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Here’s how often you should actually be changing your sheets

<p>Whether you wash your sheets once a week or wait to do a sniff test, you’ve most likely wondered how often you should be changing your bed sheets at the moment. Like many things in life, the answer isn’t so black and white, but we’re here to answer it for you in these unprecedented times. </p> <p>To increase your protection against the new coronavirus, the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) recommends daily cleaning and disinfecting of “high-touch areas”. That includes doorknobs, light switches, tables, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks, and chairs – but what about your bed sheets?</p> <p><strong>Why do we need to change our sheets?</strong></p> <p>“There are a lot of things that can get in your sheets,” says Dr. Robb Akridge, Co-Founder of Clarisonic and Skin Expert, PhD in Microbiology specialising in Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “First, you need to understand that everyone has tiny mites all over their bodies and these mites feed off dead skin. (You can’t see them, but they are there.) For our skin to be healthy, we need these mites on the body. When these mites — commonly known as dust mites — excrete feces, it is the fecal matter that then causes irritation, inflammation and other allergy responses. When we shower, we wash off the feces, which is often why we can minimise irritation. When you sleep, you often shed skin and mites into your sheets, and remember, dead skin is food for these dust mites which are transferred from your skin to the sheets. If you don’t change your sheets, you create a breeding ground of mites (and they breed very rapidly), and the more mites, the more feces. The more feces, the more likely you will have irritation, especially if you are more sensitive to this.”</p> <p>But that’s not all, as you could also have fungi growing within your sheets. “For example, if you have athlete’s foot, the fungi can live in your sheets and can be passed on to someone who you are sharing a bed with,” Akridge says.</p> <p><strong>What type of sheets are best?</strong></p> <p>“It is important to use sheets that are breathable,” Akridge says. “Cotton is really the best. Also, if you have any skin infections, acne or mite allergies, you should stick to white cotton sheets. That way you can clean them with super-hot water and bleach. You obviously cannot use bleach if your sheets are coloured, so this is something to consider when purchasing. Bleach and extremely hot water will help to get rid of the mites and kill microbes in the sheets.” To deal with dust mites, you need to use water that is at least 55 degrees Celcius and the highest heat setting on your dryer.</p> <p>Get yourself a mattress cover if you don’t already have one. They are designed to keep your mattress safe from mites and prevent their feces from going into the mattress. “You can get an allergy mattress cover and allergy pillowcase covers,” Akridge says. “Your mattress and pillows have ample area for dust mites to expand and multiply, and therefore, over the years, if you don’t have a protective cover, it can easily become the source of irritation and other allergy-related symptoms.”</p> <p><strong>What if my pet sleeps in my bed with me?</strong></p> <p>Then you need to make sure you’re washing your sheets more often. “We see lots of skin rashes and conditions due to pets,” says Board Certified dermatologist Dr Dhaval G. Bhanusali.  “It’s better to do at least once or twice a week to minimise the chance of negative effects.”</p> <p><strong>So how often do you need to change your sheets?</strong></p> <p>Many sources suggest changing your bedsheets weekly even under normal circumstances, and the CDC has not made any specific recommendations about doing it more frequently due to the new coronavirus. However, paying attention to bedding is important because germs can collect there. So, if it soothes you to change your sheets more frequently, go right ahead.</p> <p>“Overall, the amount of times you change your sheets really depends on your lifestyle, personal habits and living conditions,” Akridge says. “For example, if you are active or if you are someone who perspires a lot when you are sleeping, then you should change your sheets at least once a week. Also, if you have acne, then you may want to change your sheets more often.” To be on the safe side, aim to wash your sheets once a week, but try not to stretch it past two weeks.</p>

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"Think before you lash out": Bunnings worker breaks down over cruel customers

<p>An overworked and exhausted Bunnings worker broke down in tears on air while describing the abuse and entitlement caused by customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The employee, only identified as Luke, spoke with GOLD104.3’s<span> </span><em>Breakfast Show</em><span> </span>host Christian O’Connell and begged for customers to be respectful.</p> <p>“I work at Bunnings and the amount of disrespectful, impatient people coming through is disgusting. We are run off our feet, we are trying our best – understand that everyone, and for those that are giving us respect and are being patient we can’t thank you enough,” he said before being overcome with emotion.</p> <p>“It’s a struggle … we are trying, we are definitely trying 100 per cent … trying not to have a breakdown is impossible. Woolworths, Coles any retail worker, we are doing our best.”</p> <p>O’Connell asked how Luke and his team are getting through the challenging period.</p> <p>“We just lean on each other at work, we just get together and support each other,” Luke replied.</p> <p>“I don’t know how people can go home and feel good about themselves making others feel like rubbish and sending them home in tears or making me feel as little as anything.</p> <p>“I understand people are losing their jobs but there’s no excuse to come in and be rude or think you’re the one that should be served first. There are lines, there is self-distancing put in place, and you’ve got people that won’t respect that. And if you’re not going to respect it, then we won’t serve you.”</p> <p>Luke said he hoped his call would prompt people to “think about their actions before they lash at someone”.</p> <p>O’Connell then thanked him and other “frontline” workers for their “bravery and courage”.</p>

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Malibu royal abode? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle scoping out $7 million mansion

<p>Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are reportedly scoping out a gorgeous Malibu mansion that is available for $7 million.</p> <p>The couple will end all official royal duties on March 31 and in the meantime are checking out where they will be living next after Megxit is all said and done.</p> <p>The Sussexes are due to split their time between the UK and the US, and during their six-week Christmas holiday, they spent it at a waterside mansion on Vancouver Island.</p> <p>Reports made by the<em><span> </span>Daily Mail</em><span> </span>say the couple are looking to be closer to Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, as well as Silicon Valley and Hollywood.</p> <p>The gorgeous home they may be considering is one once owned by<span> </span><em>Baywatch</em><span> </span>star David Charvet and his wife Brooke Burke. Altogether the glorious mansion boasts an incredible eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a cosy home cinema and a stylish wine cellar.</p> <p>Along with a view that goes on and on is a chic and meticulously manicured garden, as well as a pool and tennis court.</p> <p>The pad will provide plenty of room for Prince Harry, his wife and their son, Archie who turns one in May, as the home sits on 1.75 acres of land and 12,249 feet of gorgeous living space.</p> <p>Caitlyn Jenner, who starred alongside her former wife, Kris Jenner and their six children, in<span> </span><em>Keeping Up With The Kardashians, </em>was the first to reveal the Sussex couple were looking for a home in Malibu.</p> <p>When asked what she thought about the pair, she said: “I can't predict as I've tried to raise our royal family in the US. It was probably very difficult for Meghan, coming into the Royal Family.</p> <p>“It was a big shock to her, she's probably had enough. Good for them, we'll see how it goes. I heard they were looking for a house in Malibu. It must have been tough. Everyone deserves to be happy.”</p> <p>The 70-year-old added it would have been “very difficult” for Meghan to adjust to her royal lifestyle.</p> <p>The house in question would be just 30 miles away from her Meghan's Doria, 63, in the Windsor Hills.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the Malibu mansion.</p>

