Affordable Halloween Costumes to Try This Year


Halloween is an exciting time for everyone. Everybody is excited to dress up and wear that perfect costume that makes them stand out. However, nobody wants to spend loads of money to buy a customized or ready to use costume for a single night. 

Halloween costumes can sometimes cost a lot, plus you have to go through the excruciating wait of getting your costume. On top of it all, there is a very high chance that you might not be able to get the costume that you want unless you are willing to shell out a lot of bucks. 

Well, when nothing seems to be working out you can either go for something very mainstream when it comes to your attire or you can create something really crazy by thinking out of the box; be a little more creative and use the clothes that you already have in your closet.

You can also ace things up with your makeup. You can use some basic crafty supplies that you already have in your makeup kit and create some spooky SFX makeup art or use body paints. This might be very helpful to make your Halloween attire affordable. 

To help you out, we have come up with some Halloween costume ideas that you can use while staying within your budget. 


It is a classic Halloween costume that you can create for yourself. All you need to do is know the key elements of this outfit are the cheekbones (it’s okay if you don’t have any) and the horns, which you can make very easily. But you need to get them right and look more like Angelina Jolie’s classic version of the character. You can use your eye-popping makeup techniques to get the cheekbones. There are many tutorials that will help you in this regard. As for the horns, you can use tape, wires and foam so that they can appear to be thick and shiny and you can glue them to a headband.  

Bride’s Outfit

You don’t have to get married or be an actual bride to dress up like a spooky and scary looking bride in a white dress. You can get yourself a cheap veil or use hot glue tulle fabric with a headband and create your bride’s dress. You can use some flowers that might have withered away and use some white foundation or other cosmetics and colors to make yourself appear like the corpse’s bride or a bride that has come back from the dead. The good part about this outfit is that you can add more variations to this costume 

Frankenstein’s Bride

This is one of the most popular Halloween outfits that you might be see the most on streets. You can use some white makeup and mascara. Also, you can apply mousse to your hair with a bit of white lightning bolt shade to give you a more realistic look as seen in the movies. If you are someone who is tall then this outfit is going to be more ideal for you. 

Men In Black

This is one of the simplest costumes that you can adorn yourself in and trust us you would look really classy. All you need to do use a black and white outfit and some cool looking shades. If you want to give it a more realistic and futuristic look with all the intergalactic gadgets and all, you can use some household items including a metallic or wooden rod wrapped with aluminum foil. To make it look like a Neuralyzer and Nerf guns use blasters wrapped in aluminum foil to make it look like those Plasma Blasters as used by Agent J and Agent K in the movies. You can even host a MIB theme party where you can enjoy MIB movies with your friends. If you have subscribed to Spectrum TV packages, you might be able to catch it on your cable TV as well. 

Are you ready for the spookiest time of the year?

These are some affordable ways to celebrate Halloween. We are pretty sure that this will not only help you save money on your Halloween costume, but will also help you look amazing and standout from the crowd. 

Looking For High-Quality Oil? Choose Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

Looking For High-Quality Oil? Choose Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

Like wine, there are many varieties of olive oil. Unique in taste and smell, each olive oil enhances a culinary experience in different ways. While variety is the proverbial spice of life, it can also make choosing an oil potentially daunting. Many people believe that a high price tag equates to high quality. Similarly, people may think that the Mediterranean area produces the highest-quality oils. However, for high-quality oil, choose Texas olive oil! With sprawling orchards and friendly tasting rooms, Texas is a hotspot for pure, high-quality olive oil. Texas Hill Country Olive Co. leads the pack for local high-quality olive oil. Below, experts weigh in on how to select high-quality Texas olive oil.

Consider Packaging

When physically inspecting a potential olive oil purchase, consider its packaging. While fun labels are eye-catching, the makeup of the actual bottle is the most important facet. High-quality olive oil will be sold in glass bottles. They should feature a dark tint and relatively low transparency. This is done to protect the olive oil from sun exposure and heat. If exposed to too much light, air, and heat, the olive oil could go rancid. 

This preference for dark stained glass doesn’t mean that all olive oil packaged in clear glass bottles is subpar. If packaged in transparent glass bottles, the olive oil should then be kept inside a box to protect it from the elements. After purchase, make sure to keep this type of olive oil inside the cardboard packaging when not in use to maintain protection.

In addition to inspecting the bottle’s transparency, the experts at Texas Hill Country Olive Co. recommend inspecting other elements. They recommend checking the bottle for leaks, or any drips forming at the cap. This could be indicative of manufacturing issues, or a tampered seal. Additionally, look for dust on the bottle, and a visible orange tint to the oil. This can be indicative of a compromised manufacturing process, or other issues.

