Category Archives: Review Mom

Need a game for your kids? Want a great book? Wondering whether that gadget you’ve been seeing really looks? Review Mama can help.

Garden Shed Trends in 2017

Gardening and outdoor living takes a special importance when sunny days take over. It becomes a universe of its own, with its own trends. Sheds are not always the central piece of our gardens, but they do play an essential role.

Customize Your Shed

In 2017, pre-built sheds have to be unique and customized. We are getting tired of them being their own ‘boring selves’: a useful extension of the garage, or a backyard shed. They are now a canvas for our creativity and it seems the trend is here to stay.

So let your creativity express itself and customize your outside storage shed; you will not regret it and it might become your favorite room of the house. For more freedom of choice, you can work with a manufacturer of garden sheds, as this will allow you to push the customization even further.

Urban living spaces are becoming narrower every year, and so do the outdoor spaces. Storage solutions with smarter organization are a real need. The shed needs to be multi-purpose: with ergonomic and accessible shelves and having additional uses, such as an insulated shed for cooling down in during hot summer days.

The Secret ‘Mad Gardener’ Lab

We all try to be sustainable when it comes to energy and water use, even trying to grow our own vegetables on the roofs of Montreal. The use of natural materials is definitely a fast-growing trend. No more  PVC, but wood and stone. We want our sheds as organic as they can be and possibly made of upcycled materials.

With this ‘grow your own’ frenzy and the need for more resilient and lasting plants which can resist extremes and changing weather, we all enjoy experimenting with quirky plants! We like to mix seeds, and experimenting in this DIY thing we read Pinterest about the Cucamelon (cucumber + melon) etc. So much fun. The inner child is back!

The Tiki Shed for Your Staycations

Vintage and Fifties are everywhere, and so are Hawaiian Tiki Bars! Goodbye barbecues, hello hula and daiquiris. So get out your most vintage garden furniture, your Bettie Page swimsuits and pink flamingos around the pool, and decorate your pool shed with Tiki wooden statues, small palm trees, colorful lights, and enjoy the party.

For those not lucky enough to enjoy long vacations on the beach, a Tiki Bar can be a really good option for your ‘staycations’. Get the perks of a summer night on the beach without the plane ticket! A hammock, for example, would be another great addition to your Tiki shed.

The She-Shed

Because the boys have their man cave in the basement of the house, girls also want a space of their own. A reading gazebo, a yoga lounge, a crafts workshop where supplies won’t be messed with by the kids, a rocking chair and a blanket for autumn naps, a tea room. Your she-shed has to be your private space, where you forget the scary pace of life with a glass of homemade lemonade.

The Spa Shed

The shed can also be a home improvement. A hot tub or a sauna can be installed inside. A perfect way to enjoy a relaxing moment, protected from the mosquito bites at night, from the cold in the winter or for complete intimacy from the neighbors all year long.

You will want to maintain a flow from your house to the shed, using the same materials, colors, furniture, style or lighting. Some Japanese wood steps for example, to walk safely from your home to the shed. You can also add seating outside the shed, so you can relax near a safe and protected fireplace when it’s a little chilly outside.

Quilted Jackets: Warm on the Inside, Pretty on the Outside.

They say that northern Europeans once pictured hell as a vast icy chasm, whose inhabitants were frozen, not fried, forever. As an inhabitant of a fairly wet and chilly country in said part of the world, I can appreciate where such sentiments arose, out of the Viking and Saxon earth. There is surely nothing worse than feeling cold, despite best efforts to prevent it. The chill creeps into your bones and pierces you to the marrow. Damp clings to your fingertips and drags you down into an icy darkness. Once truly cold from inside out, only a hot bath or drink can revive you to your former self. When the snow falls and the ice settles, Jack Frost becomes a grinning character from some nightmare, waiting to freeze unsuspecting travellers and confine them to a white-blue grave.