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Inside Princess Mary’s secret Swiss chalet listed on Airbnb

<p>Pictures of the “secret” Swiss home belonging to Australian-born Princess Mary and husband Prince Frederik have emerged after it was revealed the couple had rented it out to travellers in the past.</p> <p>According to<em> <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/princess-mary-in-airbnb-scandal-over-sky-chalet/news-story/09c4aa604c005cc91758a335f8818994" target="_blank">Herald Sun</a></em>, the Danish royals are said to have let the luxe ski chalet in Verbier, Switzerland for $14,000 a week (65,400 Kroner) on Airbnb.</p> <p>The spacious wooden lodge, which features a lux sauna, three bathrooms and a room for up to 10 guests, has been in possession of the Tasmanian royal and her hubby for over a decade.</p> <p>It was recently discovered that the property was rented out on Airbnb, which disrupted the blissful bubble their supporters living in Denmark had been in, as reported by<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://royalcentral.co.uk/europe/denmark/denmarks-crown-prince-couple-cancels-further-hidden-income-from-private-ski-lodge-136554/" target="_blank">Royal Central</a>.</em></p> <p>“I was very surprised when I found out that the family does not just have such a house, they have had such a house for 10 years, without any ordinary Danes knowing about it,” parliamentarian Mai Villadsen said.</p> <p>“We are the ones who pay the money so we must know about the house,” she added.</p> <p>The Danish royals live on a public allowance and are not allowed to spend money on foreign assets - such as a Swiss ski chalet - without approval.</p> <p>Conservative member of parliament Birgitte Bergman, shared a different opinion to Ms Villadsen, saying she didn’t see “anything wrong” with the pair owning the home.</p> <p>Following the backlash, the Royal Court released an official statement stating the couple had both dipped into their own funds to purchase the property but would no longer accept revenue by renting it out.</p> <p>“Now it is no longer an anonymous property, so the conditions for rent are no longer the same,” the family’s communications manager said.</p> <p>“In addition, for the Crown Prince Couple, this makes a difference compared to the possibility of having some privacy. In addition to that, there is also a safety aspect.”</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the "secret" Swiss chalet. </p>

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4 ways green living can make you healthier

<p>We all know we should be good to the environment, but the benefits sometimes don’t seem like enough of a draw when being green is inconvenient. But here’s the thing: Green living is clean living, and every step you take to be kind to the environment pays you back in health benefits. Read on to find out how being good to Mother Earth is good for your mind, body, and soul.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/13-ways-green-living-can-make-you-healthier"><strong>1. Eating less red meat could lengthen your life</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/13-ways-green-living-can-make-you-healthier"> <p>A study of more than 120,000 men and women found that the more red and processed meats they ate, the more likely they were to die of any cause, including cancer and heart disease. Subbing beef out for poultry or plant-based protein can help you avoid risks like diabetes and stroke, but it’s also doing your part to reduce greenhouse gases. Cattle use more grains and produce more methane than chickens or pigs, and some experts say that giving up beef would be even better for the Earth than giving up your car.</p> </div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/13-ways-green-living-can-make-you-healthier"> <p><strong>2. A reusable water bottle could keep your body functioning normally</strong></p> <p>Humans worldwide create 359 million metric tons of plastic every year, yet only about nine percent of plastic waste has been recycled, according to a study published in the journal<span> </span><a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/">Science Advances</a>. Switching to a reusable water bottle will keep that plastic out of landfills (or cut energy that would normally go toward recycling it), but it can also keep your hormones functioning in the way they should. You might have already heard that bisphenol A (BPA) might disrupt oestrogen, but even though manufacturers are shying away from the chemical, some evidence suggests that one of its substitutes, fluorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF) can block hormones too.</p> <p><strong>3. Local produce could mean more nutrients</strong></p> <div id="page6" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>You’ve heard all about the perks of buying local – you support small businesses and get food that’s as fresh-from-the-farm as it can be. But is there anything really in it for you except a sense of well-being for doing farmers a favour? You bet! The produce in your supermarkets probably spent days in transit before finally reaching your local grocer, and even then it’s spent a few days on the shelves before you take it home – and all the while it’s been losing nutrients. By picking it up from your farmer’s market, though, it can spend less time just reaching its destination, so it’s still in peak ripeness by the time you buy.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/13-ways-green-living-can-make-you-healthier"><strong>4. Growing a garden gives you tasty, eco-friendly food</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/13-ways-green-living-can-make-you-healthier"> <p>If you make space for a garden in your yard, the environment will thank you. A garden provides space where native plants can attract bees – and considering about 35 percent of crops rely on pollinators like bees to help them thrive, helping bees thrive is a big environmental concern – and where you can grow your own produce. Anything that only needs to travel as far as your backyard to your table is using fewer fossil fuels than anything that had to go from a mass-production farm to a supermarket (and then your table). And if those tasty, fresh veggies weren’t enough of a pull, gardening itself torches about 840 to 1770 kilojoules an hour.</p> <div id="page14" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p><em>Source:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/green-living-can-make-you-healthier/" target="_blank">RD.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Written by Marissa Laliberte. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/13-ways-green-living-can-make-you-healthier"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/thought-provokinginspirational/13-ways-green-living-can-make-you-healthier"></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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6 things you didn't know you could compost

