Home & Garden

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Everyday items you’ve been using wrong this whole time

<p><span>It’s time to properly learn how to use everything in and around the home. From the right way to tear plastic wrap to having wrinkle-free button-down shirts, we’re here to help you on this journey of discovery.</span></p> <p><strong>Food storage containers</strong></p> <p><span>Glass vs. plastic aside, not all food containers are ideal for the microwave. The corners of rectangular containers usually attract more energy than other areas, leaving the food in those spots overcooked. A round container will allow food to reheat more uniformly.</span></p> <p><strong>Blender</strong></p> <p><span>There’s a reason your blender keeps stalling after every few seconds – the order of your ingredients makes a huge difference. Start with your liquid base or yoghurt, then layer ingredients from smallest to largest, keeping the toughest pieces, such as ice, at the top. The liquids will let the blades run smoothly without catching on the hard ingredients.</span></p> <p><strong>Toaster</strong></p> <p><span>The type of bread you’re toasting affects how hot you should set your toaster. While white and sweet breads heat quickly, heavier ones like rye take more time. Even slices from the same loaf might need a different setting after a few days. Once bread starts to dry out, you might need lower heat for the less fresh slices, which don’t take as long to toast.</span></p> <p><strong>Grill</strong></p> <p><span>Leaving the door of your oven closed when grilling can make heat and steam build up. Venting the steam lets your food develop the crustiness you’re going for, and letting the hot air out ensures the heat stays concentrated on the top instead of effectively baking the entire dish.</span></p> <p><strong>Slow cooker</strong></p> <p><span>Opening the lid of your slow cooker lets heat out and messes up the cooking time, so resist the temptation to take a quick look or give it a stir until there’s less than an hour left of cook time. As long as your pot is between half and three-quarters of the way full, your dish should cook up just fine.</span></p> <p><strong>Dishwasher</strong></p> <p><span>A University of Birmingham study found that the best spot in your dishwasher depends on the type of mess your plate has. The middle of the machine gets the strongest spray of water, which makes it best for carb-based stains like potatoes or tomatoes. On the other hand, the detergent is at its highest concentration at the edges, where it flows back down like a waterfall, making it the most effective spot for protein-based messes like eggs, which need more time to soak.</span></p> <p><strong>Knives</strong></p> <p><span>Big kitchen knives are scary enough without having to focus on how you hold them. Many people just wrap their hand around the handle. However, you’re supposed to hold your thumb and pointer finger on the sides of the blade. This grip will help you get more precise cuts.</span></p> <p><strong>Plastic wrap</strong></p> <p><span>Isn’t it annoying when cling wrap folds on itself and you need to rip out a new sheet? Keeping the tube still will help. Turn that box to the side and you should see a tab that you can press inwards, holding the tube in place. Aluminium foil has the same feature on its box.</span></p> <p><strong>Toothpaste</strong></p> <p><span>That image on the toothpaste package of a smear big enough to cover the bristles isn’t what the doctor recommended. Dentists say the ideal amount is about the size of a pea.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Marissa Laliberte. This article first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/food-home-garden/home-tips/everyday-items-youve-been-using-wrong-this-whole-time" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Is housework good for you?

<p>We all know that physical activity is good for you, and people in high-income countries are (on average) not doing enough of it. But you don’t have to hit the gym to meet your daily exercise quota – a new study has suggested that housework might provide health benefits, particularly for older people.</p> <p>The study, <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-052557" target="_blank">published</a> in <em>BMJ Open</em>, quizzed 489 people between 21 and 90 years of age, all of whom were living in Singapore and all of whom had fewer than five underlying conditions and no cognitive issues.</p> <p>The researchers, who are based at the Singapore Institute of Technology and the Geriatric Education and Research Institute in Singapore, used a series of simple clinical tests to assess participants’ physical and cognitive abilities.</p> <p>They also asked participants about the frequency and intensity of household chores they did, as well as other exercise they took part in. The researchers graded chores by intensity, with lower-energy tasks like washing up, tidying and cooking considered light activity, and tasks like window and floor cleaning, changing bedsheets, and painting considered heavier activity.</p> <p>Of those aged between 21 and 64, only a third of participants (36%, or 90 in total) met the daily recommended exercise total. Older participants fared slightly better, with 48% of those aged 65-90 meeting the target (or 116 people).</p> <p>But in both groups, nearly two-thirds of participants met this exercise target through housework alone – 61% of the younger people, and 66% of the older participants.</p> <p>In the older age group, more housework was associated with higher physical and mental ability – independent of how much other exercise you did.</p> <p>“Apart from a meaningful occupation, housework is also a component of instrumental activities of daily living – both key factors of successful ageing,” write the researchers in their paper.</p> <p>The researchers emphasise that this study can’t indicate causation – it’s not clear whether housework improves mental and physical ability, or if older people with better health do more housework. They say that more long-term research is needed to figure out this link.</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=173524&amp;title=Is+housework+good+for+you%3F" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></p> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/is-housework-good-for-you/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/ellen-phiddian" target="_blank">Ellen Phiddian</a>. Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

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“You can’t unsee it”: Pro cleaner reveals the FILTH inside our mattresses

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A professional cleaner has taken to social media to share what kind of dirt can lurk in your mattress – and why you should always vacuum it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kacie Stephens, who runs a cleaning business called The Big Clean Co, shared a clip on TikTok of what came out of a mattress she deep-cleaned using a vacuum cleaner and a black cloth.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Warning. Once you see this, you can’t unsee it,” she captioned the video, which has racked up over 420,000 views.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’m going to show you how to test how clean your mattress is. Get a black piece of material and wrap it at the end of your vacuum – that is going to act as your filter for the dust and skin cells.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After vacuuming the two-year-old mattress, Ms Stephens unravelled the cloth to show the dirt, dust, and dead skin cells it had collected.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845778/vacuum1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/887cc7c1c5d94920affbb8e11663f62d" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @thebigcleanco (Instagram)</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“A mattress that isn’t cleaned regularly contains a build-up of allergens including dust and skin cells, as well as spots and stains from body fluid and sweat,” Ms Stephens told </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/home/diy/cleaner-shares-why-you-should-always-vacuum-your-mattress/news-story/4731db10551f1e5d70acea3a4b6701c6" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">news.com.au</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If you’re game enough to get your face right up to it, the mattress will have a musty smell.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Stephens also revealed how often she believes people should vacuum their bedding – and the frequency might surprise you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Mattresses should be vacuumed every single time sheets are changed – and sheets should be changed once per week,” she said.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CWNXgLogw5Z/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CWNXgLogw5Z/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Big Clean Co - Est 2017 (@thebigcleanco)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for the “best technique” for cleaning, she said it involves just vacuuming your mattress.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Don’t attempt the technique of covering the mattress in bicarb and vacuuming it up, as particles are bound to be left on the mattress where they can then cause issues with the mattress fibres over the long term – not to mention it can also damage your vacuum [if you use bicarb],” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, she did have some advice for tackling marks on your mattress, recommending you “spot clean” with “plain water on a cloth – and if that doesn’t work, use a little 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is available in the pharmacy”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Stephens also recommended </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">against</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> steam cleaning – a task she says should be left to the experts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Most people don’t even think about having their mattress steam cleaned – but this is easily done by professional carpet and upholstery cleaners and is a great way to keep dust mites and bacteria at bay,” she explained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Often people look for a DIY steam cleaner but as commercial steam cleaners we see that these machines leave fibres wet for extended periods, creating the perfect environment for fungal and mould spores to thrive inside your mattress.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Steam cleaning is a job for the professionals.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many viewers of her mattress-cleaning video shared their shock after trying the technique themselves.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I tested this. I vacuum my mattress every week and oh my god. It was so bad,” one woman shared.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I sell vacuums for a living and people don’t understand how much stuff gets put into those mattresses when you sleep,” another commented.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This is gross but we need to do this. Thank you for sharing,” a third said.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @thebigcleanco (Instagram)</span></em></p>

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5 spring cleaning mistakes that could make you sick