With such a fear of being cold, March is a particularly trying month for me. The instant we see a tiny ray of sunshine, everyone ditches their winter coats. Men walk around in t-shirts, women gamely bring out the short skirts of summers past. ‘Hang on a minute, it’s still cold!’ I want to cry. Even a denim jacket or leather coat will not keep out the chill when the sun hides behind a cloud.

For many years I took to wearing my winter coat in any weather. Even in late June you would find me in the park with friends, wrapped in my red military trench coat, insisting that it was not warm enough to sunbathe. It was only when I moved to a house near the sea that I realised this could not go on indefinitely.

Luckily for me, this year there is a new type of coat widely available. The quilted jacket offers protection from our unpredictable climate whilst keeping the wearer looking fabulous.

Quilted jackets are thin, light-weight short coats which have a quilted layer inside. This helps to insulate the wearer, without the bulk associated with a winter coat. Coming in a range of colours and designs, there is a quilted jacket to suit any outfit or any occasion.

Surely a better option than either to wear a heavy coat in spring, or risking the elements with no coat at all, a quilted jacket is the halfway house between. Its cut and lightweight style make it a flattering choice for women of any size. This season, you could team your quilted jacket with skinny jeans and shoe boots to look on-trend. My particular favourite is a black leather quilted jacket, which makes the wearer look edgy and fun, whilst also keeping him or her warm.

A quilted jacket is your best fashion buy this spring. What are you waiting for – go and buy one today!

Author Bio:

Frances Hamilton is a writer who loves to be warm at any time of year. Subsequently, she has invested in a quilted jacket to see her through the spring and summer of 2013.

Telephone Options for Your Small Business

Old telephone

Photo by plenty.r.

If you’re a small business, it can be difficult to figure out the best option for phone service.  It is a decision of balancing customer needs with costs, and also emerging forms of communication.  As more and more individuals stop having home phone service, businesses are having to adapt as well.  Here are some good telephone options for your small business.

Traditional Phone Service

Many small businesses will still need some type of traditional phone service.  However, it is important to think about why, and what your customers need.  If you do a lot of your business online, having a local area code probably doesn’t sit well with your customers all over the United States.  As such, you should look into getting an 800 number through a site like 0800 numbershop.  That way, your customers can call you toll free from anywhere.


VoIP is now the main competitor to traditional phone service.  Unlike a phone line, you have a regular phone that plugs in and works over the internet.  Companies are choosing this option because they can have more control over the phone system easily (like recording and monitoring calls), while keeping a close eye on price.


Skype is a popular way for individuals to communicate, and small businesses are getting in on it as well.  If you have freelancers or other workers at remote sites, Skype can be a great way to communicate on projects, because you can see a video picture of the individual, and you can transmit files as well.    This is a great way to coordinate work with remote workers.

Google Voice

Finally, there is Google Voice, which is Google’s answer to integrating various phone options.  With Google Voice, you get a phone number, but you can also add it to your existing numbers with some work.  Whenever someone calls the number, you can have the call forwarded to various numbers, or sent to a voice mailbox.  If you get a voicemail, it will transcribe the call into email and send it to you.  This is a handy option for integrating all of your different lines.

How to Choose the Right Fireplace for Your Home

Modern FireplaceIf you want to do a few home improvements, and require the services of tradesmen such as plumbers in Leeds, then you can start whenever you feel like it. However, knowing what works and what doesn’t can be quite tricky. Fortunately, there are certain items which can act as a centrepiece in some rooms of your home.

One of those items is a fireplace. Whether it’s electric, made of metal, wood or any other material, a fireplace can help to make a home look more inviting. Perhaps the best room to have a fireplace in is the living room, as it’s where you spend a lot of time. However, you may be concerned that fireplaces are both expensive to buy and run, but for those of you who are unsure about cost, High Efficiency Fireplaces help to conserve fuel without compromising on the heat it gives to a room on a cold night.