Choose EVOO

A trendy abbreviation amongst foodies, EVOO stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Amongst chefs and home cooks alike, it is the golden standard for high-quality oil. EVOO is typically less processed than others, and higher in quality. When olive oil is highly processed, precious flavor and aroma molecules are destroyed in the process. Due to robust natural conditions, Texas olive oil can be extracted manually. This eliminates the need for any added chemicals or solvents, allowing for pure EVOO production.

Texas Hill Country Olive Co.’s lineup of high-quality Texas olive oil includes a line of infused oils. Though these oils cannot be labeled as “extra virgin” due to the infusion process, they start at high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Infused olive oils can be very high quality, though they cannot be labeled as EVOO. Consider this when selecting infused oils. Otherwise, stick with EVOO.

Don’t Focus On Color

Some people believe that olive oil that is green is of the best quality. This perception only reigns true when the oil is freshly pressed. As soon as the oil is bottled, it turns golden in color. Thus, the presence of a visibly green olive oil can indicate that dyes were added. Additionally, there can be a wide variety in the coloring of high-quality Texas olive oils, based on inclusions, origins of olives, and even harvest timing. Experts agree that EVOOs can vary in color from pale yellow to green. The experts at Texas Hill Country Olive Co. remind buyers that the only color to look for is orange, which can be indicative of rancid or tampered oil.

Value Transparency

Wine is often considered more desirable with age. Conversely, high-quality olive oil should be fresh. In order to ensure freshness, look for packaging that indicates information related to the respective oil’s production. Texas Hill Country Olive Co. experts report that most high-quality olive oils feature a “best by” date. When kept in proper condition, this date estimates the range of time during which the respective oil will be at its peak. By adding this date, manufacturers put their stamp of freshness on the product. Without any indication of such a date, buyers could potentially be picking up oils that have surpassed their freshest date range.

Similarly, many high-quality olive oils feature a “harvest date” or “pressed date”, indicating the exact date that the olive oil was manufactured. This transparency adds a degree of confidence for buyers, presenting them with the information needed to make an informed choice. Many trusted local manufacturers also include information about the variety of olive used, the estate where olives are harvested, and other valuable information. If origins are easy to trace back to the olive, the olive oil is likely to be high-quality. Many Texas olive oil manufacturers adhere to this full transparency, believing in the value of building trust with local and national consumers. 

The Bottom Line on Texas Olive Oil

Though there are many varying flavor profiles and inclusions available in the realm of olive oil, choosing a high-quality olive oil focuses on freshness, manufacturing, and transparency. Much like choosing other food products, consumer education is at the heart of selecting high-quality olive oil. Sure, the Mediterranean is known for its excellent olive oil. However, Texas olive oil can provide connoisseurs with the same high-quality olive oils, without the trans-Atlantic trip. A long import process can render Mediterranean olive oil not-so-fresh upon arrival, making locally sourced olive oil a no-brainer.

Texas olive oil orchard

Texas Hill Country Olive Co., the Lonestar State’s premier olive oil manufacturer, reminds buyers to inspect the packaging. These experts also remind buyers to value transparency, noting that trusted local manufacturers are eager to share the origin stories of their products! In fact, many local purveyors encourage tastings, giving buyers a firsthand taste experience prior to purchase. With complete transparency, the ability to ask questions, and the ability to witness the process in action, local purveyors instill confidence in novice EVOO buyers. For those on the prowl for high-quality olive oil, choose Texas olive oil!

Going Vegan!: A Life Choice Inspired by Clean Meat Advocate Paul Shapiro

Going Vegan!: A Life Choice Inspired by Clean Meat Advocate Paul Shapiro

Throughout the majority of my adult life, I’ve considered myself a pretty healthy eater, with an average penchant for at-home cooking. I’ve dabbled in the occasional meal prepping trends. I’ve even purchased a Slow Cooker or two. Simultaneously, I’ve also considered myself fairly aware of the proverbial behind-the-scenes processes in the food industry. I’ve read up on mislabeling of products, and have made various alterations to my diet based on my findings. After following clean meat and sustainability advocate Paul Shapiro for a while, I decided to plunge into veganism. Shapiro’s informative book, “Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World” lit the spark for this transformative change.

Paul Shapiro Breakfast

How To Quit Meat

I’ve always wrestled with the strain that the traditional meat manufacturing industry places on the environment at large. I’ve adhered to multiple “Meatless Monday” victories. However, it never lasted long. The lack of tasty meat-alternatives on the market left meals lackluster. Simultaneously, my own knowledge of vegan-friendly recipes was very limited. Inspired by Shapiro, himself a long-time vegan, I swiftly found a plethora of resources to resolve these issues.