<p><strong>You’re stirring up dust</strong></p> <p>Anyone who’s ever cleaned a dusty bookcase or a neglected spare room knows dust makes you sneeze. “Dust is a common trigger for asthma and allergy symptoms,” says family physician, Dr Jennifer Caudle. But did you know dust can actually be toxic? A meta-analysis from George Washington University found unhealthy levels of chemicals in dust that can cause everything from hormone disruptions to asthma to even cancer.</p> <p>To avoid ingesting or breathing dust as much as possible, wipe up dust frequently – don’t just save hard-to-reach spots for spring cleaning – and follow a ‘top-down’ strategy. “Start with ceilings and high shelving, and work your way to the floors to limit redistribution of dust and other particles to freshly cleaned surfaces,” says Samara Geller, a senior research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG). In addition, “look for a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to more effectively trap dust, allergens, and contaminants,” she says.</p> <p><strong>You’re using fragranced cleaners</strong></p> <p>Your cleaner may smell like lemons or flowers, but unfortunately, that may be linked to health problem. “In my national population studies, I found over one-third of users report adverse health effects from fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, deodorisers, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, hand sanitisers, essential oils, scented candles, disinfectant sprays, dish-washing detergents, and other types of scented products,” says Dr Anne Steinemann, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “Common health problems from exposure to fragranced cleaning products include migraines, asthma attacks, breathing difficulties, dizziness, seizures, nausea, watery eyes, and skin rashes.”</p> <p>Dr Caudle also warns that strong smells from cleaners can trigger headaches. Instead, opt for products labelled ‘fragrance-free’ not ‘unscented’ as those may include a masking fragrance, Steinemann says.</p> <p><strong>You’re using harsh cleaners</strong></p> <p>The products you choose may also be too abrasive for your needs. Some cleaning products are caustic, meaning they have a very high or very low pH. This can lead to caustic burns to the skin, eyes, or internally if swallowed. In addition to being a poisoning risk, even cleaning with them can be harmful. “As a family doctor, I’ve seen patients get skin irritation from contact with cleansers or other chemicals,” Dr Caudle says.</p> <p>Avoid products that use the ingredients sulphuric acid and sodium hydroxide. Some cleaners tend to be more acutely hazardous, such as heavy-duty degreasers and general purpose solvents, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and oven cleaners. In general, use the gentlest product that can get the job done.</p> <p><strong>You mix bleach and ammonia</strong></p> <p><span>The golden rule of cleaning (and poison prevention): never mix cleaners with chlorine bleach and those with ammonia together. Mixing bleach and ammonia can lead to the formation of chloramine vapour, which is toxic if inhaled. Cleaning expert Melissa Maker, founder of cleaning service Clean My Space advises using oxygen bleach as a non-toxic option when a job calls for disinfecting. “I don’t like chlorine bleach in my home, which is why I recommend oxygen bleach,” she says.</span></p> <p><strong>You’re not airing out enough</strong></p> <p><span>Because studies have shown cleaning is linked to exposures that cause a decline in lung function, reduce toxic particles and fumes by circulating the air in your house during the task. “Keep the inside of your home well-ventilated while cleaning and dusting,” Geller says. “Open windows – and even doors – and run the central air system or an exhaust fan.” This goes for cleaning in general, not just when you’re dusting. In addition, try bringing your cleaning into the outdoors. “Airing things out outside is fantastic: sunlight, or UV rays, act as an antibacterial so it can help kill bacteria,” says Maker. For example, air out winter blankets on a clothesline to help get rid of dust mites, and shake out throw rugs to rid them of dust – vacuuming them can be difficult.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by <span>Tina Donvito</span>. This article first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/food-home-garden/15-spring-cleaning-mistakes-that-could-make-you-sick" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Woman shares terrifying snaps of wasp infestation

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/woman-shares-terrifying-wasp-infestation-online-neighbours-suggest-fire-and-deodorant/news-story/43d4f645a532185d12291ca0b642867e" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">NSW woman</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has taken to social media searching for help to deal with a terrifying wasp infestation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Posting in a local Facebook group, the woman asked for advice on how to remove the colony of buzzing insects from her window sills.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“How do I get rid of wasps?” she wrote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“An exterminator?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Help”.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 382.0598006644518px; height:500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845587/capture.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/bbdb0324e3ca4cb285ea8ec763360e75" /></p> <p><em>Image: Facebook</em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Locals were quick to provide advice, including several more unconventional ways of dealing with the situation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Deodorant and lighter usually does the trick,” one person wrote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Wait till dark, get a sheet of newspaper, roll it up nice and long and burn them,” another commented.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Lots of dishwasher liquid and water in a spray bottle and spray it into the hose,” a third said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Several other members also suggested various bug sprays and repellents.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, the woman revealed that those solutions wouldn’t quite work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Thank you everyone,” she wrote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I am cautious to spray them myself as I have a slight reaction to bees/wasps and they’re also up on the second floor window, which makes it tricky.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“But I’ll see if I can get someone to help.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After this revelation, another member of the group called her out and urged her to leave the wasps alone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If they are on a second-floor window &amp; not worrying anyone hanging about the window ledge - why would you kill them??” the person asked.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Because they’re coming into my shed, where I park and I’m allergic and have a child,” the woman countered.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though the woman has yet to share an update on the wasp removal, she has plenty of options to consider.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Facebook</span></em></p>

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Meet the DIY blogger who thrives on aesthetically-pleasing organisation

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When it comes to home organisation, Adelaide blogger Iryna Federico has taken it to the next level.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The blogger has become known for her pastel aesthetics after her dreamy, candy-shop inspired pantry went viral online.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The pantry took her two years to finish, and she even began designing the space “before the builder even broke ground” on the house.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845538/diy-blog1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/082be73b36934ad1b0ed316145c36db2" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @fromgreatbeginnings / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I had our builder remove any shelving and ended up with a blank room. I then found a local cabinet maker here in Adelaide who brought my design to life,” she told </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bhg.com.au/this-bloggers-pantry-is-next-level-amazing?category=news" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Better Homes and Gardens</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She then filled the space with various containers and baskets that hold everything from baking ingredients to packets of food.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I am a firm believer in using big baskets to organise my space,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“They’re nice and deep which means I can hide all the ugly and messy packaging of items like chips and biscuits, and the space always looks tidy.”</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845539/diy-blog2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/fb88810b7a4c40c1a1303b163262bd97" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Inside Iryna’s garage. Image: @fromgreatbeginnings / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since then, Iryna has given her followers a look inside her incredibly organised freezer, her two children’s wardrobes, laundry, and her garage.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though her spaces appear luxe and incredibly stylish, Iryna picks up most of her storage gear from Kmart, Target and Ikea.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I love Kmart for all their little organisation tools that make a nice addition to any space, in particular their three-tier shelves. They lift items from the back and make them easily reachable,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In her pantry, Iryna’s one pricey indulgence has been on Oxo containers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I love them because they are BPA free and completely clear - they seal really well and are very easy to clean,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Being fairly pricey individually, I bought mine in bulk sets from Costco and did a bunch of 50 cent surveys to be able to justify the cost to myself.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But so far, her best purchase has been on Ikea’s $5 spice racks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I painted those pink and added my cook books and cooking utensils and it really brought the whole space together,” she added.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845540/diy-blog3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b9b826d22cbe4301b0a7de70901775fd" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @fromgreatbeginnings / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since starting her Instagram account in June 2016, Iryna has amassed a following of more than 140,000 people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unlike other bloggers who have pursued social media as a career, Iryna also has a day job as a business development manager.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’m a business development coordinator at an aerospace engineering company - nothing at allllll to do with organisation,” she wrote on Instagram.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s purely just a side hobby :)”. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @fromgreatbeginnings / Instagram</span></em></p>

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Explorer finds abandoned cottage with dirty dishes still in the sink

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">UK-based YouTuber and urban explorer Daniel Sims, who goes by BeardedReality on YouTube, discovered an abandoned house in Anglesey, Wales, that included such finds as dirty dishes waiting to be washed in the sink, a gramophone, cabinets with shelves of china, and a taxidermied pheasant. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sims, who is from West Yorkshire, regularly explores abandoned and forgotten buildings and structures, a hobby known as ‘urban exploration’, or Urbex for short. He found this particular home following a recommendation from a fellow explorer, and decided to investigate the site with his friend Charlotte. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They found a home on a vast stretch of land, complete with two caravans in the yard. Searching the caravans first, the pair found dishes, both clean and unwashed, scattered across the kitchen counter and sink. Sims described the caravan as having been left to overgrow. </span></p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oE6dMPY5mhg" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the main house, the finds were a lot more varied. The front door and some windows had been left open, and an eclectic collection of art, homewares and technology was soon discovered. This included a framed Kellogg’s cornflakes advertisement, old photographs, and artworks that Sims said have obviously been damaged over time due to their exposure to the elements.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other discoveries included a gramophone, speakers, old records, a computer scanner and an old keyboard, as well as cabinets with shelves full of china. A variety of different wallpapers can be seen peeling off the walls throughout the house. In one of the final rooms he looked through, Sims found a single taxidermied pheasant in a glass case. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While Sims said the place looked ‘foreboding and kind of creepy’, he nonetheless found it a fascinating place to explore, explaining, “It’s crazy to see what is left behind in a property like this, as it is kind of like the people that used to own the place are still there or just left, but you can clearly see that a vast amount of time has gone by with these items left out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“​​It felt like we were seeing a part of history that not many people get to experience, such as old artefacts and old brands that have long gone and disappeared from the shelves.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: YouTube</span></em></p>