<p>As more people aim to lessen their carbon footprint, there’s been a quest to learn about all the things you can upcycle, recycle and compost. And you may be surprised to learn some of the things you can add to your compost bin.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost"><strong>1. Natural-fibre clothes</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost"> <p>If you have natural-fibre clothing – pure wool, cotton, silk, or linen – that is too old or damaged to donate, then cut it up in chunks so it breaks down faster and add it to your compost pile! If you do compost clothes, be sure that there are no synthetic threads, plastic buttons, metal zippers, or stains from motor oil, paint, wood stain and other non-compostable substances.</p> <p><strong>2. Wine corks</strong></p> <p>The next time you’re recycling your wine bottles, throw their corks into the compost pile. Corks are a natural product, and although some wineries are now using plastic corks that look a lot like the real thing, remember that you can compost the wine stoppers if they are made of natural cork.</p> <p><strong>3. Fur, hair and nail clippings</strong></p> <p>If you have a pet pup or cat that sheds more than you like, hopefully you can find at least some solace in the fact that you can compost their fur! You can also clean out your and your family’s hair brushes and add all nail clippings to the compost heap. It may be a little gross but your compost will be happy about it.</p> <p><strong>4. Vacuum bag contents</strong></p> <div id="page9" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Typically, the stuff your vacuum picks up is composed of compostable materials: dust, hair, dirt, etc. In some cases, even the vacuum bag itself can be composted if it’s made from natural products (be sure to check the bag to see what it’s made of). If you have a bagless vacuum, the contents of the dirt collection cup can be dumped directly into your compost pile. So, unless you’re vacuuming up after a glittery birthday party, your vacuum dirt should be okay to compost.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost"><strong>5. Used loofahs and sponges</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost"> <p>If you’re using a natural loofah, then remember that you can tear that thing up and compost it the next time you’re ready to replace it. If you’re currently using synthetic sponges, consider making the switch to a natural one. Man-made sponges can carry germs and add a ton of waste to the environment if you’re going through them regularly.</p> <p><strong>6. Cotton swabs and balls</strong></p> <div id="page10" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Consider adding a tiny compost rubbish bin to your bathroom so you can collect all the compostable bathroom garbage. As long as the cotton swabs you’re using are plastic-free, you can add those to the bin along with cotton balls and toilet paper rolls. Just be sure that the dental floss doesn’t get in there.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost"> <div id="page11" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p><em>Source:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/things-didnt-know-could-compost/" target="_blank">RD.com</a></em></p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost"> <p><em>Written by Hannah Louise. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-compost"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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The science is in: Gardening is good for you

<p>“That’s all very well put,” says Candide, in the final line of Voltaire’s novel of the same name, “but we must go and work our garden.”</p> <p>I studied this text at high school before I became a gardener and professional horticulturist. We were taught that Candide’s gardening imperative was metaphorical not literal; a command for finding an authentic vocation, not a call to take up trowels and secateurs.</p> <p>In fact, Voltaire himself really believed that active gardening was a great way to stay sane, healthy and free from stress. That was 300 years ago.</p> <p>As it turns out, the science suggests he was right.</p> <p><strong>The science of therapeutic horticulture</strong></p> <p>Gardens and landscapes have long been designed as sanctuaries and retreats from the stresses of life – from great urban green spaces such as Central Park in New York to the humblest suburban backyard. But beyond the passive enjoyment of a garden or of being in nature more generally, researchers have also studied the role of actively caring for plants as a therapeutic and educational tool.</p> <p>“Therapeutic horticulture” and “horticultural therapy” have become recognised treatments for stress and depression, which have served as a healing aid in settings ranging from prisons and mental health treatment facilities to schools and hospitals.</p> <p><strong>Gardening and school</strong></p> <p>Studies of school gardening programs – which usually centre on growing food – show that students who have worked on designing, creating and maintaining gardens develop more positive attitudes about health, nutrition and the <a href="http://www.kohalacenter.org/HISGN/pdf/HPP_2011_MMR_Sample1.pdf">consumption</a> of <a href="http://search.proquest.com/openview/61a8bb123ec000d6a6348aeb950645fa/1?pq-origsite=gscholar">vegetables</a>.</p> <p>They also <a href="http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/15/3/439.short">score better</a> on science <a href="http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/syllabi/435/Articles/Klemmer.pdf">achievement</a>, have better attitudes about school, and improve their <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15330150701318828">interpersonal skills</a> and <a href="https://food-hub.org/files/resources/Blair_The%20Child%20in%20the%20Garden_J.%20Environ%20Educ_2009.pdf">classroom behaviour</a>.</p> <p>Research on students confirms that gardening leads to higher levels of self-esteem and responsibility. Research suggests that incorporating gardening into a <a href="http://kohalacenter.org/HISGN/pdf/Thechildinthegarden.pdf">school setting</a> can boost group cohesiveness.</p> <p><strong>Gardening and mental health</strong></p> <p>Tailored gardening programs have been shown to increase quality of life for people with <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J004v16n01_02">chronic mental illnesses</a>, including <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J004v16n01_02">anxiety and depression</a>.</p> <p>Another study on the use of therapeutic horticulture for patients with clinical depression sought to understand why gardening programs were effective in lessening patient experience of depression. They found that structured gardening activities gave patients existential purpose. Put simply, it <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/01612840.2010.528168">gave their lives meaning</a>.</p> <p>In jails and corrective programs, horticultural therapy programs have been used to give inmates positive, purposeful activities that lessen aggression and hostility during and after incarceration.</p> <p>In one detailed study from a San Francisco program, involvement in therapeutic horticulture was particularly effective in <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J076v26n03_10">improving psychosocial functioning</a> across prison populations (although the benefits were not necessarily sustained after release.)</p> <p>Gardening has been shown to help improve the lives of <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacqueline_Atkinson/publication/265575473_AN_EVALUATION_OF_THE_GARDENING_LEAVE_PROJECT_FOR_EX-MILITARY_PERSONNEL_WITH_PTSD_AND_OTHER_COMBAT_RELATED_MENTAL_HEALTH_PROBLEMS/links/55094b960cf26ff55f852b50.pdf">military veterans</a> and <a href="http://www.joe.org/joe/2007june/iw5p.shtml">homeless people</a>. Various therapeutic horticulture <a href="https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/2930">programs</a> have been used to help people with learning difficulties, asylum seekers, refugees and victims of torture.</p> <p><strong>Gardening and older people</strong></p> <p>As populations in the West age, hands-on gardening programs have been used for older people in nursing homes and related facilities.</p> <p>A systematic review of 22 studies of gardening programs for older adults found that gardening was a powerful <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01924788.2013.784942">health-promoting activity</a> across diverse populations.</p> <p>One <a href="http://journals.lww.com/jcrjournal/Abstract/2005/09000/Effects_of_Horticultural_Therapy_on_Mood_and_Heart.8.aspx">study</a> sought to understand if patients recovering from heart attack might benefit from a horticultural therapy program. It concluded:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>[Our] findings indicate that horticultural therapy improves mood state, suggesting that it may be a useful tool in reducing stress. Therefore, to the extent that stress contributes to coronary heart disease, these findings support the role of horticultural therapy as an effective component of cardiac rehabilitation.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Yvir4sm2G7Q"></iframe></div> <p>While the literature on the positive effects of gardening, reflecting both qualitative and quantitative studies, is large, most of these studies are from overseas.</p> <p>Investment in horticultural therapy programs in Australia is piecemeal. That said, there are some standout success stories such as the <a href="https://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/">Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation</a> and the work of nurse <a href="https://www.anmfvic.asn.au/membership/member-profiles/steven-wells">Steven Wells at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre</a> and beyond.</p> <p>Finally, without professionally trained horticulturists none of these programs – in Australia or internationally – can take place.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/65251/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chris-williams-300083">Chris Williams</a>, Lecturer in urban horticulture, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-is-in-gardening-is-good-for-you-65251">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Instagram influencer hits back at online bullies over white doona dust-up