A quick internet search provided me with easy vegan-friendly recipes, ingredient substitutions, and creative ideas. A trip to the grocery store showcased the ever-growing meat-alternative section. With so many vegan-friendly offerings of frozen foods, meat alternatives, and tofu products, I found the selections to be wholesome.

What Is Clean Meat According to Paul Shapiro?

Paul Shapiro’s prolific book explores the burgeoning efforts to commercialize the clean meat movement. Unlike meat-alternatives, clean meat is real meat grown in a laboratory setting from animal cells. The process of growing (or brewing) clean meat eliminates the need for traditional meat farming of animals. Paul Shapiro has purported that “clean meat is not an alternative to meat. It is actual meat that is grown from animal cells. The primary audience for clean meat will be meat eaters, not vegetarians.”

Though “clean meat” wouldn’t fit into the traditional vegan diet, I found myself amazed at the innovation that is poised to revolutionize the traditional meat industry. By eliminating the environmental strain and ethical considerations associated with the industry through this process, “clean meat” can be a great facilitator for change. After all, these considerations are the reason behind my decision to become vegan.

Plant Power

After a few days of abstaining from all animal products, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was getting the hang of the whole vegan thing! With so much readily available information, I found all of the resources I needed to help with meal planning, shopping, and nutrition. As a bonus, I found myself consuming a wider variety of healthy foods. I ate leafy greens, legumes, and everything in between.

Overall, the process of going vegan has been positive, inspirational, and delicious!

5 Ways to Get Your Home Prepped for Guests Post-Quarantine

5 Ways to Get Your Home Prepped for Guests Post-Quarantine

Having guests stay over can be a stressful experience, especially when you feel unprepared. If it’s been a long time since you’ve had guests because of quarantine, you may feel overwhelmed when the time comes to prep your home again. If you’re looking to get ahead of the stress, these 5 steps are a great start.

Clear Out Some Drawers and Shelves

Unused guest rooms often become temporary storage facilities. If it’s been a while since the room has been used, chances are the empty spaces have been filled with items from the rest of the house. Clearing out some drawers and shelves allows your guests to feel more at home when they have space for clothes or suitcases. 

It’s a good idea to try to create some space for hanging clothes as well. If you don’t have an available closet, try looking into a garment rack or portable closet. Both can easily be brought into the room when needed and then fold down to take up less space when not in use.

Make Sure that Your Outlets are Accessible

In setting up a room, keep in mind that guests will want to plug in and charge their phones soon after they arrive at your home. Plan to dedicate several outlets for their use, so they won’t have to unplug their tablet to use their blow dryer. Evaluate how many sockets you have open, and see if they’re in convenient locations. 

If you’ve moved furniture around since your last guest, you may be blocking easy outlet access with a nightstand or dresser. Putting a little thought into how to arrange the room now can make it easier for guests to settle in when they visit.

Check Out Your Water Heater

If there’s anything that puts a damper on a vacation, it’s trying to take a hot shower and finding it cold instead. With more guests in your home, your water heater will be used more often. Get it checked out now to make sure it can keep up with increased demand. 

This water heater company in San Fernando can give you all of the advice you need to make sure your heater is reliable and ready when it needs to be. A little advance check can ensure that no matter how many extra dishes you’ll need to wash or laundry loads you may run, your guests will have access to hot water whenever they want.

Set Out Blankets and Towels

It’s important to have some blankets and fresh towels ready for your guests to use. Before you’re back to welcoming visitors, take a look at your supply and see if you need to get additional ones. Having fresh matching towels and washcloths to set out is a particularly nice touch to make your home feel like a hotel. 

When it comes to sleeping temperature, it’s hard to predict how your guests will feel. You never know if people will be too hot or too cold in the bedroom, so providing plenty of extra blankets is a smart way to make sure your guests can sleep comfortably.

Add Some Nice Touches

Think of the little things that make you feel welcome when you’re a guest, and see what you can add to your own guest room. A neatly made bed can make a big difference in making guests ready for a good night’s sleep after traveling. Put a little extra time into fluffing the pillows, and add important necessities on the nightstand, such as a bottled water and tissue box. 

Having a basket of basic amenities, such as floss, toothpaste, and little bottles of shampoo and conditioner, can save your guests the trouble of bringing their own things with them. If you really want to spruce up the room, consider putting robes or disposable slippers in the closet. Little touches can help your guests feel more comfortable and more welcome in your home.