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5 things in your house that are attracting pests right now

<p><span>What’s the best way to control pests in your house? Don't make it enticing for them to live there. Use this list to help reduce the odds that insects move into your space.</span></p> <p><strong>Moisture</strong></p> <p><span>Dampness attracts many different types of pest. “We need water in our everyday lives, but so do pests,” says entomologist Cherie Hartzer. “Even small amounts of water dripping from an air conditioning unit may attract wasps that are foraging for water. Water that has soaked into wood is attractive to termites. Downpipes and gutters that hold water can be perfect habitats for mosquitoes. And a dripping tap may attract rodents, especially if it has been dry and there aren’t other water sources around.” The cure? Regular maintenance that fixes leaks that could provide pests with a water source.</span></p> <p><strong>Unused drains</strong></p> <p><span>A dormant drain – especially one that has a little water and some organic material like hair and soap coating the insides – makes a perfect home for drain flies. “Unused drains create a slimy film that creates an ideal breeding spot for drain flies,” Smith says. “If these flies are present in the house there is almost certainly a slow or clogged drain.”</span></p> <p><strong>Still air</strong></p> <p><span>Keeping those ceiling fans running during the summer can do more than keep your air conditioning costs down – they help keep unwelcome critters at bay. “Many flies love still air,” Ricci says. “Fans don’t necessarily blow flies away, but they make the air turbulent enough to discourage them from hanging around too long.”</span></p> <p><strong>Clutter</strong></p> <p><span>Here’s another incentive to get rid of your extra stuff – all that clutter can make wonderful homes for insects you definitely don’t want hanging around your house. “If clutter is kept to a minimum, and a home is kept relatively clean, there will be few places for insects to hide,” Ricci says.</span></p> <p><strong>Overripe fruit</strong></p> <p><span>That fruit bowl on your counter may be appetising – until one piece of fruit gets a little overripe and attracts fruit flies. “Don’t leave food lying around – place it in the refrigerator or sealed containers if possible,” Hartzer says.</span></p> <p><span><em>This article was written by Lisa Milbrand and first appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/food-home-garden/13-things-in-your-house-that-are-attracting-pests-right-now" target="_blank">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></em></span></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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5 pet-friendly indoor plants

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Picking up a few indoor plants can be an easy way to spruce up your home while making it a little bit greener.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though finding a low-maintenance plant to spruce up your home can be hard enough, pet owners also need to consider whether their latest addition will harm their furry friends.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bhg.com.au/pet-friendly-plants?category=garden" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">five plants</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that are both easy to care for and safe for your pets.</span></p> <p><strong>Spider plant</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With thin, ribbon-like leaves, the spider plant is adaptable, easy to grow, and thrives indoors.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845004/indoor-plant1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b897a87e318c443cb4d0c2d044424698" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @nekogreeen / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These plants prefer cooler temperatures and soil that is moist but not soaking wet.</span></p> <p><strong>Birds nest fern</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A native of eastern Australia, this fern prefers moist environments - such as the bathroom - and a large weekly drink of water.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845005/indoor-plant2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/5724c2059f4642d5a0ecc9328329d3a4" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @the_foliage_fanatic / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The nest-shaped fern can have leaves that grow up to five feet long, though the leaves of indoor plants tend to reach a maximum of two feet.</span></p> <p><strong>Bamboo palm</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This mini tropical plant will grow in low light or bright conditions, and prefers soil that is moist but not wet.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845006/indoor-plant3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f48055414594432d8d79276ca9a2c7b1" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @luluandvines / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The bamboo palm grows taller when it gets more light, and enjoys an occasional sunny day.</span></p> <p><strong>Rubber plant</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Having seen a surge in popularity over the last few years, rubber plants are loved for their large, glossy leaves and minimal care requirements.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845007/indoor-plant4.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8b45c45dacc1417f80731c68e40f23e2" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @interior_jungle / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To help your rubber plant thrive, place it in an area where it will get plenty of indirect light, ensure it can drain well, and keep it moist during summer.</span></p> <p><strong>Blue Echeveria</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another popular choice, the blue echeveria is a fleshy evergreen succulent that flourishes in full sunlight.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845008/indoor-plant5.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/805206de9c5c44ad8dea9c92c170ca13" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @_shuttertastic_ / Instagram</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for watering, it’s best to let the soil dry completely then wet it thoroughly, and make sure it has good drainage.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @tils_plant_therapy / Instagram</span></em></p>

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Simple things we'll miss from lockdown

<p><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;With many of us heading \&quot;back to normal\&quot;, there are some aspects of lockdown we'll miss in our everyday life. Read more:&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:829,&quot;3&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:0},&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;6&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;7&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;8&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;11&quot;:4,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Though the downsides of the coronavirus lockdown outweigh the benefits, there are some aspects we may come to miss as we return to normal, everyday life.</span></p> <p><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;With many of us heading \&quot;back to normal\&quot;, there are some aspects of lockdown we'll miss in our everyday life. Read more:&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:829,&quot;3&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:0},&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;6&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;7&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;8&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0}},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;11&quot;:4,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Here are just some that you may miss once we go back to "normal".</span></p> <p><strong>Getting to see your kids grow in real time</strong></p> <p><span>Working parents know all too well the pain of missing important milestones like baby’s first steps or a first lost tooth. Pictures and video just aren’t the same. But being in lockdown allowed us to watch our kids grow in real time, without the interruption of school, work, or daycare. It’s amazing how much little ones change, even day to day.</span></p> <p><strong>FaceTiming grandma every night at bedtime</strong></p> <p><span>Video and regular calls went way up during lockdown as people felt the urge to reach out to loved ones more frequently. Even if relatives weren’t directly in harm’s way, we still wanted to check in and make sure everyone was doing well. Not only that but we had the time for extended chats, allowing for a deeper level of connection.</span></p> <p><strong>More options for working from home</strong></p> <p><span>Companies that had always said that there was no way their employees could work from home suddenly found a lot of effective and interesting ways to make it work when they had to. Lockdown showed us how to really take advantage of technology to simplify jobs and cut out a lot of unnecessary meetings and busy work.</span></p> <p><strong>Fresh-baked bread and three-course meals</strong></p> <p><span>It’s almost certain that you increased your cooking skills during lockdown, with many people finding real joy in learning to create in the kitchen. Busy nights call for quick food you can throw together (or take out!), but lockdown nights allowed for slower, more complex meals. We got to re-learn what it’s like to enjoy the process of making and eating good food.</span></p> <p><strong>The week-long board games</strong></p> <p><span>Activities normally reserved for camping trips or power outages suddenly became the norm in lockdown as folks rediscovered their love for all kinds of games, from Monopoly to lawn darts to jigsaw puzzles to epic ping-pong battles.</span></p> <p><strong>Seeing the bottom of your laundry basket</strong></p> <p>It’s much easier not to fall behind on the basic household chores like laundry and dishes when you never leave your home! We had the time to do chores, but also more desire to do them, as we were confronted with the laundry mountain multiple times a day.</p> <p><strong>Blowing your daily step goal out of the water</strong></p> <p><span>It may sound strange that one of the best things about being forced to stay at home was the outdoors, but the truth is that while many of us were out of the house pre-lockdown, we weren’t spending much time outside. Lockdown made daily, or even thrice-daily, walks around the block something to look forward to. Then there was getting to soak in the sunshine as you worked from your deck or gardened or played with your kids in the yard. We got to watch sunrises, sunsets and cloud formations we never would have seen normally. Oh, and we logged so many more steps – when all you can do is walk, you do a lot of walking.</span></p> <p><strong>All the overjoyed pets</strong></p> <p><span>If there’s one group that was absolutely thrilled about lockdown, it was our pets. Dogs and cats (well, some of the cats) relished all the extra time, attention, walks and treats they got from owners. No longer did they have to watch mournfully at the window as we left; their humans were there with them all the time – exactly as they’d always wanted. We’ll definitely miss all those extra furry snuggles.</span></p> <p><strong>Hooting and singing while hanging out of your car</strong></p> <p><span>People couldn’t congregate as normal, so we were forced to find other ways to celebrate, including birthday drive-bys, Zoom game nights, Netflix parties and driveway gatherings. Not only were these get-togethers generally more chill, but they required a level of creativity and participation that made them feel fun in ways normal parties didn’t. Plus, when else are you not just allowed, but encouraged, to drive by your friend’s house multiple times as part of a parade while scream-singing “Happy Birthday” and honking?</span></p> <p><em><span>This article was written by Charlotte Hilton Anderson and first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/things-youll-secretly-miss-about-lockdown" target="_blank"><span>Reader’s Digest</span></a><span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank"><span>here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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10 things you’ll secretly miss about lockdown