<p>An Aussie Instagram influencer has spoken up after receiving online attacks over her post on a white doona cover.</p> <p>Tasmanian woman Claire is the manager of @thekmartlover, an Instagram page that provides tips and updates on fashion and home décor featuring products from Kmart and other stores in Australia.</p> <p>After posting about a white quilt cover from Kmart with the part of caption reading “white is right” on Friday, she received messages calling her “racist” and “white supremacist”.</p> <p>She then replaced the line “white is right” with: “Can you beat a white quilt cover for a relaxing entrance to a bedroom? I love it!”</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/B7sdBqAJPEK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=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/B7sdBqAJPEK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Can you beat a white quilt cover for a relaxing entrance to a bedroom? I love it! This is the @kmartaus waffle quilt cover, $45 for the king. Of course it’s teamed with the stunning new $69 wool blend shirred rug and poppy cushion $12. Decorative ladder $25 and throw (old stock sorry) also from Kmart Bed @freedom_australia</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/thekmartlover/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> • C L A I R E •</a> (@thekmartlover) on Jan 23, 2020 at 11:48pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>On Saturday, Claire spoke about the controversy on Instagram Story. “I’m not racist. I was purely talking about a bloody doona cover and it does hurt. It hurts me. I put in time to this page. It’s my page,” she said.</p> <p>She shared another post addressing the controversy.</p> <p>“This week I have been trolled for having too many hats and contributing to landfill. This week I have been trolled as being racist for saying ‘white is right’ about the depicted doona cover. This week I have been trolled for having too many clothes and that I should donated more, that I am wasteful, not thoughtful and that I should influence people in a far better way,” she wrote.</p> <p>“I am using my voice so that hopefully this changes the mindset of one person out there that has thought about writing something negative in any online forum.”</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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7vDSUUJAW7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=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="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/B7vDSUUJAW7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by • C L A I R E • (@thekmartlover)</a> on Jan 25, 2020 at 12:01am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>She encouraged her 111,000 followers to support her collaboration t-shirt project with Small Print Design. For every t-shirt sold, $5 will be donated to anti-bullying organisation Bully Zero.</p> <p>Claire told <em><a href="https://10daily.com.au/lifestyle/life/a200127crina/it-hurts-me-aussie-instagram-influencer-viciously-attacked-over-white-doona-cover-20200128">10daily</a></em>, “If you do not like it, then simply unfollow and use your time in another manner. Obviously a message of mine is Just Be Kind. A little kindness goes a long way.”</p>

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House of horrors: Dr. Phil's Beverly Hills mansion hits the market for $8.3 million

<p>If there has ever been a house to cause such a wave of disbelief in shock, it is the Beverly Hills mansion of Dr. Phil McGraw which just hit the market for AUD $8.3 million.</p> <p>The star of the Dr. Phil Show has put his house up for sale and it quickly went viral for its quirky, and quite frankly strange, features.</p> <p>From the bejewelled bear and rabbit figurines beneath a wall of guns, to a purple egg chair draping from the ceiling directly across from a massive piece of artwork that reads “f*ck” on it, this home has every eccentric momentum that you could squeeze into a five bedroom, six bathroom house.</p> <p>The images of inside the uniquely designed mansion quickly spread quickly once a Los<em> Angeles Times</em> writer tweeted a collection of interior shots of the house in question.</p> <p>The interesting décor choices and eccentric, out-of-the-box quirks got the attention of over 26,000 people who liked the post.</p> <p>Records show Dr. Phil purchased the home in 2007 however it appears the TV star has never actually lived there.</p> <p>The insane décor choices seem to be the choice of his son, Jordan, who currently calls the place home.</p> <p>He went on to clarify the wall of guns is actually “an anti-gun art installation”.</p> <p>The mansion features five bedrooms and six bathrooms, and the master suite has a private balcony. In true Californian style, there also includes also a dining gazebo, outdoor fireplace, swimming pool, and jacuzzi.</p> <p>On top of that there is a dedicated billiards room and wine cellar. </p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the inside of the home up close.</p>

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6 things you never knew you could put in the washing machine