While there are many things that you can do to prepare your home for guests to stay over after quarantine, following this guide is a great way to focus on the essentials. Your guests will most look forward to being able to visit with you again, so doing a few things now will relieve stress and ensure that you can simply enjoy their company when they arrive. 

These steps can go a long way to making sure your guests feel right at home and show them you’re excited, and ready, to welcome them over after quarantine.

How to Make Sugar Free Chocolate Pie

How to Make Sugar Free Chocolate Pie

We all love delicious desserts. It’s the sugar we can go without.

Even though processed  sugar adds a delicious sweet taste to foods, it has been shown to be harmful to health in the following ways.

  • It has calories that can lead to weight gain.
  • It can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • It can cause acne and wrinkles.
  • It can accelerate the aging process.
  • It increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • It may increase the risk of cancer.
  • It may contribute to depression.
  • It can increase cellular aging.
  • It reduces energy levels.
  • It can lead to liver disease.
  • It causes inflammation in the body.
  • It’s bad for your teeth.
  • It can increase the risk of developing kidney disease.
  • It can increase the risk of developing gout.
  • It can lead to cognitive decline.

That’s quite a list!

So, taking this into consideration, does this mean we should be completely without sweets? Of course not!

Fortunately, there are plenty of sugarfree desserts you can make that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Here’s one for Sugarfree Chocolate Pie.

Sugarfree Chocolate Pie Recipe


  • 1/3 cup cocoa or 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ¾ tsp liquid stevia or ½ tsp. pure stevia
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 (9-inch) baked pie shell
  • Whipped cream


1. Mix cocoa, stevia, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan.

2. Gradually stir in milk.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until boiling. Let boil for 1 minute and remove from heat.

3. Blend in vanilla.

4. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and pour into the pie shell. Refrigerate.

5. Top with whipped cream and serve.

Why Stevia?

The reason this sugarfree chocolate pie tastes so great and is a lot healthier than a sugary dessert is because stevia is added.

Stevia is a sugar alternative that is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar. It is way lower in calories and therefore is not linked to weight gain. It has also been shown to reduce insulin and glucose levels to keep blood sugar in check. Therefore, it is better for diabetics.

Even though stevia is a healthier alternative to sugar, there are some health concerns about the product due to the fact that it is processed. Therefore, when buying stevia, you will want to go with a brand that is known for products you can count on for their honest and natural ingredients. The Nutramedix brand is highly recommended.

Nutramedix is known for its honesty, integrity and unique, proprietary extraction processes. Their Stevia product is an herbal supplement containing the stevia leaf extract. It is recommended for supporting glucose levels already in normal range and it is sure to take your recipes to the next level.

Sugar is not great for our bodies, but it sure tastes great. Fortunately, you can use healthier substitutes like stevia to make a delicious sugarfree chocolate pie and other terrific desserts. 

Which sweets are your favorites?

What To Do In Bangkok For Your Next Trip To Thailand

What To Do In Bangkok For Your Next Trip To Thailand

Bangkok is one of the largest and most populated cities in Asia if not the world, while you should also be aware that a number of the top tourist attractions are available if you want to explore the delights of this bustling Thai capital city. Indeed, regardless of your preferences for activities or forms of entertainment, you can find a number of things to do to suit your taste. Furthermore, you should also be aware that eating some of the best street food in Asia and visiting some of the most beautiful temples in the world are possible if you want to experience some of the best aspects of real Thai culture. However, you should also be aware that taking your time to plan your next trip to Thailand is imperative if you want to see all of the various tourist attractions that are available in Bangkok.

  • Experience authentic Thai food
  • Learn about Thai culture
  • Watch the world go by

A.              Experience real Thai food

You may have visited your local Thai restaurant and enjoyed some of the dishes that are available. However, you should be aware that visiting Thailand can give you the opportunity to delve into the realities of Thai cuisine and try a number of new dishes. Indeed, Bangkok is home to people from all over Thailand, meaning you can try a variety of Thai dishes from all over the country. You should also be aware that Thailand has some of the best street food, especially near Vib Best Western Sanam Pao, meaning you do not have to visit a fine dining restaurant to discover some of the finest tastes of this fantastic Asian country.

B.              Understand Thai culture

In addition, you should also be aware that Bangkok contains some of the most beautiful temples in the entire country of Thailand, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Furthermore, it is imperative to understand that the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is located very close to the Grand Palace, which is one of the most beautiful and inspiring buildings in the city of Bangkok. However, it is imperative to understand that visiting the Grand Palace and some of the most important temples in the city will require you to wear an appropriate form of clothing as a dress code applies at all times while you should also apply several tips to travel safely at all times.