For those of you want a more traditional look, choosing from a range of wood burning stoves may be the answer. They tend to work best if your home has a red, brown or orange colour scheme going on, but it can also work placed on a light wall, but it all depends on the colour and darkness or lightness of the wood. Any colour clash could ruin your hard work in installing the fireplace.

Fireplaces that use gas, wood and electricity also come made of metal, and to give them a finishing touch, using a back panel might help bring out the best in it. A back panel made of marble or eve black granite could work perfectly in your living room.

How to Find the Right Rug for Your Home

Modern RunYou want your home to be comfortable, and when it comes to comfort, there’s no room that needs it as much as your lounge. It’s the part of your home where you spend more time in than any other room, and you want to make it a place where you’re happy to relax in the company of friends and relatives, or simply by yourself watching TV. While comfort is hugely important, you also want it to look good, and by buying items like cushions, beanbags and even modern rugs, you can make your lounge even more habitable.

Fashion rugs might seem a bit excessive, but for those of you who want your home to have a contemporary look, getting the latest rug from an online retailer like modern rugs could fill that void. You might think of rugs as an unnecessary soft furnishing, but they can add a lot to your home. The best modern rugs can be stylish, bright, comfortable and welcoming. In addition to that, they can help to complement other items of furniture in the lounge such as a sofa, coffee table or even the cushions.

When looking for cheap rugs, it’s understandable that you’ll be a little curious about what material is used in their construction, as some materials are more fashionable and comfortable than others. Some are made with polyester, others with wool and a few are made with cotton. At the moment, the most fashionable rugs are thick and tufty, which is ideal if you’ve a few guests coming round and you want to watch a film. Rather than finding chairs, your friends could sit on the rug.

Bright colours are seen as being in style right now. Whether it’s light blue, lime green or a deep red, they can really stand out if you want them to, but it’s also worth having furniture that’s either the same colour as the rug or similar to help complement it.

Getting the Most for your Money with Garden Furniture

Garden FurnitureMaking the most of your outside space can mean different things to different people and depending on what you use your garden, decking or patio for, the furnishings and décor needs can be very different too. What most outdoor area users do agree on though is making the most of the good weather in the summer. This can include sun lounging or perhaps more importantly the rare chance to indulge in al fresco dining, whether it be a full on meaty barbeque or a light Summer salad.

If you’re looking to have a snappy spruce up in the garden just as the sun is peaking around the clouds, you might want to go for something more budget. It’s unlikely for the majority of us that we would have a special fund tucked away, ear marked for new garden furniture. To get the most out of your money, make sure you shop around and don’t just go for an impulse buy at your local DIY chain store. The best deals around can be found online. Searching through sites specialising in outdoor furniture such as Bridgman will give you a lot more choice and are usually better priced than the big chains.

Durability is another big issue to consider when on a budget. Go for metals such as iron or aluminium, both of which can be found in price brackets that are pocket friendly and as long as there is a good layer of paint on there, neither requires much maintenance. If you would prefer to go for a more natural substance like wood, make sure you go for one of the hard woods like oak. There might be more of a maintenance issue with real wood but if you take the time to treat your patio furniture at least once or twice a year, you shouldn’t have any problems!

Think about when the sun goes in, you might not want to retire to the living room but still have a feel of the outdoors so don’t forget to give some attention to the conservatory. There are many choices out there for conservatory furniture and as the durability factor isn’t as prominent in this sphere you can go for something a little cheaper. Many of the wicker or rattan garden furniture options found online would be perfect. Bridgman furniture for example is light weight as well as budget so if your prayers are answered and you’re able to go back outside, you might be able to use your conservatory furniture as spares for when more people come to visit.

What You Should Consider Before Buying Life Insurance

This guest post was created by Lynette Argent at Million Dollar Woman, an Australian brand which offers life insurance products designed to meet the unique needs of women.