<p><span>Weight gain, feelings of isolation, news-induced nightmares, job losses, toilet paper shortages, illness: The list of downsides of the coronavirus lockdown is long and painful. Yet as places start to reopen and lockdowns are lifted, we are recognising that staying at home wasn’t all bad. In fact, there were a lot of really awesome things about lockdown—things we’re actually going to miss when we go back to “normal” life. Here’s an idea of when that’ll be, and what it could look like.</span></p> <p><strong>The perfect excuse to say no</strong></p> <p><span>If you’ve suffered from FOMO (the fear of missing out), lockdown helped us discover JOMO, or the joy of missing out. While it was sad to miss parties and work trips, it was also kind of a relief to have no obligations. And you didn’t have to worry about coming up with a believable reason not to do things! “Sorry, government/health orders” is an airtight excuse.</span></p> <p><strong>Au naturel hair</strong></p> <p><span>Lockdown gave us permission to let it all go – from curling irons to makeup to bras, we found freedom in letting our bodies revert back to their natural states. One perk: Many of us discovered our hair was much healthier and shinier when not subjected to daily washings, heat tools and hair dye. Sure, the grey roots showed, but it was fine because the pit hair had finally grown long enough to be soft. Going back to blow dryers and razors again is tough.</span></p> <p><strong>Finding new ways to save money</strong></p> <p><span>There’s no doubt that the pandemic has caused a considerable amount of financial stress for many people. But it also offered a unique opportunity to save money by creating a kind of forced frugality. With restaurants, movie theatres, shopping centres and other entertainment venues closed, we weren’t tempted to splurge on a night out. With only going to the supermarket once every week or two, we did less impulse buying. With no one to see us, we didn’t feel the need to buy makeup or clothing. And petrol money? Who needs petrol when you’re not driving anywhere? Lockdown really helped us separate our needs from our wants.</span></p> <p><strong>A ten-second commute</strong></p> <p><span>Walking from your bed to your desk in the next room is a far cry from battling traffic to drop the kids at school and then get into the office. While working from home does have its downsides, the ten-second commute was definitely a bonus.</span></p> <p><strong>Soaking in the sound of silence</strong></p> <p><span>While the empty roads can feel a little weirdly apocalyptic at first, it’s easy to appreciate the reduced pollution and noise. For many, lockdown was the first time they’d experienced the sounds of nature around their home without interruption. Who knew there were so many types of birds in your area? Or how deeply you sleep when it’s truly quiet?</span></p> <p><strong>Indulgng your inner sleeping beauty</strong></p> <p><span>Working from home, plus a reduced (okay, cancelled) social life, left us with a lot of extra time on our hands, which many of us used to catch up on our years-long sleep debt. When was the last time you got to completely turn off your alarm and wake up naturally, go to bed as early as you like, or take a little midday nap in the sunshine? It felt good!</span></p> <p><strong>Playing "Old Town Road" on the flute you hand-crafted out of wood scraps</strong></p> <p><span>Hip-hop dancing. Baking. Painting. Speaking French. Embroidering sarcastic sayings. People embraced a wide variety of new (or long-forgotten) hobbies and skills in lockdown and, while we may want to keep them going once life returns to “normal,” we all know it’s going to be tricky. Busy schedules have a way of taking over, and when you’re not home all the time, it’s a lot harder to monitor your sourdough every few hours or water your tomatoes three times a day.</span></p> <p><strong>Cosy family dinners</strong></p> <p><span>During lockdown, dinnertime was no longer just a nice moment of the day; it became the defining event of the day, the thing everyone looked forward to. Not only did we have time to cook healthier, tastier meals, but most of the time we could count on everyone being home to eat together. Okay, this didn’t stop your kids from fighting or your spouse from zoning out on their phone, but at least you were all doing it at the same table, together.</span></p> <p><strong>Bonding with your next-door neighbour</strong></p> <p><span>Nothing brings people together like a shared crisis, and due to the nature of the pandemic, the people we ended up closest to were the ones we live closest to. There are so many beautiful lockdown stories of people delivering groceries for elderly neighbours, checking in on nearby single parents, filling driveways with positive chalk messages and performing lots of other little kindnesses to people we would usually just wave to before closing the garage. The sense of community was real and it was beautiful.</span></p> <p><strong>Boredom</strong></p> <p><span>Being bored is usually seen as a negative, something to be avoided at all costs. But boredom researchers (yep, that’s a thing!) say that being bored can lead to increased creativity, better ability to focus, increased problem solving, less stress and anxiety, and an enhanced feeling of well-being. We never thought we’d say it, but we’ll miss being bored sometimes. Our brains need down time too!</span></p> <p><em><span>This article was written by Charlotte Hilton Anderson and first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/things-youll-secretly-miss-about-lockdown" target="_blank"><span>Reader’s Digest</span></a><span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Five steps to make your own terrarium

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Terrariums have become a popular way to display plants and add a little greenery to your different spaces.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though they may seem complicated, terrariums are quite easy to make, don’t require too much upkeep, and can be made in all sorts of shapes and sizes.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_c3wSip_DL/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_c3wSip_DL/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Terrarium Dreams (@terrariumdreams)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are the supplies you need and steps to follow in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/care/make-a-terrarium/?slide=slide_beeb0402-ca09-4fbc-8f81-e6b770a5c9f9#slide_beeb0402-ca09-4fbc-8f81-e6b770a5c9f9" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">creating your own</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> DIY terrarium.</span></p> <p><strong>Supplies you need</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of your supplies can be found at your local garden centre, with the exception of the container your terrarium will be created in, which you can find at a craft store.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The choice of container can also influence the kinds of plants you can include. Open terrariums being better-suited to dry climate plants, and closed terrariums working best for plants that thrive on moisture and humidity.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Aside from a container to house your terrarium, you will need:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Activated charcoal</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Potting soil</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sheet moss</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Trowel</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Plants</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gloves</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once you have your supplies, it’s time to start assembling your new terrarium by following these five steps.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Build the base</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To start with, cover the base of your container with 3-5 centimetres of activated charcoal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This layer helps to both remove odours from the terrarium and drainage to ensure that your plant roots don’t sit in soil that is too wet.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Mix soils</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once the base is done, mix some of the remaining charcoal with the potting soil. Mixing the two, either with your hands or a trowel, also assists with drainage.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Next layer</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Next, add the mixed soil and charcoal to the container until it is between a quarter and one third full.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To remove large air pockets in the soil, gently pack the soil as you add it.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CA5-cKSHLoE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CA5-cKSHLoE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Terrarium Dreams (@terrariumdreams)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>4. Add plants</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After removing the plants from their containers, position them on top of the soil with enough space between them for additional soil.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some top picks for terrarium plants include starfish plants, air plants, and nerve plants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For a healthy terrarium, it’s best to choose plants with similar watering and light needs.</span></p> <p><strong>5. Dress and water</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once the additional soil has been packed in and around the plants so that the roots are covered, position moss on top of the soil and around the plants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then, give the terrarium a water and place it in a well-lit area with indirect light.</span></p> <p><strong>Further care</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once the plants have established themselves in the terrarium, little upkeep is needed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As they grow, you may want to trim branches that grow outside of the container, or trim the moss to control its thickness.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @terrariumdreams / Instagram</span></em></p>

