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How to ripen avocados in just 2 minutes

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

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Home gardens vital for pollinators

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

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How to Block out the Neighbours

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

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5 food safety tips for proper food handling

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

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Expert laundry tips you’ll wish you knew sooner

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

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Ten gardening tips for beginners

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

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Why clean indoor air is so important

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

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The top six benefits of decluttering your home

<p>We all collect a lot of material possessions during our lives and if we don’t declutter at some stage, it can become overwhelming later on down the track when you find you have so much stuff, you can hardly move.</p> <p>So, here are some extra reasons to motivate you to start decluttering your home now.</p> <p>By decluttering your home and you will end up decluttering your life and it doesn’t need to be as painful as you might think.</p> <p>There are many benefits to owning fewer possessions. Even though it can feel tough to move into action, once these benefits reveal themselves, you’ll be so glad you did.</p> <p><strong>1. Less to clean</strong>: Cleaning is already enough of a chore, but having to clean in and around things you have don’t really want or need makes cleaning your home so much more stressful. With less in your home, cleaning will be easier.</p> <p><strong>2. Less to organise</strong>: When you declutter, finding things will suddenly become so much easier. Things won’t just ‘disappear’ anymore. You can actually move around your home and enjoy the space, instead of moving around things which are in your way and cause you stress because you know you don’t need them.</p> <p><strong>3. Less stress:</strong> Looking around at your clutter can be a sickening sight when your home is cluttered. Once you declutter, you’ll be able to look around and enjoy some possessions and feel more relaxed in the home you love.</p> <p><strong>4. Less debt:</strong> When you declutter, you realise you don’t need to shop for so many material possessions and this will keep your wallet and bank accounts fuller. Your credit cards will be used less and your home won’t get filled with costly things you don’t need.</p> <p><strong>5. More financial freedom: </strong>Many of us can live from week to week on our pay cheque or our retirement income. But when you combine decluttering with minimalism, this will help you build up your savings so you have something there in case of an unexpected emergency.</p> <p><strong>6. More energy for your greatest passions: </strong>With less debt, more financial freedom and a clean home, you can now focus your energy on the things you enjoy instead of worrying about what else you need to buy or what else you need to throw out. Ultimately, decluttering will make you happier!</p> <p><em>Photo: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Handyman builds his wife a pub in their garage for just $300

<p>After eight weeks in lockdown, one Sydney man has had enough. </p> <p>Unable to visit the pub due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Daniel Rule decided to bring the pub to him. </p> <p>His wife Kaylyn told <em>Sunrise</em> that she had mentioned to her husband that lockdown was making her miss going to her local pub for a cold one.</p> <p>Agreeing with her, Daniel pulled his resources and decided to build a pub in the garage of their Sydney home. </p> <p><span>“I honestly didn’t think it would happen as fast as it did - it was all done within a couple of hours,” Kaylyn told the Channel Seven breakfast show.</span></p> <p><span>The impressive set-up features a bar bench made out of wooden pallets, flashing lights and bar stools. </span></p> <p><span>Daniel purchased all the materials at a cost of $300, after browsing Bunnings Warehouse and local businesses on Facebook Marketplace. </span></p> <p><span>Kaylyn decided to document the construction process on her TikTok account, and the video has been viewed over half a million times. </span></p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">In the video, Daniel creates the bar by nailing together wooden pallets before sanding down the surface and applying varnish.</p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">He also mounts two shelves to the back bar to hold alcohol and a television for watching their favourite sports.</p> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">Kalyn said the reaction to the video has been “crazy”.</p> <div class="hide-print ad-no-notice css-qyun7f-StyledAdUnitWrapper ezkyf1c0"> <p class="css-1316j2p-StyledParagraph e4e0a020">“I just wanted to make the video so I could show our friends and family - we honestly didn’t think it would blow up like this.”</p> <div class="hide-print css-drbrjk-StyledCardContainer e148s7sr3"> <div class="e148s7sr1 Card-Media css-m8orbs-StyledMedia-StyledCardMedia e1m2h3dd6"> <div class="Card-Media-Content css-1kaoam0-StyledMediaContent e1m2h3dd7"><em>Image credit: TikTok @kaylyn.rule</em></div> </div> </div> </div>