C.              Watch the world go by

Lastly, you should also be aware that you could take a trip down the river or sit and just watch the world go by on Khao San Road, which is one of the most popular destinations in the city for young travellers. Furthermore, you should also be aware that a number of night time activities are available around the city, depending on your preferences while you should be aware of any travel advice from the government before booking your trip.

Therefore, in conclusion, if you will be visiting Bangkok in the near future, you should take some time to understand the various tourist attractions that are available to give you an idea about the main reasons that Thailand is considered as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet.

How to Tell If You are Involved in a Toxic Relationship

How to Tell If You are Involved in a Toxic Relationship

Romantic relationships differ immensely whether it is a casual arrangement or you live together. Each portion of a relationship has different challenges that a couple has to work on. The sad truth is that some great relationships turn toxic when both parties in the relationship do not actively work on issues. Bottling up issues can result in a fight that could end the relationship as unforgiveable things can be said during the heat of the moment.

Zero Communication

Communication is a pillar of relationships as it is a huge part of compromise. Compromise is a huge part of a relationship as one party shouldn’t always get what they want. Communication through issues being done daily can allow for small issues to be dealt with and not to compound into larger issues. A partner that isn’t willing to work on their communication clearly does not care about the future of the relationship. Take time weekly to talk about anything and everything as this can allow for both partners to become more understanding.

Abuse of Any Kind

Domestic abuse is a huge issue throughout the world and should not be tolerated. Unfortunately, there are a number of accusations that are baseless when it comes to domestic violence. A partner might try to control the other person through threats of calling the police. A domestic violence attorney has likely seen this in the past so consulting them after the threat has been made could be wise. 

Emotional and verbal abuse usually come in the form of a person telling the other they are worthless. This might seem to come in many forms but its intention is to break you down so you think that you need the abuser. Abuse is a telltale sign of a toxic relationship so get out now if you can!

Separation from Friends/Family

Controlling relationships can turn toxic quickly as emotional abusers usually separate their partner from those that they love the most. This happens for a few reasons including that those closest to a person might be able to express their displeasure at the relationship. All couples should have friends together and their own friends. You do not have to go everywhere with your partner and privacy is important in serious relationships. Take time to identify this controlling behavior as it is likely more apparent than you think.


Dishonesty usually is associated with infidelity when it arises in a relationship. Infidelity has changed over the years with dating apps coming to the forefront of the dating world. Far too many married people are on these apps for various reasons. Emotional and physical cheating are very different but can destroy a relationship all the same. There shouldn’t be a reason that you track your partner’s location via their phone. Trust is a huge issue in a number of relationships so make sure the truth becomes a focus in your relationship. Keep in mind there are serial cheaters so this might not be the end of your infidelity problems no matter how much they promised it would not happen again.

Toxic relationships can become healthy again if both parties are willing to work on it. Not all people are willing to change so if you notice this, end the relationship immediately as not all relationships are meant to work out.

Arranged Marriage vs Forced Marriage: Everything You Need to Know

Interested to know the difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage so you can identify it better? Discover the signs to look out for, right here…

Arranged marriages are not the same as forced marriages. In an arranged marriage, both parties always give their consent but, in a forced marriage, victims are coerced into a marriage that they do not want. They also often suffer physical and mental abuse in the process.

Distinguishing between the two types of marriage is really important. Forcing a marriage is a criminal offence, requiring a Forced Marriage Protection Order to protect the victim. Getting the two confused can promote a negative image of certain cultures and countries who practice arranged marriage.

There are no ‘typical’ victims of forced marriage. That said, there are a number of signs that can indicate that someone is at risk of a forced marriage, or is already in one. With this in mind, to discover the differences between these two controversial marriages so you can better spot them, read on…

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What are the Differences Between a Forced Marriage and an Arranged Marriage?

It is important to understand the differences between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. Not only will this avoid wires getting crossed between culture and abuse, you may be able to better spot it…

Arranged Marriages

An arranged marriage is where a family find a marriage partner for their son or daughter, but the marriage is entered into willingly. Both parties have the option to choose whether or not to enter into the marriage, although it is generally believed that parents know what is best for their children in the long run.

In arranged marriages, parents will look for a partner for their son or daughter who has a good family, good career prospects, and the same religion and values; someone who will ultimately make their child happy. That’s not to say that all arranged marriages end in happiness. For children who refuse to marry their chosen partner, they are often shamed and cut off from their family.