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Bicarb to the rescue

<p>This magic ingredient has scores of extraordinary uses about which you may have had no clue - until now.</p> <p><strong>Rescue Remedy 1 Clean your produce</strong></p> <p>You can’t be too careful when it comes to food handling and preparation. Wash fruit and vegetables in a pot of cold water with 2-3 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda and voila, it will remove some of the impurities tap water leaves behind. Alternatively, put a small amount of bicarbonate of soda on a wet sponge or vegetable brush and scrub your produce. Give everything a thorough rinsing before serving.</p> <p><strong> RR2 Make your own dishwashing detergent</strong></p> <p>The dishwasher is fully loaded when you discover you’re out of your usual powdered dishwashing detergent. What do you do? Make your own by combining two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with two tablespoons of borax. You may be so pleased with the results you’ll switch for good.</p> <p><strong>RR3 Remove crayon marks from walls</strong></p> <p>Has a small child redecorated your walls or wallpaper with some original artworks in crayon? Don’t lose your cool, just grab a damp rag, dip it in some bicarbonate of soda and lightly scrub the marks. They should come off with a minimum of effort.</p> <p><strong>RR4 Deodorise your rubbish bin</strong></p> <p>If something smells off in your kitchen, it’s probably emanating from your bin. Some smells linger even after you dispose of the offending bin liner, so make sure you give your bin an occasional cleaning with a wet paper towel dipped in bicarbonate of soda (wear an old pair of rubber gloves for this job). Rinse the bin out with a damp sponge, then let it dry before inserting a new bag. You can also ward off bad smells by sprinkling a bit of bicarbonate of soda into the bottom of the bin before inserting the new bag.</p> <p><strong>RR5 Douse that fire</strong></p> <p>Did you know that bicarbonate of soda is the main ingredient in many commercial fire extinguishers? You too can use it straight out of the box to extinguish small fires throughout your home. For quick access, keep it near the stove for any unforeseen mishaps. In the case of a grease fire, first turn off the heat, if possible, and try to cover the fire with a pan lid. Be careful not to let the hot grease splatter you. Also keep a box or two in your garage and inside your car to quickly extinguish any mechanical or car-interior fires. Bicarbonate of soda will also snuff out electrical fires and flames on clothing, wood, upholstery and carpets.</p> <p><strong>RR6 Get stains off piano keys</strong></p> <p>That old upright may still sound great, but those yellowed keys definitely hit a sour note. Remove age stains by mixing a solution of 1/4 cup of bicarbonate of soda in one litre of warm water. Apply to each key with a dampened cloth (you can place a thin piece of cardboard between the keys to avoid seepage). Wipe again with a cloth dampened with plain water, then buff dry with a clean cloth.</p> <p><strong>RR7 Remove musty smells from books</strong></p> <p>If books that have just been taken out of storage have a musty odour, place each one in a small brown paper bag with two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda. Don’t shake the bag, just tie it up and let it sit in a dry place for about a week. When you open the bag, shake remaining powder off the books and the smell should be gone.</p> <p><strong>RR8 Deodorise rugs and carpets</strong></p> <p>How’s this for a simple way to freshen up your carpets or rugs? Lightly sprinkle them with bicarbonate of soda, let it settle for about 15 minutes, then vacuum it up.</p> <p><strong>RR9 Polish silver, and gold jewellery</strong></p> <p>To remove built-up tarnish from your silver, make a thick paste with 1/4 cup of bicarbonate of soda and two tablespoons of water. Apply with a damp sponge and gently rub, rinse and buff dry. To polish gold jewellery, cover with a light coating of bicarbonate of soda, pour a bit of vinegar over it and rinse clean. Be warned though: don’t use this technique with jewellery containing pearls or gemstones, as bicarbonate of soda could damage their finish and loosen the glue.</p> <p><strong>RR10 Tidy up your toilet bowl</strong></p> <p>Instead of using chemicals to clean your toilet bowl, just pour half a box of bicarbonate of soda into the cistern once a month. Leave overnight. This cleans both the cistern and the bowl. You can also pour several tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda directly into a toilet bowl and scrub it on any stains. Wait a few minutes, then flush away the stains.</p> <p><strong>All these tips</strong> – and hundreds more to save money and time – can be found in Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things, Reader’s Digest, RRP $49.98. To order visit <a href="http://www.healthsmart">www.healthsmart</a> magazine.com.au or call 1300 300 030.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/home-tips/bicarb-to-the-rescue">Reader’s Digest</a></em></p> <p><em>Image: Reader’s Digest</em></p> <p> </p>

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How to ripen avocados in just 2 minutes

<p>All you need is plastic wrap and a microwave. And an avocado.</p> <p>Avocados are the internet’s favourite fruit. Everywhere you click, there’s a discussion about how healthy it is, how expensive it is, and whether it’s considered a fruit or a vegetable. But whether or not you eat enough avocado toast to fill your Instagram feed, that fruit is still worth keeping in your life – for nutritional benefits and <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/13-must-follow-recipes-for-the-perfect-homemade-face-mask">beauty hacks</a>.</p> <p>The problem is finding the best avocado. Once ripe, it only stays good for two or three days before it’s too late. Your best bet is buying an unripe avocado and helping the process along, which saves you time and money (did we mention avocados are expensive?). Luckily, you can ripen avocados at home with some easy tricks.</p> <p><strong><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8cc2df06d88a40458efb69e4343fa64f" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 280.88235294117646px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844184/avocados-2-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8cc2df06d88a40458efb69e4343fa64f" /></strong></p> <p><strong>How to tell if an avocado is ripe</strong></p> <p>First things first, how would you even know if an avocado is ripe? It’s not like you can slice it open quickly to check. It all comes down to the colour and the texture. Let’s begin with colour.</p> <p><strong>Bright green:</strong> If your avocado has a bright green colour, this means that it is still around four to seven days from being ripe. Avocados this colour will typically be hard to the touch and will need to rest on the benchtop for a few days – maybe even a week – before you can eat them. Underripe avocados tend to lack flavour.</p> <p><strong>Very dark green:</strong> While browsing the avocado bins at the grocery store, check for the darkest green if you think you’re going to want to eat this avocado within a day or so. You want it to be firm, but with a slight give (not too mushy). If you find this, you may have the perfect avocado on your hands.</p> <p><strong>Black:</strong> Avocados that are too dark, almost black, are past ripeness. They may look a bit more wrinkled and are very soft to the touch. If you feel as if you could bruise the fruit just by holding it, the avocado is overripe. The inside will often have some brown spots and won’t taste as fresh.</p> <p>Sometimes colours can vary, so step two of the avocado ripeness test is touch. Gently press into the avocado to feel how hard it is. You want to make sure that the fruit is soft with a little give, but not too soft that you feel like you could morph the shape with your hands. You can also pluck off the tiny stem and see if it’s green underneath. The green colour means that the fruit is ready to eat. If you need to pull really hard to get the stem off or it won’t budge, that means it isn’t ripe yet.</p> <p><strong><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/72ac4d94e2d04154bdfb5fabd7a64c6f" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844185/avocados-5-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/72ac4d94e2d04154bdfb5fabd7a64c6f" /></strong></p> <p><strong>How to ripen avocados quickly</strong></p> <p>How much of a time crunch are you in? Do you need the avocado ready for dinner in a few minutes? Do you want to have it with tomorrow’s lunch? Or maybe you want it for your weekend guacamole. Whatever the case, there are tricks for all time frames.</p> <p>A ripe avocado in just two minutes?! Yes, it is possible, thanks to this Taste of Home hack for how to ripen avocados. Cut it in half vertically and remove the pit. Wrap each half in microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave on high for two minutes. When they’re cool enough to hold, run the wrapped avocados under cold water so they stop cooking.</p> <p>Here’s another trick: Wrap the uncut fruit in tinfoil and bake on a baking sheet at 95˚C for ten minutes. (Disclaimer: If your avocado is too hard, it could take up to an hour for it to soften. Check every five minutes if it’s not ripe in ten.) Then remove your newly softened avocado. Leave it in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down.</p> <p>A note of warning though: this method can slightly affect the taste of the avocado, so it’s best to use only when necessary, and preferably where the avocado is only one component of a dish.</p> <p>If you need the avocado ready in one to two days, try placing it into a bowl or a paper bag with an apple or banana. Poke holes in the bag with a toothpick and leave it at room temperature. All of these fruits produce something called ethylene gas, which softens fruit by breaking down the internal cell walls and turning starch into sugar.</p> <p>The obvious and simplest way to ripen an avocado is to just allow it to happen naturally by letting it sit on the counter for a few days until it’s ready.</p> <p><strong><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c9fbe55a15e142a6a0243db326195221" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.4327485380117px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844186/avocados-6-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c9fbe55a15e142a6a0243db326195221" /></strong></p> <p><strong>How to store avocados</strong></p> <p>Make sure you don’t just throw your avocados in the fridge (along with these <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/20-foods-you-shouldnt-put-in-the-fridge">other foods that shouldn’t go in your refrigerator</a>), because they’re best kept at room temperature. But on the contrary, if your avocado has reached perfect ripeness, you can throw it in the fridge to slow down the ripening process, making it last approximately one to three days.</p> <p>Now that you know how to ripen avocados at home, brush up on these other <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/how-to-store-fresh-food-so-it-lasts-longer">food storage guidelines that’ll help keep your food for longer.</a></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/how-to-ripen-avocados-in-just-2-minutes">Reader’s Digest</a></em></p> <p><em>Images: Reader’s Digest</em></p>

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Home gardens vital for pollinators