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Prince Charles implores big business to help us ‘go green’

<p>Prince Charles has made an impassioned plea to global business leaders, imploring them to help us ‘go green’, following huge bushfires that recently ripped through Greece as well as unprecedented storms in Haiti.</p> <p>The prince wrote this call to business leaders in the <em>Daily Mail, </em>saying businesses with money have a critical role to play, and that if we unlock this private sector investment, we could bring about a 'game-changing green transition'.</p> <p>Talking about the devastating bushfires in his beloved Greece, Prince Charles wrote the scenes of these fires have been 'terrifying' and 'the stuff of nightmares'.</p> <p>He tells of his heartbreak at seeing the land where his father and grandfather were born being 'swallowed up by ferocious flames' and warns that 'time is rapidly running out'.</p> <p>'We now have no alternative,’ he writes, ‘… we have to do all we possibly can in the short time left to us to avoid the enormous climate catastrophe that has already begun to show its face in the most terrifying ways.’</p> <p><strong>We have time left, ‘but only just’</strong></p> <p>Prince Charles writes, there is time to address the crisis, 'but only just'.</p> <p>The prince wants leading companies to sign up to his 'Terra Carta', a charter which commits them to putting sustainability at the heart of all their business activities.</p> <p>More than 400 have so far, but Charles warns the crisis is 'monumental' and can be tackled only by big business and governments working together.</p> <p>Warning that weather-related disasters should serve as a wake-up call, the prince writes: 'We have been in the 'last chance saloon' for too long already, so if we do not confront the monumental challenge head on - and fast - we and the world as we know it will be done for.'</p> <p><img class="post_image_group" src="https://over60.monday.com/protected_static/657795/resources/279481326/big-Bushfires%20in%20Greece%20UM.jpg" alt="" data-asset_id="279481326" data-url-thumb="https://over60.monday.com/protected_static/657795/resources/279481326/thumb-Bushfires%20in%20Greece%20UM.jpg" data-url-thumb-small="https://over60.monday.com/protected_static/657795/resources/279481326/thumb_small-Bushfires%20in%20Greece%20UM.jpg" data-url-thumb-big-scaled="https://over60.monday.com/protected_static/657795/resources/279481326/thumb_big_scaled-Bushfires%20in%20Greece%20UM.jpg" data-url-large="https://over60.monday.com/protected_static/657795/resources/279481326/large-Bushfires%20in%20Greece%20UM.jpg" data-url-big="https://over60.monday.com/protected_static/657795/resources/279481326/big-Bushfires%20in%20Greece%20UM.jpg" data-url-original="https://over60.monday.com/protected_static/657795/resources/279481326/Bushfires%20in%20Greece%20UM.jpg" data-filename="Bushfires in Greece UM.jpg" data-is-gif="false" data-post-id="1129824677" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7843343/bushfires-in-greece-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b62701f2e6ec4bf6aa76d00c19998c81" /></p> <p><strong>This call to big business is significant</strong></p> <p>While Prince Charles has been vocal about climate change before, this challenge to big business is a significant intervention from his previous actions.</p> <p>It comes in the wake of a stark report from the United Nations' panel on climate change earlier this month which warned of unprecedented global warming and which was described as a 'code red' moment for humanity.</p> <p>On 31st October to the 12 November, Britain will host <a rel="noopener" href="mailto:https://ukcop26.org/" target="_blank">COP26, the UN's climate change conference</a>, in Glasgow, which is seen by some as one of the last chances for major nations to agree an approach to prevent potentially catastrophic global warming.</p> <p>Prince Charles has been a pioneer in highlighting environmental issues. Last year, he launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative at the World Economic Forum in Davos in a bid to accelerate global progress on sustainability.</p> <p>The 'Terra Carta' is one of its flagship initiatives. It aims to provide a roadmap for businesses to move towards an ambitious and sustainable future by 2030.</p> <p>Its concept is based on the 1215 Magna Carta, and aimed at holding major companies accountable for helping to protect the planet.</p> <p>In today's article for the <em>Daily Mail</em>, the prince says we have been 'testing our world to destruction' and it is now up to all of us to get involved to combat climate change.</p> <p>The prince also made a significant private donation to the Hellenic Red Cross recently to help assist its humanitarian response to the residents of the fire-stricken areas in Greece.</p> <p><strong>The prince opened his story in the Daily Mail with these words:</strong></p> <p>Owing to family connections, I have always felt a particular fascination and affection for Greece.</p> <p>Apart from the allure of her landscapes, history and culture, both my father and grandfather were born there, which is why I was so touched to be invited earlier this year to celebrate the bicentenary of the country's independence.</p> <p>Now, five months later, it has been heartbreaking to see the devastating fires affecting Greece, Turkey, and now Italy which has just recorded Europe's highest ever temperature.</p> <p><strong>And he ended his story with this heartfelt call to action: </strong></p> <p>This is why COP26 is so crucially important for our very survival on this increasingly over-heating planet – something our children and grandchildren are rightly and deeply concerned about.</p> <p>The 'coalition of the willing' joins me in hoping that the conference will deliver the transformational decisions and the roadmap for change for which our planet is crying out.</p> <p>We now have no alternative – we have to do all we possibly can in the short time left to us to avoid the enormous climate catastrophe that has already begun to show its face in the most terrifying ways, most recently in the Mediterranean.</p> <p>World leaders, working closely with the private sector, have the power to make the difference. COP26 affords them an opportunity to do so before it is finally too late.</p> <p><em>Photo: Getty Images</em></p>

