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Everything you need to know about earthworms

<p>Earthworms work tirelessly beneath our feet to produce rich castings, called vermicast, which are the essential building blocks of soil.</p> <p>We rely on them to mine the soil and recycle nutrients to provide the right environment for plants to grow.</p> <p>Compost worms can also be used to recycle kitchen scraps, and farming worms is an ideal method of recycling.</p> <p>This type of worm is different to an earthworm as it lives closer to the surface, eats fresher organic materials and likes wetter conditions.</p> <p><strong>1. How they work</strong></p> <p>Worms improve the structure of the soil and increase the air supply in it. This makes it possible for bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects and micro and macro-organisms to survive.</p> <p>Earthworms burrow into the soil and break down root mats, opening up tunnels for oxygen and water to penetrate the soil.</p> <p>Coated with nitrate-rich mucus, the roots of plants quickly take advantage of these tunnels, getting nutrition from the mucus.</p> <p>Earthworm castings are far richer in minerals than the earth they ingest and, when deposited into the soil, act as a fertiliser.</p> <p>Did you know Aristotle called earthworms the intestines of the soil and Charles Darwin wrote, ‘Of all animals, few have contributed so much to the development of the world, as we know it, as earthworms.’</p> <p><strong>2. Encouraging earthworms</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to naturally attract worms into your garden.</p> <ul> <li><u>ENSURE</u> the soil is moist but free-draining.</li> <li><u>GARDEN</u> organically and always use organic mulches like leaf mould, lucerne hay or pea straw. You get a twofold result, as organic matter not only keeps these workhorses happy, it also conditions your soil as it breaks down.</li> <li><u>ADD</u> compost and manure regularly to the soil.</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Farming worms</strong></p> <p>Compost worms are the ultimate recyclers, and even apartment dwellers can make good use of their capabilities and receive fertile compost for their pot plants in return.</p> <p>Just add all your vegie scraps to the bins and the worms do all the work, producing a rich concentrate oozing with nutrients that can be used as a fertiliser on pot plants and garden beds.</p> <p>Feed your worms a handful of scraps twice a week for the first few weeks, then increase the quantity gradually as they multiply.</p> <p><u>DIY TIP</u> Add a trowel full of castings to a watering can, fill it with water and stir, then use it on your vegetables or pot plants.</p> <p><strong>4. How to care for compost worms</strong></p> <p>Place the bin in a cool area that doesn’t receive direct sunlight and keep the contents of the bin moist.</p> <p>Worms eat coffee grounds, tea leaves, crushed eggshells, all fruit except citrus, cooked grains, bread, pasta, chopped fresh and cooked vegetable scraps and newspaper.</p> <p>Don’t feed them citrus, onions, meat, cheese, oil or too much dairy.</p> <p>If lots of worms are hanging out of the sides or lid of the bin, it means the contents are too soggy. Mix in some dry shredded newspaper to help dry it out.</p> <p>The rich castings will build up and worm juice accumulates in the base of the box. It can be dug into moist soil or added to potting mix.</p> <p>Mix the worm juice with nine parts water and use to water pot plants, flowers and vegetables.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/all-about-earthworms">Handyman Australia</a>.</em></p>

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The ingenious 5-minute hack to clean your scorched frying pan

<p>It can be very frustrating realising that you’ve not only burnt your meal, but you’ve also burnt the frying pan as well.</p> <p>Many of us just sigh and reach for the scouring brush and detergent and embrace the arm workout headed our way.</p> <p>However, a Facebook page has completely turned this idea on its head.</p> <p>5-Minute Crafts has put forward an interesting idea for cleaning your burnt pan.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F5min.crafts%2Fvideos%2F2304915259782990%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=476" width="476" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p>The hack features toothpaste, warm water and a sponge.</p> <p>All you have to do is put toothpaste in a small circle in the middle of the cooled pan.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7823482/crusty-pan.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/addb96df50004f809eff311d14c594ec" /></p> <p>After this, you scrub thoroughly with a sponge and ensure that the entire pan is coated with toothpaste. You do this by scrubbing in a firm, circular motion.</p> <p>Run the pan under hot water whilst scrubbing in the same motion and voilà! You have a clean pan and another way to use toothpaste apart from brushing your teeth.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 469.5067264573991px;" src="/media/7823481/cleaning-hack.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/16a04c06b885480e9722217384148b4d" /></p> <p>You should keep scrubbing until the pan is completely clean.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 486.1495844875346px;" src="/media/7823486/pan.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/6aa869990a014c5c9bcf32956e6e5c96" /></p> <p>Fans of the Facebook group offered their tips and tricks when it comes to cleaning a burnt pan, which include:</p> <p>“For remove heavy grease from fry pan and pot pan, I use liquid laundry detergent.”</p> <p>For those of you who don’t want to use toothpaste, apparently hot water in the pan works just as well.</p> <p>One commenter agreed with this point, saying, “A lot of wasted toothpaste when boiling water in the pan does the same thing." </p> <p>However, some were worried about using toothpaste on their teeth if that’s how well it’s able to clean the grease from a pan.</p> <p>“If toothpaste can clean a skillet like that… I question what’s in that toothpaste. Should I be cleaning my teeth with it?”</p> <p>Have you tried this cleaning hack before? Let us know in the comments.</p>

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The $3 oven cleaning hack people are loving

<p>No one likes cleaning. It’s mundane and usually requires a lot of physical exertion.</p> <p>But when it comes to kitchen appliances, nothing is more exasperating than cleaning ovens.</p> <p>It’s a necessary chore to ensure our kitchens are sparkling, and one savvy woman shared a clever hack on how to keep your oven looking as good as new – and it only costs $3.</p> <p>Taking to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/1721317044579586/?ref=br_rs" target="_blank"><em>Mums Who Clean</em></a> Facebook page, the woman shared photos of her oven which hadn’t been scrubbed for the last nine years.</p> <p>Next to it, was another photo with the oven looking pristine, almost as if she bought it yesterday.</p> <p>“Look what happened,” she wrote.</p> <p>“I used bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and a nylon scouring pad inside the oven.”</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7823342/oven-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/98aa0c2fcf1a456198fce90d3f34f9b7" /></p> <p>Having stunned other members of the group, her hack proved to be a success with people rushing to test the two-step trick out for themselves.</p> <p>The acidic solution works best when the oven is still warm and has been an old favourite for those who want to get their oven’s looking squeaky clean.</p> <p>She also had a nifty hack for getting her oven racks back to their original state.</p> <p>“For the door and the racks, I soaked in the bath tub with dishwasher tablet wrapped in foil,” she said.</p> <p>With the help of a dishwasher tablet, aluminium foil and a bath tub or kitchen sink, the woman was able to remove all the built-up grime effortlessly.</p> <p>But to get the best results, there is a specific method one should follow as explained by another user.</p> <p>“Wrap the tray with al-foil and put in a sink big enough or even the bath and submerge in hot water. Then place a dishwasher tablet on top,” she said.</p> <p>“Then let soak for a few hours or overnight depending on how bad the build-up is. You may need a little scrub afterwards but it mostly all just wipes off easily.”</p> <p>It’s also crucial that the dishwasher tablet is balanced on top according to other mums in the group.</p> <p>The hack was a success, as members were taken aback by the brilliant results.</p> <p>One person said: “Amazing! Well done! Plus, no overpowering oven cleaner required! I hate that stuff, it restricts my breathing.”</p> <p>“I can’t believe it looks so good with only that,” wrote another.</p> <p>Speaking to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/home/aussies-are-loving-a-3-oven-cleaning-hack/news-story/1f39048741af54e932c25b3076e03c37" target="_blank"><em>news.com.au</em></a>, Tracey Bailey, founder of eco-friendly website <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.biome.com.au/" target="_blank">Biome</a>,</em> said that the vinegar and bicarb cleaning trick is one that she swears by.</p> <p>“Cleaning brands will smack you in the face with their chemical fumes,” she said.</p> <p>“For a cheaper option and a 100 per cent toxin-free alternative, I’d recommend mixing bicarb soda with white vinegar.”</p> <p>Will you be trying out this clever hack? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