<h2><strong style="font-size: 14px;">They provide a rich and diverse nectar source, study finds.</strong></h2> <div class="copy"> <p>Urban areas are a surprisingly rich food reservoir for pollinating insects such as bees and wasps, according to a UK study <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2745.13598" target="_blank">published</a> in the <em>Journal of Ecology</em>.</p> <p>Home gardens are particularly important, the study found, accounting for 85% of the nectar – sugar-rich liquid that provides pollinators with energy – within towns and cities and the most diverse supply overall.</p> <p>Results showed that just three gardens generated on average around a teaspoon of the liquid gold – enough to attract and fuel thousands of pollinators.</p> <p>“This means that towns and cities could be hotspots of diversity of food – important for feeding many different types of pollinators and giving them a balanced diet,” says lead author Nicholas Tew, from the University of Bristol.</p> <p>“The actions of individual gardeners are crucial,” he adds. “Garden nectar provides the vast majority of all. This gives everyone a chance to help pollinator conservation on their doorstep.”</p> <p><a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.pollinator.org/pollination" target="_blank">Pollinators</a> include bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, bats and beetles. They are critical for ecosystems and agriculture as most plant species need them to reproduce, and <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.453.4134&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf" target="_blank">research suggests</a> their survival relies especially on the diversity of flowering plants.</p> <p>To explore how our sprawling urban areas could support them, Tew’s research group previously led the <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.bristol.ac.uk/biology/research/ecological/community/pollinators/" target="_blank">Urban Pollinators Project</a> in collaboration with other universities. They found that cities and gardens – community and private – are vital for pollinators, leading them to question how to quantify and harness this resource.</p> <p>“The gap in our knowledge was how much nectar and pollen urban areas produce and how this compares with the countryside,” Tew explains, “important information if we want to understand how important our towns and cities can be for pollinator conservation and how best to manage them.”</p> <p>So, for the current study, Tew and colleagues measured the supply of nectar in urban areas, farmland and nature reserve landscapes, and then within four towns and cities (Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Reading) to determine how much nectar different land uses produce.</p> <p>To do this, they extracted nectar from more than 3000 flowers comprising nearly 200 plant species using a fine glass tube and quantified it using a refractometer, an instrument that measures how much light refracts when passing through a solution.</p> <p>Then they sourced nectar measurements from other published studies and combined the nectar-per-flower values with numbers of flowers from each species in different habitats as previously measured by the group.</p> <p>Overall, nectar quantity per unit area was similar in urban, farmland and nature reserve landscapes. But urban nectar supply was most diverse, as it was produced by more flowering plant species. And while private gardens supplied similarly large amounts per unit as allotments, they covered more land – nearly a third of towns and cities.</p> <p>It’s important to note the findings are specific to the UK, and maybe parts of western Europe, Tew says. Most urban nectar comes from ornamental species that are not native, which can be attractive to generalist pollinators but may not benefit specialist species that feed from selective native flower species.</p> <p>Thus private gardens in other regions might have different benefits. Australia, for instance, has more endemic species and specialist pollinators than the UK, so while non-natives would still provide some benefit, natives may be more important overall.</p> <p>Most recommendations for attracting pollinators in Australia include supporting native bees and other local specialists. Suggestions include planting more native species and providing <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.australianenvironmentaleducation.com.au/australian-animals/australian-pollinator-week/" target="_blank">accommodation</a> for native bees, most of which are solitary species – unlike the familiar, colonial European honeybee.</p> <p>But in general, Tew says home gardeners can all support biodiversity with some key strategies, especially planting as many nectar-rich flowering plants as possible and different species that ensure flowers all year round.</p> <p>Other <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/plants-for-pollinators" target="_blank">recommendations</a> include mowing the lawn less often to let dandelions, clovers and other plants flower, avoiding <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/scientists-call-for-urgent-action-on-bee-killing-insecticides/" target="_blank">pesticides</a> and never spraying open flowers, and covering as much garden area as possible in flowery borders and natural lawns.</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=138747&amp;title=Home+gardens+vital+for+pollinators" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/home-gardens-vital-for-pollinators/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/natalie-parletta">Natalie Parletta</a>. Natalie Parletta is a freelance science writer based in Adelaide and an adjunct senior research fellow with the University of South Australia.</p> <p><em>Image: Cosmos Magazine</em></p> </div>

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How to Block out the Neighbours

<p>Blocks are getting smaller while house sizes are getting bigger, so we're living closer to our neighbours than ever. At the same time, we aren't willing to give up our outdoor areas or our privacy.</p> <p>Homes are not just moving out but up to capitalise on living space and views, so being overlooked from above is now a problem for many residents.</p> <p>Charlie Albone, a landscape designer and TV presenter, says privacy is a common concern.</p> <p>‘While people don’t mind looking on to rooftops so much, when other people’s windows are looking into your space it becomes an issue,’ says Charlie.</p> <p>Luckily, there are many effective ways to solve the problem.</p> <p>Modern homes can put space above privacy but landscaper Charlie Albone has the solution.</p> <p><strong><img style="width: 437px; height: 246px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7843964/block-neighbours-2-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/4b0a50f58e054226a15898d32cc3e07e" /></strong></p> <p><strong>Define the borders</strong></p> <p>Planting is a simple solution, as well as being easy on the hip pocket. Property-line plantings can provide year-round screening and a neat hedge can be an easy way to define adjoining yards or block sightlines. But success largely depends upon available space.</p> <p>‘Hedges can be lovely but they need at least 800mm width of garden bed to thrive. For people in urban environments, there often isn’t the space to spare,’ says Charlie.</p> <p>‘Bamboo is the best solution here as it takes up very little space and grows vertically.</p> <p>‘Nandina, also known as sacred bamboo, has a nice upright habit and gives a similar effect, though it’s not technically bamboo.’</p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardening-tips/best-screening-hedge-plants">Click here to see 6 of the best screening hedge plants</a></p> <p><strong>The problem with trees</strong></p> <p>Planting trees around the house or along a boundary line can lead to major problems if you don’t do the research first, cautions Charlie.</p> <p>‘If people have it in mind to create privacy with trees, they often go for the biggest and most dense varieties they can find. But a big tree only gets bigger and the root system can cause damage to the foundations of the house and fence lines,’ he says.</p> <p>Trees can also be a source of dispute if their size blocks light or views, or if branches encroach across the boundary line.</p> <p>Certain types of trees that are heavy shedders such as jacarandas and liquidambars can be particularly annoying for neighbours. Council may step in if complaints are made.</p> <p>The law changed in August 2010 to include height restrictions for trees and hedges that block views or light.</p> <p>Make sure you research the likely growth of the tree you are considering and check guidelines with local council before buying.</p> <p><strong>Plant in layers</strong></p> <p>If space isn’t an issue, layered planting will actually make the garden look bigger. Planting a mix of deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials creates a cottage garden look.</p> <p>Landscapers recommend grouping varieties in odd numbers. Stagger evergreens in the background and in the foreground, layer deciduous material for texture and colour.</p> <p>‘For screening, aim for a height over 1800mm, which is the standard fence line height,’ says Charlie.</p> <p>Deciduous shade trees, which grow from five to more than 15 metres high, depending on the species, are a good way to obscure a neighbour’s view from a second-storey window or balcony.</p> <p>‘Chinese tallowwood is one of my favourites. It gets great colour in the warm months and will reach a height of about six metres,’ says Charlie.</p> <p>Positioned over a patio, the canopy provides privacy and shade in the summer. In winter, the bare branches allow the sun to shine in, but this does also bring some loss of privacy.</p> <p>Use native lillipilly along a fence for an attractive, fast-growing screen.</p> <p><strong>Add a water feature</strong></p> <p>Even if your neighbours are not looking into your space, you may still hear them. Planting can help with noise reduction but one of the most effective buffers against the buzz of conversation or the hum of traffic is a water fountain.</p> <p>Whether it’s an off-the-shelf unit that sits on a table or a custom-built permanent feature, running water is an excellent way to screen out sounds.</p> <p>Moving water becomes louder the further it falls and the more tiers it travels over. To avoid having to raise your voice over the roar, choose a fountain with an adjustable recirculating pump to find a sound level that’s soothing for you.</p> <p>A water feature incorporating a fountain is an effective noise screen.</p> <p><strong>Put up a screen</strong></p> <p>After many years of total seclusion on a large block, a new house built nearby prompted Handyman’s Lee Dashiell to seek out a privacy solution.</p> <p>‘It was quite a shock to find the house would look directly onto our outdoor living area,’ says Lee.</p> <p>‘We knew we needed some kind of screening but we had enjoyed the open feel of trees and bushes and didn’t want to be boxed in.’</p> <p>The family decided on Eden Deluxe Euro bamboo panels. ‘This type of screen is not solid but creates an effective visual barrier and the organic look blends into the area.’</p> <p>It took about an hour of shifting the panels around then viewing them from different positions to ensure they blocked out what they wanted.</p> <p>‘Eventually we decided the horizontal position was the most effective,’ says Lee.</p> <p>To install the panels a solid piece of timber was nailed to the posts so they could rest on it while being attached. Pilot holes were drilled and 100mm treated pine screws were used to fasten the panels to the posts, then the support timber was removed.</p> <p><strong>TIP</strong> Screening panels may need to be treated with protective oil or varnish to weatherproof them and protect against deterioration</p> <p><strong>TIP</strong> Screening panels may need to be treated with protective oil or varnish to weatherproof them and protect against deterioration</p> <p>Before: A new neighbour looked directly onto the previously secluded entertaining area.</p> <p>After: Bamboo screening creates privacy while maintaining a natural look.</p> <p><strong>Building a barrier</strong></p> <p>Screens are effective barriers and can be installed quickly. Bamboo and reed screens add an organic feel but can rot if they are not sealed and waterproofed.</p> <p>‘When space is really tight, a screen works well,’ say Charlie.</p> <p>While not suited to very large areas, screens can also provide a pleasing mask for plain fencing.</p> <p>‘If you have a nice stone wall that is perhaps 800mm high, to make it a good privacy option you can build a treated pine extender on top to the 1800mm mark,’ says Charlie.</p> <p>‘A laser-cut screen over the fencing looks really good.’</p> <p>Screens made from lattice or ornamental metalwork may not provide complete privacy but they add visual interest and allow light and breezes to penetrate.</p> <p>Photo: Thinkstock</p> <p>A combination of a screen and lush plantings keeps this pool area private without feeling boxed in.</p> <p><strong>Install a fence</strong></p> <p>Major new landscaping additions such as a pool or patio may require a visual buffer in a hurry.</p> <p>A solid board fence is the quickest way to add year-round screening but be sure to discuss materials with your neighbour and check guidelines with local council before installing.</p> <p>As fences have a minimal footprint, they can be used in long or narrow side yards or other places where available space is tight.</p> <p>They come in many styles but the cheapest, easiest option is treated pine.</p> <p>‘What you often find, especially in new builds, is that people have a kitchen window that looks out over a narrow patch of grass right on to a flat fence, which is not the most pleasing view,’ says Charlie.</p> <p>Break up the mass with a screen, an open lattice or baluster top, or plant flowering or evergreen shrubs in front to soften its solidity.</p> <p>‘If you have a fence and want to improve the look of it quick smart, paint can be a good option.</p> <p>‘A dark fence looks great in a tropical style garden, while a formal, mostly green garden looks good with a cream tone,’ says Charlie.</p> <p>There’s no doubt a wall provides privacy, but a solid wall can feel oppressive to both sides.</p> <p>It can also be a big and expensive effort to build solid walls, and involve getting council approval or engineering work, so it’s best to reserve them for retaining rather than screening purposes.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on </em><a href="mailto:https://www.readersdigest.com.au/diy-tips/how-block-out-neighbours"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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5 food safety tips for proper food handling