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The surprising health benefits of gardening

<p>Gardening has some health benefits you can’t put a price on. A Dutch study from 2011 asked two groups of people to complete a stressful task.</p> <p>Straight after this, they assigned the groups 30 minutes of either gardening or reading. When tested, the gardeners’ stress hormones were found to be significantly lower.</p> <p><strong>Dirt has some interesting benefits</strong></p> <p>There’s something about digging in the dirt that’s incredibly satisfying. Why? Well, it could be the dirt itself. <em>Mycobacterium vaccae</em> is a healthy bacterium which is found naturally living in soil and it’s been found to increase serotonin and provide anxiety relief when inhaled.</p> <p><strong>The physical benefits of gardening increase as we age</strong></p> <p>When you’re out digging, pulling weeds and planting new things in your garden, you’re helping to strengthen your hands, which is especially important as we get older.</p> <p>As we get to a more senior age, we tend to lose our grip strength and conditions such as arthritis become more common, leading to difficulty performing tasks. But it helps to keep moving and so doing some gardening will assist you.</p> <p><strong>It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a back yard</strong></p> <p>Many of us don’t have a back yard so we think we can’t do gardening any more. But you can still do some fruitful urban gardening in large containers. The bigger the pots, the better, because after watering, the soil stays wet for longer.</p> <p><strong>Maintenance can take as little as five minutes per day</strong></p> <p>Once you have your garden set up, it only takes as much time as it takes to walk around your garden and put your finger in the soil up to the second knuckle to check on it.</p> <p>If the soil feels moist and cool, then there’s no need to water. But if it feels dry and crumbly, it will need to be watered.</p> <p><em>Photos: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p> </p>

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9 surprising ways to cut down indoor air pollution