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How to grow orchids at home

<p>Orchid flowers look delicate and magical but the plants naturally occur in some pretty tough environments, which makes many of them surprisingly hardy.</p> <p>Different orchids have different growing needs. In the tropics, moth, slipper, cattleya and vanda orchids all thrive.</p> <p>Most of these will also grow further south as indoor plants or in a greenhouse.</p> <p>Although they’re mostly found in temperate regions, dendrobiums and cymbidiums will do well anywhere frost-free, and you can try them in frosty areas if you have a greenhouse.</p> <p>Landscape architect and TV host Brendan Moar says orchids are one of his all-time favourite plants.</p> <p>‘They’re an amazing flower and I’m constantly asking myself what can I do with them,’ says Brendan.</p> <p>‘Orchids are one of those plants you become captivated by and you try your hardest with, but you might fail spectacularly if they’re not the right ones for your area.’</p> <p>Luckily, there are so many varieties, you can make the right choice for practically anywhere.</p> <p><strong>Potting up orchids</strong></p> <p>Containers with side drainage holes work well for orchids, as do plastic pots.</p> <p>All orchids like to sit tightly in their pots and prefer to not be disturbed, so let them become quite crowded before you repot.</p> <p>Tropical orchids do well in hanging baskets.</p> <p>Cattleyas prefer pots that are wider than they are deep.</p> <p>Vanda orchids like timber baskets and clay pots, as they have roots that prefer to climb outside their container.</p> <p>All orchids need a free-draining specialist potting mix, with most based on bark chips.</p> <p>Moth orchids like a richer mix.</p> <p>If the mix has added fertiliser, reduce additional feeding for the first year.</p> <p>If you make your own mix, soak the bark chips in hot water for a day first to leach excess tannins, and talk to your local orchid club about the best mix for each type.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Label each plant pot and if you’re repotting, include the date.</p> <p><strong>Care and maintenance</strong></p> <p>Orchids love humidity and most have similar basic needs but check the plant label for specific requirements.</p> <p>Water as needed in hot dry weather and up to daily in summer, depending on the variety, and mist regularly.</p> <p>Part-fill a bucket then immerse the pot to brim level for 15 minutes.</p> <p>Most like their mix to just dry out between waterings but some, like cymbidiums, can dry out entirely.</p> <p>Slippers prefer constant moisture.</p> <p><strong>Fertilise according to orchid type.</strong></p> <p>Mix the food with the water in the bucket you use to water the plant.</p> <p>Position in filtered light, about 50%, in summer and full sun in winter, moving as necessary.</p> <p>All orchids need freely circulating air, without strong winds or constant draughts.</p> <p>Zap aphids, scale and mealy bug by spraying with pest oil or remove by hand, and protect from slugs and snails.</p> <p>Good positioning helps prevent pest and disease problems.</p> <p>To grow orchids indoors choose a well-lit spot, out of direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves.</p> <p>Stand the pots on a tray of gravel and water into the tray to create humidity, making sure the roots don’t touch the gravel.</p> <p><strong>Choosing the right orchid</strong></p> <p>There are thousands of orchid varieties out there, so we’ve listed the six most common to help you choose a type to suit your zone conditions.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> In colder or more mountainous regions, you’ll need a greenhouse even for cymbidiums.</p> <p><strong>Cymbidium</strong></p> <p>Super easy to grow in most regions, cymbidium flowers range in colour from deep chocolate to citrus yellow.</p> <p>Feed weekly with high-potassium, full-strength fertiliser from August to December and a high-nitrogen fertiliser the rest of the year.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Move to a higher, lighter position if the plant is not flowering.</p> <p><strong>Dendrobium</strong></p> <p>Dendrobium orchids are top picks for temperate regions.</p> <p>There is a huge range of species and cultivars, so check the specific light and growing needs of your particular dendrobium.</p> <p>Feed fortnightly from October to April with half-strength orchid fertiliser, and protect from excess water in winter as buds form.</p> <p><strong>Moth</strong></p> <p>At home in a tropical shadehouse, moth orchids are more often found in bathrooms and living rooms around the country, and the blooms can last for up to three months.</p> <p>Feed fortnightly year-round and ensure they have rich, moist potting mix and warm, humid conditions in filtered light, away from direct sun.</p> <p><strong>Slipper</strong></p> <p>Shade-loving slipper orchids prefer low to medium light, though some varieties can handle more.</p> <p>These tropical plants love humidity and don’t cope well without water.</p> <p>Feed fortnightly except when dormant with half-strength fertiliser.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Too much sun causes yellow leaves, too much shade causes no flowers.</p> <p><strong>Vanda</strong></p> <p>Happiest in the tropics, vandas can grow further south if kept dry over winter.</p> <p>They have air-loving roots that roam outside their pots and need protection from damage.</p> <p>Feed weekly using high-potassium fertiliser from September to March.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Partner with Spanish moss and bromeliads to keep the humidity high.</p> <p><strong>Cattleya</strong></p> <p>Truly tropical, these orchids won’t grow below about 10°C.</p> <p>If your area drops a degree or two below this, try them indoors.</p> <p>They like bright filtered light, but leaves yellow and growth slows if they get too much.</p> <p>Feed weekly with quarter-strength fertiliser when the plant is in active growth and showing green tips.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/how-grow-orchids-home">Handyman Australia</a>.</em></p>

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7 common backyard problems solved