<p>Bring it on.</p> <p><strong>1. Stuffed animals</strong></p> <p>Place each stuffed animal in its own mesh laundry bag and set your machine to wash and rinse. Use cold water (warm or hot water could melt the toy’s glue) and half the regular amount of detergent. Run the animals through a second rinse cycle to remove all the soap, and allow them to air dry. Fluff fur as needed.</p> <p><strong>2. Sneakers</strong></p> <p>Remove the laces from canvas or nylon sneakers and slip them into a cotton pillowcase where they won’t get tangled. Take out any inner soles or padding from the sneakers and toss the shoes and pillowcase into your washer (if you’re concerned about the shoes causing a racket, throw in a few towels as well). Add the regular amount of detergent, plus a dash of vinegar to deodorise. Set your machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle. Allow the shoes and shoelaces to air dry.</p> <p><strong>3. Pillows</strong></p> <p>Wash pillows two at a time in a warm-water gentle cycle. To ensure you’re washing out all the soap, add an extra cold-water rinse and spin, advises Good Housekeeping. To fluff things up, dry the pillows on low heat, along with a few rubber dryer balls.</p> <p><strong>4. Backpacks and lunch boxes</strong></p> <p>Open all of your backpack’s pockets and check for any items that might be hidden. If there are large pieces of crumbs or debris, use your vacuum cleaner’s crevice attachment to do a thorough pre-cleaning. Put your backpack into a laundry bag or pillowcase and wash it on a gentle cycle in cold water with a small amount of gentle detergent. Allow to air dry.</p> <p><strong>5. Bath mats and small rugs</strong></p> <p>Take the mat outside and shake it to remove any loose dirt, and then load the rug into the washing machine with a few bath towels to balance the load. Set the machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle, and add half the regular amount of detergent. Allow the mat to air dry (never put a rubber-backed mat into the dryer).</p> <div id="page12" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine"><strong>6. Pet beds</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine"> <p>Foam pet beds can be cleaned whenever you see fit. Remove the bed’s outside cover and place it in the washing machine with cold water and regular detergent. To clean the foam piece, fill your bathtub halfway with warm water. Add a scoop of laundry detergent and sink the bed into the soapy water. Empty the soap water from the tub and refill with clean water. Rinse the foam out and place it in the sun to air dry. Replace the foam cover and zip it up.</p> <div id="page16" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p><em>Source:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/washing-machine-suprising-items/" target="_blank">RD.com</a></em></p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine"><em>Written by Juliana LaBianca. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine">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=WRN93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></em></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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Why you should clean with herbs

<div class="page-header clearfix"> <div class="tg-container"> <div class="detailPageHeader"> <div class="postIntro">Homemade herbal cleaning products are mostly composed of just one main substance – the cleaning agent – which means that you're not paying for bulking additives, artificial colours or perfumes. You can choose the type and strength of the scent you want; fresh herbs or essential oils almost invariably leave a delightfully fresh, clean smell.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="tg-container categorySection detailSection"> <div id="primary" class="contentAreaLeft"> <div class="share-buttons"> <div class="addthis_inline_share_toolbox" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/home-tips/why-clean-with-herbs" data-title="Why clean with herbs? | Reader's Digest Australia" data-description="Homemade herbal cleaning products are mostly composed of just one main substance – the cleaning agent – which means that you're not paying for bulking additives, artificial colours or perfumes. You can choose the type and strength of the scent you want; fresh herbs or essential oils almost invariably leave a delightfully fresh, clean smell."> <div id="atstbx" class="at-resp-share-element at-style-responsive addthis-smartlayers addthis-animated at4-show" aria-labelledby="at-029fd6d1-4439-4dc9-8fe6-9e3c12bc7441"> <div class="Maincontent"> <p>There is also gathering evidence that links the use of chemical cleaners such as bleach with the development of asthma in both children and adults. Some chemicals can set off allergic reactions or contact dermatitis in sensitive people. And one 2010 US study discovered that women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant had a higher incidence of birth defects in their children.</p> <p>So, whether you’re already committed to a greener way of cleaning or you just want to save money and simplify your life a little, herbal cleaning makes a lot of sense.</p> <p>Try these two recipes to clean your surfaces and floors, the easy way, with the power of herbs.</p> <h4>All-purpose herb vinegar spray</h4> <p>This all-purpose, environmentally friendly, non-toxic spray is great to have on hand for wiping, cleaning and deodorising almost every surface (except marble). If you don’t have any fresh herbs, add drops of essential oil instead.</p> <p><strong>Ingredients</strong></p> <ul class="no-bullet"> <li>fresh or dried herbs (you can also use herbal tea bags)</li> <li>distilled white vinegar</li> </ul> <p><strong>Preparation</strong></p> <ol> <li>Roughly chop 1 to 2 large handfuls of fresh or dried herbs (such as lemon verbena, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm or lavender), or place 5 to 10 tea bags in the bottom of a wide-mouthed glass jar.</li> <li>Add vinegar to fill the jar. Replace the lid, leave for a few days to infuse, then strain out the herbs. (If you are using tea bags, you can gently warm the vinegar before pouring to ensure maximum diffusion.)</li> <li>Decant into a plastic spray bottle. This spray is perfectly safe and very effective to use at full-strength, but it can also be diluted half-and-half with water for lighter jobs.</li> </ol> <h4>Eucalyptus floor wash</h4> <p>With its powerful natural antiseptic, disinfectant and cleaning properties, eucalyptus oil can be put to work in every room of the house. This simple solution can be used on both timber and lino floors. When washing a timber floor, remember not to saturate it. Your mop should be damp, not dripping wet, and the floor should be well-swept or vacuumed before mopping.</p> <p><strong>Ingredients</strong></p> <ul class="no-bullet"> <li>1 teaspoon eucalyptus oil</li> <li>2 tablespoons methylated spirits</li> <li>5 litres hot water (about half a bucket)</li> </ul> <p><strong>Preparation</strong></p> <ol> <li>Combine all the ingredients in a bucket.</li> <li>Wring out a mop in the solution and use it to damp mop the floor. Leave to dry; you don’t need to rinse.</li> </ol> <p><em>Written by Reader's Digest. </em><em>This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/home-tips/why-clean-with-herbs"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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They paid WHAT? 5 most expensive celeb houses of 2019