<p>Get up to speed about the proper way to handle food to minimise the risk of food poisoning.</p> <p>In light of recent food poisoning cases around the world – a salmonella outbreak in the US in June that sickened over 100 people was linked to contaminated pre-cut melons and several people in Australia died because of contaminated rockmelons in February – it is more important than ever to get up to speed about the right way to handle food.</p> <p>Closer to home, Malaysian and Singaporean netizens were shocked by a video that circulated on social media in June this year of staff at a Bangsar, KL, eatery <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3maABRgv8G4">washing plates in a dirty puddle</a>.</p> <p>Contamination can occur at several junctures, such as during the production of the food, the processing of raw materials, and even during the transport and display of the food.</p> <p>When a food product finally makes it to the kitchen, it is also in danger of cross contamination, which is the transfer of bacteria or viruses through the use of contaminated items such as knives or chopping boards.</p> <p>Be vigilant and adopt these 5 food safety tips to minimise the risk of food poisoning.</p> <p><strong>1. Picking up refrigerated and frozen items last</strong></p> <p>At the supermarket, pick up your refrigerated and frozen items last, just before you make your way to the checkout counter.</p> <p>Choose chilled items that have been properly packed without any tear in the packaging.</p> <p>If you are looking to shed some dollars from your grocery bill, try these <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/money/Spend-Less-On-Groceries-With-These-19-Tricks-Savvy-Shoppers-Use">supermarket shopping hacks</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Buy raw meats that have been properly displayed</strong></p> <p>Never buy chilled or frozen items that have been displayed at room temperature.</p> <p>If you do most of your grocery shopping at the wet market*, this is particularly important. Take note of how the raw seafood and meats are being displayed.</p> <p>Are they in a chiller? Is there sufficient ice packed around the items to ensure they’re stored at a safe temperature?</p> <p>Once you get your meat home, you still have to cook it, however. Try this version of a classic stroganoff that <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/recipes/beef-and-mushroom-stroganoff">stretches a modest portion of meat</a>.</p> <p>* For those in Australia and New Zealand, the wet market is an Asian grocery store that sells fresh meat and produce.</p> <p><strong>3. Bringing the food home safely</strong></p> <p>Our hot and humid weather can provide extra challenges when it comes to keeping our food safe.</p> <p>If your journey home will take longer than 30 minutes, keep your chilled and frozen items in an insulated bag and make use of the free ice that is provided by some supermarkets to keep the items well chilled.</p> <p>Store the items in the fridge as quickly as possible.</p> <p>In light of recent food poisoning cases around the world – a salmonella outbreak in the US in June that sickened over 100 people was linked to contaminated pre-cut melons and several people in Australia died because of contaminated rockmelons in February – it is more important than ever to get up to speed about the right way to handle food.</p> <p>Closer to home, Malaysian and Singaporean netizens were shocked by a video that circulated on social media in June this year of staff at a Bangsar, KL, eatery <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3maABRgv8G4">washing plates in a dirty puddle</a>.</p> <p>Contamination can occur at several junctures, such as during the production of the food, the processing of raw materials, and even during the transport and display of the food.</p> <p>When a food product finally makes it to the kitchen, it is also in danger of cross contamination, which is the transfer of bacteria or viruses through the use of contaminated items such as knives or chopping boards.</p> <p>Be vigilant and adopt these 5 food safety tips to minimise the risk of food poisoning.</p> <p><strong><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.2903225806452px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7843907/food-handling-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/070f60984208487ea761a3e32e6bc07c" /></strong></p> <p><strong>4. Storing raw foods properly</strong></p> <p>Raw foods should be kept separate from cooked foods while in the fridge.</p> <p style="font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit;">Different types of raw foods (e.g., meat, eggs, vegetables) should also be kept separately from each other to avoid cross contamination.</p> <p style="font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit;">If you’re not planning to cook the meat in the next three to five days, it’s best to freeze it.</p> <p style="font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit;">Get the most out of your beef buy with these delicious and easy <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/recipes/beef-skewers-ginger-dipping-sauce">beef skewers with ginger dipping sauce</a>.</p> <p style="font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit;"><strong>5. Avoid buying pre-cut fruits</strong></p> <p>If you’re concerned about the cases of contaminated pre-cut fruit, you may want to buy a whole fruit and cut it up yourself at home.</p> <p>Wash the fruit properly by rubbing it with your hands under running water.</p> <p>If you’re cutting it up, use a separate chopping board than the one you use for raw meat.</p> <p>In a race to eat all of your fruit purchases before they all spoil? <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/kitchen-tips/how-to-preserve-fruit">Try bottling it as a preserve!</a></p> <p><em>By Siti Rohani</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images and Max Pixel</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/5-food-safety-tips-proper-food-handling"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a></p>

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Expert laundry tips you’ll wish you knew sooner