Forced Marriages

A forced marriage, on the other hand, is one in which either one or both parties do not consent. This could be because the person is too young, they have a learning disability which prevents them from making an informed decision, they have a physical disability, or because they simply don’t want to. 

Forced marriage is illegal in the UK, and victims are often coerced into marrying through physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse. Some victims are sometimes unaware of the situation, and are then drugged or kidnapped so that they can’t escape and are forced to go through with the marriage.

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Who is Most at Risk of Forced Marriage?

There is no ‘typical’ victim of a forced marriage. It can happen to anyone from any background. It can affect both men and women who are usually aged between 13 and 30. It is also not a problem specific to one culture or country. 

According to the latest statistics from the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), in 2019 they handled 1,355 cases related to a possible forced marriage. These related to 66 different countries, excluding the UK. The most frequently encountered countries were:

  • Pakistan
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Afghanistan
  • Somalia
  • Iraq
  • Romania

This could be the country in which the forced marriage is due to take place, or has already taken place. It could also be the country in which the spouse is currently living. There were 72 cases reported in the UK in 2019. Of these cases the FMU handled in 2019;

  • 27 percent involved victims below 18 years of age
  • 36 percent involved victims aged 18-25 years of age
  • 10 percent involved victims with learning disabilities
  • 80 percent involved female victims
  • 19 percent involved male victims

These are the reported cases only. The full scale of the problem in the UK, and other related countries, is unknown, as many cases go unreported. Because fo this, the government introduced lifelong anonymity to forced marriage victims in 2017, to encourage more people to come forward.

Why Do Forced Marriages Happen?

There are a varied number of reasons for forced marriage, many of these reasons relating to family honour. Some of the most typical reasons this might occur include:

  • Parents reacting to social pressure from friends or older relatives to marry off their children;
  • Parents believing that their children’s behaviour is starting to disgrace the family honour;
  • If a child reveals that they have been raped or sexually abused, the parents may force them to marry to restore the family honour;
  • Retaining wealth and property in the family;
  • Marrying children into a wealthy family to reduce poverty and pay off debts;
  • Marrying children with physical or learning disabilities so that they are taken care of;
  • Forcing children to marry to cover up their true sexual identity, e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
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What Does the Law Say About Forced Marriages?

Forced marriage has been illegal in the UK since 2014, under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Because of this, it is now a criminal offence to:

  • Take someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the marriage actually takes place)
  • Marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they are coerced or not)

Committing this offence can result in imprisonment for up to seven years.

In 2008, under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, the government introduced Forced Marriage Protection Orders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect victims who are being forced into a marriage or who are already in a forced marriage. Anyone who breaches this Order is committing a criminal offence, and it can result in imprisonment for up to five years.

How to Spot the Signs of a Forced Marriage

Now that we know more details about what exactly forced marriage entails, and who is most at risk, spotting the signs is crucial. Here are some of the things you can look out for in others that may signal a forced marriage, both before and after the marriage has taken place:

  • Parents removing a child from education of from participating in extra-curricular activities for no reason;
  • High levels of absenteeism from school, college or work;
  • The victim may come from a community where ‘honour’ is culturally embedded;
  • An engagement announcement between the victim and a stranger not previously mentioned;
  • Changes to the victim’s personality e.g. they may appear depressed, anxious or withdrawn, and their appearance may deteriorate;
  • The victim may go missing or have a fear of returning home;
  • The victim may talk about a family holiday abroad with trepidation;
  • The victim may go abroad and not return home;
  • The victim’s family may regularly check up on them when they’re not home via phone, emails or text messages;
  • Incidents of crime or domestic disturbances at the victim’s home;
  • The victim may not have any control over their own life e.g. they may not be allowed a phone, money or access to the internet;
  • The victim may show signs of self-harm or even attempt suicide;
  • The victim may experience an unwanted pregnancy or a pregnancy very early in their marriage;
  • The victim may have their passport or other legal documents taken away from them so that they can’t leave.
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What Should You do if You Think That you or Someone Else is at Risk of a Forced Marriage?

There is lots of help out there from the government and domestic abuse charities, such as Refuge, Karma Nirvana and the Halo Project, who can give you advice. If you believe you or someone you know is in immediate danger, always call 999.

The Forced Marriage Unit can also help you or someone you know. Just be sure to have as many details as possible ready before getting in touch, including:

  • Name (you or the person you are calling about)
  • Address (you or the person you are calling about)
  • Details of why you are concerned about your own or someone else’s safety
  • Any details about where you or another person is being forced to go or has gone

If you’re not comfortable calling any of these helplines, or you’re not able to, try speaking to someone you trust. This could be a friend, co-worker, or even your GP.