<p>Celebrities live a life of luxury, so it makes sense that these luxuries would also extend to the places they call home. Here are the 5 most expensive real estate transactions done by celebrities for 2019.</p> <p><strong>5. Tommy Hilfiger</strong></p> <p>The 68-year-old fashion designer and founder of Tommy Hilfiger finally sold his Plaza Hotel penthouse after a shocking 11 years on the market. The home is 6,050 square feet and has just four bedrooms. There is a formal dining room that features mirrored walls and the penthouse features a grand salon with 10-foot high ceilings, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/watch-tommy-and-dee-hilfiger-give-a-tour-of-their-stunning-plaza-hotel-apartment" target="_blank">Architectural Digest</a></em>.</p> <p>The penthouse sold for a shocking $USD 33.25 million ($NZD 49.93 million).</p> <p><strong>4. Mark Zuckerberg</strong></p> <p>The founder of Facebook kept the details of this sale very private as he purchased a home in Lake Tahoe for $USD 37 million ($NZD 56 million).</p> <p>The Brushwood Estate features a 5,322 square foot main house with six bedrooms as well as a separate guesthouse and a private dock, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://variety.com/2019/dirt/news/mark-zuckerberg-lake-tahoe-houses-1203209603/" target="_blank">Variety</a></em>.</p> <p>The home was built in 1964 and also features rolling lawns as well as a lakeview jacuzzi.</p> <p>The home adds to the smaller property he purchased earlier for $USD 22 million ($NZD 33.1 million) and now has a compound of up to 10 acres with 600 feet of uninterrupted lake views.</p> <p><strong>3. Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo</strong></p> <p>The power couple were ready to say goodbye to their mansion in Beverly Hills, but it wouldn’t be an easy one as their mansion is a three-story Tudor-style home.</p> <p>The sprawling 10,376 foot mansion features five bedrooms, twelve bathrooms and features crown moulding in many of the common living areas on the first floor.</p> <p>The master suite of the mansion includes a lofted ceiling, a private terrace and an en suite bathroom that has a luxurious free-standing tub, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ellen-degeneres-buys-adam-levines-beverly-hills-mansion" target="_blank">Architectural Digest</a>.</em></p> <p>The home sold to another power couple Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia Di Rossi for $USD 45 million ($NZD 68.05 million).</p> <p><strong>2. Sting</strong></p> <p>The iconic musician bought a luxurious 5,807 square feet penthouse which has three bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. Although it’s not as large as some of the other mansions, it appears that stars are paying for the location as it’s on Billionaire’s Row at 220 Central Park South, according to<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.realestate.com.au/news/sting-drops-nearly-96-million-on-penthouse-in-recordbreaking-new-york-building/" target="_blank">realestate.com.au.</a></p> <p>With few details being made public about the actual apartment, there are little to no photos of this listing that he bought for a shocking USD $66 million (NZD$ 99.29 million)</p> <p><strong>1. Jeff Bezos</strong></p> <p>Last but not least, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased a trio of Manhattan apartments for a combined whopping $USD 80 million ($NZD 120.32 million).</p> <p>The sizeable buy included a three-story five-bedroom penthouse apartment as well as the other two units he purchased which overlook Madison Square Park.</p> <p>The combined space of all three units create a massive 17,000 square foot, 12-bedroom estate.</p> <p>The penthouse alone has nearly 6,000 square feet of terraces and has four exposures facing the Madison Square Park. The penthouse also includes a private elevator, a grand ballroom and a library with a marble and glass fireplace, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-buys-manhattan-penthouse-apartment-80-million-2019-6?r=US&amp;IR=T" target="_blank">Business Insider</a></em>.</p> <p><em>Photo credits:</em></p> <p><em>Tommy Hilfiger’s penthouse:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/17/photos-tommy-hilfigers-nyc-penthouse-sold-for-millions.html" target="_blank">CNBC</a><span> </span>&amp; Sothesby’s International Realty | Travis Mark</em></p> <p><em>Mark Zuckerberg’s Lake Tahoe mansion:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://variety.com/2019/dirt/news/mark-zuckerberg-lake-tahoe-houses-1203209603/" target="_blank">Variety</a><span> </span>&amp; Oliver Luxury Real Estate</em></p> <p><em>Adam Levine’s Tudor-style mansion:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ellen-degeneres-buys-adam-levines-beverly-hills-mansion" target="_blank">Architectural Digest</a><span> </span>&amp; Simon Berlyn / Berlyn Photography 2019</em></p> <p><em>Jeff Bezos’ trio of Manhattan apartments:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://visualhouse.co/work/212-fifth-avenue/" target="_blank">Visual House</a>­  <span> </span><span> </span></em></p>

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5 of the best air-cleaning plants according to NASA

<p>The best plants are the ones that do double duty – and all of these purify your air of toxic chemicals. Even better, they’re easy to grow. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, our homes can have three to five times more pollutants than the outdoors. You could be living in a “sick” house and not realize it: Substances like xylene (in paint and lacquers), benzene (furniture wax, insect sprays) trichloroethylene (cleaners, adhesives), and formaldehyde (upholstery, air fresheners) – can produce symptoms like headaches, sore throats, or allergy-like breathing troubles. The NASA Clean Air Study was designed to find effective and simple ways to detox the air in the space station – and it reveals that common house plants have air purifying superpowers.</p> <p><strong>1. Boston Fern</strong></p> <p><span>Boston ferns are native to tropical forests and swamp areas so they will thrive in low light and high humidity – they’re ideal for your bathroom. The moisture from your shower will hydrate the plant, requiring little extra care from you. Besides being a pretty and decorative addition to your bathroom, the Boston fern helps remove xylene and – the NASA study revealed – it was the top house plant for removing formaldehyde.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Spider plant</strong></p> <p>Talk about a plant that keeps giving. It removes impurities from the air like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. NASA’s study found that spider plants removed 95 per cent of formaldehyde from a sealed plexiglass chamber in 24 hours. Even better, the main plant sends out shoots, called “spiderettes” that flower and eventually grow into baby spider plants that you can transplant. That also helps: Research indicates that people are more relaxed and happy after caring for plants – say, for example, when they’re re-potting them.</p> <p><strong>3. Bamboo plant</strong></p> <p>This plant boasts elegance and height in addition to removing harmful elements like benzene and formaldehyde. Bamboo palms also help keep indoor air moist, making it a welcome addition in dry winter months. This palm takes a bit more care: It loves bright, but not direct sunlight and needs monthly fertilising and regular misting; when it outgrows its container (every two to three years), you’ll need to re-pot it.</p> <p><strong>4. Devil’s ivy</strong></p> <p>Devil’s ivy is actually quite angelic. It’s considered one of the most effective indoor air purifiers from benzene, formaldehyde and xylene. Plus, if you’re new to growing house plants, this is a great first plant to get. It’s lush, hardy and inexpensive. Another nice feature is that it can grow up to 2.5 metres long and in a variety of directions. In a hanging basket, it will trail downwards. Place it a pot and train it to climb a totem or trellis or place in a pot on a mantle or coffee table and let it grow horizontally.</p> <p><strong>5. Gerbera</strong></p> <p>These colourful and cheerful daisies were mainly outdoor plants until florists started using them in arrangements. Grown indoors, they can produce flowers at any time of the year, in white, red, orange, pink and purple. The flowers usually last around four to six weeks, but even without the flowers, the gerbera or Barberton daisy has lush, dark green leaves that are effective at filtering out formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. They are most happy with full sun and plenty of water and well-drained soil.</p> <p><em><span>Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. Republished with permission of </span></em><span><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/top-spot-australians-retire-2019/"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>.</em></span></p>

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3 things a first-time gardener needs to know