When buying life insurance it is extremely important to consider all factors before proceeding with your purchase. Failure to properly research all possibilities before committing could result in you paying too much for your premium, or paying for insurance which doesn’t cover you in the ways which you really need it to.

The main benefit of having the right life insurance policy in place is that if the worst happens, your family and dependents will be able to manage financially; by not holding life insurance, or holding the wrong level of cover, your dependents could end up struggling financially at the worst possible time. Your next of kin will end up taking over all of your expenses, such as any outstanding loans like your mortgage, household expenses, medical and funeral costs. Having life insurance is a good option to help them to manage these types of expenses.

However, there are some factors which should be considered before purchasing life insurance; firstly, you should consider whether life insurance is something which you need. In the vast majority of cases, life insurance is essential to pay for large debts like a mortgage, and to generally help dependents manage financially. However, in some cases, life insurance may not be required; for example, for someone who has no family or dependents, no debts such as loans or mortgages, and has plenty of money in the bank to pay for expenses such as funeral and medical costs.

Another important factor to consider is the value of the cover; again, this is dependent on the individual’s circumstances, and how much income your dependents will need in order to maintain their standard of life. It is important to consider any debts such as loans and mortgages, emergency funds which your family may require, any donations you may wish to make to charities which are likely to care for you if you fall ill, and whether you wish to provide funds for the education of your children.

Once you’ve bought the right insurance, you should keep the insurance until it is no longer required. This may seem obvious, but many people buy life insurance and then simply stop paying and let the policy expire. This could leave you under-insured and at risk.

Once you’ve purchased insurance, it is well worth reviewing your policy from time to time, to ensure that your policy still suits your needs. The insurance industry is constantly changing, so comparing the latest plans against your requirements is wise.

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

  Women looking for authoritative, accurate information from a reputable source will appreciate this pregnancy book from the world-class Mayo Clinic. It provides hundreds of pages of helpful information parents can use. Features include week-by-week updates on baby’s growth and month-by-month changes for mom, a 40-week pregnancy calendar, a symptoms guide, and a review of important pregnancy decisions. In this illustrated book you’ll also receive advice on how to get pregnant, meal planning, exercise, medication use and parenthood. Plus, you’ll find answers to difficult or embarrassing questions. This pregnancy book is the work of a team of pregnancy experts who find nothing in medicine more exciting and satisfying to experience than the birth of a child. Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy is an essential pregnancy resource for parents-to-be.
Would-be mothers looking for precise, accurate information from a reputable source will appreciate this mammoth pregnancy guide from the celebrated Mayo Clinic. The volume actually provides much more information than most parents will need: week by week accounts of the baby’s development, entries on how pregnancy can be affected by dozens of previous health conditions (such as HIV and diabetes), self-care tips for side effects like nausea and back pain, sidebars that explain the difference between identical and fraternal twins, etc. But the book contains at least one feature that most pregnant women will find indispensable: charts that indicate how to handle “troublesome signs and symptoms” during each three week period. For example, if a woman has slight spotting during the first four weeks of pregnancy, the chart tells her to notify a doctor during her next hospital visit. But if she has any bleeding at all during weeks 29 to 32, the chart indicates that she should tell her doctor immediately. Another stellar feature is the book’s even-handed series of “decision guides,” which help parents make those hard (and even guilt-inducing) choices about breastfeeding, circumcision and whether or not to go back to work. Some parents may find the book’s cool, no-nonsense tone intimidating, or even scary, but when deciding what to do about mid-term cramps or pain, most readers will find great reassurance this volume’s carefully vetted facts.
This review is from:  C. Moore

I really liked this pregnancy book. It was much better than the “What to Expect” book or some of the other books I have read. I would have given it 5 stars if it had gone a little deeper, but it was still great nonetheless! This is really the only book i used for my 2nd pregnancy. It is organized in a more user-friendly pattern than other “weekly” pregnancy books. It has a section of common complaints, so you can just look them up as you experience them vs. having to find them embedded in a certain “week”. I also liked the explanation of the labor process in this book. I found it helpful for my first pregnancy. It went a little deeper than the other books. If you are going natural, though, this wouldn’t give you enough information (try the Birth Partner… I really like it… flipped through it a bit during my 2nd pregnancy and then read it every day the week before I went into labor).