<p>Keep your clothes cleaner, your home greener and your electricity bill low with these expert laundry tips.</p> <p>By Anna-Kaisa Walker, <em>Reader’s Digest Canada</em></p> <p><strong>Go scent free</strong></p> <p>A 2011 study found that fragranced products cause dryer vents to emit seven compounds that contain hazardous air pollutants and two that are carcinogenic.</p> <p><strong>Choose products wisely</strong></p> <p>Even “unscented” brands may not be what they purport to be. “Unscented detergents can still contain fragrances to mask chemical smells,” says Lindsay Coulter, the David Suzuki Foundation’s green-living expert.</p> <p><strong>Try your hand at DIY</strong></p> <p>If you want to avoid mystery ingredients, make your own detergent. The David Suzuki Foundation recommends using ½ cup per load of a mixture of two teaspoons of salt, two tablespoons of baking soda, two tablespoons of liquid Castile soap and one litre of hot water.</p> <p><strong>Nix the essential oils</strong></p> <p>Don’t scent homemade detergent with essential oils. Some dryers heat up to about 57˚C, which is above the flashpoint for some essential oils.</p> <p><strong>A little vinegar goes a long way</strong></p> <p>If your towels are musty, add a cup of white vinegar or a cup of baking soda to your wash load (but not both at once).</p> <p><strong>Watch out for microfibres</strong></p> <p>Your fleece jacket made from recycled bottles likely contains microfibres – pollutants that account for 35 per cent of microplastics in the world’s oceans. “With every wash, your garments are shedding microfibres that end up in waterways and eventually in the food chain,” says Coulter. Special fibre-trapping bags can help keep them out of the drain.</p> <p><strong>You don’t always need chlorine</strong></p> <p>Instead of using chlorine bleach, disinfect your clothes by line drying. Sunlight’s ultraviolet rays are effective at killing bacteria in fabrics. Bonus: they’re free.</p> <p><strong>Don’t overuse detergent</strong></p> <p>Using more detergent won’t make clothes cleaner. Over time, excess detergent can build up and cause smelly residue inside your machine. Use the least amount of detergent possible – start with half the recommended amount, and if your clothes still come out clean, you can try reducing even further.</p> <p><strong>Clean your lint tray</strong></p> <p>Lint buildup in the filter and vents is a primary cause of the dozens of fires started by dryers every year in Toronto, says Papeo. “Empty your lint tray before every load and vacuum the filter and inside the trap from time to time.”</p> <p><strong>Your socks really are going missing</strong></p> <p>The real “sock monster” responsible for your missing hosiery? Your washing machine. Small items can slip past the rubber gasket on a front-loading washer, and get trapped underneath the drum. If you’re suspicious, get a pro to investigate, and wash all your socks in a mesh bag to prevent disappearances.</p> <p><em>Photos: Reader’s Digest</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="mailto:https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/expert-laundry-tips-youll-wish-you-knew-sooner">Reader’s Digest</a></em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Ten gardening tips for beginners

<p>Wondering how to start a garden? You can find your confidence to do it with these expert gardening tips.</p> <p><strong>Site it right</strong></p> <p>Starting a garden is pretty much all about location. Place your garden in a part of your yard where you'll see it regularly because if it’s out of sight, it’ll be out of mind. This way, you'll be much more likely to spend time in it.</p> <p><strong>Follow the sun</strong></p> <p>Misjudging sunlight is a common pitfall when you're first learning to garden. Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your yard before choosing a spot for your garden. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least six hours of sun in order to thrive.</p> <p><strong>Stay close to water</strong></p> <p>One of the best gardening tips you'll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don't have to carry water to it each time your plants get thirsty. The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that's about one knuckle deep). If it's dry, it's time to water.</p> <p><strong>Start with great soil</strong></p> <p>When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil which is nutrient-rich and well-drained. You can buy garden soil from hardware stores and mix this in with existing soil to make it more nutrient- dense for your plants.</p> <p><strong>Consider containers</strong></p> <p>When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that's large enough for the plant it's hosting, and fill it with some potting mix. This will help the plants to thrive and it will also protect against over and under watering.</p> <p><strong>Choose the right plants</strong></p> <p>It's important to select plants which match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room - or a trellis to climb up. Do your homework and pick varieties which will grow well where you live and in the space you have.</p> <p><strong>Discover your zone</strong></p> <p>Knowing your ‘hardiness zone’ can help you choose the best plants. Simply put, it describes the coldest place a plant can grow. The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. So, if a plant is ‘hardy to zone 4’ and you garden in zone 5, that plant will survive in your yard. If, however, you're in zone 3, it's too cold to grow that particular plant.</p> <p><strong>Learn your frost dates</strong></p> <p>Planting too early or late in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don't accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It's also good to know your first average fall frost date so you can get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them.</p> <p><strong>Add some mulch</strong></p> <p>Apply a layer of mulch that's two to three inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less. Or, you can put down straw, shredded leaves, pine straw or some other locally available material.</p> <p><strong>Feed plants regularly</strong></p> <p>We've already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success!</p> <p>So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with some plant food you’re your local store and be sure to follow label directions.</p> <p><em>Photos: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Why clean indoor air is so important

<p>It's a fact that clean indoor air is every bit as important as the air quality outside of your home - in fact, it can be more important according to a recent study of air pollution, published by <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1" target="_blank">The World Health Organisation</a> (WHO). <br /><br />An important finding of this study was that clean indoor air, or rather lack of it, <strong><em>is</em></strong> associated with air pollution, and it needs be addressed in both first and third world countries. This covers everything from how we prepare our food, to how we heat our homes and the products we use on our clothes or in our cleaning. <br /><br />It also cover something we rarely think about unless it’s in plain sight – and that's <strong><em>mould. </em></strong></p> <p><strong>Can mould in your home affect your health?</strong></p> <p><a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf" target="_blank"><strong>The Who Guidelines</strong> <strong>for indoor air quality: dampness and mould</strong></a> (2009) state that one of the leading factors in poor indoor air quality is mould. Often, people are not aware of how quickly mould can grow in the home and the harmful health effects it then causes for those who are living with mould in their environment. Sometimes you can’t even see that it’s there. However, its spores can be everywhere.</p> <p>If you have any kind of water damage in your home, such as a drip, flood or a leaking pipe, this can lead to mould growth in as little as 24-48 hours. Mould grows very quickly in wet or moist environments, so it’s important to clean up any leaking water and prevent it from growing or spreading as soon as possible.</p> <p>Mould’s a bit of a scourge, to say the least. Did you know that each year, mould destroys more wood around the world than all the fires and termites combined? </p> <p><strong>Mould contamination is far more common than we think</strong></p> <p>It’s estimated at least 45 million buildings in the US have unhealthy levels of mould. Well, with Australia’s humid and tropical climate in our highly-populated coastal areas, we are particularly susceptible to mould growth as well.</p> <p><img src="https://img.youtube.com/vi/VI0_azQv6N8/hqdefault.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Even if your home is safe, who knows if you’re breathing in mould spores at your office or gym? Mould is often hard to find and can remain hidden behind a wall, in the ceiling or under carpet for years.</p> <p>Getting rid of mould by professionals can often often expensive and the price can soar into the tens of thousands if the problem is severe. While mould removal is difficult and expensive, it’s worth it because the long-term health consequences can be even more costly.</p> <p><strong>What is mould illness like?</strong></p> <p><strong><a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://moldprollc.com/10-common-symptoms-of-mold-biotoxin-illness/" target="_blank">Biotoxin illness</a></strong>, or mould illness, is quite common. If you’re living in a home with a mould infestation, mycotoxins from the mould usually spread to other parts of your home, as well especially any textiles you have such as curtains, lounges, beds and clothes.</p> <p>These mycotoxins can affect your immune system severely and lead to health conditions like allergies, hypersensitivity, respiratory problems (asthma, wheezing, coughing) and some other serious conditions such as memory loss, depression, anxiety and reproductive problems.</p> <p>Mould can impact more than just our respiratory system – it can even cause serious psychological issues like memory loss and depression.</p> <p><strong>What are we doing about mould illness?</strong></p> <p>In Australia, the identification and indeed diagnosis of mould illness seems to be slower than other parts of the world, simply as many of our doctors and medical profession don’t have the necessary training yet to identify this condition.</p> <p>A 2019 <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Health_Aged_Care_and_Sport/BiotoxinIllnesses/Report" target="_blank">Parliamentary Inquiry</a> into biotoxin illness recognised the disease, but the training and expertise to handle this illness is still developing.</p> <p>However globally, the lack of recognition of mould illness still occurs. Dr Scott McMahon MD from Roswell in New Mexico specialises in mould related illness. He said in 2017: “Possibly every doctor in the United States is treating mould illness and they just don’t realise it.”</p> <p><strong>Clean indoor air is vital for improving your air quality</strong></p> <p>If you can smell a musty or mouldy smell in your home or work environment, it can signify mould.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Have a professional mould company visit and assess it</strong><br />You may think you can’t see any mould but if you can smell it, there’s every chance there’s some it’s hiding somewhere.</li> <li><strong>Reach for natural solutions</strong></li> <li>There are many products you can use to clean your home of mould. One Australian company making a more natural solution is called <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://san-air.com.au/" target="_blank">San Air.</a> The products are plant-based but they help control bacteria – including mould – in the air. It helps to provide clean indoor air. It was created by the ex-head of a pharmaceutical company, using only plant-based ingredients. San-Air is blended to produce microbial reduction properties at low dosage. In other words, you won’t know it’s working, but you’ll enjoy the clean indoor air!</li> </ul> <div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"><em>Photo: Getty Images</em></div>

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