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As it’s the beginning of a new year, many are thinking about what kind of hobbies they’d like to take in 2020. If gardening is on your list, here are three things that beginner gardeners need to know.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Don’t start too big</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Beginner gardeners might just see what kind of seeds they want to grow and begin planting, but according to Barbara Murphy, a master gardener coordinator and horticulturist with the University of Maine, this is the opposite of what you should do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Starting too large is the most common mistake made by first-time gardeners,” said Barbara Murphy, a master gardener coordinator and horticulturist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension for 23 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Limit yourself to 10 feet by 10 feet, [3 metres by 3 metres]” she says. “If you grow frustrated because of too many things happening the first year, there’s a good chance you won’t feel like gardening for a second. You can always expand as your skills develop.”</span></p> <p><strong>2. Know your soil</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Knowing what your garden needs soil wise is vital for success.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Good soil preparation is important to success, but be patient,” said Rosie Lerner, an extension horticulturist with Purdue University to <a href="https://www.staradvertiser.com/2020/01/05/features/advice-to-first-time-gardeners-think-small-and-find-your-spot/"><em>Star Advertiser</em></a>. “Don’t force the soil when it’s wet. Soil structures will compact and get tight. That makes it tough for water and air to move through and greatly inhibits growth.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Squeeze the soil gently in your hand. If it crumbles a bit when squeezed, it’s ready for use. “It can take a long time to get good soil texture, and just minutes to destroy it if you work it while it’s too wet,” Lerner said.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Get rid of insects as quickly as possible</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Insects are bad news for growing gardens.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Make regular visits to your garden to check for plant pests,” Murphy said. “Don’t worry about the adults. You want to go after the eggs before they develop into juvenile leaf cutters. Most eggs are on the underside of leaves. Use soapy water and picking or simply remove the infested leaves.”</span></p>

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5 appliances you’re shortening the life of through misuse

<p>Buying electronics and appliances can be a huge investment, and when something goes wrong with them, it can also cause a huge headache. So, of course, you want to keep everything working for as long as possible. While many of us blame the seemingly shorter lifespan of these products on the fact that things just aren’t made like they used to be, that’s not entirely true. It turns out that much of the time, the culprit is us! Read on for the mistakes you probably don’t even realise you’re making, which can cause the early demise of everything from your laptop and your phone to your stove and your toaster.</p> <p><strong>1. Laptop</strong></p> <p>There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that goes from on the fritz to suddenly needing to be replaced. It turns out the key to keeping our laptops longer is turning them off at least once a day. This allows the operating system to install software updates and patches so everything can run smoothly and up to snuff. Another mistake that causes the early demise of this essential and expensive device? Failing to install anti-virus and malware programs.</p> <p><strong>2. Smartphone</strong></p> <p>If you feel you need to replace your smartphone way before the newest one comes out, it’s probably because you’re letting it overheat. According to <em>PCMag</em>, a major cause of this is something most of us are guilty of: charging our devices overnight. In fact, your phone is at risk of overheating every time you keep it plugged in with a full battery.</p> <p>And while many of us know it’s best to leave our phone at home when we go to the pool or beach, water damage isn’t the biggest risk. An article from <em>Time</em> reveals that too much heat exposure from the sun can cause lots of problems, including battery leakage and loss of data.</p> <p><strong>3. Vacuum</strong></p> <p>No one wants to empty the dirt cup after vacuuming your entire home or even before you vacuum, but an overfilled unit will not only run less efficiently – it will also ultimately shorten the life of the appliance. While most bagless units have a line indicating it’s time to empty the cup, it’s less obvious for bag machines. A sudden decrease in suction is a good indicator.</p> <p><strong>4. Car</strong></p> <p>A good car doesn’t come cheap, and to get yours to last as long as possible, you can’t skimp on regular maintenance. One biggie: oil changes. If you wait too long to change the oil, you’re asking for trouble. So how often are you really supposed to be doing this? According to Cars.com, it depends on the make and model of your car. Check the owner’s manual. Changing the oil keeps the corrosive material and debris out of your engine, so if you live in a city, it’s best to change the oil even a little sooner than the manufacturer recommends.</p> <p><strong>5. Fridge</strong></p> <p>If you have a big family and you find yourself with a fridge that’s constantly full, it might be time to consider buying a larger one. That’s because overloading it places pressure on the fan blades, causing them to work improperly or even break.</p> <p>Cleaning the fridge is another way you can extend its life. The coils, the internal mechanism and the outside of the fridge need to be cleaned on a regular basis.</p> <p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.rd.com/advice/ways-youre-damaging-home-appliances/">RD.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Written by Amanda Lauren. This article first appeared in </em><em><span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/12-ways-youre-shortening-the-life-of-your-home-appliances">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=WRN93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p>

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10 things in your house that a professional organiser would throw out

<p>An expert organiser shares her list of the top 26 things she’d throw out without a second thought.</p> <p><strong>1. Flimsy kitchen utensils</strong></p> <p>The wine opener that never works well enough is just one of the tosses you can make from your utensil drawer. Professional organisers would also ditch the slotted spoons and pancake turners that bend under the weight of food. And add the garlic press that is too delicate to mince a clove of garlic to the toss pile.</p> <p><strong>2. Reference material</strong></p> <p>You’ll rarely find a space-hogging phone book in a professional organiser’s home. They also let go of encyclopaedia sets and textbooks; consider donating those. And unless you need the thesaurus and dictionary for playing Scrabble, pass those on, too.</p> <p><strong>3. Expired things</strong></p> <p>While frozen, fresh and canned foods come to mind, these are not the only things in your home that expire. Once they reach their best by date, it’s recommended to throw out medications, vitamins and supplements.</p> <p><strong>4. Storage solutions</strong></p> <p>Professional organisers love storage solutions but not every container works well. If the bin, basket or box didn’t solve your problem, then throw it out; otherwise, it just adds to your clutter. Consider passing along storage containers to a teacher who might need them.</p> <p><strong>5. Outdated technology</strong></p> <p>The VCR and boom box have been replaced with more up-to-date technology, so get rid of the old stuff. Recycle floppy disks and ancient laptops, obsolete phones, VHS tapes and more through an e-waste program.</p> <p><strong>6. Parts for discarded items</strong></p> <p>Toss the accessories and instruction booklets that go with things you no longer own, like the tiny bag with a spare button for the blouse you donated and the owner’s manual for the television you had ten years ago.</p> <p><strong>7. Secret stash</strong></p> <p>Even professional organisers keep odd things like those plastic clips from bags of bread or rinsed out glass jars. The key is to know when you are saving too many, and they are becoming clutter. For example, if you’ve kept every rubber band from every fresh produce purchase, then it is time to throw some away.</p> <p><strong>8. Awards and trophies</strong></p> <p>Just because it has your name engraved on it does not mean you have to keep it forever. Professional organisers preserve the memory by taking a photo of the accolade, then they donate the trophies, plaques, or awards of excellence through sports medal recycling programs.</p> <p><strong>9. Fad clutter</strong></p> <p>You could not resist that 2 a.m. infomercial and now you’re the owner of the latest craze in kitchen appliances, workshop tools, or some other must-have item that you never use. Professional organisers remind you that keeping the item won’t bring back the money you spent; so it’s best to pass it along to an organisation or friend that will accept it.</p> <p><strong>10. Clothes hangers</strong></p> <p>You’ll rarely find empty hangers taking up space in a professional organiser’s closet. Clear the clutter by returning the wire ones to the dry cleaners. Then let go of the other unused hangers like the ones with weak clips and the small hangers that don’t slide on the closet bar.</p> <p><em>Written by Handyman. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/26-things-your-house-professional-organiser-would-throw-out"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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6 home improvement projects that practically pay for themselves

