If you are looking for some essential home décor tips to get you through the year, look no further than this list, which explains how to choose home décor that you will love for many years to come.

1.   Opt for Leather

Opting for quality leather furniture is an excellent start if you want to rejuvenate the look of your home, especially if you are concerned that your home has previously looked out-of-date or old-fashioned. Leather furniture surpasses any of the latest trends; instead, leather has remained popular for decades. Its longevity is due to its beauty, as well as its ability to make your rooms look smart and neat. Not only this, but it is essential to consider whether your furniture is easy to clean when changing your décor, and leather fits this criterion, needing only a clean with a damp cloth to look brand new again.

2.   Go for the Minimalist Look

When you are designing your perfect room, it can be easy to decide on a hundred different pieces of furniture that you cannot live without. However, you should try to cut down on your new furniture to create a minimalist look. Not only will it make your rooms look spacious and smart, but you will be thankful when it comes to your annual spring clean. You can achieve this look by opting for monochrome or neutral colors, investing in large storage containers, and taking trinkets off sideboards and windowsills.

3.   Make it Comfortable

Even if you are planning to create a professional and smart environment for you and your family, you must make it as comfortable as possible. You should remember that you will be spending most of your time within your home and that your house should be the place where you can sit back and relax in relative comfort. You can make your home cozy by investing in soft furnishings, installing a fireplace that can keep you warm on winter nights, buying flexible sofas, and investing in a high-quality bed frame.

4.   Be Wary of New Trends

Although it might be tempting to ensure that your new décor replicates the rooms you have seen in glossy magazines and on interior design websites, you should be wary of following any seasonal trends. Your furniture can last for 20 years or more and will outlast any of the latest fashions. This means that if you fall victim to any of 2020’s fads, you will likely need to shell out hundreds of pounds to stay up-to-date in the future. Instead, you should decorate your home in your own style and invest in long-lasting and classic furniture that will outlive the trends of 2020.

How to Look After a Dog

 As with any pet, dogs need to be looked after properly. Some people don’t think about what it takes to care for an animal before they get one, sadly this often results in abandoned and neglected pets. Before you bring your new friend home, make sure to understand the basics of how to look after them!

Affection

Most dogs are affectionate creatures, and they do require a lot of attention from their owners. Unlike the independent cat, dogs like to be near you and can, at times, invade your personal space. If this sounds like it could be a little too much, then maybe a dog isn’t the right pet for you.

Training

If you are getting a puppy, then you must be prepared to dedicate time and energy to training it. Like all babies, they need to learn how to look after themselves. No one wants their dog peeing (or worse!)  all over the house, so train them while they’re young to behave properly in your home. This includes their behavior towards other people and dogs.

Exercise

Some breeds will need more exercise than others, usually the bigger types of dogs. Even so, you will need to be taking your dog out at least once a day for a walk. If this doesn’t appeal to you, then think twice about committing to a dog. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time to do this, consider hiring a professional dog-walker to help you out.

Day-care

If you have a job that obliges you to be at work all day, your dog might get restless and lonely at home without you. Like using a dog-walking service, doggie day-care is a brilliant solution for those who work a 9 to 5. Your furry friend will spend the day playing with other dogs under the watchful eyes of caring professionals, like heartandpaw.com. These services are a perfect way to make sure your dog is getting the proper care it needs while you’re being kept busy at work.

Food

Each dog breed is different, and as with exercise, larger dogs will likely need more food than little ones. You must understand what diet is better for the type of dog you own. Ensure your dog is getting the correct food and nutrition to avoid illnesses and expensive trips to the vets.

Insurance

Hopefully, your dog won’t get into any horrible accidents or develop any sicknesses. However, things can happen, and there might come a day when they receive a serious injury or fall ill. It is important to have pet insurance in place to help with costly vet bills; otherwise, you might not be able to manage to pay for the help your dog needs. No one wants to have to go through that heartache.

Pets are big commitments, due to their nature, dogs are one of the biggest you can make. Make sure that you understand what it takes to look after a dog properly before you get one.

What are masonic ties and why are they important?

For thousands of years ties have been used by people as a way of showing involvement within a workforce, team, club or organisation and Masonic ties are no different – ties have been a vital part of Masonic regalia for many years.

Freemasons are known to dress smartly, almost all lodges expect members to wear Masonic ties to meetings and formal occasions throughout the year. Masonic ties date back to the early nineteen-hundreds; Freemasons wore black ties to lodge meetings as a mark of respect for those that lost their lives in the Great War. Black ties became closely associated with Freemasonry.