<p>Many people assume pollution is just an outdoor problem but your home can also be polluted with mould and dust mites, making it an unhealthy environment.</p> <p>As Susan Olesik, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Ohio State University says: “As a society, we make sure that our houses are well-insulated, but we don’t think enough about exposure to all the things we place in our homes.”</p> <p>The air quality in and around buildings has a big effect on our health, and while you can feel the symptoms – shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea – right away, other health effects can come on years after exposure, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). </p> <p><strong>Clear out old cigarette and e-cigarette smoke</strong></p> <p>Pulmonologist Dr Sumita Khatri notes that one of the most common indoor air pollutants is cigarette smoke, though newer e-cigarettes are another source. The vapour emitted when someone smokes e-cigarettes releases chemicals linked to lung disease.</p> <p>This rule also applies to the previous occupants of your home who may have smoked. “We have all heard of second-hand smoke but this is called third-hand smoke,” says Dr Khatri.</p> <p>“If you have a room that has been exposed to residual smoke, make sure to change the fabric or carpet, which can be a risk to children or people with chronic heart and lung problems,” she adds.</p> <p><strong>Don’t overwater indoor plants</strong></p> <p>Overwatering your plants can contribute to the growth of mould, and any water that leaks on to the floor invites mould growth as well, says Olesik. Put pebbles on top of the soil to discourage mould spores from getting into and polluting the air, walls and floor.</p> <p><strong>Clean under your fridge</strong></p> <p>The tray under your fridge is a veritable mould magnet. Adding salt reduces the growth of mould and bacteria. Clean under the refrigerator occasionally to get rid of dust and mould, and make sure your cleaning products are environmentally friendly, advises Dr Khatri. “Cleaning products can also be harmful, so consider green and natural cleaning products which release less harmful chemicals and fumes,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Freshen air naturally</strong></p> <p>Air fresheners and scented candles contain trace amounts of hazardous chemicals, though in amounts lower than most guidelines, so it’s OK to use them on occasion, says Oleski. But she warns against overdoing either approach to fresher air. “It’s better to open the window if the weather allows.” If not, turn on the AC. Air conditioners remove mould-friendly moisture and filter allergens entering the house. Just make sure to clean or change the filters often or you’ll just make things worse.</p> <p><strong>Give stuffed toys the deep freeze</strong></p> <p>That teddy bear could be riddled with dust mites! Regularly slip stuffed toys into a freezer bag and let them chill for three to five hours. The cold will kill any dust mites that could contribute to indoor air pollution, according to a 2017 report in the <em>Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology</em>.</p> <p><strong>Declutter</strong></p> <p>Regularly throw out or give away coats and other clothing you haven’t worn in ages. Put sports equipment in the garage where it belongs. When you’ve finished, you should be able to see all your closet floors and back walls.</p> <p>“Minimising clutter is a great way to improve air quality because it allows you to see dust and other contaminants that might be invisible,” says Dr Khatri. Now give everything a good vacuum and you’ll have significantly reduced the amount of dust in your house and cut down on your indoor air pollution.</p> <p><strong>Leave shoes at the door</strong></p> <p>Mud isn’t the only thing you track into your home, notes Oleski. Parking your shoes by the door keeps your floors clean and reduces indoor air pollution, especially pesticides tracked in from outdoors. “You know those signs that say ‘keep dogs off lawn?’” They should also apply to people,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Keep your pets clean</strong></p> <p>Just like you take off your shoes, always make sure to wipe off your pet’s paws when they come in from being outdoors. Towelling off their coat can also help prevent the spread of pollen indoors. And bathe them frequently to help dissolve the natural, allergy-causing substances in their sweat and skin that spread to their fur.</p> <p><em>Photo: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Top tips for delicious winter meals using a slow cooker