Getting a Forced Marriage Protection Order

If you’re being forced into marriage, are unable to leave a forced marriage, or someone you know is in this boat, there are legal avenues you can take. Applying to the court for a Forced Marriage Protection Order is the main pathway to look into.

The order is designed to protect victims of forced marriage based on their individual circumstances. For example, the court can stop someone from approaching you or threatening you, and can even order someone to hand over your passport so that they cannot force you to travel abroad.

It is also possible to get an emergency order to protect you or someone you know immediately. This does not require the involvement of the person you’re making the order against.

If you’re concerned that you are about to be taken abroad to be married against your will, then contact the Forced Marriage Protection Unit. Or, if you are already abroad, contact your nearest British Embassy. You can also do this on behalf of someone else.

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Get Help and Support About a Forced Marriage

As mentioned above, if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999 straight away.

Forcing someone to marry against their will is a form of domestic abuse and is a criminal offence. If you think that you are at risk of a forced marriage or you think that someone else might be, there are many resources and helplines available to help:

Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7008 0151

Refuge: 0808 2000 247

The Halo Project: 01642 683 045

Karma Nirvana: 0800 5999 247

If you wish to apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Remember, help and protection is available; don’t suffer in silence.

Top Tips for Buying a Home during a Pandemic


During ‘normal’ times, buying a house is always a very involving process. It involves meeting lots of people, from sellers and advisors. The level of human interaction is quite high, which is a considerable problem in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. In this complicated Covid-19 times, you may be wondering whether buying a house is possible. Well, here is some help. Here are some tips that will help you buy a home and still ensure safety.


Find a Tech-Savvy Real Estate Agent

An excellent real estate agent is key to finding the ideal home for you. Apart from aligning with your needs, real estate agents are now required to be conversant with technology. This is because physical meetings expose you to risks. Therefore, the agent of your choice needs to be comfortable in hosting online meetings. This is through platforms such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, and many more. There also applications that allow you to receive and sign documents digitally. Such measures ensure a limit on time spent moving around and coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.

Consider Virtual Tours

House tours where there were cookies for everyone to nibble on are no longer viable. Visits carried out at the comfort of your couch are now the in-thing. Your realtor can easily send you pictures and videos of prospect properties. Since sellers can always edit videos, you may ask for a real-time virtual tour or a Face time with the realtor. This will ensure you get a feel of the house and make observations on imperfections without edits. The primary purpose of virtual tours is to eliminate some properties from a long list of choices. It is unnecessary to visit numerous houses where you expose yourself to more risks. Take your time and visit to narrow down your choices.

Remote House Inspection

Skipping a house inspection is one of the biggest mistakes you could make when buying. However hard the times maybe, you could still get a thorough home inspection, without necessarily putting yourself at risk. You can easily find agencies that conduct remote inspections by consulting with websites that show house listings. An independent review is the best option. The agency will take videos and pictures of things they find faulty in the house. This helps in getting a full report on the state of the residence. The findings reach you through a virtual meeting. Apart from that, after inspecting the house, the inspectors sanitize all surfaces before and after physically examining them.

Apply for Loan Pre-Approvals Online

Getting pre-approved for a loan ensures your finances for your house are okay. Before the pandemic, several lenders had transformed into a fully online system for efficiency. Thus, it should not be hard finding a loan officer who is conversant with an online order. The officer should provide learning materials, where you can learn everything about mortgage, the interest rates, and still track your loan progress. Shop around for loan officers, compare what they are offering and pick the best. Documents that the officer needs to assess, such as credit history, bank statements, or tax returns, are also available online. This ensures a paperless system with limited human contact.

Prepare Efficiently for the Showing

When you narrow down your options to a few houses, you could start physical visits. There are some details about the house that may not be detected by virtual tours. This includes things like smells. For those few house tours, you should prepare thoroughly. Carry your mask and sanitizer.

Additionally, insist on precautions such as filling of questionnaires to ascertain the health status of everyone involved in the process. You could also practice habits that reduce our exposure to the virus like avoiding touching your face. You could also arrange such that showings are minimal to avoid congestion. Such simple preparations reduce your likelihood of contracting the virus tremendously.

Remote House Closings

Previously, house closings involved shaking hands and handing over keys, among other activities, where both parties heavily interacted. Since there are documents that require signing, physical presence is necessary. However, both parties could observe social distancing by choosing a favorable location for the closing. This could be a conference room, with plenty of room for sufficient air circulation. Alternatively, the parties can occupy different rooms or use personal vehicles as an office. Signing often takes very little time, which reduces exposure time significantly.