However, by 2002 hundreds of thousands of Masons across England and Wales decided it was time for more colourful and distinctive ties to be introduced. Due to the traditional nature of the black tie, not all Freemasons approved the idea of changing the regalia – the black tie holds great significance. Nowadays, tie designs tend to vary between lodges.

Masonic ties as Festival merchandise

Masonic provinces organise fundraising initiatives known as a Festival. Festival appeals usually last around 5 years and aim to raise funds for charities through a range of events. Supporting a Festival can be demonstrated by purchasing traditional Masonic merchandise – this is often in the form of customised Masonic ties.

Masonic ties are one of the pieces of regalia used by members of the brotherhood to help create a unifying link of traditions. Dress code is particularly important when it comes to Freemasonry; this is to show that members are equal regardless of their background. Masonic ties hold historical significance within Freemasonry; they are an important item of regalia and a great way of showing support. Ties are a way of differentiating your lodge from others whilst continuing a tradition that is hundreds of years old. So, why not consider masonic ties for your lodge?

What are the different options when it comes to finding organic bags?

If you’re a retail store that has decided to take a step away from plastic bags, congratulations, you are half-way towards providing your customers with a way to carry their products in an environmentally safe manner.

However, there is still a decision to be made on the type of bag you buy. Here is our comprehensive guide on the different types of organic bags are available and which one is best for your store’s needs.

  1. Organic cotton bags

Cotton bags are by far the most popular organic bag on the market with more than half of shoppers now opting from them over plastic ones. This demand means there are plenty of different cotton bags to choose from and for many, they are the organic bag of choice.

We recommend going for this organic bag if you plan on printing an intricate design on it, the close-knit fibres make it the best option if you want to get your branding out there.

  • Organic jute bags

Jute is a popular material that is produced throughout many countries in South-East Asia including India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The thick fibres give this organic bag much more of a rugged natural appeal than a cotton or canvas alternative.

Jute bags are strong, and if you are selling a heavy product that requires a lot of support when carrying we recommend this organic bag as it provides the most protection.

  • Organic canvas bags

Canvas bags are popular in large due to their versatility. This is organic bag is made from either cotton or linen which is then formed with polyvinyl chloride. The conservative use of plastic in this type of bag adds to its strength without using too many non-organic materials. This organic bag is a great all-rounder, which is why we recommend it if you provide a diverse range of products.

Find the best manufacturer for your organic bags 

Whichever bag you go for unless you find the right supplier you will not be met with good service. To deal with this, make sure you consult with your organic bag supplier and ensure you fully understand their manufacturing methods and are happy with any concept designs you have discussed with them.

The top 5 benefits of serviced apartments

Whether travelling for business, leisure, alone, or with your family, a serviced apartment can be an ideal choice for travellers looking for an alternative option to a hotel or a B&B.

We’ve outlined some of the benefits of staying in serviced apartments below to help make your choice a little easier.

Location, Location Location!

Serviced apartments are usually located in central locations, making them the ideal choice for a city stay. 

Their central locations mean they offer a good location for shopping, dining, and exploring, as well as being close to a lot of transport links and business quarters for any work base travelling.

Freedom and Flexibility

In a serviced apartment, you are free to come and go as you wish and to make your own schedule. Breakfast can be when you choose, and you don’t need to worry about waking anybody up when you come back in of an evening.  

The availability of the facilities in the apartment mean you can cook your own meals when it suits you, work whenever you need to work, and even entertain in the living spaces at your leisure.

Serviced apartments aren’t just for couples or lone travellers. They can work well for families too, thanks to many luxury serviced apartment companies offering studio flats right the way to family sized apartments for larger groups.

Quality

Serviced apartments aren’t cramped rooms in a block of flats, there are an array of stunning apartment options to choose from which are decorated with high-quality furnishings and come complete with entertainment options and are fully equipped for your stay no matter how long.

Space

A serviced apartment gives you the room to relax, work, sleep, and have fun all in one space. However, they can give you around 30% more space than an equivalent standard of hotel.  A typical one-bedroom service apartment is around twice the size of the average hotel room.

Privacy

By their very nature, serviced apartments are private, self-contained accommodation which allow you to instantly make yourself right at home.  As well as offering all the privacy you could wish for, you will find that they’re complete with 24-hour CCTV, secure entry and often around the clock security staff to make your stay extra safe.

Serviced apartment stays give you the home from home experience with all of the benefits of a central hotel. So next time you’re booking some time away, consider booking a luxury serviced apartment.