Save more than $3,000 a year on your grocery bill & beat the grocer at pricing games

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family: Includes So Many Innovative Strategies You Won’t Have to Cut Coupons
America’s Cheapest Family shows readers how to save up to $3,000 annually on groceries with their proven strategies, tips, tools, and tricks.

The average American family spends 10 to 15 percent of its take-home pay on groceries. Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half gives them a sure-fire opportunity to reduce that number forever. With the proven plan in this book, the average family can save more than $3,000 a year on its grocery bill.

“Can cutting coupons do that?” a consumer might ask. Of course, these money-saving experts teach coupon-clipping strategies, but they don’t stop there. Readers learn how to plan their shopping to save big bucks, effectively store food and save cash, identify products that save time and money, beat the grocer at pricing games, and more!

The Economides learned to deliver healthy, tasty food to their family of seven on $350 a month. In this authoritative manual, the average family can follow their lead and fill its grocery cart without emptying its wallet.


“Many people think that it’s impossible to reduce your grocery bill by 50%. But you can. Steve and Annette Economides provide step-by-step instructions in “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half.” Tools that are practical and easy to follow. No special shopping or cooking skills required. Anyone can see a surprising reduction in their grocery budget if they follow the Economides’ methods. And, best of all, the savings begin right away. You don’t need to finish the whole book to benefit. You’ll find money-saving ideas that you can put to use in the first chapter, and every chapter thereafter. Normally I advise people to check books out of the library and save the cost of the book. But this is one do-it-yourself guide to lower grocery bills that you’ll want to have on your bookshelf or kitchen countertop.”
Gary Foreman, Publisher, The

“If you are eager to save on groceries, but don’t always have the time to clip coupons, this book is for you! It’s perfect if you’re interested in more ways to cut costs, reduce waste, and get organized. This is an awesome book for the novice or the skilled cook.”
Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper-editors of and authors of “Dining On A Dime Cookbook”

“I’ve known Steve and Annette for several years and they definitely live what they believe. If you’re serious about spending less money at the grocery store, this book offers some practical ways to achieve your goal. When it comes to stretching your dollar, I know of no one with more experience than Steve and Annette.”
JJ Heller-Singer/Songwriter



This review is from: SmartMom4183

I read the entire book as soon as I got it because I was going to do our biweekly shopping the next day. Using the techniques in this book, I have stopped clipping and sorting coupons for 3-4 hours a week and I have cut our grocery budget down from $600/month to $500/month. That’s for two adults, two preschoolers, and 8 cats and includes groceries, diapers, cat litter, pricey cat food…everything. It has also helped because we always have enough food in the house to cook and eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home every day so there’s no excuse to go to restaurants, which has saved us a few hundred dollars a month as well. Reading this book and implementing just a few of the techniques in it has provided us with extra money and less worrying over what to eat, where to eat, and wondering if we have enough food. In just a month, I have filled our pantry to overflowing with all the foods we love and saved a lot of money at the same time. I can’t say enough about how useful this book is and I urge you to read it and use it too. I almost didn’t buy it because of some of the negative reviews saying you could find the same information on the web for free. Anyone can tell you “do this”, “do that” but the Economides’ are telling you from their own experience what has worked for them and how it can work for you, which is a lot better than just dry instructions from some unknown webmaster. This book has more than paid for itself already.