<p>It’s now mid-winter so there’s no better way of warming yourself up than with a delicious, slow-cooked meal. Here are our five top tips for creating delicious meals with a slow cooker. </p> <p>With a high number of people in lockdown across the country, there’s probably never been a better time to start learning new slow cooker recipes to make warming, winter meals.</p> <p>Bettina Jenkins, Culinary Expert at <a href="https://www.appliancesonline.com.au/">Appliances Online</a>, has shared her top five tips for making slow cookers a part of your everyday cooking experience.</p> <p><strong>Top slow cooker tips from Bettina Jenkins, Appliances Online Culinary Expert</strong></p> <p>“Imagine getting home from work and your dinner is ready? Gently simmering, all day, tenderising those inexpensive cuts of meat and turning them into melt in the mouth morsels - that's slow cooking for you! If you’re time poor in the morning, try the night-before technique - throw everything in the slow cooker the night before, pop it in the fridge, then start cooking it all the next morning and dinner will be ready later on in the day!</p> <p><strong>Tip No. 1) You don't have to use expensive meats for slow cooking to produce quality culinary results. </strong>You can use inexpensive cuts of meat and because they’re slowly simmering all day, this turns them into melt-in-your-mouth morsels - that's slow cooking for you<strong>!</strong></p> <p><strong>Tip No. 2) You can cook just about anything in a slow cooker. </strong>Slow cookers are so versatile, that you can cook soups, casseroles, lasagna, desserts and even cakes and yoghurt! You’ll love the results from these time and energy saving appliances!</p> <p><strong>Tip No. 3) Try the night-before technique. I</strong>f you have other things to do in the morning, throw everything in the slow cooker the night before, pop it in the fridge, then start cooking when you get up and dinner will be ready later on.</p> <p><strong>Tip No. 4) Try overnight oats. </strong>You can cook oats, milk, sultanas and grated apple and carrots - cook on low for 8 hours and wake up to a warm and nourishing breakfast! </p> <p><strong>Tip No. 5) Cleaning is a breeze too!</strong>  Just one removable pot at the end of the night – simply give it a quick clean or pop it in the dishwasher!</p> <p><strong>As well, Bettina gave us a list of five slow cookers suitable for all different budgets: </strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.appliancesonline.com.au/product/tefal-rk732-18l-easy-rice-slow-cooker?sli_sku_jump=1"><strong>Tefal RK732 1.8L Easy Rice &amp; Slow Cooker</strong></a><strong>- RRP $130</strong></li> <li><a href="https://www.appliancesonline.com.au/product/breville-lsc650bss-searing-slow-cooker?sli_sku_jump=1"><strong>Breville LSC650BSS the Searing 6L Slow Cooker</strong></a><strong>- RRP $219</strong></li> <li><a href="https://www.appliancesonline.com.au/product/westinghouse-3-x-25l-slow-cooker-whsc07ks?sli_sku_jump=1"><strong>Westinghouse 3 x 2.5L Slow Cooker WHSC07KS</strong></a><strong>- RRP $149.95</strong></li> <li><a href="https://www.appliancesonline.com.au/product/kitchenaid-artisan-slow-cooker-92395?sli_sku_jump=1"><strong>KitchenAid 5KSC6222ASS Artisan 5.7L Slow Cooker</strong></a><strong>RRP $259</strong></li> <li><a href="https://www.appliancesonline.com.au/product/crock-pot-chp600-choose-a-crock-one-pot-slow-cooker?sli_sku_jump=1"><strong>Crock-Pot CHP600 Choose-a-Crock One Pot Slow Cooker</strong></a><strong>- RRP $129</strong></li> </ul> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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5 ways to manage your winter garden

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though the weather might be frightful, giving your garden some care can help you prepare for spring and keep your garden in check over winter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Whether you want to start a new project, plant some seasonal flowers or simply keep up with general maintenance, here are five ways to tidy up your garden during the colder months.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Pruning</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When it comes to giving plants a trim during winter, there are a few that thrive from it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For roses, start at the top and cut back about a third of the plant to ensure you will get lots of lush blooms come spring.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Deciduous trees also benefit from pruning, allowing sunlight into the centre of the tree to help them grow all over once the weather warms up again.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Plant future meals now</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Across New Zealand, early winter is the best time to plant members of the </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brassica</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> family, including cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. You can also plant legumes such as peas and snow peas in winter.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CQfjFb7BFd5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <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/CQfjFb7BFd5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Gardening Australia (@gardeningaustralia)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To grow your own asparagus, plant the crowns in winter, leave them for the first year and reap your tasty reward during the second season.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">No matter what you choose to grow, it’s important to improve the soil first with lots of organic matter before planting.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Add a dash of colour</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the cold, there are still colourful flowers that you can enjoy. Plants such as pansies, primulas, polyanthus, and violets will continue to flower through winter and into spring.</span></p> <p><strong>4. Start a project</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Take advantage of the cooler weather to start a landscaping project or make some improvements to your garden.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Whether you’re planning to build a new garden bed, pave the courtyard, or extend the deck, it can be much easier to complete without the heat of the midday sun.</span></p> <p><strong>5. General upkeep</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are plenty of things you can do to manage your garden and prevent it from becoming unruly or overgrown. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you decide to do some weeding, you can keep the pesky plants down with a fresh layer of mulch. The layer of mulch should be 5 centimetres deep at a maximum, and it should be kept away from the stems of plants. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To stay on top of lawn weeds, aerating your lawn with a garden fork will do the trick, especially as the soil is softer in winter.</span></p>