<p>When it comes to garden solutions, there’s no substitute for hands-on experience. So we asked the experts to share their solutions to Handyman readers’ outdoor problems.</p> <p><strong>1. Bare patches in the lawn</strong></p> <p><strong>PROBLEM:</strong> “I spilled fertiliser and killed a patch of grass. So I reseeded, but nothing happened. When I laid turf over it, the turf died. What can I do?”</p> <p><strong>SOLUTION:</strong> It’s contaminated soil you’re up against, and this is a problem that’s easy to remedy. Turn the soil over, then dig deep and flip over clumps of soil. This buries the most contaminated top layer far down where the contaminants will dissipate before new roots grow. Flood the area with water for at least 15 minutes to drive the contaminants deeper, then you’re ready for seed or turf.</p> <p><strong>2. Heavy potted plants</strong></p> <p><strong>PROBLEM:</strong> “I move pots about so I always have flowers in bloom on my deck, but some are too heavy. Can I lighten them?”</p> <p><strong>SOLUTION:</strong> Use foam packing peanuts instead. They are around $7 for 100g, from stores like Officeworks. Fill the pot one-third to one-half full with packing peanuts and cover with landscape fabric, then top up the pot with a good-quality potting mix. While this planting method lessens the weight of the pot, it will need more frequent watering due to the reduced amount of soil. Cover the mix with bark mulch to help retain moisture.</p> <p><strong>3. Rotten post in the fence</strong></p> <p><strong>PROBLEM:</strong> “One of my fence posts is rotting away and needs replacing, but I’m really not sure how to get the concrete footing out of the ground.”</p> <p><strong>SOLUTION:</strong> It’s not complicated, but you’ll definitely work up a sweat. Dig a semicircular hole the same depth as the concrete around one side of the footing. Make the hole large enough so you can get a good swing at the concrete with a sledgehammer. When you’ve knocked off half the concrete, you and a helper should be able to lift the post out of the hole.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> The post may break off while it’s being lifted. If it does, tie a rope around the footing to lift it out.</p> <p><strong>4. Spots of dead grass</strong></p> <p><strong>PROBLEM: </strong>“There are 100mm wide areas on the lawn with dead grass in the middle. I wonder if my dog could be causing them?”</p> <p><strong>SOLUTION:</strong> You are right. They’re called dog spots and occur when a dog wees in the same area and the urine burns the grass roots. Give your pet lots of water and soak its favourite areas to flush out the salts. Also train it to wee in a special spot and mulch the area. Dig out the dead spots and replant the affected area. Soak the spot to dilute the acids and salts from the urine and wash them deeper into the soil. Scrape up the dead grass with a hand rake, then loosen the soil to 20mm deep. Add a thin layer of topsoil, then grass seed, covering with another thin layer of soil. Keep the area moist until the new grass is about 50mm high.</p> <p><strong>5. Straying weedmat</strong></p> <p><strong>PROBLEM:</strong> “Every spring, I have to fix the open seams between sections of landscape fabric in my garden beds. Is there a way I can make the fabric stay put?”</p> <p><strong>SOLUTION:</strong> Using pins is the answer to this problem. You’ll find them in hardware stores for about $9 for a pack of 20, but most people don’t use them. Make sure the edges of the fabric overlap by at least 75mm. Push in the pins through the fabric at the seams and perimeter, spacing them about 400mm apart.</p> <p><strong>6. Stubborn shrubs</strong></p> <p><strong>PROBLEM:</strong> “A few shrubs need removing from the yard, but the roots won’t budge. How can I get them out?”</p> <p><strong>SOLUTION:</strong> Use leverage. Dig around the base of the shrub and cut the roots you can get at, then lay pieces of plywood on either side of the roots. Position a jack stand or concrete blocks on one side and the jack on the other. Lay a timber beam on top and tie the root to the beam with a chain. You’ll be applying hundreds of kilograms of pulling force, so the beam and chain must be strong. Use an 1800mm length of 140 x 75mm timber for the beam and a chain designed for towing cars. Wearing eye protection, raise the jack, then cut the roots as they are exposed, reducing the tension on the chain beforehand. TIP: If you max out the jack’s height before all the roots are free, use blocks to increase the beam height.</p> <p><strong>7. Invasive plants</strong></p> <p><strong>PROBLEM:</strong> “I love my black-eyed Susans and lilies, but they’re taking over the garden and choking other plants. How can I stop the invasion?”</p> <p><strong>SOLUTION:</strong> Many plants multiply by dropping seeds and sending out roots to establish new plants. A layer of mulch will prevent the seeds from taking root. But a solid barrier is needed to stop those aggressive roots. The spreading plants can be replanted inside underground enclosures. Use a plastic plant pot or bucket, making sure it is big enough to extend at least 250mm below ground so the roots can’t sneak underneath. Simply cut off the base of the container and position it in the ground, then add the plant.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> This technique won’t work with plants that spread above ground such as mint or strawberries.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/7-common-backyard-problems-solved">Handyman Australia</a>.</em></p>

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How to create a chemical-free garden

<p>By adapting some simple conservation behaviours in your daily life, you can do your bit to look after the wildlife around you, starting from your very own backyard! Ian Darbyshire, the CEO of the Foundation for National Parks &amp; Wildlife, shares some simple ways you can create a sustainable and eco-friendly garden, chemical-free.</p> <p><strong>1. Ditch the chemical sprays</strong><br />While chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers seem to be the modern-day solution to your garden pest woes, they are actually filled with varying harsh substances that can cause unseen damage to surrounding wildlife and may not be the most sustainable option – especially in the long term.</p> <p>Think of it this way: When you spray to kill those “bad” bugs you also ending up killing “good” bugs too. A bird may then eat the poisoned bug and, over time (as they continue to consume these insects), the poison builds up in their body, which may later cause the bird to become sick or die. When toxins build up in a food chain, also known as bioaccumulation, it can throw your garden's ecosystem out of balance.</p> <p>The best way to minimise the migration of these toxic chemicals into our natural environment is to reduce or eliminate their use. Darbyshire suggests opting for organic pest controls and natural fertilisers.</p> <p><strong>2. Attract the right insects</strong><br />There are a number of insects that can help create a balanced garden. Darbyshire encourages gardeners to welcome the harmless, natural predators of pests.</p> <p>“If you attract the right insects they will feed on the insects that you don’t want in your garden… You can put nest boxes in and [plant] some native trees to attract some of the birds that will eat the unwanted insects as well. So you can actually create quite a nice ecosystem in your back garden that looks after itself,” says Darbyshire.</p> <p>Ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies feed on bugs such as aphids and these friendlier insects are able to thrive when you step away from pesticide use. Darbyshire says that these tiny critters can also be encouraged by purchasing their eggs and placing them in your garden.</p> <p>Introducing these species will take some time, patience and a bit of research, but the end results will speak for themselves! The Backyard Buddies <a href="http://www.backyardbuddies.org.au/">website</a> is a good place to start.</p> <p><strong>3. Plant smart</strong><br />Darbyshire says that you need to plan carefully when introducing plants and the best way to help out the local ecosystem is by opting for plants that are indigenous to your area.</p> <p>“Some plants work well together where the leaf-fall from one plant might be the nutrient for another plant. So again, put some native species in, understand the native species that suit your area – councils are usually very good at telling you that – and you’ll find that you don’t need to start putting so much help into the garden. It will start to look after itself.”</p> <p><strong>But what about weeds?</strong></p> <p>“There are some pretty noxious weeds that have moved into Australia. And if you do have to use chemicals, what I would advise is (and this is what I do for myself) is to just apply a gel to the leaf to kill the roots rather than spraying, which damages native plants as well as the ones you are trying to get rid of,” says Darbyshire.</p> <p><strong>4. Mulching and composting</strong><br />Another alternative to chemical fertilisers is using mulch, which can organically be made from leaf litter of deciduous trees. Mulching helps keep soil moist and its temperature constant while adding a nutrient-rich fertiliser for your plant’s sustained health.</p> <p>“So rather than applying lots of nitrates, let the ground recover by applying organic mulch,” says Darbyshire. “You can actually produce your own through composting. That is actually the best way of feeding plants in your back garden.”</p> <p>Not only that, it can save water as well as suppress weed growth – bonus!</p> <p>How have you attracted birds into your garden? Share your tips below.</p> <p><em>Written by Maria Angela Parajo. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/wyza-life/how-to-create-a-chemical-free-garden.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a>.</em></p>

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How to protect your plants in the summer heat

<p>During the heat of summer, the sun may not be so forgiving on your garden. Sydney-based horticulturist <a href="https://helenyoung.com.au/">Helen Young</a> shares some simple strategies to protect your plants from dehydration and sunburn.</p> <p><strong>1. Keep soil moist</strong><br />If you’re anticipating very hot temperatures during the day, watering your plants early in the morning will maintain moisture in the soil and avoid plant stress.</p> <p>“Plants that are dry on a very hot day will wilt and the leaves will burn much more easily than if they’ve got plenty of water around the roots,” says Young.</p> <p>To cut down on the need for additional watering, use a soil wetting agent in your garden. “It’s a product that you can buy and put a couple of capfuls in the watering can. It’ll last for six months, and helps the water penetrate and hold.”</p> <p>Wetting agents increase water absorption of the soil and improve water retention by dispersing water evenly into dry soils that repel water.</p> <p><strong>2. Mulching</strong><br />Mulching around roots can keep plants cooler, conserve water, and help retain moisture. Adding a good layer of mulch over the top of your soil creates a barrier from the sun and reduces evaporation from the soil surface. “You can have a woody mulch, like pine bark, or you could have a soft mulch, like sugar cane mulch. They all do a similar job.”</p> <p>“Even in a Mediterranean garden, you might use stone or pebble and that’s still a mulch. It’s still putting a covering over bare soil that traps the moisture,” Young adds.</p> <p><strong>3. Anti-transpirants</strong><br />To prevent excess water loss, an anti-transpirant plant protector can be applied to reduce the damage of the sun against wilting, burn, heat stress, and drying winds.</p> <p>“You know, it’s a bit like us: you want to cover up and you want to have sun protectant. There is a thing that people can use that’s a bit like sunscreen called an anti-transpirant. Yates makes a product called ‘DroughtShield’. You can spray it on the leaves of plants and it’s like a polymer coating that helps stop the leaves losing so much water, so it helps plants survive heat.”</p> <p><strong>4. Potted plant care</strong><br />When it comes to your potted plants, extreme heat can dry them out really quickly, especially those in small or dark coloured pots. “The temperature of the roots in a pot can be way above the air temperature, so do everything you can,” says Young. She suggests moving them into the shade and grouping them together for added cover.</p> <p><strong>5. Shelter</strong><br />A simple and cheap solution for physically protecting your plants during the heat of the day is to lay a piece of shade cloth over them to prevent sunburn. It could be an old tablecloth, sheet, or tea towel — you can even prop open a beach umbrella in your garden!</p> <p>“I do it to all my plants,” says Young. “I’ve got a beautiful Japanese maple and when I know it’s going to be 44°C, I water it in the morning and cover it with an old bedsheet. I use clothes pegs to peg the sheet on so it doesn’t blow off in the wind, and then I just take it off at the end of the day.”</p> <p>And for those looking for a gardening project, why not plant a tree? “There’s some terrific statistics on how much power you can save on air conditioning if you have a well-placed tree that shades windows or the roof of your house,” she explains.</p> <p>“Underneath a big, shady tree you’ll always be ten degrees — or more — cooler than it is out in the open sun so summer days are a great reminder to us to plant a tree.”</p> <p>What kind of plants do you have in your home and garden?</p> <p><em>Written by Maria Angela Parajo. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/how-to-protect-your-plants-in-the-summer-heat.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a>.</em></p>

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End of summer gardening tips

<p>February is the final month of summer and is recognised as a transition month for the Garden. Summer crops and flowers may be coming to an end, but it’s a great time to get things ready for a productive garden in the cooler months.</p> <p>Generally speaking, plant growth slows dramatically as autumn turns into winter, so if you want results in the heart of winter then you need to start prepping, planning and planting now.</p> <p><strong>Get your soil in good nick</strong><br />To prepare for new plantings, don’t neglect the renewal of organic matter in your soil. Summer crops such as tomatoes and capsicums are heavy feeders, so it is important to replenish nutrients</p> <p>It’s best to use organic material like old manure, lucerne hay or mushroom compost and don’t be afraid to recycle excess crops of things like lettuce back into the soil, if they are not going to be eaten.</p> <p>February can give us some very hot days, so it is also a good time to ensure that gardens and potted plants are well watered. A good, deep soak a couple of times a week is better than lighter daily watering and don’t forget to mulch to preserve all that hard work. Early morning is the best time to water to avoid the heat of the day.</p> <p>No doubt weeds will be working hard to disrupt your garden in the warmth, so it is also a good time to engage in some ‘weed removal therapy’ as part of good preparation for autumn/winter plantings.</p> <p><strong>Winter vegetable favourites</strong><br />For those in the temperate climates, now is the time to get your winter vegetable plot started. Broccoli, cauliflower and brussell sprouts, cabbage, beetroot, silverbeet, carrots, leeks, fennel and onions are all worthwhile winter crops. A good strategy is to get the seeds for these going in seed trays now, with plenty of protection from direct sun, while you prepare and enrich the garden beds once the summer crops give up their final harvest.</p> <p>The warmth of February will assist the seeds to germinate, so that they can be planted out toward the end of the month. If you live in the more arid, hotter regions, it may be best to delay this process a few weeks until the soil cools a little more.</p> <p>Herbs can also be sown at this time of year, so consider versatile varieties such as Parsley, Oregano, Fennel and Chives. Many herbs can be grown year-round in pots or in the garden and the general rule of thumb is good sunlight, good drainage and regular watering, especially if the weather is parched. You need good soil, but go easy on the manure and feeding, to avoid overly rapid growth, which will sacrifice stronger flavour.</p> <p><strong>Brighten up winter with fresh flowers</strong><br />If you want plenty of colour for autumn and winter, there are plenty of options to sow now, such as alyssum, calendula, candytuft, carnation, cornflower, cosmos, delphinium, daisy, foxglove, lobelia, nasturtium, nemesia, pansy, poppy, primula, schizanthus, snapdragon, sweet pea, snapdragon, stock and Viola. If you live in hotter regions, then delay planting for a month or so to avoid heat damage.</p> <p>It is also optimum prep time for your spring flowering bulbs, such as Daffodils, Dutch Irises, Crocus, Hyacinths, Rananculi and Freesias. Your nursery will have the best selection of bulbs in store now, so take advantage. Dig in lots of organic matter, such as compost or manure into your bulb beds, while you store the bulbs in a cool place in preparation for planting out in April or May.</p> <p><strong>A good time to propagate from cuttings</strong><br />February is also an ideal time to consider taking cuttings to expand your garden without any cost. Plants like geraniums and impatiens can be grown from cuttings quite simply, but there are plenty of others that are worth trying and will reward your efforts if you apply some TLC.</p> <p><em>Written by Tom Raeside. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/end-of-summer-gardening-tips.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a>.</em></p>

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Terrified woman discovers red-bellied black snake in her bedroom

<p>As a woman from Holsworthy in NSW woke up to face another day, she got the fright of her life as she saw a red-bellied black snake slither across her bedroom floor.</p> <p>As she awoke, she noticed her dog staring at her bed as “stiff as a board”.</p> <p>It was then she realised that there was a 1.2m red-bellied black snake in her bedroom.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7822857/snake-video-screenshot.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/9583291bcae74c4ca3e8a69e0bd09b22" /></p> <p>The removal of the snake was “quick and painless”, according to Kane Durrant from WILD Snake Catchers.</p> <p>“Sometimes it can take much longer but luckily today the snake was out and about and the resident had closed the door and kept an eye on the exit.”</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwildspec%2Fvideos%2F1145882328916058%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p>Mr Durrant was shocked to be called out to the same resident's house, as he had just removed another red-bellied black snake from their backyard just two weeks prior.</p> <p>He explained why the snake had decided to go indoors: <span>“I guess the bedroom is quite scary as you sleep in there and should feel safe.</span></p> <p>“Hot weather like this week can push snakes indoors searching for a cool spot to rest.”</p> <p>Have you woken up to a snake in your bedroom? What did you do? Let us know in the comments.</p>

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Be inspired by the world's most creative designers

<p><span>French creative ideas hub </span>Creapills<span> recently posted this stunning video below featuring some of the most forward-thinking furniture design ideas in the world. What do you think? Are they the types of engineering or interior design concepts you could imagine fitting into your home? For the Reader's Digest DIY crowd, at the very least you should gain some valuable inspiration for your next project...</span></p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCreapills%2Fvideos%2F1674369469261067%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=476" width="476" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p>Are you going to try out any of these ideas? Let us know in the comments!</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Reader's Digest. This article first appeared in <a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/diy-tips/be-inspired-worlds-most-creative-designers">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN87V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Nightmare as hundreds of spiders “rain” from the sky

<p>Arachnophobes look away, because a video posted to Facebook shows every person’s worst nightmare as Brazil experienced a strange phenomenon of spiders raining from the sky.</p> <p>The footage shows spiders coming down in droves at Espirito Santo do Dourado, with locals describing the event as the sky “raining with spiders”.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcecilia.fonseca.712%2Fvideos%2F1962652493856369%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="308" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p>While the eight-legged insects appear to be falling from above, they are actually moving with the help of a huge web, and according to experts, spiders create canopies during hot and humid climates so they can share one giant web.</p> <p>João Pedro Martinelli Fonseca, who is the man behind the camera, said that he noticed the sensation at his grandparent’s farm and told local newspapers that he was “stunned and scared”.</p> <p>Spiders can reportedly travel hundreds of kilometres using a ballooning method.</p> <p>Ballooning occurs when spiders detect electric fields under natural atmospheric conditions. It is the electric fields that cause the arachnid’s strange behaviour.</p> <p>Spiders are able to become airborne through the technique, as they release fine silk lines that once caught in the breeze, lift the spider up in the air.</p>

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Woman writes genius note to noisy neighbour

<p>Dealing with a noisy neighbour is tricky – but this woman from New Jersey in the US took the high road and tried a different approach.</p> <p>Candice Benbow was getting used to the fact that her neighbour loved to play loud music. However, one night when the noise blasted into the wee hours, Benbow finally had enough.</p> <p>While others might call the police or talk to the strata committee, Benbow decided to pick up her baking tools and make a cake at 3.30 in the morning to pass on to her neighbour with the note. </p> <p>“I wanted the best way to tell my neighbor that he tried it with his late night party,” Benbow said.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">I wanted the best way to tell my neighbor that he tried it with his late night party. So I wrote him a letter and baked him a cake. <a href="https://t.co/SxPKAzOHp0">pic.twitter.com/SxPKAzOHp0</a></p> — Candice Marie Benbow (@CandiceBenbow) <a href="https://twitter.com/CandiceBenbow/status/1074010643592814592?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 15, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>Accompanying the cake was a whimsical letter, which she also posted on her Twitter page. </p> <p>“When you come home every evening and blast music, I’ve come to expect it,” Benbow said in the letter. She even admitted that the loud music helped her “catch a vibe” and find new songs for her weekly playlists.</p> <p>“But last night… Fam, you tried it,” she wrote. “I don’t know if you were hosting the official afterparty for our building’s holiday social … In the future, as you’re hosting your kickbacks and come throughs, please remember the rest of us.”</p> <p>To her surprise, the gesture worked – and she shared all the updates on Twitter.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">UPDATE: I JUST MET MY NEIGHBOR TOMMY!!!! He’s so freaking cool! He apologized for the noise, promised to invite me to the next party and most importantly...HE SAID MY POUND CAKE WAS AMAZING!!!! <a href="https://t.co/NcU8t0ZfqT">pic.twitter.com/NcU8t0ZfqT</a></p> — Candice Marie Benbow (@CandiceBenbow) <a href="https://twitter.com/CandiceBenbow/status/1075057181798604801?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 18, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>The neighbour, Tommy Amaro, turned out to be a music video director, which explains the loud music. </p> <p>“It was just beautiful because if it was another neighbour, they would’ve at least tried to call the cops on me, try to knock me out and this was like, it was cool,” Amaro told<span> </span><a href="https://www.insideedition.com/instead-getting-mad-noisy-neighbor-new-jersey-woman-bakes-him-cake-49470"><em>Inside Edition</em></a>.</p> <p>Benbow also learned that Amaro was having his first Christmas without his daughter, who died in a car accident.</p> <p>“It was a sweet and gentle reminder that we never know what folks are going through and it is always best to lead with kindness,” said Benbow.</p> <p>She confirmed that now she can enjoy being home without the noise. “He has been quiet as a church mouse,” she said.</p> <p>What do you think about this woman's strategy to put an end to her noisy neighbour? How do you deal with noisy neighbours? Tell us in the comments below. </p>

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Man finds snake alive in brand new kitchen appliance

<p>When Barry Downes arrived home from his post-Christmas shopping, he was just looking to relax and have a cup of tea with the kettle he had just bought.</p> <p>What he didn’t expect was something alive slithering out of the appliance box and into his kitchen.</p> <p>Downes, from Paddington, London, purchased the kettle from department store Argos on December 28. </p> <p>“I made a cup of tea and went to sit down to drink it,” said Downes. </p> <p>“When I came back into the kitchen I spotted something on the floor.”</p> <p>At first, Downes thought it was a piece of string or plastic packaging due to his sight problems. </p> <p>“I picked it up to put it in the bin, but then it started wriggling.”</p> <p>He then trapped the snake under a saucepan lid and called the RSPCA for assistance.</p> <p>The RSPCA identified the reptile as a young corn snake. Animal collection officer Ella Davies, who collected the snake, said it might have snuck into the box at a storage warehouse in the country.</p> <p>“Corn snakes are talented escape artists, so I suspect this little one has escaped from a vivarium somewhere,” said Davies.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpermalink.php%3Fstory_fbid%3D2381499588543994%26id%3D305736432786997&amp;width=500" width="500" height="822" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>The unharmed snake will be transferred to a specialist centre before being relocated to a “proper” wildlife habitat.</p> <p>An Argos spokesperson said, “We’re surprised to hear about this incident, and are investigating with the supplier.”</p> <p>Meanwhile in Australia, a snake horrified shoppers as it <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/home-garden/my-worst-nightmare-woman-s-terrifying-discovery-in-shopping-centre-car-park">snuck into a car grill</a> in a shopping centre parking lot. Queensland also saw <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/snake-bite-spike-9-people-hospitalised-in-one-day-after-increasing-number-of-attacks">nine people getting hospitalised for snake bites</a> in one night in December.</p>

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Inside Jamie Oliver's new $10 million 16th century country manor

<p>Despite rumours of the top floor being haunted, nothing could stop Jamie Oliver and his family of seven moving into this 16th century manor house in the English countryside, with the chef paying $10.7 million for the property in Essex.</p> <p>The family has continued to grow, with daughters Poppy, 16, Daisy, 15, Petal, 9, and their sons Buddy, 8 and fifth child River, who will turn two in August 2019.</p> <p>An insider has revealed to<span> </span><a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/8128535/jamie-oliver-6m-mansion-haunted/"><em>The Sun</em></a><span> </span>about the new mansion:</p> <p><span>"'It’s an amazing place and the whole family fell in love with it at first viewing."</span></p> <p>They added, "The only thing Jamie wasn’t so sold on was the top floor nursery which is said to be haunted, and has put off several perspective buyers."</p> <p>The mansion is a 70-acre estate in Essex and comes with:</p> <ul> <li>A six bed farmhouse</li> <li>Three bed lodge</li> <li>Converted stables</li> <li>A cart shed</li> </ul> <p>The house has been owned by the same aristocratic family since the 1700s, with the most recent alterations done in 2010.</p> <p>Although the mansion has been updated, there are no visible changes to the main rooms or the facade of the house.</p> <p>With Jamie's blossoming new family, it seems like they need all the space they can get! </p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see inside their new home.</p>

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The $16 Bunnings hack that is a surprisingly effective toilet cleaner

<p>A Sydney, Australia woman had tried everything from Coke to citrus when she was scrubbing to clean her toilet.</p> <p>As the toilet hadn’t been cleaned since before she moved in three months ago, she had tried every hack available to try and get the stained toilet bowl nice and clean.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7822645/dirty-toilet.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a509f5c33e074a4d8b1ad91ca041e43b" /></p> <p>The Sydney local had just about given up hope until she came across this $16 product from Bunnings and some steel wool. It worked so well she took to her Facebook page to document the success.</p> <p>“Tried Coke (nothing), tried citric acid (nothing), tried Scalex and it did change but it didn't help much.</p> <p>“Then yesterday I tried a very strong mix of Scalex and this steel wool thing,” she continued.</p> <p>“In less than 10 minutes (pretty hard scrubbing), it now looks like this.”</p> <p>Her friends rallied around her success as well as sharing some tips and tricks of their own.</p> <p>“Scalex works best if you add hot water to the toilet,” one woman stated before adding, “Your toilet looks great.</p> <p>“Mine is 25 years old and it's just starting to get harder and harder to clean now. But I love Scalex, it's a little bit of magic.”</p> <p>Another friend left a comment with a warning about using Scalex too much, saying, “If you scrub the glaze off the bowl it will stain quicker and make it harder to clean so be careful.”</p> <p>What are some tips and tricks you use to keep your toilet bowl clean? Is Scalex a product you’ve used before? Let us know in the comments.</p>

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Can you spot the surprise intruder on this Christmas tree?

<p>A user on Twitter has taken to the social media site to challenge her followers in spotting the unexpected intruder on her Christmas tree.</p> <p>Alli McDonald, from Wentzville in St Louis, Missouri in the US, shared a snap of her festive tree claiming that she discovered an unlikely intruder finding refuge amongst the branches.</p> <p>The photo, which has now been liked over 2800 times, shows Ms McDonald’s cat hiding amongst the decorations. She reveals that her cheeky pet likes to find a new spot every day to hide in and can be extremely hard to spot.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Alright guys let’s play a game: every morning we find my cat in a different place in our Christmas tree and take a picture. Screenshot when you find him😂😂 <a href="https://t.co/usWoCmyYTS">pic.twitter.com/usWoCmyYTS</a></p> — Alli McDonald (@ALLI_doiswin3) <a href="https://twitter.com/ALLI_doiswin3/status/1071866545989668866?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 9, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>“Alright guys let’s play a game: every morning we find my cat in a different place in our Christmas tree and take a picture,” she said.</p> <p>“Screenshot when you find him.”</p> <p>Twitter users were left confused after they tried finding the clever cat amongst the tree.</p> <p>“I soo got it wrong. I have thought I saw a black cat and its eyes,” said one user.</p> <p>“I don’t see how his head is at that angle,” said another.</p> <p>One user was impressed by the cat, saying: “Seems like he’s an expert with his sneaky ninja cat skills!”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/FTrMrKFKEi">pic.twitter.com/FTrMrKFKEi</a></p> — alejandro guzman (@230414saturn) <a href="https://twitter.com/230414saturn/status/1072021433231032320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 10, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>And it didn’t take long for other proud cat owners to share photos of their own kitty hiding amongst their trees with one user saying: “My advent calendar is just me pulling my cat out of the Christmas tree every day.”</p> <p>Another said: “Friend’s cat is doing some performance art as a Christmas tree decoration.”</p> <p>One user shared a snap of his cat amongst the Christmas tree lights, saying: “Here’s a photo of my stupid cat in the Christmas tree. Look at his eyes.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Here’s a photo of my stupid cat in the christmas tree. Look at his eyes. <a href="https://t.co/NwnwUMMInM">pic.twitter.com/NwnwUMMInM</a></p> — tess (@_tessabauer) <a href="https://twitter.com/_tessabauer/status/1072901223790141441?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 12, 2018</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Friend’s cat is doing some performance art as a Christmas tree decoration. <a href="https://t.co/Yp8LPLlfZt">pic.twitter.com/Yp8LPLlfZt</a></p> — Dating Dad (@aDatingDad) <a href="https://twitter.com/aDatingDad/status/1071742471766446082?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 9, 2018</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">one of our cats loves sitting in our christmas tree <a href="https://t.co/aGSUS3VaVN">pic.twitter.com/aGSUS3VaVN</a></p> — sansan (@sanjista) <a href="https://twitter.com/sanjista/status/1071641198060810243?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 9, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>Do your pets have any funny habits with your Christmas tree? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

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Decorating hack: Have we been hanging Christmas lights the wrong way?

<p>It may be the most tedious part of decorating a Christmas tree, but stringing lights around the tree doesn’t have to be draining if done correctly.</p> <p>Most people are known to wrap the lights around the tree starting from the very top and working their way down to the bottom, but there may be a better way to string lights around a tree, and not only is it easier, it looks better too.</p> <p>Francesco Bilotto, a designer and home entertainment expert, has claimed for years that hanging Christmas lights vertically from the top to the bottom of the tree is a fool-proof method to get the most sparkling Christmas tree.</p> <p>Speaking to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.housebeautiful.com/entertaining/holidays-celebrations/news/a7580/hang-christmas-lights-vertically/" target="_blank">House Beautiful</a></em>, Bilotto says that by hanging the lights vertically instead of horizontally, each bulb will be in plain view rather than getting hidden amongst the branches.</p> <p>“This way every tip of your tree, from branch to branch, will twinkle with delight,” he said.</p> <p>He also advised those at home to take the end of the light without the plug and putting it on top of the tree.</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/S7OxAdrsy7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/S7OxAdrsy7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">Finally got our tree and decorated it 🎄 #treeontree #golddeers #redsparklyballs #verticallights #besttree #redandgold</a></p> <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 post shared by @<a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/yarilovee/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> yarilovee</a> on Dec 6, 2012 at 10:36pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>As you hang the lights vertically, weave them in and out of tree until the excess is hanging off the bottom, then with the lights that are left over, move it across a few inches then work your way back up to the top.</p> <p>Once the process is repeated, it should result in a tree that is sparkling all over.</p> <p>“Another added bonus is when you dismantle your tree and take off the lights, it’ll be easier and less messy to remove strands from the exterior of the tree – rather than fighting a stubborn almost dried branch,” he said.</p> <div style="position: relative; padding-bottom: calc(56.25% + 50px); height: 0;"><iframe style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%;" src="https://www.today.com/offsite/should-you-be-hanging-your-christmas-tree-lights-vertically-579347011617" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"></iframe></div> <p>And to put the technique to test, host of US breakfast show<span> </span><em>Today</em>, Savannah Guthrie, tried it out on air in 2015.</p> <p>Clearly impressed, Guthrie said: “I’ll say this – it’s a lot easier. Usually you’re walking in circles.”</p> <p>Will you be trying out this Christmas lights hack on your tree this year? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

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Deck the halls! The extravagant Christmas trees and decorations inside Buckingham Palace

<p>Christmas is well and truly on its way if Buckingham Palace is anything to go by, as the royal residence has been decked out with extravagant Christmas trees complete with bespoke crown and carriage decorations.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 491px; height: 444px;" src="/media/7822298/capture.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/6179a414ff6a4e818bf26d7ddf3d6d5a" /></p> <p>The Marble Hall at Buckingham Palace has been transformed into a festive wonderland as three fir trees have been erected and adorned with ornaments inspired by the Queen herself.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 492px; height: 442px;" src="/media/7822299/palace1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/81f14ced060d4d51bc413c50ef62c5f5" /></p> <p>The decorations include miniature versions of the coronation crown worn by the Queen in 1953 alongside other hanging ornaments with the word “Palace” embroidered on them.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 491px; height: 447px;" src="/media/7822300/palace2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/0d6813ff465d47a9a73f752d90e21888" /></p> <p>And it doesn’t just stop there, the grand staircase has also been covered in garland complete with colourful baubles to bring about the holiday cheer.</p> <p>The decoration process was filmed and posted to the official Royal Family Twitter account, where they captioned it: “It’s officially Christmas at Buckingham Palace!”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 496px; height: 440px;" src="/media/7822301/palace3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b50220d495e742d58fb2976efece262d" /></p> <p>Glittering white lights have been wrapped around the three trees, and as mentioned in the video, many of the decorations are available to the public through the Royal Collection Trust’s online store.</p> <p>The “Palace” ornament can be purchased online through the Royal Collection Trust and costs NZ$27.40. Also available is a decoration with the word “Buckingham” across it.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">The Christmas Trees have arrived at Buckingham Palace!<br />🎥 Watch as the Marble Hall transforms for the festive season. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Christmas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Christmas</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BuckinghamPalace?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BuckinghamPalace</a> <a href="https://t.co/bsdFvWbacN">pic.twitter.com/bsdFvWbacN</a></p> — The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) <a href="https://twitter.com/RoyalFamily/status/1069895913164939265?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 4, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>The central Christmas tree stands 15ft tall and all three were grown in Windsor and brought to the palace at the start of December.</p> <p>The Queen will be hosting her annual pre-Christmas lunch just before the royal family make their way to Sandringham for Christmas Day.</p> <p>The lunch, which happens every year, is held for extended royal family members and senior royals who are generally not invited at her Norfolk estate on December 25th.</p> <p>The Norfolk estate is usually decorated in holiday décor the day before Christmas, where the royal family light up their tree at Sandringham House. The tree is said to be 20ft tall and is cut from the estate.</p>

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The top signs that it’s time to call the exterminators this summer

<p>Everyone has their own tolerance when it comes to insects and pests in the home. Some people consider one cockroach scurrying across the kitchen floor as nothing to be alarmed about, while others baulk at it.</p> <p>Pest controllers around the country are busiest at this time of year, bees are swarming and fleas are biting. But, the usual suspects are always ants, cockroaches and rodents.</p> <p>If a rodent is seen in the middle of the day or scratching noises are heard in the wall cavity, a pest controller needs to be called. This is a sign that there is more than one and setting a mouse trap is not going to fix the bigger problem. Another sign is bite marks in food.</p> <p>Dale Bahr, of <span><a href="http://www.reliancepestcontrolbrisbane.com.au/">Reliance Pest Control</a></span>, says: “They’ll wake in the morning and half a banana is gone because they (rats) have started living behind the fridge.” Rats can also create nests under the house, in the roof and even in the couch.</p> <p>Rodents in particular have enjoyed Sydney’s milder winter this year. “There’s a prolific problem with rodents right across Sydney at the moment,” says Lee Rennie, of <span><a href="https://www.shirepestcontrol.com.au/">Shire Pest Control</a></span>. “The warmer than usual ground meant that rodents continued to breed throughout those colder months.”</p> <p>Cockroaches also love the warmer environment under the fridge. If one small German cockroach is seen, call the pest controller straight away. “When [a homeowner sees] a German cockroach running around, they are probably only seeing about 1 per cent of the cockroaches that are actually there,” says Stephan Ware, of the <span><a href="https://www.aepma.com.au/">Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association</a></span> (AEPMA).</p> <p>The German cockroach can spread bacterial diseases, and, like any insect, leave moults and faeces where it lives. Ware suggests the place should be checked if there are signs of German cockroaches.</p> <p>Ants are another common problem, especially when they develop a permanent trail leading from the outside, such as a gap in the windowsill, to the pantry. They are difficult to get rid of at this stage, and a pest controller needs to be called. Ants get into cereals that aren’t sealed, causing the disposal of a lot of food. A more serious matter is white ants.</p> <p>An annual inspection is the only way to effectively deal with termites. The pest controller checks the frame under the house, in the roof, surrounding fences and other wood or trees nearby. On average, a termite inspection with a written report costs $310, a small price to pay for prevention and peace of mind. If there is rotting wood near the house or fingers go through the wall, call the pest controller straight away.</p> <p>Termites are native to Australia and are found throughout the Sydney basin.</p> <p>“Termites do a lot of damage in a short period of time,” says Ware. “They’re nature’s disposal unit.” Ware considers the termite a pest you should act on immediately. “If you cover it up and hope it will go away, it won’t.”</p> <p>In Sydney, the worst pest infestation Rennie has come across was termite infestation. “I’ve had to condemn a couple of properties and get people out of there because the house could collapse on them.”</p> <p>Pest control and hygiene go hand in hand. Removing food sources such as crumbs, pet food, dirty dishes and rubbish will make the house less inviting to pests. This should be combined with a regular pest inspection and treatment when needed.</p> <p>“The home is your most valuable asset,” says Ware. “With a regular treatment your quality of life improves; it’s as simple as that.”</p> <p><em>Written by Melissa Gerke. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.domain.com.au/living/the-top-signs-that-its-time-to-call-the-exterminators-this-summer-784779/"><strong>Domain.com.au</strong>.</a></span> </em></p>

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How to be a good neighbour: Etiquette experts share their top tips

<p>In an era when our heads are invariably in our phones and time is a precious commodity, our relationships with our neighbours perhaps aren’t the formative relationships they used to be.</p> <p>But friendship aside, there is a relationship to be had with the people who live around us by virtue of non-negotiable geography.</p> <p>So, if you’re always going to be around your neighbours, here are some sure-fire ways to making sure you’re being a good one, according to etiquette experts.</p> <p><strong>Don’t be a stranger</strong></p> <p>According to the director of the <u><a href="https://asoe.com.au/">Australian School of Etiquette</a></u>, Zarife Hardy, do the thing so many of us seem to be avoiding these days: introduce yourself.</p> <p>“Talk to them. Get to know them,” Hardy says, acknowledging not only is it the right thing to do, but it can also work in your favour eventually, too.</p> <p>“If you find yourself solo parenting at any stage, you will be less frustrated by fighting siblings if you know there is outside help available.”</p> <p><strong>Be a good sport</strong></p> <p>“Treat your neighbours as you would have them treat you,” Hardy says.</p> <p>“Your new blower awaits you in the garage, you’ve tidied your driveway, paths and garden to your heart’s content. While you’re at it, clear your neighbour’s footpath and nature strip. You have had a great vegetable season, share your harvest with your neighbour.”</p> <p>Etiquette expert at <span><a href="http://www.goodmanners.com.au/">The Good Manners Company</a></span>, Anna Musson, agrees.</p> <p>“If you live in a house, bring your neighbour’s bins in. It’s amazing how this 30-second gesture can foster great neighbourly relations.”</p> <p><strong>Personal space</strong></p> <p>Hardy says proper etiquette would be to call before visiting.</p> <p>More than that, she says it’s not appropriate for children or pets to roam free on other people’s property without express permission.</p> <p>“Make sure your children are familiar with these rules and make sure any pets don’t use their yard,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Keep the volume down</strong></p> <p>Musson says keeping the volume down would “be the number-one neighbourly complaint”.</p> <p>“Loud footsteps, using the lawn mower before 9am, talking loudly and pumping music [are bad manners],” she says.</p> <p>“If you are going to have a party, let your neighbours know ahead of time and let them know what time the party will be finishing so they’ll know when to expect some quiet time. If it’s possible you should always invite them.”</p> <p><strong>Be mindful of the balcony</strong></p> <p>“Love barbecuing on your balcony? Consider the stink of barbecued fish or worse, cigarette smoke,” Musson says.</p> <p>“Balconies are not the sacred outdoor space in apartments that they used to be. The best tip for managing your cigarettes or barbecue is to chat or knock on your neighbour’s door, ask if the smoke, music or barbecue bothers them and invite them in for a drink from time to time.”</p> <p><strong>It’s never good form to park on the grass</strong></p> <p>“Park on the street and preferably in front of your own house if you can manage it,” Musson says.</p> <p>“This is especially true for trailers and boats and – worst of all, old cars that you’re doing up.”</p> <p><em>Written by Zara McDonald. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.domain.com.au/living/this-is-how-often-you-should-be-replacing-your-bed-linen-20180828-h14jrf-760518/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Domain.com.au.</strong></span></a></span> </em></p>

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