The right balance between work, motherhood, and life. Happy moms make better moms

What Happy Working Mothers Know: How New Findings in Positive Psychology Can Lead to a Healthy and Happy Work/Life Balance

A fact-based and proven approach to help working mothers rediscover happiness as they balance their duties at home and work

Science and sociology have made great strides in understanding what makes us happy and how we achieve it. For working mothers who face endless demands on their time and attention, What Happy Working Mothers Know provides scientifically proven and practical ways to find the right balance and replace stress with happiness. Written by a behavioral scientist and global leadership guru, and an international lawyer and career coach, this mom-friendly guide offers practical tactics that truly work.

The demands of juggling work and home lead many women to try to do everything and be everything to everyone.  In the effort to be Superwoman, many women lose sight of what makes them happy and they fail to realize how important their happiness is to being a good worker and a good mother. The key to being your best at everything you do is to take care of your happiness the way you take care of your health, through conscious choices every day. You’ll learn to overcome obstacles, apply lessons learned at work to your motherhood skills, and learn lessons from your children that you can apply at work.

  • Includes interactive activities that illustrate important lessons in the book
  • Shows you how to use positive psychology to shift from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality for workplace success
  • Helps you tap into your own sense of joy every day for your own happiness and the happiness of those around you
  • Science-based and packed with real case studies of real working moms
  • Written by authors with impeccable qualifications and real-world experience

Many moms raise great kids and achieve the professional success they desire and deserve, but if they aren’t happy, what’s the point? This book doesn’t show you how to have it all, but how to have all the things that really matter.

From the Inside Flap

For working mothers who face endless demands on their time and attention, What Happy Working Mothers Know provides scientifically proven and practical ways to replace stress with contentment and find the right balance between work, motherhood, and life. Your own happiness is important—because happy moms make better moms and more successful professionals.

What Happy Working Mothers Know reveals that the key to being your best is to take care of your happiness the same way you take care of your health—through conscious daily choices. Cathy Greenberg and Barrett Avigdor explain how you can use positive psychology to shift from a mentality of scarcity to one of abundance to create happiness for yourself and those around you … even when you’re at your very busiest.

Based on new scientific research, this mom-friendly guide gives you the practical advice and effective strategies you need to be a great mom and a great professional without sacrificing your own happiness. You’ll learn to apply lessons learned at work to your motherhood skills (and vice versa), as well as how to avoid “happiness traps” like trying to be Supermom, doubting yourself, or believing that you are your job. Inside, you’ll find handy, effective tools to avoid these traps and meet a host of courageous women who share their stories and how they found their own happiness.

Many moms raise great kids and achieve the personal and professional success they desire and deserve—but at what cost? What Happy Working Mothers Know doesn’t show you how to have it all, but how to have all the things that really matter—including your own happiness.



This review is from:Simon Maple “Jack Dice” (Edinburgh, UK)

I am a working father, generally happy, but currently more grumpy than usual: the economy, the weather (Chicago winter approaches) and my dear son’s evolution into dictatorial toddler. This book has done wonders for my mood, my approach to life and my plans.

I actually like the fact that its teaching is in multiple narratives–central text interspersed with sidebars, charts and sketches–because these “bite-sized” nuggets of empathy, heroism, and yes, sheer wisdom, are perfect for busy working parents. I read it in spurts, dive back to recall a lesson, true story or insight and hold it in my head for the day.

Another reviewer complained that this book repeats the “What Happy People Know” messages. Sure it does. That’s the point. Those messages are timeless truths that are worth repeating. In this book they’ve been synthesized and adapted for working parents. I really appreciate that, even though I usually don’t read books that claim to speak to just one of the many roles I play in life. I usually steer away from something so specific–a whole book about happy working mothers? No thanks! Smug people who have figured out how to raise kids, succeed at work, honor your spouse and love yourself? Please, take your success stories elsewhere! I was so wrong. Greenberg and Avigdor share their lessons in happiness for all to learn. And they do it gently, positively and transparently. I’ve been humbled.

I share this book with parents who need uplifting and I recommend others to do so. And who doesn’t need uplifting now and again? I’m a better man for having read this book.