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A beautiful new rose for Phillip

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post-body-container"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>Queen Elizabeth was overwhelmed when she was gifted a special present on what would have been Prince Philip's 100th birthday.</p> <p>Her Majesty is a Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society and was gifted a specially-bred rose that has been named in memory of her late husband.</p> <p>The flower, called the Duke of Edinburgh Rose, was gifted to the Queen on Wednesday the 2nd, but photos have only been released on what would have been the Duke's birthday, the 10th of June.</p> <p>"Whilst being very poignant, it was also a delight to give Her Majesty The Queen, Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society, the Duke of Edinburgh Rose to mark what would have been HRH The Duke of Edinburgh's 100th birthday and to remember his remarkable life," President of the Royal Horticultural Society, Keith Weed said in a statement from Buckingham Palace.</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/CP6rNW3HiPR/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <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/CP6rNW3HiPR/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Harkness Roses (@harknessroses)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>&gt;</p> <p>"The Duke's devotion to raising public awareness of the importance of conserving the natural world leaves a lasting legacy."</p> <p>The rose was bred by Harkness Roses and has a "deep-ink colour dappled with white lines" and are "perfect as vase flowers".</p> <p>For every rose sold, the company will donate $5 to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Living Legacy Fund.</p> <p>"We are thrilled to introduce this brand-new commemorative rose to remember the remarkable life of The Duke of Edinburgh," managing director Philip Harkness said.</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/COh1HEsn1q5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <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/COh1HEsn1q5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Harkness Roses (@harknessroses)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"In buying this rose you will also be giving one million more young people the opportunity to do their DofE Award, so not only is this rose spectacular to look at, but you will also be raising funds for a very worthy cause."</p> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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The most bizarre dishwasher hack you’ll ever see

<p>Dishwashers are arguable one of the most useful appliances in the home, let alone the kitchen.</p> <p>Thankfully, there are cleaning prodigies who have some of the most useful tips and the most recent one to go viral has left users in a head spin.</p> <p>Aussie mum<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@carolina.mccauley/video/6968596608103533825?lang=en&amp;is_copy_url=1&amp;is_from_webapp=v1" target="_blank" title="Carolina Mccauley">Carolina Mccauley</a><span> </span>has shared her odd but crucial tip to get sparkling silverware – and it involves a ball of aluminium foil.</p> <p>She says all you need to do is a throw a ball of aluminium foil in with your cutlery before turning on the dishwasher.</p> <p>"This dishwasher hack will leave your silverware sparkling," she captioned the video on<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://9now.nine.com.au/the-block/tiktok" target="_blank" title="TikTok">TikTok</a>.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841619/aluminium-dishwasher-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/7349503acbde497b8ea9187fb2fcded0" /></p> <p>If you roll some tin foil into a ball and place in the cutlery holder of your dishwasher, your forks, spoons, and knives will come out sparkling like new.</p> <p>It's definitely an odd tip, but the results show it does make a difference.</p> <p>The video has been watched over 123,000 times so far.</p> <p>"Why does my brain think it's not okay to put aluminium foil inside appliances because of the microwave," one TikToker wrote.</p> <p>Another said, "What the scientific magic is this?"</p> <p>The magic behind the foil has been revealed, with<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dashingmaids.com/aluminum-foil-cleaning-hacks/" target="_blank" title="">Dashing Maids</a><span> </span>writing that the chemical reaction from the foil and a dishwasher tablet is what gives cutlery its incredible shine.</p>

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Professional cleaner reveals her MAJOR shower cleaning tip

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post-body-container"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>A cleaner has shared her major secret tip to get her showers sparkling clean.</p> <p>Under the TikTok account<em> <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@thebigcleanco?lang=en" target="_blank">The Big Clean Co</a>,</em> a Melbourne woman has showed her method of using dishwashing liquid to get shower tiles, shower screen and metal shower handles absolutely spotless.</p> <p>“This shower gets cleaned weekly, if it was a deep clean, we’d brush these bits,” she wrote.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841502/shower-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c9283a99d87146219aaecb6e7984a19c" /></p> <p>After wiping all of the shower surfaces down, she then showed how she rinsed the shower before drying it with a towel.</p> <p>“When we use dishwashing liquid, we don’t even need a glass cleaner,” she said.</p> <p>The clip has been viewed by more than two million people and left viewers excited to try the new cleaning hack out on their own showers.</p> <p>“This is so impressive,” one person wrote.</p> <p>“I love the tip! Thank you,” wrote another.</p> <p>A third said: “Going to clean my shower right now! Looks brilliant!”</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="post-action-bar-component-wrapper"> <div class="post-actions-component"> <div class="upper-row"></div> </div> </div>

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Young tradie’s “embarrassing” blunder

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Melbourne tradie learned he had arrived for a job at the wrong house, after he had just finished ripping up the unknown owner’s backyard pavers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The tradesman arrived at the Cranbourne West home, in Melbourne’s southeast, before his boss on Monday, May 18 and got straight to work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But little did he know, there was another house with the exact same number just three doors down the road.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He shared his “embarrassing” error on </span><a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@dafishaaa"><span style="font-weight: 400;">TikTok</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the following day, writing: “When you go to prep a pour and end up going to the wrong house.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“What a way to start the day,” he says in the clip that has since been watched over 165,000 times.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I get a text to say the address is 37, I word up the client that we’ll come in with the excavator, waited for Tyler, pulled up the pavers, only to find out, there’s a 37 all the way down there too,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’ve just gone to a complete stranger’s house, got them to open up the shed, pulled out their pavers, waited for my boss, just to find out it’s the wrong house.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His boss also made a video recording the blunder.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Get a load of this,” he says in the clip before panning across to the house where the work had been done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’m running late, so he comes in and starts moving things and ripping up pavers, but what he didn’t know was that’s actually the wrong house,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And he started ripping up someone else’s pavers, ready for a job that’s not going to happen at their house.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He doesn’t know what to do. So now we have to put back the pavers and apologise to whoever it is.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mix-up happened as both homes had planned renovations that morning and were both numbered 37 but had different street names, so the owners had let him in assuming he was their builder.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The owners were extremely understanding, with the tradie saying “they always seem to get parcels that belong to the actual 37”.</span></p>

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Man reveals why he hasn’t taken his bins out in three years

<p>One Australian man has revealed he has not put his rubbish out for collection in more than three years.</p> <p>Gary Moran, from South Australia says his bins have not been put out because he makes calculated choices about the items he purchases.</p> <p>Mr Moran, from Gawler admitted he avoids most items at the supermarket.</p> <p>"I grow some veggies myself and do some shopping at bulk stores and farmer markets, but I'm also careful at the supermarket as to make sure that anything that I do purchase, that the packaging is recyclable," Mr Moran said to <em>Yahoo News Australia.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7840943/rubbish.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ac54d60472c540f48e24978682f06ead" /></p> <p>He also said he recycles his soft plastic through REDcycle, making it a much simpler to reduce his overall waste.</p> <p>"It's been an ongoing thing that I've built on," he said.</p> <p>Mr Moran says he cut down his general waste drastically when he began crunching all of his aluminium foil into a large ball and combing smaller bits of metal and plastic into individual containers.</p> <p>He says he didn’t feel like he had to sacrifice anything to become more environmentally friendly.</p> <p>"I can't say that I really sacrificed anything, it's just about making a more intelligent choice about what you buy. I don't feel like I miss out on anything," he said.</p> <p>Mr Moran encourages those hoping to get into the minimal-waste lifestyle to make small changes to their daily habits.</p> <p>"When you want to start on a similar journey, you can make a small station at home where you can separate your things at the source," he said.</p> <p>"It's so easy when there's something in your hand that needs to be put somewhere, and it's no harder than throwing it in the bin."</p> <p>He also warned consumers to think about where their rubbish ends up going when they are done with it and to be wary of what they purchase.</p> <p><em>Image: Yahoo</em></p>

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