<p>These smart upgrades pay off big in resale value and enjoyment of your home.</p> <p><strong>1. Give cabinets a new life</strong></p> <p>“Replacing your cabinets is a huge cost that is not completely necessary if the cabinets are less than ten years old, functional, and made from a high-quality wood,” says John Milligan, Product Development Manager at N-Hance Wood Refinishing. Refinishing can cost around $3,000 to $8,000 and can potentially bump up the value of your home between 3 and 7 percent.</p> <p><strong>2. The biggest bang for your buck</strong></p> <p>A fresh coat of paint instantly updates and transforms the entire interior of your home, and when you consider the relatively low cost of paint, it’s about the biggest bang for your buck you can get. “Greys are back in vogue, and create a neutral palette that lets your decor really pop,” says Steve Frellick, licensed contractor and founder/broker of Yonder Luxury Vacation Rentals.</p> <p><strong>3. Roll up the carpet</strong></p> <p>If you’re lucky, your wall-to-wall carpet will last about ten years. Well-maintained hardwood floors, on the other hand, last for at least 25 years. “Hardwood floors have a massive appeal and add an extreme level of warmth and comfort in your home and a definite return on your investment,” says Frellick. In fact, a recent Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors showed that a whopping 91 percent of the cost is recovered.</p> <p><strong>4. Exterior facelift</strong></p> <p>New cladding is like a facelift for the house, resulting in enhanced curb appeal. But replacing worn out cladding isn’t just about looks: damaged cladding creates moisture and mould, and it leaves insulation exposed, causing your heating and cooling bills to skyrocket.</p> <p><strong>5. The grass is always greener in your yard</strong></p> <p>Dragging out and moving sprinklers every week is not only time-consuming; it adds to your water bill. A better idea? Drip irrigation. “This puts water where plants need it – at the root zone – and it uses much less water over time, as the emitters are placed right near the plants and drip at a reduced rate,” says plant merchant Tyler Davis. It’s easy to install, and will pay for itself in a short time with water savings, he adds. A green and well-manicured lawn can add $2,000 to $7,000 to the resale value of your home.</p> <p><strong>6. Give yourself some space</strong></p> <p>Creating more usable space is something you’ll never regret, whether you use it for storage or more living space. “Having a finished basement or attic can be as simple as putting up and painting gyprock and putting down flooring,” says Shayanfekr. The costs will vary greatly depending on the square metreage and materials used, but the Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors shares that you’ll generally recoup over 50 percent of costs at sale time.</p> <p><em>Source: </em><a href="https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/home-projects-pay-for-themselves/"><em>RD.com</em></a></p> <p><em>Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/home-tips/12-home-improvement-projects-practically-pay-themselves"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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How to increase the curb appeal of your home in a weekend

<p>Whether your goal is to add value to your home to sell, or you’re just looking to get your home entertainment-ready for summer, there are three DIY projects you can complete in a weekend that will greatly increase the curb appeal of your home.</p> <p><strong>1. Repaint concrete exteriors</strong></p> <p>Painting an unsightly or worn concrete pathway, landing or wall is one of the most dramatic (and easy) home improvements you can make. With a little prep and some specialty concrete paint you can avoid the pricey task of having to replace the concrete and have it looking like new again.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>PREPARATION IS KEY.</strong> Remove any lose concrete with a scraper, wire brush or sandpaper then scrub the surface clean with a strong detergent and stiff bristle broom and hose off with clean water. This will stop your paint from lifting and ensure long lasting results. Don’t skip this step! 
</li> <li><strong>ROUGHT IT UP.</strong> In order for your surface to really grip the paint, you need to make sure the surface is rough (it should feel like 180 grit sandpaper). If the surface is smooth, prep with White Knight Ultra Pave Concrete Etcher. If your surface is already fairly rough you can skip this step. 
</li> <li><strong>TIME TO PAINT.</strong> Using a roller and tray, first start on the large areas. Using White Knight Ultra Pave Quick Dry, start by painting the far corner and then work backwards so you don’t paint yourself into a corner. If you didn’t use a concrete etcher, I recommend thinning the first coat of paint with 20% water to help with adhesion. Your concrete area will be touch-dry in 30 minutes and ready to be recoated in two hours.</li> </ul> <p><strong>2. Paint the front door</strong></p> <p>Painting your front door and even your shutters is another easy way to improve the exterior of your home and help to leave a lasting impression.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT.</strong> Select a hardwearing concrete paint such as Ultra Pave which is designed to withstand Australia’s harsh climate. 
</li> <li><strong>DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.</strong> Remember, paint isn’t permanent so have fun with it. Try a strong contrast colour for maximum visual impact. Think red against a white frame and brick wall, bright yellow against navy, or deep blue on white. 
</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Landscape</strong></p> <p>Last but certainly not least, a little bit of landscaping can do wonders to improve the curb appeal of your home.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>ADD SOME COLOUR </strong>A vibrant flower bed can lift the feel of any home.</li> </ul> <p><em>This is a guest post by Dale Vine, former Block contestant and </em><a href="http://www.whiteknightpaints.com.au/"><em>White Knight </em></a><em>Ambassador. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/how-increase-curb-appeal-your-home-weekend"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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