Final Thoughts

As things slowly move back to normalcy, more buyers are exploring the market for homes. Therefore, there is an influx of buyers in the market. When you come across a good deal, move fast and close as you are up against a vast competition. Also, do not rush into sales to keep up with the market. Remember that your health is of paramount importance. Avoid unnecessary meetings and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself.

Curatorial Expert Paula Wallace on Art in the Home

Curatorial Expert Paula Wallace on Art in the Home

Paula Wallace’s life in art began as a child, when she watched with curiosity as her father hanged two small works of art that her mother had purchased at a thrift shop earlier that day. 

“They were matching prints,” Wallace says. “Two parrots, one red, the other a lemony yellow. In every house of ours, these birds always found a place to live.” The humble prints, she says, taught her that art needn’t be grand to hold meaning for a home. The parrots eventually came with her parents, Paul and May, down to Savannah in 1978, where they moved to help their daughter create a new art school.

Some 42 years later, Paula Wallace has made SCAD one of the largest and most comprehensive creative universities in the world, with campuses in the U.S. and Europe, a Permanent Collection featuring tens of thousands of historic and contemporary works of art (which can be found exhibited in its more than 100 rehabilitated historic properties, now home to classrooms, studios, and other learning spaces), and an in-house art sales and consultancy office called SCAD Art Sales, where the work of students, alumni, and faculty are available to the public. SCAD Art Sales has placed art work in films, TV shows, corporate headquarters and offices (such as Facebook and Netflix), and hotels and private homes around the world.

“SCAD wants to help homeowners find art they love and want in their homes!” Wallace says. “This is a win-win for us. It benefits the careers of our students and alumni, and it makes the world a more beautiful place.”

But how does someone who’s never purchased an original work of art begin to build a meaningful collection? Wallace is here to help.

“First, let’s talk about price,” she says. “You are going to spend money, but you have to remember: great art is like great furniture. It will outlast you.” Her rule of thumb is that you should spend about the same on art for a room as furniture for the room. If you plan on spending $3,000 on furnishings for the living room, then that’s probably a good target for spending on art, too.

And where do you find this art? Find a gallerist. “Every city has a few good galleries. Find them. Introduce yourself.” Think of it like shopping for books, she says. Most people will ask for a bookseller’s recommendations. “You can do the same with a gallerist. Ask what they love, what they like. They know artists.”

Homeowners, she says, shouldn’t worry about pretension or feeling like they need a degree in art history just to shop for art. But you don’t have to stop at galleries and swanky exhibitions, Wallace says. “Thrift shops and flea markets and antiques stores have great pieces, if you know where to look!” Another secret: Find out when the student shows are happening at local universities, where you can engage the artist in person and see if you connect. “Going to a student exhibition—where work is for sale—is a bit like going to an author’s book launch: It’s exciting. You’ll want to buy the work just because you feel like you know and understand it more intimately, from having met the artist in person.”

What kind of art is “you”, though? Think about what you love and need. Wallace suggests asking yourself: Do I like bright colors? Large, dramatic paintings? Do I prefer something with a sense of humor or a sense of meditative calm? What emotion do I want to evoke in the space?

“It’s more about liking what you love and loving what you like,” she says, “Don’t ask why too much. Why did you select that couch and not that one? Sometimes, you don’t need to know why! What moves you?”

Extroverts, she says, tend to prefer more dramatic works—bright of color and tone, animated in style, satirical, energetic, frenetic, even. Introverts prefer the quiet and profound. And yet: “The space dictates the work, so often.” A common area for parties and hosting might call for art work with more energy and movement. A sunroom or bedroom might need more reflective, meditative colors and themes. “You want your art to reflect your personality and moods—and the function of the spaces it will inhabit,” she says.

Placement is key. “Size matters,” Wallace says. “Large rooms need big art.” This is a common mistake among new collectors, selecting art that’s too small. “Art shrinks when you install it!” She recommends measuring walls before you start shopping and making a note of the sizes and square footage of areas, which will help gallerists keep you from choosing work that might not be suited to the room.

Finally, Paula Wallace suggests that buying art is like buying clothes—the kind you want to keep for a lifetime. Your art, like your wardrobe, announces who you are and what you expect from the world. It welcomes, invites, complements, pleases, warms, and illuminates. “It took me a lifetime to see that those two parrots were my mother and father: a perfect symbol of their love.”

That’s what great art does, according to Wallace. It points to something deeper and more beautiful than what you see. “That’s why every home needs it.”

Learn more about Paula Wallace of SCAD here: