How To Pick Out The Perfect Gift For That Special Man In Your Life

Sometimes buying a gift for that special man in your life can be harder than you originally think. Men are just typically difficult to buy for. They tend to want things and get them, and then go without things that perhaps they need. It’s a confusing thing to navigate through. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. In fact, following a simple thought process can make the whole process smooth and easy. If you want to know more, then read on to find out how you can pick out the perfect gift for your special man.

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Take a moment to study your man

When was the last time you took a moment to think about your man? I don’t mean in the everyday sense in the way of offering a drink or showing you care. It’s more to do with who he is as a person and what he is into. I can guess that things have changed since the last time you thought about it. Perhaps a new hobby has been developed or a new interest in something. These are all clues to help you pick out a great gift. Buying something that you know they have an interest in is a sure fire way to obtaining the perfect gift. So take a moment and observe.

Sometimes it’s the little details and thought that make the biggest impact

Men typically don’t buy things that they need. Sure, they are happy to buy the latest gadget, but everyday things seem to be put to one side. This is where you could come in. Perhaps your man uses razors often. Then a thoughtful gift which is a little different would be to consider a subscription service from the bearded colonel. Providing your man with top specification razors as often as he needs them. Or maybe he doesn’t buy clothes too often. Then if you know his taste take advantage of that. There are plenty of things you could buy if you think hard enough.

Men like surprises too

It’s not just women who love a surprise, a lot of men do to. This is where you could make a big impact. Why don’t you arrange a surprise for your man instead of the other way round? It could be a surprise date night or weekend away. Maybe an experience that they have on their bucket list. It’s unexpected and different and could score you some major brownie points.

Get family involved

If you have children or family who want in on the act, get them involved. This could be getting your children to make something, or posing for pictures for his office. It might be that you all put in a certain amount of money to obtain a bigger costly gift that they would like. It isn’t just you who cares

Don’t over think it

Finally, don’t over think things. This is where you can turn a relatively easy task into something more complicated. When it doesn’t need to be. Just remember to consider who your man is and what they like. It is as easy as that.

I hope this guide helps you in the future.

The Ultimate Guide To Being Healthy, Fit and Happy

Being healthy, fit and happy is really important. If you want to live the best life you can possibly live, then you need to be the right kind of person to live that life. You can’t expect to live an amazing life if you’re not challenging yourself and developing as a person. It just won’t happen! This ultimate guide to being healthy, fit and happy will help you on your way to getting where you want to be. Making small changes each day will add up and eventually make the world of difference to your life. Take a look and see what you can start using today:

Fill Your Diet With Nutrients And Other Healthy Stuff

The things we eat directly affect how we feel and act. If you eat loads of processed junk foods, then you’re going to feel pretty rubbish. Start changing your diet and replacing things with more natural foods and you’ll notice a difference not only in your moods, but your energy levels too. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other natural foods. Try to stay away from foods with too many ingredients. If you have to wonder whether something is healthy, it probably isn’t. Don’t be seduced by all of those ‘diet’ and ‘low fat’ foods either. They will rarely fill you up, and the label on them doesn’t make them healthy. You’d be better off eating a meal full of natural stuff than having a microwave weight watcher’s meal. Eating the right foods will even stop you from getting certain illnesses. Just take a look at this sourced from The Alternative Daily to give you more of an idea.  

Get More Active

Find ways you can get more active in your daily life. You don’t need to do much in order to make a big difference to your fitness levels and the way you feel. Maybe you could start taking the stairs more, walk further each day, or go for a swim every so often. You can then build up what you’re doing as you see fit. By incorporating more exercise into your life each day, even if it only seems small, it’ll make a big difference to your life as a whole.

Focus On Functional Fitness

Focusing on functional fitness is a must if you want to perform better in all areas of your life, and be prepared for anything life may throw at you. So many people focus on isolation exercises for aesthetic reasons, but you should also be focusing on functional fitness. Functional fitness will still shape your body and make you look great as you continue to do it, but it’ll also mean you get fitter in the process. Many people who focus on bodybuilding alone are prone to injuries, and still get out of breath climbing the stairs! Just because somebody looks good doesn’t mean they are healthy. Functional fitness could be things like squats, lunges, and burpees. Exercises that use multiple muscles and force us to burn lots of calories. However, you can also do sprints and classes. You have lots of things to choose from so there’s no way you can get bored.

Challenge Yourself

The key to being healthy, fit, and happy is challenging yourself. If you stay in your nice cosy comfort zone for too long, you’re not going to develop and get to where you want to be. We attract success by the people we become. If you’re not changing yourself from the inside out, you won’t make any changes to your life on the outside. You need to make time for this! Challenge yourself by doing puzzles, reading more books, focusing on things that need improving, and more. Changing yourself from the inside is going to help you make the biggest changes in your life.

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Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is so important. Having any goals at all is fantastic, but you need to make sure you’re setting them in a way you can achieve them. You don’t want to set goals, for example, that simply say you will get fit or lose a certain amount of weight. You should make it more effective by including what you’ll do to achieve your goal, and a time frame. For example, ‘I will have lost 5 pounds in a month’s time by going to the gym 4 days a week’. That goal is great, as you have a specific goal that you can measure and stick to. Try it and you should notice your results begin to skyrocket!

Make Sure You Enjoy It

You really need to make sure you enjoy your new routine, or you’re not going to stick to it. Ask yourself whether you can see yourself doing this in a few months time. If you can’t, then you should change your routine until you can. It should be enjoyable, but not easy. It should be challenging, but not impossible. There are many programs and things that can help you to get started online, but make sure you do your research first so that you know it’s healthy and sustainable. You may need to change what you’re doing a few times in order to stick to it. That’s fine! It’s important you find what works for you and stick to it rather than what works for somebody else.

Be Consistent With Your Routine

Don’t think you can work out 5 times one week and none the next and still get results. Being consistent with your routine is how you develop good habits and make big changes to your life. All you need to do is keep it up for about 21 days before you develop a good habit. Once you’re in the habit, it’ll be so much easier to stick to!

Keep Your Mind Healthy

Keeping your mind healthy is just as important as keeping anything else healthy. Mental health has a bit of a stigma attached to it, but this must be broken. Many of us suffer in different ways, whether that’s anxiety, PTSD, or something else. You can keep your mind healthy by remaining positive, speaking to a professional, and working on improving yourself. There are lots of things you can do to keep your mind healthier in the long run, including things mentioned here. Things like exercise and eating right are natural ways to improve certain conditions. What works for you may vary, so experiment and see what happens.

Meditate

Meditation has been proven to be more effective than medication! All you need to do is commit a small amount of time each day to quieting your mind and sitting in silence. This can be hard to get used to at first, but it’s something you’ll benefit from mastering. Even if you just do 5 minutes a day before you do what you have to do, you should notice improvements in your life. You may feel more energised, inspired, motivated, and relaxed. What could be better than that? This sort of thing isn’t just for hippies!

Live A Balanced Lifestyle

Although you want to be the healthiest and best version of yourself, living a balanced lifestyle is still really important. Otherwise, what would the point be? You still need to get out there and enjoy yourself from time to time. Have a cheat meal with friends, or even a drink and a dance. Let yourself have some ice cream on a hot day. Balance is one of the main things that happy people have mastered!

Focus On Your Sleeping Pattern

Sleep is important for the way we function during the day. Everybody functions differently off different amounts of sleep. The important thing is that you try to get to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning to get into a good routine.

Drink Lots Of Water

Water will help to keep you energised, and fuller for longer. It’ll hydrate you, flush out toxins, and keep your body working at an optimal level. Drink 2-3 litres a day, starting with a glass as soon as you wake up in the morning. This can help to wake you up and stop you from feeling groggy.

Focus On Your Hygiene

Staying hygiene is essential to feeling happy too. Make sure you take pride in it, showering or bathing daily and washing your hands whenever you need to. Staying clean is not only good for your health, it’s important for your reputation too.

Make Sure Your Home Is How You Like It

The space we reside in can make a big difference to our happiness and attitude too. Make sure you keep your home or room tidy, and only fill the space with things that resonate with you. Spend time each day making sure it’s how you like it so you feel more inspired and happy. You can do the same with your workplace too!

Practice Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is important. It not only ensures we are less stressed, it helps us to think clearer and function better. Many of us aren’t breathing properly. We take shallow breaths that signal to the body that we are in danger and stressed. Start breathing properly, taking a few minutes each day to focus on it and you’ll feel much better.

Start using these tips right away and you’ll make the biggest difference to your life!

These Are The Essentials Every Makeup Bag Should Contain

For us girls, our makeup bags are one of our most prized possessions. We spend years building up an impressive collection of makeup products. And so, our makeup bags tend to be something that if we had to, we’d guard with our lives. (That’s a big overdramatic, but you get the point – we love our makeup!)

The only problem that we have when it comes to our makeup bags is overfilling them. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too many makeup products. Well, too many makeup products in our makeup bags, that is. At home, you can have as many products as you like, but the makeup bag that you cart around everywhere with you should only hold the essentials. And FYI, your makeup bag should not be bulging at the seams or unable to do up – that’s how makeup ends up squished all over your lovely handbag.

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Want to know what essentials your makeup bag should actually contain? Then keep reading below, as all is about to be revealed.

Tools:

Let’s start with tools. If you’re going to be doing your makeup while not at home, you need to ensure that you have a few makeup tools on you at all times. These should include a Beauty Blender – if you use one, a selection of makeup brushes, and a mini pack of makeup wipes – just in case. For your brushes, if you’re able to get an on-the-go pack of quality brushes, this is ideal.

Base products:

A mini moisturizer is a must-have for any makeup bag. Ideally, this should be a cream that includes SPF protection, especially for during the summer months. A primer is also worth having to hand, as this will help your makeup stay in place for longer. For an on-the-go makeup bag, a stick foundation is a great option as it’s quick and easy to use and apply. A concealer – ideally a cream formula, is also a must-have. As is a setting powder for mattifying and setting your base products in place.

Contouring and strobing:

To add a little color and shape to your face, a few contouring products are essential. A mini contouring and strobing palette could be ideal. As this should include everything that you need, from your blush to your highlighter. If not, once again stick products – blush, bronzer, and highlighter, can be a great option. This is because of how compact they tend to be, and also because of how easy to use and apply they are.

Eye makeup:

Of course, an eyeliner pencil or liquid eyeliner is a must, as is a mini mascara, but what about your eyeshadow and brows? Your makeup bag should contain a few eyeshadow choices – ideally a mini neutral palette and a colorful mini palette. That way, whatever mood you’re in or whatever the occasion, you’re covered. For your brows, an eyebrow pencil, powder or gel is the best option. There are lots of compact version of all the best brow products, so you have plenty of choices.

Makeup setting:

Last but not least, it’s essential that your makeup bag contains a makeup setting spray, especially in this warm summer weather. There are lots of makeup sprays to choose from, most of which come in normal and compact sizes. To keep your makeup bag lightweight, it’s best to opt for a compact option.

So there you have it, a guide to the essentials that every on-the-go makeup bag should contain. Have I missed anything, what does your makeup bag consist of?

A Guide to Buying the perfect Mattress

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Having the right beds and mattresses can mean the difference between sweet dreams for your family and restless nights with aches and pains during the day. With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose and to know when to replace it. Bed-e-buys have offered some tips to get you started when choosing a mattress.

The Bounce Test

It is really important to try out mattresses before you buy. Head down to your local showroom, and don’t be shy. Sit on the mattresses, bounce a bit to understand how firm you find comfortable, and do try lying down. Spend a few minutes, and do change position.

A firmer mattress might be better for heavier people, though sleeping position should influence your choice, too. If you sleep on your front, you might want a slightly softer mattress.

An Investment Piece

It can be a big financial outlay in one go, but it is worth spending as much as you can afford on beds and mattresses as they are important for sleep. We spend an average of eight hours in our beds each night, and with a mattress lasting around eight years, the cost per night works out to be very reasonable.
Consider your health and well-being, and the value of a good mattress grows immeasurably. Eight years is a guide, though, so if you find you’re waking up stiff or sore before then, you might want to change sooner.

Time For Bed-E-Buys

Visit a specialist retailer for guidance on how to care for your mattress. Mattresses come in standard sizes, but bed frames will vary significantly, so do be sure of the space you have at home and measure before you buy.

Types Of Mattress

Open Spring: this is the most common type of mattress at the budget end, and stitching will be done by machine rather than by hand.
Pocket Spring: as the name suggests, springs are contained within individual pockets in the material. As the springs work independently, they respond to your body and distribute your weight better.

Memory Foam: increasingly popular in recent years, memory foam moulds itself to the body’s contours and is hypo-allergenic. It is more expensive but can help support a natural posture.

Latex: set to become the next big thing, latex is similar to memory foam but does not rely on body heat to mould a shape so can be a perfect solution for restless sleepers.

Caring For Your Mattress

Airing the mattress is important when it is first delivered and then every week for a while by leaving bed linen off for a few hours. Turning the mattress, or flipping it, is also important in prolonging its life. Your weight will compress a mattress, and continued compression on the same part of the mattress might lead to lumps and bumps appearing.

Many people like to use a mattress cover to protect it. Make sure you choose a breathable fabric rather than a plastic sheet to allow air to circulate.

A good mattress topper can be a straightforward way to add a touch of luxury to a lower-budget mattress and provide additional support and cosiness. There are natural options available, like traditionally luxurious goose down, but also synthetic options that can be anti-allergy or machine-washable, so consider what you need from it.

8 Condiments and Seasonings You Can Enjoy Even When You’re Eating Healthier

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What would a hot dog be without ketchup and mustard? How bland would chicken taste without the right sauce? What is a life without mayonnaise? Many people mistakenly believe that a life of healthy eating means a life without the creamy textures of condiments or savoury tastes of seasonings, but you don’t have to eat bland foods to keep up with your health. In fact, many condiments and spices actually offer benefits.

Ketchup

You may automatically assume that you need to cut ketchup from your diet if you’re trying to be healthier, but while it’s true that the food is high in sugar and sodium, it also provides lycopene, an antioxidant believed to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Eating three to four tablespoons with your burgers, hot dogs, or fries from time to time gives you a healthy dose. For the best results, stick to dark-colored, organic varieties. You can even give it some extra oomph by mixing it with organic mayonnaise or chopped garlic.

Horseradish

A small dose of horseradish each day can deplete the toxins in your body. Horseradish is comprised of glucosinolates, a compound that helps your liver detoxify carcinogens. A study conducted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that it may even suppress the growth of tumours. Horseradish has 10 times more glucosinolates than the next best source, which is broccoli, and you can eat it in a variety of ways. Some people choose to mix it with mustard and use it as a sandwich spread, but it is also good when mixed with yogurt and served with fish.

Hot Sauce

Who doesn’t love the tangy, spicy taste of hot sauce from time to time? Just a few dashes provides you with plenty of capsaicin, the compound that creates the heat in hot sauce. It is also known to reduce hunger by limiting ghrelin levels. Some experts have found that people who regularly consume hot sauce take in about 16 percent fewer calories than those who do not, and the sauce itself is calorie-free. Add it to anything you want to have a bit of extra kick, but be careful—some varieties are high in sodium.

Mustard

An American staple, mustard isn’t known to have any “superfood” properties, but it does have zero calories, making it a plausible mainstay on your rotation of condiments. From tuna fish to cheeseburgers, chicken to hot dogs, it adds flavor to nearly any food.

Teriyaki Sauce

The perfect marriage of sweet and salty, teriyaki sauce is often considered a more sophisticated version of soy sauce and is popularly used on authentic Japanese food that includes grilled meat and fish, vegetables and rice. Teriyaki sauce has only four ingredients—soy sauce, sake, a rice wine known as mirin, and brown sugar—which makes it easier to determine exactly what you are putting into your body.

Cinnamon

Perhaps it’s not creamy, but cinnamon is still considered a popular member of the extended condiment family. A teaspoon a day has been known to stabilize a person’s blood sugar, and it mixes well with nearly any sweet dish. Foods that are high in carbohydrates have been known to cause spikes in blood sugar, but adding cinnamon to these dishes could prevent the spike. Add it to everything from cakes to lattes. It even works well in starches such as rice.

Rosemary

If you are someone who is worried about the presence of foodborne carcinogens in your meals, consider cooking with rosemary. According to scientists at Kansas State University, adding a tablespoon or two to meats before cooking them reduces heterocyclic amines by between 30 and 100 percent. It can be added to virtually any meat and mixes well with sea salt and garlic.

Mayonnaise

Yes, you read that right. While traditional mayonnaise is not recommended for healthy eating, you can still have it if you choose the right brand. One to consider is Just Mayo from Hamptoncreek Foods. This brand uses a plant-based recipe that is lower in cholesterol and available in regular or sriracha flavors.  Add it to sandwiches or mix it with just about any recipe to get the creamy taste you crave.

No matter what eating plan you choose, you are more likely to become bored if you don’t add some variety. Condiments and seasonings are a great way to keep your basics tasting like fresh, new meals every time you eat them. Remember, part of the fun of food is experimenting, so don’t be afraid to try new combinations.

Tips for Recovering from Abdominoplasty

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Plan time off

Abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck, is a major operation and you must plan enough time off work, and make arrangements for childcare, pet care, housework, shopping and any other commitments. You won’t be able to return to work for at least two weeks and you won’t be able to lift anything heavy or stand for long periods for up to three weeks.

Draft in help

You’ll need help getting out of bed, caring for children and cooking. If your children are still quite young, you’ll need two adults around so that they’re not left unsupervised if you need help. By day three you’ll be more mobile and independent, so only one person will be enough.

Do nothing for at least two weeks

No laundry, no cooking, no childcare! Too many patients worry they’re neglecting their home and family, but you need to focus on. Women have had abdominoplasty surgery using Gary Ross are told in no uncertain terms that they are allowed to be selfish for the first three weeks.

By the second week you should be mobile and able to look after children, but there should still be another adult about just in case sudden pain or fatigue takes over.

Expect to be tired for up to six weeks

After a couple of weeks you may be back at work, but find you’re in bed at 7.30pm! You’ll be OK during the day, pain and energy-wise, but you’ll need extra sleep to help you recover. Don’t fight it, it’s important if you’re to get better quickly.

Food is important

Up your protein intake and eat regularly. Add extra fruit and vegetables as well, as this can help to combat constipation as well adding vitamins.

It can take a year to heal fully

Although the majority of the pain, swelling and tiredness is gone by six weeks, there’s still a lot going on internally and externally. Your surgery site might feel numb, and you may have swelling and pain at the end of the day and the scars will be prominent and itchy. You’ll notice this all diminishing, though, so don’t worry.

The first three days are the worst

It’ll seem like the longest three days ever, but it’s over soon, as long as you rest! Just live by the clock and take your meds.

The pain meds don’t remove the pain altogether, they simply lessen it

You’ll start off on opiate painkillers, which will make you groggy, but you should be OK to come off them and go onto ibuprofen after three days.

You’ll need surgical drains for a week at least

It’s easy for your carers to learn how to empty these drains, but you’ll have to return to hospital to have them removed. You won’t be able to bathe or shower until they’re out, as the drain sites must stay dry.

You won’t be able to drive for ten days or so

You can’t drive while on opiates, and after that, you need to be able to perform an emergency stop without pain or the fear of pain. This varies from patient to patient, so take advice.

You need to avoid exercise and heavy lifting

Whatever your exercise regime was, start it off again slowly. You’ll know if you’re overdoing it, so listen to your body and avoid abdominal workouts for at least two months.

5 Things You Can Do Now that Your Future Self Will Thank You For

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Have you ever imagined what it would be like when you retire and have all that time to yourself? Are you going to be comfortable and relaxed, always ready to plan for the next vacation or anxious and filled with regrets? You are definitely saying no to the latter.

I know it is a thought that leaves many people uneasy, but planning for the future is very important and there is no ‘specific’ date to do so. In fact the best time is now. The following tips can help prepare a soft landing which your future self will surely thank you for.

  1. Review your Retirement Budget

Review your retirement budget regularly to make up for changes in costs and standard of living. Note that as you get older, expenses and responsibilities will change and you have to adjust for these. Be sure to have some emergency funds set aside too. Look up possible retirement income here.

  1. Check your Insurance

Insurance policies and coverage are also susceptible to changes in the economy and your lifestyle. Always check your income protection for expiry dates. You may also cover life and home. If you make a claim early, ensure that you renew your agreement.

  1. Monitor your Health

Your health is just as important as your wealth. So while you keep tabs on your financial status, you must do the same for your health. Mark calendar dates for visits to your general practitioner, eat healthy and exercise regularly. Click to learn more about healthy eating.

  1. Avoid Needless Risks

As you get older, it will be wise to cut off reckless and unhealthy habits. People have often been known to gamble away their life savings at a whim, which can have a devastating impact on retirement funds. If you smoke, it’s never too late to quit – a study by the British Medical Journal found that those who quit smoking, even after their 60th birthday, have a much lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

  1. Review your Will

You might already have a Will, but when was the last time you updated it? It’s crucial that you keep your Will up-to-date as your circumstances can change – experts recommend that you update it once a year. Failure to have an up-to-date and valid Will so has seen many families torn apart by legal battles and suits, with lawyers deciding who is responsible for your affairs and who inherits what.

You don’t have to be in proximity with your retirement date before setting up an adequate plan. Do so today.

5 ways to improve your home this summer

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With Summer well and truly here (touch wood) it’s time to make sure your home is ready to cope with any potential heat waves and ensure you make the most of the bright days and light nights.

From the glamourous chores of gutter cleaning and grundfos home booster purchasing, to getting creative and sprucing up garden furniture, here are 5 suggestions for getting your house ready for the great British Summertime.

1.     Clean out your gutters.

It’s not the most glamourous household job but it’s far preferable to get this chore ticked off in the sun rather than being up a ladder in the pouring rain. It’s suggested that you give your gutters a clean out after autumn and winter but if you don’t fancy being up high, scooping leaves and silt out (and who can blame you?), hire someone to tick this one off your to do list.

2.     Spruce up your garden furniture

The British Summertime may only last a few days so it’s important to utilise the little sunshine when we get it. Whatever size or state your garden is, you can create a little paradise in your back yard whatever your budget. Explore Pinterest and other home and house sites for inspiration and make sure your garden is a sanctuary for when the temperature heats up. Just little hacks can change the game completely – why not remove the middle plank of a picnic table, insert with a trough, and fill with ice for chilled bottles at your next function? Or maybe upcycle some old deck chairs to recline in and sunbathe? The internet is filled with loads of hints and tips on how to do some DIY with minimal costs – take advantage of it.

3.     Install a home booster

Sadly, not as much fun as arts and crafts with garden furniture but imperative. A Grundfos Home Booster is a self-contained cold water booster set and let’s face it, absolutely vital when you’re desperate for a cold shower in the middle of a humid, muggy night.

The unit is designed for domestic properties where the existing mains water supply is insufficient to meet the demand requirements of pressurised hot and cold water systems. If your home has been struggling then it’s worth getting one fitted in time for the eventual national hosepipe ban!

4.     Throw away the throws

Well, you don’t have to actually chuck away your throws, heavy covers etc but it’s time to store them away until next season. Replace those heavy curtains, switch to the summer duvet, and invest in some linen drapes.

If funds, and time, permits then a change in season can also be the perfect opportunity for a little interior overhaul. Even something as simple as just switching cushions and table cloths to more summer appropriate colours and themes can perk up a house and add a fresh new vibe.

5.     Finally complete that spring clean

Ok, the excuses are over – we well and truly hurtling into summer and if the spring clean hasn’t been done yet now really is the time. Go through your wardrobe and anything you haven’t worn in over a year either goes in storage or to the charity. Get the kids to streamline their toy boxes and finally recycle all those magazines and newspapers loitering around the house everywhere. You’ll feel better for a clear out and have more space to store summer essentials like BBQ kits!

The US Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Micro-Climate

The USDA’s plant hardiness zone maps are drawn from the average extreme minimum temperatures over the previous 30-year period. They don’t use the lowest ever temperatures that have occurred, however, and gardeners need to remember this, especially when they’re choosing plants that are marginal or completely out of their zone.

While the PHZM is drawn in great detail – the 2016 version is the most detailed yet – it doesn’t take into account microclimates that are too localised to show up.

Microclimates are small areas where temperature and other weather conditions differ from the surroundings. There may be a heat island caused by concrete and blacktop, or colder spots caused by hills. Individual gardens also have microclimates – a garden may be sheltered from the winds by a high wall, or there may be a southern-facing wall that traps sun and radiates heat later in the day. Local gardening experts like thetreecenter.com can offer advice on microclimates.

Sometimes plants acquire cold hardiness in autumn, in response to cooler temperatures and shorter days. In late winter and spring this hardiness is lost as temperatures and daylight hours increase. However, a spell of unusually cold weather in early fall might damage plants even though the temperature hasn’t reached its lowest yet. A bout of unseasonably warm weather, followed by a return to normal, can also hurt plants. The PHZM doesn’t account for this, either.

PHZMs are simply guides, based on average lowest temperatures, not the lowest. Plants at the edge of their growing zone could be suddenly blighted by an exceptionally cold winter, even though they’ve been happy for several years. Gardeners need to use common sense when selecting marginal plants and if an unusually cold spell develops, they should insulate vulnerable plants.

Factors besides temperature and hardiness

There are other environmental factors that can mean success or failure for plants – the wind, the soil type and moisture levels, snow, pollution and winter sunshine can affect plants a lot. Additionally, the placing, size and general health of a plant can have an influence on its fate.

Light

Plants need to go where they’ll receive their optimal amount of light – plants needing partial shade and that are marginal might find a lot of winter sunshine problematic as it will cause too many fluctuations in its temperature.

Moisture

Every plant needs a different amount of moisture and this requirement sometimes changes throughout the seasons. Plants that can handle a bit of cold might be pushed over the edge if the soil’s a bit cold and dry.

Optimum temperatures

Each plant also has an optimum temperature range; for some this range is wide and for others narrow. For narrow range plants, it’s best to keep them well within their hardiness zone.

Cold tolerance

For some plants, a short snap of cold isn’t the end of the world, but a prolonged chilly period is.

Humidity

High air humidity can prevent a lot of cold damage because it reduces the loss of water from leaves, buds and bark. Low humidity can intensify cold injuries, and this is especially so for evergreens.

 

Everything To Consider When Buying Furniture

We’ve all been there. Shopping down at the store, finding it hard to choose between that oak or mahogany coffee table. Making that ultimate decision feels like the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make!

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but still, buying furniture isn’t easy. Because they’re such expensive, important items, purchasing them carries an inherent risk. They’re not that easy to return, you know! What if my sofa doesn’t match my walls?!

So, to ease some of these worries, here are some important considerations to make when you’re buying furniture. Happy shopping!

  1. Does it match the decor?

It might sound silly to ask, but make sure your furniture matches the decor in the room. You can easily tell which colors go with what, so bear this in mind when furniture shopping.

640px-Kubus_sofa

If your room is all neutral, ten neutral furniture is the way to go. If you have a purple feature wall, then perhaps a purple sofa would be appropriate. It’s up to you to understand your own room, though.

  1. What’s the manufacturing method?

There are a couple of different manufacturing methods for furniture, and each has wildly different results. You can usually tell which method was used in the product you’re looking at; just look for the word ‘handcrafted’ as an indicator.

As you probably just guessed, handcrafted is the first furniture manufacturing method. It’s used by companies like Ian Snow Ltd, and means that each individual product has been given its own bit of attention. This often results in a sturdier build, as more time has been spent on the creation process.

On the other hand, mass-made furniture/bulk produced furniture is much more common. This is because it’s easier for companies to churn out thousands of sofas at a lower cost. This has the unfortunate side effect of the furniture being less reliable. It also makes it less unique, as there will literally be hundreds of others just like it.

  1. How dominant do you want certain features to be?

You may want your sofa to dominate your living room, or you may want the coffee table. You might want a large dining table, or a small one. Whatever the case, make sure you weigh up your options before purchasing.

You have to think about the circumstances of your home. Do you have a lot of people living there, who are always bustling in and out the house? Perhaps a smaller piece of furniture would be wiser, to make access easier.

Similarly, more people means more bums on seats, so you might need a large dining table. If you value space when designing the bedroom, then choose a smaller bed! Only you know what you need, so try to get it right!

  1. What materials do you want?

Some materials are better than others. If you choose a leather sofa, for example, this is less likely to stain than a cotton or fabric one. If you have kids, stains will be common! Also, some pillows found on some sofas will need fluffing up regularly.

Is that glass top table really a good idea in a busy household? Probably not. The kids and the dog could both smash it. In short, assess your living situation and decide what’s best for you. Only you know your home!

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